Islam and tolerance towards other religions

Islamic Desk
12 August 2020, Wed
Published: 10:37

Islam and tolerance towards other religions

We have witnessed the countless attacks on Christian, Yazidi and Shia minorities in the Middle East, especially with the rise of Daesh (infamously known as ISIS), who have been killing anyone that does not believe in what they believe in, despite many of the victims of Daesh are Muslims, but of a different sect to the fundamentalists.

So this raises the question, Do Muslims believe in religious tolerance in their religion? What does Islam say about religious tolerance? Do the actions committed by these crazy fundamentalists, such as executing innocent minorities hold any accordance to Islam?

To answer this question, I would like to give examples from Islamic history, Quranic verses and Prophetic sayings with regards to religious tolerance.

First of all, this is what the Quran says regarding Christians and Jews:

“Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians — whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord. And there will be no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.” (The Holy Quran 2:62 )

"And nearest among them in love to the believers will you find those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant” (The Holy Quran 5:82)

The above verses depict the Abrahamic faiths as fellow believers who believe in the same God in an equal light which is completely against what Daesh is doing right now, which is the unjust oppression on religious minorities.

The cousin of the Prophet Mohamed and leader of the Muslims after the Prophet, Imam Ali states “Know that people are of two types: they are either your brothers in religion or your equals in creation.” (Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 53). 

Meaning that all people, no matter what religion, race or class they come from, are supposed to be treated equally, because either people are your Muslim brethren, or your equals in humanity who have the same rights as you and cannot be discriminated or disrespected for their beliefs. 

In fact, to disrespect another religion is explicitly condemned in the Quran; “Do not abuse those whom they worship besides Allah” (6:109). If a person claims to be Muslim, he is not allowed to insult or disrespect another religion. This is forbidden according to the Quran.

Even to engage in arguments with Non-Muslims in a disrespectful manner is prohibited, as the Quran states: “And argue not with the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), unless it be in (a way) that is better (with good words and in good manner), except with such of them as do wrong, and say (to them): 

“We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you; our God and your God is One, and to Him we have submitted”(29:46)[1]. If to talk to a person of another faith in a rude way is impermissible, then killing them in the name of religion is just despicable and completely wrong!

Also, It is narrated that Imam Ali was once walking in the streets, and he passed by a Christian beggar. His question was, “Who is this?” When they told him that he is an old Christian man who cannot work and is asking people for help, the Imam replied and said, “you [the Muslim community] used him [in his youth] and when he became old, you left him.” 

Then the Imam assigned a salary for him from the treasury, the same way he did with Muslims[2]. 

This portrays that Islamically, Muslims and non-Muslims are supposed to be treated in an equal manner under an Islamic government, without anyone being discriminated against.