Muslim's Alliance wth Christians
It may sound strange to some ears, these days, to hear about
Muslim/Christian or Muslim/Jewish collaborations. However
the fabric of Islam and the reality of history clearly point
out the authenticity of these facts. Many Christians, and
perhaps Muslims, do not know that there were several instances
of cooperation between Muslims and Christians and Muslims
and Jews during the rise of Islam in defense of justice
and against the Idolaters.
was born into a community of idol-worshippers in Mecca in
the Arabian Peninsula in 622 AD. Christianity and Judaism
followers were in the neighboring Medina and Najran regions
of the Arabian Peninsula. When Prophet Muhammad delivered
Islam to his people, he was faced with much opposition from
the Pagan Quraysh of Mecca. During the first few years,
the Prophet was only able to convert a handful of people
to his cause. Among the converts were merchants, nobles
and slaves. The opposition towards the Muslims accelerated
and turned into torture and execution. Several of the slaves
were tormented to death by their masters (see our article,
the Focus on
Early History of Islam (A Refreshing Look at the Sirah) for more details. Among the actions, Prophet Muhammad had
pursued to save his people, was to seek protection from
Christians. Later on, the Prophet and the Jews interred
into an agreement for protecting their city, Medina against
the Pagans. Thus, Christian and Jews have a special status
in Islam and therefore special relations with Muslims.
to the popular belief, Islam is not intolerable to Judaism
and Christianity, but instead a special consideration to
Christians and Jews, known as the People of the Book, because
of the fact that they received their respective messages
from the same Divine fountain as Islam. Furthermore, Prophet
Moses, Jesus and Muhammad are the descendants of Prophet
Abraham, the father of monotheism. Tolerance, kindness,
respect and cooperation are, therefore, a divine Islamic
principles revealed to Prophet Muhammad (p) for conducting
his affairs with the People of the Book. These principles
led the early Muslims to work together with Christians and
Jews against evil and the Pagans. Among the foremost actions
that showed alliance were: The cooperation between the Christians
of Abyssinia and the Muslims of Mecca, and between the Jewish
tribes of Medina and Muslims. Before we relate these historical
events, let us look at the Islamic grounds for cooperation.
as example the following quotations:
those who have disbelieved say: (O Muhammad), sufficient
is God as a witness between me and you, and the (the witness
of ) whoever has the knowledge of the Scripture.” Qur’an, 13:43.
“But those firm in knowledge among them (People of the Book) and the believers believe in what has been revealed before you. And the establishers of prayer (especially) and the givers of poor-due (zakah) and the believers in God and the Last Day—those We will give a great reward. Indeed We have revealed to you (O Muhammad), as We revealed to Noah and the prophets after him. And We revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Issac, Jacob, the Descendence, Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the book (of Psalms)." Qur’an, 4:162-163.
most surely of the followers of the Book, there are those
who believe in Allah, and (in) that which has been revealed
to you, and (in) that which has been revealed to them, bowing
in humility to Allah; they will not sell the signs of Allah
for a miserable gain! For them is a reward with their Lord;
surely Allah is quick in account." Qur’an,
Prophet (p) also said:
"Let it be known, if any one (Muslim)
commits injustice, insults, aggravates, mistreats or abuses
a person of the People of the Book (protected, by the state
or an agreement), he will have to answer me (for his immoral
action) on the Day of Judgment." Abi
Yousef, Khiraj, see Izzeddin Blaque, Minhaj Alsaliheen,
is apparent in the references above that Muslims not only
believe in the messages of the previous prophets, but they
also revere, honor and practice their teachings. This fact
made the Muslims emotionally affected by what happen to
the followers of those prophets. For example, the Muslims
grieved when the Persian idolaters defeated the Byzantine
Christians. Gabriel descended, consoling the Muslims and
bringing the good tidings that the Christians would be victorious
in the near future. This was forecast with divine certainty
in Surah Rum:
Lam. Mim. Defeated has been the Roman Empire in the lands
close-by; yet it is they who, notwithstanding their defeat,
shall be victorious within a few years. With Allah rests
all power of decision in the past and in the future. And
on that day the believers shall rejoice in Allah's help.
He helps whomever He wills, since He alone is almighty,
a dispenser of grace." Qur’an,
Muslim’s Alliance with the
Christians of Abyssinia
In the fifth year after the
birth of Islam, Prophet Muhammad proposed to his companions
to migrate to Abyssinia in an attempt to deliver them from
the persecution and the violence of Quraysh. In this regard
the Prophet stated the following:
"I propose that you migrate to
Abyssinia, where there is a Christian king, well known for
his justice. He is said to have not wronged any one in his
kingdom." Al Hafith,
al Bidayah we al Nihayah, Volume 3, Page 58.
