Interfaith Dialogues in the Islamic Golden Age

Due to the tolerant nature and practice of Shari’a, the Muslim Empires of Islam’s Golden Ages, Muslim societies could hold a large amount of diversity in their empires. Although the Empires were ruled from God’s law, there was still space for interpretation and religious tolerance. This phenomenon is also reinforced by the Medina Constitution of 622 CE, in which Mohammad advocates for the practice of religious tolerance and interfaith celebration. Therefore through several essential Muslim documents, the Islam empires allowed interfaith communication and collaboration to blossom without much religious conflict among Indigenous and/or other Abrahamic religions.
We see this phenomenon in the intermingling of Hindu and Muslim cultures and practices under the Mughal Empire and during the earliest establishments of Islam in the Indian subcontinent. The long-term interactions between the Persian Muslims and Indian Hindus set up an established, healthy relationship for the flourishing, rational, and tolerant successes of the Mughal Empire of Islam’s last golden age. The Mughal’s success is mostly marked by Akbar Shah, the first ruler of the empire. He was a large supporter and enforcer of religious tolerance, which allowed for the fusions of islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Jainism to flourish and grow amongst each other. This phenomenon was enforced by Akbar Shah’s doctrine “Dine Ilahi” (Reign of God), and was radical for its time as interfaith dialogue and community was not ever as heavily promoted by a ruler with the same status and respect as Akbar Shah. He also abolished non-Muslim taxes, upheld multiple interpretations of Islamic law, and publicly encouraged the cultural exchange among the varying religions and cultures in India. His legacy was continued by his grandson, who created the first Muslim-Hindu interfaith text in Persian, in which cultural and spiritual aspects of both religions were explored in the same text. This appreciation for an interfaith society lead to Hindus gaining positions of power under a the Muslim Mughal empire, which had been unheard of before Akbar’s reformations.

In addition to the collaborative relationship of interfaith Islam-Hindu communities in the Mughal Empire, the relationship between Jewish and Muslim communities under Muslim rule has historically been very peaceful. Due to both of the religions being ruled “by the Book” and sharing essential Abrahamic stories, such as the significance of Moses in both the Talmud and the Qur’an. Both religions  have a heavy emphasis on scholastic achievement, religious discourse, and lack of hierarchical institutions. This relationship is drastically different from current Muslim and Jewish relations, which are often regarded as hostile and incompatible, even though that had not been the case for the majority of history shared by Muslim and Jewish communities. This is due to the rise of Zionist violence and colonialism, which continues to threaten the safety and lives of many members of the Levant and the Muslim world as the State of Israel continues to expand its land, and therefore many Muslim Nations have taken staunch anti0-semitic stances on their Jewish populations. However, their anti semitism comes from old Christian traditions and beliefs of anti-semitism. Ironically enough, many christians in the Western World regard their religion to be “aligned with Judaism, and often refer to western religious culture as “Judeo-Christian”, which is blatantly false. Scholars have determined that this term came as a form of apology after the mass destruction of Jewish life, people, and culture from the Holocaust, but also it is a form of validating the conservative Jewish desire for an ethno-religious state of Israel, and fulfilling a further western colonial agenda.

  1. Marguerite Rigoglioso, Stanford scholar casts new light on Hindu-Muslim relations (Stanford News, 2015),