Some who do not know basic truths about Islam; whether, pseudo scholars, Orientalists or enemies of Islam, claim that Islam does not respect the legal rights of non-Muslims in the Islamic state.
Reply to the Misconception about Rights of Non-Muslims
The Islamic Shari`ah provides a different set of obligations and rights of the non-Muslim residents in the Islamic society. It may be sufficient in rebuttal of this misconception to quote the general ruling mentioned in the books of Islamic jurisprudence:
“Non-Muslims are entitled for that which Muslims are entitled. They are also obligated to do that which Muslims are obligated.” This is the general rule and from it emanates the just and equitable laws giving the non-Muslim residents in an Islamic state their rights to security, private property, religious observance, etc.
Islam permits religious discussions and dialogues with non-Muslims, commanding Muslims to adhere to the best methodology in any discussions and dialogues with the non-Muslims. Allah (the Exalted and Majestic) states in the Qur’an:
And dispute you not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, ‘We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)’. (Al-`Ankabut 29:46)
Allah (Exalted be He) addresses those of other faiths and religions, saying in the Qur’an:
Say: ‘Do you see what it is you invoke besides Allah? Show me what it is they have created on earth, or have they a share in the heavens bring me a book (revealed) before this, or any remnant of knowledge (you may have), if you are telling the truth! (Al-Ahqaf 46:4)
Islam forbids forceful measures to convert people from other faiths, as stated in the verse of the Qur’an:
If it had been your Lord’s will, they would all have believed, all who are on earth! will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe! (Yunus 10:99)
Both the Qur’an and the Sunnah, (prophetic traditions of the Prophet) illustrate that freedom of religion is available to members of the society under Islamic Shari`ah. Muslim history has numerous examples of the tolerance shown to non-Muslim subjects, while many other societies were intolerant towards Muslims and even their own people.
Muslims must deal justly with all other humans who have not begun any hostilities with the Muslims. Allah states in the Qur’an:
Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loves those who are just. (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8)
Those who wage war against Islam, show enmity and force the Muslims into exile, have a different treatment according to Islam. Allah states in the Qur’an:
Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong. (Al-Mumtahanah 60:9)
Interactions between Muslims and non-Muslims are based on cordial and just manners. Commercial transactions are permitted with resident and non-resident non-Muslims of the Islamic society. A Muslim may eat the food of Jews and Christians. A male Muslim may marry a Jewish or a Christian woman as will be explained below. We must remember that Islam gives special attention and importance on raising a family. Allah states in the Qur’an:
This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time, when you give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness, nor secret intrigues if any one rejects faith, fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good). (Al-Ma’idah 5:5)
The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Misconceptions on Human Rights in Islam”.