Tolerance is a popular word and topic in today’s culture. We’ve covered this concept in another blog post in regards to our position as Christians. To find out what Christians are supposed to do when it comes to tolerance, please read here.
In this post we are not looking at how we, as Christians, should approach tolerance, but instead we will examine what Muslims are taught about tolerance. Are they taught to be tolerant at all? The answer will give us insight into the true Muslims’ worldview and how they live their lives.
What does the Quran say about how to treat non-Muslims?
The best way to learn what Islam teaches is to read the book Muslims revere and follow, the Quran. But as with other Islamic teachings, the message in the Quran in different surahs and verses contradict each other. Compare between these two verses on how Muslims should treat non-Muslims:
“Allah does not forbid you from dealing kindly and fairly with those who have neither fought nor driven you out of your homes. Surely Allah loves those who are fair.” Quran 60:8
“Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day, nor comply with what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, nor embrace the religion of truth from among those who were given the Scripture, until they pay the tax, willingly submitting, fully humbled.” Quran 9:29
This contradictions between verses confuses Muslims and leaves them to choose their own path. That’s why you will find Muslims who accept others and have a peaceful approach towards non-Muslims, much like Muhammad in his first years when he was still unknown and weak. Others choose to follow the teachings of the last 10 years of Muhammad’s life that are reflected throughout the Quran. He had become a strong military leader, waged over 29 battles, and Allah’s messages to him changed to be aggressive towards non-Muslims.
Muslims who show enmity toward Christians, Jews, and any non Muslim, often quote this verse where Allah gives this order:
“You who have attained to faith! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for your allies: they are but allies of one another and whoever of you allies himself with them becomes, verily, one of them; behold, God does not guide people who are unjust.” Quran 5:51
Another key point that leads Muslims to feel that they are better than all humans on this earth is a verse that they also quote, where Allah reminds them:
“Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors.” Quran 3:110
It is very clear that in most of the Quranic teachings there isn’t compassion or openness for those who do not align themselves with Islam. This is why in most of the purest Islamic countries and communities, unbelievers are unwelcomed, taken advantage of, and abused. Muslims are not generally taught to respect those who disagree with them or push back on their beliefs.
There are Islamic laws that makes it possible to imprison non-Muslims and allows for their torture if they disagree publicly with any of Islam’s teachings, or if they were accused of saying anything negative about Muhammad or the Quran. Oftentimes, in predominantly Islamic areas, there are certain crimes that a Muslim can commit against a non-Muslim that have no punishment, because that person is seen as less-than.
Is your Muslim friend tolerant of your differences?
We always caution against assuming that every Muslim you meet is a purist and extremist. Most Muslims aren’t, actually. The people are very different from the teachings of the religion itself, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t affected by it. So even if your Muslim friend is accepting of your differences, there may be a long road ahead before they begin to be curious about your faith.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Your Muslim friend was raised to be closed-minded. This doesn’t mean they have stayed that way, but we do not easily grow out of what we were raised to believe. Give them time and space to be comfortable with your beliefs and who you are.
- Their intentions might not be to be your friend, but to convert you. Islam is one of the most missions-focused religions in the world, meaning its adherents are always trying to convert people because they are promised more rewards from Allah if they do. Read this blog post if you think your friend is trying to convert you to Islam
- Do not expect too much from them. In the same way that you wouldn’t cheer on your friend as they attend the mosque, your Muslim friend will not always understand or support your lifestyle. This does not mean you should try to hide your faith from them. Be honest about how your relationship with God affects every piece of your life, and pray that one day they get the courage to ask you about it!
Remember to always differentiate between tolerance and love. From your side, when you have true agape love towards your Muslims friend, they will feel it and even if they are taught not to tolerate or accept non-Muslims, they will start to be drawn to you because you have something ‘different’. You know it is Christ, and eventually they will also know who is the reason for this wonderful ‘thing’ in you.