Tolerance in Islam A Textual and Historical Analysis. Evidence of Civilization and Humanity. There is no doubt that, in the eyes of history, religious toleration is one of the greatest evidences of culture and civilization in a people. Common Misconceptions.
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Evidence of Civilization and Humanity • There is no doubt that, in the eyes of history, religious toleration is one of the greatest evidences of culture and civilization in a people.
Common Misconceptions • Islam was spread by the sword (forced conversion) • Islam is synonymous with oppression, coercion and the denial of basic rights and freedoms • Islam is a religion of intolerance and extremism
Seek Out the Truth • Islam urges all people to examine an issue thoroughly before coming to a conclusion or forming a belief. • Oh believing people: if a wicked person comes to you with any news, [first] determine the truth, lest you harm people unwittingly and afterwards become full of repentance for what you have done. (49:6)
All Humanity Is But One Great Family • Islam insists that there is to be absolute human equality and respect between all human beings. There should be no prejudice based on race, color, ethnicity, nor privilege. Only righteousness can distinguish among the people. • O humankind! We created you from a single [pair] of a male and 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 God is the most righteous of you (49:13)
Superiority of Justice • The Qur’an insists on a conception of justice which is not limited by race, color, belief, or nationality. • When you judge between people, judge with justice: how excellent is the teaching which God has given you! 4:58
Justice for All, Even Enemies • Oh believing people! Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others towards you make you swerve to wrong and to a departure from justice. Be just: that is next to piety; and fear God. For God is well-acquainted with all that you do. 5:8
Special Bond Between Muslims, Jews, and Christians • Jews and Christians are addressed in the Qur’an as “People of Book” (Torah and the Gospel) • Jews, Christians and Muslims are viewed as kindred-people whose faiths are all based on divinely-revealed scriptures and who share in common a prophetic tradition. • ...and nearest among them in love to the Believers will you find those who say 'We are Christians' 5:82
Unequivocal Right to Freedom of Thought and Religion • Let there be no compulsion in religion, Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in God Alone has grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that never breaks. 2:256
Protecting the Houses of Worship • Islam insists that all people, not just Muslims, enjoy freedom of religion & worship in safety & security. • Islam provides protection all religious places of worship [whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim] and commands Muslims to defend the right of liberty of worship for all. • Had not God checked one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of God is commemorated in abundant measure 22:40
Dealing With Interpersonal Hostilities • Even when dealing with people who may be hostile to them and their faith, Muslims are encouraged to take the path of goodness, and to respond with patience and kindness. • Repel (Evil) with what is better; then you may find that the one who hated you may become close as your friend and intimate! And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint; none but persons of the greatest fortune 41:34
The Mission of Muhammad, the Messenger of God We have not sent you except as a mercy to all mankind 22:107
Islamic Tolerance in History: The Example of the Prophet • In the first phase of the Prophethood of Muhammad he and his followers endured great hostility, torture and even death at the hands of the pagan tribes of Mecca • After the Prophet Muhammad had later emigrated to Medina the pagans of Mecca suffered from a severe drought • His response was to send charity to their poor to alleviate their suffering Muhammad ibn al-Hasan Sharh as-Siyaar al-Kabir
Islamic Tolerance in History: The Prophet and the People of Ta’if • `Aishah reported: I asked the Prophet "Have you ever experienced a day harder than the day of the battle of Uhud?'' • He replied, "Indeed, I experienced them (dangers) at the hands of your people. The hardest treatment I met from them was on the Day of `Aqabah when I went to one of the chiefs of Ta'if with the purpose of inviting him to Islam, but he made no response (to my call). • So I departed with deep distress. I did not recover until I arrived at Qarn ath-Tha`alib. There, I raised my head and saw a cloud which had cast its shadow on me.
Islamic Tolerance in History: The Prophet and the People of Ta’if • I saw in it Jibril (Gabriel) who called me and said: `Indeed, God, the Exalted, heard what your people said to you and the response they made to you. And He has sent you the angel in charge of the mountains to order him to do to them what you wish.' • Then the angel of the mountains called me, greeted me and said: `O Muhammad, God listened to what your people have said to you. I am the angel of the mountains, and my Lord has sent me to you so that you may give me your orders. If you wish I will bring together these two mountains to crush them in between.''' • But the Messenger of God said, "I rather hope that God will raise from their descendants such people as will worship God the One, and will not ascribe partners to Him.''
