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 An Islamic Approach to Pluralism

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PostSubject: An Islamic Approach to Pluralism   An Islamic Approach to Pluralism Icon_minitimeThu Jan 08, 2009 1:44 am

(This lecture was delivered at a Jewish, Christian and Muslim Interfaith Dialogue at the University of South Carolina in Columbia on Nov 29, 2001. The lecture was part of the annual program sponsored by Solomon-Tenenbaum and Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Lectureship. Many Faculty members of the USC and local religious leaders attended the program.)

Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the way-farer (you meet) and those who are under you authority. Indeed Allah loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious. (4:36)

It is interesting that the Qur’an calls some neighbors “who are near” and some neighbors “who are strangers.” Our neighbors today, increasingly, are not only those who are “near” or who are known to us. There are many who are strangers. We live among strangers and the strangers live among us. But we are all neighbors and we should treat each other as neighbors. The world in which we live today is rightly called a “global village”. The modern means of transportation and communication have narrowed the distances and brought together people of diverse faiths, cultures and colors together. The interdependence in the world is increasing and the events that take place in the far away lands are seen instantly in our living rooms. Some of these events do shock the whole world and affect the global economy and global peace. The tragedy of September 11th will remain a painful reminder to the whole world for a long time. The global village is promising and challenging both at the same time.

It is the duty of religious people of all faith to provide moral vision for the inhabitants of this global village. We must learn to live with love, peace and justice with all our neighbors. What relationship do we have with others? What are our responsibilities. How to be good friends and neighbors? How can we be true to our faith and be open and good to other? What are the challenges living in a pluralistic society? Where and how we need to improve our relations? These are some important questions that we would like to discuss in our interfaith dialogue. I would like to submit some suggestions from a Muslim perspective.

The Core Principles for human relations in Islam:

The most important principle of faith in Islam is the belief in One God. “There is no god but God” (La ilaha illa Allah) is the Islamic declaration of faith. Allah is not a God of Muslims alone. Allah is the Rabb of the worlds (Rabb al-’alamin, 1:1). The word “rabb” is generally translated as “lord”, but its full meaning is “nourisher, sustainer, provider, fosterer, maintenaner, head and master”. Allah is the Arabic name for God. Allah is the same God believed by all monotheists throughout the world. The Qur’an teaches Muslims to say to Jews and Christians: “Our God and your God is One” (29:46)

God is the Creator of everything visible and invisible. God created every thing and every being and His creation is good. (“He Who has made everything which He has created most good” 32:7) God is most Merciful and He cares for all His creation.

Human beings are the noblest creation of God. He created human beings and gave them honor and dignity. (“We surely honored the children of Adam and provided them with transport on land and sea, gave them things good and pure for sustenance; and conferred on them special favors above a great part of Our creation”.17:70). Human beings are not only God’s creation, they are His representatives on this earth. (2:30-32) God created everything in the heaven and earth for the sake of human beings. (“He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are Signs indeed for those who reflect.” (45:12)

God created all human beings from one single parents. All human beings are thus related to each other. Our Creator is One and our progenitor is one. (“O People! Be conscious of your Lord, who created you from a single Person, created, of like nature, his mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Be conscious of God, through Whom you demand your mutual rights, and respect the wombs (that bore you): for Allah ever watches over you.” (4:1) Human beings are diverse in their colors, races and speak different languages. The varieties among human beings are not a curse but a sign of divine creative power and blessing. The diversity should be respected and enjoyed. (“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect. And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors; verily in that are Signs for those who know. Among His Signs is this, that He created you from dust; and then, behold, ye are people scattered (far and wide.” (30: 20-22)
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All human beings are equal, regardless of their races, colors, languages, cultures or nationalities. There is no superiority of any race or color over another. No one is better than other because of his/her race, gender or nationality. (“O People! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into races and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God are the most righteous among you. And God has full Knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” (49:13)

Justice is the foundation of a good society. God commands justice and fair dealing with all people. (“God commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition.” (16:90) The purpose of religion and divine revelation has been to teach humanity how to live with justice, fairness and charity to each other. (We sent aforetime Our Messengers with Clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that people may stand forth in justice; and We sent down Iron, in which is (material for) mighty war, as well as many benefits for mankind, that Allah may test who it is that will help, unseen, Him and His Messengers: for Allah is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might.” 57:25).Justice must be done to all even to one’s enemies. (“O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to Piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.” (5:8) “O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.” (4:135)

All human beings have certain inalienable rights. These are God-give rights and they must be established by all civilized and God loving people. The basic right are five:

