Pluralism – an essential element of globalization

By Farhan Jumani

Today we live in the era of Globalization. This means we live together, well aware of others’ conditions in many ways. We share each others’ aspirations, thoughts, values and to some extent, help others to redress the untoward situation.  The whole humanity connected electronically and anything occurs to any part of world, one can find out in a single click.

Globalization has provided many opportunities but, it has also brought many challenges for humanity to deal with. Let us look in today’s context of public affairs and political thoughts of the different countries. Today, we will not see the names of the great people of the past in the heading of our newspapers and media such as Omar Khayyam the great mathematicians and astronomer, Nasir Khusrow the finest intellectual and religious theologian, the foremost philosopher of medieval Hellenistic Islamic tradition Ibn-Sina.

Farhan Jumani
Farhan Jumani

Today, our newspapers are highlighting with the names of different groups who use religion as a tool to justify their misleading conducts. Such as Al-Qaeda, Abu bakar Shekaus leader of Boko Haram who kidnapped more than 200 innocent girls who has nothing to do with all the political matters, there are many more.

This article is not written to promote the names of such groups or their heart wrenching actions. It  is an attempt to promote a universal and fundamental value of Islam, it can be seen in the life and teachings of Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) and in the teachings of the Holy Quran. It want to record  a voice for a reminder of that mental behavior, perception, and attitude which is most important to exercise in every part of our world where we live and that is pluralism, i.e the spirit to tolerate and give mutual respect to each other. In the societies where pluralistic culture does not exist in its real spirit, people show a violent emotional reaction at a touch of a little spark.

It is an essential aspect of Islam. The Holy Quran reminds us in many verses in different ways from individuals to family, society to religion and by binding into one single soul.

O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware. (49:18)

However, the above verse speaks itself about the natural diversity of mankind and of the unity of mankind.

The Quran also accepts the fundamental rights of individuals belonging to any religion and does not force them in matters of faith. “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (2:256), an often quoted verse of the Quran.

One can find many other verses in Quran which endorse religious and culturally societies. This is the true teaching and message of Quran which is the need of today’s era. Therefore, today pluralism is the value that must be taught to individuals in today’s age.

this value is getting more and more  importance, as technology gets more advanced, people will come closer to each other. Therefore, we all need to work side by side with those who are different from us.

If we look at the chapters of the history to learn from our past, it was true at the time of Abbasids in Baghdad, Umayyad in Spain, Mughals in India and Fatimid’s in Egypt.  In fact at the time of Fatimids the Non-Muslims had enjoyed the positions as administrators of the state. It is a fundamental human need to tolerate and respect each other with their differences. It invites people to reflect, to dialogue, and to come on common principles through discourse so that peace can be fostered.

If we do not invest to enhance and safeguard such value, as a result, more bitterness will be born out of conflicts and we will not be able to learn from each other. It is a dire time to teach Pluralism in terms of tolerance in various ways and to understand it is a continuous process not a product.

We should indulge this value as a part of our curriculum in school, colleges, university, and religious madaris. We should make our teachings revolve around the value of pluralism, which should include the other religions as well, which practice this value. The value should not be teach as a religious compromise it should be teach as a sacred religious value so that Pluralism in terms of tolerance can be a positive force which allows to grow together, social stability to improve quality of life and peaceful coexistence.

We need to develop the perception among us that Diversity itself is a gift of God. It is a sign of God, if God willed; the Quran says, “He could surely have made you all one single ummah. …” (5:48)    

This is a true message of Islam and the need of the time. We need to create the environment to practice the real teachings of Islam. It includes the values of tolerance, oneness, generosity, kindness, and forgiveness.

Let me end up with the beautiful and inspiring words of Kofi Annan “People of different religions and cultures live side by side in almost every part of the world, and most of us have overlapping identities which unite us with very different groups. We can love what we are, without hating what – and who – we are not. We can thrive in our own tradition, even as we learn from others, and come to respect their teachings.”

The author is an educationist having interest in religious studies. farhanjumani@gmail.com

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