Islam and Peace Are Inseparable - Times of India
- 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
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
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
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
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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