Peace in Islam

After the Prophet of Islam received prophethood he worked to propagate the message of monotheism for the initial period of thirteen years in Makkah. Makkah was his hometown, but the Makkans turned his direst enemies. They inflicted all sorts of persecution upon him and ultimately they decided to kill him in order to remove him from their path. At this juncture the Prophet and his companions left Makkah for Madinah at the command of God. This amounted to being exiled, for, apparently, there was no hope of the Makkan people ever letting him enter Makkah again.

After the period of the pious Caliphate, corruption set in in the Muslim rulers. Still the religious scholars did not rise in revolt against the rulers, scrupulously avoiding any confrontation. They continued to expend their efforts in non-political fields. This was not simply a matter of chance but the adoption of a policy based on the clear injunctions of the shariah. As we know, books of Hadith record the traditions in detail under chapters like al-Fitan (Trial).

The Qur’an has this to say of the mission of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH:

“We have not sent you forth but as a mercy to mankind.” (21:107)

Certain verses of the Qur'an give the command to do battle (22:39). Here are a few points on this subject that we learn from our study of the Qur'an.

The first point is that to initiate aggression or armed confrontation is absolutely forbidden for Muslims. That is why the Qur'an clearly states: Fight in the cause of God those who fight against you, but do not transgress (2:190).

All great successes or victories in the first phase of Islam and in the succeeding period were achieved by the non-violent method. Here we refer to some of these victories.

What are the advantages of non-violent activism over violent activism? These are listed here in brief:

According to the Qur'an, each human being is endowed with two faculties: the ego, which is called nafs ammara (12:53) in the Qur'an and the conscience, which is called nafs lawwama (75:2).

When the Qur'an began to be revealed, the first word of the first verse was iqra, 'read.' (96:1) When we reflect on this verse, we find the starting point of Islamic action. It is to start from where there is no fear of violent reaction, from the point where it is possible to continue one's movement along peaceful lines.

With reference to the Muslims of the present day, the news most highlighted in the media relates to Muslim fundamentalism. Experience has shown that there is nothing more destructive than fanaticism—the driving force of Muslim fundamentalism. However, it is not generally appreciated that Islamic fundamentalism, launched in the name of Islam, has been dealing a death blow to the image of Islam as a religion of peace and mercy. For it is this Muslim fundamentalism which, today, has converted the image of Islam into one tarnished by violence.

The very word ‘Islam’ (from the Arabic silm) connotes peace. According to a tradition of the Prophet, ‘Peace is Islam’ (Al-Bukhari). This means that peace is one of the prerequisites of Islam. Similarly, a Hadith states: A Muslim is one from whose tongue and hands people are safe.