Protecting Religious Minorities & Houses of Worship a Duty for Muslims - updated 9/22/13

Protecting Religious Minorities & Houses of Worship a Duty for Muslims

by Sheila Musaji


“For had it not been for Allah’s repelling some men by means of others, cloisters and churches and oratories and mosques, wherein the name of God is oft mentioned, would assuredly have been pulled down.” — Qur’an 22:40

In the past few weeks a number of violent acts have been carried out my individuals calling themselves Muslims against Christian members of their communities in a number of countries.

A church in Algeria was looted and burned.  Christians and Muslims clashed outside a church in Iraq.  Bombings in Iraq targeted Christians, and Shi’ite Muslims. Nine churches have been attacked in Malaysia.  There were 2 attacks on Christians in Egypt  in 2 days, one in Nag Hamadi, and one in Cairo.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry said the attack in Nag Hamadi was suspected as retaliation for the November rape of a Muslim girl by a Christian man in the same town.  This, however, is no defense by any standards, particularly Qur’anic standards.

And, once again the violence “must be” avenged by other acts of violence which will also need to be avenged.  Reuters now reports that: ” Muslims and Christians set fire to each others’ homes and shops near the southern Egyptian town of Nagaa Hamady on Saturday, three days after a gunman killed six Coptic Christians in a drive-by shooting, security sources said.  “Four houses and a shop belonging to Christians in the village of Tiraks were set on fire by Muslims, while four shops owned by Muslims in the village of al-Bahgorah were set on fire by Christians,” a security source said. The villages are near Nagaa Hamady.”

By any standards such violence is reprehensible, and each of these acts is criminal, but the location of Nag Hamadi adds another level of sadness to this already tragic event.  This is where the Nag Hamadi codices including the only complete copy of the Gospel of Thomas were found, and the Egyptian Christian community is one of the oldest in the world

Not too far away is St. Catherine’s monastery which was built in 527.  This is where Codex Sinaiticus  was found, and, the library of St Catherines Monastery preserves the second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts in the world, outnumbered only by the Vatican. 

St. Catherine’s Monastery proudly displays on their web site a copy of a Charter granted by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself to their community.  In addition to giving a translation of the text there is a statement at the bottom that says: “The original letter was taken away in 1517 by the Turkish Sultan Selim I and is now in the Topkapi Museum in Instanbul, but the sultan gave the monks a copy of it and sanctioned its terms. From the enormous collection of ancient and modern rolls preserved in the monastery’s library, it is clear that the Covenant of the Prophet, whether or not authentic, was in some way or other renewed, and the privileges of protection and safe-conduct for the monks were upheld.”

Prophet Muhammad’s Charter to the Monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery:

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 nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).

A history of St. Catherine’s by Amanda Ellertson notes the following“This remarkable charter set the tone for relations between the Monastery and the local Islamic authorities for centuries to come. This was especially true during the Fatimid Caliphate (910 – 1171 C.E.), during which time many successive caliphs reaffirmed their pact with the Monks of Mount Sinai.”

An article   Prophet Muhammad’s Promise to Christians by Muqtedar Khan published last month about this document opened with the following:

”Muslims and Christians together constitute over fifty percent of the world and if they lived in peace, we will be half way to world peace. One small step that we can take towards fostering Muslim-Christian harmony is to tell and retell positive stories and abstain from mutual demonization.

In this article I propose to remind both Muslims and Christians about a promise that Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) made to Christians. The knowledge of this promise can have enormous impact on Muslim conduct towards Christians. Muslims generally respect the precedent of their Prophet and try to practice it in their lives.

In 628 AD, a delegation from St. Catherine’s Monastery came to Prophet Muhammed and requested his protection. He responded by granting them a charter of rights, which I reproduce below in its entirety. St. Catherine’s Monastery is located at the foot of Mt. Sinai and is the world’s oldest monastery. It possess a huge collection of Christian manuscripts, second only to the Vatican, and is a world heritage site. It also boasts the oldest collection of Christian icons. It is a treasure house of Christian history that has remained safe for 1400 years under Muslim protection.”

