We need balanced Muslim religious scholars who can interpret Islam and its relation to contemporary issues in a meaningful and positive way.
By K. Rahman Khan
With about 1.9 billion followers (2019), almost a quarter of earth’s population, Islam is the second-largest and the fastest-growing religion in the world. Islam is a religion of peace and preaches love, compassion, and respect for all other faiths and their adherents. According to Islam, Muslims are meant to simply be conveyers of the message of peace and love and the Unity of God, and it is not their responsibility to take it upon themselves if someone accepts or rejects this message. The principal duty of Muslims is only to share the message of the Unity of God and the way of life that this implies.
Today, if the image of Islam has been tarnished and it is looked upon as a religion which preaches intolerance and violence, it is many of those who call themselves followers of the faith many ‘Muslims’ themselves who, through their own wrong actions, have spoilt the image of Islam. They are responsible for the negative image of Islam globally.
Here are some practical things that Muslims could do to promote harmony, goodwill and understanding between Muslims and people of other faiths:
- Muslims should understand that we are living in a plural society, and so we must know how to get along harmoniously with people of other faiths. In a multi-religious country like India, if the cow is considered sacred by Hindus, Muslims ought to respect the sentiments of their Hindu brothers and sisters. The Constitution of India, which upholds pluralism, has to be understood well by each and every citizen of the country, including Muslims. Muslims should work towards establishing peace and justice, respect all faiths and also respect the laws of the country. It is the duty of Muslims, like all other citizens, to work for the general good of the society.
- Muslims should seek to understand and follow the Charter of Medina of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), which is a beautiful illustration of respect for religious pluralism. All Muslims, including children, should be educated about the gems of this Charter, which is all about respecting people of other faiths and their rights. They should remember that humility and respect for each other are the keys to peace and the happiness of humanity.
- We need balanced Muslim religious scholars who can interpret Islam and its relation to contemporary issues in a meaningful and positive way.
- Muslims should participate actively in all fields of national endeavour, striving to put to rest memories of an unhappy past. Secular parties should assist them in this effort and make redressal of Muslims grievances part of a wider campaign for eradication of social wrongs and economic deprivation.
- Muslims should be pro-active in practical efforts to promote mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue and thus work for a culture of peace;
We Muslims of this country have chosen to live here as its citizens. India is our home. So, when Muslims are citizens of India, they must follow the etiquette required to relate harmoniously with people of different faiths, abstain from conflicts with other communities and work hard so that they excel in every field. That way, they can come out of the shell of victimhood and engage in useful service towards the wider society and humanity. Muslims should stop creating a mountain out of a molehill over different issues and learn to live amicably with their co-citizens. If they live in peace and harmony with others and think of and contribute to the country’s welfare, they will, God willing, receive the goodwill and respect of others.
(The author is a former Member of Parliament)