Thursday 1 June 2023 \


Islam's Tolerance in a Multi-Confessional Society

The attitude of Islam to representatives of other religions or the tolerance of Islam is one of the most important topics of our time. It is especially relevant for Russia, where people living together, practicing different religions.

Religion is a system of divine principles that call people to do good according to their own will. Among religious principles one can always find such foundations that guarantee a person both spiritual and material development, and consequently, create prerequisites for both earthly happiness and happiness in Eternal life.

All the heavenly religions preceding Islam were sent down to certain nations. Each of them was essentially national or later became one. Islam came as a religion for all mankind, and the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), according to the Holy Quran, is a Messenger directed not only to all mankind, but also to the inhabitants of all worlds.

Islam is a religion of monotheism, which in the field of worldview, outlook on life and in the social system imposes on people the duty to maintain unity, fraternity, equality of every human being in fundamental rights, and also categorically rejects the divisions between people by language, confession, race, and family-generic features.

Islam, which led to one denominator of national religions, calls on all people to live together, freely, under one set of laws. Islam forbade any manifestation of egoism, savagery, despotism, injustice and, by and large, eradicated them.

Islam, without conducting political and social, moral and material, confessional, racial and class divisions, declared that all people are worthy of respect, and determined a place for man above all other living beings.

Thanks to the high respect that Islam has bestowed upon a person, Muslims throughout history have carried and continue to bring justice, freedom, tolerance and philanthropy in those societies with which they come into contact. According to Islam, the property, life and honor of another person, even of disbeliever, are inviolable. Even in the presence of martial law, it is forbidden to touch those who are not directly involved in hostilities: women, old people and children. It is also impossible to infringe upon, or flout the rights of an individual, even if it benefits the whole society. The rights of an individual are also honored and elevated, as are the rights of all people taken together.

Even non-Muslim researchers are forced to admit the tolerance of Islam, as we have noted repeatedly [1]. In particular, the Swiss orientalist Adam Metz (1869–1917) writes: “The presence of a huge mass of non-Orthodox constitutes the main difference between the Muslim empire and medieval Europe, which was completely under the shadow of Christianity ...”, “... the lives of those who are protected (the Jews and Christians —S.N.) was of equal value in the face of the law with the life of a Muslim ”,“ ... the most lucrative places were occupied by Christians and Jews who sat on them tightly and firmly.” Speaking of religious tolerance in the Arab Caliphate, Adam Metz notes that it is "... something unknown in medieval Europe" [2].

Indeed, history itself is a vivid evidence of tolerance and respect for the religious beliefs of other believers. The legal framework governing these relations is the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Thus, in the first treaty concluded with Nejran non-Muslims, which constitutes a solid example for every Muslim to follow, up to the Day of Judgment, it was said:

“The protection of Allah and the intercession of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to the people of Nejran and those in the district are the right of these people, and this also extends to their property, life, religious sphere and practice, to those present and absent, for their families, their chapels, and their possessions, large or small. Not a single bishop will be forcibly sent outside the office, not a single priest will be evicted outside the church where he performs the service, not a single monk can be forced to leave the monastery in which he lives ... They will not oppress and repair injustice and will not be oppressed. None of them will be liable for a crime or an offense committed by another.” [3]

It is known with what punctuality and responsibility the Companions of the Prophet realized his unshakable installations of religious tolerance, even in those historical times when they were at war. For example, the first Caliph of Muslims Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), sending troops to Syria under the leadership of Osama, admonished him strictly to follow the precepts of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). In particular, he said: “Do not brake promises, do not create lawlessness, do not rob property, do not dismember bodies (of enemies who died in the war); do not kill children, old men, women. Do not destroy date gardens. And also do not touch the fruit trees. Do not kill sheep, cattle and camels, unless you want to eat them. On the way, you can meet people who have retired to the chapels, do not touch them or interfere with their worship ...” [4].

And here is another example confirming the peace-loving and tolerant attitude of Islam to representatives of other faiths. It is known that non-Muslims in the face of Muslims found reliable defenders of their interests. “No Christian is obliged to come out with a Muslim army either against the enemy or to protect the borders; military affairs should not concern patrons, but Muslims should protect and protect them,” - written in the treaty issued by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) about Christians.

