Begin from the points of agreement

“Say: “O followers of earlier revelation! Come unto that tenet which we and you hold in common: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall not ascribe divinity to aught beside Him, and that we shall not take human beings for our lords beside God.” And if they turn away, then say: “Bear witness that it is we who have surrendered ourselves unto Him.”” (The Quran, 3:64)

“And do not argue with the followers of earlier revelation otherwise than in a most kindly manner – unless it be such of them as are bent on evildoing and say: “We believe in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, as well as that which has been bestowed upon you: or our God and your God is one and the same, and it is unto Him that We [all] surrender ourselves.”” (The Quran, 29:46)

Points of Reflection

1. The Quran introduces an important principle of engagement with all non-Muslims i.e. begin on the points of agreement/similarity.

2. Disagreement should not blind us from looking at or working on areas of agreement. Also, our agreement should not lead to compromise principles that we disagree.

3. The wisdom behind the principle is it allows us to begin our relations and sharing of faith with non-Muslims on positive mode which has tremendous effect on human relations and effective communication.

4. This important principle is not applicable only in our engagement with the People of the Book but to all non-Muslims as exemplified by the Prophet below.

5. The Prophet participated in Harb Al-Fijar (Battle of Al-Fijar) and Hilf Al-Fudhul (Alliance of the Pious) with pagan Arabs against injustices before his prophethood and entered into agreement (Charter of Medina) with non-Muslim inhabitants of Medina after his migration that served their common interest.

6. Inter-faith dialogue has root in the Quran.

7. If the Quran teaches us to find common ground with non-Muslims, then finding common ground with fellow Muslims or Muslim organisations becomes more important that incessant debate on matters of disagreement.

8. Often what underlies our tendency to dwell into matters of disagreement are negative elements such self-righteousness, ego, anger, revenge, hate, fanaticism, narrow mindedness, no respect of others’ to have differing view etc.. which Islam enjoins us to purify ourselves from them.

9. To practice prudence and cautious is virtuous in order not to become a gullible person. But it should not cause us to lose dakwah opportunities or valuable/useful partners.