The Modern Age and Non-Violence

The greatest problem facing Islam today is, as I see it that Muslims have almost totally forgotten the sunnah (Prophet's way) of non-violence. In latter times when the Ottoman and Mughal empires disintegrated and problems like that of Palestine have had to be confronted, Muslims all over the world have fallen a prey to negative reaction on a colossal scale; they have failed to remember that the policy of Islam is not that of violence but of non-violence. It is the result of this deviation, that despite almost a 100-years of bloody wars, Muslims have achieved no positive gain. Rather whatever they already had has been lost by them.

According to Imam Malik, later generations of this ummah (Muslim community) settled matters at issue in the same way that earlier generations had done, i.e. non-¬violent methods. Similarly, Muslims of modern times must likewise resort only to non-violent methods. Just as no gain could accrue from violent methods earlier, no gain can accrue from violent methods today.

The state of affairs of Muslims in modern times resembles that which prevailed at the time of Hudaybiya. Today once again – only on a far larger scale – this hamiyat al-jahiliya prejudices prevailing in pre-Islamic Arabia (48:28) is being displayed by the other party. In the first phase of Islam its solution lay in Muslims sedulously avoiding an equivalent display of prejudice, and in holding firmly kalema at-taqwa. This entitled them to the succour of God and paved way for a ‘clear victory’ (48:26).

At the time of the Hudaybiya peace treaty, the Quraysh, who had secured the leadership of Arabia, were bent on waging war. The Kaaba was in their possession. They had expelled the Prophet and his companions from their home town. They had taken possession of Muslims' homes and other properties, and spared no effort in disseminating negative propaganda against Islam.

Given this state of affairs, there were only two options before the believers. One was to attempt to put an end to tyranny and launch an outright war on the other party in the name of securing their rights. The result of such a move would certainly have been further loss in terms of lives and property.

The second option was to remain patient in the face of immediate loss, be it political or material, and, in spite of the losses avail of whatever opportunities are already available. The Prophet of Islam and his companions chose this second course. The result was that in just a few years time the entire history of Arabia was altered for the better by an Islamic revolution.

The same state of affairs is widespread in modern times. Although today Muslims have suffered great losses, political and material, at the hands of other nations, there still exist a great number of opportunities only for self betterment and for dawah work on a far larger scale. If availed of wisely, we can rewrite the history of Islam in magnificent terms.