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Did Prophet Muhammad Persecute Jews? (2/2)

Did Prophet Muhammad Persecute Jews? (2/2)

Holocaust

Prophet Muhammad drew up such a unique constitution which protected the human rights of all the population of Medina, including Jews.

Had Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) really been anti-Jewish, he would have persecuted Jews since the very dawn of his nascent Muslim state in Medina, but this did not happen. Once Prophet Muhammad reached Medina, one of the earliest things he did over there was to draw up such a unique constitution which protected the human rights of all the population of Medina, including Jews themselves.

This was an unprecedented motion which was not even followed up with a parallel experience except after much more than a dozen of centuries. The stated constitution was a matchless convention at the time. At such a point of time, the modern concepts of “religious pluralism”, “freedom of religion”, “human rights”, and “social integration” had not been coined yet.

One place could hardly accommodate two or more faiths. “Minorities” had no rights at all, and they were also vulnerable to mass massacres or expulsions. The “religious tolerance” had not been known yet.

However, the Medina Constitution included many articles providing for the Jews’ entitlement to equal rights, treatment, protection and freedom. Prophet Muhammad enforced what is known later as “peaceful coexistence”. He allowed Jews to live side by side with Muslims in peace.

However, most Jewish tribes rejected such peaceful coexistence and breached Medina Constitution as well as the covenants concluded with them by plotting against Prophet Muhammad and Muslims and/or siding with the Arabian polytheists and pagans.

Even when the Jewish tribes betrayed Prophet Muhammad and Muslims, he exercised self-control and self-restraint and was quite fair and just and his reaction was proportionate to the action done.

When a man from Banu Qaynuqa` (a Jewish tribe) committed a sexual assault against a Muslim woman, wanted to force her to uncover her face and fastened the tail of her garment to the chair by a nail, the woman had her private parts uncovered. So she cried for help while Jews were laughing at her. Then, a Muslim man killed the Jew. Then, the Jews killed this Muslim man, whose kindred turned to Muslims for retaliation.

In this case, Prophet Muhammad decided to fight Banu Qaynuqa` for they rejected mutual respect and peaceful coexistence and dared to violate Medina Constitution. Such a tribe could not coexist with Muslims in Medina any longer. Had those Jews remained there, retaliation and violence would not have come to an end. Instead of expulsion, they would have been massacred. That is why, it is said that it is Banu Qaynuqa` themselves who elected to leave Medina after mediation to avoid fighting with Muslims.

Banu An-Nadir, another Jewish tribe, conspired to throw away a large stone down a house on the head of Prophet Muhammad who was sitting down with them. However, God foretold Prophet Muhammad about that. Thereupon, he went back to Medina, amassed an army and went to fight them.

After Prophet Muhammad besieged them, they asked him to evacuate from Medina, carrying away everything they wanted to carry unlike weapons. Prophet Muhammad agreed to that and let them go out. This is another case of betrayal, breach of covenants and rejection of peaceful coexistence. It is Jews who chose to leave Medina to avoid fighting with Prophet Muhammad and Muslims.

Banu Quraydhah, another Jewish tribe, went farther by siding with the Arabian polytheists against Muslims. They conspired with the Arabian pagans to make a way for them from their side to enter Medina and massacre Muslims. Again, we have a case of betrayal, breach of covenants and rejection of peaceful coexistence.

Once Khandaq (Ditch) Battle was over, God commanded Prophet Muhammad to fight them for their betrayal. The long siege forced them into a surrender which was conditional on arbitration. Prophet Muhammad accepted this condition and allowed them to choose the arbitrator. They chose as an arbitrator Companion Sa`ad bin Mu`adh, who was their ally during the pre-Islamic era.

Prophet Muhammad also accepted Sa`ad bin Mu`adh as an arbitrator. However, he judged that the adult men should have been killed, women and children should have been enslaved and the property should have been distributed among Muslims. He based his judgment on the judgment provided for in the Torah (Deuteronomy 20:12-14)

Prophet Muhammad approved this judgment as identical to that of God. This was a fair judgment. Given that the Jews’ betrayal could lead to the annihilation of all Muslims, it was quite fair to sentence their males to death. If the Arabian pagans could have entered Medina, they would have sentenced all Muslims, including men, women and children, to death.

The danger Jews posed to the nascent Muslim state was not reduced by the evacuation of Jews from inside Medina as the Jews of Medina joined the Jews of Khaybar (an oasis some 153 km to the north of Medina) and allied with the Arabian tribes which were inimical to Islam and Muslims. They continued to conspire against Prophet Muhammad and Muslims.

Therefore, Prophet Muhammad decided to fight the Jews of Khaybar. After a lot of hostilities, the Jews of Khaybar proposed to make peace with Muslim in return for sharing their harvests with Muslims on a fifty-fifty basis.

However, given such repeated scenarios of betrayal and rejection of peaceful coexistence, after Prophet Muhammad had proved to the world as well as history that Muslims wished for “religious pluralism”, “freedom of religion”, “religious tolerance”, and “peaceful coexistence”, he found out that the above concepts pioneered by Islam were inapplicable at the time or at least in Arabia.

