Plurality and Religious Tolerance in Islam

  • Wilson Hassan Nandwa Umma University – Kenya

Abstract

Islam is a divine religion with comprehensive teachings and guidance revealed to Muhammad, may peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, to guide mankind in matters of faith, rituals and inter human relations. Therefore Muslims believe that they are the custodians of the truth and all other persons professing faiths other than Islam are doomed unless they embrace Islam before their death. It is also a fact that the adherents of other religions also believe that their faiths are exclusively the truth and other persons are doomed unless they profess that faith and denounce theirs and this applies to Muslims too. In such circumstances a Muslim may be tempted to impose his faith on non-Muslims, after all, he shall be imposing the truth on them which is in their best interest. The Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was keen to convert non- Muslims to Islam even at his own detriment. Allah in several verses continuously reminded His Messenger that his duty is just to convey the message and that he has no authority over people to force them to embrace Islam; and also declared that there is no compulsion in the religion, therefore people should embrace the faith of their choice. Moreover, Allah enjoins Muslims to co-operate and interact with people of other faiths in good things and in fear of Allah, meaning in obedience of Allah. Despite of the misunderstanding between Muslims and non-Muslims and the bad things done to Muslims by nonMuslims previously; Muslims should not oppress non-Muslims and infringe on their rights, to the contrary, they should treat them with justice and avail to them their rights and opportunities. At the same time, Allah declared that he does not prohibit Muslims from doing good to non-Muslims who are not fighting or oppressing Muslims because Islam is treating people with justice and being kind and humble. On the other side Muslims were at war with non-Muslim powers since the inception of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula. Many verses in the Holy Quran were revealed to address the state of war requiring Muslims to delink themselves from their enemies and fight fearlessly employing all means and resources in their war. Similarly, several traditions of the Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, referred to this situation of war and asked Muslims to fight and combat these non-Muslims enemies with all efforts. If these verses and traditions are interpreted out of their context, they shall portray Islam as a religion of intolerance and as a system that does not recognize diversity and plurality of human being yet, plurality is the beauty of the World. In this paper, we shall explore the verses and traditions on this subject and strive to interpret them against the background of their revelation and context in order to determine the parameters of Plurality in Islam. In this paper; Ridda refers to denouncing Muslim faith, Surah means a chapter in the Holy Quran and Hadith, Tradition or Sunnah refers to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him.

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Published
2016-11-30
How to Cite
Nandwa, W. H. (2016). Plurality and Religious Tolerance in Islam. European Scientific Journal, ESJ, 12(32), 314. https://doi.org/10.19044/esj.2016.v12n32p314