Books and Documents

Islam and Tolerance

On Religion, Categorical Imperative and Morality
Syed Manzoor Alam, New Age Islam

Suppose we want to beat somebody, but due to the societal norms I can’t do it, my Id troubles me, hence I become a batsman and I “hit” balls and derive pleasure from it. And according to Freud religion is the most enduring form of sublimation, we take our anger and sexual lust and make it “sublime” to become a saint, a mullah, a pundit….

The Murder of Human Empathy in Pakistan
Maryam Sakeenah

Religious intolerance in a culture of violence and anger is a fatal mix and has gone on a bloody rampage. While the causes, factors and agents responsible for the ongoing madness are intertwined in a complex manner, the counter-narrative and healing that ought to have come from the representatives of religion has been inadequate, half-hearted and equivocal....

Religion as a Civilizing Influence
Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

Religion as a Civilizing Influence
Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

Let us now look at the civilizing influence of religion. We are all familiar with moral and ethical precepts that come from religion such as, the virtues of striving in the face of odds, of patience and perseverance, of abstinence and piety, of forgiveness in place of revenge, of returning good for evil, of observing limits in behaviour, the virtues of hard work, honesty, sharing, sacrifice and gratitude, the virtue of faithfulness and propriety and of justice.....

Intolerance Breeds Cycle Of Carnage In Pakistan
Kamila Shamsie
Will the recent carnage change any of this? In an unprecedented show of solidarity with the mourners, protests sprang up in a great many parts of the country, finally forcing the government to respond — which it did by imposing the executive authority of the governor over the province and directing the police and paramilitary to act against the groups involved.


A mob attacked Alexander Aan even before an Indonesian court in June jailed him for two and a half years for “inciting religious hatred”. His crime was to write “God does not exist” on a Facebook group he had founded for atheists in Minang, a province of the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Like most non-believers in Islamic regions, he was brought up as a Muslim. And like many who profess godlessness openly, he has been punished....

Why Religious Tolerance And Compassion Make So Much Sense: Intolerance Is Abuse Of Religion
A. Lin Neumann

All of us from time to time stare into the abyss and wonder why we were born only to eventually die. As far as we know, humans are the only animals born with the knowledge of our own impending demise and so religion — almost any religion — was created to offer some comfort as we struggle with this. It is a comfort to many people and is perhaps a fundamental way to keep our species from succumbing to despair. Which is why religious tolerance makes so much sense.

Intolerance is the trade mark of Taliban mindset and looking at the facts from this angle it seems that Taliban mindset is spreading fast because of the one sided propaganda and killing of innocent children, men and women by drones attacks and use of the fire arms through killing machines. One reason for this rising intolerance in Pakistan can easily be found in the ongoing war of terror in Afghanistan, in the porous border with our neighbor and in the creation of a Pakistani Taliban movement since.


Tolerance in Short Supply
Anwar Syed

Persecution is not limited to non-Muslim minorities. It extends to all those persons who will decline to think and act as their tormentors do. Dissident groups arise within the larger Muslim community and become objects of harassment by those who happen to be dominant at the time. Majorities and minorities are not rigidly fixed. Groups will divide into factions, which in turn will split into still smaller entities.

Hope For Tolerance: Pakistan Is Steps Away From The Point Of No Return
Huma Yusuf

Pakistan is steps away from the point of no return and urgently needs a public outcry against religiously motivated violence. The situation is clearly at an extreme, but there is still some space (beyond Twitter and the op-ed columns of English-language newspapers) to question the way things are progressing and even voice horror at the mounting instances of injustice and violence. If we don’t seize this opportunity, we will soon find ourselves with no recourse.

A person greatly admires Hazrat Maulana Rashid Gangohi, the outstanding scholar who was one of the founders of the Deoband madrasa. The gentleman to whom I refer is a kindly soul, who can be depended upon for help by others. However, when in the course of conversation I chanced to remark that the most basic virtue lay in kindness towards others, he contradicted me. Kindness, he contended, was reserved for “pious, practicing Muslims”. As for others, they should be given a chance to mend their ways, after which “they would be Wajibul Qatal”. Another person I chanced to meet — a finance man, no less — feels that people who do not attend Friday prayers “should simply be killed. Slit their throats!