Obviously there are some Muslims who are ignoring this Charter, who are ignorant of it, or who see it as something only for one monastery at a particular time.  I don’t believe that it is possible in good faith to look at history and not see this as a document which sets a precedent for the just treatment of minorities. 

Not surprisingly, the Islamophobes take the same position as the Muslim extremists in not only ignoring this document but in rejecting its authenticity.  Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch actually objected to Muqtedar Khan’s article on these grounds.  In fact, Spencer called Muqtedar Khan’s article “soothing lies”. 

What is important is that the document is mentioned historically, and was believed by both Christians and Muslims to have been authentic.  And, as Muqtedar further points out in his excellent article:

“The first and the final sentence of the charter are critical. They make the promise eternal and universal. Muhammed asserts that Muslims are with Christians near and far straight away rejecting any future attempts to limit the promise to St. Catherine alone. By ordering Muslims to obey it until the Day of Judgment the charter again undermines any future attempts to revoke the privileges.  These rights are inalienable. Muhammed declared Christians, all of them, as his allies and he equated ill treatment of Christians with violating God’s covenant.

A remarkable aspect of the charter is that it imposes no conditions on Christians for enjoying its privileges. It is enough that they are Christians. They are not required to alter their beliefs, they do not have to make any payments and they do not have any obligations. This is a charter of rights without any duties!
The document is not a modern human rights treaty, but even though it was penned in 628 A.D. it clearly protects the right to property, freedom of religion, freedom of work, and security of the person.

I know most readers, must be thinking, So what? Well the answer is simple. Those who seek to foster discord among Muslims and Christians focus on issues that divide and emphasize areas of conflict. But when resources such as Muhammad’s promise to Christians is invoked and highlighted it builds bridges. It inspires Muslims to rise above communal intolerance and engenders good will in Christians who might be nursing fear of Islam or Muslims.

When I look at Islamic sources, I find in them unprecedented examples of religious tolerance and inclusiveness. They make me want to become a better person. I think the capacity to seek good and do good inheres in all of us. When we subdue this predisposition towards the good, we deny our fundamental humanity. In this holiday season, I hope all of us can find time to look for something positive and worthy of appreciation in the values, cultures and histories of other peoples.”

As I was writing this, I received a note about John L. Esposito’s excellent article Combating Muslim Intolerance which is a must read.  As a Christian scholar who has studied Islam in depth and has been a good friend to the American Muslim community, his words need to be considered as an example of an individual who is standing firmly for justice.  Here are a few highlights from that article:

”Recent attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt and firebomb attacks on churches in Malaysia have raised major concerns about deteriorating rights and security for religious minorities in Muslim countries. In the twenty-first century, Muslims are strongly challenged to move beyond older notions of “tolerance” or “co-existence” to a higher level of religious pluralism based on mutual understanding and respect. Regrettably, a significant number of Muslims, like very conservative and fundamentalist Christians and Jews, are not pluralistic but rather strongly exclusivist in their attitudes towards other faiths and even co-believers with whom they disagree.”

”A key Islamic debate today over pluralism and tolerance involves use of past doctrine to address current realities. Many want to reinstate the “protected” (dhimmi) status in which Christians and Jews could practice their faith and be guided by their religious leaders in exchange for payment of a tax. Although in the past this was progressive compared to Christian practice, in today’s modern nation state, it amounts to second class citizenship. Other Muslims insist that non-Muslims be afforded full citizenship rights, maintaining that pluralism is the essence of Islam, rather than a purely Western invention or ideology. They emphasize that the Quran envisions a pluralistic world, mutual understanding and religious tolerance for Jews and Christians,“People of the Book,” who have also received a revelation and a scripture from God (the Torah for Jews and the Gospels for Christians), a recognition that in later centuries was extended to other faiths.”

