Qur'an towards non Muslims

treatment of non Muslims in Quran

“The biggest enemy of Islam is the ignorant Muslim, Whose ignorance leads him to intolerance whose actions destroy the true image of Islam. And when the people look at him, they think that Islam is what he is.” - Sh. Ahmed Deedat
Internet is flooded with articles, blogs and websites that cherry-pick, misquote and misrepresent the Qur'an as a book that preaches hate towards all non-Muslims. Finding them would be as easy as finding snow in Artic. And amidst all this, non-Muslims and even more, unfortunately, Muslims remain misinformed about the Qur'an. Knowing what and how the Qur'an addresses to the non Muslims is of utmost importance in presenting the message of Islam. 

Standing for Justice!

The Qur'an gives the utmost importance towards establishing justice, whether it be towards Muslims or non-Muslims or both. Muslims are commanded to always stand for justice, even if it requires them to stand against the injustice caused by their fellow Muslims. In fact, the Qur'an gives a piece of very important advice to not let hatred lead one to treat the other unjustly. 

“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” [Qur'an 5:8]

Anyone who violates these commands and kills another person unjustly, has done a deed, as grave as killing all of mankind. The seriousness is reflected in the verse below,

“Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land - it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.” [Qur'an 5:32] 

The same principle is demonstrated even in wars. While the Qur'an commands Muslims to fight valiantly when on the battlefield, fearing none but Allah, at the same time it tells not to fight anyone who surrenders and/or seeks protection. Instead, the Qur'an exquisitely says to grant him safety and security, and rather take the opportunity to peacefully deliver him the message of Islam. 

"And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah . Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know." [Qur'an 9:6]

These are a glimpse of the justice and righteousness laid out by the Qur'an. One of the 99 attributes that the Qur'an gives to Allah is al-Adl i.e. the Utterly Just. Not only this, the 9th verse of chapter 49 states beautifully states that "Allah loves those who are just."  

Being good to the good

Righteousness towards non-Muslims does not limit itself to being just. The Qur'an always ensures to maintain peace with those who desire the same. References of peace treaties signed between the Muslims and the non-Muslims can be found in the Qur'an. 

"And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah . Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing." [Qur'an 8:61]

Interestingly, verses cited to be promoting violence have often been those that were in response to the violation of such a treaty. One such example that makes this evident is the verse below,

"Would you not fight a people who broke their oaths and determined to expel the Messenger, and they had begun [the attack upon] you the first time? Do you fear them? But Allah has more right that you should fear Him, if you are [truly] believers." [Qur'an 9:13]

Nevertheless, despite the commandment to fight, the possibility and hope of enemies turning into friends are never ruled out. It had, in fact, happened during the lifetime of the Prophet and still continues till this day. Those who hated Islam in its early days, were the staunchest enemies of the Prophet, opposed its spread in every way, eventually ended up not only embracing Islam but turned out to be one of its strongest pillars. 

"Perhaps Allah will put, between you and those to whom you have been enemies among them, affection. And Allah is competent, and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful." [Qur'an 60-7]

These verses overrule the notion of hating and fighting every disbeliever. On the contrary, it shows the strength a message carries with it and therefore, should be delivered responsibly by all Muslims. The Qur'an does not desire Muslims indulge in unnecessary fights and killings with non-Muslims. The 190th verse of the second chapter makes it very clear,
"Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors." [Qur'an 2:190] 

Furthermore, the Qur'an makes it clear to be good and just towards those who do not fight you. And that such behaviour of righteousness and justice is loved by Allah.

"Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly." [Qur'an 60:8]

How the Prophet treated non-Muslims?

If you are a non-Muslim and you wonder how would the Prophet treat you, then the Treaty of Najran would be a fine example to answer it. By the end of his lifetime, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had become the undisputed leader of the Arabian peninsula. Around 631 AD, the Christians of Najran, a valley in the south of Arabia, wanted a peace treaty with the Prophet. A delegation of sixty people came to Madinah to meet the Prophet.

The Prophet spoke to them in a very polite manner, made arrangements for their stay and even allowed them to offer their prayers inside his mosque.
The Christians of Najran simply wanted peace and they left it to the Prophet to specify the terms and conditions of the treaty. They had heard of the Prophet and relied on what they knew of his absolute fairness. The next day, a treaty was signed with the following specifications:
  • Najran has the protection of God and the pledges of Muhammad, the Prophet, to protect their lives, faith, land, property, those who are absent and those who are present, and their clan and allies.
  • They need not change anything of their past customs. 
  • No right of theirs or their religion shall be altered. No bishop, monk or church guard shall be removed from his position.
  • Whatever they have is theirs, no matter how big or small. They are not held in suspicion and they shall suffer no vengeance killing. 
  • They are not required to be mobilized and no army shall trespass on their land.
  • If any of them requests that any right of his should be given to him, justice shall be administered among them. He who takes usury on past loans is not under my protection. 
  • No person in Najran is answerable for an injustice committed by another."

So, where lies the difference?

Are Muslims and non-Muslims equal, or does the Qur'an make a distinction? The Qur'an is called al-Furqan i.e. it is the criterion, that sets apart the right and the wrong. All humanity is addressed in the Qur'an as The Children of Adam, implying the offspring from the same ancestor and thereby constituting a brotherhood.  
Nevertheless, the Qur'an does differentiate between people, not based upon caste, colour, tribe or gender, but based upon the deeds. It condemns the wrongs deeds and guides towards the good deeds. And based upon the deeds, it addresses people differently.

A true believer is different from a hypocrite. While both being Muslims, are not necessarily destined to go to paradise. Similarly, those who reject the message of the Qur'an after witnessing its truthfulness are different from those who did not receive the message in all its clarity. The Qur'an bears witness to the same in the following verse,

"We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth." [Qur'an 41:53]

"And never would We punish until We sent a messenger." [Qur'an 17:15]

In addition to this, the previously cited verses (60:7 and 9:6) shows how there are people who are unaware of the message of Islam and Allah can change the hearts of people, bringing them into the folds of Islam. 

These are indeed the differences among people, that the Qur'an addresses, based upon their own actions, judgments and character. Those who do the right are not equal to those who do wrong. Our deeds set us apart from one another and the Qur'an holds the same basis. In the same manner, those who reject the message are not equal to those who are ignorant of the message. Muslims and non-Muslims, no one is forced into the faith, but are shown the right and wrong, the good and the bad, and are left free to make the choice. This is the purpose of the Qur'an, and Islam as a whole. 

"There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong." [Qur'an 2:256]

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