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    In 628 C.E. Prophet Muhammad granted a Charter of Privileges to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai. It consisted of several clauses covering all aspects of human rights including such topics as the protection of Christians, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their property, exemption from military service, and the right to protection in war.

    An English translation of that document follows:

    "This is a message from Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.

    Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.

    No compulsion is to be on them.

    Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.

    No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses.

    Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.

    No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight.

    The Muslims are to fight for them.

    If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.

    Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.

    No one of the Muslim community is to disobey this covenant till the Last Day(end of the world)."



    The Holy Quraan, No compulsion in religion

    Intolerance cannot be ascribed to a book which altogether excludes com-pulsion from the sphere of religion.

    "There is no compulsion in religion." (2:256)

    In fact the Holy Quraan is full of statements showing that belief in this or that religion is a person's own concern and that he is given the choice of adopting one way or the other.

    "The truth is from your Lord, so let him who wishes believe and let him who wishes disbelieve" (18: 29).

    Thus the commonly held belief that Islam means forced conversion and strict enforcement of religious practices finds no basis in the main source of Islamic teachings that is the Holy Quraan.

    Acceptance of previous religions

    As to the view that Islam is a totally different religion as compared to Christianity and Judaism, the religions of currently the most civilized regions on Earth. The belief that it (Islam) advocates a social setup contrary to the principles of peace, freedom and justice as are given by Judaism and Christianity, is again far from the truth.

    The Holy Quraan is the only religious scripture that requires a belief not only in its own truth but also in the truth of previous scriptures delivered to prophets of different nations.

    "And those who believe in that which was revealed to thee and that which was revealed before thee." (2 4)

    Thus the Holy Quraan accepts the truth of the sacred books of the world, and hence it is again and again spoken of as a book verifying that which is before it. The basis of the relation in which the Holy Quraan stands to other scriptures is that they are all members of one family, they all have a divine origin. Again it says, "Say: We believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to us and in that which was revealed to Abraham and Ishamil and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes and in that which was given to Moses and Jesus and in that which was given to the prophets from their Lord and we do not make any distinction between any of them and to Him do we submit." (2:1 76)

    The level of universal tolerance of Islam is evident from the above Ayat which shows that Muslims believe in all that the Lord has revealed to all of his prophets anywhere in the world.

    Respect for other religions

    Even in the case of religious houses of worship the Holy Quraan specifically mentions that the Muslims are not to harm any places of worship not only of the Jews and Christians, but even idol worshippers and they are to respect their beliefs.

    "And abuse not those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest exceeding the limits they abuse Allah through ignorance" (6:108)

    The Ayat clearly stops Muslims from even criticising the beliefs of others let alone harming their places of worship.

    Fighting non-Muslims only to defend

    Muslims have been allowed to fight against others by Allah, but not to compel the unbelievers to accept Islam as is generally believed, but to establish religious freedom, to stop all persecution and to protect the houses of worship of an religions.

    "Permission to fight is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed, and Allah is well able to assist them; those who have been expelled from their homes without a just cause except that they say our Lord is Allah." (22:S9.40)

    The Holy Quraan therefore allows fighting only to save a persecuted community, and hence the condition was laid down that fighting was to be stopped as soon as persecution ceased.

    Good social relations with non-Muslims

    "This day all good things are made lawful for you. And the food of those who have been given the Book is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. And so are the chaste from among the believing women and the chaste from among those who have been given the Book before you". (5:5)

    It is asserted by some that Islam forbids relations of friendship with the followers of other religions. How can a religion which even permits marriage with people of other faiths forbid friendly relations with them? There can be nothing closer and more friendly than marriage and if that is permitted between people of two different religions, there is no reason to suppose that other friendly relations with non-Muslims are forbidden. Again in reference to non-Muslims the Holy Quraan says, "Show them kindness and deal with them justly; for Allah loves the doers of justice"

    "And if any one of the idolaters seek thy protection, protect him till he hears the words of Allah, then convey him to his place of safety." (9:6)

    Equal political and legal status for non-Muslims

    "And all people are but a single nation." fl O:I 9)

    The above quote from the Holy Quraan is but ample evidence that Islam considers the people of the world as one nation and equal to each other in every respect.

    "Surely Allah commands you to make over trusts to those worthy of them and that when you judge between people, you judge with justice." (4:58)

    The above Ayat shows that Allah wants equal justice for all and not just for Muslims alone.

    This is in reference to the functioning of the justice system of an Islamic state. According to the Holy Quraan the non-Muslims residing in a Muslim society may be judged by the laws given in their own books and scriptures, and they do not have to abide by Islamic laws which apply to Muslims.

