Oct 10

Religion - A View from the OutsideIf you think in stereotypes – religion is one of the thinnest ice to walk on. Watching the World News these days, it’s hard to not think in stereotypes, as you could come to the belief, that all Muslims preach Jihad against Christians, Christians can’t accept the existence of other religions besides their own and Jews still feel like the whole world has sworn against them and is up to eradicate them completely from our planet. Hindus don’t care about anything; if their neighbors are slaughtered or murdered, no worries – they will be reincarnated in a better form anyway. Buddhists are generally negative and only think about collecting money from their followers, to build new Temples and Pagodas – they will let everyone else in your Buddhist Community know, if you didn’t give anything this time; making sure, that the bad karma gets you in the end. How does that fit with the eradication of all greed, hatred and egoism?

You might say: yes, I’ve heard all that before – the reality is a bit different. In their foundations all religions are based on tolerance, respect, peaceful coexistence and human values in life.

Okay, but what happened to these values in the reality of our modern times? Did they get lost somewhere along the way? Surely the majority of Believers of the Great Religions are following their holy learnings, giving this knowledge to the younger generation and are basically accepting and respecting other religions, cultures, races or opinions.

Or aren’t they?

Christianity and Tolerance?Are the holy writings (Bible, Koran, Tora, Tipitaka) only misinterpreted by todays more extreme representatives, like Preachers, Pope, Priests, Shamans or Imans. Or is there a war ongoing for the hearts and minds of ordinary people, to unite them and stand up against all other beliefs?

To form an Army of brainwashed, extreme-religious Clones?

What’s the deal about all this ongoing religious fighting in the world? Sunnis against Shiites, Israelis against Palestinians, Myanmar/Burma Junta against Buddhist Monks, China against Tibet and the Dalai Lama, Catholics against Gays and Lesbians, Arabs against Western Cartoonists, Al Quaida against the Western World, George Bush against a ‘world full of terrorists’.

All in the name of God! On who’s side is he anyway?

Is that the start of the feared Clash of Civilizations, as Samuel P. Huntington put it?

Will religious fighting create a New World Order? Who will win in the end?

Can there be winners at all? Religion and War

Recently I found this article on the net and it confirmed my inner hopes, that there actually shouldn’t be a reason for some of the deepest conflicts of modern days; Muslims versus Christians and Christians versus Muslims. Leaders of both religions met already long, long ago and found out, that peaceful coexistence is possible and should be encouraged. They invited each other into their houses, eat, drank and discussed with each other and went home as friends afterwards.

Maybe we should pray some more, that God blesses our Leaders with more Sanity and Reason, instead of heaps of political and commercial interest.

Let’s hope, that a new generation of Religious Leaders can overcome all those hatred and follows in the footsteps of their ancient forerunners mentioned below:

Message from the Prophet is clear: coexist
by Hisham al-Zoubeir


Washington, DC – As the world watches the terrible eruption of violence between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq and is subjected to sporadic communiques by vigilantes calling for violence against their opponents both within the Muslim community and without, many who are unfamiliar with Islam and Muslims may be forgiven for thinking the worst of both the religion and its followers. Yet in Islam and Muslim history, the precedent for religious co-existence is primordial.


The Qur’anic view of the carpenter from Nazareth is clear: Jesus is called the Spirit of God, and the Messiah. Moses is described as the prophet to whom God spoke directly, without any veil. Muslims still revere those men, and their followers are accorded special places within the book of Islam.


The Arabian Prophet, Muhammad, sent according to Islamic tradition as a “mercy to all the worlds”, showed us how these theological abstractions were exemplified in practice in the first interfaith meeting between Muslims and Christians – held some 14 centuries ago.


A delegation of sixty Christians from a community about 450 miles south of the Prophet’s city, Medina, visited him in the year 631. During this three-day meeting between representatives of one faith-community with the founder of another, the model of Muslim ethics vis-à-vis the religious “other” was made explicit for all time. There are many lessons to be drawn from this encounter, but three stand out.


