Living with Non-Muslims in the Islamic Society

All praise is due to Allah. May peace and blessings be upon Allah’s Messenger.

How great the civilization or culture of a given nation is depends largely on the benevolent principles it implements, such that these principles apply to others of different faiths, races, and languages.

Allah chose the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to convey His Message, and made him a source of mercy toward all of humanity. Allah says, “We have sent you as a mercy to everyone and everything in existence.”(1) Islam was the first worldwide message to transcend boundaries of time, place, language and race. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “All other prophets were sent specifically to their own people, but I was sent to all of mankind.” (2)

The Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) message was the final of all messages, and is the criterion by which to judge them; he called people to believe in it, and it is the truth with which Allah is pleased as a religion for all of humanity. “The true religion in the sight of Allah is Islam.”(3) “And whoever seeks a religion other than Islām, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.”(4)

Out of His Infinite Wisdom, Allah chose to create humans as a unique and special species with free will, and He determined that they divide into two categories: believers and disbelievers: “It is He who created you, yet some of you disbelieve and others believe, and Allah sees all that you do.”(5) Allah could have chosen to force humankind to accept His Religion by making it part of their innate disposition such that they had no say in the matter; however, He did not do so. “And if your Lord had so willed, He could surely have made mankind one single nation (following one religion only i.e. Islām) but none will cease to disagree except those whom your Lord has shown mercy, and it is for that reason that He created them.”(6) Ibn Kathīr commented on humankind not “ceas[ing] to disagree except those whom your Lord has shown mercy” saying, “Differences of religion, belief, denomination, sect, creed, and opinion will never cease among humans.” (7)

We should ask ourselves about the destiny of those who choose the faith of their forefathers over the path of clear guidance. “Indeed, we found our fathers upon a religion, and we shall follow in their footsteps.” (8) How does Islam deal with such people? What laws does it use to govern them when they are living in Islamic lands?

I shall attempt to answer these questions in this treatise by examining scriptural evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah along with the insight provided by Islamic scholars and jurists to shed light upon them, as well as some practical applications thereof by our Pious Predecessors from the glorious early generations of Muslims for, indeed, their interpretations and implementation of scripture were a lofty embodiment of Islam’s just system of interacting with non-Muslims.

Since we are calling the Islamic nation to reunite, it is befitting of us to do away with the fears of others who live within the Islamic world, as our unity will not result in what they are fearful of. The way we go about doing away with their fears is through relying upon the unique historical experience which our forefathers lived in the Muslim society for many prosperous years, years which preserved our existence in our society and civilization until this day. I am writing on this topic specifically to respond to those who accuse Islam of being abstruse, tarnishing the faith with descriptions history belies and sound intellects reject.

It is strange that Islam is described with opposite descriptions: while some accuse the faith of violence, others accuse its tendencies toward forbearance of being the cause of the fall of the Islamic State. In his book entitled “Islam,” Count Henry de Castri said, “Muslims’ extremism lies in their clemency; this is what has opened the door for sinners and paved the path for a handful of families in Morocco to cause civil unrest in al-Andalus and Morocco. Clemency is what led to the downfall of the Arabian Kindgom. More than likely, if the Muslims had dealt with the Andalusians in the same manner Christians had dealt with Saxon nations, Islam would have prevailed there permanently.” (9)

I’d like to jump a little ahead to get to the conclusion of this treatise, to let history tell its unbiased tale of the Islamic civilization and how Muslims dealt with followers of other faiths, deriving the principles for how to do so from the Book of their Lord and the Sunnah of their Prophet (pbuh).

This treatise is comprised of an introduction, two main chapters, and a conclusion, the details of which are as follows:

• The introduction defines the various categories of disbelievers in the Muslim lands as well as the general rulings for dealing with each category.

• The first chapter deals with the rights and responsibilities of non-Muslims in the Muslim society and mentions some practical applications thereof from Islamic history.

• The second chapter deals with the concept of jizyah(10) and clarifies the purpose behind its legislation.

• The conclusion summarizes the most pertinent conclusions drawn from the present research.

I give thanks, first and foremost, to Allah for blessing me to have completed this treatise, then to the noble scholars whose writings I relied upon in compiling it. These works are listed in my references section and have served as a radiant candle, shining light upon the path of my research and forming its foundation. It is for this reason that I extend to them my sincere thanks and appreciation.

In conclusion, I ask Allah to make this effort sincerely for His Pleasure and praise Him profusely.


Before dealing with the topic of the Islamic rulings of non-Muslims residing in Muslim lands, I consider it necessary to define the different categories of non-Muslims and the main characteristics of each category.

Kufr (11) is description which applies to anyone who belies Allah’s Messenger (pbuh), any part of his Message, or believes in him yet refuses to embrace Islam. Ibn Taymiyyah said, “Kufr can come in the form of belying anything the Messenger (pbuh) informed of, or believing in him yet refusing to follow him. [by not following the final Prophet] Pharoah, the Jews, and others are guilty of this type.” (12) Thus, the term kuffār (13) refers to the followers of any religion other than Islam. There are different types of kuffār: one type is a disbeliever living in a land which is at war with the Muslims; the present research shall not deal with this category, unless he so happens to also fall under another category, which is the disbeliever who has entered an Islamic country lawfully and with a peace treaty, as in this case he is not fighting against the Muslims.

Ibn al-Qayyim said:

“Kuffār are either enemies in war or partners in peace; partners in peace are of three categories: those living under the protection of the Islamic State, those holding a truce with the Muslims, and those granted permission to enter and safely move about within the Islamic State.” (14)

These three categories are similar in that they all enjoy the protection of Muslims in the Islamic State and may not be attacked. The foundation for dealing with all three of these categories is found in Allah’s Statement, “O you who believe, fulfill [all] contracts.”(15) Although the Arabic terms for these three categories are all synonyms, Islamic jurists make clear distinctions between the guidelines for dealing with each category.

Non-Muslims belonging to the first category (those living under the protection of the Islamic State) are distinct in that they must pay the jizyah, the protection afforded to them by the Islamic State is permanent, and they agree to abide by Islamic Law by virtue of living in the Islamic State.(16) Abiding by Islamic Law, however, is restricted to laws governing society and does not force them to partake in Islamic rites of worship or interfere with their faith’s rites of worship.

Concerning the second category (those holding a truce with the Muslims), Sulaiman al-Bujairmi said, “Having a truce with the Muslims means being granted safety by them and being considered inviolable by them.” (17)

Ibn al-Qayyim said:

“Those holding a truce with the Muslims have agreed to reside in [our] lands. Regardless of whether the Muslims grant this truce in exchange for money or not, [this category] is not required to abide by Islamic Law like [the first category]. However, they must not fight against the Muslims…” (18)

The second category (those granted permission to enter – and safely move about within – the Islamic State) are non-Muslims who are at war with the Muslims yet certain individuals from amongst them are temporarily granted permission to enter the Islamic State for a particular purpose.(19) Ibn al-Qayyim explained saying:

“[Non-Muslims belonging to this category] come to the lands of the Muslims without the intention of permanently residing therein. They include envoys, merchants, and refugees. They are not allowed to permanently reside, they may not be killed, and they do not pay jizyah.” (20)

The Muslim ruler is usually the one to grant non-Muslims permission to enter the Islamic State; however, an individual Muslim citizen may also grant this right. Zaynab, the daughter of the Prophet (pbuh) did so with Abu al-‘Āṣ Ibn ar-Rabī‘i and the Prophet (pbuh) approved. He also approved of Umm Hāni’ doing so with her in-laws, saying to her, “We grant refuge to whoever you grant refuge to, O Umm Hāni’. Even the least powerful of the Muslims may grant refuge.”(21) Thus, if any Muslim citizen grants a non-Muslim enemy, regardless of who he may be, permission to enter the Muslim lands, he may safely enter and may not be attacked. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “The protection granted by Muslims is one and can be given by the least of them. Whoever breaks a treaty granted by a Muslim will be cursed by Allah, His Angels, and all of humankind, and there will be no repentance for him.” (22)

Any non-Muslim enemy claiming to have been granted permission to enter the Muslim lands, or holding an agreement which might be misinterpreted to mean that he has been granted such permission, is also inviolable and may not be attacked. Muhammad Ibn Ḥasan as-Shaybāni said, “If a disbeliever and a Muslim were to leave a country at war with the Muslims and the Muslim claimed to have captured the disbeliever, yet the disbeliever claimed to have been granted protection by him, the claim of the disbeliever would be accepted.”(23)

If a non-Muslim enemy attempting to enter the Muslim lands claimed to be an envoy from his country, he would also be granted protection.

Ibn Qudāmah said:

“If an enemy enters the Islamic State without a treaty then claims he is an envoy, he must be treated as such and may not be attacked. This is because the Prophet (pbuh) said to the two envoys of Musaylimah, ‘Envoys must not be killed; otherwise I would kill you both.’” (24)

It was customary at that time to grant protection to all envoys.