Therefore, he made the following statements: “Drive out the polytheists from Arabia,” (Al-Bukhari) and “Two religions should not be left in Arabia.” (Ahmad) Prophet Muhammad made similar statements in this this sense.

Many people misunderstand those and similar hadiths as calling for wrongful expulsion or eradication of non-Muslims from the Muslim countries. This understanding of the above hadiths is quite wrong simply because Prophet Muhammad himself did not expel all Jews or non-Muslims from Arabia until he died.

It is reported that Prophet Muhammad died while his (iron) armor was pledged to a Jew for thirty Saas (old measure equal to 3 kg) of barley (Al-Bukhari). It is historically established that there were Jews residing in Arabia after Prophet Muhammad’s demise and during the caliphate of Caliph Abu Bakr and even `Umar.

Should Prophet Muhammad have meant the mass expulsion of non-Muslims from Arabia, he himself and his successors would have done that, but this did not take place.

Commenting on the above hadiths, some Muslim scholars indicated that Prophet Muhammad rather meant that non-Muslims should not have resided inside or near to the sacred places of Muslims. Other scholars opined that he meant that they should not have resided in Arabia as a whole, but they could still reside elsewhere inside the Muslim world. Some other scholars were of the opinion that non-Muslims should not have resided permanently or in large numbers in Arabia.

Anyway, no matter how the above prophetic statements can be interpreted, we have known for a certainty that Prophet Muhammad in particular and Muslims in general did not object to peaceful coexistence with Jews or any non-Muslims, but Muslims’ good intentions and religious tolerance encouraged polytheists, specifically Jews, to betray and conspire against them.

Muslims still welcome coexistence with Jews and any non-Muslims on condition that any such non-Muslims do not betray, wrong, or harm Muslims and have a good relationship with Muslims based on good neighborhood and mutual respect.

Finally, it is convenient to conclude this article with such verses which regulate and underlie the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims. In the Quran, we read:

Allah does not forbid you for those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion – [forbids] that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers. (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8-9)

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References:

1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

2- The Holy Bible (Visit biblegateway.com)

3- Sahih Al-Bukhari

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Did Prophet Muhammad Persecute Jews? (1/2)

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Did Prophet Muhammad Persecute Jews? (1/2)

Did Prophet Muhammad Persecute Jews? (1/2)

Jews

Prophet Muhammad’s dealings with all people, including Jews, were remarkable for justice, mercy, and tolerance

It is widely circulated that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) persecuted Jews and did them all forms of harm, including beheading, looting, capture, expulsion and evacuation. Such an allegation is based on some historical incidents where Prophet Muhammad had to punish some Jews.

However, did Prophet Muhammad use to punish all Jews? Is Prophet Muhammad’s history with Jews rife with harm to them? Was he an anti-Jewish character? Was Prophet Muhammad’s relationship with Jews always so bad like this?

To have a full picture of the relationship between Prophet Muhammad and the Jews, we have to review Prophet Muhammad’s dealings with all Jews who came into contact with him.

It is quite safe to say that Prophet Muhammad’s dealings with all people, including Jews, were remarkable for justice, mercy, and tolerance. He did not bear Jews or any other people any grudge or malice.

In fact, the Islamic history tells us that several Jews knew and believed that Muhammad is a prophet of God. This is a fact which is established in the Qur’an. In the Qur’an, we read the following verses:

Those to whom We have given the Scripture recite it with its true recital. They [are the ones who] believe in it. (Al-Baqarah 2:121) 

Those to whom We gave the Scripture know him as they know their own sons. But indeed, a party of them conceals the truth while they know [it]. (Al-Baqarah 2:146)

The Qur’an also tells us that many Jews decided to disbelieve in Prophet Muhammad and conceal the prophecies about him in the Scripture on purpose.

We have several instances of Jews who converted to Islam and believed in and followed Prophet Muhammad. For example, `Abdullah bin Salam, who was a Jewish rabbi, converted to Islam on Prophet Muhammad’s migration to Medina. Another instance is Mukhayriq who was a Jewish rabbi that converted to Islam and joined Prophet Muhammad at Uhud Battle. He was martyred as a grand companion of Prophet Muhammad.

We can cite here the story of the young Jewish servant of Prophet Muhammad who converted to Islam on his death bed. Anas bin Malik reports that a Jewish lad, who worked as a servant of Prophet Muhammad, had a terminal disease. So Prophet Muhammad went to visit him. Prophet Muhammad instructed: “O lad, profess Islam! Say: ‘There is no deity but God.’” The lad kept looking at his father. Thereupon, his father said to him: “Say what Muhammad says to you!” Then, he said: “There is no deity but God!” By so doing, he professed Islam and then died. Prophet Muhammad then commanded his Companions: “Offer the funeral prayer for him!” Prophet Muhammad himself offered the funeral prayer for him. (Al-Hakim)

A number of lesser-known Jews converted to Islam during Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime, but they did not become prominent Companions of Prophet Muhammad. That is why they are seldom mentioned by name in the Islamic history compilations.

