The Status of Non-Muslims In the Islamic State




Bassam Zawadi




This paper will discuss the status of non-Muslims in an Islamic state. This article will attempt to answer the following questions:



- What is a dhimmi?

- What is the Jizyah tax?

- Who is required to pay the Jizyah tax?

- Why are Non-Muslims made to pay it? Isn't this Tax Oppressive and Unjust?

- What benefits would Non-Muslims Get out of paying Jizyah?

- Why Don't Muslims Get to Pay the Jizyah? Doesn't This Show That There is

      - Discrimination Against Non-Muslims?

            - How Should The Jizyah Tax Be Taken From The Non-Muslims?

            - How Should Muslims Treat Non-Muslims as People?

- Can Non-Muslims freely practice their faith in an Islamic state?

- Can Non-Muslims Prosper Under an Islamic State?    

- Do Non-Muslims Have Rights To Social Justice?



What is a dhimmi?


When non Muslim citizens live under Islamic sovereignty, they enjoy a special status and are known along with other minorities as ahl adh dhimma or dhimmis. Dhimma is an Arabic word, which means safety, security, and contract. Hence, they are called dhimmis because they have agreed to a contract by Allah, His Messenger, and the Islamic community, which grants them security. This security granted to dhimmis is like the citizenship granted by a government to an alien who abides by the constitution, thereby earning all the rights of a natural citizen. Thus, upon the preceding basis, a dhimmi is a citizen of the Islamic state, as described by Muslim jurists (See the commentary on As-Sarakhi's As-Siyar Al-Kabir, Volume 1, p. 140; Al-Kasani's Al-Bada'i', Volume 5, p. 281 and Ibn Qudamah's Al-Mughni, Volume 5, p. 516) or a bearer of Islamic nationality, as described by contemporary writers. (See 'Awda, 'Abdul Qadir, Islamic Criminal Legislation, Volume 1, p. 307; Zaydan, 'Abdul Karim, "Ahkam Adh-Dhimmiyyin Wa Al-Musta'minin Fi Dar Al-Islam," pp. 49-51 and 63-66)


What is the Jizyah tax?


It is the duty that a non-Muslim has to pay in order to live in the Muslim land. (Ibn Qudamah, Al Mughni, Volume 12, p. 756)


Who is Required to Pay The Jizyah Tax?


The treaty of protection made by Khalid ibn Al-Walid with the Christians of Al-Hira in Iraq states: 


Any aged non-Muslim who is unable to earn his livelihood, or is struck by disaster, or who becomes destitute and is helped by the charity of his fellow men will be exempted from the capitation tax and will be supplied with sustenance by the bait al-mal (the government treasury). (Abu Yusuf, Al-Kharaj, p. 144)


The obligation of paying this tax is also cancelled when non-Muslims participate with Muslims in defending the Islamic state against its enemies. Such conditions were clearly stated in contracts and other documents signed by Muslims and non-Muslims during the reign of Umar ibn Al Khattab. (See Zeidan, 'Abdul Karim, Ahkam-Dhimmiyin Wa Al-Musti'minin Fi Dar Al-Islam, p. 155 ff, and Al-Baladhuri, Futuh Al-Buldan, p. 217, where it is stated that the emissary of Abu 'Ubaida made a compromise with a party of the Christian Jarajima: if they would support the Muslims and keep an eye on their enemies, they would not have to pay the Jizyah)


Should the Islamic state become unable to abide by the contract, it may not collect the Jizyah. This rule was followed by Abu 'Ubaidah when he learned of the situation in several Syrian cities. Syria had fallen into the hands of the Muslims, but as the Romans were gathering troops to regain it, he decided not to undertake the protection of the non-Muslims. The Jizyah was, therefore, returned with the announcement: 


We have returned your money to you because we have been informed of the gathering of the enemy troops. You people, according to the conditions stipulated in the contract, have obliged us to protect you. Since we are now unable to fulfill these conditions, we are returning your money to you. We will abide by the conditions as agreed upon if we overcome the enemy. (Related by Abu Yusuf in Al-Kharaj) 


Thus, a huge amount was taken from the state treasury and returned to the Christians, making them very happy. They prayed for and blessed the Muslim commanders. They exclaimed, 


"May Allah help you to overcome your enemies and return you to us safely. If the enemy were in your place, they would never have returned anything to us, but rather they would have taken all our remaining property. (Imam Tabari, Tarikh At-Tabari, Volume 1, p. 2050) 


The Jizyah was also imposed on Muslim men who could afford to buy their way out of military service. If a Christian group elected to serve in the state's military forces, it was exempted from the Jizyah. Historical examples of this abound: the Jarajima, a Christian tribe living near Antioch (now in Turkey), by undertaking to support the Muslims and to fight on the battle front, did not have to pay the Jizyah and were entitled to a share of the captured booty. (Al-Baladhuri, p. 159) When the Islamic conquests reached northern Persia in 22 A.H., a similar covenant was established with a tribe living on the boundaries of those territories. They were consequently exempted from Jizyah in view of their military services. (Ibid.)


Other examples are to be found during the history of the Ottoman Empire: the Migaris, a group of Albanian Christians, were exempted from the Jizyah for undertaking to watch and guard the mountain ranges of Cithaeron and Geraned (which stretch to the Gulf of Corinth). Christians who served as the vanguard of the Turkish army for road repairs, bridge construction and so on were exempted from the kharaj. As a reward, they were also provided with some lands, free of all taxes. (Ibid.) The Christians of Hydra were exempted when they agreed to supply a group of 250 strong men for the (Muslim) naval fleet. (Marsigli, Militare dell'Imperio Ottomano, Volume 1, p. 86) The Armatolis, Christians from southern Romania, were also exempted from the tax, (Finlay, Volume 6, pp. 30-33) for they constituted a vital element in the Turkish armed forces during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Mirdites, an Albanian Catholic clan who lived in the mountains of northern Scutari, were exempted on the condition that they would offer an armored battalion in wartime. (Lazar, p. 56) The Jizyah was also not imposed on the Greek Christians who had supervised the building of viaducts, (De Lajanquiere, p. 14) which carried to water to Constantinople(These bridges were built on pillars, to bring drinking water to the cities. This kind of bridge had been prevalent in the Roman Empire since the first century A.D.) nor on those who guarded the ammunition in that city, (Thomas Smith, p. 324) as just compensation for their services to the state. However, Egyptian Muslim peasants exempted from military services were still required to pay the Jizyah. (Dorostamus, p. 326)


So as we can see, not all non-Muslims are required to pay the Jizyah tax. There are conditions which may exempt non-Muslims from paying the Jizyah tax, which could be summarized as follows:


-  Women and children are excused absolutely

-   Handicapped, blind and old men, even if they are rich

-   Needy and mad-men

-   Day laborers, servants or wageworkers

-  A chronically ill-man even if he is rich

-  Religious people who keep themselves free for praying and worshipping, i.e. men of churches, cloisters and oratories

-  If a non-Muslim voluntarily participates in military service for protecting the country.

-  If the Islamic state becomes unable to protect non-Muslims, then they are legally exonerated from paying the tax. (See Ibnul Qayyim, Ahkam Ahlul Dhimma, Volume1, pp.8, 15 and al-Shafi', al-Ummø pp. 172-1)


Why are non-Muslims made to pay it? Isn't this Tax Oppressive and Unjust? What benefits would non-Muslims Get out of paying Jizyah?


Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph, said:


"They pay capitation tax so that their properties and lives may be as ours." (Al-Mughni, Volume 8, p. 445, Al-Bada'i', Volume 7, p. 111 quoting from Ahkam Adh-Dhimmiyin Wa Al-Musta'minin, p. 89) 


Jizya ensures the safety of the disbelievers in the Muslim land. (Wahba Al Zuhayli, Al Fiqh Al Islami wa adilatuhu, p. 5879) 


The noted historian Sir Thomas W. Arnold in his Call to Islam, states: 


This tax was not imposed on the Christians, as some would have us think, as a penalty for their refusal to accept the Muslim faith, but was paid by them in common with the other dhimmis or non-Muslim subjects of the states whose religion precluded them from serving in the army, in return for the protection secured for them by the arms of the Musalmans. When the people of Hirah contributed the sum agreed upon, they expressly mentioned that they paid this Jizyah on condition that 'the Muslims and their leader protect us from those who would oppress us, whether they be Muslims or others.' (Sir Thomas Arnold, Call To Islam, pp. 79-81) 


The historian Adam Mitz is of the view that because of Islamic tolerance toward non-Muslims and by virtue of the protection granted to them, they paid the Jizyah in accordance with their financial capacities. This Jizyah was like the present-day national defense tax. Only persons who could perform military service were obliged to pay it. So Monks and ascetics were exempted, except for those who could afford to pay. (Islamic Civilization, Volume 1, p. 96)


Another reason for this tax on non-Muslims is similar to that used by governments of any age to justify their taxes. All citizens should pay some of the expenses for public services established for the common good, such as courts, police, public works, repairing of roads and bridges, as well as all other services which lead to the enjoyment of a normal life for all. Muslims support these by paying their zakah, sadaqat al-fitr, and other alms. It is therefore not surprising that a minimal tax, such as the Jizyah, should be levied on non-Muslims. The regulations concerning this tax are spelled out by the Maliki school of thought. (See the Risala of Ibn Abi Zaid and the two commentaries upon it by Ibn Naji and Zaruqi, Volume 1, p. 331 ff)


The good intent behind the term 'dhimmi' can be seen in the letter written by the Caliph Abu Bakr as-Siddiq to the non-Muslims of Najran: 

'In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful.  This is the written statement of God's slave Abu Bakr, the successor of Muhammad, the Prophet and Messenger of God.  He affirms for you the rights of a protected neighbor, in yourselves, your lands, your religious community, your wealth, retainers, and servants, those of you who are present or abroad, your bishops and monks, and monasteries, and all that you own, be it great or small.  You shall not be deprived of any of it, and shall have full control over it.' (Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj, p. 79) 


If they pay the Jizyah the Imam of the Muslims has to ensure that the Dhimmis are protected from both Muslims and the enemies of the Islamic state. (Ibn Qudamah, Al Mughni, Volume 12, p. 828) and all scholars of jurisprudence have formed a consensus on this issue. (Wahba Al Zuhayli, Al Fiqh Al Islami wa adilatuhu, p. 5884)


Imam al Maawirdi said that the two main rights that the Muslims must give the dhimmis is that we don't harm them and we ensure their protection by fighting for them. (Al Ahkaam Al Sultaania, p. 143) Imam Nawawi states the same thing. (Mughni al Muhtaaj, Volume 4, p. 253) Imam Al Quraafi gives a statement from Ibn Hazm who stated that if any non-Muslim was under the protection of the Muslims and then the enemy comes to the Muslim land in order to harm the non Muslim, the Muslims should go out and fight the enemy with their weapons and die fighting for those that come under the protection of Allah and His Messenger. (Al Furooq, Volume 3, p. 14-15)


When the leader of the Tataars conquered Damascus, Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah and another group of scholars went to them pleading that they release the prisoners from both the Muslims and the dhimmis since the Muslims shared the responsibility in protecting the dhimmis and eventually they were freed. (Majmoo' al Fataawa, Volume 28, pp. 617-618)


The non Muslims and Muslims have equal rights in this connection; the Imam (ruler of the Muslims), by virtue of the executive and military power granted to him by the Islamic Sharia should provide protection for all of them. It is stated in the Hanbali book of Fiqh, Matalib Ula An-Nuha: 


"The ruler of the Muslim community is bound to protect the non-Muslims and to save them from aggression. Should they fall into captivity, the Imam must martial all the resources to secure their release and punish the transgressors against their lives and properties even if they were the sole non-Muslims living in a remote village." (Ibn Al Najaar Al Hanbali, Matalib Ula An-Nuha, Volume 2, p. 602-603) 


In his book Al Furuq, Imam Al Qarafi al-Malaki, quoting from Maratib Al-Ijma' by Ibn Hazm, states: 


"Muslims who have entered into a pact of dhimma, should fight until death with those who try to oppress non-Muslims in the Islamic state in order to abide by the guarantee given to them by Almighty Allah and His Messenger, upon whom be peace. Otherwise they will be considered as traitors." 


The Maliki scholar Shihab al-Din al-Qarafi has stated in his book Al-Furuq, 


"The contract of dhimma gives them certain rights over us because they are in our land under our protection and under the protection of Almighty Allah, His Messenger, and the Islamic religion. (Volume 2, p. 14) 


In this conclusion, Imam Al Qarafi states: 


"A contract whose fulfillment endangers the lives and property of Muslims who are protecting the subjects (non-Muslims) from harm is indeed a great one." (Al-Malaki, Imam Al-Qarafi, Al-Furuq, Volume 3, p. 15, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Matalib Ula An-Nuha, Volume 2, p. 602-603) 


Why Don't Muslims Get to Pay the Jizyah? Doesn't This Show That There is Discrimination Against Non-Muslims? 

Christians have been constantly criticizing Islam's stance regarding Jizyah. They say that it is meant to oppress them. Besides the fact that this concept is also found in their Bible, I will show that Jizyah is not meant to discriminate against the Christians or Jews. 

Muslims also have to pay a yearly tax called Zakat: 

Saheeh Bukhari


Volume 009, Book 088, Hadith Number 208.

Narated By Hudhaifa : Allah's Apostle related to us, two prophetic narrations one of which I have seen fulfilled and I am waiting for the fulfillment of the other. The Prophet told us that the virtue of honesty descended in the roots of men's hearts (from Allah) and then they learned it from the Qur'an and then they learned it from the Sunna (the Prophet's traditions). The Prophet further told us how that honesty will be taken away: He said: "Man will go to sleep during which honesty will be taken away from his heart and only its trace will remain in his heart like the trace of a dark spot; then man will go to sleep, during which honesty will decrease further still, so that its trace will resemble the trace of blister as when an ember is dropped on one's foot which would make it swell, and one would see it swollen but there would be nothing inside. People would be carrying out their trade but hardly will there be a trustworthy person. It will be said, 'in such-and-such tribe there is an honest man,' and later it will be said about some man, 'What a wise, polite and strong man he is!' Though he will not have faith equal even to a mustard seed in his heart." No doubt, there came upon me a time when I did not mind dealing (bargaining) with anyone of you, for if he was a Muslim his Islam would compel him to pay me what is due to me, and if he was a Christian, the Muslim official would compel him to pay me what is due to me, but today I do not deal except with such-and-such person.

Zakat is binding on property, agriculture, food, jewelry, etc. The Jizyah tax however is not binding on the property and agriculture of the non-Muslims: 

Malik Muwatta


Book 17, Number 17.24.46:


Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz wrote to his governors telling them to relieve any people who payed the jizya from paying the jizya if they became muslims.

Malik said, "The sunna is that there is no jizya due from women or children of people of the Book, and that jizya is only taken from men who have reached puberty. The people of dhimma and the magians do not have to pay any zakat on their palms or their vines or their crops or their livestock. This is because zakat is imposed on the muslims to purify them and to be given back to their poor, whereas jizya is imposed on the people of the Book to humble them. As long as they are in the country they have agreed to live in, they do not have to pay anything on their property except the jizya. If, however, they trade in muslim countries, coming and going in them, a tenth is taken from what they invest in such trade. This is because jizya is only imposed on them on conditions, which they have agreed on, namely that they will remain in their own countries, and that war will be waged for them on any enemy of theirs, and that if they then leave that land to go anywhere else to do business they will haveto pay a tenth. Whoever among them does business with the people of Egypt, and then goes to Syria, and then does business with the people of Syria and then goes to Iraq and does business with them and then goes on to Madina, or Yemen, or other similar places, has to pay a tenth.

People of the Book and Magians do not have to pay any zakat on any of their property, livestock, produce or crops. The sunna still continues like that. They remain in the deen they were in, and they continue to do what they used to do. If in any one year they frequently come and go in muslim countries then they have to pay a tenth every time they do so, since that is outside what they have agreed upon, and not one of the conditions stipulated for them. This is what I have seen the people of knowledge of our city doing." 

Christians might use Surah 9:29 to show that Muslims must fight them until they pay the Jizyah, so this shows discrimination. However, this also applies to the Muslims who do not pay their Zakat. Abu Bakr fought against the Muslims who didn't pay Zakat: 

Saheeh Muslim


Book 001, Hadith Number 0029.
Chapter : Command for fighting against the people so long as they do not profess that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger.

