Farrukh Tahir, Canada
Words cannot describe the current painful circumstances in Palestine. Such acts of cruelty and injustice have shrouded the minds of many around the world as the candle of hope flickers amidst the winds of war. Muslims are being unduly criticized of being anti-sematic, whereas their voices are calling solely for justice and peace for all.
This war – motivated by a geopolitical agenda – has people wondering whether Muslims and Jews can live together in peace. History, however, says that they can.
Let me tell you a story about a time when Muslims, Jews and people of other faiths – or no faith – lived together in peace, and even that under a Muslim state.
The City of Madinah
This peaceful society was created in the city of Madinah, best described as a valley surrounded by small mountains in the Arab Peninsula. Later, this city became home to the Holy Founder of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (sa). Nevertheless, according to ancient records, the first inhabitants of Madinah were the Amaliq people, after which the Jewish people took up residence here and gradually expelled the Amaliq. These Jews who settled here were divided into three tribes, namely the Banu Qainuqa, Banu Nadir and Banu Quraizah. Over time, owing to their civilized and well-mannered behaviour, these three tribes accumulated great power and influence and drew pockets of other populations toward themselves. Eventually, two tribes from the Banu Qahtan, namely the Aus and Khazraj tribes came from Yemen to settle in Madinah. To start, these two tribes of polytheists lived in isolation from the Jews, but later became allies.
As time passed, the two polytheist tribes also grew in power and influence, however, the Jews always had an upper hand as they were more educated and religious. The influence of the Jews was so great that when an individual from the polytheist tribes was unable to have male offspring, they would swear a vow that if a son was born to them, they would make him a Jew. As the strength of the Jews increased, they began to inflict cruelties upon the polytheist tribes, sparking a series of conflicts that resulted in the polytheist tribes overcoming the Jewish tribes and reigning superior in Madinah.
Madinah remained in a state of civil war until a great battle took place and resulted in tremendous bloodshed. All tribes were forced to reconcile and come to a peace agreement. It was at this time that the Holy Prophet of Islam (sa) also made his way to Madinah, where the seed of Islam had already sprouted in the hearts of many.
Many polytheists had accepted Islam before the arrival of the Holy Prophet (sa), but this number grew rapidly after the Holy Prophet’s (sa) arrival. It was at this point that the population of Madinah comprised three major groups:
- The Muslims
- The Polytheists (though some polytheists adhered to idol worship, many flocked toward Islam)
- The Jews
The Charter of Madinah
With the varying outlooks, beliefs, and traditions of the different groups of people in Madinah, the Holy Prophet (sa) judiciously proposed a charter to the Jewish leaders, equally binding all groups to uphold peace and justice. The conditions stipulated in that charter are as follows:
- The Muslims and Jews [and all other residents] would live together with sympathy and sincerity, and would not oppress or wrong each other.
- There would be religious freedom for all.
- The lives and wealth of all citizens would be honoured and protected, except in the case that an individual was found guilty of oppression or other crimes.
- All disputes would be presented before the Holy Prophet (sa), and all verdicts would be in accordance with Divine Command (i.e., the Divine Law of the respective individual).
- No party would set our for war without the permission of the Holy Prophet (sa).
- If another nation waged war against the Jews or Muslims, one party would stand up in defense for the other.
- If Madinah was attacked, all parties would collectively join in its defense.
- The Jews would not provide any aid or protection to the Quraish of Makkah or their allies.
- Every group would bear their own expenses.
- This treaty would protect no tyrant, criminal, or wrongdoer from punishment or retribution.
If one carefully analyzes this charter, or even takes a cursory glance, the peaceful principles of Islam become evidently clear. With all leaders in agreement upon this charter, it was also unanimously decided that the Holy Prophet (sa) would be head of state.
Prophet Muhammad (sa) – The Prince of Peace
Based on this charter, the Holy Prophet (sa) always treated every single citizen of Madinah as equal members of society, be they Muslim, Jew or anyone else. If someone breached the conditions stipulated by this charter, they would be treated equally and in accordance with their own Divine Law – be they Jewish or Muslim.
Because the teachings of Islam exemplify the highest standard of justice, many people of other faiths preferred being judged under the law of Islam, including the many of the Jewish tribes that lived alongside Muslims during that era.
It was thus that Islam laid the foundation for a peaceful society. It may surprise critics that, according to their skewed and false views, such a charter was established in an era and among a people who – according to them – were barbaric and uncivilized. It was Islam that brought civility and etiquette to every society it entered, and every member of that society benefitted from these teachings and was afforded peace and security the likes of which they did not have prior.
Even today, Muslims who truly practice Islam promote and advocate for these same principles. According to Islamic law, every civilian is equal, irrespective of their faith, ethnicity, race, cultural background, and so forth.
About the Author: Farrukh Tahir is an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Canada, serving in the Review of Religions.
 The Life and Character of the Seal of Prophets, Vol. 2, p. 27