Islam · Uncategorized

Tolerance in Islam: Building Bridges

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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.

 

Reference: –

https://www.alislam.org/library/contemporary-issues/cultural-understanding-and-racial-harmony/

https://www.alislam.org/quran/view/?page=78&region=EN

https://www.khalifaofislam.com/press-releases/help-genuine-refugees-but-remain-vigilant-to-threat-of-extremism-head-of-ahmadiyya-muslim-community/

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Islam · Uncategorized

Tolerance in Islam: An Essence of Humanity

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Iffat Mirza, Raynes Park, London

In the modern world, the word Islam unfortunately, and most wrongly, carries the connotation of intolerance and violence. The truth could not be further from this unjust and ill-informed accusation. The word Islam is quite literally the Arabic word for peace and also for submission. From just this it is immediately apparent that there can be nothing else that Islam values more than a peaceful way of life, along with a life where one is faithful towards the Supreme Being, God.

The Holy Qur’an, the sacred text of the Muslims, reminds Muslims that there is ‘no compulsion in religion’ (2:257).[1] As such, there is absolutely no justification for any sort of oppression in Islam where one is being forced to live in a manner that goes against their will. Islam is a religion that believes, and upholds the concept of free will. Therefore, the essence of Islam is to teach its followers, and to inform followers of other creeds and beliefs, of the truth, the right, and the wrong. After this, the decision to take the right course of action is up to the individual. This is the crux of Islamic teaching. Intolerance has no place in Islam as it continues to breach the foundations upon which Islam stands.

Lamentably, there have been a number of extremist groups committing heinous crimes across the globe in the name of Islam. These acts are in direct contradiction to the beautiful and peaceful teachings of Islam. One of the greatest sources of teaching for Muslims is through the sunnah: the actions of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) who taught religious tolerance to Muslims. The Holy Prophet (peace be on him) was a kind, honourable and forgiving man. The ordeals which he and his followers faced by the Meccans were nothing less than degrading and humiliating torture, yet he never wished any harm upon them; rather, he wished for a divine change of their hearts.

In his Friday Sermon, delivered on March 10th, 2006, His Holiness the spiritual leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (may Allah be his Helper) related the incident when the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) permitted the visiting Christians from Najran to offer their worship inside the mosque. At the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as it is today, it was one of the responsibility of the Muslims to protect the churches and inns of the Christians as well as to safeguard their worship.[2] It was also prohibited in any circumstance, as it is today, to ever attack a place of worship of any religion during a war or in time of peace.

One cannot deny, that it is not only extremist groups which are using the guise of Islam to justify their inhumane crimes. It is also corrupt politicians and governments. The government of many ‘Islamic’ countries are indeed using the excuse of their interpretation of Sharia to oppress its people in order to gain power and control. Both extremist groups and corrupt governments have misappropriated the terms Islam, Sharia, and the like. In doing so they have created a barrier between the truly beautiful teachings of Islam and the rest of the world.

This barrier is causing a rise in Islamophobic hate crimes as well as generally rising political tensions across the globe. These cannot lead to anything prosperous nor fruitful. It is essential that Islam be seen as a religion which welcomes all with open arms, tolerates differences and allows diversity in God’s creations. The motto of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’ reigns true in Islamic teachings of all forms, whether they be the words of the Holy Qur’an, the words of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), or his actions, Muslims are universally taught that love, tolerance and kindness are the essence of humanity and they must be adhered to at all times.

 

[1] https://www.alislam.org/quran/search2/showVerse.php?ch=2&vn=257

[2] https://www.alislam.org/archives/2006/summary/FSS20060310-EN.html

Charity

Love Thy Neighbour

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Rubina Ahmedi, Manchester, UK

Do you know who lives next door to you? Above you or they may live on the floor below?

When I was a young girl we all had street parties, we knew everyone in our street. If my mum was baking a cake and we ran out of eggs or sugar we popped over to one of the neighbours and borrowed some, we didn’t think twice and they often did the same. It saved you going out to the shops and more importantly there was a feeling of unity in the neighbourhood.

Let’s face it these days many of us don’t know the people who live next door let alone in our street. Sometimes we are so busy in our “rat race” that we forget to smile or share things with the people who often live closer to us than our own family and relatives.

Just think for a moment’; do you have an elderly neighbour who is sat alone for most of the day and doesn’t have any visitors?  Or maybe your neighbour is a young family that have small children and frequently visit your local food bank for essentials. Can we spare a few minutes to say hello and have a chat, offer to go to the shops or share some soup or a cake?

The Holy Founder of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be on him ) often advised his Companions and said:

“O Abu Dharr! Whenever you prepare a broth, put plenty of water in it and give some of it to your neighbours,”

We shouldn’t feel shy to be the first to put out our hand of friendship as this is the way to reach people’s hearts.

In Islam, as in all faiths, we are taught to share and be big hearted. You might welcome a new neighbour, lend one of your gardening tools or offer to sweep the path.

The Holy Quran teaches us to love our neighbours. In Chapter 4 verse 37 we read:

 “…do good to your neighbours who are near and neighbours who are unknown to you.”

‘…show kindness…to the neighbour that is a kinsman and the neighbour that is a stranger…’

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) taught us that a “neighbour” is not just the one next door but includes all those up to forty houses in all directions – effectively a whole neighbourhood.

Life is full of uncertainty and risky situations can arise any time. If a problem arises in our house then the most reachable person indeed is our neighbour. And they will help us but only if we are good to them.

So let’s make a prayer for all our neighbours be they of any race, faith or no faith, be they known to us or strangers better off than us or worse off, be they locals or migrants, male or female, young or old.

May God enable us to fulfil the rights of our neighbours.