In the contemporary world, there are people who envisage or support authoritarianism in the name of Islam. This is a great misconception. Islam is a religion which provides and guarantees freedom of ideas, thought and life. Islam has issued commands to prevent and forbid tension, disputes, slander and even negative thinking among people. In the same way that it is determinedly opposed to terrorism and all acts of violence, it has also forbidden even the slightest ideological pressure to be put on others:
“There is no compulsion in religion. True guidance has become clearly distinct from error. ” (Surat al-Baqara: 256)
“So remind them! You are only a reminder. You are not in control of them.” (Surat al -Ghashiyya: 21-22)
Forcing people to believe in a religion or to adopt its forms of belief is completely contrary to the essence and spirit of Islam. According to Islam, true faith is only possible with free will and freedom of conscience. Of course, Muslims can advise and encourage each other about the features of Qur’anic morality. All believers are charged with explaining Qur’anic morality to people in the nicest manner possible. They will explain the beauties of religion in the light of the verse, “Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition…” (Surat an-Nahl: 125), however, they must also bear in mind the verse, “You are not responsible for their guidance, but God guides whoever He wills.” (Surat al-Baqara: 272)
Thus true Muslims will never resort to compulsion, nor any kind of physical or psychological pressure. Neither will they use any worldly privilege to turn someone towards religion. When they receive a negative response to what they say, Muslims will reply along the lines of: “To you your religion, and to me, mine” (Surat al- Al-Kafirun: 6)
The world we live in contains societies with all kinds of beliefs: Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, deist and even pagan. Muslims living in such a world must be tolerant of all beliefs they come up against, no matter what they may be, and behave forgivingly, justly and humanely. This responsibility placed on believers invites people to the beauty of the religion of God by means of peace and tolerance. The decision whether or not to implement these truths, whether or not to believe, lies with the other party. Forcing that person to believe, or trying to impose anything on him, is a violation of Qur’anic morality. In fact, God issues a reminder to believers in the Qur’an:
“If your Lord had willed, all the people on the earth would have believed. Do you think you can force people to be believers?” (Surat Yunus: 99)
“We know best what they say and you [O Muhammad] are not a compeller over them. But warn by the Qur’an whoever fears My warning.” (Surat Qaf: 45)
A model of society in which people are forced to worship is a complete contradiction to Islam. Belief and worship are only of any value when they are directed to God by the free will of the individual. If a system imposes belief and worship on people, then they will become religious out of fear of that system. From the religious point of view, what really counts is that religion should be lived for God’s good pleasure in an environment where peoples’ consciences are totally free.
When we look at the history of Islam, the way that Muslims have translated this important feature of Qur’anic morality into the life of society can be seen quite clearly. Since the Prophet Muhammed, true Muslims have always brought with them an atmosphere of freedom and tolerance wherever they have gone. They have enabled people whose religions, languages and cultures are completely different from one another to live together in peace and harmony under one roof, and provided peace and harmony for its own members. One of the most important reasons for the centuries-long existence of the Ottoman Empire, which spread over an enormous region, was the atmosphere of tolerance and understanding that Islam brought with it. Within this multi-national structure, all ethnic and religious groups have been free to live according to their own religions, and their own rules.
Barbarism in the name of religion, that is so preoccupying the world at present, is the work of ignorant and fanatical people, completely estranged from Qur’anic morality, and who have absolutely nothing to do with religion. The solution to these people and groups who try to carry out their savagery under the mask of religion is the teaching of true Qur’anic morality.
Islam and Qur’anic morality are solutions to the scourge of bigotry, barbarism and terrorism, not supporters of it.
HarunYahya is a pen name used by Mr. Adnan Oktar, a prominent Turkish intellectual. Visit his website at www.harunyahya.com/