Recently I had a chance to read a very nice book on the subject of Islam and tolerance. The book is written by Hazrat Hakeem Tariq Mehmood Majzoobi Chughtai, editor of the monthly Ubqari magazine. The book is basically a collection of almost all the episodes of the section, “Islam and Tolerance“, that is published in the monthly Ubqari magazine. This means that almost all the episodes since around 2007 to 2014 have been compiled into a book. The book is in Urdu. The English version is due very shortly.
The book covers almost all the aspects concerning human interaction in which Muslims should exhibit extreme tolerance and generosity towards non-Muslims. It begins with the Makkan period of Hazrat Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) when he was confronted by the lethal hostility of his own uncles towards his religion.
The rise of Islam coincides with the chronic hegemony of the Persian and Roman empires. The author discusses the abject plight of the christians and jews living under their rule. The Roman empire specially had a Christian disposition in running its state. The author discusses how Muslims guarded, restored and elevated the rights of the people of the book and other non-Muslim minorities. It is very interesting and enlightening to read that how strictly Muslim Caliphs used to oversee the delivery of rights to the common people by their governors. How religious freedom of the minorities was ensured enacted is also discussed in the book.
One of the important thing about the book is its presentation of the Islamic constitution of war. It is indeed quite enlightening to read that how Hazrat Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) evolved an extremely humanistic war constitution as the Muslims started coming in conflict with their neighbors. For instance, it is profoundly surprising to read that Hazrat Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) has forbidden Muslims to separate war prisoners from each other who are each other’s relatives. It is also forbidden to torture or to kill the captives. Muslims should take good care of their food and clothing. And as soon as the enemy extends an apology, he/she should be forgiven immediately or the conflict should start to recede. This is extremely humane, specially considering the barbaric pre-Islamic Arabian peninsula where people could be decapitated for extremely trivial things.
The book also talks about many other aspects from which one can draw conclusions on as to how to treat one’s neighbors and related aspects. For instance, it is interesting to read how various people from medieval Islamic period used to treat their Jewish neighbors in the light of Prophetic Hadith of Hazrat Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and revelations of Allah.As a whole the book addresses all sorts of people. It tells the Christians about the Islamic opinion of Jesus Christ (PBUH). It also tells that why, as a matter of principle, one of the most veritable caliphs of Islam refused to pray in a Church in Egypt, as it was conquered. For the jews, it has a message that they perhaps owe a little bit of gratitude to the Muslim community, as their forefathers were supported by a just Islamic governance system when they had to face frequent diasporas. It reminds the love of Sufis to the Hindus. It invites the statesmen to review their public policies in its own light. It incites the modern civilizations to see if they can create peace conventions that are better than those of the religion of Islam. For the zealot, it has a message that fanaticism and terrorism are rather grotesque applications of religion. Lastly, the accounts of a few exchanges between various sufi saints and their contemporary Zoroastrian neighbors insinuate us to use reason to develop an argument.
This book is a must read. Everyone should read it whether Muslim or non-Muslim. This is specially important to develop and refine opinions about Islam and for faith literacy. And even if you are a non-Muslim who is theoretically opposed to Islam or religion, you can at least refer it to a Muslim acquaintance. This may have collateral benefits.