Islam, Peace and Tolerance

by Dr. Zahid Aziz

Preface to the Second Edition

This booklet was compiled to refute the widely prevailing but misconceived notion that Islam is a violent, brutal and intolerant religion, which calls upon its followers to wage war, called jihad, against all non-Muslims. It is alleged that Islam prohibits freedom of religion, propagates its message by force, and coerces its followers to remain within its fold by threat of the death penalty. It is said that Islam does not tolerate any criticism of its teachings and urges Muslims to kill anyone who speaks against it.

These misconceptions have aroused a great deal of hostility against Islam in the West, as well as alarm and fear, so much so that the Muslim religion is considered by many of its Western critics to be the gravest threat facing modern civilisation. Unfortunately, some sections of Muslims, by their own intemperate words and actions, are reinforcing exactly this alarming image of Islam. The vast majority of Muslims do not accept these extreme doctrines but have generally not realised the vital need of making strong, sustained efforts to remove these grave slurs from the good name of Islam and its Prophet Muhammad.

This book clarifies the teachings of Islam on the main issues that are raised in these connections. Its arguments and conclusions are based, firstly, on the Holy Quran and, secondly, on the leading books of Hadith, the collections of verified reports of statements and actions of the Prophet Muhammad by his contemporary followers. I have provided full references to the sources and have checked all the quotations given here directly in the original books. Existing translations of the quoted Arabic sources, when available, have been indispensable to me, but I have on occasion varied some of their wording for greater clarity or accuracy.

I have attempted to confront, directly and honestly, the issues and objections involved, without trying to avoid difficult questions, indulge in superficial propaganda, or score debating points.

The perspective of Islam presented in this booklet is based on the writings of two most distinguished Islamic scholars and writers of the first half of the 20th century. They are Maulana Muhammad Ali of Lahore (d. 1951), well known as the author of an English translation and commentary of the Quran and several other renowned books on Islam, and Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din (d. 1932), the pioneer Muslim missionary to the West who founded the former Woking Muslim Mission at the Mosque in Woking, Surrey, in England. These luminaries of the Muslim faith had themselves been inspired by that great defender of Islam, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (d. 1908). Nonetheless, the case argued in this booklet must be judged on its own merits by its conformity with the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.

This book was first published in 2007, some of its content being revised versions of articles by me published earlier. In this second edition, I have made additions at various points in the book and also added a further Section 11. Some changes have also been made to the text for clarity. An Index of topics, as well as an Index of references to the Quran, have also been added in this second edition. References to works of Hadith are now presented in an improved way; see the note on p. 98 for explanation.

The first edition of this book was published in view of several catastrophic events that had recently occurred around the world and their tragic consequences. In the ten years since then, those disasters have continued to occur regularly, taking ever worse and hitherto unimaginable forms. This has led not only to the loss of innocent lives of human beings of various countries and religions, but has also been exacerbating bitterness, and poisoning relations, between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. It is hoped that this book will help to bring these communities closer by showing the true teachings of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad.

Zahid Aziz, Dr
December 2016