Anything an enemy mistakenly interprets to be a truce is treated as such. Ibn Qudāmah said:

“Any gesture suggesting a truce which a Muslim makes toward [an enemy] constitutes granting him protection. If he tells him to sit down, stand up, drop his weapon, or not to fear, this is considered granting him protection because this is what an enemy understands by such statements.” (25)

From amongst those granted protection by Muslims when entering their lands are the merchants. Imam Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal said:
“If a group of Muslims sailing in the sea encounter a ship of polytheist merchants from an enemy land traveling toward the Muslim land, they may not fight them. Any enemy entering the Muslim lands for commerce may not be hindered or harassed.” (26) Whenever a disbeliever travels to – and resides in – the Islamic State, he is granted a covenant of protection by the Muslims. Allah says, “Comply with your covenants for you will be asked about your covenants.” (27)

Chapter 1: The Rights of Non-Muslims in the Muslim Society

The Qur’an and Sunnah guarantee a number of rights to non-Muslims residing in the Muslim society. I plan to highlight the most important of these rights and provide historical evidence, quoting the texts of Islamic jurists who are the guardians of Islam and the successors of the Prophet (pbuh).

The first of the beliefs guaranteed to non-Muslims in the Islamic society is freedom of belief. Muslims believe that Islam is the truth and that every other religion is either corrupted, abrogated by Islam, or the misguidance humans have fallen into due to their ignorance about the reality of religion and creed. Allah gave Muslims convincing arguments, exemplary behavior, and a creed which human hearts and intellects find easy to accept; it is for these reasons that, through their travels and interactions with followers of other faiths, Muslim convinced many nations and tribes to accept Islam.

At no point throughout the illustrious history of the Islamic Civilization have Muslims ever forced nations or individuals to adopt the Islamic faith. This is because Muslims implement a number of values instilled in them by the faith, amongst them:

1. Difference of opinion is both natural and necessary.

Variation has always been present in Allah’s created beings and is a constant in nature. Humans are no exception to this rule and are of various kinds and dispositions. Whoever denies this reality about Allah’s creation is ignoring the tangible truth in front of his own eyes.

Differences among humans in their beliefs and systems of legislation also happen with Allah’s Will and due to His Infinite Wisdom. Allah says, “To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way. Had Allah willed, He could have made you all one nation [in faith], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so strive as in a race in good deeds. The return of you all is to Allah; then He will inform you about that in which you used to differ.” (28)

Commenting on the abovementioned verse, Ibn Kathīr said, “This refers to the nations of various religions to whom Allah sent His Noble Messengers with different systems of law, all of which agreed on the principle of Monotheism.”(29) Allah the Most High says, “And if your Lord had so willed, He could surely have made mankind one single nation (following one religion only i.e. Islām) but none will cease to disagree except those whom your Lord has shown mercy, and it is for that reason that He created them.” (30)

Ibn Ḥazm said, “Allah clarified that difference is not from Him, meaning that He is not pleased with it; He merely allows for it to take place just as He allows for disbelief and all other sins.” (31)

Commenting on Allah’s Statement “none will cease to differ except whom your Lord has given mercy,” Ibn Kathīr said, “Differences of religion, belief, denomination, sect, creed, and opinion will never cease among humans.”(32) Al-Ḥasan al-Baṣri said, “All people except those whom your Lord has shown mercy differ in matters of religion; thus, those whom your Lord has shown mercy do not differ.” (33) Since differing is one of the signs of Allah, anyone who tries to do away with differences altogether is attempting the impossible; thus, it is necessary to recognize differing.

2. The duty of Muslims is to call to Allah, not to Islamize people.

Muslims realize that guiding all of humankind is impossible, that most people will not believe, and that their responsibility is simply to take the required measures to guide people. Their duty is merely to convey the message and, in the afterlife, Allah will judge those who reject it. Addressing His Prophet (pbuh), Allah said, “If they turn away, your duty (O Muhammad (pbuh)) is only to convey (the Message) in a clear way.”(34)

Al-Qurṭubi asserted that the “turning away” mentioned in the verse means “refusing to contemplate, seek evidence, or believe” and that the duty of the Prophet (pbuh) is “simply to convey the message; guidance, conversely, is in Allah’s Hands.” (35)

Ash-Shawkāni explained Allah’s Statement, “Your duty is only to convey the message; reckoning is Our Duty,”(36) to mean: “All you must do is convey the message; you are not responsible for them accepting it after conveying it to them, nor are you responsible for judging or rewarding them for their deeds.” (37)

Allah says, “So remind them (O Muhammad (pbuh)), you are only a one who reminds. You are not a dictator over them.” (38) Thus, the Muslim never feels he is in a struggle with others, as such feelings lead to actions which hinder others’ guidance. Allah will judge all people on the Day of Judgment. Allah says, “You are not responsible for guiding them; Allah guides whom He wills.” (39) This was a message for the Prophet (pbuh) as well as his followers during his life and after his death. “So call to this [religion] and remain firm upon it as you have been commanded and do not follow their desires. Say, ‘I believe in the Books Allah has revealed and I have been commanded to establish justice amongst you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord. For us are our deeds and for you are your deeds. Let there be no argument between us. Allah shall gather us all together and to Him is the final destination.’” (40)

3. Humans enjoy a divine honor and may not be forced into faith.

Allah created Adam and commanded the Angels to prostrate to him: “And (remember) when We said to the angels: ‘Prostrate unto Adam.’ All of them prostrated except Iblīs (Satan). He said: ‘Shall I prostrate to one whom You created from clay?’” (41) After Adam, his progeny were entrusted with cultivating the earth according to a divine methodology: “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.”(43) In accord with this goal, Allah honored humankind above all other created beings: “And We have certainly honored the children of Adam, carried them on land and sea, and provided them with good things, clearly preferring them above many of those whom We have created.”

Our Prophet (pbuh) emphasized respecting the human soul. Once Sahl Ibn Ḥanīf and Qays Ibn Sa’d were sitting in a place called Qādisiyyah and a funeral procession passed by so they stood. Someone told them that the deceased was not Muslim. They responded, “Verily, a funeral procession passed by the Prophet (pbuh) so he stood. Someone told him that the deceased was a Jew. He responded, ‘Is it not a human soul?’” (44)

Part of Allah honoring humankind is having granted them intellect in order to differentiate between truth and falsehood. “Have We not shown man the two paths (of good and evil)?”(45) This entails granting humans free will and free choice. “Verily, We showed him the way, whether he be grateful or ungrateful.” (46) “Had your Lord willed, everyone on earth would have believed. Would you, then, compel people to become believers?” (47)

Humans enjoy freedom of belief. Allah says, “There is no compulsion in religion. Truth is clear from falsehood.”(48) Ibn Kathīr commented, “Do not force anyone to enter into the religion of Islam. It is a clear and straightforward religion with proofs and evidences and there is no need to force anyone to enter into it. Whoever Allah guides to Islam will feel at peace, with clarity and foresight, and will enter into the religion upon certainty; on the other hand, whoever Allah does not guide will feel deaf, blind, and heard-hearted, and there is no benefit in forcing such a person to accept any religion.” (49)

Allah the Exalted says, “Say: ‘Allah Alone do I worship, sincere to Him in my religion, so worship what you will besides Him.’ Say: ‘The real losers are the ones who lose themselves and their families on the Day of Resurrection. Unquestionably, that is the manifest loss.’” He also says, “If they argue with you, say: ‘Allah is well aware of all that you do and, on the Day of Resurrection, He will judge between you concerning that about which you used to differ.’” (51)

Our Pious Predecessors implemented this divine teaching, never forcing anyone to accept Islam. For example, Omar Ibn al-Khaṭṭāb said to an old Christian woman, “Accept Islam and salvation is yours.” She replied, “I’m an old woman and death is near to me.” Omar said, “O Allah, bear witness, ‘There is no compulsion in religion.’”(52) Faith begins in the heart; thus anyone who proclaims faith without actually having it in his heart is not truly a believer. Anyone coerced to make such a proclamation would not truly have accepted Islam nor would he be expected to perform Islamic acts of worship and, were he to perform these acts of worship, they would be of no benefit to him in the afterlife since they were not done with sincerity.

Imam Muhammad Ibn Hassan ash-Shaybāni, the prominent student of Imam Abu Hanīfah, said, “Never was it reported that the Prophet (pbuh) or any of his caliphs forced any non-Muslim to accept Islam. If a person were forced to proclaim the faith, he would not be given the rights and responsibilities of a Muslim until and unless he accepted the faith of his own volition. For example, if the individual(s) forcing him to practice the religion stopped doing so yet he continued practicing it of his own accord, he would obviously be considered a Muslim; if he were to die before showing signs of practicing the religion of his own accord, however, he would be given the funeral, burial, and other rites of a disbeliever. If someone forces a non-Muslim to practice Islam then he returns to practicing his former religion, it is not permissible to kill him or to force him to practice Islam again… I maintain that anyone forced to accept Islam does not have the rights and responsibilities of Muslims; likewise, the punishment of apostasy does not apply to a Muslim if he is forced to stop practicing the religion. The evidence for this is Allah’s Statement, “There is no compulsion in religion.” (53)

The Ḥanbali scholar Ibn Qudāmah held a similar opinion, saying: “If someone forces a non-Muslim – who, by Islamic Law, may not be forced to practice Islam against his will – to practice Islam, none of the rights and responsibilities of Muslims apply to him until he openly and willingly practices the religion.” (54)

Such a situation – described by Tritton as confusion and madness – actually took place in the time of the ruler known as al-Ḥākim bi-amr-Allah as he forced a number of non-Muslims residing under his territory to practice Islam. Caliph aẓ-Ẓāhir later allowed them to return to their religion and there were a great number of apostates amongst them in the year 418 H. (55)

When Musa Ibn Maymūn was apparently forced to accept Islam he fled to Egypt in order to remain upon his religion and the Islamic judge there (Abdur-Rahman al-Baysāni) did not consider him an apostate from Islam. In fact he said, “The worship of a man forced to practice Islam is not acceptable.” Tritton commented on this saying, “This is a beautiful example of tolerance.” (56)

Throughout the ages Muslims have understood and implemented this Islamic principle, granting their non-Muslim neighbors freedom of religious belief and practice.