Many people who accuse Prophet Muhammad of the hate of the Jews either do not know or ignore the fact that Prophet Muhammad himself had a Jewish wife, namely Lady Safiyah bint Huyay bin Akhtab.

She was captured in the wake of Banu An-Nadir Battle. Being the daughter of an eminent elder of Banu An-Nadir, Prophet Muhammad set her free and gave her the choice between the profession of Islam and the adherence to Judaism. He proposed: “Make your choice! If you choose Islam, I will retain you for me (as a wife). If you choose Judaism, I may set you free so that you can catch up with your people.”

She replied: “O Messenger of God, I had liked Islam and believed in you before you invited me (to Islam) as I proceeded to your camel while having no interest in Judaism, where I have neither a father nor a brother. You gave me the choice between disbelief and Islam. God and His Messenger are more beloved by me than manumission and return to my people.” (Al-Bukhari)

When Prophet Muhammad decided to marry her, he found the traces of a slap on her cheek. When Prophet Muhammad asked her about that, she said: “In a dream, I perceived that the moon came from Yathreb (Medina) and then fell down in my lap. When I related this dream to my cousin, the son of Abu Haqiq, he slapped me and reproached: “Do you wish that the King of Yathreb married you?”

The formerly Jewish lady loved Prophet Muhammad so much that when he suffered from his fatal disease, she lamented: “O Prophet of God, by God, I wish I suffered what you suffer from!” (Ibn Hajar) She died as a widow of Prophet Muhammad.

Though most Jews disbelieved in Prophet Muhammad, while they themselves had prophesied and believed in his advent and made sure that he satisfied all the descriptions of the final prophet they had in the Scripture, this did not impel Prophet Muhammad to wrong them. Rather, he was quite just and fair towards them.

We have many reports of situations where Prophet Muhammad treated Jews quite justly and fairly though they disbelieved in him. Commenting on the following hadith: “Whoever swears while lying to acquire the property of a Muslim will meet God while He is angry with him,” Companion Al-Ash`ath ibn Qays reports: “By God, this hadith pertained to me. I had a dispute with a Jewish man over a piece of land. So he denied my right to it. So I reported him to Prophet Muhammad. Then, the Messenger of God wondered: “Do you have evidence!” I replied: “No!” Then, he said to the Jew: “Let you swear an oath!” Then, I commented: “O Messenger of God, by so doing, he will swear and devour my property!” Thereupon, God, the Almighty, revealed the following verse:

Verily, those who purchase a small gain at the cost of God’s covenant and their oaths… (Aal `Imran 3:77)

Companion Ibn Abu Hadrad Al-Aslamy reports that he owed a Jew four dirhams. So he reported him to Prophet Muhammad, complaining “O Muhammad, this man owes me four dirhams and he did not pay them back to me.” Prophet Muhammad said: “Give him his right!” Ibn Abu Hadrad said: “By He Who sent you with the truth, I cannot do!” Prophet Muhammad repeated: “Give him his right!” He reiterated: “By the One in Whose hand myself lies, I cannot do! I told him that you will dispatch us to Khaybar and I hope that you will allot us something as a booty and then I will come back to pay him.” Prophet Muhammad reiterated: “Give him his right!” So Companion Abu Hadrad went to the market and took off his garment and sold it to pay the Jew. (Ahmad)

One day, a hypocrite allegedly called “Tu`mah” or “Bashir” bin Obayriq who pretended that he was Muslim stole an armor from a Muslim neighbor called “Qatadah bin An-Nu`man”. The armor was in a sack containing flour. The flour kept scattering from a hole in the bag. When the hypocrite went back home, he decided to hide the mantle at the house of a Jewish man called “Zayd bin As-Samin”. When the armor was tracked up to Tu`mah’s house, he swore by God that he did not take it. Though the armor owners saw the flour traces inside his house, when he swore that he did not take it, they believed and left him. So they tracked the flour traces up to the Jew’s house, where they found the armor. The Jew said: “It is Tu`mah who brought it to my house.”

Then, Tu`mah’s people went to Prophet Muhammad and asked him to plead for their kinsman. Thereupon, Prophet Muhammad resolved to punish the Jew, but God then revealed the following verses in defense of the Jew:

 Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth so you may judge between the people by that which God has shown you. And do not be for the deceitful an advocate. And seek forgiveness of God. Indeed, God is ever Forgiving and Merciful. And do not argue on behalf of those who deceive themselves. Indeed, God loves not one who is a habitually sinful deceiver… But whoever earns an offense or a sin and then blames it on an innocent [person] has taken upon himself a slander and manifest sin. (An-Nisaa’ 4:105-112)

There are so many other reports confirming that Prophet Muhammad was quite fair and just towards Jews. Let’s now deal with the alleged mass massacres or expulsion of Jews during Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime.

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References:

1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

2- Sahih Al-Bukhari

3- Fatah Al-Bary, by Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalany

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Did Prophet Muhammad Persecute Jews? (2/2)

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Do Muslims Accept Criticism?

Do Muslims Accept Criticism?

Focus on critisicm

Muslims do not have any objection to having their merits and faults judged in an intelligible (or articulate) way.

