The conception of religious tolerance between Islam and Christian contemporary thinkers | Статья в сборнике международной научной конференции

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Абдрасилов, Турганбай Курманбайулы. The conception of religious tolerance between Islam and Christian contemporary thinkers / Турганбай Курманбайулы Абдрасилов, Кайнар Калдыбайулы Калдыбай. — Текст : непосредственный // Исследования молодых ученых : материалы XV Междунар. науч. конф. (г. Казань, декабрь 2020 г.). — Казань : Молодой ученый, 2020. — С. 47-50. — URL: https://moluch.ru/conf/stud/archive/384/16209/ (дата обращения: 01.03.2021).



It is undeniable truth that numerous researches and studies have been dedicated to religious tolerance topic. Although, it is claimed that despite numerous studies have been done, no conspicuous result has been achieved. However, the recent pew research revealed that fifty-six percent of respondents responded by claiming that «many religions» can take to paradise suggests that due to the prevail of multiculturalism such as inter faith marriage, having friends from other faith seems to imply that tolerant behavior towards other people with different faith appear to significantly influence the thinking of people regarding the salvation of their partners and friends irrespective of their different doctrines of convictions (Khalil,2013). It is historically true that many wars and clashes between religions particularly between two competing large religions namely Islam and Christian occurred partly due to the intolerance and the rejection of pluralism. Islam and Christianity are two largest religions in the world. More than fifty-five percent of people of the world adhere to these religions (Lituanja, 2009). This indicates that over a fifth of human-beings of the world follow these religions implying that the peaceful relationship between these two religions mean peace in the world. As Hans Kung (1991, cited in Lituanja, p,317) states that «there can no peace among the nations without peace among the religions; there can no peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions». Therefore, the goal of this essay is not to denounce or criticize each religion by bringing evidences, rather make although small, contribution on holding constructive dialogue in order for people with different convictions whom globalization and urbanization brought together to live happily in peace and harmony. As Chapman (2011, p.61) stated «a healthy society is established through dispute and dialogue between such groups rather than strong centralized power». The establishment of religious pluralism in a democratic society is indispensable. Therefore, reaching reasonable conclusion necessitates the discussion which must be based on the reasoned argument and analysis and not on one central religious identity (Litonjua,2009).The methodology of this essay is to have a comparative analysis of each issue relevant to the religious tolerance. There are numerous issues, yet due to the limit, the three main issues such as exclusivist truth claim, excessive fanaticism and the state model will be discussed and analyzed throughout the essay. The first section of this essay will look at the absolutist truth claim which is believed to have caused many wars and conflicts between two religions. The second paragraph will examine the violence which stem from excessive fanaticism. The final part of the essay will discuss the religious tolerance in the context of the state, in other words, based on the proposal of William’s interactive pluralism, the state model will be analyzed and revealed how far is it applicable in today’s world. As suggested, this analysis aims to explore the potential for religious tolerance between Christianity and Islam in the XXI century. Within this remit, a key objective center on offering an assessment which links theological analysis with political assessments. The work undertaken therefore seeks to link theological discourse with a wider pluralist political theological agenda which has the potential to respond to the challenges faced in terms of inter-religious toleration in the XXI century. In order to support this thesis, a key objective of the analysis focuses on proposing and augmenting the pluralist theological political position advanced by Williams (2012).

The Claim of Universal Truth

Much of the discussion in this area centers on the assumptions that permeate from the idea of religious exclusivism (Meister, 2011; Harris, 2016; Dag, 2017).Meister (2011) suggests that religious exclusivism denotes a theological position which argues that one particular religious’ outlook constitutes the whole and complete truth. In this sense, the exclusivist agenda is one which proposes that one specific religious position contains the correct answers with regard to the existence and character of God and that the doctrine followed is one which concurs with a universalist and absolutist claim with regard to truth (Meister, 2009).This exclusive claim according to the contemporary pluralist theologians was a seed for war and violence and therefore, according to Shihab (2004) many exceptional contemporary Christian and Muslim theologians and thinkers showed their willingness to discuss and to review the doctrine of absolutist truth claim.The paradox of the truth claims or blaming each other in the mistakes or errors lie in the weaknesses of human beings. As Nandwa (2016) points out that the divine decision for human, seems worth to contemplate on, in terms of choice. He argues that since, some matters are not decided by human-beings such as the location of birth, choosing the parents, which hold people, to some extent, are less liable for religious freedom. In other words, when a baby is born in a Christian family he or she is going to be raised and taught by Christian faith meaning that blaming or claiming the absolutist truth is meaningless. This is supported by Shihab (2004) who asserts that according to the Quran there is difference between having faith in the heart and declaring to become Muslim or Christian. The Quran counters those who proclaimed to have faith. Quran further says, instead of saying we have faith, ‘rather say we have become Muslims, for the true faith has not yet entered your heart’ (Q.49–14). This verse clearly indicates that true, universal faith does not belong to Muslims and the people of the book that is Jews and Christians rather true faith, can be found in the heart of genuine believer who has true faith in God and the day of Judgement. This shows that there is no compulsion in religion, and adherence to any religion is depends on the decision of mankind (Nandwa, 2016). This claim suggests that freedom of choice plays a vital role in choosing which religion to adhere meaning that to implant faith or belief in the heart of humans by coercion is impossible unless he or she willingly or genuinely decides to believe in. In other words, belief or faith should emanate from inner world that is from heart naturally and not forcefully. Therefore, to judge or decide on the sincerity of truth faith of Jews or Christians only belongs to God suggesting that nobody can claim the absolutist truth as it can be decided and judged by God and this indicates that waging war against each other because of this claim unreasonable and senseless (Ayuob 1991).From the perspective of political theology on this issue, Tariq Ramadan, modern Islamic pluralist thinker, (2013) asserts that claiming the absolutist truth or salvation belong to only certain group of people hinder the democratic society to be built. This suggests that private and public life should be distinguished and claiming some people are not saved is not respectful to the public sphere who is protecting the life to think privately and speak freely without imposing restrictions (2013). In other words, without secularity and democracy that grants the freedom to think and act, religious faith or rituals would not have occurred suggesting owing to secularity and pluralism people can believe and practice freely which is indicative of secularism which enable the religious freedom to prevail. This is supported by former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who provides a very effective political and theological assessment of this issue which points to the need for religious outlooks in the XXI century to assume a pluralist, rather than an exclusivist position. Assuming a position which relies heavily on an academic analysis of the universal truth claim, Williams (2012) argues that the universal truth paradigm is one which lacks validity due to a woeful failure to empirically support such a suggestion. In this sense, Williams (2012) advances a position which suggests that no one religion can claim to hold a universal truth. In this sense, Williams (2012) argues that transcendental truth, a truth uninfected by either time or space, fails to develop within the context of any specific religion. This combined with the fact that absolutist truth lacks empirical validity leads Williams (2012) to propose a pluralist solution to the dialectic dilemmas posed to Christianity and Islam in the 21 st century in terms of their capacity to peacefully coexist. It is important to note that Williams (2012) is eager to emphasize the degree to which pluralism within modern theological and political discourse is highly variable and divergent, thus allowing diverse conclusions to be reached in the basis of the definitional parameters applied to the concept of pluralism itself. Nonetheless, the position assumed by the former Archbishop is one which argues in favor of a pluralist answer to the dialectic divisions posed by the claim that one specific religious outlook contains the real and only universal truth. For Williams (2012), both Christianity and Islam, in addition to the other leading world religions all contain strong elements of truth but cannot justifiably claim to hold all answers and thus contain an incomplete appraisal of actual truth. On this basis, Williams (2012) argues that all people, regardless of their religious outlook are equal in the world and created by and through the image of God himself. Given this, political structures in the XXI century need to develop a pluralist position which allows for followers of every religion to practice their faith in a free and unimpeded manner. The primary form of political organization, the state, must therefore ensure that individuals are free to practice their faith in an open and mutually respectful social environment (Williams, 2012). The pluralist position advanced through reference to theological political framework on the part of Williams (2012) is compelling. When considering the manner in which religious division and discord in the XXI century can be solved through reference to Islam and Christianity, the pluralist solution developed by Williams (2012) has both merit and credibility. The conclusion reached in this analysis therefore concurs with the theological political solution advanced by Williams (2012) and the key pluralist tenets on which that solution rests. Diverse and complex societal and cultural interactions personify the XXI century and processes such as globalization have ensured that such interactions now take place at a graduated level, not only between nation states but within them (Boase, 2013). Therefore, in order to develop an effective response which propels harmony and toleration between the two religions in the XXI century, there needs to be a state-led provision of civic space which allows for debate and interaction between the two faiths to take place in a way that enhances respect, toleration and mutual understanding. In this sense, the position developed by Williams (2012) clearly has potential in terms of providing a pluralist framework on which to base an effective solution to the discord and enmity that characterizes modern discourses between Islam and Christianity. Ultimately, these discourses need to move away from an exclusivist paradigm and develop towards a position which supports inclusive thought, mutual respect and toleration for different religious position.