Freedom of Religion and Guaranteeing the Safety of Houses of Worship

Non-Muslims residing in the Islamic State are free to practice their own religions and the first thing that this freedom entails is the State protecting their houses of worship. Muslims have abided by this historically, granting the non-Muslims to whom they enter into pacts with the right to remain upon their faith. The Prophet (pbuh) made a treaty with the Christians of the region of Najrān guaranteeing the safety of their churches, promising not to interfere with their personal affairs or acts of worship, and granting them the protection of Allah and His Messenger (pbuh). Ibn Sa’d said, “Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) wrote to the bishop of [the tribe of] Bani al-Ḥārith Ibn Ka’b and the bishops, ministers, and monks of Najrān informing them that all their wealth – including their churches and monasteries – was theirs to keep, that they were under the protection of Allah and His Messenger (pbuh), and that no bishop, minister, or monk was to be removed from his position.” (57)

The Rightly Guided Caliphs also implemented this Islamic principle. Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khaṭṭāb made a treaty similar to the abovementioned one with the people of Jerusalem, writing to them the following, “In the Name of Allah the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. This is the truce given by the Commander of the Believers, Allah’s Servant Omar, to the people of Jerusalem to safeguard the lives of their faith’s followers – be they sick or healthy, their wealth, churches, and crosses. Their churches shall not be occupied, destroyed, or diminished in any way, nor shall the land on which they stand. Their crosses shall not be harmed and their wealth shall not be touched. They shall not be forced to abandon their religion and none of them shall be harmed… This contract has been signed in the name of Allah, granting the covenant of Allah’s Messenger, his Caliphs, and the believers.” (58) Omar wrote a similar covenant with the people of the city of Lod. (59)

‘Iyāḍ Ibn Ghanm made a similar pact with the people of ar-Raqqah and the Bishop of Edessa. (60)

Omar feared that his covenant would be broken after his death; this is why he refused to pray in the Church of Garbage.(61) He once visited this Church and sat in its courtyard. When the time for prayer came he said to the Church’s patriarch, “I want to pray.” The patriarch responded, “Pray where you are.” Omar refused, praying alone on the steps outside the Church’s door. When he finished praying, he said to the patriarch, “Had I prayed in this Church, the latter Muslims would have seized it saying, ‘It was here that Omar prayed.’” Omar wrote to the Muslims instructing them not to gather for prayer, nor to make the call to prayer, on the Church’s steps. He then said to the patriarch, “Show me a place where I can build a mosque.” He replied, “On the rock where Allah spoke to Jacob.” He found a lot of blood on it so he began removing it. (62)

When Khālid Ibn al-Walīd conquered Damascus he wrote to the locals:

“In the name of Allah the Most Compassionate the Most Merciful. This is what Khālid Ibn al-Walīd granted the people of Damascus when he entered the city, safeguarding their lives, their wealth, and their churches. The walls around the city shall not be destroyed and their homes shall not be occupied. They have been granted the covenant of Allah and the protection of [the Prophet] (pbuh), the Caliphs, and the believers.”(63)

The treaty he wrote also guaranteed peoples’ right to openly practice their religious rites: “They may ring their bells at any time of day or night they wish, except during the time of the Muslim prayer; they may also display the cross on their holy days.” (64)

Omar Ibn ‘Abdul-‘Aziz wrote to his employees: “Do not destroy any church, monastery, or fire temple.” (65) Abu al-Walīd al-Bāji said, “Non-Musulims residing in the Islamic State are free to practice their religion and may not be forced to abandon any article of their creed; the only thing they are not allowed to do is practice their rites of worship in public places and markets.” (66)Muslim jurists have ruled that non-Muslims enjoy freedom of worship and maintain that, “It is not permissible to summon a Jew on the Sabbath, and this is a permanent prohibition in their respect. Islam makes an exception for working during one’s holy day, based on the hadith related by an-Nisā’i, at-Tirmithi (who graded it authentic), which states, ‘You Jews, especially, must not transgress on the Sabbath.’” (67)

The safeguard granted to non-Muslims extends to their property, including alcohol and pork. Aṭ-Ṭaḥāwi asserted that the Muslim nation holds a consensus about the permissibility of non-Muslims residing in the Islamic State consuming alcohol, pork, and other things which are allowed by their religion. He said:

“They mutually agree that the ruler may not prevent non-Muslims from drinking alcohol, eating pork, or residing in the areas agreed upon where there are no Muslims.” This refers to the areas where Muslims are not the majority. (68)

Imam Mālik said:

“If non-Muslims commit adultery or drink alcohol the leader must not punish them, unless they do so openly in Muslim lands, causing harm therein; in this case the ruler should prevent them from harming the Muslims.” (69)

When some Muslim rulers failed to uphold these rules, lay Muslims considered it oppression and the leaders of justice commanded them to refrain from doing so. When al-Walīd Ibn ‘Abdul-Malik seized the Church of Johannes from the Christians, turning it into a mosque, the Muslims considered this robbery. As soon as Omar Ibn ‘Abdul-‘Aziz came into power, the Christians raised their grievance to him so he commanded his employees to return the portion of the mosque to them that was rightfully theirs. The Muslims sought their pleasure and made a pact with them and the Christians were, indeed, pleased.(70)

The Christians of Damascus also raised a grievance to Omar Ibn ‘Abdul-‘Aziz concerning a different church which some of the rulers of Bani Umayyah had conceded to Bani Naṣr, so he returned it to them. (71)

Another sign of Muslim tolerance with followers of other faiths is that they did not interfere with the particulars of their daily affairs and did not force them to resort to Islamic courts in their disputes, even if they did require them to adhere to Islamic social regulations.

Al-‘Ayni reported that az-Zuhri said:

“It is tradition to have non-Muslims consult followers of their own faiths when it comes to demanding their rights, their interactions, and their inheritance, unless they willing present themselves at one of our courts, in which case we judge between according to the Book of Allah the Most High.” (72)

It is reported that Ibn al-Qāsim said:

“If two non-Muslims request that a Muslim judge settles their dispute and both are confident that he will judge between them justly, the judge should only do so if the Christian bishops approve. If the bishops disapprove, however, he should not judge between them. Likewise, if the bishops approve but one or both of the litigants disapprove, the Muslim judge should not entertain their case.” (73)

Al-Mardāwi spoke about adherence to Islamic social regulations saying:

“It is only allowed for non-Muslims to reside in the Islamic State under its protection if they do two things: pay the jizyah and adhere to the social regulations required of Muslims… Islamic Law applies to them if they commit murder, theft, or slander, and they receive corporal punishment for the crimes that are prohibited by their faith.” (74)

Western historians bear witness to Muslims’ tolerance with followers of other faiths, and the best example of Muslims adhering to these principles are the repeated historical accounts from the East as well as the West documenting Muslims refraining from forcing anyone to practice Islam.

Will Durant said,

“To these Dhimmi – Christians, Zoroastrians, Sabaeans, Jews, the Umayyad caliphate offered a degree of toleration hardly equaled in contemporary Christian lands. They were allowed the free practice of their faiths, and the retention of their churches.” (75)

What follows has not been translated. There are four pages of citations from Orientalists and the citation is extremely poor, making it extremely difficult to find the authors’ original words. It would be deceptive to translate the work into English, after haven been translated from English into Arabic (and in at least one case, from Spanish into English then into Arabic), then attribute it to the authors.

Proper Treatment and Neighborly Conduct

In the Qur’an, Allah commands Muslims to treat their religious dissidents kindly so long as they do not harm or fight them. He says, “Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.” (76)

Aṭ-Ṭabari commented saying:
“This means that Allah does not forbid you to visit or be kind and equitable with followers of any faith or denomination, for He loves those who are equitable with people and give them their due rights, treating kindly those who treat them kindly.” (77)

Kindness is the highest form of treatment; this is why Allah commanded believers to treat their parents kindly. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) explained kindness saying, “Kindness is good character.” (78)

Enumerating the types of kindness Muslims are commanded to show toward non-Muslims residing in the Islamic State, al-Qarāfi said:

“We should speak kindly, gently, and mercifully to them, but not out of fear and humiliation. We should tolerate the nuisances of living near them, even with the ability to remove these nuisances. We should be kind to them, not fear them nor exalt them. We should pray for their guidance and happiness. We should sincerely advise them in religious affairs and refrain from speaking ill of them even if anyone else does so. Part of having good manners is treating them in the best way one with the upper hand can be expected to treat one with the lower hand and the best way enemies can be expected to treat one another… We should do all the abovementioned in accordance with the commandments of our Lord and our Prophet (pbuh).” (79)

Many Islamic laws – which are filled will teachings of humanity and gentleness – demonstrate kind treatment between Muslims and followers of other faiths. Followers of Islam are commanded to treat others kindly and maintain family ties even if their relatives are followers of other faiths. Allah commands Muslims to treat their parents in the best manner even if they are trying hard to convince their believing children to abandon monotheism and practice polytheism; although this is grave, it does not nullify their right to kind treatment.