1. The right of life (al-nafs): Life of every human being is sacrosanct and must be protected. It is forbidden to kill any person unjustly. The Qur’an says about the prohibition of murder, “…Take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus does He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.” (6:151) “Nor take life - which Allah has made sacred - except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, We have given his heir authority (to demand retribution or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the law)” (17:33). “…if anyone slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people…(5:32)

2. The right of family (al-nasl): People have right to have families. Family ties are signs of God’s love and mercy and these ties should be honored and respected. “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.” (30:21) Family is the backbone of all civilization and culture. People must care for their families. The Qur’an says that children should not be killed because of the fear of poverty. “Kill not your children for fear of poverty. We provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily the killing of them is a great sin.” (17:31) Parents should be treated with respect and kindness all the time. “And We have enjoined on man (To be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning. Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is (your final) Goal. But if they strive to make you join in worship with Me things of which you have no knowledge, obey them not; yet bear them company in this life with justice (And consideration), and follow the way of those who turn to Me (in love). In the End the return of you all is to Me, and I will tell you the truth (and meaning) of all that you did.” (31:14-15)

3. The Right of Property (al-mal): People have right to their money, to their land and property. “ And do not eat up your property among yourselves for vanities, nor use it as bait for the judges, with intent that ye may eat up wrongfully and knowingly a little of (other) people’s property.” (2:188) “Come not nigh to the orphan’s property except to improve it, until he attains the age of full strength; and fulfill (every) engagement, for (every) engagement, will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning). Give full measure when ye measure, and weigh with a balance that is straight; that is the most fitting and the most advantageous in the final determination. (17:34-35) “And in no wise covet those things in which Allah hath bestowed His gifts more freely on some of you than on others: to men is allotted what they earn, and to women what they earn: but ask Allah of His bounty. For Allah hath full knowledge of all things.” (4:32) No one should take the property of another person without due rights.

4. The Right of Dignity and Privacy (al-’ird): Every person should have a chance to live in dignity. No one should be defamed. People also have right to their privacy. No one should be accused or punished without proper evidence. “O ye who believe! let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, after the faith, and those who do not desist are (indeed) wrong doers. O ye who believe! avoid suspicion as much (as possible), for suspicion in some cases is a sin. Spy not on each other, nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it. But fear Allah: for Allah is Oft-Returning, Most-Merciful. (49;11-12) “O ye who believe! enter not houses other than your own, until ye have asked permission and saluted those in them: that is best for you, in order that ye may heed (what is seemly). If you find none in the house, enter not until permission is given to you. If you are asked to go back, go back, that makes for greater purity for yourselves. Allah knows well all that you do.” (24:27-28)

5. The Right of Religion (al-din): Every person has a right to practice his/her religion freely. No compulsion or coercion in matters of religion. Islam recognized the principle of freedom of belief or freedom of religion. It is not allowed to have any coercion in the matters of faith and belief. “There must be no compulsion in religion.”(2:256) “If then they turn away, We have not sent you as a guard over them. Your duty is only to convey (the Message)… (42:48) “Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for your Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” (16:125) “Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and beware (of evil). If you do turn back, know that it is Our Messenger’s duty to proclaim (the Message) in the clearest manner.” (5:92) “The worshippers of false gods say: ‘If Allah had so willed, we should not have worshipped aught but Him - neither we nor our fathers, - nor should we have prescribed prohibitions other than His.’ So did those who went before them. But what is the mission of messengers but to preach the Clear Message?” (16:35) “Say: “Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger: but if you turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him and you for that placed on you. If you obey him, you shall be on right guidance. The Messenger’s duty is only to preach the clear (Message).” (24:54)

These are the core principles on which Islam wants to establish a good society. These principles are peaceful and they teach tolerance and co-existence. Islam forbids wars and conflict unless it is in self-defense.

The word Jihad does not mean “Holy War”. It means “struggle” or “striving”. The word for war in the Qur’an is “Harb” or “Qital”. Jihad means serious and sincere struggle on the personal as well as on the social level. It is a struggle to do good and to remove injustice, oppression and evil from the society. This struggle should be spiritual as well as social, economic and political.

Jihad is to work hard to do right things. In the Qur’an this word is used in its different forms 33 times. It often comes with other Qur’anic concepts such as faith, repentance, righteous deeds and migration.

