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Tolerance and Solidarity


Produced by Dr. Malik S. Khan under the dynamic leadership and direction of

Dr. Abdullah bin Omar Nasseef

A Publication of Motamar at the United Nations


 

Praise be to Allah the Glorified and Exalted and peace and blessings of Allah be upon the Holy Prophet (Mohammad), his Progeny, his Companions and his followers till the Day of Judgment.


The Holy Qur'an says:

وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلاَئِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً قَالُواْ أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاء وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ

And recall when your Lord said to the angels:  "Surely I am going to place a vicegerent on the earth."  They said:  "Will You place therein one who will act corruptly therein and shed blood, while we hallow Your praise and glorify You?"  Allah said:  "Verily I know what you do not know." (Chapter 2, Al-Baqarah: Verse 30)

In His infinite wisdom and omnipotence, Allah Almighty created man, opened the cosmos for his exertion, placed the Earth at his disposal, and ordered him to dwell therein as his vicegerent. He enlightened him with right and wrong and created in him a disposition toward virtue as well as vice. The contrast between virtue and vice is necessary for the proper development of a human person, who has been endowed with the rational capacity to discriminate and free will to choose.  Only with the opposite poles of good and evil can a being strive to migrate from bad to good.  This provides an environment conducive to progress, advancement, and enlightenment. 1


Throughout history, man's fate has hung between the right and the wrong, though his natural inclination and inner yearning have always craved for the good. As a result, man has evermore looked forward to a brighter world inundated with love, tolerance, fraternity and solidarity.


1. HUMAN FAMILY


Islam recognizes the existence of a human brotherhood based on mutual understanding and affection among peoples. Allah the Exalted (S.W.T.) has created human beings and given the concept of one human family, conceived from one father. He declares that all men are descended from the same origin, thus establishing the unity of mankind and disdaining the hated tyranny of racial prejudice. Islam has established a measure of human worth, which rests exclusively on the fear of and obedience to Allah as well as doing good to fellow man.


Allah the Exalted (S.W.T.) says in the Holy Qur'an,


لاَ إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ فَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِن بِاللّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىَ لاَ انفِصَامَ لَهَا وَاللّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

O Humankind verily We! We have created you of a male and female, and We have made you nations and tribes that ye might know one another. Verily the noblest of you with Allah is the most God-fearing of you. (Chapter 49, Al-Hujurat: Verse 13) 

In the same sequence, the Prophet (S.A.W.S.) says: "0 you people! Your Lord is one, and your father is one. There shall be no preference for an Arab over a non-Arab except by piety. You all belong to Adam, and Adam was created from dust."  He also said: "All creatures are the dependents of Allah. The most beloved of them to Allah is he who is most beneficial to his family."



2. FAMILIAL DIVERSITIES


Although Islam lays stress on universal brotherhood, it recognizes peculiarities and diversities there within. As such, acknowledgment has been accorded to the existence of different tribes, clans, nationalities and ethnicities with their own features, colors, cultures and way of life, as marks of their identities.


The Holy Qur'an repeatedly maintains that differences between men, in terms of color, wealth, race and language, are natural (Chapter 30, Ar-Rum: Verse 22): Allah even describes ideological and religious pluralism as God-given.


The Holy Quran says:


وَلَوْ شَاء اللّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَـكِن لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَآ آتَاكُم فَاسْتَبِقُوا الخَيْرَاتِ إِلَى الله مَرْجِعُكُمْ

… And had Allah listed, He would have made you all a single community, but He willed not in order that he may prove you by that which He hath vouchsafed unto you. Hasten wherefore to the virtues …(Chapter 5, Al-Ma'ida: Verse 48)

The Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.S.) predicted that even his own community would split into many groups, indulging in excessive regimentation or pluralism.


That this attitude compels tolerance is corroborated in other verses of the Holy Qur'an.


The Holy Qur'an says:

وَقُلِ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ فَمَن شَاء فَلْيُؤْمِن وَمَن شَاء فَلْيَكْفُرْ

And say thou: the truth is from your Lord; let him therefore who will, believe, and let him who will, disbelieve ... (Chapter 18, Al-Kahf: Verse 29)

Thus it is clear that Islam does not sanction the kind of aggressive preaching practiced by some other religions.


