The Relationship Of The Muslim With Non-Muslims

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Scholar, Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi

When we contemplate summarizing the Islamic teachings concerning dealings with non-Muslims in relation to the halal and the haram, we find that the following two verses of the Qur’an are sufficient, for they provide comprehensive guidelines in this matter. Allah (Glory be to Him) says:

“Allah does not forbid you, with regard to those who do not fight you on account of your religion nor drive you out of your homes, to treat them with goodness and to be just to them; truly, Allah loves those who are just. Indeed, Allah forbids you (only) with regard to those who fight you on account of religion and drive you out of your homes, and assist (others) in driving you out, that you turn to them (in friendship); and whoever turns to them (in friendship), they are wrongdoers. (Quran – Al-Mumtahanah: 8-9)

The first of these two verses not only calls for justice and fairness in dealing with non-Muslims who neither fight Muslims on religious grounds nor drive them out of their homes – that is, those who are neither at war with nor hostile to Muslims – but also urges Muslims to be kind to them. The word birr or ‘goodness’ which is used in this verse is a very comprehensive term signifying that kindness and generosity which is over and above justice; it is the same word which is used to describe the Muslim’s duty to his parents.

We have said that this verse calls for justice; as Allah says:

“Allah loves those who are just” (Quran – Al-Mumtahanah verse 8)

And the believer always tries his best to do what Allah loves. Now, these is no contradiction between Allah’s saying:

“Allah does not forbid you” (Quran – Al-Mumtahanah verse 8)

Which is rather mild, and our interpretation to ‘calling for’ and ‘urging’ justice above. By the use of this expression, Allah wanted to remove from peoples’ minds the erroneous ideas that all non-Muslims are alike and that they do not deserve good treatments and kindness from Muslims.

Thus Allah made clear the fact that He did not prohibit kindness to non-Muslims in general but only to those who are at war with and hostile to Muslims. This is similar to what Allah said concerning As-safa and al-Marwah when some people refrained from going between them due to some customs of Jahiliyyah:

“… For one who makes Hajj or Umrah to the (Sacred) House, there is no fault in going between them…” (Quran – Al-Baqarah verse 158)

Since going between the two hills – the rite of sa’y – is actually obligatory as it is a part of Hajj and Umrah, the denial of fault occurs in order to remove the misconception of Jahiliyyah.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATION FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK

While Islam does not prohibit Muslims to be kind and generous to peoples of other religions, even if they idolaters and polytheists, as for example, the polytheists of Arabia, concerning whom the verses were revealed, it looks upon the People of the Book, that is, Jews and Christians, with special regard, whether they reside in a Muslim society or outside it. The Qur’an never addresses them without saying:

“O people of the book”

or

“O You who have been given the Book”

Indicating that they originally people of a revealed religion. For this reason there exists a relationship of mercy and spiritual kinship between them and the Muslims, all having in common the principles of the one true religion sent by Allah through his Prophets (Peace be on them all):

“He has ordained for (the Muslims) the same religion which He enjoined on Nuh, and that which We have revealed to you (Muhammad) and that which We enjoined on Ibrahim(Abraham), Musa (Moses), and Isa (Jesus): that you should establish the faith an make no division in it…” (Quran – Ash-Shura verse 13)

Muslims are required to believe in all Books revealed by Allah and in all the Prophets sent by Him; otherwise they are not believers.

“Say: We (Muslims) believe in Allah and in what He has revealed to us, and in what He revealed to Ibrahim and Isma’il and Ishaq (Isaac) and Ya’qob (Jacob) and the tribes (of Israel), and in what was given to Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus), and in what was given to (all) the Prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him do we submit. (Quran – Al-Baqarah verse 136)

Consequently, if the People of the Book read the Qur’an, they will find in it praise for their books, Messengers, and Prophets.

