This is a result of deficient thinking. Political empire is a 'political headache'. The rulers of empires remain enmeshed in problems and as a result their thinking does not develop. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (biggest state of India), Mr. Akhilesh Yadav was asked what is it that he misses after becoming the Chief Minister. He said, 'Freedom". If freedom is lost upon being the Chief Minister, such a title is of no use. Therefore, you should not run after political empire and instead undertake opportunities for unobstructed intellectual development.
Contrary to common belief, gaining political power is not the main objective of Muslims. This is a misconception.

When the Quran says, "And religion is wholly for God" it portrays the most important aspect of the change of times. This change has reduced the status of political power to the point where it is no longer necessary for believers to wage a war for its acquisition, as it is no longer needed to secure the desired benefits. Non-political institutions serve this purpose equally well.

In modern time those nations who have understood this have achieved success even without having political power. Some have become established and excelled in the field of education, while others have set up empires in industry, communications or finance. The last in the list of these non-governmental empires is that of computers. This has given man the opportunity to keep his finger on the pulse of human activity not only at the national level, but also at the international level.

This mission was undertaken and brought to a successful conclusion at the internal level within Arabia during the life of the Prophet. Later, during the pious caliphate, the Sassanid and Byzantine empires were dismantled with special divine succour. Consequently, intellectual oppression at the international level was replaced by intellectual freedom.

In this connection those traditions are worth noting which are enshrined in Sahih al-Bukhari. When, after the fourth Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib, political conflict ensued between Abdullah ibn Zubayr and the Umayyads, Abdullah ibn Umar, one of the senior-most companions of the Prophet, held himself aloof from the battle. People approached him and, quoting the verse of qital-al-fitna, asked him why he was not joining in the battle. Abdullah ibn Umar replied that 'fitna' as mentioned in the Qur'an did not refer to political infighting, but rather to the religious coercive system, that had already been put an end to by them. (Fathul Bari, 8/60)

From this we learn that the war against fitna was a war of limited duration, temporary in nature, meant to be engaged in only until its specific purpose had been served.

Invoking the Qur'anic exhortation to do battle against fitna in order to validate acts of war, which had quite other aims, is highly improper. This verse could be cited only if the same state of affairs as existed at the time of its revelation, were to prevail once again.

The biographers of the Prophet Muhammad have put the number of ghazwah (battle) at more than 80. This gives the impression that the Prophet Muhammad pbuh in his 23-year prophetic career waged about four battles in a year. But this impression is entirely baseless. The truth is that the Prophet Muhammad in his entire prophetic life, engaged in war only on three occasions. All the other incidents described as ghazwat were in actual fact examples of avoidance of war and not instances of involvement in battle.

For instance, in the books of Seerah, the incident of Al-Ahzab is called a ghazwah (battle), whereas the truth is that on this occasion the armed tribes of Arabia, twelve thousand in number, reached the borders of Madinah with all intentions of waging war, but the Prophet and his companions dug a deep trench between them, thus successfully preventing a battle from taking place. The same is the case with all the other incidents called ghazwah. The opponents of the Prophet repeatedly tried to embroil him in war, but on all such occasions, he managed to resort to some such strategy as averted the war, thus defusing the situation.

There were only three instances of Muslims really entering the field of battle-Badr, Uhud and Hunayn. But on all these occasions, war had become inevitable, so that the Prophet was compelled to encounter the aggressors in self-defence. Furthermore, these battles lasted only for half a day, each beginning at noon and ending with the setting of the sun. Thus it would be proper to say that the Prophet in his entire life span had actively engaged in war for a total of a day and a half. That is to say, the Prophet had observed the principle of non-violence throughout his 23-year prophetic career, except for one and a half days.

The Islamic method, being based totally on the principle of non-violence, makes it unlawful for believers to initiate hostilities. Except in cases where self-defence has become inevitable, the Qur'an in no circumstance gives permission for violence.
All these are self-styled notions developed by the present day political thinkers who have interpreted Islam such that in universe God's reign shall exist and on earth Muslims shall reign.
Contrary to common belief in the world that Islam sanctions suicide bombings, in actual fact, Islam holds suicide bombings to be totally Unislamic.

