Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
In the midst of religious tension in Malaysia, we hereby would like to come upon this after receiving some unique news from Sarawak. We are informed that Masjid al-Naim and The Good Shepherd Church in Lutong, Sarawak with a distance of approximately 100 meters between each other take the initiative of sharing the same parking lot.
Every Friday, the church’s authorities will open the parking lot for the usage of the Muslims. Meanwhile, on Sundays, the Masjid’s authorities will return the favor for the Christians.
What is the Islamic perspective on this? What can we understand from fiqh al-ta’ayush (co-existence) in this modern context? Hence, we will discuss this issue in this series of Bayan Linnas entitled: “Mosque and Church Sharing the Same Parking Lot”.
The Need of Understanding the Concept of Co-existence (Fiqh al-Ta’ayush) in Modern Times
We start this issue with the verse of the Quran:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another”
Al-Zamakhsyari when commenting on this verse stated that men are descendants of Adam and Hawwa. We are born from the same father and mother without any person having an advantage upon the other. So, there is no reason in boasting on one’s ancestry.
Ibn Katheer also said: “This verse intended for humans to socialize and get to know one another between people of various backgrounds.” (Tafseer al-Quran al-‘Azhim, 4/275)
Syed Qutb commented on this verse saying: “O human, it is Allah himself who brings upon this. He made you into various races and tribes not in the intention of you having competitions between each other. In fact, it is in the purpose of knowing one another and live peacefully.”
“Differences in languages, colors, nature, ethics, specialties and skills are not supposed to lead to disputes, but are essential for humans in helping each other, thus fulfilling the needs of men” (Tafseer fi Zilal al-Quran, 15/112)
We need to realize that the unity between us as humans are in the sense of humanity (insaniyyah) and not in the sense of creedal nation. (al-ummah al-‘aqidiyyah).
It is human nature to desire peace, justice and unity, that will ultimately lead us to appreciate the co-existence (fiqh ta’ayush) in this diversity. It is the obligation of the humans to realize that no matter how much differences we have in regards to our skin colors, races, political ideologies and religions, we are the same in the sense of brotherhood.
There are various examples in the Quran on how the Prophets are named upon their own nation as ‘brothers’, although there still are people who defy them.
وَإِلَىٰ ثَمُودَ أَخَاهُمْ صَالِحًا
And to the Thamud [We sent] their brother Salih
قَالُوا أَرْجِهْ وَأَخَاهُ وَابْعَثْ فِي الْمَدَائِنِ حَاشِرِينَ
They said, "Postpone [the matter of] him and his brother and send among the cities gatherers
وَإِلَىٰ عَادٍ أَخَاهُمْ هُودًا
And to 'Aad [We sent] their brother Hud.
وَإِلَىٰ مَدْيَنَ أَخَاهُمْ شُعَيْبًا
And to Madyan [We sent] their brother Shu'ayb
According to these verses, it is clearly stated that the word ‘brother’ is used vastly although not all of them are of the same faith. They are preached by the Prophets with patience and wisdom (hikmah).
In fact, it is clearly recorded in history that Ibn ‘Abbas RA said:
لَوْ قَالَ لِي فِرْعَوْنُ: بَارَكَ اللَّهُ فِيكَ، قُلْتُ: وَفِيكَ، وَفِرْعَوْنُ قَدْ مَاتَ
"If Pharaoh had said to me, 'May Allah bless you,' I would have said, 'And you.' But Pharaoh is dead."
Al-Adab Al-Mufrad (1113), Musannaf Ibn Abi Syaibah (26343)
This indicates that differences in ideologies, as well as beliefs is not an issue to the Muslims in accepting and considering non-Muslims as brothers of the same ancestors (Adam and Hawwa).
THE IDEAL EXAMPLES OF FIQH AL-TA’AYYUSH (CO-EXISTENCE) IN DAILY LIFE
This is based on a true story of a blind Muslim named Abdullah and a tiny paralytic Christian man named Samir. The tiny Samir was carried by his friend, Abdullah on his back. They need each other’s help; Samir as the one who lead the way while Abdullah as the one who carries him. Both of them made good use of each other’s strengths and specialties to live life.
