Islam is a complete way of life which prohibits intervening in the beliefs and practices of other religions and seeks to preserve the customs, honour, and property of every individual irrespective of his or her religion. As a universal religion, Islam teaches love and sympathy for all humanity.
Islam plays a unique role in providing every individual with the complete freedom to possess and practice any religion, culture or ideology. It also shows that as a universal religion, Islam advocates a harmonious relationship among the people of different religions, cultures and civilizations for the peaceful coexistence and harmonious development of all human beings.
The Holy Qur'an says: “Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians — whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord. And there will be no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.” (The Holy Qur'an 2:62 )
“…and nearest among them in love to the believers will you find those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant” (The Holy Qur'an 5:82)
“Indeed, Allah (swt) is with those who are righteous and those who do good”. (Al Qur'an 16:129)
“The reward of goodness is nothing but goodness”. (Al Qur'an 55:61)
Hadith says: “Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.”(Hadith: Abu Dawud)
The Holy Qur'an says: “And if Allah (swt) had pleased He (swt) would have made you a single people, but that He (swt) might try you in what He (swt) gave you. So vie with one another in virtuous deeds” (Al Qur'an 5:48).
“O people, we created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should get to know one another. In God’s eyes, the most honored of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is All Knowing, All Aware” (Al Qur'an 49:13).
“We have assigned a law and a path to each of you. If God had so willed, He would have made you one community, but He wanted to test you through that which He has given you, so race to do good: you will all return to God and He will make clear to you the matters you differed about (Al Qur'an 5:48).
There exist several other verses of Qur'an and Hadiths indication the coexistence of religious as well as ethnic diversity among the mankind. Thus, diversity is Allah’s (swt) Will and it is a test for us to live in peace and harmony with each other despite our differences. Since diversity is Divinely created, we all need to understand and accept the beauty of creation. Allah (swt) assures us that we can live together in peace and harmony with people of other faiths. The diversity of cultures is like a garden where different types of flowers grow on the same soil.
Since Islam is a very broad religion which can be taken as a complete code or way of life for all humanity, it would not be wrong to say that it is a religion which has universal applicability. However, some Muslims understand Islam in a narrow sense; they consider Islam to be only for them, and when they follow the teachings and perform the duties of Islam, they think they are complete as an individual believer. Islam encompasses every dimension of life; social, political, economic, educational, cultural, and societal, etc. As Muslims, we have to understand the greater philosophy of Islam and that narrowing it down would create many problems for the Muslim fraternity. For example, Muslims’ dealings with other faiths should be humane and cooperative so as to have an impact upon other religions and to help them understand that Islam is not based on radicalism and fundamentalism, rather it is a peaceful and just religion. Prophet Mohammad’s (pbuh) sayings document the ways to deal with non-Muslims.
Abdullah Ibn-Amr, May Allah (swt) be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “He who kills a promisor (a non-Muslim living among Muslims where he is promised to have protection, and he promises not to help enemies against Muslims, hence, he is called ‘a promisor’), will not smell the fragrance of paradise, though its fragrance is recognizable from a distance of forty years.”
This Hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) clearly mentions that a person “cannot smell the fragrance of paradise” if he kills any promisor. In other words, to maintain peace and stability, every Muslim needs to be just and kind to all faiths, and this is the best framework which the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) has left for the whole Muslim Ummah (Islamic Community). Islam teaches Muslims to show respect and compassion to all other cultures. Islam is based on peace and harmony and its best example in practice is the life of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). All Muslims need to follow the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) with full rationality and not blindly; only then can Muslims be at peace with other faiths.
Courtesy: Muslim Mirror