Jihad is to protect one’s faith and one’s human rights. Jihad is not a war always although it can take the form of war. Islam is the religion of peace, but it does not mean that Islam tolerates oppression. Islam teaches that one should do one’s utmost to eliminate tension and conflict. Islam promotes non-violence means to bring change and reform. Actually, Islam urges that one should eliminate evil through peaceful means without the use of force as much as possible. In Islamic history from the time of the Prophet -peace be upon him- until now, Muslims most of the time resisted oppression and struggled for liberation in non-violent and peaceful manners. When it was not possible for them to work without taking arms then and then only they took arms. Some groups, of course, misused Jihad and did not follow the teachings of Islam. But that was exception not the norm.

Islam teaches proper ethics in the situation of war also. The war is permissible in Islam, but only when other peaceful means such as dialogue, negotiations and treaties fail. It is a last resort and should be avoided as much as possible. Its purpose is not to convert people by force, or to colonize people or to acquire land or wealth or for self glory. Its purpose is basically: defense of life, property, land, honor and freedom for oneself as well as defense of others from injustice and oppression.

The basic rules of war in Islam are:

1. Be strong so that your enemy fear you and should not attack you.

2. Do not begin the hostilities. Work for peace as much as possible.

3. Fight only those who fight, no collective punishment, non-combatants should not be harmed. Weapons of mass destruction should not be used.

4. Stop hostilities as soon as the other party incline to peace

5. Observe the treaties and agreements as long as the enemy observe them.

God says in the Qur’an:

“Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not do aggression, for Allah loves not the aggressors.” (2:190) “The prohibited month, for the prohibited month, and so for all things prohibited, there is the law of equality. If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, you may transgress likewise against him. But fear Allah, and know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves.” (2:194)

It is to be emphasized that terrorism against the innocent civilians, whether through aggression or suicidal means, is under no circumstances permissible in Islam. Islam encourages the oppressed people to struggle for their liberation and it commands other Muslims to help those who are oppressed and suffering, but Islam does not allow, under any circumstance, terrorism against non-combatants and innocent people. Terrorism is not Jihad, it is fasad (mischief). It is against the teachings of Islam. If the Qur’an has spoken about Jihad 33 times, it has spoken against fasad 46 times. There are some people who use their twisted arguments to justify terrorism for their causes, but it has no justification. God says, “When it is said to them: ‘Make not mischief on the earth,’ they say: ‘Why, we only want to correct things.’ Indeed they are the mischief doers, but they realize (it) not.” (2:11-12)

Islam wants to establish a world order where all human beings -Muslims and non-Muslims - can live with justice in peace, harmony and good will. It gives its followers full guidelines to find peace in their personal and social lives, but it also tells them how to extend the good will on the basis of human relations towards others. Muslims worked under these principles for centuries. People of many faiths lived with them and among them. Islamic societies were known for their tolerance, generosity and humanity.

In our modern society where we are living in a global village, where non-Muslims are living with Muslims in the Muslim countries and Muslims are living with non-Muslims in countries where non-Muslims constitute a majority, it is our duty to bring better understanding among ourselves, work for peace and justice for all people and cooperate with each other in matters of goodness and virtue in order to stop all terrorism, aggression and violence against the innocent people. This should be our Jihad today.

Similarities and Differences among Religions

There are many religions in the world today. Among the religions there are similarities and differences. The existence of so many religions is a proof that we human beings are religious by nature. From the Islamic point of view we may say that this is so because God instilled in us His awareness in our “primordial nature” (al-fitrah) (30:30). This primordial nature in human beings recognizes God, truth and goodness. All human beings have a common religiousness, just as they have a common sense. In a symbolic way the Qur’an says that God made “a covenant” with all human beings in their pre-existence. “Am I not your Lord?” God said and all responded, “Indeed, we do testify!” (7:172). This divine covenant is the seed of religion among all human beings. This seed grows and flowers with proper education and training.
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The story of the origin of human beings is related in the Qur’an at several places (2:30-39; 7:11-25; 15:26-44; 17:61-65; 18:50; 20:115-123; 38:71-85), albeit on each occasion some fresh points and new insights are introduced. The basic message of the story is that God honored the first parents of humanity and allowed them to stay in Paradise for some time. He told them to enjoy everything, to eat and drink all they wished to but not to approach a certain tree. However, Iblis, the devil who was their enemy, misled both of them causing them to soon depart from Paradise. Upon their expulsion from Paradise they were told to beware of the Devil and not to fall into his traps. They were also assured that God would send His guides and messengers among them at different times to show them the path of truth and righteousness. If they followed God’s prophets and messengers they would return to Paradise wherein they had been originally placed, or else they would lose it forever and end up in the total perdition of Hell.