More than once, even pagans sought and found security and protection among the Muslims. The Holy Quran says: “If one of the pagans comes and asks for patronage, be his patron until he hears the message of Allah. And if he does not believe, you do not force him and escort him to a safe place.”

And later, representatives of various denominations lived on the land of Islam in peace and harmony, the rulers of Muslims provided the non-Muslims with the most favorable opportunities to preserve their religious, linguistic and ethnic identity. Perhaps the most striking example of such peaceful coexistence can serve the Ottoman Empire. The seven hundred years rule of the empire in most parts of Asia Minor and the Middle East and many European countries was possible only due to respect and tolerance for all the multiethnic and religious groups that were part of the empire. Muslims brought their subjects betterment and peace, tolerance and respect [5].

Visual confirmation of the tolerant attitude of Islam to representatives of other beliefs is the following well-known historical event. During the reign of Omar bin Khattab, in the 14th year Hijra or 635th year after Christ, the city of Hummus was taken. But the next year, having received the news that Geraklius with two hundred thousand troops was preparing to attack, the Muslims were forced to leave the city of Hummus. When leaving the city, they returned the Jizya (tax for protection) to the population and declared the following:

“When we charged you a tax, we guaranteed you safety. However, we are not able to protect you now. Take care of yourself!"

The population of Hummus understood what the rule of Byzantium meant, therefore both Christians and Jews were not happy about this circumstance, but were upset. And the representatives of the Christians said:

- Your leadership and your justice are more to our liking than the despotism and arbitrariness that we experienced before you. Together with your wali (ruler and commander in chief), we will defend your city.

And the Jews said the following:

- We swear by the Torah, the ruler from Heraklius will not enter the city of Hummus until he wins and defeats us.

As a result, the local population, locking the door, began to defend the city. The troops of Heraclius, not having achieved the desired, left their positions and retreated. After that, residents of the city happily opened the doors and accepted the Muslims.

Historians describing this case and many other similar situations write: “Other Christian and Jewish cities that prefer Muslim rule did the same and noted: “If Byzantines and their followers defeat Muslims, then we will continue to live as before. Otherwise, even if at least one Muslim remains alive, we will remain faithful to the agreement” [6].

Along with the fact that Muslims allowed adherents of other religions to practice and live according to the laws of their religions, they also did not see anything wrong with the fact that the mosque, the church and the synagogue were located next to each other.

Of course, the source of this understanding, tolerance and independent lifestyle, religion, language, culture, etc. is Islam. In one of the hadiths, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) says: “I am a rival to he, who will oppress a non-Muslim who is a subject of an Islamic state. And with my rival, I will settle the scores on the Day of Judgment.” Will a man who believes on the Day of Judgment dare to appear before the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) for the sake of counting the bills? In another hadith it is said: “He who slanders a non-Muslim, subject of the Islamic state, as if he had committed adultery, will be punished with fiery whips on the Day of Judgment” [7].

It is necessary to note one more circumstance. The subjects of the Islamic state were free to apply their own laws in matters of justice.

The subjects of the Islamic state were free to apply their own laws in matters of justice. This is a necessity resulting from the recognition of their freedom of religion. If they appealed to an Islamic court, they were judged according to the principles of justice. For in the Holy Quran the Most High commands (meaning): “If you judge between them, then judge with justice, since Allah loves the just” [8].

In confirmation of this, it would be appropriate to give a decree of one of the Ottoman sultans, namely Mustafa III, written to the Vizier: “If you look at complaints from Bogdan and Eflyak (the name of the country with the center in Bucharest, which was part of the Ottoman state), then you did not pay particular attention to problems of the Christian population. At a time when work is being done on the appointment of new leaders in Mora and Hejaz (the name of the provinces of the Ottoman state), I have the following requirement for you, as my Vizier: when choosing people, choose from among the pious. I would not like to see a dismissive relationship on your part only for the reason that someone may have a different faith and language. They are my subjects, and let it be known to you that they have the same rights as those who live in Istanbul. Look, do not hurt anyone!” [9].