Rather, Islam seeks to bring peaceful understanding between various creeds, races, and communities. It views religion as a means of man's relationship with his Creator and as a guide to lead a successful life on Earth. It believes that prophets have come from God (Allah) as heralds and warners to every community according to time and place. The duty of a Muslim is to honor all the prophets equally and revere their exalted persons. In the words of the Holy Qur'an, "There has been no community to which Allah’s prophets/reformers have not come" and "Muslims should make no distinctions between them."  The Islamic concept of God (Allah) is comprehensively all-embracing.  He is the Creator and Sustainer of everything, living and nonliving, including human beings.  That is, He is Rabb-ul-Alamin (Provider of all worlds).  He is not the god of any particular race or nation or community but of entire humankind and a source of Rahmat (beneficence) for al1.  Its greeting for everyone is "Peace be upon you." The Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.S.) said, swearing thrice by Allah, "And he is no believer whose neighbor does not live in peace because of the mischief he makes."


The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S.) was once asked: "What is Islam?" to which he replied: "Obedience to Allah's Commandments and kindness to His creatures." On another occasion he was asked, "Who is a Muslim?" and he replied, "A "Muslim is he from whose tongue and hand people are safe." And on yet another occasion he said, "The test of a man's religion lies in his dealing with others." Accordingly, a true Muslim cannot do harm to anyone either by word or by deed.


“And Allah calls to the abode of peace (and eternal bliss: Paradise) (Al-Qur'an, Chapter10, Yunus: Verse 25), which rests on two outstanding principles:  Firstly, it is peace with Allah, which implies total submission to the Will of the One and Only One God in all manifestations and secondly, it is peace with man, which connotes doing good to fellow beings and refraining from causing injury to them. 


The Holy Qur'an says,


وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ دِينًا مِّمَّنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لله وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ واتَّبَعَ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا

And who can be better in religion than he who submitteth his countenance unto Allah, and sincere, and followeth the faith of Ibrahim, the upright?(Chapter 4, Al-Nisa: Verse 125)


Thus, Islam evinces the straightest and finest way to achieve peace.


One can easily visualize how Islam teaches love for fellow beings and ensures benevolent treatment of even those who are hostile to Islam, provided they do not break the peace. As such, Muslims' primary obligation is to ensure tranquility in their environs, both for themselves and for others.  They may even risk their lives in this noble cause.  They are enjoined to take action (jihad – struggle) for religious freedom and for the protection of places of worship, be they mosques, churches or synagogues.  On the other hand, miscreant deeds are denounced.


3. THE QUR'ANIC CONCEPT OF TOLERANCE 


Islam recognizes the fundamental rights of all faiths and therefore denies unequivocally measures of coercion in matters relating to religion. It allows religious freedom, as a person's own choice, one way or the other. If he accepts the truth, it is for his betterment; if he sticks to error, he alone is responsible for it. With this discretion, he can follow the right path by using the conscientious qualities latent in him, or may go astray by following lustful urges.


Freedom in religion is mentioned in various verses of the Holy Qur'an.


The Holy Qur'an says:


لاَ إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ فَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِن بِاللّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىَ لاَ انفِصَامَ لَهَا وَاللّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

No compulsion is there in religion.  Surely rectitude has become distinct from error. (Al-Baqarah, 2:256)

إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا

Verily We showed him the way; then he becomes either thankful or ingrate. (Chapter 76, Al-Insan: Verse 3)

As emanating from and being obedient to the same source (Allah), Islam does not make any distinction between different revealed religions. It proclaims that the true religion is essentially one in origin and inculcates an understanding of the basic truth which was revealed to all the prophets in the forms according to the needs of times and places, the last and the most perfect version being the one revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S.), comprehensively encompassing the entire humanity. Islam's attitude to other gospels can be judged from the fact that it is the only religion which makes belief in other revelations a part of its faith.


The Holy Qur'an is emphatic in proclaiming that Islam is the religion of all the prophets from Adam to Muhammad. Accordingly, all Prophets including Moses and Jesus were Muslims, people who submitted to the will of Allah.


