Tolerance Of Holy Prophet Essay Outline

Islam is the religion of peace, which is the sole accepted religion in sight of Allah Almighty. Despite this concrete fact, Islam realizes that there are plural of religions on earth as religion is not to be and can never be forced upon an individual against their will. No Muslim have steadfastly upheld the level of tolerance that Muhammad (PBUH) had portrayed in his era towards minorities yet the clear elicitation of tolerance is vivid from the verse of Quran for the Muslims that:

“For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.” [Quran 109: 6]

Islam has always been branded with the label of terrorism plus conservative religion and the reason is the pundits and fanatics who have grotesquely rendered the image of Islam. Historians especially the Orientals had presented the picture of Muslims as holding Quran in one hand and sword in another. West media has marked Islam an intolerant towards other faiths though the entire life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is a paradigm in front of all where he was living in the time when rest of the religions like Christians, Zoroastrians, polytheists and Jews were affiliated with their own religions. In spite this all it clearly has stated in Quran that no compulsion is upon any other faith-bearing person:

“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” [Quran 2:256]

Islam Refute Forceful Conversion to Its Dogmas

Allah Almighty has clearly outlined the duties and atrocities of His messengers and thereupon no one is ever allowed to forcefully implying religion on another. The essence of this can be easily gauged in the verse of Quran in which Allah has marked the duties of His messengers as:

“Not upon the Messenger is [responsibility] except [for] notification. And Allah knows whatever you reveal and whatever you conceal.”

Muhammad (PBUH) and Tolerance

The whole persona of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) exemplifies the significance of tolerance towards other minorities. Once the people of asked Prophet Muhammad that why Allah did not inflict hardships and forcefully demolish the false Gods to prevail one true religion. Upon this Allah Almighty sent the following verse of Quran:

“And those who associate others with Allah say, “If Allah had willed, we would not have worshipped anything other than Him, neither we nor our fathers, nor would we have forbidden anything through other than Him.” Thus did those do before them. So is there upon the messengers except [the duty of] clear notification?” [Quran 16:35]

Probe the complete life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the non-believers would extract that Islam is the religion of forbearance. Jews were allowed to practice their faith and to recite Torah as they were having their own school of learning with the name of Bait-ul-Midras.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had advised his emissaries not to harm or demolish other faith’s institutions. Prophet’s letter to his followers is a glowing globe for the rest of his followers to respect and honor the worshipping places be synagogue, church or Mandirs of other faith. The letter held the following words:

“This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.  Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by God!  I hold out against anything that displeases them.  No compulsion is to be on them.  Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.  No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses.  Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet.  Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.  No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight.  The Muslims are to fight for them.  If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval.  She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.  Their churches are declared to be protected.  They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.  No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”

The story of Najran Christian preacher is one such epitome of learning from Muhammad (PBUH) practices, which reflects the tolerance towards other creeds. In the historic book, the story has been quoted as:

The Prophet received a delegation of sixty Christians from the region of Najran, then a part of Yemen, at his mosque. When the time for their prayer came, they faced the direction of east and prayed. The Prophet ordered that they be left in their state and not harmed.

Maltreatment With Non Muslims

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has strictly warned his followers from maltreatment with non-Muslims. In Holy Quran, even Allah says that killing an innocent person (no distinction of religion implies here) is likely to slain mankind entirely [Quran 5:32]

“Beware! Whoever is cruel and harsh to a non-Muslim minority, curtailing their rights, overburdening them, or stealing from them, I will complain [to God].” [Abu Dawud]

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was lenient and kind enough towards all people and in this regard, he himself let alone was the perfect example until eternity. He commanded his followers as:

“And tell My servants to say that which is best. Indeed, Satan induces [dissension] among them. Indeed Satan is ever, to mankind, a clear enemy.” [Quran 17:53]

The Bedouin story who urinated in Mosque shed light on the facts that how tolerant Muhammad (PBUH) was towards the non believers as narrated in Hadith:

“A desert Arab came and stood up and began to urinate in the mosque. The Companions of Allah’s Messenger said: Stop, stop, but the Messenger of Allah said: Do not interrupt him; leave him alone. They left him alone, and when he finished urinating, Allah’s Messenger called him and said to him: These mosques are not the places meant for urine and filth, but are only for the remembrance of Allah.” [Sahih Muslim]

Aforementioned are the excerpts that demonstrate the tolerance of religions by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and those who indiscriminately describe Muslim followers as aggressively intolerant believers should scrutinize the life of Muhammad, which is an apparent message to all the people that he was the merciful who was sent down as portal of guidance for all as stated:

“Say, [O Muhammad], “O mankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allah to you all, [from Him] to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth….” [Quran 7:158]

God has always chosen prophets with the best of characters, morals and spirits.

Since God is All-Knowing, All-Wise, and has ordained human’s destiny before their birth, it is feasible to think that He has already chosen His Prophets before even their entrance to the world.