Now, this kind of sanguinary verbal ferocity is very different from the traditions of quiet piety and gentle acceptance in which most Muslims were brought up. I claim no expertise to suggest whether this or the other is the ‘correct’ version of Islamic thinking. However, there are certainly many scholars who hold that this aggressive literalism, popularly but incorrectly referred to as ‘fundamentalism’, is a doctrinal innovation of relatively recent origin. It is very much a product of the linear, pseudo-logical thinking that has characterised our violent and intolerant age — an age that began with the full flowering of modern imperialism in the nineteenth century and whose baleful cultural and psychic responses have long outlived their origins. With this kind of intellectual legacy as a backdrop, what kind of political discourse is possible in Pakistan -- Salman Tarik Kureshi

Confining the freedom of other people’s opinions is a matter of fanaticism, extremism, intolerance and exclusion. There is no doubt that extremism exists in the East as well as in the West. There are thousands of individuals who have been misled by the belief that they have absolute freedom to hate and punish people with “different” religions. -- Abdullah Al Alami

Leaving aside the question of whether India's religious traditions are in fact tolerant — a subject on which the tens of thousands of victims of communal and caste violence might have interesting opinions — this spurious secularism has served in the main to institutionalise and sharpen communal boundaries. It has also allowed clerics to exercise influence over state policy — insulating themselves from a secularising world. -- Praveen Swami

If Europe had known as much of Islam, as Muslims knew of Christendom, in those days, those mad, adventurous, occasionally chivalrous and heroic, but utterly fanatical outbreak known as the Crusades could not have taken place, for they were based on a complete misapprehension. The tolerance within the body of Islam was, and is, something without parallel in history; class and race and color ceasing altogether to be barriers. The two verses (2:255-256) of the Qur’an are supplementary. Where there is that realization of the majesty and dominion of Allah (SWT), there is no compulsion in religion. Men choose their path - allegiance or opposition - and it is sufficient punishment for those who oppose that they draw further and further away from the light of truth. -- Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall


After 9/11, Islam has been all over the media, and most of the attention it has attracted is negative.  I know people connect terrorism and Islam, but I hope that people realize that Islam is a religion of peace, not violence.  Many religious extremists, despite their religion, use their beliefs as a scapegoat.  These extremists are not people of faith; they are cowards.  As an American Muslim, I realize the pain that America has suffered after the 9/11 attacks, and terrorist acts that occurred after that.  These acts were done by awful human beings who do not know what Islam is.  I am not here to impose my religion on anyone, but rather I am here to tell you all that Islam accepts people for who they are and what they believe.  It is a religion that teaches peace, love, and acceptance, and anyone “Muslim” who says otherwise is not a Muslim at all. -- Kulsum Soonasra

Mercy is a divine attribute: “Your Lord hath inscribed for Himself (the rule of) mercy: verily, if any of you did evil in ignorance, and thereafter repented and amend (his conduct), lo! He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Quran, 6:54). As Muslims, and more so as human beings, compassion and mercy are traits that ought to be practiced often but with it should, in appropriate cases, come the element of justice; the prerogative to issue a pardon should be clothed in mercy and justice and exercised in a non-discriminatory manner. “O you, who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even if it be against yourselves, your parents and your relatives, or whether it is against the rich or the poor” (Quran, 4:135).

The SC of India rose to the challenge by opening pardons to judicial scrutiny, if extended to “privileged class deviants” arbitrarily and with mala fide intentions, in order to protect the interests of the people. The people of Pakistan have a right to expect our apex court to scrutinise all pardons granted, being in the nature of a public trust, through an exercise of judicial review. -- Hina Hafeezullah Ishaq

In September 2011, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat in India organized an exhibition on the Quran at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi. It highlighted the teachings of the Quran under a wide range of headings: Justice; Suffering; Death; Science; Peace; Women’s Role and Rank, and so forth. It also put on display the translations of the sacred text in 53 languages—including Tamil, Telugu. Marathi, Russian, Korean and Vietnamese—that the Ahmadis have successfully produced over many decades. [1] The Ahmadis had not only the right but also a particular claim to organize an exhibition highlighting their translations of the Quran in so many languages. It was an Ahmadi scholar, Maulvi Muhammad Ali, who was the first Muslim to translate the complete standard text of the Quran into English. He started the work in 1909 and brought it to completion in 1917. His translation received high praise, from scholars and laymen alike, including those who were not Ahmadi. Contrary to the statements now being made by people like Syed Ahmad Bukhari, who could not have read even a page of it, the translation was not then accused by anyone of being “unorthodox.”-- C M Naim

