Collateral Damage: War and Civillian Casualties in Islam and the Ottoman Practices

Bulent Ozdemir


The well-known perception of war-hungry Muslims who had the Qur’an on the one hand and sword on the other offering a choice of either accepting Islam or losing one’s head has easily been created in the literature by the Orientalist scholars. Today the stress on the Jihad controversy by mass media in Europe and America is important and needs to be corrected. That jihad has usually been translated by the Western media as “holy war” is a greatly misunderstood principle in Islam. There is no term in Arabic which means, “holy war”. War is not “holy” in Islam.
I would like to divide this study into two parts: In the first part, the issue of conquest and its religious, ideological and theoretical references will be dealt with in reference to basic Islamic sources and the previous Islamic state’s practices. In particular, what are the limits of warfare and the position of civilians in the wars and wartimes according to the Islamic law will be looked for. In the second part, as a typical Islamic state, to what extend Ottoman conquests in the Balkans followed and practiced the legal way that opened up by Islamic law will be analyzed according to the available chronicles.


War, Civillian Casualties, Islam, Ottoman Practice, Voluntary Surrender

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