Contextualizing Religious Pluralism: An Islamic Perspective
Keywords:Islam, Peaceful Co-existence, Pluralism, Qur’an
Peaceful coexistence has been an extensive appreciated vision of humankind since times immemorial; but its relevance and scope in the modern world has increased manifolds. Mankind yearns for inner peace, normalcy in society and harmonious relations with others (religions, societies, cultures, nations, groups etc). Peaceful co-existence being the greatest concern of man, all religions attaches a great importance to it. The primary texts of Islam are replete with instructions and exhortations for such situations. The Qur’an accepts plurality as a natural phenomenon and is very explicit about racial and religious multiplicity. Values like tolerance, equality, justice and peaceful co-existence are rooted in Islam and Muslims need to assert and re-establish their role as Dai-ilal Islam in the contemporary world, which is essentially pluralistic in nature. In the modern world where the notion of Dhimmah (and consequently Jizya) is no more and the differences between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb have become irrelevant, the emergence of the new concepts like nation state and citizenship, have forced Muslims to rethink their idea of faith-based identity. There is no worldwide caliphate now nor is the faith as the centre of identity of Muslim countries. Pluralism, as a response to all such differences, does not provide ‘an official interpreter’, but instead gives weight to diversity of viewpoints. Muslim scholars and intellectuals are facing the challenging phenomena of the apprehension between conformity and disagreement, collective narrative versus individual interpretations. Given all of this, what is the future is the major task in front of Muslim intelligentsia? This research paper is aimed at revisiting some of the principles drawn from Islamic Primary Texts (The Qur’an and the Hadith) relating to religious pluralism as a modern reality and intends to explore the concepts of peaceful coexistence, equality and justice envisaged by the Qur’an and implemented by the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). It also tries to explain the scope of application of these principles of the Qur’an and the Sunnah to the conditions of the present age.