Jurisprudence for Muslim Minorities

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  • Jurisprudence for Muslim Minorities



    The Attitude of Sharî'ah Towards its Opponents And the Principles of its Relation to them

            It is quite certain, following the unanimity of the 'Ummah in the past and at present, that the call to Allah is a universal one. Allah Almighty says, “And in no way have We sent you except as a mercy to the worlds” (Al-Anbiyâ’: 107) and says, “O you mankind, the Messenger has already come to you with the truth from your Lord; so believe; most charitable is it for you” (An-Nisâ’: 170) and says “Say O you mankind, surely I am the Messenger of Allah to you altogether” (Al-’A'râf: 158)

            And in an authentic Hadîth, Jâbir May Allah be satisified with him (m.A.b.s.w.h.) reported that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said, “I have been given five (traits) which none of the messengers before me was given” and mentioned among them ‘ A Prophet used to be sent to his people, but I have been sent to mankind as a whole”

            So, the Messenger Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) abrogated all the preceding Divine messages and man-made creeds, has hegemony over them, and manifests the eternity of Islam. That is, it is the final stage of Allah's religion, and His final word to mankind; therefore, it addresses all human beings as obligatory, and they all have to respond to its teachings. It is the religion of the original innateness upon which Allah originated all mankind, and the course for a virtuous life that aims at man's sublimity, mentally, emotionally, and morally.

            This Sharî'ah came to encompass life as a whole, and to address the Jinn as well, and call them to it. So, it is neither local nor racist, but universal. Accordingly, it realistically acknowledges the opponents' human nature.

            And as long as this is their nature, its relationship to adherents of other creeds is based on calling them and guiding them with evidence and explanation by logic and proof. It, meanwhile, considers the opponents as misguided and following the untruth; so, Allah Almighty says, “That is because Allah – He is The Truth, and whatever they invoke, apart from Him, is the untruth” (Al-Hajj: 62)

            Our scholars fall into two groups with regard to conveying this call to the opponents:

           The first group, which comprises the majority of early scholars, holds that Muslims should prepare power, mobilize armies, head towards the opponents’ countries, and, before fighting them, offer them a choice between embracing Islam, paying the Jizyah (head-tax), if they were entitled to paying it, or fighting.

            They also see that “war” is the principal relationship between Islam and infidelity, and that “peace” is an exceptional case and interim circumstances. The reason behind war is indefinitely pursuing Allah's saying: “And fight them until there is no temptation, and the religion is for Allah.” (Al-Baqarah: 193); and His saying, “Then kill the associators wherever you find them”; and “And fight the associators as a whole as they fight you as a whole.” (At-Tawbah: 5 and 36, respectively)

            They interpreted the word ‘temptation’ in the first Verse by ‘infidelity’ saying that it means ‘fight them until there is no association, and untrue religions get eradicated so that Islam alone remains’.

            They also quoted as evidence the saying of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.): “I have been ordered to fight people until they witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”.

            The other group comprises the majority of contemporary researchers and a few early scholars. They maintain that ‘peace’ is the principal relationship with non-Muslims, and that ‘war’ is an exceptional and interim matter.

            They say that the State must prepare and qualify the callers to Allah, send them to non-Muslim countries to propagate the blessings of Allah there, and equip them with all that is required for working in the field of calling to Allah, bearing in mind to base their relationship with non-Muslims on safety and peace not on war and fighting, unless non-Muslims tried to afflict the callers to Allah to tempt them away from their religion, and bar them from the way to calling to Allah. Then, they must be fought, since tempting someone away from his religion is an assault on the most sacred thing in human life, and hence, is deemed worse than killing, as the chances should be given to them to explain to the public what they are called to.

            It is not permissible to start fighting non-Muslims, except in case that they attacked the religion, the Muslim State, breached treaties, or for supporting persecuted Muslims.

            War is nothing but a tool for removing barriers that block people from listening to the call to Allah, strive to contain the human conscience, and claim Allah’s right of Lordship, and for establishing Allah's Authority, Word, and Justice on earth. War, then, is only a palisade for the concept of truth, justice, non-transgressing, and non-aggression, which the Qur'ân repeats quite often.

            Sayyid Qutb, may Allah's mercy be upon him, explains Allah's saying: “And the religion is for Allah” as “Establishing Allah's religion on earth, so that nothing may deter whoever wants to embrace it, and he may never fear from any power on earth that may bar him from reaching it, responding to it, or remaining an adherent of it. It is a Jihâd for protecting the Faith from blockade and keeping it from temptation”.

            They quoted the following as evidence:

            From the Qur'ân: Allah's saying: “And fight in the way of Allah the ones who fought you, but do not transgress”, and “There is no compulsion in religion” (Al-Baqarah: 190 and 256, respectively). These Verses show that compulsion and repression are not amongst the ways of calling to the Religion, as it is only based on heartily belief, which can only be attained by persuasion not by the sword. They also quote as evidence Allah's saying: “And in any case they are bent on peace, then be bent on it.” (Al-'Anfâl: 61)

            They also say that the authentic Biography of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) as well as his Caliphs, who followed his guidance, show that they only fought those who initiated aggression against Islam, or breached a treaty with Muslims.

