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Islam and Pluralism ( 18 May 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Peaceful Coexistence in Islam



By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

18 May, 2014

In the non-Muslim world there is this question as to whether Muslims and non-Muslims can coexist peacefully together? They base this question from the fact that they get to see and know that in the Muslim world, non-Muslims are treated very badly. The answer to the above question from the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet is that they can, they should and they must. But this is not a rhetorical statement. I need to back up this claim, on what basis I say this.

To emphatically say ‘yes’ to the above question is based on the Islamic values. I will list some of them that can be fully documented from the primary sources of Islam. The first value is the value of Peace. It is not just rhetoric, that Islam means is much deeper than that. Islam itself means and demands to have peace with Allah, the Creator, resulting in inner peace within oneself; with all the creations of Allah- whether it is humans (Muslims or non Muslims) or animals or plants and even ecology, through submitting oneself to the Will of Allah and following His guidance sincerely and as fully as one can.

The second value is the firm belief in Allah (God) who is the creator of everything in the Heavens and Earth. This is not a mere dogma; because when we say that God is one then the whole humanity is also one, coming from the same source. The Prophet of Islam put it so beautifully: People (not just Muslims) are the dependence of Allah and the most beloved among them in the sight of Allah are those who are more beneficent to these dependence of Allah.

The third value is the acceptance and honouring of all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah whose core message was exactly the same to attain peace on all levels with the one supreme creator, within oneself and with all the creations of Allah.

The fourth value is the moral anchor of the Quran itself. In fact Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) summed up the message of Islam, his mission in these words- “I was sent only to perfect good moral behaviour”. That is the essence of the teaching of Islam, properly understood. That shows that justice, balance and piety are all included in these words.

The fifth value is that the Quran affirm the dignity of all people, not just the believers or Muslims. Dignity of humans is very important in Islam. When this idea of dignity is understood in a good sense it automatically implies the concept of freedom of religion, belief and practice; otherwise where is the dignity when religion is pushed down people’s throats.

The Quran says “And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed - all of them entirely. Then, [O Muhammad], would you compel the people in order that they become believers?”

And also the sanctity of human life is very important i.e., killing of one innocent person is like killing of the whole of humanity and saving one person is like saving the whole of humanity.

The next value is the value of Universal Brotherhood. This idea comes from the Quran which says “O mankind (not just Muslims), indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you. Indeed, God is Knowing and Acquainted.”

Another value is the value of Moderation or Just balance. Allah says that He has made the Muslim Ummah as a Justly balanced community. And both the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet condemn any form of extremism.

The next value is very important for the relationship between Muslims and peoples of other faith community. Basically what the Quran says regarding this is that if people of other faiths are coexisting with you in peace, then you (O Muslims) should also live with them in peace and prosperity and to also treat them equally and with compassion and justice and respect and goodness.

Finally there is the value of mercy. The Prophet was sent as a mercy to the whole of the worlds (mercy to humans, animals, plants and even environment).

We have to understand the context in which Muslims were allowed to fight. It is said that Jesus Christ (pbuh) preached only peace but Muhammad (pbuh) killed many peoples. This is the perfect example of a half-truth. In fact Jesus Christ (pbuh), as recorded in the Gospels said, all those who do not want that I (Jesus) should not rule over them, then bring them hither and slay them before me. And in fact Prophet Muhammad, as noted in the Quran, detested fighting. But for the sake of Allah he did it.

“Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And God knows, while you know not.”