By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam
September 27, 2013
One of the most glorious aspects of Islam is that it is an entirely pluralistic concept, both culturally and religiously. It seeks to establish such a pluralistic society where all citizens of the state can enjoy equal rights and follow their respective religions with no discrimination with them. Having originated in Saudi Arabia does not imply that Islam is an “Arabian religion” which aspires to “Arabianise” the entire globe. The holy Quran has dispelled all such baseless notions in the following verse:
"O men! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware” (Qur’an 49:13).
Given this broader notion of Islam, it does not behove us Muslims to seek to distance ourselves from other world communities by laying hard boundaries based on culture, religion, caste, colour, language etc. Going by the essential Islamic laws enunciated in the holy Quran, Muslims have no legal superiority or privilege over non-Muslims. There are compelling evidences in the sources of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) that establish the full liberty for non-Muslims to practice their religions, follow their cultural customs and rites and lead their lives as per their own choice. No coercion or restriction can be inflicted upon them. They are allowed to undertake any business enterprise and adopt any profession they like. Although Islam enjoins upon its followers to profess belief in only one God, the Almighty, it has never permitted forcibly converting the adherents of other religions to Islam. Freedom of religion is strongly protected in Islam and fully enshrined in the holy Quran as in the in the following verses:
“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error.” (2:256)
“And say: The truth is from your Lord, so let him who please believe, and let him who please disbelieve.” (18:29)
“And if your Lord had pleased, surely all those who are in the earth would have believed, all of them; will you then force men till they become believers?” (10:99)
Therefore, Muslim majority countries where religious minorities are persecuted for their religion are clearly violating the basic Islamic laws and human rights. After all, it was in God’s scheme of things to create so many communities with different religions, as He himself mentions, pointing out to the reason behind it in the following verse:
“If God had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to God; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute”. (6:48)
The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) repeatedly ensured the protection of rights of the people of the book (Jews and Christians) as well as other Ahl al-zimmah (non-Muslim citizens of Islamic state).During his era in the Arabia, all non-Muslim citizens were protected even against the foreign invading enemies. Hazrat Abdullah ibn Umar reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said "Whoever kills a muaa'hid (one who believes in oneness of God) will not smell the fragrance of paradise, yet its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of a forty-years journey." (Bukhari)
Speaking generally about all the non-Muslims living in an Islamic state, Prophet (PBUH) said, "Anyone who kills a dhimmi (non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim country) will not smell the fragrance of the paradise." (Nasaa'i)
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is also quoted as saying:
“If anyone kills a man whom he has granted protection pre-maturely, Allah will forbid him to enter paradise.” (Abu Dawood)
"He who hurts a dhimmi (non-Muslim citizen of Muslim state) hurts me and he who hurts me annoys Allah." (reported by Imam Tabrani).
"Whoever hurts a non-Muslim, I am his adversary, and I shall be an adversary to him on the Day of Rising." (reported by Al Khateeb) and "On the Day of Resurrection I shall dispute with anyone who oppresses a person from among the non-Muslims, or infringes on his right, or puts a responsibility on him which is beyond his capacity or takes something from him against his will." (reported by Abu Dawood).
One of the great classical scholars of the fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), Imaam al Quraafi writes explaining the above mentioned hadiths, “The covenant of protection imposes upon us certain obligations towards the non-Muslims living in our states: they are our neighbours under our shelter and their protection is upon the guarantee of Allah, His messenger and the religion of Islam. Whoever violates these obligations against any one of them by even an abusive word, or by slandering his reputation or by doing him some harm or assisting in it, has breached the guarantee of Allah, His messenger and the religion of Islam.' (Imam Quraafi 'Kitaab al Furooq')
In the presence of these unambiguous pro-minority Islamic teachings, the dastardly attack on humane and innocent Pakistani Christians praying in a church in Peshawar is a clear violation of Islam in a Muslim country. It is time all Muslim leaders of the world openly decry these vicious acts and ensure that such grave violations of Islam are not repeated anywhere in the Muslim world. Those claiming themselves to be Islamic countries should impose strict and exemplary punishments on the Muslim citizens who do not honour the rights of non-Muslims to life, religion and dignity. Any individual or group who indulges in such a heinous crime should be seen as the biggest enemy of Islam and humanity. In this regard, we should always remember the prophetic saying that “such people will not be able to even smell the fragrance of the paradise”, let alone entering it and enjoying divine heavenly bounties.
These un-Islamic acts can bring no gain to Islam or Muslims. They can only further the nefarious ends of the real enemies of Islam; the extremists, fanatics and religious radicals and zealots. Unfortunately, there are many Muslims today who ardently claim to be “followers of Islam” but do not tend to establish peace and harmony in place of war and strife. The reason why they are so divisive and bigoted is either simply their lack of knowledge about actual teachings of Islam, or their falling prey to the bigoted, extremist and exclusivist ideologies that purport to restrict broader notion of Islamic pluralism into a cult of narrow doctrines.