Rights of non-muslim minorities

Q:

Salam alykoum dear Shaykh

I heard from a scholar online that it is forbidden for non-Muslim minorities (Dhimmi) living in a muslim/islamic state to build  their houses of worship. If this is true, why and how does islam benefit from preventing minority religions from carrying out their religious services including marriages and funerals ect, also is this not quite oppressive? As when muslim are in similar situation such as in Italy or Austria, muslims were protesting to build a mosque. The scholar said that existing places of worships want be removed but what happens when the increasing population is too much for the existing places of worship? or that recently many Indian Hindus are immigrating to Middle Eastern nations where  there are no existing places of worship for them to use in the first place. Surely then do islamaphobes not have a point in fearing muslim immigration to non-muslim lands as if there are enough muslims, eventually the construction of their places of worship will be outlawed? again I do not see how this benefits islam, quite the opposite some non-muslims whom intially had a good outlook of muslims and islam felt emnity when they learned this information as i would when i learn certain nations have outlawed mosques or qurans (such as in china). Please clarify this for me and briefly explain if islam does protect the religious rights of non-muslim minorities simialr to how many nations (particularly in the west) protect the religious rights of muslims. Jazakallah khair!

I do not have much access to muslim scholars to help me in understanding my deen so i would like to thank you very much for this service and website which has helped me remove many doubts and misunderstandings and strengthen my imaan.

A:

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

Historically, Muslims have been known as the people who have had an excellent record of being pioneers of pluralism and tolerance of minorities. It is not due to political expediency; instead, it is based on one of the fundamental Quranic principles guaranteeing freedom of conscience.

Freedom of conscience is a principle enshrined in the Quran – reiterated in dozens of verses. Furthermore, the Quran also states clearly: “There shall be no compulsion in religion.”

Furthermore, the Quran also states that one of the stated objectives of sanctioning war is to protect the places of worship.  Allah says: “Were it not for God’s repelling people, some by means of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, wherein God’s Name is mentioned much, would have been destroyed. And God will surely help those who help Him—truly God is Strong, Mighty.” (Al-Hajj 22: 40)

That is why the Prophet in the pacts and pledges he made with the Christians stated that nothing of their rights, major or minor, will be taken away from them. No harm would be inflicted on them as individuals or a community in their worship or institutions.

How can anyone accuse Islam of being opposed to the minorities establishing their places of worship? They have been doing these for centuries in various countries where Islam spread and ruled.

There is no shortage of instances of the Jews and other religious minorities who were oppressed given protection by Muslim rulers. After all, it is a well-known fact that the Ottoman rulers sent a ship to bring the Jews from Spain who was expelled by the Christians from Spain. Also, the kind treatment meted out by Salahuddeen to the Jews or other Christian denominations is legendary.

Indeed, there were some exceptions to the above; one cannot blame it on Islam. It was due to human failings, but while saying we can never justify them for the offense is an offense no matter who commits it.

 Allah Almighty knows best.

Thursday, Jan. 01, 1970 | 00:00 - 00:00 GMT

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