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Islam and Peace Are Inseparable - Times of India

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  • Zafar Khan
    Islam and Peace Are Inseparable http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_ID=13897982 [ FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2002 11:25:59 PM ] ANDALIB AKHTER Very
    Message 1 of 1 , May 25, 2002
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      Islam and Peace Are Inseparable


      [ FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2002 11:25:59 PM ]

      Very few among us have remained unaffected by the
      horror of the pogrom in Gujarat, which, it is feared,
      could further fracture inter-communal relations by
      triggering militant feelings in affected Hindu and
      Muslim youth.

      On Prophet Mohammed?s birth anniversary today, I?d
      like to reiterate that Islam advocates peace,
      fraternity and tranquillity, not just for Muslims but
      for entire humankind. The very word ?Islam? negates
      the concept of violence.

      Islam means surrender to the will of God on one hand,
      and the establishment of peace, on the other. The word
      for peace in Arabic is salaam.

      When one Muslim greets another, he invoke peace:
      ?salaam alaikum? (peace be with you). This greeting is
      equally applicable to persons of any faith. Surrender
      to the will of Allah compels followers of Islam to
      strive for the establishment of peace in society.
      Allah is merciful and compassionate: al-Rahman,
      al-Rahim. Obviously, violence and mercy/compassion
      cannot co-exist.

      Allah requires that you should not be motivated by
      hatred; this would only lead to injustice. It is said:
      ?O you who believe, be upright for Allah, /bearers of
      witness with justice; /and let not hatred of others
      /To you make you swerve?.

      This means that the real test comes when you have to
      do justice to the people who hate you or towards whom
      you have an aversion. Let alone violence, a Muslim is
      not permitted to use even coercion in preaching his
      faith. The Qur?an declares: ?Call to the way of thy
      Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue
      with them in the best and gracious manner? (16:125).
      Even a good argument loses its appeal if it is laced
      with anger.

      The Qur?an specifically prohibits Muslims from abusing
      those who believe in gods other than Allah. It says:
      ?And abuse not those whom they (non-believers) call
      upon besides Allah, lest, exceeding the limits, they
      abuse Allah through ignorance? (6:108). Muslims may
      not accept the way of worshipping or rituals of others
      but they must learn to co-exist in harmony with those
      who practise it.

      One practical example of tolerance was set by the
      Umar-ibn-al-Khattab, the second Caliph of Islam. On
      his deathbed, he dictated a will containing
      instructions for the next caliph: ??I instruct on
      behalf of the people who have been given protection in
      the name of Allah and his prophet (that is ?dhimmis?
      or the non- Muslims within the Islamic state). Our
      covenant to them must be fulfilled, we must fight to
      protect them, and they must not be burdened beyond
      their capabilities??.

      Interestingly, at that time Umar was lying in pain
      because of the wounds inflicted on him by a non-Muslim
      who had stabbed him with a poisoned dagger while he
      was praying. Umar was head of a vast empire; he could
      have taken revenge, but he did not want to do so.

      In the context of Gujarat, Muslims should not forget
      the contribution of many Hindu compatriots who have
      risked their own lives to protect them from violence.
      How can we forget Geetaben, who was brutally burnt and
      killed in Ahmedabad on March 25 while engaged in the
      act of saving her Muslim friends?

      Similarly, in Vadodra, a Mr Pillai saved the lives of
      500 Muslims, despite the grave risks. On the very day
      that Geetaben was killed, Sikhs of Shri Hargobindpur,
      an obscure village in Punjab, peacefully handed over
      ?Guru Ki Maseet? ? a historical mosque that was
      entrusted to them for safekeeping for 55 years ? back
      to the Muslim community.

      There are, still, many among us, regardless of which
      faith we belong to, who wouldn?t hesitate to make that
      extra effort ? sometimes even at great personal risk ?
      in order to maintain communal harmony. This is what
      I?d like to believe.

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