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Muslims have a history of tolerance toward other faiths

12 June 2011 General 17 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
Written by KHALID SAJJAD

On May 27, Bill Stephens published a letter in The Star Press in which he claimed, “Muslims want Shariah law, that has death as a penalty for not converting to Islam, and permits honor killings, stoning to death if guilty of adultery, or cutting off hands if guilty of theft, and treating women like slaves. …”

Thanks to the major news outlets, like Fox News, and their biased reporting, they help the likes of Mr. Stephens in fueling intolerance and hatred toward the Islamic faith.

Moreover, the mainstream political parties, like the GOP, have found that attacking Muslims and other minorities has become a way of gaining electoral popularity. They have confused insulting the religious beliefs of others with the concept of freedom of speech, by making false allegations against Islam and by portraying Islam as a violent and backward religion.

It is these same people who, rather than responding to Muslims with debate, have called for the banning and burning of the Shariah and Quran respectively. Are they not the ones who are intolerant?

Muslims have a glorious history of tolerance under the Islamic caliphate system of governance. For centuries, Jews, Christians and others lived side by side with Muslims and they did not have to endure insults on their beliefs. During the caliphate system of governance, Judeo-Christian laws were implemented for the Jews and Christians respectively. Jews and the Christians held high positions in the government to represent their people, so that no injustice may be done against them. In 628 C.E. Prophet Muhammad granted a Charter of Privileges to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mount Sinai:

“This is a message written by Muhammad the son of Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, far and near, we are behind them. Verily, I defend them by myself, the servants, the helpers, and my followers, because Christians are my citizens and by Allah (God)! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be changed from their jobs, nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant, and disobey his Prophet. Verily, they are only allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, this is not to take place without her own wish. She is not to be prevented from going to her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nations is to disobey this covenant till the Day of Judgment and the end of the World.”

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17 Comments »

  1. That is a great quote, if Muslims believe this is true how do you explain what is happening in countries that is dominated by Muslim governments? Tolerence does not seem to be the watchword when Muslims are in the majority.

  2. On the other hand, what does the Christian leadership of the western world say about the rest of Christians? Assume that stance and reflect it on Muslims. I see no difference, other than religion plus politics equals bigotry and intolerance in the name of popularity. We are all guilty of the things we blame on others.

  3. Really? How about the Dhimmi status?

  4. I had never heard the term Dhimmi before so I looked it up. If that is what I would look forward to under an Islamic Caliphate, I would not be interested. Being a second class citizen under a Religious Theocracy would not suit me well. I am wondering if any Muslims who write or read this paper, support an Islamic Caliphate being instituted in the United States; or is this just a idea held by extremists?

  5. If Muslims do not wish to impose Shariah on non-Muslims why did Muslims riot worldwide when non-Muslims in a secular country drew cartoons of Mohammed? If Muslims do not wish to impose Shariah on non-Muslims why is a Christian mother of five facing a death sentence in Pakistan because of something she said about Mohammed? If Islam is “tolerant” of other religions how do you explain the Jizya?

  6. American Muslims and most Muslims in general do not support the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate. While certainly many do wish Islam to be the dominant global religion, this is a desire no different from a Christian, Jew, or atheist wishing the same of their belief. As shown by the Arab Spring, however, modern Muslims do not want a caliphate, but a democracy in which their voice is heard. Only extremists desire control over their populations- and as extremists have shown in the past, in Iran for example- extremist takeover of a state does not necessarily mean that state will adhere to true Islam.

    There are people who are simply attracted to power, and will use religion to justify their followers in to acts of violence. They understand religion is a powerful personal force, even if they have no true respect for it. Yes, the so-called Muslims that make the Western news are the ones burning down churches or blowing up hospitals- acts forbidden in Islam. But the vast majority of the members of a faith 1.5 billion strong are peaceful, law-abiding people who have suffered even more from terrorism than the West has, due to this horrific negative portrayal.

    These people do not want to make you in to dhimmi. They do not want to replace your government with a caliphate. They do not want to rape your wives or daughters or stone your sons, they do not want to make you submit to God in the manner of Islam. They want to listen to music, and laugh, and get a good job, and support their families, and they want to live in peace away from bigotry and intolerance. Just like you.

  7. BabyDaddy: We do not have Christian leadership in the United States. We have leaders who may or may not be Christians. Their governance is secular in nature and seems to be driven by money and power more than any religion. If they were Christian leaders in terms of imposing values on a state level then we would have prayers in schools and Christmas would still be called Christmas in all venues. To look at US policy in terms of Christian policy is very naive. I would theorize that Oil Companies, General Electric, and various financial institutions have much more influence on US policy than any religious doctrine. I further theorize that many of our Christian politicians go to church more for political reasons than for spiritual ones.