It is widely believed that Muslims don’t accept criticism. Some people even believe that such aversion to criticism may be inspired by Islam which is deemed a one-way religion which is too intolerant to accept criticism from non-Muslims.

Before handling this topic, we must know first the meaning of criticism. According to Wikipedia’s definition, criticism is “the practice of judging the merits and faults of something or someone in an intelligible (or articulate) way.”

Actually, Muslims do not have any objection to having their merits and faults judged in an intelligible (or articulate) way. So long as Muslims are made subject to objective criticism driven by a real desire for reaching the truth, Muslims even welcome criticism.

Muslims just have reasonable reservations concerning criticism. They stipulate that their critics should satisfy certain conditions for their criticism to be constructive.

They require that their critic should be a genuine truth seeker who is considerate to their sensitivities and avoids offending them gravely. Such requirements sound quite palatable. They are indispensable to any human dialogue, interaction or communication.

While such requirements appear fair and acceptable, Islam teaches Muslims to fulfill such requirements when criticizing non-Muslims so that the latters will fulfill them when criticizing Muslims.

The Qur’an prohibits Muslims from insulting non-Muslims so that they will not reciprocate insult with more terrible one. Allah says:

And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them about what they used to do.” (Al-An`am 6:108)

Accordingly, Islam calls for respectable dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims where each party expresses due respect for the other in quest of positive outcome and fruitful interaction. Abuse is unlikely to yield any favorable result. It may lead only to mutual dislike, hatred and grudge.

The criticism described above is quite acceptable by Muslims. There are many examples of criticisms which seemed acceptable to Muslims. For example, to teach Muslims to tolerate difference, the Qur’an tells Muslims that Allah accepted the objection voiced by the angels when He told them that He was going to appoint a vicegerent on earth. Allah says:

 And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.” (Al-Baqarah 2:31)

Hypocrites were once speaking badly of Prophet Muhammad. When one of them warned them lest Prophet Muhammad should have come to know about that, another hypocrite told them that even if he knew about that, they could just deny and swear that they did not say that and Prophet Muhammad would believe them. They then ridiculed Prophet Muhammad as an ear (too credulous). Thereupon, Allah revealed the following verse:

 And among them are those who abuse the Prophet and say, ‘He is an ear.’ Say, ‘[It is] an ear of goodness for you that believes in Allah and believes the believers and [is] a mercy to those who believe among you.’ And those who abuse the Messenger of Allah – for them is a painful punishment. (At-Tawbah 9:61)

However, Muslims object to criticism if it is unfair, unjustifiable, baseless, abusive or not intended for reaching the truth. Moreover, when criticism assumes the form of mockery, offensive satire, parody, or abusive comedy, nobody can accept such criticism.

The rejection of such morally repugnant forms of criticism is quite justifiable. Muslims cannot be compelled to accept something which is humanly unacceptable. It is the impolite critics of Muslims who should be taught respect for Muslims to accept their criticism.

Muslims make a fair demand. They respect others and require others to respect them. What is wrong with that? The problem with the West now is that its current value system is very materialistic. It recognizes harm only if it is a material one. But, we as Muslims always acknowledge the other’s moral criterion. Muslims do not accept abuse to any religion, including Christianity, or the prophet of any religion, including Jesus, nor do they agree that religion becomes a subject of humor.

Muslims may tolerate abuse to themselves, but not to their religion or their Prophet. Yet, this does not exempt Muslims from blame. There are Muslims who commit faults, sometimes major ones. But, Muslims argue that their faults should not be attributed to Islam or Prophet Muhammad but to themselves.

They are always ready for dialogue, but there should be no abuse. Otherwise, abuse will entail abuse and so on. This will not be in favor of any party, either Muslims or non-Muslims. Each party should understand the other so that they will avoid clash and conflict and coexist in peace and security.

At last, it is quite safe to say that what abuses others is something to be known from them rather than from oneself. One cannot decide for others what offends them and what does not, nor should he tell them when they should feel offended and when should not.

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References:

1- Wikipedia

2- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

Soucre Link
Are There Verses in the Qur’an Promoting Violence?

Are There Verses in the Qur’an Promoting Violence?

violence

Muslims were not permitted to fight disbelievers to force non-Muslims into Islam but to put an end to persecution

It is falsely alleged that there are verses in the Qur’an promoting violence and Islam in general is a violent religion which urges its followers to be aggressive and offensive.

As a matter of fact, violence does not help in matters of belief. Faith is something cherished at heart. So the true nature of faith is quite unfathomable. Man can be got to adopt or renounce one belief only by persuasion. If force is used, belief may be feigned rather than really held at heart. Once force ceases to be used, the real belief is declared though it used to be kept secret.

What is the benefit of the use of force to propagate one religion? The only benefit is the outward profession of rather than genuine belief in this religion. Such a result of the use of force for religious purposes is not desired by Islam or any other religion.

The advocate of a right, reasonable belief does not need to use force to compel people to accept it. Allah has made His true religion such a reasonable, palatable belief which people are more likely to accept quite willingly.

