By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, WordForPeace.com
The world is one family, however different our families and faiths are. We have a shared responsibility to respect each other. This is the Divine covenant we are exhorted to take from the beginning of the Qur’an to its end; from the verse of the first Surah “Rabbil-ʿAlameen (ربّ العالمين) calling Allah “Lord of all Creations” to the final Surah “An-Nās” (الناس) meaning: “Mankind”. Thus, the universality of the Divine and unity of the mankind recur throughout the Qur’an.
It is this spirit of the faith that reminds us of many other countless Divine commandments to love not only God but all His creations, not only God but the common good, love not only ourselves, but our neighbours too, love all who we call ‘others’, whoever they are, wanderers, worshipers, monotheists or polytheists, something that Khwaja Gharib Nawaz of Ajmer stated: “Love towards all, Malice towards none”. It is the true spirit of this faith that inspires us everyday to live with all and respect their human dignity.
But how often do we reflect on this beautiful elucidation of the ultimate reality of peaceful coexistence as members of one family? Call it “Al Khalqu Ayaal Allah” (Hadith) or Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (Upanishad), the Essence remains the same: all mankind is one family.
Compassion, mercy, tolerance are values shared by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. There should be no “us vs. them” mentality or any such dichotomous view between ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’, between ‘polytheists’ or ‘monotheists’. The Almighty warns those who do it. He says:
“And had your Lord willed, all who are in the earth would have been believers, all of them together. So, do you force people to become believers?” (Qur’an: 10:99)
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(Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans- those who believed in God and the Last Day and did righteousness – will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve).
A similar verse in the Quran makes it clear that it is the God’s job to judge between them, not of the human beings:
“Indeed, those who believed, Jews, Sabians, Christians, Magi, and the polytheists—God will judge between them all on Judgment Day. Surely God is a Witness over all things.” [Qur’an 22:17]
Too much in the world is being talked about what separates us in terms of religion. But the fact that people of different faiths and traditions have been exhorted to live together and cooperate each other in the common good, in so many verses is seldom highlighted. Qur’an relays it:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ ۚ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ
Indeed Allah decrees the commands of justice and kindness towards all, and of charity to [the needy] neighbors and relatives, and forbids immorality and bad conduct and rebellion; He advises you so that you may receive admonition. (Surah An-Nahl:90)
Thus, Muslims in India along with their neighbors–all religious communities–need to live in peaceful coexistence as they have been doing for hundred of years. When a Muslim meets anyone, he greets him with ‘Assalamualaikum’ which means: peace be upon you. How can such a religion be reckoned as religion of terrorizing people? Similarly, a true Hindu believes in God as Source of Peace when he/she chants “Om Shanti Om”.
A secular and democratic India is the best guarantee of religious freedoms for the people, individuals as well as groups. It is also the best possible example of how mosques, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and temples in which different people worship in their own ways, are preserved in an ecosystem, something which Allah protects as mentioned in the Qur’an:
(“Those who have been expelled from their homes without right – only because they said, “Our Lord is Allah.” And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned, would surely have been destroyed. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might”).
Advocacy of moderation and inclusivity over extremism and exclusivity are pressing concerns in these polarizing times. I end this note of introspection with this AAYAT of Surah al-Baqrah:
“There is no compulsion in Religion; surely the right path has become very distinct from error; and whoever rejects faith in the devil (falsehood) and believes in Allah (truth) has grasped such a firm handhold that will never loosen. And Allah is All Hearing, All Knowing.” (Quran 2:256)