The issue of citizenship of
an Islamic State is a very sensitive one and needs elaboration. This
elaboration is all the more required in the wake of events that are ensuing
after the tragedy of Sep 11 2001.
It is generally held by
Muslim authorities that the non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic state are of
(i) Dhimmis, viz. those
who have come under an Islamic State on account of being subdued in a
(ii) Musta’mins, viz.
non-Muslim residents of Daru’l-Harb who temporarily reside in Daru’l-Islam.
It needs to be appreciated
that both these categories of non-Muslims are specific to the age of the
Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta).
The directives of Fiqh related to Dhimmis and Musta’mins consequently cannot
be related to the non-Muslims of today.
The Non-Muslim minorities
of today living in Muslim countries can only be classified as Mu‘āhids
(citizenship by contract).
Keeping in view the general welfare of the state, through mutual consent,
any contract can be made with non-Muslims of today regarding their rights.
As such, all dealings with them should be according to the terms of the
treaty concluded with them.
Muslims are required to
abide by these terms in all circumstances and to never violate them in the
slightest way. Such violations according to Islam are totally forbidden and,
in fact, amount to a grave transgression. The Qur’an says:
Keep [your] covenants;
because indeed you will be held accountable for them. (17:34)
The Prophet (sws) is
reported to have said:
Beware! I myself shall
invoke the justice of the Almighty on the Day of Judgement against the
person who oppresses and persecutes a Mu‘āhid, or reduces his rights, or
burdens him [with responsibilities] he cannot bear, or takes something from
him against his will. (Abū Dā’ūd: No. 3052)
In this regard, the Qur’ān
has explicitly stated the principle that Muslims while dealing with their
enemies must not exceed the limits of justice, not to speak of Mu‘āhids who
have accepted to live peacefully in an Islamic State:
And let not the enmity
of a people turn you away from justice. Deal justly; this is nearer to
As far as their rights are
concerned, they should be given all the rights that are sanctioned by the
norms of justice and fairness for people in a civilized society. For
Their life, wealth and
honour should be protected by the state such that no one is able to lay
hands on them.
They can be given
independence in their personal law.
The needy and poor among
them should be provided the basic necessities of life.
Their personal matters and
religious rituals should be exempted from the law of the state and no
interference should be made in their faith and religion.
Their places of worship
should be given full protection.
They should be allowed to
present their religion to others in a polite manner.
They should be allowed to
be elected to public offices except to those which may require Muslims to
preserve the Islamic identity of the state.
In short, they should be
given all the rights which are sanctioned by the norms of justice and
fairness for people in a civilized society, and in this regard all dealings
should be done in a befitting manner.