By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age
30 August 2017
The root word of the term Islam is Silm,
which means peace. Islam, correctly understood, is a religion of peace. In
Islam, one name of God Almighty is As-Salam, which means Peace. So, God Himself
is peace and is the source of peace. In the Quran, Paradise is called Dar
us-Salam or the home of peace (10:25). In the Quran, the Prophet of Islam is
referred to as Rahmatun Lil-Alamin, meaning ‘a mercy to all mankind’
So, this is the real picture of Islam.
I think that peace is the Summum Bonum,
the greatest good, because peace has no limit. We all say that we want peace.
We never say that we want ‘limited peace’, because peace has no limit. Peace is
indispensable for every sort of progress. Without peace, you can’t do anything
properly, not even walk on a street with peace of mind. All positive activities
will come to a halt if there is no peace. Whether it be in religion or in
secular affairs, in every sphere of life peace is essential for progress. That
is why it is the Summum Bonum.
All the verses of the Quran have a
connotation of peace, either directly or indirectly. For instance, the Quran
says as-Sulh Khayr, “reconciliation is best” (4:128). It means peace is
best. From this teaching, some Sufis adopted the formula of Sulh-E Kul,
which means peace with all.
The very first verse in the Quran has a
connotation of peace. It says: Alhamdulillahi Rabbil Alameen, which
means “All praise is due to God, the Lord of the Universe.” (1:2) here,
praising God means giving thanks to Him and acknowledging Him. When you realize
that God has created you, that He has created every single thing in the
universe, you feel a certain thrill. You feel that God is so very great! You
are amazed thinking of the many blessings He has blessed you with, and so you
want to acknowledge this by praising Him. You express this acknowledgement by
saying Alhamdulillah (praise be to God!).
Now, you can truly be thankful to God for
His blessings in this way only when you are at peace, only when your mind is
filled with positivity. Unless your mind is free from agitation, from conflict,
from negativity, you cannot truly praise God in this way. If you are living in
hate and violence, you cannot say Alhamdulillah! Or maybe you could do it
only as a matter of lip-service, but not from the heart. To utter the phrase
Alhamdulillah! in a spirit of thrill, you have to forget about all negativity,
you have to be free of all hate and revenge.
‘Alhamdulillah’ requires positivity.
It requires a positive mind. It requires a positive personality. So, in such a
situation, terrorism has no place in Islam. Violence and hate have no place in
Islam. Islam requires positivity.
Once, a Companion of the Prophet asked him:
“O Prophet, give me a master advice by which I may be able to manage all the
affairs of my life.” And the Prophet replied: “Don’t be angry.”
‘Don’t be angry’ means don’t be angry even
when provoked. Anger is a reaction to provocation. Without provocation, there
is no anger. So, what the Prophet was teaching was that even if you are
provoked, you have to try to live without anger.
Since human beings are compelled to face
negativity and provocation every now and then, how can they live without anger?
For that, you have to learn the art of anger management. And the art of anger
management is the art of converting your anger into forgiveness. You have to be
able to respond positively even in negative situations. Then only can you can
live without anger.
Alhamdulillah is the gist of all the teachings of Islam, of all the forms of
worship in Islam. The greatest experience for us is that we are receiving great
blessings from God at every moment. God supplies us with sunlight, without
which we cannot see. God supplies us with oxygen day and night, without which
we would die. We need so many things just in order to survive, and God gives
all of these to us without us having to pay anything for them! So, when you
feel you are a blessed person, that every moment you are receiving great
blessings from God, then you say Alhamdulillah! This is the greatest
worship, the greatest act of Islam. You cannot say Alhamdulillah in the true
spirit if you are living in hate and negativity.
So, you can say that a true Momin or
believer is one who lives in positivity. A believer is a positive personality
in the complete sense of the term. All the Islamic requirements—Kalima
(reciting the Islamic creed), Salat (prayer), fasting, Zakat
(almsgiving) and Haj—can be properly performed only if you have a positive
mind. All these teachings of Islam require positivity.
A well-established principle of Islam is Ar-Rahilu
Lil-Imam. It means that to declare war is the prerogative of the state.
According to Islam, no agency other than the state is allowed to go to war. In
other words, the use of arms is the prerogative of the state. If this were not
so, society would be engulfed in anarchy.
Every society consists of two parts: the
state, and individuals. The state is authorized to use arms. It is responsible
for the administration, for ensuring justice and implementing laws. As far as
individuals or groups other than the government are concerned, they can act
using only peaceful means. If they find others doing wrong, they can try to
persuade them to change their ways. They can reach out to them in love. They
can pray to God for their guidance. They can offer them advice. They can engage
in dialogue with them. They can use logic and reason. But they cannot use arms,
which is the prerogative of the state alone.
