The Man Islam Builds

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

In the present book entitled The Man Islam Builds, the author Maulana Wahiduddin Khan explains that the man Islam aims to build is one in whom a two-fold activity is set in motion, one form of activity being internal and the other external. On the one hand, there is a strengthening of the moral fibre by which his personality assumes its permanent shape, and on the other, there is a broadening of his intellectual horizons.

Islam brings man the realisation that God Almighty is omnipresent and omniscient and for all his words and deeds, he is accountable before Him after death. Therefore, by his own inner compulsion, the believer becomes a man of character. For him it becomes impossible to be immoral or unjust or dishonest in his conduct to his fellow men.

The external factor which stimulates this kind of intellectual activity from the Islamic perspective is dawah work. The Quran states: “And thus We made you an intermediary nation …” (2:143’. As per the Quran, Muslims are intermediary between the Prophet and the nations of the world. It is their essential duty to receive the divine message of the Prophet and convey it to the rest of humanity. Dawah work is supreme intellectual effort which stretches to the utmost the mental capacity of the human being, leading to intellectual development.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan (1925-2021) was an Islamic scholar, spiritual guide, and Ambassador of Peace. He received international recognition for his seminal contributions toward world peace. The Maulana wrote a commentary on the Quran and authored over 200 books and recorded thousands of lectures sharing Islam’s spiritual wisdom, the Prophet’s peaceful approach, and presenting Islam in a contemporary style. He founded the Centre for Peace and Spirituality—CPS International in 2001 to share the spiritual message of Islam with the world.

The Man

Islam Builds







Maulana Wahiduddin Khan


The Man Islam Builds

The man Islam aims to build is one in whom a two-fold activity is set in motion at the same time, one form of activity being internal and the other external. The result of this twin activity is that the spiritual side of his nature develops in parallel with his intellectual advancement, both processes going on unhampered. On the one hand there is a strengthening of the moral fibre by which his personality assumes its permanent shape, and on the other, there is a broadening of his intellectual horizons.

Internal Development

How does the Islamic way of life set off inner activities in man? In this, the mainspring is the concept of accountability. Islam brings man to the realization that God Almighty is omnipresent and omniscient so that he has the feeling that for all his words and deeds—even intentions, he is accountable before Him. And after death he will have to face the divine court of justice, where the whole record of his life will be examined. And then, according to its verdict, he will be sent either to eternal hell or eternal Heaven. This feeling surging within him is so powerful that it shakes the entire human personality. A hadith thus admonishes the individual: Reckon yourself before being reckoned with. Weigh yourself before being weighed. And prepare yourself for the Great Appearance on Doomsday. (Al-Tirmidhi)

The consciousness of the presence of God activates all of the brain cells of the individual. A hunter once remarked: If you are walking through a jungle, and all of a sudden you notice a live tiger standing, in a nearby glade your blood stream will turn into a blood storm.

This is what happens when we stand in the presence of a tiger. At every moment Islam brings man to the realization not only of the Creator of the tiger, but also of the Creator of the entire universe. One can judge when the thought of the presence of a tiger turns man’s blood stream into a blood storm, how great a storm the thought of the presence of the Creator of the tiger, that is, God Almighty, will be produced within a believer.

Therefore, by his own inner compulsion, the believer becomes a man of character and a staunch believer. For him it becomes impossible to be immoral or unjust or dishonest in his conduct to his fellow men.

This concept of the presence of God is no negative matter. This is a wholly positive reality. This is because God is not simply a source of power. He is also a source of mercy. The storm brought about by the awareness of the presence of God awakens not only the feeling of fear, but a strong feeling of hope as well. Similarly, the feeling of the presence of God becomes a perpetual incentive for the positive development of the human personality. This, in Islamic terms, is called a spiritual revolution. In short, belief in Islam makes accountability to God man’s greatest permanent concern. The potential of spirituality latent within man is activated by his belief to the ultimate extent; this turns him into a spiritual superman. But the feeling of the presence of God Almighty also cuts man down to size. ‘And man cut to size’ is the ultimate phrase in the spiritual dictionary. Such a man succeeds to the utmost degree in finding all those things that he ought to experience at the spiritual level. He becomes a man of God through and through.

External Activities

The Islamic man is one who, in consonance with his spiritual development, experiences constant intellectual activity which results in the most intense brain storming. The intellectual awakening, or intellectual development of an Islamic man is so extensive that he becomes cerebrally activated to the highest possible extent. What is that external factor which stimulates this kind of intellectual activity in the Islamic man? It is da‘wah work.

According to the Qur’an, the Prophet of Islam is the final Prophet. Although no Prophet is going to come after him, the mission of the Prophet must continue. The Ummah of the Prophet, charged with carrying on this mission for posterity, is thus addressed in the Qur’an: And thus We made you an intermediary nation so that you might bear witness against the people and the Prophet might testify against you. (2:143)

A commentator of the Qur’an has interpreted this as follows: Muslims are intermediary between the Prophet and the nations of the world (Al-Tabari). In conformance with this, da‘wah work is obligatory for the Muslim Ummah. It is their essential duty to receive the divine message of the Prophet and convey it to the rest of humanity. It is not simply an act of annunciation. It is the most important struggle. Because of this the Qur’an says: Do with them the great jihad by the help of the Qur’an (25:52).

The Qur’an is a book, not a weapon. “Great jihad with the Qur’an” means a great religious endeavour; da’wah work is thus a great ideological struggle. It is a supreme intellectual effort which stretches to the utmost the mental capacity of the human being.

Intellectual Development

Da‘wah is a strictly non-political mission. But it is an extremely difficult task to perform, because it invites challenges from virtually all sections of society. The da‘i says: “Here is the truth with a capital T, and success in this world as well as in the world hereafter depends on the acceptance of this truth, so man has no choice but to accept it.” This kind of claim is highly provocative, eliciting reactions from every ideological group—religious, materialist, secular, atheist, etc.

The man with a mission throws down a challenge which provokes a response. A challenge-response-mechanism becomes operative which stimulates continuous interaction, involving questions and answers, discussions and dialogues. It is during this interaction that the process of intellectual development begins.

As a mission, da‘wah work by its very nature is divine. Because of this people with a mission are bound by their code of ethics to respond in a positive manner to their audiences regardless of the latter’s misconduct. At all costs, they must, as a matter of principle, avoid all friction. As the Qur’an says: “Certainly, we (the Prophets) would bear with patience your persecution of us.” (14:12)

This positive behaviour on the part of people engaged in the da‘wah mission prevents them from succumbing to hatred for and violence against the other party. That again ensures that their intellectual growth and development will go on uninterruptedly. No situation whatsoever will halt this process of peaceful da’wah and, subsequently, the inner progress of those involved in it will continue ceaselessly.

The Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, once said: “Beware of the wisdom of mu’min (a believer), because he sees with the light of God.” How is it that a mu'min becomes a man of wisdom, in such a superior sense? It is because his faith makes him pious and God-fearing. In his state of piety, he undergoes the inner experience which psychologists call brainstorming. This helps activate his potential to the full extent. The result is miraculous: if, before, he was a man, now after this brainstorming, he becomes a superman.

Then comes da‘wah, that is, the call to Islam. According to the Qur’an, da‘wah is the great jihad. Why is da‘wah the great jihad, or great struggle? Because it is a universal mission. It is a most serious task. It engages one’s entire capacities throughout one’s whole life. Every time one is faced with intellectual challenges, one is bound to give a strong response.

Thus, da‘wah becomes an extensive course of action through which one’s personality develops day by day, until one reaches the highest level of intellectual and spiritual development.

Iman (faith) and da‘wah are two basic levels of Islam. If iman is a superior ideology, da‘wah is a superior course of action. Iman purifies one’s mind and soul, while da‘wah imbues one’s personality with a sublime probity. One who adopts Islam as a universal mission, in both the ideological and practical sense, is morally activated to the maximum possible extent and this course, slowly but surely, leads him to reach the highest pinnacle of humanity.

Stating the relationship between man and true religion the Qur’an says:

So, you set your face towards the true faith uprightly, the upright nature with which God has endowed man, and let there be no alteration in God’s Creation. That is the right religion, although most men may not know it. (30:30)

This means that every human being is created by God to be capable—as a matter of his natural constitution—of accepting the religion of truth. The Unity of God is a truth, arrived at intuitively, and is plain to every man of common sense, unless he perverts himself by the different prejudices which he receives from his environment. Islam is thus the natural religion that a child left to itself would develop. A western writer, Lady Cobbold, has rightly described it:

Islam is the religion of common sense.

When this potential is realized, it results in the emergence of a new man. What kind of character is possessed by this new man is made clear by the following hadith:

Nine things the Lord has commanded me:

Fear of God in private and in public;

Justness, whether in anger or in calmness;

Moderation in both poverty and affluence;

Joining hands with those who break away from me;

and giving to those who deprive me;

and forgiving those who wrong me;

and making of my silence meditation;

and my words remembrance of God;

and taking a lesson from my observation.


This hadith gives a complete picture of the man Islam wants to build.


The Islamic Way of Life

The Islamic way of life, in a word, is a God-oriented life. The greatest concern of a Muslim is God Almighty. The focus of his whole life is Akhirah, that is, the ideal world of God. He always obeys divine injunctions in every aspect of life. His life becomes a practical expression of the Qur’anic verse:

Take on God’s own dye. And who has a better dye than God’s? And we are His worshippers. (2:138)

‘Taking on God’s dye,’ means being of a ‘godly character’ in all the personal, social and economic affairs of one’s life. The following pages of the chapter are devoted to portraying various aspects of this ‘godly’ character as personified in a Muslim individual whose words and deeds in family matters, or with respect to earning one’s livelihood and whose dealings with other members of society, always seem to be distinguishably ‘dyed in the divine hue.’

Iman (faith)

By accepting iman one enters the fold of Islam. But Iman is not simply a recitation of kalima (creed of Islam). According to the Qur’an, it is ma‘arifah (5:83) that is, realization. Thus realization of truth is the door to Islam. When one discovers that Islam is truly God’s religion and that it is the same truth one has been seeking all along, one undergoes a unique experience of realization which is known in Islamic terminology as ma‘arifah.’

Making any kind of discovery revolutionizes a person’s life but when this discovery is of the truth with a capital T, this intellectual revolution becomes synonymous with the emergence of a new life in the individual.

This kind of intellectual revolution is no simple event: it turns a man into a superman, and gives him the greatest mission of his life. It regulates his life in such a way that no part of it remains unaffected. He begins to see all of humanity as his family and the entire universe as his abode. Such a discoverer becomes a maker of history rather than a product of history.

This is the stuff of iman. And it was this iman which enabled the Prophet and his companions to produce, as one historian remarked, “the most miraculous of all miracles.”

Ibadah (worship)

Ibadah, or worship, is not simply the observation of a set of rituals. It is more a profound kind of religious experience. In fact, it is the physical and spiritual expression of the human personality on a higher plane of consciousness.

Addressing man, the Qur’an says, “Prostrate yourself in adoration and bring yourself closer
(to God)” (96:19). The Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, was once asked ‘What is the essence of ibadah? He replied: “The worship of God as though you are seeing Him. Or if you are not seeing Him, He is seeing you.”

There are two kinds of ibadah, or worship, in Islam, the first kind of ibadah have been prescribed at specified times—salat, sawm, zakat, hajj, (prayer, fasting, almsgiving, pilgrimage) These forms of devotion are called the pillars of Islam. Then there are unspecified forms of ibadah, which consists of dhikr and fikr (3:191), meaning to remember God with feelings of fear and love.

This second form of ibadah aims at mental activation of the human soul so that he may be enabled to see God’s signs in everything he comes across in his daily life. This is the ibadah or worship, which is obligatory for every Muslim throughout his life.

Akhlaq  (morality)

What is morality? It is to live among one’s fellow men according to the moral teachings of Islam. The essence of Islamic morality is thus set forth and given in a hadith: “Behave with others as you would like them to behave towards you” (al-Bukhari) By nature everyone knows what sort of conduct he approves of and of what sort he disapproves. So to follow this generally accepted moral criterion in relation to others is essentially Islamic morality.

Islam differentiates between social manners and social character. Social manners are based on the principle ‘Do as they do.’ But Islamic morality is based on the formula of unilateral and unconditional positive conduct. ‘Do good to others, even if they are not doing good to you.’

The Qur’an portrays Muslims as individuals who “repel evil with good.” (28:54)

Similarly, the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, advised a Muslim to “do good to those who harm you” (al-Tirmirdhi). The Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, was the true embodiment of the finest moral character. Addressing the Prophet, the Qur’an declares: “Surely you have a sublime character.” (68:4)

So great an importance has been attached in Islam to moral character that it has been set up as a criterion by which to judge all other Islamic virtues. If one is good in relation to other human beings, that will serve as evidence that one also is good in relation to God.

The Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, puts it thus:

“One who is not grateful to man cannot be grateful to God either.” (Al-Bayhaqi)

Social Relations

A. Individual Responsibility

To preserve society from instability and keep it in a perpetually reformed state, Islam has given a basic commandment, which has been mentioned at many places in the Qur’an. One such Qur’anic verse runs: “(Believers are those) who enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil” (9:112). The same point has also been repeatedly made in a number of traditions such as the following: “A believer ought to open the gate of good and close the door of evil.” (Musnad Ahmad)

This commandment has been misrepresented by certain self-styled advocates of Islamic revolution as being political in nature. But this is not so. It is entirely non-political. It only indicates that every member of society should have a strong sense of his responsibility towards society. No one should remain indifferent on seeing the perpetration of evil or injustice. He should feel the pain of others in his own heart. He should rise in support of the rights of the oppressed. When one sees someone engaged in the calumny and slander of others, he should attempt to stop him from doing so. He should make the iniquity known to other people, so that the culprit may be compelled by means of public pressure to desist from indulging in such evil acts.

Every member of society should consider the upholding of virtue to be an essential duty. The greatest concern of every individual should be to see that goodness flourishes in society and that evils are uprooted from it. Before any evil takes roots, it should be nipped in the bud.

This task of enjoining good and forbidding evil has to be performed with the utmost gentleness and well-wishing rather than with harshness and violence.

That is why this social responsibility has been linked with acts of worship in Islam. For instance, with reference to prayer, the Qur’an says: “Surely, prayer keeps (one) away from indecency and evil.” (29:45)

B. Family Life

A sane society, from the Islamic point of view, is but an extension of a sane family. Even human society at large is nothing other than a single family gradually extended throughout history. That is why Islam has greatly emphasized the significance of family life being disciplined and well-organised so that it may play its part in maintaining social stability.

A family begins when a male and a female decide as members of society to live together under one roof. However, Islam does not allow such a relation between a man and a woman, unless it is based on a legitimate marital contract which is basically meant to be a guarantee of a life-long partnership of rights and duties, and not merely a temporary entertainment. Hence, there is no room in Islam for what is known, as pre-marital or extra-marital affairs between the two sexes. And this is one of the reasons that we do not find in Islamic society, broken homes, illegitimate children, neglected or abandoned parents, etc.—phenomena that are prevalent in secular societies.

Through the institution of marriage Islam aims at building a society free from anarchy, instability, indecency, violence and crime, especially in relation to youngsters. Marriage, when conducted and maintained on the lines laid down in the Qur’an and Sunnah, provides an organised unit in the form of a ‘home.’ In that way, the succeeding generations are brought up and nurtured physically, morally and mentally in a healthy atmosphere and under the supervision of loving and concerned parents. This training at home helps the children enter society equipped with a deep sense of responsibility, respect for human values and other qualities, such as sincerity, which are essential for the better construction and development of any social system. A society composed of such homes or training units, will never suffer from the chaos and destructive instabilities from which modern societies are suffering nowadays.

Guidelines for a healthy, happy and meaningful marital life, along with the rights and duties of parents and other members of the family, occupy a considerable space in both the Qur’an and Hadith. A few references in this regard are given below:

1.       “Men should approach women with the sincere intention of entering into wedlock with them, not committing fornication.” (4:24)

2.       “And your Lord had commanded you to serve none but Him, and to show goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, show them no sign of impatience and do not rebuke them, but speak to them a generous word. Treat them gently and with compassion, and say: “O my Lord! Have mercy on them as they brought me up when I was little.’” (17:23-24)

3.       “No parents have ever given to their children any gift better than a good moral education.”
(Al-Adab al-Mufrad)

4.       “My Lord has enjoined me to do nine things,” the Prophet once said, and one of them, he stressed was “keeping on good terms even with those relatives who cut off ties of kinship.”

C. Legitimate Livelihood

So many social evils can be directly attributed to either some members of society having an insufficient means of livelihood or others having an excess of wealth. Islam urges that one earns one’s livelihood by all possible but lawful means, so that one’s essential needs are properly met on the one hand, and one does not remain dependent on others, on the other. According to the Qur’an and Hadith, the greed for more and more, niggardliness, holding money back to centralize it in one or a few hands, are the main roots of all criminal and destructive tendencies in human society. That is why virtues such as contentment, moderation, simplicity, altruism, spending on charity and sharing one’s happiness with others are so highly and repeatedly recommended in Islam.

Conversely, vices like extravagance, selfishness, monopolistic practices, exploitation, usury and all unfair means of money-making are strongly condemned and prohibited. How to deal with the problems of earning a livelihood in accordance with the Islamic way of life? The answer to this question may be summed up in the following points:

(a)      Avoidance of transgression: God Almighty has declared in the Qur’an: “Eat of the good things we have given for your sustenance, and do not transgress with respect to them.” (20:81)

(b)     Self-reliance: One should try one’s utmost to earn one’s daily bread by one’s own efforts, without being dependent on anybody else. The Prophet Muhammad ‘Upon Whom Be Peace’, is reported to have said repeatedly: “The best food one has ever had is that which one has earned with one’s own hands.” (Abu Dawud)

(c)      Avoidance of niggardliness and spending in charity: When one is fortunate enough to earn even more than it takes to meet one’s own needs, one should not try to be parsimonious with one’s earnings. Instead, one should rather extend a supporting hand to less fortunate or even destitute members of society. Otherwise, one’s wealth will become a curse for oneself rather than a blessing. Hence, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, used to say in his regular prayers: “O God, give a good compensation to one who spends in charity and cause destruction to one who holds his wealth back.” (Nasai)

(d)     Contentment: To attain inner peace and real happiness, one has to remain content with what one has been able to earn independently and lawfully. The Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, says in this respect: “Indeed, he has attained eternal success and prosperity who accepted Islam, and God has filled his heart with contentment towards whatever he was given.” He also said: “A little that suffices is much better than a surfeit that causes disturbance.”

(e)      Simplicity: Last, but not least, an important Islamic principle concerning one’s livelihood is simplicity. The Prophet’s own life style was a unique example of simplicity. In one of his sayings he has even considered it one of the signs of true faith (Ibn Majah). In another hadith, he warns his companions: “Stay away from the luxurious life. For the servants of God do not indulge in luxury.” (Musnad Ahmad)


Islam As It Is

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 describes reconciliation as the best policy (4:128), and states that God abhors any disturbance of the 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.

This verse is repeated in the Qur’an no less than 114 times. It shows the great importance Islam attaches to such values as Mercy and Compassion. One of God’s names, according to the Qur’an, is as-salam, which means peace. Moreover the Qur’an states that the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, was sent to the world as a mercy to mankind. (21:107)

A perusal of the Qur’an shows that most verses of the Qur’an (and also the Hadith) are based on peace and kindness, either directly or indirectly. The ideal society, according to the Qur’an is Dar as-Salam, that is, the house of peace (10:25).

The Qur’an presents the universe as a model which is characterised by harmony and peace (36:40). When God created heaven and earth, He so ordered things that each part might perform its function peacefully without clashing with any other part. The Qur’an tells us that “the sun is not allowed to overtake the moon, nor does the night outpace the day. Each in its own orbit runs.” (36:40)

For billions of years, therefore, the entire universe has been fulfilling its function in total harmony with His divine plan.

These are only but a few references to show what great importance Islam attaches to peace. In fact, Islam cannot afford not to be in a state of peace because all that Islam aims at—spiritual progress, intellectual development, character building, social reform, educational activities, and above all da’wah—can be achieved only in an atmosphere of peace and harmony.

According to Islam, peace is not simply an absence of war. Peace opens doors to all kinds of opportunities which are present in any given situation. It is only in a peaceful situation that planned activities are possible. It is for this reason that the Qur’an says ‘reconciliation is the best’ (4:128). Similarly the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, has observed: “God grants to gentleness (rifq) what he does not grant to violence (unf). (Sunan Abu Dawud 4/255)

Some people bracket justice with peace, but Islam does not subscribe to this notion. Islam believes in peace for the sake of peace. According to Islam, justice is not the direct result of peace. Peace only provides a framework within which we may work towards justice. There are so many examples in the life of the Prophet which prove that the Prophet never bracketed justice with peace.

He always took peaceful circumstances as an opportunity to work for justice and did not attempt to derive justice directly from peace. One such clear example is provided by the treaty of Hudaybiyya, between the Prophet and his opponents. From the details of the peace treaty it is clear that no clause regarding justice was included. Obviously the conditions of this treaty was quite against justice. But the Prophet accepted this treaty, not because it was giving them justice, but because it was paving the way to work for justice.

Because of the importance of peace, the Qur’an has clearly declared that no aggressive war is permitted in Islam. Muslims can engage themselves only in a defensive, not in an offensive war, irrespective of the circumstances (2:190).

According to Islam, peace is the rule and war is only an exception. Even in defensive war we have to see the result. If the result is doubtful, Muslims should avoid war, even in a defensive situation. Stray acts of aggression are not enough for Muslims to rush into war. They have to assess the whole situation and adopt a policy of avoidance when war is not certain to achieve a positive result.

There are several examples of this kind in the early period of Islam. In Islamic history, one such example is that of the battle of the trench. In this event there was clear-cut aggression on the part of the antagonists, who travelled as far as 300 miles from Makkah to Madinah only to attack the Muslims. But the Prophet dug a trench in order to prevent an armed confrontation and thus avoided engaging in a defensive war.

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)

The Qur’an is simply a book, and not a sword, “so do great jihad with the Qur’an” means ‘do great jihad with the ideological power of the Qur’an. In fact, jihad is only another name for peaceful activism. And peaceful activism is the only weapon by which Islam wants to achieve all its aims and objectives.

The Qur’an has this to say of the mission of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him: We have not sent you forth but as a mercy to mankind. (21:107)

In the Qur’an and the Hadith, there are many such references which go to prove that Islam is a religion of peace, love and human brotherhood. However, it is also a fact that in later times the image of Islam has altered drastically. Now Islam has come to be regarded as a religion of violence rather than as a religion of peace. This transformation in the image of Islam has not simply been produced by the media. The responsibility for this falls on latter-day Muslims, who have failed to maintain the original image of Islam.

In actual fact, the mission of all the prophets right from Adam to Christ was one and the same—of establishing the ideology of monotheism in the world, so that man might worship one God alone. As we know, there came a large number of prophets in ancient times, but the message of monotheism remained at the initial stage; it could not culminate in revolution. This state continued up till the time of Christ, the last but one Prophet. The reason being that in ancient times, the system of monarchy was entrenched throughout the world. The kings, in order to secure their political interests, adopted the course of religious persecution. These kings suppressed all religious movements, which were different from the state religion. They would nip all apostasy in the bud, since they saw religion as a matter of affirming one’s loyalty to the state. If a person adhered to a religion other than the state religion, he was regarded as a rebel.

That is why in ancient times prophetic movements could go no further ahead than the stage of da‘wah. No sooner would a movement based on monotheism arise than the coercive political system would be activated to pull it out by its roots. The reason for the absence of any historical record of prophets (besides the Prophet Muhammad ‘Upon Whom Be Peace’,) in antiquity is traceable to the intense opposition of these coercive political systems. All the Prophets of ancient times, historically speaking, were like mythical beings, rather than real human beings accepted as historical figures. The Prophet Jesus was the last link in the chain of these persecutions faced by the preachers of monotheism. Then God decreed the abolition of this coercive political system, even if it entailed the use of force in order that the age of religious persecution might be brought to an end forever, and replaced by the age of religious freedom. This divine plan was brought to completion through the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, and his companions. This is the command given in the Qur’an:

Fight them until there be no persecution and religion be wholly God’s. (8:39)

Therefore the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, received special divine succour in the form of a powerful team consisting of one hundred thousand individuals. Equipped with this team the Prophet waged war to end this coercive system of religious persecution, and it was in Arabia that it was first of all overthrown. Then within a very short span of time, they advanced to abolish the coercive system established by the Sassanid and Byzantine empires. In the wake of this Islamic action, the coercive system was abolished forever in the major part of the inhabited world of the time. This war waged by the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, and his companions was not a war as is commonly understood, but rather a divine operation, which was carried out by a people who possessed a high standard of moral character.

However, this operation was certainly only temporary in nature. Its goal was to put an end to the age of religious persecution and usher in the age of religious freedom. This end was fully achieved during the early period of Islam, the age of the pious Caliphs. Afterwards the time came to keep the sword in its sheath and engage in da‘wah work, that is, the call to God, which was the real and permanent goal of Islam. According to the explicit command of the Qur’an, the call to God is the true and eternal mission of Islam, whereas war is only temporary and allowed only in exceptional cases.

Here it would be pertinent to refer to a great companion of the Prophet. After the period of the pious Caliphate, a group of Muslims once again engaged in war. At that time some senior companions were present in Makkah and Madinah. But they did not join these wars, one prominent name being that of Abdullah ibn Umar ibn Khattab. He did not approve of these wars; therefore he remained away from them. Some of those involved in these wars came to him and said: God has commanded us in the Qur’an to fight against fitna (persecution). Then why do you not join with us in these wars? Abdullah ibn Umar replied that “the command of the Qur’an to fight against fitna is not what you hold to be fitna. Fitna meant religious persecution and we have already fought and put an end to this fitna (qad fa‘alna). Therefore now after the removal of this obstacle, we have to engage ourselves in peaceful da‘wah work, rather than initiating hostilities and creating new fitna once again, which is akin to creating new obstacles for peaceful Islamic da’wah (al-Bukhari, Sahih, Kitab at-Tafsir, under al-Baqarah and al-Anfal).

Umar ibn Abdullah had made an extremely pertinent point at the most appropriate time, but this point of view was not forcefully taken up by others. Afterwards when the Islamic sciences were developed, this important point made by Abdullah ibn Umar could not be highlighted, with the result that history took the course of wars and conquests, while in terms of the real teachings of Islam, history should have taken the course of da‘wah and the propagation of Islam.

It is no exaggeration to say that Islam and violence are contradictory to each other. The concept of Islamic violence is so obviously unfounded that, prima facie it stands rejected. The fact that violence is not sustainable in the present world is enough to convince one that violence as a principle is quite alien to the scheme of things in Islam. Islam claims to be an eternal religion and such a religion cannot afford a principle in its scheme which will not be sustainable in later periods of human history. An attempt to bracket violence with Islam amounts to casting doubts upon the very eternity of the Islamic religion.

No wonder, then, that the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, so earnestly used to entreat his Lord in his daily prayer: “O God, you are the original source of Peace; from You is all Peace, and to You returns all Peace. So, make us live with Peace; and let us enter paradise: the House of Peace. Blessed be You, our Lord, to whom belongs all Majesty and Honour!''