Differences of religion should not make people fight one another,
rather they should cooperate in doing good and warding off evil.
a Muslim I am deeply distressed and perplexed at the incendiary view,
allegedly emanating from the Saudi Grand Mufti, that all churches in the
Arab peninsula be destroyed.
This view, if it were really
expressed, is offensive. It violates all canons of decency,
international law and the human rights of our Christian brothers.
contradicts many exquisite passages in the Quran and the practices of
Prophet Muhammad. It runs contrary to centuries of Islamic history of
peaceful co-existence with other religions. The syariah gives ample guidance on inter-faith relations.
of faiths: In innumerable passages, the Quran recognises religious
pluralism. In 2:256, it is stated: “There is no compulsion in religion.”
In 109:6, there is the exquisite passage: “Unto you your religion, unto
In Surah 11:118, it is declared: “If thy Lord had so willed, He could have made mankind one people: but they will not cease to dispute.”
In Surah 10:99,
Allah gave this admonition: “Had your Lord willed, those on Earth would
have believed, all of them together. Will you then compel people
against their will to believe?”
In 18:29, it is commanded: “Let him who will, believe; and let him who will, disbelieve.”
fountain: In the Quran 42:13, it is implied that the divinely-revealed
religions all stemmed from the same source. “He has ordained for you the
same religion which He ordained for Nooh (Noah) … and which He ordained
for Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses) and Esa (Jesus) saying you should
establish religion and make no divisions in it.”
has its messenger” – 10:47. “Nothing has been said to you save what was
said to the messengers before you” – 41:43.
Respect for all
prophets: Plurality of prophets and multiplicity of revelations reflect a
divine will. The Prophets of all revealed religions are brothers and
there is no difference between them with regard to the message. Muslims
are obliged to believe in them all.
In Surah 2:136, it is
stated: “We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and
that which has been sent down to Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail (Ishmael),
Ishaq (Isaac), Yaqoob (Jacob), and to Al-Asbaat (the offspring of the 12
sons of Yaqoob), and that which has been given to Musa (Moses) and Esa
(Jesus), and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord.
We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims in
submission to Him.”
According to the renowned Malaysia-based
Afghani scholar Hashim Kamali, “Islam sees itself as the third of the
“The Hebrew prophets and Christ are deeply
respected by Muslims. The Virgin Mary is given the most exalted
spiritual position in the Quran: a chapter of the Quran is named after
her, and she is the only woman mentioned by name.
“The tombs of the Hebrew prophets, who are also Islamic prophets, are revered by Muslims to this day.”
All Christians and Jews are given the special status of ahle-kitab (believers in a book).
Respect for places of worship: All places of worship are sacred and must be defended. In Surah
22:40, the Quran speaks of monasteries, churches, synagogues and
mosques “as places in which God is commemorated in abundant measure”.
Islamic history, the clergy in the churches were given full authority
over their flocks with regard to all religious and church matters.
Mosques were often built next to churches. When the Muslims conquered
Egypt, they gave the Coptic churches back to the Copts and restored
In the early history of Islam, Muslims and
Christians often prayed simultaneously in many churches, e.g. at the
Cathedral of Saint John in Damascus. Likewise, Prophet Muhammad allowed
the Christians of Najran to pray in Muslim mosques. When Prophet
Muhammad migrated to Madinah, there was a large number of Jews in the
city. One of the first affairs of state that he dealt with was to
establish a treaty with them, according to which their beliefs were to
be respected and the state was obliged to ward off harm from them.
Duty of civility: In the book Civilisation of Faith
by Mustafa as-Sibaa’ie, it is stated that the Quran obliges the Muslim
to believe in all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah, to speak of all
of them with respect, not to mistreat their followers, to deal with them
all in a good and gentle manner, speaking kindly to them, being a good
neighbour to them and accepting their hospitality.
religion should not make people fight one another or commit aggression,
rather they should cooperate in doing good and warding off evil (Quran
“Allah alone is the One who will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection” – Quran 2:113.
do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is
best” – Quran 29: 46. “And insult not those who invoke other than Allah,
lest they should insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge” – Quran
In the light of the above, it is obvious that any view
that exhorts Muslims to destroy Christian places of worship is in
serious conflict with the letter and spirit of tolerance in the Quran.
Malaysian Constitution honours this spirit. Article 3 states: “Islam
is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised
in peace and harmony.”
The alleged view of the Saudi Mufti has
been repudiated by the top Muslim cleric in Turkey, Mehmet Gormez, who
has stated categorically that the Islamic civilisation is not hostile
towards previous religions.
Those whose hearts are filled with
hate and whose lips drip the blood of vengeance must remind themselves
of the caution administered by Kamali that fanaticism is not part of
Islam, as the Prophet confirmed in a hadith: “One who promotes fanaticism (asabiyyah) is not one of us, nor is one who fights for asabiyyah, nor the one who dies for asabiyyah.”
Shad Saleem Faruqi is Emeritus Pro-fessor of Law at UiTM and a consultant to USM.