15 Misquotes from the Quran (Part 3)
Misquoted Verse #9
"They question you concerning fighting in the sacred month. Say: Fighting therein is a great/grave (matter); but to prevent access to God, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, to expel its members and polytheism are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they make you renegades from your religion. If any of you turn back and die in unbelief, your works will be lost and you will go to Hell. Surely those who believe and leave their homes to fight in God's Cause have the hope of God's Mercy." [Noble Quran 2:217-218]
Again the translation has been altered and before answering the quote, we should provide a clear translation:
They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: "Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of God to prevent access to the path of God, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members. "Persecution and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And if any of you Turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein. [Noble Quran 2:217]
Those who believed and those who suffered exile and fought (and strove and struggled) in the path of God,- they have the hope of the Mercy of God. And God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. [Noble Quran 2:218]
We see now how detrimental it is for the Islam-haters to use authentic unaltered translations, as it exposes their methods of deception. The context of these verses refers to an expedition of a group of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), under the lead of Abdullah bin Jahsh Asadi. The companions recognized a caravan from the Quraysh. Since the Quraysh had openly declared war on the Muslims and had persecuted them to the extent that they drove them out of their homes, and stole their property, the companions present, felt that they could retaliate. They killed one man of from the caravan, and took two as prisoners. When they returned to Madinah, the Prophet Muhammad disapproved of their attack during the Holy Month. But God revealed this verse as a reminder to the Muslims that while killing in the Holy Month was bad, persecution and expelling people from their homes because of their faith is far worse. So the verses make it very clear that in the face of the terrorist attacks of the polytheists, the Muslims should be brave and steadfast and turn to God for help rather than giving in and leaving the truth. As Sheikh Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri writes on verse 2:217:
The Words of Allah were quite clear and said that the tumult created by the polytheists was groundless. The sacred inviolable sanctities repeatedly violated in the long process of fighting Islam and persecuting its adherents. The wealth of the Muslims as well as their homes had already been violated and their Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had been the target of repeated attempts on his life...Shortly afterwards, the two captives were released and blood money (compensation) was given to the killed man's father. (fn. For details see Zad Al-Ma'ad, 2/83-85; Ibn Hisham, 1/605; Rahmat-ul-lil'Alamin, 1/115. 2/468.) (Al-Mubarakpuri, Ar-Rahiq Al-Makhtum; Riyadh-Saudi Arabia, Dar-us-Salam Publications, 1996; pp. 205-206, emphasis added)
Misquoted Verse #10
Fight in God's Cause, and know that God hears and knows all. [Noble Quran 2:244]
Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and the unbelievers Fight in the cause of Evil, so destroy such minions of the devil! [Noble Quran 4:76]
Verse 4:76 is actually translated as follows:
"Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject Faith Fight in the cause of Evil: So fight ye against the friends of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan" [Noble Quran 4:76]
We have already established the purpose for which Muslims fight in our commentary on verse 2:216 at the beginning of the article. Dr. Maher Hathout comments on verse 4:76 by saying:
This verse is related to the two preceding verses (see 4:74-75) where it was stated that those who fight for God's cause would be rewarded whether they are victorious or slain. Fighting for God's cause includes the liberation of the oppressed, meaning the helpless men and women who are yearning and praying for freedom. The believers fight for God's cause, and the disbelievers fight for the sake of their idols. An idol may be taken conceptually. For example, evil or greed may figuratively be construed as idols. The believers should put all their trust in God the Almighty and Powerful and fear not the disbelievers and their evil plans. Evil plans are always inferior to goodness. (Hathout, Jihad vs. Terrorism; US Multimedia Vera International, 2002, p.50)
Verse 2:244 is informing the believers not to transgress limits because they should know that "God hears and knows all". So a true Muslim is God-conscious when defending the rights of others and does not overstep his limits in applying justice.
Misquoted Verse #11
Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of truth, [even if they are] of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. [Noble Quran 9:29]
Some people have falsely concluded from verse 9:29, that Muslims are commanded to attack all non-Muslims until they pay money. In fact, such an interpretation is completely false and contradicts authentic Islamic teachings. Commenting on this verse, Sheikh Jalal Abualrub writes:
These Ayat (Quranic verses) stress the necessity of fighting against the People of the Scripture, but under what conditions? We previously established the fact that the Islamic State is not permitted to attack non-Muslims who are not hostile to Islam, who do not oppress Muslims, or try to convert Muslims by force from their religion, or expel them from their lands, or wage war against them, or prepare for attacks against them. If any of these offenses occurs, however, Muslims are permitted to defend themselves and protect their religion. Muslims are not permitted to attack non-Muslims who signed peace pacts with them, or non-Muslims who live under the protection of the Islamic State. (Abualrub, Holy Wars, Crusades, Jihad)
Likewise, the following fatwa points out that Muslims cannot attack a peaceful non-Muslim country:
Question: Is it an obligation of an Islamic state to attack the neighboring non-Muslim states and collect 'Jizyah' from them? Do we see this in the example of the rightly guided Caliphs who fought against the Roman and Persian Empires without any aggression initiating from them?
