Did The Prophet Expel Christians and Jews Because of Their Religion?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


I came across an argument from a zionist stating that Muslims are unable to oppose Israel’s actions, specifically the unjust expulsion of Palestinian people from their homes, because, according to the Zionist’s belief, God promised the land to them.

The argument draws a parallel between this claim and the Prophet’s order to expel Jews and Christians from the Hijaz area, allegedly also due to God’s promise of that land to them. How should we respond to such claims?

Did the Prophet order the expulsion of these people solely for religious reasons, akin to the Israelis, or were there legitimate reasons, such as expelling tribes that fought against the Muslims, as seen in the case of Khaybar?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him. Amin.

The argument is invalid and false as there are apparent differences between the actions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in the Hijaz and the illegal expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and land. Furthermore, God did not promise the Holy Lands (in the Hijaz or Al-Quds) to any nation unconditionally but to the His righteous servants, and Allah knows best.

Justice First

Firstly, it is important to approach such discussions with a commitment to understanding and promoting justice. The horrific situation in the Holy Land is undoubtedly grave, and it is essential to consider historical and contemporary factors while examining claims.

Regarding the argument comparing the expulsion of the Jews and Christians from the Hijaz during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) and the current situation in Palestine, it is crucial to distinguish between the contexts and circumstances. The Prophet’s actions were not driven solely by religious reasons but by a combination of religious, strategic, and socio-political considerations.

The Prophet’s interactions with various communities, including Jews and Christians, were shaped by the specific circumstances of each situation.

Christians with the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)

There is no historical evidence or credible historical accounts to suggest that Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) expelled Christians from the Hijaz. Historical records indicate that Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) interacted with various Christian communities during his lifetime.

The Constitution of Medina, established by Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) after the migration to Medina in 622 CE, granted religious freedom to different religious communities, including Jews and Christians. This document recognised the rights of non-Muslims to practice their religions and maintain their own social and legal systems. [Bhuti, Fiqh as-Sira]

Throughout his life, Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) negotiated and allied with different religious groups, including Christians. The Covenant of Najran, for example, was an agreement between Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) and the Christian community of Najran, ensuring their protection and religious freedom. [ibid.]

While battles and conflicts during the early years of Islam were generally not based on religious grounds but predominantly on geopolitical and tribal considerations. Prophet Muhammad’s interactions with Christians (Allah bless him and give him peace) were characterised by recognizing their rights and coexistence rather than expulsion.

Jews with the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)

The expulsion of certain tribes from the Hijaz, such as Banu Qaynuqa, Banu Nadir, and Banu Qurayza, was not a blanket directive based on religious beliefs alone. Instead, it was often a response to their active involvement in hostilities against the Muslim community, such as the betrayal of alliances and conspiracies against the nascent Islamic state. [ibid.]

In contrast, today’s situation in the Holy Land involves a history of geopolitical factors, displacement, colonialism, and competing national narratives. It is inappropriate to draw direct parallels between the historical events in the Hijaz and the modern Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Prophet’s actions were specific to his time and circumstances. They cannot be used to justify contemporary injustices or the forced expulsion of people from their homes, which is what transpired in the tragic events of the 1947-1948 Nakba and continues to this day. [Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine]

Muslims should advocate for justice, fairness, and a peaceful resolution to conflicts, as far as possible, including the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The principles of justice, mercy, and compassion emphasised in Islamic teachings should guide Muslims in addressing such sensitive matters, seeking a just and equitable solution that respects the rights and dignity of all parties involved.

Is Peaceful Co-existence Possible?

It is critical to note that Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived peacefully together in Palestine for hundreds of years under Muslim rule before the establishment of the state of Israel.

During various Islamic caliphates, such as the Umayyads and Abbasids, a spirit of tolerance prevailed, allowing diverse religious communities to coexist harmoniously. Scholars from different faiths contributed to the region’s rich cultural and intellectual tapestry.

However, the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 marked a significant turning point, leading to geopolitical tensions and conflicts that persist to this day. Recognising the historical legacy of peaceful coexistence underscores the potential for harmony when people of different faiths respect one another’s rights and live together in mutual understanding. Efforts to foster dialogue and peaceful cohabitation can draw inspiration from this shared history of interfaith cooperation in the region. [Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine]

The Promised Land

As for the claim that the Jews [Bani Isra’il] have a right to take Palestine as their promised land, we respond that the verse that reads, “Go into the holy land which Allah hath ordained for you ˹to enter˺” [Quran, 5:21] means that the promise remains as long as the people given this promise abide by Allah’s teachings. Once they show disobedience, the promise no longer exists.

The promise is also not absolute but confined to a specific period. The promise is now invalid, for Allah (Most High) says, “Surely, following the ˹heavenly˺ Record, We decreed in the Scriptures: “My righteous servants shall inherit the land.” [Quran, 21:105]

Furthermore, interpreting divine promises requires a comprehensive understanding of the Quran, Sunna, historical context, and the conditions attached to them. The Quran emphasizes righteousness as a prerequisite for the inheritance of the land, indicating that the fulfillment of this divine promise is contingent upon moral conduct and adherence to Allah’s commandments.

Therefore, the Quranic verses do not support the notion of a perpetual and unconditional entitlement to the land. The Quran’s reference to the righteous inheriting the land underlines the importance of ethical behavior and faithfulness to Allah’s guidance. In this context, the claim that the promise to the Children of Israel for the Holy Land is still in effect is false and a gross misinterpretation of the Quran, and Allah knows best.

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar Shaykh Taha Karaan (Allah have mercy on him), where he taught.

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Shaykh Muhammad Awama, Shaykh Muhammad Hasan Hitu, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has been the Director of the Discover Islam Centre, and for six years, he has been the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has fifteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic podcast, education, and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy Prophetic living and fitness.