There are two important underlying facts in the Prophet’s
proposal showing grounds of Muslim’s tolerance towards
Christianity. The first underlying fact is that the Prophet
proposed a new home for Muslims that was governed by a Christian
king without any reservation about it in being a Christian
one. This is an outstanding evidence of Islam’s readiness
to collaborate and work with Christians in promoting goodness
and repelling oppression and evil. The second underlying
fact in the Prophets plan showing Christian’s giving
acceptance of the Prophet’s proposal was that he had
no reservation of the Christians not accepting to work with
the Muslims. These underlying facts are a momentous proof
that Muslims and Christians were not in conflict, but rather
in cooperation. Thus, despite Muslim’s and Christian’s
differences did not prevent the Prophet and the Christians
from working together on the many common element between
the Muslims and the Christians. We invite you to read Dr.
William Baker’s book, More in Common Than You Think,
the Bridge Between Islam and Christianity for more information
on the common ground existing between Islam and Christianity.
we learned from history, the Prophet’s proposal was
put to work and his companions who emigrated to Abyssinia
were welcomed and protected by its Christian King Negus.
This protection continued despite the fact that Quraysh
attempted to get King Negus to expel the believers from
his Kingdom. It was reported that Quraysh had sent Amr Ibn
Al'aas to King Negus with lots of precious gifts enticing
him to turn down the companions' request for protection,
and to send them back to Arabia. However, King Negus did
not take Amr's request, but called the Muslims to meeting
with him and his Patriarchs. When he heard their testimony
regarding their new faith, the good manners they were promoting,
and the mission of peace they were carrying, he did not
accept Quraysh’s request to turn the Muslims down.
He said to the Muslims: "You are free to go about where
you may wish in my kingdom. Where ever you go you shall
be protected." See Al Hafith, al Bidayah we al Nihayah,
Volume 3, Page 60.
Muslim continued to live in Abyssinia, under the protection
of its King even after the Muslims at home, in Medina in
the Arabian Peninsula, had gained strength and were able
to protect themselves against Quraysh. During their stay
in Abyssinia, the Muslims showed loyalty and allegiance
to the country that hosted them. In fact, al Hafith in al
Bidayah we al Nihayah relates that the immigrant Muslims
in Abyssinia had fought alongside the Christian forces of
the King against rebels in their country. Al Hafith reported
that Muslims joined the soldiers of King Negus fighting
rebels in the Kingdom. He stated that al Zubier Ibn al-Awam,
who was the leader of a squadron, had swam across the Nile
river with his companions to fight the King’s enemy
on the other side. This act clearly showed Muslim’s
alliance with the Christians, and was driven by Islamic
principle of loyalty in returning a good deed for a good
deed. God said:
there any Reward for good--other than good?" Qur’an, 55:60.
Christian Delegation to Prophet Muhammad
Another significant Christian’s alliance with Muslims
was the Abyssinian Christian delegation to Prophet Muhammad
in his exile. In its campaign of violence against Muslims,
Quraysh imposed an economic and social sanction on the Prophet
and his family in pressuring them to abandoned Islam.
In the eighth year of the beginning of Islam, Quraysh imposed
a boycott on the Prophet and his family and forced them
to move out of Mecca to an arid and dry narrow valley known
as the Abu-talib Valley. The boycott went on for twenty-eight
long months and was in both the social and economic aspects
of life. No member of Quraysh could deal, trade, buy or
sell, or socialize with the Prophet’s family.
The boycott took its toll on the Prophet and his family.
As a result, they had to eat grass, insects and roots of
shrubs. Some of them could not withstand the hardship and
had fallen ill and died. Shortly after the boycott was removed,
the Prophet’s wife Khadeejah and, shortly after, his
Uncle Abu Talib died. Their deaths were directly related
to the long years of malnutrition and hardship condition
What is important for us in this story is that the lifting
off of the boycott was triggered by the Christian delegation
from Abyssinia that visited the Prophet in his exile in
the eighth year after the prophethood. In coordination with
Ja’ffar ibn Abi Talib, the cousin of the Prophet,
and by King Negus of Abyssinia, a Christian/Muslim delegation
of thirty-three people was sent to visit and investigate
the condition of the Muslims and the ill treatment they
were exposed to by Quraysh. When the delegation visited
the Prophet in his exile they were overwhelmed with the
wisdom of the Prophet and the verses of the Qur’an
he recited to them. Quraysh leaders insulted the Christian
delegation for showing sympathy to the Prophet and his family.
