Tolerance and the Importance of Dialogue in Islam, By Imam Murtada Gusau
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Praises be to Allah, Creator of the Universe, Many, pure and blessed praises. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, the One God who has no partner. I also bear witness that our Master Muhammad is the servant and Messenger of Allah. May Allah have His peace and blessings upon our Master Muhammad, His family (His Ahl Al-Bayt), His Chosen Companions and all those who will follow their righteous path till the Day of Judgment.
Dear Muslims, Dear Nigerians, I call on myself first and all of you to be God-fearing and pious. I also urge you to obey Him, the Almighty, Who says: “O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (Peace be upon him), has indeed attained a great achievement” (Al-Ahzaab, 33:70-71).
O servants of Allah, Allah has chosen man, has favoured him and has fully endowed him. He has sent down to him Messengers and Holy Books. He also set rules and commands. Allah, the Almighty, says: “And indeed We have honoured the Children of Adam. And we have carried them on land and sea, and have given them for sustenance good and pure things, and conferred on them special favours, above a great part of those We have created” (Al-Israa’, 17:70).
Islam was sent down as mercy and guidance to mankind. In a world that has become smaller and interdependent, in a world seeking peace and stability, mankind is in crucial need, now more than ever, to learn the true principles and essence of Islam and the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). His Noble Sirah represents the best practical model of coexistence in society and amongst different communities on the basis of fraternity and righteous cooperation. Islam asserts and recognises diversity and multiplicity as part of the Divine intention and purpose in creation. Allah says in the Noble Qur’an: “And if Allah had so willed, He could surely have made mankind one nation, but they will not cease to disagree, except him on whom Allah has bestowed His mercy and for that did He create them” (Huud’, 11:118-119).
Islam has laid the foundations of peaceful coexistence in society and even in the world at large. Islam calls for peaceful cooperation which leads to a better life for everyone. When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was exhorting Muslims to support the newly established Muslim community in Madinah, he signed the Constitution that embodied the Islamic principle of reaching contractual peaceful coexistence with adherents of other religions. Based on the Islamic Principles, Muslims all over the world live in peace in diverse societies irrespective of difference in religion, race or culture.
Dear servants of Allah, Islam prohibits any form of coerced (forced) conversion to Islam. Indeed, Allah, the Exalted, says in the Noble Qur’an: “There is no compulsion in religion.” Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) called for Islam with gentle approach and wisdom.
“It is reported from Abu Hurairah (R.A) that the Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, sent riders towards Najd. They brought a man of the bani Hanifa, whose name was Thumamah Ibn Uthal, and tied him to one of the pillars of the mosque. Then the Noble Prophet came out to him and asked him three times to convert. When the man refused, the Prophet asked them to let him go. The man went to a date tree close to the mosque, had a bath and came back and said: “I testify that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger.”
Islamic teachings call for Muslims to respect and cooperate with people from all walks of life regardless of difference in religion, culture, race and tribe. Islam stands firm for the principle of non-coercion. It even emphasises the importance of honouring one’s parents irrespective of their faith. Asma’ bint (daughter) of Abu Bakr, May Allah be pleased with them, said:
“My mother came to visit me at the time of Prophet (peace be upon him) and she was a nonbeliever. I inquired from the Prophet (peace be upon him) who said: “Continue to do good to your non-believing mother.”
Islam stands firm for justice in society. The reluctance of some people to convert to Islam should not be by any means a pretext to assault or hurt them or forgo their rights. Allah, the Almighty, says in the Noble Qur’an: “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 God” (Al-Maa’idah, 5:8).
Muslims must keep and honour their treaties, covenants or agreements… because disloyalty and betrayal are two abhorred attributes in Islam. We ask Allah, the Almighty, to help us obey Him and obey those He has ordained us to obey. Allah says in the Noble Qur’an: “O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger and those charged with authority among you” (An-Nisaa’, 4:59).
Praises be to Allah, Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah, the One God who has no partner. I also bear witness that our master Muhammad, May Allah have His Peace and blessings upon him. His family, His Companions and all those who will follow their righteous path till the Day of Judgment.
Dear Muslims, Dear Nigerians, I call upon myself first and all of you to fear Allah, The Almighty, I also urge you to obey Him as Allah says in the Noble Qur’an: “O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except in a state of Islam” (Al-Imran, 3:102).