4. MUTUAL TOLERANCE


The use of force or pressure for the propagation of Islam has also been categorically prohibited by the Holy Qur'an. The Prophet (S.A.W.S.) was enjoined to influence people by precepts and by presenting the message in an appealing way.


The Holy Qur'an says:


ادْعُ إِلِى سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ

Call them unto the way of thy Lord with Wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them with that which is best. (Chapter 16, Al-Nahl: Verse 125)

 Even though Islam vehemently condemns association of anybody with Allah the Exalted (S.W.T.), out of respect to other faiths, it forbids the believers to abuse the idols of polytheists.  In the same vein, Muslims are also advised not to vilify the gods of others: 


وَلاَ تَسُبُّواْ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللّهِ فَيَسُبُّواْ اللّهَ عَدْوًا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ

Revile not those whom they invoke besides Allah, lest they may revile Allah spitefully without knowledge. (Chapter 6, Al-An`am: Verse 108)


5. MUTUAL RESPONSIBILITY


Islam stands for mutual responsibility. It not only imposes on its followers the obligation of not harming others., but it also obliges them to prevent with all their might injuries from being inflicted on others, in order to safeguard their lives, wealth and honor.  Failure to do so amounts to sin, and the injured person is entitled to hold the negligent persons responsible before the court and demand reparation (compensation) for the injuries suffered (e.g., laxity in saving a person from an outbreak of fire, or a blind man from falling into a pit). Thus, it is easy to prove that all the basic human rights are enshrined in the teachings of Islam. Man is indeed honored by Allah, and his natural disposition is inclined towards peace.


Allah (S.W.T.)  says in the Holy Qur'an:


لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ

Assuredly We have created man in the best mould (Chapter 95, Al-Tin: Verse 4)

and endowed him with a beautiful shape.


6. COOPERATION AND TREATIES


Human beings have to cooperate; they have to make treaties to establish binding relationships and to 1ive together in peace.  Islam lays great emphasis on the strict observance of charity and good deed towards the adherents of other religions who do not transgress.


The Holy Qur'an says:


لَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ

Allah does not forbid you to deal benevolently and equitably with those who did not fight against you on account of Religion nor drove you out from homes; verily Allah loves the equitable. (Chapter 60, Al-Mumtahana: Verse 8).

Islam equally attaches great importance to the fulfillment of obligations regardless of the parties involved.


The Holy Qur'an says:


وَأَوْفُواْ بِعَهْدِ اللّهِ إِذَا عَاهَدتُّمْ وَلاَ تَنقُضُواْ الأَيْمَانَ بَعْدَ تَوْكِيدِهَا وَقَدْ جَعَلْتُمُ اللّهَ عَلَيْكُمْ كَفِيلاً إِنَّ اللّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ

Fulfill the covenant of Allah when you have covenanted, and do not break oaths after their confirmation and surely you have appointed Allah your surety.  Surely Allah knows whatever you do. (Chapter 16, Al-Nahl: Verse 91)


To further interpret this commandment, it is reported in certain traditions of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) that: "He whoever kills a man who has entered into an accord with the Muslims would never smell the scent of paradise." This means that, contrary to common erroneous belief, Islam recognizes and respects the existence of a accordant (treaty) zone, besides the dar us-salam (peace zone) and the dar ul-harb (war [non-Muslim] zone). When the Bani Isra`il were under siege and could not get out of their city even to buy food, in this circumstance the believers were allowed to invest their money at interest to make their living.  On the occasion of this siege, the Bani Isra`il constructed the famous tunnel in Jerusalem for which the Israelis have been searching.


Islam lauds any compact that is bound to help the wronged and deter the wrongdoer.  With regard to the Alliance of "Fudul," which was concluded to repel injustice and lend support to the wronged, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) once said: "I was a witness to an alliance which was concluded in the house of Ibn Jadan which I cherish more dearly than an entire herd of red-colored camels. Were I to be invited to a similar treaty after the emergence of Islam, I would have accepted the invitation."


Islam is a religion of love, compassion and cooperation. It believes that many differences can better be resolved through amicable means (e.g., negotiation, mediation, conciliation, cooperation). In the early history of Islam, Muslims entered into numerous treaties and agreements to adjust many complex problems that could not possibly be settled through resort to arms.


