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Books and Documents

Islam and Pluralism

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.

Before anyone takes objection to the term “Jesus Christ” please note that there is also nothing unIslamic in calling him Jesus Christ as a Muslim. Here is a little page out of history that can help those confused about whether to celebrate this day or not.…..

 

The aversion that some Muslims harbour against Christians is strikingly peculiar not only because of the Quran aforementioned general injunctions for religious tolerance but especially because Muslims and Christians share a myriad of things in common.  It would be disingenuous to claim that Christianity and Islam are identical considering they do have some fundamental differences. Nevertheless, it would also be misleading to argue that Islam and Christianity are antithetical…..

 

BRETHREN, the 25th of December every year, are usually dedicated to the celebration, by our compatriots, the birth of Prophet Isa –Jesus Christ-(Alaihis Salaam).  Though much controversy exists over his birth and death, there is consensus among Christians on his mission while on earth; whereas much ignorance exists outside Islam on his position and status in Islamic annals and culture, Prophet Isa remains an adorable prophet and one in whom, in addition to other prophets of Allah, Muslims must express their belief and strive to emulate…..

In Ajmer, Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti (r.a) formed his Khanqah (Sufi seminary) to reach out to the larger communities of the country, regardless of faith, and offered selfless welfare services to them. Thus, he attracted a huge following from among non-Muslim residents of the city who, impressed by the nobility of his spirit, held him in high esteem. Epitomising the old-age harmonious Sufi traditions, he embraced the concept of Sulh-e-Kul (peace for all) to foster mutual love and compassion between Muslims and non-Muslims of India. It shows that Islam spread in India with these humanitarian efforts of holy Sufi saints, not with the present day extremist ideology of religious coercion and forced conversion propounded by Wahhabis and other fanatic strains of Islamism. ......

Islam is a very tolerant religion. Islam is fair to people of all races and of all faiths. Islam does not oppress people of other faiths. Islam is the official religion of the country, but it also stresses that every other religion can be practiced freely by the people. “Islam protects the rights of people of every other faith. Islam and every religion teach us not to do bad things unto others. However, there have been instances lately where certain people, who practise extreme ideologies, use Islam against others. This is wrong……

It seems naïve now, but it was clear to me as a young girl that I was going to get married and that I would be supported. I never thought of my work as anything I would do for money. But then we were living in a dinky apartment on Kings Highway in Brooklyn and didn’t have much money. Ken has a traditional approach and took the idea of supporting me seriously, but it was overwhelming for him and I realized that this was real life and I would have to work.....

 

It is also possible that the Jews of Madinah were different from other Jewish communities where the fast of ‘Ashura was concerned and observed it with greater enthusiasm and regularity, and, in this respect, they were similar to the Arabs who, seeing that so many important events had taken place on that day, fasted on it out of reverence…..

 
This is my Pope, and I am a Muslim
Mike Ghouse
This is my Pope, and I am a Muslim
Mike Ghouse

As a Muslim, I significantly differ with the Christian theology and rituals, but I would like to believe that the Pope and I understand that they are merely means to achieving spirituality, piety or Taqwa as it is called in Islam. Taqwa becomes your moral compass in doing things ethically. It is becoming God-conscious, or becoming Brahma as Hinduism calls it….

Talking about the composite culture of India, Mr. Sultan Shahin spoke of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad's concept of Wahdat-e-Deen, explaining this from a quotation from one of the greatest Islamic scholars and mystics, Ibn Arabi, who affirmed in his masterpiece al-Fusoos his belief in the unity of all religions: "Beware of restricting yourself to one particular religion and disbelieving in everything else, so that great good would be missed by you, indeed you would miss attainment of knowledge of the affair in the form he is following. Rather be ready to accept all forms of belief. This is because Allah is higher and greater than to be comprehended by one belief to the exclusion of others. Rather all are correct...."

Many Sufi saints in India, Mr. Shahin said, among them prominent names like Mazhar Jan-e-Janan accepted Hazrat Ram and Hazrat Krishna as Prophets of God as Allah has stated in the Qur'an that He has sent prophets to all nations in all ages who preached to their Ummah in the local languages. Allama Iqbal, as is well-known, called Hazrat Ram Chandra Imam ul Hind. No wonder students of comparative religion have discovered passages in Hindu and Islamic literature corresponding to each other almost word for word.

Mr. Shahin spoke at great length of Swami Vivekanand who On June 19, 1898, wrote: “I see in my mind’s eye the future perfect India rising out of this chaos and strife, glorious and invincible, with Vedanta brain and Islam body.” (Letters of Swami Vivekananda, p. 380). He regretted that neither the Swami himself nor Hindus and Muslims later took up this intuitive idea and take it further. He said, "had we Hindus and Muslims done so, perhaps we would have been spared the horrors of partition and many other tragedies in the last century."....

The late renowned scholar Asghar Ali Engineer alluded to this in his book "On Developing Theology of Peace in Islam." He said since the Quran states that Allah has sent His prophets to all nations, many Islamic thinkers, theologians and Sufi saints believed there are Allah's prophets in non-biblical communities. The term "Allah" is also used in Sikhism. President of the Malaysian Gurdwara Council Jagir Singh said the term "Allah" is found numerous times in the Guru Granth Sahib, which is their holy book…..

 

 

Jesus called that Kingdom of heaven and Muhammad called it submission to a coherent system called Islam. A majority of people in all faiths believe in the beauty of their faith; however a few in each group don't get that or abuse the faith to their advantage in making enemies out of those who differ…….

As a Muslim I welcome everyone to call God with his name in Arabic - "Allah" with equal devotion and honour. Quietly and peacefully this would be the response of an over whelming majority of Muslims in the world. It is time for us not to run over by the few Muslims who reduce God to Muslim God, what a crime! The old saying remains true, things are not going to change unless good people do something about it....

Peace is the Rule in Islam, War an Exception
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Peace is the Rule in Islam, War an Exception
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

This Quranic verse teaches us about an important principle. And that is that the only legitimate war is one that is fought in defence, in response to a clear aggression. All other forms of war are forms of Zulm or oppression, and oppressors have no place in God’s world. As this Quranic verse indicates, wars other than those that are defensive simply have no justification whatsoever....

The average Pakistani citizen was provoked by what happened this week in Peshawar. This is exactly what the anti-Pakistani elements have planted through the “Misguided Muslims - Pakistani Taliban”. The intelligent and more patriotic ones would conclude this incident as yet another move…..

 
Pluralistic Islam Must Prevail
Qanta Ahmed
Pluralistic Islam Must Prevail
Qanta Ahmed

As a Muslim, I refuse to give up Islam to the Islamists. Neither should others who believe in a deeply pluralistic Islam. It is the only path to peaceful resolution of inevitable religious differences, within Islam and with other faiths. Yet today pluralist manifestations of Islam are contracting….

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