Freedom of Religions

Islam and Peace

‘Islam’ is a religion of peace. The word Islam means peace. How often have we heard these words from speakers and commen- t a t o r s ? Then why is it that in this enlightened era, while people are discovering the richness of other faiths and religious traditions without abandoning their own faith, while many Christians and people of other faiths learn meditation from Buddhists, while Jews and Christians feel no qualms about reading the religion and philosophies of each others’ faith, only Islam seems to have been excluded from this circle of goodwill for the last one thousand years? For the last one thousand years, the Western world, has nurtured a false image of Islam that has no relationship with reality; and the intensity and continuity of this distortion shows no signs of abating even in this liberal and tolerant climate of today’s world. There are many reasons for this attitude but this is not the proper moment to go into details. But the fault does not lie with the West alone: some of the extremist clerics of Islam today have also made their contribution in perpetuating this vision of extremism and intolerance. The ignorant and politically motivated clerics of Islam have distorted the beautiful teachings of Islam and in so doing, they have changed the Holy Word into Holy War. They do not realise that the world has changed and has moved into 21st century. The Cold War has finished. Perestroika and Glasnost have come and gone and the ground realities in the world have changed beyond recognition. Muslims, like everyone else, have to adopt to the changing envi- 5The Review of Religions – September 2003 Islam and Peace by Rafiq A Hayat (National Amir UK) – Based on a speech delivered at the Annual Convention [Jalsa Salana] of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK) 2003 ronment. Misconceived zealots only make a negative contribution to world peace. In fact the zealots and fanatics of all religions have always placed mankind at large at the mercy of those extremist groups who have no general concern for life other than their own. Fortunately they are only few and in minority, and, in no way represent the true Muslim majority. In the aftermath of the earth- shaking events of 11th September 2001, many in the West and in the Muslim world are rightly appalled by the fact that the mass-murder perpetrated on that day is being hailed by some Muslims as an act o f J i h a d. Only the most deluded souls could regard such suicide- attacks as J i h a d . Despite its evident falsity, the image of Islam conveyed by this distortion of Islamic principles is not easily dislodged from the popular imagination in the We s t . There is an unhealthy and dangerous convergence of perception between, on the one hand, those – albeit a tiny minority – in the Muslim world who see the attacks as part of a necessary anti-western J i h a d, and on the other, those in the West – u n f o r t u n a t e l y, not such a tiny minority – who likewise see the attacks as the logical expression of an inherently militant religious tradition, one that is irrevocably opposed to the We s t . Although of the utmost importance in principle, it appears to matter little in practice to the extremists that Muslim scholars have pointed out that the terror attacks or suicide attacks carry no legitimacy in terms of Islamic law and Islamic morality. September the 11th, 2001 is still fresh in our mind. This horrendous tragedy perpetrated by a few fanatics for their political gains has suddenly revived all the old prejudices in the West. It is as if all the old clichés and prejudices and definition, have been taken out from the cupboard of anta- gonism, dusted and presented to the Western public as the image 6 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 of Islam as a barbarian, anti- Western and primitive religion. It is as if the wheel of history has turned full circle back to the ages of the Crusades and Holy Wars. This phenomenon of fanaticism and extremism is relatively new in Islam. It is not the religion but the few self-appointed leaders of religion who have traditionally brought the religions in disrepute. If we read the dismal history of religious hatred, we see that voices of reason have traditionally been drowned by the ignorant prejudice. Torrents of blood have been shed in the name of every religion, deity, ideology, faith, order and political system. The extremist elements in Islam today have distorted the meaning and significance of Jihad within Islamic teachings and all the learned Muslims all over the world must denounce in the strongest possible terms all forms of terrorism that masquerades as Jihad. The Holy Qur’an permits Jihad only within narrow confines – either in self-defence or to bring stability and order in society. The