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.
Islam is a complete way of life, which deals extensively on both the spiritual, as well as the physical well-being of its adherents. Hygiene in Islam is one of the great privileges in Islam. This write-up is aimed at examining the Islamic perspective on physical cleanliness.
Cleanliness and purification is an essential part of Islamic life, and in fact, the philosophy behind it in Islam is much beyond the superficial concept of the conventional cleanliness.
In the Quran, Allah says:
"…Indeed Allah loves the penitent, and He loves those who keep clean." (2:222)
Similarly, one of the injunctions that were revealed unto the Prophet (PBUH&HP) following his call to rise and warn was the purification of his garments [i]. The Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) and the infallible leaders (AS) have instructed the Muslims to maintain cleanliness and have seriously frowned at dirtiness and untidiness [ii].
When a child is born, Islam enjoins the Muslims to maintain a high level of cleanliness and purity concerning him/her, as this has an impact on the mind and soul of that child. If the parents neglect this duty, they should answer before God for the consequences. Similarly, circumcision of the male child-preferably on the seventh day- is a mandatory Islamic custom. That is because it “prevents the child against the possible infection of the male genital organ" .
Also, at death, it is mandatory to perform full body washing ablution (Ghusl) for a dead body of a Muslim.
In addition, ablution (Wudu) and body purity are considered as very crucial conditions for the validity of prayer (Salat), which is the most significant act of worship in Islam. In fact, on a normal circumstance, a Muslim cannot offer his prayers with an unclean body, clothes or use dirty premises. They are enjoined to use clean, pure water and keep it safe from any form of impurities.
Various full body-washing ablutions (Ghusl) after the release of semen, expiration of monthly period or childbirth, touching of dead bodies, etc. are prescribed in Islam to observe some religious obligations.
Cleansing of their genitals with water or other cleansing materials after passing urine or excreta are parts of the Islamic customs. Similarly, Muslims on an interval are enjoined to clip their nails and to shave the hair in their armpit and pubic area. Likewise, they are also enjoined to trim their mustaches in order to avert oral intakes, keep oral hygiene, good physical appearance and to make use of fragrance. Similarly, Islam emphatically enjoins a Muslim to keep his clothes, houses, and environment clean. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “The Arch Gabriel continuously ordered me to clean my teeth until I thought it would be made compulsory” .
In the Quran and narrations (Hadiths) of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and the infallible Leaders (Ahl-al-Bayt) (AS), great emphasis has been placed on the cleanliness and purity of the foods and drinks. For the importance attached to the well-being of the body as well as that of the soul, Islam has enjoined the entire human beings and the believers in particular to consume hygienic, pure and lawful foods [iii]. Similarly, it forbids the consumption or usage of all unhygienic, impure and unlawful foods/drinks (such as blood, dead animal, dogs, pig, intoxicants, etc.) and they are considered great sins in Islam and punishable under the Islamic laws.
Cleanliness and personal hygiene in the Islamic custom are aimed at keeping both the body and mind healthy. In some cases such as ablution (Wudu) and body-washing ablution (Ghusl), body purity is considered a prerequisite for the observance of prayers. Moreover, body purity is one of the necessary conditions for attaining an inner or spiritual purity. It is based on this that Muslims are strictly enjoined to uphold high standards of physical hygiene and to be ritually cleaned whenever possible.
[ii] The Prophet (PBUHHP) said: "Verily, Islam is [the religion of] cleanliness, so cleanse yourselves. For surely, only the cleanly enter Paradise"  and "Observe cleanliness in every respect you are capable, for indeed God based Islam on cleanliness" .
[iii]. "O humankind! Eat of what is lawful and pure in the earth…" (2: 168). "O you who have faith! Eat of the good things We have provided you, and thank Allah if it is Him that you worship." (2: 172)
- Nahj al-Fasahah, Vol. 2, P. 998.
- Ibrahim Amini, Principles of upbringing children, chapter 25 P. 176 (published by Ansariyan publications, Qum)
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 76, P. 126.
Looking at Imam Hussain (AS)'s movement and the incidents that took place on Karbala, one might wonder if Imam Hussain (AS) ever had the intention of going to war with Yazid or not. In what follows, we raise some questions that will reveal Imam Hussain (AS)'s real attitude toward war.
He did not wish to take the oath of allegiance of a ruthless and corrupt person as Yazid, so he decided to peacefully migrate from Medina to Mecca in which many people had not accepted Yazid’s oath of allegiance yet. In his will which he wrote before leaving Medina, he says:
“I am not leaving here out of selfishness or with the aim of oppression or corruption, but for the sake of improving Muslims’ condition of life. I want to enjoin the right (Amr bi-l-ma’ruf) and forbid the wrong (Nahy’ ani-l-munkar) and to act according to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP)’s and Imam Ali’s (AS) way”.
His first motivation to leave Medina was migration, not war. So he left Medina to Mecca along with his family and companions without making any violent move against Yazid. On the day of Ashura on which Imam Hussain (AS) was martyred, 17 to 19 people of his family and relatives were among his companions, including some women and children. Among the martyrs of Karbala, also, there were five teenagers and children. One might ask, as Charles Dickens once asked if Imam Hussain (AS) were after worldly desires as taking over the throne, why would he take his family and children with him and risk their lives?
Imam Hussain (AS) had no intention of going to Kufa, but he was persuaded to do so by the many letters he received from Kufa people asking him to help them against Yazid’s tyranny. His speech in front of Hur’s army proves this fact:
“O’ people! This is my last word to you so that there would be no excuse in Allah’s presence. I would not come to you if you had not sent your letters and messengers and asked me to come to you. You told me that you didn’t have a leader and wanted Allah to guide you through me. So, if you still keep your words, I will come to your city, and if you don’t want me to come, I will return.”
When surrendered by Hur and his army, Zuhair, one of Imam Hussain’s (AS) companions, suggested fighting them. Since they were not still much in number and Imam Hussain’s (AS) camp had the strength to defeat them. However, Imam Hussain (AS) rejected his view and told him that if there would be a war, he did not wish to be its initiator, though he would defend himself if necessary.
Imam Hussain (AS) wanted to postpone the war as much as possible, not because he was afraid of fighting, but to give the enemy more time to think twice about their wrong decision. So, when on the evening of the 9th of Muharram, Umar ibn Sa’ad gathered his army and got them ready for the war, he sent them a message and asked them to postpone the war until the day after and he spent the night praying to Allah.
Even on the very day of Ashura, Imam Hussain (AS) did his best to dissuade the enemy of choosing the wrong path and losing the God-given blessing of life for a ruthless tyrant as Yazid and his vain intentions. That is because Imam Hussain (AS) who was the spiritual leader of Muslims and cared about their fate more than his own life, found it his responsibility to guide them toward what is right before it was too late [i].
[i] For more information see Salam Islam's ebook: 40 Points about Imam Hussain (AS) and the Event of Karbala