By Reza Shah-Kazemi

ISBN-10: 1780761317

ISBN-13: 9781780761312

In 1932, the eminent British pupil of Islam, Sir Hamilton Gibb, wrote: ""The the Aristocracy and wide tolerance of this faith [Islam], which approved all of the genuine religions of the area as God-inspired, will constantly be a wonderful historical past for mankind. No different society has this sort of checklist of luck in uniting, in an equality of prestige, of chance, and of activity, such a lot of and so a variety of races of humanity."" (Whither Islam?)

Such scholarly objectivity in the direction of the tolerance which has traditionally characterised the Islamic culture as an entire is in brief offer nowadays. via an insidious symbiosis of fanatical Muslims and prejudiced Islamophobes, the very contrary picture of Islam has emerged as the most risky stereotypes of our instances. the main cursory look at background won't in basic terms display the falsity of this stereotype of an illiberal Islam, it's going to additionally display the little identified proven fact that, now not see you later in the past, it was once the Islamic international that supplied types of tolerant behavior for a fanatically illiberal Christian global tearing itself aside over dogmatic differences.

The first a part of this monograph examines the old checklist of tolerance within the Islamic culture, illustrating the expression of the main of tolerance during the rule of such dynasties because the Ottomans, Mughals, Fatimids, and the Umayyads of Spain. within the moment, the main of tolerance is proven to be rooted within the spirit of the Qur'anic revelation and embodied within the exemplary behavior of the Prophet.

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However, such political considerations do not render irrelevant the universal spirit inherent in the Ismaili philosophy guiding the Fatimids. Rather, the dictates of political pragmatism and the tenets of theology happened to dovetail quite neatly: tolerance was not just good politics, it was IBT045 - Spirit of Tolerance 21/12/11 11:35 Page 43 The Spirit of Tolerance in Islam 43 also sound theology. Trying to determine which came first is not as important as acknowledging that the spirit of tolerance penetrated the entire political and social domain within which policies were to be decided upon and implemented.

God is greater and wider than to be confined to one particular creed to the exclusion of others. ’49 The influence of Ibn al-ʿArabī’s universalism upon Akbar’s religious attitudes and policies cannot be denied. But one should not conclude from this that Akbar’s position was based more on the Sufi doctrine of Ibn al-ʿArabī than on the Qurʾānic ethos of tolerance. For, as is clear in the above citation from the Fuṣūṣ, Ibn al-ʿArabī’s doctrine is itself based completely on the Qurʾān, so much so that it can be argued that his entire corpus is nothing more than an extended commentary on the Qurʾān.

It is against this background that one should view the peak of tolerance attained during the Mughal period, and, in particular, with the rule of Akbar, though the rule of Babur, the founder of the dynasty, and that of Humayun, his son and successor, were also characterised by a spirit of ecumenism and tolerance. However, it was Akbar who, during his long reign of almost fifty years in the second half of the sixteenth century, was to weave these religious and social tendencies into a culture which was altogether dominated by the principle of tolerance; a culture that was, moreover, eminently successful in purely political terms, and at the same time immensely fruitful in the field of spirituality, literature and the arts.

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The Spirit of Tolerance in Islam by Reza Shah-Kazemi


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