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Peace and Security

"Peace" is the most common word on a Muslim's tongue.  Whenever two people meet, they exchange greetings, wishing each other peace: "as-salāmu `alaykum" (which means "peace be upon you").  This is the greeting of humanity and has been with us since the creation of mankind [1].  This greeting has been revived by the prophets in their era, as human beings had a tendency to forget and change with time [2]
 

Peace is relative, in that someone who appears to be in hardship may consider themselves to be at peace; whilst someone who seems to ‘have it all’ may not have peace.  There have been several examples of people of enormous wealth struggling to find peace and even taking their own lives in an attempt to escape.  Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) aptly stated, “Wealth is not measured in property, but in contentment." (Saheeh Al-Bukhāri, vol. 8, book 76, no. 453).

 

Furthermore, God tells us that this is the life of hardship: “We have certainly created man into hardship.” (Qur’ān, 90:4). There is hardship in being born, degrees of hardship in enduring life and seeking livelihood, and some hardship even in dying.  So, the earth is not a destination of complete peace, rather the hereafter is the abode of peace for those who seek it:

“For them will be the Home of Peace [i.e., Paradise] with their Lord.  And He will be their protecting friend because of what they used to do.” (Qur’ān, 6:127) 

“In Paradise, they will not hear any ill speech - only greetings of peace - and they will have their provision therein, morning and afternoon.” (Qur’ān, 19:62)

 

So, how do we find peace amidst all this hardship?  God tells us:

“There has come to you from Allāh a light and a clear Book [i.e., the Qur’an] by which Allāh guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace and brings them out from darknesses into the light, by His permission, and guides them to a straight path.”  (Qur’ān, 5:15-16)

“Verily, in the remembrance of Allāh do hearts find rest.”  (Qur’ān, 13:28)

 
Modern Misconceptions
 
One of the distinctive characteristics of the times we live in is widespread communication, which has heightened our awareness of the presence of violence in our societies.  Whether it is a bomb going off in a market place, or the hijacking of an aircraft where innocent people are held at ransom to achieve political ends, we live in an age where the manipulation and loss of innocent lives has become commonplace.  Such is the all-pervasive nature of indiscriminate violence, that “terrorism” is considered as one of the prime threats to peace and security in our societies.

The word terrorism came into wide usage only a few decades ago.  One of the unfortunate results of this new terminology is that it limits the definition of terrorism to that perpetrated by small groups or individuals.  Terrorism, in fact, spans the entire world and manifests itself in various forms.  Its perpetrators do not fit any stereotype.  Those who hold human lives cheap and have the power to expend human lives appear at different levels in our societies.  The frustrated employee who kills his colleagues in cold-blood or the oppressed citizen of an occupied land who vents his anger by blowing up a school bus are terrorists who provoke our anger and revulsion.  Ironically however, the politician who uses age-old ethnic animosities between peoples to consolidate his position, or the head of state who orders “carpet bombing” of entire cities, or the exalted councils that choke millions of civilians to death by wielding the insidious weapon of sanctions, are rarely punished for their crimes against humanity.

It is this narrow definition of terrorism that implicates only individuals and groups, that has caused Muslims to be associated with acts of destruction and terror, and as a result, to become victims of hate violence and terror themselves. Sometimes the religion of Islām is held responsible for the acts of a handful of Muslims, and sometimes even for the acts of non-Muslims!

Could it be possible that Islām, whose light ended the Dark Ages in Europe, now propounds the advent of an age of terror?  Could a faith that has over 1.2 billion followers the world over actually advocate the killing and maiming of innocent people?  Could Islām, whose name itself stands for “peace” and “submission to God”, encourage its adherents to work for death and destruction?  Sadly, most people have relied on popular images in the media for answers to these pertinent questions.  Rather, we should look at the sources of Islām and its history to determine whether Islām advocates violence or not.

Sancity Of Human Life

The Qur’ān says: “Take not life, which Allāh has made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus does He command you, that you may learn wisdom.”  (Qur’ān, 6:151)

Islām considers all life forms as sacred.  However, the sanctity of human life is accorded a special place.  The first and the foremost basic right of a human being is the right to live.  

“If any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”  (Qur’ān, 5:32)

Such is the value of a single human life that the Qur’ān equates the taking of even one human life unjustly with killing all of humanity.  Thus, the Qur’ān prohibits homicide in clear terms.  The taking of a criminal’s life by the state in order to administer justice is required to uphold the rule of law, and the peace and security of the society.  Only a proper and competent court can decide whether an individual has forfeited his right to life by disregarding the right to life and peace of other human beings.

History Of Tolerance

Even Western scholars have repudiated the myth of Muslims coercing others to convert.  The historian De Lacy O’Leary wrote:
“History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims, sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.” [3]

Muslims ruled Spain for roughly 800 years. During this time, and up until they were finally forced out, the non-Muslims there were alive and flourishing.  Additionally, Christian and Jewish minorities have survived in the Muslim lands of the Middle East for centuries.  Countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan all have significant Christian and/or Jewish populations.

This is not surprising to Muslims, as their faith prohibits them from forcing others to see their point of view:  
“Let there be no compulsion in religion: truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allāh has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allāh hears and knows all things.”  (Qur’ān, 2:256)

Justice

Peace cannot prevail except through justice.  Since the concept of justice may differ from one person to another, or from one society to another, Muslims believe that real justice is that which is specified by God.  


For Further Information


(Source: some paragraphs taken from WhyIslam.orgBeConvinced.com)


[1]  Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stated that the greeting "peace be upon you" was the greeting of the first human being, Ādām (peace be upon him), and his descendants.  This is recorded in Saheeh Al-Bukhārī, volume 8, book 74, no. 246.   
[2]  Although the Gospel taught by Jesus (peace be upon him) has not been preserved to this day, the greeting "peace be upon you" can still be found in the Bible, e.g., in Luke 24:36 & 10:5, also in John 20:19, 21 & 26.  Click HERE for details of the true message of Jesus Christ  
[3]  Islam At Crossroads, London, 1923, page 8.




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