Raudat e Hidayat Vol 01-2
“When someone distinguished from a community visits you, honour him.”
Often people speak of the need for faith-based values to be more universal. The reality is that inherently Islamic values are by definition universal values which appeal to all of humanity. This hadeeth is one such example. It is based on a fundamental recognition of our common humanity; that collectively we are cut from the same fold of cloth despite our differences. It forces us to accept that which is otherwise perverted by prejudice and intolerance. Hence, respecting others and acknowledging their worth as recognised in their own spheres ultimately is testimony to the universality of Islam and its message of peace and tolerance.
This hadeeth cements the bedrock of diplomacy and public relations, both of which are crucial in maintaining a freehold over the right to religion.
As Dawoodi Bohras, we have always been recognised as a neutral, peace-loving and tolerant community. Duat Mutlaqeen have always stressed upon Mumineen the importance of developing mutual respect and tolerance. But it is not just about diplomacy; the progress, development and evolution of any individual or community, is rooted in the shared experience and wisdom with people from all walks of life. Distinguished scholars, lawyers, doctors, scientists and others, are the most abundant educational resource available to us. We learn more from a single meeting or conversation than several years at university might offer. But that is only if we acknowledge and recognise them as such.
We are not necessarily agreeing to the ideas, values and beliefs of others when showing them respect and honouring them. We are recognising the basic human dignity which is a core constituent of the natural rights of all.
When the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams came to visit Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA a few years ago, Moula addressed him (in Lisan ul Dawat) as ‘aap’. It was a recognition of the ‘other’ for what he has accomplished, his staunch dedication to his cause, his passion in pursuing what he believes, his strength of character in his actions. Yet more than that, it was a reflection of the magnanimity of the addressor. His demeanour infused with respect, elicited an equal if not more profound response. It only served to elevate the former’s status in the eyes of the addressee. It spoke volumes of the essence of the Faith which Moula leads.
In turn, it becomes an imperative of faith that one must offer respect, dignity and honour to others. It is actually a mark of self-respect; your respect for yourself and for what you belief in, to the extent that it brims over in all that you say and do, is relayed to others.