Islam and other religions

Over the centuries of Islamic history, Muslim rulers, Islamic scholars, and ordinary Muslims have held many different attitudes towards other religions. Attitudes have varied according to time, place and circumstance.

Islam percent population in each nation World Map Muslim data by Pew Research
World Muslim population by percentage (Pew Research Center, 2014).

Non-Muslims and Islam

The Qur'an distinguishes between the monotheistic People of the Book (ahl al-kitab), i.e. Jews, Christians, Sabians and others on the one hand and polytheists or idolaters on the other hand. There are certain kinds of restrictions that apply to polytheists but not to "People of the Book" in classical Islamic law. One example is that Muslim males are allowed to marry a Christian or Jew, but not a polytheist. Muslim women, however, may not marry non-Muslim men.[1]

The idea of Islamic infallibility is encapsulated in the formula, "Islam is exalted and nothing is exalted above it."[1]

Abraham, Moses, Hebrew prophets, and Jesus were all prophets of Islam, but according to Muslim tradition their message and the texts of the Torah and the Gospels were corrupted by Jews and Christians.[2]

Apostasy in Islam can be punishable by death and/or imprisonment according to some interpretations but they are only found in hadiths and there is nothing in the Quran that commands death penalty for apostate so the issue of apostasy is controversial.[3] W. Heffening states that Shafi'is interpret verse [Quran 2:217] as adducing the main evidence for the death penalty in Qur'an.[4] Wael Hallaq states the death penalty was a new element added later and "reflects a later reality and does not stand in accord with the deeds of the Prophet." He further states that "nothing in the law governing apostate and apostasy derives from the letter of the holy text." [5] There are also interpretations according to which apostates aren't executed nor punished, and there is freedom of religion.

Early Muslim practice

During the thirteen years that Muhammad led his followers against the Mecca and then against the other Arab tribes, Christian and Jewish communities who had submitted to Muslim rule were allowed to worship in their own way and follow their own family law, and were given a degree of self-government.

However, the non-Muslim dhimmis were subject to taxation jizyah at a different rate of the Muslim zakat. Dhimmis also faced economic impediments, restrictions on political participation and/or social advancement based on their non-Muslim status.

Some Jews generally rejected Muhammad's status as a prophet.[6] According to Watt, "Jews would normally be unwilling to admit that a non-Jew could be a prophet."[7] In the Constitution of Medina, Muhammad demanded the Jews' political loyalty in return for religious and cultural autonomy.[6][8] In every major battle with the Medinans, two local Jewish tribes were found to be treachous (see [Quran 2:100]). After Badr and Uhud, the Banu Qainuqa and Banu Nadir (the latter being an ethnic Arab tribe who converted to Judaism, according to the Muslim historian al-Yaqubi), respectively, took up arms against the ummah and were subsequently expelled "with their families and possessions" from Medina.[9]

However, this incident does not imply that Jews in general rejected Muhammad's constitution. One Yemenite Jewish document, found in the Cairo Genizah, claims that many Jews had not only accepted Muhammad as a prophet, but even desecrated Sabbath in order to join Muhammad in his struggle; historians suggest that this document, called Dhimmat an-nabi Muhammad (Muhammad's Writ of Protection), may have been fabricated by Yemenite Jews for the purpose of self-defence.[10] Still, some Yemeni Jews considered Muhammad a true prophet, including Natan'el al-Fayyumi, a major 12th century rabbi who incorporated various Shia doctrines into his view of Judaism.

The Syriac Patriarch Ishôyahb III wrote in his correspondence to Simeon of Rewardashir, "As for the Arabs, to whom God has at this time given rule (shultãnâ) over the world, you know well how they act toward us. Not only do they not oppose Christianity, but they praise our faith, honour the priests and saints of our Lord, and give aid to the churches and monasteries."[11]

After Muhammad's death in 632, Islamic rule grew rapidly, encompassing what is now the Middle East, Egypt, North Africa, and Iran. Most of the new subjects were Christian or Jewish, and considered People of the Book. (After some argument, the Zoroastrians were considered People of the Book as well.[12]) Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians were called dhimmi, protected persons. As noted above, they could worship, follow their own family law, and own property. People of the Book were not subject to certain Islamic rules, such as the prohibitions on alcohol and pork, but were subject to other restrictions. Under the Islamic state, they were exempt from military service, but were required to pay a poll tax known as jizya. (They were, however, exempt from the zakat required of Muslims.) They could be bureaucrats and advisors, but they could never be rulers.

Later Islamic practices

Under the Ummayads and Abbasids, the Islamic community was increasingly fragmented into various sects and kingdoms, each of which had its own evolving policy towards dhimmi and towards conquered polytheists.

