There is a breeze blowing in parts of the world today. In some areas it is gentle, a serene zephyr drifting in the peaceful azure skyline. In other places it blows fiercely, knocking people off their feet, causing houses to be demolished and lives ruined. In such areas of our planet this breeze has become a tempest, causing misery to innocent souls, a whirlwind creating destruction. It is no longer simply an insignificant breeze but has transformed into a devastating storm.
This is the storm of intolerance.
Its gales are far-reaching, and its flames devour individuals and groups who are perceived different, those who’s appearances, or beliefs, or cultures are not in line with those who are more powerful. This storm aims to destroy diversity, to suppress that which makes societies flourish, to quell our differences rather than to celebrate them.
It is through a variety of means that people today seek to create division and disharmony, but the most distressing for me as an Ahmadi Muslim, is when people use religion as means of sowing the seeds of hatred, particularly when it is Islam, a word literally meaning peace, which is the faith that is hijacked in this manner. Groups such as ISIS today not only discriminate, but also murder with relish those whom they decide, all the while pretending to be the custodians of religion. Such barbaric atrocities are not new to our world; rather these flames of division and discrimination have plagued our planet for as long as Man has ruled over it.
Thus as sectarian conflicts and brutal horrors plague the Muslim world today, the picture painted of Islam, and indeed religion as a whole, is not a pretty one. The truth however of what all faiths really teach, is quite different. It was the Buddha who said that he who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings. It was Jesus who urged his followers to pray for those who persecute you. It was the Prophet Muhammad who said that a white has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white – except by piety and good action. On a personal level, it is because of my faith, and not in spite of it, that I follow the motto ‘Love for all, hatred for none,’ as I believe, as the Quran states, that we have all been created with diverse looks and beliefs and characters not for the purposes of hating each other, but so that each of us can utilise the gifts of our diversity to build a more cohesive and just society for us all.
As a tenant of my faith, I pledge each year to always remain loyal to my country, the United Kingdom, a place in which the light and sound of diversity reverberates with beauty and with colour and with life. I live each day with friends and companions from all walks of life, united despite our differences, bound together by the thread that connects us all – the thread of humanity. I often pray that in the near future, the entire globe can feel a sense of unity despite our diversity, and that I may soon see the day that the storm of intolerance in our world is replaced by the shining light of peace.