Inter-religious Tolerance: Ameen Rihani’s Key to Religious Reform and Political Unity
Despite his bitter criticism of religion and the clergy, Ameen Fares Rihani (1876-1940) was not an atheist; although his understanding of God was unique and ‘unorthodox’. To him, God is not frightening, angry, or vindictive but rather good, compassionate, and merciful. God is one, and all religions lead to Him, so people of different religions and sects need not fight over the way they worship Him. To find God, the Ultimate Truth, Rihani urged people to shun the clergy, reflect on God, and contemplate His creations, particularly nature whose laws drive and regulate the universe. By reflecting on God, using the power of the mind, people can sift through the religious baggage, reject worn out dogmas, accept only what the mind deems logical, and exercise inter-religious tolerance. Only then would people evolve and progress. Thus, Rihani’s criticism of religion was a reaction to people’s divisive and illogical beliefs; and his call for religious tolerance, the ethical antidote with which he hoped to reform religion and bring about political unity.
Keywords: Ameen Rihani, inter-religious tolerance, Christianity, Islam
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