Answered by Sheikh Hani al-Jubayr, judge at the Jeddah Supreme Court
If the non-Muslim country did not attack the Muslim one nor mobilize itself to prevent the practice and spread of Islam, nor transgress against mosques, nor work to oppress the Muslim people in their right to profess their faith and decry unbelief, then it is not for the Muslim country to attack that country. Jihad of a military nature was only permitted to help Muslims defend their religion and remove oppression from the people.
The Persians and Romans did in fact aggress against Islam and attack the Muslims first.
The Chosroe of Persia had gone so far as to order his commander in Yemen specifically to kill the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). The Romans mobilized their forces to fight the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and the Muslims confronted them in the Battles of Mu'tah and Tabuk during the Prophet's lifetime.
May Allah guide us all. And May peace and blessing be upon our Prophet Muhammad.
The above fatwa refers to the historical context in which the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) fought against other nations. The Prophet Muhammad did not initiate aggression against anyone, rather he and his followers were under attack from all who sought to crush the new Islamic state. The first hostilities between the Muslims and the Roman empire began when the Prophet Muhammad's messenger to the Ghassan tribe (a governance of the Roman empire), Al-Harith bin Umair Al-Azdi, was tied up and beheaded (Al-Mubarakpuri, Ar-Rahiq Al-Makhtum, p. 383). The killing of a diplomat was an open act of war, and the Prophet Muhammad sent an armed force to confront the tribe, but the Roman empire brought in reinforcements and the resulting conflict, known as the Battle of Mu'tah, was a defeat for the Muslims. Only after this did subsequent battles between the Muslims and the Roman Empire occur, and the Muslims emerged victorious. Likewise, as mentioned in the above fatwa, hostilities between the Muslims and the Persians only began after the Persian emperor Chosroe ordered his governor in Yemen Badham, to kill the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), although his efforts were thwarted when the latter accepted Islam. Other non-muslim groups, such as those in Madinah, also initiated hostilities against the Muslims despite peace treaties as Sheikh Sayyid Sabiq writes:
As for fighting the Jews (People of the Scripture), they had conducted a peace pact with the Messenger after he migrated to Madinah. Soon afterwards, they betrayed the peace pact and joined forces with the pagans and the hypocrites against Muslims. They also fought against Muslims during the Battle of Ahzab, then Allah revealed...[and he cites verse 9:29] (Sayyid Sabiq, Fiqhu as-Sunnah, Vol. 3, p. 80)
In light of the historical context of this verse, it becomes very clear that the verse was revealed in connection with aggression initiated against Muslims. As Dr. Jamal Badawi very accurately concludes with regard to verse 9:29 and similar verses:
All of these verses, without exception, if studied carefully, address aggression and oppression committed against Muslims at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), whether by idolatrous Arabs, some of the Jewish tribes in Madinah, or by some Christians.
Therefore, the command to fight in verse 9:29 relates to those non-muslims who commit aggression and not those who are committed to live in peace. The verse is subject to certain conditions that were apparent when it was implemented in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), as Sheikh Sayyid Sabiq writes:
What we have stated makes it clear that Islam did not allow the initiating of hostilities, except to: 1. repel aggression; 2. protect Islamic propagation; 3. deter Fitnah and oppression and ensure freedom of religion. In such cases, fighting becomes a necessity of the religion and one of its sacred ordainments. It is then called, 'Jihad'. (Sayyid Sabiq, Fiqhu as-Sunnah, Vol. 3, p. 81)
The verse then proceeds to mention some issues relating to the Islamic state, and governing non-muslim citizens of the Islamic state. Dr. Maher Hathout comments on the regulations in verse 9:29:
Freedom of religion is an essential aspect in an Islamic state. One of the five pillars of Islam is Zakah (almsgiving). The People of the Book (Christians and Jews) are not obliged to pay the Islamic Zakah that is spent by the state for social necessities and state affairs as defined in the Quran (see 9:60). But they must pay other taxes to share in the state budget. If they refuse to pay this tax to the state and rebel against the state, then it is the obligation of the state to confront them until they pay it. This is what Caliph Abu Bakr did after the death of the Prophet, when some people refused to pay Zakah. (Hathout, Jihad vs. Terrorism; US Multimedia Vera International, 2002, p.53)
The verse mentions Jizyah, which is unfortunately misunderstood by some people. Like any nation, the Islamic government requires its citizens to pay taxes in return for its services. Since Muslims pay the Zakah, the non-muslim citizens are required to pay Jizyah (for more information on Jizyah, please refer to Jizyah in Islam and Jizyah and non-muslim minorities). Dr. Monqiz As-Saqqar writes concerning the Jizyah tax:
The sum of Jizyah was never large to the extent that the men were unable to pay. Rather, it was always available and reasonable. During the reign of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, Jizyah never exceeded one dinar annually and it never exceeded four dinars under the Umayyad rule.