    As much as I would dislike the idea of an Islamic Caliphate within the United States, I am more worried about the fact that about 400 people in the US have as much wealth as 50 percent of all US citizens combined. Further, salaries and public funding is dropping across the board at a time when American Corporations are pulling in the largest profits in US history. Jobs that are being created are at salary levels which do not keep a person above the poverty line. We could easily fall back into what the United States looked like at the turn of the 20th century with rich people, poor people, and few in between. The only difference being that with land reform and tax laws there is now no way a person can live independent and poor. A man may own 40 acres and a mule but if he cannot make enough money to pay the taxes on the land he will lose it.

    I only brought this up because as we are hit with various hot button issues such as racism, terrorism, abortion, assorted wars, religion and even nationalism; the distribution of wealth in this country and others is falling into the hands of fewer and fewer people, empowering them and weakening the remainder of our society. I do not know about you but when the next hospital is built I do not want to have to say thank you to a Rockefeller want to be, I simply want to be one of the people who paid his taxes and voted for the people who put the bond issue together.

  8. lol….”During the caliphate system of governance, Judeo-Christian laws were implemented for the Jews and Christians respectively.”

    Volume 8, Book 82, Number 809:
    Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:

    A Jew and a Jewess were brought to Allah’s Apostle on a charge of committing an illegal sexual intercourse. The Prophet asked them. “What is the legal punishment (for this sin) in your Book (Torah)?” They replied, “Our priests have innovated the punishment of blackening the faces with charcoal and Tajbiya.” ‘Abdullah bin Salam said, “O Allah’s Apostle, tell them to bring the Torah.” The Torah was brought, and then one of the Jews put his hand over the Divine Verse of the Rajam (stoning to death) and started reading what preceded and what followed it. On that, Ibn Salam said to the Jew, “Lift up your hand.” Behold! The Divine Verse of the Rajam was under his hand. So Allah’s Apostle ordered that the two (sinners) be stoned to death, and so they were stoned. Ibn ‘Umar added: So both of them were stoned at the Balat and I saw the Jew sheltering the Jewess.

    so god commands it….stone them to death? the religion of peace??????tolerance???? now that’s funny!!!!!

    divine verse? kill them kill them all!!!! god commands it!!!!!!!!!!

  9. The Light
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

    [24.1] (This is) a chapter which We have revealed and made obligatory and in which We have revealed clear communications that you may be mindful.
    [24.2] (As for) the fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them, (giving) a hundred stripes, and let not pity for them detain you in the matter of obedience to Allah, if you believe in Allah and the last day, and let a party of believers witness their chastisement.
    [24.3] The fornicator shall not marry any but a fornicatress or idolatress, and (as for) the fornicatress, none shall marry her but a fornicator or an idolater; and it is forbidden to the believers.

    nothing like a little torture for god’s messenger?

  10. ^The ahadith you mention confirms what you quoted. I’m not sure if that was your intention or not. Under Jewish law, per what was written in the Torah, stoning was prescribed for adultery.

    Try comparing the practices and cultures of contemporaneous societies, rather than forcing modern standards onto penal codes that existed 1400 years ago. Those people had limited means for keeping order in society and were working in conditions far more brutal and dog-eat-dog than we see today. As a Muslim, I believe those verses were revealed by God, and served a neccessary purpose, as difficult as that might be for those of us living in the modern West to understand. Since you’re not a Muslim, I don’t expect you to believe that, or to understand. But since you’re not a Muslim, you defintiely don’t get to speak for me as to how I understand my faith or how it is interpreted by Muslims worldwide.

    100 lashes for fornication? You could be put to death for that just as easily in other parts of the world at that time. Pulling out certain texts you find disagreeable without considering the big picture and purpose behind those laws is misguided. The point of Islam, as undertood by the majority, mainstream Muslims is to bring benefit to society while preventing harm. How we go about doing that can vary somewhat from time to time and place to place.

    Granted, since you’re not a muslim this perpective we attach to everything we learn about our reliion wouldn’t be there for you. So I could see why you would take issue with certain aspects of hadith and Quran. To be fair though, do you have the same issues with the Bible? And similar texts that exists for almost all religions. If your disdain is for religion in general, then you would at least be consistent in your logic. And you’re more than entitled to criticise what you don’t agree with.

