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People of any divine religions such as Jews, Christians are called the People of the Book. The Holy Qur'an mentions the People of the Book on many occasions. Although they are called unbelievers for refusing the prophet-hood of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

 

The Holy Qur'an in some respects grants privileges to the People of the Book compared to unbelievers. For example, to marry someone from the People of the Book and eat their food is lawful. (Qur'an 5 vs 5). The privilege granted to them is because of their being closer to the true faith compared to the people of disbelief. The Holy Qur'an announces to them:

 

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" Say: O People of the Book! Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partners unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside Allah ". (Q3 vs 64)

 

That is, let us not call others Lord, God, Creator. Let the order of Allah (SWT) and His Pleasure be our criteria for our deeds. Let all of us be slaves of Allah (SWT). Let us consider ourselves responsible to Him.

 

The Holy Qur'an declares that the People of the Book have taken their own rabbis and monks as their lords. They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One God. There is no God save Him. Be He glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)! (Q9:31).

 

When Adiy bin Hatim, who reverted to Islam from Christianity, said to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), The Messenger of Allah! We did not take them as our Lord, the Prophet Muhammad made this explanation: They made unlawful which Allah declared lawful and lawful which Allah declared unlawful, and you obeyed them. That is taking them as lords.  One needs not necessarily call something lord in order to have it as his lord.

 

The following verse indicates the way to follow in the treatment of the People of the Book: And argue not with the People of the Book unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say:

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" We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender ".(Q 29:46)

 

In this verse, the People of the Book are divided into two:

1. Those who are cruel.

2. Those who are fair.

It is commanded that there should be only argument with those fair in a way, which is better. This kind of approach will bring them closer to Islam and they will experience no difficulty in converting to Islam. Because when they convert to Islam, they do not have to reject Moses, Jesus (peace be upon them) Thus, they will follow the religion of the Seal of the Prophets (peace be upon him) and save themselves from being the members of a falsified religion.

 

The Holy Quran announces that Christians are closer to Islam than Jews , Allah says:

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Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant ".

 

History is a proof of the verse above. Among Jews are few to convert to Islam. Yet many among Christians have chosen Islam as a result of their researches. Today in Europe, the number of Muslims of previously Christian upbringing exceeds one hundred thousand.

Allah Almighty, Who orders a proper argument with the fair people of the Book, decrees His ordinance for the cruel ones with the verse below: 

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" Fight against such of those who have been given the Book as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the religion of truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low ". (Q9:29)

 

As the Qur'an states, not all of them (the People of the Book) are alike (Q3:113) to regard all of them within the same category is contrary to the Qur'anic and historical reality. The verse

 

 

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" O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guides not a people unjust ". (Qur'an 5 vs 51)

 

Hamdi Yazir speaks of the verse above as follows: Muslims are not prohibited to do goodness to them, to make friends with them and to be governor of them, but are prohibited to have them as protectors and be involved in complicity, because they cannot be companions to Muslims.

 

It is possible to sum up the point as follows: To be involved in social relations with them is one thing, and to admire their religion and common practices is quite another thing. Whereas the first is not included in the Quranic prohibition, the second one is strictly prohibited.

http://www.questionsonislam.com/article/what-does-8220the-people-book8221-mean with editing.

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