Islamic teachings apply to non-Muslims too


Islamic teachings apply to non-Muslims too



Mohamad Mostafa Nassar

Twitter:@NassarMohamadMR

In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

A common question Muslims have when reading the Quran and Sunnah is whether or not the lesson applies to non-Muslims. The text sometimes uses general language (people, neighbors, children of Adam, etc.) and sometimes uses specific language (Muslims, believers, brothers, etc.).

Some religious rules are definitely specific to Muslims, such as funeral rites, but if the text only refers to Muslims, does that mean non-Muslims are always excluded?

In a moral sense, Muslims should love good for non-Muslims the same as they love for themselves. This comprehensive principle means Muslims should have good will in general towards non-Muslims.

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

ู„ูŽุง ูŠูุคู’ู…ูู†ู ุฃูŽุญูŽุฏููƒูู…ู’ ุญูŽุชูŽู‘ู‰ ูŠูุญูุจูŽู‘ ู„ูุฃูŽุฎููŠู‡ู ุฃูŽูˆู’ ู‚ูŽุงู„ูŽ ู„ูุฌูŽุงุฑูู‡ู ู…ูŽุง ูŠูุญูุจูู‘ ู„ูู†ูŽูู’ุณูู‡ู

None of you has faith until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.

Source: แนขaแธฅฤซแธฅ al-Bukhฤrฤซ 13,ย Grade:ย Muttafaqunย Alayhi

Even though this tradition uses the word โ€˜brother,โ€™ which is usually understood to mean brothers in Islam, many scholars interpret it as inclusive of all people, both to brothers (and sisters) in Islam and to brothers (and sisters) in humanity. All human beings are related to each other through common descent from Adam and Eve (peace be upon them).

Ibn Hajar al-Haytami commented on this tradition, writing:

ุงู„ุธุงู‡ุฑ ุฃู† ุงู„ุชุนุจูŠุฑ ุจู€ุงู„ุฃุฎ ู‡ู†ุง ุฌุฑูŠ ุนู„ู‰ ุงู„ุบุงู„ุจ ู„ุฃู†ู‡ ูŠู†ุจุบูŠ ู„ูƒู„ ู…ุณู„ู… ุฃู† ูŠุญุจ ู„ู„ูƒูุงุฑ ุงู„ุฅุณู„ุงู… ูˆู…ุง ูŠุชูุฑุน ุนู„ูŠู‡ ู…ู† ุงู„ูƒู…ุงู„ุงุช

It is apparent that the expression โ€˜brotherโ€™ here is used in a general sense, as every Muslim should love for unbelievers to receive Islam and the virtues derived from it.

Source: al-Fatแธฅ al-Mubฤซn 1/305

Hence, this text might use specific language but it is inclusive of all people. Many times the Prophet (แนฃ) was speaking to a group of Muslim men, so the language he used appears specific to Muslim men although the lesson is still applicable to Muslim women and non-Muslims.

This interpretive principle makes sense when understood through the three categories of protected non-Muslims: 1) non-Muslims who are citizens of a Muslim country (al-dhimmi), 2) non-Muslims who have a peace treaty with a Muslim country (al-muโ€™ahid), and 3) non-Muslims granted diplomatic immunity or a visa to lawfully enter a Muslim country (al-mustaโ€™min).

Each of these three categories of peaceful non-Muslims is entitled to legal and moral protection analogous to a Muslim believer. The Prophet (แนฃ) was clear that such protection is sacred and inviolable.

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

ู…ูŽู†ู’ ู‚ูŽุชูŽู„ูŽ ู†ูŽูู’ุณู‹ุง ู…ูุนูŽุงู‡ูŽุฏู‹ุง ู„ูŽู…ู’ ูŠูŽุฑูŽุญู’ ุฑูŽุงุฆูุญูŽุฉูŽ ุงู„ู’ุฌูŽู†ูŽู‘ุฉู ูˆูŽุฅูู†ูŽู‘ ุฑููŠุญูŽู‡ูŽุง ูŠููˆุฌูŽุฏู ู…ูู†ู’ ู…ูŽุณููŠุฑูŽุฉู ุฃูŽุฑู’ุจูŽุนููŠู†ูŽ ุนูŽุงู…ู‹ุง

Whoever kills a person protected by a treaty will never smell the fragrance of Paradise. Verily, its fragrance can be found from a distance of forty years of travel.

