Coexistence means living together, cooperating socially and economically of either the people of two countries to fulfill their livelihood or two individuals who might not share the same interests. In other words, coexistence includes being together, not interfering in others’ private affairs, and respecting the rights of others. Islam, which considers both the individual and social needs of human beings, offers a complete package for a thriving social life. Through its teachings, the Prophet’s (PBUH & HP) and infallible Imams’(AS) tradition (Sunnah), and the Quranic teachings, Islam has provided some clear guidelines for Muslims and the followers of other religions peaceful coexistence in the Quran. Here, we focus mostly on what the Quran offers in this regard.
The first point raised about the peaceful coexistence in the Quran is that Muslims should deal with non-Muslims with justice and beneficence, as far as non-Muslims have not expressed any hostility against them and don’t respond to their kindness with hatred (60:8). In Surah Mumtahina, it is said that: “Allah forbids you only in regard to those who made war against you on account of religion and expelled you from your homes and supported [others] in your expulsion, that you make friends with them, and whoever makes friends with them—it is they who are the wrongdoers.”(60:9).
Accordingly, non-Muslims are in two groups — the first group who are in peace with Muslims and live peacefully with them. The Islamic government and Muslims of society should respect this group and recognize their rights. The second group is those who act against Muslims, Islam, and the Islamic government. Undoubtedly, they should be counteracted, and there would be no place for peace in this case . That’s why Imam Ali (AS) had devoted a share of public treasury (Bayt al-mal) to help the needy people of other religions. It means that an Islamic government does not overlook non-Muslims, but recognizes their rights and supports them. (10:57)
Humans naturally tend to reject any imposed idea or belief. And, the Quran never orders something which opposes to human’s nature. Hence, non-Muslims are not compelled to convert to Islam (2:256), and they are free to keep their religion. In Surah An’am, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) is told that: “Had Allah wished, they would not have ascribed partners [to Him]. We have not made you a caretaker for them, nor is it your duty to watch over them.” (6:107). Based on these verses, along with some others, Islam recognizes other Abrahamic religions, and no Muslim is permitted to force any non-Muslim to accept Islamic ideas. Still, Muslims should let non-Muslims to retain their own religious views and beliefs and to live peacefully in society.
If Muslims want to discuss their religious viewpoints with followers of other religions, they are told: “not to argue with the People of the Book, except in a manner which is best” (29:46). It means to exchange peacefully with logical reasoning and argument. Even in their discussions with polytheists, Muslims are prevented from insulting those whom they invoke besides Allah Almighty; otherwise, they would affront Allah Almighty out of hostility (6:108) . It should be noted that the aim of these discussions should be clarifying the truth and not obliging others to convert. As stated above, no one is forced to accept what we believe. This manner ensures Muslims and non-Muslims peaceful coexistence in the Quran.
In surah Baqara, it is stated that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) and the faithful have faith in what has been sent down to him (PBUH & HP) from Allah Almighty, and they believe in Allah Almighty, His angels, His scriptures and His apostles, and they make no distinction between any of His apostles (2:285). It means that a real believer should recognize all previous Prophets sent by Allah Almighty and what they have brought to humans from Him . Besides, in Ayat 62, the followers of other religions like the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabaeans who are faithful to Allah and the Day of Judgement and act righteously are told to have their reward from Allah Almighty (2:62). This is another proof that Islam recognizes other religions. Also, it reveals that there have been faithful people among the followers of other religions who truly believed in Allah almighty according to the teachings of their faith.
In dealing with the opponents of Islam, Islam orders Muslims to accept if they offer peace and declare a ceasefire and emphasizes that: “Allah does not allow you any course [of action] against them” (4:90). In other verses, Muslims are told that: “If they incline toward peace, then you [too] incline toward it” (8:61).
Another example that demonstrates Islamic teachings promote peaceful coexistence in the Quran with non-Muslims is that in the Quran, Muslims are told that: “the food of those who were given the Book is lawful to you, and your food is lawful to them” (5:5). Besides, according to the Quran, Muslim men can marry the chaste ones from among faithful women, and chaste women of those who were given the Book before Muslims, once their dowries are paid to them (5:5). These two instances show that Muslims are free to fraternize with non-Muslims and exchange with them in society.
What has been mentioned above are only some of the many Islamic guidelines that encourage treating others kindly and behaving friendly with the followers of other religions. That makes them incline slightly towards Islam, such that after a Christian boy who had converted to Islam changed his bad behavior with his mother, the mother was attracted and converted to Islam, too. This, together with many instances of the way that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) and Infallible Imams (AS) treated non-Muslims, proves Islam's deep care for the way Muslims deal with others which should ultimately lead them toward tolerance and maintaining a peaceful coexistence as stated in the Quran.