    There are other Ayaah in the Holy Quraan which affirm this.

    Thus according to the enlightened and liberal principles of Islam, non-Muslims are not only equal in every respect to Muslims in an Islamic state but they do not even have to abide by laws which apply to Muslim citizens and may follow the code given in their own scriptures without restrictions.

    Action determines Hereafter

    "Surely those who believe and those who are Jews and the Sabeans and the Christians— Whoever believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment and does good—they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve."

    The above Ayat clearly refutes the generally held belief by most illiterate and even some educated Muslims that only they (the Muslims) shall go to heaven and the people of other faiths shall be punished for their beliefs.

    The Holy Quraan clearly states that doing good to others is very important and will determine a person's reward in the Hereafter. It is the person's actions in this world and the intention behind them which de-termine his or her reward in the Hereafter.

    "And every soul shall be fully paid what it has earned and they shall not be wronged." (3:24)

    Thus every person is responsible for his or her own self and the deeds of each person in this world will determine their reward in the Hereafter and not the faith they professed to belong too. None are dealt with unjustly by Allah, be they Muslims or non-Muslims.

    The tolerance of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alai/e wa'alehi wasallam)

    preached like his glorious predecessors, the message of universal truth, and announced a common platform for spiritual amity and religious unity. The offer of cooperation was extended to 'all lovers of truth' and worshippers of Allah. Unity of Allah is the foundation stone of true religion. The Holy Prophet (SAW) preached Unity dauntlessly against severe opposi-tion and hostility and along with the 'Unity of Allah. he stressed upon the 'Unity of the human race . He called mankind 'the family of Allah'.

    There are several incidents which testify to the prophets tolerant attitude towards non-Muslims.

    Tolerance during preaching of Islam

    When the Holy Prophet (SAW) began preaching Islam, he met the strongest opposition from all the tribes and clans of Makkah. He and his followers were made to suffer all kinds of cruelties and discrimination. Once he was requested to arouse Allah's anger on the polytheists. but he refused politely and said, I am not an ill wisher; I have been sent only for mercy.'

    Tolerant treatment for prisoners

    There is a very genera} misconception that the Holy Prophet (SAW) preached intolerance and spread Islam with the Holy Quraan in one hand and the sword in the other. The truth is that the Holy Prophet (SAW) never fought against others except under the conditions mentioned by the Holy Quraan. After the battle of Badr was won by the Muslims, a number of the polytheists were taken prisoners. Among them were some of the Holy Prophet's (SAW) most ardent opponents. The prevailing customs were unanimously in favour either of their execution or of reducing them into slavery

    But the Holy Prophet (SAW) I treated them in a different manner. He exhorted his followers to entertain the prisoners hospitably. The treatment to the prisoners was so generous and kind that one of them later said, "Blessing be on the men of Madinah, they made us ride while they themselves walked afoot; they gave us wheaten bread when there was little of it, contenting themselves with dates."

    When Makkah was conquered, the courtyard was filled with the infidels. Those were the people who had inflicted all sorts of insults and injuries on the Holy Prophet (SAW) and his companions, and had even conspired to kill him. Now they were all trembling in fear and expected death. But the Holy Prophet (SAW) addressed them, "O people of Qureysh! you are aware of what treatment I am going to give you"

    They said, "We know you are a generous person, son of a generous member of our family, so we expect a kindly treatment from you".

    The Holy Prophet (SAW) in answer recited the following verse of the Holy Quraan: "Have no fear this day! May Allah forgive you and He is the most merciful of those who show mercy" (12.92)

    With this verse he freed and forgave the people of Makkah in what was an unprecedented act of tolerance and generosity to be found anywhere in recorded history.


      May Allah (Swt) guide us all to the straight path. Ameen!


        Thanks for the above important input - most of us may have heard of all the above but it is good to be reminded of the real justice in Islam. A couple of points (the 2nd one is more important).
        Acceptance of previous religions

        As to the view that Islam is a totally different religion as compared to Christianity and Judaism, the religions of currently the most civilized regions on Earth.
        end quote

        do you genuinely feel these are "currently the most civilised regions on Earth"???

        Action determines Hereafter

        "Surely those who believe and those who are Jews and the Sabeans and the Christians— Whoever believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment and does good—they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve."
        end quote.

        How does this tally with:
        1)the admonition against "Shirk" - the Christians have trinity;
        2) Jews being damned for their disobediance of Hazrat Musa and God's commandments?


          I totally agree with you guyes. Only question why are you not practicing what you believe in?