Sheikh Abu'l-Hasan Al-Mawardi (d. 1058CE) explicitly points out that the Jizyah should be exacted in accordance with the means of the people, and the Imam should judge the conclude the amount to the satisfaction of the leaders of those being taxed:
The Fuqaha (Jurists) differ as to the amount of the Jizyah. Abu Hanifah considers that those subject to this tax are of three kinds: the rich from whom forty-eight Dirhams are taken; those of average means from whom twenty four are taken, and the poor from whom twelve Dirhams are taken: he thus stipulated the minimum and maximum amounts and prohibits any further judgement on behalf of those responsible for its collection. Malik, however, does not fix its minimum and maximum amount and considers that those responsible should make their own judgement as to the minimum and maximum. Ash-Shafi'i considers that the minimum is a dinar, and that it is not permitted to go below this while he does not stipulate the maximum, the latter being dependant on the Ijtihad (judgement) of those responsible: the Imam, however, should try to harmonize between the different amounts, or to exact an amount in accordance with people's means. If he has used his judgement to conclude the contract do Jizyah to the satisfaction of the leaders of the people being taxed, then it becomes binding on all of them and their descendants, generation after generation, and a leader may not afterwards change this amount, be it to decrease it or increase it. (Al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah, Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd. 1996, pp. 209-210)
Hence, the laws of Islam forbid Muslims from oppressing non-muslims and command them to treat others with justice and compassion. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) himself forbade Muslims from harming non-muslim citizens of an Islamic state or any non-muslim with whom there was an agreement of peace, as he said,
"The one who wrongs a covenanter or impairs his right or overworks him or forcibly takes something from him, I will be his prosecutor on the Day of Judgment. "[Sunan Abi Dawud 170/3 no. 3052, Sunan an-Nasa'i 25/8 no. 2749, and verified by Al-Albani no. 2626].
In conclusion, verse 9:29 commands Muslims to fight against only those who initiate aggression as illustrated by its historical context. Muslims may only fight under strict conditions, and are commanded to live peacefully with peaceful non-muslim neighbors.
God's Apostle (peace and blessings be upon him) said, I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, None has the right to be worshipped but God. [Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 196]
With regards to the narration, only part of it has been quoted, and the full text reads:
And the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "I have been ordered to fight the people until they testify that there is no deity worthy of worship other than Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establish the prayer, and pay Zakah, and if they do this, then their blood and money shall be protected from me, except by an Islamic right, and their account will be with Allah."
This narration lists some of the pillars of Islam that Muslims must adhere to. The fighting being ordained here refers to the enforcement of laws and regulations within an Islamic state. Just as modern governments enforce their legal policies, so to does the Islamic state. These legal policies refer to Muslims paying their Zakah (charity tax) and abiding by the laws in an Islamic state. Those who understood the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) the best, were his companions, and we can examine their application of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to derive a better understanding. We find that after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), many hypocrites who had pretended to be Muslim began to turn away and leave their religious duties, one example was Zakah (the charity tax). They wanted to compromise the commands of God. It was then that Abu Bakr, the First Caliph and the Caliph of that time, cited this narration to make it clear that a compromise would not be tolerated and he would fight them until they agreed to follow Islam in full. The fighting that resulted was known as the Riddah wars. Similarly, we can see that today's governments would not tolerate it if a citizen refused to pay tax or abide by the laws of the country. If one lives in a state or country they must abide by the regulations to ensure a secure and healthy society. We should note that the 'people' referred to in this narration does not refer to all of humanity. As Sheikh Ahmed Ibn Taymiyah says:
"It refers to fighting those who are waging war, whom Allah has permitted us to fight. It does not refer to those who have a covenant with us with whom Allah commands us to fulfill our covenant. "[Majmu` al-Fatawa 19/20]
Clearly, this narration does not refer to imposing Islam upon non-Muslims, since the Quran explicitly states:
"There is no compulsion in religion..."[Noble Quran 2:256]
Also, we have already dealt with the claims that this verse was abrogated under our discussion of verse 9:5. Once understood in their correct context, these verses and narrations become clear.