Later Islamic conquests

From historical evidence, it appears Tokharistan was the only area of Iran heavily colonized by Arabs, where Buddhism flourished when they arrived and the only area incorporated into the Arab empire where Sanskrit studies were pursued up to the conquest. The grandson of Barmak was the vizier of the empire and took personal interest in Sanskrit works and Indian religions. When the Barmakids were removed from power and their influence disappeared, no further translations of Sanskrit works into Arabic is known until that of Al-Biruni.[13]

With the Ghaznavids and later the Mughals, Islam also expanded further into northern India. Will Durant, in The Story of Civilization, described this as "probably the bloodiest story in history." This approach was not uniform, and different rulers adopted different strategies. The Mughal emperor Akbar, for example, was relatively tolerant towards Hindus, while his great-grandson Aurangzeb was heavily intolerant. Hindus were ultimately given the tolerated religious minority status of dhimmi in their own homeland. However, the underlying complexity of Hindu philosophy was useful in this regard, as it had always posited an underlying unity of all things, including the fusion of various deities into a single reality (Brahman).

The Buddhists of India were not as fortunate; although Buddhism had been in decline prior to the Muslim invasions, the destruction of monastic universities in the invasions such as Nalanda and Vikramashila were a calamity from which it never recovered. According to one Buddhist scholar, the monasteries were destroyed because they were large, fortified edifices considered threats by Muslim Turk invaders.

The Almohad rulers of Muslim Spain were initially intolerant, and engaged in forced conversions; Maimonides, for example, was forced to masquerade as a Muslim and eventually flee Spain after the initial Almohad conquest.

Comparative religion and anthropology of religion

After the Arab conquest of the Buddhist center of Balkh, a Quranic commentator was denounced for anthropomorphism, a standard attack on those sympathetic to Buddhism. Hiwi al-Balkhi had attacked the authority of Quran ad revealed religions, reciting the claims of Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Judaism.[14]

In the early 11th century, the Islamic scholar Abū Rayhān Bīrūnī wrote detailed comparative studies on the anthropology of religions across the Middle East, Mediterranean and especially the Indian subcontinent. Biruni's anthropology of religion was only possible for a scholar deeply immersed in the lore of other nations.[15] He carried out extensive, personal investigations of the peoples, customs, and religions of the Indian subcontinent, and was a pioneer in comparative religion and the anthropology of religion.

According to Arthur Jeffery, "It is rare until modern times to find so fair and unprejudiced a statement of the views of other religions, so earnest an attempt to study them in the best sources, and such care to find a method which for this branch of study would be both rigorous and just."[16] Biruni compared Islam with pre-Islamic religions, and was willing to accept certain elements of pre-Islamic wisdom which would conform with his understanding of the Islamic spirit.[17]

In the introduction to his Indica, Biruni himself writes that his intent behind the work was to engage dialogue between Islam and the Indian religions, particularly Hinduism as well as Buddhism.[16] Biruni was aware that statements about a religion would be open to criticism by its adherents, and insisted that a scholar should follow the requirements of a strictly scientific method. According to William Montgomery Watt, Biruni "is admirably objective and unprejudiced in his presentation of facts" but "selects facts in such a way that he makes a strong case for holding that there is a certain unity in the religious experience of the peoples he considers, even though he does not appear to formulate this view explicitly." Biruni argued that Hinduism was a monotheistic faith like Islam, and in order to justify this assertion, he quotes Hindu texts and argues that the worship of idols is "exclusively a characteristic of the common people, with which the educated have nothing to do."[16]

Biruni argued that the worship of idols "is due to a kind of confusion or corruption."[16] According to Watt, Biruni "goes on to maintain that in the course of generations the origin of the veneration of the images is forgotten, and further that the ancient legislators, seeing that the Veneration of images is advantageous, made it obligatory for the ordinary. He mentions the view of some people that, before God sent prophets, all mankind were idol-worshippers, but he apparently does not presumably held that, apart from the messages transmitted by prophets, men could know the existence and unity of God by rational methods of philosophy." Biruni argued that "the Hindus, no less than the Greeks, have philosophers who are believers in monotheism."[16] Al-Biruni also compared Islam and Christianity, citing passages from the Qur'an and Bible which state that their followers should always speak the truth.[18]

Contemporary Islam

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, most Islamic states fell under the sway of European colonialists. The colonialists enforced tolerance, especially of European Christian missionaries. After World War II, there was a general retreat from colonialism, and predominantly Muslim countries were again able to set their own policies regarding non-Muslims. This period also saw the beginning of increased migration from Muslim countries into the First World countries of Europe, the UK, Canada, the US, etc. This has completely reshaped relations between Islam and other religions.

In predominantly Muslim countries

Some predominantly Muslim countries allow the practice of all religions. Of these, some limit this freedom with bans on proselytizing or conversion, or restrictions on the building of places of worship; others (such as Mali) have no such restrictions. In practice, the situation of non-Muslim minorities depends not only on the law, but on local practices, which may vary.

