Saturday 12 July 2014     15 Ramadhan 1435
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Religion abhors compulsion

I believe many non-Muslims are eager to hear an answer to such questions from the mouth of Islamic resources. This is particularly so under the current wave of Islamophobia in the West, and the number of violent incidents made allegedly in the name of Islam, such as the activities of Boko Haram in the North East region of Nigeria. So, it’s important to talk about the basis of Islamic perspective about non-Muslims. Hatred or Love? Marginalizing or Merging? Fighting or Cooperation? Separation or coexistence?

As the Quran relates (Al-Baqarah: 256-57), Allah declares that “There is no compulsion in religion...’’
Ibn Ja`rir also reported Sa’ad or Ikrimah from Ibn Abbas as saying: “there is no compulsion in religion’’ and revealed on a man from the Christians of bani Salim bin Awf, people used to call him Hisseen who was a Muslim but had two Christians sons, he said to the Prophet, should I not force them to leave the Christianity? Then Allah revealed the above verse.  In another narration by some commentators that he tried to force them, they complained to the Prophet, he said: O messenger of Allah should my back enter into hail while I am looking?
In another vein by Ibn Jarir from Sa’id ibn Jubyr, the Prophet said “Allah has differentiated your companions, if they chose you they are from you, and if they chose them, they are with them.’’
The best way to understand Islamic perspective on the relation between Muslims and non-Muslims is to follow what Prophet Muhammad said and practised. It’s important at first to clarify that everything that Prophet Muhammad said or did is considered to be legislation for all Muslims. If the Qur’an is the first source of Shari’a, then sayings and deeds of the Prophet are the second source. Qur’an says;
“indeed in the messenger of Allah (SAW) you have a good example to follow. (Al-Ahzab: 21).
 Subsequently, when the message of Islam started to spread in its early beginning, the people of Makkah started to murder new Muslims, torture them, besiege and boycott them, and expropriate their properties. This sufferance lasted for 13 years. The first thing Prophet Muhammad did after he migrated to Medina was to sign a treaty, including all tribes of Medina beside Jewish tribes. The main clauses of that treaty were;

*The Jews will profess their religion and the Muslims theirs.

*If attacked by a third party, each shall come to the assistance of the other.

*Neither shall commit sins to the prejudice of the other.

*The wronged party shall be aided.

*Each shall contribute to defending Madinah, in case of a foreign attack, in its respective area.

*This treaty shall not hinder either party from seeking lawful revenge.

There are major values seen in these clauses such as; Freedom of religion, Merging Jews in community instead of marginalizing them, setting the basics of justice and equity, supporting the right regardless of faith. Prophet Muhammad practiced these values 14 centuries ago!
Another short incident that Prophet Muhammad did, but, I believe, it has much to tell Muslims about treating non-Muslims. One day a funeral procession passed by and the Prophet (PBUH) stoop up. The people objected. “But it is the funeral of a Jews.” and he responded, “Is he not a human being?”
 I think the message is clear. Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam is telling Muslims that when we treat non-Muslims kindly, it’s not about cheating them, but it’s all about respecting them, just because they are human beings. It’s about respecting their souls and their dignity, whatever they believe in.
In another occasion, a delegation of Christian Yemenis arrived to Medina to meet Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet welcomed them in the mosque of Madina. When the time of their prayer came, the Prophet allowed them to pray at the Mosque!  So open-minded, so civilized!
When the Prophet was migrating from Mecca to Medina secretly, the people of Mecca were chasing him to assassinate him, the Prophet needed a guide to show him the way to Madina through the desert without being seen by the Meccans, he choose Abdullah Ibn Urayket, one of the Meccans, a good guide, and a non-Muslim! He would easily reveal the secret to the Meccans about the place of the Prophet. The Prophet trusted him i.e. trusted a non-Muslim! These tell all Muslims very clearly that working with a non-Muslim, is nothing bad.
Nothing would be clearer. All those who bomb themselves in civil places thinking that they are dying as “martyrs” who will go to paradise, all those who kill randomly by the name of Islam thinking that they are practicing the noble Jihad, and all those who terrorize the safe non-Muslims or abducted school girls for swap, all of them must hear that saying of the Prophet. The Prophet is telling them that they will not even approach to paradise after their death.
 During the time of the Prophet, Christians, Jews, and pagans were all treated equally. The Prophet abided by the verse ‘’There is no compulsion where the religion is concerned} (Al-Baqarah 2:256). Enough for these barbaric actions we have seen in some part of the country purportedly in the name of religion; let’s be our brothers’ keepers. We pray to Allah to guide us in the right path.

Muhammad is of Department of Philosophy and Religions, University of Abuja < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. >'; document.write(''); document.write(addy_text83538); document.write('<\/a>'); //-->\n This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ;