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Articles


Tolerance of Islam

Author : Dr Noah Ali Salman

Date Added : 01-08-2013


Tolerance of Islam

His eminence, the Grand Mufti, the late Dr. Noah Ali Salman:

Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds; Peace and blessings be upon Prophet Mohammad, his family and his companions.

Peace by upon you brothers.

It is known that Islam is one of the most pivotal elements in the Muslim society as it connects individuals with strong relationships based on the Islamic Creed, which is the strongest thing impressing people. Allah Says (What means): "The believers are nothing else than brothers" [Al-Hujurat/ 10], and He Says (What means): "And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves." [Al-Imran/103].

This necessitates that a Muslim knows the fundamentals of the religion she/he embraces and feels proud to be part of especially in this country which lives under the regime of the Hashemite Leadership who are the grandsons of Prophet Mohammad (Peace and Blessings Be upon Him), and who consider the Islamic message to be their message which should be conveyed to the humanity everywhere in every possible method.

There are several religious institutions conveying the message of Islam for both expatriates and residents in this country. We also see how the King uses international meetings and gatherings to clarify the right image of Islam. Such a bright image is liked by people and is a reason for many people to convert to Islam due to its tolerance, mercy and ethics.

Some people have tried to efface this bright image of Islam either out of ignorance or to divert people from this religion in certain ways that suit their own cultural, social and environmental background. For this, it has become necessary to clarify the image of Islam and to present this image to people as bright as possible.

Jordan has been known for this honest, right approach to Islam, which attracted several Muslim students from around the world. These students have been sent by their governments to protect them from slipping into side paths away from what is right.

One can clarify all facts about Islam neither in one nor in several lectures, but we will concentrate on several features of this religion. We call upon every Muslim to know more about her/his religion, as it is the only right way to the blessings of Allah. The issue we would like to focus on is the tolerance of Islam in terms of its recognition of all segments of society, in addition to relieving hardships on people in the principles they are to follow and abide by.

Allah, The Most Exalted Says (What means): "A Book which We have revealed unto you in order that you might lead mankind out of the depths of darkness into light - by the leave of their Lord - to the Way of (Him) the Exalted in power, worthy of all praise!" [Ibrahim/1].

 

As well as, He Says (What means): "We did not send you (Prophet Muhammad) for all mankind except to bring them glad tidings and to warn, but most people do not know." [Saba'/28].

We, Muslims, see this globalization in the call of Islam as an ordinary issue as we have learned it since childhood, but it becomes a different, outstanding issue if we remember the Hadith (saying) by Prophet Mohammad (PBUH): "every prophet before me was sent to his people alone, but I have been sent to all mankind." [Agreed upon].

This feature made Islam accepting all nations and societies regardless of their languages, colors, and layers. Islam makes them all brothers, as it does not prefer anyone to another or any nation over another. Several non-Arabs occupied important positions in the Muslim Society in several fields such as politics, leadership, science, economy, or piety after they embraced Islam. The rule in Islam is the Verse; it says (What means): "O mankind! We created you from (a single pair of) a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (the one who is) the most righteous of you, and Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)." [Al-Hujurat/13].

 The core of piety is only known by Allah, as He is The All-Aware with the inward and outward conditions of His Servants. This tolerance means that he/she who embraces Islam will not be a second-class citizen, but he/she will be equal to other Muslims sharing them the same rights and duties.

The advantage of this issue, which encouraged other people to embrace Islam, is more clarified when we compare it to other regimes in the world which don't make any expatriate equal to the nationals no matter how long he/she stays at that country and regardless of how loyal to the country. However, this is a regulatory issue with social and security reasons that we respect and we are not up to discuss, but Islam opened the doors for all people to be equal in front of Allah without underestimating each other due to differences in language or color.

For the non-Muslims living in the Muslim society, Islamic Sharia sees them as part of this society and under the protection of all Muslims, moreover, under the protection of Allah and his Messenger, peace be upon him. This is the concept of Dhimmis (non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic state), which means that they are covered by the protection of Allah and His Messenger. They must not be attacked as Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said: "Whoever killed a person having a treaty with the Muslims, shall not find the smell of Paradise though its smell is perceived from a distance of forty years." [Al-Bukhari]. They have the freedom related to their creeds in terms of food, drinks and lives, but they are subjected to the general rules of a Muslim society.

As they are not persecuted for their creeds, they are not allowed to interfere in the religious affairs of Muslims. They will embrace Islam without being forced to, if they are treated in a good way, and if they see the real good ethics of Muslims. This already happened in several societies where non-Muslims lived with Muslims where the non-Muslims found the teachings of their religions and prophets applied agree with those of Islam. This matter left them with no reason to stay away from Islam. They converted and served Islam in perfect ways.

