Tuesday, August 21, 2018 12:11:49 AM
How did the Prophet of Islam Treat Minorities? (1)

The contemporary era—according to what many claim in the east and the west of the planet—is the era of freedom of expression and belief. No one has the right to bully or annoy anyone else for their religious beliefs or rituals, and anyone, anywhere in the world, is free to live according to their religion as long as their beliefs do not harm others.

However, today we witness, in many parts of the world, people are attacked and brutally murdered for their religion and creed. This includes the killings of the Yezidis and Christians by ISIS in Iraq, to the murder and harassment of Muslim women in UK and U.S. for their head covers, ...
 
In the Name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
 
The contemporary era—according to what many claim in the east and the west of the planet—is the era of freedom of expression and belief. No one has the right to bully or annoy anyone else for their religious beliefs or rituals, and anyone, anywhere in the world, is free to live according to their religion as long as their beliefs do not harm others. However, today we witness, in many parts of the world, people are attacked and brutally murdered for their religion and creed. This includes the killings of the Yezidis and Christians by ISIS in Iraq, to the murder and harassment of Muslim women in UK and U.S. for their head covers, as well as the barbaric massacre of Muslims by Buddhists in Myanmar. These incidents and the like have turned a slogan of 'religious freedom' into a baseless claim that no one abides by in action.
 
This article intends to show that, unlike the anti-Islamic claims and unlike what fake replicas of Islamic governments—like that of the ISIS—have shown to the world, Islam is a religion that respects and dignifies followers of other monotheist religions the most; in fact, the Islamic government is the safest place and region in the world for religious minorities to live in. Hence, we will try to answer why the Sira of the prophet of Islam is indicative of the right path and the purest form of Islam. Then we will examine various interactions among Muslims and non-Muslims from the viewpoint of Quran and the Islamic jurisprudence, finally we will take a look at Ayatollah Khamenei’s opinion on religious minorities.
 
The Sira and Manner of the Prophet of Islam in interaction with Non-Muslims
 
The Prophet of Islam (pbuh) was chosen for prophethood after the great, divine prophets of Christianity and Judaism. At that time, the residents of the Arab peninsula were either polytheists, worshipping multiple gods and idols, or followers of Christianity and Judaism. There were also some people who continued to believe in the religion of the Prophet Abraham (as). It was during such circumstances that the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) emerged to introduce, for the first time, the religion which would set forth a universal and pervasive call; namely, a religion that would more or less challenge all schools of thoughts and religions before it.
 
During the first years of the Prophet’s mission to invite people into Islam, his closest family members, including an uncle, did not only refuse his invitation, but also persecuted and ill-treated him. The Prophet of Islam (pbuh) and his few followers were placed under economic and political sanctions by his own kinship; furthermore, they were forced into exile in the Abu-Talib valley, for almost three years, where severe economic and commercial besiege were exerted on them. The sanctions were so harsh that they took the life of the closest individual to the prophet—his wife Lady Khadija.
 
Nevertheless, despite all the persecution, ill-treatment and hardship, the prophet of Islam never used aggressive or unpeaceful means to promote his religion: even after the victory of his social movement, and when Islam became the superior power of the Arab Peninsula, history testifies that he never considered taking revenge.
 
Friendship and tolerance are affairs of high importance in the social sira [life and manner] of the holy prophet (pbuh), in domestic as well as international aspects. This led to a reformation of the society, social relations, and affairs. If it was not like that, the ground would not have been paved for guidance and promotion of the message.
 
The almighty God praised the Prophet’s good temper and tolerance as follows:
 
 “So by mercy from God [O’ Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been sever and harsh-hearted with them, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them…” [Quran 3:159]
 
His mercy and kindness were all-inclusive and he would treat with forgiveness those who had practiced hostility against him for years, including the pagans of Mecca. On the day Mecca was conquered, peacefully with no bloodshed, a companion of the prophet was saying: “Today is the day of murder, war and revenge; it’s the day of breaking the boundaries.”
 
The Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) immediately rejected and rebuked this slogan, he then said: “Today is the day of mercy”, “it is the day of mercy and kindness.”
 
