Prohibition of oppressing non-Muslims
The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) has given severe warnings for Muslims who murder a non-Muslim with whom the Muslims had an agreement of peace. There is a Hadith in Sahih Bukhari:
عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو - رضى الله عنهما - عَنِ النَّبِىِّ - صلى الله عليه وسلم - قَالَ « مَنْ قَتَلَ مُعَاهَدًا لَمْ يَرَحْ رَائِحَةَ الْجَنَّةِ ، وَإِنَّ رِيحَهَا تُوجَدُ مِنْ مَسِيرَةِ أَرْبَعِينَ عَامًا
Translation: It is narrated on the authority of Hadhrat ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr narrates from the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam): The person who murders a non-Muslim with whom there was an agreement of peace will not even smell the fragrance of paradise although its fragrance can be smelt from a distance of 40 years.
Whether it is an Islamic country or a democratic one, Islam prohibits merely inconveniencing non-Muslims let alone killing them. The severe warning given by the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) on killing a non-Muslim with whom there was an agreement of peace can be seen in the following Hadith:
Hadhrat Safwan bin Sulaim (May Allah be well pleased with him) narrates on the authority of a group of sons of the Companions of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) who narrate on the authority of their fathers who narrate from the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam):
قَالَ « أَلاَ مَنْ ظَلَمَ مُعَاهِدًا أَوِ انْتَقَصَهُ أَوْ كَلَّفَهُ فَوْقَ طَاقَتِهِ أَوْ أَخَذَ مِنْهُ شَيْئًا بِغَيْرِ طِيبِ نَفْسٍ فَأَنَا حَجِيجُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ
Translation: The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: Beware! The person who wrongs any non-Muslim with whom there was an agreement of peace, snatches his (or her) rights, taxes him beyond his capacity or takes anything from him without his express wish, then on the Day of Judgment, I will present a case against the aggressor.
In an Islamic country, non-Muslims are not called upon to defend the country. If there is any foreign attack or if the non-Muslims are harassed in the country then the Muslims are the protectors of their lives, wealth and properties and their rights. In lieu of this, Jizya is taken from non-Muslims. Women, children, handicapped people are exempt from Jizya. As given in Ahkaam Ul Quran:
ولذلك قال أصحابنا إن من لم يكن من أهل القتال فلا جزية عليه فقالوا من كان أعمى أو زمنا أو مفلوجا أو شيخا كبيرا فانيا.....
Translation: For this reason, our Hanafi jurists have clarified that Jizya is not compulsory (Wajib) on the person who can’t participate in a war. The Jurists have said that there is no Jizya on those who are blind, handicapped in any way, paralyzed and on those who are too old.
It is mentioned in Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaiba:
عن أسلم مولى عمر أن عمر كتب إلى عماله : لا تضربوا الجزية على النساء والصبيان ، ولا تضربوها إلى على من جرت عليه الموسى
Translation: It is narrated on the authority of Hadhrat Aslam, the slave of Hadhrat ‘Umar (May Allah be well pleased with them), that Hadhrat ‘Umar (May Allah be well pleased with him) wrote to the governors: Don’t make Jizya compulsory for women and children. Impose it only on those men who are adults.
It is mentioned in “Kitab Ul Kharaaj” of Imam Abu Yusuf (May Allah shower His mercy on him) that Hadhrat ‘Umar (May Allah be well pleased with him) passed by a house where a beggar was seeking alms. He was very old and blind. Hadhrat ‘Umar (May Allah be well pleased with him) held him by the arm and asked:
فما ألجأك إلى ما أرى ؟ قال : أسأل الجزية والحاجة والسن . قال : فأخذ عمر بيده وذهب به إلى منزله فرضخ له بشيء من المنزل . ثم أرسل إلى خازن بيت المال فقال : انظر هذا وضرباءه ، فوالله ما أنصفناه أن أكلنا شبيبته ثم نخذله عند الهرم
Translation: What has brought you to this condition that I see you in? He said: Jizya is compulsory on me. I am needy and have become old. Hadhrat ‘Umar (May Allah be well pleased with him) led him by his hand to his own house and gave him something. Then he sent a message to the treasurer of the public treasury to take care of this and such old people. If we take Jizya from them in their youth and abandon them helpless in their old age, then by Allah, we haven’t been just. (Then Hadhrat ‘Umar exempted this man and other such old (non-Muslim) men from Jizya)
Jizya is taken from non-Muslims in lieu of their lives, wealth and honor. Thus, whenever Muslims felt that they couldn’t fulfill this responsibility, they returned the amount of Jizya to the non-Muslims.
In the Battle of Yarmouk, when the commander of the Islamic army, Hadhrat Abu ‘Ubaidah (May Allah be well pleased with him) had to leave the city of Homs for strategic reasons, he returned the whole amount of Jizya to the non-Muslims and said: We had taken the responsibility of protecting you. In lieu of that you had given us Jizya. Now we are unable to fulfill this responsibility. Thus, we are returning the amount to you.
This behavior of Muslims brought tears to the eyes of the residents of Homs. They started praying: May Allah bring you back safe and sound and give you domination over your enemies. If it were the Romans, they would not have returned even a soiled dime.