The Gift of Tolerance

Tolerance and diversity
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Among Allah’s many gifts to man what gift is greater than tolerance? It is perhaps love. Yet love is the precursor of tolerance, the spring that brings it forth. There cannot be one without the other.

The famous 13th century dervish from Anatolia Yunus Emre once said ‘Let us love and be loved’. When adhered to at all times, this simple maxim shall make one’s life so much easier and more fulfilling. The love Yunus Emre preaches is manifold and so is the tolerance that it spurs. It is the love of God for man and the love of man loving God in return. It is out of this love that God tolerates man’s faults and gives man a chance to atone for them by repentance and prayer. It is out of this love that man does not clamour against God’s punishment. Tolerance soothes his soul and bends it to the understanding that this punishment, too, is an act of God’s love.

Love between man and wife is supported by tolerance. Love between nations and peace among ethnic groups in one society is likewise propped up by their readiness to tolerate alien customs and ways.

Tolerance may sometimes be hard to nurture. When you see someone or something different, your natural instincts are incensed much earlier than your rational mind may give it a sober assessment.  It can be anything, a different nationality, a different way of wearing clothes, adherence to a different religion, support of a different political party. When tolerance is stifled, love dies. When it does, hatred takes over and the devil celebrates his victory. But in the ensuing destruction punishment awaits those who lost the gift of tolerance and allowed intemperance to take control. It is their fault that this destruction came about in the first place, the destruction of a friendship, a marriage, a team, a community.

Apart from practical considerations the profession of tolerance is directly prescribed in the Holy Quran. Allah does not prohibit other religions, and does not prohibit Muslims ‘from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.’ (60:8) Be just to those who are different. What is this if not a profession of profound tolerance and love?

It is not up to man to judge his kind. Only the Almighty can and will pronounce judgments. ‘Allah will judge between you on the Day of Resurrection concerning that over which you used to differ’ (22:69). Hold your censure at bay and stomp out your wrath. What is this if not a demand of all-encompassing tolerance and love?

Tolerance never fails you. It is always reciprocal. This is what makes it precious. The love you give will be the love you shall receive.

Let us feel the benefits of love and tolerance which God has bestowed upon mankind. Let us feel the cleansing of soul that they bring. Let us make the ancient maxim the guidance of our lives: let us love and be loved.