In recent times, there has been an exponential increase in tensions between Muslims, Christians, Jews and people of other faiths and religions globally. This is as a result of the actions and words of some Muslims with extremist tendencies and due to the actions of individuals of other religions who feel threatened by the actions of some Muslims; Islamophobia. This has led to harsh words and acts of violence between Muslims and Non-Muslims alike. From the recent Gaza offensive to the murderous campaigns of The Islamic State Group (formerly known as ISIS), to the rampage of Boko Haram, the list of violence unleashed as a result of the misunderstanding of Islam and other faiths is endless. In most cases some Muslims have as a result of the misreading or misunderstanding of the Islamic texts engaged in acts of aggression which have dented the image and true meaning of Islam. The conflict has gotten to such a point that peace seems elusive. This has made many people, especially the younger generation to believe that Islam does not tolerate the existence of other religions present in the world.
CAN MUSLIMS AND NON MUSLIMS COEXIST?
The reality is Islam is tolerant of other religions and Muslims and Non-Muslims can coexist. Islam is a religion of peace and peace, all-encompassing peace to all of mankind. There are various verses in the Holy Qur’an as well as the Hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that prove this point:“We have not sent you (O Muhammad) except as a mercy for the worlds. (Surah Al Anbiya, Chapter 21, Verse 107).This verse clearly assures that Islam is a religion of mercy for all beings. Islam is a mercy because it guides Muslims to felicity and happiness both in this world and in the hereafter. Based on the explanation of the verse given, one may ask ‘Is Islam a mercy only for those who choose it as their faith or should Muslims force people to accept it as their religion?’ Here another verse assures further that:(“There is no compulsion in religion. The truth stands out clear from error.” (Surah Al-Baqarah, Chapter 2:256).This verse serves as both an assurance to people of other faiths that they have nothing to fear as Islam does not force them to choose it as their religion. It also serves as a prohibition to Muslims not to force Islam on people as a religion. There is therefore no validity whatsoever in the actions of extremist groups like Boko Haram who force Islam on people or unleash violence on people of other faiths.There are also various prophetic narrations that illustrate the clear coexistence between Muslims and Non-Muslims. The Prophet said: “Whoever kills a person who has a truce with the Muslims will never smell Paradise.” (Saheeh Muslim). Truce here means when peaceful living with a non-Muslim that has not harmed or acted with aggression towards a Muslim.There are also various historical accounts of the Prophet adjudicating in disputes between Muslims and Non-Muslims in which he gave judgment in favor of non-Muslims. It has been reported that his neighbor was a Jew and when he fell ill the Prophet would go and enquire about his health.Muslims and Non-Muslims can coexist. All it takes is the understanding of the fact that one should be free to practice his religion and should not be forced into accepting another religion against his wish. As it is said in the Holy Qur’an: “To your be your religion, to me be mine.”If you still have doubts that Muslims and Non-Muslims can coexist, then ponder this bit of information. There are about 8million expatriates currently residing in Saudi Arabia, of which approximately 3 to 4 million are non-Muslims. Have you ever heard of an incident in which the Saudi government threatened them with expulsion if they did not convert to Islam?