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Non-Political Islam is a peaceful and inclusive religion

by I.S. Senguttuvan

(March 19, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The radicalisation of Islam, a religion and adherents of whom were identified with peace and good citizenry in the country, in the global scene has resulted in a degree of below the surfance tension among the different communities. In the late 1980s when I invited the then Egyptian Ambassador to address the Service body of which I was President he spoke of the "sweeping Islamic fundamentalism" that was then making its presence felt in the world and more in the Arab lands in particular. He warned then this would harm followers of Islam globally than the good that was preached will follow to the benefit of the followers. The barbaric destruction of the Bamiyan Statue of the Buddha in Afghanistan by the medieval Taliban engaged the condemnation of the world in general and world Buddhists in particular. Men of learning like V.S. Naipul, Samuel Huntington and many others of undoubted integrity were to caution restraint. 9/11 changed the contours of the world's political landscape and tension globally appears to have grown rather than diminish.

Realising the danger, voices of reason within Islamic lands have begun to tell their own people and the world Islam respects other religions and is pluralistic. The following is from one of the most respected English speaking dailies in the world - Dawn from Karachi that came out early this month.

...."In 628 CE, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH granted a charter of privileges in the form of a letter to the monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery in Mount Sinai . The letter (reproduced below) covers all aspects of human rights’ including issues such as the protection of Christians, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their property, exemption from military service, and the right to protection in war.

“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 Allah! 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 to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the community (of Muslims) is to disobey this covenant till the Last Day.”

If one reads this with the Treaty of Madina, according to which the Prophet (PBUH), agreed with the Jews and which is regarded as the first-ever constitution of a state, one will realise that these are some of history’s finest examples of tolerance and moderation and the best interpretation of God’s word and His objectives..."

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