“Beware whoever is cruel to the non- Muslim minority”: Non- Muslims under Islamic Governance

By: Ashique Nilambur The Islamic caliphate during the time of Prophet Muhammad (s) and the rightly guided Caliphs with the Islamic moral and ethical principles were governed with a sense of justice, moderation and co- existence. Islam brought a dawn of civil liberties and religious freedom to all religious communities when it gained political domination. Non- Muslims minorities in the Islamic Caliphate enjoyed full religious freedom and civil liberties and never adopted religious conversion among its policies. Non Muslims in the Islamic reign were given right to justice, right to preservation of dignity as human beings, right to freedom of belief, right to follow their religious laws and protection from foreign aggression and security of life, property and honour. During the time of Jihad (as in weaponry (Q’itaal)) the prophetic commandment were strictly adopted that everyone who were not the part of the warfare were left unharmed. Prophet stated: “Do not behave treacherously, nor misappropriate war- booty, nor mutilate those whom you kill, nor kill children, nor the people in cloister”[i]. Another narration states the forbiddance of “killing children and women”[ii]. The Caliphs who were very keen to adhere to the teaching of the Prophet followed the very example he taught regarding the non- warriors in the rivalry force. The Muslim Caliphs used to order their military leaders who went on military campaigns to take steps to guarantee the security to people who are not involved in the confrontation, especially women, children and elderly. “Do not show cowardice in an encounter. Do not mutilate when you have power to do so. Do not commit excess when you triumph. Do not kill an old man, a women or a minor, but try to avoid them at the time of the encounter of the two armies and at the time of the heat of victory and at the time of expected attacks. Do not cheat over booty. Purify jihad from worldly gain. Rejoice in the bargain of the contract that you have made with God and that is the great success.”  Umar (r), the second Caliph of the Islamic Caliphate commanded to his soldiers. The same was stated by Abu Bakr, the first Caliph after Prophet Mohammad[iii]. Thus, Islamic caliphate has a long history of co- existence, harmony and security with the non Muslims living in the state, not forgetting that there were exceptions. Now, let us get to the recent activities of the so called ‘Islamic Caliphate’ of ISIS. There is no doubt that the ISIS- declared Islamic Caliphate is unIslamic. But here their approach towards non- muslims in places where they have well entrenched is analyzed according to the Islamic doctrine. The Islamic approach towards non- muslims who are not part of the war has already being stated. And ISIS is far away from the Islamic principles of Jihad, that it would add for the claim it to be not Islamic. ISIS is a terrorist regime. The situation of non Muslims under ISIS is no wonder, disturbing, considering their extreme acts of violence towards their own people. Mass killing, savage beheadings and systematic degradation of women of religious minorities like Yazidis, Kurds, and Christians are widely used weapons to maintain the governance. Boko Haram in Nigeria is no different, engaging in genocide against Christian and other religious minorities. This is no way to reduce the impact of wholesale slaughter of ‘sunni Muslims’ in Iraq and Syria by the regime of Noor al Maliki and Basshar respectively, which is more dangerous. All terrorist groups who are demanding an rule according to the Shari’a recently, are actually using terror as it’s instrument to attain and maintain domination, while in Islam and the history of the early Islamic rulers depict contradictory and even opposing. Mass killing, sexual harassment, abduction and bulk expulsion[iv] of people who are not involved in the conflict are not approved even in a legitimate warfare. Such acts are to be taken serious, when it is executed on minorities, who deserve special rights in the Islamic governance. The Prophet (S) have warned both, general oppression against people under and minorities in particular. Prophet (S) said: “Beware!  Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, curtails their rights, burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.”[v]

[i] Musnad Ahmad, Sunan Tirmidhi [ii] Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim [iii] “I command you to do ten things: kill no woman, no child, nor an elderly person; do not cut down fruit trees, or vandalize homes, or wound a sheep or camel except if you must eat it; do not drown a palm tree, or burn it, do not be treacherous; do not be cowardly; and you will pass by people who have devoted themselves to monastery life; leave them alone to their devotions.” (Tabari, Tarik al- Tabari, Vol 3) [iv] “They (non- muslims) are not slaves, so beware of changing their status after they have lived in freedom. They are free people of the covenant,” said Imam Awza’ai (D Hijra 157) to Salih Ibn Ali Ibn Abdulla, the then Abbasid governor of Lebanon, when he expelled an entire village of non- Muslims because some of them refused to pay the toll. [v] Abu Dawood

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