Covenants with Non-Muslims

Khan L. Ali and M. Ramadan Hisham

in Contemporary Ijtihad

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780748641284
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653256 | DOI:
Covenants with Non-Muslims

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Since the dawn of Islam in the seventeenth century, non-Muslim faith communities have lived in close proximity with Muslim communities, sharing language, culture, and natural and economic resources. Law-based efforts to offer fair and dignified treatment to non-Muslims have been an integral part of Islamic civilisation. This chapter discusses the covenant of Muslims with non-Muslims. Islamic law furnishes the concept of covenant that governs the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims and, more importantly, the relations between non-Muslims and the Islamic state under the contemporary ijtihad. Generally, the Qur'an assures and mandates the observation of the covenant. However, the concept of covenant with non-Muslims is firmly placed and anchored in the awl and spirit of the Covenant of Medina. This is a covenant signed by the Prophet in the year 622 to protect the lives, properties and freedom of religion of Jews and other non-Muslims. Overall, the Islamic law is highly sensitive to human diversity because Islam is a universal religion and Muslim states are rarely religiously homogenous. The Qur'an directs Muslims to create bridges with diverse peoples, cultures and religions, and directs them to exercise forgiveness and mercy. Founded on these bases, Islamic law preserves mutual respect, understanding and tolerance between various religions and cultures. In this chapter, discussions revolve on the immutable rights of non-Muslims that are secured in the Basic Code; personal law, which assures the recognition and enforcement of the dignity of religion of non-Muslims; and classical covenants such as dhimmi contracts, mostamen contracts, aman contracts and harbis without contracts. Discussions also include obligations expected of non-Muslims such as tax obligations, progressive taxation and obligation to respect Islam. Included as well are the welfare rights, the dignity of the belief system and the identification marks of non-Muslims. The chapter ends with a discussion on the non-obligation of non-Muslims to convert to Islam.

Keywords: non-Muslims; covenant; Covenant of Medina; dhimmi contracts; mostamen contracts; aman contracts

Chapter.  13628 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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