Tolerance is the basic principle of Islam. It is our religious and moral duty to follow the basic principles of Islam in which tolerance also comes. The Quran speaks about the basic dignity of all human beings regardless of their race, color, language or nationality. In Islam, tolerance means to recognize the right to life, property, family honor and morals or principles of all people. Freedom of religion has been guaranteed by Islam since the beginning. It prohibits violence and constraint in matters of faith and belief. The Quran Allah Almighty says: “There is no compulsion in religion.”
Allah Almighty has chosen prophets with best characters, morals, and spirits. The religion Islam brought by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is a religion of forgiveness, love, and tolerance. Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has been mentioned in these words: “And We have not sent you forth but as a mercy to mankind.” (Quran, Al-Anbiyaa: 107). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) sent as a mercy for all mankind.
The tolerance that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had depicted in his time towards minorities still the clear elicitation of tolerance is expressed from the following verse of Quran for the Muslims that is: “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.” (Quran 109: 6)
No one from the prophets of Allah Almighty is allowed to forcefully implement their religion on people without their desire. In Holy Quran, Allah says: “Not upon the Messenger is [responsibility] except [for] notification. And Allah knows whatever you reveal and whatever you conceal.”
There are so many examples of tolerance from the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Some of them we will discuss below in this article:
During the first thirteen years of his life in Makah, he and his followers faced much oppression from their opponents. Muslims were not ordered by Allah Almighty 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 Medina when his following and military power rapidly grew that fighting to protect themselves and the new religion was allowed.
When the opponents of Prophet (SAW) greatly increased their oppression, his companions asked him to curse them. At this, the Prophet (SAW) replied: “I have not been sent to lay a curse upon men but to be a blessing to them.” (Muslim)
In the battle of Uhud, when his Makkan enemies attacked the Muslims, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) suffered a head injury and his front teeth got broken. When the blood started to seep from his head, he wiped 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)
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said in one of his Hadith: “A true believer is one with whom others feel secure” (Al-Bukhari). He (SAW) proved these words with action and was not fast to revenge a wrong achiever.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has strictly warned his followers from injustice with non-Muslims. “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]
The story of Bedouin who urinated in Mosque shed light is on the facts that how tolerant Muhammad (SAW) was towards the non-believers as narrated in one of his 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)
These were some examples of tolerance from the life of beloved Prophet (SAW). There are lessons and wisdom to be gained by the modern world in the Prophet’s understanding of tolerance and its application in Islamic history. Muslims as stubborn, aggressive and intolerant, need to look at and analyze the life and actions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).