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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Rights of Non-Muslims in Islam

By Dr Zakir Naik

It is amongst the rights of non-Muslims that their Gods are not mocked. Allah says in the glorious Quran: "We have honoured the sons of Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favours above a great part of Our Creation." (Al-Quran 17:70).In this verse, Almighty Allah tells us that He has elevated the status and dignity of human beings, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, as there is no distinction being made between the two. Regardless of the difference in their faiths, customs, beliefs, and traditions, the Muslims and the non-Muslims both happen to be the offspring of their great grandparents Adam and Eve (peace be upon them).The aspect of dignity of humankind in general is stressed upon by the Prophet (Pbuh) in his saying, "Whenever you see a funeral procession, stand up till the procession goes ahead of you..." (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. Hadith 394).Moreover, the Prophet (Pbuh) himself practically demonstrated what he said. "Once 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 Bukhari, Vol. 2, Hadith 399).It is amongst the rights of non-Muslims that their "gods" are not mocked. Says Allah in the Quran: "And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge." (Al-Quran 6:108).Although we Muslims are obliged to invite our non-Muslim brothers towards the truth - Islam - Allah has instructed the Muslims not to speak badly about or abuse the deities worshipped by polytheists, lest they (the polytheists) may speak badly about Allah, who is not only the God of Muslims, but their God as well. We know that even though they do not dedicate their worship only to Him, yet they believe in His existence. This lays emphasis on the honoured rank of humanity, and a form of respect for their dignity so that their feelings towards that they consider sacred are not hurt. Islam does not confine itself to endowing rights to non-Muslims only in normal circumstances, but also makes it a point not to ignore their rights even in situations of war, so that their dignity is protected.An example in this regard can be given of Abu Bakr As-Siddik (may Allah be pleased with him), he commanded Usama Ibne Zaid (may Allah be pleased with him): "I command you to do 10 things: you must not kill a woman or a child, or an elderly person; do not cut down the trees, or vandalize homes, or wound a sheep or camel except if you must eat it; do not drown a palm tree, or burn it, do not be treacherous; do not be cowardly; and you will pass by people who have devoted themselves to monastery life; leave them alone with their devotions." (Tarikh At-Tabari, V.3 p. 210).I believe that there is no religion on the face of the earth other than Islam that gives more rights to the people of other faiths.No matter in what traditions, civilizations or nationality other than Islam man lives and has lived in any era, mankind has never achieved, nor will ever achieve a higher status than that which he would achieve in the shade of Islam, the religion of truth.An unbiased and objective study, free of ulterior motives, will cause any individual to affirm the words of R.L. Mellema, Anthropologist, Writer and Scholar from Holland: "The doctrine of brotherhood of Islam extends to all human beings, no matter what colour, race or creed. Islam is the only religion which has been able to realize this doctrine in practice."

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