Samir worked as a storyteller in a coffee shop at the ancient city of Damascus. Meanwhile, Abdullah sold hummus (Levantine dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas or other beans, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and garlic) in front of the shop. His everyday entertainment was Samir’s entertaining words. However, each meeting has its farewell. By the will of Allah, Samir died. Abdullah grieved for the death of his beloved friend for almost a week and shut himself up in his room. At last, he was found dead in his room as a result of the grief he felt of losing his best friend.
This is an ideal example of two persons who aren’t concern about the differences of their religion, and have a strong sense of humanity, by which, they complete each other across the boundaries of their religion.
ISLAM-CHRISTIAN TOLERANCY IN ISLAMIC HISTORY
The most ideal inter-religion practice can always be found from the examples of the Prophet PBUH, the companions and the pious predecessors in which their stories and narrations of the past are the basis of our actions. This is the best judgment and evidence for us.
The Prophet PBUH when narrating the story of the Prophet Jesus (Isa) AS, said:
أَنَا أَوْلَى النَّاسِ بِعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ، وَالأَنْبِيَاءُ إِخْوَةٌ لِعَلاَّتٍ، أُمَّهَاتُهُمْ شَتَّى، وَدِينُهُمْ وَاحِدٌ
“Both in this world and in the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all the people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (3443)
First: The Charter of Medina
After the Prophet PBUH’s migration to Medina, his role is not only limited to being the Messenger of Allah, but also as the political leader of a new city which is governed according to the Islamic values and principles. This brings to the amendment of distinct rules and laws to bring peace and harmony in the society – which was once falling apart due to constant battles among them – as a multi-religious society which comprises of Muslims, Jews, Christians and the idolaters.
As for that, The Prophet PBUH established a charter or constitution that specifies obligations and responsibilities of each people who reside in Medina. It includes the obligations and responsibilities between each other, also some limitations and boundaries applied for both. This charter is known as Sahifah Madinah.
Second: The Najran Christians Prayed in Masjid Nabawi
The Prophet PBUH also once let the Christians from Najran prayed in Masjid Nabawi. When it was time for their prayers, they pray in the masjid facing the east. The Prophet PBUH said, which means, “Leave them be.”
This narration is mentioned by Ibn Ishaq in Sirah Ibn Ishaq, Imam Ibn Kathir in Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azhim, 2/42; Ibn al-Qayyim in Ahkam Ahl al-Zimmah, 1/397 as well as Zad al-Ma’ad 3/549.
According to this narration, it is understood that the Najran Christians once prayed in Masjid Nabawi with the permission of the Prophet PBUH himself. On the other hand, there are important details to be taken into consideration:
- This narration (riwayat) is weak (dhaif) due to breakage in the chain of narrators (sanad). It is narrated by Ibn Ishaq from a narrator named Muhammad bin Jaafar bin al-Zubair, from the Prophet PBUH. Muhammad bin Jaafar is not one of the companions. Instead, he only had a chance to study prophetic traditions (hadith) with young predecessors (Narrators who did not live during the Prophet's lifetime and narrated from the young Companions).
- Ibn Qayyim said that the action is on the condition that it is not being done on regular basis.
- There is no other narration (riwayat) which states that the Prophet PBUH allows the non-Muslims to do their rituals in the Masjid Nabawi except for this one.
- Syeikh Muhammad bin Ibrahim Alu al-Syeikh stated that this narration shows that it is permissible only if it a necessity.
