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Books and Documents

Islam and Pluralism

In the nineteenth century there was nearly universal consensus that Jews in the Islamic Middle Ages—taking al-Andalus , or Muslim Spain , as the model—lived in a “Golden Age” of Jewish-Muslim harmony, an interfaith utopia of tolerance and convivencia. It was thought that Jews mingled freely and comfortably with Muslims, immersed in Arabic-Islamic culture, including the language, poetry, philosophy, science, medicine, and the study of Scripture—a society, furthermore, in which Jews could and many did ascend to the pinnacles of political power in Muslim government...

 

Christians and Jews believe the hill is Jerusalem. Muslims believe the valley is Mecca.I believe they are both right and God willing, someday everyone may see these two cities and their sanctuaries as a pair of spiritual lungs; that are central to our religious inspiration by, and connection to, the One God of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac....

 

The Old Testament too has been a target of same type of criticism: “The God of the Old Testament is harsh and full of vengeance, and the God of New Testament is loving and kind.” Once again, reading the scripture, it becomes clear that the God of these scriptures indeed has the same attributes, for He is the same God....

 

The similarity of Quran verses 3:190–191, quoted above, and Deuteronomy 6:4–9 is striking: Both command the followers to remember God in all phases: sitting, standing, and lying. In addition to submitting to Him, the constant remembrance throughout the day is meant to encourage one to do good deeds and eschew bad deeds as ordained by God....

The idea that God's message is universal, but its manifestations plural, provides the basic underpinning to the manner in which the Quran relates itself and the faith that it preaches with the religious traditions that preceded it in the Middle East, namely Judaism and Christianity. Far from denying the validity of these predecessor traditions, the Quran repeatedly affirms their essential truth, acknowledging that their message comes from one and the same God, and that it (the Quran) is only the latest of God's revelations to affirm and confirm the revelations that preceded it....

Muhammad (ﷺ) was married to Safiyya – a Jewish lady. On one occasion she came to Muhammad (ﷺ) in tears after being taunted for being Jewish by Arab women. After consoling her he said, “If they discriminate you again, tell them that your husband is Muhammad, your father was the prophet Aaron and your uncle was prophet Musa. So what is there in that to be scornful towards you”. It is well documented that Muhammad (ﷺ) had Jewish wives, friends and many subjects. And it is the treatment of these Jewish subjects in lands under his control that laid the blueprint of tolerance and protection that Muslim rulers have shown Jews throughout the centuries....

 
Islamic Concept of Tolerance—an Essential Prerequisite for Peaceful Coexistence
Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam
Islamic Concept of Tolerance—an Essential Prerequisite for Peaceful Coexistence
Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

Tolerance in Islam, rightly understood, is patience toward a practice or opinion one disapproves of. This understanding may come as a surprise to many people who interpret tolerance simply as a synonym for the words ‘acceptance’ or ‘agreement’. Islamic tolerance entails disagreement yet a firm moral commitment to the decent treatment of the person with whom one disagrees. So tolerance in Islam can be understood as a patient forbearance against something which is disliked or disapproved of.... 

For here is the possibility of turning every moment of our life into an act of worship through a change in our intentions. For example, when a believer goes to his place of work with the intention of fulfilling his religious responsibility to provide for his family and earn Halal living, he may be engaged in the same physical activity as the next person but his outlook is very different. And so is his reward! Through this small effort we could really be living for a higher purpose, and at a higher level....

 

Etymologically, Millat means a pathway in Arabic. Millat Ibrahim denotes the faith tradition of Prophet Abraham (or Ibrahim in Arabic) as mentioned in the Qur'an. The Qur'an refers to the faith of Ibrahim as “Millat u Ibrahim”. It also tells about Hazrat Ibrahim’s experiences in the quest for the truth and how he first considered a star, moon and sun as his gods but rejected them as mere creatures and how he finally believed in their Creator (Qur'an 6:76-79). The Qur’an has used the term Millat in fifteen different contexts. 10 of them (2:120, 2:130, 2:135, 3:95, 4:125, 6:161, 12:37, 12:38, 16:123, 22:78) refer, directly or indirectly, to Prophet Abraham. It also tells us that it is Abraham who coined the term "Muslim" and Allah named all his followers Muslims. (Qur'an 22:78)....

While speaking about Islam, we are aware that it is capable of rational interpretation. In spite of several interpretations of religious texts at present, we believe there is room for re-interpretation in the light of new knowledge in disciplines of sociology, politics and history through which we could review traditional understanding of sacred texts, in order to promote the spirit of tolerance and respect for pluralism and human rights.

 

Online jihadist propaganda attracts more clicks in Britain than in any other European country and the main internet companies are failing to curb it, according to Policy Exchange, a think tank. The report, "The New Netwar," said that the Islamic State is still producing, at a conservative estimate, about 100 items of new content each week, including execution videos and bomb-making instructions, reaching an audience of, at minimum, tens of thousands, including large numbers of users in the UK....

 

First a background on the publisher. The New Age Islam website is a progressivist Muslim online institution based in New Delhi, India. It encourages progressive and pluralist thinking among Muslims worldwide by exposing them to news analyses, academic discourses and informed opinions on a variety of social, political, theological and spiritual issues related to Islam. It also provides a platform for debate on contemporary concerns facing Muslims, such as religious extremism, terrorism, peace-making, tolerance, interfaith dialogue and inter-religious relations with other faith-based groups. It brings together reports, features, academic articles and commentaries from a range of academic and journalistic sources, as well as original scholarship on Muslim affairs by experts in Islamic studies....

