The Misconception That Murder is the Way to Remove the Jews and Christians

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, Most Merciful

The misconception is as follows:

The Prophet (pbuh) ordered for the Jews and Christians to be removed from the Arabian Peninsula, and murdering them is a method of removing them.

The refutation of this misconception is multifaceted:

Firstly, what the Prophet (pbuh) meant by removing the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula was preventing them from permanently residing therein, not from entering it for a limited and specified period of time with an agreement with the Muslim leader to do so.

Nawawi said in Al-Minhāj: “Every disbeliever is forbidden from permanently residing in Al-Hijāz.(1)” Al-Qādhi Abu Y‘ala said in his book Al-Ahkām as-Sultāniyya (The Laws of Sovereignty):

All except the sacred area thereof – meaning Al-Hijāz – differs from all other lands in four matters. The first is that no polytheist, neither one who pays a poll tax in exchange for living under the protection of the Muslim nation nor one enjoying a peace treaty with the Muslim nation, may permanently reside there.(2)

Ibn Qudāma said in Al-Mughni: “It is not permissible for any of them (the disbelievers) to reside in Al-Hijāz.” Ibn Taymiyyah added to this point: “All of the scholars are in agreement concerning this.” (3)

Secondly, scholars mutually agree that it is permissible for non-Muslims (those who have a truce with the Muslims as well as those who pay a poll tax in exchange for living under the protection of the Muslim nation) to enter Al-Hijāz, which is the most exclusive part of the Arabian Peninsula. The only difference of opinion amongst them is concerning how long they may remain there. So, how could you possibly say that they may not enter a part of the Arabian Peninsula other than Al-Hijāz when they do not intend to reside there? And how in the world could you say they may be killed for doing so?!

Thirdly, there is a difference of opinion concerning the boundaries of the Arabian Peninsula. Some scholars hold that it extends from the Red Sea in the west to the Persian Gulf in the east and to Arabian Sea in the south; however, those who hold this opinion differed concerning its northernmost border. This is the most well-known opinion of the Māliki School of Fiqh as well as the opinion of Imam Abu Hanīfa. Others maintain that it is everything between Al-Hijāz and Tabuk. This is the opinion of Imam Shafi‘i and the most well-known opinion of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal. It is reported that Imam Mālik leaned toward this opinion in another narration, and it is the opinion that Shaykh-ul-Islām Ibn Taymiyya chose. The evidence of those who hold this opinion is that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb did not expel the polytheists from Yemen or Taymā. So, according to this opinion, neither Kuwait, Al-Ahsā, nor the Najd are part of the Arabian Peninsula.

Fourthly, even if the Prophet (pbuh) had actually meant in the aforementioned hadīth that non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the Arabian Peninsula under any circumstances, the Islamic method of removing them would certainly not be murder, especially after they had entered with a peace treaty; rather, the correct method of doing so would be they same way that ‘Umar did so.

Fifthly, the legal measure of carrying out the command of removing the non-Muslims is the responsibility of the Muslim leader, not individual civilians. The same applies to carrying out legal punishments and declaring jihad; no one has the right to take the law into their own hands in these matters.

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1 The Chapter of Al-Jizya (The Poll Tax), Sub-chapter # 14: The definition of “Al-Hijāz” is the part of the Arabian Peninsula where Mecca and Medina lie.

2 The Chapter of Al-Jizya, the issue dealing with the breaking of covenants.

3 As-Sārim al-Maslūl ‘alā Shātim ar-Rasūl, p. 94