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Ethics

Muslims and The People Of The Book in History

Unbiased people who study Islamic history and the Muslims' relationship with the Jews and Christians living under Islamic rule will come across the following fact: The People of the Book have always lived in peace and tranquility under Islamic rule. Sometimes, Jews and Christians who were oppressed by their own religious or political rulers sought refuge and safety in Muslim countries. The most important reason for their enviable position, when compared to that of their coreligionists in Europe, was the Muslims' submission to the Qur'an's morality.

Islam, a religion of peace and acceptance, requires believers to treat all people with justice and respect. Devout Muslims are tolerant, forgiving, modest, understanding, gentle, genuine, and honest. In fact, God commands them to be just even when it is not in their own interests or those of their families to be so; to feed orphans and prisoners of war first, even if they are hungry themselves; and to be selfless, patient, and firm in virtue. Such Muslims are far more accepting of non-Muslims, for they know that compulsion is disallowed in religion. When dealing with non-Muslims,

they do their best to show the way to the right path, address the other person's conscience, and become the means of this person's acceptance of a virtuous life, which is only possible if God grants him or her faith. The following verse reveals that God rules people's hearts and that only He can bring light into them:

Do those who believe not know that if God had wanted to He could have guided all humanity? (Qur'an, 13:31)

You cannot guide those you would like to, but God guides whoever He wills. He has best knowledge of the guided. (Qur'an, 28:56) Muslims are only responsible for relaying the truth and inviting people to believe, for belief cannot be forced upon someone. God says: There is no compulsion in religion. Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error. Anyone who rejects false deities and believes in God has grasped the Firmest Handhold, which will never give way. God is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Qur'an, 2:256)

Muslims naturally abide by the Qur'an's morality when dealing with the People of the Book. For example, the Qur'an says that Muslims are expected to respect the Christians' and the Jews' beliefs and reputations, protect them and be compassionate toward them, for they are fellow believers in God's existence and unity, His angels and Prophets, the Day of Judgment, and the necessity to abide by religious morality.

God also reveals that those Christians and Jews who believe in Him and the Day of Judgment and do good deeds will receive the fairest rewards for their virtue:

Those with faith, those who are Jews, Christians, and Sabaeans, all who believe in God and the Last Day and act rightly will have their reward with their Lord. They will feel no fear and will know no sorrow. (Qur'an, 2:62)

Thus, good tidings are given to all who believe in God and the Day of Judgment and do right deeds. The faithful will attain salvation and happiness. Qur'an 5:48 states that "We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you," and they have to "compete with each other in doing good." This is a request for all sincere believers to live righteously and compete in doing good. Therefore, Muslims cannot be uncompromising and intolerant toward people who, like themselves, believe in God and are righteous. The history of Islam proves this point. Before we analyze this history, we must point out a very important factor that determines the Muslims' attitude toward the People of the Book: Muslims' love for Prophets Moses (pbuh) and Jesus (pbuh).

Adapted from: "A Call for Unity" by: "Harun Yahya"