Prophet Muhammad was sent to persuade people to believe in Allah. We read the following verse in the Qur’an:

Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided. (An-Nahl 16:125)

He was ordered to reason with people for logical reasoning is enough for converting people to the way of Allah.

At the very beginning, Prophet Muhammad was commanded not only to convince people by logical reasoning but also to keep patient and endure their illogical attitudes and irrational reactions. We read the following verses in the Qur’an:

And follow what is revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and be patient until Allah will judge. And He is the best of judges (Yunus 10:109)

And

Endure with patience, for your endurance is not without the help of God. Do not grieve for them, and do not be distressed by their plots. (An-Nahl 16:127)

During Prophet Muhammad’s mission in Mecca, he used to be commanded to keep patient and tolerate all forms of harm done to him by the polytheistic pagans of Mecca who rejected meaningful dialogue and chose to use force as a reaction to Prophet Muhammad’s weighty arguments. The divine commandments then never allowed any violent action; rather they prescribed self-restraint and endurance.

For example, Allah sometimes ordered Prophet Muhammad to pardon the disbelievers and disregard their aggression according to the following verse:

But pardon them and overlook [their misdeeds]. Indeed, Allah loves the doers of good. (Al-Ma’idah 5:13)

Prophet Muhammad was even ordered to reciprocate evil actions with good reactions. Allah said to him in the Qur’an:

Repel, by [means of] what is best, [their] evil. We are most knowing of what they describe. (Al-Mu’minun 23:96)

He also said:

And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. (Fussilat 41:34)

When Prophet Muhammad could not bear the barbaric acts of the disbelievers, Allah sometimes commanded him to turn away from them and still come out with peaceful statements. Allah says in the Qur’an:

So turn aside from them and say, ‘Peace.’ But they are going to know. (Az-Zukhruf 43:89)

Prophet Muhammad was also commanded to keep away from the disbelievers but even in a gracious manner. Allah told him in the Qur’an:

And be patient over what they say and avoid them with gracious avoidance. (Al-Muzzammil 73:10)

However, the pagan people of Mecca rejected dialogue and insisted on the use of force to silence the voice of logic and reason. They killed, tortured and drove out the followers of Prophet Muhammad, who himself was also harmed and abused. When such misled pagans dared conspire to kill Prophet Muhammad himself, they inadvertently put an end to the early stage of Islam which adopted peaceful dialogue as a sole way of the propagation of the faith.

From this point on, Muslims have been allowed to use force not to force non-Muslims into conversion to Islam but to defend themselves as both individuals and entities while calling for or engaging in peaceful dialogue. Let’s discuss the earliest verses to be revealed about the permission of the use of force by Muslims.

Allah says in the Qur’an:

Indeed, Allah defends those who have believed. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone treacherous and ungrateful.

Permission [to fight] has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory.

[They are] those who have been evicted from their homes without right – only because they say, “Our Lord is Allah.” And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.

[And they are] those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of [all] matters. (Al-Hajj 22:38-41)

Muslim exegetes state that the above verses are the earliest verses where Allah permits fighting against the disbelievers. Commenting on those verses, those exegetes remark that the polytheistic pagans of Mecca used to harm the Companions of the Messenger of Allah. So they were kept saddened, with some of them beaten up while others wounded. So they would complain about that to the Messenger of Allah. He would tell them to keep patient for he had yet to be permitted to fight. When the Messenger of Allah immigrated, Allah revealed the above verses.

However, Ibn Abbas and Ibn Jubayr noted that the above verses were revealed upon the emigration of the Messenger of Allah to Medina. Ibn Abbas relates that when Prophet Muhammad had to leave Mecca, Abu Bakr said: “For they caused their prophet to get out, they will perish.” When the above verses were revealed, Abu Bakr said: “I knew that there would be fighting.”

In the above verses, Allah accounts for the permission He gave for fighting against the disbelievers. He explains that the permission of fighting is intended for the believers to defend themselves for they were fought, wronged, and wrongfully driven out of their homes. He also demonstrates that were it not for such permission, the places of worship of all divine religions, including monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, would have been demolished. He also indicates that He thereby empowers those people who if given authority in the land would offer prayer, give alms, join what is right and forbid what is wrong.

We notice that the reasons for Jihad are elaborately expounded in the earliest verses permitting Jihad. For the first time, Muslims were given the right to defend themselves. It is a long-awaited, intuitive right which early Muslims were denied for about thirteen years, during which they suffered all types of persecution, injustice and humiliation.

The Meccan pagans did not shy away from using force for unfair purposes that is to say to wrong Muslims and drive them of their homes. So Muslims should not be blamed for using force for fair purposes, including defending the places of worship and guaranteeing the freedom of religion. Such empowerment of Muslims was meant for benefiting themselves and all other religions. Right is to be enjoined and wrong is to be forbidden in favor of everybody, including Muslims and non-Muslims.

The following are also early verses permitting Jihad. Allah says:

Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.

And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.

And if they cease, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.

[Fighting in] the sacred month is for [aggression committed in] the sacred month, and for [all] violations is legal retribution. So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is with those who fear Him. (Al-Baqarah 2:90-94)

The above verses allow Muslims to defend themselves by adopting a tit for tat strategy. However, we notice that even when Muslims were given the permission to use force, such usage was well-regulated and quite moderated. Though they were wronged, they were not allowed to wrong those who wronged us.