Allah says, “But if [your parents] endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in this world with appropriate kindness.” (80) Ibn Kathīr commented on the verse saying, “If they are extremely eager about making you follow their religion, do not accept that from them; but do not let this prevent you from treating them kindly in this life.” (81)

Asmā, the daughter of Abu Bakr, came to Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) and said,

“My mother has come [from a long distance] desiring to visit me; should I visit her?” The response she got was merciful guidance: “Visit your mother.” (82)

Al-Khaṭṭābi said:

“This proves that family ties should be maintained with disbelieving relatives and Muslim relatives alike through spending money on them and the likes. It is also proof that a Muslim must provide for his parents if they are in need.” (83)

Muhammad Ibn Hasan said:

“A Muslim must spend on his non-Muslim parents due to Allah’s statement, ‘accompany them in this world with appropriate kindness.’ (84) One is not accompanying his parents in this world with appropriate kindness if Allah has blessed him with wealth yet he neglects his parents, allowing them to starve to death. The same ruling applies to children and grandparents as they are also deserving of appropriate kindness.” (85)

Concerning keeping family ties with disbelieving relatives, Abdullah Ibn Marwān said to Mujāhid,

“A polytheist relative of mine owes me some money. Should I just tell him not to worry about repaying it?” Mujāhid replied, “Yes, and you should also visit him.” (86)

Keeping family ties with Muslims includes even very distant relatives. The Prophet (pbuh) advised his Companions to be especially kind to the people of Egypt due to his distant ties of kinship with them. He said, “You shall conquer Egypt… so when you conquer it, be kind to its people, for they enjoy protection and kinship.” (87) An-Nawawi commented on this hadith saying, “The protection mentioned refers to their sanctity and rights; the kinship mentioned refers to Hājar, the mother of Ismā‘īl, belonging to them.” (88)

Kindness and keeping family ties includes visiting sick relatives. The Prophet (pbuh) visited his pagan uncle Abu Ṭālib when he was sick (89), and did likewise when one of his Jewish neighbors fell ill. (90)

Another form of kindness which wins hearts and removes resentment is giving gifts (91). The Prophet (pbuh) himself gave gifts to his religious dissidents and accepted gifts from them. For example, he sent a special kind of dates from Madinah to Abu Sufyān in Makkah. He later wrote to Abu Sufyān requesting some dried animal skins, which he, in turn, sent as a gift. During the Battle of Khaybar, he also accepted a sheep which a Jewish woman named Zaynab Bint al-Ḥārith cooked for him; however, he later discovered that this gift was actually an act of treachery as she had poisoned the meat (92). On another occasion he was invited by a Jewish man to eat bread made from barley with soup and he accepted (93).

The Prophet (pbuh) also accepted gifts sent to him by kings, including al-Muqawqas – King of Egypt, Ukaydar – king of the Arabian province known as Aylah, and Kisrā – king of Persia. Ibn Qudāmah said, “It is permissible to accept gifts from disbelievers engaged in war against Islam because the Prophet (pbuh) accepted gifts from al-Muqawqas – King of Egypt.” (94)

Once the Prophet (pbuh) gave Omar Ibn al-Khaṭṭāb a precious cloak as a gift and Omar, in turn, gave it to one of his brothers in Makkah who a polytheist at the time (95). An-Nawawi commented, “This is proof of the permissibility of keeping family ties with, being kind to, and accepting gifts from, disbelievers.” (96)

Mujāhid reported that he heard Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr say to a young boy who was slaughtering a sheep, “Once you finish give some of the meat to our Jewish neighbor as a gift.” A man said, “The Jew?! May Allah rectify you!” He replied, “The Prophet (pbuh) admonished us concerning our neighbors so much that we thought he would entitle them to part of our inheritance.”(97)

When speaking about the rights of guests, Islamic jurists asserted that these rights apply to both Muslim and non-Muslim guests.

Abu Ya’lā said:

“Muslims must host both Muslims and non-Muslims because the hadith obliging hospitality is general, not specifying just who should be shown hospitality. Ahmad was once asked if a man may host a disbeliever. He replied, ‘[Allah’s Messenger] (pbuh) said, ‘Hosting a guest for one night is obligatory upon every Muslim…’ This includes the Muslim and the disbeliever.” (98)

A Muslim must show hospitality to his guest according to his means, just as the Prophet (pbuh) did with ‘Adiyy Ibn Ḥātim.

‘Adiyy said:

“I came to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) while he was sitting in the masjid and some people said, ‘This is ‘Adiyy Ibn Ḥātim.’ I had not come with any truce or letter. When I came near him he took me by the hand… Then he took me to his home and a servant tossed him a cushion so he sat on it.” (99)

One of the greatest forms of practicing kindness is praying for others. The Prophet (pbuh) used to pray for non-Muslims, and this is a manifestation of him being a mercy to all of humankind. He prayed for the tribe of Daws when aṭ-Ṭufail Ibn ‘Amr ad-Dawsi and his companions came to him saying, “O Messenger of Allah, Daws has disbelieved and rejected [Islam] so say a prayer against them.” Someone said, “Daws is destroyed,” meaning that they would perish because of the Prophet (pbuh) praying against them. Then he said, “O Allah, guide Daws and draw them near.” (100) On another occasion someone requested that the Prophet (pbuh) say a prayer against the polytheists and he responded, “I have not been sent to curse others, I have been sent as a mercy.” (101)

Fair Dealings and Removal of Inequity

One of the primary values Islam promotes and perfects is justice. Justice is an easy goal to achieve when dealing with one’s own brothers in blood or faith, as humans are sympathetic to one another on such grounds. However, the true test of friendship is when there is a difference in belief or when there is no common interest. So, what does Islam say about justice toward non-Muslims? Have Muslims implemented Islamic teachings when it comes to justice, or have they failed to do so?

Allah commands us in the Qur’an to be just, and places special emphasis upon justice with one’s dissidents, as one may wrong them due to differences of opinion. Allah says, “O you who believe, be steadfast in your devotion to Allah and bear witness impartially: do not let hatred of others lead you away from justice, but adhere to justice, for that is closer to piety.” (102)

Al-Qurṭubi said:

“This verse proves that peoples’ disbelief is not grounds for treating them unjustly: merely fighting and enslaving them. It also proves that it is not permissible to mutilate [their dead soldiers] in order to grieve their living, even if they kill our women and children in order to grieve us.” (103)

Al-Bayḍāwi said:

“Do not allow your hatred of polytheists to drive you to be unjust with them, transgressing against them in sin by mutilating them, slandering them, killing their women and children, or breaking your treaties with them out of vengeance. Adhere to justice, for doing so is closer to piety.” (104)

Allah the Most High informed the believers that He loves those who are just in their dealings with the religious dissidents whom have not harmed or fought against them. He says, “Allah does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you on account of your religion or driven you out of your homes; Allah loves the just.” (105)

The Prophet (pbuh) warned against oppressing non-Muslims and not giving them their due rights in full; he even promised to argue on behalf of any non-Muslim wronged saying, “On the Day of Judgment, I shall prosecute anyone who oppresses, fails to give due rights to, overburdens, or takes the wealth or property of any non-Muslim residing amongst the Muslims.” The Prophet (pbuh) also stressed that oppressing any non-Muslim would incur Allah’s vengeance, as Allah responds to the prayers of the non-Muslim oppressed by a Muslim. He said, “Beware of the prayers of the oppressed – even if they be disbelievers – for nothing prevents such prayers from being answered.”

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) stressed that weak non-Muslims must not be oppressed or taken advantage of saying:

“You might fight against a people and conquer them; out of fear of you, they might sign a treaty with you conceding some of their wealth in order to protect their lives and their children. If so, do not take from them any more than they concede, for such is not permissible for you.” (107)

A man once said to Ibn ‘Abbās, “Sometimes we pass by non-Muslims [residing in the Islamic State] and take some of their barley or other property.” He responded, “You are not allowed to take anything except what they give you.” (108)

In the pact that the Prophet (pbuh) made with the people of Najrān, it was written,

“None of their rights, their authority, or previous laws or customs shall change so long as they are loyal and upright in upholding their end of the treaty. They shall not oppress others nor suffer from oppression.” (109)

The greatest and most heinous form of oppression is murder; this is why such a severe warning of torment is issued for anyone who may commit the crime. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Whoever murders a non-Muslim legally residing in the Islamic State shall not even smell the scent of Paradise, and its scent can be smelled from a distance of forty years.” (110) Ibn Ḥajar said, “This refers to any non-Muslim who has a treaty with the Muslims, whether he was granted safety by paying the jizyah, agreeing to a truce with the Muslim ruler, or an individual Muslim citizen safeguarded him.” (111)

What is ironic is that the Khawārij, who had no reservations whatsoever about killing Muslims, refrained from killing non-Muslims out of fear of breaking the treaties signed with them. Ibn Ḥajar said, “The Khawārij deemed their dissidents disbelievers, thereby claiming the permissibility of shedding their blood, yet left the non-Muslims residing in the Islamic State alone saying: ‘we shall uphold our treaties with them.’” (112)

The Prophet (pbuh) said, “I dissociate myself from anyone who safeguards a man then kills him, even if the one killed is a disbeliever.” (113) Ibn al-Qayyim said, “It is prohibited to kill a non-Muslim legally residing in the Islamic State; anyone who does so shall be held responsible and the hand of anyone to steal his money shall be chopped off.” (114)

