In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
By Sarah Mahmood
Speech given at CHRISTIAN–MUSLIM Forum of Canada for 42nd session on Saturday 08 August, 2009

Respected audience, I welcome you with the Islamic Greeting, AsSalaam o Alaikum; may the peace and blessings of God always be with everyone.

I am very lucky to have been giving this opportunity to speak with you all today, so I would like to take this chance to remind us all about a very important lesson our religion teaches us; the lesson of tolerance. By tolerance, I mean being able to put up with other people’s differences, to appreciate diversity, to live and let live.

Tolerance, I think is a fairly sensitive issue, and a verse from the Quraan, which loosely translated means “do not abuse those whom they call upon besides God, lest they should abuse God out of ignorance” inspired me to talk about this issue today. The command given in the Quraan is a fairly simple one; don’t insult the God’s of other people, or they might end up insulting your God. However, carrying out such a command is no simple matter.  There will be times when you think a certain belief is silly or perhaps a waste of time, however, you cannot insult such beliefs, for the person holding those beliefs may insult the one true God in their ignorance. To these ignorant people God has made their beliefs and practices seem appropriate in their eyes, and in the end, it is God that will judge them.  As followers of God, I think one of the most important lessons we learn is to tolerate ignorance.

One of the teachings of Islam state that there is “no compulsion in religion”.  Having that in mind, it is easy to see that convincing the whole world to conform to one religion would be an immensely difficult task, as not everyone will see eye to eye. Since we cannot force anyone to accept the religion of Islam, it is important to come to terms with other religions; to be able to tolerate the existence of other religions, and not shun people for following a particular religion. Just from these little excerpts from the Quraan, it is easy to see that tolerance is a very integrated part of the religion.

As an aside to this point, we can note that both the Quraan and Bible explicitly state to be kind to your neighbours.  It does not matter if the neighbours are of a different religion or race. Either way, you must show them kindness.  So, religion is not the only thing we need to be tolerant of.  In the eyes of God, all men are made equal; good deeds are the only things that contribute towards your status. This particular status is something that only God knows, thus as fellow human beings, we must treat each other equally, lest we insult someone who God holds in high esteem.  We should always be courteous, and continue reminding others to be courteous as well.

It is crucial to remember that we all descended from Adam and Eve, and so, are distantly related to each other. We are all God’s creation, and should strive to live peacefully amongst one another, even though our race and religion may be different.

Let us praise God who made us a Global Family. “Subhanallah ….”

“Glory be to God, All praise to God, there is no God but God, God is great, All power and might belong to God, the most high, the great.”

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