Qasmi Bastawi of London on tolerance and coexistence with non-Muslims in Islam

Fatwa, posted 4.22.2010, from India, in:
Religious Authority: 
Qasmi Bastawi
Fatwa Question or Essay Title: 
On tolerance and coexistence with non-Muslims in Islam:

[The following is from a booklet that presents the current Deobandi position on the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims. The booklet's head author is Qasmi Bastawi, professor at Darul Uloom Deoband & General Secretary of the Islamic Madrasas Association.]
Abstract

Today, this rumour and lie is being spread that Islam and its followers do not have any tolerance towards the people of other faiths. This is a misleading and baseless propaganda. This is part of the planned world conspiracies to malign and defame Islam and Muslims.

Non-Muslims in Islam and their rights:
In fact, Islam is the religion of blessings, kindness and tolerance for all humanity without any differentiation. It stresses on its followers to behave with equality, sympathy, love and tolerance towards non-Muslims. It orders the rulers not to have any discriminatory attitude towards them. Their lives, honour, property and rights must be protected. The Holy Quran says:

"Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of Religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity" (Surah Mumtahanah: 60/8).

Explaining the verse, Hazrat Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani says: "Some non-Muslims of Makkah neither embraced Islam nor they had any enmity and hatred against Muslims. They did not fight against them about the faith of Islam and did not help others torturing and ousting them. Islam does not permit Muslims to behave such non-believers with cruelty and malice but it commands them to behave them with kindness and affection. Islam does not permit Muslims to consider both non-Muslims on war and those not involved in war against them with the same yardstick. To treat both in an equal fashion is against common sense, wisdom and justice."

This is the Islamic principle of co-operation which advises Muslims to extend their best help and assistance to the people of other faiths in common social and national issues as far as they are not against sharia and Islamic teachings. If even some members of other faiths are bitter enemies to Islam, Islam teaches Muslims to show tolerance and patience toward them. The Holy Quran states:

"If, then, they have patience, the Fire will be a home for them! and if They beg to be received into favour, into favour will They not (then) be received" (Surah Fussilat 41/24)

Good Treatment towards Makkan Non-Muslims:
Makkan Non-Muslims strained their every nerve to harm, hurt and oppress the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him!). They called him a magician, poet and soothsayer. They tortured him physically and mentally. They pelted him with stones and hit him hard. Thorns were put in his way; his throat was pressed as an attempt to strangle him to death; the load of camel dirty intestines was put on his back when he was busy in the prayer. Plots to kill him were made by them. He was detained in Shi'ab Abi-Talib for long three years, during which he had to eat acacia leaves. In Taif, he was tortured beyond limit, was abused and was injured so much1 that drops of blood were collected in his shoes. He was forced to migrate from Makkah to Madinah. In Madinah too, he could not find relief but faced many trials and troubles.

Several conspiracies were hatched against him. Plots were planned against the Prophet and his Companions with the help of the Jews.

At the conquest of Makkah, Non-Muslims were feeling very close to death and were thinking Muslims will avenge their tyranny and oppression. But the Prophet addressed them: O' Quraish! How do you think I would treat you? They replied: " We expect nothing but good from you as you are a noble and kind brother to us and the son of a noble and kind brother as well." The Prophet said," I say to you what the Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him!) said to his brothers: No blame against you! You are free (Zadul Ma'adVol. l, p.424). Can human history present an example of such kindness and affectionate treatment?

Good treatment toward Jews:
Many Jewish tribes lived in Madinah. For some time, after the Prophet's flight from Makkah to Madinah, the Jews remained neutral and silent. But they could not hide their hatred and enmity against Islam, the Prophet and Muslims for long. They strained their every nerve to do harm to the Prophet and his Companions. They made secret plots and planned rebellion against him; mix poison secretly in his food; made several plots to kill him. In brief, they left no stone unturned to damage Islam and Muslims. Envoy and biased feelings, coupled with their wrong creeds and foul manner, were among the causes leading them to such wrongdoings. Imagine surprise when he treated them with noble manners and tolerance.

After the Prophet arrived in Madinah, he entered into an important treaty with the Jews so that friendly relations and peaceful co-existence between Muslim and Jewish communities might be established and both might live peacefully and show tolerance to each other helping in removing anxieties and troubles from each other. Some important articles of the treaty are as follows:

    1. All Jews will enjoy the same rights of citizenship that they had enjoyed before the coming of Muslims. 2. Muslims will have friendly relations towards all people. 3. If a Muslim is killed by a Madinah, a ransom will be taken from the killer if agreed by the heirs of the person killed. 4. If any inhabitant of Madinah commits a serious crime, his family will not be punished. 5. In need, Jews and Muslims will help each other. 6. Any group will not deceive its ally. 7. The wronged and distressed will be helped without any communal discrimination. 8. If the Jews are attacked by foreign enemies, Muslims will defend them. 9. The Jews will enjoy their religious freedom. 10. If any Muslim ill-treats someone, he will be punished by Muslims. 11. The Jews of Bani Auf will be considered among Muslims. 12. If any dispute takes place between the Jews and Muslims, the Prophet will act as judge in the case. 13. This treaty will not favour any sinful or criminal person. (Seerat bin Hisham p.501-504)

Everyone can observe the equal rights granted to Jews with an open heart and full justice. The Prophet followed the treaty but it was Jews who breached the terms of the treaty. They helped Makkan Non-Muslims against Muslims. They always tried to do harm to Islam and Muslims.

