Islam is often misunderstood as an intolerance religion, especially by Western World after 9/11 tragedy, which happened in 2001. To be tolerant in our daily life is actually one of the fundamental Islamic teachings. It is also as important as any other aspects in this religion.
In order to understand the meaning of tolerance in Islamic’s perspective, you have to understand what’s the meaning of tolerance in general. Broadly speaking, tolerance mean that you have to have the willingness to acknowledge that something, belief, or opinion may exist, despite the fact that you may not agree with its existence.
In Islam, tolerance is implied in a lot of Quran verses. Islam as rahmatan lil ‘alamin teach us about not only tolerance between religion, but also tolerance between all Allah’s creation. Differences in life is inevitable because Allah SWT, in His grace, creates countless various thing in existence. This statement is perfectly captured in Surah An Nahl verse 13th.
Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, repeatedly told his ummah to always be tolerant. Back when Islam was still in its early day, Prophet Mohammad’s life set an excellence example on how Islam does really value tolerance. In one of a hadist by Bukhari, Prophet Mohammad and his companions were sitting down somewhere in Medina, then there was this Jewish funeral procession which was passing by in front of them. The Prophet immediately stood up out of respect for the deceased despite after his companion told him that it was not Muslim’s funeral.
Nowadays however, many Muslims are slowly forgetting this teaching. Extremism and Islamic terrorism can be traced back to the fact that those people ignore Allah’s commands and the Prophet’s examples. They can not accept that there are different people out there who have different opinion with them, despite that Islam is tolerance. Those misled people are obviously wrong.
For example, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), one of the most brutal terrorist in the world, they do not value human souls which have different opinion and beliefs than theirs. Their version of Islam is twisted and it is clear to see their mistake when we looked back to the story about Prophet Mohammad and the Jewish funeral earlier.
Furthermore, back when Prophet Mohammad united the Arabian peninsula, there were many Christians and Jewish living in there. How ever the prophet did not force them to convert or to restrict their freedom. Non-Muslims under the prophet’s rule were able to co-exist peace fully without fearing their life despite their position as minority.
Moreover, one of Prophet Mohammad SAW was a non-Muslim. Abu Thalib which is Prophet Mohammad’s beloved uncle did not want to embrace Islam. Abu Thalib, before his passing, always protected our Prophet from other Quraisy non-believers. Prophet Mohammad always asked his uncle gently to accept Islam but the Prophet never used force against his beloved uncle. When Abu Thalib passed away, Prophet Mohammad was very sad because his uncle wouldn’t recite Shahada, and he always prayed that Allah SWT would lighten his uncle’s punishment in the after life.
Basis of Tolerance in Noble Quran
There are many Words of Allah in the Holy Quran which urge all Muslim to practice tolerance, for example:
- In surah Yunus verse 41, it states that when a Muslim is being belittled or denounced, it advises us to not be angry, and to tell those who are against us to mind our own businesses.
- In surah Al Kahfi verse 29, Allah SWT says to His believers that we can not force people to believe what we believe. It is of course the duty of every Muslims to invite people to Islam, but it this verse states that we shoul not do it forcefully.
- In surah Al Mumtahanah verse 8, Allah explicitly says that it is okay to make ally of people who has different religion. This verse implies that Muslims are allowed to interact with non Muslims in many aspect of life, such as trade for example.
- In surah Al Baqarah verse 256, it says that we have to invite people to Islam but we have to do it in gentle and kind way, and use soft language filled with advises so that the people can embrace Islam on their own will.
- In surah Al Kafirun verse 6, Allah SWT says that when people who has different belief decide that they will not follow Islam after we have invited them, then we have to leave them be. And when we are asked to follow their religion then we hate to respectfully decline.
For you is your religion, for me is my religion.
Meaning of Tolerances in Islam
Tolerance in Islamic perspective comes in many different forms. It is because Islam is not only teaching its blessed followers about religion, but also relationship between humans and all Allah’s creations. So here are Six Meaning of Tolerance in Perspective of Islam:
- Tolerance when inviting non-Muslim to Islam. This religion does not teach its followers to hate people who have different beliefs. All Muslims are obligated to invite other people to Islam but not to use force. If they declined, then we have to respect them.
- Tolerance when you are invited by non-Muslim to join their religion. When we are asked to denounce Islam, we are taught to not use anger when refusing them.
- Tolerance with other Muslims who have different method of praying. There are various Islamic Scholars and Imams who have opinion on how we should pray, however we should not be easy to judge other that their way of praying is wrong because it is the Allah’s prerogative to judge our prayers. Prophet Mohammad also did prayer differently from times to times depending on the situation, or his companions may have seen the Prophet did prayer in different ways, and those methods are all correct because they are coming from the prophet himself.
- Tolerance when one of your family has different belief. How Prophet Mohammad treated Abu Thalib can become an excellent example on how to treat your family member if they’re not Muslim.
- Being a tolerant Muslim doesn’t mean that you should think that all religion are the same. Just as the definition of tolerance itself, you may acknowledge that other people have different religion, but it does not necessarily mean that you agree with their religion.
- You have to be tolerant to other people who have different traits and ideas. Allah SWT creates humans in many skin colors, gender, and shapes. Allah does not only create one single thing, but countless things in countless variations. We have to always respect our Creator’s creations.
Tips on How to be Tolerant
- Try to ask the other party understanding, if you ask them respectfully then you may understand why they have different views on things. It is easy to demonize something that you don’t understand, so you should try to get to know them.
- Try to always be calm when a conflict arise. Always use gentle dialog and keep your head cool. Intolerance can cause hatred and it may cause destruction, so you have to deal with it not by force but by dialog.
- Do more research. Intolerant happen when you think that you are the only one who is right. Broadening your horizons will open up to more knowledge and that you may find differences are beautiful.
In conclusion, Six Meaning of Tolerance in Perspective of Islam should be understood by everyone, Muslim or Non-Muslim. Islam has always been teaching its followers to never spread hatred despite differences. Tolerance is one of Islamic essence.