Islam enjoins its followers to refrain from polemics with adherents of other religions, and to persuade in the best manner.


The Holy Qur'an says:


وَلَا تُجَادِلُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْهُمْ

Do not dispute with the people of the Book unless in the best manner, save with those of them who do wrong … (Chapter 29, Al-`Ankabut: Verse 46)


Allah the Exalted (S.W.T.) also decrees,


وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ

… And argue with them with what is best … (Chapter 16, Al-Nahl: Verse 125)


That is, while agitative uproars are considered wasteful, sincere discourses are cherished as more meaningful.


7. PROPHET'S TEACHINGS AND PRACTICE OF TOLERANCE


The foregoing amply demonstrates that the teaching, preaching, and practice of Islam were carried out in a most humane and affable way. Benevolence, courtesy, and benignancy were usually the modes of its operation, even though Muslims always remained at the defensive.  For more than a decade the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) made all attempts to let the hostile tribes leave the Muslims to follow their own faith in peace on the basis of mutual tolerance. But the pagan Arabs let loose their persecution upon the believers and prevented them from performing their religious rites. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) was persecuted, oppressed, reviled and abused for many years at Makkah, and the Muslims were subjected to the severest agonies, which ultimately compelled them to take refuge in Madinah. But when the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) returned triumphantly to the city of his tribulations, he accorded to the citizens of Makkah such a congenial treatment as they never deserved or imagined. This magnanimous conduct meted out to the erstwhile enemies of Islam stands out unparalleled and unsurpassed in the annals of the ancient world.


Allah the Exalted (S.W.T.) says in the Holy Qur'an,


وَإِن جَنَحُواْ لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللّهِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

وَإِن يُرِيدُواْ أَن يَخْدَعُوكَ فَإِنَّ حَسْبَكَ اللّهُ

And if they incline to peace, then do you incline to it; and rely you on Allah. Verily He! He is the Hearing, Knowing. And if they seek to deceive you, then Allah is sufficient for you. (Chapter 8, Al-Anfal: Verses 61-62)


The Prophet carried this divine injunction into practice and concluded peace treatises with the unbelievers (like that of Hudaibiyah, the terms of which were humiliating to Muslims).  As directed by Allah the Exalted (S.W.T.), the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) made agreements of peace even with the idolater Makkans who constantly tyrannized him and his companions on account of their belief and who assaulted him again and again.


8. CONCEPT OF NON-MUSLIM MINORITIES AND ISLAM


Islam recognizes and fixes up the rights of the non-Muslim minorities, including enemies, and in a very positive and emphatic form. It lays down the injunctions, as appropriate, to deal with varied situations justly and equitably. 


The Holy Qur'an says:


وَلاَ يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَى أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ اعْدِلُواْ هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ إِنَّ اللّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

… And let not the detestation for a people incite you not to act fairly; act fairly; that is nigh unto piety.  And fear Allah; surely Allah is Aware of what you work. (Chapter 5, Al-Ma'ida: Verse 8).


This prescribes the general and governing obligation of dispensing absolute and perfect justice to all non-Muslims, irrespective of their being friends or foes, covenantees or belligerents. History is replete with many shining examples of toleration toward aliens by the Muslims.


9. RESPECT FOR LIFE


Islam being the religion of peace, compassion, and mercy, respect for life is its hallmark.  Many verses of the Holy Qur'an and numerous examples in the Hadith have emphasized the worth of human life. Nobody is allowed to harm it sanctity or cause its banishment in normal circumstances.  Indeed, it is asserted that unjust killing of an individual is tantamount to slaying the entire humanity (Al-Qur'an, Chapter 5, Al-Ma'ida: Verse 32).  Therefore, the concept of violence in any form against an individual, group, or society (e.g., murder, assassination, slaughter, massacre, carnage, suicide, homicide, genocide, terrorism, offense, invasion, aggression) is foreign to the Islamic concept, save where premises of just punishment and provisions of self-defense legitimize it.  Even under such circumstances, there are strict rules to be considerate, merciful, lenient, clement, sympathetic, and forgiving.  To extend these facts further, even animals, trees, crops, lands, waters, food, and properties are spared from spoilage. 2


