‘Let the Muslim be my Master in Outward Things’. References to Islam in the Promotion of Religious Tolerance in Christian Europe

· MUSLIM HERITAGE
Authors

Source / Courtesy: Alislam-eGazette

By Abdul Haq Compier

Islam presents a policy of religious tolerance, rooted in teachings on the universal nature of man, his free relationship to God, and the divine origins of other religions. The prophet Muhammad separated his authority as a religious leader from his position as a governor, creating a religiously diverse society from the very start. This contrasted to the Christian world, where men were regarded to be born in original sin, only to be redeemed by Christ through the one true Church. Ever since the Byzantine Empire, Christian rulers had governed by the motto ‘One State, One Law, One Faith’, leading to horrendous persecutions of heretics. Throughout history, persecuted Christians have noticed the contrast to the tolerance within Islam. When, in the 16th century, persecutions in Europe became unbearable, Christian advocates of tolerance referred to the Ottoman Empire as the model to adopt. The example of the empire was offered in debates on tolerance from Hungary to Germany, France, the Netherlands and Great Britain, up until the 18th century, by tolerance advocates such as Sebastian Castellio, Francis Junius, John Locke and Voltaire. The Netherlands became a junction, adopting not only the Ottoman model of religious diversity, but also receiving political and
military support from Ottoman sultans.

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