These Historical Islamic Figures Can Teach us a Thing or Two About Tolerance

In a world where Islamophobia is becoming more and more common, it isn’t much of a surprise that an anti-Islam campaign could start in just a matter of time. And here it is. Donald Trump, US Presidential candidate, called for a ban on Muslim immigration, closing down some American mosques and registering American Muslims in a database. It seems as if history is repeating itself.

Even though it is not well known, the Islamic history gives us many examples of Muslim leaders dealing with diversity in a justified and humanitarian way. A few examples from which Trump could learn.

Starting with the Prophet Muhammad: the first Islamic leader and the inspiration source for every Muslim. Muhammad gave us a perfect example on how to live harmoniously in a society with different beliefs and races. In his Constitution of Medina, also known as the ‘Medina Charter’, which includes 63 articles about freedom of religion and rights for the non-Muslim minorities, he provided equal rights to all citizens of the Islamic state. Instead of banning the Christians and the Jews who lived on the same ground as Muslims, as Trump wants to do with the Muslims in America, he always considered them as a part of the society. Even in his Final Sermon, the Prophet emphasized that there is no difference between humans: “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; also, a white has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety and good action…”

Following the model of the Prophet, caliph Umar did the same thing. Equal rights for Muslims, Christians, and Jews was matter of course. There even was something called “The Pact of Umar”. It is a treaty between Muslims and Christians, providing their rights and safety. He commanded: “Treat all people as equal (…) I advise you not to let yourself or anyone else do wrong to Jews and Christians.” Christians and Jews prospered under Islamic states for hundreds of years and even gave refuge to those fleeing persecution.

Akbar the Great is another example of a leader who was against discrimination in his Mughal empire. Tolerance was the most important aspect in his ruling system. His interest in religions kept expanding, inviting theologians, poets, scholars, and philosophers of Christian, Hindu, Jain, and Zoroastrian faiths to his court to carry out a dialogue about religion. Even the son of Akbar, Murad, started his New Testament lesson by stating “In the name of Christ” instead of “In the name of God”. Akbar also transcribed the Qur’an passage in a large gate structure at the city of Fatehpur Sikri, named the Buland Darwaza: “Isa [Jesus], son of Mary, said: This world is a bridge. Pass over it, but build no houses on it. He who hopes for an hour may hope for eternity. The world endures but an hour. Spend it in prayer, for the rest is unseen.” And we can keep on adding examples of this great leader.

Lastly, definitely one of the most known Islamic characters: Rumi. Being an admirer of his work, as many of us around the world, the only thing that comes to my mind when thinking about Rumi would be unity, peace, love, and humanity. All religions were equal for him and all of them would work in harmony in a single society. Trump is certainly not sharing the same concept. Banning Muslim refugees from entering America is something Rumi would definitely not agree to.

“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again , come , come.”

The absurd proposals of Trump shouldn’t be accepted nor justified. Instead, he should promote humanity and tolerance. Peace is the key word. There is no peace without love, and no love without consideration. These are the examples of the history that should be repeated, and not the history that Trump is promoting.

Love and unity water our communities, without these…How will we survive?