”Religious tolerance and equality of citizenship remain fragile both in secular Muslim countries like Egypt and Turkey or self-styled Islamic states and republics in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Iran—states which too often limit the rights of non-Muslims, tolerate religious intolerance of other faiths or of other Muslims with different Islamic interpretations. Substantive change can only come with strong leadership from government and religious leaders and government legislation; seminary and university curriculum in religious, particularly comparative religion courses, to counter religious exclusivism by instilling more pluralistic and tolerant visions and values in the next generation of imams, priests, scholars and the general public.”

”Finally, religious discrimination, conflict and violence cut across all the world’s religions affecting Muslim minorities in the Philippines, Thailand, Greece, Croatia, Serbia, India, and Jews and Muslims in Europe and America where Islamophobia and ant-Semitism are on the increase. To more effectively address critical issues of religious freedom, a more ad hoc, rapid response mechanism must be initiated. Modern technology and communications can be used as a more powerful tool for major religious leaders and organizations of all faiths. They need more initiatives to join together, condemning all forms of discrimination, intolerance and oppression against ethnic and religious minorities. Together they can speak out whenever and wherever abuses occur, whether it be their own religion or government or someone else’s that is the oppressor or the victim.  ...  Millions of Egyptians changed their Facebook profile pictures to the image of a cross within a crescent – the symbol of an “Egypt for All”. Around the city, banners went up calling for unity, and depicting mosques and churches, crosses and crescents, together as one.  ”

Over the centuries the Egyptian Christian community has had periods of tranquility, and it has suffered at the hands of both fanatical Muslims (like Caliph al Hakim) and fanatical Christians (the Crusaders).  The position of religious minority communities worldwide have all reflected this cyclical pattern of periods of tolerance (e.g. Andalucia) punctuated by outbursts of prejudice and violence (e.g. the holocaust and the Bosnian genocide).  At this point in time we are in the middle of a cycle of mutual suspicion, conflict, animosity, and even hatred among various religious communities.  We need to work towards reconciliation instead of conflict.

It is to be hoped that what will inform future relationships are efforts such as A Common Word, or The Arab Group for Christian Muslim Dialogue or Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion and the original tolerant message of Prophet Muhammad, and not a continuation of centuries of retaliation and revenge - as Gandhi said an eye for an eye and soon everyone will be blind.  We must work for peace and harmony, for mutual respect, and for justice. And, as Hans Kung has warned, there can be no world peace without peace among the religions.


“And it they incline to peace, incline thou also to it, and trust in Allah. Lo! He is the Hearer, the Knower” (8:61).

It is also to be hoped that the American-Muslim community will do everything they can to attempt to change the mentality that leads to such crimes.  The national Muslim organizations should come together to issue a joint statement on the rights of religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries.  We can also write to our U.S. government representatives and encourage them as Aladdin Elaasar has suggested in the case of Egypt to hold Mubarak’s regime ”... accountable to its abuse of the basic human rights of the Egyptian people. The U.S. State department’s reports are testament to such systematic abuse. The U.S. foreign aid and political support to the Mubarak’s regime should be contingent on human rights, freedom and democracy.”

There have been statements from our national organizations in response to particular incidents, e.g. ISNA’s statement on the anti-Christian riots in Pakistan:

“ISNA is appalled at the news of the riots in Gojra Pakistan in which several homes belonging to the members of Christian community were destroyed and about seven people were killed. This frenzy of fanaticism cannot be associated with any faith. The perpetrators have betrayed a brutal outrage and demeaned themselves as Quran describes asfala safileen (95:5),“the lowest of the low”. Not only do we express our outrage at this behavior as inhuman, we deplore those interpreters of Islam and religious leaders who use a rhetoric that promotes a false sense of insecurity and paranoid in Muslim mobs.

