Pakistan Research Repository


Taha, Anis Malik (2000) TRENDS OF MULTIPLE RELIGIONS-ISLAMIC STANCE VIS-A-VIS THEM. PhD thesis, International Islamic University, Islamabad.



Today, it is widely and increasingly felt that there is a pressing need to find and develop a kind of what we may call "common ground" for peaceful coexistence between the people of diverse faiths. Throughout the history, mankind has experienced a series of conflicts, bloody and even genocidal wars, or at least, indifferent attitudes of each group towards the others, simply because "they" are racially, ethnically or religiously, and not. Whether this is or not the real argument, the diversity of religions and the plurality of traditions have, nowadays, become an existential and sociological fact that the contemporary societies have to face. For it is the first time in history that humankind, today, experiences universally or globally the coexistence of people of different faiths, traditions and religions living side by side in the same city or the same village, or even at the same street. This humble work, entitled ittijahat al-ta addudiyyat al-diniyyah wa al-mauqif al-islamiy minha (Trends in Religious Pluralism and the Islamic Response to Them), is an academic attempt to explore this timely question of religious pluralism, and the extent to which the theories and concepts of religious pluralism, developed and presented by the modern pluralist thinkers and philosophers, can serve that common ground, or as a solution of the problem at hand. The first chapter endeavours to answer what is meant by the term religious pluralism, nowadays. How and why it develops? The second chapter focuses on what are the tendencies in this line of idea and thought, and the theoretical bases on which they are grounded? The third chapter examines what they imply theoretically and practically? And the fourth chapter seeks to show what the Islamic response to them is? To what extent are religious minorities able to profess their beliefs and practice their religions within the Islamic state compared to the liberal democratic state? As the title suggests, this study is normative and critical, and does not pretend at all to be a value-free inquiry. For, on the one hand, it is widely argued that such an approach is hardly possible, and that the claim that all truth, especially in the field of comparative (and scientific) study of religions, should be approached from a value-free perspective is, paradoxically, a value judgment of a kind. Soren Kierkegard has ever said, that "religion is something toward which neutrality is not possible.[Quoted in Joachim Wach, the comparative) Study of Religions (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961), p. 9]. And on the other, the phenomenon of religious diversity does not pose any problem to Islam, since according to the Islamic tenets; it is Allah s.w.t. Himself Who ontologically willed this plurality to exist. (See al-Quran, XI: 118, 119). Hence, the issue of plurality has been dealt with and settled definitely and completely from the very beginning of the emergence of Islamic community. Therefore, this phenomenon constitutes a contemporary problem only to those cultures and societies, especially the West, which have no experience of peaceful coexistence with the different religious communities. Due to the absence of such experience, while at the same time they have to conform with the modem norms and values which gave birth to, and shaped, the modem civilization, i.e. secularism, the modem theories and concepts of religious pluralism developed in this circumstance must have secular biases, if not become part of the secular culture itself or of what is presently known as the global culture. In this sense, these pluralist trends have become a challenging problem, or even a threat, to Islam. Thus, it is the duty of Muslims, and I as a Muslim student in Comparative Religion, to unmask this problem and to make a clear-cut response to it, while, at the same time, presenting the truest sense of religious pluralism, religious freedom and tolerance in Islam. As it becomes clear, there are some theories and forms of the modern religious pluralism. I have identified them in four different trends. They are: (i) secular humanism, (ii) global theology, (iii) syncretism or eclecticism, and (iv) Sophia perennis or perennial philosophy. But in the final analysis, they actually all do tend to drift, at the end, into the same mouth of the river of "religious sameness" or "equality of religions", that is to admit and advocate that "religions are different manifestations of the same Reality." This conclusion has been reached as a necessary prerequisite of creating an atmosphere which is conducive, for the diverse faiths and traditions, to coexist with each other in mutual respect, tolerance, peace, freedom, equality, security, and dignity. Today, this sense, however, has been understood widely as the true meaning of the term "religious pluralism". This kind of solution seems to be very interesting and promising, of course. But a profound and critical investigation on the theoretical and practical results and implications of this provoking issue --among them are annihi1ation of religions, artificial pluralism and threat to human rights, proved clearly that, in addition to its self-contradiction and reductionism, it sounds quite opposite to, and at odds with, the goal it originally aimed at. Instead of tolerance, it turns out to be coercive and intolerant of real religious differences. Moreover, it aims also at eliminating and suppressing the otherness' of other religion. The modern trend of religious pluralism, thus, becomes a new problem rather than a solution. On the contrary, the Islamic treatment of the diverse faiths and traditions or religions and their respective adherents, as embodied in the Qur 'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad s.a. w., and as demonstrated in the practical life of the Muslims individuals and communities, ruled and rulers-- throughout the Islamic history, and as witnessed by the non-Muslim subjects and non- Muslim scholars and historians, proves to be more humane, just and tolerant, in such a way that Islam respects, recognizes and affirms them and their otherness as the way they are without any kind of reductionism. And it even allows a greater freedom to its non-Muslim subjects living within the boundaries of Islamic state to acquire and possess every possible means in order to maintain their peculiar identities, communal laws, and customs respectively. For Islam is determined to be the only religion that brings about grace and mercy to the world (rahmatan Ii al- 'alamin). Wallahu a 'lam.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Religious Pluralism, Islamic response, religion, Islamic community, Islam, Muslim, secular humanism, global theology, syncretism, eclecticism, Sophia perennis, perennial philosophy, Sunnah, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.,
Subjects:Social Sciences(g) > Religious Studies(g18)
ID Code:228
Deposited By:Mr Ghulam Murtaza
Deposited On:17 Jun 2006
Last Modified:23 Aug 2010 12:05

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