Islam As it Is

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Islam is a religion of peace in complete sense of the word. The Quran 
calls its way 'the paths of peace' (5:16). It describes reconciliation
as the best policy (4:128) and states that God abhors disturbance of 
the peace. (2:205)

The root word of Islam is 'silm' which means peace. So the spirit of 
Islam is the spirit of peace. The first verse of the Quran is the 
verse of peace. It reads:

   In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most compassionate.

This verse is repeated in the Quran for no less than 114 times.  It 
shows the great importance Islam attaches to such values as mercy and 

One of God's names, according to the Quran, is As Salaam, which means 

Moreover the Quran states that the Prophet of Islam was sent to the 
world as a mercy to mankind. (21:107)

A perusal of the Quran shows that most verses of the Quran (and also 
the hadith) are based on peace and kindness, either directly or 
indirectly.  The ideal society, according to the Quran is Dar al 
Salaam, that is, the house of peace. (10:25)

The Quran presents the universe as a model, which is characterized by 
harmony and peace (36:40) When God created heaven and the earth; He so 
ordered things that each part may perform its function peacefully 
without clashing with any other part. The Quran tells us that "the sun 
is not allowed to overtake the moon, nor does the night out pace the 
Each in its own orbit runs."  (36:40)

For billions of years, therefore, the entire universe has been 
its function in total harmony with His divine plan.

These are only but a few references to show how great importance Islam 
attaches to peace. In fact Islam cannot afford a non-peace situation (a 
state of non peace) because all that Islam aims at--spiritual progress, 
intellectual development, character building, social reform, 
educational activities, above all dawah--cannot be achieved except in 
an atmosphere of peace and harmony.

According to Islam peace is not simply an absence of war.  Peace opens 
doors of all kinds of opportunities, which are present in any given 
situation. It is only peaceful situation in which planned activities 
are possible. Due to this the Quran says 'reconciliation is the best'  
(4:128) Similarly the Prophet of Islam has observed: "God grants to ifq 
(gentleness) what he does not grant to unf (violence), Sunan Abi Dawood 

Some people bracket justice with peace but Islam does not subscribe to 
this notion. Islam believes in peace for the sake of peace.  According 
to Islam, Justice is not the direct result of peace.  Peace is only to 
gain opportunities in order to work for justice.  There are so many 

examples in the life of the Prophet, which prove that Prophet never 
bracketed justice with peace.  

He always took peaceful circumstances as an opportunity to work for 
justice and did not attempt to derive justice directly from peace.  One 
such clear example is provided by the treaty of Hudaybiya. It was a 
peace treaty between the Prophet and his opponents. By seeing the 
details of the peace treaty it is clear that no clause of justice was 
included in its document.  Obviously it was quite against justice.  But 
the Prophet accepted this treaty not that it was giving them justice 
but because it was paving the way to work for justice.

Because of this importance of peace the Quran has clearly declared that 
no aggressive war is permitted in Islam.  Muslims can engage themselves 
only in a defensive, not in an offensive war, whatever the 

According to Islam, peace is the rule and war is only an exception. 
Even in defensive war we have to see the result, if the result is 
doubtful Muslims should avoid the war even in defensive situation. Some 
acts of aggression are not enough for Muslims to rush to the war. They 
have to assess the whole situation and adopt a policy of avoidance when 
it is not certain to achieve positive result.

There are several examples of this kind in the early period of Islam. 
One such example is that known as Ghazwa Al Ahzab in Islamic history. 
In this event there was a clear-cut aggression on the part of the 
opposition party.  They traveled as far as 300 miles from Makkah to 
Madina only to attack the Muslims. But the Prophet dug a trench in 
order to avoid armed confrontation instead of going to the defensive 

It is true that jihad is one of the most important teachings of Islam. 
But jihad is not synonymous to war. Another word is used in Islam for 
war and fighting. This word is 'qital,' when Quran refers to war or 
fighting it uses the word (qital) and not jihad.

Jihad literally means to strive or to struggle. So jihad actually means 
peaceful struggle, especially for Dawah work. The Quran says:  Do great 
jihad with the help of the Quran. (25:52)

The Quran is simply a book, and not a sword, "so do great jihad with 
the Quran" means that 'do great jihad with the ideological power of the 
Quran. In fact, jihad is only another name for peaceful activism. And 
peaceful activism is the only weapon by which Islam wants to achieve 
all its aims and objective.

It is no exaggeration to say that Islam and violence are contradictory 
to each other. The concept of Islamic violence is so obviously 
unfounded that prima facie it stands rejected. The fact that violence 
is not sustainable in the present world is enough to believe that 
violence as a principle is quite alien to the scheme of things in 
Islam. Islam claims to be an eternal religion and an eternal religion 
can not afford a principle in its scheme which was not sustainable in 
the later periods of human history.  An attempt to bracket violence 
with Islam amounts to making the very eternity of Islamic religion 

No wonder, then, why the Prophet of Islam so earnestly used to entreat 
his Lord in his everyday prayer: "O God, you are the original source of 
Peace; from you is all Peace, and to you returns all Peace, So, make us 
live with Peace; and let us enter paradise; The House of Peace.  
Blessed be you, our Lord, to whom belongs all Majesty and Honor!"