ISNA holds the law and order authorities in the region responsible for these tragic riots. Pakistani government should take the responsibility, apologize to the victims for its failure to provide protection, bring the perpetrators to justice, and provide relief and support to victims. Muslims of Pakistan should collectively rise to the occasion , demonstrate their sympathy and solidarity with the affected members of the Christian community and raise funds to rebuild the Church that has been destroyed.

The insult of Quran, real or rumored is being exaggerated to incite the passions of the common people. This shameful behavior does not do justice to the healing message of respect and love for Christians and people of other faiths given by the Quran. The way to uphold the respect for the Quran is to show the Quranic respect for religious diversity and solidarity with the poor and the week.

ISNA congratulates and takes pride in its Muslim members who raised funds to repair the damaged Church in Pakistan sometime back. We at ISNA stand committed to promote peace and harmony, with other faiths and will be willing to work with other organizations, individuals of all faiths to bring relief healing and comfort to the region.”

We now need a strong statement that covers all such incidents and that is not only signed onto by all the national organizations, but also talked about in our local mosques.  The community needs to be encouraged to speak out and use their influence in coordinated letter writing and even boycott campaigns to make our voices heard.  It is at least possible that the weight of the voices of the American Muslim community might have some impact in these countries. 

CAIR has established a Spirit of Islam Fund to Help Rebuild the Malaysian churches (as they did in the past when Pakistani churches were attacked).  We should donate as generously as we can and also encourage our leadership to set up a fund in which all national organizations cooperate to help raise funds to repair the damaged churches in Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, etc.  We might even establish a fund to hire security guards to protect all such place of worship.  I call on CAIR to make this process transparent.  I for one would want to know how much is collected, and exactly how it is distributed.  The ISNA Fort Hood Family Fund is a good example of transparency, although it might also include more information about the distribution of the funds.

And, finally, we need a strong national or international interfaith organization that is able to speak out strongly on all such issues when any minority religious community is being marginalized or abused.  Perhaps the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions could be that organization.

UPDATE 2/5/2010

The Washington Post reports that “Egyptian activists have protested in front of parliament and called for legislation giving Christians equal rights as Muslims to build houses of worship.  The demonstrators, both Muslim and Christian, were also protesting Wednesday against the sectarian strains in the country, particularly in light of a Christmas Eve slaying of six Copts and a Muslim guard outside a church in southern Egypt.”   (emphasis mine) The fact that the demonstrators were both Muslim and Christian is a very encouraging development.


UPDATE 1/8/2011

The terrorist bombing at a church in Alexandria, Egypt on New Years was immediately condemned by American Muslim organizations including MPAC, CAIR and ISNA.  They also condemned a series of attacks on churches in Nigeria which happened at the same time.  Al-Azhar, one of Egypt’s oldest centers of Islamic study and worship, issued a statement condemning the attack:  “This is a criminal act that can never be justified (in) any religion. Islam specifically prohibits any attacks on religious places. As a matter of fact, it tasks Muslims with protecting religious places of worship for Muslims and non-Muslims”

After this terrible tragedy in Alexandria, Muslims attended the Coptic Christmas mass, serving as “human shields”.  Al Ahram reported that Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular preacher Amr Khaled, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole.


UPDATE 3/15/2011

H.A. Hellyer has written Despite Religious Violence, Egyptian Mosques Calling for Muslim-Christian Unity including these important points:

...  The sermons across the mosques are calling for national unity, and are castigating any Muslim who might think that Islam permits any action against Christians. The sermons are clear: Christians have as much right to be in Egypt as Muslims, and they stand together against the forces of counter-revolution.  ...  We have serious problems in Egypt – as we do in the US. It’s important that we face those problems, head-on, without allowing ourselves to become complacent; but to face those problems with any degree of seriousness, we have to face them together. Otherwise, we might as well admit defeat, and send out an official message to al-Qa’eda and their friends entitled “You’ve won.” Because that disunity is what they’ve been aiming to achieve all along. Egyptians and Americans have got a better message than that. ...

