In this article I will try to answer the following questions:
a. What is Islamic fundamentalism?
b. What is Islamic modernism?
c. Who are the fundamentalists?.
d. Who are the modernists?
e. What are the common points and differences between these two schools of thought?
f. How did Islamic movements originate?
g. What were the incentives that gave birth to such movements in our age and what are the apprehensions and aspirations of the modernists and traditionalists.
This is an authentic and neutral topic not value-based and therefore needs not to be judged.
1. Islamic fundamentalism
A careful and comprehensive definition of fundamentalism and modernism in Islam might perhaps be impossible but according to the existing commentaries and suppositions we will try to give a description of each of these two schools of thought to clarify the difference between these two doctrines although such a definition might not be acceptable to all fundamentalists and modernists.
Apparently the above terms have been invented by the West. In such a definition one might say that in his dealing with the modern world (and particularly with the West) the fundamentalists are returning to their historical background and in such a reversal they base the sacred religious commandments and texts without considering new commentaries as the only platform for their ideological, religious and social movements and thoughts. In other words, on the one hand they aim to revert to the origin of Islam and the tradition of the `pious self' and on the other hand in their confrontation with the modern world they mainly rely on original religious texts and sources without consideration of modern commentaries by often relying on fundamental perspectives. Therefore a fundamentalist possesses two definite qualifications: (1) He is against revival and modernity, and (2) he is irreconcilable. Perhaps one can consider these two features as the two fixed and common characters of this contemporary religious concept i.e. to say the fundamentalists generally oppose any sort of modernism (whether originating from East or West) and resist any modernism or modernity (of whatever nature).
One Western researcher has given a series of explanations about Islamic fundamentalism which to some extent reveals the nature of that doctrine. He says those who consider themselves as fundamentalists reject any worldly inclinations and insist that Muslims must obey Islamic codes. These are called fundamentalists because they desire to build the fundamental pillars of Islamic ideology in a modern world.
They accept the `fundamentalism' denomination and believe that a Muslim fundamentalist is an irreconcilable Muslim. By such assertion they reject the blending of other opinions and commentaries within the orthodox tenets of the religion and consider the Quran, the Prophet's
commandments and Islamic Fiqh as their legal institution (this interpretation is very important and is one of the essential points of difference between fundamentalists and modernists).
All writers agree that a fundamentalist possesses the following qualities:
1. He is weary of his living environment (because he believes that his living environment is polluted and sinful, non-Islamic or at least anti-Islamic).
2. He is a dogmatist (he has narrow perceptions and is a bigot).
3. He feels humiliated and debased (against an environment and community which rejects him and he likewise detests).
4. He is aggressive (and fights with his living environment).
5. He seeks power (a willingness to accumulate power).
6. He is impatient (against his living environment, modernism, secularism and irreligious systems and opposes those who think contrary to his precepts).
7. He is highly suspicious against his environment and the government (because he considers the environment and government non-religious and laic created by those who are enemies of Islam and Muslims. Such a school of thought is reflected in Mirqotb's book titled Ma'alem fi Tariq).
8. He has conniving perspectives (because of the reason mentioned in item 7 above).
9. He is an idealist (by idealism he is probably inclined to subjective idealism).
10. He is stubborn, irreconcilable and inflexible.
11. He obeys the sagacious leader (of course it should be noted that these are only qualitative definitions and they have no scientific basis, and secondly a mention of these qualifications does not necessarily mean the acceptance and verification of these definitions.
Fundamentalism stands against modernism which favors revival and modernity and is therefore against any modernity and new thoughts in the religion. Since fundamentalists are politically ambitious and combatant against their opponents (domestic or foreign ideological or political enemies), they continually attack and reject conservatives and those who are reconciliatory, compromising and hesitating by attaching labels such as the negligent, passive, revisionists and they even combat and reject the intellectuals and liberals. Of course such interpretations are often made against Islamic modernists because their attitude towards non-Muslims is wholly different. These terms in Iran are made in the shape of abuse, allegation and sarcasm and they are normally leveled against those who at least reject fundamentalist and monopolist interpretations made by religious scholars and jurisprudents or the sagacious leader who entitle themselves to make other interpretations of the religion.
