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Books and Documents

Islam and Pluralism

Community, Nation and Nationalism
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Community, Nation and Nationalism
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

There are certain Islamic terms whose clarification is very necessary. Clarifying their real import can help in promoting better relations between Muslims and others. On the other hand, a wrong interpretation of these terms can only further magnify differences between them.....

 

By the Ahl-e-kitab the Quran means the followers of other prophets of God i.e. Moses, Jesus Christ and David among others who were given divine scriptures by God like the Torah, the Gospel, the Psalms etc. The verses of the Quran clearly describe the status of Ahl-e-Kitab in a Islamic state or in a society where Muslims, Jews and Christians co-exist. The Quran does not deny the followers of other religions, especially Ahl-e-kitab a place in a Islamic state. The verses quoted above have both religious and political bearing.....

While the dialogue was taking place, Prophet Muhammad gave the Christian delegation the right to practice their faith freely in his own mosque during their stay. At the end of the dialogue, the Christian delegation chose to remain Christian. The Prophet accepted their decision and gave them a letter assuring their freedom of worship and the safety of their homes, churches and towns. Below is part of this letter:

"Our covenant with Najran is that they are under the protection of God and his Prophet. Najran's homes, churches, monks, priests, their present and absent and alliance shall be safe..."

Pluralism is simply "Respecting the otherness of others and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of us." It is not a religion, nor is it a system of governance or laws to adhere to; it is simply one's attitude of "respecting the otherness of others." You are who you are, and I am who I am, and if we can learn to live with our differences, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge….

Peaceful Coexistence in Islam
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam
Peaceful Coexistence in Islam
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

It is not just rhetoric, that Islam means peace...it is much deeper than that. Islam itself means and demands to have peace with Allah, the Creator, resulting in inner peace within oneself; with all the creations of Allah- whether it is humans (Muslims or non Muslims) or animals or plants and even ecology, through submitting oneself to the Will of Allah and following His guidance sincerely and as fully as one can.....

Dismissing persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, Pope Tawadros II told a news conference held in Abu Dhabi, as neighbours at home, partners at work, friends in schools and colleges, Muslims and Christians have been living in harmony for more than 14 centuries. “But some problems between Copts and Muslims pop up from time to time. The new constitution will help solve these problems, so that justice and peace prevail,” the Coptic Pope said, winding up a several days visit to the UAE......

 

Beneath the surface of the “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a denial of the clash of civilizations between Islam and the West.  This denial is rooted in the rejection of Truth concerning how man should live. The West lives in a state of denial.  This is postmodernism.  Contrary to the 18th century, “Enlightenment,” or what is sometimes called the “Age of Reason,” postmodernism denies the existence of any universal or objective standards….

 
Hagia Sophia Could Be a Mosque/Church
Mustafa Akyol
Hagia Sophia Could Be a Mosque/Church
Mustafa Akyol

Once again, the status of Hagia Sophia of Istanbul, one of the most ancient and magnificent shrines on Earth, is being discussed in Turkey. Some speculate that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan plans to reopen the structure, which has been a “museum” since 1935, as a mosque to consolidate his support among religious conservatives. ….

Ninety-nine years were not enough for the Assyrians to forget the pain inflicted by the bloody massacre known as the Sayfo massacre. Meanwhile, the heated situation in the Levant is burdening Christians in general, and the Assyrian Church in particular, amid growing talk about the danger of yet another wave of displacement. Assyrians can trace some of their origins to the Aramean people, and the Assyrian language (Syriac)….

 

One of these reads: “The Vedic Aryans, including the Brahmanas, ate fish, meat and even beef. A distinguished guest was honoured with beef served at a meal. Although the Vedic Aryans ate beef, milch cows were not killed. One of the words used to refer to a cow was Aghnya (what shall not be killed). But a guest was a Goghna (one for whom a cow is killed). It is only bulls, barren cows and calves that were killed.”...

