Relation to the Others
In most MENA countries Islam is an obligation, and conversion from Islam is illegal. In some countries a convert remains registered as Muslim, as will his or her children; in some countries coversion is punishable with death. Islam, in this respect represents a unique brutality that contradicts basic human rights, a brutality without real parallels in the rest of the modern world.
Among the official Muslims, many are actually not Muslims, but accept their official status as Muslims. This can reflect both distant historical relations with Islam, but also the need to avoid persecution from Muslim leaders and laymen. In the Middle East there are 3 religions officially counted as part of Islam: Alevism, Ismailism and Ahl-e Haqq, together with about 22 million adherents in the region, and perhaps a total of 45 million world wide.
Islam differs clearly between monotheistic religions of Abrahamic origins and all other faiths. Islam defines the God of Judaism and Christianity as the same as the Koran's, but the religious content and scriptures of the two latter is declared as corrupted by humans.
While Islam accepts Christianity and Judaism as valuable faiths, Islam still rank these on a lower level than Islam itself. Through the Muslim history, there are both examples of Islam protecting Christians and Jews, as well as examples of persecution. In today's Saudi Arabia, churches and synagogues are not permitted, even if Christian and Jewish history predates Islam in the region, and there is a large community of Christians living in the country.
Persecutions against Christians and Jews have roots back to Muhammad. Within 5 years after the people of Yathrib, among whom perhaps half were Jews, had given Muhammad protection against the Mecccans (see hijra), Muhammad had killed, put to flight or enslaved his original protectors. In the 20th century, about 8 million Chrisitans were killed or put to flight upon the establishment of Muslim states around the Mediterranean Sea (see Muslim Ethnic and Religious Cleansings).
Judged from Koran sura 3: Imran's house verse 198-199, it has sometimes been alleged that the Paradise of Islam is open even for Christians and Jews. A more common assumption among Muslims, however, is that the belief of the two religions is too altered by humans to represent the divine truth, hence a Christian and a Jew will not be rewarded the same way as a devout Muslim.
Islam has always been an extremely intolerant religion for individuals and groups not being Muslim, Christian or Jewish, and this is still the case. In modern Islam there are many groups and a large percentage of Muslim individuals who despise even Christians and Jews.
Islam defines non-Abrahamic religions as without human value, people that any good Muslim shall try to convince about the truth of Islam. If he does not succeed in this, the disbelievers shall be dealt with harshly, in order to prevent them from leading the society and Muslim individuals astray.
Islam and Muslims have throughout Islam's history committed numerous examples of religious cleansings, the first perpetrator was Muhammad himself, when cleaning Yathrib for its sizeable Jewish community between 625 and 627.
While Islam in the modern age very often emerge as a religion legitimizing and causing conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims, Islam is historically no more intolerant and suppressive than other religious traditions. What distinguishes Islam from other religions and ideologies today is that traditional views and regulations have not been challenged by modernity and has not developed for several centuries. Rather, recent decades has seen a move towards more intolerance, promoted by the fascist version of Islam that is collectively called Islamism.
On some points even the history of Islam has dimensions of intolerance which cannot be found in other religions. Both its founder and the central religious text promotes intolerance and suppression. The founder, Muhammad, waged attack wars on non-Muslims, causing the deaths of thousands. The Koran, a text that is claimed to be infallible as the word of God, expressively states that Muslims must fight non-Muslims, and many consider the Koran to express that it is legitimate to kill non-Muslims for no more reason than being non-Muslim.
Islam has developed a rich tradition for how to deal with non-Muslims. This tradition runs mainly from the needs of the many Muslim rulers of countries with substantial non-Muslim populations, and to some point it more secures the rights of non-Muslims than confine it. Still, only certain religions are accepted by these regulations, and religions like Hinduism and Buddhism are technically without any rights in a Muslim society. In a country like Iran, the religion of Baha'i has seen extreme suppression for decades.