Category Archives: Values

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Dealing with Difference

Category : Values

By Sohaib Saeed

Differing and disagreement… must they result in discord and disunity? Or can they be embraced as divinely-ordained diversity?

Before looking at “difference” from a theological perspective, let us philosophise for a moment about the very idea of difference. When you compare two things and decide that they are different, they must be comparable – on some level – in the first place. Indeed, when we describe two things as “opposites” (say, black and white), they must in another sense be exactly the same thing (in this case, hues). It is not so strange, therefore, that one’s bitterest enemies are sometimes the people with whom one has most in common.

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The Quranic Constitution of Coexistence

Category : Values

Watch the first 20 minutes for an explanation of the points below (Article 6 excluded):

The following are some principles extracted from Quranic guidance which are pertinent to Muslims living alongside people of different beliefs and practices. The hope is always to go beyond the mere fact of coexistence, to tolerance and acceptance, and beyond that to mutual respect and celebration of diversity.

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“We Only Feed You For the Sake of God”

Category : Reflections , Values

By Sohaib Saeed

As a book of guidance for the individual and society, the Qur’an often elaborates on virtues which qualify people as pious, faithful and righteous,  and worthy of being “servants of the Merciful”. Among these most beautiful of Quranic passages is one found in Chapter 76, known both as “The Human Being” (al-Insān) and “Time” (al-Dahr), which was most likely revealed in Makkah in the early phase of the Prophetic mission.

Our selected verses begin with a glimpse of the reward in store for the righteous, together with some of their most prominent character traits: both towards their fellow man and towards their Lord:

{As to the righteous, they shall drink of a cup mixed with kāfūr;
a fountain where the devotees of God do drink, making it flow in unstinted abundance.
They perform (their) vows, and they fear a day whose evil flies far and wide.}
(Q 76:5-7).

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A Word of Peace

Category : Values

By Sohaib Saeed

It may have become something of a cliché that Islam means peace, or is a religion of peace. Yet there is no doubt that the pursuit of peace is a central goal of this life, just as we strive to arrive at the Abode of Peace after we die. When the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said “Spread peace”, it was a sign that his followers should feel that they have this role upon the earth: to be bearers of peace.

The greeting of peace – in Arabic, expressed with the word salām – is one of the great symbols of Islamic ethics and is heard upon the tongues of the Prophets in the Qur’an as well as the Bible. To extend the word of peace to those you know and those you do not, is to put them at ease and engender an atmosphere of trust. It is a covenant extended to all who will accept to live in peace with us, and a precursor to getting to know one another as the Qur’an instructs.

In a verse exemplifying constructive reciprocity, Almighty God says: {And when you are greeted with a greeting, then greet with something better than it, or return it (in kind).} (Qur’an 4:86)

While the scholars have discussed in detail the wordings of such greetings and their replies, the spirit of this verse is to take positivity and build upon it before passing it on. Every society will benefit from this lesson, and it ought to be kept in mind when interacting within our own community as well as engaging with others.

It is also the case that knowing our scripture and its higher purposes – and reflecting on the localised contexts of its application – will enable us to benefit from divine guidance in living among people, inviting them through our words and actions to a life of peace and fulfilment. In particular, I have in mind the reservations Muslims often have when it comes to sharing this greeting of peace with non-Muslims.

Perhaps, were it not for the way the following two Prophetic narrations have been understood, they would not doubt for a moment that it is their duty to greet every human being with a smile and peaceful greeting. It would seem completely natural to promote a shared culture built upon this word of peace.

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The Golden Rule: An Islamic-Dialogic Perspective (2012)

Category : Thematic , Values

By Sohaib Saeed

Anyone with an interest in the philosophy of ethics, or in the common ground between different faiths and cultures, is very likely to be familiar with a dictum known as the “Golden Rule”. Worded in various ways, its straightforward message is to treat other people as you would like to be treated; or to refrain from treating them in a way that you would dislike to be treated. In this article, I shall explore the concept as it is expressed within the Islamic tradition, and then outline how the Golden Rule can be applied to great benefit in the broader context of interfaith understanding and dialogue. Before tackling these two subjects, however, the concept and its significance deserve some introductory exploration.

“Whoever shows no mercy is not shown mercy.” Artwork on display at Fanar Center, Doha