Thus, Islam regards religious freedom as an inalienable right of a man, the worthiest of creation, possessing consciousness and will. Therefore, Islam takes as a basis the elimination of all kinds of interferences between Allah and the consciousness of man, his mind and will. For this reason, in many Quranic verses it is noted that the Prophet Muhammad and the rest of the prophets are not charged with anything but a clear counsel, bringing the truth to the people.

The peaceful, humane attitude of Muslims to non-Muslims and religious tolerance of Islam, even at war, are confirmed by outstanding historians and orientalists of our time. Thus, during the 88 years of the rule of the crusaders in Jerusalem, all Muslims were killed. And the Crusaders, who remained in the city after the entry of Salahutdin Ayubi’s troops into it, fearfully expected that they would suffer the same fate. However, he did not harm any of the city’s Christians. Moreover, he ordered only Catholic Christians, who considered themselves to be a crusader army, to leave the city, while Orthodox Christians remained in the city and continued their usual way of life and conduct their divine services without any oppression or prejudice.

The English historian Karen Armstrong writes about this: “On October 2, 1187, Salahuddin and his army entered as winners in Jerusalem, and now the city had to be Muslim for 800 years ... Salahuddin, as promised to Orthodox Christians, did not commit reprisals, executions and murders, the inhabitants of the city lived in complete peace and harmony. He established high principles of Islamic justice in the city. As commanded in the Qur'an, he did not use violence against anyone, he did not avenge the innocent victims of the co-religionists who had been exterminated in the city by the crusaders since 1099. Not one Christian was executed, not one of them was oppressed [10].

Here it is also appropriate to present the historical facts of the Caucasian War period, which took place in Imamat of Shamil [11]. The famous historian R. Magomedov writes that Abdurakhman, Shamil's son-in-law, left information about the residence of the fugitive and captured soldiers in the Imamat. “There were a lot of runaway Russian soldiers and officers and the Cossacks, and Imam Shamil very much appreciated them. A separate village was built with a church and a chapel for prisoners and deserters near Vedeno” [12].

“In the capital of Imamat there lived Russians, Poles, Georgians, and many other Russian-speaking people. They lived on a par with the mountaineers and with their faith,” writes another historian-writer Shapi Kaziev.

Describing the life of Shamil in Kaluga after his capture, the author writes in surprise: “Soldiers who previously were in his captivity came to see Shamil. They bowed to the imam, and when they were asked why they were doing this, they answered: “Because it was good for the prisoners who lived with Shamil or where he was passing by. He did not order to offend us, moreover, even if a little complaint happened to reach him, he would take away the captive and take to himself, and would severely punish the offender no matter who they are" [13].

The famous Jewish historian Moshe Hammer, a professor at Tel Aviv University, writes that “Shamil never imposed an appeal to Islam. All those who adhered to their faith lived in the “Russian settlement” near the Imam's residence, first in Dargo, then in New Dargo. Here they had the right to live according to their customs and traditions ... There was an Orthodox Church and a priest there.”   

Further, M. Gammer writes: “... Shamil, having learned about the existence of the population groups persecuted by the Russian government (foreigners, such as Poles or religious sects, such as the Old Believers), provided them with a refuge where they could live peacefully and freely practice their religion" [14].

In the second half of the 19th century, along with Russian schools, there was a whole network of religious educational institutions of various denominations in Dagestan: Muslim schools - madrasas and mektebs; mountain Jewish schools in synagogues; pastorial schools at orthodox churches. In Dagestan, believers of various faiths provided special tolerance, revenue, and mutual support to each other. After the October Revolution of 1917 and the coming to power of the Bolsheviks, the communists of Dagestan began to repress, following the instructions of Vladimir Lenin in a strictly secret report to Molotov dated March 19, 1922. A government order was given in it: “Please do not take any copies at all. Arrest as many representatives of the clergy as possible on suspicion of directly or indirectly participating in a case of violent resistance to the decree of the Central Executive Committee on the seizure of church property. The Politburo should give a detailed directive to the judicial authorities verbally, so that the process was carried out with maximum speed and ended only with the shooting of a large number of the most influential and dangerous people not only of this city, but of Moscow and several other spiritual centers. The more clergy we manage to shoot on this issue, the better. It is necessary now to teach this public a lesson so that for a few decades they would not even dare to think about any resistance.”