Anyhow with a consideration of the above facts the following features can be attributed to all fundamentalists and their followers:
1. They are against modernity
2. They are traditionalists and prefer to revert to the pure self (i.e.. the tradition at the advent of Islam. Because the early Muslims were closer to the Prophet and they better understood the principles and tenets of the religion). The fundamentalists rely on the sacred religious texts without a need to hear or obey modern commentaries or interpretations (which relies on the superficial meaning of the Quran, the tradition and the conduct of the Prophet's aides, and in the Shia sect the conduct of the Imams).
Fundamentalists generally rely on historical Islam and religious sciences developed during the course of history and descended to us as a tradition. According to these devout Muslims the present Islamic sciences are our religious heritage and are the only platform for understanding the Islamic religion and law. They, therefore maintain that there is no need to rebuild these sciences and if necessary it must be done by special religious personalities (such as religious scholars, expert clerics, or the commander of the faithful). Because the competent religious leaders are the only legible authorities who can discern between right and wrong in religious sciences. Ayatollah (Mahmoud) Taleqani used to say that some people thought that all that is old and ancient is Islamic. This statement was repeated often by Dr. Ali Shariati as well and such a denomination is applicable to fundamentalists. Anyhow the fundamentalists mentioned in this article are on equal footing with the traditionalists and traditionalist is perhaps a far better and eloquent denomination for fundamentalism.
3. Fundamentalists believe on full and arbitrary revival of religious canons descended to the present age by mujtahids and experts in the last fourteen centuries. According to them part of these codes are religious texts and commandments which are lawful and compulsory and some have become law upon the decree of jurisprudents.
4. Establishment of a lawful government for full and arbitrary implementation of Islamic canons. Since the Sharia is known and interpreted by the religious jurisprudents only, an Islamic government naturally becomes a lawful government which is based on jurisprudential codes and surely in such a government jurisprudents (faqihs) must rule.
5. Fundamentalists struggle against the West and the modern world in general in order to topple non-religious governments and systems and to establish a religious government. Many fundamentalists not only reject non-Islamic communities and governments but even consider
present Islamic communities and governments as apostates and heathens and they practically excommunicate with the present Muslims who accept and obey such governments. Having such radical views in mind, they consider themselves to be away from the realm of Islam and believe they must immigrate from the realm of sin elsewhere or should fight to eradicate that heathenish and sinful community.
Seyyed Qotb believed that the present Muslims are living in an area of ignorance. A continuation of such doctrines led to the birth of a group called the `excommunicators and immigrants' in Egypt. On the one hand this group excommunicated the Muslims in Egypt and on the other they believed that they had to immigrate elsewhere from that community. But since they were not able to physically immigrate, they sought seclusion and spiritual immigration and resignation from that sinful environment. In other words this cult built up team houses and exclusive communities and clubs for themselves with special aspirations and tenets in mind within the Egyptian community. According to excommunicators and immigrants an Islamic community is a community whose rules and regulations directly emanate from the Islamic law and all the law is prescribed by a religiously legible and committed leader (such as a caliph, etc.).
6. Believing in the theory of historical conspiracy and particularly at the present day world. Generally, the fundamentalists consider historical and social developments the result of calculated plots and intrigues hatched by sinful, polluted and wicked persons and particularly the enemies of Islam and Muslims and regard the present international hegemonic and colonist powers as the enemies of Islam and Muslims. This school of thought of course stems from a historical and philosophical view which has deep roots among the radicals who maintain that these plots and intrigues are one of the most important reasons (if not the only
reason) for the Muslims' past and present backwardness and misfortune.
7. Accumulation of power by obeying a sagacious leader (during the period of struggle) and during the formation of religious government.
8. Religious formalism. In religious formalism preservation of the exterior formalities of the religious codes becomes a final objective. In other words compliance with all jurisprudential and religious codes and canons and formalities of religion such as performances of religious commandments, establishment of religious government by jurisprudents and full implementation of lawful punishments, observation of the veil and avoiding sins becomes obligatory. Of course alongside preservation and practicing of these exterior formalities any social, scientific and economic development is considered a marginal issue and is executed to consolidate Islam's domination and might and has no other purpose.