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Originally Islam was a religion of peace. The Quran has this to say of 
the mission of the Prophet of Islam:

   We have not sent you forth but as a mercy to mankind. (21:107)

In the Quran and the Hadith, there are many such references, which go 
to prove that Islam is a religion of peace, love and human brotherhood. 
However this is also a fact that in later times the image of Islam has 
altered drastically. Now Islam has come to be regarded as a religion of 
violence rather than as a religion of peace.

This change/transformation in the image of Islam is not simply produced 
by the media. Its responsibility falls on the latter-day Muslims, who 
failed to maintain the original image of Islam.  

In actual fact, the mission of all the Prophets right from Adam to 
Christ was one and the same-of establishing the ideology of monotheism 
in the world, making man to worship one God alone. As we know there 
came a large number of Prophets in ancient time but the message of 
monotheism remained at the initial stage, it could not culminate into 
the stage of revolution. This state continued up till Christ, the last 
but one Prophet. The reason being that in ancient time, system of 
monarchy was established throughout the world. These kings, in order to 
secure their political interest, adopted the course called religious 
persecution. These kings suppressed all religious movements, which was 
different from the state religion. They would nip all such attempts in 
the bud. Since these kings saw religion as a matter of affirming one's 
loyalty to the state. If a person adhered to a religion other than the 
state religion, he was regarded as a rebel.

That is why in ancient times prophetic movement could go no further 
ahead than the stage of Dawah. No sooner a movement based on monotheism 
would rise than the coercive political system would be activated to 
pull it by its roots. The reason for the absence of any historical 
record of prophets (besides the Prophet of Islam) in ancient times is 
traceable to this intense/severe opposition at the hands of these 
coercive political systems. All the Prophets of ancient times, 
historically speaking is like a mythical figure, rather than a figure 
accepted by historical standard.  Prophet Jesus was the last link in 
the Chain of these persecutions faced by the preachers of monotheism. 
Then God decreed to abolish this coercive political system even if it 
entailed the use of force. In order that the age of religious 
persecution is brought to an end forever, replaced by the age of 
religious freedom. This divine plan was brought to completion through 

the Prophet of Islam and his companions. This is the command given in 
the Quran in these words:

     Fight them until there be no persecution and religion be 
     wholly Allah's (8:39).

Therefore the Prophet of Islam received special divine succor in the 
form of a powerful team consisting of one hundred thousand individuals. 
Equipped with this team the Prophet made war to end this coercive 
system of religious persecution. This coercive system was first of all 
overthrown in Arabia. Then it advanced to abolish this coercive system 
established by Sassanid and Byzantine Empire within a very short Span 
of time. In its wake this coercive system was abolished forever in the 
major part of the inhabited world of the time. This war of the Prophet 
of Islam and his companions was not a war as is commonly known, rather 
in its reality it was a divine operation which was carried out by a 
people who possessed a high standard of moral character. However this 
operation was certainly a temporary operation in nature. Its goal was 
to put an end to the age of religious persecution and herald the age of 
religious freedom. This end was fully achieved during the early period 
of Islam, the age of the pious Caliphs. Afterwards the time had come to 
keep the sword in the sheath and engaged in Dawah work, that is, the 
call to God, which was the real and permanent goal of Islam. According
to the explicit command of the Quran, call to God is the real and 
permanent mission of Islam whereas war was only temporary and was 
allowed in an exceptional case.

Here it would be pertinent to refer to a great companion. After the 
period of the pious Caliphate, a group of Muslims got engaged in war 
once again. At that time some senior companions were present in Makkah 
and Madinah. But they did not join these wars, one prominent name being 
that of Abdullah ibn Umar ibn Khattab. He did not approve of these 
wars; therefore he remained away from them. Some of those involved in 
these wars came to him and said:  God has commanded in the Quran to 
fight the fitna (8:39)

Then why you do not join with us in these wars Abdullah ibn Umar 
replied "the command of the Quran to fight for the fitna is not what 
you hold to be fitna. Fitna meant religious persecution and we have 
already fought and put an end to this fitna (Qad fa'alna). Therefore 
now after the removal of this obstacle we have to engage ourselves in 
peaceful Dawah work rather than initiating hostilities and creating new 
fitna once again, which is akin to creating new obstacles for peaceful 
Islamic dawah (Sahih Al-Bukhari Kitab At Tafsir, under al Baqarah and 

Umar ibn Abdullah had made an extremely pertinent point at the most 
appropriate time but this point of view was not forcefully taken up by 
others. Afterwards when the Islamic sciences were developed this 
important point made by Abdullah ibn Umar could not be highlighted. 
With the result that the history took the course of wars and conquests 
while from the respect of the real teachings of Islam history should 
have taken the course of Dawah and the propagation of Islam.


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