“Dear Muslim folks! Is this Fair? Is this Right?……Saudi Arabia allows Christians to enter the country as foreign workers for temporary work, but does not allow them to practice their faith openly. Because of that Christians generally only worship within private homes. Items and articles belonging to religions other than Islam are prohibited.”
This pertinent question worthy of serious attention has been asked by Feroze Mithiborwala, an Indian Muslim activist, and rightly so.
I am also distressed with this brazen violation and distortion of the true Islamic tradition with Christians as epitomised by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). I wonder what category of hell the Prophet pbuh would have suggested for the Sri Lankan Muslim killers of Christians.
In fact, the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) is reported to have said that “anyone who kills a non-Muslim citizen will not smell the fragrance of paradise” (Nasai).
We must take an uncompromising stand against today’s self-styled Jihadists, warning them with devastating punishment in the hell. Speaking generally about all non-Muslims living in an Islamic country, the Prophet said: “He who hurts a dhimmi (non-Muslim citizen of Muslim state) hurts me and he who hurts me annoys Allah.” (Reported by Imam Tabrani) The Prophet also declared: “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). Another Hadith report quotes him as having said, “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)
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who repeatedly and clearly ensured the protection of the rights of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) as well as other Ahl al-Zimmah (non-Muslim citizens of Islamic state) was particularly more concerned about the Christian citizens of his state. During his lifetime, in Arabia, Christians were protected even against foreign invading enemies.
Once, a delegation from St. Catherine’s Monastery came to the Prophet (pbuh) requesting his protection. He granted them a charter of rights, which went down in the Islamic history as a glorious example of protection of human rights and respect for religious minorities. We Muslims today seem to have completely forgotten the pious promise that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) made to the Christians of his time. Let’s us recall that and make a firm commitment to spread it far and wide:
“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 Allah! 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 to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of Muslims is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day.” (Source: http://www.islamic-study.org/saint_catherine_monastery.htm)
Going by the above declaration by the Prophet, the recent targeted attack on Christians in Sri Lanka should be strongly denounced as completely and brazenly anti-Islamic. It is high time Muslim leaders across the world openly decry these vicious anti-Islamic and inhuman acts and ensure that such grave violations of Islam are not repeated anywhere. Muslim countries should impose strict and exemplary punishments on those who do not honour the rights of non-Muslims to life, freedom and religion. Any individual or group who indulges in such a heinous crime should be seen as the biggest enemy of Islam and humanity, and particularly if they ironically do so in the name of Islam. How long will we remain silent onlookers at the brazen violation of the peaceful and pluralistic Prophetic messages in the Muslim countries by the extremists peddling hatred, inciting violence and intolerance? It is time we take cognizance of this sorry state of affairs and do something uncompromising. Because if we didn’t, we will see more and more modern Muslim minds confused, radicalised and brainwashed into ideologies of hatred. We must give up hoping that they will develop moderate understanding of Islam by themselves delving deeper into its literature, because neither they have time to do it, nor the Islamic literature is interpreted in way that can help them out.
The only solution is to keep them abreast of the peaceful and pluralistic messages of Islam. We have to tell them, repeatedly and clearly, that Islam calls for co-existence rather than clash of civilisations or mutual demonization of faiths. Plainly, we need to indoctrinate them into believing that coexistence is the very basis of Islam with its deep roots in the Prophetic teachings and traditions. The more tolerant a Muslim is towards others, the more pious and pure he is in his faith and creed. Conforming to the spirit of this universal message of the Prophet (pbuh), Muslims need to relook at their attitudes towards non-Muslim brethren with open mind and heart.
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background. He has graduated from a leading Islamic seminary of India, Jamia Amjadia Rizvia (Mau, U.P.), acquired Diploma in Qur’anic Arabic from Al-Jamiat ul Islamia, Faizabad, U.P., and Certificate in Uloom ul Hadith from Al-Azhar Institute of Islamic Studies, Badaun, U.P. He has also graduated in Arabic (Hons.) and M. A. in Comparative Religion from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.