Salih Al – Wardani

The Other Opinion & The Holy Quran

The holy Qruan opens the door wide for the other opinion and never  suppresses such opinions. Suppression stemmed from narrations and sayings of rulers and theologians. In the following article the Quranic stance regarding opinion is displayed round two pivots:

Freedom of opinion (expression – belief…)

Freedom of opposition.

Thus we confirm that the holy Quran preceded all man-made legislations regarding human rights. The essence of religion does not oppose human freedom and human right of expression or belief. Those who oppose such freedom are Muslim individuals rather than Islam religion. If we contemplate Muslim history we see these texts have no role on the ground, they have been hidden because regimes could not co-exist with them.

Because texts were neglected, men’s sayings dominated, leading to totalitarianism. Hence the other opinion suffered suppression and hardships. Such practice at last was reflected on Islam future image. It  also is reflected on the modern ruling power and its stance vis-avis opposition.

Freedom of opinion

The first Quranic verses surprise us with the Quranic flexibility and range of freedom enjoyed by the other side. The holy Quran states:

«And, when your Lord said to the angles, ‘Iam placing an overlord on earth, ‘they said, “Will you place someone there who will corrupt it and shed blood, while we hymn Your praise and sanctify You?” He said, I know something you do not know.» (the cow: 30).

The above dialogue is between the Almighty and the angels who displayed their opposing opinion to His decision, while they have no such a right as they are created to obey Him and submit to Him.

In this dialogue the Almighty tolerates their opinions and does not punish or rebuke them, but answered their inquires with His compassion to His creature. While today we see the rulers consider their decisions as if holy texts never  to be opposed or rejected. When the Almighty created Adam (the father of mankind) He ordered the angles to bow and they did while Satan refused.

The holy Quran conveys to us this dialogue:

«.. They bowed down on their knees except for Satan; he was not of the bowing ones. Said He, ‘What prevents you from bowing down when I did command you to?’ Said he (Satan), ‘Iam better than he is, You created me of fire and created him (Adam) of clay’…

Said he, ‘Let me wait until the day when they are raised up again.’ ‘Said He, ‘You are one of those allowed to wait, till a day in known time.’ Said he, ‘Through You influence, I will seduce them all, except for those among them who are Your sincere worshippers.’ Said He, ‘Such is the Truth, the Truth do I speak: I shall fill Hell with you and of them who follows you.’» (sad: 71 – 85).

This is a frank dialogue that took place between the Creator and one of His creatures . The dialogue exposes the wide range of the right to argue and have different opinion.

This opposing stance mentioned in Quranic context shows the acceptance of the Creator to listen to other’s opinion and His readiness for conversation. However it is the duty of the creature to obey his Creator without the need to ask why. In the dialogue we perceive that man has the right to choose and act accordingly. Satan is allowed to seduce mankind but he cannot seduce them all. The believers in the Almighty will never follow or choose evil acts.

Since the Almighty offered mankind freedom to choose between right and wrong, He will not punish them for following Satanic behaviors in this world. The Almighty as well does not offer Satan power to force people on following him. Adam as well is not offered power to force people to refrain from devilish acts. It is a rule that all prophets had applied. The Almighty says, “This is a Reminder , so let any one who so wishes adopt away unto his Lord.” (The Bundled up: 19).

So remind, you need only to remind. You are no task master set up over them.” (Al – Ghashia) The Pall: 21 – 22.

“Say: Truth comes from your Lord. Let any one who wishes to, believe and let any one who wishes to disbelieve”. (The Cow: 29).

Same as this approach was adopted by messengers and prophets it should be the theologians and religious activists’ approach. If this is the actual stance of the holy Quran vis - avis the others, why is this oppression and cruel dealing regarding the opposing opinions? The answer is presented in the deviation of men away from the Quranic contexts and their adherence to sayings and words of men. These saying and narrations have planted seeds of divisions amid the Muslims and justified oppression against opposition thus distorted the image of Islam.

