Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Interfaith Dialogue | Al-Risala April, 1987
The ninth chapter of the Quran makes it clear that “This is a proclamation from God and His Messenger to the people on the day of the Pilgrimage, that God is free of all obligation to the polytheists, and so is His Messenger” (9.3) and that the latter are to be sternly dealt with if their breaches of trust, other evil-doing and in particular, their unwillingness to repent so merit it. But in the same Chapter it is said that “God will turn in His mercy to whom He wills: God is forgiving and merciful” (9.27) and the faithful are advised that “If any one of the polytheists seeks asylum with you, grant him asylum so that he may hear the word of God; then convey him to a place of safety. That is because they are a people who have no knowledge.” (9.6). In spite of the iniquities of the idolaters, they are to be treated leniently if repentant, their vulnerability is to be used not to extirpate, but to reform them and their ignorance is to be seen as a mitigating factor in any judgment passed upon them.
The Quran leaves us in no doubt that the negativism of enmity should never be allowed to diminish or destroy the opportunity to bring enlightenment to any of God’s creatures. Although the Quran says, “Believers! Fight against those deniers of the truth who are near you,” it also says in the same verse, “Deal firmly with them. Know that God is with those who fear Him.” (9.123)