Prophet SAW interactions with Non-Muslims
Dr Nouna Sammari
Our Prophet Muhammed SAW was chosen from Allah SWT for prophethood after the great, divine prophets of Christianity and Judaism. At that time, the residents of the Arab peninsula were either polytheists, worshipping multiple gods and idols, or followers of Christianity and Judaism. There were also some people who continued to believe in the religion of the Prophet Abraham AS. It was during such circumstances that the Prophet SAW emerged to introduce, for the first time, the religion which would set forth a universal and pervasive call; namely, a religion that would more or less challenge all schools of thoughts and religions before it.
During the first years of the Prophet’s mission to invite people into Islam, his closest family members, including an uncle, did not only refuse his invitation, but also persecuted and ill-treated him. The Prophet SAW and his few followers were placed under economic and political sanctions by his own kinship; furthermore, they were forced into exile in the Abu-Talib valley, for almost three years, where severe economic and commercial besiege were exerted on them. The sanctions were so harsh that they took the life of the closest individual to the prophet—his wife Lady Khadija.
Nevertheless, despite all the persecution, ill-treatment and hardship, the prophet of Islam never used aggressive or unpeaceful means to promote his religion: even after the victory of his social movement, and when Islam became the superior power of the Arab Peninsula, history testifies that he never considered taking revenge.
Friendship and tolerance are affairs of high importance in the social sira [life and manner] of the prophet SAW. Friendship and tolerance are affairs of high importance in the social sira [life and manner] of the prophet SAW, in domestic as well as international aspects. This led to a reformation of the society, social relations, and affairs. If it was not like that, the ground would not have been paved for guidance and promotion of the message.
The almighty God praised the Prophet’s good temper and tolerance as follows:
“So by mercy from Allah [O’ Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been sever and harsh-hearted with them, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them…” [Quran 3:159]
His mercy and kindness were all-inclusive and he would treat with forgiveness those who had practiced hostility against him for years, including the pagans of Mecca. On the day Mecca was conquered, peacefully with no bloodshed, a companion of the prophet was saying: “Today is the day of murder, war and revenge; it’s the day of breaking the boundaries.”
The Prophet SAW immediately rejected and rebuked this slogan, he then said: “Today is the day of mercy”, “it is the day of mercy and kindness.”
Thus prophet Muhammad SAW would prevent any form of aggression and extremism against the opponents of Islam, and he relived the polytheists of Quraysh by stressing, “you may be as you are all free.”
Dr Nouna Sammari is a Senior Lecturer at the Aqidah and Religion Studies Programme, Faculty of Leadership and Management, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia(USIM)