The Rights of Non-Muslims in the Islamic World

Friday, January 28th, 2011, 05:41 WIB
The Rights of Non-Muslims in the Islamic World

Name of Book :  The Rights of Non-Muslims in the Islamic World

Author :  Saleh Hussain Al-Aayed

Translator :  Alexandara Alosh

Publisher :  Dar Eshbelia. Riyadh 2002.


At the introduction it is written that "a person who has been guided comprehends the benefits of the pure religion for believers, in this world and the next. As for its goodness towards non-Muslims, the greatest proof of this is the rights which Islam has preserved for them, and the almost unbelievable degree of religious tolerance that Muslims have shown towards them, even in times when Muslims were achieving victories over non-Muslims in war. Unbiased non-Muslims historians have left testimony to these facts". The book has mentioned two testimony; I'm quoting the one done by Partiarch Ghato: "The Arabs, to whom Lord has given control over the world, treat us as you know; they are not enemies of Christianity. Indeed, they praise our community, and treat our priests and saints with dignity, and offer aid to our churches and monasteries". You may read the one stated by Will Durant in the book.

The book follows up stating that "the good relations between Muslims and peoples of other faith were not an anachronism, because their interactions were based upon two of the foundations of Islam itself: the intrinsic dignity f humanity, and freedom of belief". It also states that "unfortunately, today we hear escalating accusations of Islam and Muslims violating human rights, especially those of non-Muslims. There is no evidence that this is the case".

The book is to discuss this issue in depth so that: 1. Non-Muslims can know what Islam guarantees them, and not go to extremes in making demands that have no basis in truth; 2. Muslims can learn about the rights of others, and not oppress them by denying them some or all of their rights. The book then has two titles: "classification of non-Muslims in Muslim countries" and "the general rights of non-Muslims in Islamic countries". There is also an appendix about the special situation of the Arabian Peninsula in Islam.

In the part titled "classification of non-Muslims in Muslim countries", Al-Aayed discusses the two major categories; A. Non-Muslims citizens and; B. People with a protected status. So "the point is not to identify them by their various beliefs, such as Judaism, Christianity, and so forth. This classification has no bearing in general n the regulations of Islam, except in that it distinguishes between he People of the Book and polytheists". Al-Aayed follows up explaining the term People of Covenant (Dhimmi) which refers to citizens who are not Muslims; he states that "it is an attractive term, and not a pejorative as some would claim". It means "the people of testament and trust" because they are under the protection of covenant extended to them by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the Muslims. I may quote here the statement of Ron Landau, who explained the noble intents of the term (Dhimmi) "it contrast to the Christian Empire, which attempted to impose Christianity on its subjects, the Arabs extended recognition to religious minorities, and accepted their presence. Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians were known to them as the People of the Covenant; in other words, the nations who enjoyed a protected status".

In the part titled "the general rights of non-Muslims in Islamic countries", Al-Aayed discusses eight rights as follows:


  1. Their right to preservation of their dignity as human beings.
  2. Their right to freedom of belief.
  3. Their right to follow their religious laws.
  4. Their right to justice.
  5. Their right to the security of their lives, their property, and their honor.
  6. Their right to protection from aggression.
  7. Their right to good treatment.
  8. Their right to social security.


A the end of the book relating to the special situation of the Arabian Peninsula in Islam, Al-Aayed provides some textual proofs and religious sources to come up with the following answer:  "Since the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia follows the Shari'ah in its foreign and domestic policy, it is clear from these religious sources that it is obligated to not permit erecting places of worship other than mosques and to not permit public proclamation of other religions, due to its special situation".

The book is so helpful in shedding some light on this issue although it has some mistranslations in some stories such as the one about Umar, Amr, and the Egyptian so it is better to read the stories in its original language to have a better understanding of the events. (Saber)