The holy Quran states:

«When Ibrahim said: ‘My Lord show me how You revive the dead? Said He, “Why, do you not believe? “Said he, ‘of course (I do), but just to set my heart at rest.’ Said He, ‘Take four (kinds) of birds and train them to (follow) you, then place a part of them on every mountain. Then call them; they will come to you at once. Know that God is Powerful, Wise.» (The Cow: 260).

This kind of Quranic contexts exposes new dimensions in dialogue and the opposing opinion. Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) is dear to Allah the Almighty. He is an apostle, a prophet; a great believer in the Power of God and His Omnipotence. The prophet’s demand reveals doubt or suspicion in the Almighty’s Power. Yet the Almighty carried on the dialogue with him and answered his demand through an actual experience of physical return to life.

The aim behind this context is not to prove an event related to prophet Ibrahim, rather to teach people an actual process indicated in dialogue and broad mind discussion. Ibrahim, (Peace on him) is a prophet and all prophets believe in the Creator without the least doubt.

Such contexts show us the ideological and cultural crises suffered by Muslims, reflected on their activities and visions hence they suffered rigidity, fanatism and narrow – mindedness. All is because narrations and sayings of men replaced Quranic contexts. Today we can not find, among Muslim figures and leaders of groups who raise high the banner or Islam, one who tolerates this question: Can you prove the amount of your knowledge regarding affairs of religion?

This question is based on recognition of these symbols of religious science; the question is to show in manner rather than in ability as in the case of Prophet Ibrahim. We are sure that such a question will be a big provocation to these symbols who consider it a challenge or doubt of their ability, hence they refuse answering.

This is just an example to show the big gap between the Muslims and the holy Quran and the extend of their isolation as they stick to narrations and sayings of men depicted as people of truth or the sect spared hell, or the group that enjoys Allah’s bounties throughout passage of ages.

We are not here to say which is the saved group among different confronting Muslim sects. We want to say that visions justified oppression against opposition.

The Almighty admonishes Adam who tasted the unlawful fruit, «.. Their Lord called out to them: ‘Did I not forbid you that tree and tell you both that Satan is an open enemy of yours? ‘They said, ‘Our Lord we have harmed ourselves! If You do not forgive us and grant us mercy, we’ll be losers.’ Said He, ‘Clear out! You will become one another’s enemy, Yet you may have a residence on earth and enjoyment for a while..» (The Heights: 22 – 24).

Satan caused Adam to disobey the Creator when he made him eat from the forbidden tree. Yet the Almighty Allah listened to Adam and accepted his repentance , Allah did not punish Adam nor did He punish Satan. This means that Allah created Adam for good and created Satan for evil. Both were free in choice. Satan practiced freedom leading Adam to temptation. Adam practiced his freedom and accepted the temptation and disobeyed Allah. The difference between Adam and Satan is that Adam had the will to seek pardon and repent while Satan swore to go on the way of misleading mankind.

Both Adam and Satan were free. The Almighty recognized that freedom.

If Allah has offered Adam and Satan the right to disagree is not  it more proper for Muslims to offer others the right to disagree?

If the Almighty has identified evil presented in Satan and his followers and good presented in Adam and his follows, is it not more proper for Muslims to recognize the others in any sect or belief?

The question here: Who is more guilty, the one who disobeys Allah or the one who disobeys the Muslims?

The answer will be the one who disobeys Allah…

Yet Allah does not punish those who disobey Him, or the infidels in this life. They are postponed until the other day (day of judgement). Is not it more proper for Muslims to leave the dissidents go their own way and Allah will call them to account?

Rulers and theologians have no right to produce Islamic verdicts sentencing the intellectual and the other’s opinion, for criminal acts. Through such verdicts they transgress Allah authority and contradict His Book giving mankind the freedom of belief.

Freedom of Opposition

 The holy Quran presents first hand evidence of that which confirms freedom of belief. Such contexts speak about those who opposed the Almighty Allah and His messengers. They are all left alone in this world, they are not judged in their life on this earth. Throughout their life they enjoy freedom of belief. They can believe or disbelieve in Him.