The main difficulty faced by fundamentalists is to solve the weakness and impotence of Muslims against the West, imperialists and modern culture and civilization as a whole. They believe that by full revival of the pure Islamic law which was practiced at the beginning of Islam and by arbitrary compliance with these codes they can consolidate and fortify their power, secure their political independence, preserve and protect religion and morals and rescue the Islamic Umma from the perils that threaten them. According to that class of radical Muslims the weakness and degeneration of Muslims commenced from the time they abandoned religious rituals and ceased to arbitrarily follow these codes. They further maintain that by sincerely and arbitrarily following the religious edicts and doctrines, Muslims can solve the question of political power and by accumulating that power they can put an end to the domination of imperialistic powers. In fact the main slogan and message of the contemporary Islamic fundamentalists is that in itself Islam has no flaw and if there is any flaw in Muslims it is in the method of execution of the commandments.
The reason for the significance of imperialism and a feeling of weakness and impotence by Muslims was that when they opened their eyes to the modern times they saw a West with two different features: A superior civilization and an arrogant nature. The supremacy of the West was laid in their advanced science, culture, economy, industry and their onslaught through stronger political and military mechanisms. It was then that Muslims sensed the danger of annihilation of their historical, cultural and political identity and independence. Because they felt themselves weak and impotent against a more powerful and aggressive rival. In fact from historical point of view, such a danger was sensed from the moment that Napoleon entered Egypt in 1798 and converted that country and northern Africa into a French colony.
The trend of colonialism was followed by Britain which conquered the Indian subcontinent and after that several other Western countries attacked Islamic territories and domains. Such a feeling of danger gave birth to Islamic movements formed to counter Western colonialism and widespread political and military upheavals which happened throughout the Islamic world. Eventually with the weakness and decline of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924 such an upheaval gathered force and spread in a larger scale. In fact the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhvan-ul-Moslemin) movement in 1928 in Alexandria was established to respond to such a crisis and was aimed to solve the problem of weakness and impotence of Muslims. It was for this reason that at the beginning of the Islamic movement the main object of the movement was to accumulate political power. As a result, almost all the pioneers and leaders of these movements were after power build up. They believed that by consolidating their political power and establishing a potent Islamic government under a powerful caliph they could overcome their weakness. Of course they believed that by fully following the Islamic law under a religious government that objective could be attained. At that time banishment of the imperial usurpers was the final goal of the leaders of Islamic activists.
From historical point of view, Islamic movements began 150 years ago with the birth of fundamentalists and traditionalists but from the time of Seyyed Jamaloldin Assadabadi, religious modernism started to blossom on the branches of that strong religious tree although Islamic fundamentalism has the majority of the followers in the Islamic world and it is the dominant force among other factions. The movement led by Mahdi Sudani in Sudan in 1883, Amir Abdolqader Aljazayeri's uprising in Algeria, the uprising of Seyyed Ahmad Hendi (known as the martyred Seyyed Ahmad), the popular and all-out resurrection of Muslims in the Indian subcontinent in 1857, the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt and other parts of the Islamic world as well as the movements led by outstanding Iranian clerics such as Mirzaye Shirazi which has continued up to present and which specifically gave birth to the Fadaiyan Eslam (Islamic zealots) led by late Navab Safavi were examples of such movements.
Of course one must note that in these movements the pioneers and particularly political combatant clerics in Iran in the last century have had different perspectives and strategies and at times their position contradicted with each other. For example the late Ayatollah Motahhari basically differed with his fellow combatants and although attached to Islamic fundamentalism he had an eye on modernism (perhaps one can place Motahhari between fundamentalism and modernism spectrums). Also one might refer to Allameh Nayini's movement during the Constitutional era. Although Nayini had modern perspectives in mind in defending the constitutional monarchy, instinctively he was a fundamentalist and traditionalist because his theoretical perspectives do not differ much with other clerics.
2. Islamic Modernism
During the history Islamic modernism whose principles differ and conflict with Islamic fundamentalism, grew within the heart of the Islamic fundamentalism as that movement spread and led to political Islam. Therefore, despite its resemblance with its parent institution it has distinct differences with fundamentalism.
That fact is that we have two sorts of modernism: a general modernism and a specific modernism. General modernism means every new thought and development which is considered modern and new. Should we consider modernism in its general sense, the contemporary fundamentalism which is the politicized Islam must be considered a new development and school of thought. Because for many centuries Muslims were non-political and were in a passive state of lassitude, resignation and indifference. They were in fact blind to the contemporary development of the world and even considered political moves immoral and against the principles of religion, piety and ethics. For this reason in comparison with traditionalism and radical traditionalism, the traditional Islamic movement emerged.
