Cultivation of Islamic Values

Islam and World Peace (Syed Fazal Ahmad) Islam is a universal religion, which presents God (Allah) as “Rabbul Alameen” . It means He is a Universal God who is the Creator, Nourisher and one who looks after and has provided for spiritual, ethical, social, economic and all other needs of His entire creation. He is not only the God of the Muslims, but the God of all human beings and of all creations of the various universes. Quran the holy book of Islam, begins with the praise of such a God “All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds.” This belief of Islam in a Universal God and its specific injunction to all its followers to try their very best to copy all the attributes of God, bestows and creates a universality of outlook in the believers of Islam. God of Islam is one God for all. He is not a national God. In view of this, Islam believes in spiritual, ethical, social, economic and political brotherhood of the whole world. Such a belief and such a doctrine creates cementing force for the world and stresses that all human beings are equal and no one has any superiority due to his birth or due to being born in a particular country or tribe. The God of Islam “Rabbul Alameen” has catered for all the needs of His creation, spiritual and mundane. In view of this, Islam believes that every country and every nation has been blessed and favoured with Prophets and Avatars who were sent for the spiritual uplift of the people for whom they came. Quran says: “There is no nation in which there was no Warner (Prophet)” (135:25). “For every people there has been a Guide.” (13:8). Islam believes that the very fact that a very large number of people of different faiths still believe in the prophethood of Moses, Christ, Confucius, Zoraster, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and thousand others, was sufficient to 8 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS prove and establish that they were all true prophets and pious beings. This catholicity and universality of view results in the establishment of religious peace and spiritual brotherhood in the world. Another prominent contribution of Islam towards the establishment of world peace and order is that it believes and propounds that the basic principles of ethics and morality viz.-truth, honesty and justice-could not and should not be discarded or compromised for anything on earth or on any canvas of human relationship, be it individual, social, political, national or even international. Bigger the canvas, the more imperative it was to adhere and stick to these principles. There cannot be two standards of conduct one for the individual and the other for the nations in their international affairs or for a political party, one for its own party and the other in its relationship with other political parties and so on. This principle results in an ethical and moral universality and contributes a great deal to the establishment of the world peace. God of Islam, (“Rabbul Alameen”) besides the spiritual and ethical needs of His creation, has also provided for its economic needs. Marxism, though it claims to provide for the basic needs of all, yet it does not describe what the needs consist of. To it provision of spiritual and ethical needs are not important and hence its viewpoint is extremely limited to mundane needs. Besides, it permits violence to achieve its ends, Islam prohibits it. Islam enjoins persuasion besides obligatory State Laws. In the economic and political fields, the basic Islamic principles and postulates are that real sovereignty and ownership belongs to Allah. Hence, all worship, obedience and execution of rules and authority is due to Allah alone. Man’s ownership of anything on this Earth is only a trust and not an absolute authority and this authority is to be exercised in accordance with God’s mandate. With this belief in the sovereignty of God, Islam not only caters to provide all the basic needs of the people, but it also stresses the importance of their rights as God has provided for them in his attributes of “Rabbul Alameen”, “Rahman”, “Raheem” and “Maalik”. (Lord of all the worlds – “Gracious” – Merciful and “Master”). The Islamic State is duty bound not only to provide needs but also to establish all rights – no doubt, only the correct and justified rights, not what one may think the rights to be. Now coming to the political aspects on which primarily peace of the world depends, Islam propounds four guiding principles. Islam was the first religion to advocate: (1) A system of representative Government. It has set down capacity and integrity as the only conditions which should govern election to offices of the State. ISLAM AND WORLD PEACE (2) To formulate the principle that the privilege to rule is a Trust and not a Right (No Divine Rights of Kings). (3) To declare that equitable peace and progress for all should be the single aim of Governments. (4) To endorse upon the rulers to always act as impartial judges among contending parties, irrespective of colour, caste or creed or other considerations with same set of rules for all. These principles permeate through all Islamic political thought. 