Misquoted Verse #12
"Allah will bring a people whom He loveth and who love Him, humble toward believers, stern toward disbelievers, striving in the way of Allah, and fearing not the blame of any blamer. Such is the grace of Allah which He giveth unto whom He will. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing."[Noble Quran 5:54]
"Mohammed is Allah's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another"[Noble Quran 48:29]
Non-Muslims think that this verse tells Muslims to be harsh and cruel to non-Muslims. Let us first provide a better translation:
Muhammad is the apostle of Allah. and those who are with him are strong against disbelievers, (but) compassionate amongst each other. Thou wilt see them bow and prostrate themselves (in prayer), seeking Grace from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure. On their faces are their marks, (being) the traces of their prostration. This is their similitude in the Tawrat; and their similitude in the Gospel is: like a seed which sends forth its blade, then makes it strong; it then becomes thick, and it stands on its own stem, (filling) the sowers with wonder and delight. As a result, it fills the Unbelievers with rage at them. Allah has promised those among them who believe and do righteous deeds forgiveness, and a great Reward. [Noble Quran 48:29]
The Arabic word "Ashidda" does not mean ruthless, but strong and firm. Ruthless is an unacceptable translation. Translations of Ashidda:
Pickthall: hard; Yusuf Ali: strong; Daryabadi: stern; Khan-Hilali: severe; F. Malik: strong; Shakir: firm of heart; Arberry: hard; Irving: strict
Also, the disbelievers being referred to in these verses are those who persecuted and attacked the Muslims. Sheikh Fawzi Al-Athari said the following:
And similarly the disbeliever, if he has good character with us and good manners with us and good way and treatment with us, then we have good manners with him, good behaviour with him, good way with him and good treatment of him. And if his manners are bad and his behaviour is bad [i.e. abusive and cruel], then we treat him with accordance to how he is treating us. This is something permissible in the legislation. But the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has indicated very clearly in all the narrations that have been brought and throughout his life, that there must be a matter of balance and to be just. And that is in dealing with the people of disbelief and also in dealing with those who have faith.
The Muslims were commanded to stand up for their religion and defend themselves against the persecution of the disbelievers. Again, if we examine the historical context, we also find that this is referring to those who attacked the Muslims continuously. So verses apply in a situation similar to the historical context. Since this verse mentions the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and praises their path, let us examine some narrations about the companions. Mus'ab bin Umair was a notable companion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). He was sent to Madinah to share the message of Islam with the people living there. One incident of his related as follows:
Once Mus'ab and Sad were sitting near a well in an orchard of the Zafar clan. With them were a number of new Muslims and others who were interested in Islam. A powerful notable of the city, Usaid ibn Khudayr, came up brandishing a spear. He was livid with rage. Sad ibn Zararah saw him and told Mus'ab: "This is a chieftain of his people. May God place truth in his heart." "If he sits down, I will speak to him," replied Mus'ab, displaying all the calm and tact of a great day. The angry Usaid shouted abuse and threatened Mus'ab and his host. "Why have you both come to us to corrupt the weak among us? Keep away from us if you want to stay alive. "Mus'ab smiled a warm and friendly smile and said to Usaid: "Won't you sit down and listen? If you are pleased and satisfied with our mission, accept it and if you dislike it we would stop telling you what you dislike and leave." "That's reasonable," said Usaid and, sticking his spear in the ground, sat down. Mus'ab was not compelling him to do anything. He was not denouncing him. He was merely inviting him to listen. If he was satisfied, well and good. If not, then Mus'ab would leave his district and his clan without any fuss and go to another district. Mus'ab began telling him about Islam and recited the Quran to him. Even before Usaid spoke, it was clear from his face, now radiant and expectant, that faith had entered his heart. He said: "How beautiful are these words and how true! What does a person do if he wants to enter this religion?" "Have a bath, purify yourself and your clothes. Then utter the testimony of Truth (Shahadah), and perform Salat. Usaid left the gathering and was absent for only a short while. He returned and testified that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
Another example is found in the treatment of Thumamah Ibn Uthal, who was a notorious criminal who had killed many Muslim travelers. Because of this, the Prophet Muhammad declared him a wanted criminal who was to be captured or killed. Soon after, when he was traveling for pilgrimage, some Muslims caught him and took him to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). The Prophet recognized him and had him kept in the Masjid (mosque) with food and even ordered his own camel to be milked for him. They treated him like a guest rather than a war criminal! The Prophet Muhammad asked Thumamah what he had to say for himself, to which he replied "If you want to kill in reprisal, you can have someone of noble blood to kill. If, out of your bounty, you want to forgive, I shall be grateful. If you want money in compensation, I shall give you whatever amount you ask. "The Prophet Muhammad freed him and allowed him to leave. The very same day, Thumamah returned and declared his acceptance of Islam to the Prophet Muhammad. So we find that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his companions displayed the best character and attitude towards all people and this is what drew so many people to Islam. As the God says in the Quran:
