Keywords: Muslims, non-Muslims, Qur'an, exclusivist, imperialism, religious diversity, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Shi'a, Sunni, multi-religious, Wahhabi movement, Judaeo-Christian tradition, jihad, ahl al-kitab, zakat, dar al-harb, fundamentalist, dar al-islam
Abstract:The paradox of a religious tradition that promotes harmony and tolerance being used to justify war and intolerance is not unique to Islam. History shows that all religions, particularly their scriptures, have been interpreted by believers to justify a wide range of contradictory political, social, and cultural goals.
The Qur'an, the scripture believed by Muslims to have been revealed by God to Prophet Muhammad, is no exception. With regard to the issue of peace and violence, the author's contention is that the Qur'an essentially espouses a pluralist worldview, one that promotes peace and harmony among nations and peoples.
Through the centuries, however, it has been subjected to anti-pluralist, or exclusivist, interpretations in order to advance hegemonic goals, both political and religious. It is within the framework of this dichotomy between a pluralist Qur'an and anti-pluralist interpretations that we can best understand the conflicting and contradictory uses of Qur'anic texts.
Professor Azim Nanji serves currently as Special Advisor to the Provost at the Aga Khan University. Most recently he served as Senior Associate Director of the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University 2008-2010 and also lectured on Islam in the Department of Religious Studies. He was previously the of Director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies from 1998 - 2008.