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Ethics

Prophet Mohammed's (may God bless him and grant him peace) Exemplary Attitude

Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace), the best role model for Muslims who deal with the People of the Book, was always just and compassionate toward Jews and Christians and tried to create an atmosphere based on reconciliation and love among these three religious communities. Various agreements and guarantees allowed Christians and Jews to live as autonomous religious communities. When the young Muslim community was still suffering from the Makkan polytheists' cruelty and oppression, our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) advised some of them to seek refuge with the Christian king of Ethiopia, Negus (or al-Najashi).

The Muslims who later on migrated to Madinah with our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace), on the other hand, developed a model of coexistence with that city's Jewish community that was to become a model for all later generations. The Muslims' acceptance of Jews and Christians during the period of Islam's expansion in Arabia entered the history books as an example of justice and acceptance.

One such example was our beloved Prophet's (may God bless him and grant him peace) reading of the verse: "Only argue with the People of the Book in the kindest way - except in the case of those of them who do wrong - saying: 'We believe in what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to you. Our God and your God are one, and we submit to Him'" (Qur'an, 29:46) after he had the following words written in the text of an agreement prepared for the Christian Ibn Harris bin Ka`b and his co-religionists: "The religion, churches, lives, chastity, and goods of all Christians living in the East are under the protection of God and all believers. None of those living by Christianity will be forced to turn to Islam. If any Christian is subjected to any killing or injustice, Muslims must help him." 1

Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) allowed the Jews to become a party to the Constitution of Madinah signed with the Aws and Khazraj clans, which permitted them to continue living as a separate religious community. The basis for this acceptance of the Jews' faith and traditions was laid down in the following article: "The Jews of Banu Awf [non-Muslim minorities] are a community along with the believers. To the Jews their religion, and to the Muslim their religion." 2

As a requirement of the morality ordained by God, Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) not only showed compassion and understanding toward the People of the Book, but also taught his Companions that those Jews and Christians living under the rule of Islam must be protected. The privileges that he granted them in the settlements of Adruh, Maqna, Khaybar, Najran, and Aqaba prove that Muslims both guaranteed these non-Muslims' lives and property and recognized their freedom of belief and worship. The following articles of the agreement between our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) and the Christians of Najran need to be pointed out:

To the Christians of Najran and the neighboring territories, the security of God and pledge of His Prophet are extended for their lives, their religion, and their property - to those present as well as those absent and others besides;

No bishop shall be removed from his bishopric, nor any monk from his monastery, nor any priest from his priesthood, and they shall continue to enjoy everything great and small as heretofore... They shall not oppress or be oppressed. If anyone demands his right from you, justice will be maintained between you.

Neither you will be oppressed, nor you will be allowed to oppress others. 3 In addition, according to some hearsay, our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) attended their weddings, visited their sick, and was generous to them. Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) even spread out his cloak so that the Christians of Najran who came to visit him could sit on it. Following his death, the Muslims' moral conduct toward the People of the Book continued to be based on the acceptance that Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) had shown to them throughout his life.

Notes:

1. Yrd. Doc. Dr. Orhan Atalay, Dogu-Bati Kaynaklarinda Birlikte Yasama (Co-existence in Eastern-Western Sources) (Istanbul: Gazeteciler ve Yazarlar Vakfi Publications, 1999), 95.

2. "Islam and anti-Semitism," 31 January 2004; www.worldhistory.com/wiki/I/Islam-and-anti-Semitism.htm

3. "Muhammad's Treaties with non-Muslims;"www.fortunecity.com/marina/commodity/1089/id94.htm

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