Posted at: http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/06/pluralism-and-quran-verse-58.html and at: WorldMuslimCongress@yahoogroups.com
Alhamdu Lillah., most Muslims are blessed with an inquisitive mind, and I am so glad we are doing the right thing by clarifying and questioning what is said and written. Indeed, Islam started with the premise that we read, write and learn. That’s how Quraan began; Iqra, the first word.
Pluralism and Quran, verse 5:8
5:8 (Asad), “ O you who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any-one  lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do.”
Pluralism in the broadest sense is respecting the otherness of others, and accepting God’s will in creating each one of us as a unique being. It implies fair treatment and justice to fellow beings.
Justice is the foremost value of Islam as it is with all religions and traditions. When law and order is the way of life in a given society, people live in peace, and prosperity is the natural outcome.
When there is justice, fears dissipate knowing that no one can take advantage of you, and if they do, society will fix them, and if the society fails, God will. Nothing in the world goes unaccounted; everything has to achieve its own balance at the end, and every re-action is a product of an action.
Historically prophets have made their presence felt when things were chaotic. Whether it was Moses or Krishna, Jesus or Muhammad, they fixed the problems and restored trust in the society.
The message in Verse 5:8 is to be just, no matter what happens, but be just. Prophet Muhammad further urges mankind to tell the truth even if it incriminates you. He said it liberates you from endless anxiety and paves the way for a regret-free life.
Justice is respecting and accepting others rights and pluralism is respect the otherness of others and accepting the God given uniqueness of each one of his creation.
God’s will as I understand is taking responsibility to maintain “BALANCE AND HARMONY BETWEEN ALL ELEMENTS OF HIS CREATION.” Because he created everything with balance, and has sent a peacemaker to every tribe, community and the nation, the message is same. A majority of people in each group get the message, some don’t.
Waalssamaa rafaAAaha wawadaAAa almeezana
55:7 (Asad) And the skies has He raised high, and has devised [for all things] a
measure [The noun meezan, usually denoting a “balance”, has here the more general connotation of “measure” or “measuring” by any means whatsoever (Zamakhshari ), in both the concrete and abstract senses of the word. (Cf. also the parabolic use of the term meezan in 42:17 and 57:25.)]
Waaqeemoo alwazna bialqisti wala tukhsiroo almeezana
55:9 (Asad) weigh, therefore, [your deeds] with equity, and cut not the measure short!
Quraan does not address Muslims exclusively; it is a book of guidance for humanity. As Muslims we tend to see the general meaning of “righteous path” as Islamic path (3:85), the path we have pounded with our culture and rituals, rather than the spirit of Islam.
Each society has strayed away from the meaning of justice. For example, until now, Muslims were misled by the men scholars of the past that the husband can beat the wife (4:34), how wrong the entire Ummah has been on the topic. You may not agree with it, but that is your choice.
It is a haunting question for women of conscience, and of course men of conscience. It is a shame that we took advantage of women, belittling them when they questioned the meaning of it, leaving an imbalance, thus injustice. It has bothered most Muslims, including me, that how can God say such a thing? But most did not dare asking the imams who misinterpreted it.
Thank God for the hidaya Allah gave to Dr. Lelah Bakhtiar, who has finally corrected the gross error. Now that she has fixed the problem, it gives more meaning to the phrase; Islam is the Deen of Fitra, of human nature.
I am thankful to Allah for blessing America with freedom, this freedom will pave the way for understanding the egalitarian and pluralistic nature of Islam that Prophet Muhammad practiced, but we dusted it up.
This was just one example, Insha Allah, in my next article, “What Sunnah?” we will explore Hadiths, that Prophet (pbuh) could not have said it all. He was a mercy to mankind, and we simply cannot ascribe those Hadiths to him, that are contrary to his personality.
The second most critical value of Islam is to be non-judgmental and non-prejudiced; a derivative of the first value. A Muslim, who observes the ritual part of Islam, utters the verse, “Maliki yawmi alddeeni” from 17 to 51 times a day. Stephen Covey says, if you utter something 7 times, it becomes a part of you. God is generous, he gives us the opportunity to utter more number of times, so it becomes a part of our psyche, that we do not judge others in the matters of faith, only Allah knows and only Allah will judge.
Maliki yawmi alddeeni
1:4 (Asad) Lord of the Day of Judgment!
Most Muslims get it, some don’t. It is easy to become a Mushrik by declaring others to be not a Muslim , or even declare that they will go to hell. Have you ever thought about that as a Shirk? That is the goddamned greatest form of Shirk, a major sin in Islam to judge others Imaan, the belief.
So my friends, verse 5:8 fulfills the values of God’s critical values to create pluralistic societies, and Islam is guidance to all humanity, even though we attempt to monopolize it as our property. Islam is about acknowledging the otherness of other, and Islam is about keeping the Meezan within his creation. We are the Ashraful-Makhlooqat, the superior (independent and intelligent) species, endowed with the responsibility to maintain the balance.
As we seek the truth, we will find that Islam is about Pluralism, about building cohesive societies where no human has to live in fear of the other. Look at all the examples of the Prophet; he created Models for us to follow. Insha Allah, we will catch up with it, at least within a generation or two.
Mike Ghouse is committed to nurturing the pluralistic values embedded in Islam and invites discussions with an open mind. Together, we can learn to be a productive citizen to our family, community, nation and the world – thus serving God’s purpose of peace; Islam the verb.