Holy Prophet of Islam (sa) has given us a shining example of the Jihad that he considered more important. In his lifetime, the Holy Prophet(sa) had to fight wars but only when they were unavoidable. These were the wars that the Holy Prophet ( s a ) called ‘The lesser Holy Wars’ (al-Jihad-al-Asghar). But it was the continuous battle against the carnal soul (Nafs-i-Amara) – a constant battle against all that attracts man to negation of God and God’s Will that The Holy Prophet(sa) called ‘The great Holy War’ (Al-Jihad-i-Akbar). Islam is not a pacifist religion and it allows the Muslims to fight but only to defend themselves. Fighting is only permitted under very narrow confines. The Holy Q u r’an, addressing the Holy Prophet(sa) says: Fighting is ordained for you, though it is repugnant to you’. (Ch.2: V.217) 7 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 The Holy Qur’an explains: And fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight against you’. (Ch.2: V.191) But immediately in the same verse, Muslims are reminded: But do not transgress. Surely Allah loves not the transgressors’. (Ch.2: V.19) Granting permission to fight, the Holy Qur’an says: Permission fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged’. (Ch.22: V.40) Explaining the true Jihad, The Holy Qur’an explains: And whoso strives, strives only for his own soul. (Ch.29: V.7) The verse gives a brief but very apt description of a true warrior – a true striver in the way of Allah. In other words, the true warrior of Islam smites the neck of his own anger with the sword of forbearance. Only the false warrior strikes at the neck of his enemy with the sword of his unbridled ego. For the first, the spirit of Islam determines Jihad; for the second, only bitter anger. While fighting in self-defence is permitted, it is forbidden to use compulsion or force in the matter of religion. It is a unique feature of Islam that the Holy Qur’an pronounces clearly and unam- biguously, T h e re should be no compulsion in re l i g i o n . S u re l y, right has become distinct from wrong; so whosoever refuses to be led by those who transgress and believes in Allah, has surely grasped a strong handle which knows no bre a k i n g . And Allah is All-Hearing, All- Knowing. (Ch.2: V.257) This is the way of Allah and indeed this has always been the way of Allah. Religion is about 8 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 winning the hearts and minds of the people rather than enslaving them by force. The Holy Qur’ a n contains an unmatched virtue that it explains and clarifies all ambiguities. While saying, ‘Fighting the way of Allah those who fight with you’, the Holy Q u r’an clearly states, ‘ T h e re is no compulsion in the matter of religion’. This clearly means that while fighting is permitted, it is only in defence and it is only in the way of Allah. Fear of Allah should be foremost in one’s mind. At the same time by explaining that t h e re is no compulsion in the matter of religion, Allah the Almighty has specifically for- bidden the use of force, compulsion or fighting to make people accept Islam. The Holy Prophet of Islam( s a ) set a shining precedence for all Muslims. When in Madinah, while he had the power as the Head of Muslim C o m m u n i t y, he never forced his will on others and never used any compulsion. His attitude with the populace of Makkah was exactly the same. He did not force a single person to become Muslim. Even the Orientalists who are too ready to accuse Islam with unfounded allegations, have not been able to find any such example in the life of the Holy Prophet ( s a ). William Muir accepts that there is no instance in the life of Holy Prophet ( s a ), either in Madinah or in Makkah where he used his authority to convert people to Islam. The famous instances of sending letters to Heraclius, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, to the rulers of Persia, Bahrain, Oman and Egypt inviting them to become Muslim shows that Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) believed in persuasion rather than compulsion. His message was short and simple: ‘In the name of Allah, the most Beneficient, the most Merciful: this letter is from Muhammad, the slave of Allah and His Apostle, to Heraclius, the ruler of Byzantine. Peace be upon the followers of guidance. I invite you to surrender to Allah, Embrace Islam and you will be safe. Embrace Islam and 9 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 Allah will bestow on you a double reward. But if you reject this invitation, you will be misguiding your people’. The reactions of all the rulers were different and Allah treated them accordingly. My prime purpose is to show that ideals of Islam were realised in history by missionary activities. There may be instances of forced conversion scattered