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Islam And Tolerance And Non-Violence

Published: 23/12/2011 09:11:00 AM GMT
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The word “Islam” is derived from the Arabic root-word “Sa-La-Ma”, which means Peace. Peace to the whole humanity – is the proclamation of Islam. It fosters love and mercy in the hearts of every human. In the Islamic context, peace implies:

1. Peace with Allah

2. Peace with the community

3. Peace with Humanity as a whole (irrespective of religion).

The other connotation of Islam, derived from Arabic root-word “Slim”, is “surrender”. In short, Islam means “peace acquired by surrendering or submitting your will to the Creator of this universe”.

It is very hard to believe that a religion, with peace enshrined in its very name, will be intolerant and violent. Let us try to find out what Islam says about violence and tolerance. A religion spread across the globe with more than a billion followers deserves to be explored from its roots. Islam is a religion to be understood in the light of authentic sources.

Islam and Non-Violence: The principles of Islam are derived from two primary sources, i.e. The Holy Quran and The Sunnah of the Prophet. The Holy Quran is the word of Allah, sent to the Last and Final Messenger Muhammad through the angel Jibreel. The second source, Sunnah, is the way – sayings, doings and tacit approvals- of the Prophet. The aspects we will discuss about Islam in this article are based in fact these two primary sources.

Non-violence has no place in Islam. Allah says in the Holy Quran: “…Allah does not love those who do mischief…” [Sura Mai’dah 5:64]. The Arabic word used for “mischief” is fasad. It has got several meanings: Murder, Violence, Evil, Corruption, etc. So, it is clear that when Allah does not love those who do fasad on earth, how will he legislate violence as a part of His religion.

The biggest form of violence is killing innocent people. The Holy Quran uses such powerful language to denounce innocent killing, that it leaves no room for any further argument. Allah says: “…if any one kills a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed the whole humanity: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole humanity…”.[Sura Mai’dah 5:31]

It is thus clear that the sanctity of life is always protected by Islam. Even in retaliation a Muslim is not allowed to murder innocent children, women and elderly people. In a Hadith, the Prophet said: “Go out in the name of Allah and by the help of Allah, following the way of the Messenger of Allah. Do not kill any old man, infant, child or woman… spread goodness and do good, for Allah loves those who do good.”(Abu Dawood).  So, even in the thick of a battle Islam maintains a high standard of non-violence.

There are other verses which make it amply clear that violence is never encouraged in Islam. … If the enemy incline towards peace, you (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah… [Sura Anfal 8:61]. This verse was revealed when the early Muslims were at war with the Non-Muslims. This reasonings begs one to question the Islamophobia that has gripped the world in recent years: if this is the commandment in the battle field, what about in normal circumstances?

Islam and Tolerance: One of the biggest misconceptions of non-Muslims is that Islam is intolerant. First of all let us put this word in context. “Islam is intolerant towards other religions. Islam is intolerant against peaceful co-existent. Islam wants to impose its faith on others”. These are the common misconceptions about Islam. As I told you earlier, Islam is not what A or B says; it is what the scripture says, it is what the Prophet (Peace be upon him) of Islam says.

Islam gives an open choice to the entire mankind either to accept it or to reject it as their way of life and their religion. Allah says: “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things. ”

“No compulsion in religion”, means that Muslims are not allowed to impose Islam on others. It also means that there is no hindrance for Muslims to live peacefully with other religions of the world.

Furthermore, there are numerous traditions of Prophet which teach Muslims to be tolerant and always put their trust in Allah, even if they are wronged.
"If anyone harms (others), Allah will harm him, and if anyone shows hostility to others, Allah will show hostility to him." (Abu Dawood)

Patience is what the Prophet of Islam taught Muslims. It is never justified in Islam that you rob another person if you are robbed by someone else. Wronging someone because you were once hurt or harmed yourself is not allowed or pardoned in Islam. Whatever be the injury you may be nursing, resorting to a path of violence or wrongdoing is abhorred.

In nutshell, Islam is a religion of peace and security. It is the perfect code of life, fostering a peaceful co-existence with other faiths. Though missionary in nature, Islam never forces any human to accept it the point of sword. It is open invitation to those who want to transform their lives with goodness.

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