Jurisprudence for Muslim Minorities

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  • Jurisprudence for Muslim Minorities



    Divisions of non-Muslim Lands in View of their Attitude Towards Islam and its Followers

            Our early scholars used to divide the world into two main divisions, i.e., Islamic lands and lands of unbelief, and described each of them in terms of the creed of their inhabitants, the nature of the ruling political system, and the legal rules dominating them.

            Accordingly, lands inhabited by non-Muslims were called lands of unbelief. How did our jurists define them, and what are their divisions?

            They defined then as “Lands wherein the majority of inhabitants are non-Muslims, that apply non-Islamic laws, or in which Islamic Law cannot be applied”.

            Lands of unbelief are subdivided into two kinds, hostile lands (or the war land) and treaty lands (i.e., lands with which Muslims concluded peace treaties).

            FIRST: THE WAR LAND

            “It is the lands where war is actually in progress or potential between them and Muslim lands, and that are not partners with Muslim lands in a peace treaty”.

            So, such lands are not in a state of peace treaty with Muslim lands due to their aggressive stance such as actual military aggression, blocking the way of the call to Allah, transgressing against the callers to Allah, supporting those who fight us and usurp our land, or the like.

            Hence, Allah made it incumbent on Muslims to take all measures of precaution to defend Islam and its followers wherever they exist in the world. The way non-Muslims look at Muslims is hostile, malicious, and malignant. Scholars are unanimous that the war land is a land where all acts are permitted.

            SECOND: TREATY LAND:

            The First Branch


            Treaty means an agreement between the Muslims and war lands to stop fighting between them for a certain period on certain conditions.

            Scholars are unanimous that treaty people are those who concluded an agreement with the Muslims to live in their countries – whether the agreement was for money or not – without applying the Islamic rules to them as is the case with 'Ahl Aththimmah (The protected people who adhere to their original faith), who have abstained from fighting the Muslims. These are called the people of the covenant, the people of treaty, or the people of truce.

            According to this definition, treaty lands are not considered Islamic lands, unless they were taken by Muslims, either by force or by reconciliation, and the Muslims practiced their religious rites there, and whether the treaty stated that the land is for Muslims or for the other party in return for paying kharâj (tribute on land) or Jizyah (head tax) and in this case the land remains a non-Muslim land for not being ruled by the Islamic Law.

            When a treaty is concluded with its conditions and general principles, Muslim scholars are unanimous that all its obligations must be kept. Among the conditions of keeping the treaty is that the other party should observe it in letter and spirit. Allah says, “ So, as long as they go straight with you, so, go straight with them”. (At-Tawbah: 7) Here we must draw the attention to an important and extremely serious point which some scholars may overlook, that is, regardless of the necessity of observing treaties and fulfilling them, the Muslim leader should be cautious and alert, monitoring the enemies' moves and behavior, and should not feel secure with them or leave his ports unprotected. Hatred cannot be eased just by signing a treaty, since they respect neither consanguinity nor treaty toward us, and therefore, it is prohibited to us to abandon mobilization just for concluding a treaty, a step which may make every mean person look to us as a prey, especially that we are targeted for being killed or making us abandon our religion. Allah Almighty, says “And they will not cease fighting against you till they revert you from your religion.” (Al-Baqarah: 217)

            The Second Branch:

            The Consequences of a Non-fighting and Safety Treaty:

            The Islamic political thinker Al-Mawârdî says, “The truce contract entails three things:

    The first: Peacefulness at its face value, i.e., abstaining from fighting, and non-aggression against life and property. Jurists are unanimous that if a Muslim enters a war land according to a safety or peace treaty, it is prohibited to them to afflict him in his blood (life), property, or private parts. This is because it is incumbent on Muslims to abide by their contracts.
            It is well known nowadays that countries do not give a visa to anyone who wishes to enter their lands except on condition that he abides by their constitutions and laws which incriminate theft, fraud, unlawfully devouring other people’s money, aggression, and the like. This practice is contemporaneous with granting the request or even prior to it.

            “The ruling of Islam concerning this issue is that it should be fulfilled, even if it were from an atheist, unless it stipulates an invalid condition that leads to disobeying Allah”. Hence, it is also forbidden to kill or torture them in accordance with the law of fulfilling the covenant, that is, “The rule of worshipping Allah and fearing Him”.

            The Second: “Forsaking secret betrayal, that is, not to secretly do whatever may breach the truce in case it was done overtly. Both parties are equally committed to this condition”.
            The Third: “To be complomentary in words and actions. So, they should refrain from disgraceful words or actions, and address the Muslims in the best words and actions. Muslims ought to do the same”.
            I say: There is nothing in the Sharî’ah that forbids other Muslims from being complementary to the other covenant party, since it may be a motive to many of them to accept Islam and embrace it, which is the ultimate objective of Jihâd in Islam”.


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