Rights of Non-Muslims in an Islamic State

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Rights of Non-Muslims in an Islamic State

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  1. #11
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    Good Treatment

    The Quran instructs Muslims to treat non-Muslims courteously in a spirit of kindness and generosity, given they are not hostile towards Muslims. God says:

    “God does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from dealing kindly and justly with them. Indeed, God loves those who act justly. God 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.” (Quran 60:8-9)

    Al-Qarafi, a classical Muslim scholar, describes the depth of the meaning of “dealing kindly” referred to in the above verse. He explains the term:

    ‘…gentleness towards the weak, providing clothing to cover them, and soft speech. This must be done with affection and mercy, not by intimidation or degradation. Furthermore, tolerating the fact that they may be bothersome neighbors whom you could force to move, but you do not out of kindness towards them, not out of fear or financial reasons. Also, praying they receive guidance and [thus] join the ranks of the blessed with external reward, advising them in all wordily and spiritual matters, protecting their reputation if they are exposed to slander, and defending their property, families, rights, and concerns. Assisting them against oppression and getting them their rights.’[1]

    Divine commandments to treat non-Muslims in this manner were taken seriously by Muslims. They were not just verses to be recited, but Divine Will to be acted upon. The Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, himself was the first person to put the divine commands into practice, followed by his caliphs and the general population of believers. The life-story of the Prophet of Islam gives many instances of his kind, tolerant co-existence with non-Muslims. Some of his neighbors were non-Muslims and the Prophet would be generous towards them and exchange gifts. The Prophet of Islam would visit them when they fell sick and do business with them. There was a Jewish family he regularly gave charity to and the Muslims after his death maintained his charity towards them.[2]

    When a Christian delegation from Ethiopian churches came to Medina, the Prophet opened up his mosque for them to stay in, hosted them generously, and personally served them meals. He said:

    “They were generous to our companions, so I wish to be generous to them in person…”

    …referring to the event when they provided asylum to a number of his companions after they fled persecution in Arabia and took asylum in Abyssinia.[3] In another instance, a Jewish man named Zayd bin Sana came to the Prophet of Islam to reclaim a debt. He grabbed the Prophet by his robe and cloak, pulled the Prophet close to his face, and said, ‘Muhammad, are you not going to give me my due? You and your clan Banu Muttalib never pay debts on time!’ Umar, one of the companions of the Prophet, got agitated and said, ‘Enemy of God, am I really hearing what you just said to God’s Prophet. I swear by the One who sent him with truth, if I were not afraid that he would blame me, I would have taken my sword and cut your head off!’ The Prophet looked calmly at Umar and censured him gently:

    “Umar, that is not what we needed to hear from you. You should have counseled me to pay my debts in time and asked him to seek repayment in a respectful manner. Now take him, repay him his debt from my money and give him an extra twenty measures of date.”

    The Jewish man was so pleasantly surprised by the Prophet’s behavior that he immediately declared his acceptance of Islam![4]

    The companions of Prophet Muhammad followed his example in how they treated non-Muslims. Umar set-up a permanent stipend for the Jewish family the Prophet used to take care of in his lifetime.[5] He found justification for allotting funds for the People of the Scripture in the following verse of the Quran:

    “Alms are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect (the funds) and for bringing hearts together, and for freeing captives (or slaves) and for those in debt and for the cause of God, and for the (stranded) traveler – an obligation (imposed) by God. And God is Knowing and Wise.” (Quran 9:60)

    Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, a famous companion of the Prophet Muhammad, would regularly give charity to his neighbors. He would send his servant to take portions of meat on religious occasions to his Jewish neighbor. The surprised servant asked about Abdullah’s concern for his Jewish neighbor. Abdullah told him the saying of Prophet Muhammad:

    “The angel Gabriel was so adamant in reminding me to be charitable with my neighbor that I thought he might make him my heir.”[6]

    Turning to the pages of history, we find a marvelous example of how a Muslim ruler expected his governors to treat the Jewish populace. The Sultan of Morocco, Muhammad ibn Abdullah, issued an edict on February 5th, 1864 CE:

    ‘To our civil servants and agents who perform their duties as authorized representatives in our territories, we issue the following edict:

