Tolerance is a basic principle of Islam

Islam and Tolerance

Islam teaches tolerance at all levels: between family members, between husband and wife, between parent and child, between groups and nations. Tolerance is a basic principle of Islam. It is a religious and moral duty. It does not mean concession. It does not mean a lack of principles or a lack of seriousness about one’s principles. Sometimes it is advocated that people are tolerant of things that they do not care about. But this is not the case in Islam. Tolerance is a basic principle of Islam. It is a religious moral duty. Allah says:

ثُمَّ كَانَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْمَرْحَمَةِ

“Then he was among those who had faith and advised one another to patience and advised one another to mercy.” (Surah Al-Balad 90:17)

Allah orders people to avoid committing bad deeds and prohibits them from unbelief, sins, rebellion, oppression, tyranny, killing and shedding blood. Those who do not obey this order of Allah are defined as those who follow the footsteps of Satan as the verse puts it; they openly assume an attitude that Allah has rendered haram. There are many verses regarding the issue in the Quran. Two of them are as follows: Allah says:

وَالَّذِينَ يَنقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللَّهِ مِن بَعْدِ مِيثَاقِهِ وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَا أَمَرَ اللَّهُ بِهِ أَن يُوصَلَ وَيُفْسِدُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمُ اللَّعْنَةُ وَلَهُمْ سُوءُ الدَّارِ

“And those who break the Covenant of Allah after contracting it, and sever what Allah has commanded for it to be joined and spread corruption in the earth. Those – for them (is) the curse, and for them (is) an evil home.” (Surah Ar-Ra’d, 13:25)

Tolerance, according to Islam, does not mean that we do not believe that Islam is the final edition of divine faith and is superior to other faiths and ideologies as such. It does not mean that we do not present the message of Islam to all Mankind. The Quran speaks about the basic dignity of all human beings. The Prophet (SAW) spoke about the equality of all human beings, regardless of their race, colour, language or traditional background. Allah says:

لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ

“Allah (does) not forbid you from those who (do) not fight you in the religion and (do) not drive you out of your homes that you deal kindly and deal justly with them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.”  (Surah Al-Mumtahanah 60:8)

Islam is the religion of mercy and kindness, the religion of tolerance and ease. Faith/Belief is from the first of the 5 pillars upon which Islam is based, they also consist of more than seventy branches (i.e. parts) and one of these parts is, “Tolerance”. The Quran speaks about the basic dignity of all human beings. Allah says:

وَابْتَغِ فِيمَا آتَاكَ اللَّهُ الدَّارَ الْآخِرَةَ وَلَا تَنسَ نَصِيبَكَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا وَأَحْسِن كَمَا أَحْسَنَ اللَّهُ إِلَيْكَ وَلَا تَبْغِ الْفَسَادَ فِي الْأَرْضِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُفْسِدِينَ

“But seek, through what Allah has given you, the home (of) the Hereafter, and (do) not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has been good to you. And (do) not seek corruption in the earth. Indeed, Allah (does) not love the corrupters.” (Surah Al-Qasas, 28:77)

Muslims should always treat others with respect, kindness, and patience. Islam was revealed to make life easier and to encourage good relationships between people. In modern usage, the word “tolerance” has come to signify mutual respect and peaceful coexistence between conflicting religions and ideologies. No doubt, Islam supports tolerance on a societal level. Muslims ought to peacefully coexist with any group that desires peaceful coexistence. Allah says:

إِنَّمَا نُطْعِمُكُمْ لِوَجْهِ اللَّهِ لَا نُرِيدُ مِنكُمْ جَزَاءً وَلَا شُكُورًا

“Only we feed you for (the) Countenance (of) Allah. Not we desire from you any reward and not thanks.”  (Surah Al-Insan 76:9)

Islam teaches tolerance on all levels: individual, groups, and states. Tolerance is the structure that upholds human rights, cultural diversity and the rule of law. Muslims have been generally very tolerant people. We must emphasize this virtue among us and in the world today. Tolerance is needed in our communities. In this way, e can portray the real and very good image of our religion Islam.

