Rules Pertaining to the Relationship of Muslims with Other Faith Communities (Part-2)
By Muhammad Taqi Uthmani; Translated by Shameen S Desin (Jeddah)
The Muslims’ hatred of Kufr (i.e. disbelief) did not prevent them from joining hands with non-Muslims and co-operating in issues such as the establishment of justice, resisting inequity and evil, and coming to the assistance of the weak and aggrieved. Indeed, the command to co-operate in matters of righteousness and piety, which has been sent down in the Holy Qur’an, is one of the principles of the Islamic Sharee’ah, and is logically connected to the theme of staying away from transgressing even against disbelievers.
Truly, the pacts which the Messenger of Allah honoured were not restricted to only those treaties which were verbal and explicit. In fact, they included those contracts which had not been explicitly agreed upon, but which were implied, too. Related to this issue is the story surrounding Abu Rafi`, who was the servant of the Messenger of Allah. During those days before Abu Rafi` had accepted Islam, the Quraysh sent him to the Messenger of Allah with a letter. Abu Rafi` narrates: “Quraysh sent me to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). When I saw the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), I felt the light of Islam entering my heart, so I said,’ O Messenger of Allah! Verily, by Allah, I will never ever return to them.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) remarked,” Truly, I do not violate treaties, nor do I retain letters. Return to them (i.e., Quraysh), and if you find in yourself what you are feeling now (i.e., the radiance of Islam), then return (i.e., to Madinah, and become a Muslim).” Abu Rafi’ continued,’ So I went back (i.e., to Makkah); then I went to meet the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and accepted Islam.’
Thus, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not consent to Abu Rafi”s staying in Madinah as a Muslim because his enemies had sent him (i.e., Abu Rafi’) as a messenger and they (i.e., the Quraysh) were awaiting his (i.e., Abu Rafi”s) return. The Imam Al-Khattaby (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “His [i.e., the Messenger of Allah’s (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)] saying, ‘I do not retain letters’ implies that the message which the Quraysh sent with Abu Rafi’ to the Blessed prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) required an answer. The Prophet’s answer could not reach the Quraysh unless Abu Rafi’ delivered it honestly to them. Thus, the Blessed Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) considered it a breach of trust to not let Abu Rafi’ return to the Quraysh. To the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) even a little bit of dishonesty was unacceptable. He could not let the enemies of Islam say that he had been dishonest. The time it took for Abu Rafi’ to reach the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and return to the Quraysh was part of the deal. And Allah knows best.”
Let us marvel at this precision and caution in avoiding treachery or deceit in dealing with non-Muslims during times of peace!
The manner in which Muslims deal with non–Muslims in times of peace is not confined to upholding virtues such as justice and the fulfillment of oaths. Nay, it reaches the level of beneficence and compassion. Allah, the Glorified and Great, says in the Holy Qur’an:
“Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.” (al-Mumtahanah: 8)
It has been narrated in the authentic Ahadeeth (sayings of the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)], that the polytheists (i.e., Mushrikeen) who dwelled in Makkah (while the blessed Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] was residing in Madinah after the Hijrah) were afflicted by a severe famine. Consequently, they consumed the bones and skins of dead animals. At that time, Abu Sufyan, being a disbeliever, made his way to Madinah, and entered upon the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), saying, “O Muhammad! Certainly, your people are perishing, so ask Allah to relieve them (i.e., to bring an end to the drought).” Right then and there, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) made Du’aa to Allah to send rain to Makkah, and his prayer was answered at once, and that was the end of the terrible drought.
Asmaa bint Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with both of them) narrated: “My mother came to visit me (i.e. she came to Madinah from Makkah to visit her daughter, Asmaa), while she was a Mushrik (i.e., pagan), before the conquest of Makkah. I consulted the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) regarding how I should conduct myself with my mother. I said to him, “Truly, my mother has come to me with a strong desire (i.e. to see me).” He (i.e. the Messenger of Allah [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him]) replied, “Yes, meet your mother (that is, be good to her and respect her and serve her, as is her right over you).”
The Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan Al-Shaibani (may Allah have mercy on him) wrote in his book, As-Siyar Al-Kabeer: “On the authority of Ibn Marwan Al-Khaza’ee who said, ‘I said to Mujahid: I am related to one of the polytheists and I owe him some money – should I return it to him?’ He (i.e. Mujahid) answered, ‘Yes, and be good to him (i.e., respect him and show kindness to him since you are blood-relations).'”
Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan Al-Shaibani (may Allah have mercy on him) continues in his book: “There is no harm in a Muslim joining ties of kinship with a Mushrik (i.e. polytheist) whether he is closely related to him (i.e. the Mushrik) or distantly related to him (i.e. as long as there are blood ties between them), whether he is a warrior (i.e. fighting against the Muslims) or is of the Ahl-al Dhimmah (i.e. the protected tributaries).”
This is the consensus reached by the scholars, and is highlighted by the speech of Salamah ibn Al-Akwa’, who said, “I prayed Salat-ul-Fajr behind the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). After the prayer, I felt the palm of a hand between my shoulders, so I turned around and, lo and behold, it was the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). He said, ‘Will you bestow on me a daughter or a female slave?’ I said, ‘Yes,’ and granted it to him. He sent her to one of his mother’s brothers, by the name of Hazan ibn Abu Wahab (i.e. a maternal uncle), while he was a Mushrik (i.e., his uncle) and she (i.e., the girl) was also a Mushrik. Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) sent five hundred Dinars to Makkah (i.e., while he was residing in Madinah after the Hijrah) when Makkah was afflicted by a severe drought, and he gave instructions that the money be handed over to Abu Sufyan ibn Harb and Safwan ibn Umayyah, in order that they may distribute it among the needy and destitute in Makkah. Abu Sufyan and Abu Safwan accepted this donation from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). However, Abu Sufyan said, “Muhammad does not intend anything by this (i.e. donation), except to fool our youth.” (Abu Sufyan thought that the Messenger of Allah [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] wished to impress young people by his generosity in order to influence them and bring them under the fold of Islam.)
Numerous examples of the kindness of the Muslims towards non-Muslims are present in Islamic history, but we do not wish to mention all of them here. What we have narrated is sufficient proof to show that the Muslims did not permit their hatred of Kufr (i.e., disbelief) and Shirk (i.e., associating partners with Allah) to prevent them from joining the ties of blood with and showing compassion and sympathy to the aggrieved among the non-Muslims. Nay, the Muslims believed firmly that this (i.e., justice and kindness towards the non-Muslims) was part of the good morals and character which the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was sent to perfect (i.e. to bring mankind out of the darkness and ignorance of disbelief and polytheism and leave a shining example of good manners to be emulated by all).
Co-operation in Performing Good Works
Thus, the Muslims’ hatred of Kufr (i.e. disbelief) did not prevent them from joining hands with non-Muslims and co-operating in issues such as the establishment of justice, resisting inequity and evil, and coming to the assistance of the weak and aggrieved. Indeed, the command to co-operate in matters of righteousness and piety, which has been sent down in the Holy Qur’an, is one of the principles of the Islamic Sharee’ah, and is logically connected to the theme of staying away from transgressing even against disbelievers. Allah the Almighty says:
“O you who believe! Violate not the sanctity of the Symbols of Allah, nor of the Sacred Month, nor of the garlanded people or animals, and others, nor the people coming to the Sacred House (Makkah), seeking the bounty and good pleasure of their Lord. But when you finish the Ihram (of Hajj or Umrah), you may hunt, and let not the hatred of some people in (once) stopping you from (entering) Al-Masjid Al-Haraam (at Makkah) lead you to transgression (and hostility on our part). Help one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment.” (al-Mai’dah: 2)
The reason behind the revelation of this verse of the Holy Qur’an, as the Mufassirun (those who explain the meaning of the verses of the Qur’an) have mentioned, is to deter the Sahabah (i.e. Companions of the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him]) from taking revenge from the polytheists in Makkah when they refused to allow the Messenger of Allah and his Companions to enter Makkah and perform Umrah as they had intended. Those were the days when the peace treaty of Hudaibiyah had been signed and there was no fighting or jihad between the Muslims and the Mushriks. This verse points out that the co-operation intended here is not just between Muslims themselves, but also includes co-operation between Muslims and non-Muslims.
