Tolerance in Islam

One of the commonest charges brought against Islam historically, and as a religion, by Western writers and Non-Muslims is that it is intolerant. They bring up this allegation to hide the truth from people, and also to stray those people away from Islam who are in search of truth after having realized that all other religion are man-made and has flaws.

This issue needs attention and has taken up this task to debunk this myth. There is not much correct material available on the internet on this issue, and whatever little is present, is from Islamophobes, who show in their writings their ill pre-concieved myth of Islam being an intolerant religion in all aspect.

“Tolerance” in Islam, is not a mere fairytale phrase, but Muslims live it in reality. Islam urges us to be tolerant and forgive others. This is indicated in both the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. Indeed, one of the features of Islam is that it is deen al-rahmah (the religion of mercy). By the same token the Muslim should be easy going, not one who puts others off; he should forgive when he is able to take revenge and be tolerant when people make mistakes.

Tolerance and patience are traits of the soul of every Muslim, a part of his Eemaan (belief) in the religion of Islam, acknowledging the unparallel sovereignty of our one and only true creator, called in Arabic as “Allaah”.

Once when the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) was asked, “What is Eemaan belief/faith) ?” He (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) replied: الإيمان الصبر و السماحة“”

“Eemaan (faith) is patience and tolerance.” (Al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, no. 554, 2/87)

Islam may tolerate anything, but it teaches zero tolerance for injustice, oppression, and violation of the rights of Our One and only Creator and that of other human beings.

Tolerance is a basic principle of Islam. It is a religious moral duty. It does not mean “concession, condescension or indulgence.” It does not mean lack of principles, or lack of seriousness about one’s principles. Sometimes it is said, “people are tolerant of things that they do not care about.”

But this is not the case in Islam. Tolerance according to Islam does not mean that we believe that all religions are the same. It does not mean that we do not believe in the supremacy of Islam over other faiths and ideologies. It does not mean that we do not convey the message of Islam to others and do not wish them to become Muslims. Remember, Tolerance towards falsehood is Intolerance.

Islam teaches tolerance on all levels: individual, groups and states. It should be a political and legal requirement. Tolerance is the mechanism that upholds human rights, pluralism (including cultural pluralism), and the rule of law.

There are many levels of tolerance:

a. Between family members, between husband and wife, between parents and children, between siblings etc.

b. Tolerance between the members of the community: tolerance in views and opinions, tolerance between the madhahib (Islamic Juristic Schools).

c. Tolerance between Muslims and the people of other faiths (interfaith relations, dialogue and cooperation).

We will be putting up a series of articles, addressing this issue and showing the tolerance of Islam in all these levels, bi’idhnillah.



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