Islam and Codes of Tolerance
A new book Codes of Tolerance by Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann, Founder and President of the World Security Network, has been recently published by Herder Verlag in Germany and presented at the International Book Fair in Frankfurt. An Arabic version will follow in November and a Polish as well.
It is a profound and also promising answer to the aggressiveness and violence "in the name of Islam," whether by IS/ISIS in Iraq and Syria or Boko Haram in Nigeria.
In the first half, the German geo-strategist Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann analyzes the question "Is Islam intolerant?" and paints a detailed picture of a truly peace-loving Islam with many new facets.
The author works out 10 Golden Nuggets of Tolerance in Islam, which give rise to hope:
1. The predominance of God's mercy and compassion in the opening Surah and all other Surahs of the Qur'an.
2. The Muslim greeting formula "Peace be with you!"
3. The Prophet's goal of harmony practiced in a new society of hilm with respect of God and humans.
4. Punishment on the Day of Judgment and not on earth.
5. The state-political example of the Prophet through reconciliation after the conquest of Mecca from 630 to 632, when he did not establish a totalitarian theocracy, but left intact the old political structures and even pardoned all his enemies.
6. The numerous references in the Qur'an to the validity of the ancient holy texts of Jews and Christians and the other 14 prophets, which are observed also by Muslims.
7. At least 27 verses of the Qur'an which ask Muslims to practice tolerance, among them six core calls to tolerance.
8. The clear limitation of the use of violence in the Qur'an – as self-defense and only as long as there is direct danger, and never against uninvolved civilians.
9. No less than 14 contracts with Christians designed to have eternal validity, including the protection of freedom of religion, as best practices from the time of the Prophet and the first two Caliphs.
10. The tradition of tolerance, as documented in the close friendship of the first 100 Muslims with the Christians during the exile in Abyssinia from 615 to 630 and the Golden Age of Islam in the ninth century, as well as the obligation, according to Surah 17:34, to observe the UN Charter as a transformed law in effect in the Islamic countries.
In – so far little known – details, the well-informed author refers to the forgotten peacefulness of the Prophet at the conquest of Mecca in 630:
He did not kill his enemies, who had displaced him from his home town, had offered head money for his capture, had wounded him in battle and had waged a war against him for eight years. He pardoned them, practiced generous forgiveness and preached a new harmony. He left intact the political conditions and the officials remained in their positions. Hoffmann considers this not only as proof of the Prophet's tolerance, but also as his guideline for the separation of religion and state – just the opposite of the assertions of the radicals of ISIS, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.
Another example newly investigated by the author is the asylum of the first 100 Muslims in the Christian Kingdom of Abyssinia from 615 to 630. The Prophet himself sent his first followers from Mecca to the Negus so that they were able to survive. The Christians disobeyed the order of the powerful rulers to expel the Muslims, started a long-term deep friendship with them and were even successful in convincing the enemies in Mecca to withdraw the banishment.
The book argues that the radicals have misunderstood these ten messages of tolerance and the example of the Prophet, they have picked out only six hard sentences from the 6.236 Surahs of the Qur'an, thus ignoring 99.99 per cent and turning Islam upside down, from a conciliatory message into an aggressive message of fighting.
The author's analysis of Islam is optimistic and a counterpart to the propaganda of ISIS and Boko Haram: The true Qur'an and the message of the Prophet Muhammad are characterized by mercy, the virtues of calmness and harmony (hilm) and peacefulness (salam). The Islamic world must recall these roots, and the silent majority must stand up against the small minority of radicals.
The author refers to many forgotten details with regard to the Prophet's relation to women in the exciting chapter on Muhammad: 'I am the best to women'
The focus is on the comprehensive portrait of Khadidjah bint Khuwaylid (around 555-620), the Prophet's first wife, and her formative role in the birth of the new religion. She was an emancipated and very successful business woman in Mecca, employed the younger Muhammad and proposed marriage to him through a mediator. There is only one world religion that was financed by a woman – Islam. Not a man but a woman was "the first Muslim." A woman was the most important adviser and supporter of the Prophet.
She should be a model, so Hoffmann argues, for all present Muslim women, because God consciously chose an emancipated woman for his messenger. Khadidjah is the opposite of the image of women propagated today by ISIS and Boko Haram: they should neither go to school nor work, in the year 2014 – supposedly and absurdly "in the name of the Prophet."
