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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Is Islam an intolerant religion?

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By Musa Bah

Of late there has been a lot of rhetoric about religion. It seems religious intolerance is seeping into our country, the Gambia. This is a dangerous trend which needs to be addressed with urgency. But perhaps saying religious intolerance may be an oversimplification of the matter, and a little misrepresentative as we have our Christian brothers and sisters in the country as well.

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No one ever hears the type of bickering going on among the Muslims from the different Christian sects in the country; or in the world for that matter. Why then do we have this problem which is becoming perennial among our Muslim brothers and sisters? This begs the question: Is Islam an intolerant religion? The answer is an emphatic No.

 

To get a true feel of a question, one needs to refer it back to the source. For instance, if one wants to know about the problem of farmers, one will need to talk to farmers and see what they think are their problems and difficulties. If therefore we want to know whether Islam is an intolerant religion or not, we need to go back to its source which is Allah, the Sublime and His Holy Prophet (SAW).

 

What do these two tell us about tolerance? If what we find is at variance with current trends, then we should know that there is a problem with our society, but not with Islam.

 

The Holy Quran is very clear and emphatic on religious freedom and tolerance. We read that Allah has even commanded Muslims not to insult the idols worshipped by idol worshippers lest they insult Allah unknowingly. Again at another place Allah, the Sublime, says that this Message is from Him, so whoever pleases may believe and whoever pleases may disbelieve.

Yet, at another place Allah, the Sublime says that there shall be no compulsion in religion as right has been made distinct from wrong. Still Allah, the Sublime, warns the Prophet saying: Thou art only a warner. Thou art not a guardian over them.

 

Now if these are the statements made by Allah Himself – and there are many others – what right does an individual have to accept some people as Muslim and declare a whole community as non-Muslim? Is the right to declare someone a Kaffir (disbeliever) granted to individuals or groups?

The Holy Quran has made another statement in this regard saying that one should not even call a person who greets with Assalaamu Alaykum a disbeliever. So why are people so eager to contradict the instruction of Allah, the Sublime?

The Acme of Creation, Pride of the Prophets, the Seal of the Prophet Seyyidinaa Muhammad Mustapha, al-Mujtaba (SAW) has also made several very instructive statements on this issue. Once when he ordered a census of the Muslims in Madinah he was asked whose name should be written. He responded by saying that they should write the name of whoever calls himself a Muslim. (Bukhari)
He did not go into any technicalities of the term Muslim. He simply said that whoever considered himself a Muslim should also be considered as such. So we observe therefore that had we followed the method of the Holy Prophet (SAW) no issue of intolerance among various Muslim sects will appear in the Gambia.

 

Once while he was sitting with his companions, a funeral procession was passed them. He stood up immediately.

The companions pointed out that it was a Jewish corpse that was passing and he said: ‘Is he not a creation of Allah?’ Again it is on record that a Christian delegation came to Madinah to discuss religion with the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and when it was time for them to worship, they got up preparing to leave and go outside to worship. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) offered them the use of the Mosque saying that it was the House of God and not his own house. What an example of tolerance!

 

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) gave a written guarantee to the Christians of St. Catherine that should Islam conquer their area, they should be allowed to worship their God unmolested.

Similarly, a treaty between the various tribes and people of Madinah proclaimed everyone’s right to worship God in their own way and that no one should be compelled in any way to choose any particular religion.

Now, My Esteemed Reader, is it not ironic that the name of the Acme of Creation (SAW) who had such excellent levels of tolerance is now being used by some people to malign, persecute and even kill others simply because they differ with them in opinion?

 

Talking about him, Allah, the Sublime says in the Holy Quran: ‘Wa maa arsalnaaka illa rahmatan lil Aalamiina’. We have not sent thee but as a mercy for all the creation. So O you Muslim! Reflect and do not do anything in the name of Muhammad (SAW) that can negate that mercy. If you do, you will be held accountable by Allah on the Day of Judgment.

 

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Universe!

Talking about him, Allah, the Sublime says in the Holy Quran: ‘Wa maa arsalnaaka illa rahmatan lil Aalamiina’. We have not sent thee but as a mercy for all the creation. So O you Muslim! Reflect and do not do anything in the name of Muhammad (SAW) that can negate that mercy. If you do, you will be held accountable by Allah on the Day of Judgment.

 

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Universe!

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