Inclusivity. Why are we still trying to bring it into our society when it has existed for over 1000 years?
Many religions enjoin peace:
- Islam encourages good behaviour towards neighbours, family, and friends; a peaceful coexistence with the community around us.
- Christianity encourages living with hope and peace at its centre.
- Buddhism promotes a peaceful existence, in order to be free from the roots of suffering.
- Judaism entails grasping peace as the source of security for the people.
- Hinduism prescribes meditation to bring about inner peace.
All religions share at least one thing; the central idea that should describe us as the custodians of this planet, the cultivators and protectors of peace. And yet, ironically, this very notion is compromised with our scrutiny of differing values. Peace is dismissed and we often prefer to focus on the instances where peace was not carried out.
This makes us forget that all religions should be allowed to coexist and acknowledge the collective ideas that they spread to adherents. Evidence that this is imperative for maintaining a peaceful society is the Madinah Charter signed by the Prophet Muhammad (s), the first of his kind who was known to have done so.
The Madinah charter was a document outlining the rights and responsibilities of all the people of Madinah. These rights ensured that the adherents that contributed to the plethora of religious traditions that existed during that time could practice their religious duties freely.
Allow me to present to you a picture of the religious landscape of Arabia.
Before the revelation of the Quran and the arrival of Islam; other faiths existed in Arabia. These included monotheistic faiths such as Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and those who were simply followers of the doctrine of Ibrahim (as).
There existed also pagan faiths and those specific to each tribe. Arabia was more of a stratified Capitalist state before the unification into a socialist state by the Prophet Muhammad (s).
This meant that pre-Islamic Arabia was very divided and religious beliefs greatly varied between individuals, groups, and social classes. Idolatry was prevalent among the tribal leaders who had designated idols to which offerings and salutations were made.
Seeing as Islam was to be received in a land of such religious diversity, Prophet Muhammad (s) needed this document to ensure peaceful coexistence and cooperation between the many faiths while he taught more people about Islam. He declared that each tribe with their different set of customs and beliefs from pre-Islamic times could continue with their practices.
For instance, any blood money (money due to the family of a person who was murdered) that was due could be paid as per tribal customs.
The document also classified that the people of Madinah who are adherents of varying religious traditions with similar beliefs and doctrine as ‘believers’ collectively. This was not exclusive to Muslims or Jews or to any one group of adherents.
All inhabitants of Madinah regardless of religious affiliation were bound together under one umbrella of security.
The umbrella of security meant that any threat to the people would be received with a collective response and that matters of security would be faced by the community as a whole; ‘Conditions of peace and war and the accompanying ease or hardships must be fair and equitable to all citizens alike’ (Constitution.org: Full Text of the Madina Charter).
If a citizen’s life was at risk, it did not matter what tribe they belonged to, or with what name they called to God; they would have to be defended as a fellow inhabitant of the city of Madinah.
So, why is this necessary? Because Allah has said in the Quran:
“O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may ˹get to˺ know one another. Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (Quran: Al-Hujurat 13)
This reveals that humanity overall has but one duty, to work and enjoin righteousness. To maintain peace in the world. This is something common to all and what the Prophet Muhammed (s) wanted to protect when he signed the Madina charter.
So shouldn’t we pick up where he left off and enjoin unity between religions, wearing the mantel of the vanguard of peace?