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Tolerance, Respect and Safeguard for Non-Muslims

The following excerpts are mostly from Dr. Ahmad Sakr's book, "Muslims and Non-Muslims, Face to Face" (isbn: 091119-31-9).

A deputation from the Christians of Najran (Yemen) came to see Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) in Madina. They came into the Prophet's Mosque (Masjid Nabawi) as he prayed the afternoon prayer. The time of prayers of Christians having come, they stood and prayed in the Prophet's Mosque, and the Prophet said that they were to be left to do so. (see The Life of Muhammad by A. Guillaume).

During the life of Prophet Muhammad, the Jews in Madina had a synagogue and an educational institute, Bait-Al-Midras. The Prophet preserved the institute and gave protection to the Jews.

The Prophet respected the autonomy of the Christian churches. The nomination and the appointment of bishops and priests was left to the Christian community itself.

Prophet Muhammad promoted cooperation between Muslims and Christians in the political arena as well. He selected a non-Muslim, 'Amr-ibn Umaiyah-ad-Damri, as an ambassador to Negus, the King of Ethiopia.

The Prophet sent a message to the monks of Saint Catherine in Mount Sinai:

   "This is a message written by Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, far and near, we are behind them. Verily, I defend them by myself, the servants, the helpers, and my followers, 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 changed 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 (Christians) 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, this is not to take place without her own wish. She is not to be prevented from going to 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 the nation is to disobey this covenant till the Day of Judgment and the end of the world."

March 28, 2002