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In the Shadow of Muslim-Christian Relations: A Critical Analytical Study to the Narration of the Pact of ʿUmar

In: Al-Bayan: Journal of Qur'an and Hadith Studies
Author:
Maher Y. Abu-Munshar Associate Professor of Islamic History, Humanities Department, College of Arts and Sciences, Qatar University Doha Qatar

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Abstract

Christian-Muslim relations suffered a deep shock in the recent past and are still going through a difficult phase. This has created a significant dilemma for both sides in two ways: the first is the emergence of individuals and groups among Muslims who have adopted violence towards non-Muslims. The second is the rise of hatred against Islam and Muslims in Western societies. As Muslims, we can assume part of the responsibility that a large part of the reaction against Islam and Muslims is due to the behaviour of some Muslims who continue to misuse and misinterpret some of the Qurʾānic verses, prophetic traditions and historical narratives to justify their actions, including the so-called Pact of ʿUmar. This document has been attributed to Caliph ʿUmar Ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (d. 644 CE), and contained a large number of unusual conditions, rules and penalties that did not match the line of treaties which Muslims used to issue to conquered cities. The problem appears to be that, during some periods of Islamic history and now, Muslim authorities treated non-Muslims in a biased way under the pretext of implementing this document. This paper will critically analyse the Pact of ʿUmar to evaluate its validity.

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