Questions on Sects and Schools of Thoughts

Chapter 4: Questions on Sects and Schools of Thoughts


Question 33: Is Islam ready to accord to Christians in Muslim countries the kind of freedom that Muslims enjoy in Christians countries?  Can they freely express their religious views?  And can they freely proselytize?

Answer 33: Islam has historically granted to Christians living in Muslim countries far more rights in than the rights Muslims have enjoyed in Christian countries.  These rights and freedoms include:

1. The Christians’ right to retain their faith and pay some tax (jizya) in return for their protection.

2. They are granted security in terms of their lives, their properties and their religious institutions.

3. Islam forbade alcohol for Muslims, but allowed it for non-Muslims.  This ruling also applies for the consumption of pork.

4. A dimension of this tolerance is Islam’s prescription of moderation and sound reason in their dialogue with Christians and Jews.  God says: “And argue not with the people of the scripture (Jews and Christians) unless it be in (a way) that is better (with good words and in good manner)” (Holy Qur’an: 29: 46).

5. We call Jews and Christians living in Muslim dominions as ahl al-dhimmah (the protected people).  The full designation is dhimatu al-Lah was ‘ahdihi wa ri’ayatihi (people under the protection, covenant and care of God).  Muslims are forbidden from harming them.  Instead they are urged to maintain good relationship with them.  The prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taught: “Whoever verbally insults a dhimmi (a Jew or a Christian living in a Muslim country) will be flogged in the hereafter with whips from hellfire.”[1]

Can you say, then, that Muslims in Christian's countries enjoy the same privileges as accorded to Christians in Muslim countries?  Even today, Muslim girls living in the west are being deprived of their right to wear their Muslim clothes at school. 

Finally, Muslims, convinced as they are of the false nature of Jewish and Christian teachings, how can they be expected to allow the spread of such teachings in Muslim communities?


[1] Cited in Tabarani’s Lexicon, vol. 22. hadith No. 135.