Relations with Non Muslims According to Islam

5th January 2008

Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an:
“ O Mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women….” (Ch 4, v1)

It is the teaching of Islam that all of creation (human kind) are one family, we are all branches of the same tree. Just as one Muslim is the brother of another Muslim, each individual on this earth is a part of a large family. From this we are made attentive to the fact that, as a Muslim we are taught to respect and be kind to all our fellow brother and sisters.

The Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) stated:
• “Those who are merciful, Allah shows mercy to them…If you show mercy to those on the Earth, the one in the skies (Allah) will show mercy to you.” (Sunan Abu Dawood, no.4941)
• “A believer is he, from whom the whole of mankind are safe.” (Nisai, no. 4998)
• “All of the creation are like the family of Allah (most high). The best liked amongst the creation to their Creator are those who are best to their family.” (Mishkaat Masabih, p212) In the term ‘creation’, Muslim, non-Muslim of all other faiths are included.

Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an:
“Indeed, we honoured the children of Adam (Mankind)…” (Ch 17, v70)
“Verily, we created mankind in the best of statures…” (Ch 95, v4)
This message from the Holy Quran, ordering the respect and reverence of creation is applicable to the whole of creation. The Prophet of Islam (PBUH), who was sent as the embodiment of Mercy to Mankind gave the practical example of this injunction.

There was once a funeral procession of a Jewish man passing by where the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and his companions were
seated. The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) stood up and was informed by the people that it was the funeral of a Jew. In response to this the Prophet (PBUH) said: “He too has life within him (He is also a human).” (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 1312)

Good Character towards Non-Muslims

It is a foundation of the teaching of Islam that it is necessary for a Muslim to adopt the religious code of Islam and also to have good relations and character towards those of other faiths. The Quran clearly states that the guidance of a people, nation… and acceptance of the true religion is only due to the divine will of the Creator Allah Most High. However, if in place of this a Muslim does not uphold good relations and character with those of other faiths, this is incorrect. However sublime the treatment and character of a Muslim is towards others including those of other faiths, Allah most high will reward him/her for their actions accordingly.

Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an:
“Their guidance is not upon you (O Muhammed), but Allah guides whom he wills. Whatever you spend in good, you will be rewarded for it in full…” (s2, v272)

In the time of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), the enemies of the message of Islam, expelled the Prophet (pbuh) and their companions through oppression & harshness that cannot be imagined, from the city of their birth (Makkah). The oppression and hardships on the new Muslims was fresh in the hearts of the Muslims. At this time there was an intense famine in Makkah, to the extent that people were forced to eat carrion and garbage to survive. The Muslims were not blessed with a great deal of wealth at this time, even so, through their mercy Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) collected and sent 500 Dinars (gold coins) to the leaders of Makkah (Abu Sufyan and Safwan) to be used to feed the people, who ultimately were responsible for their exile. (Rahkdul Mukhtar, vol 3, p302)

The Respect of the Other Faiths and Their Practices.

The simple message of the Quran is the propagation of belief in ‘One God’. There is nothing more necessary to understand in Islam, than this principle of oneness of God. At the same time there is nothing more important to beware of than associating partners with Allah Most High. Islam has however, taught us the way of justice, every person has the free will to follow whichever belief they desire. And it is not permissible to force the belief of Islam upon anyone.

Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:
“There is no compulsion in religion. Verily the right has become apparent from the wrong…..” (Ch 2, v256)
The leader of the Muslims Umar had a servant, who he brought up from childhood and propagated the message of Islam to him on many occasions. However, he continually refused to accept Islam, Umar would always say in response to his refusal: “There is no compulsion in religion.” To the extent that near the death of Umar, he freed this servant. (Kitabul Amwaal, vol 1, p154). When no compulsion was made on one’s own servant how can we compel other non muslims to accept Islam.
Refraining from insulting those of other Religions:
Allah Most High says in the Qur’an: “ Insult not those who worship others besides Allah….” (Ch 6, v108)

From the above verse of the Quran, it is clear that those people who follow a religion besides Islam cannot be mocked or insulted for that, even though Islam does not allow the worship of any diety besides Allah Most High. In view of this fact, the teachings of Islam are that, even in this matter it is incumbent upon a Muslim to respect the beliefs of other religions even though they are not in conformity with the Islamic ideology.

