Islam for peaceful co-existence, not violence

About five years ago, 14-year-old student Malala Yousufzai was shot and wounded in Swat Valley by an extremist group. Her fault: She spoke out about militants, emphasizing the need for education of girls and empowerment of women.

She was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize in the wake of threats to the innocent but brave student and her family.

Also unforgettable are those who were killed and injured in anger across Pakistan and Middle East over a film in the U.S. ridiculing Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Slogan-chanting, violent protests, mass rallies and setting public and private property on fire—all very sad and against the principles of democracy.

While in Thailand from Pakistan, frankly speaking, one witnessed in this backdrop the spirit of brotherhood in Bangkok and Ayutthaya as is very often visible in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, especially among the middle and lower middle segments of society. Is it because of any common socio-economic and political problems?

One reminisces, in this context, speeches of the architect of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, whose selfless leadership provided all-time food for thought to masses of any country in the world.

As a man, he professed Islam and remained large-hearted, broad-minded and tolerant drawing inspiration from Prophet Muhammad. He had one thing in his mind–the principle of Islamic democracy.

Mr. Jinnah told members of Shahi Jirga and leaders of Balochistan: “It is my belief that our salvation lies in following the golden rules of conduct set for us by our great law-giver–the Prophet of Islam. Let us lay the foundation of our democracy on the basis of truly Islamic ideals and principles.”

How deeply impressed was the father of the nation by the life and achievements of the last Messenger of God is not a secret in any sense of the word. The Quaid’s speeches and addresses at public meetings provide an ample proof of the fact. In a broadcast talk to the people of the US, he expressed his belief that ultimate shape of the constitution of Pakistan would be of a democratic type, embodying the principles of Islam.

He made it clear that in any case Pakistan would not be a theocratic state. “We’ve many non-Muslims—Hindus, Christians and Parsis —they’re all Pakistanis. They’ll enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizen, and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.” That meant paving the way for inter-faith harmony and national unity.

The fact of the matter is the Quaid borrowed ideas of social and economic justice and tolerance from Prophet Muhammad. True followers of Islam proudly recall how intelligently the Messenger of God abolished the tribal distinction and grouped the inhabitants of Medina under one general name Ansar (Helper). In order to unite the former and the Muhajireen (Emigrants) in closer bonds, he established a brotherhood between them.

He realised the truth that the foundation of the Islamic state would be weak unless it was based upon the goodwill and support of all sections of people. Toleration of others’ religion is necessary where different races live together. His policy in this respect was: “Live and let live others.”

There are many acts of Prophet Muhammad which are of great relevance today. One is that he granted to all Christians a charter which is a monument of enlightened tolerance. They were not to be unfairly taxed, no bishop was to be driven out of his bishopric, no monk was to be expelled from his monastery, and no pilgrim was to be detained from the pilgrimage. In case of the repair of churches the Muslims were to help the Christians.

Another significant act relates to equality and social justice. A citizen called Ta’ima Ibn Ubairaq, nominally a Muslim, but really a hypocrite and given to all sorts of wicked deeds, was suspected of having stolen a set of armour. When put on hot trial, he planted the stolen property in the house of a Jew, where it was found. The Jew denied the charge and accused Ta’ima of the theft, but the Muslim community’s sympathies were with Ta’ima because of his ‘profession’ of Islam.

The case was brought before Prophet Muhammad, who acquitted the Jew according to strict principle of justice. Some people tried to prejudice the Prophet Muhammad against the Jew and deceive him into using his authority to favour Ta’ima, but he was firm as “guided by God”.

The Prophet, who was also commander-in-chief, thus, not only by words but also by deeds, treated the Jews and Christians with the utmost tolerance and regard and respect for their faith and belief.

Learning more and more from the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and sayings of the founder of Pakistan and following the examples set by them in an atmosphere of liberty, equality and fraternity will awaken the people to the necessity of unity, faith and discipline at the time their country is passing through a critical phase of its life.

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