- M. A. Amini, “The principle of peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims in Islam,” Ma’rifat Journal, no. 165, p. 35-52.
- M. H. Tabataba’ei, “Translation of Tafsir Al-Mizan, “vol. 2, p. 681.
Generosity is such an important virtue in the religion of Islam that the holy Quran says with regard to it: “You will never attain piety until you spend out of what you hold dear, and whatever you may spend of anything, Allah indeed knows it” (3:92).
As perfect exemplars of this great ethical virtue, the holy prophet (PBUH&HP) and infallible Imams (AS) always recommended their followers to be unconditionally kind and bountiful with people. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) stated: “A generous person is closer to Allah, to the people and heaven” 
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
“As for him who gives and is Godwary, and confirms the best promise, We will surely ease him toward facility” (92:5-7)
Generosity is one of the qualities of the soul which Allah bestows upon His beloved ones, who are not concerned about material wealth and willingly give to others to make the world a better place and reach God’s satisfaction.
In return, The Bountiful Allah has promised to provide the generous with ease and facility both in this world and the hereafter. Under God’s promise to generous people in the verse above, scientific studies also confirm the ease and happiness generosity would bring about. “A huge review of 40 studies on the effect of volunteering on general health and happiness was published in the journal BMC Public Health. The results? Volunteering not only improves well-being and life satisfaction, but it is also linked with decreased depression and a lower risk of dying early” .
One of the most eminent characteristics of the holy infallible Imams was their generosity. It has been narrated that Imam Hassan (AS) granted his whole wealth twice in his lifetime to win Allah’s satisfaction and improve the life of his fellow human beings. He also divided his property with the poor three times, granting half his wealth to the poor altogether, including his own shoes . Money was only a means for him to help the needy. “Once, he was asked: ‘We do not see you disappoint a beggar. Why?’
He replied: ‘I am asking Allah for His favors, and I love to be near Him. I am ashamed, as I am myself in need of Allah, to repulse a beggar. Allah got me used to a habit; to shower me with His bounties, and I get Him used to me showering His bounties on the people. I fear that should I stop my habit, He may stop His habit.’” 
This implies the verse of the holy Quran that says:
“Be good [to others] just as Allah has been good to you” (28:77)
It is noteworthy, however, that the infallible Imams never sought excessive asceticism. Neither did they ordain absolute abstinence from worldly delights [i]. Although they were sometimes rich, they willingly wanted to lead the life of the poorest people in the society. So that they could sympathize with them, and show the nothingness of the perishable earthly wealth compared with other eternal values.
But does it mean that Muslims have to give all their wealth away generously like their leaders? In fact, this kind of behavior mostly suits the leaders of a community. What Islam expects from the rest of the people is moderation in generosity.
Along with the social and individual benefits of the generosity in Islam for the giver proven by the researchers, ranging from a better outlook on life to having a lower risk of early death, the Quranic verses also name some more spiritual effects of this act of benevolence:
Generosity and charity make us receive the unlimited, immeasurable blessings and mercy of God:
“Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and then do not follow up what they have spent with reproaches and affronts, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2:262)
God has guaranteed multiplied reward as the replacement of donation and generosity in this world and the hereafter:
“… and He will repay whatever you may spend, and He is the best of providers’” (34:39)
“The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain which grows seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. Allah enhances several fold whomever He wishes, and Allah is all-bounteous, all-knowing” (2:261)
God showers his endless blessings upon generous people. He makes it easy for them to follow the path of obedience and charity until they are granted a life free from any fears or difficulties:
“Those who give their wealth by night and day, secretly and openly, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2:274)
“Indeed, those who recite the Book of Allah and maintain the prayer, and spend secretly and openly out of what We have provided them, expect a commerce that will never go bankrupt” (35:29)
“Those who are patient for the sake of their Lord’s pleasure, maintain the prayer, and spend secretly and openly out of what We have provided them, and repel evil [conduct] with good. For such will be the reward of the [ultimate] abode” (13:22)
In the next part of this article, we will introduce 6 Etiquettes of Generosity and Almsgiving.
[i] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “there is no monasticism in Islam” .
Fundamental needs of animals in Islam includes their rights in Islam, and human beings have to fulfill them. The very first needs of animals which are vital to them include sufficient and proper food, water, a comfortable place to rest and live, and physical health. These and some other rights of the animals are discussed in this article.
Animals are unable to talk and express their needs. Captivating the animals and inhibiting them from the blessings that God has reserved for them are unfair . Every animal with either lawful (Halal) or unlawful (Haram) meat, with or without benefit to its owner, birds or cattle, should be provided with adequate food and water, otherwise should be released to seek for its requirements . The animals’ rights in food provision can be listed as:
Feeding the animal adequately, otherwise, it should be released in pastures or nature to find food ;
Paying special attention to the animal, with whether lawful [i] (Halal) or unlawful [ii] (Haram) meat, which gives milk to its baby because it requires double food supply . Imam Ali (AS) ordered the alms-tax collectors nor to separate the camel from its baby neither to milk the whole milk of the camel as it might be harmful to the baby camel ;
Not to feed the animal with unlawful food since it is detestable (Makruh) ;
Not to leave the animal hungry. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) blamed a man who had left his camel hungry: “you should fear God!” ;
Watering animal. Partial (Wudu) and full (Ghusl) ablution are some sorts of washing body which are obligatory for Muslims in certain conditions and are prerequisites for some religious duties. Regarding Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh), if an animal is dying of thirst and there is not enough water to both water the animal and perform the ablution, at certain conditions, watering the animal is the priority . Imam Baqir (AS) said that whoever waters a thirsty animal, God will place him at the shelter of His Throne the day that there is no protection except Him .
Hygiene and health of the animal are emphasized in Islam. Providing animals with healthy food and water, a clean place to live and the required treatments and medications are of the duties over their owners. Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh) obliges the owner of the animal to pay the expenses of the treatment of the animal .
It is over every Muslim to consider the rest and peace of the animal. Thereby, an appropriate place should be provided for the animal. Also, a suitable time should be considered for the exploitation of the animal, especially during the night that they need to rest. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) advised to let the animals rest whenever they are utilized and ordered not to oppress them.
These and other Islamic advises demonstrate how much care is given to the animals in Islam. This is contrary to the modern thinking ideas that consider animals as machines to serve humans without needing any rest.
Human beings are not allowed to deprive animals of reproduction . According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), sterilizing the animal is equal to dismembering it .
An animal raised by a human being has the right of affection over its owner. Hence, it is detestable that the owner of the animal slaughters the animal that he\she has raised . This shows that Islam considers the rights due to a harmonious cohabitation for humans over each other as well as for animals over humans. Imam Sajjad (AS) made a will to bury his camel after its death so that it might not be torn apart by the wild animals .
Animals trained for purposes such as companionship, detection, protection, farm work, etc. have received great care in Islamic teachings such that keeping a trained dog at home is permitted if the hygiene tips are considered . It is narrated that a man who had his horse with him, saluted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). Prophet (PBUH&HP) saluted both the man and his horse in return .
This demonstrates the importance of keeping respect for the animals, especially those that are trained. In this regard, branding iron animal on the face (which was common in the past among some ethnic groups) is forbidden in Islam and is considered unfair . Also, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) ordered not to rest while seated on the animals’ back .
Respecting the rights of the animals in Islam is so important that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said that whoever ignores the rights of the animals that he\she had owned, he\she should wait in the judgment day until those animals pass over while crushing or butting him\her .
[i]. e.g., cow or sheep.
[ii]. e.g., dog.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 675.
- Sheikh al-Tusi, “Al-Mabsoot”, vol. 6, p. 47.
- H. T. Nuri Ṭabarsi, “Mustadrak al-Wasail”, vol. 8, p. 36.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 678.
- “Nahj al-Balagha”, letter 25.
- Sheikh al-Tusi, “Tahdhib al-Ahkam”, vol. 9, p. 115.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 61, p. 111.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 681.
- “Makarim al-Akhlaq”, p. 135.
- M. H. Najafi, “Jawahir al-Kalam”, vol. 36, p. 436-437.
- J. Suyuti, “Jami al-Sagheer”, vol. 1, p. 102.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 686.
- A. Al-Barqi, “Al-Mahasin”, p. 634.
- Shaykh al-Saduq, “Thawab al-A'mal wa 'Iqab al-A'mal”, p. 50.
- Animals in Islam
- F. Rawandi, “Al-Nawader”, p. 41-42.
- Shaykh Saduq, “Al-Amali”, p. 507.
- Q. Nu'man, “Da'a'im al-Islam”, vol 1, p. 347.
- Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, “Sahih Muslim”, vol. 3, p. 74.