Therefore against such an extremist traditional method of thought, political Islamic was considered a new institution and traditionalists believed that political Islam was sinful and baneful. This comparison shows that political Islam was in fact a step ahead of the traditionalists and at least raised a sense of responsibility, commitment and new identity among Muslims and eventually it awakened the passive and negligent Muslims from their lethargy to seek a solution for their problems. Moreover, some fundamentalist leaders were at such an advanced stage of intellectual power that they should be considered wholly distinct from the traditional religious leaders.
But what we are concerned with is specific modernism. Now we must see what is the meaning of specific modernism and its difference with Islamic traditionalism and political Islam. I think by saying that "It is time to make a revision in our Islamic system," Iqbal has to a large extent clarified the meaning of Islamic modernism. It is in that perspective that modernists separate themselves from traditionalists and in continuation of this distinct attitude two branches sprung up from the Islamic tree which as they grow and thickened they grew further separate and conflicting. According to that definition a modern Islamist is a person who attempts `to rebuild religious precepts' and thoughts in the present world or (at any other time) and he does not suffice to historical and traditional sciences descended to the present age (of course we are aware that `Reconstruction Religious Precepts' is the title of a book penned by Iqbal which has been erroneously translated into Persian as `Revival of Islamic Thoughts in Islam).'
At this juncture I do not have ample time to give a detailed description on the difference between political Islam and Islamic modernism, but will try to briefly shed light on that topic.
As I said until 150 years ago the Muslims were neither aware of the rapid developments in the world nor their own status. As a result, they did not feel they were responsible against these developments. But from the time that the West started its cultural, political and military onslaught they sought a remedy and began resisting the aggressors. This converted traditional Islam into political Islam and a fundamental Islamic movement was given birth on the basis of the pure tenets of the tradition. But these traditionalists were trying to overcome their weakness by completely reviving and implementing their religious law and regained their historical, political and military might as was the tradition of "pious ancestors" at the birth of Islam.
They thought by such a reversion they could overcome their weakness against an arrogant imperialism and in the end would attain both terrestrial and celestial dignity and honor. But in continuation of such struggles, while fully consenting to the general goal of that political movement, the modernists concluded that the battle between Islam and the West was far serious compared to the medieval Crusades to end with military engagements and even a military victory. The pioneers of the new movement understood that the problem could not be solved by repelling imperialism even if such an attempt proved successful because our backwardness has continued centuries before the penetration of modern Western imperialism.
On the other hand they understood that without employment of new sciences and technology they could not solve their problem of backwardness, and as we know all sciences and techniques originate from the West and knowledge is wholly owned or governed by these imperialists. Then as Iqbal says what must be done for these eastern tribes? To remain wholly passive to everything and say that all that happens for the best is impossible. Because our arch rival and universal conqueror will not let us stay in peace. Should we wholly submit to the West and as Hassan Taqizadeh says `cloth ourselves with Western dress from toe to the head?'
Firstly such a thing is impossible and we can never become a Westerner by imitation. Secondly, if we manage to become Western our historical identity will be wholly destroyed. Now should we continue our political and military struggle with our enemy and chant war, war with the foe until elimination of imperialism from the face of earth. This is likewise impossible. Because in the first place in confronting the West we cannot achieve political and military victory and most probably before we eliminate our rival in the world we will be wholly erased from the earth and even our geographical identity will disappear. Thirdly, if we take a chance to beat the enemy or manage to gain our independence by expelling them, then how can we solve our historical backwardness and degeneration of culture, morals and civilization. Should we adopt a portion of the inventions of the modern civilization and reject other parts? If such a selection is possible what criteria must be used and from which source? Should we take our criteria from our religion, from contemporary sciences or consider the exigency of the time or from all of these factors? Then who or what groups should make the section?
Such questions did not occur to traditionalists and are neither raised today. It were the modernists who seriously passed the stage of political/military and traditional struggles and earnestly decided to tackle the question and each modernist tried to find a proper answer to that question and try to solve the matter according to his ability and discernment. In fact all harbingers of Islamic movements were unanimous that (1) the West is dominating us; (2) we are weak and are at the verge of annihilation; (3) we most do something to solve the problem; and that (4) a reversion to genuine Islamic codes is a solution or can at least help the Muslims. But to reply to these questions scholars seriously differ and the gap between them is widening. In all the Islamic world and particularly in Iran we can witness deep differences of opinions and grouping of two rival camps. The truth is that as Iqbal Lahouri said the modernists consider a revision of the whole Islamic system as the most preferred strategy over other suggestions and developments.