Some countries are predominantly Muslim and allow freedom of religion adhering to democratic principles. Of particular note are the following countries:[19]

  • Indonesia and Malaysia have a significant population from the Hindu, Christian and Buddhist religions. They are allowed to practice their religions, build places of worship and even have missionary schools and organizations but with limitation of such practice.
  • In Syria, there are about 2.2 million Christians (10-12% of the population) from about 15 different religious and ethnic sects (Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Church of the East, Protestants, Armenians Apostolic and various Catholics, Greek, Syrian, Aremenian, Chaldean, Maronite, Latin), as well as a few dozen Jews, and they have many hundreds of independent privately owned churches and some 15 synagogues. The freedom of religion is well observed by the state law as well as the historical long record of tolerance since the Ummayde caliph days. Christmas and Easter days are official holidays for both the Catholic or Orthodox calendar.

Some predominantly Muslim countries are less tolerant of non-Muslims:

  • Pakistan has different electorates for Muslims and non-Muslims, and also two chief justices of Supreme Court of Pakistan were Hindu and Christian. Non Muslims are persecuted and treated as second class citizens.
  • Saudi Arabia limits religious freedom to a high degree, prohibiting public worship by other religions.
  • The now-overthrown Taliban regime in Afghanistan was considered intolerant by many observers. Some ancient Buddhist monuments, like the Buddhas of Bamyan, were destroyed as idolatrous.
  • The constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism as People of the Book and official religions, and they are granted the right to exercise religious freedom in Iran.[20][21] Five of the 270 seats in parliament are reserved for these three religions. However, the situation of Bahá'ís, the largest religious minority in the country, is far worse. Bahá'ís are often attacked and dehumanized on political, religious, and social grounds to separate Bahá'ís from the rest of society.[22] According to Eliz Sanasarian "Of all non-Muslim religious minorities the persecution of the Bahais has been the most widespread, systematic, and uninterrupted."[21] See Religion in Iran and Persecution of Bahá'ís. Also, senior government posts are reserved for Muslims. All minority religious groups, including Sunni Muslims, are barred from being elected president. Jewish, Christian and Zoroastrian schools must be run by Muslim principals.[23] Compensation for death paid to the family of a non-Muslim was (by law) less than if the victim was a Muslim. Conversion to Islam is encouraged by entitling converts to inherit the entire share of their parents (or even uncle's) estate if their siblings (or cousins) remain non-Muslim.[24] Iran's non-Muslim population has fallen dramatically. For example, the Jewish population in Iran dropped from 80,000 to 30,000 in the first two decades of the revolution.[25]
  • In Egypt, a 16 December 2006 judgement of the Supreme Administrative Council created a clear demarcation between "recognized religions"—Islam, Christianity and Judaism—and all other religious beliefs; the ruling effectively delegitimatizes and forbids the practice of all but these aforementioned religions.[26][27] The ruling leaves members of other religious communities, including Bahá'ís, without the ability to obtain the necessary government documents to have rights in their country, essentially denying them of all rights of citizenship.[28] They cannot obtain ID cards, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage or divorce certificates, and passports; they also cannot be employed, educated, treated in public hospitals or vote among other things.[28] See Egyptian identification card controversy.

According to Islamic law, jizya (poll tax) is to be paid by all non-Muslims,[1] excluding the weak and the poor, living in a Muslim state, to the general welfare of the state. Also, in his book "Al-Kharaj," Abu Yusuf says, "No Jizya is due on females or young infants." In exchange for the tax, the non-Muslims are required to be given security, provided compensation from the Muslim Exchequer when they are in need, treated on equality with Muslims, and enjoy rights as nationals of the state. Al-Balathiri comments on this saying, "Khaled Ibn Al-Walid, on entering Damascus as a conqueror, offered a guarantee of security to its people and their properties and churches, and promised that the wall of the city would not be pulled down, and none of their houses be demolished. It was a guarantee of God, he said, and of the Caliph and all believers to keep them safe and secure on condition they paid the dues of the Jizya."[29] This poll tax is different from the alms tax (Zakah) paid by the Muslim subjects of a Muslim state. Whereas jizya is compulsory and paid by the tolerated community per head count, zakat was paid only if one can afford it. Muslims and non-Muslims who hold property, especially land, were required however to pay Kharaj.

Territorial disputes

One of the open issues in the relation between Islamic states and non-Islamic states is the claim from hardline Muslims that once a certain land, state or territory has been under "Muslim" rule, it can never be relinquished anymore, and that such rule, somewhere in history would give the Muslims a kind of an eternal right on the claimed territory. This claim is particularly controversial with regard to Israel and to a lesser degree Spain and parts of the Balkan and it applies to parts of Kashmir as well.

Islamic views on religious pluralism

Reference to Islamic views on religious pluralism is found in the Quran. The following verses are generally interpreted as an evidence of religious pluralism:

Surah Al-Ma'idah verse 48 states:

If Allah so willed, He would have made you a single People, but His plan is to test each of you separately, in what He has given to each of you: so strive in all virtues as in you are in a race. The goal of all of you is to Allah. It is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute. (Quran 5:48)

Surah Al-Ankabut verse 46 states:

And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say, "We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him."

