People the world over are trying to find a solution to terrorism. The authorities are trying to crush the terror menace through legal action; western powers are trying to crush it through warfare; however, these methods are, apparently, proving ineffective.
According to Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, the present problem of terrorism is based on an ideology and an ideology cannot be countered or killed through legal action or by mere condemnation. We have to develop a counter-ideology to overcome it.
According to UNESCO, “Violence begins from the mind”. It must, therefore, be uprooted from the mind itself. This goes directly to the root cause of terrorism. Therefore, in order to eliminate this root cause we need to initiate our efforts by beginning from the right starting point. And this starting point is the re-engineering of minds of individuals by taking them away from the culture of violence and bringing them closer to the culture of peace.
In order to explain the importance of the above, let us state two parallel examples from history. One pertains to the American campaign against Communist Russia and the other refers to the American campaign against Saddam-led Iraq. Both Communist Russia and Iraq were declared enemies of the United States of America, but while the US was successful in curbing the menace of Communist Russia, the same America failed to cope with the menace of Saddam-led Iraq. The reason behind this difference was that America met the Russian challenge at an ideological level, while it opted for military action against Saddam’s Iraq.
According to Maulana Sahab, terrorism will persist in one form or another until the ideology of violence is countered with another ideology based on peace.
The Ideology of Violence
The ideology behind present-day terrorism is that, Islam being a political system, it is the duty of all Muslims to establish Islamic rule in the world. This thinking was not prevalent during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. It is a later innovation which was developed in the last few centuries by a handful of people. Having become widespread in the Muslim world today, it is leading to present-day violence.
A large number of Muslims, and especially many easily influenced youth, have become obsessed with this ideology and are trying to establish the political rule of Islam, thinking it to be their ticket to paradise. Having failed to achieve this objective of establishing Islamic rule by the peaceful method, they have started resorting to suicide bombing, the idea being that if we cannot eliminate non-Islamic rule, then let us at least de-stabilize it and pave the way for Islamic rule.
The Ideology of Peace
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, having studied Islam from its original sources—the Quran and Hadith—says with certainty that this political interpretation of Islam is an innovation and the real Islam, as followed by Prophet Muhammad and his early followers, is based upon peace, compassion and tolerance.
Peace is not prevalent in the world as people the world over are acting intolerantly and indulging in acts of violence, saying, “Give us justice and peace will ensue”. But when people, ostensibly seeking justice, stoop to violence, peace can never prevail. Peace is always desirable for its own sake, and every other desirable state comes after peace, not along with it. So, the maxim to follow, when peace is the desired state, is:
‘Ignore the problems, avail of the opportunities.’
Once people become tolerant and obtain peace for its own sake, what that actually does is open up opportunities—it creates favourable conditions, which enable people to strive for their ideals, eventually attaining justice and other constructive ends. This is the ideology of peace.
By ignoring the problems and availing the opportunities, one can obtain all that he originally was asking for—just by being patient and tolerant. This happens due to the law of nature. When the individual refrains from making a controversial matter into one of prestige, this gives rise to serious thinking. This non-emotional thinking helps him to understand that if he were to walk out of the point of controversy he would find all other paths open to him.
According to Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, this ideology of peace, based on the original sources of Islam, can counter the ideology of violence. The Prophet Muhammad provides a very clear historical example of this in his method of negotiating the Hudaybiyya peace treaty. On this occasion he brought matters to a successful conclusion by unilaterally accepting all the conditions of his opponents. In this peace treaty, the Prophet had not apparently received justice or his rights. But what was in effect a 10-year no-war pact, gave the Prophet an opportunity to work uninterruptedly on a constructive programme which would otherwise have been impossible. By means of this peaceful non-political programme, the Prophet and his companions were able to consolidate themselves so thoroughly that they had no need to wage war: they were able to take control of Makkah peacefully.
From this example of Prophet, we can understand that there is no room for violence in Islam. The ideology of Islam banishes the notion that there can be anything acceptable about terrorism. Islam is a completely peaceful religion and the Islamic method is a completely peaceful method.
Peace in Islam
Because of the importance of peace, the Qur’an has clearly declared that no aggressive war is permitted in Islam. Muslims can engage themselves only in a defensive, not in an offensive war, irrespective of the circumstances (2:190). Similarly the Prophet Muhammad has observed:
“God grants to gentleness (rifq) what He does not grant to violence (unf).
(Sunah Abu Dawud 4/255)
The Qur’an states ‘reconciliation is the best’ (4:128). The Qur’an has this to say of the mission of the Prophet Muhammad:
"We have not sent you forth but as a mercy to mankind." (21:107)
No wonder, then, that the Prophet Muhammad so earnestly used to entreat his Lord in his daily 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 Honour!”
A Few Examples
Japan is an excellent example of using the peaceful method. Japan’s industrial cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were destroyed by the atom bombs in 1945. After the holocaust, Japan abandoned violence and adopted a peaceful course, which it termed as a reverse course for its national development. And as a result, within forty years, Japan rapidly became a great economic power of the world.
We find another interesting example of a peaceful method in India. India’s freedom struggle was started in 1857. But, even after more than 60 years of sacrifice, the desired political goal remained a distant dream. Then, in 1920, Gandhi emerged as the leader of the freedom struggle. Taking a U-turn, he abandoned the violent method and opted for a peaceful course of action for the freedom movement.
Things took a miraculous turn after that, with the British Empire becoming paralyzed: a non-violent Gandhi had taken away from the British any justification for the use of violence. The following anecdote is an apt illustration.
When Gandhi launched his freedom movement in India by following a peaceful method instead of resorting to violent means, a British officer sent a telegram to his secretariat in these words:
“Kindly wire instructions how to kill a tiger non-violently.”
Therefore the success, which was not forthcoming, even after a long and violent struggle, was achieved by peaceful methods in a short period of time.
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