9 Based on the above basic principles, Islam believes in the establishment of a Universal World Order. The world also is being forced to evolve itself out of narrow nationalism into some sort of a World State. This is the constant endeavour of thinking people more prominently since the First World War. Or. Radha Krishnan, in a speech at Los Angeles on June 8, 1964, while addressing the World Affairs Council of Los Angeles, had declared: “Nations and States must surrender some of their sovereignty to a world authority vested with powers to settle disputes according to justice and to enable all nations and people to have equal opportunities; if the present world was to be saved from certain destruction. ” Islam enjoins the establishment of a World State so as to remove the causes of international friction and wars. But each country is to be left free to pursue sincerely its national aims and aspirations and to have complete autonomy in local affairs and yet it would be a unit in the larger whole. When we look at the world all around us, we find that it is disturbed with fear of exploitations and is in search of a New World Order – political, social and economic. However, all our efforts are failing us. The world is in an agonised search of a humanitarian conscience which would cater to the good of the entire mankind. Unfortunately, however, we merely talk of peace and security, yet go on preparing for war with the primary aim of economic and political dominance and exploitation. No doubt, colonialism, and imperialism seem to be dead but neo-Colonialism, neo-Imperialism and neo-Fascism have sprung up along with a more sinister form of state or collective capitalism with its aim of world economic, and political exploitation. The conscience of the world is in search of measures or systems satisfying and satisfactory to all having no exception and catering for the good of entire mankind. Islam first diagnoses the factors and symptoms of international frictions, 10 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS strifes, disputes, wars and also prescribes treatment and solutions for all human ailments. I would first of all describe the causes of international disputes which lead to cold and hot wars as indicated in the Holy Quran. (i) One of the causes of international disputes and squabbles is the covetousness with which advantages enjoyed by one nation are envied by other nations and the attempt of one nation to take undue advantage of the weakness of another nation. Quran says: “Do not lift thy eyes covetously to those material benefits which We have bestowed upon other nations in order to try them in their action. That which thy Lord has bestowed on thee is the best for thee and most enduring.” (Taha 20:32). This means that things plundered or forcibly acquired from others are neither lasting nor can they be of any real benefit and that which is bestowed by God can alone last even unto the next world. (ii) Another factor, that Islam points out and which results in international disputes, is international dislikes and jealousies. For instance, one nation wrongs another and a truce is patched up at the time, but the aggrieved nation nurses a grudge against the aggressor and looks for opportunities to take undue advantage of it. The Quran forbids this and enjoins straightforwardness in all matters. It says: “0 believers, act uprightly in all matters, for the sake of God, and deal equitably with people, let not hatred of a people incite you to injustice. Do justice, for that is in accord with righteousness. Make God your shield. He is well aware of what you do.” (Almaida 5:9). If these two injunctions are kept in view and followed, no Government can be blamed for disturbing international relations; for we are told not to covet the possessions of or the advantages enjoyed by others. We are also enjoined to keep watch not only over our individual morality but also over our national morality as well. (iii) The third cause of international disputes and tensions, as pointed out by Islam, is that countries and nations do not honour treaties. If treachery is apprehended from a people with whom a treaty has been concluded, it should not be attacked unawares, nor should any undue advantage be taken of it. It should first be warned that as it had been guilty of a breach of faith, the treaty is at an end and, if it persists, war may be declared against it. (iv) Islam also enjoins to be ever prepared to repel aggression. It is also a ISLAM AND WORLD PEACE 11 means of promoting peace, lest a perfidious enemy should be tempted to take advantage of one’s unpreparedness. No temptation should be offered to other States to make war by a State neglecting its defences. After describing the main causes of international frictions and wars, Islam propounds principles and rules for the settlement of international disputes. It contemplated, fourteen hundred years ago, the creation of an International Body like the United Nations to settle disputes between the nations. Of course, the United Nations of today does not, as at present, embrace functions which would be necessary to assign to such a body. The Quran says: “And if two parties of believers fight against each other make peace between them (i. e. other Muslim nations should try to prevent a war between them, and should try to remove the causes of friction and should award to each its just right). But if one ofthem still persists in attacking the other and does not accept the award of the world body, then all must fight the former till it submits to the command of Allah (i.e. till it is willing to abide by an equitable settlement) and when it so submits, make peace between them with equity, and act with justice. Verily God loves the just.” (AI Hujurat 49:10). This verse lays down the following principles for the maintenance of world peace and settlement of disputes: As soon as there are indications of disagreement between two nations, the other nations forming the world body, instead of taking sides with one or the other, should at once get notices served on them to submit their differences to the world body for settlement. If both the contesting