Babar’s will to his son Humayun (exhibited at the National Museum, New Delhi) indicates precisely this point. It says: “Son, this nation, Hindustan, has different religions. Thank Allah for giving us this kingdom. We should remove all the differences from our heart and do justice to each community according to its customs. Avoid cow slaughter to win over the hearts of the people of this land and to incorporate the people in the matters of administration…”


 

... Just driving around Jakarta’s streets is an education in the Mahabharata. Buses are painted with large advertisements for an energy drink called Kuku Bima, which promises Bhima-like endurance. Opposite the city’s main national  monument, Monas, is a kinetic statue of Arjuna being driven by Krishna to battle on a chariot led by eight horses. Further west, one of the most congested arteries is Gatot Subroto, named after a much-feted army general. An appropriate name as it turns out the name Gatot is a diminutive for Ghatotkacha, Bhima’s fearsome half-demon warrior son....

 

Therefore, the co-existence of Muslims and believers of other faiths should be allowed to prevail with sincerity, having known that our creator has His own best reason for creating us with different faiths as He said in the Holy Qur'an. However man can invite others to his faith if both parties enjoy that privilege……

 

When, last week, Saudi Arabia declared the Muslim Brotherhood, Jabhat Al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as terrorist organisations, it also highlighted one of the current problems with religious teaching in the Middle East and beyond: the lack of a “majority understanding” of Islam. The years of political stagnation in the big republics – Egypt, Iraq, Syria especially – hollowed out the role of religion in public life…..

Islam and Respect for Pluralism
Waris Mazhari
Islam and Respect for Pluralism
Waris Mazhari

An important aspect of this relationship between the Creator and human beings relates to relationships among human beings themselves. If these relationships are not structured on their natural basis, the relationship between the Creator and human beings, too, cannot be as it ought to. This is because, as the Prophet of Islam has said, all creatures are members of God’s family. It is simply impossible that if one harbours hatred and enmity for members of God’s family he can establish a relationship of closeness and love with God, the Head and Overseer of this family. …

“It is a tragedy and a blow to the basic pride of Arab Islamic civilisation. It is one of the most horrific developments of recent years. If Islamic civilisation has anything to show for itself, it is its record of pluralism and coexistence….

 
Living Harmoniously in a Religiously Plural Society
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Living Harmoniously in a Religiously Plural Society
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Mahatma Gandhi was of the view that the conflicts between Hindus and Muslims were mainly religious in nature, that religious differences, being magnified, assumed the form of conflicts. And so he believed that the solution to this problem was that people should be convinced that, so he argued, there was no distinction really between the different religions—that Islam is a true religion and so is Hinduism. He summarized this understanding of his in the phrase: “Ram and Rahim are One’…..

Iran Must Embrace Religious Pluralism
Camelia Entekhabifard
Iran Must Embrace Religious Pluralism
Camelia Entekhabifard

Like the beloved carpets replete with flowers, colours and patterns, Iran is a fabric of cultures and faiths woven to create a pluralistic society. The different ethnicities and religions are its flowers and colours; the carpet is beautiful because of their variety and distinctiveness. This deep sense of connection was not born overnight. And it cannot be destroyed in 35 years....

 

Education for Peace and NewAgeIslam.com, both initiatives of New Age Islam Foundation organised the Eid Milad-un-Nabi Program to mark the 1444th birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This occasion was celebrated with an aim to apprise the Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Christian students enrolled in the centre of the glorious life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Milad Program focused on highlighting the Qur'anic verse that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent as a mercy to the entire world (Quran- 21:107). It also brought to light the Islamic and Prophetic perspective on global peace, interfaith harmony as well as underscoring the need for tolerance and mutual understanding among followers of different faiths.

In his keynote address, a Catholic priest, Father Victor Edwin SJ highlighted the beautiful and peaceful aspects of Prophet Muhammad’s life and message. He narrated some moving stories from the Prophet’s life in which he is reported to have shown abundant generosity and great respect to people of other faiths, especially Christians of Najran and Habsha. He also explained how gently Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) behaved with non-Muslims, both friends and foes.

It is a sung celebration of the birth and greatness of Muhammad, traditionally recited on the anniversary of his birth. Despite opposition to it from some Islamic movements, the recital of al-Barzanji has its own legitimacy, not simply because it possesses elements of Sufi — which is a part of Islamic traditional science — but also because it accentuates the cultural expression of Muslims’ love for the Prophet Muhammad…..

Going to church did not make me less of a Muslim when I was a young girl, and neither does saying "Merry Christmas" make me less of a Muslim now. My faith has not been shaken just because I wished some friends a time of joy with their families. Neither will I suddenly suffer from amnesia and forget what my religion is…..

