Interfaith Cohesion

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Islam is a moderate religion which allows us to live in perfect cohesion with other communities. On arriving in Madinah, one of the first initiatives of Prophet Muhammad (saw) was to establish an agreement of good relationship and co-operation with the Jews and Christians of Madinah. It was then that the sahabahs discovered the true policy of peace which Islam advocated.

Islam promotes a human and fraternal atmosphere. You see, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) singled himself out even among Jews and Christians due to his excellent character. The Prophet of Allah (saw) used, from time to time, to invite the families of his Quraish tribe with the aim of making them accept Islam. He has also taught us to help others without regard to colour or culture. In black and white, he has stated: “Mankind is like Allah’s family; the best servant of Allah is the one who is the most kindly to his family (mankind).” (Shu’abul Iman)

Allah Ta’ala has stated: “Tell (them): O people of the Book! Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partners with Him.” (3: 64). Of course, the ultimate objective of all this wisdom and diplomacy is to bring them closer to our perfect religion.

We should not hide the beauties of Islam. We follow its rituals only and, unfortunately, overlook its social and economic aspects. In so doing, we are preventing other faiths from discovering the beauty of Islam. We should, on the contrary, bring to their knowledge this ‘ocean of human values’ which has a solution for all social problems and a cure for all modern ills.

Islam is the natural religion of man, so that everybody should feel himself ‘in peace’ and ‘in security’ as much by its name as by its culture. The Messenger of Allah (saw) did make an appeal in his last sermon at Arafat: “Let those who are present transmit this message to those who are absent.” It was these very words which galvanized the Muslims of that time and urged them to cross the Alps, to withstand the winter of Afghanistan and to reach the Great Wall of China. Through a simple presentation of Islamic etiquette, Islam has had supreme control over North Africa, as well as Spain, Greece and Italy. It was also welcomed in India as well as China, and also in Iraq and Russia, where was born Imam Bukhari (rh). There was then in existence a policy of open diplomacy of the highest order in order to enable Islam to spread out. Let us find out who were those Arabs who had come to discover the island of Mauritius in the 13th century, and who did not want to take possession of this paradise island. They had no materialistic objective; rather they were keen to share with the inhabitants that elixir of truth of the 7th century which Islam was. However, when they found it an uninhabited island, they set sail towards other horizons.

We should seek opportunities to enhance the prestige of our religious etiquette. You must bear in mind that it is through etiquette and our good behavior in public and in the society in general that other faiths will come to know the true image of Islam. However, the right balance in Islam demands that the human and fraternal relationship with others be of a limited nature. Such a relationship cannot cross the limits imposed by the shariah.

In short, our cohesion with other faiths should not impede upon our Islamic values to such an extent that we run the risk of losing them. Our relationship with other faiths should be more of a diplomatic nature rather than an intimate one. That is the reason why the very fact of attending rituals of other faiths is not tolerated in Islam. We are not allowed to imitate them in any aspect of their religion. According to the Ulamas, the practice of yoga is of religious origin foreign to our culture and is therefore prohibited. A Muslim should refrain from practicing yoga the ideology of which hails from saskrit sources. A better and an ideal alternative for him would be a long concentration in prayer and going for a long walk for half an hour daily. Likewise, all foods offered following unislamic rituals cannot be consumed by Muslims.

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