Thus, as God promised, messengers were raised from time to time among all peoples. “There was not a community except that a reminder came to them” (35:24); “For every people there was a guide”(13:7). Prophet Muhammad is the last one among the long line of many Prophets. He was chosen to give God’s message to all humankind. “We have not sent you but as a universal (Messenger) to people, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most people understand not.” (34:28).

The Qur’an emphasizes that the messages of all the prophets of God were identical as far as the fundamental beliefs were concerned (see 7:59-93; 21:25; and 26:1-191), although they differed in some practical details (Shara’i`, plural of Shari’ah generally translated as law) in consideration of the vicissitudes of time and place (5:48). The religion of all the prophets and messengers of God throughout history was one and the same - islam- that is `submission to God’. Islam in this sense is not a new religion, it is rather the original religion of all mankind and Prophet Muhammad is not the founder of Islam but its final messenger.

Religions share many common values. Judaism, Christianity and Islam in particular have many things in common. Jews and Christians are thus called “People of the Book” according to the Qur’an. We have one and the same God. The words Allah, Elohim and Eloh come from the same Semitic root “a.l.h”. We have many common prophets and common stories of the prophets: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Lot, Moses, David , Solomon, Jonah, Job etc. are all mentioned in the Qur’an. Moses and Jesus are the most honored and oft-mentioned prophets in the Qur’an. Islam recognizes the Torah, Zabur, Injil as divine books. There are many similarities between Islamic law (Shari’ah) and the Jewish Law (Halakha). With Christianity there are also many similarities. Islam accepts Jesus as a great prophet, recognizes his virgin birth, highly respects his mother Mary, accepts his miracles, accepts that he was given a gospel, that he ascended to heaven, that he was the Messiah, that he will come back before the end of the world. There are many moral and ethical teachings of Jesus that are common between Islam and Christianity. We do have our differences but there are more things in common then things that are different.

The Qur’an recognizes the individuality of human beings and of their groups and communities. Not all diversities and differences in views and opinions are bad. On the contrary, sometimes the difference of opinion (ikhtilaf) might be a token of God’s mercy. However, the dissension and disputes that lead to divisiveness and sectarianism (shiya’ and ahzab) are denounced in the Qur’an: “Those who divided their religion and broke up into sects, you have no part in them in the least. Their affair is with Allah. He will, in the end, tell them the truth of all that they did” (6:159). Such divisions arose, the Qur’an points out, because of the evil of selfishness, transgression, aggression and mutual jealousy (2:213; 3:19). The Qur’an also points out that these divisions arose among people when they ignored the word of God and His guidance for the sake of few worldly and material gains. The Qur’an calls this “selling God’s words for a paltry price”(2:79). The divisions came when people went to extremes (ghuluww) in their religious views and practices and when they corrupted God’s message (tahrif) by their deliberate misinterpretations. The distortions also came when people forgot God’s words or when they took some part of God’s teachings and ignored the other. Each group divided up God’s messages and instead of following the knowledge (al-’ilm) that was given to them by God’s prophets, they followed their own whims and wishes (ahwa’). Thus the religious leaders who were given to evil doing went astray and also misled their followers (see 5:177; 45:18; 2:120, 121; 30:29; 47:14, 16; 6:119). The religious history of mankind is a mix bag of things authentic and wholesome as well as inauthentic and divisive.

If God had so willed, says the Qur’an, He could have forced people to come together and be guided, but He allowed them to use their own free will to come to God. He decided, however, not to interfere with them except by sending His prophets from time to time so that right path might be shown to them but without coercing or compelling them. As regards the final decision as to who held to the truth and who did not, it will be made in the Hereafter on the Day of Judgment by God Himself. In keeping with this principle, God also forbade His prophets and other believers from having recourse to coercion in religion. “There is no compulsion in religion”, said the Qur’an (2:256). Now that truth and falsehood had been made distinct from one another “Let him who wants to believe, believe; and let him who wants to deny, deny” (18:29).

It pleases God that people are guided to the right path and follow it, but He would not impose the right path upon them in this world. He wants them to accept true guidance by their own free choice: “... If God had so willed, He would have made all of you one community, but He (has not done so) that He may try you in what He has given you; so compete in goodness. To God shall you all return and He will tell you (the truth) about what you have been disputing” (5:48).

The Qur’an makes us fully aware that there are a variety of religious communities, each happy with its own version of the truth (23:53; 30:32). It is important to note that the Qur’an does not condemn any religion by name. It rather commends the religious communities on their good deeds and censures them for departing from the true and authentic teachings of the prophets. It urges each religious person to purify his/her life, to search for the truth, to follow God ‘s true and authentic message, and do so with earnestness and sincerity. The salvation, according to the Qur’an, does not depend on formal affiliation with one community or the other. It rather depends on true faith in God and in the Hereafter and on righteous behavior (2:62; 5:69; 22:17).

