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Classical Sharia called for hospitality to be shown towards anyone who has been granted amān (or right of safe passage).

Amān was readily granted to any emissary bearing a letter or another sealed document. Envoys with this right of passage were given immunity of person and property.

The concept of diplomatic immunity can be found in ancient Indian epics like Ramayana (between 30 BC) (traditional Hindu dating: over 100,000 years ago) and Mahabharata (around 4th century BC; traditional Hindu dating: 3000 BC), where messengers and diplomats were given immunity from capital punishment.

In Ramayana, when the demon king Ravana ordered the killing of Hanuman, Ravana's younger brother Vibhishana pointed out that messengers or diplomats should not be killed, as per ancient practices.

In the 17th century, European diplomats realized that protection from prosecution was essential to doing their jobs, and a set of rules evolved guaranteeing the rights of diplomats.

For instance, in 2002, a Colombian diplomat in London was prosecuted for manslaughter, once diplomatic immunity was waived by the Colombian government.Many principles of diplomatic immunity are now considered to be customary law.Diplomatic immunity as an institution developed to allow for the maintenance of government relations, including during periods of difficulties and armed conflict.On the other hand, during World War II, diplomatic immunity was upheld and the embassies of the belligerents were evacuated through neutral countries.For the upper class of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, diplomatic immunity was an easy concept to understand.