Mishal Aziz, Raynes Park, London
Today, 16th November, marks International Tolerance Day. Tolerance means the ability to endure subjection to something without a negative reaction. In today’s world where communities are so diverse and multi-cultural, we need tolerance more than ever in order to maintain peace in society.
Many non-Muslims object that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), God forbid, brought a religion which encouraged killing and harshness and there is no tolerance and freedom in Islam. This is totally wrong. In contrast, Islam teaches Muslims to maintain peace in society and treat everyone fairly whether Muslim or non-Muslim.
In one of the hadith (traditions) the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said:
“O People, your Lord is One, you are the progeny of the same father (who was created from dust). Hence it is not permissible for you to make any discrimination between high and low. Neither an Arab has superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab. A white person is not superior to a black person one, nor a black is superior to a white. The most honourable among you in the sight of God is the one who is the most righteous”
Masnud Hadith no. 19774- Culture understanding and racial harmony (alislam.org)
Islam is seen as a religion which is spread by the sword as there were a few battles during the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). But the Muslims suffered for thirteen long years patiently until defensive wars were allowed by God.
“Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Surely, Allah loves not the transgressors.”
(Chapter 2, verse 190)
This verse in the Holy Quran tells the Muslims to defend themselves. If this had not been the case all Muslims would have been killed or tortured to death.
Wars in the history of Islam affect many people’s point of view regarding Islam. Words of Allah the Almighty in the Qur’an regarding war are completely misunderstood. . What people do not realise is that there is a context behind it as well. Muslims were only allowed to carry out defensive wars; nowhere does it say in the Qur’an to start a war. Wherever war is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an it only tells Muslims to defend themselves which is realistic because each one of us wants a happy and healthy life. So, cherry-picking is not the way towards finding the real message and teaching of Islam.
Muslims are taught to be tolerant towards others and treat everyone equally. In another hadith, Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said:
“You are brothers and sisters. You are all equal. No matter to which nation or tribe you belong and no matter what your status is, you are equal. Just as the fingers of both hands are alike, nobody can claim to have any distinctive right or greatness over another. The command which I give you today is not just for today but it is forever. Always remember to and keep acting upon it until you return to your true Master.” (alislam.org)
If Islam was an intolerant religion then why would Muslim people condemn extremist and terrorist attacks?
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is making an extra effort to build bridges with others. During one of his interviews, his Holiness Hazarat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (fifth Khalifa of the Promised Messiah) said:
“All people, regardless of faith or belief, should work together for the betterment of humanity. The Holy Quran teaches that there should be no compulsion in religion and so we Ahmadi Muslims respect all religions, all prophets and all people.” (khalifaofIslam.org)
Ahmadi ladies and girls plan monthly visits to other religious and cultural places and organise multi-cultural events. This allows us to get to know about other faiths and cultures and enable us to make connections with each other. So, together we can all take society forward and build bridges.