It has been shown that
non-Muslim minorities living in an Islamic state must be classified as
Mu‘āhids (citizens by contract). As far as the attitude of an Islamic state
to its non-Muslim minorities is concerned, it needs to be appreciated that
all dealings with them should be according to the terms of the treaty
concluded with them. Muslims have been bound by Islam to abide by these
terms in all circumstances and to never violate them in the slightest way.
Such violations according to Islam are totally forbidden and, in fact,
amount to a grave transgression. The Qur’ān says:
وَأَوْفُوا بِالْعَهْدِ إِنَّ الْعَهْدَ كَانَ مَسْئُولًا (١٧
Keep [your] covenants;
because indeed [on the Day of Judgement] you will be held accountable for
The Prophet (sws) is
reported to have said:
أَلَا مَنْ ظَلَمَ مُعَاهِدًا أَوْ انْتَقَصَهُ أَوْ كَلَّفَهُ فَوْقَ
طَاقَتِهِ أَوْ أَخَذَ مِنْهُ شَيْئًا بِغَيْرِ طِيبِ نَفْسٍ فَأَنَا حَجِيجُهُ
يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ (ابو داؤد: رقم
Beware! I myself shall
invoke the justice of the Almighty on the Day of Judgement against the
person who oppresses and persecutes a Mu‘āhid, or reduces his rights, or
burdens him [with responsibilities] he cannot bear, or takes something from
him against his will. (Abu Dā’ūd: No. 3052)
In this regard, the Qur’ān
has explicitly stated the principle that Muslims while dealing with their
enemies must not exceed the limits of justice, not to speak of Mu‘āhids who
have accepted to live peacefully in an Islamic State:
يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَى أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا اعْدِلُوا هُوَ
أَقْرَبُ (٥ :٨)
And let not the enmity
of a people turn you away from justice. Deal justly; this is nearer to
As far as their rights are
concerned, they should be given all the rights that are sanctioned by the
norms of justice and fairness for people in a civilized society. For
Their life, wealth and
honour should be protected by the state such that no one whosoever is able
to lay hands on them.
The needy and poor among
them should be provided the basic necessities of life.
Their personal matters and
religious rituals should be exempted from the law of the state and no
interference should be made in their faith and religion.
Their places of worship
should be given full protection.
They should be allowed to
present their religion to others in a polite manner.
They should be allowed to
be elected to public offices except to those which may require Muslims to
preserve the religious identity of the state.
In this regard, however, there exists an exception regarding the Arabian
peninsula. Pre-Islamic Arabia was conquered and given in the possession of
Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) by the Almighty in accordance with
His established scheme regarding His Messengers that has been discussed
earlier in detail in the main text of this article. It is the Almighty who
actually took control of matters and saw to it that the Kuffār be punished
through the hands of the believers. The Messengers and their Companions (rta)
act as no more than the implementers of His will. So in accordance with this
law, specifically meant for the Messengers, Muhammad (sws) and his
Companions (rta) were told that they would have to fight the Idolaters of
Arabia until the supremacy of Islam was achieved:
وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لَا تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ وَيَكُونَ
الدِّينُ كُلُّهُ لِلَّهِ (٨
And fight them on until there is no more persecution and there prevails the
religion of God everywhere [in this land of Arabia]. (8:39)
This Qur’anic directive has
been referred to by the Prophet in the following words:
لَا يَجْتَمِعُ دِينَانِ فِي جَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِ (مؤطا:
No religion other than Islam should reign in Arabia. (Mu’attā: No. 1651)
With the implementation of
this divine scheme, Arabia was required to become a symbol of monotheism.
Here every trace of polytheism was to be uprooted. Therefore, all idols were
destroyed. Consequently, in Arabia no non-Muslim was and is allowed to build
places of worship to practice polytheism.
The directive is not
related to other countries and territories in which non-Muslims can live as
permanent citizens and build places of worship. So, we find the Companions (rta)
of the Prophet (sws) giving full religious freedom to their subjects in
conquered areas outside Arabia.
All non-Muslims who come to
Arabia would be treated as its guests and temporary residents and would not
be given its full citizenship for reasons mentioned above.
An issue that is linked with non-Muslim occupation in Holy lands is their
visiting the Baytullāh.
On the basis of the
following verse, some scholars
opine that non-Muslims cannot enter Muslim places of worship, in particular
يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ إِنَّمَا الْمُشْرِكُونَ نَجَسٌ فَلاَ
يَقْرَبُواْ الْمَسْجِدَ الْحَرَامَ بَعْدَ عَامِهِمْ (٩
Believers, verily these
Idolaters are unclean [of faith]. So let them not after this year of theirs
approach the Sacred Mosque. (9:28)
It is evident from this
verse that the real reason of this prohibition is polytheism which has been
called impure and unclean. Consequently, this prohibition stands analogously
extended to people who have adopted polytheism as their religion, for
example some sects of Hinduism. It cannot be extended to the adherents of
such monotheistic religions as Judaism and Christianity. As has been
explained earlier, though the followers of Christianity are involved in
polytheistic practices, yet they never condone to polytheism as the real
religion. Obviously, there is a world of difference between getting involved
in polytheistic practices while considering them to be non- polytheistic and
becoming followers of polytheism itself.