Quraan and Pluralism
Prophet Muhammad was a Pluralist, as were Moses, Jesus and other prophets in every religious or non-religious* tradition. As a head of the state, when Prophet initiated the Madinah pact, a document of co-existence in governance, the Jews, Christians and others objected to his signature, which affixed Muhammad as the prophet of God, he listened to them and understood their point of view, in essence he respected the otherness of others and honoring their request, he removed the phrase and signed the document along with them.
There is a whole story here that the world has missed hitherto. First, the Government in Madinah was not an Islamic government, and most importantly, he respected the otherness of other and acknowledged that the others did not believe him to be the prophet. Such was the humility of the man!
Apply the litmus test when you read Qur’aan or any holy book: Does the translation build hatred and ill-will in you, then it is the wrong translation or you did not get it right. To put in Karen Armstrong’s words, even if you see them with ill-will take a challenge to see the light, because God is about goodness and inclusiveness. On the other hand if it causes you to think in terms of harmony and co-existence, you got the right one. To illustrate the point, look at the Nuclear power it produces electricity for peaceful purposes, in the wrong hands, it is savagely destructive. The problem is not the nuclear power, it is the user, rather the abuser.
The following verses are compiled by my friend Mohammad Irtaza;
[49:13] O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant.
According to the Quran, all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights:
[17:70] We have honored the children of Adam, and provided them with rides on land and in the sea. We provided for them good provisions, and we gave them greater advantages than many of our creatures.
The Quran gives everyone the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion:
[2:256] There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in GOD has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person:
[2:178] O you who believe, equivalence is the law decreed for you when dealing with murder – the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the female for the female. If one is pardoned by the victim’s kin, an appreciative response is in order, and an equitable compensation shall be paid. This is an alleviation from your Lord and mercy. Anyone who transgresses beyond this incurs a painful retribution.
[2:191] You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict them whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. …
[16:126] And if you punish, you shall inflict an equivalent punishment. But if you resort to patience (instead of revenge), it would be better for the patient ones.
[17:33] You shall not kill any person – for GOD has made life sacred – except in the course of justice. If one is killed unjustly, then we give his heir authority to enforce justice. Thus, he shall not exceed the limits in avenging the murder, he will be helped.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind:
[2:136] Say, “We believe in GOD, and in what was sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs; and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and all the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them. To Him alone we are submitters.”
[49:13] O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing:
[2:143] We thus made you an impartial community, that you may serve as witnesses among the people, and the messenger serves as a witness among you. ….
The Quran gives everyone the right to own property alone as well as in association with others:
[2:05] As soon as he leaves, he roams the earth corruptingly, destroying properties and lives. GOD does not love corruption.
[4:29] O you who believe, do not consume each others’ properties illicitly – only mutually acceptable transactions are permitted. You shall not kill yourselves. GOD is Merciful towards you.
[59:8] (You shall give) to the needy who immigrated. They were evicted from their homes and deprived of their properties, because they sought GOD’s grace and pleasure, and because they supported GOD and His messenger. They are the truthful.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks:
[33:53] O you who believe, do not enter the prophet’s homes unless you are given permission to eat, nor shall you force such an invitation in any manner. If you are invited, you may enter. When you finish eating, you shall leave; do not engage him in lengthy conversations. This used to hurt the prophet, and he was too shy to tell you. But GOD does not shy away from the truth. If you have to ask his wives for something, ask them from behind a barrier. This is purer for your hearts and their hearts. You are not to hurt the messenger of GOD. You shall not marry his wives after him, for this would be a gross offense in the sight of GOD.
[24:58] O you who believe, permission must be requested by your servants and the children who have not attained puberty (before entering your rooms). This is to be done in three instances – before the Dawn Prayer, at noon when you change your clothes to rest, and after the Night Prayer. These are three private times for you. At other times, it is not wrong for you or them to mingle with one another. GOD thus clarifies the revelations for you. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.
The Quran teaches us not to distinct among any of God’s messengers.
2:136] Say, “We believe in GOD, and in what was sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs; and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and all the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them. To Him alone we are submitters.”
[2:285] The messenger has believed in what was sent down to him from his Lord, and so did the believers. They believe in GOD, His angels, His scripture, and His messengers: “We make no distinction among any of His messengers.” They say, “We hear, and we obey.* Forgive us, our Lord. To You is the ultimate destiny.”
[3:84] Say, “We believe in GOD, and in what was sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs, and in what was given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them. To Him alone we are submitters.”
[4:150] Those who disbelieve in GOD and His messengers, and seek to make distinction among GOD and His messengers, and say, “We believe in some and reject some,” and wish to follow a path in between;
[4:152] As for those who believe in GOD and His messengers, and make no distinction among them, He will grant them their recompense. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
The Quran teaches us not to distinct among believers.
[2:62] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
[5:69] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the converts, and the Christians; any of them who (1) believe in GOD and (2) believe in the Last Day, and (3) lead a righteous life, have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
[22:17] Those who believe, those who are Jewish, the converts, the Christians, the Zoroastrians, and the idol worshipers, GOD is the One who will judge among them on the Day of Resurrection. GOD witnesses all things.
[22:40] They were evicted from their homes unjustly, for no reason other than saying, “Our Lord is GOD.” If it were not for GOD’s supporting of some people against others, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and masjids – where the name of GOD is commemorated frequently – would have been destroyed. Absolutely, GOD supports those who support Him. GOD is Powerful, Almighty.
The Quran teaches us not to divide the religion into sects.
[6:159] Those who divide themselves into sects do not belong with you. Their judgment rests with GOD, then He will inform them of everything they had done.
[30:32] (Do not fall in idol worship,) like those who divide their religion into sects; each party rejoicing with what they have.
[42:14] Ironically, they broke up into sects only after the knowledge had come to them, due to jealousy and resentment among themselves. If it were not for a predetermined decision from your Lord to respite them for a definite interim, they would have been judged immediately. Indeed, the later generations who inherited the scripture are full of doubts.
May God guides to respect and honor every one of his creation.