Peace in Islam

It is true that jihad is one of the most important teachings of Islam. But jihad is not synonymous with war. In Islam another word is used for war and fighting. This word is ‘qital.’ When the Qur’an refers to war or fighting, it uses the word qital and not jihad.

Jihad literally means to strive or to struggle. So jihad actually means peaceful struggle, especially for da‘wah work. The Qur’an says:

Do great jihad with the help of the Qur’an. (25:52)

Islam is a religion of peace in the fullest sense of the word. The Qur’an calls its way ‘the paths of peace’ (5:16). It states that God abhors any disturbance of peace (2:205).

The root word of Islam is ‘silm’, which means peace. So the spirit of Islam is the spirit of peace. The first verse of the Qur’an breathes the spirit of peace. It reads:

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.

Non-violence should never be confused with inaction or passivity. Non-violence is action in the full sense of the word. Rather it is more forceful an action than that of violence. It is a fact that non-violent activism is more powerful and effective than violent activism.

Non-violent activism is not limited in its sphere. It is a course of action which may be followed in all matters.

Though the history of the non-violent movement is a very long one, historians concede that "the most massive and historically effective example of non-violent activism was that of the movement organized by Mahatma Gandhi" (13/850).

India can be justly proud that it was in this country, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, where for the first time in human history a non-violent movement culminated in such resounding success.

According to Voltaire, "Tolerance is a law of nature stamped on the heart of all men."

Peace is a product of a positive mental attitude, while violence is the result of negative thinking. Peace is the natural state of society: violence is an unnatural state. Peace is as much in accordance with nature’s plan as violence is against it. When peaceful conditions prevail in a society all activities take place in their proper form. But if the atmosphere of peace is disturbed, the normal functioning of society is disrupted. This law applies to man, as well as to the entire universe.

In the present world the root cause of most of our problems is traceable to our deviation from the peaceful model of nature—the best model for us to follow. All the dilemmas we are facing today arise because we have not followed nature’s lead.

Scholars have defined peace thus: “Peace is the absence of war.” This definition is absolutely correct. Peace in fact means the absence of a situation of war or violence.

One very important principle of the Prophet's policy was positive status quoism, that is, accepting the prevailing situation. However, the status quoism of the Prophet did not simply mean to accept the extant sets of circumstances for all time. It meant rather carving out a path for oneself by adopting a non-¬confrontational policy within the existing set-up. Far from leading to a state of inertia, this was a planned course of action.