The Quranic verses in this regard are quite clear:

“If God were to take mankind to task for their wrong doing, He would not leave even an animal around, but He puts them off till an appointed deadline. Once their deadline comes, they will not postpone it an hour nor may they advance it.”  (The Bees: 61)

“… My mercy embraces every thing…” (The Heights: 156).

In view of these two contexts no room is left for extremities theories and hostile policies towards dissidents and opposing opinion. Moderation and mercy are the foundations in facing the others, rather than oppression, weapon and confiscation.

The Jews openly opposed the Almighty Allah and accused Him often. The holy Quran says:

“The Jews said, ‘God’s hand is shackled,’ May their own hands be shackled and themselves cursed because of what they have said! Rather both His hands are outstretched...» (The Taha: 64).

“God has heard the statement of those who say: ‘God is poor and we are rich’… (Al- Imran: 181).

“… They asked Moses for something even greater than that, and said: show us God openly.” (Women: 153).

Similarly the Christian said lot of things about Allah.

The Almighty says:

“Those who say that God is Christ the son of Mary have disbelieved…” (Table: 72).

«Those who say: ‘God is the third of three,’ have disbelieved.

There is no deity except God Alone…» (Table: 73).

“They have adopted their Rabbis and monks as lords in stead of Allah, plus Christ the son of Mary…» (Repentance: 31).

“The Jews say, ‘Ezra is son of God,’ while the Christian say, ‘Christ is the son of God.’..» (Table: 30).

“They say, ‘The Mercy - giver has got a son.’ You have brought up something monostrus. The heavens almost burst a part from it, while the earth splits open and the mountains fall down with a crash.» (Maryam: 88 – 90).

Inspite of all this infidelity the only way was to refute their claims and eliminate their lies. This is the decision made to face them.

One wishes the Muslims could have such a stance vis avis the opposing trends throughout their history.

If the holy Quran has such a stance visavis the Jews and the Christian, how can the Muslims have such a most severe and oppressive stance, visavis other Muslims of different opinions?

The holy Quran refers to the hypocrites who make a show of belief but secretly oppose Allah, His messenger and His religion. The Quranic stance is quite moderate and tolerant. The Almighty says:

“Whenas the hypocrites and those in whose hearts (there lurks) malice say: ‘Their religion has lured these people on.’ Any one who relies on God will find that God is Powerful, Wise”

(Booty: 49).

“If you question them, they will say, ‘We have only been toying (with words) and playing around.’ Say: Have you been joking about God and His signs and His messenger?» (Repentance: 65).

«When it is said to them, ‘Believe just as other people believe,’ they say: ‘Are we to believe just as simpletons believe?’ Surely they are the foals though they do not realize it.» (The Cow: 13).

«They swear by God that they said nothing while they did pronounce the word of disbelieve; they disbelieved after their commitment to (live in) peace…» (Repentance: 74).

The hypocrites demonstrated an ideological stance. They rejected religion and the messenger though they pretended to be believers hence they were more dangerous than those who opposed religion openly. Yet the holy Quran does not suggest punishing them or eliminating them from society. The prophet is ordered to argue with them and be careful of their plots.

If the holy Quran tolerates the hypocrites with their anti – Islam stance and confirms dialogue and reasoning in order to guide them along the right road, what is the Muslim’s stance regarding their dissidents? No doubt the Quranic stance is more flexible and tolerant. The contexts approve reasoning and thinking. Similarly the prophet (pbuh) had the same stance and refused to kill the hypocrites when some of his companions suggested that. He (pbuh) said, ‘I do not want people say that I kill my companions.’ Such a stance embodies a basic rule in facing the opposing opinions. This means that punishment is linked with the actual offence rather than with the opinions or ideas.

Such a stance confirms freedom of opinion and the right to choose. Such a right is granted to Adam and all mankind by Allah the Almighty. Neither the prophet (Pbuh) nor others can confiscate this right.

