People often criticize Islam as being one of the extremist religions that preach its followers to vague a war against the non-Muslims and to kill them. One of the misconceptions about Islam is that it teaches its followers to go for Jihad and wipe out the non-believers!
However, these are just misconceptions and the verses that encourage Muslims to go for Jihad are often misinterpreted. Islam is a religion of peace that won’t even allow us to kill a sparrow without a reason, how would it allow killing Humans without a reason or a cause?
The verse that encourages a Muslim to fight in the way of Allah also teaches us to remain within social and moral limits as Allah does not like the transgressors. (Quran 2:190).
War, sometimes is inevitable. And believe me, not all wars have been initiated by Muslims nor did all major wars include Muslims. Yet, we (Muslims) have been taught some of the golden rules of war that no other religion has preached.
These rules are the ones that ensure the non-violation of human rights. These rules have been taught by Holy Prophet PBUH and Muslims tend to follow them.
1-Prohibition of killing children and Women: A Muslim warrior is not allowed to kill a child or woman during the wartime. The instruction given by Holy Prophet PBUH is widely practiced by Muslims not only in history but in present as well.
The history shows other civilizations would genocide women and children, while Muslims would obey the weak ones and would not hurt them (take an account of 1st and 2nd world war). (Sahih Muslim 1744 b)
2-Prohibition on Killing old people, wage earners, and monks: The Muslims have been instructed by their beloved Prophet PBUH that they shall not kill any of the old people during a war. They shall not hurt those who do not engage in a war against them.
Such people include the locals who are wage earners and those who seek shelter and peace by hiding in towers. Monks, who have no interest in the worldly life, shall not be hurt.
3-Prohibition on killing disabled: A disabled person cannot combat and defend himself and thereby a Muslim cannot kill them during a war. The Prophet PBUH had instructed us to leave aside disables while war, as he instructed to leave aside women, children, old and monks.
4-Prohibition on disrespecting the dead: One of the advice that the Prophet PBUH would always give to a commander while he was to leave for the battlefield was not to disrespect the ones who had died.
It is often seen that the warriors would tear apart the dead ones; they would disrespect the dead ones. Muslims are forbidden to do so! [Sahih Muslim 1731 a, b]
5-Be merciful to the ones who surrender: If the enemy surrenders, the Muslims cannot and shall not kill them or be violent to them. Rather it is asked to be merciful to them and allow them to reach their place safely. This would help to change their hearts towards Islam!
6-Be kind to Captive: Allah Almighty has asked Muslims to treat the prisoners of war with kindness. The Holy Prophet PBUH thereby asked the Muslims to generously treat the prisoners of the war of Badr. The captives were provided with food and care. [Quran 76:8-9]
7-Not be destructive: During the war, warriors tend to destroy the surroundings: they put things on fire, cut down trees and destroy houses. Yet a Muslim warrior would never do so as he is instructed by the Prophet PBUH that they shall not cut a tree or even wound a goat except for eating purposes.
8-No forced conversion: Nobody, be a captive or free person, shall be forced to convert to Islam. Islam tends to inspire followers not to force them.