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Books and Documents

Islam and Pluralism

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.

 

Some Muslim leaders have expressed "grave concerns" over the Study Qur'an, a recent translation and commentary of the Qur'an because of its promotion of salvific pluralism and universalism. Such Muslim leaders promote exclusivism and supremacism and also bully fellow Muslims, who uphold inclusive values, through social ostracism. Preaching of such strong views has led to the immense persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan and the marginalization of LGBT Muslims. Indeed, taking this exclusivism to its logical conclusion, groups like ISIS and the Taliban execute fellow Muslims with the approval of their own conscience….

In Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, this Ramayana ballet, performed in the Javanese style—a finessed form, associated with slow and deliberate movements—has been running continuously since 1961. In 2012, it was anointed by the Guinness Book as the most continuously staged performance in the world.  In Indonesia, the Ramayana ballet has been running continuously since 1961.

 

In Africa, many parts of which contain Muslim and Christian populations, Muslims often join in Christmas festivities; in Senegal, which is nearly 95% Muslim, as well as in Muslim-majority Gambia, Muslims and Christians celebrate each other's holidays. The mosque in Dakar sports Christmas lights during the season. In Sri Lanka, the major Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian holidays are public holidays.

 
Do Muslims Celebrate Christmas?
Sajdah Nubee
Do Muslims Celebrate Christmas?
Sajdah Nubee

Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. The Qur'an venerates both Jesus and Virgin Mary by sharing their story of Jesus' miraculous birth, his special gift of speaking from the cradle, and his ability to perform miracles with the help of God. Muslims believe that his mother Mary is one of the greatest women to ever live, and a chapter of the Qur'an is devoted to her. ...

 

A church which was built in the middle of Berlin in the 13th century and destroyed in World War II, is likely to be rebuilt as the world’s first all-in-one church-mosque-synagogue, called the House of One.

Though the property belongs to the church, authorities hope to build a sacred spaces for Jews, Muslims, and Christians, rather than just a chapel.

So let us too try to understand and learn from the difference between these two voices. One, the self-declared Islamic state, attacked innocent people at a European soccer match in Paris on Friday. Another, His Highness the Aga Khan, was a soccer player himself for Harvard's prestigious, championship-winning soccer team.

 
Hazro: A Small Pakistani Town of Mandirs and Gurdwaras
Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro
Hazro: A Small Pakistani Town of Mandirs and Gurdwaras
Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro

…It was during one of my expeditions that I traveled to a small town named Hazro - a tehsil of the Attock district, Punjab, and was instantly smitten.

Formerly a fortified town with four gates, Hazro is home to many temples, gurdwaras and havelis believed to have been built during the Sikh and British era.

 

From all the above illustrations it is clear that the divine judgment for all humanity, according to the Qur’an will be deed specific and not religion specific. That means no religion will be accorded any preference before God as He is the fountain-head of all religions which He evolved over time, each specific to an era and culminated his scheme of guiding humanity in the revelation to the Prophet Muhammad which merely acknowledges all past scriptures, recaptures what was lost of them over time and preserves the eternal message of God, Thus, the Muslims may argue that this amounts to Islam commanding a higher position over other scriptures. But the Qur’an corrects such misconception and asks humanity to believe in all the prophets and previously revealed scriptures, and to make no distinction between any of the Prophets (4:152), 3.....

Islam’s Legacy of Pluralism
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam
Islam’s Legacy of Pluralism
Moin Qazi, New Age Islam

The Islamic vision of pluralism is build around the philosophy of tolerance of diversity in thought and belief. One may, of course, devalue the other person’s beliefs without devaluing the person who holds those beliefs. The tolerant person wills to treat the person with significantly differing beliefs and practices as intrinsically valuable in spite of that person’s rejection of her fundamental human concerns. Tolerance is the cultivated disposition to subdue our natural inclination to distance, reject or persecute others whose beliefs and practices differ from our own. The tolerant person is, rather, disposed to recognise the other as an object of inestimable worth. The tolerant person says, in effect, “Our fundamental disagreement does not diminish my estimation of your worth as a human being and, therefore, though I disagree with your beliefs or practices, still I will endure them.”....

As only the Islamophobes, who hate Islam or those Muslims, who want to enforce Shariah Law, of their imagination, by hook or crook, make headlines, the compassionate teachings of the Holy Quran are lost to the ordinary, non-Muslim observer.

The Holy Quran talks about One God and one human family.......

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