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) breathed his last and Abu Bakr was appointed as his successor (Caliph), those amongst the Arabs who wanted to become apostates became apostates. 'Umar b. Khattab said to Abu Bakr: Why would you fight against the people, when the Messenger of Allah declared: I have been directed to fight against people so long as they do not say: There is no god but Allah, and he who professed it was granted full protection of his property and life on my behalf except for a right? His (other) affairs rest with Allah. Upon this Abu Bakr said: By Allah, I would definitely fight against him who severed prayer from Zakat, for it is the obligation upon the rich. By Allah, I would fight against them even to secure the cord (used for hobbling the feet of a camel) which they used to give to the Messenger of Allah (as Zakat) but now they have withheld it. Umar b. Khattab remarked: By Allah, I found nothing but the fact that Allah had opened the heart of Abu Bakr for (perceiving the justification of) fighting (against those who refused to pay Zakat) and I fully recognized that the (stand of Abu Bakr) was right.

So how does this discriminate against the Christians and Jews? (Please note that Surah 9:29 is only to be applied in specific situations. Please read this article)

This is completely justified. If they go against the Islamic rule and government they deserve to be punished. What else was Abu Bakr supposed to do? In America if someone does not pay their taxes they can go to jail. Does that make America unjust? In China they kill tax evaders (A New York Times article describes the context and details of one businessman who was executed in China for tax evasion (11 Mar. 2001). at You have to understand that these are God's laws. It is probably difficult for a non-Muslim to understand this but from the Muslim perspective it is completely justifiable. For God sake people get executed or punished for crimes against man made laws, what do you expect to happen to people that break God's laws?

Sir Thomas Arnold wrote, 

'The jizya was so light that it did not constitute a burden on them, especially when we observe that it exempted them from compulsory military service that was an obligation for their fellow citizens, the Muslims.' (Sir Thomas Arnold, Invitation to Islam, p. 77) 

Even though there is no fixed rate on the Jizyah, Jasser Auda says: 

Jizyah was calculated in different ways throughout different eras (a certain amount of money, certain percentage of the crops, etc), but it was consistently less than the zakah, which every Muslim had to pay anyway. (The Fair Logic of Jizyah, Source) 

Also, non-Muslims are not to be over burdened with Jizyah: 

Saheeh Bukhari

Volume 2, Book 23, Number 475:

Narrated 'Amr bin Maimun Al-Audi:

I recommend him to abide by the rules and regulations concerning the Dhimmis (protectees) of Allah and His Apostle, to fulfill their contracts completely and fight for them and not to tax (overburden) them beyond their capabilities." 

So not only do Muslims have to pay a higher rate of tax than the dhimmis (Muslims usually pay higher rates). Not only are they obliged to pay it on their property, food, etc unlike the dhimmis. Not only are BOTH MEN AND WOMEN from the Muslims obliged to pay Zakah, unlike how the women from the dhimmis are not obliged to pay, but after all this it is still the Muslims who are obliged to defend the country and protect the non-Muslims!

Any objective observer would probably reach the conclusion that these rules and regulations are unfair to the Muslims, not to the non-Muslims. 


How Should The Jizyah Tax Be Taken From The Non-Muslims? 


Imam Nawawi, commenting on those who would impose a humiliation along with the paying of the Jizyah, said, 


"As for this aforementioned practice (hay'ah), I know of no sound support for it in this respect, and it is only mentioned by the scholars of Khurasan. The majority (jumhur) of scholars say that the Jizyah is to be taken with gentleness, as one would receive a debt (dayn). The reliably correct opinion is that this practice is invalid and those who devised it should be refuted. It is not related that the Prophet or any of the rightly-guided caliphs did any such thing when collecting the Jizyah." (Rawdat al-Talibin, Volume 10, p.315-16) 


Ibn Qudama also said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the four caliphs said that taking the Jizyah should be done with gentleness and respect. (Al-Mughni, Volume 4, p.250) 


Once, during the reign of 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, a Jizyah collector offered the taxes collected from the people to 'Umar, who was upset by the large amount and asked him if he had burdened the people. He replied, "No, not at all! We took only the surplus and lawful taxes." 'Umar asked, "Without any pressure or persecution?" The man replied, "Yes." 'Umar then said to him, "Praise be to Almighty Allah that the non-Muslim citizens have not been oppressed during my rule. (Ibn Salam, Imam Abu 'Ubayd al-Qasim, Al-Amwal, p. 43. Also see Ibn Qudamah, Al Mughni, Volume 9, p. 290 & Ibnul QayyimAhkam Ahlul Dhimma, Volume 1, p.139)


The scholars of Islam have formed a consensus in that it is permissible to take the Jizyah from Non-Muslims in the name of charity. For, one time there were Non-Muslims who insisted that Umar ibn Al Khattab agree to take the Jizyah from them after they called it charity and he accepted. (Ibn 'Abideen, al-Hashiya, Volume 3, p. 432. Ibn Rushd, Bidaayat al Mujtahid, Volume 6, p. 101. Ibnul Qayyim, Zad Al Ma'aad, Volume 3, page 643. Ibn Qudama, Al Mughni, Volume 10, p. 590-91)


Several jurists understood that this word ["sāghirūn" in Qu'ran 9:29] implies that the Dhimmis have to be humiliated when paying the Jizyah. The great scholar, Ibnul Qayyim refutes this interpretation. After having quoted different opinons, he says:


"This is groundless and the verse doesn't imply that. It is not related that the Prophet or the companions acted like that. The correct opinion regarding this verse is that the word "saghār" means "acceptance" by non-Muslims of the structure of the Muslim right and their payment of Jizya. (Ahkam Ahlul Dhimma, Volume 1 p. 23-24). 



How Should Muslims Treat non-Muslims as People?


Ali wrote to the collectors of the kharaj:


When you come to them, do not sell their garments preserved for winter or summer, or the food they eat, or the animals they need. Don't whip any of them for a dirham, and do not oblige them to stand on one leg for a dirham. Do not sell any of their household goods for the payment of kharaj, because we accept from them what they have. If you do not comply with my orders, Allah will punish you in my absence. And if I receive any complaint against you in this concern, your services will be terminated. The officer said, "Then I return to you as I left you." (Abu Yusuf, Al-Kharaj, pp. 15-16; As-Sunan Al-Kubra, Volume 9, p. 205) 


Umar ibn Al Khattab once saw an old Jewish beggar whom he found to be destitute. Ordering the state authorities to pay for his livelihood, he observed, "It is unjust if we collect the capitation tax from him in his youth and abandon him in his old age.  (Abu Yusuf, Al-Kharaj, p. 126)


The caliph Umar ibn Abdul Aziz ensured that those from the dhimmis who grew old and lost strength were provided with money from the treasury. (Al Amwaal, Volume 1, p. 170)


Once when Umar was on his way to Syria, he came across some Christian lepers at Jabia. He ordered the financial authorities to give them help from the Zakah funds and to provide for them. (Al-Baladhuri, Futuh Al-Buldan, p. 177)


In his book, Al-Minhaj, Imam An-Nawawi said: 


One of the duties of fard kifayah (the Islamic term for collective duty) is that a citizen should be supported if he has no suitable clothes, and that he should be fed if he has no food and is not supported from the poor fund or the government treasury. 


'Allama Shams ad-Din ar-Ramili ash-Shafi'i in his book, Nihaya Al-Muhtaj lla Sharh Al-Minhaj makes it clear that non-Muslims are like Muslims in this regard and that their protection from suffering is an obligation upon the Islamic society. He further explains that there are two opinions on this issue: (1) To provide non-Muslims with the means to protect their lives and, (2) To provide suitable provision. As the second is more recognized, they should be given suitable dress and suitable food according to summer and winter seasons, including medicine, treatment, and servant charges. The Muslims should also struggle to free their non-Muslim warriors from prison. (Yusuf Al Qaradawi, Non Muslims in the Islamic Society, p. 8-9) 


During Umar ibn al Khattab's caliphate, a delegate once came to him from one of the lands where Muslims ruled over the dhimmis and Umar was worried about how the Muslims were treating the dhimmis so he asked the man whether the dhimmis were fine and the delegate assured Umar that they were. (Taareekh at- Tabari, Volume 2, p. 503)


Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 


Sunan Abu Dawud


Book 19, Number 3046:

Narrated A number of Companions of the Prophet:

Safwan reported from a number of Companions of the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) on the authority of their fathers who were relatives of each other. The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: Beware, if anyone wrongs a contracting man, or diminishes his right, or forces him to work beyond his capacity, or takes from him anything without his consent, I shall plead for him on the Day of Judgment.  (Shaykh Albani declared this hadeeth to be Saheeh in Sunan Abu Dawud 2626) 

Saheeh Muslim

Book 032, Number 6327:


'Urwa reported on the authority of his father that Hisham b. Hakim b. Hizam happened to pass by some people in Syria who had been made to stand in the sun and olive-oil was being poured upon their heads. He said: What is this? It was said: They are being punished for (not paying) the Kharaj (the government revenue). Thereupon he said: Allah would punish those who torment people in this world (without any genuine reason).


