Quran’s Message is Essentially that of Peace and Tolerance

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By Dr. Abdur Rab and Dr. Siraj Islam

At no point, the Quran’s basic texts sanction aggression, terrorism, and murder. Rather it unequivocally denounces any acts of mischief, violence, or terrorism.[1]

The Quran declares, “Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but do not initiate aggression. Verily God does not love aggressors.”[2]

The Quran permits fighting until persecution ceases, for the Quran characterizes persecution as worse than slaughter.[3] Importantly, the Quran urges believers to cease fighting if the enemies incline to peace, even if the enemies’ gesture turns out to be a deceitful move:

8:61-62 And if they (the enemies fighting you) incline to peace, then incline to it, and trust in God, for verily He is Hearing, Knowing. And if they intend to deceive you, then verily God is sufficient for you.

The Quran guarantees freedom of religion and freedom of speech. It emphasizes the point that there must not be any coercion in religion in the statement “La ikraha fiddin”.[4] The Quran recognizes the diversity of people in the statement: “If your Lord had willed, verily all who are on earth would have believed together” and urges the Prophet not to exert any pressure on anyone to convert to Islam.[5] Also the statement ― ”Lakum dinukum wa-aliadin – To you your religion, to me my religion”[6] – signifies full religious freedom and tolerance. The Prophet was asked to not revile others’ gods lest others wrongfully revile God through ignorance.[7] The Quran shows recognition of the sanctity of the places of worship of all religious groups – monasteries, churches, and synagogues, and mosques (and the like), where God’s name is oft remembered.[8] Also the statement ― “Bear with what they say, and part from them in a nice manner”[9]– guarantees tolerance of speech. Freedom and tolerance of religion is also beautifully captured in the following passage:

18:29 The Truth (has now come) from your Lord; let, then, him who wills believe (in it), and let him who wills reject (it).

Also, the Quran declares, “Fight them until there is no more persecution, for religion is for God. But if they (the enemies) desist let there be no hostility except against the wrongdoers.”[10]

The Quran has full respect for human dignity and human rights.[11] It requires us to stand and fight for human rights and against human oppression.[12] It asks us to always stand for justice and to give the right testimony, even if it goes against ourselves, our parents, or our other relatives.[13 ]It requires us to do justice even to those whom we hate.[14] It guarantees private initiative and enterprise and respect for private ownership of property.[15]It puts a very high premium on human life. It likens the killing of any innocent person to the killing of the whole of humankind, and the saving of an individual to the saving of the whole of humankind.[16] In the Quran, God has clearly and strongly warned humankind against any act of wrongdoing, murder, corruption, or mischief in the land.[17]

In fact, the Quran promotes a peaceful pluralistic view of societal condition. In the Quran, the Prophet was urged to invite non-Muslims to Islam with wisdom and a fair exhortation and reason with them in a nice manner.[18] He said to them, “I am commanded to be just among you. God is our Lord and your Lord. Unto us our works, and unto you your works; there is no contention between us and you.”[19] He made a passionate call to Jews and Christians to come to a co-operative moral agreement for the common good:

3:64 Say: O People of the Book! Come to an agreement between us and you that we shall serve none but God, and (that) we shall associate no partners with Him, and (that) none of us shall take from among ourselves lords or patrons beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have submitted (unto Him).

The Quran calls for peaceful engagement with other people even when they disregard the call and turn away.[20] It urges us to treat people of all races as friends and deal with them justly except only those who do harm to us.[21]

The Quran-preached Islam thus truly is a religion of peace, tolerance, and peaceful inter-communal coexistence and co-operation.

[1] The Quran, 7:56; 26:183.

[2] The Quran, 2:190.

[3] The Quran, 2:191.

[4] The Quran, 2:256.

[5] The Quran, 10:99.

[6] The Quran, 109:6.

[7] The Quran, 6:108.

[8] The Quran, 22:40.

[9] The Quran, 73:10.

[10] The Quran, 2:193.

[11] The Quran, 17:70.

[12] The Quran, 4:75

[13] The Quran, 4:135.

[14] The Quran, 5:8, 2.

[15] The Quran, 2:188.

[16] The Quran, 5:32.

[17] The Quran, 7:56, 74, 13:25, 26:151-152, 183, 27:48 – 49, 47:22 – 23.

[18] The Quran, 16:125.

[19] The Quran, 42:15

[20] The Quran, 7:199, 10:41, 109:6.

[21] The Quran, 60:8-9.

Excerpted from our book on Hadith: “Hadith: The Authority Issue and How the Hadith Affects Muslim Beliefs and Practices,” Second Print, pp. 79-82.

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