If Muslims hold discussions with the People of the Book, they should avoid such approaches as cause bitterness or arouse hostility:

“And do not dispute with the People of Book except by (the way) which is best, unless it be with such of 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’.” (Quran – Al-Ankabut verse 46)

We have already seen how Islam permits eating with the People of the Book, sharing the meat they slaughter, and marrying their women, marriage being a relationship of mutual love and mercy. Allah says:

“… The food of those who were given 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 from among those who were given the Scripture before you…” (Quran – Al-Ma’idah verse 5)

This relates to the People of the Book in general. However, Christians in particular have been given special status by the Qur’an and are considered closer to the believers. The Qur’an states:

“… and indeed you will definitely find the nearest of them in affection to the ones who have believed are the ones who say, ‘we are Nasara.’ That is because among them are priests and monks, and they do not wax proud.” (Quran – Al-Ma’idah verse 82)

NON-MUSLIM RESIDENTS OF AN MUSLIM STATE

The above injunctions all People of the Book wherever they may be. However, those people who live under the protection of Islamic government enjoy special privileges. They are referred to as ‘the Protected People’ (Ahl adh-Dhimmah or Dhimmis), meaning that Allah, His Messenger (p), and the community of Muslims have made a covenant with them that they live in safety and security under the Islamic government.

In modern terminology, dhimmis are ‘citizens’ of the Muslim state. From the earliest period of Islam to the present day, Muslims are unanimous agreement that they enjoy the same right and carry the same responsibilities as Muslims themselves, while being free to practice their own faiths.

The Prophet (p) emphasized the duties of Muslims toward dhimmis, threatening anyone who violates them with the wrath and punishment of Allah. He said:

“He who hurts a dhimmi hurts me, and he who hurts me annoys Allah. (Narrated by at-Tabarani in Al-aswat on good authority)

“Whoever hurts a dhimmi, I am his adversary, and I shall be an adversary to him on the Day of Resurrection.” (Narrated by Khatib on good authority)

“One the Day of Resurrection I shall prove to be wrong anyone who oppresses a person from among the People of the covenant, or infringes on his right, or puts a responsibility on him which is beyond his strength, or takes something from him against his will.” (Narrated By Abu Dawud)

The Caliphs who succeeded the Prophet (p) safeguarded these rights and sanctities of non-Muslim citizens, and the jurists of Islam, in spite of the variation of their opinions regarding many other matters, are unanimous in emphasizing these rights and sanctities.

The Maliki jurist, Shihab ad_din al-Qarafi said:

“The covenant of protection imposes upon us certain obligations toward ahl adh-dhimmah. They are our neighbours, under our shelter and protection upon the guarantee of Allah, His Messenger (p), and the religion of Islam. Whoever violates these obligations against any of them by so much as an abusive word, by slandering his reputation, or by doing him some injury or assisting in it, has breached the guarantee of Allah, His Messenger (p), and the religion of Islam. (Al-Qarafi, Al-furuq)

And Ibn Hazm said:

“If the enemy of a dhimmi comes with his forces to take him, it is our obligation to fight this enemy with soldiers and weapons and to give our lives for him, thus honouring the guarantee of Allah and His Messenger (p). To hand him over to the enemy would mean to dishonour this guarantee.” (Ibn Hazm, Maratib al-ijma)

FRIENDSHIP WITH NON-MUSLIMS

A question which troubles some people and which is sometimes discussed openly is the following: How can we show kindness, affection, and good treatment to non-Muslims when Allah Himself prohibits Muslims to take non-believers as friends, allies, or supporters in such verses as the following:

“O you who believe, do not take the Jews and Christians as friends; they are friends (only) of each other. And whoever among you turns to them (for friendship) is certainy one of them; indeed, Allah does not guide the people who do wrong. Yet thou seest those whose hearts is a disease racing toward them…” (Quran – Al-Ma’idah, verses 51-52)

The answer to this is that these verses are not unconditional, to be applied to every Jew, Christian, or non-Muslim. Interpreting them in this manner contradicts the injunctions of the Qur’an which enjoin affection and kindness to the good and peace-loving peoples of every religion and permit marriage to the women of the People of the Book (Christians and Jews given prior revelation), with all that Allah says concerning marriage:

“…and He has put love and mercy between you.” (Quran – Ar-Rum, verse 21)

Besides, Allah says concerning the Christians:

“…you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers (Muslims) those who say, “We are Christians.” (Quran – Al-Ma’idah, verse 82)

The verses cited above were revealed in connection with those people who were hostile to Islam and made war upon the Muslims. Accordingly, it is not permissible for the Muslim to support or assist them – that is, to be their ally – nor to entrust them with secrets at the expense of his own religion and community. This point is explained in other verses, in which Allah says:

“O ye who believe! Take not into your intimacy those outside your ranks: they will not fail to corrupt you. They only desire your ruin: rank hatred has already appeared from their mouths: what their hearts conceal is far worse. We have made plain to you the signs, if ye have wisdom. Ah! Ye are those who love them, but they love you not…” (Quran – Al-Imran, verses 118 – 119)