Yet there are miscreants in every society and religion, including the Muslim folds.  But they represent neither the tenets of Islam nor the attitudes of Muslims in general.  To these effects Murad Hoffman said, "Of course the phenomenon of political terrorism, religiously colored, exists in many regions of the world.  But this has nothing to do with Islam or any other religion.  At least no more than the violence of non-Muslims, also on the point of despair, has to do with Christianity:  supporters of 'liberation theology' in  South America, Northern Irish urban guerrillas, members of the German 'Red Army Faction,' the French Áction Direct,' and of the Italian 'Brigate Rosse.' 3


10. EQUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS 


One of the fundamental principles of Islam is the dignified position of human beings, hence their equality and rights, irrespective of their individual differences (e.g., birth, origin, sex, color, physique, class, status, station, wealth).  In the eyes of Allah the Exalted (S.W.T.), they all are His creatures and their worth comes from the quality of their lives. "All people are equal, as the teeth of a comb. There .is no claim of merit of an Arab over non-Arab, or a white over a black person, or of a male over a female. All God-fearing people merit a preference with Allah (God)." (Al-Bukhari).


Sahl b. Sa' d (a Companion of the Prophet) recorded: "The Book of Allah is One, and among you are the red, and among you are the white, and among you are the black" (Abu Dawud, 830). Abu Musa al-Ashari adduced (recorded), "Allah created Adam from a handful of dust which He took from the whole of the earth" – some red, some white, some black, some a mixture, also smooth and rough, bad and good" (Abu Dawud, 4676).


In the Sermon of his Farewell Pilgrimage (Hajjat al-Wada'), the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) said: "No Arab is superior to a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab superior to an Arab, except by having a greater degree of God-consciousness." Another saying of the Prophet was: "0 people! All of us belong to One God (Allah), one father and one religion. Arabic is only a language, and he who speaks Arabic is an Arab."


If you recognize all people as one family, and are aware of their rights, then you are bound to bring out their good, alleviate their plight, and grieve when they get hurt.


Muslims believe that all human beings are created, loved, and sustained by Allah the Exalted (S.W.T.). Therefore there are certain basic rights which should be shared by the whole of humanity, and which should be observed in all communities, whether Muslim or non-Muslim. For example, all human beings have the right to be fed, clothed, educated and cared for by the commonweal to which they belong. No society could possibly be called civilized that did not tend its sick, care for its orphans, look after its elders, and honor its deceased.


People have the right not to be disturbed, humiliated, mistreated, or victimized by others.  Society has therefore to take necessary defensive and protective steps on their behalf. Abu Hurayrah reported: "He will not enter Paradise whose neighbor is not secure from his wrongful conduct" (Muslim).


Life is sacred, and is considered by the Muslim to be a divine gift, which ought to be preserved, enjoyed, put to its fullest use, and never annihilated without justification. It is not personal property to be disposed of as one might wish, but a precious gift. The Muslim therefore has the duty to protect all forms of life and treat them with respect. No person, no matter how great or powerful, has the right to usurp another's right to life. He should not even consider attempting suicide or exposing himself to unnecessary danger.


Muslims insist that everyone has equal rights, for all are born equals.


The Holy Qur'an says:


وَاللّهُ أَخْرَجَكُم مِّن بُطُونِ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ شَيْئًا وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْسَّمْعَ وَالأَبْصَارَ وَالأَفْئِدَةَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

And Allah has brought you forth from the bellies of your mothers while you know not aught, and He appointed for you hearing and sight and hearts that haply you might give thanks. (Chapter 16, Al-Nahl: Verse 78)


Abu Hurayrah (a Companion of the Prophet) recorded: "Your God (Allah) is one and your father is one. All of you belong to Adam, and Adam was created from dust. Those who fear God most are the most noble. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, or a non-Arab over an Arab, or a black person over a white, or a white over a black person, except by being more righteous" (Ibn Asakir). Justice should be impartial, even if it involves making decisions against members of one's own kin.


11. JUSTICE AND JUST SOCIETY


Islam is a religion of peace and justice. Justice is one of Allah's attributes, and to stand firmly for it is to be a witness to Allah the Exalted (S.W.T.), even if it is detrimental to our own interests.


