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Articles Section > Muslim Relations with Non-Muslims -- An Islamic View by Dr. Dr MA Aziz


Muslim Relations with Non-Muslims --
An Islamic View

by Dr MA Aziz - FRCS, FRCO
Chairman, Abdul Aziz Trust


Printer-friendly Page

Say: Come! Let us gather together -- our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves. Then let us earnestly pray and invoke the wrath of Allah on those who lie (3:60).

In the year of Deputation, 10th Hijrah [Islamic year], a Najran deputation went to the Prophet and were impressed with the passage of the Quran on the true position of Christ. They entered a cordial relation with the new Muslim state, but did not accept Islam.

The Prophet arranged a mubahala (solemn meeting) in which both sides should pray jointly to Allah and invoke His wrath on those who should lie. The Christians declined and they were dismissed in a spirit of tolerance with a promise of protection from the Islamic state.

Further revelation helped the prophet to forge a universal link with them:

Say: O People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you, that we worship none but Allah, that we associate no person with Him, that we erect not from among ourselves lords and patrons besides Allah. If they turn back, say ye: Bear witness that we are Muslims (3:64).

The Holy Prophet communicated the above verse to Heraclius, and to rulers in the regions of Egypt, Byzantine and Persia. (The manuscript of this letter is still in existence today in the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey, as historical and factual evidence of the friendly and tolerant relationship of the Prophet of Islam with non-Muslim rulers and "People of the Book [e.g., Christians and Jews]".)

The Prophet never imposed, by physical force, the teachings of Islam and the invitation to good and the forbidding of evil.

The spirit of Laa ikraa-haa fid-deen ("Thee is no compulsion in religion." [The Holy Quran, chapter 2, verse 256]) always remained a guiding principle in the relationship with those unbelievers who lived and enjoyed civil liberty and security among the Muslims in Madinah. You have your religion and I have mine (Surah al-Kafirun [The Holy Quran, Chapter 109]).

There was no cause or need to persecute or abuse anyone for his faith or belief or whose views and appearances were different.

In the chapter, Al-Hujurat (The Apartments), Allah has drawn Mankind's attention to the diversity of Allah's creation and the purpose of man’s existence:

O mankind, we created you from a single pair of a male and female and made you into tribes and nations that you may know one another (not that you may despise one another). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is he who is most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well aware of all things (49:13).

Contemporary Situation of Societies:

Comprehensive guidelines are provided in the Holy Quran and the Hadith concerning our relationship with non-Muslims. The terrorist attack on 11 September 2001, on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington and the massive fatal tragedy of the deaths of approximately three thousand, four hundred innocent people representing about eighty-two nations has been considered a black, ignominious day for Muslims living in the Western world.

The repercussions of hate and anger and even death threats towards Muslims are only human reactions to such catastrophes and tragedies. The perpetrators and planners of such dastardly acts are bigoted, mentally deranged and fanatical people who continually distort and violate the noble teachings of Islam.

The Islamic world can do without such persons bent on bringing destruction and causing the suffering of poor innocent Muslims in the name of jihad.

Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda movement have brought ridicule and contempt upon Muslims living outside the Middle East and other Muslim countries and have worsened and exacerbated the already tenuous relationship that exists between Muslims and non-Muslims in the Western world.

Let us look at what the Holy Quran says in 60:8:

Allah does not forbid you with regards to those who do not fight you on account of your religion nor drive you out of your homes, to treat with good and to be just to them. Truly Allah loves those who are just.

The call for justice and fairness in dealing with non-Muslims who are neither at war with nor hostile to Muslims is the recommended golden rule.

There is a special consideration by Muslims for the Ahl-e-Kitab (People of the Book -- e.g., Christians and Jews). Muslims are required to believe in the Books revealed by Allah and the Prophets sent by Him:

Say: We believe in Allah and what He has revealed to us and in what He has revealed to Abraham and Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob and the tribes and in what was given to Moses and Jesus and to all other Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between them and to Him we submit (2:136).

Again, we are admonished in the Holy Quran about our relationship with the People of the Book:

And do not dispute with the People of the Book except by way which is best, unless it be with such of them as transgress, and say: We believe in what has been sent down to us and sent down to you, and our God and your God is one, and to Him do we submit (29:46).

Islam permits eating with the People of the Book and even marrying their chaste women, a most intimate relationship that ever exists:

The food of those who were given the Scripture before you is permitted to you and your food is permitted to them. And lawful to you in marriage are chaste women from among the believers and chaste women among those who were given the Scripture before you (5:6).

Even in an Islamic state non-Muslim residents are entitled to enjoy equal rights and freedom to practice their own faiths. "He who hurts a dhimmi (minority) hurts me, and he who hurts me hurts and annoys Allah," says a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad.

We are the descendants of forbears who lived and loved among Muslims and non-Muslims -- Hindus and Christians -- for the past century and a half, with very close relationship. Some of our best friends are non-Muslims whose relationship is at times more meaningful than that with Muslims. This is an indication of our strong Islamic values and character and their consideration of our friendship.

We were born and have grown up in such a cosmopolitan society where there is a close social intermingling at most social occasions and gatherings. This should not detract from our resolve to be exemplary Muslims. We seek help from non-Muslims and render help to non-Muslims. We give gifts to them and receive gifts from them.

The Prophet of Islam sent to the Christian ruler of Abyssinia, who later accepted Islam, a robe and some silk as a gift.

The Holy Quran reminds us: Wa lakad Karamna bani adama (And surely We have honoured the children of Adam -- 17:70). All human beings were given dignity by Allah and were born as Muslims submitting to Allah's will. It is their parents who make them Jews or Christians or atheists.

Therefore, let our faith of Islam be truly reflected in our actions and shape our character as civilised human beings in a changing world.

Amin.

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Articles Section > Muslim Relations with Non-Muslims -- An Islamic View by Dr. Dr MA Aziz

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