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. The conclusion of this series will feature some quotes from Westerners throughout history that talk about the tolerance and treatment of Muslims to other.
Muslims continued their good relations with Christians, even during the Crusades, when historical attacks were taken against the Muslim world. Ibn Jubayr reported from his travels during the time:
“One of the strange things that are happening when the flames of conflict are burning between the Muslims and Christians and two groups of them may face one another in a stand off, is that Muslim and Christian friends may visit one another without any objections; caravans are still carrying good from Egypt to Damascus through the Frankish lands with no obstacles-The Muslims pay a tax to the Christians in their lands, and Christian merchants in the Muslim lands pay a tax on their goods, and the agreement between them is fair. The warriors are busy with their war, and the people are fine, and the world will go to the victor.”
The American historian Theodore Draper had this to say about Muslim’s religious tolerance:
“The first Muslims, at the time of the Caliphs, did no just respect Christians, Nestorian, and Jewish scholars, they also delegated many important tasks to them and promoted them to highest offices of state. Harun Al Rashid put all the schools under the supervision of Hana ibn Masawayh, and he did not pay any attention to the country in which the scholar lived, or the religion into which he had been borne; he only looked at the status of his knowledge.”
The British historian, Colin Wells, said of Islam:
“It established great traditions of just interaction and it inspired in people a spirit of generosity and tolerance, as it is humane in character in its principles may be readily applied in real life. It created a group of people in whom there was little of cruelty and oppression that overwhelm the world, when compared with the other groups that came before it…” “It is filled with the spirit of kindness, tolerance, and brotherhood.”
Another writer, Mr. Arnold, when speaking of religious schools of thought among Christians wrote this:
“But the principles of Islamic tolerance forbade such actions which imply oppression. It seems to us that the Muslims, unlike others, did not spare any effort to treat all the Christians under their rule with fairness and justice. For example, after the conquest of Egypt, the Jacobites took the opportunity of the end of the Byzantine rule to take over the churches of the Orthodox, but the Muslims ultimately restored them to their rightful owners, after the Orthodox proved that they were the owners….”
Last but not least, Gustave le Bon, French social psychologist and sociologist, said:
“The world had never seen conquerors who were merciful and compassionate like the Arabs, nor any religion that was tolerant like their religion.”
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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24 Sep 2012