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The Covenants of the Prophet: Read an Excerpt
Some may claim that the poll-tax was discriminatory since it targeted only Jews and Christians and excluded other non-Muslims. They fail to note that the jizyah did not exist in the early days of Islam and that many jurists believe that it can legally be discontinued (Hamidullah 149–150). Hence, it is not an issue that any non-Muslim can hold over the heads of Muslims in good faith. In truth, the poll-tax was eventually abolished. What was never abolished, though, was the protection granted, not only to Jews and Christians, but to all other citizens of the Islamic State. While conservative clerics insisted that only Jews and Christians were People of the Book entitled to the status of dhimmah or protected people, others argued that it also embraced Zoroastrians, Manicheans, Buddhists, and even Hindus. Scholars like al-Biruni (937–1048 CE), Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1837–1897 CE), Muhammad 'Abduh (1849–1905 CE), and Rashid Rida (1865–1935 CE) all believed in expanding the bounds of those considered as protected subjects. Their arguments were based on the Qur'an and the Sunnah. They claimed that followers of other cosmogonies followed "hidden scriptures" (56: 77–80) from prophets of the past. They pointed to the example of Imam 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 661 CE), who required his governor in Egypt to treat all of his subjects with mercy, love, and kindness, as they were "equals in creation" (278). In Moghul India, for example, "the emperors and their officers gave like justice to all; they permitted every man to worship according to the rites of his forefathers" (Lybyer 298). The arguments of Muslim Modernists, however, are not without flaws, for the Vedas, the Zend Avesta, and the Buddhist scriptures were not hidden. Furthermore, as "liberal" and "progressive" as they may have been, it is seriously doubtful that they ever accepted these as valid Books. If Muslims grant rights to the followers of other religions, it is in the guise of human as opposed to religious rights. All of the children of Adam are entitled to dignity.
Item thirteen is a continuation of the Prophet's policy of promoting peace and prosperity. He warns Muslims not to bother believers be they Jews or Christians:
Excepting this, nothing shall be required of them, according to the express order of God, that says, 'Do not molest those that have a veneration for the books that are sent from God, but rather in a kind manner give of your good things to them, and converse with them, and hinder everyone from molesting them.'
Not only must Muslims be kind and considerate to them, they must also prevent others from indulging in any form of harassment. If nobody is to make a mockery of Islam and the Prophet, nobody is permitted to make a mockery of Judaism and Christianity. As the Prophet taught, to insult one divinely-revealed religion is to insult them all. He who opposes one religion opposes all religion. Embracing the principle that the sacred is superior to the profane, Islam outlaws abuse towards God, His Messengers, and revealed religions, as well as anything that believers hold sacred. Islam's respect for the People of the Book applies to all domains of social co-existence, even into the context of marriage. As the Prophet professed in item fourteen,
If a Christian woman shall happen to marry a Muslim, the Muslim shall not cross the inclination of his wife, to keep her from her church and prayers, and the practice of her religion.