Universal mercy or loving kindness

  Loving kindness and peace


From Universal justice,

Muslim and Non-Muslim Relations

By Jamal Badawi, PhD

The essence of Islam is summed up in the following verse:

And (thus, O Muhammad), We have not sent you, but as mercy to all the worlds.

(Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:107)

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) explained that mercy is not being merciful to one’s companions only but merciful to all.

He also explained,

“He who is not merciful to others, will not be treated mercifully.”

It is obvious that Muslims are not the only dwellers of the earth. Hence the command to be merciful applies to all. In fact, mercy applies as well to animals and other creatures of Allah.

A logical fruit of this attitude of mercy is to love humankind as persons and fellow honored creatures of Allah, while dissociating oneself from their erroneous beliefs or even rejection of Allah.

This love finds its greatest form by loving good and guidance for them. This does not mean loving their wrongdoing or their rejection of faith in Allah. It is the love of their guidance and well being in this life and in the life to come.

Peaceful coexistence

The basic rule governing the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is that of peaceful coexistence, justice and compassion.

The following two verses are key verses that embody that general rule:

As for such (non-Muslims) who_

  • do not fight you on account of (your) faith,

  • or drive you forth from your homelands,

God does not forbid you to show them_

  • kindness (also love and respect)

  • and to deal with them with equity,

for God loves those who act equitably.

God only forbids you to turn in friendship towards such as

  • fight against you because of (your) faith

  • and drive you forth from your homelands

  • or aid (others) in driving you forth.

As for those from among you who turn towards them for alliance, it is they who are wrongdoers.

(Al-Mumtahanah 60:8-9)

This verse makes it a Muslim’s duty to treat peacefully coexisting persons with equity (qist) and birr.

The term birr and its derivatives are the same expressions used in the Qur’an and Hadith to refer to one’s relationship with his or her parents.

Such a relationship is more than kindness, since it includes also love and respect.

Many English translations of the Qur’an have translated this Qur’anic term as kindness, a translation that falls short of the richer meaning of the original Arabic term. To ameliorate this problem, the bracketed statement (also love and respect) was added above.

The term qist has been translated as “justice.”

Justice, however, is closest to another Arabic word `adl.

This word, however, refers to giving the other his or her rights, no less and no more.

Other scholars argue that the Qur’anic term qist means “going beyond justice by giving more than what is due to others.”

Peaceful dialogue,

especially with the People of the Book

All of the above nine principles apply to all non-Muslims. The Qur’an accords the People of the Book (Jews, Christians and some included Buddhists) a special position.

The very term to designate them distinguishes them from others such as idolatrous Arabs (Al-Bayyinah 98:1).

It is a complimentary title as it acknowledges that, like Muslims, their faiths are based on revealed books or scriptures.

In its family and dietary laws, the Qur’an gives a special consideration to the People of the Book. The Qur’an exhorts Muslims to engage in peaceful dialogue with Jews and Christians:

The verse in the Qur’an encourages peaceful dialogue and invites all to build upon the common ground between Muslims and the People of the Book. The Qur’an instructs Muslims:

And do not argue with the People of Book except in a most kindly manner, except for those of them who are bent on evildoing, and say:

“We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which has come down to you; our Lord and yours is One and it is to Him that we (all) submit ourselves.

(Al-`Ankabut 29:46)

Most of the religious people around the world share belief in human responsibility, consequences of good and evil deeds, moral teachings, and other values such as love, peace, and justice.

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