At the same time, the Soviet authorities began to instigate militant atheism, to persecute religious figures, to shoot well-known Arabist scholars, sheikhs, Qadis, mullahs without trial or investigation. Speaking against such an atheistic, anti-religious policy of the Soviet power, Abusufyan Akaev, a well-known educator and Arabist scholar, boldly stated in court: “My political views are: If Soviet power is committed to creating communism, or rather socialism, I could be with everyone. But when it comes to godlessness among Muslims, I can never agree, and you are unlikely to find a Muslim Arabist scholar who would agree to accept socialism. I have said and I will say it again that there is the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and Muslims must abide by the laws of Sharia and Islam - and I do not hide from you that to the Muslim people until the last day, that is, before my arrest, I said that for every Muslim, it is imperative to fulfill first of all the five pollars of Islam, that is, the Shari'a.”

When in the winter of 1929 the Buinaksk City Council raised the issue of closing the Russian Orthodox Church and using it as a club, learning about this, “Dini Committee” (“Religious Committee”) - the head of the Sharia-based Muslims committee, created in Dagestan in 1924 to protect the interests of Muslims - decided to organize a protest against the closure of the church. To enforce this decision, the Dini Committee appealed to Muslims who gathered on a holiday in a mosque. Muslims called for the support of the Russian community, protesting against the closure of the church. In addition, the “Dini Committee” filed a written protest to the Buinaksk Bolshevik Committee.”

The Jews also spoke against the closure of the Russian church on the advice of Badawi Kadi, the Head of the Dini Committee. Their protest was found during confiscatory search of V.A. Zhiromsky. In the text of this protest it was said: “There were good relations between the Dini Committee, the Russian and Jewish communities. The meetings of the Dini Committee were attended by a Jewish rabbi and a representative from the Russians. They became part of the Dini Committee. The Jewish Rabbi Mushailov R.I. became the secretary of the “Dini Committee” and conducted correspondence in Russian.”

The Jewish Rabbi R.I. Mushailov also considered it necessary to unite with the Muslims. “Being a national minority in Buinaksk,” he said at the trial, “the Jewish population has always needed the support of the overwhelming majority of the Muslim population. The need for this support was felt especially during the years of the revolution and civil war. Over the time, this support was like a "legally" accepted norm. In difficult times, the Jewish population considered it their duty to resort to the help of the Muslims, while the latter considered it to be the same duty to render this assistance to the Jews. If during the years of revolution, Muslims protected Jews from robberies, in subsequent years this assistance was expressed in improving the living conditions of the Jewish population. This assistance was provided through the Muslim Dini Committee.”

Muslims and Jews began to speak out in defense of Christians. The Muslims’ protest said: “We, the undersigned members of the Muslim religious community of Buynaksk, after reading a note in the local newspaper Krasny Dagestan, expressing a desire to take away the Holy Trinity Church, in the construction of which our labor and resources were also invested, oppose the seizure of houses of prayer."

On the initiative of Badawi Kadi, the Jews of Buynaksk also came out in defense of the Christians persecuted by the Soviet authorities. They wrote: “With great indignation, they inquired from the newspaper Krasny Dagestan about the desire to take away from the believing Christians the Holy Trinity Church with the aim of turning it into a club.”

In May 1929, at the meeting of the “Dini Committee”, the question of an anti-religious demonstration organized by the Komsomol and trade union organizations against Russian Easter was discussed. "Dini Committee" warned the Soviet Party organizations: "If such a demonstration will be organized on Kurban Bairam day, then Dini Committee will not be responsible for the consequences, because there may be counter-demonstrations."

The activity of the Dini Committee was interrupted at the end of 1929. His work was considered anti-Soviet, counter-revolutionary. Some 75 Dini Committee activists were arrested. And their leader Badawi Kadi, along with 20 of his active members, was shot. Together with them, they shot Rabbi Rafail Iskiyaevich Mushailov and the clergyman of the Holy Trinity Church Vladimir Adamovich Zhiromsky [15].