Muslims are not permitted to commit suicidal bombings in order to destroy the enemy. Strapping explosives on to oneself and hurling oneself upon the civilian settlements of even those with whom one is at war, for the purpose of destroying the enemy, and in the process killing oneself deliberately, is totally un-Islamic. This can in no way be termed 'Shahadah' (martyrdom). According to Islam we can become martyrs, but we cannot court a martyr's death deliberately.

Religion based terrorism is perhaps the most dangerous phenomenon of Muslim history. Throughout Islamic history, that is, until very recently, action has always meant result-oriented action. But in modern times, for the first time, the Muslim mentality has become so distorted that, on occasion, fruitless action has also come to be considered desirable. Suicide bombing, which shows a preference for death over life, falls into this category. While in the early history of Islam this was an alien concept, in modern times, for Muslims, it has acquired the position of a superior course of action.

How has the act of suicide come to rate so highly as a solution to political problems? The reason is not traceable to some special devotional attachment to Islam, but is due rather to an inimical attitude towards man. As the suicide bomber ties the bombs on to his body, it is not pro-Islamic, but rather anti-humanity sentiments, which motivate him to adopt such a deadly course. This is a reality that no one in his senses can deny.

According to the Quran, a Muslim is one who is man's well-wisher. But the greatest weakness of the Muslims of today is that they do not in their hearts possess any feelings of well-wishing towards others. They hold all nations to be their foes. This animosity has so increased that they are ready to cross all moral limits when it comes to attacking their supposed enemies. If they think they can harm them by killing themselves, they are willing to take the extreme step of suicide bombing.

The truth is that suicide is totally forbidden (haram) in Islam. It is forbidden to the point where, if someone is dying, and it is certain that he will not survive, even in his final moments Islam does not allow him to take his own life.

An incident, which illustrates this, has been recorded in Sahih Muslim. It took place in the lifetime of the Prophet during the Battle of Khaybar, one of the defensive battles fought between the companions of the Prophet and their enemies. A soldier from the Muslim side, by the name of Quzmaanuz Zufra, fought very bravely and his death. The Muslims said that he was a martyr and would go to Paradise. But the Prophet said that he would go to hell. The companions were astonished.

So the Prophet asked them to find out the cause of his death. On inquiry, it was discovered that he had indeed fought very bravely for the Muslims and then had fallen down gravely wounded. But then, finding the pain of his injury unbearable, he ended his life with his own sword. (Fathul Bari, Commentary Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul Maghazi, 7/540)

The Prophet's disapproval of his action makes it clear that suicide bombing is not lawful in Islam under any circumstances. According to Islam, life is so precious that it can never be terminated at will on any pretext. Islam is a harbinger of life. It gives no license for premature death. That is why the virtue of patience is given the utmost importance in Islam. Patience (sabr) means tolerating the severest affliction rather than taking any such step as putting an end to one's life.

The problem with present Muslims cannot by solved by any kind of liberalization; it can only be solved by reviving the spirit of Islam. Present Muslims don't know anything about Islam except for certain spiritless rituals. To reform the Muslims of today we need to inculcate positive thinking in them, which is completely lacking. Positive thinking will lead to peace and spirituality in true sense of the word.

Source: The Seeker’s Guide

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This is a result of deficient thinking. Political empire is a 'political headache'. The rulers of empires remain enmeshed in problems and as a result their thinking does not develop. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (biggest state of India), Mr. Akhilesh Yadav was asked what is it that he misses after becoming the Chief Minister. He said, 'Freedom". If freedom is lost upon being the Chief Minister, such a title is of no use. Therefore, you should not run after political empire and instead undertake opportunities for unobstructed intellectual development.

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Objective thinking arouses universal approach. The more objectively a person thinks the more universal he becomes. Normally people think subjectively and are not able to think keeping the entire humanity in mind. They restrict themselves to their family, society and community. Each person therefore must introspect and get to know whether he has a self-centered or a universal approach. A man can get to know this himself and can also work on it himself.

