We have all heard about the recent events in Paris as well as others around the world. Outrageous and disgusting acts by individuals in the name of Islam have been committed in apparent attempts to defend Islam. However, these acts have tarnished the name of the religion and misrepresented it’s true message. The majority of Muslims would condemn these acts as barbaric and not worthy of being related to Islam. One of the meanings of the word ‘Islam’ comes from the word ‘salam’, which translates to ‘peace’. Muslims around the world regard the Quran as the word of God, and the ways of the Prophet Muhammad, as a source of imitation. These so called ‘muslims’ have tried to justify their acts by saying they were defending the Prophet, when the Prophet himself acted very differently in the face of abuse and intimidation. In the time of the Prophet, a lady would regularly spit at him as he walked past her, yet he would not react. One day the Prophet walked past the place she usually stood but didn’t see her, he asked the people where she was and they said she had fallen ill. He then went to visit her and showed respect; this is one of the many examples he set.
Islam itself encourages good manners and kindness. “Do good to others, surely Allah loves those who do good to others” (Quran 2:195). Note that this verse refers to all mankind. The Prophet also encouraged dialogue and living in harmony with others with different beliefs. During his time in Medina, he would hold talks between people of different religions and creeds to facilitate peace, and to increase the love between mankind. Perhaps we need more of this in today’s world.
Recently, a meeting took place between the Islamic Unity Society (IUS) and Focolare, a Christian movement. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss a residential organised by the Focolare, to which they invited the IUS to attend. The aim is to learn from each other and to increase dialogue and social work between the two groups. The residential is titled “Do you care? Multiculturalism, interfaith, Dialogue” where different activities and sessions will take place, leading to the hashtag #YesWeCare, which encourages attendees, once back to their lives, to start or continue on good projects and care for the society we live in.
After the meeting, we also visited the mosque. For some of the Focolare attendees, it was the first time they had entered a mosque. The group also visited the Imam Khoei Islamic Centre, where they were given information about the history of the building and the mosque, Islamic architecture, and other general information on Islam.
Both the IUS and Focolare aim to increase knowledge of each other and to remove the boundaries of misunderstanding or misconceptions. They are two different groups with a common goal. This shows that people can have their differences of opinions and beliefs, but can live side by side and respect each other. Furthermore, this can be done without the need to compromise on values and beliefs.
According to Saadi, a Persian poet from the 12th century, “Adam’s sons are body limbs, to say, for they’re created of the same clay. Should one organ be troubled by pain, others would suffer severe strain. Thou, careless of people’s suffering, deserve not the name, human being.” Current world affairs requires mankind to come together and commerce in dialogue, in order to bring about kindness and love among the people, and to overcome the difficulties faced by many societies throughout the world.
Unfortunately people will always use religion as an excuse for their acts, this comes from the lack of knowledge, but it is up to the true followers of the religions to represent and show the true messages, of peace and love.