Islam practices tolerance that is forgiving, and generous below are some ways:

  1. Tolerance is needed among our communities
  2. Tolerance is to be exercised by individuals
  3. Tolerating others in difficult situations
  4. Tolerance is a basic principle of Islam
  5. Tolerance is a basic element of Islam
  6. Tolerance allows people the liberty
  7. Tolerance is conscience and belief
  8. Tolerance is harmony indifference
  9. Tolerance makes peace possible
  10. Tolerance respects context
  11. Try to get a better understanding 
  12. Tolerance upholds the human rights
  13. Tolerating others is a tricky situation 
  14. Try to appreciate and value difference
  15. Try to begin to negotiate a way forward
  16. Try to ignore the variety and complexity
  17. Tolerance is, above all, an active attitude
  18. Try to flee from or avoid difficult thoughts
  19. Try to hold more or less incompatible views
  20. Try thinking more about answers than questions

As it is seen, Allah prohibits all kinds of acts related to mischief, including terror and violence and damns those who do those kinds of deeds. A Muslim is a person who beautifies and improves the world. The religion of Islam revolves around hope and fear of the one and only creator, so the believer is one who has hope and fear. Tolerance is the mechanism that upholds human rights, pluralism (including cultural pluralism), and the rule of law. It should be a political and legal requirement.

الرَّاحِمُونَ يَرْحَمُهُمْ الرَّحْمَنُ ارْحَمُوا مَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَرْحَمْكُمْ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاءِ

“Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhī 1924)

Islam teaches tolerance on all levels: individual, groups, and states. Tolerance is the structure that upholds human rights, cultural diversity and the rule of law. Our interactions with people should be replete with acts of tolerance, patience, kindness, and leniency in accordance with the overall good character. Tolerance is needed in our communities. In this way, e can portray the real and very good image of our religion Islam.

Allah Almighty says in The Holy Quran very clearly: 

  • “There is no compulsion in religion…” (Quran 2:256)
  •  “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.” (Quran 109: 6)
  • “If it had been your Lord’s Will, they would all have believed, all who are on earth! Will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!” (Quran, 10:99)
  • “Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god, nor slay such life as Allah has made sacred, except for just cause, not commit fornication― and any that does this (not only) meets punishment.” (al-Furqan, 25:68)
  • “Verily, they used to hasten on to do good deeds, and they used to call on us in hope and in fear” (Quran, 21: 90)
  • “Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and beware (of evil): if you do turn back, know then that it is Our Messenger’s duty to proclaim (the Message) in the clearest manner.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:92)
  • “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error.” (Al-Baqara, 2:256)

It is against the essence and spirit of Islam to force people to believe in a religion or to perform worship. For, Islam lays free will and conscientious acceptance as a condition for belief. Doubtlessly, Muslims can warn and encourage one another so that they can practice the ethical attributes explained in the Quran. However, they cannot force one another regarding the issue. It is not appropriate to offer some worldly privileges in order to make someone perform worship.

رَحِمَ اللَّهُ رَجُلًا سَمْحًا إِذَا بَاعَ وَإِذَا اشْتَرَى وَإِذَا اقْتَضَى

“May Allah have mercy on a man who is tolerant when selling, buying and seeking repayment.” (Sahih Bukhari 1970)

Tolerance and patience are characteristics of true faith in Allah, good manners, and upright character. Islam, which is a religion that introduces and openly ensures freedom of thought and life, has introduced commands that prevent and prohibit tension, conflicts among people, talking against one another and even thinking of bad things about others. Let alone terror and violence, Islam prohibits putting even the slightest pressure on people’s thoughts.

يَسِّرَا وَلَا تُعَسِّرَا وَبَشِّرَا وَلَا تُنَفِّرَا وَتَطَاوَعَا وَلَا تَخْتَلِفَا

“Make things easy and do not make things difficult. Give glad tidings and do not repel people. Cooperate with each other and do not become divided.” (Sahih Bukhari 2873)

Islam teaches tolerance on all levels: individuals, groups, and states. A Muslim who is raised by the high ethics introduced by the Quran approaches everybody with love envisaged by Islam. He shows respect to all kinds of thoughts, appreciates, and displays compromising, inclusive and moderate attitudes. Communities formed by people like that will have a more developed civilization and higher ethics than those of the modern states accompanied by joy, peace, justice, security, abundance, and welfare.

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