A Consensus for Coexistence

Employing a Strategy of Tolerance
  • Aaron Tyler


It is inevitable that a culture’s mores, ethical norms, religious ideas, and political interests will, at some point, collide with those of the Other. While societies cannot completely eliminate such conflicts, citizens of the world continue to probe processes of mutual understanding and active engagement to help mitigate misunderstanding, animosity, and violence. This project looked at tolerance as an instrument for coexistence through a cultural-comparative lens. As stated in chapter one, any attempt to compartmentalize human beings—on any level—is charged with theoretical and practical limitations. Chapter one addressed the potential hazards associated with a cultural-comparative model, especially its proneness to generalize and misinterpret traditions and its tendency to neglect cross-cultural commonalities. As Khaled Abou El Fadl and others have pointed out, the binary, compartmentalizing framework of cross-cultural analysis does retain a propensity to misinterpret and confound the complicated, multi-level relationship within and between Islamic and Western nations. Thus, this comparative study proceeded with caution, cognizant of these snares. In fact, it is hoped this work has helped to endorse the rich multiplicity inside both Western and Islamic civilizations, showing how cultural and religious identity has been grafted to diverging geographical and historical contexts, creating a collage of diverse traditions, languages, rituals, and ideologies within both civilizations.


Western Culture Free Speech Moral Worth Muslim World Western Tradition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 7.
    Khaled Abou El Fadl, “The Culture of Ugliness in Modern Islam and Reengaging Morality,” UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law 2, no. 1 (2002/2003): 38.Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    Michael Walzer states that “peaceful coexistence … is always a good thing … The sign of its goodness is that individuals and regimes are so strongly inclined to say that they value it: they can’t justify themselves, to themselves or to one another, without endorsing the value of peaceful coexistence.” From a moral perspective, he argues, the “burden of argument falls on those who would reject” the ethical impetus to peacefully coexist. Michael Walzer, On Toleration (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), 2.Google Scholar
  3. 10.
    Bernard Lewis, Islam and the West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 7–8.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    Antony Black, The History of Islamic Political Thought: From the Prophet to the Present (New York: Routledge, 2001), 239.Google Scholar
  5. 12.
    Bartolomé de Las Casas, The Only Way, trans. Francis Patrick Sullivan, S.J., ed. Helen Rand Parish (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1992), 96.Google Scholar
  6. 13.
    Lactantius, Divine Institutes, trans. Anthony Bowen and Peter Garnsey (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2003), 5.19.23.Google Scholar
  7. 15.
    Khaled Abou El Fadl, “The Place of Tolerance in Islam,” in The Place of Tolerance in Islam, ed. Joshua Cohen and Ian Lague (Boston: Beacon, 2002), 18.Google Scholar
  8. 16.
    A. A. Rizvi, The Religious and Intellectual History of Muslims in Akbar’s Reign with special reference to Abu’l Fadl (1556–1605) (New Delhi: M. Manoharlal, 1975), 364.Google Scholar
  9. 18.
    Quoted in Dwight M. Donaldson, Studies in Muslim Ethics (London: S.P.C.K., 1953), 79.Google Scholar
  10. 21.
    Cary J. Nederman, Worlds of Difference: European Discourses of Toleration c. 1100–c. 1500 (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000), 36.Google Scholar
  11. 22.
    J. Budziszewski, True Tolerance: Liberalism and the Necessity of Judgment (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2000), 9.Google Scholar
  12. 23.
    Quoted in Rajmohan Gandhi, Eight Lives: A Study of the Hindu-Muslim Encounter (New York: State University of New York Press, 1986), 78.Google Scholar
  13. 26.
    John Christian Laursen and Cary J. Nederman, eds., Beyond the Persecuting Society: Religious Toleration Before the Enlightenment (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 8.Google Scholar
  14. 29.
    See, for instance, see Michael Sandel, “Judgmental Toleration,” in Natural Law, Liberalism, and Morality: Contemporary Essays, ed. Robert George (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 107–12.Google Scholar
  15. 31.
    Fethullah Güllen, “Tolerance in the Life of the Individual and Society,” Speech recorded on January 13, 1996, available at (accessed August 25,2005).Google Scholar
  16. 32.
    Syed Abdul, Thoughts and Reflections of Iqbal (Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1965), 261, quoted in Ronald W. Neufeldt, “Islam and India: The Views of Muhammad Iqbal,” Muslim World (July–October 1981): 191.Google Scholar
  17. 35.
    Seyyed Hossein Nasr, “Metaphysical Roots of Tolerance and Intolerance: An Islamic Interpretation,” in Philosophy, Religion, and the Question of Intolerance, ed. Mehdi Amin Razavi and David Ambuel (Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1997), 49–55.Google Scholar
  18. 37.
    John Christian Laursen, “Orientation: Clarifying the Conceptual Issues,” in Religious Toleration: “The Variety of Rites” from Cyrus to Defoe, ed. John Christian Laursen (New York: St. Martin’s, 1999), 6.Google Scholar
  19. 40.
    A. J. Conyers, The Long Truce (Dallas: Spence Publishing, 2001), 8.Google Scholar
  20. 42.
    Martin E. Marty, When Faiths Collide (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005), 6. This project disagrees, in part, with Marty’s thesis that we must move beyond tolerance and “begin to effect change by risking hospitality toward the other.” This project agrees that hospitality, among a host of important virtues, must be cultivated towards the Other. However, my thesis contends that important virtues, such as charity, liberty, justice, and hospitality, are vital goals bestGoogle Scholar
  21. 43.
    Mohamed Talbi, “Possibilities and Conditions for a Better Understanding between Islam and the West,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 25, no. 2 (1988), 189.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Aaron Tyler 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aaron Tyler

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations