Universality and Tolerance

If there is a unique attribute that our world has, it is diversity in both culture and belief. Therefore, any system, which claims universality, should have tolerance towards other cultural and religious practices as a non-negotiable principle.

If there is a unique attribute that our world has, it is diversity in both culture and belief. Therefore, any system, which claims universality, should have tolerance towards other cultural and religious practices as a non-negotiable principle.

In this section of the book, light will be shed on the principle of tolerance based on historical evidence drawn from prac- tices of several religions and ideologies in comparison to Islam. Since the previous section re- vealed the exclusive basis of Jewish intolerance, I will begin with Christianity, which some believe manifests the kind- ness and gentility of Christ (pbuh)

But when we apply an historical examination, the conclusion is completely the op- posite. Regardless of the teachings of Christianity and Judaism that started at the hand of the most tolerant among people, the prophets of Allah, a lot has emerged which can never be part of their teachings but added over the ages.


Let's look at what the Christian Crusaders did to the Muslims when they waged wars against them and when they occupied Jerusalem. These wars were referred to as The Holy Wars, which were conducted with the blessings of the Pope and under the banner of the Christian religious leaders.

Although Jerusalem was surrounded for more than a month, its inhabitants resisted the Crusaders' invasion cou- rageously. When the Crusaders finally won, they rushed through the streets killing, destroying and burning whatever they saw in their way. They did not differentiate between men, women or children.

The massacre lasted for the whole night. On Friday, 15th of June 1099, the Crusaders stormed the gates of Al-Aqsaa Mosque and killed all those who were tak- ing refuge inside it. Ibn Al-Atheer described the massacre in his book Al-Kamil as follows: The Crusaders killed more than 70 thousand people. Some of those who were killed were Muslim scholars, erudites and adorationists who left their countries to dwell near the holy places. They stole more than 40 silver lanterns from the Holy Rock, each costing at least 3600 (silver Dirhams).

In his book, The Arab Civilization, the French histo- rian, Gustave Le Bon described the Crusaders' entry into Jerusalem, saying:

The Crusaders' behavior, when they entered Jerusalem, was quite different

In turn, the priest of Bolol City, Raymond Dagile, de- scribed this incident in history by saying:

What happened among the Arabs when our people [the Christians] conquered Jerusalem's walls and towers was really puzzling; some of them [the Muslims] were head-cut, others were stabbed, so that they were forced to throw themselves down the walls, others were burnt alive, so there could not be along Jerusalem roads except Arabs' heads, legs, and hands, so that we cannot avoid walking in corpses and this was just a sample of what happened.

Khalil Toutah and Bolous Shehadeh (Christian writers) recounted that massacre, declaring that:

What the Crusaders did in the place where Jesus was crucified and buried (according to the Christian Bible) is really shameful and sinful. Jesus taught his disciples to love their enemies; but the crusaders, whose ideal was the holy cross, killed women, children and the elderly people. Even those who escaped to Aqsaa were followed by Godephry who was known as the protector of the Holy Tomb, and when he was in Java to fight the Egyptians, he became sick and asked his followers to take him back to Jerusalem where he died. He was buried in the Nativity Church.

Unfortunately the crusade is not a thing of the past, as some might think.

It continued with many influential Chris- tian influential personalities of the present. Though many Christians positively regard it, Jews and Muslims, on the other hand, maintain very bitter memories about its bloody history. Christian missionaries of the past and the present view their work of seducing people to convert as a crusade.

Politicians view their double standard policy against other nations as a crusade. In other words, tolerating others is not part of the Christian agenda. It is not fair to deny the original teachings of the prophets (PBUT). They taught tolerance and practiced it.

They brought guidance and light. However, the grave distortions of their teachings resulted in crusades, inquisitions, slavery, discrimination, colonization and treat- ing people with double standards.


In contrast to the bleak history of the crusaders in Pal- estine, the Muslims have set a universal example for toler- ance and accommodation that no nation on earth can claim its like.

Abu Ubaydah, the Muslim Commander, sent to Omar bin al-Khattab (the second Muslim Caliph) telling him that the citizens of Jerusalem wanted him to come to take the keys of the city. Therefore, the caliph started his journey with his steward heading towards Jerusalem.

On his arrival, the citizens of Elia (Jerusalem) received him with pleasure. He signed with them the famous peace document, which reads as follows:

In the name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Merciful! This is what the Servant of God, Omar, Amir of the believers, gave to Elia's inhabitants concerning the safety of their properties, money, churches, etc. Their churches should not be demolished. They should not be harmed or forced to accept a religion against their will. This should be guaranteed by the Khalifah and all Muslims, and monitored by Allah and His Prophet (PBUH), as long as the other side adheres to it and pays the Jezyah. As a matter of fact, Omar was the first to liberate Jerusalem from the Roman occupation.