However, the delegation abstained from returning Quraysh’s
insult, and for this occasion, Allah revealed this verse
in Surah 28, Verses 52-55, which state:
“Those to whom We sent the Book
before this, --they do believe in this (Revelation); and
when it is recited to them, they say: We believe therein,
for it is the truth from our Lord: Indeed we have been Muslims
(bowing to God’s Will) from before this. Twice will
they be given their rewards, for that they have preserved,
that they avert evil with good, and that they spend in charity
out of what We have given them. And when they hear vain
talk, they turn away therefrom and say: To us our deeds,
and to you yours.” Qur'an,
Quraysh showed anger towards the Christian delegation on
the outside, but the act of a foreign investigation into
their internal affairs, and exposing their inhumane treatment
of their own people, was a hidden concern that led to the
removal of the siege. Moved either by the fear of an intervention
of a foreign power or by the awakening of their conscientious,
several leaders of Quraysh, Hisham bin Amr, Zuhair bin Umayah,
Mut’im ibn ‘Addi, and Buhtury ibn Hihsam agreed
amongst themselves to “stop the fool act of the boycott”
and planed to call the rest of Quraysh leaders into a public
meeting at the Ka’ba for the purpose of ending the
boycott. The meeting was a success and the removal of the
boycott was achieved. Thus, the act of the Christian delegation
of Abyssinia triggered a chain of actions that led to the
lifting off of the boycott. This Christian action was indeed
a considerable act of faith that initiated the process of
delivering the Prophet and his family out of the mad boycott,
and also a joint move with Muslims against injustice and
freedom of belief.
During the rise of Islam and beyond, Muslims and Jews co-existed
in harmony for many years. Tolerance and virtue were indivisible
parts of Islam that allowed for this unity. In the year
622 CE, Prophet Muhammad (p) migrated from Mecca to Medina
ending a 13 years strive in calling the people of Quraysh
to Islam and escaping their latest plot to assassinate him.
However in the city of Medina, the Prophet made alliance
treaties with the eleven Jewish tribes and authored and
dictated the Constitution of Medina, known as Shaheefatul
Madina, to be the law of a land inhabited by different ethnic
groups and nationalities. This document constituted the
law to ever govern unified Jews and Muslims in a single
state. "The Jews of Banu 'Awf are
one nation with the Muslims; the Jews have their religion
and the Muslims have theirs," is one of its
This historical manifestation established, political rights,
citizen obligations, freedom of belief, freedom of speech
and trade, the sanctity of life, the prohibition of bloodshed
and crime, and the laws of municipalities and justice. The
document also secured and promoted cooperation and fraternity
among all people of any creed, color, ethnicity, and lineage,
and sets out the criterion of righteousness as the base
The constitution also spelled out the duties of both the
Jews and Muslims to protect each other and their city from
their enemies and to uphold justice and promote ethical
following is an English translation of the Constitution
of Medina, as recorded by Ibn Hisham.
The text of this translation is copied as a hole from the
book, Sunshine at Madinah, published by Islamic Publication
International. No attempt is made to follow literally the
lay-out of the original. On the contrary, we have, in some
places, deliberately departed from the original paragraphing,
and added numeral prefixes to the main paragraphs of the
translation, for the purposes of easy reference and understanding.
Also see Minhaj Alsaliheen, Page 777, and Albidayah wa Alnihayah,
Volume 3, Page 177.
"The Messenger of God wrote document (Stipulating the relationship) between Immigrants and Helpers, in which he made peace with the Jews and pledged himself to them that they will be established in security regarding their religion, wealth and property. He pledged to honor certain rights for them and demanded that they fulfill certain obligations."
Constitution of Medina reads:
1. In the name of Allah the Compassionate
the Most Merciful. This is a document dictated by Muhammad
the Prophet (p) (governing the relations) between the believers
and Muslims from Quraysh and Yathrib (Medina), and those
who followed and joined them and strove with them. They
are one nation, distinct from all nations. The Immigrants
from Quraysh, according to their established customs are
bound together and shall ransom their prisoners in the kindness
and justice common among believers.
2. The Banu 'Awf (a Jewish tribe), according to their established
customs, are bound together as before, each group shall
ransom their prisoners in the kindness and justice common
among believers. The Banu Sa'idah, the Banu al-Harith, The
Banu Jushm and the Banu an-Najjar (Jewish tribes) are likewise.
3. The Banu 'Amr ibn 'Awf, the Banu an-Nabeet, and the Banu
al-Aws (Jewish tribes) likewise.
4. Believers shall not leave anyone among them in destitution
by failing to give for him redemption money or blood-wit
5. A believer shall not take as an ally a freed man of another
believer against him.