Allah asserts in the Holy Qur'an:


يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاء لِلّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالأَقْرَبِينَ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقَيرًا فَاللّهُ أَوْلَى بِهِمَا

0 you who believe! Be you maintainers of equity and bearers of testimony for Allah's sake, though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or kindred.  Be he rich or poor Allah is Higher unto either … (Chapter 4, Al-Nisa: Verse 135)


There are innumerable references in the Holy Qur'an to the supreme necessity of establishing a just society and a just order. Individual men and women are invited to be fair, to hold scales of justice evenly, and are forbidden from employing false measures in weighing things or tilting the balance wrongfully. They are called upon to advance the cause of justice by offering upright testimony should the need to do so arise.


The Holy Qur'an says:


إِنَّ اللّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاء ذِي الْقُرْبَى وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاء وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

Verily Allah commands justice and well-doing and giving to kindred; and He prohibits lewdness and wickedness and oppression.  He exhorts you that haply you may be admonished. (Chapter 16, Al-Nahl: Verse 90)


Accordingly, when and where injustice prevails, it is Muslims' duty to restore justice.  Indeed, they can participate with others to introduce harmony into the society, to bring peace, order and justice in the general good.


12. RELIGION


As for religion, Deen, in Arabic, means "the way". Therefore, in Islam, it connotes the course of life leading to the satisfaction of God (Allah).  That is, a commitment to lead life in conformity to the Divine Dictates.


God (Allah) is the Creator, the Provider, and the Sustainer. He created the cosmos out of love. About the origin of which the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S.) narrated that God (Allah) was Alone; there was nothing else but Him. Then He desired to be known. So He created the Universe and all that is in it, including human beings, in order to be known. Thus, the creation having come out of love as an a priori of God's wish, love ought to be amongst the most fundamental values of existence.


This being the Godly way, Love, affection, and amity must be the primary bonds of human relations as rightly testified by many religions.  The Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) said, "Love your enemies." The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S.) equally affirmed, "I am the answer of the prayer of my grandfather Abraham, and I am the good tidings of my brother Jesus," thereby testifying to the good tidings of his predecessors. He also said, "Don't make me superior to other prophets who carne before me; we are all equals in rank; we are all slaves of God (Allah), all servants of God and believers in Him." These are the teachings of the prophet. These are the sublime realities, which attest how close and affectionate ties amongst these faiths persisted, calling for analogous relations betwixt their followers.


It is on these bases of transcendent truth that Islam is committed to promoting love within the creation of Allah wherever it is to be found, irrespective of its religious, cultural, racial, and social background. Because, according to Islam, all are equals. It emphasizes the unity of Mankind. Differences on such grounds as nationality, tribe, and language are only for recognition. They therefore should not present any hindrance in people's coming together. 


Allah has very clearly explicated in the Holy Qur'an:


يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

Mankind!  Verily We!  We have created you of a male and a female, and We have made you nations and tribes that you might know one another.  Verily the noble of you with Allah is the most pious of you ... (Chapter 49, Al-Hujurat: Verse 13)


Allah Almighty has given the message, which is total, expounding everything for human life from every relevant angle (e.g., religio-spiritual, socio-cultural, politico-administrative, financio-economic).  Islam has been practically demonstrated by the Prophet (S.A.W.S.) and his Companions (Allah be pleased with them), setting examples for its interpretation and replication. Syeda Ayesha was asked: "What was the character of the Prophet (S.A.W.S.)?" She replied, "He was representing the Holy Qur'an; he is the moving Qur'an in his actions, reactions and daily life" (Muslim 1623).  So the Qur'anic injunctions, as elucidated by the Prophetic tradition, are sufficient for an enlightened human life.


Thus, spiritually as a sublime belief and practically as a complete code of life, Islam has been a reliable beacon in illuminating terrestrial as well as celestial aspects of human experience.  Experimented and practiced in its glory for centuries, Islamic civilization made immense contributions to every sphere of human endeavor.  It brought peace, justice, prosperity, joy, and harmony to human society.  There was a balance in life with equitable relations among all societal strata (e.g., individual, family, kin, group, clan, tribe, institution), while measures of tolerance and coexistence with alien elements prevailed, as marks of universality.


