To answer the specific question, it seems advisable to determine the key indicators for a foreign policy. Madina, a city state having legitimate government under the leadership of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), the constitutional norms derived from the Holy Quran, interpreted under Shari’ah, having devotee citizens (sans subjects), and a land to exercise its authority promulgated its specific ideological foundations with the neighboring cities and states. The city state of Madina in the Prophet’s time (622-632 AD) preached and propagated the Islamic ideology as an essence to its existence and used the (expansion of) land as a tool to spread this ideology.
From the realists’ perspective, the states are perpetually seeking power to retain or expand their territory. For seeking and sustaining power, states enhance military (as well as economic) might and also form alliances, as a part of the high politics, to sustain the balance power. The states may also have tendencies towards regional or international friendships or alliances. Seeking or delivering support in the hour of crises and exchanging cultural activities is another indicator of the foreign policy of a state, as a part of the low politics.
The state of Madia exhibited realist undertone in its foreign policy. The obvious gestures of the foreign policy of the city state of Madina seem rational based on cost benefit analysis. The pact of Hudeybia with Qursh-e-Makka was purely based on rational calculations. The truce period, thought the very content of this pact was initially objected some very close Companions like Umer b. Khatab, provided space to the state of Madina to practice and propagate its ideology freely, spread the Message of Allah fearlessly to the neighboring states, and to build ties at regional level. Obviously, during the period of Holy Prophet, the focus of foreign policy of the Islamic state was at regional level.
The Islamic state encountered three different religions and polytheists of Makka as well residing in the neighborhood of Madina. The Jews in the Middle East, Zoroastrianism in Iranian Empire and Christianity in Byzantine Empire. Both the Zoroastrianism was the state religion of the Iran and Christianity, though marred
with inner differences, was flourished officially in the territories of Greek and Byzantium. The rise of Islamic civilization at Madina was to encounter from military as well as at ideological fronts with these powers that remained at daggers drawn for tens of years with each other and both becoming week due to increasing wide gaps between the religion of their subjects and their rulers. The Jewish-ideological as well as territorial security threat was also posing challenge to the state of Madina.
Muhammad (PBUH) as a statesman was fully aware of these external as well internal threats and opportunities. The Prophet’s letters to different rulers of neighboring states marked an important milestone in the foreign policy of the Islamic state of Madina. It conveyed the powerful message to the rest of world regarding emergence and expansion of Islamic ideology as well as stat’s territory. The ideology of the state was the message of Islam, revealed through the Holy Quran.
It is a recurring them in the Quran that invitation to embrace Islam or to propagate the teaching of religion must be made wisely coupled with sound reasoning and logic so that the disbeliever can be persuaded effectively. What vehemently and eloquently derived from the above quoted verses of Holy Quran and the discussion is that Islam in all cases protects freedom of religion on three grounds. Firstly, that no once may be compelled to abandon his religion and to embrace Islam (2:256). Secondly, Islam endorses the propagation and preaching of one’s religion through logical reasoning and by forwarding persuasive arguments (2:111; 16:125; 21:46). Thirdly, the Quran recognizes that true faith stems from belief and conviction. The purpose cannot be achieved by intimidation. Thus the use of force and coercive measure by all means are prohibited in this regards. The Quran delivers message of the freedom of conscience that validates freedom of religion universally. This is very much evident that the state of Madina tolerated the people non-Islamic beliefs and this domestic policy remained prevalent as foreign policy also when during the expansion of Islamic State people having different religions and creed were allowed to live and practice the religion of their own choice. Here, while propagating the Islamic ideology, the rules of games seem purely Liberal in essence. The Quran clarifies the point saying that “Remind them, for you are one who reminds; you are not a warden over them” (88:21-22). The Holy Quran retreated the similar message saying “And if they turn away, we have not sent you as guardian over them. Your duty is to convey the message”. (42:48) Coliving with non-believers and even allowing them to practice and propagate
the religion of their own choice is an areas of the Islamic State’s foreign policy that has been presented often with less vigour.
The verses like, “….. slay the Idolaters wherever you find them. Seize them, surround them and everywhere lie in ambush for them. But if they repent from their wrong beliefs and diligently adhere to the prayer and pay zakah, then spare their lives. God is Oft-Forgiving and Ever- Merciful.” (9:5) are often misquoted without the context. For sure, Islamic concept of waging war is much refined. The instance of Conquest of Makka is evident in the history. The city of powerful Quresh from where the Prophet and his Companion had to migrate to save their lives and creed was conquered without shedding blood.
The combination of warfare against the miscreants and invading states, the rational negotiation and persistent preaching of Islamic ideology posing the political face of Islamic State continued to exercise its influence even during the period of Rightly Guided Caliphs. After the establishment of power base of the state of Madina the measures were taken against those who violated the political as well as moral authority of the state. The Muslims are promised that among them who professed belief and did righteous deeds God would surely grant political authority in this land. God has promised that “He will establish their religion – the one which He has chosen for them; and that He will change [their state] after the fear in which they [lived] to one of security and peace ….. If any do reject faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked. (24:55). Taking lead from this verse one may argue that the offensives launched by the Companions (RTA) were part of God’s order.
Muslims cannot fight to punish non-believers for accepting Islam, though this rule settled at the time of Holly Prophet was denied later on, where the Muslim fought wars with the Muslims as well as with people of other beliefs, the reasons may vary to a large extent. Despite some variation, the certain rules of foreign policy of an Islamic state, ranging from ideological preaching through dialogue and negotiation, packing truce, to military campaigns against the violators and invaders, mainly remained intact even during the period of Caliphate.