Source: แนขaแธฅฤซแธฅ al-Bukhฤrฤซ 6516, Grade:ย Sahih

In another narration, the Prophet (แนฃ) said:

ู…ูŽู†ู’ ู‚ูŽุชูŽู„ูŽ ู…ูุนูŽุงู‡ูุฏู‹ุง ูููŠ ุบูŽูŠู’ุฑู ูƒูู†ู’ู‡ูู‡ู ุญูŽุฑูŽู‘ู…ูŽ ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ู‡ู ุนูŽู„ูŽูŠู’ู‡ู ุงู„ู’ุฌูŽู†ูŽู‘ุฉูŽ

Whoever kills a person protected by a treaty, without a just cause, Allah has forbidden Paradise for him.

Source: Sunan Abฤซ Dฤwลซd 2760, Grade:ย Sahih

And in another narration, the Prophet (แนฃ) said:

ู…ูŽู†ู’ ุธูŽู„ูŽู…ูŽ ู…ูุนูŽุงู‡ูุฏู‹ุง ุฃูŽูˆู’ ุงู†ู’ุชูŽู‚ูŽุตูŽู‡ู ุฃูŽูˆู’ ูƒูŽู„ูŽู‘ููŽู‡ู ููŽูˆู’ู‚ูŽ ุทูŽุงู‚ูŽุชูู‡ู ุฃูŽูˆู’ ุฃูŽุฎูŽุฐูŽ ู…ูู†ู’ู‡ู ุดูŽูŠู’ุฆู‹ุง ุจูุบูŽูŠู’ุฑู ุทููŠุจู ู†ูŽูู’ุณู ููŽุฃูŽู†ูŽุง ุญูŽุฌููŠุฌูู‡ู ูŠูŽูˆู’ู…ูŽ ุงู„ู’ู‚ููŠูŽุงู…ูŽุฉู

Whoever wrongs a person protected by a covenant, violates his rights, burdens him with more work than he is able to do, or takes something from him without his consent, I will be his prosecutor on the Day of Resurrection.

Source: Sunan Abฤซ Dฤwลซd 3052, Grade:ย Sahih

There are many authentic narrations from the Prophet (แนฃ) that convey this meaning, so much so that scholars considered them to be mass-transmitted, indisputably true (mutawatir). According to Al-Mawwaq:

ุชูˆุงุชุฑุช ุงู„ุฃุญุงุฏูŠุซ ุจุงู„ู†ู‡ูŠ ุนู† ุธู„ู…ู‡ู…

The narrations that prohibit wronging them have been unanimously reported.

Source: al-Tฤj wal-Iklฤซl 4/601

When a non-Muslim is granted legal protection from a Muslim authority โ€“ either as citizens, allies, or guests โ€“ their lives, property, and reputations may not be harmed in any way. It is not even permissible to curse them or backbite them, which is to speak badly of them in their absence.

Ibn Hajar writes:

ูˆุฃู…ุง ุงู„ุฐู…ูŠ ููƒุงู„ู…ุณู„ู… ููŠู…ุง ูŠุฑุฌุน ุฅู„ู‰ ุงู„ู…ู†ุน ู…ู† ุงู„ุฅูŠุฐุงุก ู„ุฃู† ุงู„ุดุฑุน ุนุตู… ุนุฑุถู‡ ูˆุฏู…ู‡ ูˆู…ุงู„ู‡ โ€ฆ ุงู„ุตูˆุงุจ ุชุญุฑูŠู… ุบูŠุจุฉ ุงู„ุฐู…ูŠ

As for the non-Muslim under protection, he is like the Muslim in regards to the prohibition of harm, as the divine law has made his reputation, life, and property inviolableโ€ฆ The correct opinion is that it is forbidden to backbite a protected non-Muslim.