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Contrary to common belief, Islam is not intolerant to other religions. It teaches its adherents to give mutual respect to, to be tolerant of and to have dialogue with people of other religions.

This can be clearly seen from the following example of the Prophet. When the Prophet reached Medina, it was also inhabited by some idolaters and Jews, who were in a minority. The Prophet decided that some form of law should be established so that there would be no misunderstanding or hostility of any sort, in the future between them and the Muslims. To solve this problem the Prophet of Islam issued a charter, commonly known as the Covenant of Medina. Since the Muslims were in the majority, the Prophet's position became that of a leader, or a head of state. In this capacity, he declared in this charter that all the inhabitants of Medina would enjoy equal rights. Everyone would be free to follow the religion and culture of his or her choice: the affairs of the adherents of each religion would be decided according to their belief.

Here I would like to quote an event in the life of the Prophet of Islam, which illustrates the true spirit of religious tolerance. One day a funeral procession was passing along a street in Medina. The Prophet, who was seated there at the time of its passing, stood up in respect to the deceased person. One of his companions said, 'O Prophet, it was a funeral procession of a Jew!' meaning that he should not demonstrate such respect for a non-Muslim. The Prophet replied: 'Alaisat nafsan': 'Was he not a human being?' This 'humanitarian' outlook was typical of the Prophet's vision of life. He was able to see everyone basically as a human being. In this case, he discovered a commonality between himself and that Jewish person. He felt that just as he was a human being, so also was the Jew a human being. Just as God had created him, so also had God created the Jew. People may have their differences in belief, religion, culture, etc., but a common bond has to be discovered between them, which shows them all to be human beings.

This shows that Islam teaches tolerance and mutual respect. Realizing that religious differences have always existed between people, Islam also teaches us to have open dialogue with people of other religions. That is why inter-religious dialogue has been found in one form or the other since the beginning of Islam. In fact, fourteen hundred years ago, Prophet Mohammad held, what can be said as the first inter-faith dialogue in Medina when a three-religion conference-in modern terminology, a trialogue-to exchange views on religious issues took place between the followers of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Such attempts have repeatedly been made in history. The circumstances that unfolded following the Second World War led the Christian Church, in particular, to pay great attention to this matter. Through its continuous efforts dialogues of this nature are regularly being held in various countries, between Muslims and Christians in particular. I too have had the occasion to participate in several of these dialogues. These efforts have borne fruit, at least partially. For instance, it is as a result of these efforts that on the one hand, a Church has appeared once again in Ben Ghazi (Libya) while on the other, a mosque has been built in Rome for the first time in recent history.

If the Qur'an is consulted with this point in view, we find two main principles on which to hold dialogues. One is derived from this verse of the Qur'an:

Say: O People of Book, let us come to a word common to us and you that we will worship none but God (3:64).

The first and foremost principle for any dialogue held to discuss two or more religions is to strive to find a mutual basis for peaceful co-existence.

It is a fact that finding a common ground in secular matters is comparatively easy, for nothing is held as sacred in secularism. On the contrary everything acquires a sacred character in religion. That is why it becomes the most difficult task to find a basis for agreement in religious matters. However, despite all difficulties, we must continue our efforts, peacefully, irrespective of the results.

The second principle given by the Qur'an is purely a matter of pragmatism. That is, matters should be settled on practical grounds by avoiding their theoretical aspects. This principle is derived from this verse of the Qur'an:

To you your religion and to me mine (109:6).

This principle is generally referred to, in today's context as religious co-existence. This means that whenever common grounds for agreement between two or more parties cannot be arrived at on an ideological basis, then the way of practical co-existence must be adopted.

The Community of Saint Egidio provides a good example of a continuing dialogue of this nature. This promotes interaction on a mass scale between adherents of different religions. In view of its vastness it may be rightly termed a super dialogue. The religious meet held under the auspices of the Community of Saint Egidio on a large scale each year makes a considerable contribution towards the achievement of the goal targeted by inter-religious dialogue.

Here I would like to add another point. We should not judge our efforts in this matter only by the results of meetings held in the name of formally arranged inter-religious dialogue. The truth is that "inter-religious dialogue" is not now limited to specific meetings held in the field of religion. It has rather assumed the form of a vast historical process-spontaneous, ongoing and perhaps never fully recorded. Negotiation in controversial matters is in tune with the spirit of the age. Today, it has permeated all walks of national as well as international life.

Modern industrial revolution and modern communication have added such vast dimensions to human relations that now the entire world has been converted into a global village. People of various persuasions are coming closer, on a universal scale. This interaction serves as an on-going dialogue of an informal nature. In this way with distances narrowed, the confrontational attitude now gives way to compromise.

Interaction in itself is an unproclaimed dialogue. When, as a result of circumstances, interaction between people of different persuasions increases, the purpose of the dialogue is served on its own.

Today, in educational institutions, offices, and factories, in travel, on playgrounds and in national and international activities, adherents of different religious traditions are meeting one another on a scale hitherto unwitnessed.

In the course of this continuous and vast interaction, for the first time in human history, people seem less like strangers to one another. A great gap has been bridged. People are learning one another's languages. They are becoming familiar with one another's culture. Making concessions to one another has become a need of the people themselves.

These factors have brought people closer right across the world. And it is a psychological truth that closeness and interaction in themselves serve the purpose of a practical dialogue.

Probably the most signal result of this historical process is that after a long intellectual struggle religious intolerance has been universally rejected. Religious intolerance has now been replaced with complete religious freedom. Today under auspices of the United Nations all the nations of the world have signed the universal declaration of human rights.

In accordance with this declaration religious freedom has been accepted as the natural birthright of all human beings. As opposed to practices in ancient times, no one now enjoys the right to persecute anyone on the basis of religion. This is the change, which has confined the sphere of religious difference to peaceful negotiation.

The effects of this can be seen in all walks of life, whether religious or secular. Every one of us, consciously or unconsciously, plays a part in making religious co-existence a reality.

Interfaith dialogue becoming a part of the historical process holds great promise for us, as in this case its success is assured. This is how every great revolution of history has got under way. Whenever a movement goes beyond the stage of individual or group efforts and joins the historical process itself, then the continuity of that movement is ensured and ultimately nothing can stop it reaching its destination.

In short, inter-religious dialogue had its beginnings in individual interaction, paving the way for discussions held in religious gatherings. Ultimately the time came when it became a part of a world movement. Now, if the course of events is any indication, God willing, that day too will dawn when the world is no more ridden with religious disputes, and we are able to live in a peaceful and harmonious world.

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Contrary to common belief, Islam does not teach its adherents to react against issues such as that of Rushdie and the cartoon issue. Islam teaches patience in the fullest sense of the word.

On the publication of the Satanic verses by Salman Rushdie, the Muslim reaction was to have him killed forthwith; he had committed an unpardonable offense against Islam and the Prophet. All over the world, Muslims demanded his head. They were not prepared to settle for anything less than that. In a similar incident, when the Denmark cartoon was published, the Muslims reacted in much the same manner.

In the modern age, all campaigns are spread like wildfire. Reactions such these give the impression that Muslims are vengeful and violent people. Consequently, in certain Western countries notice boards are put saying, "Beware of Muslims". This shows the extreme fear engendered by the Muslim fundamentalist threat worldwide.

In all fairness one can ask, 'Is this Islam?' Never! God has been represented in Islam as an All Merciful, and the Prophet has been proclaimed the Prophet of Mercy. It is ironical that in the name of such a magnanimous religion, a certain section of the fundamentalists could not appreciate such sentiments far less promote them. Islam can never incite people to committing murder in the name of religion, simply because someone had written a book or published a cartoon which ruffled their emotions.

In the days of the Prophet a large number of Rushdies, Taslima Nasreens and cartoon publishers existed, but none of them were beheaded or protested against for having insulted Islam and its prophet. On the contrary, in the times of the Prophet, the principle of countering words with words was followed. That is why those who spoke out against Islam no matter to what lengths they went were not penalised in any way. All that happened was that the Prophet appointed a poet called Hassan to give a befitting answer in verse to the offenders, poetry being the main mode of public expression and sentiments. This is the example we should follow for the resolution of all such problems in true Islamic spirit and earlier traditions.

The Prophet's name was Muhammad, meaning the praised one or the praiseworthy. But when the Meccans became his most dire opponents, they themselves coined a name for the Prophet, 'Muzammam,' on the pattern of 'Muhammad,' Muzammam meaning condemned. They used to heap abuses on him calling him by this epithet of Muzammam. But the Prophet was never enraged at this distorted version of his name. All he said in return was: "Aren't you surprised that God has turned away the abuses of the Quraysh from me. They abuse a person by the name of Muzammam. Whereas I am Muhammad (Ibn Hisham, 1/379).

This meant that abuses were being heaped on a person whose name was Muzammam. Since the Prophet's name was Muhammad, not Muzammam, their abuses did not apply to him. This shows that Islam does not teach one to be easily provoked, even in cases of extreme provocation.

On another occasion the Prophet of Islam was in the Masjid al-Nabwi in Madinah, the second most sacred mosque in Islam, when a Bedouin, that is, a desert Arab, entered the mosque and urinated inside it. It was obviously a very provocative matter. But the Prophet was not at all provoked. After the nomad had urinated, the Prophet simply asked his companions to bring a bucket of water and wash the place clean (Fathul Bari, 1/386).

A western commentator, William Patron, has observed: One of the fruits of Islam has been that stubborn durable patience which comes out of the submission to the absolute will of God.

This observation is indeed very apt. Islam attaches great importance to patience. Most of the verses of the Qur'an have a bearing, directly or indirectly, upon this virtue. In truth, patience is an attribute without which the very thought of Islam is unimaginable.

The present world is designed in such a way that here one has repeatedly to face unpleasant experiences, inside as well as outside the home. Now if people were to fall to wrangling on all such occasions, they would fail to advance along the path of human progress. That is why Islam has placed great emphasis on patience, so that by avoiding all unpleasantness, man may continue his onward journey towards the higher goal - God-realization.

The Qur'an repeatedly stresses the need for patience. In chapter 31, we are enjoined to remain patient in these words, "Endure with fortitude whatever befalls you." (17) In chapter 8, we are told to "have patience. God is with those that are patient." (46) Chapter 103 says, "Perdition shall be the lot of man except for those who believe and do good works and exhort one another to justice and to fortitude.

Similarly, the traditions have laid great emphasis on the importance of patience. The Prophet once said, 'Listen and obey and be patient.' On another occasion he observed: 'God has commanded man to be patient and forgiving.' A companion of the Prophet said: 'The Prophet and his companions always remained patient in the face of persecution at the hands of enemies.' It is true that patience provides the basic quality for Islamic activism. In this world no one can adhere to the path of Islamic virtue without remaining patient.

Patience is the exercise of restraint in trying situations. It is a virtue, which enables the individual to proceed towards worthy goals, undeflected by adverse circumstances or repeated provocations. If he allows himself to become upset by opposition, taunts or other kinds of unpleasantness, he will never reach his goals. He will simply become enmeshed in irrelevancies.

The only way to deal with the irksome side of daily living is to exercise patience. Patience will ensure that whenever one has some bitter experience, he will opt for the way of tolerance rather than that of reaction to provocation. It will enable one to absorb shocks and to continue, undeterred, on one's onward journey.

Patience, as well as being a practical solution to the problems faced in the outside world, is also a means of positive character building. One who fails to exercise patience, gives free rein to negative thoughts and feelings, develops a personality which is likewise negative while one who remains patient is so morally bolstered by his own positive thoughts and feelings that he develops a positive personality.

Sabr is no retreat. Sabr only amounts to taking the initiative along the path of wisdom and reason as opposed to the path of the emotions. Sabr gives one the strength to restrain one's emotions in delicate situations and rather to use one's brains to find a course of action along result-oriented lines.

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Islam does not have the concept of protesting - neither peaceful nor violent. In both situations, protest is unislamic. The proof of this is that Kaaba, the most sacred mosque, housed over three hundred idols when Prophet was in Mecca but he never protested.

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