The Quran criticizes Christians and Jews who believed that their own religions are the only source of truth.

They say, if you want to be guided to salvation, you should either become a Jew or Christian. Say: What about the religion of Abraham, he also worshiped no one but Allah. We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, to Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes of Israel, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to all prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah. So, if they believe, they are indeed on the right path, but if they turn back, Allah will suffice them, and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing. This is the Baptism of Allah. And who can baptize better than Allah. And it is He Whom we worship. Say: Will you dispute with us about Allah, He is our Lord and your Lord; that we are responsible for our doings and you for yours; and that We are sincere in Him? Or do ye say that Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes were Jews or Christians? Say: Do ye know better than Allah? Ah! who is more unjust than those who conceal the testimony they have from Allah. But Allah is not unmindful of what ye do! That was a people that hath passed away. They shall reap the fruit of what they did, and ye of what ye do! Of their merits there is no question in your case. (Quran 2:135-141)

Surah Al-Baqara verse 113 states:

The Jews say: "The Christians have nothing to stand upon"; and the Christians say: "The Jews have nothing to stand upon." Yet they both have something to stand upon, they both recite the Book. Like unto their word is what those say who know not; but Allah will judge between them in their quarrel on the Day of Judgment. (Quran 2:113)

Many Muslims agree that cooperation with the Christian and Jewish community is important but some Muslims believe that theological debate is often unnecessary:

Say: "O People of the Book! Come to what is common between us and you: That we worship none but God, that we associate no partners with Him, that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords other than Allah. If then they turn back, say: 'Bear witness that we are bowing to Allah’s will.'" (Quran 3:64)

Islam's fundamental theological concept is the belief in one God. Muslims are not expected to visualize God but to worship and adore him as a protector. Any kind of idolatry is condemned in Islam. (Quran 112:2) As a result, Muslims hold that for someone to worship any other gods or deities other than Allah (Shirk (polytheism)) is a sin that will lead to separation from Allah.

Muslims believe that Allah sent the Qur'an to bring peace and harmony to humanity through Islam (submission to Allah).[30] Muhammad's worldwide mission was to establish universal peace under the Khilafat. The Khilafat ensured security of the lives and property of non-Muslims under the dhimmi system. This status was originally only made available to non-Muslims who were "People of the Book" (Christians, Jews, and Sabians), but was later extended to include Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Hindus, Mandeans (Sabians), and Buddhists. Dhimmi had more rights than other non-Muslim religious subjects, but often fewer legal and social rights than Muslims. Some Muslims, however, disagree, and hold that adherents of these faiths cannot be dhimmi. Dhimmi enjoyed some freedoms under the state founded by Muhammad and could practice their religious rituals according to their faith and beliefs. Non-Muslims who were not classified as "people of the book," for example practitioners of the pre-Muslim indigenous Arabian religions, had few or no rights in Muslim society.

Muslims and Muslim theologians attend at many interfaith dialogues, for example at the Parliament of the World's Religions with whom in 1993 also Muslim theologians signed the Declaration Toward a Global Ethic.[31]

Religious persecution is also prohibited,[Quran 10:99–100 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)] although religious persecution in Muslim majority states has occurred, especially during periods of cruel rulers and general economic hardships. Pre-Islamic religious minorities continue to exist in some of their native countries, although only as marginal percentages of the overall population.

Over the centuries, several known religious debates, and polemical works did exist in various Muslim countries between various Muslim sects, as well as between Muslims and non-Muslims. Many of these works survive today, and make for some very interesting reading in the apologetics genre. Only when such debates spilled over to the unlearned masses, and thus causing scandals and civil strife, did rulers intervene to restore order and pacify the public outcry on the perceived attack on their beliefs.

As for sects within Islam, history shows a variable pattern. Various sects became intolerant when gaining favour with the rulers, and often work to oppress or eliminate rival sects, for example, the contemporary persecution of Muslim minorities in Saudi Arabia.[32] Sectarian strife between Shia and Sunni inhabitants of Baghdad is well known through history.

Views on forms of worship in other religions

The 14th century Sufi saint Abd al-Karim al-Jili stated, all religions could be summed up to principle religions and actually worship Allah in their own way:

  1. The Infidels; they disbelieve in a lord, because they worship the essence of God which reflects there is no lord over Him.
  2. The Physicists; worshipping the natural properties, which are actually attributes of God.
  3. The Philosophers; worshipping the seven planets, which represents further names of God.
  4. The Dualists; worshipping God as the Creator and the One.
  5. The Magians; worship God in the names of Unity in which all names and attributes past just as fire destroys and transmutes them in their nature.
  6. The Materialists; denying a creator and instead believe in the eternity of Time. Thus they just believe in his He-ness, in which God is just potentially but not actually creative.
  7. The Jews.
  8. The Christians.
  9. The Muslims.

