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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Islam demands good treatment of minorities

'Blasphemy' revenge: over 100 Pakistani Christians homes set ablaze

Over 100 homes owned by Pakistani Christians have been set ablaze by 
thousands of angry Muslims in the eastern city of Lahore. Police said the 
violence was prompted by derogatory remarks against Prophet
Mohammed, allegedly by a Christian resident.
[This is against teachings of Islam]

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In communities which base their civil rights on brute strength, the weaker go to the wall, and public opinion expects nothing else. Even in modern democracies of the saner sort, it is often told that it is the fate of minorities to suffer; strength of numbers here becomes the passport to power and privilege. Islam, while upholding sane manly views in general, enjoins the most solicitous care for the weak and oppressed. The minorities in every way-in rights of property, in social rights, and in the right to opportunities of development. The non-Muslim living under the protection of a Muslim state is referred as Dhimmi, a free non-Muslim subject. They are exempt from duties of Islam like military service and zakat but must instead pay jizyah (poll-tax). It guarantees them full protection and security of the State including freedom of religion. If the State cannot protect those who paid jizyah, then the amount they paid is returned to them. Muslims are encouraged to act towards all the non-Muslims living in Islamic state kindness and equity. As per Qur’an; "As for such (of the unbelievers) as do not fight against you on account of your faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, Allah does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity. Indeed, Allah loves those who act equitably"(60:8).There are numerous Hadiths, which encourage Muslims to be kind to other religious communities, especially those who constitute minorities in the Muslim State. 
Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves. The rights of minorities are well protected in Islam. 

The Prophet said, "Whoever killed a Mu'ahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling)."(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith, 9.49, Narrated by Abdullah bin Amr).

The second Caliph Umar (after he was stabbed), instructed (his would-be-successor) saying, "I urge him (i.e. the new Caliph) to take care of those non-Muslims who are under the protection of Allah and His Apostle in that he should observe the convention agreed upon with them, and fight on their behalf (to secure their safety) and he should not over-tax them beyond their capability." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith, 4.287, Narrated by Amr bin Maimun).

The Christians and Jews are called People of the Book. Muslims are asked to call upon the People of the Book for common terms, that is to worship One God, and to work together for the solutions of the many problems in the society. Christians and Jews lived peacefully with Muslims throughout centuries in the Middle East and other Asian and African countries. “Those who believe (in the Qur'an) and those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures) and the Christians and the Sabians and who believe in Allah and the last day and work righteousness shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.”(2:62)
When the 2nd Caliph Omar took Jerusalem from the Byzantines in 634 C.E, he insisted on entering the city with only a small number of his companions. Proclaiming to the inhabitants that their lives and property were safe, and that their places of worship would never be taken from them, he asked the Christian patriarch Sophronius to accompany him on a visit to all the holy places. The Patriarch invited him to pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but he preferred to pray outside its gates, saying that if he accepted the invitation to pray in church, later generations of Muslims might use his action as an excuse to turn it into a mosque. A mosque was built on the spot where Omar prayed. The Christians entrusted the Muslims, and as such the key of the Church in Jerusalem is still in the hands of the Muslims. 

Jews fled from Spain during the Inquisition, and they were welcomed by the Muslims. They settled in the heart of the Islamic Caliphate. They enjoyed positions of power and authority. It is one function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status of minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world. Muslims during their rule granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the Holy City of Jerusalem. Throughout the Muslim world, churches, synagogues and missionary schools were built within the Muslim neighborhoods. These places were protected by Muslims even during the contemporary crises in the Middle East. 

As per Qur’an;  “…Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another there would surely have been pulled down monasteries churches synagogues and mosques in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid His (cause); for verily Allah is Full of Strength Exalted in Might (Able to enforce His Will).”(Quran;22:40) 

Islam is not exclusive. Social intercourse, including food and inter-marriage, is permitted with the People of the Book. “This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them.  (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers but chaste women among the People of the Book revealed before your time when ye give them their due dowers and desire chastity not lewdness nor secret intrigues.  If anyone rejects faith fruitless is his work and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).” (5:5). Any man or woman, of any race or faith, may, on accepting Islam, freely marry any Muslim woman or man, provided it be from motives of purity and chastity and not of lewdness. As always, food, cleanliness, social intercourse, marriage and other interests in life, are linked with our duty to Allah and faith in Him. Duty and faith are for our own benefit, here and in the Hereafter.

Islam has justly looks after the interest of non believers, the good deeds of non-believer will not be wasted, Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) said about reward for a non-believer, that  he would be made to taste the reward (of virtue in this world). (Sahih Muslim Hadith, 6739,Narrated by Anas ibn Malik). The children of minorities (non-Muslims), are similar to the children of Muslims with respect to their entry into Paradise. An-Nawawi said, "This is the sound view held by the eminent scholars, and it is supported by Allah's words, 'We will not punish anyone until We have sent a Messenger.' (17:15) Now if an adult is not punished for the reason that the truth did not reach him, it is far more reasonable to assume that a child will not be punished." A report by Ahmad from Khansa, daughter of Mu'awiyah ibn Sarim, states that he related her aunt's following account: "I asked, 'O Messenger of Allah! Who will be in Paradise?' The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, 'Prophets will be in Paradise, martyrs will be in Paradise, and babies will be in Paradise'." Al-Hafiz said that this hadith has a sound chain of narrators.  (Fiqh-us-Sunnah,Fiqh 4.89a).

There are other social courtesies which Muslims are urged to extend to non Muslims: like the respect is to be extended to the non Muslim deceased; Sahl bin Hunaif and Qais bin Sad were sitting in the city of Al-Qadisiya. A funeral procession passed in front of them and they stood up. They were told that funeral procession was of one of the inhabitants of the land i.e. of a non-believer, under the protection of Muslims. They said, "A funeral procession passed in front of the Prophet and he stood up. When he was told that it was the coffin of a Jew, he said, "Is it not a living being (soul)?" (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith, Hadith 2.399, Narrated by Abdur Rahman bin Abi Laila). Condolences are desirable, even if the deceased was a non-Muslim.  It is permissible for a Muslim to visit a sick non-Muslim person. In the chapter, "Visiting a Sick Polytheist," Bukhari says: It is narrated on the authority of Anas that "a Jewish boy, who used to serve the Prophet, peace be upon him, once fell ill. The Prophet, peace be upon him, visited him and invited him to Islam, saying: 'Submit to Allah's will.' So he accepted Islam." Similarly Bukhari narrates from Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab that he reported from his father that "when Abu Talib (the Prophet's uncle and an idolater) was on his deathbed, the Prophet, peace be upon him, visited him."(Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Fiqh 4.5).The strong emphasis placed on the need to behave with equity towards minorities has been heeded by Muslims throughout the ages. Minorities in the Muslim State have always enjoyed a fair and kind treatment by the Muslim majority. On the personal level, there is nothing to stop any Muslim from forging a friendship with non-Muslims who harbor no ill intentions against Islam or its followers.

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