“To flee from battle deserves such condemnation because of the magnitude of its serious consequences on the one hand, and because it has a bearing on the very question of having faith.
A believer should be firm and resolute, able to resist any force on earth, since he believes that Allaah’s power can overcome all powers.
If a believer’s heart experiences a tremor at a moment of danger, such a tremor should not go as far as making him flee from battle.
The moment of anyone’s death is determined by Allaah alone.
Hence, no believer may flee from battle fearing for his life.
This should not constitute too much of a burden for anyone. A believer is a human being who encounters an enemy, who, in turn, is a human being. Hence, they are of the same nature. The believer, however, has the advantage of relying on the overpowering might of Allaah Himself.
Moreover, he is under Allaah’s care while he is alive, and he entrusts himself to Allaah’s care if he attains martyrdom. This means that in all situations he is stronger than his enemy who defies Allaah and His Messenger.
Hence this absolute ruling:
‘And whoever turns his back to them on such a day – unless it be a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop (of his own), – he indeed has drawn upon himself wrath from Allaah. And his abode is Hell, and worst indeed is that destination!’”
– Sayyid Qutb [Fee Zhilaal al-Qur’aan [English trans.] (7/101)]
When the Muslims meet the disbelievers in battle, the one who flees and deserts his brothers on the day of battle, when the disbelievers march against the Muslims or the Muslims march against the disbelievers – the one who flees and deserts his brothers is subject to this stern warning: “unless it be a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop (of his own)”
[al-Anfaal 8:16] – that is, unless he is recruiting to prepare himself, bring his weapon and put on his armour in preparation for fighting, which does not do any harm, or he is moving from one detachment to another, or from one rank to another, or from one group to another, as part of a plan against the enemy.
In a saheeh hadeeth that was narrated by the two Shaykhs, al-Bukhaaree and Muslim, in as-Saheehayn, it was narrated that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Avoid the seven sins that doom a person to Hell.”
We said: “What are they, O Messenger of Allaah?”
“Associating others with Allaah (shirk), witchcraft, killing a soul whom Allaah has forbidden us to kill (except in cases dictated by Islaamic law), consuming orphans’ wealth, consuming ribaa, fleeing from the battlefield, and slandering chaste, innocent women.”