Although there are different ways to worship God, those who do not worship like it was ordinated by a prophet will suffer in the afterlife. This suffering causes pleasure, because they feel spiritual delight in the way of their worship until they repent and take refuge in God.[33]

The Sunni scholar and mystic Ibn Arabi hold, that every religion is kind of worshipping Allah. Even idol-worshippers actually would unconsciously worship Him,[34] but they do not recognise, that in reality, there is no other entity than Allah to worship, thus unnecessarily limiting Him.

Forced conversion

Many Muslim scholars believe that Quranic verses such as "Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error" (Quran 2:256) and (Quran 18:29) show that Islam prohibits forced conversion towards people of any religion.

The meaning of verse 9:5 has however been a subject of discussion amongst other scholars of Islam as well (see At-Tawba 5). This Surah was revealed in the historical context of a broken treaty between Muslims and a group of idolaters during the time of Muhammed. Regarding this verse, Quranic translator M. A. S. Abdel Haleem writes: "In this context, this definitely refers to the ones who broke the treaty,"[35] rather than polytheists generally. In addition, according to Sahih Al-Bukhari although clear orders were given to kill everyone who broke the treaty, Muhammed made a second treaty before entering Mecca and spared even Amar who was responsible for his daughter Rukayya's death and the person who killed his Uncle Hamza.

According to historian Bernard Lewis, forced conversions played a role especially in the 12th century under the Almohad dynasty of North Africa and Andalusia.[36] He is however also of the opinion that other incidents of forced conversions have been rare in Islamic history. He adds that "In the early centuries of Islamic rule there was little or no attempt at forcible conversion, the spread of the faith being effected rather by persuasion and inducement."[37][38][39] A few well-known examples of forced conversion are:[38]

  • Anusim of Meshhad, Jewish community forced on pain of death to convert in 1839 under Safawid rule. Most continued Jewish practices in secret and many of their descendents returned to Judaism in the early 20th century.[40]
  • Francis BokSudanese-American activist, from Christianity; later returned to his Christian faith.[41]
  • Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig—forced to convert at gunpoint by terrorists of the Holy Jihad Brigades.[42]
  • Sabbatai Zevi—convert from Judaism, 17th century mystic, pseudo-Messiah and the self-proclaimed "King of Jews." Converted ostensibly of his own free will, while in prison. Although, some speculate that he may have been executed for treason had he not converted.[43] Muslim authorities were opposed to his death.[44]

See also



  1. ^ a b Friedmann (2003), p. 35
  2. ^ Friedmann (2003), p. 18
  3. ^ "Murtadd", Encyclopedia of Islam Quote: "A woman who apostasizes [sic?] is to be executed according to some jurists, or imprisoned according to others."
  4. ^ W. Heffening, in Encyclopedia of Islam
  5. ^ Encyclopedia of the Quran, Apostasy
  6. ^ a b Esposito, John. 1998. Islam: the Straight Path, extended edition. Oxford university press, p.17
  7. ^ The Cambridge History of Islam, pp. 43-44
  8. ^ Jacob Neusner, God's Rule: The Politics of World Religions, p. 153, Georgetown University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-87840-910-6
  9. ^ Esposito, Islam: the straight path, extended edition, Oxford University Press, pp. 10-11
  10. ^ Yakov Rabkin ""Perspectives on the Muslim Other in Jewish Tradition"" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-27. (126 KB)
  11. ^ Sidney H. Griffith: Disputing with Islam in Syriac Archived 2006-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Zoroaster and Zoroastrians in Iran Archived 2005-11-22 at the Wayback Machine, by Massoume Price, Iran Chamber Society, retrieved March 24, 2006
  13. ^ Islam and Tibet - Interactions along the Musk Route. Routlegde. p. 46.
  14. ^ S. Frederick Starr (2013). Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane. Princeton University Press. pp. 98–99.
  15. ^ J. T. Walbridge (1998). "Explaining Away the Greek Gods in Islam", Journal of the History of Ideas 59 (3): 389-403
  16. ^ a b c d e William Montgomery Watt (2004-04-14). "BĪRŪNĪ and the study of non-Islamic Religions". Archived from the original on 2009-02-10. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  17. ^ Seyyed Hossein Nasr (1993), An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines, p. 166, State University of New York Press, ISBN 0-7914-1516-3
  18. ^ Mohamed, Mohaini (2000). Great Muslim Mathematicians. Penerbit UTM. pp. 71–2. ISBN 983-52-0157-9. OCLC 48759017.
  19. ^ Bangladesh Official Government Holidays 2001, bicn, 2002, retrieved March 25, 2006
  20. ^ Federation Internationale des Ligues des Droits de L'Homme (August 2003). "Discrimination against religious minorities in IRAN" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-04-22. Retrieved 2008-05-19.
  21. ^ a b Sanasarian, Eliz (2000). Religious Minorities in Iran. Cambridge University Press. pp. 73–84. ISBN 0-521-77073-4.
  22. ^ The Sentinel Project (2009-05-19). "Preliminary Assessment: The Threat of Genocide to the Bahá'ís of Iran" (PDF). The Sentinel Project. Retrieved 2009-07-06.
  23. ^ Wright, The Last Great Revolution, (2000), p.210
  24. ^ Wright, The Last Great Revolution, (2000), p.216
  25. ^ Wright, The Last Great Revolution, (2000), p.207
  26. ^ Mayton, Joseph (2006-12-19). "Egypt's Bahais denied citizenship rights". Middle East Times. Archived from the original on 2009-04-06. Retrieved 2007-01-23.
  27. ^ Otterman, Sharon (2006-12-17). "Court denies Bahai couple document IDs". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2007-01-23.
  28. ^ a b Nkrumah, Gamal (2006-12-21). "Rendered faithless and stateless". Al-Ahram weekly. Archived from the original on 2007-01-23. Retrieved 2007-01-23.
  29. ^ The Poll Tax (jizya) Archived 2005-02-13 at the Wayback Machine,, retrieved March 23, 2006
  30. ^ Islam and Universal Peace Archived 2008-12-07 at the Wayback Machine Sayyid Qutb 1977
  31. ^ "Declaration Toward a Global Ethic and their undersigner". Archived from the original (PDF in Arabic, Malaysian, Bulgarian, Chinese, German, English, French, Italian, Catalan, Croatian, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Slovene, Spanish, Turkish) on 2013-09-30. Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  32. ^
  33. ^ Reynold A. Nicholson Studies in Islamic Mysticism Routledge 2003 ISBN 978-1-135-79893-2 page 99-100
  34. ^ N. Ahmadi Iranian Islam: The Concept of the Individual Springer 1998 ISBN 978-0-230-37349-5 page 96
  35. ^ The Qur'an: A new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, 2005, Oxford University Press
  36. ^ Lewis (1984), p. 17, 18, 94, 95.
  37. ^ Lewis (1984) p. 151
  38. ^ a b Waines (2003) p. 53
  39. ^ Esposito (2002) p. 71
  40. ^ Patai, Raphael (1997). Jadid al-Islam: The Jewish "New Muslims" of Meshhed. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-2652-8.
  41. ^ Beale, Lewis. "Precious Freedom. USA Weekend Magazine. November 9, 2003.
  42. ^ "Kidnapped Fox journalists released". CNN. Retrieved August 27, 2006.
  43. ^ Sabbatai Zevi -
  44. ^ Geoffrey L Lewis; Cecil Roth. New Light on the Apostasy of Sabbatai Zevi. The Jewish Quarterly Review


