Prophet Muhammad is perhaps the first religious person to initiate interfaith dialogue, he not only invited people of other faiths to dialogue, but he also offered them to pray, their own prayers in his mosque. Didn't Prophet Muhammad accept the otherness of other faiths? He sure did! He did not believe what others believed but he certainly did not denigrate any one of them. That is the confidence we must develop in our faith, whatever faith we follow.
Prophet Muhammad was not only a Pluralist religiously, but he believed in co-existence and living in harmony with life and environment. He initiated the pluralistic form of governance, again perhaps first of its kind where he invited the Jews, Christian and others to sign along with him an agreement called “Madinah pact”. The pact honored signatories to practice their faith the way they deem it fit. There was an instance where the people of other faiths objected to his signature which added the phrase messenger of God to his name; he revised it as he was not a messenger to them.
Prophet Muhammad would have invited Darwin, were Darwin lived in his time to have a dialogue. Perhaps he would have seen the value in creation through evolution. Muhammad (pbuh) knew God's wisdom is boundless and not containable in words that we read in the holy books, he would have meditated to understand the enormity of God's words instead of confining the meaning to the words.
I am blessed to have taken the initiative on Pluralism that began with my Radio show in 1994, in the 700+ hours of talk radio on Wisdom of Religion I did between 2004 and 2005, we learned the essence of every faith (or no faith) from Atheism to Zoroastrianism and every tradition in between. What is the wisdom? God wants his creation to live in harmony; each one of the religions is a formula to live in peace and balance with self and with others who surround. Those faiths that are life centered like Buddhism, Jainism, Atheism, Wicca and the African, American and other native traditions believe in living a life of balance; self balancing act is built into every piece of existence that struggles to keep the equilibrium through pleasures and pain. All faiths are either God centered or life centered and serve the same purpose; to bring peace and tranquility to one.
HH Aga Khan has made great strides in bringing back the tradition of Prophet Muhammad and has opened a Pluralism Center in Toronto. An overwhelming majority of the Muslims are in tune with the idea of co-existence, they want to get along and live a peaceful life with their families and friends.
Dallasites got to hear for the first time about Ismaili Muslims on my talk show radio, when I spoke about Ismaili traditions on the Imamat day. My Mentors are Muhammad (pbuh), Jesus, Krishna, Bahaullah, Nanak, Gandhi, MLK and Aga Khan among others. Obama is very close to becoming my mentor. Every thing I write gets articulated by him within a week. He is a shining example of Pluralism, a person who truly follows Jesus who embraced every human as fellow being without any distinction; he submits to the will of God as in Islam where God does not discriminate one soul from the other, or surrenders to Krishna and treats the whole world as one family. I am inspired by the models of co-existence they have created for us to emulate.
Personally I am committed to dust off layers of ignorance on the Islamic values of co-existence; aka Pluralism. God wants his creation to live in harmony and you find beautiful guidance in Qur'aan to create that abode. God willing I will do my share of work and you do yours. We are all in it together to create the world we would love to live.
A few among us are still clamoring to see Islam's value of Pluralism and about 1/10th of 1% of Muslims are far from getting it. In my reach out of about 24,000 Muslims across the world, my formula approximates about 240 individuals to be abhorrent to this idea... again thank God, you will find less than 24 people among the 24,000 who are obdurate to the idea, i.e., about 1/100th of 1% of Muslims. Are they significant statistically? You will find similar ratios in every faith group. A majority of all of us are good people.
A list of the Blogs on Islam and Pluralism are on my personal site www.MikeGhouse.net, if you wish to read about them. Please read the Qur’aanic model for a civil dialogue at item # 21 at http://quraan-today.blogspot.com/2008/08/all-articles-listed.html
Pluralism is not a religion, it is not an ideology, it is simply an attitude of accepting the otherness of other and respecting the God (or creation) given uniqueness of each one of us. I believe if we can learn to do that, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. The conflict is real when some one were to mess with your space, food and loved ones, all other conflicts are imaginary as they can be resolved through a dialogue.
To be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, one who seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; that is indeed the purpose of religion, any religion.
Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/