The Prophet Muhammad started his mission in
Mecca in 610 CE. He was appointed by God as a prophet in this year. He
continued to live in Makkah for 13 years, during which period some people
accepted his message, but the majority of the Quraysh remained hostile.
They wanted to kill him. At this time, some of the Muslims wanted to engage in
fighting against the Quraysh, but the Prophet said: “I have not been given the
permission to fight.”
Now, what is the meaning of this sentence?
It’s not a simple sentence. It reflects a philosophy of war and of state. In
Makkah, Islam was not in a position of government or state. When the Prophet
was there, he was simply a prophet, a reformer and a preacher. So, at that time
he told his disciples that they had to keep patience.
Patience, or Sabr in Arabic, is not
cowardice. It is not passivity. Patience itself is a great action. It means to
engage in peaceful activism, in educational activism, in intellectual activism,
in spiritual activism and in prayer activism. It includes all these peaceful forms
of activism. Sabr means to think in a positive way. It means peaceful
planning, peaceful thinking and a peaceful response to a situation. All these
things are forms of patience. So, when the Prophet advised his Companions to
keep patience, it was no simple matter. It was actually a great advice. It
meant that although they couldn’t use arms, there were, at the same time, many
peaceful fields that were open to them. Even today these fields are wide open.
Even today you can engage in Dawah activism, in educational activism, in
intellectual activism, in spiritual activism and so on, using entirely peaceful
means. This was the meaning of that advice of the Prophet.
There is so much scope in these fields of
peaceful activism. And the Prophet availed of all these opportunities of
peaceful activity, and the result was miraculous. During the 13 years when he
was in Makkah, he was able to make a great team, of people who later went on to
become his most senior Companions and who have a great status in Islamic history,
such as Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan, Ali ibn Abi Talib,
Muadh ibn Jabal and many other Companions. All these people were born in Makkah
and accepted Islam when the Prophet was there. While in Makkah, without going
to war the Prophet was able to engage in Dawah work and attract all these
In the days after the treaty of
Hudaybiyyah, Khalid ibn al-Walid decided to go to Madinah and accept Islam at
the hands of the Prophet. At that time, he said something very meaningful. When
he wanted to embrace Islam, someone asked him why, and he said: “People have
entered Islam and now no man of taste is left in Makkah.”(Al-Bidayah
wal-Nihayah) That is, all those people who have wisdom, sincerity, or are
people of taste have embraced Islam.
So, the Prophet was able to extract all
those men of taste, those intelligent people of Makkah, without going to war or
using arms. This success was the miracle of sabr.
Sabr means peaceful planning, constructive
planning. Sabr is a very important concept in Islam. It is not something
passive. It is completely active. It means planning, but without using arms.
When the Prophet of Islam migrated from
Makkah to Madinah, the Quraysh of Makkah became furious. They wanted to kill
him. They attacked Madinah, and so there were some defensive battles. Later,
the Quraysh and the Prophet entered into an agreement, the Hudaybiyyah
Agreement. This was basically a peace treaty. It was also a phenomenon of Sabr,
because in this agreement, the other party, the Quraysh, demanded that the
Prophet and the Muslims accept all their conditions, otherwise there would be
no agreement. The Prophet accepted this. Why? Because by accepting all these
conditions he gained one important thing—peace.
Basically, the Hudaybiyyah Agreement was a
peace agreement. There was a provision in the treaty that laid down that there
would be no war between the two parties for ten years. For this provision the
Prophet unilaterally accepted all the conditions of the Quraysh—so that war
would end and there would be peace. So, peace was the greatest concern of the
Prophet. We find clear evidence of this in the Hudaybiyyah Agreement.
After the Hudaybiyyah Agreement was
finalized, God revealed a very historic verse in the Quran: “Truly, We have
granted you a clear victory.” (48:1) In this verse, God declared that the
Hudaybiyyah Agreement was a clear victory for the Muslims, while the Companions
had been initially reluctant to accept it. They thought how it could be a
victory, given that the Muslims had to accept all the conditions of the
Quraysh. They felt that it may be a victory for the Quraysh, but not for the Prophet.
But God revealed this historic verse at this time, saying “Truly, We have
granted you a clear victory.” (48:1)
Now, how was the Hudaybiyyah Agreement a
clear victory? It was a clear victory because it put an end to the ongoing
violence and ushered in a period of peace, and this peace was favourable to
engaging in Dawah, or conveying the message of Islam to people. Because of this
peace there was interaction between people, which enabled Muslims to share
their faith with others. It was in this sense a clear victory, and the result
was miraculous. At the time of the Hudaybiyyah Agreement, the Companions were
no more than 1400 in number. But within a short span of around two years they
became around 10,000. This was a clear victory! This was only possible because
of the atmosphere of peace afforded by the Hudaybiyyah Treaty.
is a transcript of a lecture delivered by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan on 2nd August
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