  • Bat Ye'or (2002). Islam and Dhimmitude. Where Civilizations Collide. Madison/Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press/Associated University Presses. ISBN 0-8386-3943-7.
  • Lewis, Bernard (1984). The Jews of Islam. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00807-8.
  • Lewis, Bernard (2002). The Arabs in History. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280310-7.
  • Esposito, John (2002). What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515713-3.
  • Friedmann, Yohanan (2003). Tolerance and Coercion in Islam: Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-02699-4.
  • Waines, David (2003). An Introduction to Islam. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-53906-4.
Ahl al-Fatrah

In Islamic theology, the term Ahl al-Fatrah (Arabic: أهل الفترة‎, ahl al-fatrah) refers to everyone whom the da‘wah (message of Islam) has not reached in an uncorrupted manner: the people who live in ignorance of the teachings of Islam, either in geographical isolation, or in times predating their upcoming prophet. The intended meaning is people living at a time of an interval between two prophets so that they are never exposed to divine revelation.

Ali Bin Abdur Rahman Al Huthaify

ʿAlī ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Ḥudhayfī (or al-Ḥudhayfah; born 22 May 1947) (Arabic; علي بن عبد الرحمان الحذيفي) is a Saudi-born imam and khateeb of the Great Mosque of Medina, and a former Imam of Quba Mosque . He was a lecturer of Islamic jurisprudence and tawheed at the Islamic University of Madinah . His style of reciting the Qur’an in a slow, deep tune is widely recognised .


An Arabist is someone normally from outside the Arab world who specialises in the study of the Arabic language and culture (usually including Arabic literature).

Blasphemy law in Afghanistan

Afghanistan uses Sharia as its justification for punishing blasphemy. The punishments are among the harshest in the world. Afghanistan uses its law against blasphemy to persecute religious minorities, apostasy, dissenters, academics, and journalists.


Dhimmitude is a neologism combining both Arabic language and French language words and popularized as a polemical term by the Egyptian-born British writer Bat Ye'or in the 1980s and 1990s. It was formed from dhimmi by analogy with servitude in order to draw an implicit comparison.Bat Ye’or defines it as a permanent status of subjection in which Jews and Christians have been held under Islamic rule since the eighth century, and that forces them to accept discriminations or "face forced conversion, slavery or death". The term gained traction among Serbian ultra-nationalists during the Balkan wars in the 1990s and is popular among self-proclaimed counter-jihadi authors. Scholars have dismissed it as polemical.

