40 ISLAM AND THE CREATION OF PEACE LOVING MEN AND WOMEN (The following talk was delivered by Ataul Mujeeb Rashed, Imam of the London Mosque at an assembly of the Councilfor the World’s Religions Inter Religious Dialogue and Peace in the Middle East, held at Toledo (Spain) on 15th 16th and 17th March 1988) Importance of the SUbject: Since the creation of mankind, it has been the cherished desire of all to establish, enjoy and share the fruits of peace and tranquility. But, we have to admit this bitter reality that it has always remained a desire never accomplished in totality. Mankind is yearning for peace today more than ever before. How is it that having passed through the shattering and devastating experience of two world wars and in the shadow of a nuclear holocaust, despite all the efforts that have so far been put forth to the contrary, man continues to be far, far away from the realization of his dream about universal peace. In order to bring about real peace in our society, or for that matter in the world we live in, it is utmost essential to go about it through the components our society is composed of i.e. men and women. Human beings have this inborn quality to love peace and tranquility but the experience shows that the same peace loving men and women are occasionally seen destroying the very concept of peace. Where does the fault lie? What is the remedy? How can this problem be solved? These and several other questions of similar nature find their answer in the subject under discussion today. Islam, the religion of peace provides the full answer. Firstly, through its most elaborate and comprehensive teachings, it provides the doctrinal basis for the establishment of peace. Secondly, the noble example of the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, peac~ and blessings of Allah be upon him, further illumines this path of peace, studded with historical landmarks, serving as a model to be followed. Thirdly, the emphasis on living up to the teachings of Islam and the noble example of the Holy Prophet goes as a long way in the creation of peace loving men and women to ensure the ultimate translation of all ideals of peace into reality. ISLAM AND PEACE 41 Islam:Religion of Peace and Submission. Today’s subject has a direct and deep relevance to Islam which literally means peace and submission. Both these meanings, describing two main aspects of its teachings, are closely related to each other. Therefore, explaining the basic teachings of Islam, we can say that Islam stands for the establishment of real peace in all directions and at all levels through total obedience and submission to the will and commands of God Almighty. It can also be said that peace is the ultimate object of Islam and submission to His commandments is the key to it. According to Islam, God Almighty is the fountain head of guidance which is made manifest to the people in various ages according to their particular needs and requirements. This manifest guidance is called religion and the torch bearers of this guidance are described as the messengers of God. As all religions have emanated from the source of God, the Most Gracious, Ever Merciful, it is but natural that all religions, taken in theirpure form at their sources always stood for peace. They all had this common theme. But inspite of all that, nor religion other than Islam was given a name which literally means peace. This happened for the first time, in the history of religion, only in the case of Islam and it certainly constitutes a unique distinction of this great religion. Moreover, this name was given by God Almighty Himself, yet another distinction of Islam. Both these facts very clearly indicate the Divine plan of things. God Almighty reserved this special name to be bestowed upon that religion which presents the best and the most elaborate and comprehensive teachings about peace in a way never witnessed before in the history of religion. Islamic Teachings on Peace and War. Islam forbids aggression, but it urges us to fight if failure to fight jeopardizes peace and promotes war. If failure to fight means the extirpation of free belief and of the search of truth, it is our duty to fight. This is the teaching on which peace can ultimately Qe built, and this is the teaching on which the Prophet of Islam based his own policies and his practices. The Prophet suffered continuously and consistently at Mecca but did not fight back the aggressin of which he was an innocent victim. When he migrated to Medina, the enemy was out to extirpate Islam; it was, therefore, necessary to fight the enemy in defence of truth and freedom of b’elief and in order to establish and 42 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS ~nsure peace for one and all. Before proceeding any further, it will be ‘tppropriate to study the passages in the Holy Quran which bear on the subject of war. 1. “Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged and Allah indeed has power to help them Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, “Our Lord is Allah” And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty”. (22:40-41). 