It is a very common fact that among all present religions of Christians, Jews and Hindus, Islam emphasizes the most on morals and virtues of a good human being. It abhors violence, it encourages brotherhood, it blossoms forgiveness, and it promotes tolerance to other sects and people around the world, at all times.
Quran is that holy Book which is full of tips and guidance for bringing up a human with an outstanding personality, and an equally thrilling will-power to combat the inevitable easily; the tempting of this temporary world. Quran consists of stories that teach different healthy morals, it consists of prophecies, calls towards the light of guidance and highlights the orders of Almighty Allah that we must learn and adopt.
Muslims “today” are often taken as fierce, emotional and intolerant. What really is tolerance? Tolerance in religion, as we are talking about here, is to accept and endure someone’s belief and stay tolerant to a person’s free will and right to choose wherever he wishes to go. Tolerance in religion is to stay put with mocks and taunts, and not speaking back. Tolerance is to hold every religion equal in respect, at times more than one’s own conviction. That is tolerance.
Now are Muslims really tolerant, as their religion guides? I believe yes, Muslims were the most tolerant community available hundreds of years ago. The unfortunate part is that the statement is in the past tense. Let’s first see how Muslims those 1400 years ago were tolerant.
Years back, Muslims were the most powerful rulers and highest dynasty in the world that ruled almost all over the world. Their tolerance at that stage was commendable as thousands of non-Muslims succeeded on their lands, lived peacefully and were given equal rights and justice. However, those non-Muslims who judge Muslims on their own set standards and support Islamophobia where Muslims are deliberately mocked and insulted had no tolerance towards Muslims to speak with. In Eastern Europe, Palestine, Communist Russia and Spain, there was open genocide, no freedom of religious practice and humiliation and imprisonment of Muslims on the reasons only they knew. If we read history, we would face a huge smack of realization that Muslim rulers never forced any non-Muslim on their land to follow Islam, or insulted them, but in fact, their era is now known to be the most peaceful and pleasant era for every human belonging to any caste.
Secondly, tolerance includes respect of other religions and cultures. As much as the world today may put set stereotypes for Muslims as being fiery and intolerant, it is a wonder that all the oldest Universities of Indian numerical system, Greek philosophy, and agricultural gems of Persia are well preserved and respected in Muslim lands, and above of all, ‘exists’ yet still. The Muslim Caliphate era is another example of tolerance to the worst of Islam foes, and of respecting every religion’s culture and custom.
The Conquest of Jerusalem and saving the Jews of Spain twice are other two influential examples to change the views of many anti-Muslim extremists, yet the most supreme, mightiest, prominent and impotent example is of Prophet Mohammad (p.b.u.h). He is the living example of tolerance, patience, peace and humbleness. He never said a bad word against the cruelty of people of Taif; he didn’t retaliate at the time of call to Islam, he did not raise his voice at the time of starvation from non-Muslims, and at the time of decimation of his beloved relatives. However, our Prophet taught us the limits of tolerance. He did stand up against oppression, injustice and overruled evil with his good. There was a balance in his behavior that he taught Muslims; where to tolerate and where to use power.
Muslims today have a choice. With Islamophobia spreading at a dangerous speed in non-Muslim or Western lands, we can use our infinite love for Prophet to avenge him and all those years of hardship, or be tolerant to re-unite, reconcile and shape the world to honor him and to let him live till the day of Judgment, indirectly inspire humans to follow the religion our Prophet did.
As for the present Muslims, I do not agree that they are irrational, vicious or biased. If the West can endure blasphemy on a larger scale, people standing against it or condemning it are not necessarily intolerant, as well. Muslims today, yes, stand against oppression and violence because apart from being tolerant, Islam teaches to raise voice against injustice, and this component is of high significance, unsurprisingly, as Islam is a religion of peace and justice. The images of burning embassies and demonstration of violent protestations have fixated an image that turns out to be completely different from what is happening within the location, or what is behind it. The credits for tarnishing the image of Islam and Muslims alike, as well as twisting the tale into a very deceitful and humiliating cause goes to anti-Islamic extremists, corrupting agendas and Islamophobia, quite common in West.
At times, the human nature gets major control over our reactions and deeds. When stretched to the extreme of injustice and oppression, it shouldn’t be surprising when the string springs back and the hand gets damaged as it lashes out. Muslims are the descendants of the most beloved Prophet of Almighty Allah, in whom He gave all those qualities He Himself, possess, and what He wishes His Muslims to have. Many of which revolves around ‘tolerance’.
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