Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam
with Students of Fresno Pacific University, California
Islam is a religion of peace.
Violence and hate have nothing to do with Islam. The basic principle of Islam
is the oneness of God. This principle covers all the beliefs and practices of
Islam differentiates between
individual behaviour and the social system. It calls for individual idealism,
on the one hand, and social pragmatism, on the other. That is to say, idealism
at the level of the individual, and pragmatism at the level of society. This
concept is a totally peaceful one. There is no room for violence and war in it.
Now, it is true that some Muslims are indeed engaging in violence and war, but
this is a case of deviation from Islam teachings, not of following Islamic
teachings. Those Muslims who are engaged in militancy are not following the
principles of Islam.
Terrorism is completely
unlawful in Islam. According to Islam, no non-governmental group or private
individual is allowed to take up arms. That is the prerogative only of the
state. Further, according to Islam, only in case of aggression, of external
attack, can a state go to war, otherwise not. In Islam, there is the
possibility only of defensive war, not offensive war. Also, there is no room
for other kinds of war, such as guerrilla war and proxy war.
Some Muslims claim it is the
duty of Muslims to establish what they call ‘Islamic rule’ all over the world.
But this is completely wrong. Those who claim that it is the Muslims’ duty to
establish what they call ‘Islamic rule’ all over the world are completely
wrong. This kind of concept is totally alien in Islam. Islam only guides
Muslims to develop peaceful personalities. This is what is called tazkiyah or purification, or becoming a
spiritual personality. It is only such a person, someone whose personality is based
on spirituality, on peace, on tolerance, on the fear of God, who will be
allowed entry into Paradise. So, the goal of Islam is Paradise and not the
establishment of a political system.
From this it should be clear that
all the violence that one witnesses among Muslims today is sheer deviation from
These days, people get much of
their information from the mass media. But the media is an industry of
selective reporting. It always reports what is called ‘hot news’ or
‘sensational news’. To report what is actually in the Quran isn’t the media’s
concern. Much of the media would rather focus on the negative things that people
(including Muslims) are doing. That is why violence and war are widely reported
in the media. And so, people are unaware of what Islam really is. Those who try
to understand Islam through the media are unaware of the real picture of Islam.
The real picture of Islam is found in the Quran, and not in Muslim practices.
The present picture that many people
have of Islam is highly incorrect. They see or read reports that appear in the
media and form a picture of Islam accordingly. But the media generally reports
only sensational events. It doesn’t report the teachings of Islam as contained
in the Quran. So, if you really want to know what Islam is, you need to
directly study the Quran and the Hadith, which are authentic sources of Islam.
Don’t rely on media reports. Also, don’t form your opinion by seeing Muslim
practices. Muslims are a community who claim that they are followers of Islam.
But such a claim is not enough. You need to judge Muslims according to the
standards of the Quran.
Muslims are a community. They
have what they regard as their communal interests. So, the things Muslims are
doing are a reflection of their politics, of what they consider as their
communal issues. This isn’t Islam, though. One needs to distinguish between
Islam and Muslims. One must judge Muslims in the light of Islamic teachings,
and not vice versa.
The Quran is a modestly-sized
book. It is not very lengthy. It’s very easy to read it. If you study it, you
will find that all its verses are based on peace, either directly or
indirectly. Why? Because without peace in society you cannot adopt Islamic
ideology, you cannot develop your personality and you cannot run your
institutions. So, after the Oneness of God the most important teaching in Islam
is peace. Islam tries to establish peace at any cost.
In the early period of Islam,
at the time of the Prophet, there was some violence, but this was due to the
then prevailing tribal culture—that is to say, to the particular conditions of
that age. The Prophet always managed the situations of war initiated by his
opponents by either avoiding getting embroiled in fighting or by reducing
confrontation to a mere skirmish. You cannot find a case of a single
full-fledged war in the Prophet’s time. There were some so-called wars, but
these were actually skirmishes. You can’t really call them ‘wars’ in the true
sense of the term. Why? This is because Islam believes in management of
confrontation rather than going to war. If there is some problem from the other
side, first of all you should try to manage the problem through negotiations,
through various peaceful methods.
Islam teaches us to try to
manage problems peacefully, rather than through violence. Peace should be had
at any cost. Why? Because according to Islam, peace is the Summum Bonum, the greatest good. Where there is peace, there is
normalcy and opportunities flourish. Without peace, you can’t do anything. You
can’t run your institutions or your businesses. You can’t even practice your
religion properly or share your faith with others. All these activities require
peace. So, Islam believes in peace and tries to establish it at any cost,
because without peace there is no progress.
The majority of the present
Muslims have deviated from Islam. They have adopted a political goal, and a
political goal always leads to violence and war. I can say that political rule
is not the goal or target of Islam. But many present-day Muslims have adopted political
rule as their target and they claim that this is an ‘Islamic’ mission and that
their activities in this regard are a ‘jihad’. But I say that this is
completely wrong. This claim of theirs has no sanction in the Quran and Hadith.
It is an innovation—or what is called Biddah.
All these activities in the name of jihad, in the name of ‘Islamic rule’, are
wrongful innovations. They do not present the true picture of Islam. So, don’t
take the actions of these Muslims as synonymous with Islam. The majority of
present-day Muslims have deviated from the path of Islam. If you study the
Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet you will find that what I am saying is
There is not a single verse in
the Quran that says that Muslims must establish political rule. There are many
verses that lay stress on adl or
justice. Now, the Quran says that you have to follow justice (4:135), but nowhere does it say that you have to implement justice. Nowhere does it say
that Muslims have to establish a just government. Islam gives social values,
moral values, spiritual values, but does not call for implementing a particular
There is a crucial difference
between following justice and implementing justice. When you follow justice, there is peace, but when
you try to establish a system or implement your ideas, there can be
confrontation. Islam does not say you have
to establish a system of justice, because that would lead to violence. What
Islam says is that you need to follow
justice—and that is a peaceful thing. In this sense, I can say that Islam is a
religion of peace, not a religion of politics.
(This is a transcript of the lecture delivered by Maulana Wahiduddin
Khan on October 27, 2014 to students from Fresno Pacific University, USA. It
can be accessed here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-p5ERL6B-M)
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