The Qur’an says:
“God forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for (your) faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them; for God loveth those who are just.” (Qur’an, 60:8)
It is one function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status of minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world. History provides many examples of Muslim tolerance towards other faiths: when the caliph Omar entered Jerusalem in the year 634, Islam granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the city.
Islam is the religion of all prophets. Muslims believe that all the prophets were sent to their respective peoples from God. They all had the same mission and message guiding people to the worshipping of One God. The three revealed monotheistic religions, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, go back to the Prophet Abraham (PBUH).
Therefore, Christians and Jews hold a special place in Islam. They are called the People of the Book, since the original Torah and Gospel were also divinely revealed and they shared in the prophetic tradition. Islamic states have shown their religious minorities tolerance and respect and those communities flourished under Islamic rule. God says in the Qur’an:
“… Those who believe (in the message of Islam), and the Jews, the
Sabaeans and the Christians – all those who believe in Allah and
the Last Day and act righteously – no fear shall come upon them…” (5:69)
Setting up the Islamic state in Madinah, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) further warned:
“Whoever oppresses any Dhimmi (non-Muslim citizen of the Islamic state), I shall be his prosecutor on the Day of Judgement.”
In setting up the Islamic state, Prophet Muhammad included the Arabian Jews and Christians. Their persons, properties, churches and synagogues were protected, freedom of worship was guaranteed and they controlled their own community affairs with their own civil and religious laws and courts. For most of the first century of the Islamic state, in fact, the majority of the citizens were Christians enjoying peace and liberty such us they had not had even under Christian Rome or Byzantium. When the Islamic state expanded outside Arabia the Jews of other lands were treated for the first time as liberated citizens, Judaism flourished as never before, with Jews even serving in Muslim armies and administrations while their culture bloomed in the arts, sciences, medicine and philosophy. This knowledge they transmitted to their brethren in the hostile climate of Christian Europe.
When Islam reached Persia the concept of the People of the Book was extended to the Zoroastrians as well. Later, when the Muslims conquered parts of India and encountered Buddhists and Hindus, who appeared to worship idols, the question was referred to the ulema’ (council of scholars) who judged that even they could have the same protected status as the Jews and Christians. Marmaduke Pickthall (1927) commented:
“Innumerable monasteries, with a wealth of treasure of which the worth
has been calculated at not less than a hundred million sterling, enjoyed
the benefit of the Holy Prophet Muhummed’s Charter to the monks of
Sinai and were religiously respected by the Muslims. The various sects of
Christians were represented in the Council of the Empire by their
patriarchs, on the provincial and district council by their bishops, in the
village council by their priests, whose word was always taken without
question on things which were the sole concern of their community.
The tolerance within the body of Islam was and is, something without
parallel in history: class, race and colour ceasing altogether to be barriers”
Islamic law ensures the privileged status of minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world. History provides many examples of Muslim tolerance towards other faiths: when the caliph Omar entered Jerusalem in the year 634, Islam granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the city. History bears testimony to the tolerance of Islam to all the religions of the world.