In the previous issue (number 9) we shed light on blasphemy in the light of the teachings of the Holy Quran. In this chapter we will discuss inter-religious cooperation.
In international relations, Islam goes a step further by declaring:
لَا یَجۡرِمَنَّکُمۡ شَنَاٰنُ قَوۡمٍ اَنۡ صَدُّوۡکُمۡ عَنِ الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡحَرَامِ اَنۡ تَعۡتَدُوۡا ۘ وَتَعَاوَنُوۡا عَلَی الۡبِرِّ وَالتَّقۡوٰی ۪ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوۡا عَلَی الۡاِثۡمِ وَالۡعُدۡوَانِ
...And let not the enmity of a people who have prevented you from the Sacred Mosque incite you to treat them with injustice. On the contrary, help one another in the good things of life and in all things that are based on the fear of Allah. However, do not help one another in sin and transgression... (Q.5: Al-Maidah: 3)
The Quran does not allow Muslims to treat with injustice even enemies who commit aggression against them, because of religious enmity.
Turning to the group of unbelievers, who were not known to have taken active part in hostilities against Muslims, the Holy Quran says to the believers regarding them:
عَسَی اللّٰہُ اَنۡ یَّجۡعَلَ بَیۡنَکُمۡ وَبَیۡنَ الَّذِیۡنَ عَادَیۡتُمۡ مِّنۡہُمۡ مَّوَدَّۃً ؕ وَاللّٰہُ قَدِیۡرٌ ؕ وَاللّٰہُ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۸﴾ لَا یَنۡہٰٮکُمُ اللّٰہُ عَنِ الَّذِیۡنَ لَمۡ یُقَاتِلُوۡکُمۡ فِی الدِّیۡنِ وَلَمۡ یُخۡرِجُوۡکُمۡ مِّنۡ دِیَارِکُمۡ اَنۡ تَبَرُّوۡہُمۡ وَتُقۡسِطُوۡۤا اِلَیۡہِمۡ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ یُحِبُّ الۡمُقۡسِطِیۡنَ
"It is possible that Allah may cause love to arise between you and those with whom you are now at enmity; because Allah is Almighty: and Allah is the Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. As for those who have not fought against you on account of your religion and have not driven you out of your houses, Allah is not forbidding you to be kind to them and to act justly towards them; verily, Allah loves those who do justice". (Q. 60: Al-Mumtahanah: 8,9).
Muslims are also taught to invite the People of the Book and to cooperate with them in spreading the Message of the oneness of God - a belief shared with them. The importance of the following verse is that it emphasises the theme of communality and outlines a mutual agenda for the benefit of mankind rather than stressing the aspects of differences that produce discord.
قُلۡ یٰۤاَہۡلَ الۡکِتٰبِ تَعَالَوۡا اِلٰی کَلِمَۃٍ سَوَآءٍۢ بَیۡنَنَا وَبَیۡنَکُمۡ اَلَّا نَعۡبُدَ اِلَّا اللّٰہَ وَلَا نُشۡرِکَ بِہٖ شَیۡئًا وَّلَا یَتَّخِذَ بَعۡضُنَا بَعۡضًا اَرۡبَابًا مِّنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ ؕ فَاِنۡ تَوَلَّوۡا فَقُوۡلُوا اشۡہَدُوۡا بِاَنَّا مُسۡلِمُوۡنَ
"Say to them: "O people of the Book! come to a word that is equal between us and you: that we worship none but Allah, and associate none with Him, and that none of us take any of us as Lord besides Allah". But if they turn their backs, say to them: 'Be witnesses that we have submitted ourselves to God" (Q. 3: Al-Imran: 65).
Before examining the beneficial role that the bona fide religions of the world can play in providing man with peace in all areas of human activity, it is essential to examine critically the role of religions in establishing peace within the various groups of their own adherents, and also to judge whether religions - as long as they exist as such - can ever learn to live in peace with each other. Judging by the growing influence of materialism and the emphasis of society as a whole on exchanging spiritual values for sensual and carnal ones, one might think that religion should be dismissed and ignored as an unimportant factor in this context.
We beg to differ from such a conclusion, because unless we reform internal and external religious attitudes, religion will continue to play a very important negative, rather than beneficial, role in efforts to achieve global peace. Religion, which should have played a prominent role in establishing peace and eliminating misunderstandings between adherents of different faiths and religions, encouraging decency and promoting the principle of "live and let live", has unfortunately, at present, played a very small and insignificant role, if any, in promoting peace in the world. On the contrary, in the spread of violence and bloodshed, misery and suffering, it has manifested itself as a potent and dynamic force, not to be underestimated at all. No kind of global peace can be imagined without addressing this vital problem and remedying its shortcomings.
In the inner realm of religion, religious sentiments can be excited and energetically activated to spread misery and suffering among a section of the faithful, who, unfortunately, usually belong to a minority sect of the religion itself.
The whole of Muslim history is full of similar despicable episodes, where Islam, the religion of peace, has been used to end the peace of innocent believers, who of course believed in Islam but not in the form and style that others wanted. Indeed, the study of Islamic history shows beyond doubt how Islam has been used for the persecution of Muslims themselves. The "holy wars" that Muslims fought against the Caderusrs are vastly outnumbered in number and magnitude by the "holy wars" that Muslims fought against Muslims over the last fourteen centuries.
The chapter is not closed. What is happening in Pakistan against Ahmadi Muslims (deprived of minimum human rights just because they are Ahmadi Muslims) and occasionally against other religious minorities, is enough to elucidate this appalling problem that should have disappeared long ago but is still alive today.
In Christianity, the persecution of Christians at the hands of Christians may seem to have been buried under the rubble of European and American history, yet not so long ago in Ireland these differences flared up again. Similarly, there are potential dangers of sectarian strife within Christianity in other parts of the world, which are currently engaged in other dissensions and disputes.
In inter-religious relations, the Hindu-Muslim unrest in India, the Christian-Muslim strife in Nigeria or the Jewish-Muslim hostilities in the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as the tendency towards fragility in the Jewish-Christian political and economic relationship, are some of the signs of latent dangers that remain like hidden volcanoes in the underground of the religious world.
The importance of reforming attitudes to such problems cannot be overemphasised.
(lpbD) - Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
(To be continued in the next installment - 11 - developing conclusions on the subject of interfaith peace).