Ideological group leaders have often found it wise to maintain distance between their members and the members of other groups. They often fear that their ideologies might be influenced or corrected by other ideologies. This is more the case for groups on the fringe of facts or extremist groups. Such groups also fear that their teachings may be brought to question by the larger world. None of these fit Islam, so why Muslims should not mingle with non-Muslims?
Islam is a merciful religion, whose members are taught to be tolerant and moderate. Its followers are taught to be moderate in all spheres of life, aspects of religion, and in dealing with other people as well as in interacting with members of other beliefs and faiths. Extremism therefore goes against the Islam teachings which are pristine in nature.
Looking at various teachings of the Quran as well as Sunnah in relation to interaction and communication worth those who are not Muslims, moderation is more evident and manifest. Many have often wondered how come Islam commands its followers not to love and be friends with non-Muslims. Yet, many texts, and practices of Allah’s messengers instruct Muslims to treat non-Muslims with respect and accord them utmost respect.
Sadly, those who don’t understand Islam in-depth have interpreted the teachings as contradicting to how Muslims should handle non-Muslims. The various texts in Quran and Sunnah which admonish those having a close relationship and friendship with the non-Muslims, while other texts seem to suggest closer and better ties with non-Muslims as being acceptable and hence encouraged. Many a times, non-Muslims have pointed accusing fingers at Islam and its followers claiming that Islam preaches hatred, violence and revulsion. Sadly, all these are not true. Islam members are taught to love others irrespective of their religion.
With these considerations, it is evident that many understandings are way off what Islam is really about. Islam teachings are not contradictory with regard to the relation with non-Muslims. Muslims are not taught to bear hatred for members of other faiths. In reality, Islam teaches moderation and allows its members to enjoy cordial relations with non-Muslims although it places limits.
In a world with increased interdependency, Muslims cannot avoid non-Muslims. Educational institutions take people from all religions. Products produced in Muslim nations are finding their way into non-Muslim nations and so are the products from non-Muslim countries, and more importantly, health and social circumstances are pushing for relationships between people from various spheres of the globe. Muslims cannot afford to ignore non-Muslims and vice-versa. The world is so connected that religion should not create obstacles to communication.
Nonetheless, Muslims should avoid things which threaten their faith and those who oppose their beliefs. All religions must be respected and hence Muslims should engage those who, despite not subscribing to their religion, respect it and accord it the space it deserves. Luckily, more and more Non-Muslim countries have accepted and accorded Muslims their right to practice their religion without intimidation.
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