Egypt’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, prays with generals, urges Muslim-Christian unity  Addressing the sectarian violence that broke out in Cairo this week, killing 13 people, Gomaa said attacks on Christians were un-Islamic. Thousands of Egyptians, both Muslim and Christian, gathered after Friday prayers to call for unity and to condemn the arson attack that ignited the sectarian tension. Thirteen people were killed in clashes between Muslims in Christians in Cairo on Tuesday night after the arson attack on a church. Activists have described the violence as a threat to the revolution.  Sheikh Ahmad al Tayyib of Al Azhar also Condemned attacks on Christians 


UPDATE 11/20/2011

Tariq Ramadan has published Egypt in Danger which opens with:

The worst thing that could befall Egypt today is division such as we are witnessing between the country’s Coptic and Muslim citizens. Against the same cruel dictatorship they stood united in Liberation Square (Midan Al Tahrir) demanding that former president Hosni Mubarak leave and his regime be removed. For political revolution to be achieved in Egypt, unity between the two main religious traditions (and of course all other Egyptians with or without religious and spiritual affiliations) is basic and imperative. All belong to the same nation ; they share the same history, memories, culture and hopes. As a human being and as a Muslim, I must begin by expressing my deepest condolences to the victims of the bereaved families and my sympathy for the wounded, women and men. These attacks against peaceful protesters must be condemned.

What happened and why did it happen now ? On September 30, a church was burned down in Aswan. The act of arson followed a statement by the governor, Mustafa Al Sayyed, claiming the church had been built without a permit. Demonstrations began in Aswan ; Coptic leaders then decided to demonstrate peacefully in Cairo to underline that the issue was one of gravest national interest : there will be no future for Egypt if manipulations that seek to divide Muslims and Christians are tolerated. Their action was a call for unity in reaction to an attempt to divide. Such attempts are nothing new : both former presidents Anwar Sadat and Mubarak used the same strategy again and again over the last 40 years to justify their policies of repression : a clash would be fomented following which they would send in the troops and arrest people claiming they were preserving national unity and security. ...

 

In the article Egypt’s non-violent jihad and the lurking military crocodile, it is noted that: ...  Anyone following events in Egypt can’t help but be dismayed by anti-Christian incidents, particularly the massacre at Maspero.  As soon as reports began coming out, I suspected that this was the act of the military government, and not of the people, as such tactics are not new.  Aslan media reports on details of the story coming out of Egypt which seems to establish that the initial violence came from the military.


UPDATE 3/24/2012

ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid and ISNA Director of Community Outreach Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi met with high-ranking religious authorities and scholars in Morocco and Tunisia to discuss the rights of religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries across the globe.  Working in consultation with these authorities, they presented the idea of developing Islamic standards and protocols to guarantee equal participation of various religious groups in Muslim-majority countries. 

ISNA is deeply concerned about the rights of religious minorities and among those with whom they met were Dr. Ahmed Toufiq, Moroccan Minister of Islamic Affairs and Endowment; Dr. Noureddine Khadmi, Tunisian Minister of Religious Affairs; and Dr. Abdul Aziz Othman al-Tuwaijri, General Manager of the Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO). All of them remain solidly committed to addressing this issue.  See ISNA Works with Authorities in N. Africa to Develop Protocols to Protect Religious Minorities for more information.


UPDATE 4/18/2012

MPAC brought together a panel of scholars and human rights advocates to discuss the realities of religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries.  Held before a full house at the Islamic Center of Southern California, “Minority Rights in Muslim Countries: Majority Rule NOT Majority Tyranny” highlighted an issue that is often brushed under the rug in the larger Muslim community.

A first among Muslim organizations, the event focused on reconciling Islamic ethics with the rights of minorities and arguing against the un-Islamic actions of governments that persecute religious minorities.  See Muslim Experts Expose Realities of Religious Minorities in Muslim-Majority Countries for more information.