Islamic Tolerance in History: The Prophet’s Covenant with Najran • Najran and their followers have the protection of God and the protection of Muhammed, the Prophet and Messenger of God, for themselves, their community, their land and their goods, both those who are absent and those who are present, and for their churches and their services (no bishop will be moved from his episcopate, and no monk from his monastery, and no church warden from his wardenship) and for all, great or little, that is under their hands. There is no usury and no blood revenge from pre Islamic times. • Similar treaty made by ‘Umar with people of Iliya’
Islamic Tolerance in History: The Caliphate of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq • Abu Bakr gave ten directions to Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan, when dispatching him as the commander of an army to the Levant: • "Do not kill a woman, nor a child, nor a weak old person; do not cut down a fruit-bearing tree; do not destroy a dwelling; do not kill a sheep or camel, unless [you need to kill it] for food; do not set bees on fire, nor drown them; do not misappropriate the spoils of war; and do not be cowardly.“ Malik
Islamic Tolerance in History: The Caliphate of ‘Umar ibnul Khattab • ‘Umar ordered a permanent salary upon a Jew and his family from the state treasury, quoting the Qur’an: • Alms are for the poor and the needy 9:60 • Once on a trip to Greater Syria, he encountered a group of Christian lepers and ordered that social assistance be paid to them from the state treasury
Islamic Tolerance in History: The Caliphate of ‘Umar ibnul Khattab • ‘Umar’s assassin was a magian nonmuslim, yet he still commanded his successor to be merciful to the nonmuslims • I advise the caliph who will follow me to be kind to the nonmuslims and to fulfill our covenants with them, to fight for the sake of their protection and not to overburden them Sahih Bukhari and Sunan al-Baihaqi “Baab al-wusat bi ahlil Kitaab”
Islamic Tolerance in History: The Caliphate of ‘Umar ibnul Khattab • When ‘Umar liberated Jerusalem from Byzantine Roman occupation, he agreed to conditions requested by its Christian inhabitants. • ‘Umar happened to be inside the greatest Christian church of Jerusalem at the time of the Muslim afternoon prayer. Omar refused to perform his prayers in the church, for fear that it might give Muslims of future generations a reason to confiscate the church and make it into a mosque.
Islamic Tolerance in History: The Caliphate of ‘Umar ibnul Khattab • A Coptic (Christian sect in Egypt) woman came to ‘Umar complaining that the Muslim governor ‘Amru-Ibn Al-`Aas took her house in order to expand a neighboring mosque. • ‘Umar checked into the matter and was told by ‘Amr that the Muslims needed to expand the mosque. • ‘Amr explained that he had offered the Coptic woman a great deal of money, but when she refused, he had left the money in a fund for her to take it anytime she wanted. • Though many modern laws permit such a procedure (eminent domain), ‘Umar did not accept it according to Islamic principles. He ordered the Muslims to stop the expansion and rebuild the Christian woman's house.
Islamic Tolerance in History: The Caliphate of ‘Umar ibnul Khattab • The son of the Muslim governor of Egypt had a horse race with a Coptic man, which the Copt won. • Angry, the son of the Muslim governor lashed the Copt with his whip. The man brought his case to ‘Umar at the time of the annual Muslim pilgrimage. • In front of the Muslims, ‘Umar gave his whip to the Copt saying, “Beat the one who beat you.” • Then ‘Umar scolded ‘Amr, the boy's father and the conqueror of Egypt saying, “When did you enslave the men who were born free by birth?”
Islamic Tolerance in History:The Muslim Scholar Ibn Taimiyyah • During the Mongolian Tartar invasions of the Muslim lands, Ibn Taimiyyah went as an emissary to Qaito Shah, one of the Tartar commanders, to negotiate the release of all prisoners of war. • He was granted the release of only the Muslim POW’s, but persisted in his request for all POW’s to be released until it was later granted.
Islamic Tolerance in History: Sultan Muhammad II: al-Faatih • When Constantinople was finally opened to the justice of Islam in 1453 Sultan Muhammad II proclaimed himself the protector of the Greek church. • Persecution of the Christians was forbidden and a decree issued securing for the newly elected patriarch, Gennadios, and his bishops and successors after him, all privileges previously enjoyed under the former rule. • The patriarch was also empowered to bring to the attention of the government and Sultan acts of unjust governors.T. W. Arnold
Islamic Tolerance in History:The Churches of the Middle East Today • “It is agreed that all Churches in Cairo were established after the coming of Islam” Al-Maqrizi • In Syria, the crosses on Christian church steeples are neon-lit at night, in Cairo, on the road to the airport from downtown, one sees more Coptic churches (for the 14 million Egyptian Copts) than mosques. • In 'Amman (Jordan) the main mosque and the main cathedral face each other peacefully, in Morocco, Catholic bishops continue to exercise their office. In fact, to this day, Christians and Jews can be cabinet ministers in places like Egypt. 'Iraq, Morocco, and Turkey.
