Tolerance with Opponents
Tolerance with opponents is one of the characteristics of civilized manners which is recorded in the Qur'an and illustrated in the Sunnah. This applies especially to those of different religions and faiths. The Glorious Qur'an sets a firm basis for these manners as Allah, the Exalted; says:
"God forbids you not with regard to those who have not fought you in the cause of religion, nor expelled you from your homes, that you should be considerate and deal justly with them, surely God loves the just. Indeed, God forbids you only with regard to those who have fought you in the cause of religion and expelled you from your homes and have helped in expelling you, that you should take them for friends. And whoever takes them for friends, they are the evil-doers." (60:8-9)
Allah uses the negation when he says: "God forbids you not" so as to refute the already established notion which is in the minds and hearts of people that the one who has a different religion should not be treated kindly, friendly or justly. Allah clarifies that He loves them to be treated justly, with piety and with tolerance.
The Glorious Qur'an fixed firmly the foundation for these refined manners by its stating two basic important facts concerning the way these proponents look at one an other:
Firstly, Allah, in His Infinite Wisdom, has ordained people to be of different religions. If He wanted, glory be to Him, he would have formed them as other creatures who would be obliged to have one choice and one kind of conduct. Allah says:
"And if your Lord had so willed, He would have made mankind one nation, but they continue in their differences except those on whom your Lord has mercy, and for this did He create." (12:118-119)
The scholars explaining these verses -have said that people were created to be different as a result of the choice He has given them. If Allah had willed, He would have created them angels who have no choice nor disagree.
Secondly, judging and rewarding or punishing those who believe in truth or falsehood are not determined by the people but by Allah on the Day of Judgment, for Allah says:
"And the Jews say, "The Christians follow nothing of the truth". And the Christians say, The Jews follow nothing of the truth". While they both read the same Book, like unto their word is what these say who know not, but God will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection in their dispute" (2:113)
Allah said to His Prophet concerning his proponents:
"And if they argue with you, say, God knows best what you are doing. God will judge between you on the Day of Resurrec- tion, concerning the matters in which you differ." (22:67-68)
He addressed His Prophet concerning dealing with the People of the Book saying: `therefore invite, and be steadfast as you have been commanded and don't follow their vain desires. And say:
"I believe in the Book which God has revealed, I have been commanded to do justice between you. God is our Lord and your Lord. To us our deeds and to you your deeds, the matter is not for either of us to argue over, God shall gather us all, and to Him is the final return." (42:15)
The Sunnah gave assurance from the verses in the Qur'an, in detail as well as in application.
Despite the miserliness of the Jews of Medina, and their ill-manners and conspiracy against the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to the extent that they joined forces with the pagans in order to eradicate Islam, he treated them most generously and spoke to them in gentle words. Thus he give an extraordinary example of kindness and gentleness to them whether alive or in their death.
`Aishah, the Mother of believers, reported that a group of Jews entered upon the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and said:`As-Samu Alaikum" (i.e. death be upon you). `Aishah said: I understood it and said "Wa Alaikum as-Samu wal Al-L'ana" (death and the curse of Allah be upon you). The Messenger of Allah said: "Be calm O, `Aishah! Allah loves that one should be kind and gentle in all matters." I said: "O, Allah's Prophet, haven't you heard what the Jews have said?" Allah's Prophet said: "I have already said to them, And upon you" [Note: Agreed upon, Al-Lu `Iu" Wal Marjan (No.1400)]
The Prophet made things easy when he said: "And upon you" which means, death be upon you too, as we all are going to die and that is inevitable for both of us!
Ibn `Umar reported that Allah's Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "If the Jews greet you saying: As-Samu Al aikum (death be upon you) say: "And upon you." [Note: Agreed upon, Al-Lu "lu' Wal Marjan': (No.1399)]
Al-Bukhari narrated that:"Once, a funeral procession was passing by, and the Prophet (Peace he upon him) stood up for it. When he was told that it was the funeral procession of a Jew, he exclaimed: "Does he not possess a soul?"
This means that the human soul, regardless of religion, should be respected and honored.
The Companions of the Prophet learned from this how to be tolerant and righteous. `Aishah narrated that: the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:"Gabriel continued to advise me on the treatment of neighbors until I thought he would inherit him!" [Note: Reported by Abu Dawud in the book of Al-Adab (No.5152), and Al Tirimidhi in the book of Al-Birr (No.1944)]
Ibn `Abbas said that a Muslim should return the greetings to Jews, Christians or Magians for Allah says: "And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet with one better than it." [Note: Reported by Al-Bukban in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad (No.1107)] (4:86)
One day, a Magian greeted him and Ibn `Abbas greeted him saying: "Peace and Mercy of Allah be upon you . His companions asked surprisingly: "Did you say Allah's Mercy?" He answered, "Don not he live in the Mercy of Allah?"
Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari wrote to a monk and greeted him and when othey objected they said: "How come you greet him although he is a disbeliever?" He answered, "When he wrote to me, he greeted me therefore I now greet him".
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) was tolerant with the disbelievers of his people despite their abuse towards him and his Companions. He did not invoke Allah against them, instead he supplicated to Allah to bestow His Guidance on them.
`Aishah, (May Allah be pleased with her) reported that she asked the Prophet (Peace be upon him): "Have you encountered a day harder than the day of the battle of Uhud?" The Prophet replied: "Your tribes have troubled me a lot and the worst trouble was on the day of `Aqaba when I presented myself to Ibn Abdu Yalail Ibn `Abd Kulal and he did not respond to my demand. So I left over whelmed with sorrow, and proceeded unable to relax till I found myself at Qarn Al-Tha'alib. I lifted my head towards the sky to see a cloud shading me unexpectedly. I looked up and saw Gabriel in it (Peace be upon him). He called me saying:
"Allah has heard what your people have said to you, and He has heard their reply to you. Allah has sent you the Angel of the mountains so that you may order him to do whatever you wish to these people".
The Angel of the mountains called and greeted me, and then said: "O, Muhammad, order whatever you wish. If you like,I will let Al-Akhshabain (two mountains) fall on them". The Prophet said: "No, but I hope that Allah will allow them to beget children who will worship Allah alone and who will worship none besides Him." [Note: Agreed upon, AI-Lu'lu' Wal Marjan (No.1173)]
Ibn Mas'ud, (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was speaking about one of the prophets whose people had beaten and wounded him, and this was whilst he was wiping the blood off his face saying: "O Lord! forgive my people as they do not know." [Note: Agreed upon, Al-Lu `Iu" Wal Marjan, 1170]