Husham Al-Husainy

Husham Al-Husainy is an Iraqi-American Sheikh of the Karbalaa Islamic Education Center, a Shia mosque servicing largely people of Iraqi and Lebanese descent in Dearborn, Michigan. Al-Husainy arrived in the United States in the late 1970s as Saddam Hussein was rising into power. He is a spokesman of the Iraqi expatriate community in America. During the American occupation of Iraq, Al-Husainy has gone from supporting the toppling of Hussein's regime to criticizing the continued occupation as inciting more bloodshed.

Institute for Interreligious Dialogue

The Institute for Interreligious Dialogue is a non-governmental organization devoted to dialog among religions throughout the world.

The institute was founded in 1998, by vice president of Mr. Mohammad Khatami, Mohammad Ali Abtahi for promoting Dialogue Among Religions. The academic board of the institute is composed of renowned scholars of Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism as well as several prominent experts on philosophy of religion, mysticism and Comparative religion.

The institutes's library of religions has a collection of more than 4000 titles of professional books of religions in different languages.


Iqta‘ (Arabic: اقطاع‎) was an Islamic practice of tax farming that became common in Muslim Asia during the Buyid dynasty. The prominent Orientalist Claude Cahen described the Iqta‘ as follows:

a form of administrative grant, often (wrongly) translated by the European word "fief". The nature of the iḳṭāʿ varied according to time and place, and a translation borrowed from other systems of institutions and conceptions has served only too often to mislead Western historians, and following them, even those of the East.

Unlike European systems, the Muqtis had no right to interfere with the personal life of a paying person if the person stayed on the Muqti's land. Also, Iqtas were not hereditary by law and had to be confirmed by a higher authority (like the sultan or the king). Individual iqta holders in Middle Eastern societies had little incentive to provide public goods to the localities assigned to them. The overarching theme was state power where the iqta was revocable and uninheritable. Though not an investment in a particular holding of land, the iqta—as a fiscal device—gave soldiers a vested interest in the regime.

Islam and Dhimmitude

Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide is a book by Bat Ye'or.

Islam and Jainism

Islam and Jainism interacted with each other in the Indian subcontinent following the frequent brutal and devastating Islamic invasions, and later the Islamic conquest and rule of the subcontinent from twelfth century CE onwards, when much of Northwest, north and central India came under the rule of the Delhi Sultanate, and later the Mongol-Persian origin Mughals.

Jainism and Islam have different theological premises, and their interaction has been mixed ranging from religious persecution to mutual acceptance. Jains faced persecution during and after the Muslim conquests on the Indian subcontinent. There were significant exceptions, such as Emperor Akbar (1542–1605) whose legendary religious tolerance, out of respect for Jains, ordered release of caged birds and banned killing of animals on the Jain festival of Paryusan.

Islam and Sikhism

Islam is an Abrahamic religion founded in the Arabian peninsula, while Sikhism is a Dharmic religion founded in the Indian subcontinent. Islam means "submission" (to the will of God). The word Sikh is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning 'disciple', or one who learns.Both religions are monotheistic. Sufi Muslims and Sikhs believe that the 'One' creator permeates the creation. Salafi Muslims on the other hand disagree. Sufi Muslims differ from Sikhs in that they believe that God manifests his attributes, namely the 99 names or attributes through his creation. According to Salafi Muslims, God's attributes are separate from his creation as he is only above his Throne. Islam believes that Muhammad was the last prophet, to whom the Quran was revealed by God in the 7th century CE. Sikhism was founded in the 15th century CE by Guru Nanak and the Guru Granth Sahib is the scripture followed by Sikhs as "The Living Guru".In Islam, the legal system based on the Quran and the Sunnah is known as Sharia; there is no such legal system mentioned in Guru Granth Sahib. Daily prayers are one of the pillars of Islam and is mandatory for all Muslims. Baptized Sikhs read the five banis (prayers) as part of their daily routine, Nitnem. Islam requires annual zakah (alms giving) by Muslims. Kirat Karna (doing an honest livelihood - earning honestly without any sort of corruption), Naam Japna (to chant and meditate on Naam, read and follow "The One") and Vand Chhako (Selfless service (Sewa) and sharing with others) are fundamental to Sikhism given by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Pilgrimage (to Mecca) is a crucial part of Islam, while Sikhism denounces pilgrimages, circumcision and rituals.


According to Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru stated in his 52 Hukamnamas that a Sikh should undertake Pilgrimages to Sikh Gurdwaras.

There has been a history of constructive influence and conflict between Islam and Sikhism. The Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib includes teachings from Muslims, namely saints (Baba Farid), a Muslim of the Chishti Sufi order and Kabir.


Mohammedan (also spelled Muhammadan, Mahommedan, Mahomedan or Mahometan) is a term for a follower of Muhammad, the Islamic prophet. It is used as both a noun and an adjective, meaning belonging or relating to, either Muhammad or the religion, doctrines, institutions and practices that he established. The word was formerly common in usage, but the terms Muslim and Islamic are more common today. Though sometimes used stylistically by some Muslims, a vast majority consider the term a misnomer.