Book 032, Number 6328:


Hisham reported on the authority of his father that Hisham b. Hakim b. Hizam happened to pass by people, the farmers of Syria, who had been made to stand in the sun. He said: What is the matter with them? They said: They have been detained for Jizya. Thereupon Hisham said: I bear testimony to the fact that I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Allah would torment those who torment people in the world.


Book 032, Number 6329:


This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Hisham with the same chain of transmitters and he made this addition of Jarir that (Hisham b. Hakim) went to Umair b. Sa'd who was then ruler in Palestine and he narrated to him this hadith and he (submitting before the words of the Prophet) commanded that they should be let off and so they were let off.


Book 032, Number 6330:


'Urwa b. Zubair reported that Hisham b. Hakim found a person (the ruler of Hims) who had been detaining some Nabateans in connection with the dues of Jizya. He said: What is this? I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Allah would torment those persons who torment people in the world. 


Umar ibn Al Khattab right before he died said: 

Saheeh Bukhari

Volume 2, Book 23, Number 475:

Narrated 'Amr bin Maimun Al-Audi:

I saw 'Umar bin Al-Khattab (when he was stabbed) saying, "O 'Abdullah bin 'Umar! Go to the mother of the believers Aisha and say, 'Umar bin Al-Khattab sends his greetings to you,' and request her to allow me to be buried with my companions." (So, Ibn 'Umar conveyed the message to 'Aisha.) She said, "I had the idea of having this place for myself but today I prefer him ('Umar) to myself (and allow him to be buried there)." When 'Abdullah bin 'Umar returned, 'Umar asked him, "What (news) do you have?" He replied, "O chief of the believers! She has allowed you (to be buried there)." On that 'Umar said, "Nothing was more important to me than to be buried in that (sacred) place. So, when I expire, carry me there and pay my greetings to her ('Aisha ) and say, 'Umar bin Al-Khattab asks permission; and if she gives permission, then bury me (there) and if she does not, then take me to the grave-yard of the Muslims. I do not think any person has more right for the caliphate than those with whom Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) was always pleased till his death. And whoever is chosen by the people after me will be the caliph, and you people must listen to him and obey him," and then he mentioned the name of 'Uthman, 'Ali, Talha, Az-Zubair, 'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf and Sad bin Abi Waqqas.

By this time a young man from Ansar came and said, "O chief of the believers! Be happy with Allah's glad tidings. The grade which you have in Islam is known to you, then you became the caliph and you ruled with justice and then you have been awarded martyrdom after all this." 'Umar replied, "O son of my brother! Would that all that privileges will counterbalance (my short comings), so that I neither lose nor gain anything. I recommend my successor to be good to the early emigrants and realize their rights and to protect their honor and sacred things. And I also recommend him to be good to the Ansar who before them, had homes (in Medina) and had adopted the Faith. He should accept the good of the righteous among them and should excuse their wrongdoers. I recommend him to abide by the rules and regulations concerning the Dhimmis (protectees) of Allah and His Apostle, to fulfill their contracts completely and fight for them and not to tax (overburden) them beyond their capabilities." 

Umar said the above despite being stabbed by a Non-Muslim.  Also see (Volume 5, Book 57, Number 50) 

Another example is the statement of a famous classical scholar of Islam, Imam Awza'i  in his letter to the Abbasid governor Salih b. 'Ali b. Abdullah about the  People of the Covenant,


"They are not slaves, so beware of changing their status after they have lived in freedom.  They are free People of the Covenant." (Abu Ubayd, al-Amwaal, p. 170, 171 & Dr. Abd al-Karim Zaydan, Ahkam al-Dhimmiyin wal-Musta'minin, p. 77) 


It is not only a matter of protecting the dhimmis from physical harm, but also from slander and backbiting. For it is not allowed for one to speak badly about the dhimmis for no justifiable reason as with towards the Muslims. (Al Furooq, Volume 3, p. 14)


Similarly, a Muslim is liable to receive a sentence for defamation if he slanders a man or woman protected under the covenant. (Fahd Muhammad Ali Masud, Huquq Ghayr is-Muslimeen fid-Dawla al-Islamiyya, p. 138-139, 144-149, Saleh Hussain Aayed, 'Huquq Ghayr al-Muslimeen fi Bilad il-Islam, p. 32-33 & Dr. Abd al-Karim Zaydan, 'Ahkam al-Dhimmiyin wal-Mustami'nin,' p. 254.) 


Zakariya al-Ansaari said: 


"Backbiting about a kaafir is haraam if he is a dhimmi [a non-Muslim living under Islamic rule], because that puts them off from accepting the Jizyah and it is going against the treaty of dhimmah (agreement between non-Muslim subjects and the Islamic state) and the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). 'Whoever makes a snide comment to a dhimmi has earned Hell.' (Narrated by Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh). It is permissible (to backbite about a kaafir) if he is a harbi (one who is at war with the Muslims), because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to command Hassaan to lampoon the mushrikeen." (Asna al-Mutaalib ma'a Haashiyatihi, Volume 3, p. 116) 


Ahmad ibn Hajar al-Haythami said in al-Zawaajir 'an Iqtiraaf al-Kabaa'ir (Volume 2, p. 27): 


"Al-Ghazaali was asked about backbiting about a kaafir. He said: with regard to a Muslim, it is forbidden for three reasons: causing offence; criticizing the creation of Allaah, for Allaah is the Creator of the deeds of His slaves; and wasting time in something that is of no benefit. The first is haraam, the second is makrooh, and the third is not the best thing that one can do. With regard to the dhimmi, he is like the Muslim as far as not harming him is concerned, because the Lawgiver protects his honour, blood and property. It was said in al-Khaadim, the first view is correct. Ibn Hibbaan narrated in his Saheeh that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, 'Whoever makes a snide comment to a Jew or a Christian deserves Hell.' The meaning of making a snide comment is to make someone hear something that will cause offence to him. There is no stronger evidence than this, i.e., it is haraam. Al-Ghazaali said: with regard to the harbi, the former is not haraam, and the second and third are makrooh. With regard to one who commits bid'ah (innovation), if he is becomes a kaafir thereby, then he is like a harbi, otherwise he is like a Muslim, but speaking of him with regard to his bid'ah is not makrooh. Ibn al-Mundhir said, concerning the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), "It is your mentioning about your brother that which he dislikes," - this indicates that in the case of one who is not your brother, such as a Jew or a Christian or a follower of any other religion, or one whose bid'ah has put him beyond the pale of Islam, there is no backbiting in his case."


Al Hassan is reported to have said that when you want to give your condolences to a Dhimmi who lost someone (someone died) tell him 'Nothing befalls you except good.' (Ibnul Qayyim, Ahkam Ahlul Dhimma, Volume 1, p. 161) 


Can non-Muslims freely practice their faith in an Islamic state?


Umar ibn Al Khattab ensured safety for the dhimmis of Jersualem and Al Lid's lives, money, churches and ensured that they aren't forced to leave their religion and that they were not harmed on account of it. (See Taareekh at- Tabari, Volume 4, p.449) Khalid ibn Al Waleed did the same for the people of Damascus once it was conquered. (See Fatoohil Baldan for Al Baladaari)


A moderate degree of tolerance is to allow an individual to believe in a faith of his choice. In this case, he is neither compelled to discard his religious obligations nor is he forced to act contrary to his faith. For instance, a Jew believes that working on Saturdays is prohibited in his faith. Forcing him to work on that day is therefore, not tolerance. Likewise a Christian, who goes to church on Sundays as part of his faith, should not be constrained from attending it. (It is stated in the Hanbali Ghayat Al-Muntaha and its commentary: "To compel a Jew to work on Saturday is prohibited. This order is valid in his case because he is not obliged to work on his Sabbath day, according to the Shari'ah. A hadith related by Imam Nasa'i and authenticated by At-Tirmidhi states: "And you Jews especially should not commit any offense on Saturdays")


However, one must note that if one's religion does come into a direct clash with Islam, then Islamic law will take precedence.


