Islam and Pluralism
Islamic scholar Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
Executive Summary: The paper begins with an introduction to the Qur’anic warnings against the Christians and the Jews (1) but without going into details, comes straight to its concluding exhortations on religious tolerance (2) and to its concluding message on religious pluralism (3). Sub-heading (4) captures the Qur’an’s approval of some of the People of the Book (Christians and Jews). The discourse then jumps to the Qur’an’s common criteria of divine Judgment for all believing communities, (5) and complements this with arguments that refute any Qur’anic basis for inter-faith enmity or hatred (6). Its concluding sub-heading (7) demonstrates that there is no Qur’anic basis to prohibit the construction of churches, synagogues or any houses of pure worship in Muslim countries – an issue that concerns all minorities in the Muslim countries today and conceivably results from a deep fear of the Muslim theologians and leadership of their youth abandoning an exclusive, atavistic and globally trivialized faith to live more comfortably in the pluralistic and progressive society of the secular world without the tag of Islam branding them as anything but noble. The sub-headings speak for themselves and conclusively establish the theme of this article.
A few Muslim scholars from our past have duped us in believe that God is hateful to others... God ain't. God is neither a villain nor a bad guy. God is kind, merciful and just and wants his creation to get along and live in harmony. There are many verses that guide one to be righteous. We should not accept any translation of Quran that makes God a villain of his own creation. Those translations reduce him to Rabbul Muslimeen from Aalameen....
Today, a glance at headlines around the globe leads one to believe that Islamism is pitted against secularism in the battle for control over the new Arab world. This rise of Islamists clearly stokes fear in the West and leaves many clamouring for the good ol’ days when the good ol’ boys were in charge. This is not a clash between Islam and the rest — this is a battle for pluralism. It pits the believers in pluralism from both secular and Islamist camps against those who cling to outdated notions of exclusion or superiority....
Great economic disparities between the majority world of the poor South and the minority world of the rich North. According to Safi this “Empire’ consists of a multitude of forces “among them the oppressive and environmentally destructive forces of multi-national corporations whose interests are now linked to those of neo-imperial, unilateral governments…..that put profit before human rights and ‘strategic interest’ before the dignity of every human being.”....
Dr. Adis Duderija
The term untouchable itself is vile word, and it can have a psychological impact on someone to whom it is being applied. It is a word which does not take into account the personal history of an individual. One can even suggest that a word like this can lead someone to suicide or to some criminal activity. Every religion of the world gives a message of peace, equality and unity. Religion and the secular thought teaches us that every man and woman is equal in the eyes of Lord…
Various Islamic scholars agree on the point that the meaning of the Ayats concerning close interaction and intimacy (Mawalat) should be considered in the true perspective and background of its revelation, taking it in a generalized way will not be appropriate, but it hampers its significance. “Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity”. (Surah Al-Mumtahanah V-8) -- Waris Mazhari, Translated by NewAgeIslam.com Edit Desk
Such cross-cultural evidence in Maltese towns with Arabic names like Mdina (not Medina) and Rabat, and a statue of the Virgin Mary on a church's baroque facade described in the inscription as “Sultanah“, make one wonder whether this little Mediterranean archipelago of three small islands is the forerunner of global universalism in which languages enrich each other and racial frontiers slowly fade out. - Sunanda K. Datta-Ray
Scholars will dwell upon his attribute of Rahmatalil Aalemeen (‘Mercy for all the worlds’ —including those of the birds and beasts, of insects and worms, etc.), because a Muslim is adjoined to not hurt any living being except in the way of God. Scholars will explain what the Prophet said to his followers about how to treat women, how to interact with people of other faiths and how to carry oneself in one’s everyday life. -- S G. Geelani
The event of the conquest of Makkah was another instance of the Prophet’s pluralistic and humanistic approach. After the conquest he not only granted amnesty to the people of 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. -- Muhammad Ali
He was perhaps the only prominent Muslim of his generation to publicly champion the radical thinking of Tilak, writing glowingly about him in his journal. He also wrote many verses praising him, including the following at his demise:
jab tak wo rahe dunyā meN rahā ham sab ke diloN par zor unkā
ab rah ke bahisht meN nizd-i-khudā hūroN pe kareNge rāj Tilak
There was one more way in which Hasrat was a maverick: he wrote verses expressing deep love for Krishna, and often went to Mathura to celebrate Janmashtami. -- C.M. Naim (Photo: Hasrat Mohani and Dr B R Ambedkar)
If this isn’t the society you wish for yourself and your children, why contribute in making it that way for the ‘other’? Why then the apathy when it comes the other? It’s the Christians, the Shias and the Ahmadis now. It will not be too long till this blind, raging hatred engulfs us all too. If we don’t find it in ourselves to stand against bigotry, to express outrage against this barbarism, to be compassionate towards those that suffer than we’d be well on our way towards self-destruction. Heck, we’re already there. -- Sana Saleem
