I recently heard an interesting comment from a Muslim in Dubai. He had recently moved here and commented that he thought it was haram for there to be other religious places of worship here. In Dubai there is a significant Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Catholic population due to the majority of the population being migrant workers; so it seems only right, fair and diplomatic for them to be allowed to worship in their own temples and churches, in my opinion. What I found more shocking about his comment is that he is a born Muslim, from a majority Buddhist country which has had years of religious unrest, with a minority Christian, Hindu and Muslim population. How would he have felt growing up if he had been restricted in his worship? But what do others think and feel about this?
Dubai is clear on the guidelines – these places of worship for non-Muslims are legal and indeed I am aware the the Christian churches even conduct weddings, but there is to be no outward promotion or religious conflict. This is an Islamic country and all Islamic practices are observed. However, those who have been to Dubai may note that at Christmas time the Christmas trees and lights go up in all the malls, and during Diwali the sounds of fire crackers and celebrations on the street are more than apparent.
As Dubai has been created from the hands of migrant workers should they be allowed to practice as they please and what would happen if they were restricted in this regard?
Dubai has little to no conflict and prides itself on being a modern and progressive Emirate leading the way in the region for development, tourism and achievements; so its common sense from their leaders to allow a certain amount of freedom to their residents. But what about those who disagree? With Dubai’s close proximity to Saudi Arabia, there are many who consider Dubai and the UAE to be a solely Islamic country. In fact, the state is governed by Sharia law for criminal and family issues so given this, what does the Quran say about other religious groups worshiping in an Islamic country?
“If Allah so willed, He would have made you a single People, but His plan is to test each of you separately, in what He has given to each of you: so strive in all virtues as in you are in a race. The goal of all of you is to Allah. It is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute” (5:48)
I have lived here for 4 years and I am proud to say, despite many ups and downs that I have personally had, that I live in such a multi-cultural society where its people cohabit side by side. Yes, the majority are Muslim, but I have never heard any religious blasphemy from any denomination during my time here – how many so called “modern” and “first world” countries can lay claim to the same? In today’s climate where Islam is so radically judged by the majority of the West, shouldn’t we take Dubai as an example of religious progress? Lastly lets take a look at a verse from the Qur’an on respectful behavior with regard to religion:
“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error” (2:256)