Source: al-Zawฤjir สปan Iqtirฤf al-Kabฤโ€™ir 2/27

And Ibn al-Humam writes:

ูˆุชุซุจุช ุฃุญูƒุงู… ุงู„ุฐู…ูŠ ููŠ ุญู‚ู‡ โ€ฆ ูˆุฌูˆุจ ูƒู ุงู„ุฃุฐู‰ ุนู†ู‡ ูุชุญุฑู… ุบูŠุจุชู‡ ูƒู…ุง ุชุญุฑู… ุบูŠุจุฉ ุงู„ู…ุณู„ู… ูุถู„ุง ุนู…ุง ูŠูุนู„ู‡ ุงู„ุณูู‡ุงุก ู…ู† ุตูุนู‡ ูˆุดุชู…ู‡ ููŠ ุงู„ุฃุณูˆุงู‚ ุธู„ู…ุง ูˆุนุฏูˆุงู†ุง

It is established in the rulings of a protected non-Muslim and his rightsโ€ฆ that it is obligatory to refrain from harming him and it is forbidden to backbite him, just as it is forbidden to backbite a Muslim, unlike what is done by fools who unjustly and with hostility slap him or insult him in the marketplace.

Source: Fatแธฅ al-Qadฤซr 6/24

And Ibn โ€˜Abidin writes:

ุฅุฐูŽุง ุตูŽุงุฑูŽ ุฐูู…ูู‘ูŠู‹ู‘ุง โ€ฆ ูˆูŽูŠูŽุฌูุจู ูƒูŽููู‘ ุงู„ู’ุฃูŽุฐูŽู‰ ุนูŽู†ู’ู‡ู ูˆูŽุชูŽุญู’ุฑูู…ู ุบููŠุจูŽุชูู‡ู ูƒูŽุงู„ู’ู…ูุณู’ู„ูู…ู ู„ูุฃูŽู†ูŽู‘ู‡ู ุจูุนูŽู‚ู’ุฏู ุงู„ุฐูู‘ู…ูŽู‘ุฉู ูˆูŽุฌูŽุจูŽ ู„ูŽู‡ู ู…ูŽุงู„ูŽู†ูŽุง ููŽุฅูุฐูŽุง ุญูŽุฑูู…ูŽุชู’ ุบููŠุจูŽุฉู ุงู„ู’ู…ูุณู’ู„ูู…ู ุญูŽุฑูู…ูŽุชู’ ุบููŠุจูŽุชูู‡ู ุจูŽู„ู’ ู‚ูŽุงู„ููˆุง ุฅู†ูŽู‘ ุธูู„ู’ู…ูŽ ุงู„ุฐูู‘ู…ูู‘ูŠูู‘ ุฃูŽุดูŽุฏูู‘

If one becomes a protected non-Muslimโ€ฆ it is obligatory to refrain from harming him and it is forbidden to backbite him, as it is for a Muslim, because of the covenant of protection. He is entitled to our wealth (in charity or welfare) and if it is forbidden to backbite a Muslim, it is also forbidden to backbite him. Rather, some scholars said that wronging a protected non-Muslim is even worse.

Source: al-Durr al-Mukhtฤr 4/171

And Al-Buhuti writes:

ูˆู…ู† ู„ุนู† ุฐู…ูŠุง ู…ุนูŠู†ุง ุฃุฏุจ ู„ุฃู†ู‡ ู…ุนุตูˆู… ูˆุนุฑุถู‡ ู…ุญุฑู… โ€ฆ ูˆู„ุนู„ ุงู„ู…ุฑุงุฏ ุฃู† ูŠู„ุนู† ูุงุนู„ ุฐู„ูƒ ุงู„ุฐู†ุจ ุนู„ู‰ ุงู„ุนู…ูˆู… ู…ุซู„ ุฃู† ูŠู‚ูˆู„ ู„ุนู† ุงู„ู„ู‡ ูุงุนู„ ูƒุฐุง ุฃู…ุง ู„ุนู†ุฉ ู…ุนูŠู† ุจุฎุตูˆุตู‡ ูุงู„ุธุงู‡ุฑ ุฃู†ู‡ุง ู„ุง ุชุฌูˆุฒ