 

Water will also wash away fear of Islam, as the storm hit and the flooding ensued, the mosques in the greater Houston area have been providing cots and food to displaced people who may have otherwise never stepped foot inside the venue of Islamic worship. At least five area mosques had been turned into shelters. To quote Shazia Ashraf, the chairwoman of a committee for the Islamic Society of Greater Houston the mosques serving as shelters are “completely stocked with supplies” including coffee, a hug, a smile anything that can help.”...

“Muslims should not have to [apologise for and publicly condemn terrorist attacks] and should continuously be pointing out the hypocrisy in holding us to that standard,” says Hashmi who also thinks asking Muslims to apologise does more harm than good because it perpetuates an unfair label even though almost all Muslims are equally horrified by the brutality of terrorist attacks....

Why the AIMPLB Refuses to Learn Any Lessons
Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
Why the AIMPLB Refuses to Learn Any Lessons
Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

Despite the SC verdict, the AIMPLB still clings to its view that though triple talaq is sinful but yet it is valid in the eyes of Islamic law. None other than Mahmood Madani endorsed such a view soon after the verdict. Thus it is clear that the AIMPLB does not take even the Supreme Court and its decision seriously and opens itself to the charge that actually it does not believe in India’s constitutional democracy. Had there been a different political climate, the AIMPLB would surely have filed for a review petition. They have themselves argued that since the judge has changed, filing a review petition might throw up other practices like polygamy, nikah halala, etc. into the limelight and they fear that there might be another adverse ruling for them….

Islamic Philosophy of Pluralism
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam
Islamic Philosophy of Pluralism
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

Islamic doctrine provides for religious freedom. The Qur’an is very emphatic, “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (Q2:256) and “Will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe?” (Q10:99) Neither the Qur’an nor the Prophetic tradition demands of Jews and Christians that they give up their religious identity and become Muslims unless they freely choose to do so. This is a categorical command, not just a statement. Islam prohibits oppression irrespective of the faith, gender, race or economic status of the victim or perpetrator. The Quran instructs, "Help one another in benevolence and piety, and help not one another in sin and transgression" (Q5:2)…..

Pluralism under Threat in Indonesia
Endy M. Bayuni
Pluralism under Threat in Indonesia
Endy M. Bayuni

These two organizations, with their massive influence among Muslims in Indonesia, have been responsible in developing the more tolerant and moderate version of Islam in the country, and in the past have been counted on to fight against the rise of radical Islam. And now Widodo is turning to them once again. Has the President done enough to stop the creeping Islamism in Indonesia? Time will tell.....

 

Such are even the ‘Believers’ in the creed laa ilaa haa illaa Allaah- There is no earthly gods, that is, monarchs, kings, Khalifahs, Imams, Muftis, custodians of holy places, or graven images but only the Supreme Being, the Creator of universe as the father-figure. To Him mankind is but one nation… one large family; but alas of their own freewill they differed and divided themselves into tribal communities to fight wars across the borders and regions.....

Had your Lord pleased, all the people on earth would have believed in Him, without exception. So will you compel people to become believers? (10:99) […]and had God so willed, He would have made you all a single community, but He did not so will, in order that He might try you by what He has given you (5:48)The Quran, as is readily evident from this discussion, reflects a universal notion of religious tolerance. If this is not reflected in Muslims’ behaviour, the fault lies with Muslims themselves, and not with the Quran....

The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute.” The Quran exhorts the fact that God has given freedom to individuals in choosing their faith. Verse 149 of al-An’am says: “Say: “With Allah is the argument that reaches home: if it had been His will, He could indeed have guided you all.”....

 

For Muslims to become a force for peace and goodness in the world, they simply have to rethink several deep-rooted traditional views regarding relations between Muslims of different schools of thought and between Muslims and people of other faiths, engage in practical efforts to promote intra-Muslim and inter-faith dialogue, understanding and harmony, and recover and highlight, including through practical efforts, the message of peace that is basic to the Quran and that exemplified the life of the Prophet Muhammad. ....

The mayor told fishermen they had been deceived into not voting for him by his opponents who cited verse 51 from the fifth Sura, or chapter, of the Koran, al-Maida. Some Muslims interpret al-Maida as a prohibition on Muslims living under the leadership of a non-Muslim. Others say the scripture should be understood in its context – a time of war – and not interpreted literally.....

 
Religious Pluralism is God’s Will
Rabbi Allen S. Maller, New Age Islam

This means that religious pluralism is the will of God. Yet for centuries many believers in one God have chided and depreciated each other’s religions and some believers have even resorted to forced conversions, expulsions and inquisitions. Monotheists all pray to the same God and all prophets of monotheistic faiths are inspired by the same God.....

The Little-Known Story of the Islamic Christmas Tree
Mariam Sheikh Hakim
The Little-Known Story of the Islamic Christmas Tree
Mariam Sheikh Hakim

What many Muslims don’t reflect on (or know about) is the concept of an Islamic Christmas tree. What I mean by this is the tree featured in the Quranic account of Jesus’ birth in chapter Mary (Surah 19). In this narrative, Jesus is born under a tree, which is an integral part of the Islamic “nativity scene” and story. This is an Islamic Christmas tree of sorts; a tree that can be used to remind us of the story of Jesus’ birth....

Interpreting certain Quranic verses in a very wrong way, several so-called Ulema wrongly argue that Muslims must not have friendly love in their hearts for people of other faiths. This is a really very wrong claim and has no sanction in the Quran, if the Quran is understood properly....

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