On International Day for Tolerance … Tolerance is a Triumph Over Self

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Dr. Omar Rahal

Director of Human Rights and Democracy Media Center “SHAMS”, Palestine

Annually, the world celebrates the International Day for Tolerance on November 16. This date is linked back with 1993 in which the UN General Assembly (by resolution 48/126) proclaimed 1995 as United Nations Year for Tolerance. This is based on the initiative of UNESCO in its 28th session held in Paris on November 16 of 1995, As outlined in the  Declaration of Principles on Tolerance which consists of a preamble and (6) articles.

On December 12th of 1996, the UN General Assembly (by resolution 51/95) invited UN Member States to observe the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November annually. Accordingly, Member States adopted the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance as an occasion to celebrate values of mutual tolerance and respect among countries and cultures. In addition to combat the sense of extremism, close-mindedness, hatred in addition to strengthen mutual aspects between human communities[2].

The culture of tolerance and acceptance of others is the basic ground for dialogue and identifying the other, and a genuine tool to reinforce democratic culture in the community. Moreover, the culture of tolerance is a way to extend the scope of dialogue between countries working to enhance the respect for human rights since our mutual willingness motivate us towards enhancing tolerance values and unifying efforts to build a prosperous future. While adherence to human values and dialogue principles based on consecutive human cultures imply working hard to motivate tolerance, support efforts paid in all levels and disseminate the sense of tolerance and coexistence by strengthening dialogue and acceptance of others[3].

In order to achieve more efficiency in disseminating the principles of tolerance, we should take the United Arab Emirates as a role model since it has founded the Ministry of Tolerance the first of its kind in the world. Definitely, the United Arab Emirates is considered a country which combines values of tolerance, peace and cultural diversity, while the laws have guaranteed respect and appreciation for everyone, and criminalized hatred, extremism and difference. Furthermore, the United Arab Emirates is a member and state party to international conventions and treaties which call for rejecting fanaticism, violence and discrimination; thus assuring that the Arabic Islamic culture overflows with tolerance, dialogue and accepting others. Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is our leader with respect to tolerance and our first teacher since when he and his companions entered Mecca to liberate it, polytheists were gathering next to Ka’ba waiting for the judgment of Prophet Mohammed. Then he asked them about what they think he will do? And they replied: “good, a generous brother from a generous family”. Then he forgave them and it represented a general pardon for the purpose of keeping spirits from murder or capture, while preserving the transferred money and lands by hands of the owners. Prophet Mohammed then announced his well-known Hadith “Go, so you are free”. Accordingly, the residents of Mecca got a general pardon despite all kinds of harm they did against Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and his Da’wa even the Islamic army was capable to destroy them however, they were forgiven which represents tolerance (to pardon while in a state of power). [4]

To achieve universal tolerance, it is imperative to establish forums in different areas and communities based on the initiatives of organizations and foundations with mutual interests such as universities, cultural and academic institutions[5], civil society and human rights organizations to enhance values of dialogue, tolerance and accepting others. Tolerance is considered as an essential tool that contributes to real human progress, and it is a form of rational coexistence hence, it is important to found common values, systems and natural combination. Furthermore, tolerance doesn’t signify accepting social injustice or moving away from beliefs or underestimating it but, being free, adhering to beliefs and acknowledging that humans are different and have the right to live peacefully away from besides respecting others’ opinions.

Tolerance is the only guarantee of humanity as long as diversity and pluralism accompany human existence and a natural matter. While the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance defines tolerance correctly, this isn’t represented in inattention or accepting anything without conservation but, the respect and acceptance for the differences in the world. “It is basically acknowledging others’ rights, and tolerance doesn’t point to superiority”. And giving attention that “concept” of tolerance is a part of the efforts paid to disseminate its culture so, the concept of tolerance as a virtue reflects that the heart of humanity springs with love, coexistence and peace. Enhancing human and educational values for human rights starts from disseminating tolerance values and considering it a dynamic part in these rights. No doubt, divine religions call for generalizing tolerance culture among people as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights calls for too. And that spirit of tolerance is based on the right to difference and the importance to promote and disseminate tolerance values in political, cultural and social fields[6].

Therefore, it is significant to work in education field to advocate for the spirit of tolerance in addition to reinforce the role of governments in adopting the meanings of the UN Declaration of Principles on Tolerance through educational systems. This implies significantly reviewing the curriculum being taught in schools that support the sense of extremism, close-mindedness and hatred. Accordingly, everyone should realize the fact that tolerance is a requisite for the existence and development of humanity. Currently, it is of high importance since the whole world is extending and facing diversity rapidly, while genuine impediments stand against the dominance of tolerance represented in the increasing socio-economic pressures[7].

Additionally, tolerance is indispensable between individuals, in the family and local communities.  Media outlets should assume a positive role in facilitation of dialogue and discussion freely and openly, besides the dissemination of tolerance values and spotting the spotlight the risks of inattention regarding the emergence of intolerable groups and ideologies. At present, it is important to enhance the culture of tolerance, coexistence and rejecting division, disputes and conflicts that humanity has suffered from so far. The time has come to generalize love and harmony among communities and nations, while all days should be loaded with tolerance and fruitful collaboration to build the lands, fulfill citizens’ services, upgrade humans, protect the rights and contribute to disseminating tolerance, dialogue, peace and security[8].

Absence of tolerance will result in killing the thought, abolition of human rights, rejecting dialogue and peaceful deliberation of authority. Also, not accepting others and lack of tolerance and forgiveness are negative aspects that communities suffer from while belligerency, elimination and destructive statements restrict promoting and disseminating the culture of accepting others.

Therefore, strengthening the principle of tolerance both emotionally and practically is the entrance towards releasing humans from all forms of subjection, oppression and dominance so tolerance requires more power than revenge.


  1. Omar Rahal: director of Human Rights and Democracy Media Center “SHAMS”, Palestine, an article entitled “tolerance is a triumph over self” submitted to Arabic Federation for Human Rights, November 2017.
  2. UNESCO official website: http://www.unesco.org/new/ar/unesco/about-us/.
  3. Mohammed Almizyen, role of Palestinian universities in promoting tolerance values between students according to their viewpoints, Master Thesis, Ala’zhar University, Palestine, 2009.
  4. Islamic history without misreporting – https://islamstory.com/-.
  5. , Yahia Mahmoud Najjar, Dr. Ataf Mahmoud Abu Ghali, the role of higher education in promoting tolerance values from the perspective of students and educating staff of Al-Aqsa University model, January /2017 , Al-Aqsa University magazine, series of humanitarian sciences, volume no. 21, 1st issue, page 425.
  6. For more details look, Dr. Ashraf Abdul-baqi, Heritage and social change (social tolerance between heritage and change), (Cairo: Arabic Studies Center- African, 2005).
  7. , Abdul-husein Shaban, values of tolerance in the modern Arabic Islamic thought, a lecture conducted on 17/12/2009 in Rotterdam, based on invitation submitted by Islamic University and Arabic Forum in Netherlands.
  8. For more details, look Dr., Ghantous Jeries, tolerance, brotherhood of religions and freedoms of peoples, (Amman: Jordan University, 2005).

8]  For more details, look Dr., Ghantous Jeries, tolerance, brotherhood of religions and freedoms of peoples, (Amman: Jordan University, 2005).

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