There has been persistent effort to break the barriers of strangeness among the peoples and bring about fraternal bonds among religions, races, cultures, ethnicities, and civilizations.  Based on the premises of unity of God and faith, Islam has invited peoples of all hues to congregate together to usher in a better tomorrow on behalf of all.  Allah the Exalted (S.W.T.) in this connection warned,


أَفَحَسِبْتُمْ أَنَّمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ عَبَثًا وَأَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْنَا لَا تُرْجَعُونَ

Do you think We have created you for nothing and that you would not come back to Us? (Chapter 23, Al-Mu'minun: Verse 115)


In this very spirit of peace and justice, fraternity and affinity, and spirituality and amicability, Islam once again stands ready to remedy the maladies of the contemporary world in which it is badly entrenched. 6


13. VALUES IN ISLAM


Man is born to read and write and then to understand why he is created. This is the confession of Islam.

The first revelation of the Holy Qur'an is:


اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي عَلَّمَ بِالْقَلَمِ

Recite you in the name of your Lord … who has taught man the pen. (Chapter 96,Al-`Alaq: Verses 1-4)


So the bid of Islam is the message of education.


But what should be taught? Here comes the aim of education. In essence, it is "the total balanced growth of a man's personality, through the training of Man's spirit, intellect, the rational self, feelings and bodily senses, in order to make man a true servant of God (Allah), and lead him in the path that would enable him to become, or draw near to the stage of, Khalifatullah, vicegerent of God on earth."4 The balanced growth of the total human personality can be achieved through the process of education. For Muslims, according to the Holy Qur'an, the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S.) is the best human model, Uswatul hasana, One way of teaching that concept has been indoctrination, both at home and at school. Children get accustomed to this norm by emulating the best virtues. The Holy Qur'an and the received Sunnah thus provide Muslims with a compendium and source of moral truth, which has a definitive and interpretable dimension. Education thus furnishes one with applicable principles useful in individual and social life.


The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S.) was asked as to what the message of Islam was. He replied, "I was sent to complete the code of moral values, the best of moral values"(Muslim). So, to bring out the utmost of the moral values is the message of Islam. 


The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) also said that the Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hands people are safe (Bukhari, 4:10). That is, he does not cause harm to anybody in the slightest manner. This is the definition of a Muslim. In defining a believer, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) said, it is someone who believes in Islam or Christianity or any other religion. Believer, in general, is a believer in God (Allah). That is, he is a believer in God, in general.  Elaborating further, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.S.) explained that the believer is one with whom people's lives, belongings, properties, and monies are safe.  With his gracious conduct, he would provide due protection and care to those who come into his contact and would not cause any harm to them.


The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S.) practiced these values throughout his life. Even before his prophethood, when he was in Makkah for thirteen years as a believer in God (Allah) he was providing safety to Makkah heathens, their lives, their belongings and their properties. People used to keep money with him because they knew he was honest, truthful, and trustworthy, who would not misappropriate anything or cause any harm to them.


Human values came from the first man and do not belong to Islam alone. Even a little child has an innate sense of right and wrong, innate love for truth and mistrust for untruth, innate love of love and repulsion to cruelty and hatred. This sense of justice and love for truth cannot be a product of the physical self. Justice, truth, righteousness, honesty, love, beauty, mercy and compassion are in essence transcendent values. In every religion, culture and society, there are good values. Islam is completing these values, contributing to good values. So Islam recognizes the human values in any culture, religion and society and is contributing and improving that. This is the message of Islam. So people are asked to inculcate these values, to revive and improve these values for the betterment of society and culture.5


Faith-school is the ideal place where these values are taught and cultured. The products of this school, being of sterling quality, would naturally be the upholders of justice and champions of world peace.


14. WORLD PEACE


The Islamic approach to world peace is through the belief and establishment of the unity of all human beings. All are created from the same parentage of Adam and Eve. Another approach is through recognizing all the Prophets sent by Allah and heeding their teachings, which boil down to the same message, the unity of the Almighty and faith in His injunctions.


