The Qur'anic recognition of the truth and essential unity of the revealed faiths is not confined to Christianity and Judaism but extends to all the Prophets preceding Moses and Jesus and their teachings. Thus, it is stated that belief in all of them is an integral part of the Muslim faith:
The Qur'an is most explicit on the dignity and nobility of man, both individually and collectively, and it repeatedly expresses the theme that a person's dignity is intimately related to his or her freedom -particularly freedom of conscience. In sum, the Qur'an is consistent in its affirmation of the freedom of belief and it fully supports the conclusion that the objectives of the
Another pertinent Qur'anic theme is the affirmation that religion is a matter of individual conviction and belief, and that persuasion and advice are the only ways through which others may be invited to embrace Islam. The passages that are quoted below also cast light on the function of the Prophet, and the methods which he was to follow in his summons to the new faith.
If they embrace Islam, they are rightly-guided, but if they turn their backs on it, then your only duty is to convey [the message]. (111:20)
Remind them, for you are one who reminds; you are not a warden over them. (LXXXVIII:21-22)
And if they turn away, We have not sent you as a guardian over them. Your duty is but to convey the message. (XLII:48)
Obey God and obey the Messenger and beware. But if you turn back then know that Our Messenger's duty is but to proclaim clearly [the message]. (V:92. See also V:99 to the same effect.)
Yet another Qur'anic theme which occurs in a number of passages is that invitation to the faith must be wisely made with courteous advice, and that it must be based on sound reasoning and eloquent persuasion. The message here once again precludes resorting to compulsion in the promotion and propagation of Islam. Moreover, it is to be understood that anything which dilutes the self-evident meaning of the Qur'an on these points, whether in the name of jihad or enlightenment, is unacceptable and should be strongly discouraged. For jihad is abused when it is pursued in such a way as to impede the Qur'anic principle of the freedom of belief.
Dr Mohammad Hashim Kamali is Professor of Law at the International Islamic University