Whoever curses a protected non-Muslim by name should be disciplined, as his reputation is inviolable and forbiddenโ€ฆ Perhaps the intended meaning is that one may use a general wording to curse someone who commits a sin, such as saying: May Allah curse the doer of this sin! As for cursing a specific person by name, it is obvious that it is not permissible.

Source: Kashshฤf al-Qinฤโ€™ โ€˜an al-Iqnฤโ€™ 6/125-126

And Zakariyya al-Ansari writes:

ูˆูŽุบููŠุจูŽุฉู ุงู„ู’ูƒูŽุงููุฑู ู…ูุญูŽุฑูŽู‘ู…ูŽุฉูŒ ุฅู†ู’ ูƒูŽุงู†ูŽ ุฐูู…ูู‘ูŠู‹ู‘ุง โ€ฆ ุจู„ ุชุฌุจ ุจุฐู„ุง ู„ู†ุตูŠุญุฉ ุงู„ุบูŠุฑ ูˆุชุญุฐูŠุฑู‡ ู…ู† ุงู„ุดุฑ

Backbiting an unbeliever is forbidden if he is under protectionโ€ฆ Rather, it is an obligation to offer sincere advice to others and to warn them from evil.

Source: Asnฤ al-Muแนญฤlib 3/117

As we can see, a protected non-Muslim has the same legal status as a Muslim in regards to safety from harm to their lives, property, and reputations.

Some scholars extended the protection of non-Muslims to economic activity, such that it is impermissible to undermine their sales or unlawfully outbid them.

Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

ู„ูŽุง ูŠูŽุณููˆู…ู ุงู„ุฑูŽู‘ุฌูู„ู ุนูŽู„ูŽู‰ ุณูŽูˆู’ู…ู ุฃูŽุฎููŠู‡ู

A man must not undermine the transactions of his brother.

Source: แนขaแธฅฤซแธฅ Muslim 1408, Grade:ย Sahih

Even though โ€˜brotherโ€™ is used in this tradition, which generally means Muslim brothers (and sisters), jurists extended the principle to include the three categories of protected non-Muslims.

Al-Jamal commented on this tradition, writing:

ููŽุงู„ุฐูู‘ู…ูู‘ูŠูู‘ ูˆูŽุงู„ู’ู…ูุนูŽุงู‡ูุฏููˆูŽุงู„ู’ู…ูุณู’ุชูŽุฃู’ู…ูŽู†ู ู…ูุซู’ู„ู ุงู„ู’ู…ูุณู’ู„ูู…ู ูˆูŽุฎูŽุฑูŽุฌูŽ ุงู„ู’ุญูŽุฑู’ุจููŠูู‘ ูˆูŽุงู„ู’ู…ูุฑู’ุชูŽุฏูู‘

The non-Muslim citizen, the non-Muslim in a peace treaty, and the non-Muslim granted immunity are all like the Muslim in this regard, excluding the combatant and renegade apostate.

Source: แธคฤshiyฤt al-Jamal สปalรก Sharแธฅ al-Manhaj 3/90

Only combatants in an active war (al-harbi) and renegade apostates (al-murtad) forfeit their legal protection because they are, by definition, engaged in violence against the Muslim community.

In sum, non-Muslims in the three legally protected categories enjoy a status similar to Muslims in regard to basic moral behavior and safety from harm. Most non-Muslims in the world fall into one of the three categories, as citizenship, international peace treaties, and diplomatic immunity are global norms. For this reason, Muslims should treat such non-Muslims with good manners, beautiful character, and principled integrity as taught in the Quran and Sunnah.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

Abu Amina