Concept of People of the Book in Islam

Islam and freedom of belief

reedom of belief is a basic Islamic principle: {There must be no coercion in matters of faith. The right way is henceforth distinct from error}. (Al-Baqarah 2: 256).

Throughout Muslim history, People of the Book, with various religious sects, were free to practise their own faith and follow their way of life in internal and domestic affairs. This tolerant treatment is based on the Prophet’s model.

After the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) shortly settled in Madinah, he drew up a constitutional document defining the obligations and responsibilities of every group within the Muslim community, and outlining the nature of its relationship with the Jews.[5]

According to Pandit Jawahar Nehru:

“The Arabs, especially at the beginning of their awakening, were full of enthusiasm for their faith. Yet they were a tolerant people and there are numerous instances of this toleration in religion.”[6]


[5] Read the full English text of the document in Salahi, M.A. Muhammad: Man and Prophet: A Complete Study of the Life of the Prophet of Islam. (Leicester, UK: Islamic Foundation, 2002).p. 239–242.

[6] Imran, Muhammad. Spread of Islam: Islam or The Sword? (Lahore: Islamic Book Centre, n.d). p 29.

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About Bashar Bakkour
Bashar Bakkour is a Syrian researcher in Islamic Studies. He holds BA in Sharī‘a, BA in Arabic (al-Azhar University) and MA in Islamic Studies (Loughborough University, UK). Currently, he is doing PhD in religion and politics at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC), International Islamic University Malaysia, (IIUM).
His books include: Islam and the West between the Myth of Confrontation and the Reality of Cooperation; A Dictionary of Islamic Terms (A-E); A Dictionary of Islamic Terms (A-F);The Prophet Muhammad: The Perfect Example.