Jurisprudence for Muslim Minorities

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  • Jurisprudence for Muslim Minorities



     The Situation of Muslims Living in Non-Muslim Countries in Case They were Attacked There

            Any person concerned with the news of Muslims living in non-Muslim countries is fully aware of the atrocities they face, such as hardships, barring from the way of Allah by murder and assassinations, looting their properties, attacks on their mosques and Book, and on their selves and honor, under false slogans that need not be refuted and rejected. But it is the deep hatred and the eternal dispute between good and evil. 
            And since disbelief is only of one kind as to its attitude to Islam, it never refrains from rebuking Muslims, driving them out, killing, and terrorizing them. It has generalized its attitude to all Muslims, be they rulers or peoples, at both popular and official levels. 
            Some Muslim minorities suffer a lot of repression and depression that goes as far as murder, rape, burning their houses and shops, demolishing their mosques day after day, besieging their language and culture to be replaced by their opponents language and culture, reducing their chances of getting governmental jobs, and depriving them entirely of the higher posts. All this takes place with the blessing of the governments under whose sovereignty they live. 
            As a result, they were overwhelmed by illiteracy, superstition, ignorance, and poverty, in addition to paying no cultural, social, or health care to their quarters. An acute example is the Muslims in India and the Philippines. 
            If this is the case, what should Muslims in those countries do? Should they be patient or fight only those who fight them? Should they fight all their opponents? Or what should they do?

            The scholars are unanimous on that it is prohibited to a Muslim to set upon non-Muslims blood or riches, in case he has a treaty with them, since it requires the safety and protection of both parties towards each other.

            But they allowed Muslims to set upon their riches and selves in case their ruler acted treacherously towards them and took their riches and houses and imprisoned them for no reason, or repressed them to abandon their religion by torturing and killing some of them. Even in case any other person did that and the ruler knew it, and did not stop him, but he and his subjects were contended with it, the treaty between him and the Muslims, in these cases, is deemed null and void, and it is the infidels who are to blame for it.

            But in case the subjects are the ones who breached the treaty and the ruler did not know it, Muslims have the choice of breaching the treaty or keeping it. But in case the ruler killed some Muslims, or some of his subjects killed Muslims with his consent, the majority of scholars, except Hanifîtes, deem the treaty null and void.

            Al-Mâwardî said, “The treaty is nullified when some subjects breach it with the consent of the ruler or the rest of the subjects, and when the ruler breaches it. But in case the subjects breached it and the ruler and dignitaries did not know that they did so, Muslims have the choice to breach the treaty or keep it.

            The logic behind not breaching the treaty is that the subjects are not entitled to sign treaties; so they are not entitled to nullify them. However, all scholars agreed that the treaty is nullified as to the transgressing group, if not as to the entire community.

            So, Muslims who are assaulted have three options, in view of their strength, capabilities, and assessment of the circumstances.

            The First: They should be patient, endure the difficulties, and hold fast to their religion. They are excused for that because they cannot rid themselves of the infidels, and even in case they can, they do not know the way, or cannot go through it for lack of provision and means of transport.

            They may prefer patience to any other choice, in accordance with the will of their leaders to achieve major interests and avoid major harms, since the leaders there are scholars, and are better aware of their conditions, the nature of the society, their interests of the Call, and the status of the authorities there. So, patience may be more useful for some cases than others. It was said of old : “The people of Makkah are better aware of its pathways”.

            Moreover, the rulings of Sharî'ah differ according to man's conditions, healthy or sick, strong or weak; so, what is good for a country may be bad for another, and they may prefer the verses, in this stage, that enjoin patience, forgiveness, and tolerance.

            The second: they may opt for rebuffing the attack, and deterring those who assault them aiming at killing them and seizing their riches and honor. So, they may opt for defending their religion, selves, and properties, and do not go further to those who did not attack them, even if it was clear that they are contended with assaulting the Muslims.

            In so doing, they adhere to Allah's saying, “ So, whosoever transgresses against you, then, transgress against him in like (manner) as he transgresses against you.” (Al-Baqarah : 194) This reflects the situation of many Muslim minorities all over the world – a situation that conforms to the Sharî'ah and the gradual advancement of the ordinance, and hence, we see no harm in adopting it.

            The Last Choice: Muslims may be distinct from their opponents, and may declare war against them, since they have breached the treaty, and fight military men as a whole as they fight them as a whole.

            In so doing, they follow Allah's saying, “ And fight the associators as a whole, as they fight you as a whole”. (At-Tawbah:36) In such a case, fighting the infidel warriors becomes incumbent on Muslims until they reach a new treaty. Allah Almighty says, “ So, in case they do not keep apart from you, and offer you submissiveness, and restrain their hands, then take them and kill them where you catch them, and against those ones We have appointed for you an evident authority”. (An-Nisâ’ :91)

            So, the lands that the Muslims seize become Muslim lands so long as they practice the religious rites there, and establish rulings of religion, according to the unanimity of scholars. 

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