During the 7th century, the people of Spain were given the choice to accept Islam willingly and peacefully as hun- dreds of thousands of people around the world are accept- ing Islam today. However, with the papal approval in 1479, Prince Ferdinand and Princess Isabella executed the unimaginably bloody history of the Spanish Inquisition, where notorious and indescribable persecutions and tortures against Muslims and Jews took place. The purpose was to force them to accept Christianity or be tortured to death. With the collapse of Granada, the last Muslim stronghold in Spain, into the hands of the Spaniards in 1492, Muslims were like an unprotected herd of cattle that were attacked by hun- gry wolves. So, they were massacred, enslaved and com- pelled to embrace Christianity at the edge of the sword.

In his article "When the Moors Ruled Spain", Thomas J. Abercrombie revealed many facts about the contributions with which Muslims had presented the West. He also alluded to the justice of the Islamic rule: where Jews, Chris- tians and Muslims lived peacefully side by side for more than seven centuries. Then he shifted 180 degrees to talk in brief about atrocities committed by the Catholic Christians after- wards:

It was here, long after Alfonso VI that the first victims of a growing Christian bigotry perished at the stake. In 1469 Prince Ferdinand ofAragon wed Princess Isabella of Castile. While waging war against the Moors to the south, they would view as a threat the Muslims and Jews in their own lands. In 1480, they established the Spanish Inquisition. Before it was over, three centuries later, thousands of Muslims and Jews had died; an estimated three million people were driven into exile. Short of its leading businessmen, artists, agriculturalists, and scientists, Spain would soon find itself a victim of its own cruelty.

Iriving (1973) in his book The Falcon of Spain, de- scribed the position of Christians and Jews under the toler- ant Muslim rule as:

Side by side with the new rulers lived the Christians and Jews in peace. The latter, rich with commerce and industry, were content to let the memory of oppression by the priest-ridden Goths sleep, [Jews had been virtually eliminated from the Spanish Peninsula in the seventh century by the Christians.] now that the prime authors of it had disappeared. Learned in all the arts and sciences, cultured and tolerant, they were treated by the Moors [Muslims of Spain] with marked respect, and multiplied exceedingly all over Spain; and, like the Christian Spaniards under Moorish rule - who were called Mozarabes - had caused to thank their new masters for an era of prosperity such as they had never known before.

Such kind of tolerance had marked the relationship be- tween Muslims and Christians and Jews. Muslims gave the Christians the chance to decide on their own. Gibbon (1823) stressed the fact that the Mus- lims of Spain abided by the teachings of Islam; they did not oppress the Christians and the Jews and Spain, but rather treated them with unparalleled tolerance.

In times of tranquility and justice, the Christians have never been compelled to renounce the Gospel or to embrace the Qur'an.

Lea, the great historian, in his book The Moriscos of Spain, pointed out that the papal brief, which Pope Clement VII in 1524 issued, was a bill freeing Charles V from all obli- gations resulting from the binding promises he had made to protect the life, religion, and the property of Muslims and Jews. It reads as follows:

It recites the papal grief at learning that in Valencia, Catalonia andArgon, Charles has many subjects who are Moors (Muslims) and with whom the faithful cannot hold intercourse without danger; they even live with the temporal lords who make no effort for their conversion, all of which is a scandal to the faith and dishonor to the emperor, besides which they serve as spies, for those in Africa to whom they reveal the design of the Christians. It therefore exhorts Charles to order the inquisitors to preach the word of God to them and if they persist in their obstinacy the inquisitors shall designate a term and warn them that on its expiration they shall be exiled under pain of perpetual slavery, which shall be rigorously executed. The tithes of their temporal possessions, which they have never hitherto paid, shall accrue to their lords in recompense for the damage caused to them by the expulsion, under condition that the lords shall provide the churches with what is necessary for divine service, while the revenues of the mosques shall be converted into benefices. The portentous document concludes with a formal release to Charles from the oath sworn to the Cortes not to expel the Moors; it absolved him from all censures and penalties of perjury thence arising and grants him whatever dispensation is necessary for the execution of the premises. Moreover, it confers on the inquisitors ample faculties to suppress all opposition with censures and other remedies, invoking if necessary the aid of the secular arm notwithstanding all apostolical constitutions and the privileges and statues of the land.