Prophet Muhammad was not an exception. God bestowed on him the best of characters, one of which was his exceptional tolerance which is manifested in his life and teachings:

{And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted (standard of) character} (Quran 68: 4)

We will examine some examples of his tolerance at the advent of Islam and during its expansion process. In the next article, we will examine his treatment of non-Muslims.

In Makkah

During the first thirteen years of his life in Makkah, he and his followers faced much persecution. Muslims were not ordered by God to fight back due to the fact that they had no military strength yet due to the small following which gradually increased. It was only in Madinah when his following and military power rapidly grew that fighting to protect themselves and the new religion was allowed.

When the Prophet’s opponents greatly increased their persecution, his companions asked him to curse them. At this the Prophet replied:

“I have not been sent to lay a curse upon men but to be a blessing to them.” (Muslim)

His opponents continued to treat him and his companions unjustly and cruelly, but he always prayed for them.

He once decided to personally visit the village of Ta’if, to the east of Makkah, to invite its inhabitants to Islam. The people rejected him, stoned him, ejected him, and made him to bleed. Angel Gabriel came to him and said:

“Allah has heard what your people say to you and how they reject you. He has ordered the angels of the mountains to obey whatever you tell them to do.” The angel of the mountains called him, greeted him and said, “Send me to do what you wish. If you wish, I will crush them between the two mountains of Makkah.”

The Prophet said:

“Rather, I hope that Allah will bring forth from their loins those who will worship Allah alone and not associate anything with Him.”  (Al-Bukhari)

In the early Makkan period when the enemies of the new religion far exceeded the Prophet’s companions in number, it often happened that when the Prophet would stand to pray, his foes would come near him and whistle and clap in order to disturb him, but the Prophet would not even once show his anger at such acts. He always opted for the policy of tolerance and avoidance of confrontation.

In one instance when the Prophet was praying at the Ka’bah while his enemies were watching his every move and action, one of his adversaries put on his back the intestine of a slaughtered camel during his prostration. The Prophet did not react and stayed in that position. His daughter, Fatimah, rushed to take the filth off his back and cleaned him up.

In Madinah

Later, when Prophet Muhammad and many of his companions migrated to Madinah, again his great character in dealing with his companions and enemies was further manifested.

In Madinah, the Muslims were in the process of establishing the new Islamic state. Yet, their enemies in Makkah did not spare much time to wage war against them and pursue them even in Madinah.

In the battle of Uhud, when his Makkan enemies attacked the Muslims, Prophet Muhammad suffered head injury and his front teeth got smashed. When the blood started to seep from his head, he swabbed it saying:

“If a drop of my blood fell on the earth, those infidels will be destroyed by Allah.” Umar told him, O Messenger of Allah, Curse them! The prophet replied: “I wasn’t sent (by Allah) to curse. I was sent as a mercy.” Then he said: “O Allah, Guide my people!” (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

God confirms his blessed character by saying:

{And We have not sent you forth but as a mercy to mankind.} (Quran 21:107)

The Prophet once said:

“A true believer is one with whom others feel secure.” (Al-Bukhari)

He manifested these words with action and was not fast to revenge or rebuke a wrong doer.

A Bedouin once entered the mosque and started to urinate in it. Mosques at that time had no walls and carpeted floors and the ceilings were palm leaves held up by palm stems. The people ran to (prevent and restrain) him. The Prophet said:

“Do not interrupt his urination (i.e. let him finish). Then the Prophet asked for a pitcher of water to be poured over the place of urine. (Al-Bukhari)

One of Jesus’ famous saying is:

“Love your neighbor like yourself.”

Prophet Muhammad complimented this by saying:

“By God, he is not a believer, by God, he is not a believer, by God, he is not a believer, with whom his neighbors are not secure.” (Al-Bukhari)

This includes tolerance for actions they may do that is not pleasing to one.

It is reported that one of the Prophet’s neighbors was a Jew who hated the Prophet. Each day he would throw trash on his way. The prophet never rebuked him. One day, the Jew did not show up. The Prophet asked about him, and was told that he was sick. So, he went to visit him and inquire about his health with kindness. Upon seeing this, the Jew embraced Islam.

The enmity of his worst enemy toward his most beloved was also met with awesome goodness.

Hamza was among the Prophet’s most beloved uncles. During one of the battles, Hend, the wife of Abu Sufyan, the arch enemy of the Prophet, had ordered her slave to find Hamza and pierce him with his arrow. Upon seeing him dead, she rushed to his body and cut out his liver and started chewing on it while filled with rage. Upon the conquest of Makkah, the Prophet did not seek revenge on her and accepted her and her husband as new converts and gave them full protection.

