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The Rights of Non-Muslims in Islam

Rights of non-Muslims in Islam

Islam recognizes the existence of different creeds and builds its relationship with them on a the basis of coexistence and respect.

By Editorial Staff

Difference is the norm of this life. It happens to everything in the creation and shapes the general picture of our existence in this universe which is replete with dissimilarity in everything. Almighty Allah has highlighted this in the Qur’an and made it a proof for His Power and Omnipotence. God says,

And He it is who causes gardens to grow, [both] trellised and untrellised, and palm trees and crops of different [kinds of] food and olives and pomegranates, similar and dissimilar. Eat of [each of] its fruit when it yields and give its due [zakah] on the day of its harvest. And be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess. (Al-An`am 6:141)

This rule is also true for the issue of faith as Islam recognizes the existence of different creeds and builds its relationship with them on a basis of coexistence and respect. The Qur’an admitted the divergence of faiths and the existence of the guided and the misguided. Almighty Allah says,

And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed – all of them entirely. Then, [O Muhammad], would you compel the people in order that they become believers? (Yunus 10:99)

The verse tells us that if Allah willed, all people would be believers but His Wisdom required the existence of different creeds and doctrines. Regardless of the soundness of these religions, Islam gives specific rights for the followers of these religions that protect their identity and dignity. In this article we will tackle the rights of non-Muslims upon Muslims and review the fairness and tolerance of Islam towards people of other creeds. The following are some of these rights:

The Right to inviting non-Muslims to Islam

Allah says in the Qur’an referring to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

Say, “This is my way; I invite to Allah with insight, I and those who follow me. And exalted is Allah ; and I am not of those who associate others with Him.” (Yusuf 12:108)

This obligation and right is encompassing and is not limited to a specific time, place, gender or age among Muslims. Calling others to Islam, the last religion, is obligatory upon everyone who assumes following the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Islam is the only true religion that lends a hand to the success in this life and the hereafter. So, it is a kind of injustice to withhold this goodness from those who have no knowledge about it. The Muslim is obligated to show the true teachings of Islam, in word and action and with wisdom and kindness, to those who do not believe in it. Almighty Allah says,

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)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded us to convey the call of Islam to others, even if it is only by one verse. `Abdullah ibn `Amr (may Allah be pleased with them) reported: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Convey from me even an ayah of the Qur’an…” (Al-Bukhari) The Prophet also illustrated that calling people to Islam is one of the best acts in Islam. Sahl ibn Sa`d narrated that the Prophet said on the battle of Khaybar to `Ali ibn Abu Talib, “Go to them patiently and calmly till you enter the land. Then, invite them to Islam, and inform them what is enjoined upon them, for, by Allah, if Allah gives guidance to somebody through you, it is better for you than possessing red camels.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Right to good treatment

Almighty Allah states in the Qur’an,

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. (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8)

Scholars have divided non-Muslims into two main categories. The first one is the non-fighting non-Muslims which applies to every non-Muslim who does not show antagonism towards Islam and does not engage in any offensive actions against the Muslims. The other category is the fighting ones who engage in wars against Muslims and aim at destroying the Muslim communities and territories.

As for the first category, which is true for the general majority of non-Muslims nowadays, they owe the right to be mercifully treated and welcomed, especially if they are relatives or neighbors. The proof of this is the narration from Asmaa’ bint Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with them both) that she said, “My mother came to me during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) and she was a pagan (i.e. a non-Muslim worshipping idols). I said to Allah’s Messenger (seeking his verdict), “My mother has come to me and she desires to receive a reward from me, shall I keep good relations with her?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Yes, keep good relation with her. ” (Al-Bukhari)

The non-Muslims, although being of invalid faith from the Muslims’ viewpoint, they must not be put to harm because of their creed so long as they do not cause harm to others. Islam’s stance on this regard should be clear to everyone. Islam does not stand on the opposite side against the non-Muslims. Rather, Islam urges Muslims to respect, tolerate, and have  good relations with non-Muslims. It is reported from Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) that a young Jewish boy who was in the service of the Prophet (peace be upon him) fell ill. The Prophet (peace be upon him) went to visit him.” (Al-Bukhari)

Also, `Abdur-Rahman ibn Abu Layla narrated that: “Sahl ibn Hunayf and Qays ibn Sa`d were sitting in the city of Al-Qadisiya. A funeral procession passed in front of them and they stood up. They were told that funeral procession was of one of the inhabitants of the land (i.e. of a non-Muslim) under the protection of Muslims. They said, “A funeral procession passed in front of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he stood up. When he was told that it was the coffin of a Jew, he said, “Is it not a living being (soul)?” (Al-Bukhari)

This indeed is the spirit that Islam seeks to instill in the hearts of Muslims towards non-Muslims.