Good treatment towards Christians:
The Prophet showed exemplary good treatment towards Christians also. An important Christian delegation of Najran situated between Makkah and Yemen met and conversed with the Prophet. The Prophet accommodated them in the mosque and they had a dialogue with him on religious issues. A historic and important treaty was concluded between Muslims and Christians in which many rights were agreed upon for Christians. The articles of the treaty are as follows:

    1. Their lives will be secured. 2. Their land, property and wealth etc. will continue to be in their custody. 3. Any change will not be made in their religious system. 4. Religious office-holders will continue their offices. 5. Crosses and statues will not be damaged. 6. Anything belonging to them will not be taken. 7. They will not be employed in military services. 8. Tithe or Ushr will not be levied on them. 9. Soldiers will not be sent to their country. 10. Full justice will be delivered in their cases and issues. 11. Any tyranny and ill-treatment will not be allowed against them. 12. Interest will not be allowed. 13. Any innocent will not be punished in the place of the offender. 14. They will not have any mistreatment from Muslims. (Deen-e-Rahmat p. 239, Futuhul Buldan)

No government of today's world can give even to its own subjects the rights that were granted by Islam to non-Muslims.

Non-Muslim subjects living under an Islamic government or Zimmis are in the protection of Allah and the Prophet according to Islamic sharia. Therefore, they are called Zimmis. The Islamic law orders to remove the wrong from Zimmis in the same way as from Muslims themselves. (Al-Mabsut Li Al-Sarakhsi Vol. 1 p.85)

Good treatment towards Hypocrites:
In Madinah, there was an opportunist group which pretended to be Muslims but the>i. were not genuine Muslims. Seeing the growing influence and power of Muslims, they declared themselves Muslims but, in fact, had severe hatred and enmity against them. Their leader was Abdullah bin Ubai ibn Salul. He was an influential person of Madinah and the inhabitants of Madinah were preparing to make him their ruler. But, after the Prophet's migration, his hopes were dashed to pieces. He pretended to be Muslim but remained a Hypocrite until his death. Hypocrites tried their best to divide Muslims; they insulted the Prophet; they made plots together with Jews and other non-Muslims to harm Islam and Muslims. In spite of their several plots and feeling of hatred against them, the Prophet and his Companions treated them with tolerance and patience. The Prophet even led the funeral prayer of Abdullah bin Ubai, the leader of Hypocrites, and offered his shirt or Jubbah for his shroud on the request of his son.

Rights of Non-Muslim subjects under Islamic rule:
Islam came to the world as the religion of blessings and kindness for all human beings and groups of people. This is the reason why it treats the people of other faiths and Non-Muslim subjects with equality, kindness, love, sympathy, tolerance and forbearance. It is Islam, in the world history for the first time, which has guaranteed such social and national rights for them that no religion or culture has ever given to the followers of other faiths or culture. Islam has ordered the rulers to protect the life, honour, property and religious freedom of Non-Muslim subjects living under an Islamic government and treat them without any discrimination. The Islamic concept about or Non-Muslim subjects is that they are in the |pptection of Allah and the Prophet. Therefore, the Islamic sharia says: "It is a duty of Muslims to remov,^ the wrong from Norn-Muslim subjects in the same way as from Muslims themselves." (Mabsut Sarakhsi Vol. 1 p.85)

Oppressing a zimmi (Non-Muslim subject living under lilamic government) is worse than oppressing a Muslim. (AI-Durr AJ-Sukhtar: 5/396)

Zimmis will have the same rights that Muslims have and they will be equally to what Muslims will be. Their lives will be safe and protected like Muslims. (Al-Durr Al-Mukhtar, Kitabul Jihad)

The non-Muslim subjects under Muslim rule enjoyed such freedom that their educational institutions and their personal law courts were independent and free. According to Islamic sharia, a Muslim who kills a Mu'aahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise which can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of travelling)."

An Islamic government is responsible to safeguard the wealth and property of the Dhimmis (non-Muslims living under Muslim rule).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Behold, one who will oppress non-Muslim subject, load them with extra burden or take their belongings without their pleasure

I will fight their case against the oppressor on the Day of Judgment. (Abu Dawood, Mishkat: 354)

In Makkah, the infidels were inflicting great deal of oppression on Muslims that it was hard for Muslims to live in Makka. The Muslims did not find any relaxation after their migration to Habsha (Ethiopia) and Madinah. They were continuously victims of conspiracies hatched by the infidels and the hypocrites. Even the enemies invaded Madinah with a huge army with intention of ravaging Madinah and destroying Muslims. So, Muslims were left with no option except to defend the sword with sword. In the long run, they were ordained by Allah: "Sanction is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged; and Allah is indeed able to give them victory, who have been expelled from their homes, unjustly only because they said: "Our Lord is Allah." (Al-Quran, Surah Al-Hajj, 39)

Thus, on one hand, Jihad was allowed to fight against injustice and oppression, while on the other Muslims were asked to behave with tolerance and good conduct, the example of which is not found in any other religion:

    1. It prevented Muslims to attack first. (Al-Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah, 39) 2. It prohibited oppression and transgression of