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Rights of non-Muslim minorities: An Islamic Perspective

Rights of non-Muslim minorities: An Islamic Perspective
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Umer Riyaz
An Islamic state is a state governed by Islamic laws and an individual who considers himself/herself above from these laws comes under what is called “non-Muslim” in technical terms. Non-Muslims living in Muslim caliphate as minority are the discussion of under study.
Under Islamic legislation, the non-Muslim minority in the Muslim community has gained rights and privileges that no other minority has gained under any law. This is because the relationship between the Muslim community and the non-Muslim minority is governed by the divine rule which is in the Quran as: “God does not forbid you from those who did not fight you on account of religion and did not expel you from your homes that you be kind to them and treat them justly, for God loves those who are just”. (Al Mumtahinah: 8)
This verse specified the moral and legal basis by which Muslims must deal with others, which is righteousness and justice for all those who did not have enmity with them. Islam has given so many rights to minorities such as:
Right to freedom of belief for minorities
The Islamic legislation guaranteed to non-Muslim minorities several rights and privileges, perhaps the most important of which is guaranteeing freedom of belief. The Quran says: “There is no compulsion in religion” (Al-Baqarah: 25). This was embodied in the Message of prophet ﷺ, to the People of the Book from Yemen in which he invited them to Islam and said: “And whoever embraces Islam, whether a Jew or a Christian, then he is one of the believers. He has what is theirs, and he owes what they owe, and whoever is a Jew or a Christian, he will not be tempted from it”. (Al-Sira Al- Nabawiyya by Ibn Kathir).
Right to protect and warning against injustice to non-Muslims
Islam warned against oppressing them or detracting from their rights, and made their honorable self an opponent of the aggressor, According to Prophet’s ﷺ saying: “Whoever tyrannizes a covenant, or reprimands him as a right, or burdens him beyond his capacity, or takes something from him without his consent, I will plead with him on the Day of Resurrection”. (Abu Dawood) And Heﷺ also said: “Whoever kills a covenant will not smell the fragrance of Paradise” (Bukhari).
In this regard a great example has been set by Prophet ﷺ, when a Jew was suspicious of a killing a Muslim but that could not be proven in the court of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, to which Prophet has nullified the claim and offer his own camel as blood money to the deceased. Here, the Messenger ﷺ,did what no one could imagine. He himself took charge of paying the blood money from the money of the Muslims; in order to appease the Ansar, and without oppressing the Jews. So, let the Islamic state bear the burden in order that punishment will not be applied on Suspicion of a Jew!
Islamic law guarantees the right to protect the life, honor, dignity, funds of non-Muslims and it is forbidden to take it or to seize it unjustly, such as steal, usurps, destroys, or other things that fall under the door of injustice. Even more wonderful than that is the right of the non-Muslim minority to be sponsored by the Islamic state from the state treasury – the Bait ul mal – during disability, old age or poverty; This is based on the saying of the Prophet ﷺ “All of you are shepherds, and every shepherd is responsible for his flock”(Bukhari). On the grounds that non-Muslims are its subjects, just like the Muslims, and it is responsible for all of them before God Almighty.
In this regard Abu Ubaid narrated on the authority of Saeed bin Al-Musayyab that he said: “The Messenger of God ﷺ gave alms to the people of a Jewish household, and it is given to them”(Al-Amwal) this expresses the greatness of Islam and the humanity of Islamic civilization in that regard the situation that was reported in the books of hadith: That when the Prophet ﷺ passed by a funeral procession, and he stood up for it, and it was said to him: He is a Jew. Prophet ﷺ said: “Is he not a soul” (Muslim). This is the rights of non-Muslim minorities in Islam and Islamic civilization to respect every human soul as long as it is not wronged or reviled.
For Muslims, there are principles and rules that Islam has laid down for a person, and these rules are the same as for non-Muslims and for non-divine religions that apply to any human being, whatever his color, homeland, beliefs and customs are. The first of these principles is that Islam never differentiated between people, nor did it differentiate between the colors, races, languages and tribes. The Almighty said: “O people, indeed we have created you from male and female, and made you peoples and tribes so that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted” (Al Hujrat: 13).
God created all members of the human family from one dust and made their creation in one order (breeding), and they are walking to one destiny (death) and it is necessary for all Muslims and non-Muslims to live together, get to know one another, and benefit from one another. And Allah permitted every people of the community to speak their language, and to read, write and publish it. He said: “And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and colors” (Al Rome: 22).
Islam does not pay attention to the (numerical minority) of the population, so no human being should weaken, despised, humiliated, nor should violated his rights. Because the number of their population is very little, this issue is not raised in Islam but was existed before Islam. In the present political systems that distinguished people on the basis of their difference in color, language, people, tribe, clan, customs and traditions. The rights of citizens as citizens and what they have and what they owe is not taken into account.
As for the issue of the adherents of other religions, i.e., non-Muslims, they are equal in rights like Muslims, and it is not permissible to harm them, and whoever harms them is punished according to his crime. Because they are protected (dhimmis), because they have agreement with Muslims, that they protect them and defend them and preserve their honor, money and lives.
And we can’t force them to abandon their religions. As for transactions and punishments are concerned, they apply to them as they apply to Muslims alike. They hold affiliation like Muslims and have same rights in many fields which include human values, moral rules, technical and administrative matters. They are definitely not a religious minority but they are bearers of the Islamic state like Muslims, and calling them people Ahl-u-Dhimmais not a disdain for them, but an honor for them because They are in care of Muslims and are protected and preserved.
Religious minorities along with ethnic, national and linguistic minorities – have become prominent human rights issues in the modern era, and the reason for this is due to a long history of harassment of minorities and depriving them from their rights. The minorities, whether religious or ethnic, whether in Arab and Islamic countries or in other countries, are mostly subjected to political, social, economic and educational pressures that prevented their children from contributing to nation building.
(The author is a research scholar, Department of Arabic BGSB University, Rajouri)



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