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Tolerance in the teaching of the Great Prophet(s) and in Liberalism: A Contrastive Analysis (Part 2)

Dec 23, 2011, 2:03 PM

Elsewhere he instructs one of his governors thus:

Ask God for help in what you intend to do and integrate strictness with mildness. Wherever moderateness and gentleness are more appropriate, employ them and only resort to strictness when there is no other way. Be humble before the people. In attention, in gaze, and in gesture treat the people equally.

6. Islam’s Requirement for Tolerance as a Moral Virtue

Many Narrations have emphasized the profound importance of moderateness, mildness, forgiveness reprieve, and restraining one’s anger regarding the people as well as the importance of obscuring faults and the illicitness of revealing them. All this is representative of the recommendation of Islam with respect to tolerance in dealing with others. The following has been cited from the Prophet of God (s):

Shall I notify you of the most beautiful behaviors in this world and the next? They include forgiving a person who has mistreated you keeping in touch with relatives that have cut off relations, performing good deeds for a person who has wronged you, and giving benefactions to a person who has deprived you. 

It has also been narrated that:

Possession of the attributes of gentleness and moderateness with people is possession of faith.

The following has been quoted of Imam ‘Ali(a):

Whenever you overcome your enemy, let forgiveness be your gratitude (to God) for the blessing of power.

In a Narration from the holy Prophet(s), it is stated:

Do not be on the lookout for the mistakes of other. Whoever seeks out the mistakes of their brothers and sisters in faith, God shall be reciprocally in search of the former’s mistakes. And one whose mistakes God seeks out, He will disgrace even if at home.

He has also declared:

For those who reveal wrongful deeds, it is as if they had performed those deeds themselves, and persons who intend to disgrace someone by revealed their mistakes will perform that mistakes themselves before they die.

7. God’s Tolerance in Reward and Punishment

All Quranic verses and Narrations regarding forgiveness, clemency, mercy, and those that covey that God is accepting of repentance mark the tolerance of God, i.e, His mildness, lenience, forgiveness, and indulgence, concerning sinners and wrongdoers. Likewise, intercession in the Hereafter which is the greatest manifestation of God’s forgiveness also denotes this truth. Here, I shall only present one verse:

Say [that Allah declares,] ‘O My servants who have committed excesses against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed Allah will forgive all sins’ (39:53).

In similar fashion, Quranic verse and Narrations regarding God’s double or inflated rewards for the good deeds of His servants signifies this truth as well. For example, it has been stated in the Quran:

Whoever brings virtue shall receive ten times is like; but whoever brings vice shall not be requited except with its like, and they will not be wronged (6:160)

Moreover, the draws an analogy between donating charity for God and a grain that grows seven offshoots each with one hundred seeds then the Quran states:

Allah enhances manifoldly for whomever He wishes (2:261).

In addition, in surah Qadr it is stated that good deeds performed on the Night of Qadr have proclaimed to be better that those of one thousand months (see:Qadr 97:3).


The opposites of tasamuh and tasahul are usually considered to be qati’iyat (resoluteness), salabat (firmness), sarsakhti (obstinacy), and khushunat (aggressiveness). After enumerating instances of positive tolerance in Islam, it is now apt that I point out occasions where Islam considers resoluteness, firmness, and inflexibility to be desirable. In fact, such case may be considered negative tolerance. In other words, tolerance in these cases is undesirable and deplorable.

1. Resoluteness in Imparting the Divine Message

The prophets had unparalleled resolve in carrying out their divine commissions. They withstood the direst threats and schemes and the most alluring bribes without bending in the slightest. The Quran names numerous prophets including Noah, Abraham, Lot, Shu’ayb (the father-in-law of Moses), Hud, Salih, Moses, Jesus, and the Prophet of Islam who stood like mountains and carried out their missions without submitting to any deals (see: surahs A’raf, Yunus, Hud, and Ibrahim ).

Martyr Mutahhai considered unparalleled resolve to be one of the characteristics of divine prophets. He has stated:

Because prophets discern themselves to be ‘appointed’ and do not have the least amount of doubt about their mission, its necessary, and its worthwhileness, they promote and support their message with such resolve for which no likeness can be found…. In the first years of his appointment, when the number of Muslims might not yet have surpassed ten, in a meeting recorded in history as the Day of Warning [yawm al-indhar], the holy Prophet (s) gathered the notables of Bani Hashim and presented his message to them. With clarity and resolution, he declared:

My religion will suffuse the world and your happiness is conditional upon accepting and upholding my invitation…. In response to the request of the Quraysh, stating that they would appoint him as their king, wed him to their most beautiful girl, and make him the most wealthy person among them on the condition that he abandon his pronouncements, he said: I swear to God, if they place the sun in one hand and the moon in my other, I will never give up my invitation (Mutahhari, p.164-165).

To be continued.