When the infidels are mentioned in the holy Quran, they are  treated same as the hypocrites. The holy Quran says, “Whenever they perform any obscene act they say: ‘We found our forefathers perform it and God has ordered us to do so’. Say: God does not order any (sexual) misconduct. Do you say something you do not know about God?» (Heights: 28).

“Pharaoh said: Councilmen, I have not known any god for you except my self. Light (a kiln) for me, Haman for some clay and build me a tower so I may climb up to Moses’s god. Still I think he is a liar.» (Stories: 38).

In the Quranic verses (Hight: 28) the Almighty refutes the infidels’ claim regarding performance of indecency.

The Almighty does not order people to perform indecency but orders people to play fair and avoid misconduct.

In the other verse Pharaoh is the authority with soldiers while prophet Moses has nothing except his stuff and a proof to his prophethood. Such a situation motivates Pharaoh to illusory thus he degrades Moses and imposes himself as a deity without facing any opposition by the people who worshipped him.

Moses’ aim was not to destroy Pharaoh rather to save and liberate the Israelis. The holy Quran says:

«Go to Pharaoh; he has been very arrogant,…»  (Taha: 24).

When Haroun helped Moses in this mission, they were ordered to address Pharaoh softly and remind him. The holy Quran says, “Speak a soft word to him so that he may be reminded or even feel afraid. They said: ‘Our Lord we fear lest he crack down on us or that he should act arrogant.

Said He; ‘Don not fear; I am with you both, I hear and see.» (Taha: 44 – 46).

Any way, Pharaoh exceeded his hostility towards God and His messengers. He strived to kill the believers and defame Moses’s mission, eventually the Almighty interfered and saved Moses and his followers by a miracle.

The Almighty Allah did not fight Pharaoh for his infidelity but for his excessive revenge against the believers; it was because of his crime rather than his infidelity.

Those who opposed the prophets and the messengers of Allah are mentioned in many verses. The holy Quran says:

«When they are told: ‘Bow down on your knees before the Mercy-giver,’ they say: ‘What is the Mercy-giver? Are we to bow down on our knees because you order us?’ It merely increases their disdain.» (Al – Furqan: 60).

“Thus no messenger ever came to those who preceded them but they said: (He is) a magician or a madmam.” (Al – Dhariat: 52).

The people of prophet Hud said to him:

“… we only say: Some of our gods have stricken you with evil.”

(Hud: 54)

The people of prophet Noah said to him:

«The chiefs of his folk who disbelieved said, ‘This is only a human being like yourselves; he wants to attain some superiority over you. Had God wished, He would have sent down angels (instead). We never heard about this from our early forefathers.’» (The Believers: 24).

The people of Salih Said:

“They said: Salih you have been a source of expectation among us until now. Do you prohibit us from serving what our fathers worshipped? We feel suspicious doubt about what you are appealing for us to do.” (Hud: 62).

The people of Shuayb Said:

“They said: Shuayb, we do not understand most of what you say. We do see you are weak compared to us, and were it not for your immediate family we’d expel you. You are not so dear to us.” (Hud: 91).

The people of Lot said

“His people’s answer was a mere saying: Run Lot’s family out of your town, they are people who try to keep clean.” (The Ants: 56).

The people of prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said

“The disbelievers said: This is only some swindle he has invented, other folks have helped him at it…”

“They say: These are legends of primitive men, written down..” (Al – Furqan: 4 – 5).

«…The disbelievers said: This is some lying magician!

Has he made (all) the gods into One God? This is such an amazing thing!» (Sad: 4 – 5).

“When we have died and became dust and bones, will we be raised up again? Along with our forefathers?” (Al – Saffat: 16 – 17).

The Almighty addresses prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) in this Quranic verse:

“We well know how anything they say saddens you.

Yet they are not rejecting merely you, but the wrong doers even repudiate God’s signs”. (Al – Anaam: 33)

Still there are many other verses in the holy Quran. It is a clear evidence that there should be dialogue, argument and freedom of opposition.