The first is that neither the Christians nor the Muslims pretended to be other than what they were. The Christians insisted on Trinitarianism, and the Prophet rejected it as a matter of faith. Both sides believed that Christ was the Messiah, that he had been born without a father, and that he received revelation from God. There was no shying away from difference, but the search for common ground was primary. Remember the culture of the time – the Prophet held the upper hand as the leader of a powerful community – but he did not disrespect his guests, who were politically powerless.


The second was that difference was not a cause of religious conflict. When the Christians suggested they go out into the desert to perform mass, the Prophet invited them to carry out their rituals within his mosque. He did not partake of their rituals, but he invited them into his own place of worship to carry them out. This was not mere tolerance: this was respect, if not acceptance. He met them with what he considered to be absolute truths, but not as a bigot.


Later generations of Muslims took his practice very seriously: when he said that the rights of non-Muslims under the protection of the Islamic polity were sacrosanct, that he would be a witness for them on the Day of Judgement, Muslims listened. The millions of non-Muslims who are still very much a part of the Muslim world are testimony to that. The situation was not perfect, but non-Muslim historians record that it was the best model of its time.


The third lesson was that difference did not mean that co-existence on a social and political level was impossible. The Christians nonetheless accepted the Prophet as their guarantor in the political realm, and for 14 centuries other Christian communities have accepted Muslim rulers as their guarantors, with their lives, property and religion safeguarded in exchange for a tax, similar to the tax Muslims paid to their temporal authorities.

The above encounter with the Christians of Najran was by no means an isolated event in the life of the Prophet which points to ongoing interfaith relations. An earlier treaty, the documentation of which is still in existence, with Christians of Sinai bore this practice out:


“This is a message from Muhammad son of Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far: we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers (people of Medina), and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by God! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.”


None of the above was a medieval call for syncretism, nor should it be understood to be a denial that Islam, a universal religion, did call for Muslims to be fully committed to their faith. Rather, this was placing into Muslim ethics the need to respect the religious other, by respectfully engaging this other.


The Prophet is known to have claimed that he was not sent “except to perfect good manners”, and his display of respect and co-existence is a model that has become sorely lacking in many parts of the world. While some may have forgotten his example, his practice nonetheless established precedents that we would do well to heed today with renewed commitment.

Hisham al-Zoubeir is a researcher of classical Islamic thought. He holds a Ph.D. in the history of European Muslims, and writes on Islam-West relations. This article is part of a series on apostasy and proselytism distributed by the Common Ground News Service. (CGNews), 25 September 2007

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written by Chris

12 Responses to “Why can’t Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and others coexist peacefully?”

  1. Modeling » Why can’t Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and others coexist … UNITED STATES Says:

    […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThe Prophet is known to have claimed that he was not sent “except to perfect good manners”, and his display of respect and co-existence is a model that has become sorely lacking in many parts of the world. While some may have forgotten … […]

  2. MadeNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    First of all, I must say that I do not agree regarding your statement saying that:

    “Hindus don’t care about anything; if their neighbors are slaughtered or murdered, no worries – they will be reincarnated in a better form anyway”

    You just catch the surface meaning of what reincarnation is. Your example of neighbors being murdered and reincarnation based on Hindu are in no point of analogy in term of what actually reincarnation means. Hindu dont care? There is a principle in Hindu called Tat Twam Asi, literally means You are I and I am You.

    Why can’t they co-exist peacefully? Well the problems lies not on the religion itself but on the players (leaders) who might miss-interprete the core value of the religion. Of course they do, they just normal human being…

    The point is they can’t co-exist peacefully (not Hindu) because there is so many interests (economy, politics) involved, not simply because of religion as it is just a way of life.

    Thanks and cheers
    Made (a Hindu)

  3. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    This comment was added by King1Con via Propeller:


    “Christians can co-exist with anyone.

    There is no commandment in the New Testament to kill people – but rather to love your enemy, pray for those who persecute you, when slapped, turn the other cheek, when compelled to walk with someone walk twice as long, when asked for your coat give your shirt as well.