For instance, it is not permissible for Christians to go around preaching their faith in an Islamic country even though they believe that it is compulsory for them to do so. The reason is because this directly clashes with Islam that forbids such a thing. One may ask "Why don't you just let the Non-Muslims preach their faith and let the people freely accept or reject? It is their personal choice". Well then using the same logic we could then argue "Why don't you just let the drug dealers sell their drugs and let the people freely accept or reject? It is their personal choice".


In the eyes of Islam, the Non-Muslim who preaches his faith is worse than a drug dealer selling drugs. If the drug dealer happens to convince someone to buy his drugs then the most harm that could possibly be inflicted on the person is that his carnal body dies from overdose.


However, if the Non-Muslim happens to convince someone to accept his false religion then the most harm that could possibly be inflicted on the person is that his soul dies from corruption and he could end up burning in hell for all eternity.


If we have a moral obligation to protect the Muslim citizens from drug dealers then we have more of a duty to protect them from the doubts and lies of Non-Muslims trying to preach their false religions. (Look at Deuteronomy 13:6-11 and see how the God of the Bible dealt with those that preached another faith)


Thus, this is the limit that Islam has imposed on religious freedom. It can't go as far as affecting other people from the Musilm faith. Just as America might not give Hindus the religious freedom to practice sati because it would result in the physical death of someone, Islam will not give the religious freedom to those to preach their false religions because it would result in the spiritual death of someone and that is far worse.


A Christian might argue "But to preach the Gospel of Christ is compulsory on me", yes but it is also compulsory on Muslims to ensure that he doesn't in an Islamic state. Why must we be the ones that compromise on our faith and not the Christian? If Muslims are the ones in control (i.e. they have an Islamic state) then they would impose regulations that give Islam precedence over anything else. 


Ibn Ishaq in his Sirah (biography of the Prophet) stated: 


When the delegation of Najrani Christians came to the Prophet at Madinah, they entered his mosque in the afternoon to meet him. It was their prayer time, so they began to perform their prayer in the mosque. Some Muslims were about to prevent them from doing so, but the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, 'Let them pray.' So they faced eastward and performed their prayer. 


In addition to the covenant made by the Prophet with the Christians of Najran, which placed them under the protection of Allah and his Prophet and provided for the safeguarding of their wealth, religion, and churches, the one made by Umar ibn Al Khattab with the citizens of Iliya' (Jersusalem) stated:


This is the protection which the servant of Allah, Umar ibn Al Khattab, the commander of the faithful extends to them (non-Muslims): 'The safeguarding of their lives, property, churches, crosses, and of their entire community. Their churches are not to be occupied, demolished, or damaged, nor are their crosses or anything belonging to them to be touched. They will not be forced to abandon their religion, nor will they be harmed. None of the Jews will live with them in Illiya' (Jersusalem). (Tarikh At-Tabari, Volume 3, p. 609) 


Concerning the Ummayad and Abbasid periods, Will Durrant says in his The Story of Civilisation: 


To these Dhimmis - Christians, Zoroastrians, Sabaeans, Jews - the Umayyad caliphate offered a degree of toleration hardly equated in contemporary Christian lands. They were allowed the free practice of their faiths, and the retention of their churches, on condition that they wear a distinctive honey-colored dress, and pay a poll tax of from one to four dinars ($4.75 to $ 19.00) per year according to their income. This tax fell only upon non-Moslems capable of military service; it was not levied upon monks, women, adolescents, slaves, the old, crippled, blind or very poor. In return the dhimmis were excused (or excluded) from military service, were exempted from the two and a half per cent tax for community charity, and received the protection of the government. Their testimony was not admitted in Moslem courts, but they were allowed self-government under their own leaders, judges and laws.


Christian heretics persecuted by the patriarchs of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, or Antioch were now free and safe under a Moslem rule that found their disputes quite unintelligible. In the ninth century, the Moslem governor of Antioch appointed a special guard to keep Christian sects from massacring one another at church. Monasteries and nunneries flourished under the skeptical Umayyads; the Arabs admired the work of the monks in agriculture and reclamation, acclaimed the wines of monastic vintage, and enjoyed, in traveling, the shade and hospitality of Christian cloisters. For a time, relations between the two religions were so genial that Christians wearing crosses on their breasts conversed in mosques with Moslem friends. The Mohammedan bureaucracy had hundreds of Christian employees; Christians rose so frequently to high office as to provoke Moslem complaints. Sergius, father of St. John of Damascus, was chief finance minister to Abd-al-Malik, and John himself, last of the Greek Fathers of the Church, headed the council that governed Damascus. The Christians of the East in general regarded Islamic rule as a lesser evil than that of the Byzantine government and church.


Despite, or because of this policy of tolerance in early Islam, the new faith won over to itself in time most of the Christians, nearly all the Zoroastrians and pagans, and many of the Jews, of Asia, Egypt, and North Africa(Will Durant, The Story of Civilization: The Age of Faith, Volume 4 p. 218-219) 


Khalid ibn al-Walid, in his covenant with the people of Anat, wrote, 


"They are allowed to ring their bells at any time of the day or night, except at the Islamic prayer times. They are allowed to bear their crosses in their festivals." (Abu Yusuf, Al-Kharaj, p. 146)  


In his book, Al-Khitat, the famous historian Al-Maqrizi has given several examples and concludes, 


"It is agreed that all the churches of Cairo were established after the coming of Islam." (See Islam and Dhimmis by Dr. Ali H. Al-Kharbotaly, p. 139)


Imam Al Tahawi states that the scholars of jurisprudence have formed a consensus agreeing that the dhimmis are not forbidden to drink their alcohol and eat their pork. (Ekhtilaaf al fuquhaa', p. 233)


Umar ibn Abdulaziz, a Muslim ruler, found it hard to accept how non-Muslims continued to follow their social regulations that went against the Islamic injunctions.  He wrote a letter to Hasan al-Basri seeking his legal advice, saying, 'How is it that the Rightly-Guided Caliphs before us left the People of the Covenant as they did, marrying close relatives and keeping pigs and wine?'  Hasan's responded, 'They paid the jizya so that they could be left to practice what they believed, and you may only follow the Islamic Law, not invent something new.' (Maududi, Abul 'Ala, 'The Rights Of The People of Covenant In The Islamic State,' p. 22)


Gustave Lebon says: 


From the said verses of the Qur'an we can see that Muhammad's tolerance towards Jews and Christians was truly very great. None of the founders of the religions which appeared before his time, especially Judaism and Christianity, has spoken or acted in this manner. Then we saw how his caliphs followed his traditions. This tolerance has been recognized by some European scholars who have deeply contemplated Arab history. The following quotation, which I have taken from their numerous books prove that these are not exclusively our opinions. Robertson says in his book The History of Charles V that Muslims are the only people who possess a zeal for their faith as well as a spirit of tolerance toward the followers of other religions. Although they fight for the sake of Islam and its dissemination, they leave those who do not know their religion free to adhere to their own religious teachings. (Gustave Lebon, Arab Civilisation (trans. 'Adil, Za'aytar), p. 128) 


Patriarch Ghaytho wrote: 

The Arabs, to whom the Lord has given control over the world, treat us as you know; they are not the enemies of Christians.  Indeed, they praise our community, and treat our priests and saints with dignity, and offer aid to churches and monasteries. (Arthur Stanley Tritton, The People Of The Covenant In Islam, p. 158) 

Gustav Lebon writes: 

"The Arabs could have easily been blinded by their first conquests, and committed the injustices that are usually committed by conquerors.  They could have mistreated their defeated opponents or forced them to embrace their religion, which they wished to spread all over the world.  But the Arabs avoided that.  The early caliphs, who had a political genius that was rare in proponents of new religion, realized that religions and systems are not imposed by force.  So they treated the people of SyriaEgyptSpain, and every country they took over with great kindness, as we have seen.  They left their laws, regulations, and beliefs intact and only imposed on them the jizya, which was paltry when compared to what they had been paying in taxes previously, in exchange for maintaining their security.  The truth is that nations had never known conquerors more tolerant than the Muslims, or a religion more tolerant than Islam." (Lebon, G, The Civilization Of The Arabs, p. 605) 

American historian Will Durant wrote: 

At the time of the Umayyad caliphate, the people of the covenant, Christians, Zoroastrians, Jews, and Sabians, all enjoyed degree of tolerance that we do not find even today in Christian countries.  They were free to practice the rituals of their religion and their churches and temples were preserved.  They enjoyed autonomy in that they were subject to the religious laws of the scholars and judges. (Will Durant, The Story Of Civilization, Volume 13. p. 131-132) 

