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Book: Pluralism and its Various Spheres by Ayatollah Misbah Yazdi

Religious pluralism in practical terms means respecting the beliefs of other people and any religion which they believe in, and living together peacefully. A pluralist therefore, is one who believes that two or more types of thinking regardless of theoretical acceptance or dismissal of it – must live together peacefully and not cause social disturbance to others.

The belief in multiple straight paths, in the interpretation of pluralism, in that there are many different truths (ḥaqāʾiq) on one issue is by no means acceptable.

According to the interpretation of pluralism and the existence of a single truth and the inaccessibility of human beings to it, the assumption of multiple straight paths to God is also wholly false – however it can be accepted only in very limited areas, as the Muslim commentators have referred to it in their books that this is in the meaning of more than one “way” (subul) and not path (ṣirāṭ).

The word path (ṣirāṭ) means the principle highway and there is no more than one such path and this is proven by certainty. It is possible that in certain areas, there are sub-paths in which there may be deviations which do not harm the principle of religion, but accepting these sub-paths does not mean that there is more than one straight path (al-ṣirāṭ al-mustaqīm).

Therefore, in the Quran, God considers The Path (al-ṣirāṭ) as [being limited to] one, however He does mention multiple ways (al-subul) which can lead to Him.

This booklet was written by Ayatollah Muhammad Taqi al-Misbah al-Yazdi, translated by Saleem Bhimji and published by The World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities.

Pluralism and its Various Spheres

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