Our Prophet's (pbuh) Relations with the People of the Book
• There are accounts of our Prophet (pbuh) attending wedding feasts of the People of the Book, visiting them when they were sick and giving them presents.
• When the Christians of Najran visited him, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) spread out his robe on the ground for them to sit on and welcomed them in that fashion.
• One of the wives of our Prophet (pbuh) was Marya bint Sham'ûn (also known as Maryam al-Qubtiyyah), a Coptic Christian from Egypt.
• Our mother Safiyya bint Huyayy, one of the wives of the Prophet (pbuh), was the daughter of the chief of the Jewish tribe Banu Nadir of Medina, Huyayy ibn Akhtab.
• The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) allowed the Jews to become a party to the Constitution of Medina signed with the clans of the Aws and Khazraj, thus ensuring the survival of the Jews as a separate religious group among the Muslims.
• Under the article, "The Jews of Banu Awf are a community along with the believers. To the Jews their religion, and to the Muslim their religion," of the Constitution of Medina, the foundation of the respect that Muslims have for the Jews' traditions and beliefs was laid in the time of our Prophet (pbuh). Articles 26-33 of the same constitution state that members of the People of the Book enjoy the same rights as Muslims, while article 16 states that no injustice is to be inflicted on them.
• In the year 630 A.D., our Prophet (pbuh) issued the following command to envoys of the King of Himyar who came to Medina to announce that they had become Muslims: "If a Jew or Christian becomes a Muslim, he becomes equal to believers [enjoys the same legal rights with Muslims]. Whoever wants to remain as a Jew or Christian, he is not interfered." (Ibn Hisham, as-Seera, II, 586)
• The Christians of Najran sent a delegation of 60 members to Medina. When the delegation arrived at Medina they entered the presence of our Prophet (pbuh), and when the time for prayer came they desired to visit the mosque. The people objected to this, but the Prophet (pbuh) made the mosque available for them. They turned to the East and prayed. (Ibn Hisham, as-Seera, Beirut, I, 573-574; Hamidullah, The Prophet of Islam, I, 619-620.)
• The rights of the People of the Book were placed under protection in the time of the Prophet (pbuh) under treaties made with Jews and Christians. Whenever a disagreement arose in later times, the People of the Book would point to these treaties. For example, when the Christians of Damishq had a problem, they showed their treaty to Hazrat Umar, the caliph of the time, and requested a solution. This is a known fact appearing in history books.
• The text of a covenant of our Prophet (pbuh) with the Christian Ibn Harith ibn Ka'b and his people contains the passages; "To Sayyid Ibn Harith ibn Ka'b, his co-religionists, and all those who profess the Christian religion, be they in East or West, in close regions or faraway regions, be they Arabs or foreigners, known or unknown. … I commit myself to support them, to place their persons under my protection, as well as their churches, chapels, oratories, the monasteries of their monks, the residences of their anchorites, wherever they are found, be they in the mountains or the valleys, caves or inhabited regions, in the plains or in the desert. I will protect their religion and their Church wherever they are found, be it on earth or at sea, in the West or in the East, with utmost vigilance on my part, the People of my House, and the Muslims as a whole. … No Christian will be made Muslim by force: And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (29:46). They must be covered by the wing of mercy. Repel every harm that could reach them wherever they may find themselves and in any country in which they are."
• The charters given by our Prophet (pbuh) to the People of the Book from Adruh, Makna, Khaybar, Najran and Aqaba' also show that the lives and property of the People of the Book were under the protection of Muslims and recognized their freedom of belief and worship.
• When our Prophet (pbuh) first started preaching he first encountered a number of Christians in Mecca. Indeed, one of the first people to speak to our Prophet (pbuh) and Hazrat Khadija in the first days of the revelation was Waraqa bin Naufal, a Christian with handwritten copies of the Gospel. (Sahih Bukhari)
• Churches that were destroyed in the time of the caliphs were restored by Muslims, and permission was given for new synagogues and churches to be built. For example, the Monastery of St. Sergios that had been burned by Patriarch Mar Amme was rebuilt in the time of Hazrat Uthman.
• Muslims used to perform the Friday prayer in the Church of St. John in Damascus after the conquest of Syria. Christians performed their own religious observances there on Sundays. Members of both faiths used the same place of worship in peace.
Our Prophet's (pbuh) Practices concerning the Torah and the Gospel
Narrated Abu Huraira: The people of the Book used to read the Torah in Hebrew and then explain it in Arabic to the Muslims. (Sahih Bukhari, Book 92, Hadith 460)
Al-Hafiz al-Zahabi related that Abdullah ibn Salam, a convert to Islam from Judaism, came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said "I read the Qur'an and the Torah (last night)." He replied, "Read one in one night and the other on another night." (al-Thalabi, Al-Iman al-Thalabi Tathkarar al-Huffadh, Vol. 1, p. 27)
Abdullah ibn Amr, one of the close companions of the Prophet (pbuh), would frequently read the Torah. One night he dreamed that he was holding oil in one hand and honey in the other, and that he sometimes ate from one hand and sometimes from the other. Abdullah ibn Amr described his dream to the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) interpreted his dream as meaning the two books, and his reading sometimes from the one and sometimes from the other. (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 6, Hadith 987, p. 439)
From Abu Sa'id al-Khudri: We asked the Prophet (pbuh): "O the Messenger of God! May we relate accounts from the Children of Israel?" He said, "Yes, you may relate accounts from the Children of Israel. There is no problem. Know that if you relate accounts from them, there is more interesting information as well." (Musnad of ibn Hanbal, 111/12, Hadith 11034)