On the other hand, these verses show us that those people who opposed and oppressed their prophets were not oppressed because of their disbelieve but they suffered the wrath of God because they initiated physical assaults against the missions of the messengers.

The Opinion in the Holy Quran

Same as the holy Quran demonstrates in these verses the right to disagree and freedom of opinion even against the Almighty and His messenger the holy Quran exposes the infidels’ right to oppose the Divine words. The Almighty says:

«They say: It is rather a jumble of dreams! In fact he has made it all up. Indeed he is a poet! Let him bring us a sign such as the first men were sent with.» (The Prophets: 5).

«In the Book, He has revealed to you that whenever you hear God’s signs disbelieved in and ridiculed you should not sit with them until they change to some other topic; you would be just like them (if you sat)…» (Women: 140).

«God does not forbid you to act considerately towards those who have never fought you over religion, nor evicted you from your homes, nor (forbids you) to act fairly towards them. God loves the fair-minded. God only forbids you to be friendly with the ones who have fought you over (your) religion and evicted you from your homes, and have abetted others in your eviction. Those who befriends them are wrong doers.» (Al – Mummtahina: 8 – 9).

“The devils did not descend with it; it does not suit them to, nor can they manage it; they are too withdrawn to even hear it.” (The Poets: 210 – 121).

The holy Quran explicitly indicates the right of any individual to decide his (her) choice of belief, hence the Muslims should adopt the Quranic attitude vis –avis the opposing side. It is the attitude of moderation and tolerance based on freedom granted to mankind by the Almighty Allah. Such Quranic attitude necessitates  Muslims’ commitment to Islamic morals and ethics in dealing with their dissidents as long as they do not fight them or demonstrate hostility towards them.

In regard to the Quranic verses, light should be focused on the issue of abrogated verses and the the abrogating ones, since the single – related narrations are the weapons of the Sunni preceding theologians as well as this era’s theologians in regard of these contexts.

Those theologians raise up the weapon of abrogation to repeal these contexts and prevent their effect on behalf of the dominating trend in general. The concept of the abrogated verses and the abrogating ones is quite different and contradicts the holy Quran as well as the intellect of man.

It could be linked to the era of revelation during the prophets’ life.

To adopt this concept while the holy Quran is already complete and religion is perfect, may lead to negligence of numerous Quranic verses, eventually leading to abuse of freedom of opinion, thus to the domination of fanatism and hostility. The previously mentioned verses might be considered invalid on pretext of being abrogated, just to give room to the sword (weapon) to have a role.

The supporters of abrogation have gone beyond the limits when they accepted abrogation of Quranic verses through single – related narrations, thus they have firmly closed the door in the face of the other side and deprived him (her) of the right to choose, either to suffer or retreat.

The holy Quran gives us evidence to this wrong concept that it should not be applied in matters of opinion.

The holy Quran states:

“You are mortal and they are mortal; still on Resurrection Day you (all) will argue it out before your Lord.” (Al – Zumir: 30 – 31).

This Quranic verse gives us an absolute evidence that the dispute about religion will continue between those who believe and those who disbelieve or those who are hostile to Allah, the messenger and religion. The verse tells us that the matter will be settled in presence of Allah the Almighty on the Day of Judgement. In other word, it means the continuation of dispute in this life entails no punishment or it should not be rejected. Thus the issue of legalizing dialogue and argument with the opponents of religions is still valid rather than abrogated.

Since the Almighty has granted man the right to choose and the right of will in this worldly life, it is unfair and an act of injustice to deprive him of such rights.

There are many Quranic verses that expose opinions of Jews, Christians, hypocrites and infidels though such opinions degrade the Almighty, His messenger and the holy Quran. Those people have been granted the freedom to say what they think of believe in.

On the other hand, there are many Quranic verses that refute their claims. These verses give Muslims good lessons to learn to deal with the opposing others.

The book: The Word & the Sword,

published by the Arab Civilization

center – Cairo


In the Name of Allah The Compassionate the Merciful