Muslims protected Christian churches in the lands they occupied from being harmed.  In a letter to Simeon, the Archbishop of Rifardashir and leader of all the bishops of Persia, the Nestorian Patriarch Geoff III wrote: 

'The Arabs, to whom God has given power over the whole world, know how wealthy you are, for they live among you.  In spite of this, they do not assail the Christian creed.  To the contrary, they have sympathy with our religion, and venerate our priests and saints of our Lord, and they graciously donate to our churches and monasteries.' (Sir Thomas Arnold, Invitation To Islam, p. 102) 

One of the Muslims caliphs, Abdul-Malik, took the Church of John from the Christians and made it part of a mosque.  When Umar bin Abdulaziz succeeded him as the new Caliph, the Christians complained to him about what his predecessor had done to their church.  Umar wrote to the governor that the portion of the mosque that was rightfully theirs be returned to them if they were unable to agree with the governor on a monetary settlement that would satisfy them. (Yusuf Qaradawi, 'Ghayr al-Muslimeen fil-Mujtama' al-Islami,' p. 32) 

The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem is known to historians to be the one of the holiest places of worship in Judaism.  Some time ago, it was completely buried under rubble and heaps of debris.  When the Ottoman caliph Sultan Sulayman came to know of this, he ordered his governor in Jerusalem to remove all the rubble and debris, clean the area, restore the Wailing Wall, and make it accessible for Jews to visit. (Abdul-Latif Hussayn, 'Tasamuh al-Gharb Ma'l-Muslimeen,' p. 67) 

Lebon writes: 

'The tolerance of Muhammad towards the Jews and Christians was truly grand; the founders of other religions that appeared before him, Judaism and Christianity in particular, did not prescribe such goodwill.  His caliphs followed the same policy, and his tolerance has been acknowledged by skeptics and believers alike when they study the history of the Arabs in depth.' (Gustave Lebon, Arab Civilization, p. 128) 

Robertson wrote: 

'The Muslims alone were able to integrate their zeal for their own religion with tolerance for followers of other religions.  Even when they bore swords into battle for freedom for their religion to spread, they left those who did not desire it free to adhere to their own religious teachings.' (Quoted in Saleh Hussain Aayed, Huquq Ghayr al-Muslimeen fi Bilad il-Islam, p. 26) 

Sir Thomas Arnold wrote: 

'We never heard of a report of any planned attempt to compel non-Muslim minorities to accept Islam, or any organized persecution aimed at uprooting the Christian religion.  If any of the caliphs had chosen any of these policies, they would have overwhelmed Christianity with the same ease with which Ferdinand and Isabella exiled Islam from Spain, or with which Louis XIV made following Protestantism a punishable crime in France, or with which the Jews were exiled from England for 350 years.  A that time Eastern churches were completely isolated from the rest of the Christian world.  They had no supporters in the world as they were considered heretical sects of Christianity.  Their very existence to this day is the strongest evidence of the policy of Islamic government's tolerance towards them.' (Sir Thomas Arnold, Invitation To Islam, p. 98-99) 

The American author, Lothrop Stoddard wrote, 

'The caliph Umar took the utmost care to tend to the sanctity of the Christian holy places, and those who became caliph after him followed his footsteps.  They did not harass the many denominations of pilgrims who came annually from every corner of the Christian world to visit Jerusalem.' (Lothrop Stoddard, The Islamic World At Present, Volume 1, p. 13-14) 

The reality is that non-Muslims were treated with more tolerance among the Muslims than anything they experienced with other sects of their own religion.  Richard Stebbins spoke of the Christian experience under the rule of the Turks: 

'They (the Turks) allowed all of them, Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox, to preserve their religion and follow their consciences as they chose: they allowed them their churches to perform their sacred rituals in Constantinople and many other places.  This is in contrast to what I can testify to from living in Spain for twelve years; not only were we forced to attend their Papist celebrations, but our lives and the lives of our grandchildren were in danger also.' (Yusuf Qaradawi, al-Aqaliyyat ad-Diniyya wa-Hal al-Islami, p. 56-57) 

Thomas Arnold mentions in his 'Invitation to Islam' that there were many people in Italy at that time who longed for Ottoman rule.  They wished they could be granted the same freedom and tolerance that the Ottomans gave to their Christian subjects, for they had despaired of achieving it under any Christian government.  He also mentions that a great many Jews fled persecution in Spain at the end of the 15th century and took refuge in Ottoman Turkey. (p. 183) 

In 638, the Islamic empire extended its dominion to JerusalemThe Rashidun army were engaged by a Byzantine army composed of Imperial troops as well as local levies. The Roman Emperor Heraclius had fallen ill and was unable to lead his armies to resist the Arab conquests of Syria and Palestine in 634. Rashidun Caliphate forces conquered Damascus in 634 A.D under the command of Khalid ibn Walid. ("Syria." Encyclopędia Britannica) Monophysites and Jews throughout Syria welcomed the Arab conquerors, as they were discontented with Byzantine persecution and taxation, and receptive to the lower taxes offered under the new regime. ("Ghassan." Encyclopedia Britannica) The Arabian tribes also had significant economic, cultural and familial ties with predominantly Arab citizens of the fertile crescent. When Heraclius massed his troops against the Moslems and the Moslems heard that they were coming to meet them at al-Yarmuk, the Moslems refunded to the inhabitants of Hims the karaj [tribute] they had taken from them saying, "We are too busy to support and protect you. Take care of yourselves." But the people of Hims replied, "We like your rule and justice far better than the state of oppression and tyranny in which we were. The army of Heraclius we shall indeed, with your 'amil's' help, repulse from the city." The Jews rose and said, "We swear by the Torah, no governor of Heraclius shall enter the city of Hims unless we are first vanquished and exhausted!" Saying this, they closed the gates of the city and guarded them. The inhabitants of the other cities - Christian and Jew - that had capitulated to the Moslems, did the same, saying, "If Heraclius and his followers win over the Moslems we would return to our previous condition, otherwise we shall retain our present state so long as numbers are with the Moslems." When by Allah's help the "unbelievers" were defeated and the Moslems won, they opened the gates of their cities, went out with the singers and music players who began to play, and paid the kharaj." (P. K. Hitti and F. C. Murgotten, Studies in History, Economics and Public Law p. 207-211) 

It is worthwhile to reemphasize the following point.  The existence of non-Muslims for centuries across the Muslim world, from Moorish Spain and Sub-Saharan Africa to EgyptSyriaIndia, and Indonesia are clear evidence of the religious tolerance extended by Islam to people of other faiths.  This tolerance even led to the elimination of Muslims, such as in Spain, where the remaining Christians took advantage of Muslim weakness, attacked them, and wiped them out from Spain by either killing them, forcing them to convert, or expulsion. 

Etienne Denier wrote, 

'The Muslims are the opposite of what many people believe.  They never used force outside of the Hejaz. The presence of Christians was evidence of this fact.  They retained their religion in complete security during the eight centuries that the Muslims ruled their lands.  Some of them held high posts in the palace in Cordoba, but when the same Christians obtained power over the country, suddenly their first concern was to exterminate Muslims.' (Etienne Denier, Muhammad The Messenger Of God, p. 332) 


In Muslim Spain, 


"Thousands of Jews and Christians lived in peace and harmony with their Muslim overlords." (James BurkeThe Day The Universe Changedp. 38) 


Of course, this was until the Christians came and massacred the Muslims. Please visit this link and read more about Muslim tolerance to non-Muslims in Spain, which unfortunately lead to their own slaughter. 


Can Non-Muslims Prosper Under an Islamic State?                                       


As to the situation during the 'Abbasid period, the golden age for Islamic civilization, Kharbutali says: 


In the 'Abbasid age several non-Muslim dignitaries had enormous reputations, one being Jarzia ibn Bakhtishu', the physician of the 'Abbasid caliph Abu Ja'far al-Mansur. The caliph was well satisfied with him and honored him generously. Then there was also Jibril Ibn Bakhtishu', the physician of the caliph Harun ar-Rashi, who said about Jibril: 'Anyone who wants to seek my help should contact Jibril , because I do whatever he asks of me and requests from me.' A physician's monthly salary was at that time 10,000 dirhams. Masaweih, one of Harun ar-Rashid's physicians, received 1,000 dirhams annually, and, at the end of every year, 20,000 more. (Hasan Ali Kharbutali, Islam and Ahl Adh-Dhimma,) 


Adam Mitz writes: 


The Islamic shari'ah did not deny the non-Muslims any opportunity to work. They were engaged in lucrative professions; they were money exchangers, traders, jewelers and businessmen, physicians and landlords. They organized themselves in a lucrative manner. For example, most of the dealers in currency and jewelry in Syria were Jews; and most of physicians, clerks, and scribes were Christians. The Christian leader in Baghdad was the physician of the caliph; the Jew's leaders and businessmen were employees of the caliph. (Mitz, Adam, The Islamic Civilization in the Fourth Century A.H., (trans. By Muhammad Abdul Hadi Abu Rida), 4th ed., BasleSwitzerland, See the section "Jews and Christians," Volume 1, p. 86) 


Tritton says that during the first and second centuries of the hijrah, the Arabs had good relations with their subjects on the Arts. These relations were founded upon kindness. The Islamic state employed engineers and various workers who were non-Muslims. Many non-Muslims pursued their studies under Khalil ibn Ahmad and Sibaweh, to the extent that his word became the definitive reference in Arabic. (Al-Asfahani, Kitab Al Aghani, Volume 3, p. 136) Yahya ibn 'Adi ibn Humaid, a scholar of profound knowledge in logics, studied under Al-Farabi. Thabit ibn Qurra studied 'Ali ibn al-Walid and Mu'tazilah. He was the best calligrapher and a man of letters. His books and compilations prove that he was a man of profound thoughts and deep knowledge; he soon embraced Islam. (Ibn Abi Usaibi'a, Tabaqat Al-Atibba', Volume 1, p. 185)


The historian Tritton regards Ibrahim ibn Hilal, who attained a very high rank in the Islamic state, as a good example of 'Abbasid tolerance towards non-Muslims. Ibrahim served the state in several high positions, and was highly praised by poets. 'Izz ad-Dawlah Bakhtiyar ibn Mu'izz ad-Dawlah al-Buwaihi even recommended that he be given a ministerial portfolio, provided he embraced Islam. (He never did). His dealings with Muslims were highly ethical, as he was honest and virtuous in his religion. There was correspondence between him and As-Sahib Ismai'l ibn 'Abbad and Ash-Sharif ar-Razi, although they followed different doctrines. Ibrahim, moreover, learned the Qur'an by heart. (Yusuf Al Qaradawi, Non Muslims in the Islamic Society, p. 36) 

Do Non-Muslims Have Rights To Social Justice?

The British historian, H.G.  Wells, wrote the following: 

'They established great traditions of just tolerance.  They inspire people with a spirit of generosity and tolerance, and are humanitarian and practical.  They created a humane community in which it was rare to see cruelty and social injustice, unlike any community that came before it.' (Quoted by Mustafa Siba'i, Min Rawai Hadaratina, p. 146) 

A famous story illustrates the degree to which the caliphs of early Islam protected the dignity of non-Muslims.  Amr ibn al-As was the governor of Egypt.  One of his sons beat up a Coptic Christian with a whip, saying, 'I am the son of a nobleman!"  The Copt went to Umar ibn al-Khattab, the Muslim caliph who resided in the city of Medina, and lodged a complaint.  These are the details as related by Anas ibn Malik, the personal servant of the Prophet in his lifetime:

"We were sitting with Umar ibn al-Khattab when an Egyptian came in and said, 'Commander of the Faithful, I come to you as a refugee.'  So, Umar asked him about his problem and he answered, Amr had a custom of letting his horses run free in Egypt.  One day, I came by riding my mare.  When I passed by a group of people, they looked at me.  Muhammad, the son of Amr got up and came to me, saying, 'I swear by the Lord of the Kaaba, this is my mare!'  I responded, 'I swear by the Lord of the Kaaba, the mare is mine!'  He came up to me and began beating me with a whip, saying, 'You may take her, because I am the son of a nobleman (meaning I am more generous than you).'  The incident got to Amr, who feared that I might come to you, so he put me in jail.  I escaped, and here I am before you."

Anas continued:

"I swear by God, the only response Umar made was to tell the Egyptian to take a seat.  Then, Umar wrote a letter to Amr, saying, 'When this letter reaches you, come and bring me your son, Muhammad.'  Then he told the Egyptian to stay in Medina until he was told Amr has arrived.  When Amr received the note, he called his son and asked him, 'Did you commit a crime?'  His son stated he has not.  Amr asked, 'Then why is Umar writing about you?'  They both went to Umar."

Anas narrates the incident further:

"I swear by God, we were sitting with Umar, and Amr arrived wearing the clothes of common people.  Umar looked around for the son, and saw him standing behind his father (to appear less conspicuous).  Umar asked, 'Where is the Egyptian?'  and he responded, 'Here I am!'  Umar told him, 'Here is the whip.  Take it and beat the son of the nobleman.'  So he took it and beat him vigorously, while Umar said over and over, 'Beat the son of the nobleman.'  We did not let him stop until we were satisfied he had beaten him enough.  Then, Umar said, 'Now you must take it and hit me on my bald head.  This all happened to you because of my power over you.'  The Egyptian responded, 'I am satisfied and my anger has cooled.'  Umar told him, 'If you had beaten me, I would not have stopped you until you had wished to.  And you, Amr, since when have you made the people your slaves?  They were born free.'  Amr began to apologize, telling him, 'I did not know that this is what happened.'  So, Umar said turned back to the Egyptian, telling him, 'You may go, and be guided.  If anything untoward happens to you, write to me.'" (Tantawi, Ali, The History Of Umar, p. 155-156)

Such was Umar who said when first chosen as Caliph, 'The weak will be made strong, because I take for them what is their right.  And the strong will be made weak because I will take from them what is not rightfully theirs.'  History has recorded him as a just ruler because of his equity towards the oppressed, regardless of their social status, and because of his firmness against the oppressor, regardless of their rank.

'The value of this story is that it records how people had a sense of their humanity and dignity under the rule of Islam.  Even an unjust blow was disapproved and despised.  Many incidents of injustice similar to this story occurred at the time of the Byzantine Empire, but nobody moved to rectify them.  However, under the protection of the Islamic state, we see an example of an oppressed person having the conviction of his dignity and access to his rights so strong that he was willing to undertake the hardship and privation of a trip from Egypt to Medina, because of his trust that he would find someone to listen to his compliant.' (Yusuf Qaradawi, Ghayr al-Muslimeen fil-Mujtama' al-Islami p. 30-31) 

In another narration, 'Ali, Allah be pleased with him, stated:


 "They pay the capitation tax so that their blood and wealth become like our blood and wealth immune from all harm." Umar ibn Abdul Aziz once wrote a governor concerning a Muslim who killed a non-Muslim, telling them to hand the Muslim over to the legal heir of the slain person and to give him the authority either to forgive the Muslim or kill him. The heir subsequently chose to behead the Muslim. (Abdur Razzaq, Al-Musannaf, Volume 10, pp. 101-102. The narration of Ali is also found in Ibn Qudamah's Al Mughni, Volume 12, pp. 828-829) 


Imams Malik and Al-Laith said,


"A Muslim who intentionally kills a non-Muslim for no reason will be put to death. If his action is justified, he shall not be killed. (Nail Al-Awtar, Volume 7, p. 154) 


This is according to Abanah ibn Uthman's verdict, who was one of the fuqaha' and the governor of Madinah. He sentenced to death a Muslim who had killed a Copt. (See Al-Jawhar An-Naqi and As-Sunan Al-Kubra, Volume 3, p.34)


Imams Ash-Sha'bi, An-Nakha'i, Ibn Abi Laila, 'Uthman al-Betti, Abu Hanifa and their colleagues were of the opinion that a Muslim should be killed if he took the life of a non-Muslim. Their views are based on texts from the Qur'an and the sunnah (which are general in punitive retaliation, Al-Qisas, and equal in the eternal innocence of blood) as well as a hadith which relates that the Prophet, on one occasion when he killed a Muslim in lieu of a mu'ahid (non Muslim having a peace treaty with a Muslim), said, "I am the best to fulfill this covenant." Their opinion was also based on the statement that a Muslim who had killed a non-Muslim was brought before 'Ali ibn Abi Talib. After hearing the witnesses' testimony, 'Ali ordered him to be put to death. The deceased's brother came and said, "I have forgiven him." Ali said, "Perhaps they have threatened and frightened you." He said, "Not at all, but his death cannot restore my brothers life. They have compensated me, and now I am satisfied." Ali said, "You know better. The blood of the person who is in our covenant is like ours and his blood compensation (diyah) is like ours" (Related by Imams At-Tabari and Al Baihaqi, As-Sunan Al-Kubra, Volume 8, p. 34. Also refer to Musnad al Shaaf'i, Volume 1, p. 344)


