The relation between states is either that of peace or war. In case of war, Islam does not encourage war, rather, it considers it a necessity. And if there is an opportunity to call to the path of Allah and convey His Message, Jihad’ is not required. In response to the Christians regarding this point, Imam Ibn-e-Taymiyyah writes, except to protect the mission of calling to Islam. If it is possible to advance the true faith then (offensive) ‘Jihad’ is not permitted.” He also provided ample evidence in support of this. In time of war, therefore, only defensive war is required. The Muslim ruler, as well as the entire Muslim community, must repel the enemy to the best of their ability. If this is not possible, then they should opt for the lesser of two evils. For the Holy Prophet’s (SAW) companions had been wronged and subjected to oppression and were not allowed to fight in self-defense until later. Almighty Allah Says,
“Sanction is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged, and Allah is indeed able to give them victory; those who have been driven from their homes unjustly only because they said Our Lord is Allah.”(22:39 – 40)
Therefore, defensive Jihad’ is required according to ability and the general situation and with the permission of the Muslim ruler.
In case of peace , the relation between the Muslim state and non – Muslims can be based either on Misaq and (treaties) or ‘Aamaan’, which Muslim scholars refer to as the status of ‘Mu’aanid’ (one who signed a pre-determined accord with the Muslims in order to stop the bloodshed between them, whether it is a peace accord or an armistice agreement with the non-Muslims who do not reside in Muslim territories) or ‘Mustaa’ min’ (a non-Muslim who has sought peaceful asylum in Muslim lands).
With regard to the state of treaties, Islam commands that treaties be honored. Allah the Almighty says, “O you who believe! Fulfill your compacts.”(5:1) “And fulfill the covenant; for the covenant shall be questioned about.” (17:34) Addressing His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), He says
“But if they (the believers) seek your help in religion, than it is your duty to help them, except against the people between whom and yourselves there is a treaty.”(8:72)
If there is a treaty between the Muslim state and non-Muslim states and some Muslims are transgressed against, the Muslim ruler and the Muslim government have two options, either to violate the agreement and engage in war or honor the agreement depending on whatever option will be beneficial to their unity and strength.
There are many and various types of treaties and Muslims are allowed to establish international relations with other states if these are bound to bring about benefit to Muslims. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) received messengers and delegations from other countries honored them, received the messages they came with and sent messages to the other rulers of the countries in his time.