Mulhid (Arabic: ملحد‎ mulḥid, plural ملحدون mulḥidun and ملاحدۃ malāḥidah) is an Islamic religious term meaning apostate, heretic, or atheist. In pre-Islamic times the term was used in the literal sense of the root l-ḥ-d: "incline, deviate". Its religious meaning is based on the Quranic verses 7:180, 22:25, and 41:40. Under the Umayyad caliphate it denoted desertion of the ummah and rebellion against legitimate caliphs. Early in the Abbasid era rationalistic theologians began using it in the sense of "heretic", and it eventually came to refer to rejection of religion as such, to materialistic scepticism and atheism. In Ottoman usage the term was commonly used in reference to Shia and certain Sufi doctrines that were considered to be subversive.


In Islam, the munafiqun ('hypocrites', Arabic: منافقون‎, singular منافق munāfiq) were a group decried in the Quran as outward Muslims who were inwardly concealing disbelief and actively sought to undermine the Muslim community. Munafiq is a person who in public and in community shows that he is a Muslim but rejects Islam or propagate against it either in his heart or among enemies of Islam. The hypocrisy itself is called nifāq (نفاق).

Musalla Complex

Musalla complex (also called Musallah Complex, Musalla of Gawhar Shad) is a large former Islamic religious complex located in Herat city in western Afghanistan. The 15th century complex is in ruins today. The complex ruins consist of the five huge 55 metre (180 feet) Musallah Minarets of Herat, mausoleums of Mir Ali Sher Navai, Sultan Husayn Mirza Bayqara and the ruins of a large mosque and Islamic madrasa school buildings. The complex was begun in 1417 by Queen Goharshad Begum, the wife of Timurid ruler Shah Rukh who established Herat as the capital of the Timurid Empire.


Mustaʾmīn or Musta'man (Arabic: مستأمن) is a historical Islamic classification for a non-Muslim foreigner, a harbi (from Dar al-Harb, the House of War, i.e. non-Muslim governed territories) who only temporarily resides in Muslim lands (Dar al-Islam) via a short-term safe-conduct (aman mu'aqqat) which affords the musta'min the protected status of dhimmis (non-Muslim subjects permanently living in a Muslim-ruled land) without having to pay the jizya. This would include merchants, messengers, and students and other groups that could be given an aman, or pledge of security. Foreign envoys and emissaries are automatically protected by aman. The imam is permitted to grant an aman to any number, including entire populations. Any private Muslim individual has the juridical competence to grant an aman to as many as ten who are otherwise denizens of the Dar al-Harb.


In Islamic law, najis (Arabic: نجس‎) means ritually unclean. According to Islam, there are two kinds of najis: the essential najis which cannot be cleaned and the unessential najis which become najis while in contact with another najis.Contact with najis things brings a Muslim into a state of ritual impurity (Arabic: نجاسة‎ najāsa, in opposition to ṭahārah, ritual purity). Ritual purification is then required before religious duties such as regular prayers are performed.


Shabakism is the name given to the beliefs and practices of the Shabak people in the disputed territories of northern Iraq. Most Shabaks regard themselves as Shia, but some identify as Sunnis. Despite this, their actual faith and rituals differ from Islam, and have characteristics that make them distinct from neighboring Muslim populations. Nevertheless, the Shabak people also go on pilgrimages to Shia holy cities such as Najaf and Karbala, and follow many Shiite teachings.The organization of Shabakism appears to be much like that of a Sufi order: adult laymen (murids) are bound to spiritual guides (pîrs or murshids) who are knowledgeable in matters of religious doctrine and ritual. There are several ranks of such pîrs; at the top stands the Baba, or supreme head of the order. Theoretically individuals can choose their own pîr, but in practice the pir families often become associated with lay families over several generations.Shabakism combines elements of Sufism with the uniquely Shabak interpretation of "divine reality." According to Shabaks, this divine reality supersedes the literal, or Shar'ia, interpretation of the Quran. Shabaks comprehend divine reality through the mediation of the "Pir" or spiritual guide, who also performs Shabak rituals. The structure of these mediatory relationships closely resembles that of the Yarsan.The primary Shabak religious text is the Buyruk or Kitab al-Managib (Book of Exemplary Acts) and is written in Turkoman. Shabaks also consider the poetry of Ismail I to be revealed by God, and they recite Ismail's poetry during religious meetings.


Taḥrīf (Arabic: تحريف‎, "distortion, alteration") is an Arabic term used by Muslims for the alterations which Islamic tradition claims Jews and Christians have made to the revealed books, specifically those that make up the Tawrat (or Torah), Zabur (possibly Psalms) and Injil (or Gospel).

Traditional Muslim scholars, based on Quranic and other traditions, maintain that Jews and Christians have changed the word of God.

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