(Surat al-Ma’ida: 32)
He who kills an innocent soul then it is as if he has killed all of mankind. And he who gives life to a soul, it is as if he has saved all of mankind.
The turbulent world we live in is often disturbing. Especially in light of the deplorable acts being carried out in the name of religion. News of attacks in which scores of innocent lives are lost appear to be unending. In the Ayat quoted above, the Qur’an Majeed declares that the killing of one innocent soul is the killing of all humanity (Surat al-Ma’ida: 32). In addition to the ta’wil significance of this Ayat, on the literal level it establishes unequivocally that the killing of innocents is completely unjustifiable and utterly un-Islamic.
In reality, the people carrying out such attacks are the worst enemies of Islam. They have accused a large majority of Muslims of being un-Islamic or even apostates and unbelievers (kafir), while they rain their completely un-Islamic horrors on innocent individuals, including Muslims. For every murder of innocents in the West, they have also murdered thousands of Muslims in the Middle East and Asia, especially Shi’a Muslims. Rasulullah SA said, “a Muslim is someone whose tongue and hand no other Muslim fears. A Muslim is brother to a Muslim; he neither oppresses him nor hands him over. Muslims are a united front, like one hand.” Another version of this Hadith is, “a Muslim is someone whose tongue and hand no people fear.” Neither of these descriptions apply to the perpetrators of attacks on innocents in the name of Islam. The damage they have done to the repute and honor of the Islamic Umma is immeasurable.
The attacks are a manifestation of an extremist and fundamentalist ideology that is completely alien to our own beliefs.
Our ideology – the Fatimid ideology - is that of plurality and tolerance: to live with conviction by our beliefs and values and let others live by theirs. This ideology is based in our philosophical view of the world which manifested itself most strongly when the Fatimids ruled a vast empire for over two hundred years. The following excerpt from a paper published on Fatemidawat.com last year is worth quoting (“A Foundation for Islamic Tolerance: Reflections on the Concept of the Universality of Religions in Fatimid Thought, Policy and Practice”):
The Fatimid definition and understanding of pluralism is not indifference or an acceptance that all beliefs are necessarily valid and therefore it is simply a matter of cultural difference or a matter of fate as to which religion one follows. Pluralism is a firm belief – with confidence – in one’s faith and identity, with the recognition and respect of the unified origin and the shared values of others. This understanding and recognition – not simply pragmatism – is the key to tolerance and interactive peaceful and fruitful co-existence.
Such an understanding and recognition leads to a move from the term tolerance to respect. Tolerance insinuates an innate dislike for the other, and has its underpinnings in the pragmatic sufferance that is dictated by necessity. Respect on the other hand, demonstrates that confidence in one’s own belief system and identity, but at the same time an acknowledgment of the divine origins of all faiths and the recognition of our shared human values. These values are universal to all religions preached by Prophets: honesty, integrity, sincerity and love for mankind. The 51st Fatimid-Tayyibi Dai who espouses the Fatimid philosophy of the Universality of Religions, expresses the source of his respect for other religions in a verse in one of his Qasidas:
There is no religion but within it there are some words from the people of Truth from ages past.
In today’s world, there are many elements and groups that use religious principles to justify the persecution and even the waging of an ungodly war. These groups are very vocal in advertising the religious justification of their belligerency to anyone who even slightly deviates from their system of belief. In this context it is vital that those of us who, contrary to that, find within our religious principles the roadmap for peaceful and respectful coexistence, unapologetically make known our principles through our words and our actions.
By adhering to the true Islamic values and respecting others, each of us, each Muslim, can be an ambassador of Islam. By doing so, each Muslim can do their part to prevent the hijacking of the name of our religion by a fundamentalist ideology that is entirely un-Islamic. The Ayat quoted above continues that he who gives life to one soul is like giving life to the entire human race (Surat al-Ma’ida: 32). Each individual counts.
We thank and praise Allah Ta’ala that He guided us to the true values of Islam through his Prophet, his successors and their Du’at. Syedna Qutbuddin TUS preaches these values and practices them. May Allah Ta’ala give us the strength to follow his example. May we also have the strength to detect and stay away from such ideologies and ideologues. Let us also strive to protect the name of our community by adhering to its true values and philosophies. Let us pray that Allah Ta’ala grants Syedna Qutbuddin TUS Nasre-Aziz and Fathe-Mubeen so that by his life giving presence, the multitudes are saved. May Allah Ta’ala grant him a long and healthy life till qiyaamat.