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The Spirit of Tolerance in Islam : -Khutbah by Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi

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    The Spirit of Tolerance in Islam : -Khutbah by Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi Intolerance is on the increase in the world today. It is causing death, genocide,
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2004
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      The Spirit of Tolerance in Islam : -Khutbah
      by Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi

      Intolerance is on the increase in the world today. It is causing
      death, genocide, violence, religious persecution as well as
      confrontations on different levels. Some times it is racial and
      ethnic, some times it is religious and ideological, some times it is
      political and social. In every situation it is evil and painful. How
      can we solve the problem of intolerance? How can we assert our own
      beliefs and positions without being intolerant to others? How can we
      bring tolerance in the world today? I would like to discuss some of
      these issues from an Islamic point of view. What is tolerance?
      Literally the word "tolerance" means "to bear." As a concept it
      means "respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity
      world's cultures, forms of expression and ways of being human." In
      Arabic it is called: "tasamuh". There are also other words that give
      similar meanings, such as "hilm" (forbearance) or "'Afw" (pardon,
      forgiveness) or "safh" (overlooking, disregarding). In the Persian
      and Urdu languages, we use the word "rawadari" which comes
      from 'rawa" meaning 'acceptable or bearable' and 'dashtan'
      meaning 'to hold'. Thus it means to hold something acceptable or
      bearable. Tolerance is a basic principle of Islam. It is a religious
      moral duty. It does not mean "concession, condescension or
      indulgence." It does not mean lack of principles, or lack of
      seriousness about one's principles. Sometimes it is said, "People
      are tolerant of things that they do not care about." But this is not
      the case in Islam. Tolerance according to Islam does not mean that
      we believe that all religions are the same. It does not mean that we
      do not believe in the Superiority of Islam over other faiths and
      ideologies. It does not mean that we do not present the message of
      Islam and do not wish others to become Muslims.

      The UNESCO principles on tolerance say: "Consistent with respect for
      human rights, the practice of tolerance does not mean toleration of
      social injustice or the abandonment or weakening of one's
      convictions. It means that one is free to adhere to one's own
      convictions and accepts that others adhere to theirs. It means
      accepting the fact that human beings, naturally diverse in their
      appearance, situation, speech, behavior and values, have the right
      to live in peace and to be as they are. It also means that one's
      views are not to be imposed on others." Tolerance comes from our
      recognition of: the dignity of the human beings, the basic equality
      of all human beings, universal human rights fundamental freedom of
      thought, conscience and belief.

      The Qur'an speaks about the basic dignity of all human beings. The
      Prophet -peace be upon him- spoke about the equality of all human
      beings, regardless of their race, color language or ethnic
      The Shri'ah recognizes the rights of all people to life, property,
      family, honor and conscience. Islam emphasizes the establishment of
      equality and justice, both of these values cannot be established
      without some degree of tolerance.
      Islam recognized from the very beginning the principle of freedom of
      belief or freedom of religion. It said very clearly that it is not
      allowed to have any coercion in the matters of faith and belief.

      The Qur'an says, "There is no compulsion in religion," (al-Baqarah
      2:256) If in the matters of religion, coercion is not permissible,
      then by implication one can say that in other matters of cultures
      and other worldly practices it is also not acceptable.
      In Surah al-Shura Allah says to the Prophet -peace be upon him,
      "If then they turn away, We have not sent you as a guard over them.
      Your duty is but to convey (the Message)…. (al-Shura 42:48)

      In another place Allah says, "Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord
      with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways
      that are best and most gracious. Your Lord knows best, who have
      strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance." (al-Nahl 16:125)