In Britain, getting married is no longer a prerequisite for sharing a bed or living together. Marriage has become a 'partnership' and living together 'cohabiting'. According to the Office for National Statistics in 2009, 10 per cent of couples were cohabiting, most of whom were believed to be of 'no-religion'. Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus are unlikely to be cohabiting. As women assert more religious and cultural influence over children during their early socialisation, commonality of religious faith is considered particularly salient for women. In this respect, Muslim women show stronger religious commitment than Sikh and Hindu women. As religious affiliation declines, ethnic importance in marriage declines too, hence the likelihood of more inter-ethnic marriages in the future. -- Dr Ramindar Singh MBE
If only Pakistan imposes a true Islamic system, we’ll be able to get rid of the hypocrisies committed in its name.’ Of course, such suggestions are proposed by fellow Pakistanis. The other comment is usually from readers in India or the West. It’s a simple question: ‘Why are Pakistanis always so engrossed in religion?’ We have to finally recognise (on an official level) that we live in a land of many ethnicities and multiple interpretations of Islam. This phenomenon has to be harnessed and celebrated, not repressed or be afraid of. This very repression has produced nothing but an ideological neurosis that we suffer from today. -- Nadeem F. Paracha
Activism and spreading the awareness of how much communalism and Zionism can be detrimental to democracy and world peace, are the keys to defeating these ideologies said experts……. “There is a great deal of confusion in the terms, Hinduism and Hindutva. Hinduism is a religion, a collation of multiple traditions prevailing in the subcontinent. Mr. Faizur Rahman accused the Zionists and their right wing Christian supporters of manipulating the Bible to suggest that it preaches racism. -- A Special Correspondent, TCN (People in the photograph From Right to Left: Rev. Viji Varghese Eapen (welcoming the gathering), Mr. A. Faizur Rahman, Dr. Ram Puniyani and Mr. M.M. Philip)
Israeli soldiers told to 'cleanse' Gaza - C4 News exclusive
The beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever violates the rights of the People of the Book, I will complain against them on the Day of Judgment." Violence against religious minorities should outrage every Muslim with a conscience because such violence is a misrepresentation of our beloved Prophet Muhammad and transgression of the core of our beliefs. We pray that God will help us to stand for what is right and leave all that is evil and promote understanding and harmony amongst each other. Let us work together to stop violence of all forms against all people. -- Imam Mohamed Magid
History stands testimony that power-intoxicated nations in the hour of their victory forced conversion or opened Inquisition Courts. But, let it be recognized, no Muslim ruler was ever known to have burnt Kafir to death on religious grounds. And that is why in the centres of Muslim power for centuries like Delhi, Lucknow, Agra, Bhopal, Hyderabad etc the overwhelming Hindu majority maintained its growth rate. With pronouncing la ikraha fi deen (there is no coercion in your religious affairs) and lakum dinakum walya deen (to you your religion and to me mine) Islam - some 1450 years before - guided humanity to peaceful coexistence, universal brotherhood, tolerance and accommodation.-- Hassan Zainagairee
As international criticism has mounted, an Iranian official has alleged that Nadarkhani is being prosecuted not for his faith but for crimes including rape and extortion. Nadarkhani's attorney, however, says the only charge the pastor has faced is apostasy, and court documents support this assertion. Although Iran's penal code does not include a specific provision for apostasy, judges are given a fairly wide degree of latitude to issue rulings based on their own interpretation of Islamic law. -- Roxana Saberi
They feel it is anti-Hindu bill meant to harass Hindus and as many Dalits use untouchability law against upper caste Hindus this bill will be used by Muslims against Hindus. As Gujarat like riots had not taken place before this bill become necessary. I also told them that I have personally investigated most of these riots in which more than 35 thousand innocent people were killed and found that with few exceptions administration and police were biased. Not only that I told them how in Hashimpura, Meerut in 1987 the PAC Commandant Tripathi and his cohorts pulled out 54 people from their houses , all between 20 to 25 years old, shot them dead in cold blood and threw their bodies into Hindon canal two of which survived to tell the tale. But not one of them has been so far punished. -- Asghar Ali Engineer
Multiculturalism has come under increasing attack in the last few years in Europe, as societies struggle to make sense of how to bring together communities of diverse backgrounds. Establishing justice is also a priority for all religions, as well as for modern society. If multicultural societies hold the key to realising a more just society, then the only wise option is to harness their vitality. Muslims are inherently connected through the concept of the Ummah, the global multicultural Muslim nation. Future leaders will need to deal with the diversity of its population of 1.6 billion, as well as with the diversity of the entire global community. Furthermore, most Muslim countries have large minority populations, or are themselves significant minorities increasingly taking up leadership positions. -- Shelina Zahra Janmohamed
Through religious programs, TVs are bringing into everyone’s living rooms strict interpretations of religious teachings in a modern context, which could jeopardize pluralism and religious tolerance. The head of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI), Sasa Juarsa Sendjaja, said Indonesian media was generally doing a good job promoting pluralism. “However, there are attempts, here and there, from the majority to dominate the minority,” he said. The majority of people in Indonesia are Muslims. The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has often stipulated divisive edicts or fatwa. In 2005, the MUI released an edict stating that pluralism, liberalism and religious secularism were haram. Since then, a number of Fatwas have been released, including a ban on smoking, women riding on the back motorcycles, hair straightening, hair-dyeing and on taking pre-wedding pictures. “That’s why Islam in Java has rituals such as sekaten… because of the mix of culture,” he said of the ritual welcoming the Islamic New Year. Television is a very important media to promote pluralism, Syafi’I said. Religious leaders in TV programs should use a persuasive method that will give religion a friendly face. Progressive Islamic scholar Maman Imanulhaq Faqieh who leads the Islamic boarding school Al-Mizan in Yogyakarta said intolerance stemmed from religious leaders applying religious teachings out of context. “Some religious leaders lack wisdom when examining the problems plaguing society,” he said. -- By Prodita Sabarini