Islamic Tolerance in History:Judicial and Government Offices • Offices in Islamic states were given to best qualified, regardless of belief or background. • For example, Ibn Athal, a Christian physician, was the private doctor of the Umayyad caliph Mu’awiya. • Another Umayyad caliph, Abdul-Malik Ibn Marwan, appointed 2 Christians, Athnasius and Isaac, to top posts in the state of Egypt.
Islamic Tolerance in History:Fields of Science • Hunain, the leader of his day in Medicine. • Hibatullah bin Tilmith, called the Hippocrates and Galen of his age. • Huna became one of the definitive scholars of arabic language after studying under Muslim scholars in the field. • Thabit ibn Qurra studied under Ali ibn Walid and became a leader in literature and calligraphy, and later accepted Islam.
Islamic Tolerance in History:Will Durant, The Story of Civilization • To these dhimmi – Christians, Zoroastrians, Sabaeans, Jews – the Umayyad caliphate offered a degree of toleration hardly equaled in contemporary Christian lands. • They were allowed the free practice their faiths, and the retention of their churches, on condition that they wear a distinctive honey-colored dress, and pay a poll tax of from one to four dinars per year according to their income.
Islamic Tolerance in History:Will Durant, The Story of Civilization • This tax fell only upon non-muslims capable of military service; it was not levied upon monks, women, adolescents, slaves, the old, crippled, blind or very poor. • In return the dhimmi were excused (or excluded) from military service, from the 2.5% [Muslim] tax for community charity, and received the protection of the government.
Islamic Tolerance in History:Will Durant, The Story of Civilization • Their testimony was not admitted in Moslem courts, but they were allowed self-government under their own leaders, judges and laws …
Islamic Tolerance in History:Will Durant, The Story of Civilization • Christian heretics persecuted by the patriarchs of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, or Antioch were now free and safe under a Moslem rule that found their disputes quite unintelligible. • In the 9th century, the Moslem governor of Antioch appointed a special guard to keep Christian sects from massacring one another at Church. • Monasteries and nunneries flourished under the skeptical Ummayads; …
Islamic Tolerance in History:Will Durant, The Story of Civilization • Sergius, father of St. John of Damascus, was chief finance minister to Abd al-Malik, and John himself, last of the Greek Fathers of the Church, headed the council that governed Damascus …
Islamic Tolerance in History:Will Durant, The Story of Civilization • Despite, or because of the policy of tolerance in early Islam, the new faith won over to itself in time most of the Christians, nearly all the Zoroastrians and pagans, and many of the Jews, of Asia, Egypt and North Africa. • Durant, Will, The Story of Civilization: The Age of Faith (Vol IV) (New York: Simon and Schuster: 1950), pp. 218-219.
The Truth Regarding the Spread of Islam • Islam, in the 10th century, was the main religion, or at least, the religion of the majority of peoples in an area covering more than half of the civilized world • It stretched over three continents from Spain in the West and North Europe to the farthest end of Asia, up to China and New Guinea in the East; from Morocco in North Africa to the southern tip of Africa, covering two-thirds of the African continent.
The Truth Regarding the Spread of Islam • It is one of the most striking facts of human history that this spread of Islam over such a vast area took place only within three centuries.
The Qur’an on Belief • Let there be no compulsion in religion, Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in God Alone has grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that never breaks. 2:256 • Say, "The truth is from your Lord": Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it): 18:29 • Thus you cannot “force” a conversion in Islam
Where Does the Idea of Islam Being Spread by the Sword Come From? • Most of Western writers, especially under the influence of the Church, have never failed to accuse Islam of spreading by force of the sword. • The causes of this prejudice lie mainly in the fact that the spread of Islam has often occurred at the expense of Christianity.
Where Does the Idea of Islam Being Spread by the Sword Come From? • While Islam has for centuries obtained numerous conversions from Christianity without much effort or organized missionary activities, Christianity has almost never been able to achieve conversions from Islam in spite of sophisticated means and well-organized missionary activities …. • This has caused its missionaries and most of the orientalists to develop a complex within themselves by depicting Islam and introducing it as a regressive, vulgar religion of savage peoples. • (John Cogley, Religion of Secular Age)
Non-Muslim Observations: De Lacy O'Leary • History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.Islam at the Crossroads
An Interesting Christian Observation • The Christians have not been given orders to do anything but preach and instruct, yet, despite this, from time immemorial they have been exterminating by fire and sword all those who are not of their religion. • We may feel certain that if Western Christians, instead of the Saracens and the Turks, had won the dominion over Asia, there would be today not a trace left of the Greek Church, and that they would never have tolerated [Islam] as the 'infidels' have tolerated Christianity there. • We (Christians) enjoy the fine advantage of being far better versed than others in the art of killing, bombarding and exterminating the Human Race." Bayle P., Dictionary, 'the article Mahomed', 1850
How Then Did Islam Spread So Rapidly? • Many have sought to answer the questions of why the triumph of Islam was so speedy and complete? • Why have so many millions embraced the religion of Islam and scarcely a hundred ever recanted? • Why do a thousand Christians become Muslims to one Muslim who adopts Christianity?
