In the name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
If one were to imagine a 'perfect world,' coexistence would be a paramount element. If people could eliminate any preconceived resentment that they held against a particular person/people in accordance to their race, religion, etc., the world would be a more pleasant place. Even though coexistence may seem like something imaginary, it is possible to attain a society where people legitimately live in peace. It goes without saying, that the three monotheistic religions all share the common principle of "doing to others what you want done to you."
In Islam, the aspect of coexistence is very significant as we see in the following verse of the Qur'an: "O mankind! We created you out of a single pair of male and female, and We made you into different nations and tribes so that you may get to know and love one another. Not that you may despise each other. Surely, the greatest of you in the eyes of God is the most righteous." [49:13] In an ancient conversation regarding Judaism, someone asked for the explanation of the religion [in the time it took them to stand on one leg]… the response given was: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow..." In a verse from the Bible it is said: “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…” [Luke 6:27]
The parallel that can be drawn is that all three religions regard the treating of others as imperative matters. Neither religion creates special exceptions how to treat people, but instead the address of being good to your neighbor is applicable to all of humanity. Although this commonality of kindness is apparent in each of the main religions, I want to focus more directly on two of them. Judaism and Islam. The reason I bring up Judaism is because unfortunately when Muslims think of Jews- hateful stereotypes penetrate into their minds' and pierce their hearts'.
Being a Palestinian Muslim, I identify with the frustration and hurt that is felt… Similarly, I understand that the same feelings are felt on the opposite side in regards to the Jews. However, unlike many Palestinians I am also somewhat exposed to the other side. One of my closest friends since childhood, who lived in the next neighborhood is Jewish. Right down the street from me lives a Jewish family; an Israeli family. They are, by far, and without doubt some of the best and most genuine people I know. One thing about America, is that because it is "a melting pot" it allows a person to be separated from their people without loosing their identity or beliefs. In America, people who would normally throw stones or missiles at each other, can come together in authentic harmony and share a life of friendship together [without the contamination of a conflict. etc.] In America, the beauty of coexistence can flourish.
I choose to coexist with my neighbors because Islamically, they have that right upon me, and out of the sincere kindness they've shown me and my family, I owe them that much. Whether the piece of land between Egypt, Jordan, and the Mediterranean is called Palestine or Israel, the inhabitants: Muslim, Christian, or Jewish can still find a way to live peacefully like they did for hundreds of years under the Ottoman Empire and in so many other places.
As continual as it sounds, the first step to a permanent coexistence has to come from within your heart. If you are fully capable of truly accepting and loving another human being for the sake of pleasing God, without holding a prejudice against them for any particular reason [ie. religion, political views, color of skin] then you can honestly declare that you coexist with others. If not, you should evaluate your heart because in an authentic saying of the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) it was said that: "God does not show mercy to those who aren't merciful to others." This is only a reminder to myself before anyone else. I ask God to make us amongst the righteous: those who easily forgive the people who wrong them, and those who are intent on loving one another for His sake only. Ameen.
Muslim Youth for Truth Contributer