Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Peaceful Coexistence

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According to the Islamic historical narrative, the prophet's career had two distinct phases. In Mecca his preaching was characterized by a strong impulse to pacifism, forbearance and peaceful coexistence with the disbelievers, combined with preaching on the nature of their sin, (principally, shirk), together with warnings of hell fire. It includes such famous verses as "For you is your religion, and for me is my religion." (Qur'an 109:6). This contrasts markedly with the second phase which took place after the forced migration to Medina, where Muhammad became as much of a political-military figure leading a campaign against the Meccans as a religious preacher. As such, the scholars have classified the verses of the Qur'an into "Meccan" and "Medinian" verses, as have modern academic scholars (though with further refinement). At certain times the doctrine of naskh (Abrogation) was employed by medieval Islamic scholars particularly widely to argue that since the more peaceful Meccan verses came to Muhammad first, they are abrogated or cancelled by the later Medinian verses. This was necessary because their interpretation of the later verses was that they sanctioned aggressive, expansionary warfare. A more extreme subset of scholars considered the verse of the sword (Quran 9:5) to have abrogated all peaceful verses. Islamic modernist and some modern academic scholars reject such interpretations, arguing that read carefully, the Medinan fighting verses are defensive or pre-emptive in nature in response to the aggression and treaty breaking of the Quraysh. For more information on these interpretations see Jihad in Islamic Law.


Religious Tolerance and Coexistence with Other Religions

Pacifism Promoted

Allah has sent Muhammad only to warn non-Muslims.

Say: "O men! I am (sent) to you only to give a Clear Warning:

Leave non-Muslims to their ignorance.

But leave them in their confused ignorance for a time.

It is best if you do not retaliate against your persecutors, but rather seek refuge in Allah.

Repel evil with that which is best: We are well acquainted with the things they say. And say "O my Lord! I seek refuge with Thee from the suggestions of the Evil Ones.

Do not argue with innocent Christians and Jews, but rather emphasize your common monotheism.

And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)."

Invite non-Believers to Islam by preaching to them.

Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.

And if ye do catch them out, catch them out no worse than they catch you out: But if ye show patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient.
Qur'an 16:125-126

Do not readily retaliate when attacked, since Allah will have the evil people destroy themselves.

Seest thou not that We have set the Evil Ones on against the unbelievers, to incite them with fury?

So make no haste against them, for We but count out to them a (limited) number (of days).
Qur'an 19:83-84

Be patient with the evil words that are said by people.

Had it not been for a Word that went forth before from thy Lord, (their punishment) must necessarily have come; but there is a Term appointed (for respite).

Therefore be patient with what they say, and celebrate (constantly) the praises of thy Lord, before the rising of the sun, and before its setting; yea, celebrate them for part of the hours of the night, and at the sides of the day: that thou mayest have (spiritual) joy.
Qur'an 20:129-130 , See also: Quran 38:15-17

Be patient and let the non-Muslims see that Islam is the true religion.

And if We had inflicted on them a penalty before this, they would have said: "Our Lord! If only Thou hadst sent us a messenger, we should certainly have followed Thy Signs before we were humbled and put to shame."

Say: "Each one (of us) is waiting: wait ye, therefore, and soon shall ye know who it is that is on the straight and even way, and who it is that has received Guidance."
Qur'an 20:134-135

Turn away from those who reject Islam and say "Peace" to them.

(Allah has knowledge) of the (Prophet's) cry, "O my Lord! Truly these are people who will not believe!"

But turn away from them, and say "Peace!" But soon shall they know!
Qur'an 43:88-89

Non-Muslims shall have their religion and Muslims shall have their religion.

Say : O ye that reject Faith!
I worship not that which ye worship,
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship,
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.

To you be your Way, and to me mine.
Qur'an 109:1-6

Peace Treaties

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.
Indeed, those who have believed and emigrated and fought with their wealth and lives in the cause of Allah and those who gave shelter and aided - they are allies of one another. But those who believed and did not emigrate - for you there is no guardianship of them until they emigrate. And if they seek help of you for the religion, then you must help, except against a people between yourselves and whom is a treaty. And Allah is Seeing of what you do.


Peace Treaties

As an ideological leader of the Afghan Jihad against the Soviets, 'Abdallah Yusuf 'Azzam (d. 1989) argued the importance of not relinquishing the right to Muslim lands as part of a peace treaty:

The scholars of Fiqh are divided as to whether or not it is permitted to make peace treaties with the Kuffar. Among them are some who permit it based on the pact of Hudaybia. Others permit it if the Muslims are extremely weak. Others still, say that we are no longer permitted to make peace treaties with the Kuffar because they say that all pacts with the Kuffar are cancelled by the Verse of the Sword. We say, it is permitted to make peace treaties, if in the treaty there is good for the Muslims, but under the condition that there is no clause within the treaty that nullifies or corrupts it.

Such as:

1) It is not permitted to include a condition in the treaty that relinquishes even a hand span of Muslim land to the Kuffar. Because, the land of Islam belongs to no one, therefore none can make negotiations over it. Such a condition nullifies the treaty because the land belongs to Allah and to Islam. It is not permitted for anyone to misuse anything in a domain not his own. Or to barter the Son of Adam that does not belong to him. With reference to the Russians, it is not permitted to negotiate with them until they retreat from every hand span of Afghani territory .With the Jews in Palestine, likewise.
Abdallah Yusuf 'Azzam (1979) Defence of the Muslim Land, Chapter 4

In contrast, the 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty represented official Egyptian recognition of Israel and was endorsed by al-Azhar. Precedent for treaties in which Muslims accept unfavourable terms for the sake of a longer term benefit is often cited in the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah between Muhammad's Medinan state and the Quraysh in 628 CE, which affirmed a ten-year peace and granted Muhammad and the believers a pilgrimage to Mecca the following year, in 629 CE.

The Shafi'i jurist al-Nawawi stated in his commentary on Sahih Muslim:

In this [Treaty of Hudaibiyya] there is evidence for the permissibility of making treaties with non-Muslims if there is an interest or benefit (maslaha) in doing so. There is a consensus on this (majma‘‘alayhi) when there is a need (haja) [...] In our opinion, this should not exceed ten years, but there is a sound view (qawl) that it is allowed without a time restriction. And Malik said there is no limit at all and it is allowed for a short time or protracted period according to the opinion of the ruler.
al-Nawawi, al minhaj bin sharh sahih muslim, vol. 6, part 12, p. 355

One of the most influential modern jurists, Yusuf al-Qaradawi (d. 2022) stated in his book, fiqh al-Jihad, that the United Nations is a treaty that renders the world an abode of peace, and peace as the basic norm is established. The exception was Israel, which he argued is still part of Dar al-Harb (the abode of war), disagreeing with leading al-Azhar scholars Muhammad Abu Zahrah (d. 1979) and Jad al-Haqq ‘Ali Jad al-Haqq (d. 1996) who justified the 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty. Similarly, the Saudi Salafist Sheikh ‘Abd al- ‘Aziz bin Baz (d. 1999) disagreed to some extent with al-Qaradawi regarding Israel, citing Quran 8:61 and Quran 8:72 quoted above to argue that the Quran approves of treaties when faced with oppression.[1]

Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328) said regarding peace with disbelievers:

The Prophet’s biography shows that he did not fight whoever made peace with him among the unbelievers; and the books of biography, prophetic traditions, exegesis, jurisprudence, and history are full of such acts and this is widely narrated in his biography. Thus, the Prophet did not initiate fighting with anyone, and had Allah commanded him to fight every disbeliever, then he would have initiated fighting with them.
Ibn Taymiyya, ‘qa’ida fı qital al-kuffar’, from majmu’at rasail, (Cairo: Sunni Mohammadi, 1949), p. 125

See Also