Islam: A Religion of Tolerance : Major(R)Khalid Nasr
Islam is an entirely tolerant religion. Islam desires peace to prevail in the world. The Qur’an calls the way of Islam ‘the paths of Peace’ (5:16). The state of peace can never prevail in a society if a tolerant attitude is lacking in the people. Tolerance is the only basis for peace; in a society where tolerance is absent, peace likewise will be non-existent.The Qur’an tells us that: "The sun is not allowed to overtake the moon, nor does the night outpace the day. Each in its own orbit runs" (36:40).
When God created heaven and the earth, He so ordered things that each part might perform its function peacefully without clashing with any other part.In order to preserve the peace, established by nature, from disruption, two important injunctions have been laid down by Islam. One, at the individual level, stresses the exercise of patience, and the other, at the social level, forbids taking the offensive.
Negative reaction on the part of the individual is the greatest factor responsible for disrupting peace in daily life. It repeatedly happens that in social life one experiences bitterness on account of others. On such occasions, if one reacts negatively, the matter will escalate to the point of a head-on collision. That is why Islam repeatedly enjoins us to tread the path of patience. The Qur’an says: Surely the patient will be paid their wages in full without measure (39:10).The reason for the rewards for patience being so great is that patience is the key factor in maintaining the desired system of God. In the words of the Qur’an the patient man is the helper of God (61:14). The other injunction, designed to maintain peace in human society, forbids the waging of an offensive war. No one in Islam enjoys the right to wage war against another. There are no grounds on which this could be considered justifiable.There is only one kind of war permitted in Islam and that is a defensive war. If a nation, by deviating from the principles of nature, wages war against another nation, defense in such circumstances, subject to certain conditions, is temporarily allowed. Peace is basic to all religions. Let us all strive then to establish peace in the world, for that is the bedrock on which all human progress rests.
It has also to be remembered that Islam was revealed in fragments suited to the socio-cultural milieu and ever evolving human intellect starting from Adam right upto the last prophet (pbuh). Hence all religions in general & Abrahamic religions in particular carried the mesage of Islam through Torah of Moses, Psalms of David (commonly known as Zaboor revealed upon David and his son Solomon) now known as Old Testament, and revelations on Jesus Christ known as the New Testament, and finally the conclusion of revelation on our Holy Prophet (pbuh).
Similarly in the Far East, the revelation came through Ramchandarji, Sri Krishan Maharaj (especially the phiolosophy of monotheism revealed in Bhagvad Gita emphasising monotheism & philosophy of martyrdom i.e finding eternal life after lsoing for just cause in the battlefield. Buddhism also preached of Nirvana through following correct thinking, correct expression, correct behaviour, and a life of stoicism etc through an incessant reincarnation of Buddhisatvas finally ending on Buddha i.e prince Gautama s/o Shaddhodhan , monach of Kapal Wastu attai ing gyan at Gaya.
Islam asserted that 124,000 messengers were sent for enlightenment in all nooks & corners of the World for guidance, not affording any opportunity for people to complain that they were not guided. Islam endorsed the teaching of these prophets, but pointed out later interpolations where people digressed from the real teaching of monotheism. It also endorsed a certificate of the finality of its mission in Quran when it said al-yauma-akmaltu-lakum dinukam, wa- atmamtu-naimatei-wa-razitu-lakum Islama-dina i,e Allah has completed its divine guidance today, blessing you, and is pleased with you & your religion for all times to come.
As regards, spirit of tolerance shown in Islam there are a number of verses in the Holy Quraan preaching la-ikraha-fid-diney i.e there is no compulsion in Religion lakum dino-kum-waliye-deen i.e each person is entitled to his own religious beliefs.
Religion being a matter of conscience, has entirely been left to the discretion of the people holding it. War of offence is not permitted, and Muslims are only under obligation to defend themselves, their families, and their homeland against the onslaught of invaders. For that also Islam forestalled provisions of Geneva Convention about 1400 years ago; forbidding Muslims to fight against non-combatants.