Let us promote the Human Codes of Tolerance and Respect now !
As global leader you bear a special and personal responsibility to promote peace, tolerance and respect in your country and our global village.
1. Peace Needs Tolerance and Respect
For my organization, the World Security Network, tolerance and respect are the lifeblood of peaceful coexistence and crucial elements of the “soft powers” of peacemaking.
German philosopher Emmanuel Kant wrote: “The state of peace among men and women is not the natural state – a state of peace must be established.”
A main aim of the respected Prophet Muhammad more than 1300 years ago was to bring peace to the different tribes in Mecca and the Arab Peninsula – where we meet tonight – to create a better society of din and hilm and to reduce the negative forces of jahiliyyah and revenge.
As a global network, we at WSN believe that these wise ideas are truer today than ever before and must be implemented actively.
We must all together water the palm tree of tolerance and respect.
The soft factors of peacemaking are often put aside by the harder military instruments of peacemaking.
The focus on the promotion of stability through military means and homeland security has led to an unbalanced approach.
The human soul and dignity as the heart of peacemaking have been almost forgotten, and a cold power policy has prevailed which will not be able to produce stability and perpetual peace in a diverse world of globalization.
We now need a global jihad for tolerance and respect like the Prophet demanded – a new state of true peace and balance for our global village, including Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus and all the many different positive forces on earth.
We need a global vision and a soul.
We need globally respected moral values, and just as important,
We need a steady promotion.
2. It Is Your Task as the Elite to Promote Tolerance and Respect Now!
Unfortunately today we leave the most important questions of peace, reconciliation, tolerance and respect to
- a loud but tiny minority of radicals
- a majority of mediocre politicians, and
- mainly backward-looking academics.
- we do not have an action plan like in business for their promotion.
Does this work? – No.
Will this work in the future? – Not at all!
Who can actually change the world and promote tolerance and respect effectively?
Only you – the global elite of this world – can do it!
- but we remain for the most part silent and passive,
- and we only observe the negative actions of radical minorities on TV.
- We own this world intellectually
- We have influence
- We have the power
- We have a large pool of creativity and optimism.
But what do we do with all this?
I am calling for an elite which takes over the promotion of tolerance and respect as a common soul of our global village now, and does not just wait for politics.
I am calling to impeach the radicals by taking over as an elite the responsibility for a better world of moral values, especially for our children.
We as the elite have no choice but to take responsibility and take action now.
If we do not, nobody will do it effectively.
Please do not ask the new U.S. President, the UN or your national government what they should and will do
– but rather ask yourself what you can do with your friends and networks for a better world together now.
3. A Moral Basis with Common Values in Our Global Village
Which moral values should we promote?
Is it possible to find a consensus between the Christian West and the Islamic world, and also to include Hindus in India and Buddhists in Asia?
Can we avoid a clash of civilisations?
Yes – we already have Human Codes of Tolerance and Respect in all our different religions and cultures.
We have only forgotten about our common roots.
We find the Golden Nuggets of Humanity in Islam, Christianity, in Judaism, in Hinduism and Buddhism
- the respect for creatures
- the promotion of human dignity and love.
The Prophet Muhammad was just such a living example of tolerance and respect towards the older religions of Judaism and Christianity – contrary to hate propaganda and the perception in Western media.
Here are only a few examples:
When the Abyssinian Christian delegation arrived in Medina, the Prophet provided them with lodging even in his own Mosque, and he himself attended to their hosting and service.
When the Christians of Najran came to Medina, the Prophet lodged them as well in the Mosque and permitted them to hold their prayers on one side of the Mosque and the Muslims on the other side.
In this Mosque, dialogues between Christians and Muslims were conducted with freedom, respect and tolerance.
Holiness in Islam under the leadership of the Prophet was inclusive rather than exclusive.
If they wished, Jews and Christians could worship in the new mosque of the Prophet in Medina, because they too were part of God’s family with Abraham as the common father and Jesus and others as prophets like Muhammad. (finished in April 623, see Karen Armstrong, Muhammad, Prophet of Our Time, Harper Press London 2006, page 116)
In the year 628 CE Prophet Muhammad granted a Charter of Privileges to the Greek-orthodox monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt Sinai :
‘Christians are my citizens and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them…
No compulsion is to be on them-
- neither are their judges to be removed from their job nor their monks from their monasteries-
- no one is to destroy a house of their religion... ‘(A. Zahoor and Z. Haq, Muslim History 570-1950, Gaithersburg MD 2000, page 167)
Seventeen of the Jewish tribes in Medina lived with the Prophet and his new Muslim community in peace for many years.
The Qur-an demands
“Do not argue with the followers of earlier revelation otherwise than in a most kindly [manner] ….for our God and your God is one and the same…..’” (Qur’an 29:46)
The goal of the Prophet was to create a society of hilm.
The Muslims had to pray and live together in peace.
If attacked, they could defend themselves, but instead of lashing out in the old, uncontrolled way of jahili, they always had to be prepared to forgive an injury. Automatic retaliation could be great evil. (Karen Armstrong, page 118)
The Qur’an demands not only tolerance but also a firm belief in the scriptures - the Torah, the Bible and the Qur’an - and all the messengers without distinction.
When the Prophet Muhammad was asked what was meant by faith, he replied: “Self-restraint and gentleness.” (by Amr ibn Abasah-Hadith of Muslim)
When Muhammad with an army of 10,000 men entered Mecca, there was no revenge, no bloodshed and nobody was forced to join Islam.
He rode around the Kabah, the house of God and cried:
“Behold God has removed from you [the] arrogance of jahiliyyah with its boast of ancient glories, Man is simply a God-conscious believer or an unfortunate sinner. All people are children of Adam, and Adam was created out of dust.
(in 630 CE - Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, 821, in Asad, Message of the Qur’an, 794, in Karen Armstrong, page 200).
When Muhammad had conquered Mecca peacefully, he did not establish a purist Islamic regime as “God’s Kingdom on Earth.” Instead, he promoted reconciliation – even with his most hated enemies – and left the status quo intact. (Karen Armstrong page 203f)
Islam means peace
and submitting one’s will to the Almighty God
and including – not excluding – the other Abrahamian faiths of Judaism and Christianity with a love for one God, other human beings and your neighbour.
The merciful nature of the Prophet and his main message has unfortunately been forgotten in the Western and the Islamic worlds,
as was the case with Jesus Christ by Christianity during the 1800-year long period of the Inquisition, the Crusades or the Thirty Years’ War against the Protestants in Europe.
I believe that an Islamic Renaissance is urgently needed
to bring back Muhammad’s teaching of mercy, respect, and tolerance to all of us in East and West.
Out of this will come a new intellectual partnership for us all.
True Muslims must actively reject the new negative forces of jahiliyyah and promote the Prophet’s moral world of din and a society of hilm.
Why should the 93 percent of moderate Muslims leave the public opinion and attention to the tiny minority of only 7 percent of radicals - which you will find in any other society in the world?
We Christians should not forget that only in the last 200 years at the most has Christianity become more tolerant and respectful toward other religions and has come back to the true spirit of Jesus after 1800 years
– a very long road back to Jesus’ true teaching.
We Christians should reach out our hands to our Muslim brothers and sisters,
as we all belong to one large global family with strong common roots of Abraham and our common prophets.
All of us – Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists – must pay respect
to the other people and their prophets and beliefs – and we must speak out
- together promoting tolerance and respect.
4. The Human Codes of Tolerance and Respect Action Plan
We should never just analyze or demand tolerance and respect.
As businessmen and businesswomen we are used to looking for a concrete action plan.
How can we promote step-by-step the Human Codes of Tolerance and Respect?
I invite you to join our World Security Network project with your own ideas and best practice examples from all over the world.
We should start by collecting them all over the world and learning from them for our communities.
Together we can formulate easy-to-understand rules for the five influential groups which have an enormous influence on promoting tolerance and respect towards other ethnic groups and religions, namely:
-families, educators, religious leaders, journalists and politicians.
These Codes are intended to promote tolerance, respect, and dignity
for ethnic minorities and people of different religions, and
- to support a peaceful coexistence between other religions, races and nationalities of our “global village.”
There are thousands of active grassroots projects from which we can choose best practice examples of tolerance and a number of academic and nongovernmental approaches to promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
There is as yet no precise strategy and recipe, however, for implementing these best practice examples into political action worldwide.
Implementing the Codes of Tolerance is enormously important for conflict resolution, nation building and as a soft factor of peacemaking.
The World Security Network Foundation is collecting ideas, policy examples, and best practice examples to promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
Examples for families include:
- “Art for Peace” an initiative of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to educate Jewish and Arabic children in cooperation through working on art projects.
- The “World of Difference” Road Show in Germany for young Children by the Berlin Children’s Exhibition Foundation, showing that diversity and the strong Turkish Muslim population in Germany are something positive for the Germans- co-sponsored by WSN.
- Priority in school for learning foreign languages, and always the language of the state where you live as a foreigner, because languages are the most important doors to understanding other cultures.
Examples for teachers and schools include:
- Joint Schoolbook Commissions with representatives from different groups, presenting two sides of history.
- Enhancing tolerance and respect in religious lessons and books at school focussing on our common roots and aims of respect and tolerance.
Examples for religious leaders include:
- Local committees with religious leaders of the Christian, Islamic and Jewish communities to visit and get to know one another.
- Reconciliation ceremonies in churches, mosques and synagogues, inviting those from other faiths like the Prophet did a long time ago in Medina.
Examples for journalists include:
- Declaration of the editorial staff to cover more stories on reconciliation in TV, print and radio, not only hatred and terror. They should show the world as it is: full of hope and people taking responsibility for the younger generation, especially in publicly controlled media.
- Support of movies covering the aspects of reconciliation, tolerance and respect to reach out to a young audience
Examples from the WSN toolbox for domestic and international policy makers to implement tolerance domestically and in international relations include:
- The establishment of a governmental position of State Secretary or Special Representative for Dialogue of Cultures and Tolerance, with a budget similar to the environmental and arms control initiatives of the 1970s and 1980s.
- Legislative resolutions requiring governments to publish an Annual Report on the Status of the Dialogue of Cultures, Tolerance, and Peaceful Coexistence.
- A National Day of Tolerance and Minorities.
- Establishment of a National Truth and Reconciliation Commission like in South Africa.
A more peaceful world needs a global and forceful promotion of tolerance and respect
by the global elite
in connection with parents, educators, religious leaders, the media and open-minded politicians.
We need to come back to our common moral roots.
We are the world
We teach the world:
A better world is possible - for our children.
Let’s do it and promote The Human Codes of Tolerance and Respect now!
Speech by Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann, President and Founder of the World Security Network Foundation at the Women as Global Leaders Conference organized by the Zayed University in Dubai March 10, 2008