What does the Quran say about pluralism in general, religious pluralism in particular?
Pluralism is a sensitive word and an often-debated term within certain circles among Muslim leadership and followers. Many take the position that pluralism in religion or belief mean equating each religion or way of life as the same. That would be an obvious error. No two religions are the same. In fact, even within a religion one can find differences.
I have strong convictions that serious followers of other faiths like Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhist too will stand against anyone who suggest that their religion is similar to all other religions. The fact is, suggesting all religion is the same is simply wrong factually.
Pluralism represents the acceptance of a diversity of views or stands rather than a single approach or method toward life. It is the idea that we can agree to disagree, to you your religion, to me mine. It is the ability to see reality, that is, the universe and the earth that we live in is by design a diverse one. To go further, the availability of many religions and path is by design God’s creation and as such we need to learn to live with it. We do not ignore the differences of various religions (and cultures). We try to understand the different ‘other’.
This also means that pluralism suggests that one’s religious identity is not a person’s only identity. In other words, ethnically one can be a Chinese Muslim and the other a Malay Muslim or a Western Muslim. Even within a Malay Muslim community, one may belong to particular political party while the other, another. In one profession or another, and so forth. Pluralism as such is the ability to accept the other and the willingness to accord the other the right to be who they are.
I see a pluralist as a person who believe, create, promote and defend a society where two or more religious groups can coexist in peace and harmony – providing a social order that is productive and effective for humanity. In a pluralist society, we actively engage with one another. We acknowledge and we engage our differences without one attempting to impose domination. We apply equal treatment before the law without any distinctions in terms of religion or belief.
Let us allow the Quran to speak for itself.
So, what does the Quran say about pluralism in general, religious pluralism in particular?
There are many verses regarding pluralism in the Quran, as like the previous posts, I will choose about 10. All emphasis are mine to help readers focus on a particular message.
1. And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed - all of them entirely. Then, [O Muhammad], would you compel the people in order that they become believers? Quran 10:99
2. They are] those who have been evicted from their homes without right - only because they say, "Our Lord is Allah." And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might. - Quran 22:40
3. And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it. So, judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations away from what has come to you of the truth. To each of you We prescribed a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ. Quran 5:48
4. Indeed, those who have believed and those who were Jews and the Sabeans and the Christians and the Magians and those who associated with Allah - Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed, Allah is, over all things, Witness- Quran 22:17
5. It is He who created you, and among you is the disbeliever, and among you is the believer. And Allah, of what you do, is Seeing. – Quran 64:2
6. Say, "O mankind, the truth has come to you from your Lord, so whoever is guided is only guided for [the benefit of] his soul, and whoever goes astray only goes astray [in violation] against it. And I am not over you a manager." Quran 10:108
7. There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So, whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. – Quran 2:256
8. For each [religious following] is a direction toward which it faces. So, race to [all that is] good. Wherever you may be, Allah will bring you forth [for judgement] all together. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent. - Quran 2:148
9. So, if they argue with you, say, "I have submitted myself to Allah [in Islam], and [so have] those who follow me." And say to those who were given the Scripture and [to] the unlearned, "Have you submitted yourselves?" And if they submit [in Islam], they are rightly guided; but if they turn away - then upon you is only the [duty of] notification. And Allah is Seeing of [His] servants. -Quran 3:20
10. Say: “O unbelievers! Neither do I worship what you worship; nor do you worship what I worship. Neither am I going to worship what you worship; nor are you going to worship what I worship. To you shall be your religion and to me shall be my religion.” Quran Chapter 109:1-6
Please do contribute more Quranic verse/s with the same theme should you like too.
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