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Islam - the Religion of Peace and Non-Violence, and the Misconceptions About Its Teachings in the Modern World

The author is an English writer and a social activist with an interest in socio-political, socio-moral and socio-religious issues.

What makes Islam the religion of peace? Evidences from the Qur'an:

The concept of Islamic violence is so obviously unfounded that 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.If someone wants to understand the basic tenets of Islamic faith, two primary sources of Islamic knowledge - the Qur'an and Suunah of the Prophet (PBUH) - are the best guides.

Qur'an is the best book for those who want to understand what God really wants from humanity. God wants humans to be His obedient subjects. That is to say, He wants us to treat fellow humans with love and kindness. Few verses from the Qur'an may highlight the injunctions of God regarding peace and love.

  • The first verse of the Quran breathes the spirit of peace, it reads: "In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate." The verse is repeated in the Qur'an no less than 114 times.
  • According to Islam violence is the path of satan. "O You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace (Islam). Do not follow in the footsteps of satan. He is an outright enemy to you." (2:208)
  • It abhors the killing of innocent people. "Whosoever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or mischief into earth, it shall be as if he has killed the entire mankind, and whoso saves the life of one, it shall be as if he has saved the life of entire mankind." (5:32)
  • In Islam, to be pious and kind is the one important way of becoming God's beloved servant. "....Truly, the noblest of you with God is the most pious. Truly, God is All-Knowing, All-Aware." (49:13)
  • Qur'an clearly refutes the allegation of non-Muslims that it spread under the power of sword. "There is no compulsion in religion" (2:256); "Revile not those unto whom they call (pray) beside Allah..." (109:6)
  • Islam conspicuously forbids Muslims from invoking terror. "Fight for the cause of God, those who fight you, but do not transgress, for God does not love the transgressors." (2:190)

Fig. 1. A verse from the holiest Muslim scripture: The Qur'an

Fig. 1. A verse from the holiest Muslim scripture: The Qur'an

Islam is a mercy. If you see its opposite, cruelty, then know, this is not Islam.

— Ibn Qayim al Jawziyah

'Islam is a peaceful religion.' Evidences from the Sunnah and Ahadith:

The Divine law or Shar'iah was sent to the people through the Prophet of God, Muhammad (PBUH). His life is the true archetype of Islamic law. In other words, his life is the pragmatic quintessence of God's religion.

If we study - the way in which he led his life (sunnah) and the words he spoke (ahadith) - with an aim to comprehend whether Islam is a peaceful or a violent religion, nobody can agree with the later, except his prejudice forces him/her to accede with the falsehood.

  • Mithaq e Medina in 622 A.D was the first charter/constitution/treaty of the world drafted and promulgated by the Prophet Muhammad. It exhibited the social justice, and the moderation Islam held for the non-Muslim subjects of the society. He enunciated that every faith has its right to grow under Muslim control because there is no compulsion in religion. It was the duty of of the state to provide protection and security to Muslim as well as non-Muslims (the Jews and Christians were the majority among non-Muslims). It preceded the English feudal bill of rights of 1215 - Magna Carter -, by almost six centuries.
  • Peace Treaty of Hudaibiyyah in 628 A.D is another example of his tendency towards non-confrontation. He signed this apparently unfair treaty despite the objections of some notable Companions to avoid violence for the next ten years. When the pledge was broken by the Quraish, he besieged Makkah and conquered it without an inch of resistance. Contrary to the fears of the pagans of Makkah, he announced to pardon everyone.
  • His Farewell Sermon on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, 9 A.H. (632 A.D), can be acknowledged as the first charter of human rights. This declaration can be summarised in three points:
  1. Freedom to all
  2. Sanctity of life, wealth and property
  3. Equality of all races

His ahadith (verbal sayings) also depicts his pacifist nature of Din-e-Islam.

  • Do you know what is better than charity, fasting and prayer? It is keeping peace and good relation among people, as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind. (Muslim & Bukhari)
  • Be kind, for whenever kindness becomes part of something, it beautifies it...(Sahih Bukhari)
  • The most complete in faith are those best in character, those who are easy to socialize with, and those who get along with others, and others get along with them. There is no good in the one who can not get along with others and others can not get along with him. (al-Tirmidhi)
  • Allah is kind and He loves kindness in all affairs. (Bukhari)
  • Beware! who ever is cruel and harsh to a non-Muslim minority, curtailing their rights, overburdening them, or stealing from them, I will complain (to God) about that person on the Day of Judgment. (Abu Dawud)

His compassion for peace can not be described in such a small space - the list goes on.

He (Muhammad PBUH) must be called the savior of humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it much-needed peace and happiness.

— George Bernard Shaw in his book: The Genuine Islam

Why Islam is misinterpreted as a 'violent religion' in the west?

Relations between the Muslims, and the Christians and Jews - concentrated in the western Europe historically - have not been very good. According to the Jewish-turned-Muslim scholar M. Asad, the shadows of the Crusades, is one of deep-rooted and almost fanatical aversion, in the form of an emotional tint that is keeping the Occidental minds from acknowledging the real version of Islam. Crusades had instilled an inherent enmity between the Muslims and Christians. However, certain events and factors added fuel to the fire later in the 21st century that led to an utter feeling of hatred among the western countries for Islam.

  • Ever since the 9/11 attacks in New York, carried out by the Taliban backed al-Qaeda, the western world has looked down upon Islam as a violent and perilous religion.
  • The terrorist attacks by the Islamist militant groups in several parts of the world—the Mumbai Attacks in 2008 by Laskhar-e-Taiba, the Paris attacks in 2015 by the ISIL and many more—have further exacerbated the image of Islam and brought it at the crossroads of western criticism.
  • Huston Smith opines in his book Islam: A Concise Introduction, that three features of Islam worry people: violence, position of women and fundamentalism.
  • American scholar Samuel P. Huntington in his notorious research paper "Clash of Civilizations" published in the prestigious Foreign Affairs, portrayed Islamic civilization as an imminent threat to the western countries.
  • Throughout his tenure as the president of USA, Donald Trump, criticized Islam as being a tool of violence and extremism in the world as can be observed in his tweets.
  • Tony Blair in 2014, declared the radical Islam as a major threat to the western countries.
Fig. 2. The 9/11 attack on the twin towers of WTC

Fig. 2. The 9/11 attack on the twin towers of WTC

The myth of 'Radical Islam':

  • After the soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, US left the CIA-trained Mujahideen with deadly weapons. These fighters later turned into violent extremists. They were mainly responsible for the infiltration of the kalashnikov culture in the Pakistani territory.
  • These lawless and unrestrained fighters later turned into so called Jihadists. The anti-Islamic lobbies in the west exploited the predicament and spread the factitious concept of Islamophobia in the western countries.
  • But nothing alludes more appropriately to the real façade of Islam than the Quran and Sunnah. Is there any other form of Islam but Islam? The religion brought to humanity through Allah’s messenger Muhammad (PBUH) abhors every facet that today’s so-called Radical Islam holds. For a true Muslim, there’s only one Islam that is the Deen of Divine perfection.
  • True Islam teaches us tolerance and not revenge (Conquest of Makkah in 630); peace and not violence (Peace treaty of Hudabbiyyah in 628); defense and not first-strike (Battle of Badr in 624), and justice and equity and not oppression (the case of armor between Caliph Ali r.a. and a Jew).
  • Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan at the 74th annual UNGA session last year, overtly refuted the myth of radical Islam by accentuating that there is no such thing as radical Islam.
  • Neither Islamic teaching support any kind of non-state jihadist actors - ISIS and al-Qaeda and the like - nor the contemporary Islamic countries favors independent jihadist movements that are terrorizing the land of God.
  • What western world is not realizing - or does not want to realize - is the very fact that Islam itself does not preach fundamentalism or extremism of any kind. Islam being a universal religion has the required moderateness for every era.
  • They must come to an understanding that concepts like Islamophobia and radical Islam are the brainchild of anti-Islamic lobbies. Moreover, terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and ISIS have rather political motives than religious. Islam as the religion of peace, have nothing to do with such act of terror and trepidation.

After 9/11, society told me to hate Muhammad. By 2004, I opened my mind. Now it's 2015. I see Prophet Muhammad as a role model.

— Dr. Craig Considine

Fig. 3. Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan addresses the 74th annual UN General Assembly.

Fig. 3. Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan addresses the 74th annual UN General Assembly.

Concluding thoughts:

  • Succinctly, Islam teaches nothing more reiteratedly than the very message of peace and non-violence. Its teachings had kindled the light of human equality and social justice centuries before the UN charter was drafted.
  • What is required is the intent and scrupulousness of the contemporary Muslim leaders and scholars to come forward and present the genuine crux of Islam before the world.
  • One of the most important step needed to be taken is the implementation of Ijhtehad (independent reasoning) and reforms in ijmah (consensus). Islam, being a universal religion have the capacity to adjust in every epoch, every age. Ijtehad will prove to be crucial in protecting Islam's sanctity against the morbid factors - extremism , fundamentalism, sectarianism and so on - that foster malicious concepts like radical Islam.
  • And last but not least, Quran must be learned with exegesis from authentic sources. For instance, is one of the best in this regard. For, the violence in the name of Islam has been carried out by many factions among Muslims on the account of misinterpretations of some verses revealed mostly during the time of warfare.

Long live the peace!

The very word Islam means peace which is non-violence.

— Mahatma Gandhi

© 2020 Shahzaib Najmi