Tolerance and equity open locked doors and closed hearts. Muslims with Muslim origins will appreciate this religion more when they contemplate the tolerance and simplified rules of Islam. There are several verses confirming this concept:

Allah Says (What means): "Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship." [Al Baqara/185].

In addition, He Says (What means): "Allah has not laid upon you in religion any hardship." [Al Hajj/78].

Prophet Mohammad Peace Be upon him says: "Make things easy and do not make them difficult; cheer people up by conveying glad tidings to them, and do not repulse (them)." [Agreed upon].

Muslim scholars agreed that hardness brings easiness. For example, Tayammumis allowed to be performed instead of Wudu' (washing) when there is no water. A sick person is allowed to offer prayers in sitting posture, in case of inability; he/she can even offer the prayer lying down. Passengers are allowed to break their fasts in Ramadan and to shorten their prayers or joining their prayers, in addition to several permits allowed by Allah to bring ease for his worshippers. These permits do not mean giving persons the choice to do whatever they like, and to drop Islamic provisions taking 'ease' for an excuse. These permits have special rules that any Muslim finds it easy to fulfill all requirements of Sharia's rules, and will not be able to evade its critical regulations.

This easiness offered by Allah affects the ethics of Muslims and their relationships with each other and with non-Muslims. Allah Says (What means): ''Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant'." [Al-Aaraf/199]. And He Says (What means): ''Those who restrain anger, and pardon (all) people; for Allah loves those who do good." [Al-Imran/134]. He, The Almighty also described His Messenger (PBUH) by Saying (What means): "(O Muhammad!) Certainly you have a great character." [Al-Qalam/4]. To make all Muslims aware of the norms of Prophet Mohammad and to take him as a role model.

Even in war—where people usually forget the rules of politeness, norms and mercy—we find Islam orders Muslims to control over their behaviors, not to exceed the limits of borders when in anger. Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him said: "punishment with fire is done by none except Allah." [Agreed upon]. He (PBUH) also banned killing women and children; he also prohibited mutilating dead bodies of enemies, and prohibited treachery. The Prophet (PBUH) ordered to do good to enemies in war as Allah Says (What means): ''And if you fear treachery on the part of a people, then throw (treaty) back to them on terms of equality; surely Allah does not love the treacherous." [Al-Anfal/58]. This means if you expect a breach of covenant by a people, then, tell them in straightforward terms that the treaty is terminated in order to keep matters clear and away from treason.

Those provisions cost Muslims a lot in dealing with other people but they remained the best example for people in treatments in the conditions of peace and war. Their enemies described them "There are no conquerors in history as merciful as the Arabs". They meant by this statement that non-Arab Muslims were led by the Arab Muslims and the Arabic language became part of the formers' civilization.

After this decent stand, some Muslims became extremists due to modern circumstances. Extremism developed in two directions:

One: leaving Islamic norms and Sharia provisions and following thoughts contradicting with Quran and Sunna claiming that the modern era needs new lifestyle and modernity.

We find Muslim youth calling upon the Muslim nation to imitate other nations and to abandon Sharia in order to be similar to other societies that were controlled by Islamic countries one day. Unfortunately, some of those youth are heard to insult Quran and Prophet Mohammad PBUH and his family. It is true that these thoughts started to fade out in general, and some adherents to such thoughts repented as they found that they were following a phantom that brings no advantage for them or for their nation.

Some traits of these calls remain such as those who declare their distance from Sharia requirements. Some of these repent and declare adherence to Islamic Sharia. It is noticed that religious guidance and preaching in formal institutions, mosques, schools, colleges and universities has an effect in bringing some of those back to the right path. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan gives special care for education and media, which calls for Islam and remind people of their religion.

The Muslim society gives the best evidence of what we discussed as you can see Hijab prevailing in schools and universities while mosques are crowded with Muslims, males, females and of all ages. If we remember that political crisis which is about to overthrow an elected government because of Islamic hijab, we will understand the importance of hijab as an Islamic appearance representing belief.

All this in addition to other Islamic features in our dear country, I do not deny the existence of some non-Islamic appearances that are considered to be negative and annoying extremism. However, these appearances do not make a phenomenon, and they do not give evidence that the nation has gone astray away from its religion. We all call upon Allah to guide us all to the right path.

Two:  Extremism, which means to be very strict in and to go far outside the mainstream regulations and Sharia requirements, taking the commanding of right and forbidding of wrong as an excuse.

There is no doubt that this second movement feeds on the first one: obvious violations of religious regulations provoke religious feelings and leads some to become strict and extreme in applying religion. This actually is illogical as we all know and believe that people from the age of Adam PBUH until the Day of Judgment are divided into two groups: one in Paradise and the other in Hellfire. We do not wish anyone to go to Hell, but it is a fact. Safety is not in extremism-whether positive or negative-but in being moderate. It is been said that being right is being moderate and following the right path.

Add to this that the painful status quo of Islamic countries and the circumstances there that are being broadcast by media sometimes generate unbalanced feelings and reactions. This extremism has led some Muslims to declare others as unbelievers. It has also led to some bloodshed. This is so unfortunate and has annoying effects that are uneasy to control. For this, we all have to cooperate to encourage these extremists and turn them back to moderation to stop them from going astray. This is actually, what some institutions have been doing.

However, the religious guidance efforts can be achieved through the following:

1. Saying the words of truth, but wisely and gently without being lean or strict in Sharia provisions. Some lenient fatwas and sayings given by official religious symbols lead to extremism. We are supposed to follow the Qur'anic approach in clarifying what is right and the results of going astray. Whereas Allah The Exalted, Say (What means): "the truth is from your Lord. Then whoever will let him believe and whoever wills let him disbelieve." [Al-Kahf/29]. Then Allah has explained the severe punishment of the disbelievers and the happy reward of the believers. A person has to choose. We will choose what is right Inshaa' Allah (by the will of Allah).

2. Making clear the difference between those requirements that are related to Muslims. Some of these requirements are obligatory (Fard) while others are recommended done by those who wish to earn more rewards. Some other provisions are related to what is prohibited (Muhramaat—forbidden while others are not recommended (Makruhaat—undesirable) which noble people refrain from. Still other few deeds are considered outright sacrilege. Other deeds are considered mistakes that do not make the person unbeliever. The prophet peace be upon him said: “Allah has ordained some obligations, so do not lose them. He has set some limits, so do not exceed them. He has ordered you to avoid things, so do not commit them. And Allah has Said nothing about certain things as allowance for you not out of forgetfulness, so do not search for these." [Al-Baihaqi].

3. It is must that people differ. There are believers and nonbelievers, faithful and disobedient people. People will remain as such, no matter what we do. Allah Says to Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him (What means): "Perhaps you would kill yourself (O Muhammad) in grief because they believe not in this” (Kahf: 6). And Allah Says (What means): "destroy not yourself in sorrow for them. Truly Allah knows what they do." [Fater/8]. We do not approve of misdeeds, but we should not try to do what the prophets and messengers (PBUT) could not do. They died and left behind the good and the bad, the believers and the non-believers.

4. Shedding light on the difference between requirements related to a Muslim person and those related to Muslim society. Those related to Muslim individuals must be implemented as fully as possible by the individuals themselves, while those regulations and provisions related to the  society, they are under the responsibility of leaders and don't need to be implemented by individuals.

5. Differentiating between matters required in the usual circumstances and issues required in the critical situations or extraordinary circumstances is important. There are differences between a strong and unified nation and a defeated nation who strives not to lose its own religion and beliefs. Considering this difference will nullify the claims of those who do not pay attention to this important issue.

6. It is a religious rule that a minor harm can be accepted in an attempt to prevent a major harm. Therefore, when Muslims accept certain issues, it does not necessarily mean that they approve of them. It is accepted in religion not to condemn what is wrong if such condemnation will lead to worse conditions.

7. Explaining the changes that occurred to Muslims and the fact that they do not live in isolation away from the rest of the world. The whole world today is connected, and each country must cautiously take into consideration the outside circumstances.

8. Being Keen to teach Islamic Sharia and supporting the official Sharia colleges and religious institutes as extremists had their knowledge based on opinions and views from individuals not graduating from such institutes, allowing themselves to issue dangerous fatwas like killing a group of Muslims in an attempt to kill one enemy. No Muslim scholar would accept such fatwa.

These matters are interconnected, and they are just a few of several. We try through media to spread this original Islamic thought. We cannot force people, but we say what is right as an excuse in front of our God. It is what we can do, and Allah burdens not a person beyond ability.

We all hope Allah guides us to protect our societies and nations from extremism, to unite Muslims on what He Likes, and to make this country a home for moderation and justice.

Peace be Upon You All!

 

(A Lecture by the Late Grand Mufti Dr. Noah Al Quda). 

 

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