    ‘They must deal with the Jewish residents of our territories according to the absolute standard of justice established by God. The Jews must be dealt with by the law on an equal basis with others so that none suffers the least injustice, oppression, or abuse. Nobody from their own community or outside shall be permitted to commit any offense against them or their property. Their artisans and craftsmen may not be scripted into service against their will, and must be paid full wages for serving the state. Any oppression will cause the oppressor to be in darkness on Judgment Day and we will not approve of any such wrongdoing. Everyone is equal in the sight of our law, and we will punish anyone who wrongs or commits aggression against the Jews with divine aid. This order which we have stated here is the same law that has always been known, established, and stated. We have issued this edict simply to affirm and warn anyone who may wish to wrong them, so the Jews may have a greater sense of security and those intending harm may be deterred by greater sense of fear.’[7]

    Renault is one of the unbiased Western historians who has acknowledged the kind and fair treatment of Muslims towards the non-Muslim minorities. He comments:

    ‘The Muslims in the cities of Islamic Spain treated the non-Muslims in the best possible way. In return, the non-Muslims showed respect to the sensibilities of the Muslims and would circumcise their own children and refrain from eating pork.’[8]


    Footnotes:
    [1] Al-Qarafi, ‘al-Furooq,’ vol 3, p. 15
    [2] Abu Ubayd, al-Amwaal, p. 613
    [3] Ibn Hamdun, ‘at-Tazkira al-Hamduniyya,’ vol. 2, p. 95
    Siba’i, Mustafa, ‘Min Rawai Hadaratina,’ p. 134
    [4] Ibn Kathir, ‘al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya,’ vol 2, p. 310
    [5] Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj, p. 86
    [6] Saheeh Al-Bukhari
    [7] Qaradawi, Yusuf, ‘al-Aqaliyyat ad-Diniyya wa-Hal al-Islami,’ p. 58-59
    [8] Quoted by Siba’i, Mustafa, ‘Min Rawai Hadaratina,’ p. 147
    نقره لتكبير أو تصغير الصورة ونقرتين لعرض الصورة في صفحة مستقلة بحجمها الطبيعي

    تحمَّلتُ وحديَ مـا لا أُطيـقْ من الإغترابِ وهَـمِّ الطريـقْ
    اللهم اني اسالك في هذه الساعة ان كانت جوليان في سرور فزدها في سرورها ومن نعيمك عليها . وان كانت جوليان في عذاب فنجها من عذابك وانت الغني الحميد برحمتك يا ارحم الراحمين

  2. #12
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    Social Security

    Modern welfare states provide social benefits to their poor citizens, but Islam preceded all nations in establishing social security services. Islamic law set up financial provisions for needy Muslims through zakah (obligatory charity) and sadaqa (voluntary charity). Zakah was made obligatory on wealthy Muslims to take care of the poor, whereas sadaqa was left on individual discretion to help the needy. Social security provided by Islam includes non-Muslims as well. Islamic Law requires the state to provide for its citizens with disabilities – Muslim or non-Muslim - that prevent them from employment. They are provided for by the public treasury and the ruler is negligent if he does not do so. Many instances of Muslims providing social security to the non-Muslim citizens are recorded in history. Umar ibn al-Khattab the second caliph of Islam, once passed by a old, blind man begging in front of a house. Umar asked him which religious community he belonged to. The man said he was Jewish. Umar then asked him, ‘What has brought you to this?’ The old man said, ‘Do not ask me; ask …poverty, and old age.’ Umar took the man to his own home, helped him from his personal money, and then ordered the head of the treasury, ‘You must look after this man and others like him. We have not treated him fairly. He should not have spent the best years of his life among us to find misery in his old age.’ Umar also relieved him and others in his situation of paying the jizya.[1]

    Another example is found in Khalid ibn al-Walid’s letter to the people of the Iraqi city of Hira. It contains the terms of truce he offered them:

    ‘If God gives us victory, the people of the covenant will be protected. They have rights promised to them by God. It is the strictest covenant God has made incumbent on any of His prophets. They are also held by the duties that it places upon them and must not violate it. If they are conquered, they will live comfortably with everything due to them. I am commanded to exempt from jizya the elderly who cannot work, the disabled, or the poor who receive charity from their own community. The treasury will provide for them and their dependants as long as they live in Muslim lands or in the communities of Muslim emigrants. If they move outside of Muslim lands, neither they nor their dependants shall be entitled to any benefits.’[2]

    In another instance, Umar ibn al-Khattab, the Muslim Caliph, was visiting Damascus. He passed by a group of Christian lepers. He ordered that they be given charity and regular stipends for food.[3]

    Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz, another Muslim Caliph, wrote to his agent in Basra, Iraq, ‘Search for the people of the covenant in your area who may have grown old, and are unable to earn, and provide them with regular stipends from the treasury to take care of their needs.’[4]

    Some of the early Muslims[5] used to distribute part of their post-Ramadan charity (zakat ul-fitr) to Christian monks, based on their understanding of the verse of Quran:

    “God does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from dealing kindly and justly with them. Indeed, God loves those who act justly. God 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.”(Quran 60:8-9)

    Finally, there are other rights that we have not discussed here, because of the assumption that they are elementary and taken for granted, such as the right to work, housing, transportation, education, and so forth.[6] However, before concluding, I would like to make the following observation. Our discussion has clarified how non-Muslims living in Muslim countries enjoy rights that they might not be granted in non-Muslim countries. Some readers may respond with the objection that these rights might have existed in history, but the experience of non-Muslims living in Muslim countries today is different. The author’s personal observation is that non-Muslims still enjoy many of these same rights today, perhaps even more. Allah Almighty has commanded us to be truthful, in the verse:

    “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, God is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you avoid justice; and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do.”(Quran 4:135)

    Further, when we compare the conditions of non-Muslims living in Muslim countries to the status of Muslim minorities living in non-Muslim countries, whether now or in history, we see a profound difference. What happened to Muslims during the Crusades, under the Spanish Inquisition, in Communist China, or the Soviet Union? What is happening to them today in the Balkans, Russia, Palestine, and India? It would be worthwhile to reflect in order to give an answer based on fairness and declaration of truth and justice. Allah is the best of Judges, and He states:

    “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for God as just witnesses; and let not the enmity hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety; and fear God. Verily, God is Well-Acquainted with what you do.”(Quran 5:8)


    Footnotes:
    [1] Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj, p. 136
    [2] Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj, p. 155-156
    [3] Qaradawi, Yusuf, ‘Ghayr al-Muslimeen fil-Mujtama’ al-Islami,’ p. 17
    [4] Abu Ubayd, al-Amwaal, p. 805
    [5] Sarkhasi, ‘al-Mabsut,’ vol 2, p. 202
    Jassas, ‘al-Ahkam ul-Quran,’ vol. 3, p. 215
    [6] Public Regulations Relevant to non-Muslims, p. 43-58.
    نقره لتكبير أو تصغير الصورة ونقرتين لعرض الصورة في صفحة مستقلة بحجمها الطبيعي

    تحمَّلتُ وحديَ مـا لا أُطيـقْ من الإغترابِ وهَـمِّ الطريـقْ
    اللهم اني اسالك في هذه الساعة ان كانت جوليان في سرور فزدها في سرورها ومن نعيمك عليها . وان كانت جوليان في عذاب فنجها من عذابك وانت الغني الحميد برحمتك يا ارحم الراحمين

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    Protection from Foreign Aggression


    Non-Muslim citizens have a similar right to be protected from external enemies just as a Muslim fellow citizen does. The payment of jizya ensures protection against outside aggression, defense against enemies, and ransom to be paid on their behalf if they are taken captive by an enemy.[1]

    Writing a few centuries ago, Ibn Hazm, a classical scholar of Islam, said:

    ‘If we are attacked by an enemy nation who is targeting the People of the Covenant living among us, it is out duty to come fully armed and ready to die in battle for them, to protect those people who are protected by the covenant of God and His Messenger. Doing any less and surrendering them will be blameworthy neglect of a sacred promise.’[2]

    History has recorded many examples of Muslims fulfilling their sacred promise towards the dhimmis. The companion of Prophet Muhammad, Abu Ubayda al-Jarrah, was the leader of the army that conquered Syria. He made agreement with its people to pay the jizya.

    Realizing the faithful loyalty of the Muslims, the Syrian people of the covenant resisted Muslim enemies and aided the Muslims against them. The residents of each town would send some of their people to spy against the Byzantines, who conveyed the news of the gathering of Byzantine army to Abu Ubayda’s commanders. Finally, when the Muslims feared they would not be able to guarantee their protectect ,Abu Ubayda wrote to his commanders to return all the money they had collected as jizya with the following message for the Syrians:

    ‘We are returning your money to you because news has reached us of the awaiting armies. The condition of our agreement is that we protect you, and we are unable to do so, therefore, we are returning what we have taken from you. If God grants us victory, we will stand by out agreement.’

    When his commanders returned the money and conveyed his message, the Syrian response was:

    ‘May God bring you back safely to us. May He grant you victory. If the Byzantines had been in your place, they would not have returned anything, they would have taken everything we own and left us with nothing.’

