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Books and Documents

Islam and Pluralism

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....

Islam Is Not Intolerant Of Other Religions
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Islam Is Not Intolerant Of Other Religions
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

One of his companions said, ‘O Prophet, it was a funeral procession of a Jew!’ meaning that he should not demonstrate such respect for a non-Muslim. The Prophet replied: ‘Alaisat Nafsan’: ‘Was he not a human being?’ This ‘humanitarian’ outlook was typical of the Prophet’s vision of life. He was able to see everyone basically as a human being.....

“Nowhere in the Quran is changing people’s religion given as a cause for waging war. The Qur’an gives a clear instruction that there is no compulsion in religion (Quran 2:256). It states that people will remain different (Quran 11:118), they will always have different religions and ways and this is an unalterable fact (Quran 5:48) – God tells the Prophet that most people will not believe ‘even if you are eager that they should’ (Quran 12:103).”....

 

Sufis have been important examples for such travellers. The cosmopolitan character of the scriptural languages that they learned was responsible for the development of an illuminating exchange between them and the native speakers. Ibn Batuta, the Moroccan traveler who roamed from Tangier to the extreme southern parts of the known world, has conceptualized the cosmopolitan utility of the Arabic language, as he could even serve as a judge in the royal court of Muhammad bin Tughlaq in India during the 14th century CE. The ability he possessed in many languages (he is often credited with learning fifteen languages) helped him to engage in dialogue with different cultures. It is said that he even learned Sanskrit during his stay in India.....

 

Plurality of prophets and multiplicity of revelations reflect a divine will. The Prophets of all revealed religions are brothers and there is no difference between them with regard to the message. Muslims are obliged to believe in them all....

 

In the year 622CE, the Prophet produced the Medina Charter, also known as the Constitution of Medina, which contained the rights and responsibilities of the Muslims, Jews and other tribal communities in Medina. As the head of state, Muhammad guaranteed all citizens of the city the rights of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. Moreover, Muhammad’s constitution did not treat Jews as a monolithic entity; he recognised and respected their ethnic and cultural diversities....

The tolerance and coexistence that reigned for so long in the Arab and Muslim world does not belong to the past, it remains an essential element of our future and of our identity as Arabs and Muslims. History offers not only a record of events, but also a warning of past mistakes and a repository of noble examples and concepts to be emulated. As Arabs and Muslims, we must strive for who we want to be and we must remind the world of the noble values of our ancestors in matters of tolerance and coexistence....

 

Religious minorities, Balanche said, are the "first victims" of this conflict. 40% of Syria's Christians, he reported, already have already left the country, while Alawites are withdrawing to Alawite-majority areas in the west of the country and the Druze do likewise in the south. Overall, Balanche concluded, "I'm very pessimistic about the future of religious diversity in this area."

 

Root causes of violent extremism include injustices, poverty in urban areas; religious and political hate-speeches; distorted information about religion; degradation of resources such as land and water; marginalization; hopelessness; crises of identity and belonging, especially among young people. Radicalisation and violent extremism are misuses of religion and cannot be justified by misquoting and misinterpreting sacred scriptures.

Destroying a Composite Heritage: The Shrine at Pirana
Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
Destroying a Composite Heritage: The Shrine at Pirana
Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

Historically, Imam Shah was a Shia, on the run from Sunnis, who found refuge in Pirana and practiced Taqayyah which is to say that he hid his identity from others but deep within, he continued to be a Shia Muslim. However, in order to avoid persecution, not only did he hide his identity but he also started the practice of Satpanth which eventually would blossom into a new faith altogether. Although today, it would be blasphemous if someone would say that Imam Shah Bawa was a Shia Muslim to start with. Be that it may, in the popular rhetoric and imagination, it is perfectly fine to be a Muslim and a Satpanthi or a Hindu and a Satpanthi.....

 

The visit of the Christians of Narjan to the city of Medina in 631CE is perhaps the most important noted interfaith interaction between Christians and Prophet Muhammad. At this time Muhammad had sent letters to different communities and their leaders, encouraging them to embrace Islam. In the case of the Narjans, who lived near Yemen, about 450 miles south of Medina, the Prophet sent Khaled ibn al-Walid and Ali ibn Abi Talib to deliver the letter....

This exposition of the dichotomy between the popular theology and ‘din’ of Islam reinforces Sultan Shahin Saheb’s call to create “a coherent theology of peace and pluralism, consistent in all respects with the teachings of Islam, and suitable for contemporary and future societies.”...

The bitter and shameful truth is, the traditional Ulema preach practically the same thing and cite practically the same illustrative examples, tales and episodes as their counterparts of the medieval era – dating back to more than a millennium from this day. Recurring exposure to antiquated materials purports to retard the mental development of their 21st century listeners, and renders the traditional Ulema of Islam as agents of retrogression, unfit to take any part in the numerous fields, activities and arenas of modern life. As a result of this deep disconnect between the antiquated and divergent Islamic theological scholarship and the needs, issues and priorities of this era, the former fails to offer a cohesive era-compatible code to the global Muslim community of the era. ...

In sum, Muslims must evolve “a new theology, a coherent theology of peace and pluralism, consistent in all respects with the teachings of Islam, and suitable for contemporary and future societies."

Related Articles:

Preventing Further Radicalisation Is the Challenge Muslims Must Undertake: Some Concrete Suggestions

The twin growing menace: Petrifaction and Radicalization in Islam and Islamophobia – Are they interconnected? How best they can be diffused? An SOS to the Muslim Intelligentsia, Leadership and Ulema!

Pope Francis Touches The Soul Of The Qur’an By Seeking An “Adequate Interpretation” And Muslims And Their Ulema And Scholars Across The World Must Follow His Suggestion To Avoid Growing Confusion In Religion

Pope Francis and Muslims

When Hindus wrote in Persian
Raziuddin Aquil
When Hindus wrote in Persian
Raziuddin Aquil

There was a time in India’s medieval and early modern history when some of the finest masterpieces in Hindi were written by Muslims and some of the most fascinating Persian compositions were produced by Hindus. ....

 
Sufism Set the Tone for Religious Co-Existence
Raziuddin Aquil
Sufism Set the Tone for Religious Co-Existence
Raziuddin Aquil

What distinguished Sufism from other forms of Islam was its belief that a human soul could achieve union with God, a belief later formulated in the doctrine of Wahdat-ul-Wujud (unity of existence, or monism as a reality). This doctrine often brought Sufis into conflict with Islamic orthodoxy (represented by the Sunni Hanafi Ulema or theologians). The latter believed that God was unique and therefore to suggest that a human’s soul could achieve union with God was to imply that there was no distinction between God and human beings. .....

 
Muslims Celebrate Jesus
Hesham Hassaballa
Muslims Celebrate Jesus
Hesham Hassaballa

The story of the birth of Jesus, which is the entire reason for Christmas, is located in two major passages in the Quran, one of which states: Lo! The angels said: "O Mary! Behold, God sends thee the glad tiding, through a word from Him, [of a son] who shall become known as the Christ Jesus, son of Mary, of great honor in this world and in the life to come, and [shall be] of those who are drawn near unto God. And he shall speak unto men in his cradle, and as a grown man, and shall be of the righteous." (3:45-46).

A Muslim's Christmas Message
Kashif N. Chaudhry
A Muslim's Christmas Message
Kashif N. Chaudhry

"Christians are my citizens, and by God, I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses.

 
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