Freedom of belief is guaranteed in Islam. It
should be very clear that Islam tolerates not only other faiths but even its enemies. This is stated clearly in the Qur'an:
"God forbids you not with regard
to those who fight you not for (your) faith, nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them, for
God loves those who are just." [60:8]
It is one function of Islamic law
to protect the privileged status of minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the
Islamic world. Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts to implement family laws drawn up
by the minorities themselves and to govern their own affairs.
History provides many examples
of Muslim tolerance towards other faiths. When the great leader and second Caliph, Umar, entered Jerusalem in the year 634,
Islam guaranteed freedom of worship to all religious communities in the city. In fact, so careful was Umar in setting an example
for his people that he not only went to a church to pray, he prayed outside in the courtyard, lest his followers after his
death be tempted to convert the church into a mosque.
Islam teaches that the closest
to Allah and the most beloved of Allah are those who are the best in piety. Thus all people, male and female, and regardless
of race, color, nationality or ethnicity, are considered and treated as equal before Allah and before the law. This concept
of tolerance did not reach the West even in theory until the 18th century, and in practice not until the 20th century.