2. “And fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Surely, Allah loves not transgressors. And kill them whereever you meet them and drive them out from where they have driven you out; for persecution is worse than killing. And fight them not in, and near, the Sacred Mosque until they fight you, then fight them; such is the requital for the disbelievers. But if they desist, then surely Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful. And fight them until there is no persecution, and religion is professed for Allah. But if they desist, then remember that no hostitlity is allowed except against the aggressors”. (2:191-194) 3. “Say to those who disbelieve, if they desist, that which is past will be forgiven them; and if they return thereto, then verily the example of the former people has already gone before them. And fight them until there is no persecution and religion is wholly for Allah. But if they desist, then surely Allah is watchful of what they do. And if they turn their backs, then know that Allah is your Protector. (8:39-41) 4. And if they incline towards peace, incline thou also towards it, and put thy trust in Allah. Surely, it is He who is All Hearing, all Knowing. And if they intend to deceive thee, then surely Allah is sufficient for thee. He it is Who has strengthened thee with His help and wjth the believers.(8:62 63) , 5. Excepting those of the idolaters with whom you have entered into a treaty and who have not subsequently failed you in anything nor aided anyone against you. So fulfil to these the treaty you have made with them till their term. Surely, Allah loves those who are righteous. “(9:4) CREATION OF PEACE 43 6. And if anyone of the idolaters ask protection of thee, grant him protection, so that he may hear the word of Allah: then convey him to his place of security. That is because they are a people who have no kno~ledge.” (9:6) 7. It does not behove a Prophet that he should have captjves until he engages in a regular fighting in the land. You desire the goods of the world, while Allah desires for you the Hereafter. And Allah is Mighty, Wise” (8:68) 8. Then afterwards either release them as a favour or by taking ransom until the war lays down its burdens (47:5). 9. And such as desire a deed of manu mission from among those whom your right hands possess, write it for them, if you know any good in them: and give them out of the wealth of Allah which He has bestowed upon you. (24:34) Conclusions: Categorically, we may say, these verses teach the following rules: (i) War is to be resorted to only for the sake of God and not for the sake of any selfish motives, not for aggrandizement or for the advancement ot’ any other interests. I (ii) We can go to war only against one who attacks us first. (iii) We can fight only those who fight against us. We cannot fight against those who take no part in warfare. (iv) Even after the enemy has initiated the attack, it is our duty to keep warfare within limits. To extend the war, either territorialy or in respect of weapons used, is wrong. (v) We are to fight only a regular army comissioned by the enemy to fight on its side. We are not to fight others on the enemy side. (vi) In warfare, immunity is to be afforded to all religious rites and observances. If the enemy spares the places where religious ceremonies are held, then Muslims also must desist from fighting in such places. (vii) If the enemy uses a place of worship as a base for attack, then Muslims may return the atta<;:k. No blame will be attached to 44 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS them if they do so. No fighting is allowed even in the neighbourhood of religious places. To attack religious places and to destroy them or to do any kind of harm to them is absolutely forbidden. . (viii) The fact that the enemy started the attack from a religious place is not to be used as an excuse for attacking that place. (xi) Fighting is to continue only so long as interference with religion and religious freedom lasts. When religion becomes free and interference with it is no longer carried out then there is to be no war, even if it is the enemy who starts it. (x) If the enemy desists, it is the duty of Muslims to desist also, and forgive the past. Muslims are to fight, while religious persecution lasts, and so long as religion is not for God and interference in religious matters is not abandoned. When the aggressor desists, Muslims are to desist also. They are not to continue the war because the enemy believes in a false religion. (xi) Muslims have no right to meddle with other people's religion even if that religion seems to them to be false. If after an offer of peace the enemy continues to wage war, then Muslims may be sure of victory even though their numbers are small. (xii) If in the course of a battle the disbelievers at any time incline towards peace, Muslims are to accept the offer at once and to make peace. Muslims are to do so even at the risk of being deceived. They are to put their trust in God. Cheating will not avail against Muslims, who rely on the help of God. An offer of peace is to be accepted. (xiii) Pagans, who enter into a pact with Muslims, keep the pact and do not help the enemy against Muslims, are to have reciprocal treatment from Muslims. Piety requires that Muslims should fulfil their part of the pact to the letter as well as the spirit. (xiv) If any of those at war with Muslims seek refuge with Muslims in order to study Islam and ponder over its Message, they are to have refuge with Muslims for