The Right to Justice

In a divine hadith narrated by Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said among what he narrated from Allah (the Most High) that He has said, “O My slaves, I have made injustice unlawful for myself and I have made it unlawful among you, so do not oppress one another.” (Muslim) All kinds of injustice are equally prohibited whether the person is Muslim or non-Muslim. The divine texts and Prophetic hadiths are so clear on this point. God said,

They will have from Hell a bed and over them coverings [of fire]. And thus do We recompense the wrongdoers. (Al-A`raf 7:41)

Jabir bin ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Beware of injustice, for injustice will turn into excessive darkness on the Day of Resurrection.” (Muslim)

The warning against committing injustice is more stressed in the case of non-Muslims as stated in the hadith narrated by Safwan from a number of Companions of the Messenger of Allah that the Messenger of Allah said: “Beware, if anyone wrongs a contracting man (a non-Muslim who has a treaty with Muslims), or diminishes his right, or forces him to work beyond his capacity, or takes from him anything without his consent, I shall plead for him on the Day of Judgment.” (Abu Dawud) That is the true tolerating Islam.

The Right to protect their souls

Killing is purely an aggression against the creation of Allah the Almighty. It is the most offensive, repulsive and punishable action in Islam next to shirk (having partners with God in worship). Almighty Allah has forbidden it numerous times and warned of its severe punishment. He says,

And those who do not invoke with Allah another deity or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty. Multiplied for him is the punishment on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein humiliated. (Al-Furqan 25:68)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) stressed the prohibition of killing in numerous hadiths such as the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Avoid the seven destructive things.” It was asked: (by those present): “What are they, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “Associating anyone or anything with Allah in worship; practicing sorcery, killing of someone without a just cause whom Allah has forbidden…” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

However, with regard to the non-fighting non-Muslim, protecting their souls is more stressed and the prohibition and punishment became more established owing to their specialty and the covenant of Islam to protect them from harm. Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Indeed, whoever kills a Mu`ahid (a non-fighting non-Muslim) that has a covenant from Allah and a covenant from His Messenger, then he has violated the covenant with Allah and the covenant of His Messenger. He shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise; even though its fragrance can be sensed from the distance of seventy autumns.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Their right to remain on their religion

Islam is a belief and course of conduct that initially begins from the heart, the reason and the soul then its impacts flow over the body. Allah does not accept the outer obedience unless it emanates from a faithful and sincere heart. Islam views that claiming Islam with the tongue and practicing worship by the body parts without true faith in God is nothing but a cursed form hypocrisy whose doer is a loser. Therefore, the issue of following Islam remains a matter of freedom and none can be forced on following Islam. Almighty Allah has stated that compulsion on religion cannot be accepted. He says,

And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed – all of them entirely. Then, [O Muhammad], would you compel the people in order that they become believers? (Yunus 10:99)

The Right not to insult their gods and sacred things

Almighty Allah forbade insulting the gods of non-Muslims or making little of them because this will lead to greater harm, that is they may insult our God (Glory be to Him) in revenge. Almighty 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)

Al-Qurtubi (a renowned Muslim scholar) said, “Scholars said that the ruling of this verse is permanent all the way. So, if the non-Muslim is in power and it is feared that he curses Islam, the Prophet Muhammad or Almighty Allah; it is not permissible for the Muslim to curse their crosses, religion or churches and not to commit what leads to this.” (Tafsir Al-Qurtubi)

These are some of the rights of non-Muslims upon the Muslims that should be taken into consideration by every Muslim. These rights show both the greatness of Islam as well as its tolerance towards those who do not follow it by preserving their dignity, identity, life and religions.

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One thought on “The Rights of Non-Muslims in Islam

Makkah

Thanks for sharing so amazing article!!

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