The rules of the Qur'an should grant women not less but much more rights. The Qur'an granted them six so far unknown rights, including the law of inheritance, the right to personal property, the necessity to agree to marriage and the prohibition to kill female descendants. In the tribal society of the seventh century, it was not possible to implement more rights of women. However, it is nowhere written in the Qur'an that women should not be granted more rights. Later equality is not excluded. The Qur'an does not impose a limit to progress, but indicates a clear direction towards emancipation. The Prophet promoted the emancipation of women and was in love with an emancipated business woman, so Hoffmann writes.
His book is an appeal to every responsible world citizen in all parts of the world, to commit themselves personally, with small contributions, to the establishment of a common global village. How this works can be found at the end of the book in the Codes of Tolerance.
In 60 Codes of Tolerance, Hubertus Hoffmann refers to concrete rules and paths towards a world politics of love of humanity. 79 best practices for all of us, parents, religious leaders, the media, politicians, sports and culture prove: We can walk the path of tolerance successfully with many good deeds, tear the world from the preachers of hatred and thus can let more love flourish for our children.
The author describes a clever attempt at more love of humanity in the global village and demonstrates through many examples: More tolerance towards other religions, minorities and races is possible, and appeals to tolerance are contained like golden nuggets in all word religions – also in Islam.
However, so far the 99 per cent majority of peaceful people has remained silent and has left the power of interpretation to the few radicals. The world urgently needs a world ethos in practice, the Codes of Tolerance. Hoffmann's book is a plea for more humanity in our global village and an active peace policy of reconciliation.
An active policy of tolerance that is able to defend itself is not the naïve idea of starry-eyed idealists, but absolutely imperative. Hubertus Hoffmann initiated the Codes of Tolerance project as president of his World Security Network Foundation, as a new approach of the soft factors of peace-making. He actively calls for a new, balanced double strategy of the West, a politics World 3.0, of power and active tolerance and reconciliation. There is need of a positive vision in this world. It is not the hawk alone that can create peace. This is true for Syria and Iraq, as well as East Ukraine or the Holy Land.
So far, there have been many talks, but without noticeable actions. Only 0.01 per cent of the budgets of the states are spent on projects of reconciliation, but 99.99 per cent on internal security and defense. Hoffmann calls for a paradigm change and a re-orientation in foreign and domestic affairs. An active policy of tolerance should be developed that is financed through at least one per cent of all expenditure for foreign, development aid and defense policy. Only in this way can politics in trouble spots create more tolerance.
The author did his doctorate with the renowned researcher on totalitarianism and political scientist Karl Dietrich Bracher, and for 25 years he was the protégé of the legendary Pentagon strategist Fritz Kraemer (see www.worldsecuritynetwork.com/fritzkraemer). The German geo-strategist analyzes shrewdly the roots of human behavior and the development of a world ethos in the great world religions as part of a new foreign and peace policy.
His investigations and sources are profound, fresh and global: In Jerusalem he met President Shimon Peres, the Grand Mufti, Jewish rabbis and Christian bishops and participated in the historic visit of Pope Francis in May 2014. With Archbishop Alfons Nossol he analyzed the Christian principles of reconciliation, and he investigated in the Vatican. He met with the Dalai Lama three times for an interview on tolerance and with his monk Laktor, the director of the Tibetan library, he traveled India following in the tracks of Buddha. There he also met Sadguru, Hindu scholars and Sandjai Gandhi. In Afghanistan he discussed peace in Islam with the director of the library of the Blue Mosque and talked to people in Kabul. In Iraq he met politicians and bishops of the oppressed Christian minority, and in Pakistan and the FATA he met Muslim tribal chieftains. In Jordan he presented his Codes of Tolerance to Prince Hassan bin Talal and was invited by Queen Rania. In 2008, the Minister of Science of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mabarak al Nahayan, asked him to present his Codes of Tolerance to the 1.800 ladies at the big Women-as-Global Leaders Conference at Zayed University in Dubai.
The work is a comprehensible textbook of tolerance on 463 pages, for active involvement of responsible world citizens of all religions, races and ethnic groups. In addition, the Codes are a successful contribution to intercultural and interreligious dialogue and mutual understanding in the global village.
His appeal: Don't leave the world to the preachers of hatred and to evil! Don't wait – just start! Locally, creatively, actively. Put a first small, good jigsaw piece into the mosaic of seven billions. Let's together create a new harmonious world of cooperation with more respect and humanity in our global village, especially for our children and their good future!