UPDATE 8/9/2012

U.S. Muslim & Christian Statement Regarding Egyptian Minorities has been released.  The Arab American Institute (AAI) releases a statement co-endorsed by leaders of the American Muslim and Coptic Christian communities. The statement, organized by AAI, is supported by Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), longest serving Arab American member of Congress and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first American Muslim member of Congress. What prompted the statement was the group’s concern with the drafting of the new Egyptian Constitution. “Just as we have stood together to combat religious and ethnic intolerance in America, we are unified in our support for equal rights for all across the Arab World,” said AAI president Jim Zogby. “This is especially important now as Egypt is writing its Constitution.”  See statement here


UPDATE 12/6/2012

On November 19-20, The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) co-sponsored the “Inaugural International Conference on Citizenship and Minorities in the Muslim World” in Tunis, Tunisia. This groundbreaking conference represents ISNA’s ongoing work with Muslim leaders worldwide to establish consensus on Islamic standards and protocols for the advancement of religious freedom, particularly for religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries. The other cosponsors of the conference were the Global Centre for Renewal and Guidance and the Tunisian Ministry of Religious Affairs, led by ShaykhAbdallah Bin Bayyah and Dr. Noureddine al-Khademi, respectively. Conference participants included Ambassador Rashad Hussain, President Obama’s Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Bou Abdallah Ghulamullah, Algeria Minister of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, Ministers of Religious Affairs and scholars from numerous countries, including Syria, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and several other countries.

Since last year, ISNA has been working with Muslim scholars worldwide, particularly Sh. Abdallah Bin Bayyah, Vice President of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, to develop a mechanism to address challenges faced by religious minorities in Muslim-majority communities around the world.  Last week’s conference is the latest in a series of scholarly meetingsthis year, including one this past July in Nouakchott, Mauritania. This conference serves as the inaugural event for an even larger conference of scholars which will be held in 2013 in Morocco.  See International Conference on Citizenship and the Rights of Minorities in Muslim-Majority Countries for more details.


UPDATE 7/10/2013 - and 8/14/2013

Sadly, there have been a number of tragic events in Egypt and elsewhere recently that require re-posting this as a reminder to all Muslims of their obligations to protect all minorities.  Sectarian violence seems to be spinning out of control, and it is clear that religious minorities are not safe in much of the world including Muslim majority countries.  Such behavior has no justification.  In Egypt, it seems, the military is blaming the Muslim Brotherhood, the Brotherhood is blaming the military, etc.  At this point all that matters is that the military has taken it upon itself to govern the country, and it is therefore their responsibility to protect all citizens of Egypt, and they are failing in this basic responsibility.  In the past few days 13 churches have been attacked, and hundreds of civilians have been killed (both Christian and Muslim).  The news stories are so contradictory that it is impossible for an outsider to gain an accurate idea of who is responsible for this bloodshed and violence.  The people carrying out the violence, no matter if they are MB, military, salafists, whatever political group - are supposed to be Muslims, and this behavior is un-Islamic and inhuman.

I don’t know what those of us outside of Egypt can do to stop this, but the least we can do is to speak out and condemn all such violence, and to pray for an end to it.  May God protect all of the people of Egypt, and of the earth.  May we learn to see the humanity in each other.  May there never be a need to update this again.


UPDATE 9/22/2013

There has been a terrible terrorist attack on a Christian church in Peshawar, Pakistan.  At least 75 have been killed and 120 injured.  The Taliban have claimed responsibility. This vicious act of terrorism is inexcusable.  Our prayers go out to all of the innocent victims. 


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The following are a few relevant verses from the Qur’an, and hadiths that speak to the issues involved.  Whoever these Muslims are who are engaged in these acts, they are not following anything that can be recognized as traditional Islam:

Whosoever sees an evil, then let him change it with his hand. If he is not able, then with his tongue. And if he is not able to do that, then with his heart and that is the weakest of belief. [Muslim, no. 49]

When the people see an evil and they do not try to change it, then Allaah will cover them all with humiliation from Himself. [Abu Dawood, no. 4338

By He in Whose Hand is my soul! You will enjoin righteousness and forbid evil, or Allaah will send a punishment on you from Him. Then, you will supplicate to Him, but He will not accept your supplication. (Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi)

TAM has a collection of quotes from the Qur’an on justice, forgiveness, tolerance, and compassion.  A few that seem particularly relevant to this unjustified violence are:

“Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error.”(2:255)

“Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians, and the Sabians, any who believe in God and the Last day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (2:62)

“[But] they are not all alike: among the followers of earlier revelation there are upright people, who recite God’s messages throughout the night, and prostrate themselves [before Him]. They believe in God and the Last Day, and enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and vie with one another in doing good works: and these are among the righteous.” (3:113-114)

“O you who believe! Stand firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor; for God can best protect both. Follow not the lust (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well acquainted with all that ye do”.  (4:135)

”O you who believe! Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just; that is next to piety; and fear God. For God is well acquainted with all that ye do”.  (5:9)

“To each among you have We prescribed a law and a way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made of you one single community, but Compete with each other in good deeds. The return of you all is to Allah. (His plan is) to test you in what He has given you. So compete with each other in good deeds. The return of you all is to Allah; then He will inform you about the matters over which you used to differ.” (5:48)

“Whoever receives guidance receives it for his own benefit, and whoever goes astray does so to his own loss. No bearer of burdens can bear the burdens of another.” (17:15)

“If it had been the Lord?s will, they would all have believed ? all who are on the earth. Will you then compel mankind against their will, to believe?” (10:99)

“…If God had not driven some people back by means of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques, where God’s name is mentioned much, would have been pulled down and destroyed. God will certainly help those who help Him—God is All-Strong, Almighty.” (22:40)

“And do not dispute with the followers of the Book except by what is best, except those of them who act unjustly, and say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our Allah and your Allah is One, and to Him do we submit.” [29:46]

“As for such [of the unbelievers] as do not fight against you on account of [your] faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity: for, verily, God loves those who act equitably.” [60:8]

 

SEE ALSO:

The Allah-God controversy in Malaysia, Erik Winkel http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_allah_god_controversy_in_malaysia/
American Muslims Collecting Funds to Help Repair Damaged Churches in Palestine http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/american_muslims_collecting_funds_to_help_repair_damaged_churches_in_palest/
ANDALUSIA: Finally remembering centuries of Muslims, Jews, Christians thriving together, Len Traubman http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/andalusia_finally_remembering_centuries_of_muslims_jews_christians_thriving/
Anwar Ibrahim has issued a Statement on Malaysian Church Bombings http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/statement_on_malaysian_church_bombings/0017840
Building barriers instead of bridges, Irfan Husain http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/columnists/irfan-husain-building-barriers-instead-of-bridges-310
CAIR Condemns Burning of Nigerian Churches http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/cair_condemns_burning_of_nigerian_churches/ 
CAIR Establishes Spirit of Islam Fund to Help Rebuild Malaysian Churches http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/cair_establishes_spirit_of_islam_fund_to_help_rebuild_malaysian_churches/0017843 
Christians senselessly tormented by extremists in Muslim world, Akbar Ahmed and John Bryson Chane http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/christians_senselessly_tormented_by_extremists_in_muslim_world/
Church Bombings in Malaysia:  The Politics Behind the Dilemma, Dr. Robert D. Crane http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/church_bombings_in_malaysia_the_politics_behind_the_dilemma/0017842
Combating Muslim Intolerance, John L. Esposito http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-l-esposito/combating-muslim-intolera_b_417319.html
Despite Religious Violence, Egyptian Mosques Calling for Muslim-Christian Unity, H.A. Hellyer http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/despite_religious_violence_egyptian_mosques_calling_for_muslim-christi/
Egyptian Christians: Strangers in their Native Land!, Aladdin Elaasar http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/egyptian_christians_strangers_in_their_native_land/
Egypt’s sectarian shame, Nesrine Malik http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/jan/13/egypt-copts-christians-muslims
Egypt: War of Stickers: Christian Fish, Muslim Shark, Khaled Diab http://www.comeandsee.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=508
IMC-USA condemns destruction of churches in Orissa, India http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/imc_usa_condemns_destruction_of_churches_in_orissa_india/
In Egypt, Copts, Muslims and a tale of two churches, Dr H.A. Hellyer http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/in_egypt_copts_muslims_and_a_tale_of_two_churches/
Interreligious Dialogue in Morocco: Peaceful Co-existence between Divine Religions, Hind Al-Subai Al-Idrisi http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/interreligious-dialogue-in-morocco-peaceful-co-existence-between-divine-rel
Malaysia, Allah, and God , Sheila Musaji http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/malaysia_allah_and_god/0017793
Malaysia, Allah, and God, Part II, Dr. Robert D. Crane http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/malaysia_allah_and_god_part_ii/
Malaysia Catholics allowed to call God ‘Allah’ again. Why the fuss?  http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2010/0104/Malaysia-Catholics-allowed-to-call-God-Allah-again.-Why-the-fuss 
Malaysia: Government Appeals Ruling on ‘Allah’ Use http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/world/asia/05briefs-Malaysia.html
The Military’s Attack on Egypt’s Copts: A Call for Civil War, Joseph Mayton http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the-militarys-attack-on-egypts-copts-a-call-for-civil-war
Mufti Ali Gomaa, and Religious and Political Toleration in Egypt, Mohammad Fadel http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/mufti-ali-jumua-and-religious-and-political-toleration-in-egypt
Muslim Experts Expose Realities of Religious Minorities in Muslim-Majority Countries, MPAC http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/experts-expose-realities-of-religious-minorities-in-muslim-majority-countri
Prophet Muhammad’s Promise to Christians, Muqtedar Khan http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/prophet_muhammads_promise_to_christians/
Muslim-Christian Relations in Egypt: “We Are One People” http://en.qantara.de/webcom/show_article.php/_c-308/_nr-45/i.html
Muslim Experts Expose Realities of Religious Minorities in Muslim-Majority Countries, MPAC http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/experts-expose-realities-of-religious-minorities-in-muslim-majority-countri
Muslim groups in Malaysia are offering their help to prevent any further attacks on Christian places of worship http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1262372217702&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout#ixzz0cbJeDsYZ
Muslims are Failing to Call for Minority Rights in the Islamic Countries, Anjum Jaleel http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslims_are_failing_to_call_for_minority_rights_in_the_islamic_countries/
The Rubber Hits the Road: Shaykh al Azhar says Human Rights are an “Internal Affair”, Dr. Robert D. Crane http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_rubber_hits_the_road_shaykh_al_azhar_says_human_rights_are_an_inte/
Safeguarding religion in Egypt for the wrong reasons, Abdallah Schleifer http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/safeguarding-religion-in-egypt-for-the-wrong-reasons
Taking a Stand against Terror with Crucifix and Koran, Karim El-Gawhary http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/taking_a_stand_against_terror_with_crucifix_and_koran/0018337 
Were Christians Forced to Pay The Jizyah to Spare Their Lives?, Sheikh Ali Gomaa http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/were-christians-forced-to-pay-the-jizyah-to-spare-their-lives
Zaid calls for inter-faith council in wake of church attacks http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/49169-zaid-calls-for-inter-faith-council-in-wake-of-church-attacks-

 


Originally published 1/2010 - The images of St. Catherine’s Monastery, and of the Charter are from http://www.ijtihad.org/Prophet%20Muhammed’s%20Promise.htm


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