Al-Qurṭubi said:

“The blood of non-Muslims legally residing in the Islamic State is eternally inviolable, just as the blood of the Muslim, and both of them are residents of the Islamic State. The proof for this is that a Muslim’s hand will be chopped off if he steals the wealth of a non-Muslim; thus, the wealth of the non-Muslim is equal to the wealth of the Muslim, and his blood is likewise. Wealth is only sacred due to the sanctity of its owner.” (115)

A number of Muslim scholars hold the opinion that a Muslim deserves to be put to death for murdering an innocent non-Muslim, and they gave an explanation for the hadith prohibiting such. ‘Abdur-Razzāq narrated on the authority of Ibrahim an-Nakha‘i that a Muslim man killed a non-Muslim from al-Hirah during the caliphate of Omar, and Omar ordered him to be put to death. (116)

Ash-Shāfi‘i narrated in his Musnad that, during the caliphate of Ali, a Muslim man murdered a non-Muslim so Ali ordered that he be executed. The brother of the murdered man came and told Ali that he had chosen to accept blood money from the murderer instead of requesting his execution. Ali said to him, “Did [his tribe] frighten you or threaten you?” He said, “No. I choose the blood money and I do not believe that executing him will make my brother return.” So Ali released the murderer and said to him, “You are well aware of who enjoys our protection. His blood is like our blood and his blood money is like our blood money.” (117)

Maymūn Ibn Mahrān reported that Omar Ibn ‘Abdul-‘Aziz wrote to some of his governors commanding them to surrender a Muslim man to the heir of a non-Muslim he had murdered so that he could either execute him or pardon him. Maymūn said, “I was watching when he was surrendered to him; he stuck his neck.” (118)

Although Islamic jurists have a difference of opinion concerning the ruling on executing a Muslim who kills a non-Muslim, they do not differ on how grave and atrocious this sin is. Likewise, they have no difference of opinion about the obligation of being just to followers of other religions and preventing them from being harmed or oppressed.

The Prophet (pbuh) said,

“As long as the People of the Book (119) give you what they owe you, Allah does not allow you to enter their homes – except with their permission – nor to strike their women, nor to eat their produce.” (120)

In his commentary on ad-Durr al-Mukhtār, Ibn ‘Ābidīn said that it is obligatory to “prevent non-Muslims from being harmed” and that “backbiting them is prohibited just as is backbiting Muslims.” (121)

Al-Qarāfi said:

“Granting non-Muslims the right to reside in the Islamic State gives both them and us rights. This is because they are our neighbors; they are under our protection and the protection of Allah, His Messenger (pbuh), and the religion of Islam. Thus, anyone who harms them in any way or helps someone else harm them – even by speaking a harsh word to them or backbiting them – has undermined the protection granted to them by Allah, His Messenger (pbuh), and the religion of Islam.” (122)

There are numerous examples of Muslims’ justice with followers of other religions living under their protection, such as their disputes with rulers and governors. For instance, Caliph Ali Ibn Abi Ṭālib once lost his armor and found it with a Jew so they went to Judge Shurayḥ to settle the dispute. Shurayḥ ruled in favor of the Jew so he accepted Islam saying, “I bear witness that these are the laws of the Prophets. The Commander of the Believers takes me to a judge and the judge rules in my favor! I bear witness that there is nothing and no one worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. This armor is yours, O Commander of the Believers. I followed the army when you were returning from [the Battle of] Ṣiffīn, and it fell from your grey camel.” Ali replied, “Since you have embraced Islam, keep the armor.” (123)

There is also the story of ‘Amr Ibn al-‘Āṣ (the governor of Egypt) and his son with the Coptic man who was wronged: the Caliph took revenge on behalf of the Coptic man and made the statement that later became a proverb: “O ‘Amr, when did you enslave people? When their mothers gave birth to them they were free.” (124)

When Ibn Rawāḥah was estimating the amount of dates on the Jews’ trees so that a percentage could be taken as a tax by the Islamic State, they tried to bribe him and he refused, saying, “I will not allow my animosity for you to make me wrong you. I have estimated twenty thousand camels’ loads of dates. If you wish, you may render the prescribed alms on your harvest now. If the harvest is more than I have estimated, you will have to pay more; if it is less, I will return some of it to you.” They said, “This is what the heavens and earth are built upon. We agree: take the alms [according to your estimation].” (125)

There are some quite amazing stories about the Caliphs’ justice with non-Muslims granted the protection of Allah, His Messenger (pbuh), and the believers. For example, ‘Umair Ibn Sa’d renounced his governance of Homs after having mistreated one of its non-Muslim residents. When the Caliph decided to reinstate him he argued, “That would be wrong. I will not do it for you or anyone after you. By Allah, I am not safe; I haven’t even [truly] embraced Islam. I said to a Christian: ‘May Allah disgrace you.’ This is what you have opposed me for, Omar. The worst of my days is the day I became a governor under your caliphate, Omar.” Upon hearing this, the Caliph had no choice but to accept his resignation, so he did so reluctantly saying, “I wish I had someone like ‘Umair Ibn Sa’d to seek his help in serving the Muslims.” (126) In the book Tārīkh Dimishq, ‘Umair is reported to have said to Caliph Omar, “How can I be assured that Muhammad (pbuh) will not prosecute me on the Day of Judgment? Whomever he prosecutes loses.” (127)

When the just leader Omar Ibn ‘Abdul-‘Aziz assumed the caliphate, he made an announcement for anyone who had a grievance to report to do so. A non-Muslim then man came to him complaining that the governor al-Walīd had seized his piece of land and given it to his grandson al-‘Abbas. So Omar ruled in his favor, returning to the man his piece of land. (128)

At other times, the Muslims were not only just with their non-Muslims dissidents, but forewent their rights and pardoned them, as was the case in the caliphate of Mu‘āwiyyah Ibn Sufyān when the people of Baalbek broke their covenant with the Muslims. The Muslims had Roman hostages, yet they refrained from killing them, instead setting them free, and said, “Fidelity in exchange for treachery is better than treachery in exchange for treachery.” Hishām said, “This is the opinion of the scholars: al-Awzā‘i and others.” (129)

In spite of how radiant our history is, there have been several instances of Muslims as well as non-Muslims being wronged. Islamic jurists have always disapproved of these wrongs, considering them oppression and deviance from Islamic Law. Hishām Ibn Ḥakīm Ibn Ḥizām once saw a group of Nabataeans in Palestine waiting in line in the hot sun and asked them what they were doing. The informed him that they had been commanded to wait there in order to pay the jizyah. Hishām said, “I bear witness that I heard Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) say, “Allah will punish those who punish others on earth.” He then informed ‘Umair Ibn Sa’d – the governor over Palestine at the time – and they were let go. (130)

When Caliph al-Walīd Ibn Yazīd began to fear the Christians of Cyprus, he expelled them. The Muslims found this detestable and oppressive. Ismā‘īl Ibn ‘Iyāsh said,

“The Muslims found this detestable and the Islamic jurists made a big deal out of it. When Yazīd Ibn al-Walīd assumed power, he allowed them to return to Cyprus and the Muslims considered this a good and just action.” (131)

When ‘Abdul-Malik became Caliph, he raised the tax taken from people in Cyprus by one thousand dinārs. Then Omar Ibn ‘Abdul-‘Aziz assumed the Caliphate and did away with this additional tax. When Hishām Ibn ‘Abdul-Malik assumed power, he returned the wealth taken from the people in taxes. And when Abu Ja’far al-Manṣūr became Caliph, he did away with taxes altogether saying, “It is befitting that we are more just than any of them. We have never amassed anything by oppressing them.” (132)

When the governor over present-day Lebanon – Ṣāleḥ Ibn ‘Ali Ibn ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbās – expelled a group of non-Mulims living on a mountain there, the prominent jurist al-Awzā‘i wrote to him, “How can a whole tribe be punished for the sins of a few individuals, such that they are expelled from their homes and distanced from their wealth? Allah says, ‘No bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another.’ (133) This is the most deserving commandment of being obeyed and the best example to follow. The best advice to follow is the advice of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) who said, ‘I shall prosecute anyone who oppresses a non-Muslim or burdens him with more than he can bear…’ They are not slaves such that you have the liberty to expel them from one country to another; they are free and they are under our protection.” (134)

Correspondence between Islamic scholars and rulers concerning the rights of non-Muslims has been something ongoing throughout history. Each group has always been careful about upholding the protection granted by Allah and His Messenger (pbuh). Thus, they are always adamant about checking up on the conditions of non-Muslims. Once a delegation of non-Muslims came to Omar and he said to them, “Perhaps the Muslims harming you in some way is what has brought you?” They replied, “We know nothing of them but loyalty and good character.” (135) Omar also wrote a letter to an employee of his named Abu ‘Obaidah urging him to treat non-Muslims well and said, “Prevent the Muslims from oppressing them, harming them, or taking their wealth. Fulfill all conditions placed upon them in all that you give them.” (136)

Once the money from poll-taxes was brought to Omar and he asked where it had come from, fearful that the non-Muslims found difficulty in paying them, and said, “I believe that you have caused the people to perish.” His employees replied, “No, by Allah, we are easygoing when collecting the taxes from them.” Omar said, “Without striking them or harming them?” They said, “Yes.” He said, “All praise belongs to Allah for not making me or my dominion responsible for such.” (137)

When Omar arrived in Syria a group of entertainers from Daraa welcomed him by singing and dancing with swords. Omar disliked such amusement and ordered them to cease. The Abu ‘Obaidah said, “O Commander of the Believers, this is their tradition. If you force them to cease they will think that you desire to break your treaty with them. Omar then said, ‘Leave them alone.’” The narration of Ibn Zanjeway states, “Leave them alone. Omar and his family shall obey Abu ‘Obaidah.” (138) Omar did not want to mistreat them or lead them to believe he desired to break his treaty with them so he yielded to Abu ‘Obaidah’s judgment.

When Omar was on his death bed, he did not forget to advise the Muslims to treat non-Muslims well, saying, “I advise the Caliph after me to treat the non-Muslims well, to fulfill his covenants with them, to fight to protect them, and not to overburden them.” (139) He also wrote to the governor of Egypt saying:

“Know, O ‘Amr, that Allah is watching you and that He sees your actions. The Most High and Exalted [informs that the believers invoke their Lord saying] ‘Make us leaders for the pious’ (140) meaning a good example for the believers. There are non-Muslims under your protection and Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) advised us to treat them well, just as he advised treating the Copts well when he said, ‘Treat the Copts well, for they enjoy a covenant of protection and lineage.’ Their lineage comes from Ismā‘īl’s mother being a Copt. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) also said, ‘On the Day of Judgment, I shall prosecute anyone who overburdens a non-Muslim granted a residing amongst us.’ Beware, O ‘Amr, of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) prosecuting you, for anyone whom he prosecutes loses.” (141)

Ali Ibn Abi Ṭālib wrote to the men he hired to collect taxes in the tone of one fearful of his Lord saying:
“When you reach them, do not force them to sell any of their clothing – be it winter or summer, nor their food, nor the animals they use for working; do not strike any of them with even one lash due to a dirham and do not force them to stand [waiting to pay] a dirham; do not force any of them to sell any property to pay their taxes. Allah has commanded us to pardon them. If you disobey my orders, Allah – not I – will punish you, and if it reaches me that you do other than I have commanded you, I shall dismiss you.” (142)

When Muslims conquered Damascus Saburah Ibn Fātik al-Asadi was put in charge of allocating Muslims’ housing. He placed the “Romans” on the upper levels and the Muslims on the lower levels so that they would not disturb the non-Muslims. (143)

Abu Yusuf, the disciple of Abu Ḥanīfah and most knowledgeable Islamic jurist of his time, once went to the Caliph Hārūn ar-Rashīd and reminded him to look after the non-Muslims residing in the Islamic State, softening his heart by mentioning his kinship to Allah’s Messenger (pbuh), who granted them a covenant of protection. He said to the Caliph, “O Commander of the Faithful – may Allah aid you – you should be gentle with those granted protection by your Prophet and your cousin Muhammad (pbuh) and you should look after them so that they are not oppressed, bothered, overburden, or over-taxed.” (144)

Historians testify to the loftiness of our civilization when it comes to looking after followers of other faiths and they admit to our leadership as the Christians of Homs wrote to Abu ‘Obaidah saying, “Your just rule is more beloved to us than the tyranny and oppression we were living under. We will fight alongside your troops to keep the troops of Heraclius out of the city.” They then closed the city’s gates in the faces of their Roman brothers in faith. (145)

In her book “Allah’s sun over the Occident,” German orientalist Sigrid Hunke stated, “An important testimony from the Patriarch of Jerusalem is when he wrote to his brother, the Patriarch of Constantinople, saying that the Arabs were ‘distinguished when it comes to justice: they never wrong us or use any sort of violence against us.” (146)

Social Solidarity

Perhaps one of the most important features that Islam offers non-Muslims residing in the Muslim society is including them in the Islamic module of social solidarity. Allah the Mighty and Exalted sent His Messenger (pbuh) as a Mercy to all created beings, as He stated, “We have sent you as a mercy to everyone and everything in existence.” (147) The Prophet (pbuh) commanded Muslims to be merciful with one another and with followers of other religions; he even commanded us to be merciful toward animals! He once said, “Allah will show no mercy toward those who show no mercy toward other people.” (148) The term “other people” mentioned here is general and includes all humans, regardless of their race or religion. Ibn Baṭṭāl said, “This is an encouragement to be merciful with all created beings: believers, disbelievers, and animals whether free or wild.” (149)

Allah the Holy and High encourages and compels believers to treat kindly everyone who does not transgress against Muslims, as He says, “And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.” (150) Giving Zakah (alms) to the needy – be they Muslim or not – is one of the pillars of Islam, as Allah says, “Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy…” (151) Al-Qurṭubi commented saying, “The word ‘poor’ here includes both Muslims and non-Muslims granted protection by the Islamic State… ‘Ikrimah said, ‘the ‘poor’ mentioned here refers to poor Muslims and the ‘needy’ mentioned here refers to needy Jews and Christians.’” (152)

As-Sarkhasi said:

“What is intended is meeting the needs of the needy, which is an act of worship. This intent is carried out by giving alms to non-Muslims, and giving them [obligatory] alms is also an act of worship, as we see in the evidence for giving them [voluntary] charity. We have not been forbidden from treating kindly those who do not fight us, as Allah says, ‘Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.’” (153)

Despite the difference of opinion amongst jurists concerning the permissibility of giving the obligatory alms to non-Muslims, they all agree upon the permissibility of giving them the price required for atoning certain sins. In fact, al-Kāsāni gave them priority over Muslims in such because these atonements are meant to combat poverty, which is present amongst disbelievers: thus giving them charity is permissible just as giving Muslims charity is permissible; in fact, giving it to them is more befitting because receiving charity will encourage them to embrace Islam.” (154)

Allah encourages giving charity to non-Muslims in many verses in the Qur’an. Abu ‘Obaid reported that there were some Muslims who had relatives from the tribes of Qurayẓah and an-Naḍīr and wished that they would accept Islam, yet they avoided giving them charity. It was concerning them that Allah revealed His Statement, “You are not responsible for their guidance; rather, Allah guides whom He wills. Whatever you spend of good, it is for yourselves.” (155,156) Thus, all Islamic jurists maintain the permissibility of giving charity to non-Muslims.

Abu Razīn said,

“Once I was with Sufyān Ibn Salamah and we passed by a group of pagan captives. He ordered me to give them some charity and he recited the verse, ‘They feed the poor, orphans, and captives in spite of their love of it [the food].’” (157)

Abu ‘Aziz Ibn ‘Umair said, “I was one of the captives on the Day of Badr. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said, ‘Treat the captives well.’ I was with a group of the Anṣār and whenever their lunch or dinner would arrive they would eat the dates and give me the bread, acting upon the advice of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh).” (158)

Jurists also maintain the permissibility of standing [to greet] non-Muslims and consider doing such one of the acts of kindness which Allah loves. Muhammad Ibn Ḥasan ash-Shaybāni said:

“It is proper to stand for non-Muslims because they own inviolable wealth and it is permissible to give them charity… and if giving them charity is permissible, standing for them is permissible just as for Muslims. It is reported that the Prophet’s (pbuh) wife Ṣafiyyah stood up for a Jewish brother of hers. A Muslim may stand for whomever a non-Muslim stands for, just as he may stand for a Muslim, and it is fine if they stand for the non-Muslims who visit their churches and synagogues.” (159)

We have already examined some types of kindness and justice called for in the Qur’an, as Allah mentioned regarding peaceful non-Muslims who do not transgress against Muslims, “Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.” (160)
Explaining the kindness and justice which Muslims are required to show toward non-Muslims, al-Qarāfi said:

“We are commanded to be kind to them without taking them as intimate friends: this includes being gentle with their weak, helping meet the needs of their poor, feeding their hungry, clothing their naked… protecting their wealth, their children, their reputations, and all of their rights and interests. We must help them repel all types of oppression and assist them in attaining all of their rights.” (161)

In his explanation of Mukhtaṣar Khalīl, al-Qurashi al-Māliki said:

“Whenever the funds of the Islamic State Treasury and charity are not sufficient to prevent harm from affecting – and to remove harm which have already befallen – Muslims and those who enjoy their rights – namely non-Muslims legally residing in the Islamic State, which includes feeding and clothing the needy, doing so becomes an obligation upon the entire society.” (162)

The Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) followed these teachings after his death. For example, Khālid Ibn al-Walīd wrote to the Christians of al-Hirah saying:

“I have exempted from paying the jizyah every old man too weak to work, everyone afflicted by a natural disaster, and everyone who was rich then became poor such that the followers of his religion began to give him charity. All such persons and their dependants shall be supported by the State Treasury of the Muslims.” (163)

Omar Ibn al-Khaṭṭāb once saw an old non-Muslim man from those who paid the jizyah begging so he said, “It would not be fair to take your youth then ask you to pay the jizyah.” He then wrote to his employees instructing them not to collect the jizyah from any old man. (164) Another narration states that Omar took the man by the hand and led him to his home then gave him something from inside; afterwards he instructed the treasurer of the State Treasury saying: “Look after this man and all those like him. By Allah, if we take their youth from them then disgrace them in old age we are not being fair with them. Allah says that alms are but for the poor and needy; the poor are the Muslims and the needy are the Jews and Christians.” He then exempted the man and all those like him from paying the jizyah (165). Omar once said, “Give a discount to whoever has trouble paying the jizyah and help whoever is unable to pay it.” (166) He also once passed by two non-Muslim lepers in al-Jabiyah and ordered that they receive charity from the Muslims and food from the Islamic State Treasury. (167)

The rightly guided Caliph Omar Ibn ‘Abdul-‘Aziz wrote to his employee ‘Ady Ibn Arṭ’ah,

“Search for the elderly non-Muslims who are weak and cannot earn for themselves, then appoint for them appropriate wages from the Central Treasury of the Muslims.” (168)

Chapter 2: The Jizyah

There are a number of biased writers who continue to criticize Muslims for the legislation of the jizyah in the Qur’an, which is to be paid by those who refuse to accept Islam to the Islamic State. Allah says:

“Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.” (169)

Some consider this a means of forcing others to accept Islam, a punishment for disbelief, and oppression toward non-Muslims. They increased in their aversion toward this legislation when they read the end of the verse “while they are humbled” and misunderstood it.

