A Religion of Peace?

Mohammad Atae Rabbi Hadi

God states in the Holy Quran: ‘And Allah calls to the abode of peace, and guides whom He pleases to the straight path.’ (10:26)

Although the title of this article may imply that a simple answer will suffice, this topic is so vast that it would be impossible to cover within a single article.

This is because the very essence of Islam is the establishment of peace.

There are more than 700 commandments in the Holy Scripture of Islam, each one shedding light on an aspect of peace and harmony. As one reads through them, one can’t help but be overawed by the comprehensive, profound yet concise manner in which Islam has presented the pathway to peace.

To truly appreciate Islam, it is important that one looks at it holistically and in its entirety. The Islamic teachings also known as the Sharia, lays a path towards creating a social climate that influences and fosters peace.

Climates and seasons cannot be fully understood by merely discerning certain changes in colour; rather, the whole atmosphere must be perceived. Just like the life-giving force of spring is not limited to the change in temperature but a transformation in the whole atmosphere, the social climate described by Islam must be studied in its totality. What’s more; at the heart of it all, lies a very simple yet profound principle that acts as the basis for establishing a successful climate.

Just as the seasons; in fact, just as our entire galaxy relies on the Sun, the bedrock of Islam is the belief in the Oneness and love of God, without which none of the teachings, no matter how profound, retain any value, just as a building cannot be erected on weak foundations, the structure of Islam must be understood with this concept in mind.

Islam teaches that the purpose of creation is to excel in consciousness, which is only truly attained through cognisance of the perfect attributes of God. Through the recognition of God, one excels in levels of consciousness that otherwise would be subject to one’s ego and selfish desires. In other words, morality, without an objective understanding of God’s perfect attributes, results in a subjective reality that will always be relative to one’s own opinions, biases, and prejudices.

Islam teaches that the true pursuit of happiness and true liberation lies in the recognition of God.

An atheistic society may choose to not worship One God but will most assuredly fall prey to a myriad of Gods, and will be enslaved; nonetheless, to the expectations of a materialistic society, because our very nature is to emulate and aspire for that which we admire. However; God says in the Holy Quran: ‘Everything in this earth is transient and finite and only the countenance of thy Lord shall remain.’ (55:27-28) In another place, He states: ‘Who is the Lord of the heavens and the earth?’ Say, it is ‘Allah.’ Say, ‘Have you then taken beside Him helpers who have no power for good or harm even for themselves?’ Say, ‘Can the blind and the seeing be equal? Or, can darkness be equal to light?’ (13:17).

Islam repeatedly emphasises that this life is like vegetation which after growth dries up and withers away. However, the hereafter is better and everlasting. Islam also teaches that the hereafter is only a continuation of one’s spiritual state in this world. The fire and punishment is a reflection of one’s attachment to materialism and all that manifests in his character due to it, whereas, heaven is a culmination of emulating Godly characteristics in this world and doing righteous deeds. Thereby, God states in the Holy Quran: ‘Follow the nature made by Allah — the nature in which He has created mankind.’ (30:31). That is to say that we all have it within us to attain inner peace so long as we are ready to be liberated from the shackles of this world and emancipated by reaching higher levels of consciousness through adopting Godly characteristics.

As Jalal-ud-Din Rumi, the famous Sufi Poet of Islam quite rightly put it:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” 

Or as Buddha once said:

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without!”

According to Islam, for a person who puts God first in all matters due to the fear of losing His love, heaven i.e. a peaceful life is manifested in this very world. This is not just manifested through the liberation from sin or mere satisfaction; rather, through the acceptance of prayer and witnessing a living God who still speaks today as he did in the past.

The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community states:

The purpose of religion is that man should obtain deliverance from his passions and should develop a personal love for God Almighty through certain faith in His existence and His perfect attributes. Such love of God is the paradise which will appear in diverse shapes in the hereafter. To be unaware of the True God, to keep away from Him, and not to have any love for Him, is the hell which will appear in diverse shapes in the hereafter.

How can such certainty be acquired? 

It cannot be acquired through mere stories. It cannot be acquired through mere arguments. The only way of acquiring certainty is to experience God repeatedly through conversation with Him or through witnessing His extraordinary signs, or by keeping company with someone who has that experience. God Almighty has appointed the acceptance of prayer as a sign of His existence.’”

Having explained the foundation of erecting the building blocks of peace which is the recognition and love of God. Islam provides guidance on every aspect of societal peace. From the basic family unit to society at large, governance, commerce, and even diplomacy and foreign policy. Citing the sacrifices parents make for their children, in particular the mother, the Quran commands us to always show mercy and kindness to parents, to love and obey them in all matters, to never even show slight displeasure before them during their old age. Parents are commanded to not do anything which may impede a child’s progress especially due to financial reasons. Special emphasis has been laid by the Holy Prophet of Islam on treating a daughter and son equally, and daughters being raised well as a key to heaven. Education is repeatedly emphasised in the Quran and by the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet of Islam said that education is compulsory for both boys and girls, equally.

A husband is commanded to provide for his wife and children, whilst the wife has full autonomy over her finances. Her status is elevated so much that due to her role as a mother the Holy Prophet said that paradise lies under her feet. Men are repeatedly commanded to consort with women with kindness and love. The Quran categorically states: ‘Women have rights similar to those that men have over them in equity’ meaning that men and women have fundamentally equal human rights. Similarly, the Quran states that men and women were created from the same source, not of one or the other. A husband and wife are reminded that they are to one another like a garment that protects one from the harshness of the world and guards one’s privacy and secrets.

The Holy Quran declares that God is the Lord of all creation without any discrimination whatsoever, His favours are not limited to any one religion or nation; similarly, it teaches that no religion can monopolise salvation. Salvation is based purely on one’s understanding and recognition of God and the hereafter and one’s pure intention to excel and progress to greater levels of consciousness in this regard.

Islam teaches that everyone is equal in the sight of God, there is no such thing as racial supremacy. As the Holy Prophet famously said: “You are brothers and sisters. You are all equal. No matter which nation or tribe you belong and no matter what your status is, you are equal. Just as the fingers of both hands are alike, nobody can claim to have any distinctive right or greatness over another… A white person is not superior to a black person, nor a black is superior to a white.The differences in race and colour are described in the Holy Quran as a means to promote education and understanding.

As Einstein once said:

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding”.

The Quran also teaches that for inter-religious peace it is incumbent that we respect the founders and prophets of all religions and consider their validity to be equal. Similarly, by declaring There is no compulsion in religion the Quran categorically states that no one has the right to impose their beliefs on another. Disbelief in God or blasphemy cannot be met with any corporal punishment and is solely reserved for God. Similarly, religion and state must be kept separate. This is further corroborated through the practice of the Holy Prophet himself in running the affairs of his state.

The Holy Quran also strongly encourages freedom of consciousness as a means for progress and repeatedly questions us to develop the aptitude to think for ourselves and speak what we believe. It also warns against the improper use of this freedom which results in the freedom of abuse by stating that people should not deride one another for it is possible that they may or may become better than they.

This leads to the elephant in the room, the so-called violent and intolerant verses.

A simple study of Islamic history and the Quran shows us that until the Holy Prophet was unanimously elected as the head of state by both Muslims and non-Muslims which included Jews; for thirteen long years he and his followers peacefully obeyed and were loyal to the government to which they were subjects despite facing severe state-sponsored persecution. It was only after he migrated to Madina and the persecution continued that he was specially given permission by God in Chapter 22 Verses 40 to 41 to defend his state and his people because they were being oppressed and driven out of their homes with no just cause. Only due to professing their beliefs in one God.

This permission to fight was granted purely for the sake of defending one’s right to freedom of expression and belief and from this verse, it is clear this was not just for the sake of Islam but for all world religions. Something which is further substantiated by the covenant of protection the Holy Prophet of Islam gave to St Catherine’s Monastery. Muslims were also categorically instructed to fight only against the aggressors and if they withdraw, war should be immediately stopped and they should not transgress. Economic sanctions should not be emplaced nor should they be humiliated or subjugated in any way.

Similarly, the Holy Prophet specifically instructed that during active war: no child, women, elderly or sick should be killed, no one should be burnt or mutilated, trees should not be cut, animals should not be slaughtered except for food, the clergy or those in places of worship should not be killed, towns and villages should not be destroyed neither should gardens or fields be spoilt, and most importantly, no one should wish for war but if it is imposed on them then one should show patience.

The Quran teaches that absolute justice must be shown at all times, so much so that it states: “O ye who believe! be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness” (5:9)

As Martin Luther King said:

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”

Similarly, in regard to matters of governance, the Quran categorically states that governance is a form of trust, thus people should be elected and given this trust not based on their manifesto or what they promise but on their character, ability to govern and do justice to their role, moreover, those who are in governance are reminded to strictly observe justice in all matters. They should not be swayed by capital gain.

In terms of the economy, wealth should not be made to accumulate within a small fraction of society through an interest-based system. Wealth should be distributed in a manner so that no one goes hungry, thirsty, without clothing or shelter – the fundamental basic human rights. Aid should be given to societies to rehabilitate them and make them self-sufficient, not enslave them through debt or reminding them of one’s favours upon them. A method which was adopted specifically during the imperialistic and colonial period, and something which has taken a new shape in this day and age.
The list goes on and on and on.
However, in light of the glimpse of Islamic teachings presented it is quite sufficient to say that Islam is most assuredly a religion of peace and love.

In the end, George Bernard Shaw who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925 stated:

“I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capability to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age… I have studied him – the wonderful man, and in my opinion, far from being an Anti-Christ he must be called the Saviour of Humanity. I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today. … 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 the much-needed peace and happiness.”



About the Author

Mohammad Atae Rabbi Hadi

Imam Hadi is currently serving as the Minister of Religion for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Queensland, Australia. He is an experienced English Translator with a demonstrated history of working in the broadcast media industry. Skilled in Nonprofit Organisations, Theology, Discipleship, Public Speaking, and Social Justice. He has a Shahid Degree, Master of Theology (ThM) focused in Theological and Ministerial Studies from Jamia Ahmadiyya U.K Seminary of Theology and Modern Languages.

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