The last Prophet of Islam, Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) is the perfect embodiment of great human qualities. As mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is a perfect example for us.
Among other a great many qualities, ‘Tolerance and Forgiveness’ are those upon which Islam has largely insisted. These human attributes are at first hard to inculcate, but once inculcated; it would make society peaceful and the world an ideal place to live in. It would be very apt to mention that only courageous and strong people own these qualities.
Throughout his life, the Prophet PBUH has depicted these qualities through his actions and speech. It was on the observance of such qualities that a large number of non-believers embraced Islam.
Tolerance and Forgiveness in the Life of Holy Prophet (PBUH)
When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) started preaching Islam, a large number of disbelievers became his enemies. Therefore, the Prophet (PBUH) had to face many hardships. It was because of his great patience and tolerance that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) has not only endured their harsh treatment but also prayed for their guidance in return.
In his early years of preaching, when the Prophet (PBUH) invited the people of Taif to Islam, he (PBUH) was subjected to stone-pelting and unbearable response by the people of Taif. The angel Jibrael (A.S) appeared on the spot and demanded to order for the destruction of those people and he would turn the mountains over them. To his infinite patience, tolerance, and forgiveness, in lieu of revenge, he chose to pray from Allah for their guidance.
Moreover, the non-believers of Makkah used to throw trash and garbage on the doorsteps of the Prophet (PBUH), he (PBUH) stood all that treatment meted out to Him with great patience and tolerance, and stayed consistent in peaching Islam. As narrated by Ibn Sa’d in his work on history, al-Tabaqat:
Through ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was reported to have said,
“I was [living, in Mecca] between the two worst neighbors [one could have]: between Abu Lahab [his uncle and sworn enemy] and ‘Uqbah ibn Abi M’uayt [who once threw a sheep’s insides on his blessed head, peace be upon him, while he was praying]. Indeed, they would come with bloodied intestines and throw it on my doorstep…”
It is also reported about the wife of Abu Lahab, namely ‘Umm Jamil’ who would place thorny branches overnight in the path where the Prophet PBUH would walk. Still, many such incidents have gone unreported.
Once, there was some matter of payment, and a person asked the Prophet (PBUH) to wait for him at the place while he would just go and return from home. That person, later on, forgot and didn’t return, while the Prophet (PBUH) kept waiting for him there for almost three days. When he remembered the commitment, the person came back and found the Prophet (PBUH) there waiting for him. This one incident fully elucidates the level of patience and tolerance that our Prophet (PBUH) has practiced in his life.
When Makkah was conquered, non-believers feared that as Muslims were in a dominant position of authority, they would take revenge from them. But, on that day, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) declared amnesty for everyone. He ordered his army to fight only those who would rise in their opposition. He had forgiven all the bloodshed of the past.
To conclude, whatever Allah has commanded in the Quran for our guidance, the Holy Prophet has practiced that throughout his life to make his Ummah understand the Quranic injunctions. Allah Himself is the most merciful and commanded us to practice tolerance and forgiveness in our daily affairs.
Alas! We have completely ignored the golden codes of life given by Islam. Thus, the whole Muslim Ummah is cleaved today, giving way to hatred and prejudice for other sects.
At present, it is due to a lack of tolerance for each other’s diverging beliefs that the whole Muslim world is divided and scattered. That is the reason why in spite of being the followers of true religion, the Muslims are lagging far behind the rest of the world, i.e. from non-believers, in many fields.
Today, Muslims are being labeled as terrorists for fighting against each other. Moreover, they are being persecuted in many regions of the world. But, the required collective response from the Muslim world that is the need of the hour, is altogether missing.
The incidents of Shia-Sunni rift and violence speak volumes of intolerance among Muslims. While our Prophet (PBUH) has even remained tolerant and forgiving to the non-believers, today Muslims can’t even tolerate the diverging opinions and beliefs of the fellow Muslims.
Furthermore, where Quran clearly teaches tolerance towards non-Muslims as in the following ayat, the incidents of persecution of minorities and forced conversions are common.
“For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.” (Quran 109: 6)
It is a dire need of the hour that instead of spreading hatred against other sects, religious scholars must promote tolerance and forgiveness, which is the real message of Islam. The life of the Prophet (PBUH) which is the perfect embodiment of love and tolerance must be taught to the young generation. Instead of being vindictive, we must practice forgiveness, for the sake of Allah whose bounties are infinite.
Once the Prophet (PBUH) was asked, “What is Eemaan (belief/faith)?” He (SAW) replied: “Eemaan (faith) is patience and tolerance.”