To use religion or any ideologyto promote or practice intolerance at any level- family, society or state, is sheer hypocrisy. For it is religion itself, whether Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, and others, that encourages, promotes and fosters tolerance through its foundations of mutual love, honour and compassion for all people. People of faithserve both God and humanity as opposed to those who merely manipulate religion to cause division and practice oppression in its name. They are not justblasphemous but also flag bearers of irreligion and inhumanity.
Since time immemorial these extremists have proposed, practised and executed a divide between communities and religions which challenges us, the people of a globalized world to recognize the only true dividing line which isand should be, between mutual love and respect of human life on one hand and, aggression and intolerance on the other. It involves coming together and defeating the vested interests of those who exploit their beliefs and ideologies to foster that which is so repulsive to those very beliefs and ideologies.
Islam, like other religions, has also been misused by a minute minority of its so-called adherents, to perpetuate intolerance and instigate violence against innocent people. In reality, these people are not just a bigoted set of reactionaries but also bring to the world a message that is anti-Islam and anti-Muslim.
"Tolerance is respect, acceptance, and appreciation of the endless richness of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. It is fostered by knowledge, openness, communication, and liberty of conscience. Tolerance is harmony in difference. It is not only a moral duty, but also a political obligation. Tolerance is the virtue that makes peace possible, contributes to the replacement of the culture of war by a culture of peace. Tolerance at the State level requires just and impartial legislation, law enforcement and judicial process. It also requires that economic and social opportunities be made available to each person. Exclusion can lead to frustration, hostility, and fanaticism." - an excerpt from the United Nations definition of Tolerance
One of the earliest luminaries and leaders of Islam, Imam Ali exhorts justice and compassion in governance. Regarding his own practice he said, “I would prefer to sleep on a bed of thorns rather than oppress any of God’s servants.” Justice for the weak and downtrodden was a hallmark of Imam Ali’s mode of rule. He chastised his governors for fraud, enjoined his tax collectors to be gentle, and instructed his army commanders to not attack anyone until they were attacked. In Imam Ali’s reign, a large proportion of the people in his realms were non-Muslim- Christians and Jews to be precise, and his directions for a just and kind rule applied equally to all members of society. Among the Muslims in his realm, a large proportion of the people were not particularly attached to the family of the Prophet, yet he made no distinction between them in terms of rights in the state ensuring that everyone was safe under his rule.
The current head of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community- His Holiness Syedna Taher Fakhruddin TUS, continues this philosophy of tolerance in his teachings and actions and has launched an effort by the name of Taqreeb, to bring people together on the platform of harmony and understanding, to fight the forces of division.
I call upon my fellow Indians and fellow human beings, people of religion and people of humanity, on the UN’s Day of Tolerance, today, to pledge to come together and speak out, to act and to defeat the forces of division which threaten our country and our diverse society.
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