Freedom of Religions

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4 Review of Religions – February 2002 A common misconception that resurfaced recently was that age- old allegation that the sword was the instrument for the spread of Islam. We quote the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community on this subject: ‘Islam never advocated compulsion. If the Holy Quran, the books of Hadith and historical records are carefully examined, studied and listened to attentively, as far as possible, one is bound to reach one positive conclusion. That conclusion is that the allegation that Islam permitted the use of sword for the spread of religion is shameless and utterly unfounded. This, in fact, is the view held by only those who have not studied the Holy Q u r’an or the Traditions or other reliable sources of Islamic history without prejudice. Not only this, but some have even gone to the extent of fabricating lies and levying unfounded charges without inhibition. I know that the time is approaching fast when those who are hungry and thirsty for Truth will see through their deception. Can a religion be described as a religion of compulsion when its Holy Book, the Qur’an, has categorically prohibited the use of force for the spread of faith? So says the Holy Qur’ a n : There is no compulsion in r e l i g i o n. (Chapter 2: 257) Can we accuse that great Prophet of using force against others, who for thirteen years, day and night, exhorted all his Companions in Makkah not to return evil for evil but to forbear and forgive. When, h o w e v e r, the mischief of the enemy exceeded all limits and when all the various peoples around him made determined efforts to exterminate Islam, G o d ’s attribute that He always Notes & Comments A TIME TO UNDERSTAND AND END HATRED by Mansoor Ahmed Shah – UK 5Review of Religions – February 2002 defends His beloved one so d e m a n d e d : “let those who raised the sword perish by the sword.” Otherwise in no way has the Holy Qur’an permitted compul- sion in religion. Had compulsion been employed in any way in winning converts and had the Companions of our Holy Pr o p h e t( s a ), been the fruit of compulsion, it would have been impossible for them to have demonstrated at the time of trials, such steadfastness and sincerity as only true believers could have displayed. The loyalty and faithfulness of the Companions of our master, the Holy Pr o p h e t( s a ) is a fact so well known as need no comment from us. It is no secret that among them were examples of loyalty and steadfastness the parallel of which is difficult to find in the annals of other nations. This body of the faithful did not waver in their loyalty and steadfastness even under brandishing swords. On the contrary, in the company of their Great and Holy Pr o p h e t( s a ), they displayed such stead- fastness which no man can demonstrate unless his heart and his bosom are lit up with the light of faith. Hence no compulsion had any role to play in Islam.’ (Roohani Khazain, Vol 15: Masih Hindustan Main pp11-12) Then again: ‘None of the true Muslims who ever lived, maintained that force should be employed in the spread of Islam. On the other hand, Islam has always flourished on the strength of its inherent qualities of excel- lence. Those who do have the distinction of being called Muslims, yet believe that Islam should be spread with force, do not seem to have any awareness of the inherent beauties of Islam.’ (Roohani Khazain Vol 15: Tiryaqul Qulub, footnote p . 1 6 7) Having dispelled that allegation, what can the Muslims do to create a better understanding in their relationship with other commu- nities? Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih III, coined the phrase ‘Love for all and hatred for none’. This catchy theme became a motto of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. Notes & Comments 6 Review of Religions – February 2002 This theme is a sharp contrast to some who sow seeds of hatred and cause division and disunity leading to distrust, discrim- ination, lawlessness, mayhem and d i s o r d e r. Such people view others with suspicion and create an atmosphere of fear. We have already heard the phrase ‘Islamophobia’, a phobia not associated with any other religion or cult. There are many amongst such people who do not even know who their neighbours are. There are many who ignore the teachings of their religions to love their neighbours. There is thus a divide between people: it is them and us, all the time. We must overcome this gap. If centuries of civilization brought people t o g e t h e r, do we want to unwind the clock and begin to live in our isolated cocoons? Here is a beautiful teaching presented by the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad( a s ): ‘The principle to which I adhere is that we have kindness at heart for the whole of mankind. If anyone sees the house of a Hindu neighbour on fire and does not come forward to help extinguish the fire, most surely I declare that he does not belong to me. If anyone of my followers, having seen someone attempting to murder a Christian, does not endeavour to save (the Christian), I most truly declare that he does not belong to us.’ (Roohani Khazain Vol 12: Sirajum Muneer. p . 2 8 ) In another place, he stated: ‘I proclaim to all Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Aryas, that I have no enemy in the world. I love mankind with the love that a compassionate mother has for her children: even more so. I am only the enemy of the false doctrines which kill truth. Human sympathy is my duty. My principle is to discard false- hood. I reject paganism, wrong-doing, misconduct, injustice and immorality. ’ (Roohani Khazain, Vol 17: Arbaeen, Part 1, p.344) If all of us began to adopt this principle of reaching out and expressing kindness to our n e i g h b o u r, and each neighbour did the same, the mutual benefits would extend to the larger world c o m m u n i t y. Notes & Comments