"There is no compulsion in religion" Quran 2:256 (Translated by Shakir)
"Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion." Quran 109:1 (Translation by Pickthall)
My Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters:
In a prior Ramadan sermon, I have discussed the importance of Huqooq ul Ibad (rights of fellow human beings), the significance of earning an honest living, abstaining from harshly judging others and taking responsibility for both the negative or positive consequences of our actions.
In this sermon, I am sharing with you some verses from our holy book to convey to you the Quranic exhortation to establish good interfaith relations. The verses amply make it clear that Islam not only acknowledges the existence of other faiths but also accepts religious pluralism.
The Quran reveals that Allah sent 120,000 of His prophets to humanity. It follows, therefore, that Islam does recognize differences in points of view and religious beliefs outside Islam (Quran 109:1). The Quran says no one has a right to force their own understanding of religion upon others (Quran 2:256). It acknowledges that other religions can also lead to salvation (Quran 2:62).
In chapter 5 verse 48, the Quran says: "Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ." (Translation by Sahih International)
So the diversity we see in this world is all Allah's creation. We should, therefore, not fight the will of Allah. We must accept it.
In matters of state, we must emulate the State of Madina that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) created. We must learn from Misaq-e-Madina (Charter of Medina), Islam's first constitution approved by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself.
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Here's the opening line of Misaq-e-Madina:
"This is a document from Muhammad the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), governing relations between the Believers i.e. Muslims of Quraysh and Yathrib and those who followed them and worked hard with them. They form one nation -- Ummah."
It clearly says that all citizens of "Yathrib" (ancient name of Madina), regardless of their tribe or religion, are part of one nation--"Ummah". So the word "Ummah" here does not exclude non-Muslims who lived in Madina.
Further into the "Misaq" document, it says: "No Jew will be wronged for being a Jew. The enemies of the Jews who follow us will not be helped. If anyone attacks anyone who is a party to this Pact the other must come to his help."
The Misaq assures equal protection to all citizens of Madina, including non-Muslim tribes which agreed to it. The contents of Misaq-e-Madina, Islam's first constitution approved by Prophet Mohammad 1400 years ago, appear to have inspired Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah vision of Pakistan where people of all religions and nationalities live in harmony with equal rights and protections under the law.
In conclusion, let me remind you that in chapter 21 verse 117, the Quran says that "Allah sent Muhammad (SAW) as a blessing to all His creation", not just Muslims. We must, therefore, treat all of Allah's creation with love and kindness. This clearly exhorts all Muslims to strive for interfaith harmony.
May Allah accept our fasting, our prayers and our charity in this holy month of Ramadan and guide us all to be His best servants.
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