The fact that the first Muslim caliphate, and later the Ottoman Empire and other Muslim states built on their lands with multi-ethnic and multi-religious population, just, tolerant and humanistic societies, was explained by the fact that such an attitude to the people was prescribed to Muslims by the Most High in the Quran. It was the deep fear of God and reverent attitude to the commands of the Almighty sent down in the Quran that motivated the behavior of Khalif Umar, Salahuddin Ayubi, Imam Shamil and many more Muslim rulers in displaying good intentions, goodwill, tolerance, mercy, justice, compassion, kindness and civilized attitude to all the subjects of their States. This model of the relationship of power with polyethnic subjects of the state is recognized as an example even by European politicians and historians [16].

Tolerance and respect for religious beliefs, which are observed today in the facts of neighboring with each other of mosques, churches and synagogues in Dagestan, originate from the very essence of Islam and the mutual understanding that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) demonstrated. If over the time, in some Islamic countries or in some regions of Russia, this understanding has disappeared among some Muslims, then this is not at all connected with Islam. It would be more correct to look for other reasons, whether social, psychological or personal, primarily related to the lack of knowledge of their religion.

May the Almighty Allah protect us, help us in praiseworthy affairs, forgive our sins, and the sins of our near and dear ones, and guide us on the path of Truth! Amin!

Ibrahim Abdulaev

[1] Ramazanov K.A., Sultanmagomedov S.N., Gadzhiev M.P. ABC of Islam. Teaching guide on the basics of Islam for beginners. - M. - 2005. - p. 209.

[2] Metz Adam. Muslim renaissance. Transl. from German - M .: Publishing house "ViM", 1996. - p. 44, 67.

[3] Islam - religion of peace and tolerance. Ibrahim Janan. In the book. Islam on terror and the action of suicide bombers. Ergun Chapan. Translation from Turkish. - M .: Open Company "New Svet Publishing House", 2005. - 176 p.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Sultanmagomedov S.N. Tolerance in Islam. The interaction of the state and religious associations: the current state of the future. Materials of the North Caucasus scientific-practical conference (October 15, 2003). - Makhachkala: Jupiter Publishing House, 2004. - P. 724.

[6] Islam - religion of peace and tolerance. Ibrahim Janan. In the book. Islam on terror and the action of suicide bombers. Ergun Chapan. Translation from Turkish. M .: LLC "Publishing New Light". 2005. –176 p.

[7] Tabarani, Musamil Kabir, 22/57.

[8] Jalaludin Suyuti. Koran commentary. Sura Maida, ayat 42. - Temir-Khan-Shura, 1905. In Arabic. lang

[9] Islam - religion of peace and tolerance. Ibrahim Janan. In the book. Islam on terror and the action of suicide bombers. Ergun Chapan. Translation from Turkish. - M .: Open Company "New Svet Publishing House", 2005. - 176 p.

[10] Karen Amstrong, Holy War, MacMillan. - London, 1988. - p. 185.

[11] Yusup Dadaev. On the trails of the Shamil battles. - Makhachkala: “Jupiter”, 1997. - p. 280.

[12] Shamil. Illustrated Encyclopedia. - M .: "Echo of the Caucasus", 1997. - P.77.

[13] Shapi Kaziev. Imam Shamil. - M .: Young Guard, 2001. - p. 247.

[14] Moshe Hammer. Shamil. Muslim resistance to tsarism. The conquest of Chechnya and Dagestan. - M .: KRON-PRESS, 1998. - C 344-345.

[15] "Dini Committee" - the Head of Dagestani Muslims. Dual power in Dagestan in 1923–1929 Hajiyev Adil-Gerey. - Makhachkala, 2005 - 19 p.

[16] Sultanmagomedov S.N. Tolerance in Islam. The interaction of the state and religious associations: the current state and prospects. // Materials of the North Caucasus scientific-practical conference (October 15, 2003). - Makhachkala: Jupiter Publishing House, 2004. - P. 724.


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