Discussion 4 – Muslims & non-Muslims

As the Islamic umma expanded through conquest, Islam was faced with the challenge or incorporating large numbers of non-believers, notably Christians and Jews, into the dar al-Islam. The treatment of these “People of the Book,” was outlined in Scripture but shaped by practical and pragmatic concerns, and evolved over time. Included are four documents relating to this situation. The “Constitution of Medina,” which outlined Muhammad’s agreement with the Jews of Medina (Yathrib), the Prophet’s treaty with the Christians of Najran, and the later Pact of Umar and Treaty of Tudmir.

Specific response guidelines:

Read at least three of the treaties, including two from Muhammad’s lifetime and two from the later period and discuss:

What do these two documents tell us about the nature of power and the position of the Muslims vis–vis their new subjects in the eighth century and in the twelfth century?
What sorts of expectations did the conquerors and conquered have?
To what extent is religion or religious identity a factor in these agreements?
What do they tell us about the societies and economies Arabs brought under Muslim rule
in the first century of Islam?

General response guidelines:

Here is what counts as addressing a reading: In order to get full credit, you will need to either quote a passage, explicitly refer to a specific line/ paragraph, or discuss an argument or concept brought up in the readings. You may respond to as many or as few of the prompts provided, as long as you are able to address the minimum number of readings. When in doubt about a person, place, event, or term… Google it!