The Qur’an teaches Muslims to respect the people of all religions and to have good relations with all people. One should not bear false testimony against other people. This means that one should not misrepresent other people’s faith and religious views. The religious discourse must be with respect and in the best possible manner. The Qur’an says, “Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” (16:125) One must not abuse other people’s religious figures and symbols. The Qur’an says, “If it had been Allah’s Plan, they would not have taken false gods: but We made you not one to watch over their doings, nor are you set over them to dispose of their affairs. Revile not you those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance. Thus have We made alluring to each people its own doings. In the end will they return to their Lord, and we shall then tell them the truth of all that they did.” (6:107-108)

Living in a Pluralistic world as good neighbors:

It is imperative that we all live as good neighbors in this shrinking world of diverse faiths and cultures. This can only happen if we recognize the rights of others and treat each person and group with honor and respect. All our religious traditions teach love and respect of others. Love of God and love of the neighbor, do to others what you would like others do to you, love for your brother what you love for yourself etc. are our common teachings. These should not be just slogans, but they should be put to practice on all levels. We should not only preach them, but should also apply them in our social, economic, political policies and in our national and international relations. Following are some suggestions in this direction:

1. Dialogue and tolerance, not polemics and confrontation: People of diverse faith and cultures must dialogue and try to understand each other. Tolerance must be practiced on the levels of individuals, groups as well as states. It should be a political and legal requirement. Tolerance should be between the members of the same community and same religion. Tolerance should be also emphasized between the people of different faiths and cultures. We do have core differences in our religions but we must try to understand each other. As we learn about our own faith traditions and communities, we should also learn about others. Someone rightly said, “Understanding others changes us.” By understanding we learn the areas of commonalities as well as differences. We can learn the nature of differences and the extent of differences. We must look what kind of dialogues could be of value, and what issues are most in need of respectful dialogue in these times. What concerns for the well-being of others should drive our efforts to reach common ground for action. Each group must encourage and facilitate shared responsibility to create a more sensitive and welcoming environment for our diverse groups. It is true that we have differences, but we have more in common as human beings. Even some of our apparent differences on further scrutiny may prove less different then we think. Genuine, sincere and humble dialogue is most productive. The language of superiority is most unhelpful. It breaks down trust and communication.

2. Freedom of expression, not demonization, propaganda and deliberate misinformation: People must be free to express their ideas and feelings. They should have full right to differ and disagree, but they must express themselves with truth and decency. Demonization of others, false propaganda and deliberate distortion of others views and traditions would not promote pluralism or good neighborhood. They would rather create alienation and anger. The media is a powerful tool and it can help in building bridges of understanding and co-existence between various religious and cultural communities. Media and entertainment industry should be careful not to feed people by misinformation and propaganda against other religions and cultures. As we do not want others to misrepresent us, we should also not misrepresent others. Freedom of expression should not be a license to spread lies. Other cultures and religions should not be misrepresented. Media outlets should be held responsible not to propagate or perpetuate hate against any group of people and their recognized faiths and values.

3. Cooperation and collaboration, not domination and hegemony: In the global village, the neighbors cannot live in peace when some neighbors try to exploit and dominate others. Justice, fair dealings, live and let live can work much better rather than the push for control and power. All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity. No race should enslave the other race, no country and culture should dominate the whole globe. Modernization does not necessarily means westernization and globalization is not the domination of one group over the whole globe.

4. Economic justice and sharing, not exploitation and extortion: The gap between the have and have-not should be reduced. We must see that all human beings have the opportunity to live with dignity. Deprivation and poverty are main contributing factors for much of the discontent and violence today in our world. The world powers are willing to spend billions on weapons and military buildup, but very little for the economic well beings of the poor people of the globe.

5. Civil Society, Ethical and moral behavior: We should promote ethical and moral behavior in our communities and neighborhood. Honesty, truthfulness, courtesy and kindness should be emphasized. Strong and good families and religious groups can play important role in this regard. We must promote good family values and must remove pornography and indecency from our societies. We must encourage and support an educational system that promotes openness, dialogue and guards against fanaticism. Our educational system should not teach every view in the absolutist terms. Our students should be taught that there could be various perspectives and one should be open to other points of view. We should also promote human rights of all people, more political freedom, open debates, participatory democracies and representative governments
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