Anas ibn Malik, who served the Prophet for ten years, said that the Prophet never rebuked him:

“When I did something, he never questioned my manner of doing it; and when I did not do something, he never questioned my failure to do it. He was the most good-natured of all men.” (Al-Bukhari)

Such manners of tolerance gained him the respect even of his enemies, and his followers stood by him through all kinds of hardship and misfortune.

Although his worse enemies were the Makkan Arabs at the beginning, but in Madinah, the Jews did not spare any effort to conspire against him, even after treaties were signed with them. However, he tried to be as fair with them as possible and only waged war against them when they broke treaties which caused much loss of life of Muslims.

Once, when the Prophet was sitting at a place in Madinah, along with his companions, a funeral procession passed by. On seeing this, the Prophet stood up. One of his companions remarked that the funeral was that of a Jew. The Prophet replied:

“Was he not a human being?” (Muslim)

Since Prophet Muhammad wished to avoid war at all costs, he strove to bring about a peace agreement between him and the Makkans. After great efforts on his part, the non-Muslims agreed to a ten-year peace treaty, which was drafted and signed at Al-Hudaybiyyah, a place outside Makkah.

During this important meeting, the Makkans insisted on a number of extremely provocative acts. For instance, the agreement mentioned the Prophet’s name as “Muhammad the Messenger of Allah.” They insisted to replace by “son of Abdullah.” The Prophet accepted peacefully and deleted the appellation.

Similarly, they made the condition that if they could lay their hands on any Muslim they would make him a hostage, but if the Muslims succeeded in detaining any non-Muslim, they would have to set him free. The Prophet even relented on this point for establishment of peace in the region. He was clearly setting examples of fairness and tolerance while exposed to injustice and intolerance.

Despite all the concessions Prophet Muhammad made with the Makkans, the later violated the same treaty they signed earlier. It was then that the Prophet finally marched with his huge army to Makkah and without any resistance conquered the city which was once the abode of his worse enemies.

As mentioned earlier, the Prophet and his followers suffered a great deal during their thirteen years of living in Makkah and after their migration to Madinah. His own tribesmen and even family members continue to oppose him in not only in Makkah but rose to fight him in Madinah for over 20 years.

They did not spare any effort to inflict the worse humanly possible hardship on them. In Makkah, it included, torture, sanctions, taking their lives’ belonging, separating family members and slaughtering them where ever they could find them. With God’s help and his and his companions’ steadfastness in Madinah and upholding the message of Islam, they finally conquered Makkah. Its leaders came to him fearing that he would kill them as all conquerors do. But instead, he said:

“Go! You are all free!” (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

Prophet Muhammad’s mercy and tolerance did not exclude his worse enemies. Such tolerance awed his enemies who were now the newly converted Muslims. The end result is a clear history that is registered to this day. Message of Islam spread across the world, to include on fifth of the global population.

These are only a few among many examples of the Prophet’s tolerance and noble character. Aisha, the wife of the Prophet was asked regarding the character of the Prophet (peace be upon him). She said very simply, that:

“The character of the Prophet was the Quran.” (Muslim)

Clearly, the Prophet molded his own life in accordance with the ideal pattern of life that he presented to others in the form of the Quran revealed to him by God. He never beat a servant, or a woman, or anyone else. He did, of course, fight for what was right. When he had to choose between two alternatives, he would take the easier course, provided it involved no sin. No one was more careful to avoid sin than he. He never sought revenge on his own sake for any wrong done to him personally. He was tolerant.  Only if God’s commandments had been broken would he meet out retribution for the sake of God. It was such conduct which gained the Prophet universal respect.

Scholars further explain about the Quran being his character:

“What this means is that he followed its etiquette and adopted its attitude. Whatever was praised in the Quran, he was pleased with, and whatever was condemned in the Quran he hated. It says in one report that Aisha said: His attitude was the Quran, whatever it was pleased with he was pleased with and whatever it hated he hated.” (Ibn rajab in Jaami’ al-‘Uloom wa’l-Hukam (1/148))

One may say, since he was the last Prophet and messenger to mankind, no other can ever be quite like him. This is true because none shall ever have to shoulder a fraction of the responsibilities he had to bear. However, we, as his followers, have the easy part which is to seek and adopt his gentle qualities and high moral standards into daily practice; for the Prophet’s life was divinely chosen to function as a practical manual of how one should better himself.

Prophet Muhammad’s character and qualities are not only for the Muslims to follow, but the sincere seekers who learn about him, praise his noble character and wish to follow it.

Goethe, a famous German writer, artist, and politician of the 1800s, marveled over the achievements and status of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) saying:

“We Europeans with all our concepts and ideas have not yet attained that which Muhammad attained, and no one will ever surpass him.

I searched in history for the loftiest example for man to follow, and I found it in the Prophet Muhammad. Thus the truth must prevail and become supreme, because Muhammad succeeded in subjugating the whole world by means of the message of Divine Oneness.”

First published on March 2016.


Raya Shokatfard

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