If the non-Muslims have a line of action that will benefit the human race, and it does not contain anything that opposes the beautiful Islamic Sharee’ah (the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] and the rules derived from them), then it would be recommended that Muslims to take part in it and co-operate with the non-Muslims. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) demonstrated this principle by participating in the Hilf-al-Fudul (Oath of Excellence).
Verily, the Hilf-al-Fudul, or “Oath of Excellence” was a source of glory and majesty to the Banu Hashim (i.e. the clan to which the Messenger of Allah [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] belonged – it was part of the Quraysh). This was due to the fact that before this unique oath was taken, the Arabs were accustomed to co-operating on the basis of fanaticism and obstinacy. They would take oaths from other tribes expecting them to be of assistance to them when their enemies attacked, not taking into account whether they themselves were right or wrong. Certainly, the Hilf-ul-Fudul is the first pledge that the Arabs took on the basis that they (i.e. the Arabs) would uphold justice and come to the assistance of the oppressed. The male members of the Quraysh clans: Banu Hashim, Banu Zehra and Banu Te’em had assembled together in the house of Abdullah ibn Jud’aan, after being invited by Az-Zubayr ibn Abdul-Muttalib, the paternal uncle of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). At that time, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), was a youth, twenty years old. They (i.e. the Makkans) united in a contract and mutually agreed in the name of Allah that: “They would support the oppressed until he gained his rights just as surely as sea water moistens a tuft of wool (an Arabic metaphor, meaning certainly) and the indigent until he was self-sufficient.”
It has been narrated that Jubair ibn Mut’im (may Allah be pleased with him) said, ‘The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “How much I love the pledge I took at the home of Ibn Jud’aan more than red camels and I would never break it. Banu Hashim, Banu Zehra and Banu Ta’em pledged that they would support the oppressed just as surely as sea water moistens a tuft of wool. If I were summoned to take a similar pledge, I would obey.”
Al-Hameedi (may Allah have mercy on him) has narrated on the authority of Muhammad and Abdur-Rahman, both sons of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with all of them) both of them said, “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Verily, I have witnessed an oath being taken in the home of Abdullah ibn Jud’aan, which if I had been summoned to take in Islam, I would oblige. They pledged to return trusts to their owners and that no oppressor could get away with his oppression (i.e. they would help the weak to get their rights from the strong).”
On the authority of Abdur-Rahman ibn ‘Auf (may Allah be pleased with him) who narrated the following: “I witnessed a young man taking an oath, Hilf-ul-Mutayyibeen, with my paternal uncles, and it would not please me to ever break it even if I were given red camels for doing so (i.e. no amount of wealth would deter me into breaking such a noble oath).”