Thus in accordance with the same principle, the fuquha' have ruled that any Muslim who steals from a non-Muslim would have his hand cut off, although the matter of money is not as crucial as the matter of murder. The Prophet's utterance, "A Muslim is not to be killed in lieu of an infidel," refers to an infidel who fights against Muslims on the battlefield. The ahadith on this subject are unanimous. (This is according to Al-Jasas's Ahkam Al-Qur'an, Chapter "Qatl Al-Muslim Bi Al-Kubra," pp. 140-144)


Imam al Qurtubi emphasizes what Ali ibn Abi Taalib said regarding the dhimmi's wealth becoming like the Muslim's by saying that if the wealth of a dhimmi was stolen by a Muslim, the Muslim would also have his hand cut off just as if he stole money from another Muslim. (al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Volume 2, p.246) 


However, I must note that the majority of Muslim scholars are of the opinion that a Muslim is not to be executed for killing a non-Muslim. However, just because the punishment is not execution, that does not change the fact that the individual would still be severely punished and has committed a heinous sin.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 

Saheeh Bukhari

Volume 4, Book 53, Number 391:

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr:

The Prophet said, "Whoever killed a person having a treaty with the Muslims, shall not smell the smell of Paradise though its smell is perceived from a distance of forty years." 

Islamic history has some beautiful examples of justice meted out by Muslims towards non-Muslims.  A man named Ta'ima stole a suit of armor from Qataada, his neighbor.  Qataada had hidden the armor inside a sack of flour so, when Ta'ima took it, the flour leaked out of the sack through a hole, leaving a trail up to his house.  Ta'ima then left the armor in the care of a Jewish man named Zayed, who kept it in his house, in order to conceal his crime.  Thus, when the people searched for the stolen armor, they followed the trail of flour to Ta'ima's house but did not find it there.  When confronted, he swore to them he had not taken it and knew nothing about it.  The people helping the owner also swore that they had seen him breaking into Qataada's house at night, and had subsequently followed the tell-tale trail of flour, which had led them to his house.  Nevertheless, after hearing Ta'ima swearing he was innocent, they left him alone and looked for further clues, finally finding a thinner trail of flour leading to the house of Zayed, and so arrested him.

The Jewish man told them that Ta'ima had left the armor with him, and some Jewish people confirmed his statement.  The tribe to which Ta'ima belonged sent some of their men to the Messenger of God to present his side of the story, and asked them to defend him.  The delegation was told, 'If you do not defend our clansman, Ta'ima, he will lose his reputation and be punished severely, and the Jew will go free.'  The Prophet was subsequently inclined to believe them, and was about to punish the Jewish man when God revealed the following verses of the Quran to vindicate the Jew. 

Surah 4:105-109

"Indeed, We have revealed to you, (O Muhammad), the Book in truth so you may judge between the people by that which God has shown you.  And do not be an advocate for the deceitful.  And seek forgiveness of God.  Indeed, God is ever Forgiving and Merciful.  And do not argue on behalf of those who deceive themselves.  Indeed, God loves not one who is a habitually sinful deceiver.  They conceal [their evil intentions and deeds] from the people, but they cannot conceal [them] from God, and He is with them (in His knowledge) when they spend the night in such as He does not accept of speech.  And God ever is encompassing of what they do.  Here you are - those who argue on their behalf in [this] worldly life - but who will argue with God for them on the Day of Resurrection, or who will [then] be their representative?" 

See Tafsir Ibn KathirJalalaynQurtubi and Tabari.

These verses continue to be recited by Muslims today as a reminder that justice must be served for all.

Once, a dispute arouse between Ali bin Ali Talib, when he was the Caliph, and a Jewish man who went to Judge Shuray al-Kindi.  Shuray tells the details of what happened:

"Ali found he was missing a suit of mail, so he went back to Kufa and found it in the hands of a Jewish man who was selling it in the market.  He said, 'O Jew! That suit of mail is mine!  I did not give it away or sell it!'

The Jew responded 'It is mine.  It is in my possession.'

Ali said, 'We will have the judge rule on this for us.'

So they came to me and Ali sat next to me and said, 'That suit of mail is mine; I did not give it away or sell it.'

The Jew sat in front of me and said, 'That is my suit of mail.  It is in my possession.'

I asked, 'O Commander of the Faithful, do you have any proof?'

'Yes,' Ali said. 'My son Hasan and Qanbar can testify that it is my suit of mail.'

I said, 'Commander of the Faithful, the testimony of a son in his father's favor is not admissible in court.'

Ali exclaimed, 'How Perfect is God!  You cannot accept the testimony of a man who has been promised Paradise?  I heard the Messenger of God saying that Hasan and Husain are the princes of the youth in Paradise.' (Al-Tirmidhi)


The Jewish man said,


'The Commander of the Faithful takes me before his own judge and the judge rules in my favor against him!  I bear witness that no one deserves worship except God and that Muhammad is His Messenger [the Jewish man accepted Islam], and that the suit of armor is yours, Commander of the Faithful.  You dropped it at night and I found it.' (Abu Bakr Hayyan, Tarikh al-Qudat, Volume 2, p. 200) 


Discussing the Christian sects at the beginning centuries of Islamic rule, Sir Thomas Arnold writes: 

'Islamic principles of tolerance forbade these actions [mentioned previously], that always involved some oppression.  Muslims were the opposite of others, and it appears that they spared no effort in treating all of their Christian subjects with justice and equity.  An example was the conquest of Egypt, when the Jacobites took advantage of the removal of the Byzantine authorities to dispossess the Orthodox Christians of their churches.  The Muslims returned them to their rightful owners when the Orthodox Christians presented them with proof of ownership.' (Sir Thomas Arnold, Invitation To Islam, p.  87-88) 

Amari, a Sicilian Orientalist, observed: 

'At the time of the Muslim Arab rule, the conquered inhabitants of the island of (Sicily) were comfortable and content compared to their Italian counterparts, who were collapsing under the yoke of the Langiornians and Franks.' (Quoted in Saleh Hussain Aayed, Huquq Ghayr al-Muslimeen fi Bilad il-Islam, p.  39) 

Nadhmi Luqa commented: 

      'No law can eradicate injustice and prejudice better than one that states:

".and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just." (Quran 5:8)

Only when a person holds himself to these standards, settling for no other, and devotes himself to a religion with these lofty principles and rectitude, accepting no other. only then can he claim to have honored himself.' (Nadhmi Luqa, Muhammad: The Message & The Messenger, p. 26) 

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. 

Ibn al-Qayyim, a mujtahid scholar, put up a sign in front of the mosque reading "Admission granted to people of the book..." (Zaad Al-Ma'aad, Volume 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! (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya, Volume 2, p. 310)

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.' (Yusuf Qaradawi, al-Aqaliyyat ad-Diniyya wa-Hal al-Islami, p. 58-59) 

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.' (Quoted by Mustafa Siba'i, Min Rawai Hadaratina, p. 147) 




In conclusion, we can see that both Islamic history and a study of Islamic teachings make clear the justice that Islam has to offer to mankind. Islam came at a time where oppression and dictatorship were filling the Earth and totally eradicated it. The only ones who complain that Islam is unjust are those that are prohibited from committing the sins that Islam will prevent them from committing (e.g. public fornication, gambling, free mixing, preaching of falsehood, etc.) However, this doesn't invalidate the justice of Islamic law anymore than people trying to legalize abortion would invalidate the justice of prohibiting it. Islamic law ensures security for all people, both physically and spiritually. 



Recommended Reading  (quotes were taken from here for the purpose of this article) (quotes were taken from here for the purpose of this article) 






Most credit would have to go to Dr. Yusuf Al Qaradawi, for I have taken a great chunk of the material present in this article from him. Please refer to some of the below books that I have used to help me to write this article:



Yusuf Al Qaradawi, Non Muslims in the Islamic Society

Munqizh bin Mahmood Al Saqqaar, Al Jizyah fil Islam

Waseem Mahmood Fath Allah, Al Wajeez fi Ahkaam ahl al Dhimma



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