Islam on the Religious Other

The overriding message of the Qur'an is total submission to the one God, creator and master of all things. The Qur'an speaks against those who deny the one God, sow corruption on earth, and lead sinful lives—but it does not reject other religions. Indeed it is remarkably uninterested in confessional affiliation so long as people believe in God, express gratitude to Him in all things, and lead lives in anticipation of a final day of judgment. The Constitution of Medina, a document composed by the Prophet Muhammad for organizing life under his leadership, mentions Jews and a non-descript category of believers alongside Muslims. History attests to examples of communalism in the name of Islam, although openness to other communities is enshrined in sharia, awarding legal status to "the people of the book," a category that has been flexibly defined even if normally associated with Jews and Christians. Over the past two centuries, the experience of colonialism has hardened Muslim attitudes towards Jews and Christians. However, in two historically sensitive areas—intermarriage and apostasy—some prominent Muslim commentators have sought to loosen traditional blanket prohibitions in recent years.
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