Although the greater part of Seyyed Jamaloldin Assadabadi's efforts were directed towards the unification of Islam and propagation of a political and combatant Islam and struggle against imperialism, since he had to some extent distanced himself from traditional precepts of Islam and was employing considerable modernism in his tactics, he succeeded to pronounce the problems encountered by modernism movement.
In fact Seyyed Jamaloldin laid the foundation for modernism and the future modernists and revisionists were inspired by his teaching (Jamaloldin's book called Jamalieh Essays point to his modernist thought). During Seyyed Jamaloldin's era, Seyyed Ahmad Khan, another religious activist, started his religious modernism in India and took important steps in that direction. One of his important steps was establishment of the Aligar University. Sheikh Mohammad Abdeh, a student of Jamaloldin, abandoned traditionalism and fundamentalism and began intellectual and cultural revolution in that direction. But the most distinguished Islamic modernist in the contemporary times is Iqbal Lahouri. It was in fact Lahouri that raised the fundamentals of modernism and made a lot of fruitful efforts to answer the problems encountered and questions raised by that faction. In other words Lahouri might be called the father of religious modernism.
After Iqbal, the most prominent figure in religious modernism was Dr. Ali Shariati who defined the matter well and understood Iqbal well. During his short life, Shariati endeavored a lot according to his abilities and competence to leave a valuable heritage for continuation of this new school of thought. Meanwhile in Iran Mahdi Bazargan also had a remarkable role in religious modernism. Nowadays personalities such as Dr. Hassan Hanafi in Egypt, Dr. Jaberi in Morocco and many other figures in the East and West are marching towards that end.
In the following two tables a comparison is made between the opinions of traditionalists and modernists with regard to theology and understanding of the West. However it is necessary to note that only part of such opinions are reflected in these tables, the information is produced without commentary or analysis and is authentic and is based on written general opinions of intellectuals and political pioneers of these two schools of thought. In fact these two tables are the sum of their opinions and not opinions of individuals or factions within these two schools of thought:
A comparative index of the opinions of fundamentalists and
modernists on West and Islam:
The opinion of the fundamentalists (traditionalists) on West.
1. The West is a geographical/political phenomenon.
2. The West is an integrated domain and its sciences are corrupt or imperialistic and, therefore, cannot be adopted. However, some fundamentalists maintain that some Western opinions can be adopted.
3. If the West leaves us at peace, we will have no more problem.
4. Struggle with the West is our only and most important duty as
if imperialism was the main factor behind the Muslims'
degeneration and impotence (of course such an opinion is often
raised without segregating imperialism and sciences and
imperialism and modern way of life).
The opinion of modernists (revisionists) on West:
1. The West is a cultural phenomenon although fallen in the Western geographical sphere of the earth.
2. The West is not integrated (i.e. to say it is not made of a single metaphysical and non-historical element) and its sciences and techniques are not corrupt and can therefore be adopted (but cannot be imitated). Imperialism and sciences, etc. are not a single institution.
3. Our main problem is our historical and chronic backwardness and is therefore an internal shortcoming and even if imperialism is destroyed our backwardness will continue. We cannot resist the West by mere military or political power.
4. Resistance against Western imperialism and hegemony is a duty,
but imperialism is one of the causes of degeneration and
backwardness and not the only cause for backwardness. Our
backwardness is inherent and inbred and naturally we must find a
domestic solution for backwardness. The question of domestic
solution of problems was raised by Iqbal and purification of
domestic culture was proposed by Dr. Shariati and the slogan:
"return to one's origin" emanates from that philosophy. With
regard to sciences, it must be noted that we criticize modernism
but do not reject or oppose the achievements of Western
The opinion of fundamentalists (traditionalists) on Islam (religion):
1. Return to Islam means reverting to the traditions and codes established at the dawn of Islam without considering and including modern commentaries and if a commentary is to be considered it should be made by special and exclusive religious jurisprudents.
2. Fundamentalists consider religion, religious canons, values and methods as a single institution. In other words they consider the Religious codes and edicts aseternaland everlasting.
