by Maulana Waris Mazhari
(Translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand)
The first step in the quest for inter-community dialogue is the search for common ground. Religious and cultural differences divide Hindus and Muslims from each other. This diversity need not necessarily be seen as intimidating, however. In fact, the Quran explains that diversity is natural. The Quran instructs us thus:
‘If God so willed, He could make you all one people’ (16:93).
Commenting on the above-quoted Quranic verse, the noted Islamic scholar Imam Razi writes in his Tafsir-e Kabirthat this refers to the fact of diversity of religions and customs among human beings.
Nature desires diversity, not uniformity. That is why we should aim not at eliminating these differences but, rather, to tolerate them in accordance with the demands of Nature.
Man is a social animal. It is ingrained in his nature to seek to live in peace with others. That is why there are no two communities in the entire world that have nothing in common between them. It was for the common purpose of protection, peace and justice that the Prophet entered into a treaty or pact with the Jews of Medina. This is an instance of practical inter-community dialogue based on common values and concerns.
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