  11. hannah,

    thank you for allowing me my distain for religion. i do have issues with the bible. i find it strange that in christian mythology, when peter struck the ear off the high priest’s slave and jesus healed him he did not free the slaves at that time. i think my logic is very consistant. yes i see the abrahamic religions as brutal and unamerican and ungodly. it seems strange that allah can do as he wills, yet excuses are made for his/her brutality, due to it being 1400 yaers ago? ” Those people had limited means for keeping order in society”, so god has limited resouces?????????? did he not send the angels in the battle of badr? could not a better surrah have been handed down? thou shall not kill???? how about thou shall not hold a man or woman in bondage? how about man and woman shall be treated equally????? is not morallity timeless? was killing someone 2000 years ago not a crime against god? so whipping someone was not torture 1000 years ago, but it is today? your god lacks consistant logic, don’t you think? i very much consider the big picture. is not allah all powerful in the big picture? the alpha and the omega. could god not have set a better example then muhammad? ghandi seems more god like than “the prophet”. “TRUTH”??? kill the pregnant woman, god commads it!!! i look forward to your logical response.

    Book 017, Number 4194:
    ‘Abdullah b. ‘Abbas reported that ‘Umar b. Khattab sat on the pulpit of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Verily Allah sent Muhammad (may peace be upon him) with truth and He sent down the Book upon him, and the verse of stoning was included in what was sent down to him. We recited it, retained it in our memory and understood it. Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) awarded the punishment of stoning to death (to the married adulterer and adulteress) and, after him, we also awarded the punishment of stoning, I am afraid that with the lapse of time, the people (may forget it) and may say: We do not find the punishment of stoning in the Book of Allah, and thus go astray by abandoning this duty prescribed by Allah. Stoning is a duty laid down in Allah’s Book for married men and women who commit adultery when proof is established, or it there is pregnancy, or a confession.

  12. God is all-powerful and has infinite resources. Humans are short-sighted and imperfect. God is unchanging. Humans evolve. What works for us today would not have worked back then for many many reasons.

    The penal code for Muslims at that time served a purpose and certainly lead to a more orderly and just society than existed there before. The point was and is to bring benefit to people and prevent harm. The method of doing so HAS to change as people and societies do.

    Ultimately I don’t care what you think about my religion. To you yours, to me mine. But your ideas about what Islam teaches are inconsistent with what mainstream Muslims believe. We have plenty of ways of interpreting and understanding the more difficult aspects of our faith. You don’t speak for us. You don’t even understand what we believe. So I really don’t understand the point of your comments. You want people to hate Muslims based on false notions of what we believe about our religion? You want to justify discrimination and hatred of TODAY’s American Muslims by criticizing a legal code revealed over 1400 years ago (that was actually less brutal than what many Christian Kingdoms of the time enforced based on teachings they gathered from the Bible) that has evolved and changed since then?

    Logical indeed.

  13. What a bunch of crap website is this….

    Muslims have a history of tolerance?? Are you kidding me? I am from India and we Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhist have been troubled by Muslims for centuries now. They have destroyed our temples, forced conversions upon us, tortured and killed anyone opposing them, raped women and when they have children claimed it is a Muslim child.

    This statement is total hocum…. Islam has NEVER been a peaceful religion. Have some sense of history before you lie…

  14. That was a very nice charter, but Muhammad did not rule the Siani. What was the point of it?

  15. What the writer says here is possibly true! The Muslims, to their credit, did have quite an illustrious history of being quite a bit more tolerant of other faiths, and this was definitely a feather in their cap and an example to other faiths that we can all live together in peace…

    But what has happened now! The problem is not Islams glorious past, whereby it had some truly mature leaders. Now Islam around the world does definitely not exemplify tolerance but rather complete intolerance towards other faiths, as exemplified in the the whole middle east region.

    Israel is the only democratic country in the middle east surrounded by 300 million Muslims, where all faiths can live without fear of the lives and also can safely practice their religion.

  16. To the above poster…The Muslims HAD to be tolerant of Non-Muslims in the early days of Islam, because THEY [muslims] had conquered them by force. If the Muslim conquerors of those vast non-muslim lands [Iraq, Syria, Iran, Pakistan and ALL of North Africa] were not tolerant of the native faiths present amongst them, then they would have had mass rioting and would have lost control of the conquered lands. So their early tolerance was out of necessity and not because of their religion..

    It was only after several centuries of being under Muslim rule, did Islam became the faith for the majority of people in the Middle east/Pakistan/North Africa, once they became the majority THEN we saw the real Islam come out as now much of the population was attending mosque, and the now minority non-muslim population began to be scrutinized openly be the Sheiks…history shows that in the 10th century and onwards, in North Africa/the Middle east and Pakistan, Islamic tolerance drops to zero. Just like today.

    Reason being ? Muslim majority in those areas was achieved and real Islam begain to show its face.

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