The statements in the Quran about jihad are misinterpreted in order to create the misconception that the Quran permits Muslims to attack and kill innocent non-Muslims. To justify this, the verse in the Quran in which the non-Muslims are ordered to be killed in general is cited. It is a case of gross misunderstanding. The verse is linked to the mushrikeen of Makkah. They were constantly at war with the Muslims and were not willing to accept any peace overtures made by Muslims. Therefore, the Quran asks Muslims to treat those Mushrikeen who were not at war with them and so had not driven them out of their homes and towns with justice and fairness. … Mufti Md Zahid Qamarul Qasmi (Translated from Urdu By New Age Islam Edit Desk)

We do receive many complaints regarding hate and lack of tolerance from the broader Australian community, which is very frustrating. Muslims are also deeply frustrated by the many who make no effort to gain an understanding of Islam yet they allow themselves to become victims of the well-oiled Islamophobia propaganda machine and develop negative opinions of Islam and Muslims. Opposing a woman's right to wear a burqa simply because some do not understand or agree with it, is to oppose and deny her the right and freedom to wear what she chooses. That is a form of enslavement and not emancipation. Many think that all Muslims are fans of Osama when in reality most of us have not heard of him until 9/11. -- Herald Sun, Australia


I recieved an e-Mail from one of my friend on Facebok to whom I have never met nor knew in person. He wrote it in Roman-Urdu lanuage which I am copying as it is: "Dear Brother, Aj kal ki jo situation ha pakistan mein Christians ki wo sab achhi tarah jantay hein. I humbly requested you to please try to take step on this way> I know its not easy , But nothing is impossible: * You all Christian NGO's and Religious Leaders , Ap sab mil ke Christian countries ko request karein k wo ham sab ko pakistan se nikal le jaein. for e.g Italy, Denmark, Austrailia, New ZeaLand, Canada and so many other coutries can accommodate us. as you people are trying to get a separate province in punjab, I think instead of this moving from there is an easy and permanant solution. so please think on this. May Christ bless to all of Us" If, I will translate this e-mail, it simply says that all Christian leaders and Civil Society shall raise issue of situation of Pakistani Christian on International Forums and urge Western Countries to give refuge to Christians that they may have peaceful life.-- Nazir S Bhatti

Ahmed Jawed is inviting the Muslims to think what we should do and what we should not do in response to offensive activities committed by anti-Islam elements in the West like the recent burning of the Holy Quran by self-styled priest Terry Jones. He writes: Should the Muslims also burn the Bible? Should they insult the Taurat (The Old Testament) and the Gospel? Should they attack the churches? Should they target the personages of the Christians? Should they denigrate their centres of reverence? If the Quran and Islam itself be consulted, the answer to our questions will be in the negative. The tradition of the Prophet of Islam never allows them for this. They neither can burn the Bible, nor can they attack the churches, nor can they accuse the holy personalities of the Christian religion and the centres of homage of the Christians, because, for the Muslims, the Taurat and the Bible are also as revered, as any other revealed book, or the Holy Quran

UNESCO, which is coordinating the conservation efforts in Afghanistan, deserves the highest praise. Instead of rushing to rebuild the destroyed icons, as desired by some of the heritage experts and funding countries, it opted for a three-phase project to demine the area, strengthen the mountain cliffs, and improve the vicinity. Involving local communities in conservation efforts and building their capacities has been very sensibly made a priority. This sustainable approach, adopted since 2003, has paid dividends and the Bamiyan site is now ready to be removed from the list of World Heritage sites in danger. The demand to rebuild the Bamiyan Buddhas has gained fresh momentum after experts demonstrated the feasibility of reconstructing the smaller of the two statues, using fragments from the original statues. A final decision will be taken after carefully analysing the costs and benefits of the project, including the social gains that would accrue to the local community. The Taliban's barbaric destruction of the Buddhas exposes the limits of international conventions meant to safeguard heritage structures of universal value. In general, these conventions only address the damage caused by conventional war; they are ineffective in dealing with rogue States that vandalise their own cultural properties. -- An editorial in The Hindu

ISLAMABAD: Gunmen shot and killed Shahbaz Bhatti Pakistan’s government minister for religious minorities on Wednesday, the latest attack on a high-profile Pakistani figure who had urged reforming the harsh blasphemy laws that impose the death penalty for insulting Islam. Shahbaz Bhatti was on his way to work in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, when unknown gunmen riddled his car with bullets, police officer Mohmmad Iqbal said. The minister arrived dead at Shifa Hospital and his driver was also wounded badly, hospital spokesman Asmatullah Qureshi said. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but private Pakistani TV channels showed pamphlets at the scene of the killing that were attributed to the Pakistani Taliban warning of the same fate for anyone opposing the blasphemy laws. – A report compiled by well-known Karachi-based  blogger Aamir Mughal

Photo: Pakistani minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, who had called for changes in the country's controversial blasphemy law, was killed in a gun attack in Islamabad.


Muslim Persecution of Christians in Pakistan



DARUL Uloom Deoband, the leading Islamic seminary of the subcontinent, is in turmoil today. At the heart of the struggle is the issue of who comes to finally control it. The chances are that Maulana Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi, who has been its rector for a short while, could be forced to make way for someone supported by the powerful Madni clan. ... Let us link Maulana Vastanvi’s remarks to that old Deobandi tradition of putting watan first and ignoring the differences between the ahle-watan (people of motherland). Let us not look at what he said as an attempt to take away the heat from Modi. Generosity of spirit shown by a victim does not necessarily lead to the exoneration of the aggressor, and Maulana Vastanvi's remarks may not be enough for the law to salvage Modi.

The Deoband ulema warned Indian Muslims that there was more in common between Hindus and Muslims of Bihar or UP than between Muslims of these states and Muslims of Balochistan, Punjab and the Frontier. “You are afraid of Hindu nationalism, but you will find Baloch and Pashtun nationalism more difficult to deal with”, they reasoned.

In Islam, the heirs of prophets are not necessarily their sons and grandsons, but those who carry the tradition faithfully. We know well who the real heir of Deoband’s stalwarts is and their legacy of healing the wounds of fratricidal conflicts.

people’s hearts to cool off? Does the holy Quran not say that people who have been wronged have the moral right to avenge it, but Allah loves those who would rather not take revenge and forgive, for Allah is forgiving? Let’s be clear. No society can afford to be perpetually at war with itself. This holds good for Gujarati society as well. For a while it looked and felt good for the Hindu right to announce that the “Gujarat lab experiment” was highly successful. But it does not work that way in life. Still, Islam and Mussalmans are there, like there are influential Jews in today’s Germany despite Hitler and the Holocaust. Gujarat and its Muslims have got to move on, as everybody else does. That is all Maulana Vastanvi suggested. ... Let Maulana Vastanvi be. -- Tanweer Alam

More than 500 religious clerics issued a statement in support of the assassin and declared that no Muslim should participate in the funeral prayer of Salman Taseer because the late governor was trying to release a Christian woman convicted in a blasphemy case. This statement came from anti-Taliban Barelvi scholars who had lost their leaders like Mufti Safraz Naeemi at the hands of Taliban in 2009. All the top religious scholars of Lahore, including the prayer leader at the Governor House, refused to lead the funeral prayer. Barelvi ulema took a very extreme position. On the other side, some English newspapers declared that blasphemy law was the main cause for the killing of Salman Taseer. This too was an extreme position. …

I must say that the ruling Pakistan People\'s Party is also responsible for the death of Salman Taseer. When Taseer criticized blasphemy laws, his own party, including President Zardari, never took a stand for him. Law minister Babar Awan said that nobody would be allowed to make any change in the blasphemy laws. The views of Taseer were misunderstood because the US is also demanding from Pakistan the repeal of blasphemy laws. Common Pakistanis don't like US interference in Pakistan. That was why Taseer was declared an American agent by many right-wing parties.--Hamid Mir

He gave his sweat and tears to this land of pure – and what did he get? Some religious bigot wrote “Kaafir” (English: Infidel) on his coffin. We are not short of these religious bigots whose favorite pass time is to judge and discriminate on Pakistanis on basis of their faith – but this sad incident, which killed 152 human beings was an opportunity for these religious fanatics to show their true face. The poor guy, who was born in a Hindu family and spent his life trying to work for the people of his country was given the title of “Kaafir” by someone amongst us. This particular segment of our society pounces on every opportunity to exhibit their religious fanaticism from the very beginning, when Quaid e Azam (the founder of Pakistan) was labelled as “Kaafir-e-Azam”.

Bear in mind, Pakistan was made because people of Indo-Pak subcontinent felt they were discriminated upon on the basis of their faith – The same we are doing with our minorities. -- Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi

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