Al-Hafidh Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) has mentioned that the meaning intended by Hilf-al-Mutayyibeen is the Hilf-ul-Fudul, which is well-known in history, as having taken place before the Prophethood of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Certainly, the witnessing of Hilf-ul-Fudul by the Messenger of Allah and his mentioning it and upholding it after the advent of Islam, is ascertained to be true in many authentic narrations. The learned scholar, As-Suhaily (may Allah have mercy on him) has said:
“Hilf-ul-Fudul was the most noble of all oaths to ever be heard of, and the most hounarable one among the Arabs. The first person to speak of it and call people to take it was Az-Zubayr ibn Abd-al-Muttalib (i.e. the paternal uncle of the Messenger of Allah peace and blessings of Allah be upon him]). Hilf-ul-Fudul was first initiated when a man from Zabeed (a clan) entered Makkah with merchandise which he sold to Al-‘Aasi ibn Waa’il, who was much respected and honoured in Makkah. Ibn Waa’il was unjust and did not give to the merchant his due. So the man from Zabeed sought help from the clans of Abdu-ad-Dar, Makhzum, Jumah, Sahm and Adi ibn Ka’ab, but they refused to assist him against Al-‘Aasi ibn Al-Wa’il even though they were more powerful than the merchant. When the Zubaidi man saw the evil that had befallen him, he climbed the mountain of Abu Qubais at the time of sunrise, when the leaders of Quraysh were assembled in their meeting place around the Ka’bah and recited in Arabic, some poetry, in his loudest voice. It may be translated thus:
“O family of Quraysh, come to the aid of the oppressed in his hour of need
In the heart of Makkah, far from their homes, far from the crowd,
And a pilgrim in the state of Ihram, with disheveled hair, has not completed his ‘Umrah,
O men (come to his rescue) from between the stones and stones,
Surely the Haram is for someone who is noble in word and deed,
And there is no Haram for the one who is wicked and dishonest.”
Upon hearing this, Az-Zubayr ibn Abdul Muttalib got up and said,” This man must not be left alone.” Consequently, the clan members of Hashim, Zehra and Tayyim ibn Murrah gathered together in the home of Ibn Jud’aan, so he prepared food for them, and they took an oath – as this occurred in the month of Dhul Qa’dah which is one of the holy months during which fighting is forbidden – while they were standing, and they were united together in this contract, swearing by Allah that: they would join together in order to give back to the oppressed their rights from their oppressors as surely as a tuft of wool is moistened if it is dipped into the sea. They also pledged to be firm and to help those who were unable to earn their living themselves. The leaders of Quraysh named this pledge “Hilf-ul-Fudul,” and they said: “These people have indeed done something noble and dignified.” After having said so, they made their way to Al-Aasi ibn Wa’il and seized from him the articles for sale which he had usurped from the Zubaidi man, and handed them over to their rightful owner (i.e. the Zubaidi man who had said the lines of poetry). Az-Zubayr ibn Abdul-Muttalib (i.e., the paternal uncle of the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah]) said the following lines of poetry, honouring the “Hilf-ul-Fudul”:
“Verily, the ‘Fudul’ (i.e. the noblemen of Quraysh) united in a contract and confederated
That no oppressor or tyrant may reside in the heart of Makkah
An issue over which they united and made a covenant
Thus the neighbours and all those residing (in Makkah) are at peace (with one another).”
The reason behind giving this pledge the name of “Hilf-ul-Fudul,” will be elaborated on by a statement made by As-Suhaili, which is soon to follow. The people of Quraysh said,” They (i.e. those who took this oath) have done something very noble.” However, Ibn Qutaibah has narrated this issue from another angle. He said, “A long time ago, the leaders of Quraysh took a similar oath, and it was taken by three of their men. One of them was Al-Fadl Ibn Fadalah. The second person was Al-Fadl Ibn Wada’ah and the third man was Fudail Ibn Al-Harith. Consequently, when the people of Quraysh took a similar oath, the people of the tribe of Jurham named it “Hilf-ul-Fudul.” The word “Fudul” is the plural of “Fadl” and that was the name of those people (i.e. the three men) who have been mentioned. Al-Suhaili also mentioned this, then he said,” And this which has been said by Ibn Qutaibah is good.”
Certainly the “Hilf-ul-Fudul” became one of the principles which by which people judged, and the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) approved of it, and after the religion of Islam had begun to spread, he said, “If I were called to take a similar oath in the name of Islam, I would comply.”
