Original Research - Special Collection: Religion in dialogue

Tolerance in Islam

Shadi Nafisi
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 3 | a5145 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i3.5145 | © 2018 Shadi Nafisi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 June 2018 | Published: 22 November 2018

About the author(s)

Shadi Nafisi, Department of Hadith and Quranic Sciences, University of Tehran, Iran; and, Department of Science of Religion and Missiology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, South Africa


A difference in thought, behaviour and tastes is one of the realities of human life which is rooted in the nature of man’s creation; a fact, the acceptance of which requires the development of human society and the increase of its capacity in interaction with different views. This can be interpreted as ‘tolerance’. In order to show its importance, human history can be mentioned as good evidence for the widespread atrocities caused by the lack of tolerance. The study of the verses of the Holy Qur’an clarifies the viewpoint of Islam towards this subject matter. What is understood from the Islamic teachings is that Islam does not believe in absolute tolerance in every circumstance. As Islam emphasises tolerance in some conditions, in others it accepts war as a necessity. Meanwhile, Islam maintains the necessity of freedom of belief, that is, freedom of expression and dialogue, as necessary. However, it condemns compromising in belief as well as insufficiency and lack of observance concerning the religious regulations by the believers. Tolerance in Islam is not based on indifference towards religions and beliefs; the necessity of choosing between truth and falsehood and also considering prophets as merely the introducers of truth to the people are the two essential fundamentals of tolerance in belief considering the Islamic view. Besides tolerance in belief, it is necessary to refer to the ethical and behavioural tolerance which provides a cultural ground to materialisation of tolerance in belief; a virtue highly praised and encouraged in Islam.


tolerance in belief; tolerance in behavior; tolerance in Islam; indifference in belief


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