Mankind without religion is a pretty sorry lot. It has never been able to survive without faith. Yet, surprisingly agreement is never reached on a such vital subject. Thus, they have their own zealots who attack the religions of others, the result of which is intolerance and contention.
Inter-group relations, especially when religion is also involved, are full of conflict and suffering. Martyrology feeds the myths, and prejudice adds bitterness to the legend. Political expediency and biased scholarship invest the legend with the status of history.
To this end, men have been suffering throughout history from lack of toleration of others’ beliefs. With the cry Deus Vult!(God wills it) rivers of blood have flowed as a result of religious intolerance. Crusades, Roman Inquisitions and Holy Offices established by the papacy in the Middle Ages, charged with seeking out, trying, and sentencing persons of heresy, brutal massacres and inhumane torture of Spanish people, and Albigensians of southern France, leave the man of our age with no doubt that intolerance is a very destructive activity. Thus, in order for us all to survive on this planet it is important that we respect the religious beliefs of others and learn how to exercise a peaceful and harmonious religious coexistence under the principle of ‘the right to believe as one chooses’.
The present leaflet is a brief study of the living in harmony from the Islamic point of view. From the inadequate material at my disposal, it is not easy to fully construct the issue as it supposes to be. Nevertheless, there is enough ground in Islam to call for religious peaceful coexistence.
Characteristically, Islam is usually classified as violent, intolerant, oppressive, obscurantist and opposed to enlightenment.
My objective in this paper is to clarify one of the dimensions of this biased opinion. I will, with the help of God, demonstrate the way Islam treats living in harmony. Does Islam respect and tolerate religions other than itself, and do their followers have the right to express and practice their own faiths in an Islamic state? In a multicultural society where different cultures and religions are practised, should Muslims, from the Islamic perspective, integrate with, or segregate from, other parts of the society?
This study is also essentially based on the following material:
1. The Holy Quran, as the main source in Islam.
2. The Tradition of the Prophet of Islam and his Pure Progeny (peace be on them), as the role models of Islam.
3. At the end, however, I have suggested some further resources for in-depth study.