3. Fundamentalism favors religious formalism and maintains that it should give genuine and credible appearance to religious thoughts, method of life and individual and group behavior.
4. Fundamentalism believes that the degree of ijtihad (Islamic jurisprudence) is issued in the religious seminary on the basis of religious canons and legal justification (Quran, Tradition, reason and unanimous consensus) by mujtahids and faqihs (who are expert in Islamic law).
5. Fundamentalism mixes religion with politics and often does not observe a boundary between these two elements.
6. Fundamentalism gives credence to an individual sagacious leader in politics, in the society and for guiding opinions and accepts guardianship or intermediary in all cases.
7. Fundamentalism believes in a lawful government led by apolitical source or authority (such as the caliph, the commander of the faithful, a mujtahid or a faqih) based on his religious legibility and credence. Such a government is called religious government.
8. It believes in a series of principles called ideological principles (which accepts Islam and religion through the medium of the Prophet, the Imams, a lecturer, a mujtahid and a theological jurisprudent).
9. It maintains that individuals should serve the religion and the guardians of the religion.
10. Fundamentalism believes in a single source to understand religions (they rely on Quran and of course tradition which is often not considered a separate source).
11. Fundamentalism considers Islamic law and religious culture as a platform to counter other ideologies and schools of thought.
12. It maintains that only a person with fixed opinion has human
rights. In other words those who have no fixed (divine) religious
faiths have no legal rights.
13. It believes in the principle of arbitrary compliance with religious tenets (on the foundation of religious codes).
The opinion of modernists (revisionists) on Islam (religion):
1. Return to Islam means reverting to the general and historical values and principles of the religion along with a contemporary commentary on Islam ( i.e. rebuilding Islamic thoughts and a general revision of the Islamic system).
2. It differentiates between Islamic canons (Sharia), the religion, values and methods and considers the religion and the religious values as eternal but believes that religious codes and methods can be changed (i.e. to say only social codes can be changed and principles of religion and rites are not changeable).
3. It gives meaning to religion and rejects religious formalism. Of course form is important and must exist but there is a gross difference between form and formalism.
4. Modernism believes in ijtihad as the contemporary enlightened religious institution which is divided into three branches:
a. Ideological concepts of the religion according to individual discretion.
b. If a person is not qualified to understand and implement social commandments his worship and religious commandments and rites will be determined by a council of jurisprudents if no individual competent jurisprudent exists.
c. Social commandments must be determined by a council of lawmakers (this was recommended by Ayatollah Taleqani, Iqbal and Shariati).
5. Modernism believes in the intermixture of religion and politics with distinct border (by politics it means a sense of social responsibility and struggle for the independence of the masses).
6. It gives credence to collective leadership and pluralism in the ideological branch (political pluralism) and negates any sort of guardianship in the province of opinions and ideology (it calls on ideological pluralism). They believe ideology exists but it is not prescribed by a single person and that an ideologist is a teacher and not a monopoly guardian.
7. It believes in an Islamic government with emphasis on democracy or conventional government and in both cases a government is considered a terrestrial institution and not a heavenly institution. In other words the rulers must be chosen by people and they should act according to people's wishes and opinion and when necessary the government should be dismissed upon popular vote. In such a system the government is religious, but religion is not considered governmental.
8. They maintain that faith means to discover the absolute truth (God) from spiritual experience maintaining that a person is inspired directly without an intermediary. Of course there must be religious teachers, but they are only teachers and Quran and the Prophet propagate and communicate divine commandments.
9. Religion is in the service of human beings i.e. to say religion and religious inspiration are created for the awareness, freedom and cultivation (of the mentality) of human beings.
10. Religion has several sources for understanding (i.e. Quran, tradition, history and science).
11. It proposes Islam as a comprehensive school of thought and ideology to compete with other schools of thought. It believes in profiting from other schools of thought but gives preference to Islamic ideology and culture.
12. Modernists believe that a human being has every human right regardless of his ideology and opinion. In other words it maintains that a human being has human rights for being born such as Imam Ali (peace be upon him) tells Malik Ashtar: "Treat people kindly because they are either of your faith or your equal in birth." Of course they maintain that belief in Islam is a precondition for elevation of morals and promotion of (good) qualities.
13. They rely on the faculty of reason (with the exception of minor commandments which are compulsory).