Peace in Islam

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Teachings of Islam

Islam is a religion of peace in the fullest 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 any disturbance of 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 breathes the spirit of peace. It reads:

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. (1:1)

This verse is repeated in the Quran no less than 114 times. It shows the great importance Islam attaches to such values as Mercy and Compassion. One of God’s names, according to the Quran, is As-Salam, which means peace. Moreover, the Quran states that the Prophet Muhammad was sent to the world as a mercy to mankind. (21:107)

There are two major sources of Islam, the Quran, which is the word of God, and the Hadith, which are the sayings and the actions of the Prophet of Islam. These are the two sources from which we derive the true message of Islam. 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 as-Salam, that is, the house of peace (10:25).

The Quran presents the universe as a model that is characterized by harmony and peace (36:40). When God created heaven and earth, He so ordered things that each part might 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 outpace the day. Each in its own orbit runs.” (36:40)

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

These are only but a few references to show what great importance Islam attaches to peace. In fact, Islam cannot afford not to be in a state of peace because all that Islam aims at—spiritual progress, intellectual development, character building, social reform, educational activities, and above all Missionary work —can be achieved only in an atmosphere of peace and harmony.

Islam is actually a religion of peace and humanism. Not only Islam, but also all other religions may be defined in this way. The best interpretation of Islam has been given by the Sufis. To describe it, they use the Persian phrase, Sulh-e-Kul, meaning ‘Peace with all’, which truly expresses its spirit.

Human life in Islam is held in such high esteem that if even a single human being is killed, that is considered equivalent to the assassination of the whole of mankind. And the protection of a single human life is equivalent to the protection of the whole of mankind. (5:27-32)

Here I would like to refer to a very pertinent verse from the Quran:

“Good deeds and bad deeds are not alike. Do good deeds in return for bad deeds. And you will see that your enemy has become your dearest friend.” (41:34)

This is indeed a very revolutionary kind of teaching. It means that human beings are not like stones. They are always subject to change. Thus, the difference between friends and enemies is quite relative. In fact, your enemy is potentially your friend. So, there is no need to complain against your enemy. You have to turn this potential into reality and you will find that the whole world is a world of friends. All men and women are your blood brothers and blood sisters.

According to a study of the Quran, two distinct entities emerge: the Creator and the created. God is the Creator and all of us are His creations. All of us are human beings and there is no third position. On the one hand, there is God, and on the other hand, there is God’s creation. This is a matter of fact. God is one and mankind is also one. Thus, we have the Unity of God - Monotheism - and the Unity of mankind. This is the fundamental teaching of Islam.

Consider Hinduism’s great truth: All human beings are one family. The same truth is expressed in the Hadith: Mankind is the family of God. Therefore, as far as ethical values are concerned, there are no differences at all between religions. In daily life, we need to understand that all human beings are members of God’s family.

One has to differentiate between Islam and the followers of Islam. When one is questioned on the nature of Islam and when the popular media make a distinction between a ‘moderate Muslim’ and a ‘radical Muslim’, one needs to tear down such false barriers and say that Islam does not talk of a ‘moderate’ or ‘radical’ Muslim, but a ‘true’ Muslim in the sense of adhering to the truth that has been continuously preached by the Sufis. I can say that the Sufis are Muslims in the true sense of the word.