such time as may be reasonably necessary for such a purpose. (xv) It is not permitted to make prisnoners of the enemy save as a result of regular war involving much bloodshed. The system of making prisonsers of enemy tribes without war and bloodshed CREA nON OF PEACE 45 practised until and even after the advent of Islam, is here made unlawful. Prisoners can be taken only from the combatants and after a battle. (xvi) Regarding prisoners of war the best thing, according to Islam, is to free prisoners without asking for ransom. As this is not always possible, release by ransom is also provided for. (xvii) Those who do not deserve to be released without ransom but who have no one to pay ransom for them if they still ask for their freedom can obtain it by signing an undertaking that, if allowed to work and earn, they will pay their ransom. Holy Prophet's Directions about War Islamic teachings however, do not consist only of precepts laid down in the Holy Quran. It also include the precepts and example of the Holy Prophet of Islam. What he did or what he taught in critical situations is also an essential part of the Islamic teachings. We append here some sayings of the Holy Prophet on the subject of war and p~ace. (i) Muslims are forbidden altogether to mutilate the dead. (ii) Muslims are forbidden to resort to cheating. (iii) Children are not to be killed, nor women. (iv) Priests and religious functionaries and religious leaders are not to be interfered with. (v) Old men or women and children are not to be killed. (vi) When Muslims enter enemy territory, they should not strike terror into the general popUlation. They should permit no ill treatment of common folk. (vii) A Muslim army should not encamp in a place where it causes inconvenience to the general public. When it marches it should take care not to block the road nor cause discomfort to other wayfarers. (viii) No disfigurement of the face is to be permitted. (ix) The least possible losses should be inflicted upon the enemy. 46 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS (x) When prisoners of war are put under guard, those closely related should be placed together. (xi) Prisoners should live in comfort. Muslims should care more for the comfort of their prisoners than for themselves. (xii) Emissaries and delegates from other countries should be held in great respect. Any mistakes or discourtesies they commit should be ignored. (xiii) If a Muslim commits the sin of ill treating a prisoner of war, atonement is to be made by releasing the prisoner without ransom. (xiv) When a Muslim takes charge ofa prisoner of war, the latter is to be fed and clothed in the same way as the Muslim does for himself. (xv) Public buildings and fruit bearing trees and food crops are not to be damaged. (xvi) The possibility of peace should always be kept in view. From the sayings of the Holy Prophet it is evident that Islam has instituted steps which have the effect of preventing or stopping a war or reducing its evil. The principles which Islam teaches are not pious precepts only; they have their practical illustration in the example of the Holy Prophet and the early Khalifas of Islam. As all the world knows, the Holy Prophet not only taught these principles; he practiced them also and insisted on their observance. Turning to our own time, I wish to say that several proposals for peace have been forwarded and many ideal plans have been presented but no practical and realistic example has been offered to show the world how to prevent war, minimize its sufferings or stop it all together. To preach a method of stopping wars, but never to be able to afford a practical illustration of that method indicates that the method is impracticable. It would, therefore, seem that human experience and human wisdom point to only one method of preventing or stopping war; and that method was taugntajid practised by the Holy Pr"ophet of Islam. CREATION OF PEACE 47 One more point should be added here. The, above-mentioned teachings were given by the Holy Prophet about the conduct and behaviour of the Muslims on a battle field. Generally it is said and believed that there is no rule to be followed when you are in a state of war. Question of mercy and good treatment does not arise. No one thinks of doing any act of charity and grace to anyone. But here we see a man advising his followers to take every possible step to be kind and considerate even to the enemy. Here is a man who preaches and urges peace and morality even on the battle field. He is the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him, who was rightly described by God as the embodiment of mercy for the whole of mankind. continued from page 34 ... 6. Invention of vulcanised rubber and telegraph in 1844. 7. Turret lathe in 1843. 8. Rotary press in 1856. 9. Elevator in 1854. Our Movement, The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, stands unique in the sense that we have accepted the fore-mentioned evidence as true, and have accepted one of theses claimants as indeed representing the second coming of Christ as the Promised Messiah. His name is Hazrat Mirza GhulamAhmad, and we don't ask you to blindly accept his claim, but we invite you to investigate and use logic intelligence and prayer to decide if he is true.


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