The threats of war and violent uproars in different part of the world indicate that we are in need of tolerance. Islam as a religion advocates peaceful interactions and harmonious relationships among members of the society, irrespective of the variances in beliefs, cultural practices, social status, race or ethnicity. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) lived his life in such a manner that no one was put to harm by his tongue or hands. He enjoined his followers to adopt this philosophy as well. This is why it is strange to Islam that a few misguided and brainwashed fellows kill, maim and unleash terror to innocent people in the name of the religion.
The world celebrates the International Day of Tolerance every 16th of November on an annual basis. Why is such a day even important? The answer is not far-fetched. What transpires in the global political arena in terms of hate speeches and hot exchanges suggests that tolerance is a mirage in our contemporary world. The use of social media has further worsened the situation. Unless we redirect our actions towards harmonious relations, the world will witness another serious war that will be of greater magnitude than the previous two combined. We need to espouse the principle of tolerance to prevent war. In chapter 109 the Quran underscores the philosophy of tolerance by the words. ‘for you your religion, and for me my religion’. This is the true spirit of Islam.
As we commemorate the International Day of Tolerance, we should bear in mind that everyone deserves our respect irrespective of the differences that we have. Diversity should not be the reason for adversity and monstrosity among men. We should accommodate other people’s harmless beliefs and practices. The mosaic of life itself is woven in a fabric of diversity, which is the fundamental reason for our continuous survival. To deny this assertion is tantamount to contending that the sun rises from the East. It is time we embraced the philosophy that Islam and other religions espouse: mankind is one kind of many shades; we are stronger and better when we stay together and love each other. The sum of it all is that the world should embrace the motto propagated by the Ahmadiyya Community: Love for All; Hatred for None. Through our institutions (social, political and education), we can build a better society- one that will transform petulant and arrogant individuals into broad-minded and tolerant ones.
Oladejo Haneef Olalekan is currently a student, an upcoming writer and a poet whose works have featured in anthologies, journals, magazines, and blogs. He is a member of Muslim Writers’ Guild of Nigeria.