By Gulamhusein A. Abba
The wide media coverage of death and destruction, accompanied by some truly gruesome horrors being perpetrated by a large number of Muslims in many Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Mali and others, has understandably changed the perception of non-Muslims towards Muslims and Islam itself. This is causing a rift between Muslims and non-Muslims all over the world, even though the majority of Muslims do not embrace the cult of death and violence.
In the city in which I live, Danbury itself, I have noticed, on many occasions, non-Muslims distancing themselves from Muslims in buses, the library, Senior Center and other public places. Indeed Muslims themselves are wary of befriending another Muslim, afraid that he might be a sympathizer of the extremists and may be under surveillance by the authorities. They do not want to get involved through associating with such a person.
This growing schism between Mulims and non-Muslim is not good either for the Muslims, non-Muslims or the country as a whole.
Also, the extremists are using the media to win recruits from moderate Muslims by brainwashing them with their extremist version of Islam.
In this context, it is imperative to reassure non-Muslims and educate Muslims as to what Islam really has to say in this matter, and this can be done only through direct quotations from the holy book of the Muslims, the Quran itself.
The current situation clearly requires this.
To begin with, it needs to be emphasized that, in the matter of co-existence between Muslims and non-Muslims and between one sect of Muslims and another sect, there is no problem in Islam. The problem is with those Muslims who, though large in number are nevertheless in a minority compared to the total Muslim population.
These terrorist Muslims have forgotten three important and fundamental considerations.
Firstly, they have forgotten that the Quran acknowledges that there are different tribes and nations (and sects). According to the Quran, God himself created this diversity, and for a purpose: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). Surah 49 Verse 13
Secondly, they have forgotten that the Quran makes it clear that each person is accountable for his choice and that the accounting will be between the person concerned and God. There is no compulsion in religion in Islam. "Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error" Al-Qur’ an 2:256
The Qur'an anticipates the fact that there will be a plurality of religious communities on the earth, a fact which does not threaten it. Numerous verses speak about this. In addition to what is stated in Surah 49 Verse 13 cited above, are the following:
"Do not the Believers know, that had God (so) willed, He could have guided all mankind (to the Right)?" Qur'an 13:31
"If it had been thy Lord's Will, they would all have believed; -- all who are on earth.! Will thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe?" Qur'an 10:99
Islam never declared the concept of converting others into the faith as part of the Muslims’ duties. On the contrary, Islam limited the Muslims’ duties in this respect to merely conveying the message of God to the people. But, if they paid no heed and turned away, the Quran says: “If then they turn away, We have not sent thee as a guard over them. Thy duty is but to convey (the Message). …” Surah 42 Verse 48
From a religious point of view, there is no need for Muslims to force others to embrace Islam or force one sect of Islam to embrace another sect, much less kill them if they refuse.
The Sunnis and the Shias who are killing each other and the Muslims who are killing Christians need to remember these verses from the Quran.
As for the Sunnis in Pakistan, they will do well to also remember that among those who served Pakistan well in the early days of Pakistan were non-Sunni Muslims.
To mention just two.
Prince Aly Khan was appointed Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations by President Iskander Mirza of Pakistan on February 6, 1958. He was a member of the United Nations Political and Security Committee, was elected a vice president of the United Nations General Assembly on 17 September 1958 and also served as chairman of the U.N.'s Peace Observation Committee. He was not a Sunni but an Agakhani Muslim, more widely known as Ismaili Muslims
Then there was Muhammad Zafrulla Khan who in 1961 succeeded Aly Khan as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN. He is known for drafting the Pakistan Resolution, and was the first foreign minister of Pakistan. He also served as a judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. He too was not a Sunni but belonged to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
Lastly, the extremist Muslims have forgotten that religion cannot be forced down people’s throats through threats of death. Such “conversions” have no meaning and add no glory to Islam.
Like in any other belief system, the only way to get people to accept Islam is through example, through behavior and actions of Muslims.
The world needs to understand that those perpetrating violence and horrors in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world, though presenting themselves as revolutionaries for democracy and defenders of Islam are, in reality, no lovers of democracy and are acting against the teachings of Islam, fighting merely for power and position.
I think it is necessary to let the readers of this piece know that I am a Sunni Muslim.
Gulamhusein A. Abba
The writer can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org