“I call you to God and to Islam. If you respond to the call, then you are Muslims: You obtain the benefits they enjoy and take up the responsibilities they bear. If you refuse, then you must pay the jizyah. If you refuse the jizyah, I will bring against you tribes of people who are more eager for death than you are for life. We will then fight you until God decides between us and you.” (Al Tabari, Volume XI)Khalid bin Al-Waheed (Muslim General, 632AD)
It is truthful to say that Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.
Tolerance: the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.
Tolerance is sometimes a first step towards elimination or assimilation. We can tolerate the influx of immigrants in the United States until (or only if) they assimilate. It’s the same with Islam.
Islam tolerates Christians and Jews (and whomever else) as long as they eventually assimilate. At the apex of Islamic Empire, this tolerance worked in their favor. They were THE World Power, especially in the Eastern Hemisphere, and those below them were of little consequence. Islamic law made it difficult to be an outsider or less difficult to revert (convert). Non-Muslims in Islamic lands were required to pay a special tax (jizya). No buildings were to be created or built that were for the purpose of worship or exercise of any other religion. Non-Muslims could ride on a horse in many (most) Muslim lands. Non-Muslims could not own Muslim slaves. Though Muslims could own Muslim slaves. Any non-Muslim in a Muslim country was characterized both culturally and legally as a dhimmi.
So, yes, Islam has a strong tradition of tolerance. At that point in Islamic history, tolerance worked in Islam’s favor. Let’s not confuse tolerance with true acceptance, though. Non-Muslims in the Islamic world were little better than second class citizens. In today’s parlance, the existence and lifestyle created by Islamic tolerance would be called Apartheid. Apparently, Mr. Obama believes that this is a thing to be tolerated when it exists in Islam.
In the modern age, most Islamic nations are small despotic, tyrannical States with no real power outside of their borders. Tolerance does not work. In order for Islam to survive, no other religion can be allowed to have influence over the people or the culture. Islam will not survive if people are allowed to make choices contrary to Islam.
Islamic civilization was definitely a tolerant society at one time. In some cases in some countries, it still is today. However, I hardly would call this Apartheid-like tolerance any better than Southern Jim Crow.
Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them, but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency. Fear God with regard to what you have been entrusted. (Al Tabari, Volume XII)Umar ibn al-Khattab during the conquest of al-Basrah (636 CE)