Third: The Meeting between Najran Christian and the Prophet PBUH
جَاءَ الْعَاقِبُ وَالسَّيِّدُ صَاحِبَا نَجْرَانَ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُرِيدَانِ أَنْ يُلاَعِنَاهُ، قَالَ فَقَالَ أَحَدُهُمَا لِصَاحِبِهِ لاَ تَفْعَلْ، فَوَاللَّهِ لَئِنْ كَانَ نَبِيًّا فَلاَعَنَّا، لاَ نُفْلِحُ نَحْنُ وَلاَ عَقِبُنَا مِنْ بَعْدِنَا. قَالاَ إِنَّا نُعْطِيكَ مَا سَأَلْتَنَا، وَابْعَثْ مَعَنَا رَجُلاً أَمِينًا، وَلاَ تَبْعَثْ مَعَنَا إِلاَّ أَمِينًا. فَقَالَ " لأَبْعَثَنَّ مَعَكُمْ رَجُلاً أَمِينًا حَقَّ أَمِينٍ ". فَاسْتَشْرَفَ لَهُ أَصْحَابُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ " قُمْ يَا أَبَا عُبَيْدَةَ بْنَ الْجَرَّاحِ ". فَلَمَّا قَامَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم " هَذَا أَمِينُ هَذِهِ الأُمَّةِ "
Al-`Aqib and Saiyid, the rulers of Najran, came to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) with the intention of doing Lian one of them said to the other, "Do not do (this Lian) for, by Allah, if he is a Prophet and we do this Lian, neither we, nor our offspring after us will be successful." Then both of them said (to the Prophet (ﷺ) ), "We will give what you should ask but you should send a trustworthy man with us, and do not send any person with us but an honest one." The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "I will send an honest man who Is really trustworthy." Then every one of the companions of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) wished to be that one. Then the Prophet said, "Get up, O Abu 'Ubaida bin Al-Jarrah." When he got up, Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "This is the Trustworthy man of this (Muslim) nation."
Sahih al-Bukhari (4380)
The above prophetic evidence (hadith) is regarding the incident that happened during the time of the Prophet PBUH where a of delegation of Najran Christians came to meet with the Prophet PBUH. They came to meet him and he never forsake, ignored nor asked them to leave. In fact, there was a dialogue between them and this event was later known as the event of al-Mubahala.
Fourth: Hatib bin Abi Balta’ah and al-Muqawqis, The Roman Governor of Egypt
The Prophet PBUH sent Hathib bin Abi Balta’ah to Egypt to deliver a letter from him to its governor. The letter contains an invitation to revert to Islam from the Prophet PBUH. Dr. Muhammad ‘Imarah stated that there was a statement from Hatib bin Abi Balta’ah in a dialogue between him and al-Muqawqis that proved that he accepted religious tolerance.
Hatib bin Abi Balta’ah said: “It is never in our saying to stop you from having faith in Jesus (Isa a.s). Instead, we are here to call upon him (to the real understanding of Jesus’s teachings)…” It is Allah who creates the diversity and differences in the teachings of religion, which is the law of nature (sunnatullah).
Fifth: The Story of Syeikh Ahmad Kiftaro
Syeikh Ahmad Kiftaro Rahimahullah upon receiving the visit from Pope John Paul II, he gave a speech on how the Muslims and Christians lived harmoniously and peacefully in Syria. Together, they fought for their land against the enemies until they won. Now (on the time of the lecture), the enemies were long gone while they still live harmoniously together in the country.
Sixth: The Stance of the Religious Scholars of al-Azhar
It seems that from long time ago, the credible religious scholars of al-Azhar as well as its Grand Scholars treated the Christians with their best manners and wisdom. The most prominent of them are Syeikh Muhammad al-Maraghi, Syeikh Mutawalli al-Sya’rawi and current Grand Syeikh of al-Azhar; Syeikh Dr. Ahmad Tayyib. He is also a pioneer of Fiqh al-Ta’ayyush (co-existence) and attends meetings with Christian priests.
Seventh: The Opinion of Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradhawi
Hereby, we include the opinion of Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradhawi written in his book, al-Halal wa al-Haram fi al-Islam. “All of these obligations (the prohibitions and permissions in Islam) are applied on all people including the people of the books (ahl al-kitab) wherever they are. However, for those who live under Islamic countries and rulers, there are specific rules for them. They are known as ahl al-zimmah, which means ‘people of covenant’.”
This is a term used by those who made an agreement with Allah, His Messenger and the Muslims to live under the rules of Islam in peace and harmony.
They are included in a new term which is citizen in Islamic state. The Muslims has concluded since the first century to this day that they (ahl al-zimmah) have the same rights as what are given to the Muslims. They are accountable for everything that is applied to the Muslims except on religious and creedal matters. Therefore, Muslims will not intervene in their matters pertaining religion in this context. They are able to live harmoniously with the Muslims in the state.” (Refer al-Halal wa al-Haram fi al-Islam, page 292).
