PROPHET MUHAMMAD'S ﷺ TOLERANCE
The tolerance and kindness of our Prophet Muhammad, ﷺ, was remarkable and not even his worst enemies could deny it. His life was full of incidents that represent tolerance in its clearest definition. To choose some of these incidents as examples is really difficult, however some of these examples just as a demonstration of how merciful and tolerant he was.
Allah says in the Quran about Prophet Muhammad ﷺ: “We have sent you[o Muhammad], as a mercy for all the worlds.” Quran Surah anbiya 21:107
The best example of the tolerance shown by the Prophet to other religions may be the constitution itself, called the ‘Saheefah’ by early historians. When the Prophet migrated to Medina, his role as a mere religious leader ended; he was now the political leader of a state, governed by the precepts of Islam, which demanded that clear laws of governance be laid out to ensure harmony and stability in a society which once had been distraught by decades of war, one which must ensure the peaceful coexistence of Muslims, Jews, Christians and polytheists. Due to this, the Prophet laid down a ‘constitution’ which detailed the responsibilities of all parties which resided in Medina, their obligations towards each other, and certain restrictions which were placed on each. All parties were to obey what was mentioned therein, and any breach of its articles was regarded as an act of treachery.
The first article of the constitution was that all the inhabitants of Medina, the Muslims as well as those who had entered the pact from the Jews, Christian, and idolaters, were “one nation to the exclusion of all others.” People of other faiths were protected from harm as much as the Muslims, as is stated in another article, “To the Jews who follow us belong help and equity. He shall not be harmed nor his enemies be aided.”
The lives of the practitioners of other religions in the Muslim society were also given protective status. The Prophet said: “Whoever kills a person who has a truce with the Muslims will never smell the fragrance of Paradise.” (Saheeh Muslim) Since the upper hand was with the Muslims, the Prophet strictly warned against any maltreatment of people of other faiths. He said: “Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.” (Abu Dawud)
The Prophet, ﷺ, traveled to the city of Taif, a city located in the mountains nearby to Makkah, in order to invite them to accept Islam. The leaders of Taif, however, were rude and discourteous in their treatment of the Prophet. Not being content with their insolent attitude towards him, they even stirred up some gangs of the town to harass him.
When people of the village of Ta'if rejected him, stoned him, ejected him, and made his feet to bleed, the angel Gabriel came to him and said, "Allah has heard what your people say to you and how they reject you. He has ordered the angels of the mountains to obey whatever you tell them to do." The angel of the mountains called him, greeted him and said, "Send me to do what you wish. If you wish, I will crush them between the two mountains of Makkah." The Prophet said, "Rather, I hope that Allah will bring forth from their loins those who will worship Allah alone and not associate anything with Him.” Sahih Muslim 1795 ( Book 19, Hadith 4425)
When Prophet Muhammad conquered Makkah, its leaders came to him fearing that he would kill them as all conquerors do. The Prophet said to the Quraish: “O people of Quraish! What do you think I will do to you?
Ikrimah was the greatest enemy of Islam. Despite the general amnesty proclaimed by the Prophet, ﷺ, on the day of victory, Ikrimah picked a fight with the Muslims, suffered a defeat and then fled. When Ikrimah’s wife pleaded for his forgiveness, the Prophet, ﷺ, forgave.
Immediately after forgiveness, when Ikrimah appeared before the Prophet, ﷺhe said to him arrogantly that ‘if you think that because of your forgiveness I have also become a Muslim, then let it be clear that I have not become a Muslim. If you can forgive me while I remain steadfast on my own faith, then that is fine, otherwise I leave’. The Prophet, ﷺ, said, ‘You can, no doubt, remain steadfast on your faith. You are free in every way.’
Habir ibn al-Aswad was another vicious enemy of Muhammad and Islam. He inflicted a serious injury to Zainab, daughter of the Noble Prophet when she decided to migrate to Medina. She was pregnant when she started her migration, and the polytheists of Makkah tried to stop her from leaving. This particular man, Habbar bin al-Aswad, physically assaulted her and intentionally caused her to fall down from her camel. Her fall had caused her to miscarry her baby, and she herself, was badly hurt. Later on when he decided to come to Muhammad, ﷺ, our merciful and forgiving Prophet magnanimously forgave him.
The Najran Delegation