On the Importance of Sending Greetings to Other Faith Communities…

“…And We have not sent you, [O Muhammed], except as a mercy to the worlds.”
(Quran: 21:106-107)

“Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.”
(Qur’an 16:125)

“This is a message from Muhammed ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by God! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are declared to be protected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”
–The Agreement of the Noble Messenger, Prophet Muhammed (S) with the religious leaders of Saint Catherine in Mount Sinai who has sought the protection of the Muslims
(Madinah, 628 A.D.)

We should seek diligently to reflect the best of our faith in our relations with one another as religious communities, as believers, and the children of Adam (AS). For some, the issue of sending greetings to persons of other faiths is met with ambivalence or sometimes more severely with…”that’s bidah!”

But in the context of extending a greeting of peace to others, I believe the word bidah is grossly misapplied. I believe that with just a cursory review of the history of our Prophet (S) and the Rightly Guided Caliphs (RA), one would immediately see that greetings of peace on any occasion is not an innovation, but is in keeping with the manner and kindness of our Prophet (SAW) in respecting other People of the Book that he showed during his mission and that the Rightly Guided Sahaba (RA) showed during their missions.

Muslims may wish to consider the very same verses the Prophet (S) instructed his emissaries to share with the Negus of Abyssinia in their greetings to our Abrahamic brethren around this time of year. We may enjoy similar consequences of such an approach as our earliest Muslim predecessors enjoyed when they were a minority amongst Christian benefactors.

To assume without any nusus, and in light of the demonstrated compassion of the Prophet (S), that the Qur’an and wishes of peace cannot be shared at anytime with anyone during, before, or after their holiday is itself bidah.

Imagine for a moment if more leaders today would take the time to send greetings to one another on such occasions, we might see less hatred, bloodshed, strife, and confusion. Allahu-Alim. Our leaders must begin teaching the people as our Prophet (S) taught the people…to be kind, gentle, and compassionate with those who have not ridiculed your faith, neither attacked you, nor fought you for your religion.

We should ask ourselves, how would a Muslim governor behave if he had Muslim, Christian and Jewish citizens under his authority and their holidays approached? Asking such a question can help demonstrate that the less responsibility we have for global concerns and leadership, the more parochial and narrow our visions and concerns can be. The less interaction we have as a citizen of the world, the more insolated we can be and the more liberty we have to only think about ourselves and how appreciative we feel when someone not Muslim goes out of their way to say “Id Mubabrak” or “As-Salaamu-Alaikum” with the wrong pronunciation but with nevertheless the best of intentions to spread peace.

Dearest believers, let us not be misled by some among our so-called ulema who will cause us to barter guidance for extremism.

“We want to make it very clear to you what this mission is all about. We are here to Remake the World, not just the world of mosques, but the World of America and the World outside of America…The future of American Muslims will be well-served when we serve the best interests of humanity. We must work for a productive mind that will enter and affect a change of the soul not just for one people, but for the benefit of all people.“
–Imam Dr. W.D Mohammed (ra)

Prayers and condolences to our fellow citizens of Newtown, Connecticut. May Allah (SWT) guide us to a better tomorrow.

Left open for further thought and research…Peace until next time.

Sincerely & respectfully,

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About Mukhtar Muhammad

Mukhtar Muhammad is author of the critically acclaimed Genesis of New American Leadership: A Muslim Commentary...the first socio-political and religious commentary on the tenets of effective leadership based on the principles of Islam, the commentary of contemporary religious scholars and American management philosophy. The recipient of numerous academic, professional, and military achievement awards, the former enlisted & commissioned naval officer is the product of a visionary leadership that recognizes the "Muslim American dream" is deeply rooted in the American Dream of not only "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but also "one nation under G-d indivisible with liberty and justice for all." The company vice president, national speaker and management consultant and national non-profit executive director holds bachelors and masters degrees in four business concentrations including systems management, marketing, business management and human resources development and has served at the highest levels of leadership for the American Muslim Community.
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