Abdul Rasool Syed
various unfounded allegations, apportioned on Islam, one of the most frequented
allegations is that Islam does not appreciate the idea of pluralism and hence,
does not allow the peaceful co-existence of different societies, practicing
different faiths. Islamophobes, who leave no stone unturned to malign Islam,
advance and permeate this ill-conceived and self-cocked up narrative among the
people living in non-Muslim world. They project Islam as xenophobic, biased and
prejudiced towards other faiths that is, for sure, a baseless accusation
against the most assimilative, adaptive and accommodative faith on the surface
of earth, called Islam.
Islamic divine scripture and recorded annals depict exceedingly contrary to
what the anti-Islamic forces propagate against Islam. Islam is the religion, in
fact, second to none in terms of tolerance, forbearance and religious pluralism.
This pluralistic dimension of Islamic teachings has, unfortunately, achieved
little attention in our time despite its vital significance in our society. In
today’s globalised and sometimes polarized world, there is dire need to
understand the pluralistic perspective of Islam in order to develop an
environment of peaceful co-existence.
several verses in the holy Quran that underline human pluralities such as
social, biological and religious differences. According to Quran, all human
beings are from the same soul but they have been created with differences. The
following verse beautifully depicts human plurality:
“Oh mankind, We (God) have created you male
and female, and made you into communities and tribes, so that you may know one
another. Surely, the noblest among you in the sight of God is the most
God-fearing of you; God is all-knowing and all-aware” (49:13).
reveals that diversity is a natural part of human society and important for
human identity. The nobility of a human being depends on one’s actions and
Allah is the only one Who can judge the piety and nobility of a human being.
The Quran highlights the plurality of religious communities too. It says that
Allah has purposefully created different communities, or else, he could have
made all humanity a one community.
verse, Allah says,
each community, we have appointed from you a law-giver and a way. Had God
willed, He could have made you one community. But that He might try you by that
which He has given you [He has made you as you are]. So vie with one another in
good works” (5:48). By recognizing the plurality of faith and communities, the
Quran teaches us not to impose one’s faith on others; rather, it urges to
tolerate the differences: “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (2:256)
“To you is your path [religion]; to me mine”
teachings of the Quran are vivid on plurality in human society. The life and
the teachings of the Holy Prophet (SAW), too, provide the best examples of the
pluralistic approach and practices in Islam. Chronologically, there are many
occasions in Islamic history where the Holy Prophet (SAW) evinced unparalleled
tolerance and respect towards the people of other faiths and dealt respectfully
with his opponents.
when a prominent Christian delegation came from Najran to engage holy Prophet
in a theological debate in Madina, its members were not only invited to live in
the Prophet’s mosque but also allowed to perform their religious practices
inside the mosque. Similarly, during the famous treaty of Hudaybiyyah, the
Prophet showed a highly pluralistic approach while accepting the apparently
bitter demands of the Quraish without the latter’s recognition of his
Prophethood. The event of the conquest of Makkah was another occasion of the
Prophet’s pluralistic and humanistic approach. After the conquest, he not only
granted amnesty to the people of Makkah, who severely persecuted him and even
compelled him to leave his ancestral abode (Makkah), but also declared the
house of his bitter opponent Abu Sufyan as a place of asylum and peace,
regardless of who accepted Islam and who didn’t.
message on pluralism and diversity was also reflected in the Charter of Medina
which the Holy Prophet (SAW) himself formulated. It brought together different
religious and ethnic communities, bestowing upon each of them equal rights and
responsibilities. The treaty which the Prophet forged with the Christian monks
of Najran, protecting their monastery and guaranteeing them freedom of
religion, was yet another testimony to Islamic pluralism. In addition, it is
also evident that in the 1,400-years history of Islam, whenever Muslim
societies flourished and set up highly developed societies, pluralism was a key
characteristic of those societies. The Abbasids’ Baghdad, the Fatimid’s Cairo,
not to forget the Umayyads’ Cordoba, became centers of excellence by welcoming
and nurturing the best minds from different regions, backgrounds, faiths, etc.
Consequently, these dynasties through their pluralistic mechanisms developed
powerful and vibrant civilizations.
today, stands globalised where modern means of communication, by shortening the
distances, have brought different nations closer; however, this proximity has
also created tension amongst the nations as well as within their respective
societies. This very situation warrants adherence to Islamic teachings and
principles that helped in carving out pluralistic societies in the past. To sum
it up, keeping in view the realities of today’s world and, particularly of our
own country, it is imperative that we must implement and act upon the pluralistic
ideals of Islam that have the full sanction of Islam. Sincere efforts in this
respect are needed to make the pluralistic teachings of Islam a part of our
individual as well as social life in order to shape and sustain a milieu of
Rasool Syed is a Legal practitioner-cum-columnist based in Quetta Balochistan.
vision of Islam
Source: The Pak Observer