Violence which stem from fanaticism

This part of study intends to focus on the violence which is legitimized, rationalized and justified by religion (Lituanja). When political power is combined with religion in order to gain political interests this often leads to violence and physical force implying that all religions are responsible for the bloody history meaning no religion is higher than another (McTernan 2003; Lefebure 2000). It is true that blind obedience is dangerous and poses a threat to the stability of society. For example, according to Lituanja (2009), religious interpretation of revelation is made by humans so that to understand its meaning and consequently apply it in the lives. Thus, history witnessed that people interpreted differently the same revelation resulting in the divisions, tensions and violence which ensued the fight with each other by justifying their interpretations. Both religions in order to justify their argument appealed to their holy scriptures as a primary source by claiming «the Kingdom of God» of the Gospel and the absolute power of Allah (mulk ) in the Quran (Ayoub,1991). When one adopts a critical position with regard to both Christianity and Islam, it is credible to suggest that both religions have throughout their respective histories assumed a position which is conducive with the exclusivist outlook (Hilberg, 2009; Long, 2012). In order to deal with this issue Schumm et.al (2005) suggest that Christians and Muslims should read the holy scriptures together. His suggestion indicates that when time changes and the conditions of people change too, and since the holy books were designated to guide the believers to the right path and its aim to provide happiness and solidarity to the people, therefore, holy texts should be reviewed again. This is supported by Shihab(2004) who claim that there is a need to reinterpret the sacred texts, books according to the requirements of our time (Shihab, 2004). His proposal suggests that in the contemporary world where diversity and mixed living is rising, due to the change of the requirements of the time, there is a need for the representatives from different religions to create a common language through which they can understand each other more efficiently and profoundly. In other words, uncompromising hostility, forceful conversion which triumphed for a long time, ought to assume the form of friendly dialogue which would be suitable to live up the requirements of the multiculturalism of society. Historically, it is known that many wars occurred due to the misinterpretation of scriptures and without appealing to reason and rationality, zealot followers of certain religions accepted the meaning of the sacred texts literally which thus resulted in occurring conflicts and incited hostility towards the other religious group of people. For example, such cases take place particularly within Islamic religious group where radical Islam derives its ideologue from Sayyid Qutb (Berman, 2003). This is supported by Lituanja (2003) who explains in detail the root of contemporary radical Islam which refers to Sayyid Qutb. According to Liyuanja (2003) religious fundamentalism of political Islam is categorized by the approval of modernization and the dismissal of modernism. Modernization is the remarkable achievements of science and technology whereas modernism in the works of Lituanja (2003)is the referred to as attitudes and values such as individual autonomy, freedom of expression, religious liberty. Qutb while studying in the USA, has witnessed the prevalence of promiscuity and moral decadence and he blamed for all this the modernism. He, thus, used the term jahiliyyah which means ignorant, in other words, those who do not follow the rule of Allah, that is the shariah law. The modern man is therefore according to his view in theological crisis. Therefore, he as a true Muslim calls to combat with this to establish the shariah law in the world by sacrificing life or dying as a martyr in the way of Allah. Qutb, has written a thirty-volume interpretation of the Quran, called in the Shade of the Quran . This shows the importance of examining the writings of Sayyid Qutb in order to understand danger of radical Islam. This account should serve as an example, that according to some, the amorality or moral decadence is the hinder towards the religious tolerance. This illustrates that religion which is believed to have been revealed from heaven, assumes the social, cultural and political settings of societies suggesting that religion undergoes the adaptation to specific culture meaning that if that culture is based on the patriarchal community, it assumes the dominant behavior. Thus, religion claiming the universal truth and its dissemination requesting to ally with political power meaning resorting to the totalitarianism by using violence and force tend to be lethal and result in the calamities to occur. However, Sam Harris (2015) who is an atheist, blames some Muslim groups for intolerance. He, in the book called Islam and the future of tolerance, argues that intolerance and extremism takes its origin from the Islamic texts where war and violence are justified. He further claims that the history of Islam is full with the fanaticism which still can be witnessed in contemporary world. He, as an example brings the case of 2015, horrendous footage of apostates being slaughtered. These practices he argues find justification in the holy texts. (p.101–102). However, Maajid Nawaz counters by defending the concepts and doctrines of Islam. He lists the three main factors such as the identity crisis, that is the identifying the true faith concept, cultural aggression and the western interference for the extremism and violence within the Muslims. Shihab is in different view regarding the fanaticism, while it is true, that religion is closely associated with feelings, non-consulting with reason and succumbing to the feelings often seem to deviate people from the true path. Religious fanaticism is a possible source of conflict among the passionate devotees of certain religious groups (Shihab, 2004). For the tension between Islam and Christians, Shihab (2004) blames some orientalists by arguing that intentional misinterpretation of sacred texts by orientalists caused the long history of conflict and mistrust between Islam and Christianity as the objectives of several orientalists were to produce the literature which were full of mis-statements of fact and the theories built on misperceptions and distortions. Here, his argument regarding the intervention of some orientalists to disrupt the friendly relationship between Muslim and Christians seem less convincing and is not clear what did he mean by putting forward such claim. Shihab (2004) claims that both the Bible that is the spirit of Christ and the Quran ought to be the source of guidance for two group of people. Thereby, the representatives of two communities should strive sincerely to interpret the scriptures suggest to hold the constructive dialogue through which the positive and friendly mutual friendship could occur between Islam and Christianity. Therefore, Williams (2012) argues that the ijtihad that is, the interpretation of the sacred texts is needed in contemporary society not only for dealing with jurisprudence within Muslim community, but also for the plural and multicultural society. What he means by this is could probably assumed that the meaning of the interpretation should be argued and discussed publicly in order to extract the true and suitable meaning for the stability of society. Therefore, this research tends to agree with the claim or proposal of Rowan Williams (2012) who argues that the state is to be unbiased and fair when it provides the civic space for the discussion and debate in order to extract the truth.

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