Rights of non-Muslims in Islamic political system
An Islamic state is likely to have discrimination between Muslims and non –Muslims; religion believes is the main driver to economical, political and social factors. It’s based on ideology and those who do not believe in its ideology and Muslim faith are not involved in policy making and administration.
An ideological state discriminates people depending on their religious believes. However Islamic law has set aside rights for the non-Muslims in that state and they are not allowed to interfere with the matters of the state for they do not share the same ideology. The Islamic states follow the Sharia law which contains all laws of Muslims which are to be followed by all Muslims.
Muslims believes that without Sharia they would be no Islamic society. Their law was published in 1941. The rights of non-Muslims are limited in Islamic state and they are expected to follow Islamic law. All non Muslim men are entitled to join military. Non-Muslims are expected to pay a special tax for protection but women and elderly are exempted.
Those non-Muslims in military do not pay this tax. Governance in an Islamic state is based on majority rule and minority rights. This principle is applied in order to unite the society. The majority (Muslims) are expected to respect the basic rights of the minority (non-Muslims) (Wayne and Mackenzie, 22-25). This paper will focus on rights of non-Muslims in Islamic political system.
Origin of mankind
Sharia sets specific basic rights that are to be enjoyed by non-Muslims in an Islamic state. All the Muslims are expected to treat the non- Muslims based on their rights. This is aimed at uniting the community. The Qur’an states that all mankind has the same origin despite their religious believe.
That is all people originated from Adam and Eve. Thus according to Sharia Muslims are expected to recognize that both Muslims and non-Muslims has the same origin and that all must be treated equally. This is then to be respected and all human beings treated equally (Ranney 23-24).
Preservation of culture
Non-Muslims have their values, norms and beliefs which they should not be denied. Muslims are expected to respect the non-Muslims culture. In the Sharia law non-Muslims have a right to preserve their culture and tradition. The law respects that human beings should keep their culture as their true identity and thus no one should deny them this right.
The non-Muslims are considered by the law as full citizens and they should therefore be protected. They are free to open their own schools and colleges. They are also free to use their languages and customs. They are free to invite and be visited by Christian missionaries depending on their faith (Wayne and Mackenzie, 22).
Justice for all
Under the Sharia law Muslims and non-Muslims are entitled to be treated fairly. That is non-Muslims are entitled to enjoy the same justice as Muslims. This is well supported by the Qur’an that all people should be treated fairly regardless of what they believe in. The Islamic law guarantees all people freedom to believe in whichever religion of their choice. The law is clear that equal justice to be applied when judging all people and no one should be treated unfairly because of their religion and beliefs (Ranney, 20-22).
Freedom of expression
Non-Muslims are entitled to freedom of expression under the Islamic law. That is they are free to express their conscious and opinions. They can make associations freely just like Muslims. Traditionally non-Muslims used to be jailed if they criticized the government but the Sharia has stated that non-Muslims have a right to express their opinions.
They can now criticize the government and the head of state. Non-Muslims also have a right to criticize Muslims religion just like the Muslims criticize their religion. Non-Muslims are not to be forced to adopt what is against their conscience and creed but they should not violate the law of the state (Ranney, 15-20).
Non-Muslims are entitled to protection just like Muslims. Their lives and properties are to be protected from any harm. The blood of non-Muslim is considered sacred just like the blood of Muslims and thus they are not to be killed. If murdered the same punishment applied when a Muslim is murdered is applied to the murderer of a non-Muslim. The properties of a non-Muslim are to be protected from damage just like properties of a Muslim (Wayne and Mackenzie, 20-21).
Freedom of faith
Non-Muslims are not to be forced to convert to Muslim. They have a right to practice their religion and faith. If a non-Muslim converts to Islamic they are accepted and expected to be a good Muslims. Non-Muslims are not allowed to build new churches and they are expected to use the old churches.
They are not allowed to read their books and lead their prayers loudly. They are allowed to print and sell their books among themselves and in their churches but not to the public. Zimmis (non-Muslims) are not allowed to advertise their religion and their ceremonies on radio and TV. They are also not allowed to form congregations in the streets but they should go inside their churches. All this are to be followed in an Islamic state but they have a right to practice their religion fully (Ranney, 15-20).
Muslims and non-Muslims are entitled to the same civil raw. The follow the same civil laws as Muslims in matters relating to business, ownership of properties, sale of properties, contracts and loans among others. When it comes to punishment the civil law is applied regardless of one’s religion. The law is applied all offences such as theft, bribery, murder and damaging of properties regardless of one’s religion. Non-Muslims are not allowed to own a weapon.
