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Islam advocates complete freedom for all to practise their faiths

January 23, 2012The Royal Gazette on January 21, 2012.

Dear Sir:

We read with much concern the three articles relating to the persecution of Christians in Iran and the stories of ‘Pouya and Tarsa’ published in

Islam advocates complete freedom for all to practise their faiths without violence, intolerance or restrictions.

The Holy Qur’an categorically forbids all religious compulsion:

There should be no compulsion in religion… (Ch.2:V.257)

It categorically declares that people of the whole world are totally free to choose their faith, whichever they like, to which they are happy to subscribe. The Holy Qur’an declares that freedom of belief is the basic right of all human beings.

Islam does not advocate the persecution and killing of those who do not subscribe to the teachings of Islam. According to Islam, religion is a matter of choice. Nobody has the right to dispense any kind of punishment for apostasy. No mention of any kind of punishment is found in the whole of the Holy Qur’an for apostasy.

Islam gives clear guidelines on how to behave with non-Muslims in a Muslim state. Islam requires complete separation of religion and state. The Holy Qur’an does not endorse any particular government philosophy, but instead requires that justice, not religion, be the determinative factor when governing (Holy Qur’an Ch 5:V.9). Islam teaches that all dealings should be based on justice and enjoins its true followers to always behave justly regardless of the one’s religious beliefs.

Regarding the places of worship of other faiths, the Holy Qur’an states:

And if Allah had not repelled some people by means of others, cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft remembered, would surely have been destroyed. And Allah will, surely, help him who helps Him. Allah is, indeed, Powerful, Mighty.” ( Ch 22:41)

This verse upholds the honor and sanctity of all places of worship. The verse further proves that Islam does not try to impose itself on people but rather upholds the freedom of worship and enjoins its followers to protect all religious places.

Practical application of the injunctions in the Holy Quran can be seen in the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

In 622 A., while the Holy Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) was the Head of Medina, the Charter of Medina was written. It was a formal agreement between the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the tribes and families in Medina including Jews, and non-Muslim Arabs. Scholars refer to this Charter as the first ever written constitution of a nation-state. It was applied to the 10, 000 citizens in Medina of whom only 15 percent were Muslims. The Charter guaranteed fundamental human rights for all citizens including equality, co-operation, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. The Charter of Medina was the first document in history to establish religious freedom as a fundamental constitutional right.

In 628 AD, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) granted a Charter of Privileges to the monks of St Catherine Monastery in Mt Sinai. It consisted of clauses covering all aspects of human rights including such topics as the protection of Christians, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and property, exemption from military service, and the right of protection in war. It also states that their churches should be protected and that they should be given help in repairing their churches, if needed. The original version of the letter can be found at the Royal Treasury at Constantinople, Turkey and the official website of St Catherine’s monastery proudly commemorates this letter of protection:

http://www.sinaimonastery.com/en/index.php?lid=68

The Supreme Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad , in accordance with the practice of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), has been tirelessly encouraging interfaith dialogue, tolerance and respect among faiths. In a recent message to Pope Benedict XVI, he has reiterated the need for tolerance and the establishment of human values. He stated:

‘If a person does not follow a particular teaching properly while claiming to subscribe to it, it is he who is in error not the teaching. From cover to cover, the Holy Quran teaches love, affection, peace, reconciliation and the spirit of sacrifice. Hence, if and the spirit of sacrifice. Hence, if anybody portrays Islam as an extreme and violent religion filled with teachings of bloodshed, then such a portrayal has no link with the real Islam…..If any church or place of worship stands in need of protection, then they will find us standing shoulder to shoulder with them.’ (Press release, 11.12.11, http://www.alislam.org/press-release/Message-to-Pope-Benedict.Dec.11.pdf)

It is our prayer that people judge Islam based on its teachings and that we all understand the Islamic injunction that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. The families of ‘Pouya and Tarsa’ and all religious minorities who are being persecuted for their faith will be in our prayers.

Peace be upon you

AHMADIYYA MUSLIM COMMUNITY

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Published February 04, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated February 03, 2012 at 7:41 pm)

Islam advocates complete freedom for all to practise their faiths

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