This consent from the supreme Catholic authority un- leashed the most indescribable form of savagery and intol- erance against the Muslims of Spain at the hands of dread- ful inquisitors.

The Muslims were given the choice of either accepting Christianity or death. When the village (Manices) surrendered, they were forcibly led to the church in batches of twenty to twenty five, and baptized, although they made it quite obvious that they were not consenting to their conversion.

Those who resisted the barbaric compulsion faced a terrible fate. They were all collected in a nearby castle and were 'massacred to man'

It would be unfair to claim that all today's Christians would approve of this. Nonetheless, the highest Christian authority of that time led its full support to such utmost atroci- ties. The Christian authorities of today are hesitant to can- didly renounce them, claim the responsibility, provide a pub- lic apology and stop all form of misinformation and distor- tions against Islam and Muslims.


Many church leaders had indicated that non- Chris- tians do not have the right to live a good life and practice a faith of their own choice.

Such premises have become non- negotiable principles in the minds of many. This very men- tality is clearly spelled out through the suggestion made by the 'Bishop' of Winchester to Henry II of England: Let these dogs (Mongols and Muslims) destroy one another and be utterly exterminated and then we shall see the Universal Catholic Church founded on their ruins and there will be one fold and one shepherd.

This was not only a singular attitude of this 13th cen- tury clergy, but rather that of some of the most prominent evangelists. Zwemer, who is looked to by Christian evange- lists as having been almost a prophet, said:

We must add to all this the utter collapse of Muslim political power in Africa, Europe and Asia. We, however, believe when the crescent wanes, the Cross will prove dominant, and that the disintegration of Islam is a divine preparation for the evangelization of Moslem lands....

It might be argued by Christian apologists that such are the ideas of a person who is not really a part of the mainstream evangelists. But Zwemer is indeed considered as one of the most prominent figures in theorizing the Christianization of Muslims.

In the Colorado 1978 conference, hundreds of delegates suggested the establishment of an institute named after Zwemer in Altadena, California, for the sole purpose of researching how to attack the Muslims in their belief.

While Muslims can invite people to the natural religion of Allah, The Supreme Being and the Creator of the universe and whatever therein, and believing in all the messengers of Allah including Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), Christian missionaries execute all means to seduce and buy the hearts of the needy, sick and illiterate people under the cover of humanitarian aid while waging an unjust media campaign of misinformation and propaganda against Islamic teachings. Don M. Mc Curry49 mentioned:

Many times we were compelled to face the accusation that we use [my bold] any material, health and educational means to create [my bold] Christians among the Muslims who face very difficult and desperate situations.


To realize the standards and ethics that the Western World Order is built upon, one must ponder on Huntington's response in the Foreign Affairs regarding the Muslim's accusation of the Western World Order-as being biased and applying double standards, A world of clashing civilizations, however, is inevitably a world of double standards: people apply one standard to their kincountries and a different standard to others.

Such double standards applied by the western world, the surrogate father of the New World Order, against the Muslims in Bosnia, Palestine, Chechnya, Azerbaijan and many other places all over the world are clear indicators of the western unjust treatment of other, non-Christian societies, including the Muslims.

As a matter of fact, it was the Vatican headed by the Pope who was determined to provide strong backing to the oppressing Catholic country in the Bosnia conflict, Croatia. Hence, according to Huntington, the Vatican extended recognition even before the European Community.

Capricious actions against hundreds of thousands of oppressed people who went through vicious genocides and experienced unheard-ofatrocities of rape in the human history were carelessly dealt with by countries carrying the banners of the new world order.

think it is one of the greatest tragedies and shame written with the blood of innocent people in the memory of history for generations of Muslims and peace loving people to remember.

Especially, when compared with the Islamic system of justice and tolerance that does not allow treating even one's enemies with injustice. Islam is innocent from any malpractices that may be committed by ignorant Muslims, even if they claim that they are doing them in the name of Islam.

Islam does not allow treating even one's enemies with injustice. Islam is innocent from any malpractices that may be committed by ignorant Muslims, even if they claim that they are doing them in the name of Islam.


Islam was firstly introduced into the Indian subcontinent during the 7th century and the Muslim dominance continued over India under the succeeding states until the British invasion in 1857, lasting for more than 1100 years. Had the Christian method of inquisition and conversion at the point of the gun been practiced, not a single Hindu would have been seen alive by the advent of the British colonialists to India. However, the Islamic tolerance and understanding of the nature of man manifested itself in India. In the Qur'an, Allah has clearly declared tolerance to be an essential ethical principle for mankind to follow.