    People are not “born” Christian, but every one has to make a choice in their life at some point in time, when Jesus calls them to “follow me”.

    The question is, how do the other religions compare?”


  4. MousecloneNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    The problem with Christianity is, as a collective group, they believe they are right. There is no prof that Christianity is the “Religion to Be”. They will tell anyone that they are wrong in their beliefs.

    I personally am on the fence with Christianity and Paganism, and more so on the Pagan side. When we have a festivals, they welcome Christians with open arms, and are happy to discuss religion with anyone, not just Christians. What they will not stand for is being told they are wrong. they believe that they are correct and judge themselves accordingly. Pagans do not like Christians to the extent that they are so closed minded and feel that everyone is wrong even themselves; Baptist, Church of God, Catholics, etc.

    Is there a religion that is correct, I don’t think so. e kind to one another and have respect for other beliefs. It will take you a long way and on a great journey. You might even learn something.

  5. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Made and Mouseclone, I’m half-way with you on this one. I neither think that Hindus don’t care at all, nor that either Christians or any other of the main religions are superior to the others. The problem I see is that most religions have something like peaceful co-existence in their writing, but most of them don’t live it.

    I have lived so far in Christian (Germany), Buddhist (Thailand), Muslim (Phuket, Kamala and Bogor, Indonesia) and Hindu (Bali) Communities for a longer while – but somehow it is beyond me, why there is no respect or acceptance for other beliefs among all of them…even though it is written in the holy writings.

    So far the Hindus in Bali come closest to an open-minded religious group, but even here is infighting or looking down on other beliefs…


  6. BoboNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    Honestly? I think Humans cannot live with Humans.

    Without religion, we’ll still be able to find something to fight about. Sometimes I think religion is an extremely convenient excuse to wreck havoc in another person’s community.

    I pretty much think it’s Human Nature… sadly.

  7. ChampDogNo Gravatar MALAYSIA Says:

    Human can’t lives with human is the first time I see this comment. But it is the good one. Anyway, I think Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and others *can* coexist peacefully. Reason is my best friends consist of all of them. We should say *some” Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and others *cannot* coexist peacefully, then I will agree with it.

  8. change therapy » Blog Archive » a buddhist carnival - 1st edition! UNITED STATES Says:

    […] why can’t christians, muslims, buddhists and others coexist peacefully? […]

  9. nomad4ever » Mixed Relationships in Asia - a Status Quo UNITED STATES Says:

    […] know, religion is always a serious topic. We’ve been down that road before. In general, antiquated religious teachings build more road blocks to mixed relationships than […]

  10. gotbeachNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    OK… I so agree with the contempt that all religions feel for one another when it comes time to pay the piper… but the BIGGEST Problem is the intelligence levels we are dealing with, education can carry a society a long way in procurring a nation of well thought out actions based upon logic and reasoning, perhaps one reason many cultures always used their elders to find peace between one another, but basically because our elders were wise enough to know that fighting for something for your entire life leaves you very little time to enjoy the rewards of the effort put forth!!! we do not get along because of quick youthful thoughts…kind of like allowing teenagers to run the country in the middle of puberty…..of course it would be like the 70’s make love not war… then they make babies that become the adults of today that have no respect to teach future generations and so on…. so maybe it starts over and over…like radon gas in your house, you cannot see it, smell it, hear it, taste it….but that does not mean it is not fatal!!! just my thoughts

  11. hadgekar a dNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    buddhist can co-exist with any other person apart from his caste,creed,religion,colour etc. because it is a duty of buddhist person according to philoshopy of buddha and now a days it is a severe need of humanity in terms of world peace

  12. SunnyNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    I think Buddhists are generally very tolerant. In China, for example, you see Buddhist and Taoist temples sharing premises. The Confucius scholars and Buddhist monks maintained a friendly relationship. Even in Singapore and Malaysia, the Buddhists are very tolerant towards other religions.

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