Tolerance and Coercion in Islam: Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition

Tolerance and Coercion in Islam: Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition

Tolerance and Coercion in Islam: Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition

Tolerance and Coercion in Islam: Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition

Synopsis

Since the beginning of its history, Islam has encountered other religious communities both in Arabia and in the territories conquered during its expansion. Muslims faced other religions from the position of a ruling power and were therefore able to determine the nature of that relationship in accordance with their world-view and beliefs. Yohanan Friedmann's original and erudite study examines questions of religious tolerance as they appear in the Quran and in the prophetic tradition, and analyses the principle that Islam is exalted above all religions, discussing the ways in which this principle was reflected in various legal pronouncements. The book also considers the various interpretations of the Quranic verse according to which 'No compulsion is there in religion', noting that, despite the apparent meaning of this verse, Islamic law allowed the practice of religious coercion against Manichaeans and Arab idolators, as well as against women and children in certain circumstances.

Excerpt

The purpose of the present study is to survey and analyze a substantial body of Sunnī Muslim tradition relevant to the notions of religious tolerance and coercion, religious diversity, hierarchy of religions, the boundaries of the Muslim community and the ramifications of all these on several topics in classical Islamic thought and law. I have made wide us of the ḥadīth collections and of exegesis on the relevant Qur°ānic verses. An attempt has been made to cover the views of the four madhāhib and, at times, of Ibn Ḥazm. I have tried to make wide use of the most representative works of each madhhab. It was not possible to refer to all relevant passages in the various sources: this would cause the footnotes to reach unmanageable proportions. It has been my primary goal to represent faithfully the views attributed to the classical traditionists and jurisprudents, and to evoke the atmosphere prevalent in the primary sources. To achieve this objective, I have frequently allowed the sources speak for themselves and have translated the more significant passages in their entirety. Some of the topics that were treated only briefly deserve independent monographs, but attempting this was not possible in the framework of this study. Wherever necessary because of dense print or large page format, I have indicated line numbers to enable the interested readers to locate the references as easily as possible. Qur°ānic translations generally follow Arthur J. Arberry's The Koran InterPreted, though in some cases modifications of his wording were deemed necessary.

I am indebted to the Rockfeller Foundation for granting me a month of undisturbed writing in the serene atmosphere of their Study and Conference Center, Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Italy. Most of Chapter Four was written during my residency there in September and October 1997. Most of Chapter Three was written during my residency at the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University in the fall of 1999. I wish to express my gratitude to the authorities of the Institute for granting me this opportunity. Some of the material was collected in the Firestone Library of Princeton University. Most of the book was written in the Asian and African Studies Reading Room of the Jewish National and University Library at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The staff of the Reading Room, headed by Ms. Gail Levin (and including Ms. Shoshana Adelstein, Ms. Na˓ama Israeli-David, Ms. Esther Shapira, Ms. Michal Zadok, Ms. Shoshana Zur and . . .

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