Islam came to India as well as to other parts of the world to transcend and elevate humanity above racism, ignorance, superstitions and injustice.

Therefore, there was no need for forced conversion to the true religion of God. It is basically up to people to use the intellect with which God has bestowed upon them and make their choice. This is the reason as to why hundreds of thousands of people keep reverting to Islam as soon as they find out the truth about it. People embrace Islam by their own free will and without any seduction or compulsion.Many among them are scientists, politicians, lawyers, evangelists and even people of fame: Cat Stephens (now Yusuf Islam), the former famous pop singer; M. Hoffman, the German Ambassador to Morocco, who has recently written an eye-opening book titled, Islam is the Alternative; Morris Bucaille, the well known French scientist who accepted Islam after his long research in science and religion that is summarized in his book, The Bible, The Qur'an and Science; Mr. Olson, the current Danish Ambassador to Saudi Arabia who declared in a radio interview that :

If the people know the reality of Islam, millions will embrace it. The list of those who have sought the truth of Islam is too long to be mentioned here. It includes people from all walks of life.


When defining one of its important aspects, Islam means complete submission to Allah by choice and convicstion, not through seduction or compulsion. Islam accommodates and welcomes all people as brothers and sisters regardless of their distinctive/particular affiliations or backgrounds. The Islamic attitude towards the followers of other religions is not only to show tolerance towards their beliefs, but also to affirm a non-negotiable Islamic principle of tolerance and religious responsibility.

There is no compulsion in [accepting} religion. The right course has become clear from error. So whoever disbelieves in taghut [i.e. false deities] and believes in Allah has grasped the trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.

(The Qur'an 2: 256)

In fact, through the course of history of Islam, it has granted the people of other faiths the highest degree of tolerance by allowing them to follow their way, although some of their practices might have been in conflict with the religion of the majority.

It was this degree of tolerance that the Muslims adopted towards their non-Muslim citizens. There is another aspect of this matter which cannot be found in the written laws, nor can it be enforced by courts or the governments: this is the spirit of tolerance which underlies upright attitudes, benevolent dealings, respect for one's neighbors, and all the sincere sentiments of piety, compassion, and courtesy. Execution and report of such attitudes are required of every Muslim and cannot be obtained through constitutional legislation or court jurisdiction. The spirit of tolerance which can only be found in Islam is exclusively practiced in a true Islamic society.

Many Qur'anic verses have emphasized dealings with non-Muslims with justice and respect, especially those who live in peace with the Muslims and do not raise enmity against them.

  • Allah does not forbid you concerning those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes from being righteous towards them and acting justly towards them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. (The Qur'an 60:8)
  • And they give food in spite of their love for it to the poor, the orphan, and the captive, [Saying]: We feed you only for the acceptance of Allah. We wish neither from you reward nor gratitude. (The Qur'an 76: 8,9)
  • Although Muslims might disagree with other ideological systems and religious dogmas, it should not prevent them from demonstrating the correct manner of discussion and interaction with non-Muslims: And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say we believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you.And our God and your God is One; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him. (The Qur'an 76: 8,9)
  • In this context it seems appropriate to raise the question: Is tolerance of other religions as preached by Islam a matter left to the Muslims to decide about? As a matter of fact, tolerance in Islam has ideological basis in the Qur'an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and it is not subject to any human interference. Therefore, it is a constant Islamic principle that does not change over time or place. According to the Qur'an, every human being is to be honored as Allah has honored him/her: And we have certainly honored the children ofAdam, and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created with [definite] preference. (The Qur'an 17:70)
  • slam is the final revelation of Allah the Almighty and it is the religion of universal truth for all mankind. All of its doctrines can withstand any challenge. Therefore, the existence of various religions--man-made or supposedly revealed religions--is only to allow the human intellect to choose. The following verses of the Qur'an emphasize these principles: Allah witnesses that there is no deity except Him, and [so do] the angels and those of knowledge - [that He is] maintaining [creation] in justice. There is no deity except Him, the Exalted in Might, the Wise. Indeed, the religion in the sight of Allah is Islam. And those who were given the Scripture did not differ except after knowledge had come to them, out of jealous animosity between themselves and who ever disbelieves in the verses of Allah, then indeed,Allah is swift in [taking] account.55 (The Qur'an 3:18-19) And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed, all of them entirely. Then will you compel the people until they become believers? (The Qur'an 10: 99 )

In Islam, injustice is regarded as one of the greatest sins. Therefore, oppressing people because they have different beliefs is rejected. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: The supplication of an oppressed person, even though he be a pagan, is heard (byAllah) directly, without any veil.56


To sum it up, intolerance has been a permanent practice of those in power represents Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism, and sometimes indoctrinated in their scriptures. They either shut off a segment of humanity or bring it in simply to persecute it.

