19. Citizenship… from an Islamic perspective

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In the article, the grand Shaykh, Muhammad Ṭanṭāwī, presents the point of view of Islam regarding the concept of citizenship, and how the Prophet Muhammad has dealt with it after the hijrah to al-Madīnah al-Munawwarah.

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Shaykh Ṭanṭāwī says that citizenship means a throng of people living in a certain place together permanently; hence the inhabitants of Egypt, Muslims and Christians, are considered Egyptians regardless of their religion and creed. Every person loves his country that they were born in. He provides the example of the Prophet Muhammad and his love of Mecca.

When the Prophet Muhammad settled in al-Madīnnah al-Minawarah, he established three laws:
To build the first mosque for the emigrated Muslims and “al-Anssār," the Madīnnah helpers of Muhammad who granted him refuge after the hijrah.
To implant fraternity between the emigrants and “al-Anssār” so that they live together in one country, i.e. al-Madīnnah al-Minawarah.
To sign a treaty with the other citizens of al-Madīnnah al-Minawarah, specifically with the Jews. The treaty states that al-Madīnnah al-Minawarah is their country, no difference between Muslim and non-Muslims. They all have to protect it in case of an invasion.

Dr. ‘Abd al-Rahman ‘Azām in his book, ‘al-Risālah al-Khālidah’ [The Perpetual Message] says that this treaty is the first international treaty between the Muslims and non-Muslims and Jews, as it states that the Jews have their religion and the Muslims have theirs, but both are responsible to protect ’Yathrib’ [Reviewer: the old name of al-Madīnnah al-Minawarah]. It is a treaty of good-neighbor policy, defense coalition, joint forces, joint liability toward each other, and solidarity.

Shaykh Ṭanṭāwī concludes saying that this treaty is one of the greatest treaties that proves that the inhabitants of every country are its citizens, regardless of their creeds and tenets. The country is the place where the citizens dwell, and the citizenship is the human communities that live in a country. The meaning of citizenship is to live in harmony and accord with the other, ignoring the religions and creeds.

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