Here the meaning of the jizyah will be clarified, of being “humbled,” the wisdom behind the jizyah, the amount of the jizyah, and a historical look at the jizyah.

A Linguistic Look at the Jizyah

The word “jizyah” is derived from a verb which the Arabs used for “compensating someone in exchange for a service rendered.” Thus, the person paying the jizyah is compensating for the service of being provided safety. Ibn Manẓūr said that the term is derived from a verb meaning “to suffice,” as it is sufficient for the non-Muslim to pay the jizyah in exchange for living in the Islamic State. (170)

According to both of these linguistic definitions – and despite what some Islamic jurists and some enemies of Islam have claimed – the jizyah is not a punishment upon the disbeliever for his disbelief, for the punishment for disbelief will not be something as insignificant as a few dīnārs. If it were a punishment for disbelief, non-Muslim women, children, and elderly would not be exempt from it as they too are disbelievers. If it were a punishment for disbelief, rabbis and priests would have to pay an additional amount instead of being exempted from paying.

Al-Bāji said, “The Jizyah is taken from them in exchange for their protection and their right to reside in the Muslim lands.” (171)

It is Allah who will call to account those who disbelieve in the hereafter:

“Say: ‘Allah [alone] do I worship, sincere to Him in my religion, so worship what you will besides Him.’ Say: ‘Indeed, the losers are the ones who will lose themselves and their families on the Day of Resurrection. Unquestionably, that is the manifest loss.” (172)

The definition of jizyah in the terminology of Islamic jurists – as given by Ibn Qudāmah – is, “The annual tax taken from disbelievers in exchange for them residing in the Islamic land.” (173)

A Historical Look at the Jizyah

Throughout the history of humankind, there have been innumerable examples of conquering nations taking taxes from the conquered nations. This is a well-known fact to which history bears witness. Thus, Islam is not the first religion to institute taxing others of different faiths. Both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible bear witness to this:

“After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, ‘Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?’ ‘Yes, he does,’ he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. ‘What do you think, Simon?’ he asked. ‘From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes-from their own sons or from others?’ ‘From others,’ Peter answered. ‘Then the sons are exempt,’ Jesus said to him.” (174)

The Old Testament mentions the legislation of the jizyah in the Torah and how the Prophets would collect it from the nations they conquered. When Prophet Joshua conquered the Canaanites “They drave not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer: but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day, and serve under tribute.” (175) So they both served and were made to pay the tribute.

In Christianity, we find that the Messiah made his followers pay a jizyah to the Romans, and hasted himself to pay it. He also said to Peter:

“Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.” (176)

On another occasion Jesus was asked:“Tell us therefore, what thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, ‘Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money.’ And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, ‘Whose is this image and superscription?’ They say unto him, ‘Caesar’s.’ Then saith he unto them, ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.’ (177)
In the New Testament, paying the rulers a jizyah is considered a legislated right. In fact, doing so is considered holy and an act of faith. Paul said:“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (178)

The Legislation of the Jizyah in Islam

The basis for the legislation of the jizyah in Islam is Allah’s statement:

“Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.” (179)

The first thing that we notice in this verse is that it addresses the believers, ordering them to take the jizyah from none other than enemies with whom they are at war.

Al-Qurtubi said:

“Our scholars say that the Qur’an specifies that the jizyah should be taken from enemies with whom we are at war… A point of consensus amongst the scholars is that the jizyah is only taken from free adult men, as it is they who fight. The jizyah is not taken from women, children, slaves, the insane, or the elderly.” (180)

Imam Mālik said:

“It is an established tradition not to take jizyah from the women of the People of the Book, nor their children. It should only be taken from their grown men. Non-Muslim residents of the Islamic State are not required to pay charity from their date palms, orchards, crops, or livestock.” (181)

Ibn Ḥajar said:

“One opinion is that [jizyah] may not be taken from an old man, a woman, an insane person, anyone unable to work, or a monk. According to the Shāfi‘ī school of thought, however, monks must pay it.” (182)

Omar once wrote to his troops saying, “Do not collect the jizyah from women or children. Only collect it from grown men,” (183) for grown men are usually those who fight in wars.

Muslim governors implemented this principle. For example, ‘Amr Ibn al-‘Āṣ, the governor of Egypt, made an agreement with al-Muqawqas to, “Impose on all adults in Egypt, the rich and the poor Copts, the noble and the laymen, [a tribute of] two dīnārs. Old men, children, and women shall pay nothing.” (184)

The jizyah is not a large amount which most men find difficulty in paying; rather, it is a nominal amount most can afford. In the lifetime of the Prophet (pbuh), the jizyah did not exceed one ḍīnār per man per year. When the Prophet (pbuh) sent Mu‘āth to Yemen, he collected from each grown man one ḍīnār. Mu‘āth said, “The Prophet (pbuh) sent me to Yemen and ordered me to take one calf from each thirty cows and a grown cow from each forty cows [as zakah upon the Muslims there] and from each [non-Muslim] adult one ḍīnār or its equivalent in clothing.” (185) During the caliphate of Omar Ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, the jizyah upon the non-Muslims was four ḍīnārs and those who traded in silver would pay forty dirhams. (186)

‘Amr Ibn al-‘Āṣ fixed the annual amount for the jizyah in Egypt at two ḍīnārs. At other times in the history of Islam, the amount of the jizyah has fluctuated. The highest it reached was four ḍīnārs per person during the Umayyad Dynasty and, even then, no jizyah was taken from women, children, or the elderly. One conclusion we can draw from this fluctuation is that the amount of the jizyah is left up to the discretion of the Caliph. Ibn Abi Nujayḥ said, “I asked Mujāhid why the people of [Syria] had to pay four ḍīnārs whereas the people of Yemen only had to pay one. He replied, ‘Because they are wealthy.’” (187)

The amount of the jizyah is practically nominal and the condition of those required to pay it is taken into consideration when determining it such that they are never burdened with more than they are capable of paying. This is what is understood from Omar’s advice to his successor when he told him not to “overburden them.” (188) Ibn Ḥajar commented, “We conclude from this that all that should be taken from the people who pay jizyah is what they are capable of paying.” (189)

Jurists agree that anyone unable to pay the jizyah is exempted therefrom. Ibn al-Qayyim said, “The jizyah is not obligatory… upon those who cannot afford it.” (190) Al-Qāḍi Abu Ya’la said, “The poor and the elderly are exempt from the jizyah.” (191)

In exchange for the small amount paid as jizyah, the Muslims promise to protect and defend the non-Muslims who pay it, even if it means they die in the process of protecting them. The letter which the Prophet (pbuh) wrote to Rabi‘ah al-Ḥaḍrami stated, “The Muslims shall protect the family of Thi Marḥab and their land shall remain free from injustice.” (192) Likewise, ‘Ubādah Ibn aṣ-Ṣāmit wrote to the Coptic King al-Muqawqas saying, “If you have a treaty with us and are under our protection, we shall fight anyone who attacks you or transgresses against you, your land, or your wealth.” (193) Likewise, Khālid Ibn al-Walīd wrote to some of the people of Iraq saying, “If we protect you, we shall deserve the jizyah and if we do not, we shall not deserve it.” (194) Abul-Walīd al-Bāji said, “This is because the jizyah is merely taken from them in exchange for their right to reside in the lands of the Muslims and to be protected therein.” (195)

Islamic jurists have emphasized that non-Muslims residing in the Islamic State have the right to protection, and have considered Muslims protecting them part of upholding their covenants, which is an Islamic commandment. Al-Māwardi said, “The Muslim ruler guarantees them two rights: to refrain from harming them and to protect them.” (196)

An-Nawawi said, “We must refrain from harming them, we are accountable for any of their property which we might destroy and anyone from amongst them whom we might kill, and we must protect them from enemy forces.” (197)

Ibn Qudāmah said, “Non-Muslims residing in the Islamic State must pay the jizyah every year in exchange for their protection.” (198)

Al-Qarāfi reported that Ibn Ḥazm maintained there was a consensus amongst Muslims found in no other nation:
“Whenever there are non-Muslims living in our lands under our protection and enemy forces try to attack them, it is mandatory that we draw our weapons and fight them, even if we die in the process; this is because we are responsible for protecting whoever is granted the safeguard of Allah and His Messenger (pbuh) and anything less would be betrayal of our treaty with them.” (199)

Al-Qarāfi commented on this saying, “Any treaty which is upheld at the expense of the loss of lives and property is indeed a great treaty.” (200)