And by the Mercy of God, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have ran away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (God's) Forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him). [Noble Quran 3:159]
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was commanded by God to bring people to the teachings of Islam through the beautiful character that Muslims must show. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) conveyed this message to others by saying:
He who is not merciful to others, will not be treated mercifully. [Muslim, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 42]
And there are numerous examples one could quote which illustrate the kind and loving nature of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him),
Narrated Abu Hurairah: A disbelieving Bedouin urinated in the mosque, and the people rushed to beat him. Allah's Apostle ordered them to leave him, let him finish and pour a bucket or a tumbler (full) of water over the place where he has passed urine. The Prophet then explained to the Bedouin calmly, "This is a place of worship, in it is the worship of God and the reading of Quran." After the Bedouin had left, the Prophet then said to his companions, "You have been sent to make things easy (for the people) and you have not been sent to make things difficult for them."[Muslim, Book 2, Number 559 and Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 149]
This narration, on its own, is sufficient to refute the claim that Islam is intolerant. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) did not show any anger or resentment to a non-Muslim who urinated in the Muslims place of worship! So Islam teaches gentleness in all things. As the Prophet Muhammad said:
Whoever is deprived of gentleness is deprived of all good. [Muslim, Book 32, Number 6270 & Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 4791]
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) always displayed tolerance and compassion in his dealings with people, including Non-Muslims. Dr. M. Hamidullah explains the following points:
When the Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him) settled down in Medina, he found there complete anarchy, the region having never known before either a State or a king to unite the tribes torn by internecine feuds. In just a few weeks, he succeeded in rallying all the inhabitants of the region into order. He constituted a city state, in which Muslims, Jews, pagan Arabs and also probably a small number of Christians, all entered into a statal organism by means of a social contract. The constitutional law of this first 'Muslim' State - which was the confederacy as a sequence of the multiplicity of the population groups - has come down to us in toto, and we read therein not only in clause 25: "to Muslims their religion, and to Jews their religion, "or, "that there would be benevolence and justice," but even the unexpected passage in the same clause 25: "the Jews...are a community (in alliance) with - according Ibn Hisham and in the version of Abu-'Ubayd, a community (forming part) of - the believers (i.e., Muslims)."The very fact that, at the time of the constitution of this city-state, the autonomous Jewish villages acceded of their free will to the confederal State, and recognized Muhammad as their supreme political head, implies in our opinion that the non-Muslim subjects possessed the right of votes in the election of the head of the Muslim State, at least in so far as the political life of the country was concerned. [Hamidullah, Introduction to Islam, paragraphs 414-416]
During the life of Prophet Muhammad, there was a Jewish synagogue in Madinah and an educational institute known as Bait Al-Midras. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) preserved and protected both of them. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also honored a group of Christians of Najran from Yemen, when they visited his mosques in Madinah. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) held interfaith discussions with them and they prayed in the Mosque in the Christian fashion while the Muslims prayed in the Islamic tradition. The Prophet Muhammad's tolerance is also illustrated in the following narration:
Once the Prophet was seated at some place in Madinah, along with his Companions. During this time a funeral procession passed by. On seeing this, the Prophet stood up. One of his companion remarked that the funeral was that of a Jew. The Prophet replied, "Was he not a human being?"[Bukhari, Muslim]
If every human being in this world saw the various ethnicities and cultures with these eyes, the world would flourish in peace and harmony. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) set an example for his companions to follow in the way he showed respect and kindness to Non-Muslims. Dr. Farida Khanam also points out the following incidents:
