So That We’re Not Always Associated with Strictness
We are all well aware of the fact that Islam is the final religion, besides which there is no valid religion until the Day of Judgment. This is because Islam is not a religion which is specific to Arabs; rather, it is for all of humanity. Allah says, “We have sent you only as a mercy to all of humanity.”(1) The monotheistic religion of Islam is based upon tolerance and flexibility. The following are some examples of Islam’s tolerance and forbearance:
• Islam does not coerce followers of other religions to abandon their faith and accept Islam. Allah says, “There is no compulsion in religion. Guidance has been made clear from falsehood. Whoever rejects false idols and believes in Allah has grasped the firmest hand-hold, one which will never break; and Allah is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.” (2)
However, Muslims are required to inform others about, and invite them to embrace, Islam in a kind manner. Allah says, “Call to the Path of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful admonition, arguing with them in the best manner.” (3) After non-Muslims have been invited to Islam, the option of whether to remain followers of their faiths or to embrace Islam is totally up to them.
• Muslims are required to look after and protect the non-Muslims living in their society, so long as they do not harm the Muslims in any way. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “On the Day of Judgment, I will prosecute anyone who kills a mu‘āhad .” (4) This is a clear refutation of extremists who rationalize murdering non-Muslims.
• Muslims are allowed to eat the food of, live in the vicinity of, greet, and visit non-Muslims. Additionally, Muslim men may marry and have children with Jewish and Christian women without forcing them to abandon their faith. Allah the Most High says, “This day all good things have been made lawful for you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful for you as your food is lawful for them. So are chaste, believing women as well chaste women of the people who were given the Scripture before you, as long as you give them their bride-gifts and marry them, seeking chastity, not lewdness, nor taking them as secret mistresses. Whoever rejects faith has rendered his deeds fruitless and, in the Hereafter, he will be from amongst the losers.” (5)
• Islam does not require its adherents to fight non-Muslims except in cases of self-defense. This is nothing specific to Islam, as all the previously revealed divine faiths and modern systems of law endorse self-defense. Allah the Almighty said, “If they withdraw, fight you not, and offer you peace, then Allah gives you no way against them.” (6)
• Once the Messenger (pbuh) was at home with his wife ‘Ā’ishah on the day of ‘Eid and there were two young girls singing and playing the tambourine. When ‘Ā’ishah’s father (Abu Bakr) entered, he disapproved of the girls’ action. So the Messenger (pbuh) stood reproaching him and said, “Take it easy, Abu Bakr. Every nation has its ‘Eid and today is our ‘Eid.”
• Once the famous Arabian woman poet Al-Khansā visited the Messenger (pbuh) and recited some of her poems to him. Each time she finished a poem, he would encourage her to recite another. Never was it suggested that she was a woman and not permitted to speak to men.
1 The Qur’an, Surah al-Anbiyā :107.
2 The Qur’an, Surah al-Baqarah :256.
3 The Qur’an, Surah an-Naḥl :125.
4 Mu‘āhad: a non-Muslim legally residing in a Muslim land.
5 The Qur’an, Surah al-Mā’idah :5.
6 The Qur’an, Surah an-Nisā’ :90.