Third Cornerstone: Binding Muslims to Non-Muslims
Covenant with the Jews of Al-Madinah
After the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) firmly established the foundations of the rising Muslim Ummah and its new society based on religious, political, and administrative unity, he (pbuh) commenced the regulation of relations with non-Muslims to ensure peace, security, happiness, and welfare for all citizens.
He (pbuh) passed laws of tolerance and forgiveness towards minorities that had been previously unseen in the world at that time, which was full of bigotry and controlled by individual and ethnic interests.
The closest people to Al-Madinah at that time were the Jews.
The Prophet (pbuh) made a covenant with the Jews, who, although they harbored enmity towards Muslims, still had not showed any opposition or hostility. He (pbuh) secured the rights of the Jewish minority by granting them full citizenship and freedom to practice their religion, manage their estates and participate in defense, while putting a strong emphasis on the consequences of committing treason, crime, or corruption.
He (pbuh) extended the right of protection, security, peace, and justice not only to the Jews who lived in Al-Madinah, but also to the allies of Jews who were non-Muslims.
The following are the terms pertaining to the Jews in the Covenant of Al-Madinah:
- The Jews of Banu ‘Awf are one community with the believers. To the Jews their religion and to the Muslims their religion. This applies to their freedmen and to themselves with the exception of anyone who acts unjustly and sinfully; for he harms only himself and his household.
- To the Jews of Banu An-Najjar, the Jews of Banu Jusham, the Jews of Banu Al-Aws, and the Jews of Banu Tha‘labah (applies) the like of what applies to the Jews of Banu ‘Awf, with the exception of anyone who acts unjustly and sinfully; for he harms only himself and his household.
- Jafnah are a sect of Tha‘labah. They are (treated) like them.
- To Banu Ash-Shutaybah (applies) the like of what applies to the Jews of Banu ‘Awf. Righteousness without iniquity (is demanded).
- The freedmen of Tha‘labah are (treated) like them.
- The allies of the Jews are (treated) like them.
- No one of them may go out (of Al-Madinah) except with the permission of Muhammad (pbuh).
- The Jews must bear their expenses, and the Muslims must bear their expenses.
- They are bound to help one another against whoever wages war against the people of this document (pact).
10. Among them shall be (mutual) advice and consultation; righteousness without iniquity.
11. A person (on either side of this pact) will not be made answerable for (the wrongs of) his ally.
12. Help shall be given to the wronged.
13. The Jews shall contribute to the expenditure (of defending Al-Madinah) as long as they are fighting together with them.
14. The valley of Yathrib is inviolable for the people of this document.
15. A stranger who has been granted asylum (by anyone party to this pact) will be (treated) as his host (who gave him asylum), unharmed as long as he commits no crime.
16. A woman shall be granted asylum only with the consent of her family.
17. Should any incident or quarrel arise between the people of this document and it is to be feared lest it should cause trouble, it must be referred to Allah Almighty and to Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). Allah sides with what is nearest to piety and righteousness in (fulfilling) this document.
18. No asylum shall be granted to the Quraish or to those who support them.
19. They (Muslims and Jews) shall help one another against those who attack Yathrib.
20. If they (the Jews) are called (by Muslims) to make peace (with enemies) and maintain it, they must do so; and if they (the Jews) make a similar demand, it shall be incumbent upon the believers, except in the case of those who wage war on account of religion.
21. Every party (to the pact) shall be responsible for their portion, from their side that is facing them.
22. This document will not protect an oppressor or a sinner.
23. Anyone who goes out of Al-Madinah shall be safe, and anyone who stays in it shall be safe, except for one who acts unjustly or sinfully.
Verily, Allah is the Protector of those who act righteously and fear Him, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).1
- 1 Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawiyyah, The Messenger of Allah r Making Peace With the Jews and the Document He r Wrote between the Muslims from the Muhajirun and the Ansar, vol. 2; Safiur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum, Treaty with the Jews.