Religious Tolerance

This is a new aspect of the humane tendency in our enduring civilization, and it was something new in the history of beliefs and religions, and in the history of ancient civilizations that were produced by specific religions or specific nations. Islam produced a civilization that was not hostile towards previous religions and did not advocate blind following of opinions and views. Rather its motto was: So, announce the good news to My slaves. Those who listen to the Word and follow the best thereof. 

Because of that, the principles of our civilization with regard to religious tolerance are as follows:

  • That the divinely-revealed religions all stemmed from the same source: He [Allah] has ordained for you the same religion [Islamic Monotheism] which He ordained for Nool) [Noah], and that which We have revealed to you [O’ Muhammad], and that which We ordained for Ibraheem [Abraham], Moosa [Moses] and ‘Eesa [Jesus] saying you should establish religion [i.e. to do what it orders you to do practically] and make no divisions in it [religion] [i.e. various sects in religion] … (Qur’an 42: 13)
  • That the Prophets are brothers and there is no difference between them with regard to the message; the Muslims are obliged to believe in them all: Say [0′ Muslims]: We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Ibraheem [Abraham], Ismaa’eel [Ishmael], Ishaq[Isaac], Ya’qoob [Jacob], and to AlAsbaat [the offspring of the twelve sons of Ya’qoob (Jacob)], and that which has been given to Moosa [Moses] and ‘Eesa [Jesus], and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims in submission to Him.} (Qur’an 2: 136)
  • Belief cannot be forced upon people, rather it must come by conviction and acceptance: There is no compulsion in religion. (Qur’an 2: 256)

The places of worship belonging to the divinely-revealed religions are sacred and must be defended and guarded like the mosques of the Muslims: And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed, all of them together. So, will you [O’ Muhammad] then compel people in order that they became believers? (Quran 10:99)

…For had it not been that Allah checks one set of people by means of another, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, wherein the Name of Allah is mentioned much would surely, have been pulled down… (Qur’an 22: 40)

  • Differences of religion should not make people fight one another or commit aggression against one another; rather they should cooperate in doing good and warding off evil: …Help you one another in AI-Birr and At-Taqwa [virtue, righteousness and piety]; but do not help one another in sin and transgression… (Qur’an 5: 2)

With regard to the differences between them, Allah alone is the One Who will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection: The Jews said that the Christians follow nothing [i.e. are not on the right religion], and the Christians said that the Jews follow nothing [i.e. are not on the right religion]; though they both recite the Scripture. Thus do those who know not [the polytheists] speak the same as their words. But Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection about that wherein they have been differing.} (Quran 2: 113)

  • Differentiation between people in this life and before Allah is based on the degree to which a person can do good for himself and for others. 

“All the people are the dependents of Allah, and the most beloved of them to Him is the one who does most good for His dependents.”

“Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that [believer] who has At-Taqwa [i.e. he is one of the Muttaqoon (the pious) (Qur’an 49: 13)

  • Differences of religion do not mean that we should not be kind, uphold ties of kinship or show hostility: This day [all] good foods have been made lawful, and the food of those who were given the Scripture is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scriptures before you … (Qur’an 5: 5)
  • If people follow different religions, they are permitted to dispute in a kind and gentle manner, within the constraints of good manners, establishing proof and debating in a sound manner. And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best… (Qur’an 29: 46)

It is not permissible to be rude towards those who hold different views, or to insult their beliefs, even if they are idolaters: And insult not those who invoke other than Allah, lest they should insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge. Thus We have made fair-seeming to each people their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return and He shall then inform them of all that they used to do. (Quran 6: 108)

  • If the beliefs of the ummah come under attack, we must respond in order to protect our beliefs and ward of fitnah (tribulation): And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief, dissension, trial, civil strife] and [all and every kind of] worship is for Allah [Alone]… (Qur’an 2: 193)

Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion – [forbids] that you make allies of them} (Qur’an 60: 9)

  • If the ummah gains victory over those who attacked their religion or sought to deprive it of freedom, it is not permissible to take revenge on them by forcing them to give up their religion or persecuting them for their beliefs. It is sufficient for them to acknowledge the authority of the state and to give their allegiance to it, so that “they will share the same rights and obligations as us. “

These are the principles of religious tolerance in Islam, on which our civilization is based. These principles oblige the Muslim to believe in all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah, to speak of all of them with respect, not to mistreat their followers, to deal with them all in a good and gentle manner, speaking kindly to them, being a good neighbor to them, accepting their hospitality, and marrying from among them so that the families and bloodlines will be mixed.

Islam obliges the Muslim state to guard their places of worship and not to interfere in their beliefs or rule against them unfairly; they are to be treated equally with Muslims in terms of rights and obligations; their honor, lives, and futures are to be protected just as those of the Muslims are to be protected. On these bases, our civilization was built, through which the world saw for the first time a religion building a civilization that did not persecute the followers of other religions or exclude non-believers from work or social status. This tolerance remained the way of the Islamic civilization from the time its foundations were laid by Muhammad (Blessings and Peace be upon him) until it began to decline when these principles were lost and forgotten, and people became ignorant of their religion, and they abandoned this noble religious tolerance.


The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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