NationalVOLUME 17 ISSUE # 11

Religion means peace, let’s practise it

Religion means peace, protection of everyone’s rights, no matter whichever religion we talk about. All religions, especially Islam, preach peace, well-being of human beings and rights of all sections of society whether they are followers of Islam or other religions. But it’s really strange that whenever someone says Islam and Sharia laws will be implemented in the country, people become afraid of it.

Followers of other religions also express their apprehensions about the safety of their rights, their lives and properties if Sharia law is implemented in Pakistan. What does that mean? Perhaps, we have been introduced to such an Islam which is very scary for the common people and followers of other religions. Did we ever think over whether people would have opted for it when the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) had invited them to embrace the new religion, had it been so scary? But the people of Arabia and elsewhere embraced it in large numbers when they came to know about its teachings through Rehmatul-lil-Alameen (Mercy for all the worlds) Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Then why do people become afraid of it when they are told about implementation of Sharia law today? There is a great need for soul-searching on the issue while World Religion Day was observed across the globe on January 16.

World Religion Day is celebrated every January on the third Sunday of the month. Its aim is to promote understanding and peace among all religions, encouraging people to learn about other faiths and their followers. The first such day was observed in 1950. It was initially started by followers of the Bahá’í faith, which says that all religions have common features, and that they should be respected equally. They believe there is one God who is known by different names in all religions. Followers of the Bahá’í faith believe that all humans are born equal, and that we all have the same rights regardless of our faith.

World Religion Day aims to promote the unity of religious peoples so that we can overcome historical differences. For centuries, different religions and faiths have fought each other, and ignored their common values. The purpose of World Religion Day is to work towards a peaceful understanding between faiths.

The six major religions of the world are Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Sikhism. Nearly 75 per cent of the world practices one of these six religions. World Religion Day promotes their similarities, and the role religion has played in uniting people across the planet.

Historically, Islam is the religion which has shown the most respect for other religions. Nothing philosophical, nothing academic. The practical examples from the Holy Prophet’s (Peace Be Upon Him) life show Islam has great respect for all other religions. One of the spectacular examples of the Prophetic respect and honour of other religions, especially Christianity, is when the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) allowed Christians to pray in his own mosque according to the Christian way of praying. A Christian delegation from Najran visited Madina. The delegation composed 60 individuals, headed by a bishop, Abu Haritha ibn Alqamah, who was an authority on Christianity and well-respected by the Byzantine emperor. When their prayer time came, some Muslims, objected to them praying in the mosque. But the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) permitted them to pray and he even hosted them in his mosque.

The Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) strengthened his relations with Jews by marrying a noble Jewish woman, Safiyyah, who became the mother of the believers. The Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) also permitted Muslims to marry Christian and Jewish women. The teachings of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) instilled in Muslims that they should treat Christians and Jews well and to maintain good relations with them.

During the period of four Rashidun (Rightly Guided or Perfect) caliphs of Islam, the followers of Christianity and Judaism enjoyed equal rights. One golden example that shows how just and impartial the Islamic judiciary must be is when fourth Rashid Caliph Ali (AS) went to a court regarding a piece of armour in the possession of a Jew. As the evidence submitted by Hazrat Ali (AS) was apparently insufficient, the judge gave his verdict in favour of the Jew. The Jew was so impressed by the fairness of the Islamic justice system that he immediately returned the armour to Hazrat Ali (AS) and embraced Islam.

These are only few examples of the real face of Islam in its early days, and history is replete with such examples. The faithful would have to know their religion firsthand, instead of learning it from semiliterate clergy, and revive the true religion which was given to the world and Muslims by the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). Only by implementing true Islam in our lives, Muslims can give the followers of other religions their rights.

(The writer is a physician by profession. She has worked as an intern at the Capital Health (New Jersey) & the Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital (New York). Rights and gender issues are the areas of special interest to her. She can be reached at: [email protected])