      Further He says to the Believers, "Obey Allah, and obey the
      Messenger, and beware (of evil): if you do turn back, know then that
      it is Our Messenger's duty to proclaim (the Message) in the clearest
      manner." (al-Ma'idah 5:92)
      We also read in the Qur'an, "The worshippers of false gods say: 'If
      Allah had so willed, we should not have worshipped aught but Him -
      neither we nor our fathers, nor should we have prescribed
      prohibitions other than His.' So did those who went before them. But
      what is the mission of the Messengers but to preach the Clear
      Message? (al-Nahl 16:35) Or one can read, "Say: 'Obey Allah, and
      obey the Messenger: but if you turn away, he is only responsible for
      the duty placed on him and you for that placed on you. If you obey
      him, you shall be on right guidance. The Messenger's duty is only to
      preach the clear (Message)'." (al-Nur 24:54)
      All these verses give this important point that do not coerce
      people, present the message to them in the most cogent and clear
      way, invite them to the truth and do your best in presenting and
      conveying the message of God to humanity, but it is up to them the
      to accept or not to accept. Allah says, "And say, 'The truth is from
      your Lord, so whosoever wants let him believe and whosoever wants
      let him deny." (al-Nahl 18:29) The question then comes, 'If Allah
      gave choice to believe or not to believe, then why did He punish the
      people of prophet Nuh, the Aad, the Thamud, the people of prophet
      Lut, the people of prophet Shu'aib and Pharaoh and his followers?
      The answer is in the Qur'an itself. Those people were not punished
      simply because of their disbelief. They were punished because they
      had become oppressors. They committed aggression against the
      righteous, and stopped others to come to the way of Allah. There
      were many in the world who denied Allah, but Allah did not punish
      every one. A great scholar Ibn Taymiyah said, "The states may live
      long inspite of their people's unbelief (kufr), but they cannot live
      long when their people become oppressors." Another question is
      raised about Jihad. Some people say, "Is it not the duty of Muslims
      to make Jihad?" But the purpose of Jihad is not to convert people to
      Islam. Allah says, "La ikraha fi al-din, no compulsion in
      religion."(al-Baqarah 2:256). The real purpose of jihad is to remove
      injustice and aggression. Muslims are allowed to keep good relations
      with non-Muslims. Allah says, "Allah does not forbid you that you
      show kindness and deal justly with those who did not fight you in
      your religion and did not drive you out from your homes…(al-
      Mumtahinah 60:8) Islam teaches that fighting is only against those
      who fight. Allah says, "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight
      you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not
      transgressors." (al-Baqarah 2:190) Islam may tolerate anything, but
      it teaches zero tolerance for injustice, oppression, and violation
      of the rights of other human beings. Allah says "And why should you
      not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are
      ill-treated (and oppressed)? Men, women, and children, whose cry
      is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are
      oppressors; and raise for us from Yourside one who will protect; and
      raise for us from Yourside one who will help!" (al-Nisa' 4:75) Islam
      teaches tolerance on all levels: individual, groups and states. It
      should be a political and legal requirement. Tolerance is the
      responsibility that upholds human rights, pluralism (including
      cultural pluralism), and the rule of law. The Qur'an says very
      clearly: "To every People have We appointed rites and ceremonies
      which they must follow, let them not then dispute with you on the
      matter, but do invite (them) to your Lord: for you are assuredly on
      the Right Way. If they do wrangle with you, say, "God knows best
      what it is you are doing." "God will judge between you on the Day of
      Judgment concerning the matters in which you differ." (al-Hajj 22:76-
      69) There are many levels of tolerance: Between family members,
      between husband and wife, between parents and children, between
      siblings etc. Tolerance between the members of the community:
      tolerance in views and opinions, tolerance between the Madhahib
      Tolerance between Muslims and the people of other faiths (interfaith
      relations, dialogue and cooperation) Muslims have been generally
      very tolerant people. We must emphasize this virtue among us and in
      the world today. Tolerance is needed among our communities: We must
      foster tolerance through deliberate policies and efforts. Our
      centers should be multi-ethnic. We should teach our children respect
      of each other. We should not generalize about other races and
      cultures. We should have more exchange visits and meetings with each
      other. Even marriages should be encouraged among Muslims of
      different ethnic groups. With non-Muslims we should have dialogue
      and good relations, but we cannot accept things that are contrary to
      our religion. We should inform them what is acceptable to us and
      what is not. With more information, I am sure the respect will
      develop and more cooperation will develop.
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