6. The God-fearing believers shall be against who ever rebels
or him who seeks to spread injustice, or sin or aggression
or spread enmity between believers; the hands of everyone
of them shall be together against him, even if he be a son
of one of them.
7. A believer shall not slay a believer for the sake of
an unbeliever nor shall he aid an unbeliever against a believer.
8. The bond of God is one, the least of them (believers)
may give protection (to a stranger) on behalf of them. Believers
are protectors one of another, to the exclusion of outsiders.
9. The Jew who follows us is surely entitled to our support
and the same equal rights as any one of us. He shall not
be wronged nor his enemy be assisted.
10. The peace of believers is one and indivisible; no believer
shall make a separate peace without other believers, when
they are engaged in war in the way of God, except when conditions
are deemed fair and equitable to all.
11. In every foray, a rider must take another behind him.
The believers must avenge the blood of one another, if anyone
of them fails fighting in the cause of God. The God-fearing
believers follow the best and most upright guidance.
12. No polytheist shall take the property or person of Quraysh
under his protection nor shall he intervene on their behalf
against a believer.
13. Whoever is convicted of deliberately killing a believer
without legitimate cause, shall be liable to retaliation,
unless the next of kin is satisfied (with blood money).
The believers shall all be against him, and they are bound
to keep him under their custody (until either the next of
kin is satisfied or retaliation takes place).
14. It shall not be lawful to a believer who has accepted
this document as binding, and who believes in God and the
last day, to help an evil-doer or to shelter him. The curse
of God and His anger on the Day of Resurrection will be
upon him if he does, and neither repentance nor ransom will
be received from him.
15. Whenever you have a disagreement amongst you, it must
be referred to God and Muhammad.
16. The Jews shall contribute to the cost of war, so long
as they are fighting alongside the believers.
17. The Jews of Banu 'Awf are one nation with the Muslims;
the Jews have their religion and the Muslims have theirs,
their freedmen and their persons shall be protected except
those who behave unjustly or sinfully, for they hurt but
themselves and their families. The same applies to the Jews
of Banu an-Najjar, Banu al-Harith, Banu Sa'idah, Banu Jusham,
Banu al-Aws, Banu Tha'labah, and the Jafnah, clan of the
Tha'labah and Banu al-Shua'ibah. Doing good deeds is a protection
against sinfulness. The freedmen of Tha'labah are as themselves.
The close friends of the Jews are as themselves.
18. None of them shall go out to war, save with the permission
of Muhammad. But none shall be prevented from taking revenge
for a wound inflicted upon him. Whoever kills a man, kills
himself and his household, unless it be one who has wronged
him, for God would accept that.
19. The Jews must bear their expenses and the Muslims bear
theirs. Each must help the other against anyone who attacks
the people of this document. Their condition must be one
of mutual advice, consultation and charity rather than harm
20. No man is liable for a crime committed by his ally.
Support must be given to him who is wronged. The Jews must
spend of their wealth, along with the believers, so long
as fighting continues.
21. Yathrib (Medina) shall be a sanctuary for the people
of this document. A stranger under protection shall be as
his protecting host, unharmed and committing no crime. A
woman shall not be given protection without the consent
of her family.
22. If any dispute likely to cause trouble should arise
among the people of this document, it must be referred to
God, and to Muhammad.
23. God approves and is pleased with the piety and goodness
in this document.
24. Quraysh and their helpers shall not be given protection.
25. The people of this document are bound to help one another
against any attack on Yathrib. If they are called to make
peace and maintain it, they must do so; and if they make
a similar demand on the Muslims, it must be carried out
except with one who insists on fighting against their religion.
26. To every small group belongs the share which is their
due as members of the larger group which is party to this
covenant. The Jews of the Aws and their clients, are entitled
to the same rights as any other party to this document,
together with the goodness and charity from all parties
to it. Charity and good deeds exclude sinfulness and wrongdoing.
27. There is no responsibility except for one's own deeds.
28. God approves of such truth and goodness as is included
in this document.
29. This document shall not constitute any protection for
the unjust or the wrongdoers.
30. Whoever goes out to fight or stays at home is safe in
the city, unless he has committed an injustice or a crime.
God is the protector of whoever honors his commitment to
this document, and is God-fearing and so is Muhammad, the
Messenger of God.
Tolerance of other faiths and the
spirit of cooperation with all members of the human family
are engrained in the fabric of Islam. Muslims and Jews and
Muslims and Christians lived for thousands of years in peace
and harmony. When there was conflict and clash between
Muslims and Jews, it was not because of the faith, but because
of the breaching of certain agreements or for aggression
and injustice. As an example, check out our article, The
Prophet of Islam and the Jews: Basis of Conduct, Acceptance,
Respect and Cooperation and then click on "Other