parties agree, the dispute should be amicably settled. However, if anyone refuses to submit to the verdict of the world body or, having submitted, refuses to accept the award and prepares to make war, the other nations should combine and wage war against it. It is apparent that anyone nation, however strong, cannot stand against the united forces of all other nations and is bound to make a speedy submission. In that event, terms of peace should be settled between the two original parties to the dispute. The other nations should act merely as mediators and not as parties to the dispute and should not put forward claims arising out of the conflict with the refractory nation, for that would lay the foundations of fresh disputes. In settling the terms of peace between the parties, care should be taken that the terms are just and equitable with reference to the merit of the dispute. The mediators should not even be influenced by the fact that one of the parties had defied their authority. In case the “United Nations” decides to wage a war against the refractory 12 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS nation, the following directives of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) should be kept in view. He used to enjoin: “Care must be taken to avoid injury to women, children, nurses, old men and those whose lives are wholly devoted to the service of religions. It would be permissible to kill only those who are combatants and are actually taking part in the battle. Quarter must in all case be given, and unnecessary damage should not be caused. Crops, trees and buildings must be spared unless their destruction is absolutely necessary for the purposes of defence or in order to put the enemy out of action. Damage must not be caused merely to weaken a nation after the war. Proposals for truce or peace should not be rejected merely on the supposition that the other side is acting dishonestly and only desires to gain time. So long as the dishonesty does not become apparent such proposals ought to be welcomed.” If the United Nations or any world body were established on these lines, international peace would be secured. Unfortunately, as at present, mischief arises out ofthe fact that when a dispute arises between two nations, the other nations either play the part of amused spectators, or take sides in the dispute. Such a conduct instead of removing the causes of friction accentuates them. The other nations, without expressing any opinion as to the merit of the disputes, should call upon the parties to submit their differences to the world body and should reserve their opinion till they have heard the parties and completed their enquiry. Only then the world body should make the award. Unfortunately, this is not what we have in the United Nations today. Even before the final decision is taken by it, not only the parties in dispute but the various other nations, without judging the merit of the case, but also express their opinion and take sides. Thus, the settlement of disputes is much delayed and some of the disputes have remained unresolved even for decades. If either of the parties refuses to accept the award the nations composing the world body should make war upon it till it makes submission and, when it does so, they should settle the original dispute between the parties and should not put forward new demands arising out of the conduct of the refractory nation. For, if the nations composing the world body, were to take advantage of the position of the vanquished nation and impose terms on it calculated to secure advantage to the mediators themselves, they would be laying the foundations of fresh dissensions and jealousies and the world body would cease to enjoy the respect and confidence of the people of different nations. Their final award should be limited and confined to the original dispute between the parties and should not travel beyond it. The cost of such international wars has to be borne by the members of the world body. And if all nations contribute, the burden will not be heavy on any one nation. By making this small sacrifice, they will be laying the foundation ISLAM AND WORLD PEACE 13 of a world peace which will also result in manifold advantages to them- selves. The failure of the scheme hitherto adopted for promoting international peace and amity is, in my opinion, due to the differences between the principles on which those schemes were based and the principles that have been enumerated by Islam. These differences relate to the following five matters: (i) “Each nation insists upon the observance of the terms of previous agreement entered into by it with other nations individually, and is not willing to relinquish them in favour of a common agreement and understanding among all the nations. We have various military and regional pacts and groups like the Nato, the Seato, the Cento, the Warsaw Pact and many so called ‘Friendship Agreements.’ (ii) When a dispute arises among the various nations it is allowed to take its course and no attempt is made by other nations to persuade the nations concerned to arrive at a settlement before the matter assumes serious proportions. We have many disputes pending before the U.N. at present in this category like Palestine and South-West Africa. (iii) Different nations take sides in such disputes and thus promote dissension. (iv) After a refractory nation has made its submission the other nations do not confine themselves to the settlement of the original dispute; each of them seeks to derive some advantage from the situation of the vanquished nation. (v) Nations are not willing to make sacrifices in the interests of the international peace.” If these defects are removed, the United Nations could be established on the lines described earlier. It is only such a world body that could be entrusted with the maintenance of international peace and not the United Nations of today which depends upon the goodwill, courtesy and even charity of others for the enforcement of its decisions. Its verdicts have been and are being flouted day in and day out. It has no power or sanction to enforce its decisions. One of the greatest defects in the principles and procedures on which the present United Nations has been formed is the “Veto Power” which has been given to five major countries in the Security Council. This differential treatment in favour of bigger powers is totally unjust and is in itself a blatant denial and negation of democracy and justice. Due to the power of veto many disputes have remained unsettled and some unscrupulous nations have vetoed the settlement of disputes much against the interest of humanity and the conscience of the world. Even the entry of nations to the world body has 14 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS been vetoed by these powers unjustifiably. Veto has to go if the world body, the United Nations, has to survive. All nations big or small, in all Assemblies, Councils and Forums of the United Nations should have equal power, status and voting rights. I have mentioned above that the Holy Quran considers it imperative that all aspects of human conduct should be governed by the basic principles of morality – truth, honesty and justice. The real cause underlying all international disputes, as we see today, is that whereas individual conduct is judged by the rules of morality, those rules are altogether ignored when national conduct is in question. Basic principles of individual morality – truth, honesty and justice – must hold good for all our social, political and national and above all for our international conduct. It is more imperative that these principles are regarded more sacrosanct in our wider relationships than for the individuals if humanity is to survive and peace and justice are to be established in the world. Otherwise, all our cries for the achievement of peace and justice, Panch-Sheel and Co-existence will remain hypocritical cries in the wilderness. The above principles one may say, are all utopian and not practical in the human world. This was a totally erroneous view. These principles were easy to follow. All religions enjoined that do not do to the other man what you will not like to be done to you. So also do not do to the other party, other society, other nation and other country what you will not like to be done to your party, to your society, to your nation, and to your own country by those who are stronger and better placed. As such until international conduct is made conformable to the rules of morality, international relations cannot be placed on a satisfactory footing. Those interested in such matters should first endeavour to ascertain the causes of international disputes and then take measures to remove them. An International Court of Arbitration could be established on the principles enunciated earlier to settle such disputes when they arise. Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Muslih Mauood, had declared, as early as 1924 in a conference of religions in London: “International disputes cannot be put to an end till it is realised that mankind are as one people and that prosperity and adversity are neither the hereditary nor the permanent attributes of a people (as the neo-Colonialists, neo-Imperialists and neo-Fascists may think and believe). No people has had a uniform record of prosperity or adversity, nor can any people be secure in future against any adverse change in its circumstances. The volcanic forces that raise a people to the highest pinnacle of glory or pull down to the lowest depth of ignominy have not ceased to work and nature pursues its designs as actively today as it has done through centuries past” (Ahmadiyyat or the true Islam). ISLAM AND WORLD PEACE 15 We, however, have a firm belief that a time would definitely come when in the words of the Holy Bible “The Meek shall inherit the Earth” and in the words of the Holy Quran “My righteous servants shall inherit the land” , and in the words of the Holy Geeta “Such men would rule the world who are free from malice towards all beings, who are friendly as well as compassionate, who have no feeling of ‘meum’ and are free from egoism. Those who are not a source of annoyance to the world and who never feel offended by the world.” Dr. Radha Krishnan, had also stressed: “We must evolve a new world order, a new world society, a world consciousness and a world community. Many civilizations have come and gone and only humanity remains. It is for the sake of that humanity that we must work. We should regard ourselves as members of that future commonwealth of nations comprising the world.” In order to achieve this we have to have a universal conscience and not a partisan, political or diplomatic conscience (Diplomacy has, unfortunately, come to mean duplicity) as we have these days. Let us hope that in the new world that would be created: “War will be dead, the scaffold will be dead, hatred will be dead, frontier boundaries will be dead, dogmas will be dead, man will live. He will possess something higher than all these the great country – the whole Earth – and a great hope, the whole Heaven.” (Victor Hugo in “The future of man”). And we are fully confident that new Earth and a new Heaven will be established soon in which mankind will survive. “Long live Mankind” – “Long live Humanity”.