    The Muslims were victorious in the battle. When people of other towns saw how their allies were defeated, they sought to negotiate a truce with the Muslims. Abu Ubayda entered into a truce with all of them with all the rights he had extended in the first treaties. They also requested that the Byzantines hiding among them be given safe passage back home, with their families and possessions, without any harm, which Abu Ubayda agreed to.

    Then the Syrians sent the jizya and opened their cities to welcome Muslims. On the way back home, Abu Ubayda was met by the representatives of townspeople and villagers requesting him to extend the treaty to them as well, to which he happily complied.[3]

    Another example of Muslims’ defending the non-Muslim citizens can be seen in the actions of Ibn Taimiyya. He went to the Tartar leader after they had sacked Syria for release of their captives. The Tartar leader agreed to release the Muslim prisoners, but Ibn Taimiyya protested:

    ‘We will only be satisfied if all the Jewish and Christian prisoners are released as well. They are people of the covenant. We do not abandon a prisoner whether from our own people or from those under a covenant.’

    He persisted until the Tartars released all of them.[4]

    Furthermore, Muslim jurists have stated that protecting non-Muslims from external aggression is a duty just as their protection from internal harassment. Al-Mawardi stated:

    ‘The payment of the jizya entitles the people of the covenant to two rights. First, that they be left undisturbed. Second, that they be guarded and protected. In this way, they can be secure in society and protected from outside threats.’[5]

    Islam considers abandoning the protection of its non-Muslim citizens a form of wrongdoing and oppression that is forbidden. God says:

    “…And whoever commits injustice among you — We will make him taste a great punishment.” (Quran 25:19)

    Therefore, harming or oppressing people of the covenant is considered a serious sin. Upholding treaties with them is an obligation on the Muslim Caliph and his representatives. The Prophet promised to argue on the Day of Judgment on behalf of the dhimmi against someone who harms him:

    “Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, curtails their rights, burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.” (Abu Dawood)

    All evidence in Islamic Law points towards protecting the people of the covenant. Al-Qarafi, another classical Muslim scholar, wrote:

    ‘The covenant is a contract that has conditions that are compulsory for us, for they are under our protection as neighbors, and the covenant of God and His Messenger, and the religion of Islam. If someone harms them with inappropriate speech, defamation, any type of harassment, or is an accomplice to such actions, then he has made light of the covenant of God, His Messenger, and Islam.’[6]

    Umar, the second Caliph of Islam, would inquire from the visitors coming to meet him from other provinces about the situation of the people of the covenant and would say, ‘We may know that the treaty is still being upheld.’[7] On his deathbed, Umar is reported to have said, ‘Command whoever becomes Caliph after me to treat well the people of the covenant, to uphold the treaty, to fight whoever wants to harm them, and not to overwhelm them with burden.’[8]

    The writings of Muslim scholars and the actions of many Muslim rulers demonstrate the Islamic commitment from the earliest times to this right of non-Muslims.


    Footnotes:
    [1] Some parts of this article are taken from the books: ‘Ghayr al-Muslimeen fil-Mujtama’ al-Islami,’ by Yusuf Qaradawi and ‘Huquq Ghayr is-Muslimeen fid-Dawla al-Islamiyya,’ by Fahd Muhammad Ali Masud.
    [2] Qarafi, ‘al-Furuq,’ vol 3, p. 14
    [3] Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj, p. 149-151
    [4] Qaradawi, Yusuf, ‘Ghayr al-Muslimeen fil-Mujtama’ al-Islami,’ p. 10
    [5] Mawardi, ‘al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya,’ p. 143
    [6] Qarafi, ‘al-Furuq,’ vol 3, p. 14
    [7] Tabari, Tarirk al-Tabari, vol 4, p. 218
    [8] Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj, p. 1136
    نقره لتكبير أو تصغير الصورة ونقرتين لعرض الصورة في صفحة مستقلة بحجمها الطبيعي

    تحمَّلتُ وحديَ مـا لا أُطيـقْ من الإغترابِ وهَـمِّ الطريـقْ
    اللهم اني اسالك في هذه الساعة ان كانت جوليان في سرور فزدها في سرورها ومن نعيمك عليها . وان كانت جوليان في عذاب فنجها من عذابك وانت الغني الحميد برحمتك يا ارحم الراحمين

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Rights of Non-Muslims in an Islamic State

Rights of Non-Muslims in an Islamic State