Muslims were allowed to fight only those who fought them, assault those who assaulted them and expel those who expelled them. Even if the disbelievers fought Muslims at the holy mosque, the believers could fight them over there.

However, Allah warned Muslims against transgression for He does not like transgressors. Though Muslims suffered transgression at the pagans’ hands, they were not allowed to transgress. Sulayman ibn Buraydah reported on the authority of his father that when the Messenger of Allah sent a commander of an army, he would exhort him concerning himself to have Taqwa of Allah, and he would exhort him to be good to those who are with him among the Muslims. He would say: “Fight in the Name of Allah, in the cause of Allah. Fight those who disbelieve in Allah, and do not steal from the spoils of war or be treacherous, nor mutilate, and do not kill a child.” (Muslim)

Ibn `Umar reported that a woman was found killed in one of the expeditions of the Messenger of Allah, so the Messenger of Allah disapproved that, and he prohibited killing women and children. (Al-Bukhari)

Anas reported that Prophet Muhammad said: “Go in Allah’s name, trusting in Allah, and adhering to the religion of the Messenger of Allah. Do not kill a decrepit old man, a young infant, or a child, or a woman; do not be dishonest about booty, but collect your spoils, do right and act well, for Allah loves those who do well.” (Abu Dwaud)

The stated permission is not an absolute one. Rather, it is conditional on the continuation of transgression. If such transgression ceases to exist, there will be no aggression except against oppressors. Such conditionality of permission confirms that this permission is not intended as a kind of revenge or retaliation for past transgressions but just a way for Muslims to defend themselves when embarking upon their prospective mission of preaching monotheism. Thus, the use of force is restricted to defense only. When there is no assault, there should be no use of force.

The main reason for the permission of the use of power is declared in the following statement of Allah:

Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. (Al-Baqarah 2:193)

The Arabic word “fitnah” here means persecution. That is to say, Allah allowed Muslims to fight disbelievers to put an end to persecution and guarantees the freedom of belief even for non-Muslims.

Muslims were not permitted to fight disbelievers to force non-Muslims into Islam but to put an end to persecution in general so that everybody can choose his religion quite freely without compulsion. There can be no compulsion into religion. For Allah to be fair when torturing the disbelievers in the hereafter, they should have been given the choice. Allah deems that it would have been unfair of Him to punish the disbelievers without enabling them to choose for themselves.

Allah says in the Qur’an:

There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. (Al-Baqarah 2:256)

It is reported that the reason for the revelation of the above verse is that a Muslim Ansari man who had two Christian sons asked Prophet Muhammad whether he could force them into Islam as they insisted on professing Christianity. Thereupon, this verse was revealed.

Finally, it is unfortunate that some enemies of Islam cite verses from the Qur’an allowing fighting against the disbelievers, claiming that the Qur’an promotes violence against non-Muslims to compel them to convert to Islam. Suffice it to say that the use of force in Islam is, as indicated above, not intended to coerce non-Muslims into Islam but to provide Muslims with sufficient protection when preaching Islam.

The generic context of many verses in the Qur’an allegedly promoting violence is specified by the more particular verses which lay down the rules and regulations of the use of force which is conditionally permitted as set forth above.

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References:

1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

2- Sahih Al-Bukhari

3- Sahih Muslim

4- Sunan Abu Dawud

5- Tafsir Al-Qur’an Al-Azim, by Ibn Kathir

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Do Non-Muslim Minorities Have Rights in Islam?

Do Non-Muslim Minorities Have Rights in Islam?

No discrimination

The true Shari`ah-ruled Islamic state is something which is more likely to seem desirable in the eyes of the non-Muslim minorities.

There is no denying that the enforcement of the Shari`ah law may be actually something worrying non-Muslim minorities. They get worried about their freedom to practice their respective faiths. They also fear the ghost of marginalization under an Islamic state.

As a matter of fact, apart from any political context or religious extremism, the true Shari`ah-ruled Islamic state is something which is more likely to seem desirable in the eyes of the non-Muslim minorities. It is such a state of integration, assimilation and coexistence rather than marginalization or isolation.

As I indicated above, political interests and religious fanaticism should be set aside. The Shari`ah law is judged by its own provisions rather than its extremist proponents. Let’s see how the Shari`ah law guarantees the freedom of faith and the integration of non-Muslim communities.

As a rational, logical and fair faith, Islam declares:

There is no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. (Al-Baqarah 2:256)

“There is no compulsion” can be interpreted as both “there can be no compulsion” and “there should be no compulsion”. This means that Islam prohibits compulsion in religion for it believes that compulsion is essentially impossible. In matters of faith, nobody can be compelled into believing anything by force. Belief is an act of heart and mind about which nobody knows anything. Mind can be changed only by persuasion rather than compulsion.

