Saturday, April 30, 2016

Islam: Teachings for a Peaceful World

ISLAM: The Religion of Peace

Islam aims to build a peaceful society at all costs. It is because higher human objectives cannot be achieved in the absence of peaceful circumstances. The spiritual as well as moral progress of the individual is possible only in a peaceful atmosphere. Hence the atmosphere of peace is essential for the building of good society. Academic research too is possible only in peaceful circumstances. The task of the propagation of truth too can be performed only in a peaceful atmosphere. That is why one of the teachings of Islam is reconciliation. Allah says in the Holy Quran: “Reconciliation is the best.” (4: 129)

In this regard Islam enjoins us to establish peace even at the cost of unilateral sacrifice and patience. An event of the first phase of Islamic history provides us with an example of this unilateralism. It was in actual fact a no-war pact which was secured by accepting all the demands of the rival group. 

'Do No Harm to Anyone'

To bring about an atmosphere of peace within the society, Islam has given a number of commandments. For instance, the Holy Prophet of Islam observed: “A believer is one from whom people feel secure as regards their lives and property.” (Tirmidhi). 

Another Hadith has this to say: “By God, he is not a believer from whose nuisance his neighbour is not safe.” (Bukhari)

Islam aims at making all individuals peace-loving to the ultimate extent. That is why we are enjoined to greet one another by saying “Assalam-u-alaikum”, that is, peace be upon you. According to another saying of the prophet, the best Islam is to greet everyone you come across, whether or not you are acquainted with the person. The frequent reiteration of this phrase ‘peace be upon you’ is in actual fact an external manifestation of the desire for peace within. Islam wishes to inculcate this feeling within every individual that he should become a true lover of peace, to the point that this feeling starts welling up in his heart, finding expression wherever he meets a person.  

Islam is a peace-loving religion from beginning to end. And it is but natural that it should be so, as all the best results it aims to achieve, can be achieved only when an atmosphere of peace is maintained at both national and international level. This path of peace is followed by the entire universe. It is known in science as the law of nature, which is imposed upon it by God, whereas man has to adopt this path of peace of his own free will. This has been expressed in the Holy Quran in these words: “Are they seeking a religion other than God’s, when every soul in heaven and earth has submitted to Him, willingly or by compulsion? To Him they shall all return.” (3: 84)

When peace is the religion of the entire universe, it should therefore be the religion of man too, so that, in the words of Jesus Christ, the will of the Lord may be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6: 10)

In a similar vein, the Holy Quran tells us that: “The sun is not allowed to overtake the moon, nor does the night outpace the day. Each runs in its own orbit.” (36: 41).

When God created the heavens and the earth, He ordered things in such a way that each part might perform its function peacefully without clashing with any other part. For billions of years, therefore, the entire universe has been fulfilling in total harmony with His divine plan. Peace is no external commodity to be artificially imposed upon man. Peace is inherent in nature itself. 

The system of nature set up by God already rests on the basis of peace. If this system is not disrupted, it will continue to function in the initial way in which Almighty God has aimed for it. It is true that the condition to maintain the human system on the path of peace is to keep it free from the elements of corruption. That is why the Quran states: “And do not corrupt the land after it has been set in order.” (7: 86)

Preserving Peace at Different Levels

In order to preserve the peace, established by nature, from disruption, two important injunctions have been laid down by Islam. One at the individual’s level, stresses the exercise of patience, and the other at the social level, forbids taking the offensive.

(1) Negative reaction on the part of the individual is the greatest factor responsible for disrupting peace in daily life. It repeatedly happens that in social life one experiences bitterness on account of others. On such occasions, if one reacts negatively, the matter would escalate to the point of a head-on collision. That is why Islam repeatedly enjoins us to tread the path of patience. The Quran says: “Surely the patient will be paid their wages in full without measure.” (39: 11)

Spiritual Benefits of Peace

The reason for the rewards for patience being so great is that patience is the key to the door of God’s proximity and pleasure. The bitter the situations which requires patience and steadfastness and the will to trust in God and His will, the sweeter the rewards, both in this life and the life to come. God Almighty puts His servants to the test. Even though He is self-sufficient and requires the help of no one, yet to try His servants and test their sincerity and faith, He extracts from them promises to come forward and be His helpers in the righteous cause, in the right path. The Holy Quran mentions: 

“O you who believe, be helpers of Allah, as when Jesus, the son of Mary, said to the disciples, “Who are my helpers for Allah?” The disciples said, “We are helpers of Allah.” And a faction of the Children of Israel believed and a faction disbelieved. So We supported those who believed against their enemy, and they became dominant.” (61: 15).

Thus, the patient man upholds the system set up by Allah by becoming the helper of Allah, that is, by seeing to it that the laws and regulations as set down in the Book of Allah are observed and he lays down his life, spending the time allocated to him by God Almighty to spread peace on earth, that same peace which is inherent in him, and which he has come to gauge and discover. Peace thus enables him, not only to accede to God’s proximity but also to be close to humans like himself who hold the essence of God in them also.

Social Benefits of Peace

(2) The other injunction, designed to maintain peace in human society is to forbid the waging of an offensive war. No one in Islam enjoys the right to wage war against one another. There are no grounds on which this could be considered justifiable. God Almighty says in the Holy Quran: “Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed, Allah does not like transgressors.” (2: 191).

Like I have again and again repeated, there is only one kind of war permitted in Islam and that is the defensive war. If a nation by deviating from the principles of nature wages war against another nation, then, a defensive war, with certain conditions, may be waged by the country under attack. It does so to protect its own rights, riches and people for which it stands.

Islam is THE religion of PEACE. Its name itself embodies peace. The Arabic root of Islam is ‘silm’ which means peace. The Holy Quran states: “And Allah invites to the Home of Peace and guides whom He wills to a right path.” (10: 26).

It is thus God’s will that men and women should jointly establish a society of peace in this temporal world. From Adam to Muhammad, as well as to the guardians-reformers-prophets (peace be upon them all) of the Human and Muhammadan Community (after Muhammad (pbuh)) – one same community, peace is the epitome of success on which people thrive. Peace is basic to all religions. Thus, it is our duty as believers, and hopefully true ones – in the exactitude of the word and its meaning to then strive to establish peace in the world, for that is the bedrock on which all human progress rests. Make peace with yourselves, let peace pervades you and chase all negativity which may affect you and your relation with both God and humans like you. Thus shall you be able to reach your goal successfully, Insha-Allah, Ameen.

---Friday Sermon of 29 April 2016 ~(21 Rajab 1437 Hijri) delivered by Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.