How Then Did Islam Spread So Rapidly? • Some have attempted to explain the first overwhelming success of Islam by the argument of the Sword. They forget Carlyle's laconic reply. • First get your sword. You must win men's hearts before you can induce them to imperil their lives for you; and the first conquerors of Islam must have been made Muslims before they were made fighters on the Path of God.
How Then Did Islam Spread So Rapidly? • Others allege the low morality of the religion and the sensual paradise it promises as a sufficient cause for the zeal of its followers … • But even were these admitted to the full, no religion has ever gained a lasting hold upon the souls of men by the force of its sensual permissions and fleshy promises...
How Then Did Islam Spread So Rapidly? • In all these explanations the religion itself is left out of the question. Decidedly, Islam itself was the main cause for its triumph. • Islam not only was at once accepted (by many peoples and races) by Arabia, Syria, Persia, Egypt, Northern Africa and Spain, at its first outburst; but, with the exception of Spain, it has never lost its vantage ground; it has been spreading ever since it came into being.
How Then Did Islam Spread So Rapidly? • Admitting the mixed causes that contributed to the rapidity of the first swift spread of Islam, they do not account for the duration of Islam. There must be something in the religion itself to explain its persistence and spread, and to account for its present hold over so large of a proportion of the dwellers on the earth... • Islam has stirred an enthusiasm that has never been surpassed. Islam has had its martyrs, its self-tormentors, its recluses, who have renounced all that life offered and have accepted death with a smile for the sake of the faith that was in them. • (Stanley Lane-Poole, Study in a Mosque, pp.86-89)
Where Are the Swords Today?Professor David Barrett • Statistical Table on Global MissionsshowsIslam is the fastest growing major religion, with a five-fold increase from a pop. of 200 million in 1900. • In 1970 there were 554 million Moslems in the world, and 666 million Catholics. By 2000, Islam had 1.2 billion adherents and Catholicism almost 1.1 billion. • In 2025, it is estimated that 1.3 billion Catholic will find themselves in a world with 1.8 billion Muslims • National Institute for the Revival of Priesthood website http://www.jknirp.com/barrett.htm
Where Are the Swords Today?Joseph P. Gudel: Christian Research Institute • Is Islam the fastest growing religion in the world? Is it the fastest growing religion in America? The demographics tell us that the answer is yes to both questions. • According to most reports, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Johnstone, Operation World • For example, in Europe, according to U.N. statistics, between 1989 and 1998 the Islamic population grew by more than 100% (to about 14 million or 2% of the pop).Wendy Murray Zoba, “Islam, U.S.A.” Christianity Today
Where Are the Swords Today?Joseph P. Gudel: Christian Research Institute • While specific figures may be debated, what cannot be debated is the phenomenal growth of Islam. • According to UN statistics, the Muslim pop in the US grew by 25% between 1989 and 1998. Zoba, 40 • Since about 1990 the number of “registered Islamic centers and mosques” has tripled to “more than 2,500.” • African-Americans make up an estimated 42-45% of the Muslims in America. Carl Ellis places the actual number of African-American Muslims at 2.6 million (*NOI- 18-20k; NOT GROUPED AS MUSLIMS).
The Jizya • The Messenger of Allah appointed Abdullah b. Arqam over the Jizya of the people of Zimmah and when he was leaving, the Prophet said to him: "Surely, whoever oppresses a Mu'ahid or imposes upon him more than he can afford and humiliates him or takes anything from him without his consent I will challenge him on the Day of Judgment." Abu Dawud • Care for their weak, feed the hungry, provide clothes, address them politely, and even tolerate their harm even if it was from a neighbor, even though the Muslim would have an upper hand. Must also be advised sincerely on their affairs and protected against anyone who tries to hurt them or their family, steal their wealth, or violate their rights. Qarafee
The Truth About the Jizya • Once ‘Umar saw an old Jewish beggar and ordered that he be paid a salary from the state treasury stating, • “It is not just for us to collect from him the jizya in his youth and then abandon him in his old age.”