The Expulsion Of Christians And Jews In Arabia?

We wrote not long ago on the Hadith where it is presumed by some that Prophet Muhammad (p) and Umar Ibn al-Khattab wanted to ‘expel all Christians and Jews from Arabia’, as a result of their beliefs. In the article we showed that this was a wrong understanding of the Hadith. Where it mentioned ‘Arabia’, was actually understood by some of the earliest Muslims to be Hijaz region. Some of the early scholars pointed out that it was not even the whole of Hijaz, but rather the southern part only.

Arthur Stanley Tritton, D. Litt. who was a British historian and scholar of Islam – has unearthed many early evidences where even after Umar ordered the expulsion of some Jews from Hijaz, for breaking the treaty and fighting Muslims, there were still many Jewish and Christian tribes who resided in Arabia. Particularly in Yemen and other places in Arabia. Some of them even were allowed to work and live in Madinah and Makkah. Furthermore, the claim by some that all Jews and Christians were expelled from Arabia, is an “exaggeration”, says Scholar Arthur Stanley Tritton.

Scholar Arthur Stanley Tritton

The accepted version of history is that, in obedience to the tradition,

‘Two religions shall not remain in the land of the Arabs,’

Umar drove all Jews and Christians out of Arabia, because that was the land of Islam and Islam alone. This is an exaggeration. The dhimmis were never banished from Yemen, and Hamdani mentions a village with two hundred Jewish inhabitants in east Peninsula. (Geography Of Arabia, Hamdani, p. 152; and Kitab al-Umm, Shafe’I, vol. 4, p. 100)

Dhimmis were excluded from the Hedjaz, but even this was contrary to the practice of the Prophet, was opposed to the views of the some of the great lawyers, and was not carried out consistently.

During the Prophet’s lifetime, dhimmis lived in Medina, Mecca, Khaibar, Yemen, and Nejran, and a Christian, named Mawhib, is specially mentioned as living in Mecca. (Al-Tabaqat al-kabir, Ibn Sa’d, vol. 3, 1, p. 250)

Umar did not allow adult male captives – non-Muslims – to enter Medina, but he made an exception in favour of Abu Lulua, at the request of Mughira b. Sha’ba, as he was a skilled workman. (Kitab ul Aghani., vol. 11, p. 23)

The rule that Nabataeans trading with Medina paid only five per cent instead of ten probably implies that they visited the two. (As-Suli, Adab ul Kuttab (A.H. 1341), page 214; and Kitab al Umm, Shafe’i, volume 4, page 101)

Abu Zubaid, the Christian poet, certainly visited it, for Uthman drew him near to him and made him sit beside him. (Kitab al Umm, Shafe’i, vol. 4, page 125; and Khitat, Makrizi (A.H. 1270), vol. 2, page 121)

Hunain, the Christian singer of Hira, stayed in Medina. (Kitab ul Aghani, vol. 2, p. 122)

Abu l Hakam, a Christian, accompanied Yazid to Mecca, when he led the pilgrimage during the reign of his father, Mu’awia. (Tabakat ul Atibba, Ibn Abi Usaibi’a vol. 1, p. 116)

Abd ul Malik sent a Christian engineer to build dams in Mecca to ward off floods. (Baladhuri, Futuh ul Buldan, p. 54)

In 87 or 88 Walid sent eighty Greek and Coptic masons to rebuild the Prophet’s mosque; it is even said that he wrote to the emperor for them. (Baladhuri, Futuh ul Buldan p. 7; and Kitab ul A’lak Un Nafisa, Ibn Rusteh p. 69)

In the Papyri are frequent references to dhimmis labourers engaged in work on Mosques. [1]

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Reference:

[1] The Caliphs And Their Non-Muslim Subjects: A Critical Study Of The Covenant Of Umar [Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press – London Bombay Calcutta Madras, 1930], page 175 – 176

Red area is the Hejaz region.

Red area is the Hejaz region.

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