O Muslims, O Nigerians, The Noble Qur’an and the Hadith of the Prophet abounds with example and parables emphasising the importance of dialogue in human’s life. They also teach us to be good and attentive listeners. Indeed, engaging in dialogue was embodied in the Noble Qur’an’s story of creation when the angels asked Allah: “Behold, Allah said to angels: I will place generations after generations on earth. “They said: “Will You place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? – Whilst we glorify You with praises and thanks and sanctify you? He (Allah) said: I know what you know not” (Al-Baqarah, 2:30).
The angels consented to the Divine command: “So the angels prostrated all of them together, except Satan – he refused to be among the prostrators” (Al-Hijr, 15: 31-32). Allah, the Almighty, inquired from Satan about the reason for his disobedience. Allah says: “Allah said: O Satan! What is your reason for not being among the prostrators. Satan said: “I am not the one to prostrate to a human being whom you created from dried clay, from mud moulded into shape” (Al-Hijr, 15:32-33). It is such a great lesson epitomising (emphasising) the importance of dialogue in our life. We also learn how to be good listeners, even to those we believe to be wrong.
O Believers, O My Respected people, Prophets Noah (Nuh), Hud, Abraham (Ibrahim), Shu’aib, Moses (Musa) and Muhammad May Allah have peace upon them, did engage in dialogue with their peoples and the Noble Qur’an recounts their dialogues.
O Muslims, One of the parables in the Noble Qur’an addresses the life of two different men. Allah bestowed his blessings upon one of them, with two marvellous gardens abounding with all kinds of fruits. He became so arrogant and forgot that what he had was from Allah and denied the Day of Judgment. Despite that, his believing companion was following the ethics of disagreement in Islam and was advising him kindly. Allah, The Exalted, says: “His companion said to him, in the course of argument with him: “Do you deny Him Who created you out of dust, then out of a sperm drop?”(Al-Kahf, 18:37). The parable ends with the man’s repentance, as Allah, Almighty recounts what he said: ”Woe to me! Would I have never ascribed partners to Allah” (Al-Kahf, 18: 42). This successful dialogue stresses the importance of the ethics of dialogue and kind persuasion in Islam.
O Believers, The vital role of dialogue in our life must be taught (conveyed) to our children. It is essential in all frameworks of interpersonal communications between husband and wife, between fathers and children, between leaders and the led and between teachers and students. In the life of the Prophet (pbuh), there is a viable example of dialogue with children. Ibn Abbas, May Allah be pleased with them, said: “Milk was brought to the Prophet (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him). On his right was Ibn Abbas who was a little boy and on his left Khalid bin al-waleed. He said to the boy: if you permit, I shall give Khalid first.” The boy said:” I do not want to let anyone have my share of what is left from your lips.” Ibn Abbas had milk first then Khalid.” This dialogue addresses the need to respect our kids’ feelings and to listen to their opinions.
O Muslims, For a dialogue to succeed, we must not indulge in argumentation about matters of which we have no knowledge, no evidence and no proof, as Allah, the almighty, says:” “Yet of mankind is he who disputes about Allah without knowledge or guidance or a book to enlighten them” (Luqman, 31:20). If one is clear about the purpose of the dialogue, then it is necessary to resort to wisdom and the best persuasion methods and techniques.
Also dialogue requires respecting the other part, exerting patience with him and avoiding interruption when he/she is defending a vision, opinion or idea. We must have good faith in the other party, and avoid useless argumentation leading to hostility. The prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “The most detestable man to Allah is the hostile one.”
Dear servants of Allah, I urge you first to fear and obey Allah. The Noble Qur’an approach to dialogue stresses that one of its goals is to instil positive changes or to correct misconceptions. Further, dialogue could lead to effective solutions to human issues and problems hence creating a more coherent society. Through deep listening with compassion and positive dialogue, a stronger family unit may be built, friends may be united. Through acceptance and respect of differences, coexistence and tolerance may keep society in peace. Therefore, dialogue leads to achieving high human and ethical values. I urge you all to resort to purposeful dialogue in resolving all your problems and issues.
We ask Allah, the Almighty, to help us obey Him and those He has commanded us to obey in the Noble Qur’an: “O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (peace be upon him) and those of you who are in authority”(An-Nisa, 4: 59).
May Allah help us to be of the people of the Noble Qur’an and of the followers of the path of the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him), Ameen.
This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today Jumaadal-ula 29, 1436 A.H (March 20, 2015), by Imam Murtada Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Juma’ah Mosque Okene, Kogi State Nigeria. He can be reached via 08038289761 and firstname.lastname@example.org