Capital punishment is to be applied equally to both non-Muslims and Muslims. Criminal law applied is the same for non-Muslims and Muslims. The non-Muslims have a right to be treated the same as Muslims when it comes to penalties for crimes committed. However they non-Muslims are exempted when it comes to drinking of wine and eating and rearing pigs for their religion do not prohibit this. So if a Muslim destroys non-Muslim wine or pigs he has to pay (Ranney, 15-20).
Protection of honor
Under the Islamic law, non-Muslims are entitled to protection of honor. This protects a non-Muslim from assault, injury, abuse and even backbiting. Muslims are to respect non-Muslims and they are to be punished incase of these offences. Muslims are expected to avoid causing inconveniences to non-Muslims and non-Muslims should do the same by respecting Muslims (Wayne and Mackenzie, 17-20).
Non –Muslims have a right for their personal matters be decided depending on their personal law. The Islamic law is not to be enforced in their personal matters as incase of Muslims. The courts in the country should decide on the matter by following their personal law. For example in case of marriage matter a personal law is used.
For example a marriage without dowry the personal law is allowed to stand. Non-Muslims are free in matters relating to marriage, wine and eating of pigs. If a non-Muslim decides that the Islamic law to be applied, it is applied. If one of the parties is a Muslim then Islamic law is applied (Wayne and Mackenzie, 10-16).
Payment of tax (jizyag)
Non-Muslims are entitled to payment of tax depending on their means. Force is not exercised when it comes to paying tax and they enjoy kindness. They are not forced to pay more than they can afford. Their properties should not be sold in realization of tax. According to Islamic law non-Muslims are not to be punished for not paying tax.
The elderly and women are to be exempted from paying tax. Even rich people who become poor are not to be forced to pay tax. Such people are helped from the Islamic treasury. If a non-Muslim dies without clearing tax, his properties cannot be sold to realize the debt and the debt cannot be passed on to his family (Ranney10-15).
Non-Muslims are to pay trade tax just like Muslim traders. However non-Muslims have been paying more trade tax because they are the ones mostly involved in trade. Muslims are involved in country protection and defense. This is to encourage them to continue with defense and protect them from losses (Daud 28-29).
Non-Muslims are exempted from military services because it is the responsibility of Muslims. Only those people who believe in Islamic are entitled to protect its state. Only those people who believe in ideology are entitled to protecting the state and involved in its warfare. Non-Muslims are only involved as mercenaries. This makes non-Muslims not to be expected to follow the ethic codes when it comes to were. The tax they contribute is used in case of war (Ranney, 25-30).
Islamic state being ideological state did not allow non-Muslims to take part in the administration traditionally but today the Islamic law has entitled the non-Muslims to the right of representative. Now they are being allowed to be members of parliament. The representatives are allowed only to be involved in general matters of the country (Daud, 33).
Non-Muslims are entitled by the Islamic law to the education set for the whole country without discrimination. However they are not to be forced to educate their children Islamic religion but they can make their own arrangements to educate their children their own religion. They have a right to introduce their own religion to their schools, colleges and universities (Daud, 34-35).
Trade and profession
Non-Muslims are entitled by the Islamic law to take part in trade freely. They are also free to study and practice professions of their interest. They are entitled to enjoy the same rights as Muslims when it comes to economic enterprises. Muslims are not entitled to special benefits when it comes to trade and profession and thus all citizens are to be treated equally (Daud 34-35).
Non-Muslims are entitled to enjoy similar rights with Muslims in an Islamic political system. The law is applied in protecting non-Muslims from discrimination and ill treatment. Their lives and properties is protected from damage just like Muslims. If the non-Muslim offends a Muslim the same law is exercised as when a Muslim offends a non-Muslim.
Non-Muslims have a right not to be forced to convert to Islamic religion. They have a right to practice their own religion fully. Non-Muslims have a right to education, trade, and profession of their own interest. They also do have a right to express their opinions and conscience freely. The Islamic law has entitled the non-Muslims with all the rights as they are fully citizens of the Islamic state.
Daud, Abu. Non-Muslims under shari’ah. International graphics. New York: Wiley, 1999. Print.
Ranney, Austin. The governing of men. Introduction to political science. New York. Wiley, 1997. Print.
Wayne, Stephen, and Mackenzie Calvin. The politics of American government. New York: Wiley, 1999. Print.