A couple of weeks ago, someone sent me a list of questions by email, seeking my responses to them. The questions had to do with the manner in which many Muslims relate to people of other faiths.
“Last week I went to a mosque for the Friday prayer and in the sermon the Imam was speaking about Christians and Jews in negative terms, perhaps as ‘oppressors’ of Muslims,” wrote this perplexed Muslim worshipper.
The imam of the mosque according to the questioner seemed to think of non-Muslims as ‘enemies of Islam’. Some, of course not all, imams even go as far as praying for something bad to befall on non-Muslim communities. He wanted to know my reaction to this practice.
My response to the question was simple: A sermon that breeds hatred and intolerance is contrary to the spirit of Islam. I am aware of the fact that this practice is quite common among some Muslims but it is totally un-Islamic.
We should learn from the way all the Prophets used to call their peoples to the Oneness of God, as stated in the Holy Qur’an: I am conveying my Lord’s messages to you and I am your sincere (or well-wisher) and honest adviser. (Surah 7, verse 68)
The first prerequisite for being an educator and caller of the people to Islam is being a well-wisher of the person you are addressing. If you have hatred in your heart and you curse people of different faiths, then how can you engage in inviting people to Islam?
How can you encourage an internal spiritual growth in people if you have disdain in your heart for them?
Conveying the message of Islam requires sincerity on the part of the speaker as well as gentleness and friendliness. Without adopting peaceful and pleasant behavior, the preacher cannot call people to Islam nor will he be rewarded by God. Telling people about Islam is an honorable task, but it entails that one maintains a normal and healthy relationship with those one is reaching out to. It is our responsibility to develop healthy social relationships and communicate with all people in our society.
Praying for harm to be inflicted on anyone is not the Islamic way. “If praying against people is wrong, then what supplication should we make for people of other faiths,” the questioner wanted to know.
I replied that we should pray for all men and women on an equal basis. The Holy Qur’an refers to God as the Lord of the Worlds in the very first chapter, and does not refer to God as only the God Muslims.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent as a mercy for all of mankind. The Qur’an does not say that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is a mercy for Muslims alone. The Prophet (peace be upon him) prayed for the guidance of non-believers and he never prayed for their destruction.
Regarding and treating other communities as enemies has no basis in the teachings of the Holy Qur’an or in the way Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) dealt with non-Muslims.
It is no one’s right to label someone as an enemy of Islam or to pass judgement on others such actions are unlawful according to Islam. If you were to see someone who has clearly gone astray why would you curse this person? Instead, you should advise this person, show the person the right way, and communicate the message of God to him/her. Under no circumstances do you have the right to curse him/her. You must pray to God for his guidance. You have to try to bring this person closer to God.
Our responsibility as Muslims is to convey God’s words to people and to help them discover the Truth. Your work as a well-wisher is to lead others to Islam, as a way of life which ultimately brings true happiness and peace.
If people express doubt or apprehension about Islam, then one should sincerely discuss the matter with them, rather than curse them. If you claim to do something in the name of Islam, then you must exert your energies in a peaceful manner. One should explain, listen, and also pray. To declare that some people are enemies or to curse them is certainly not allowed in Islam.
The believer’s task is only to convey the message. The believer has no right to be any hostile towards others.
There are certain prerequisites for carrying out the task of inviting people to Islam and patience and tolerance among the most important. If the Muslim does not remain patient, he cannot be a true caller of the message of Islam.
Whether you are a Muslim or non-Muslim, it is essential to maintain a peaceful atmosphere. And for that you have to be patient and not go about cursing people, regardless of their faith.
If you think positively and you sincerely wish others well, only then will you be able to rightly convey the message of God to them. It is with wisdom and kindness that you can soften others’ hearts towards the message of Islam.
In every situation and in every human encounter, we all have to be well-wishers for others, maintain composure, and convey God’s message. We have to pray for the guidance of the people, and leave everything else to God.