Al1ah (S.W.T.) said in the Holy Qur'an that the followers of the previous Books will find mention and description of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S.) as messenger and prophet in their own Books, e.g. the Torah and Injil. The previous Books were revealed for the guidance of specific people, e.g. the Torah was sent to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) for the Jews, the Injil was revealed to the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) for the House of Israel.  But the Qur'an, as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S.), was sent for the entire humanity.  As such, Islam emphasizes the unity of all mankind.


Now, there are the two fundamental dimensions to Islam, moral values and world peace, in theory and in practice. Islam is the religion of tolerance, justice and coexistence. It does not compel people into its fold, as there is no compulsion in religion.  People are free to adopt any persuasion they want, or they may accept Islam if they so desire.


However, there is another aspect of Islam. Muslims treat others equally and do not discriminate because of differences in color, creed, origin, status, race, or language. In Islam, these distinctions do not carry weight at all. But Muslims expect others, also, to look at them equally and reciprocally.


One should carefully note the ethics of war in Islam. It does not approve of aggression, offense, violence and arrogance. At the same time, Islam wants to secure itself. "Anyone taking your land, persecuting you, killing your fellow Muslims, killing human beings generally; in that case, you have to act, defend the oppressed, the weak and the innocent" (Muslim 140). Similarly, when anyone is interfering in their way of life and in their sovereignty, forcing injustices on them, Muslims have to fight for their cause. 6


In Islam, the ethics of war prohibit the killing of civilians, elderly, women, children, priests, and animals. It also interdicts torture, mutilation, cruelty, maltreatment, or other inhuman perpetrations.  Cutting trees, ruining property, destroying crops and food, poisoning of waters, or other scorched-earth measures are shunned.  In fact, many prevailing humanitarian provisions ought to be improved in the light of Islamic proprieties.


15. CONCLUSION


Like any other religion, Islam can be and should be judged only by its principles and by the conduct of those who are embodiments of them. Those who have gone astray represent neither the religion of Islam nor the community of the faithful.  As in any other order, particularism should not be equated with universalism. Peace and solidarity should be the goal of every religion so that justice and harmony may be brought back among nations and the planet may bloom with the flowers of amicability and fraternity.


Let people forget their petty differences, revert to the essence of religion, and rediscover the interrelationship between the spiritual, moral, intellectual, emotional and physical aspects of human existence.  All the religious communities have to work jointly and in unison for the promotion of human solidarity and world tranquility.


It is possible for persons belonging to various religions and cultures to come together on common grounds to formulate some amicable principles to coexist as a global community, adhering to the norm of "unity with diversity."  Instead of working against one another, people should pool their resources for the advancement of mutual causes towards a better future.


Institutionally, for the suppression of disruptive forces and enhancement of mutual goals, a world council on ethico-moral values may be established with appropriate organizational/functional and representative/operative criteria. 7


EMAIL: motamar@hotmail.com, motamar@gmail.com. Web address: www.iicdr.org.



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Notes & References:

The Holy Qur’an translated from original Arabic with Lexical, Grammatical, Historical, Geographical and Eschatological Comments and Explanations, and Side-lights on Comparative Religions

Except where otherwise sourced, Quranic translations are by Abdul Majid Daryabadi, trans., The Glorious Qur'an:  Text, Translation and Commentary.  (Leicester, U.K.:  The Islamic Foundation, 2001.)

1.   Iqbal S. Hussain, Islam and Western Civilization.  (Lahore:  Humanity International, 1997), pp. 184-86.

2.   E.g., see Gulzar Ahmad, Islamic Laws of War. (Rawalpindi: Idara, n.d.) 

3.   Murad Hoffman, Islam: The Alternative.

4.   Resolutions of the First World Conference on Muslim Education at Makkah al-Mukarramah in 1977, and also see Dr. Syed Ali Ashraf, 1986a, page 42.                                                        

5.   Syed Ali Ashraf, editorial, Muslim Education Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 3, 1996, page 1.                   

6.   Hussain, Islam, op. cit., pp. 169-77, 260 ff.

7.  E.g., see Hans J. Morgenthau, "The Twilight of International Morality," LVIII Ethics (1948), pp. 77-99.  See also Alfred de Grazia, Kalos (Bombay:  Popular Books, 1973), pp. 449-52, 463-65.