How do we get along? Mohammed accepted religion of others [Archives:2003/06/Focus]

February 10 2003

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The relationship between Muslims and the others lately has taken the limelight in many intellectual studies, gatherings and publications. It has been of interests to many intellectuals and thinkers, especially after recent crises.
The way this issue is viewed varies greatly according to culture, family and upbringing. Some Muslims look to the others as enemies, and it is a religious duty to do as much harm to them wherever, whenever possible. Of course those are the fanatics who do not stand on right religious bases in their judgment.
Also, at the same time some Western people carry rigid attitudes towards Muslims, that they are the reason for all dismay that happens in the world and they should be taught a lesson to behave wherever and whenever possible.
In these few lines, I will try to review what Ahmed Al-Dughshi, professor of Islamic Philosophy at Sanaa University, said in the last issue (No. 38) of Nawafid Magazine.
Al-Dughshi had been kidnapped two weeks ago by the political security forces and is still arrested as I am writing these lines. He was taken from the streets and thrown into custody without a defined crime or even a chance to hire a lawyer.
His family came to know where he had disappeared late in the night of his kidnapping. Perhaps it is because of what has happened to this intellectual and also because of his style of deep research and clear evidence to support his words is why I am writing about him now.
In his article, which was titled, Dialogue Between Civilizations – a Reading in the Islamic Educational Principals he discussed the relation between Muslims and those of other religions according to evidence from the Quran and the Sunna (sayings of the prophet (pbuh).
He says: Who reads the Quran wholly, finds clear declarations regarding the relations between nations, and it is a relation based on peaceful accommodation and dialogue not on fighting and violence.
He used many verses from the Quran such as that of Surat Al-Mumtahana, verse 6 :
Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes.
Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.
And the famous speech by prophet Mohammed (pbuh), which is taken as a important guidance for dealings between people and a human rights reference= in Islam and for the world in general., in his farewell pilgrimage:
Oh People, your God is one, your father is one, and no Arab is superior than a non-Arab, and no non Arab is superior than an Arab, and no fair man is better than a dark man, or a dark man is better than a fair man except in faith.
So the Islamic philosophy equates between all humans in privileges, pride and natural rights. An example of this is that once a funeral of a Jew passed in front of the prophet and his fellows and he stood up, so they followed suit but questioning his behavior saying that it belongs to a Jew, he replied then: Isnt it a soul?!
Another example was when Asma Bint Abi Baker, asked him if she should visit her non-Muslim mom, and he urged her to do so. Because Islam has emphasized respect and obedience of the parents, even if they are non Muslims, as long as they dont ask something that is against the religion.
Then the author unveils two basic concepts. The first is the civilizations clash or arguments between civilizations as a universal concept for existence; where it was mentioned in the Quran: And if Allah did not check one set of people by means of another, the Earth would indeed be full of mischief. But Allah is full of bounty to the Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists). Surat Al-Baqara, Verse 251.
The second point is the concept of fight as a social comment that denies a constant in the universe according to the Hegelian Philosophy, and after that the Marxian Philosophy in intellect, society and history, and the Darwin theory in natural science and modern theories, Samuel Huntington in Civilization Clashes and finally Francis Focoyama in his end of history theories.
The arguments between civilizations according to the Islamic logic means the constructive criticism which saves the natural balance between the opposites and the differing as a social movement, and this does not necessitate the elimination of the other and removing it.
The author proves this through examples of the peaceful coexistence during the glory days of Islam between the Mulsims and the non-Muslims (the Others).
It in fact had instituted within the social laws all their rights and approved eating with and marrying amongst them (the people of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians). One example which the writer had included was the Omarean Treaty that Khalifa Omar Bin Al-Khattab had instated with Christians of Palestine 15 years after Hijra.
He granted them safety of their lives, properties, churches and also affirmed that they are not forced to denounce their religion.
Another example that clearly explains the reasons for Jihad (Holy War) is that the Al-Jihad was not legalized according to the bulk of religious scholars, but to protect Islam and to prevent war. And not for vanishing infidels or non-Muslims.
And this is what the scholars who followed the Jihad verses in the Quran found. For the essence of Islam is peaceful coexistence and the exception is fighting and war.
In addition to that, the verses that talk about non Muslims has come in a specific addressing such as (some of, many of, a part of). And all that confirms that not all human beings are the same even if the majority was bad, as stated in the Quran phrases (they are not the same).
Al- Dughshi continues in providing evidence from various sources confirming that Islam is a religion for love and peace. And that what was achieved in times of peace was much more than in times of war.
In the Prophets (pbuh) life history it is stated that during Al-Hudabiya conciliatory that people who have reverted to Islam were 60 times more of those who reverted in times of war. That is because it was a method for peaceful offering and displaying of the religion to others and a time for argument and negotiation.
He also argues with those who preach imminent war between Muslims and non Muslims saying: If it was a must to fight them, then why for were regulations of Ahl Al-Dhima (free non Muslims under Muslim rule) created? And why did it prevent killing of women, children, religious men and farmers and whoever does not carry a weapon, in spite of the fact that all those were not Muslims?
Prophet (pbuh) praised the Ethiopia King saying he is a king who does not allow injustice, even though he was not a Muslim at that time. And many other examples, such as Gods saying: Verily, you will find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers (Muslims) the Jews and those who are Al-Mushrekeen (idolaters, polytheists, pagans, disbelievers in the oneness of Allah), and you will find the nearest in the love to the believers (Muslims) those who say: We are Christians. That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud. (Al-Maeda, verses 82,83)
Those who are just amongst the Christian scholars admit that our prophet Mohammeds (pbuh) message is an extension of that of Jesus (pbuh). This confession does not imply they lose their own religion, but alas, how many are they and how easily they are influenced by others.