Once upon a time, a widely circulated Jewish document described Islam as “an act of God’s Mercy”.Also, Jews in the near East, north Africa and Spain threw their support behind advancing Muslim Arab armies. No, these aren’t fairy tales or propaganda. The relationship between Muslims and Jews really was that cooperative and marked by peaceful coexistence.
Just ask Khalid Siddiqi of the Islamic Education and Information Center in San Jose, California where he also teaches Islamic Studies and Arabic at Chabot College and Ohlone College. Siddiqi notes that the first quote above is from S. D. Goitein’s book Jews and Arabs. The second is from Merlin Swartz’s ‘The Position of Jews in Arab lands following the rise of Islam’ (reprinted from The Muslim World. Hartford Seminary Foundation LXI1970).
Swartz also says the Muslim Arab conquest marked the dawn of a new era. Those forces that had led to the progressive isolation and disruption of Jewish life were not only checked they were dramatically reversed.
In an interview with Sound Vision, Siddiqi gave numerous examples of Jews flourishing under Muslim rule in places like Spain, Morocco, North African in general and various parts of the Middle East.
Siddiqi points out that Islam as a religion has given specific guidelines for the followers of Islam to base their relationship with any non-Muslim. These include People of Scripture, like the Jews, people who belong to other religions, and even atheists. Non-Muslims must be treated on the basis of Birr (kindness) and Qist (justice), as referred to Surah 60 verse 8 of the Quran.
It started at the time of the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him) The peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Jews began at the time of the Prophet.
Siddiqi notes that the Jews welcomed the Prophet when he arrived in Madinah at the time of Hijrah (migration), along with the rest of the city’s inhabitants. But the Prophet had begun the step towards good relations with Jewish and other communities in Madinah even before getting there. After receiving an invitation to Madinah from one of the city’s tribes that had accepted Islam, the Prophet signed treaties with the city’s Jewish, Christian and polytheist tribes before he arrived there.
These treaties clearly laid out responsibilities of each of the parties. It was based on these that the Prophet established the Mithaq al Madinah, the constitution of Madinah. Read More