 

The best way to honor the prophet is to follow him, and become a Rahmat (kind and just) to your spouse, kids, siblings, parents, family, friends, customers, clients, vendors and every human around you. And if others feel safe and secure with you, God and the prophet would be pleased with you…..

Since the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent as “Rahmatul Lil Aalameen” (mercy for all worlds), he presented Islam, the religion of his predecessors from the Prophet Adam to Jesus Christ, as an all-inclusive faith with special rights and regards for the non-Muslim communities strongly preserved and highly emphasized in its injunctions. He epitomized his teachings of tolerance, inclusiveness and love for all by displaying a gentle attitude and magnanimous behaviour towards non-Muslims. He showed the exalted standard of character and reached the highest rank of morality, as the holy Quran says in Surah al-Qalam (68:4), in his dealings with non-Muslim communities. Right from his childhood days, the Prophet PBUH was known as “Muhammad al-Amin” (fully trustworthy Muhammad) and he kept intact this moral highness of his personality traits later in his young age through to his prophetic career....

Education for Peace, an initiative of the New Age Islam Foundation organised the first session of the three-day workshop titled “Angels of Peace Pilot Project” on January 3, 2014 on the theme: Islam is Religion of Peace and Pluralism. It was aimed at bringing students from different madrasas into interaction with each other and learn from Islamic scholars about Islam's inclusivist, pluralist message, encouraging co-existence among all communities as well as the value of modern, secular education. ... The prime concern of the workshop was raising awareness among madrasa students about Islam’s teachings of global peace, religious harmony, inclusiveness, tolerance, Prophet Muhammad’s dealings with non-Muslims and importance of modern, secular education along with religious education. ...

These students imbued with Islamic teachings of inclusiveness, pluralism and now understanding the value of secular education in Islam this week will now have a face-off next week with mostly non-Muslim students from government schools. These face-off sessions between several small groups of madrasa and non-madrasa students will be monitored by senior students and scholars who are well-versed in Islamic teachings of inclusiveness and the value of secular education in Islam. The basic idea is to encourage pluralist thoughts and understanding of Islam's inclusivist message of harmonious co-existence among madrasa students as well as provide a practical opportunity of practicing pluralism with students from different backgrounds.  Most students living in madrasa hostels and even Muslim ghettos are deprived of practical opportunities of interacting with students from different backgrounds and talking to them openly and frankly about concerns of their identity and role in a secular, multicultural, multi-religious society. They will be doing this in the Education for Peace premises in a monitored environment in the next weeks, but hopefully benefit from this experience in their life…..

Democratic Pluralism and Pakistan
Dr Qaisar Rashid
Democratic Pluralism and Pakistan
Dr Qaisar Rashid

Democratic pluralism is a concept that is the antithesis of the nation state concept. The latter identifies the state with one homogeneous nation. In contrast, democratic pluralism appreciates heterogeneity in all respects, ranging from race, ethnicity, language, culture, to religion and sect. Furthermore, democratic pluralism rejects the idea that the state should represent a distinct racial, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious or sectarian community.....

By organizing such events and ceremonies, Education for Peace, a New Agr Islam Foundation initiative, aims at creating the atmosphere of peace and harmony in the country and eliminating the creeping bias, hatred and hostile attitude, particularly from the young and impressionable minds, towards people of other religious communities. Though it is not an easy- job, NAI Foundation is actively engaged in its struggle of spreading Islam’s message of peace and inclusiveness.


The Christmas Day Ceremony was one such event, but, Mr. Sultan Shahin, Editor New Age Islam said that similar events on the anniversaries of other previous prophets of Islam are also being planned. He also intends to bring together spiritual leaders from other Ahl-e-Kitab communities on the next birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad (saw).


We must present Islam as an inclusivist religion, Mr Shahin pointed out, briefing the New Age Islam staff and close supporters. Of course, no religion teaches hatred of the other or exclusivism and supremacism, but also no other religion other than Islam, to the best of my knowledge, - I will be happy to be corrected - ,  specifically asks its followers so clearly, so repeatedly, and so strongly to be inclusive, to treat all the tens of thousands of prophets of Islam who came to all parts of the world with equal respect, and says that they all enjoy the same stature as Prophrt Mohammad (saw). Like the concept of complete human equality before One God, inclusivism should be our USP.

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