Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Ten Misconceptions About Islam: Misconception 8

Islam is intolerant of other religions because

    • the Qur'an condemns the other religions as false

The Creator has taught us in the Qur'an and Sunnah that all other 'religions', creeds, beliefs, ways of life, and even constitutions are unacceptable to Him if a person is aware of Islam. The Qur'an states (translation),

[3:85] And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers.

However, even though the Creator has clearly specified that no other way of life is acceptable to Him except Islam (i.e. submission to Him as embodied in the Qur'an and Sunnah), He has also commanded the Muslims to be tolerant of people who espouse other creeds. From the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Al-Awsat by Al-Tabarani, we find regarding those non-Muslims living in the Islamic state,

The Messenger of Allah (saas) said, "One who kills a person under accord (Arabic: dhimmi - non-Muslim who is not in war with Muslims) will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise."

Also from the Sunnah, specifically in a report from Al-Khatib, we find that the Messenger of Allah (saas) also said:

Whoever hurts a non-Muslim person under protection, I am his adversary, and I shall be an adversary to him on the Day of Resurrection.

In short, Islam is intolerant of false religions and ideologies, however it is tolerant of the people who hold to those ideas, just because they are humans per se. One historical example of Muslims living up to the standard of Islam and applying this tolerance can be found from the time of the Spanish Inquisition - in which Spanish Christians and Jews were living the best days of their lives. During that disaster sprung by misguided Catholics, some Spanish Jews fled to Muslim Turkey and to this day, there is a community of Spanish-speaking Jews in Turkey. Another example may be found during one of the Crusader invasions from Western Europe. Some of the Catholic Western European knights were so likely to rape, murder, and pillage the Jews and Orthodox Christians as well as Muslims, that when the Muslims accomplished, they were treated as a liberating force by those non-Muslims, and they (the Muslims) treated everyone fairly and justly, and gave mercy upon the crusaders and allowed them to return to their homeland safely (However, many soldiers and leaders of the crusaders chose to stay in Jerusalem because of the good life they saw in there. Many soldiers willingly decided to convert to Islam after they saw the good treatment of Muslim soldiers, merchants, and citizens to them.)

Even if Islam proves all other religions to be false, it does not prohibit or limit followers of other religions from their complete freedom of worship. This is regarding the treatment of Muslims to non-Muslims in peace terms. Once war is waged by non Muslims (war cannot be started by Muslims against non-Muslims, as the hadeeth mentioned above – hurting non-Muslims who are living in peace terms with Muslims, is a great sin that leads its doer to a great torment in the hereafter. For this God clearly states the principles of freedom of worship, also sets the outline of the uniqueness of religions [that religions ought/should not be blended in each other]

[Chapter 109]

Say: "O al-Kafiroon! (all those who disbelieve in God, in His Oneness, in all His Angels, in all His Books, in all His Messengers, in the Day of Resurrection, and in destiny)

"I worship not that which you worship,

"Nor will you worship that which I worship.

"And I shall not worship that which you are worshipping.

"Nor will you worship that which I worship.

"To you be your religion, and to me my religion."

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