By Fatima Kermalli
The word ‘sacred’ as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary means worthy of religious veneration, entitled to reverence and respect, or highly valued and important.
This word usually pertains to religion or God. Consequently, every faith or spiritual ideology usually possesses items or beliefs that are deemed to be sacred.
In Islam, there are quite a few holy entities such as the Holy Ka’ba in Mecca. Also, the Prophet’s Mosque is considered to be a sacred place. What is more, the Holy Qur’an is also very sacred to such an extent that a believer cannot touch the writings of the script unless they are in a state of purity. It is stated in the Holy Quran “None shall touch it except the purified ones.” (56:79). This state of purity is achieved by performing ablution as it is done before the five daily prayers.
Therefore, in Islam, the Quran is not just a religious book, it is the revelation of God; it is considered by the Muslims to be the word of God and thus it is held very sacred. For anyone to intentionally mishandle it be it a Muslim or not is absolutely unthinkable and sinful.
Therefore, at any time individuals or groups of people who decide to make light of, misappropriate, dishonor or commit blasphemy of something or someone which is held holy in Islam is abominable. Muslims can only verbally express disdain and pray for the protection of their sacred entities. Given that, it is expected of Muslims to always behave in a mannerly way and never express objection by violent means. If it is done so, it is committed by the will of the individuals themselves, not by the dictates of the religion of Islam. Rather, Islam teaches the tolerance and respect of other faiths and their holy articles and places.
When Prophet Muhammad migrated to Medina, after being compelled to leave his hometown of Mecca, he found people who had accepted Islam as well as a large Jewish community. He made a peace agreement with this community and called the Jewish people Ahlul Kitab—the People of the Scripture. This title was also given to the Christian Community as well.
The peace agreement between the Prophet and the Jewish community of Medina guaranteed them
physical safety, security and the freedom to practise their religion.
Furthermore, the letters that the Prophet wrote to the rulers of various countries around Arabia about the message of Islam were non-threatening. The letter to the Christian King of Abyssinia ended with the words, “I have conveyed the message and now it is up to you to accept it.”
Imam‘Ali Zaynul Abidin, the great grandson of the Prophet and the fourth leader after him had written “The Charter of Rights” which mentions various rights that exist. It is available even today to educate the masses. In it he states the rights of non-Muslims saying,: “And there must be a barrier keeping you from doing any injustice to them, from depriving them of the protection provided by God, and from flaunting the commitments of God and His Messenger concerning them.”
Tolerance is truly a part of Islam that not only preaches it; but, its followers also hope to be a recipient of, from others, as well. The Holy Qur’an, the sacred scripture of Islam, clearly proclaims that faith cannot be compelled. It says, “There is no compulsion in (accepting) the religion (of Islam)…” (2:256).