There are those that say that Islam was spread by the sword and people were forced into the religion. However, that is very far from the truth. Islam is the most tolerant of other religions and its history proves that. It not only recognizes racial equality but it follows principles of religious tolerance-two concepts that did not exist in ancient civilizations before Islam. This is a three part series on this very important issue. This first part, discusses ten principles in the Quran that command religious tolerance. These were taken directly from Civilization of Faith.


1. The divinely-revealed religions all stemmed from the same source (Allah actually only revealed one religion-the Scriptures all reveal the same message. The changes in religion that became Christianity and Judaism were created by people).

{He [Allah] has ordained for you the same religion [Islamic Monotheism] which He ordained for Nuh [Noah] and that which We have revealed to you [O Mohammed] and that which We ordained for Ibrahim [Abraham], Musa [Moses] and Easa [Jesus] saying you should establish religion [i.e. to do what it orders you to do practically] and make no divisions in it [religion] [i.e various sects in religion]…} (Quran (surat Al Shura) 42:13)

2. The Prophets are brothers and there is no difference between them with regard to the message; the Muslims are obliged to believe in them all.

{Say [O Muslims]: We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Ibrahim [Abraham], Isamil [Ishmael], Ishaq [Isac], Yaqub [Jacob], and to Al Asbat [the offspring of the twelve sons of Yaqub] and that which has been given to Musa [Moses] and Ease [Jesus] and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims in submission to Him} (Quran (surat Al Baqara) 2:136)

3. Belief cannot be forced upon people. Rather, it must come by conviction and acceptance.

{There is no compulsion in religion} (Quran (surat Al Baqara) 2:256)

{And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed, all of them together. So, will you [O Mohammed] then compel people in order that they become believers?} (Quran (surat Yunis) 10:99)

4. The places of worship belonging to the divinely-revealed religions are sacred and must be defended and guarded like the mosques of Muslims.

{…For had it not been that Allah checks one set of people by means of another, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, wherein the Name of Allah is mentioned much would surely, have been pulled down…} (Quran (surat Al Hajj) 22:40)

5. Differences of religion should not make people fight one another or commit aggression against one another: rather they should cooperate in doing good and warding off evil:

{..Help one another in Al Birr and At Taqwa [virtue, righteousness, and piety]; but do not help one another in sin and transgression…} (Quran (surat Al Maeda) 5:2)

{The Jews said that the Christians follow nothing [i.e. are not on the right religion]; and the Christians said that the Jews follow nothing [i.e. are not on the right religion]; though they both recite the Scripture. Thus do those who know not [the polytheists] speak the same as their words. But Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection about that wherein they have been differing.} (Quran (surat Al Baqara) 2:113)

6. Differentiation between people in this life and before Allah is based on the degree to which a person can do good for himself and others.

{Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that [believer] who has Al Taqwa [i.e. he is one of the Muttaqun [the pious]} (Quran (surat Al Hujairat) 49:13)

7. Differences in religion do not mean we should not be kind, uphold ties of kinship, or show hostility.

{This day [all] good foods have been made lawful, and the food of those who were given the Scripture is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women among those who were given the Scriptures before you…} (Quran (surat Al Maeda) 5:5)

8. If people follow different religions, they are permitted to dispute in a kind and gentle manner, within the constraints of good manners, establishing proof and debating in a sound manner.

{And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best…} (Quran (surat Al Ankaboot) 29:46)

{And insult not those who invoke other than Allah, lest they should insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge. Thus We have made fair seeming to each people their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return and He shall then inform them of all that they used to do.} (Quran (surat al Anam) 6:108)

9. If the beliefs of the ummah come under attack, we must respond in order to protect our beliefs and ward off fitnah (tribulations)

{And fight them until there is no more fitnah [disbelief, dissention, trial, civil strife] and [alland every kind] of worship is for Allah [alone]…} (Quran (surat Al Baqara) 2:193)

{Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion- [forbids] that you make allies of them…} (Quran (surat Al Mumtahana) 60:9)

10. “If the ummah gains victory over those who attacked their religion or sought to deprive it of freedom, it is not permissible to take revenge on them by forcing them to give up their religion or persecuting them for their beliefs. It is sufficient for them to acknowledge the authority of the state and to give their allegiance to it so that “They will share the same rights and obligations as us.”’




Sibāʻī, Muṣṭafá. Civilization of Faith: Solidarity , Tolerance and Equality in a Nation Built on Shari’ah : A Journey through Islamic History. Riyadh: International Islamic House, 2005. Print.

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