STATEMENT OF THE MUFTI OF FEDERAL TERRITORY
The example from the authorities of Masjid al-Naim and The Good Shepherd Church in Sarawak - the practice of sharing parking lots - , we view this as a good example in preserving peace and tolerance between religions in Malaysia. Hence, The Council of Fatwa of Federal Territory in their 101st meeting on 26th April 2017 concluded that it is permissible to share parking lots between masjids and churches in Islamic point of view.
In the study of Islamic jurisprudence (usul al-Fiqh), there is a thing called mafhum al-aula (مفهوم الأولى) in the study of analogical reasoning (qiyas). Mafhum al-aula means: ‘Jurisdiction of the unregulated issue (far’; new issue) is even greater than of the regulated one (asl; original issue)’. If Christians were once allowed to enter mosques for some purposes in Islamic, then sharing parking lots which situated outside the mosque/church should not be an issue.
Imam Syihabuddin al-Qarafi, a Maliki scholar said: “There is a covenant with the dhimmi where their rights are protected. This is because, their lives are in our protection as well as Allah and His messenger. Whoever harm them even by words, insulting their honor and dignity or whatever forms of offense is considered as an act of deserting Allah, His messenger and Islam’s legal protection.”
It is our obligation to protect whoever falls under the protection of Allah and His messenger. As for that, submitting them to the enemies is in the same degree of breaching the covenant made by both parties and considered as an offense. The Caliphates themselves took this seriously and gave their protection to the citizens of Islamic states.
In addition, doors to inter-religion tolerances are always wide open in daily life issues, as long as it does not interfere with the creedal matters. Allah says in the Quran:
لَتَجِدَنَّ أَشَدَّ النَّاسِ عَدَاوَةً لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الْيَهُودَ وَالَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُواۖ وَلَتَجِدَنَّ أَقْرَبَهُم مَّوَدَّةً لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّا نَصَارَىٰ ۚذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ مِنْهُمْ قِسِّيسِينَ وَرُهْبَانًا وَأَنَّهُمْ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ
“You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews and those who associate others with Allah; and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, "We are Christians." That is because among them are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant.”
Ibn Kathir states:
“Those who named themselves as Christians, following the teachings of the Messiah (Isa a.s) and in the methodology of Injil, there are love towards Islam and its believers in them. The reason is, the love and gentleness they have are part of the teachings of the Messiah himself.” (Tafseer al-Quran al-‘Azhim, 2/119)
May Allah always protect and bless our country with peace-loving community that respect each other. May our country be considered as baldatun tayyibatun wa rabbun ghafur, Amin.
 Al-Kasysyaf ‘an Haqa’iq Ghawamidh al-Tanzil, 4/374.
 Narration by al-Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, no. 1113.
 Refer al-Rahiq al-Makhtum by Syeikh Safiyurrahman Mubarakfuri.
 See Taqrib al-Tahzib, 2/471.
 See Zad al-Ma'ad, 3/557.
 Muhammad ‘Imarah. Al-Islam wa al-Akhar, pg. 83.
 The Grand Mufti of Syria, he held the position until he died. Then he is replaced by Syeikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun.
 The full speech of Syeikh Ahmad Kiftaro Rahimahullah during the visit of Pope John Paul II to Syria in the year 2001 can be accesed through the following link: http://www.kuftaro.net/english/activity1.php?activity_no=1%20&%20act_no=%2013
 In Fiqh al-Siyasah al-Syar’iyyah oleh al-Anbari ahl al-zimmi are the Jews, Christians, Zoroastrian (fire-worshipper) and others who are a resident in Muslim countries. These are the group of people who are acknowledged by the government as long as they obey Islam legislation system.
 See al-Halal wa al-Haram fi al-Islam (translation.), pg. 646.
 See Al-Madakhil Al-Usuliyyah Li Al-Istinbat Min Al-Sunnah Al-Nabawiyyah. pg. 156.
 See al-Furuq, 3/14.
 Refer Maratib al-Ijma’ by Ibn Hazmin al-Zahiri
 In Fiqh al-Siyasah al-Syar’iyyah the rights of ahl zimmi are as the following:
- Honour the peace and protection agreement.
- There should not be coercion on them to embrace Islam.
- It is prohibited to destroy their house of worship.
- Protect and defend them
- Do good and have sympathy for them.
- Their blood (life) and property is protected.
- It is prohibited to oppress them.
 See Tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Azim, 3/167.