These two verses throw light on the character of such people, who conceal great enmity and hatred against the Muslims in their hearts and whose tongues express some of the effects of such hostility. Allah also says:

“Thou wilt not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last day loving those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even though they may be their fathers, or their sons or their brothers or their kin…” (Quran – Al-Mujahadal, verse 22)

Opposition to Allah is not merely disbelief but includes hostility toward Islam and Muslims. Allah also says:

“O you who believe, do not take my enemy and your enemy as friends, offering them affection, even though they have disbelieved in what has come to you of the truth, driving out the Messenger and yourselves because you believe in Allah, your Lord…” (Quran – Al-Mumtahanah, verse 1)

This verse was revealed in connection with the pagans of Makkah, who declared war on Allah and His Messenger (p), driving the Muslims out of their homes simply because they said:

“Our Lord is Allah”.

With this type of people, friendship and alliance cannot be permitted. Yet in spite of this, the Qur’an did not dismiss the hope that one day there might be a reconciliation; it did not declare utter disappointment in them but encouraged the Muslims to entertain the hope of better circumstances and improved relationship, for in the same Surah (chapter) Allah says:

“It may be that Allah will bring about affection between you and those who are your enemies from among them. And Allah is All-Powerful, and Allah is Ever-Forgiving. Ever-Merciful” (Quran – Al-Mumtahanah, verse 7)

This Qur’anic statement gives the assurance that this bitter hostility and deep hatred will pass away, as it is also stated in the Hadith:

“Hate your enemy mildly; he may become your friend some day.” (Narrated by Al-Tirmidhi and Al-Bukahri. Al-Bayhaqi narrated it in Shu’ab al-Iman on the authority of Abu Hurayrah. As Suyuti called it Hasan…)

The prohibition against befriending the enemies of Islam is even more emphatic when they are stronger than the Muslims, crushing hopes and generating fear in the minds of people. In such a situation, only hypocrites and those in whose hearts there is a disease hasten to befriend them, giving them help today in order to benefit from them tomorrow. Allah describes this situation as follows:

“Yet thou seest those in whose hearts is a disease racing toward them, saying, ‘We are afraid that a change of fortune may befall us.’ But it may be that Allah will give (thee) the victory or some decision from Himself, and then they will become regretful for what they thought secretly within themselves. “ (Quran – Al-Ma’idah, verse 52)

And again:

“Give to the hypocrites the tidings that they will have a grievous punishment. Do those who take the unbelievers as friends instead of believers seek honor among them? For indeed all honor belongs to God alone.” (Quran, An-Nisa, verses 138 – 139)

SEEKING HELP FROM NON-MUSLIMS

There is no harm done if Muslims, at either the private or governmental level, seek help from non-Muslims in technical matters which have no connection to religion – for example, in medicine, industry, or agriculture. At the same it is of course extremely desirable that Muslims become self-sufficient in all such fields.

We see from the life of the Prophet (p) that he employed Abdullah ibn Urayqit, a polytheist, to be his guide on his emigration from Makkah to Madinah. Scholars have concluded from this that a person’s unbelief does not mean that he is basically untrustworthy, for what could be more risky than depending on a guide to show the route, particularly in emigrating from Makkah to Madinah.

The Muslim is permitted to give gifts to non-Muslims and to accept gifts from them. It is sufficient here to mention that the Prophet (p) accepted gifts from non-Muslims kings. (Narrated Muslim & Tirmidhi)

Scholars of Hadith states that there many Hadiths which report that the Prophet (p) accepted gifts from non-Muslims, and Umm Salamah, a wife of the Prophet, reported that the Prophet (p) said to her:

“I have sent an Najashi, a robe and some silk.” (Narrated by Ahmad and Tabarani)

Indeed, Islam respects a human in general because he is human, how much the more then, if he is from the People of the Book or if he is a Dhimmi? Once a funeral procession passed by the Prophet (p) and he stood up. Thereupon someone remarked:

“O Messenger of God, it is the funeral of a Jew.”

The Prophet (p) replied:

“Was he not a soul?” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)

Thus, truly, in Islam every human being has a dignity and a place. [1]

Reference:

[1] The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam (Al-Halal Wal Haram Fil Islam) By Shaykh Yusuf al-Qardawi, Page 333 – 341

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