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Tolerance and Dialogue in the Perspective of the Qur'an and Sunna

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Fethullah Gülen's Speeches and Interviews on Interfaith Dialogue

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The Qur'an always takes forgiveness and tolerance as basic principles, so much so that "servants of Mercy" are introduced as: And the servants of (God) Most Gracious are those who walk on the Earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say: "Peace." (25:63); Those who witness no falsehood, and, if they pass by futility, pass by it with honorable avoidance (25:72); and And when they hear vain talk, they turn away therefrom and say: "To us our deeds, and to you yours" (28:55).

The general gist of these verses is that when God's special servants encounter meaningless and ugly words or behavior, they say nothing unbecoming but rather pass by in a dignified manner. In short: Everyone acts according to his own disposition (17:84) and thus display their own character. The character of heroes of tolerance is gentleness, consideration, and tolerance. When God sent Moses and Aaron to a man with claims to divinity like the Pharaoh, He commanded them to behave tolerantly and to speak softly (20:44).

The life of the Pride of Humanity (upon him be peace and blessings) was in an orbit of forgiveness and forbearance. He even behaved in such a manner toward Abu Sufyan, who persecuted him throughout his lifetime. But during the Conquest of Mecca, even though Abu Sufyan said he still was not sure about Ilsam, Muhammad said: "Those who take refuge in Abu Sufyan's house are safe, just as those who take refuge in the Ka'ba are safe." In respect to refuge and safety, Abu Sufyan's house was mentioned together with the Ka'ba. In my humble opinion, such tolerance was more valuable than giving tons of gold to Abu Sufyan, a man in his seventies in whom egoism and chieftainship had become ingrained.

In addition to being commanded to take tolerance and dialogue as his basis while performing his duties, the Prophet was directed to which points he could hold in common with the People of the Book (Jews and Christians): Say: "O People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but God; That we associate no partners with Him; That we erect not, from among ourselves, lords and patrons other than God" (3:64).

Those who consider themselves addressed by these verses, every guardian of love who dreams of becoming a special servant of God just because they are human beings, those who have declared their faith and thereby become Muslims and perform the mandated religious duties, must behave with tolerance and forbearance and expect nothing from the other party. They must have the approach of Yunus: not striking those who hit them, not replying in kind to those who curse them, and not holding any secret grudge against those who abuse them. 05/02/1995–05/19/1995–06/10/1995–07/21/1995