This is why so many people offered it as a proof, and sought aid from the “Hilf-ul-Fudul” which benefitted them immensely. The Imam, As-Suhaily, may Allah have mercy on him, narrated, while he was speaking about the theme the “Hilf-ul-Fudul” was based upon:
“Certainly, Islam had raised the status of the act of helping the oppressed, answering their cry for help and coming to their aid, much higher than it had been during the Days of Ignorance (i.e. before the Prophethood of Muhammad [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] and the advent of Islam). Allah, the Almighty, made the believers a brotherhood, and there is no difference between the rich and poor, the white or black, in the eyes of Allah except in the level of their fear of Allah and obedience to Him and His Messenger (peace ad blessings of Allah be upon him), and their adherence to the teachings of Islam under all circumstances. All the believers belong to one group and they are brothers in faith. The “Hilf-ul-Fudul” is described by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) thus: “If I were called to take an oath of this kind (in Islam), I would comply.” Surely, Islam came to establish the truth and rescue the oppressed, and an oath of this kind only strengthened the resolve of Muslims to fight against all kinds of injustice and tyranny and come to the rescue of their suffering fellow men. The Messenger of Allah said, “Any oath taken during the Era of Ignorance (i.e. before the advent of Islam) would only be increased in eminence by Islam.” What the Blessed Prophet meant by this statement was that Islam made people kinder and more humane towards each other. Thus, caring for the sentiments of others conscientiously, they would strive to fulfill their pledges after embracing Islam.
The Noble Prophet’s support for the “Hilf-ul-Fudul” demonstrates that it is not only lawful for Muslims but also recommended to enter into treaties with non-Muslims that aim to assist the oppressed, repel injustice and uphold other honourable and humane motives. Consequently, whenever Muslims make covenants of this genre in which they co-operate to promote what is good, they will always come to the aid of those facing hardship and persecution, regardless of whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims, as long as the covenant applies to them.
The motive behind the Conquest of Makkah was the Messenger of Allah’s (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) support for those who had made a covenant with him from the tribe of Banu Khuza’ah (one of the Arab tribes), who were not Muslims. During the peace truce of Hudaibiyah, the Blessed Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had stated that it was permissible for any tribe to enter into a pact with either the Muslims or the Pagans (disbelievers and polytheists). The Banu Khuza’ah entered into a contract with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), while the Banu Bakr made a treaty with the Quraysh. Meanwhile, there existed a lot of enmity, from the past, between Banu Khuza’ah and Banu Bakr. Banu Bakr decided to take advantage of this opportunity to inflict harm on their old rivals – Banu Khuza’ah – after the signing of the truce (of Hudaibiyah). Consequently, a group of men from the tribe of Banu Bakr passed the night close to the territory of the Banu Khuza’ah, then they attacked them in the morning, thus breaking the peace treaty, and they were assisted materially by the Quraysh, who supplied them with weapons. Some of the dignitaries of Quraysh fought alongside the Banu Bakr secretly (in order to deceive the Muslims). At this point, Amr ibn Saalim Al-Khuza’yi made his way to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), reciting the words of the pledge he had made with the Banu Khuza’ah. He asked the Blessed Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for help and aid, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied, “You have been assisted, O Amr ibn Saalim.”
The Messenger of Allah sent a viceroy to Makkah, addressing the Quraysh and asking them to choose one of three options:
1.That the Quraysh pay the blood-money to the tribe of Banu Khuza’ah in compensation for those men whose lives had been lost when Banu Bakr attacked them;
2.That the Quraysh should absolve from the treaty those among the Banu Bakr who had transgressed against the Banu Khuza’ah and broken their covenant of peace by fighting and taking the lives of their fellowmen;
3.Or that the Quraysh should consider the peace pact made between and the Blessed Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as null and void.
The Quraysh accepted the third option, and thus, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) led the Muslim Mujahideen towards Makkah and conquered the city which was his birthplace, and would be the focal point of the Muslim world in the future. In short, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) assisted the Banu Khuza’ah as much as it was within his power to do so, and that is what led to the breaking of the peace pact signed at Hudaibiyah, and ultimately to the Messenger of Allah’s (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) marching towards Makkah with the Muslim warriors in order to conquer the disbelievers and make Makkah pure from the filth of the idols which the Makkans worshipped. All this proves that Islam and Muslims welcome with open hearts any treaty made with non-Muslims on the basis of noble motives which would be beneficial to mankind on a large scale.