Friday June 21, 2024

Islam advocates equality, justice and tolerance

By Zafar Alam Sarwar
May 18, 2020

It does not behove any Muslim Pakistani, even if he is a political or a religious leader, or a religious leader-turned politician, to cast aspersions on the honesty of any national hero and his dedication to socio-economic advancement of the nation and justice to common people. Unfortunately, it happened in the 5/11 election campaign.

Another notable thing: it’s only the ordinary citizen, besides the revolutionary well-wisher of the country, who understands the obvious sharp contrast between the approximately 1.8 per cent upper and 98.2 per cent lower classes of society. So, it’s but natural that change draws nigh in spite of any covert activity of any so-called power from outside.

What’s essentially needed to neutralize any designs of any foreign power and her power-hungry puppets involved in politics is faith, unity and discipline of exploited rural and urban masses as advocated by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. One reminisces, in this context, speeches of the architect of Pakistan, whose selfless leadership provided all-time food for thought to common people of any country. As a man, he professed Islam and remained large-hearted, broad-minded and tolerant drawing inspiration from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He had one thing in his mind—-the principle of Islamic democracy. He told Puhktuns and Balochs: “It is my belief that our salvation lies in following the golden rules of conduct set for us by our great law-giver—the Prophet of Islam. Let us lay the foundation of our democracy on the basis of truly Islamic ideals and principles.” The Quaid was really inspired by the spirit of Islam. He made it clear that in any case Pakistan would not be a theocratic state. “We’ve many non-Muslims—-Hindus, Christians and Parsis —-they’re all Pakistanis, and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.” That meant paving the way for inter-faith harmony and national unity.

The fact of the matter is the Quaid borrowed ideas of social and economic justice and tolerance from Prophet Muhammad. True followers of Islam proudly recall how intelligently the Messenger of God abolished the tribal distinction and grouped the inhabitants of Medina under one general name Ansar (Helper). In order to unite the former and the Muhajireen (Emigrants) in closer bonds, he established a brotherhood between them. He realized the truth that the foundation of the Islamic state would be weak unless it was based upon the goodwill and support of all segments of society. Toleration of others’ religion is necessary where different races live together. His policy in this respect was: “Live and let live others.”

There are many acts of Prophet Muhammad, which are of great relevance today. One is that he granted to all Christians a charter which is a monument of enlightened tolerance. They were not to be unfairly taxed, no bishop was to be driven out of his bishopric, no monk was to be expelled from his monastery, and no pilgrim was to be detained from the pilgrimage. In case of the repair of churches the Muslims were to help the Christians.

Another significant act relates to equality and social justice. A citizen called Ta’ima Ibn Ubairaq, nominally a Muslim, but really a hypocrite and given to all sorts of wicked deeds, was suspected of having stolen a set of armour. When put on hot trial, he planted the stolen property in the house of a Jew, where it was found. The Jew denied the charge and accused Ta’ima of the theft, but the Muslim community’s sympathies were with Ta’ima because of his ‘profession’ of Islam.

The case was brought before Prophet Muhammad, who acquitted the Jew according to strict principle of justice. Some people tried to prejudice the Prophet against the Jew and deceive him into using his authority to favour Ta’ima, but he was firm as “guided by Allah Almighty”. The Prophet, who was also commander-in-chief, thus, not only by words but also by deeds, treated the Jews and Christians with the utmost tolerance and regard and respect for their faith and belief.

Learning more and more from the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and sayings of the founder of Pakistan and following the examples set by them in an atmosphere of liberty, equality and fraternity will awaken the people to the necessity of unity, faith and discipline at the time their country is passing through a critical phase of its life.

Muslims, anywhere in the world, need to recall some parts of the address of the Prophet, which he delivered from the top of Mount of Arafat: “O people! Remember that you shall have to appear before your Lord who will demand from you an account of all your actions. “And feed your slaves as you feed yourselves and clothe your slaves as you clothe yourselves. If they commit a fault which you’re unwilling to forgive, then sell them, for they’re servants of Allah and are not to be harshly treated. “O people! Listen to my words and remember that all Muslims are brothers unto one another.”

The first, but not the last, lesson: don’t break anyone’s heart, nor any temple, or mosque, or trample any place of worship, all messengers of God have to be respected. To you your religion and to me my religion, according to the Quran which demands of all Muslims to be righteous and follow as humans the examples set by Prophet Muhammad. Islam does not permit aggression against any knowledge seeker—young or old—-nor does it approve of any critical or unpleasant remarks or judgements. Power-hungry leaders, including the ones living and having assets abroad, or in the country, need to study and keep in mind the Islamic teachings, life of Prophet Muhammad and what type of state he had struggled for.