In the present world, everyone's thinking, tastes, aptitude, likes and dislikes can never exactly coincide. For many reasons, differences do arise in this world. But then, what is the permanent solution to the problem? The solution lies in tolerance, called I'raz in Arabic. The Prophet's entire life served as a perfect example of this principle. According to his wife, 'A'ishah, "He was a personification of the Quran. "That is to say, the Prophet molded his own life in accordance with the ideal pattern of life which he presented to others in the form of the Quran. He never beat a servant, or a woman, or anyone else. He did, of course, fight for what was right. Yet, when he had to choose between two alternatives, he would take the easier course, provided it involved no sin.' No one was more careful to avoid sin than he. He never sought revenge on his own behalf for any wrong done to him personally. Only if God's commandments had been broken would he mete out retribution for the sake of God. It was such conduct which gained the Prophet universal respect. In the early Meccan period when the antagonists far exceeded the Prophet's companions in number, it often happened that when the Prophet would stand to pray, his detractors would come near him and whistle and clap in order to disturb him, but the Prophet did not even once show his anger at such acts. He always opted for the policy of tolerance and avoidance of confrontation... When the opposition became very strong the Prophet left Mecca for Medina. But his antagonists did not leave him in peace. They began to attack Medina. In this way a state of war prevailed between the Muslims and non-Muslims. Since the Prophet avoided war at all costs, he strove to bring about a peace agreement between him and the Meccans. After great efforts on his part, the non-Muslims agreed to the finalizing of a 10-year peace treaty, which was drafted and signed at the al-Hudaybiyah. While the al-Hudaybiyah treaty was being drafted, the Meccans indulged in a number of extremely provocative acts. For instance, the agreement mentioned the Prophet's name as 'Muhammad the Messenger of God.' They insisted that the phrase 'the messenger of God' should be taken out, and be replaced simply by 'Muhammad, son of Abdullah'. The Prophet accepted their unreasonable condition and deleted the appellation with his own hands. Similarly, they made the condition that if they could lay their hands on any Muslim they would make him a hostage, but if the Muslims succeeded in detaining any non-Muslim, they would have to set him free. The Prophet even relented on this point. For the restoration of peace in the region, the Prophet accepted a number of such unjustifiable clauses as were added by the enemy. In this way he set the example of peace and tolerance being linked with one another. If we desire peace, we must tolerate many unpleasant things from others. There is no other way to establish peace in society.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also extended the hand of friendship to Christians as well. He maintained good ties with the Christian Negus of Abyssinia throughout his life. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) even selected Non-Muslims as ambassadors. One such example was Amr ibn Umayyah Ad-Damri. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) sent a message to the Monks of Saint Catherine in Mount Sinai, saying the following:"
This is a message written by Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, far and near, we are behind them. Verily, I defend them by myself, the servants, the helpers, and my followers, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be changed from their jobs, nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they (Christians) are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, this is not to take place without her own wish. She is not to be prevented from going to her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation is to disobey this covenant till the Day of Judgment and the end of the world."
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also advised his companion Mu'adh ibn Jabal by saying:
No Jew is to be annoyed because of their Judaic faith.
We must also examine the Prophet Muhammad's teachings towards neighbors:
Abu Hurairah reported: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer.'' It was asked, "Who is that, O Messenger of Allah?'' He said, "One whose neighbor does not feel safe from his evil". [Bukhari and Muslim]
"He who believes in God and the Last Day should honour his guest, should not harm his neighbor, should speak good or keep quiet."[Bukhari, Muslim]
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also clearly specified that a Non-Muslim neighbor should receive this excellent treatment:
"Whoever hurts a Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state hurts me, and he who hurts me annoys God."[Bukhari]
"He who hurts a Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state, I am his adversary, and I shall be his adversary on the Day of a Judgment."[Bukhari]
It is fascinating to note that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was so vocal in his support of good treatment towards humanity that he would even be prepared to stand on the side of the Non-Muslims against the Muslims who did not follow his teachings. This is true justice and this is what lead to the peace and prosperity that Islam brought into the world. The excellent character of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) has been noted by many Non-Muslim historians as well, and in fact anyone who has studied his life carefully has been amazed at the golden character of this human being. Washington Irving notes in his book 'Mahomet and His Successors':
In his private dealings he was just. He treated friends and strangers, the rich and poor, the powerful and weak, with equity, and was beloved by the common people for the affability with which he received them, and listened to their complaints. (Irving, Mahomet and His Successors)
To read more about what Non-Muslims have to say about him, refer to the following: