What are the views, principles and regulations of the Islamic tradition concerning refugee status? Are there any similarities between the Islamic tradition relating to the laws of aman (safe conduct) and the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees?Arafat Shoukri here delves into fifteen centuries of Arab and Islamic history, examining hundreds of ancient sources to establish Islam's position on refugees. To trace the origins of the Islamic concept of aman, Arafat Shoukri goes back to the life of Arabs in the jahiliyya, before the advent of Islam, to explore the idea of jiwar (protection), which was a governing custom at that period. He highlights how the Prophet, the first asylum seeker in Islam, and his Companions exploited jiwar on their journey to establish their state in Medina. More importantly, the author focuses on how the Muslims treated those non-Muslims who sought jiwar in Medina. In order to position aman within the context of an Islamic discourse, the author defines several relevant terms, such as dar alharb, dar al-Islam, mustaj?r, muhajir, musta'min and dhimmi. Noticeably, due to its particular significance, the author undertakes an extensive examination of the different interpretations of the Qur'anic verse (9:6) which is considered to be the cornerstone in legalising the concept of refuge in the Qur'an. After establishing the concept of protection and the laws of aman in the Islamic tradition Shoukri examines the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees from the perspective of Islamic tradition - the first scholar to do so. Interestingly, the similarities between the two are very striking - allowing Shoukri to dismiss calls for a specific Islamic convention on refugees. Instead, he concludes by encouraging Arab and Muslim governments to endorse the 1951 Convention.
Refugee Status in Islam