Dr. Ali S. Awadh Asseri
(Former Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon)
Islam, as was revealed in the Qur’an, has advocated tolerance and moderation. Islam never promoted violence or hatred. Islam looks forward towards the future, not backwards to the past. Islam focuses upon promoting its own principles, nor being detracted by concepts or ideas of others. The Qur’an sometimes narrates differences between nations and their behaviour, but most of the time focuses on what is common, i.e. Unity of Mankind, Unity of Religion and Oneness of God. Even when it refers to differences between nations and religious practices, the Qur’an calls for respect for all deities even if we believe they are false ones.
‘Don’t insult the deities of the non-believers in Allah so as not to incite them to insult Allah’. Islam obliges Muslims to respect the adherents of all other faiths, and respect what they worship. There is only one path that the Qur’an recommends for Muslims, and this is the path of peace and reconcillation. Almighty Allah has shown us that dialogue is the way to bridge gaps and to narrow down differences. Suffice to recall the ceremony of Hijat Al Wadaie (the last pilgrimage of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), or even the history of the five pious caliphs and how they conducted the affairs of the Muslim nation of their time.
Remember also the glory of the Islamic civilization during the Golden Age of Islam. That became a reality when the Muslims decided to make a difference in this world. They acquired all possible knowledge from other civilizations of the day: the Greeks, the Chinese, the Indians, and made their own mark on this knowledge. They advanced themselves in science and technology, art and literature, and reached the apex of modernity – a glorious period that continued for centuries. It is exactly this spirit of learning that the Muslims need today, and need urgently. There is no way out of the Muslim debacle today except the one described by Almighty Allah in the Qur’an: ‘God will not change the situation in which a people are living unless they change themselves’.
(To be continued)
 The Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-An’am, Verse 108
 Ibid., Surah Al-Ra’d, Verse 11