“It is He who sent among the unlettered a messenger from themselves; reciting his revelations to them, and purifying them, and teaching them the Scripture and wisdom; although they were in obvious error before that.” (Al-Jumu’ah:2)
“Eid-al Mab’ath’ is Muslim’s most important Eid.”; says Mehdi Bazargan, the Iranian scholar, academic, and the first Prime Minister after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, who was also one of the founders of the contemporary intellectual movement in Iran.
In his opinion, this Islamic festival marks the beginning of the monotheistic Islamic festivals that preach the believers into purifying themselves for ‘Allah’ whereas the festivals before that all stemmed from more ancient polytheistic religious rituals.
He spent many of these festivals year after year interpreting the ‘Be’that’ verse from Quran – the above mentioned verse- revealing more obscure aspects of this tradition namely the things that are not mentioned in all the traditions and practices of the Islamic prophet that have become models to be followed by Muslims – the Sunnah- and therefore can not be forced upon the believers. One of the most important among these, is the separation of religion and state.
Mehdi Bazargan, who was also known for his expertise in the Islamic and secular sciences, was of the opinion that in fact none of the prophets were sent to reign over people and if a prophet had to also govern the society, this task had nothing to do with his role as a prophet.
Although in this article, we are focusing on one of the well-established aspects of “Be’that” which has been repeatedly mentioned in Quran and the prophet’s words and practice even though it is not directly mentioned in “Be’that” verse and that is the advocacy of nonviolence.
Contrary to all anti-Islamic propaganda going on these days, which is a result of the comportment of those Muslims mistaking Islamic jurisprudence for Islam itself, this religion has always backed nonviolence. In fact, nowadays Muslims- either Shieh or Sunni – are mostly acting in accordance with jurisprudence rather than the principles of the religion; as Imam Muhammed Gazzaley says:” Jurisprudence is all about the mundane and has nothing to do with religion.” In other words, jurisprudence is a part of common sense, which has gradually become sacred and a part of the religion itself. That is why some believe that the decrees and principles stemming from rural and nomadic origins, are not compatible with modern-day life style. Many of the expressions used in jurisprudence, were originally coined based on tribal and nomadic life style; that’s why modern day people would have a difficult time understanding these concepts and need them to be interpreted. But on the other hand, a regulation or a rule according to the definition of the word, should be crystal clear in a way that it can be understood by everyone upon reading and it shouldn’t be prone to any interpretations.
From all these, it can be concluded that religion and jurisprudence are two different matters. All the religions in general, and Islam in particular are against violence and commend peace and conciliation.
One of the methods Mohammed, the prophet had for preaching nonviolence, was to invite people to leave judgement and justice to God himself to carry it out in the afterlife.
It is also said in holy Quran:” If a group among you has believed in what I have been sent with, and another group has not believed, then keep patience until Allah judges between us as he is the best of all judges.” (Al-Araf: 87)
As we can see in this verse, faith and blasphemy are not considered legible causes of dispute. In another verse we read:
“The Jews say that the Christians have nothing to stand on and the Christians say the same thing about the Jews, while they both read the Book. So Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection.”
It is very common for the followers of a belief system or religion to assume they are the only ones in the right path while all the other religions are astray and off the right path. Quran sees this assumption a sign of ignorance and invites people to leave the judgement to God. Many disputes and distinctions over centuries have been kindled by such assumptions. This has many a time led to systematic violence against a group, the very last example of it, the cold war between communism and liberalism.
Even today many religious fundamentalists are kindling wars in the area and rooting for anti-Zionism policies abusing religious instructions. However, God has instructed them to treat each other with empathy.
These disputes can also rise between different fractions of the same religion like the differences of opinion between different fractions of Islam (the Alevi’s, the Rafezi’s, the Wahhabi’s, etc.). Unfortunately very often, those in power use these disputes to their own benefits, justifying invading an area or a group of people while Quran has always advised its followers to treat each other with tolerance.
In Quran (Al-e-Imran: 64) we read:
“Say:” o people of the Book, come to a word common between us, that we worship non but Allah, that we associate nothing with Him and that some of us do not take others as Lords instead of Allah.” Then should they turn back, say:” bear witness that we are Muslims.”
The principium of the religion and the main purpose of assigning all the prophets is God himself and the afterlife. Therefore, different religions can agree on these two important axioms while they differ in other aspects and leave the judgment on their disputes to the Lord.
“Allah will judge between you, on the day of judgement, about what you used to dispute.”
And if they can’t assent with one another not only in the subsidiaries but also in the principium, there is no need to resort to force. Each group would follow their own beliefs and would pay the penance for their own wrongdoings in the afterlife.
“For you is your faith, and for me, my faith.” (Al-Kafiroon: 6)
There is no compulsion or coercion in religion:
“There is no compulsion in faith. The correct way has been distinct from the erroneous.” (Al-Baqara: 256)
Neither the invitation to a faith, nor the practice of it, should be carried out forcefully. No one should be punished because of what they believe in or simply for expressing themselves. All people from Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Theist, or unbeliever are equals and as fellow-citizens should benefit from the same rights. No one should be condemned or tormented because of their religion and we should live in peace with all those who have not harmed us.
“Allah does not forbid you as regards those who did not fight you on account of faith, and did not expel you from your homes, that you do well to them, and deal justly with them. Surely Allah loves those who maintain justice.” (Al-Mumtahina: 8-9)
In Islam, the believers are invited to live peacefully along the followers of other religions and they are forbidden from compelling others to their own beliefs. They also have the right to resist those who want to oblige Muslims to their own faiths and in such a case they can also resort to battle. Therefore, an armed conflict can only be used as a defense mechanism and adequate to the hazard. Such war is not a paradigm of violence, but an opposition against corrupted power to ensure the Muslims’ freedom of speech, action, and opinion.
“Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight you, and do not transgress. Verily, Allah does not like the transgressors.” (Al-Baqara: 190)
When Moses was guiding his people to the right faith, Pharaoh was worried that he would separate them from the faith they already had and guide them towards a new faith. So he fought Moses to save what faith they already had. So is the case with some societies nowadays; in the pretext of saving people’s belief system, they take away their freedom and imprison the righteous.
Prophet’s aim was the purification of the soul and that can not happen through violence.
“We send the messengers only as bearers of good tidings and warnings, and those who disbelieve raise disputes on the basis of the false (arguments), so that they may nullify the truth with it; and they have taken My signs, and the warnings given to them, as mockery.”
From all these arguments, it can be concluded that “Be’that” was a revolution against violence. And the messengers were not sent to force people to their faith, but everyone is free to choose and compulsion has no place in the religion.
“Say, “Then, Allah’s is the conclusive proof. So, had He willed, He would have brought all of you on the right path.” (Al-Annam: 149)
And if there is no compulsion in the most fundamental principle of the faith, a fortiori there can not be any obligation or coercion in other, less important aspects of it.
But unfortunately, those who have no clear understanding of Islam, assume that the messengers’ mission, was to guide people to the right path at any cost.