Islam and Coexistence- Lessons from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Islam is the last religion sent by Allah to His last prophet Muhammad –may peace and salutations of Allah be upon him.

He also sent to him His last revelation Holy Quran in which there are rules and principles guiding mankind and amongst such rules sent down are those which direct Muslims how to live in harmony with those having different beliefs or religious domination.

Allah says: { Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes , that you show kindness and deal with them justly ; surely Allah loves the doers of justice} Quran chapter 60 verse 8.

As we can see Allah is telling us (Muslims) to be kind to those holding different beliefs to that of ours who have never waged war on us on account of religion like attending burial ceremonies to our friends(close relatives, neighbors, etc )without taking part in their rituals. And He (Allah) has ordered us to be just when dealing with them , not that because we share different beliefs then we should be oppressing them ,no Islam doesn’t teach something like that.

Our prophet – peace and blessings of Allah descends upon him – lived exemplary life when he lived with Christians and Jews in harmony and exercised patience with Jews whenever they planned to terminate his life. All that did not prevent him – peace be upon him – from being kind and just to them.

When we read his history we will find that from amongst first tasks he did when he arrived in madina from makka was to make treaty with Jews who lived in madina by then recognizing their religion and that they should be living in peace tranquility and harmony and that either Muslims or them shouldn’t in times of war help an enemy.

As Islam teaches Muslims respected the treaty and agreement between them and the Jews, but Jews were always the ones breaking treaties or aiding enemies in fighting Muslims, still prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him exercised patience and continued to be kind and just to them. So did his companions – may Allah be pleased with them all.

Angel Gabriel- may mercy from Allah be upon him- whenever he came to the prophet –peace be upon him always advised him to be good to his neighbor which was making the prophet to think that Angel Gabriel will be inherited by the neighbor. A neighbor can be a Muslim or a non-Muslim and both have rights over you for being neighbors and your fellow Muslim brother or sister has some additional rights over you.

There are companions of the prophet- peace be upon him who had neighbors who were not Muslims and they lived in harmony a true reflection that Islam preaches peace love and harmony and that doesn’t support any barbaric act by all means towards those having different beliefs to Muslims.

So the saying that Islam doesn’t recognize other domination is not true as we have seen from the holy book( Al Quran) and also from the behavior and teachings of our beloved prophet – peace and blessings be upon him. When we read history to our prophet –peace be upon him – before he migrated to madina from makka , he ordered some of his companions – may Allah be pleased with them all- to go and live in habasha( now Ethiopia) when non- believers from quraysh in makka were torturing Muslims those who had no one to protect.

And the prophet – peace be upon him said to his companions: { Go and live in habasha for there is a king in whose custody no one gets oppressed}. And the said king Al najashiyyu was a Christian who later converted to Islam after learning the truth about it from the companions of our prophet –peace be upon him.

All this shows that the religion of Islam do recognize the existence of other faith groups. Another good example are those pagans from Arabs who remained in their religion even after makka was conquered without any blood shedding.

When it comes to relations between Islamic state and non- Islamic state etc Allah states that :{ surely those who believed and fled(their homes) and struggled hard in Allah’s way with their property and their souls, and those who gave shelter and helped- these are guardians of each other ; and (for)those who believed and did not fly, not yours is their guardianship until they fly; and if they seek aid from you in the matter of religion , aid is incumbent on you except against a people between whom and you there is a treaty, and Allah sees what you do} Quran 8 v 72.

In above verse Allah has ordered us to respect and keep our agreements and treaties with those we are in treaty with…meaning there can be treaties on worldly affairs between a Muslim and a non- Muslim ( but that shouldn’t include helping a non – Muslim in fighting your fellow Muslims).

During the battle of Badr between Muslims and pagans of makka one companion came to the prophet peace be upon him – telling him that he had a treaty with a certain clan not to fight them and the prophet told him to respect the treaty and he was not amongst those who fought with the prophet (saw)that battle.

All this when the prophet and Muslims needed a big number to counter match enemies but due to his respect to Allah’s rules he allowed one of his companion to pull out of the battle in respect of the treaty he had with one of the pagans.

That is true Islam which was revealed to our last prophet- peace be upon him which recognizes other peoples belief in the society and what other Muslims do in any barbaric action doesn’t represent Islam but what they themselves are.

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