Accordingly, Islam does not coerce non-Muslims believing in it. Rather, it gives them the freedom to believe or disbelieve in it quite willingly. It is reported that the reason for the revelation of the above verse is that a Muslim Ansari man who had two Christian sons asked Prophet Muhammad whether he should force them into Islam as they insisted on professing Christianity. Thereupon, this verse was revealed.

Also, Allah says to Prophet Muhammad in the Qur’an:

And say, “The truth is from your Lord, so whoever wills – let him believe; and whoever wills – let him disbelieve.” (Al-Kahf 18:29)

Not only does Islam give non-Muslims the right to choose to believe or disbelieve in it, but it also allows them to coexist with Muslims under the Islamic state. The Islamic history abounds in so many instances of the maintenance of the religious freedom and the recognition of the religious pluralism.

The earliest instance dates back to the first Islamic state established by Prophet Muhammad in Medina, where he warranted religious freedom under the first constitution of Medina. He recognized the Jews as partners in and fellow members of the same society.

Again, when he conquered Mecca, he did not force Islam upon its population. Rather, he gave them the choice though he could convert them by force just as they had tried to get him and his companions back into their idolatrous faith.

Not only is peaceful coexistence guaranteed for non-Muslims under the Islamic state, but also they are, moreover, given the right to practice their religions quite freely.

There are so many examples for that in the Islamic history. For example, Prophet Muhammad once wrote to the bishop of Banu Al-Harith Ibn Ka’b and the bishops and priests of Najran, their followers and their monks that everything, small or great, pertaining to their churches, chapels and monasteries would remain in their possession, that Allah and His Messenger would guarantee that no bishop would be removed from his see, nor any monk from his monastery, nor any priest from his office and none of their rights or powers would be changed as long as they were sincere and good, and no cruelty would be shown to them. This was scribed by Al-Mughirah.

Besides, `Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the Second Muslim Caliph, concluded a treaty with the people of Jerusalem which read:

This is the assurance of safety which the servant of God, `Umar, the Commander of the Faithful, has granted to the people of Jerusalem. He has given them an assurance of safety for themselves, for their property, their churches, their crosses, the sick and the healthy of the city, and for all the rituals that belong to their religion. Their churches will not be inhabited [by Muslims] and will not be destroyed. Neither they, nor the land on which they stand, nor their crosses, nor their property will be damaged. They will not be forcibly converted. The people of Jerusalem must pay the poll tax like the people of [other] cities, and they must expel the Byzantines and the robbers. All this from the book they shall have as a pact of Allah, and as protection from his Messenger, from the Caliphs as well as from the Believers if they pay the jizyah. Witnessing this are: Khalid bin Walid, `Amr bin al-`As, `Abd al-Rahman bin `Awf and Mu`awiya bin Abi Sufyan. It was written with all present in the 15th year after Higrah.

Furthermore, Muslims are ordered to protect non-Muslims while doing their acts of worship as well as their places of worship. When Muslims were first allowed to engage in Jihad, the reason cited in the verse permitting Jihad is the protection of the places of worship, including churches, synagogues and mosques. Allah says in the Qur’an:

Indeed, Allah defends those who have believed. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone treacherous and ungrateful.

Permission [to fight] has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory.

 [They are] those who have been evicted from their homes without right – only because they say, “Our Lord is Allah.” And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might. (Al-Hijr 15:38-40)

As citizens, non-Muslims should be given just treatment according to Islam. They should have equal rights and duties. They should not be discriminated against on the grounds of religion.

Moreover, Prophet Muhammad defended and forbade discrimination against non-Muslims living in the Islamic state. He said: “If anyone wrongs a person protected by a covenant, violates his rights, burdens him with more work than he is able to do, or takes something from him without his consent, then I will dispute with him on the Day of Resurrection.” (Abu Dawud)

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References:

1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

2- Sunan Abu Dawud

3- As-Sirah An-Nabawiyah, by Ibn Ishaq

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Does Islam Command Attacking Churches?

Does Islam Command Attacking Churches?

Inside a church

Islam pleads the cause of religion and defends all religions as well as their places of worship.

It is safe to say that a given religion can be judged correctly only by two things: its own teachings and the practice of the mainstream doctrine of this religion. A religion cannot be judged by the centrifugal practices or beliefs of some followers, be they liberal or extremist, hither or thither.

Attacking the places of worship is a criminal act which is done by individual followers of all religions all over the world. It is unfair to claim that it is Muslims only who attack the places of worship.

In fact, Islam prohibits any assault against the places of worship. The alleged attacks on the places of worship if really carried out by Muslims go against the well-established Islamic teachings. Such acts serve as odd precedents in the Islamic history. Suffice it to say they break with tradition.

The Messenger of Allah once wrote to the bishop of Banu Al-Harith Ibn Ka’b and the bishops and priests of Najran, their followers and their monks that everything, small or great, pertaining to their churches, chapels and monasteries would remain in their possession, that Allah and His Messenger would guarantee that no bishop would be removed from his see, nor any monk from his monastery, nor any priest from his office and none of their rights or powers would be changed as long as they were sincere and good, and no cruelty would be shown to them. This was scribed by Al-Mughirah.

Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the Second Muslim Caliph, concluded a treaty with the people of Jerusalem which read:

This is the assurance of safety which the servant of God, Umar, the Commander of the Faithful, has granted to the people of Jerusalem. He has given them an assurance of safety for themselves, for their property, their churches, their crosses, the sick and the healthy of the city, and for all the rituals that belong to their religion. Their churches will not be inhabited [by Muslims] and will not be destroyed. Neither they, nor the land on which they stand, nor their crosses, nor their property will be damaged. They will not be forcibly converted. The people of Jerusalem must pay the poll tax like the people of [other] cities, and they must expel the Byzantines and the robbers. All this from the book they shall have as a pact of Allah, and as protection from his Messenger, from the Caliphs as well as from the Believers if they pay the jizyah. Witnesses of this are: Khalid bin Walid, `Amr bin al-`As, `Abd Al-Rahman bin `Awf and Mu`awiya bin Abi Sufyan. It was written with all present in the 15th year after Hegira.

Khalid bin Al-Walid, the renowned Muslim commander, concluded a similar treaty with the people of Damascus which read:

This is what Khalid bin Al-Walid shall grant to the people of Damascus: He shall grant them protection [and safety] for their lives, property [and possessions], their churches, and the walls of their cities. Nothing of their quarters will be destroyed nor shall anyone live in them. This they shall have as a pact of Allah, protection from his Messenger, from the Caliphs as well as from the Believers and nothing but good will remain for them if they pay the jizyah.

Habib bin Maslamah, a Companion of Prophet Muhammad and accomplished Muslim military commander, entered into a similar pact with the people of Dabil which read:

In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful! This is a document from Habib bin Maslamah to the Christians, Magians and Jews of Dabil, present and absent. I assure you safety of your lives, properties, churches, places of worship and walls of your city. You are guaranteed protection and we are bound to fulfill our pact as long as you adhere to the jizyah and pay the kharaj. Allah is witness and He alone suffices as a witness.

In the Qur’an, we read verses telling us that Allah allowed the believers to fight against the unbelievers to prevent the demolition of the places of worship in general. Allah says:

Indeed, Allah defends those who have believed. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone treacherous and ungrateful.

Permission [to fight] has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory.

[They are] those who have been evicted from their homes without right – only because they say, “Our Lord is Allah.” And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.

[And they are] those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of [all] matters. (Al-Hajj 22:38-41)

However, somebody may wonder how the empowerment of Muslims will prevent the demolition of the places of worship.

The answer is that Islam binds Muslims to not only refrain from attacking the places of worship but also to protect them against attacks by any other people. It is safe to say that Islam is keen on the other faiths, even if they are contradictory to its principles.

Islam is nothing but a faith and a body of beliefs. The cause of faith serves as a common ground for their coexistence with the other, whose faith or beliefs might be right or wrong from Muslims’ point of view.

So long as some faith or belief is cherished, there is a way for communication. Islam looks for those who are willing to believe in religions simply because they are supposed to seek the truth. We, Muslims, think that we have that truth. Consequently, dialogue with those people will bring Muslims either new converts or allies and friends from the other religions. Therefore, it may be hard liaise with those who are unwilling to believe in any religion for they are unlikely to accept religion and religious people.

Furthermore, Muslims are deeply concerned about security, peace, justice and freedom on earth. Such security, peace, justice and freedom are more likely to be maintained by religion for religion usually preaches such values. Without religion, such values are at peril.

Therefore, Islam pleads the cause of religion and defends all religions as well as their places of worship. Muslims wish that even if Islam is not professed, one religion is still followed. This is better for Muslims themselves.

Just as Muslims guarantee security, peace, justice and freedom for non-Muslims, they expect that they are given equal treatment by non-Muslims.

Though Muslims see the followers of the other divine religions as unbelievers, Muslims still side with them against the atheists and the followers of the non-divine religions. Even though Muslims hope that the whole world converts to Islam, they prefer that if Islam is not embraced, the other divine religions are followed instead given the commonalities shared by those religions.

Muslims have shown sympathy for the followers of the other divine religions throughout history though such a feeling is not reciprocated by those followers, either Jews or Christians. Such sympathy is recorded in the Qur’an more than once.

For example, during Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime, the Magian Persian Empire defeated the Christian Roman Empire in one of the wars which would break out between them every now and then. At the time, Muslims sympathized with the Roman Empire. Qur’anic verses were revealed, prophesying a prospective victory by the Roman Empire over the Persian Empire.

We read the following verses in the Qur’an:

The Byzantines have been defeated

In the nearest land. But they, after their defeat, will overcome.

Within a few years. To Allah belongs the command before and after. And that day the believers will rejoice

In the victory of Allah. He gives victory to whom He wills, and He is the Exalted in Might, the Merciful.

[It is] the promise of Allah. Allah does not fail in His promise, but most of the people do not know. (Ar-Rum 30:1-7)

In a word, Islam commands Muslims to give kind treatment and act justly towards non-Muslims so long as they do not wrong Muslims.

Allah says:

Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.

Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion – [forbids] that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers. (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8-9)

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References:

1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

2- As-Sirah An-Nabawiyah, by Ibn Ishaq

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