I spent half of the night writing these words, under the pale moonlight 🙂
It is my belief that Islam goes beyond mere tolerance towards other faiths. In my understanding of it, it goes beyond tolerance and establishes universalism.
I write these words in the hope that they can help to build bridges between people of different faiths and backgrounds, all in the spirit of goodwill and unity.
So with an open heart and mind, I invite you to read my analysis of 16 verses from the Holy Koran that I believe are key in planting the seeds of peace and understanding.
“And there is not a people but a warner has gone among them” (35:24)
I choose to start off with this verse because it clearly states in plain words that all people have received a warner. “And there is not a people” is not confined to a specific geographical location or a space of time. This can lead us to logically deduce that God sent warners to every corner of the earth.
“For every people is a guide” (13:7)
This verse confirms the previous one, and again states in plain words that there is a guide for every people.
“And we sent not a Messenger except with the language of his people, in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them.”
I find this verse to be extremely revealing and important, because it further opens up the geographical landscape by mentioning language. If Gods message was only confined to the Arabic people, well then why would more languages be needed?
By telling us that the messengers spoke the languages of the people that they were sent to, it not only reveals to us that all languages are Gods languages, but that the messengers appeared in many different locations. Also, one must understand the language of one’s respective holy scripture and not only recite verses without understanding them.
This is further expounded in the verse as it tells us that the reason that the messenger spoke in the language of his people was so that he could “make the message clear for them.”
Moving on, the proof of this specific verse lies in our hands today. If we look at all of the worlds sacred scriptures, we will see that the original versions come in a variety of languages, as a result of their different locations of revelation.
This to me shows that there is no chosen language and that all languages are equal in the sight of God. A beautiful celebration of diversity and a further proof that messengers appeared all over the world.
Let us now take a pause and collect the 3 words that have been assigned to those in charge of delivering Gods message to all of the earths peoples. The words that have so far been used are “Warner”, “Guide”, and “Messenger.”
“For each period is a Book (revealed)” (13:38)
This verse further recognizes the existence of other sacred texts besides the Koran. One of the Islamic articles of faith is belief in the books of God. Mentioned are the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel, but with this verse and the ones that we have examined beforehand, we can add all other divine scriptures to the list, such as the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita etc…
“Without doubt it is (announced) in the mystic books of former peoples” (26:196)
Here, we find that the Koran mentions the “mystic books of former peoples.” Again, another acknowledgement of scriptures and peoples before the advent of the Koran.
“(Muslims) believe in that which has been revealed to thee (O Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee.” (2:4)
Here, we are told that we Muslims believe in all revelations prior to the Koranic revelation.
A highly pluralistic verse that when combined with what we have previously examined reveals just how deeply pluralistic the Koranic message is.
“And certainly We raised in every nation a messenger, saying: Serve Allah and shun evil.” (16:36)
Now we turn our attention to verses that speak of nations. This verse tells us that every nation received a messenger, and that the messengers job was to tell the people to Serve God and stay away from evil.
Is not India a nation? Is not China a nation? Is not Persia a nation? Is not Krishna a messenger? Is not Buddha a messenger? Is not Confucius a messenger? Is not Zoroaster a messenger?
“And for every nation there is a messenger” (10:47)
This verse confirms the previous one. Guru Nanak was a messenger, from the Punjab. Bahai’ullah was a messenger, from Iran.
“Mankind is a single nation. So Allah raised prophets as bearers of good news and as warners.” (2:213)
With this verse, the Koran tells us that we are a single nation. Should a single nation quarrel over petty theological differences that have evolved over time? No, it most definitely should not. As a matter of fact, it should not quarrel over anything, and hold fast to the rope of unity. We also see the Koran making reference to it’s message as delivered by the prophets as “good news.”
“And we sent messengers that we have mentioned to thee, and messengers that we have not mentioned to thee” (4:164)
This verse is perhaps the most important one in this entire analysis because it explicitly tells us that some of the messengers have not been mentioned. Indeed, the messengers of the non-abrahamic faiths are not mentioned in the Koran. So, who are these messengers that are not mentioned? They are the messengers that have appeared all over the world ever since God started sending them.
“We did aforetime send messengers before thee: of them there are some whose story we have related to thee, and some whose story we have not related to thee” (40:78)
Here, the Koran tells us that not all of the stories of the messengers are related to us. Just because messengers are not mentioned by name or by story, does not mean that the Koran rejects them.
“And those who believe in Allah and His messengers and make no distinction between any of them (in belief), to them He will grant their rewards.” (4:152)
Not only are we told to believe in all of Gods messengers and not make any distinction between them, an order which is purely universalist in nature, but we are told that we will be rewarded for adopting this universal spiritual outlook. Why will we be rewarded for it? Because such a spirit creates peace between people, and that is exactly what Islam is, peace.
“Oh Mankind! Behold, We have created you from a single pair of male and female and have made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to know one another (Not that you may despise one another) Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is the most righteous. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware.” (49:13)
As we can see, a diverse and multi-cultural world is all a part of Gods plan and the noblest of us in his sight are those who do the most good. If diversity is a part of Gods plan, then who are we to ever even dare to pass judgement on others because of differences, whatever these differences may be?
“Among his proofs are the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variation in your languages and your colors. In these, there are signs for the knowledgeable”(30:22)
Here, even the variation of our skin colors are spoken of as one of Gods signs! Racism anyone? And, even the messengers of God all have different skin tones, from the light brown of Jesus to the dark shade of Krishna.
“If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what he hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is he that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute” (5:48)
Again, diversity in all it’s shades and colors is part of the divine will. A believer must live in accordance with this divine will. In this case, living in accordance with the divine will can only lead to a more peaceful and tolerant world.
“Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (2:62)
Shah Waliullah, the noted theologian from the subcontinent, had the opinion that the Quranic reference to the Sabian community was in fact a reference to the Hindus. Other noted theologians from the subcontinent take it to mean all of the non-abrahamic faiths. In any case, “any who believe in God and the last day, and work righteousness” is enough to include people from all faiths. In light of all the previous verses that we have analyzed, we can safely infer that this is the case.
The Koran uses the terms “people”, “language”, “colors”, “books”, and “nations” in connection with it’s “warners”, “guides”, “messengers”, and “prophets”.
Peoples, languages, colors, books, nations, warners, guides, messengers, prophets. A comprehensive list of universal terms.
To conclude, it is my belief that the Holy Koran is telling us that we must believe in and respect all of the messengers.
This means studying all of the worlds scriptures and regarding people of other faiths as sisters and brothers, all united in the one and only universal force, God.
It was a pleasure to share my thoughts with you. Stay free, and God bless!