            The first group replied saying that the “Verse of the sword” has abrogated this evidence, and that it generally applies to all non-Muslims and all lands except for what has been specified by the Qur'ân and Sunnah.

            In fact scholars of Sharî’ah and Qur'ân interpretation have vast differences of opinion regarding abrogation, though they are unanimous that “abrogation can only be accepted by evidence”. So, the whole issue is a matter of difference of opinion, and the decisive word can only be elicited from the biography of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his guidance in Jihâd.

            Muhammad 'Azzah Darûzah (may Allah's mercy be upon him) says, “It is certain that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) did not fight but the transgressing enemies, and those who breached the treaties”.

            Also, Muhammad 'Abû-Zahrah, (may Allah's mercy be upon him) says, “ Islam has never pulled out a sword on a truth seeker, or transgressed against anyone. But there was brutal assault, and there were kings who exhausted their subjects, strained them, prevented them from approaching the light of truth, and killed those who believed in the Truth they realized and the Religion they were satisfied with. So, the law of cooperation necessitated that oppression should be stopped, and all afflicted people should be freed from slavery and humiliation. Therefore, war was launched, since keeping quiet in these circumstances contradicts cooperation, and fair war is true cooperation, as it bars temptation in religion”.

            I am of the opinion that this statement is away from being wrong. Anyone who looks at and investigates the Prophet’s Biography becomes quite certain of this saying, as the associators of Quraysh were the most bitter in enmity to Muhammad (p.b.u.h.). They left no means or method that may weaken or liquidate him and his call without using it. They started with accusing him of telling lies and oppressed him and his followers in Makkah, and ended up with the Battle of Al-'Ahzâb (The Allied Parties) for which Quraysh gathered all that which they could, together with all their allies of Arab tribes, instigated by the enemies of Allah, the Jews of Banû Qurayzah, to eradicate this Truth that turned everything upside down, and changed the established system of society. After these allies have been driven away from Al-Madînah, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said, “Now we can invade them, while they cannot, and we can march to them”. Why?

            To repulse transgression and injustice of those who never stopped terrorizing Muslims, forcing them to abandon their religion in all ways of torture, driving them out of their houses, and confiscating their riches.

            As to the other Arab tribes, they were divided as to alliance with the Romans or with the Persians. They also were a grave threat to the Muslims, as they were instigated by their masters (The Romans and Persians).

            Read what 'Umar (m.A.b.s.w.h.) said “I had a friend from Al-'Ansâr (Supporters), so, when he went away I told him what happened during his absence, and he did the same to me when I was absent. We feared a king from Ghassân, who, we were told, wanted to march to fight us, so, we were really afraid of him”.

            As for the Persians and Romans, they used to turn their allies against any power or creed that unites the people anew, or competes with them in the area under their alliance, in order that they may remain the only dominating power. Hercules used to apprehend and kill the Arabs of the Levant who embraced Islam, and Caesar sent someone to bring him the head of the Truthful Messenger when he sent him a message to call him to Islam, and to remove the shades covering the minds and conscience of his subjects. Moreover, they represented a practical threat to the Islamic State.

            These crimes are quite enough to motivate the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his Caliphs after him to get rid of these oppressive powers, which severely opposed the Islamic call and its followers, when the Muslims attained the power that enabled them to topple the thrones of the Persians and Romans. 

            So, war in Islam is not absolutely offensive, aiming at destroying the non-Muslim lands, whether they were peaceful or aggressive, since Allah Almighty, according to Ibn As-Salâh has not wanted the non-Muslims to be eradicated, and neither did He create them to be killed. Nor is it absolutely defensive, waiting for those who come to invade the Muslim lands, then rise to repulse them after the initiative move has been taken by the invaders. But, it is both offensive in the sense that it defends Islam, its call, and its followers, and defensive in the sense that it attacks those who oppose its call, pursuing what is being dictated by the situation, without transgression or aggression. 
            The author of The Relationship Between the Muslim Nation and Other Nations says, “The relationship holding between Muslims and non-Muslims is based on the creed, taking the form of an integrated formula to face all possibilities by using the appropriate elements of this formula, bearing in mind that using any of them is determined by the interest of the Islamic call. So, it is senseless to describe it as offensive or defensive, but it is properly described as an element of the formula employed by the Islamic call for facing different possibilities and circumstances”. 
            I wish that contemporary writer who wrote about the motivations of Jihâd and deemed it offensive, and badly insulted those who opposed him – in a way that drove him out of the circle of the unprejudiced and committed scholars – and objected to them that they have not considered the interpretations of the righteous ancestors concerning the Verses of fighting and its rulings, I wish that he read the interpretation of At-Tabarî, the master of all following interpreters, which is based on authentic, transmitted tradition, and prior to the interpretations of Inb-Kathîr, Ash-Shawkânî, and others, which were used as references by those who said that Jihâd is offensive in every sense of the word.


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