These two frames sound and look so unusual and extraordinary because we, as a state and society both, have outsourced our moral and constitutional responsibilities to provide guarantee of freedom of faith and practice for our religious minorities to the murderous militant mullahs. These odious men do not tolerate even a slight difference of view among themselves, let alone other religions. No Muslim society, other than possibly Afghanistan and Somalia, may have shown such callous disregard to its rights and duties, particularly towards religious minorities as we have. The irony is that there seems to be little official or public remorse, resentment or a sense of loss visible anywhere. Conversely, there are completely inconceivable public rallies to support coldblooded unrepentant killers like Mumtaz Qadri and Malik Ishaq. Where on earth do people ever take out support rallies to glorify killers except in our country? How do you explain or condone this sub-human public behaviour and on what religious, ethical or legal grounds? Will any faqih (expert in Islamic jurisprudence), any mufti — the keepers of our public morality — please speak up? -- Mehboob Qadir
At its zenith, which came during the period in the 16th century when Suleiman the Magnificent was ruling Turkey, the Ottoman imperial project stretched from Austria to Armenia and down to the Arabian Peninsula. Contrary to the post-hoc imagination of the 20th century Khilafatists, the great Muslim suzerainty over this great mass of land was for the most part secular. The growing intolerance towards minorities, forced or otherwise, sectarian or religious, in Pakistan in recent times underscores on some level the need to revert to the Ottoman Millet System of religious pluralism. Similarly, anti-incitement legislation that targets religious provocation against constitutionally declared non-Muslims should also be introduced as is the constitutional duty of the state under Article 2-A aforesaid. The state needs to also establish special tribunals for the redressal of grievances by the minorities. -- Yasser Latif Hamdani
To allay the fears of secular Tunisians, an Ennahada spokeswoman clarified that the social gains made by Tunisian women would not be threatened by her party. She insisted that her party had no intentions of forcing women to wear the Hijab, or dress in any way they didn’t want to. She also said it was Ennahada’s policy to encourage more women to join the workforce. “Gender equality in the work place is a central plank in our platform”, she pronounced. For our benighted clerics, I have no doubt Ennahada and AK would be considered heretics. Both Tunisia and Turkey are tolerant about alcohol, for example: they realise that a ban would discourage tourism, a major source of foreign exchange. And while more women are seen wearing the headscarf in Turkey than when I first went there, many others dress in revealing Western clothes. Personal choice about what to wear is just not the big deal our clerics make it out to be. The Taliban, of course, take dress and appearance to a whole different level. From their ban on men shaving to women being caned for exposing an inch of their ankles, we have a stone-age group that wants to drag society back to the seventh century. -- Irfan Husain
The majority of those who have an antagonistic attitude and behaviour towards other religions have closed personalities. They are never open to those who are different. They are over-defensive and overprotective of their own superior beliefs. In the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, ‘diversity’ is defined as: “When many different types of things or people are included in something.” Diversity is a gift of God and different research and studies demonstrate that nature encourages diversity and it matters. If we just focus on our bodies we are blessed with different organs and these different organs have different functions. Diversity in bodily organs not only adds beauty to our physical being but also adds to the functionality of the body. We would not have been able to do various jobs if we were given a body with uniform functionality. Each and every part has a significant role to play in the body. In the Quran, God tells humanity: “Behold, we have created you all out of a male and a female and have formed you into tribes and nations so that you may get to know one another” (Surah Al-Hujurat, 49:13). It shows that diversity is God’s will. -- Dilnawaz Qamar
I am happy that finally someone has had the courage to frankly articulate the suppressed hopes and fears of mainstream Muslims in India. Addressing a public meeting of the Sufi Maha Panchayat at Moradabad, Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kachochavi declared: “Hamey Wahabiyon ki na Immanat kabool hai, na kayadat Kabul (We reject both the belief and politics of the Wahabis”). The gathering attended by thousands of Shia and Sunni Muslims applauded as he said: “lf anyone knocks on your door with the message of extremism, hand him over to the nearest police station.” Politics is the bane of all religions. But unlike other faiths, the Wahabis have enormous petrodollars at their disposal, funded by the so-called Saudi charities that have wrought havoc worldwide. Hopefully, the resilient multi-layered syncretic culture of Indonesia will be able to prevent the Wahabis from turning this picturesque secular country into another Pakistan where rose petals are being showered on the killer of the liberal Punjab governor Salman Taseer,-- Madanjeet Singh