Although in the Ninth Hijrah year (631 AD) Islam had spread to every nook and corner of Arabia but even then the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not force the Jews or the Christians to enter Islam. Both of these sects were from the people of the Book. The letter that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) wrote to the Pope of Najran - Abul Harith, clearly outlines the contours of Christian religious freedom. Najran was a region in the south of Arabia which joined the borders of Yemen. Majority of the people living there were Christians. Before Islam, the Jew king of Yemen, Zu-Nuwas, had burnt alive the Christians of this region. This incident has been mentioned in Surah Al-Burj of the Holy Qur’an.


Woe to the makers
Of the pit (of fire),


Fire supplied (abundantly)
With Fuel:


Behold! They sat
Over against the (fire)


And they witnessed
(All) that they were doing
Against the Believers.


And they ill-treated them
For no other reason than
That they believed in Allah,
Exalted in Power,
Worthy of all Praise!-
(Surah Al-Burj; V-4-8)

The Prophet’s letter to the Pope of Najran stated:

" In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful". From Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), the Messenger of Allah to the Pope of Najran and other Bishops,

"Be it known to the Pope and other Christian elders that to run the administration of the Churches is their own responsibility; Allah and his Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) bestow kindness to these people. Through this letter the Messenger of Allah announces that no bishop or religious head would be removed from his status, nor would his powers be curtailed. In addition, no interference would be made in their religious rites. As long as the scholars of Christianity would execute their religious obligations with honesty and devotion, their dignity would be preserved. The Christians as well should not raise difficulties for others".

The above mentioned letter of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) indicates that the Christians, like the Jews, enjoyed complete freedom in execution of their religious duties. They faced no resistance from the Muslims in this regard.

In the 9th Hijrah year, a party representing the Christians of Najran reached Madinah to meet the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). This delegation included the leading people of Christianity. It included among the notables Pope of Najran - Abul Harith, the Bishop Abdul Maseih and the leader of the party named Ileahm. When these Christian scholars of Najran reached Madinah to meet the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), they were clad in their particular spiritual dresses. The people of Madinah saw their beautiful shiny dresses with surprise. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) rendered respect to the followers of Christianity. Allah has honoured the Christians:


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.
(Surah Al-Maida, V-82)

And in verse 86 is given :


And when they listen
To the revelation received
By the Messenger, thou wilt
See their eyes overflowing
With tears, for they
Recognise the truth;
They pray: "Our Lord!
We believe; write us
Down among the witnesses
(Surah Al-Maida; V-86)

It is important to mention here that some portions of these verses, which were revealed in appreciation of Christians were for the humane treatment of the Muslims by the Christian king of Abyssinia.

In the 9th Hijrah year (631 AD), at the instance of Hajj, the idolaters also offered pilgrimage to Holy Ka’bah along with the Muslims; but that year proved the last year of circumambulation for them because after this Allah forbade their entrance to the limits of Holy Ka’bah. It has been said in the 9th Surah, verse 28, as;


O ye who believe! Truly
The Pagans are unclean;
So let them not,
After this year of theirs,
Approach the Sacred Mosque,
Soon will Allah enrich you,
If He wills, out of His bounty,
For Allah is All-Knowing,
(Surah Tauba; V-28)