The Freedom to practise other Religions:

Islam openly proclaims the message of truth and propogates it. However, there is no allowance to force the beliefs of Islam upon others. If there are people who wish to practise their religion, then Islam allows them complete freedom to do so. It is Allah Almighty that guides a person to the straight path. The Quran being the very word of Allah Almighty, proclaimed to the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh): “To you be your religion, and to me my religion” (Ch 109, v6)
And in other places the Quran states: “Dispute you with us about Allah Most High while he is our Lord and your Lord? We are to be rewarded for our deeds and you for your deeds.” (Ch 2, v139)

The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) showed us through his practical actions when a group of Christians from Najran came to visit the Prophet (pbuh) in Medina. The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) gave them permission to worship according to their teachings whilst they stayed in Medina. (Ahkaam Ahle Zima, vol 1, p316)

The jurists of Islam have written that is it not necessary to marry ‘People of the Book’ (the Jews & Christians). However, there is an allowance within the teachings of Islam that if a Muslim man did marry a Jewish or Christian women, then she too will be given the freedom to practise her religion in wedlock to a Muslim, i.e. fasting on her religious days of the week etc… and her Muslim husband should not prevent her from doing so. (Ahkaam Ahle Zima, book 1, p316)

During the time of Abu Bakr Siddique (ra), the 1st Khalifa after the demise of the Prophet (pbuh), the area of Hayra was conquered. They drafted a piece of legislation from the conquered land, from which the 1st ruling was that there would be no interference with the religious practices of the Christians in that area. The 2nd ruling stipulated was that their religion (Christianity) was not to be mocked or insulted. (Mowsu-atul Khiraj, p143)

Government/ Foreign Relations:

Islam recommends the creation of an ideal system on foreign relations between Muslim and Non Muslims. To the extent, the teachings of Islam allow that those of other religions be granted the oppurtunity to work within a Muslim country without discrimination. Even in the time of companions of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), Non Muslims used to occupy very respectable and distinguished posts within the Islamic governent.
1. In the time of the companion Muawiya (ra) the head of the treasury/financial commision in Homs(Aleppo, Syria) Ibn Athal was a Christian.
2. King Abdul Malik bin Marwan’s scribe was Ibn Thurzoon, who used to write the kings legislatory documents and letters, was also a Christian.
3. In the Abbasid rule, Nasr bin Haroon, a Christian, was the deputy Prime Minister and enjoyed honour and respect from both Muslims and Non Muslims alike. There are many other examples like this. (Makala Shibli, vol 2, p 217-219)

Why is tax taken from Non Muslims in Muslim Lands?

In the Muslim Lands, the Islamic Law (Shariah) stipulates that all Muslims who have reached the age of maturity will have to give zakat (Charity) if their individual wealth reaches the value stated by the Shariah. The Government will take this ‘tax’ (fixed at 2.5% of the excess wealth) from those eligible to pay once a year. There is a clear statement that this charity will be taken from all those who are of mature age and their wealth is above that of the required amount: be they male or female, young or old, able or physically challenged. (Kutub-e-Fiqh)

If this very same system was used for Non Muslims that reside in Muslim ruled lands, it would be a very heavy burden on them. As the Muslim will pay the tax due to it being a principle of their religion.

The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) has very forcefully stated that the blood, life and wealth of a Non Muslim living under Muslim rule is to be safeguarded in the same way as the Muslims would be. (Baihaqi). There is no differentiation between the two.

The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) stated that any Zimmi (a Non Muslim living under Muslim rule) or those who have a treaty with the Muslim to live in peace. If anyone was to harm these people living under the Muslim rule they will not even be able to smell the fragrance of Heaven (they will not enter Heaven). (Sahih Bukhari no.3166)

The Jizya (tax) is not taken in the same way as for the Muslims. Non Muslim women, children, old, sick, physically challenged, poor and religious leaders of other faiths are not expected to pay this Jizya (tax). Only those men are expected to pay a very small amount once a year who are in employment. (Hidaya, vol 4, p318. Ahkaam Ahle Zima, vol 1, p148)

Those that earn a low wage are expected to pay 12 Dirhams (£3). Those that earn a moderate wage are expected to pay 24 Dirhams (£6). Those that earn a high wage are expected to pay 48 Dirhams (£12).(Baihaqi vol 9, p329,no.18685)
The reason for collecting this small amount of Jizya (tax) is to ensure the safety and security of the Non Muslims not because of them being Non Muslims

It is necessary that Muslims understand that they need to preach the true teaching of Islam to their Non Muslim brothers and sisters. Non Muslims should also try and learn and understand what the true teachings of Islam are.
We hope from this it is clear that it is very simple to make this World a place of peace and security for all those that live in it, regardless of religion, race or creed.

Mufti Yusuf Danka