• Raya Shokatfard

HOW DID PROPHET MUHAMMAD TREAT NON-MUSLIMS? PART 2

Updated: Nov 2, 2020


By: Raya Shokatfard

Part 1


Islam Prevails


Through years of suffering persecution, exile and wars, Muslims finally began to rule the Arabian Peninsula by the year 10 A.H. – a year before the Prophet’s demise.


As per the Prophet’s order, letters were written to kings and emperors in faraway lands inviting them to Islam.


At this stage, for all Arabian tribes, the time had come to realize that there was no longer any power in Arabia to challenge the authority of the Islamic state in Madinah headed by Prophet Muhammad.


Although there were some small skirmishes, the majority realized that the Arabian tribes should start to review their position.


Many delegations arrived in Madinah, to ask various questions they had about the essential elements of the faith of Islam or to pledge their loyalty to the Prophet and declare their belief in God’s oneness and the message of Muhammad.


Among these delegations, which included many of major Arab tribes, some were asking for power, others for friendship with whole tribes declaring their acceptance of Islam.


The Arrival of Christians


The territory of Najran was located south of Bani Khath’am near Yemen, about 450 miles south of Madinah. In response to a letter sent by Prophet Muhammad inviting them to Islam, they sent a delegation of 60 people to Madinah in order to get first-hand information about the Prophet.


They were received in the Prophet’s mosque, and he allowed them to pray their own prayer, in the mosque, facing East. This group of Christians followed Byzantine rite, and their clans were supported financially by the Byzantine ruler.


They had many questions taking hours to ask. They discussed the nature of God with the Prophet. He answered them by reciting from the Quran:


{Say: He is Allah, the One! Allah, the eternally Besought of all! He begets not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him.} (Al Ikhlas 112: 1-4)


There were disagreements about the nature of Prophet Jesus and his disputed divinity and being the son of God. Prophet Muhammad asked for time to clear their arguments. By the morning of the next day the following verses were revealed to him, which he recited it to them.

{Jesus, in God’s view, is the same as Adam, whom He had created from dust and said to him: ‘Be’, and he was there. This is the truth from your Lord. Be not, therefore, one of the doubters. Should anyone argue with you about him after what has been given to you of true knowledge, say to them: let us call in our children and your children, our women and your women, and ourselves and yourselves. Let us then all pray God and ask that God’s curse overwhelm the liars.} (Al-Imran 3: 59-61)


The Najran delegation refused to accept the above revelation about the nature of Jesus. Then Prophet Muhammad challenged them with the Quranic verses quoted above.


It was a serious challenge, but they agreed to meet, at which time the Prophet took his daughter, Fatima, his son-in-law, Ali, and his two grand children Al-Hasan and Al-Hussein. For the Najran people, this meant that they risked being cursed by God. Such a prospect was not to be taken lightly. So, they declined the challenge.


However, they asked for a peace treaty, which was offered by Prophet Muhammad the next day.

Relying on what they knew of the Prophet’s fairness, they promised to accept those terms without a question.


A Treaty Signed


Now, Najran has the Protection of God, the pledges of Muhammad, the Prophet, to protect their lives, faith, land and property.


The agreed provisions were as follows:


“In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent. This is what Muhammad, the Prophet and God’s Messenger, has written down for the people of Najran when he has the authority over all their fruits, gold, silver, crops and slaves. He has benevolently left them all that in return for 2,000 hullas every year, 1,000 to be given in the month of Rajab and 1,000 in the month of Safar. (Each hulla is equal to one ounce, measure equal to 4 dirhams).


The Najran are also required to provide accommodation and expenses for my messengers, for up to 20 days. None of my messengers shall be kept in Najran more than one month.


They are also required to give, as a loan, 30 shields, 30 horses and 30 camels, in case of any disorder and treachery in Yemen. If anything is lost of the shields, horses or camels they loan to my messenger, it will remain owing by my messenger until it is given back. Najran has the protection of God and the pledges of Muhammad, the Prophet, to protect their lives, faith, land, property, those who are absent and those who are present, and their clan and allies.


The Najrans need not change anything of their past customs. No right of theirs or their religion shall be altered. No bishop, monk or church guard shall be removed from his position.

Whatever they have is theirs, no matter how big or small. They are not held in suspicion and they shall suffer no vengeance killing. They are not required to be mobilized and no army shall trespass on their land. If any of them requests that any right of his should be given to him, justice shall be administered among them.


He who takes usury on past loans is not under my protection. No person in Najran is answerable for an injustice committed by another.” (see Prophet Muhammad Meets Najran Christians)


The treaty provided religious and administrative autonomy for not only Christians but any non-Muslim citizen of the Islamic state. All sincere Muslim rulers have adhered to the founding principles of this treaty in managing the affairs of non-Muslim subjects for centuries.


Protection for Saint Catherine Christians in Mount Sinai


Prophet Muhammad was keen to bring to the attention of his followers to Muslim rulers that non-Islamic religious institutions should not be harmed. Here is a letter addressed to his emissary to the religious leaders of Saint Catherine in Mount Sinai who had sought the protection of the Muslims:


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


Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by God I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.


No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them.


If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval.  She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are declared to be protected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”


The above is summarized as the following points:


All important aspects of human rights, including such topics as the protection of minorities living under Islamic rule, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their property, exemption from military service, and the right to protection in war.


Have Muslims Been Treated Likewise?


It is sad to note that the mass slaughter of Muslims by the Crusaders in later centuries as well as mass murder and exile of Palestinians from their own lands by the Jews a few decades ago and the continuous injustice being imposed on them, mark the darkest years of the relationship between the three monotheistic religions.


One wonders how would the world ever return to peaceful co-existence while political ambitions and monetary gains rule instead of God’s laws.


Treatment of the Enemies


"You may go free! No reproach this day shall be on you; may God forgive you" was his response after he conquered Makkah!


Prophet Muhammad was described by his Creator:


{We have sent you as a mercy for all the worlds.} (Al-Anbiya’ 21: 107)


This quality was not limited to just the Muslim nation, but it also extended to non-Muslims, some of whom spent all their effort and recourses to harm the Prophet and his mission.


The history of the advent of Islam and all the persecutions of the Prophet along with his followers in Makkah for 13 years and facing various wars and after he migrated to Madinah the next 10 years, clearly indicate that although the Prophet did not hesitate to defend the mission, but he never took revenge on personal account.


The greatest historical pardon unparalleled in history is his pardon of the entire population of Makkah when he finally marched into the city with his army and declared victory over his adversaries.

When Prophet Muhammad conquered Makkah, without bloodshed in the twenty-first year of his Prophethood, he asked the Makkan unbelievers who were awaiting his decision about them:

How do you expect me to treat you?


They responded unanimously: “You are a noble one, the son of a noble one.” He announced to them his decision:


You may go free! No reproach this day shall be on you; may God forgive you. (Al-Bayhaqi)


Also, the prisoners of war were treated fairly and all who confronted him in person and attacked him with the vilest language were met with calm and wise responses.


His treatment of his enemies and his tolerance can be further examined in my article:

Prophet Muhammad: Master of Tolerance”.


Clearly, Prophet Muhammad truly represented one of the highest moral, ethical and tolerant character in a human being ever lived.


He fought only those who fought him and made peace with those who did not oppress his followers.


God affirms:


{God does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from dealing kindly and justly with them.  Indeed, God loves those who act justly.  God only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion – (forbids) that you make allies of them.  And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers.} (Al-Mumtahanah 60: 8-9)

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Published on Reading Islam: Sunday, 05 January 2014

Part 1


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