The responsibility of Muslims protecting non-Muslim residents of the Islamic State does not end at the borders of the State; rather, if any of them are kidnapped we must see that they are freed. Ibn an-Najjār al-Ḥanbali said, “The Muslim ruler must protect the non-Muslims, prevent anyone from harming them, free anyone captured from amongst them, and repel anyone who attacks them.” (201)

When the Tatar ruler invaded Damascus at the beginning of the eighth century of the Hijrah, he captured a number of Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah, accompanied by a number of other scholars, went to him requesting that the captives be freed so he freed the Muslim captives alone. Ibn Taymiyyah responded, “You must free all of the captives – Jewish and Christian – as they are under our protection and enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as we do.” The Tatar ruler then freed all of the captives. (202)

The aforementioned rulings do not only apply to non-Muslims who are permanent residents of the Islamic State, but also to visitors and those holding treaties with the Muslims, as they all enjoy the protection of the Muslims. As-Sarkhi said:
“Non-Muslims who are granted truces and enter the Islamic State unarmed enjoy all the same privileges as non-Muslim residents: the Muslim leader must protect them and prevent anyone from oppressing them, as they are under our protection. The Muslim leader and lay Muslims must rescue them if they are captured by pagans, as long as they do not enter their territories, just like they must aid Muslims or non-Muslims living under the protection of the Islamic State if they are captured. If such people were granted a truce, their truce would remain once they reach our land.” (203)

Muslims were once unable to guarantee the non-Muslims residing in the Islamic State protection from outside forces so they returned to them the jizyah they had paid. This is because the jizyah is paid in exchange for protection and the Muslims could not provide it. Al-Qāḍi Abu Yusuf related in his book “al-Kharāj” on the authority of the historian Makḥūl that Roman forces once gathered against Abu ‘Obaidah and the Muslims found this distressing. Abu ‘Obaidah wrote to the governor of each city ordering them to return the jizyah and other taxes collected from the non-Muslims who had been granted peace treaties. He also ordered them to inform the non-Muslims that:
“We are returning your wealth to you because we have been informed that armies are gathering against us. You stipulated that we protect you, and we are not able. Thus, we are returning what we took from you. We will uphold all of the conditions we have agreed upon if Allah grants us victory over them.” (204)

When non-Muslims took part in defending Muslim lands, the Muslims exempted them from paying the jizyah, just as Mu‘āwiyah did with the Armenians.

Abu ‘Obdaidah exempted the people near Antioch from paying the jizyah when they agreed to defend their territory alongside the Muslims. In fact, he even made an agreement with them to allow them a share of the spoils of war. (205) He made a similar treaty with the people of Samaria. (206)

Aṭ-Ṭabari reported that Sweid Ibn Muqrid exempted from paying the jizyah all residents of Gorgan who agreed to protect the city. He wrote a letter to them saying:

“You are granted our protection and we shall fight on your behalf. You must pay the jizyah annually according to your ability. Whoever from amongst you helps us shall be returned his jizyah in exchange [for his duty] and his life, wealth, faith, and religious laws shall be protected. This shall not change so long as they perform their duties, do right by the poor and stranded, advise and respect the Muslims, and do not betray their trust.” (207)

Also, Omar Ibn al-Khaṭṭāb’s employee ‘Uqbah Ibn Farqad wrote to the people of Azerbaijan saying informing them that they had been granted protection of their lives, their wealth, their faith, and their religious laws provided that they pay the jizyah according to their means; children, women, the elderly poor, and monks possessing no wealth [were exempted]… and whoever volunteered to defend [the land] would not pay the jizyah that year.” Aṭ-Ṭabari added that ‘Uqbah wrote to Omar saying, “This is because Omar writes to his employees every year commanding them not to oppress anyone and forbidding them from doing so.” (208)

Likewise, Surāqah Ibn ‘Amr wrote to the people of Armenia informing them that everyone prepared to take part in every battle the governor saw befitting would be exempt from paying the jizyah and that their service would serve in lieu of paying any tax, but that whoever chose not to fight would have to pay the same jizyah everyone else in Azerbaijan paid (209).

Whenever someone is unable to pay the jizyah, he is not only automatically exempt but also receives an allowance from the Islamic Central Treasury sufficient to support him and his family. Abul-Walīd al-Bāji said, “If a non-Muslim has not paid the jizyah for two consecutive years, the opinion of ash-Shāfi’i is that he must pay for both years; Abu Ḥanīfah, however, held that he would simply have to pay for one year; Mālik apparently stated that, if he intentionally avoided paying the jizyah, he would have to pay for the years he missed but, if he did so due to financial difficulty, he would not have to pay anything…this is based on the opinion that the poor do not have to pay the jizyah at all, even if they later become wealthy.” (210)

Al-Qurṭubi said,

“If they are able to pay but refuse, it is permissible to punish them; if it is proved that they are unable, however, it is not permissible to punish them. This is because whoever is unable to pay the jizyah is automatically exempt therefrom. The wealthy are not responsible for paying on behalf of the poor.” (211)

Concerning Allah’s Statement, “until they give the jizyah willingly,” Ibn Ḥajar said, “Whoever obeys someone in power over him and gives him what is requested has done so willingly. It has also been said that the verse means personally handing it over and not sending someone else to deliver it” (212)

There is no contradiction between the command for non-Muslims to give the jizyah “while they are humbled,” and the statements of the Prophet (pbuh) commanding kindness and justice and forbidding oppression and harsh treatment. This is what the scholars of Islam have concluded, including ash-Shāfi’i – who said that the general Islamic laws should apply to them and that the jizyah is merely a symbol of humility on behalf of the conquered nation toward the conquering nation. ‘Ikrimah, the freed-slave of Ibn ‘Abbās, explained the verse saying that it means that the one giving the jizyah should be standing while the one receiving it should be sitting. The person giving usually has the upper hand so the person paying the jizyah is made to feel that those receiving it were doing him a favor, not that he is better than them. Al-Qurṭubi said, “The one giving charity and the one receiving the jizyah have been given the upper hand while the one paying the jizyah has been given the lower hand.” (213)

Ibn al-Qayyim said,

“Since the one giving has the upper hand and the one receiving has the lower hand, the scholars have stipulated that the matter remains the same in the case of the jizyah, giving the one paying it the lower hand and the one receiving it the upper hand.” (214)

Some jurists have given repulsive examples of exactly how the one paying jizyah should be humiliated; most scholars, however, have disavowed and refuted these claims. For example, Taqiyy ud-Dīn al-Ḥiṣni ash-Shāfi’i reported that some of them said, “It should be taken from them in a humiliating manner, such that the non-Muslim is standing while the Muslim is sitting; the Muslim should order him to take his hand out of his pocket and lean forward, lowering his head, and place everything he has on the scale. The collector should grab him by the beard and give a smack on the cheek right between the jaw and the ear.”
An-Nawawi commented on this saying, “This is incorrect and there is no evidence to support it. It was merely mentioned by some of them… And the correct opinion is that it is a false innovation and nothing similar was ever reported to have been practiced by the Prophet (pbuh) or the Rightly-Guided Caliphs.” (215)

Ibn al-Qayyim reported similar statements of jurists describing how the jizyah should be paid then commented, “There is no evidence for any of this and it is not understood from the verse [from the Qur’an]; nor has it been reported that Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) or any of his Companions did such. The correct meaning of being ‘humbled’ as mentioned in the verse is that they should humble themselves by abiding by Islamic Law, including paying the jizyah; abiding by this constitutes humiliation.” (216) An-Nawawi reported that a number of scholars maintained that, “it should be taken from them gently just as a loan is repaid.” (217) Protection is not the sole reason for which the jizyah is paid; rather, scholars have mentioned a number of reasons. From amongst them is that paying the jizyah and being humbled is a limited method of encouraging the non-Muslim to ponder on Islam and get to know its merits so that he might be guided and enter Paradise.

Ibn Ḥajar said,

“The scholars have said that the wisdom behind the legislation of the jizyah is feeling a sense of humiliation which will cause those paying it to embrace Islam due to them mingling with Muslims and getting to know the merits of Islam.” (218)


• Islam is the final religion and Allah sent His Messenger Muhammad (pbuh) with it as a mercy to all created beings and chose it over all other religions.

• Islam was a pioneer in granting people religious freedom, never forcing them to change their religions. It also guaranteed people freedom of worship and afforded all houses of worship protection.

• It is the responsibility of Muslims to protect non-Muslims residing in, or visiting, the Islamic State.

• Islam recognizes other religions and the fact that humans are bound to differ; it also recognizes that humans enjoy freedom of choice.

• Forcing others to become Muslims is a sin which Muslims have not committed throughout history due to the unequivocal scripture prohibiting such; historians – western and other – admit to this.

• Muslim jurists and rulers have been adamant about protecting and preserving the rights of non-Muslims in fear of the prophetic warnings against anyone who might harm or oppress them.

• Allah loves Muslims who are just and kind toward non-Muslims by giving them gifts, visiting them when they fall ill, hosting them, and showing them generosity.

• Other nations realize the greatness of Islam and its tolerance even when conquering. This is why they received the Muslims well and aided them in protecting their borders against enemies.

• Islam’s teachings include non-Muslims in its social system to the extent that a non-Muslim may go from paying taxes to the State to becoming a dependant of the State!

• Paying jizyah is something that nations of old implemented; it was even legislated by the holy books of Judaism and Christianity. The Islamic model of the jizyah, however, is more comprehensive and grants many benefits in exchange for a small payment; this is why the conquered were happy to pay it.

Index of References

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