To be killed or converted was, at least until recently, the only choice confronting non-Christians in a Christian society or non-Hindus in a Hindu society. People of different religions have lived in prosperity and enjoyed the freedom to practice their faith. Some even sought asylum to escape religious persecution, as in the case of the Jews of Spain.

Misery of people in the form of poverty or illness is invested upon to change the belief of others. Stephen Neill has illustrated the scope of such inhumane monopoly of people suffering by saying

t was often a short period of the arrival of the missionary Lavigari to Algeria that cholera widespread. As a result of which a famine took place. He was able to collect 1800 orphan children after he had received permission from the French authorities to convert them to Christianity; then provide them with Christian education in some settlements that were labeled The Christian Villegas. Such steps encouraged other missionaries in other countries to do just the same. They started by buying children as slaves, and then gathered them in Christian Settlements.

Neil continues talking about such incidents supporting his arguments by statistics of buying the souls as well as the beliefs of needy people by saying:

This process (buying children and Christianizing them) has succeeded to the exact that some missionaries by the year 1902 were able to establish in one area, 250 farms containing 5000 salve children.

Sigrid Hunke, the great German philosopher and historian, referred in her book Allah ist ganz anders to part of the letter that Oliverous, the theological philosopher who wrote a letter in 1221 to Saladdin (SalahuDeen) expressing his deep appreciation to the noble treatment the captured crusader soldiers received after their defeat in the battle of Hittin by writing:

For centuries, nobody has heard of such mercy and generosity, especially towards a brutal enemy's prisoners of war. When God decreed that we should fall at your hands, we did not see in you a ruthless tyrant. Instead, we new you as merciful father who showered us with his kindness and bounties as well as a supporter in hard times. And who would doubt that such generosity and tolerance was fromAllah?... The men that we have killed their parents, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters; and made them taste the most cruel torture, when we became their prisoners and we were about to die out of hunger, they treated us in the best way possible and preferred us over themselves. They did so while we were helpless and powerless.

Hunke went on to report some of the most unimaginable atrocities that the crusaders have done against the Muslim civilians in Palestine. One of these incidents was when King Richard, The Lion's Heart, dishonored his reputation in the most demeaning way when he violated his oath to three thousand Muslim prisoners and ordered them to be slaughtered. The French king did the same.

Provided to the reader below is a segment of an article which has been written by one of the prominent American thinkers, Professor John L. Esposito, in which he summarized the tolerance of Islam and Muslims during the peak of their power:

Christians and Jews were regarded as People of the Book (those who had possessed a Scripture (revelation from God). In exchange for allegiance to the state and payment of a poll tax, these protected (dhimmi) peoples could practice their faith and be governed by their religious leaders and law in matters of faith and private life (family laws).

Prince Charles was very candid in his speech about Islam and the West at the Oxford center for Islamic Studies when he said:

Medieval Islam was a religion of remarkable tolerance for its time, allowing Jews and Christians the right to practice their inherited beliefs and setting an example which was not, unfortunately, copied for many centuries in the West

Thus, Islam has proven to be more tolerant than the imperial Christianity, providing greater religious freedom for Jews and Christians. Most local Christian Churches had been persecuted as schematics heretics by a foreign Christian Orthodoxy.

Islam as a universal system tolerates peoples of different religious backgrounds and protects the rights of its diverse subjects against oppression and discrimination. At the same time, it emphasizes that it is the only absolute truth with ample objective and logical evidence.

Tritton expressed his opinion regarding this very great attribute of tolerance in Islam by saying "The picture of the Muslim soldier advancing with a sword in one hand and the Qur'an in the other is quite false."

Only Islam preaches and practices tolerance as part of its fundamental teachings that allows no second interpretation. Regardless of any deviation in part of the Muslims at any time in history, which is seldom, the word of the Creator will always prevail. Through the many random examples of Islamic tolerance I selected from the writings of mostly nonMuslim writers, Islam has manifested an unparalleled form of tolerance.

At a time when it asserts that it is the only system that contains the full truth as revealed and kept in tact in the real words of the Creator 'The Qur'an". This tolerance in the human sphere has allowed Islam to extend openmindedness to the intellectual sphere, the topic of my next section.