Thus Mohammad (pbuh) would prevent any form of aggression and extremism against the opponents of Islam, and he relived the polytheists of Quraysh by stressing, “you may be as you are all free.”
 
God has introduced Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), His great Messenger, as pervasive and all-encompassing of mercy, whose kind behavior involved both Muslims and Non-Muslims:
 
“And we have not sent you except as a mercy to the worlds.” Quran [21:107]
 
In fact, Prophet Muhammad’s call to Islam was done in such a way that he would not force anyone into submission. He did not even subdue his greatest enemies at a time when he had authority over them and was capable of doing anything; rather, he only sent them out of the Islamic realm to prevent them from carrying out hostile actions.
 
After a while, a new religion was spoken of across the Arab world, eventually, reaching out to other countries. The number of Islam’s followers increased everyday, religious discussions and arguments about the new prophet, Mohammad (pbuh), and his new religion were widespread. Various individuals and religious bodies, from different places, would come to the Prophet of Islam to verify his message and challenge his religion.
 
God had ordered the prophet (pbuh), in the Quran, to allow even polytheists and pagans to come to him freely and safely, "if he seeks your protection to learn about your religion and research it.[1] Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) devoted a house in Medina for hosting these visitors, some visitors would also be hosted by the prophet’s companions upon his recommendation. When Christians came to visit, the Prophet (pbuh) would spread about his cloak for them to sit upon. The prophet would treat his opponents liberally; for instance, when he accepted the representatives of Najran Christian community, Mohammad (pbuh) criticized their belief in divinity of Jesus (pbuh) and invited them to follow Islam. However, he never forced them into accepting Islam; on the contrary, he allowed them to use the Mosque of Medina for their worshiping rituals.
 
Even when Mohammad (pbuh) decided to send out invitations to the emperors of other countries, including the Byzantine emperor and the Persian emperor, he asked them to either submit to Islam or to stay out of the way, so that nations could be exposed to the new religion and choose their religion freely.
 
The prophet sought to rectify situations wherein nations could make decisions based on their thoughts and ideology, and in a case where light is shed on truth they can accept the monotheistic belief, and cease to worship anything expect for God--without submitting to anyone’s orders but God's. In order for this responsibility to be carried out, it is necessary to fight against the powers that prevent nations’ from their freedom to explore, research, and convert to the Divine religion.
 
Prophet Muhammad’s peaceful manner towards the opponents encouraged many individuals, groups, and religious bodies to freely immigrate to Medina. Some of these groups had been sent to Medina to represent kings, such as the King of Ethiopia and the Himyarite Kingdom. History writes that about forty religious and political bodies visited Medina during Prophet’s time to learn about the new religion.
 
The best example of the tolerance shown by the Prophet to other religions was the Covenant of Medina, called the ‘Saheefah’ by early historians. When the Prophet migrated to Medina, his role as a mere religious leader ended: he was now the political leader of a state, governed by the precepts of Islam. This situation demanded that clear laws of governance be laid out, to ensure harmony and stability in a society once distraught by decades of war,  that must ensure the peaceful coexistence of Muslims, Jews, Christians and polytheists. Due to this, the Prophet laid down a ‘constitution’ detailing the responsibilities of all parties residing in Medina, their obligations towards each other, and certain restrictions which were placed on each. All parties were to obey what was mentioned therein, and any breach of its articles was regarded as an act of treachery.
 
Multiple examples of compassionate and humanitarian manners practiced by the Imams (as) have been narrated during the lifetime of Prophet (pbuh) and his household. The Imams were true followers of the Prophet, and a practical manifestation of pure Islam.
 
It has been narrated, throughout history,  that during the time of Imam Ali’s ruling, he saw an old blind man who was begging on the streets. He was shocked to witness this, wondering how such things could ever exist under an Islamic government. He asked about it and was told, "This man is Christian." Imam Ali (as) said, "when he was powerful, you used his power, now that he has been weak, you have left him alone!?" (This act was against justice and compassion.) Then Imam Ali (as) said, "Donate to him from the Muslims’ public money" -- allocate to him an earning.

Share Content: