Islam-Social and Political Peace
Islam brings social and political peace because submission to Allah requires that a society totally rejects corruption, wrong-doing, deviant and harmful behaviors. Commitment to peace with God and His creation leads to unity, love, harmony, dialogue and respect for others. An ideal society is what human beings have been dreaming of since even before Plato's 'Republic' or Augustine's 'Eternal City of God'. With Muhammad (S), the ideal society was constituted of faithful followers called the Sahaaba or the companions, who submitted to the Message in obedience to God and His Prophet and Messenger (S).
The organization of that society started from basic requirements such as the brotherhood between all Muslims. Peace was declared verbally in every daily encounter of two individuals or more. Salutation (!السلام عليكم) – As-Salaamu Alaikum!- in its verbal form means "Peace be upon you!" Allah says in the Qur'an:
"Salute each other a greeting of blessing and purity as from Allah" (Q 24:61).
And He also says:
"When a courteous greeting is offered to you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or at least of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things." (Q 4:86).
The Prophet (S) was once asked:
"Which is the best Islam?" He (S) replied: "You feed the hungry and you say Salaam to those you know and those you don't know." (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim).
He (S) also said:
"You won't enter Paradise unless you believe, and you won't believe unless you love each other. Do you want me to show you something that if you do it you will love each other? Say Salaam to each other- Send messages of peace to each other-" (Related by Muslim).
Even Prophet Ibrahim (S) who declared himself a monotheist, a Muslim, used to say "Salaam". Allah says about Ibrahim:
"When they entered his place they said 'Peace' and he said 'Peace'" (Q 11:69).
Thus, expressing peace verbally is very important in Islam because it unifies people and makes them feel totally secure among themselves. This enactment of salutation in Islam on a daily basis and in every encounter of two people or more is indeed a renewal of commitment to peacefulness and a reminder of one another of the rights and duties implied by the statement: "As-Salaamu alaikum!" meaning " Peace be upon you!"
That is why peace is translated into physical actions, which cannot be achieved unless there is sincere submission and commitment – Islamic faith is the combination of belief and conviction in the heart, verbal declaration with the tongue, and action. A true Muslim, or submitter, is the one who promotes peace rather than enmity, violence, disrespect and hatred. The Prophet Muhammad (S) said:
"The Muslim is the one who avoids harming others with his hand and his tongue" (al-Bukhari and Muslim)5. In another narration6, the Prophet (S) added, "and the believer is the one that people are safe from him in regards of their lives and properties" (at-Tirmidhi, an-Nassa'i, and Ahmad).
This means that any verbal or physical action, which results in harm, offense, and violence, is contradictory to true submission, unless it is a matter of a necessary self-defense in reaction against an outside aggression, as it will be elucidated later.
Peace is the general principle even in war. Allah says in the Qur'an:
"But, if the enemy inclines towards peace, you have to incline towards peace and trust in Allah, for Allah is the One who hears and knows" (Q 8:61).
The Qur'an teaches while Muslims must always be ready to fight intellectually or even physically for a just cause if it is forced upon them, even in the midst of the fight they must always be ready for peace if there is any inclination towards peace by the other side. There is no merit merely in a fight by itself. It should be a goal not for itself, but to establish the reign of peace, justice, and righteousness.
The Prophet (S) always taught his disciples that peace and justice are the principles every Muslim should live by. He (S) stressed that principles should at all times take precedence over the personal interests whether dealing with Muslims or non-Muslims. During his life - before and after Islam was established - he constantly praised the "Confederacy of the Fudul." It was the decision of the leaders of the tribe of Quraysh in Makkah during the Pre-Islamic times to assemble in one house and to make a covenant binding themselves by a solemn agreement that if they found anyone, whether a Makkan or an outsider had been wronged, they would take his side against the aggressor and make sure that the stolen property was restored to him, or her. Prophet Muhammad (S) once said, "I witnessed in the house of Abdullah ibn Jud'aan a covenant, which I would not exchange for any number of fine camels: If I were invited to take part in it during Islam I should do so."
To spread the message of peace is the role and mission of every Muslim. Even when Muslims won wars and battles, they didn't execute and torture the captives, nor rape their women and molest their children, as happened after the establishment of Islam and that which continues to happen today during wars. Muslims were required to be peaceful towards prisoners of war and treat them in a humanitarian manner, granting them rights ordained in the Islamic law. History witnesses that Muslims under genuine Islamic leadership always treated their prisoners and captive kindlys resulting in the continued presence of other religious groups throughout Muslim lands. Thousands of years before the famous Geneva Convention act was established in 1949, Allah said in the Qur'an,
"O Prophet! Say to those who are captives in your hands: "If Allah finds any good in your hearts, He will give you something better than what has been taken from you, and He will forgive you, for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful" (Q 8:70).
Thus, the purpose of Muslims, or true submitters, is to invite people to God's Grace and Mercy not to exterminate them for the sake of revenge. Any creation of God is not exterminable in Islamic teachings. Muslims must honor all living creatures therefore human life too is sacred. Every human being deserves dignity, respect, and the right to live in God's world. No one deserves to be killed unjustly. All human beings are equal in terms of their rights and obligations that are related to their necessities of life. Indeed if we follow the righteous path of peace, then we will indeed live a peaceful life.
Friday, May 02, 2008
Islam - Social and Political Peace
Islam-Social and Political Peace