in Islamic History, but they are only few. Amir Mu’awiyah (661-680) issued a charter of freedom of faith in his domain and employed many Christians in his service. Christians held high offices at court. Ibn Abu Usaibi’ah states that the father of St John of Damascus was a Counsellor of Abd al Malik (685-705). There were two brothers in the service of al-Mutassim (833-842) who stood very high in the confidence of the Commander of the Faithful. One named Ibrahim was given care of privy seal and made incharge of the treasury. So great was the Khalifa’s affection for him that he visited him in his sickness and when he died, the Khalifa ordered his body to be brought to the royal palace and the Christian rites were performed there with great solemnity. Christians were also allowed to build new churches during the Muslim reign. In the time of Abd al Malik, a wealthy Christian of Edessa, named Athanasius, erected in his native city a fine church dedicated to the Mother of God and a Baptistery. He also built a number of churches in various parts of Egypt. All this was done with the permission of the Muslim rulers and has been recorded by a Christian Historian (Michael the Elder). Throughout the Islamic history, there has been compassion, tolerance and understanding for non-Muslim subjects during the Muslim rule in various parts of the world. It is in harmony with the same spirit of kindly consideration for his subjects of other faiths that Hadhrat Umar bin al-Khittab had an agreement 10 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 drawn up when Jerusalem submitted to him: ‘In the name of Allah the Comassionate, the Merciful! This is the security which Umar, the servant of God, the Commander of the faithful grants to the people of Aelia. He grants to all, whether sick or sound security for their lives, their possession, their churches, their crosses and for all that concerns their religion. Their churches shall not be changed into dwelling places, nor destroyed, neither shall they nor their appurtenances be diminished in any way, nor the crosses of the inhabitant nor aught of their possessions, nor shall any constraint be put on them in the matter of their faith nor shall they be harmed’. (Tabari) One can go on and on showing the tolerance and peaceful credentials and the practises of Muslim rulers that they never used their sword in anger to force their subjects to Islam. When Sultan Mahmood of Ghazna at the height of his conquests reached the temple of Somnat in India, he was surrounded by priests who o ffered him heaps of gold to spare their idols. He refused to accept the money, saying that he did not want to be known in history as a trader of idols. In spite of his total power over his conquered land, he did not raise his sword to convert Indians to Islam. Even during the Mughal Empire, all the emperors showed remarkable tolerance towards their non-Muslim subjects. Not only did they not force their religion on others, they employed non-Muslims in key positions in government. Even Emperor Aurengzeb, who is often wrongly accused of fanaticism, had a Hindu subject as his Commander of the Armies. M.J. Akbar, in his book the Shade of Sword s, explain this point vividly: ‘If Islam spread in India, it was not because of the sword of Babar or Akbar, but because of the power of the 11 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 sufi mentors, mystic-saints like Mansoor al Hallaj and Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti. Mere monarchs could not demand obedience from a sufi; his allegiance was only to God.’ We find similar freedom and tolerance when we look at the spread of Islam in Spain. When Muslims first became victorious in Spain in 711, there was only Catholic Christianity and no one was allowed to profess any other faith by order of the Church. When Muslims established themselves in Spain they gave full liberty to Christians and Jews. T. W. Arnold, in his P reaching of Islam s t a t e s : ‘Of forced conversion or anything like persecution in the early days of Islam, we hear nothing. Indeed it was probably in a great measure their tolerant attitude towards the Christian religion that facilitated their rapid acquisition of the country. ’ ‘ We read also of founding of many fresh monasteries in addition to the numerous convents both for monks and nuns that flourished undisturbed by the Muhammadan rulers’. ‘The Christian Clerg y persecuted the Jews who formed a large minority in Spain. Edict of brutal character were passed against those who refused to be baptised; and they, consequently hailed the invading Arabs as their liberators from such cruel o p p r e s s i o n . ’ D o z y, Muller, Makkari and other historians have nothing but praise for the Muslim rulers of Spain. Edward Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of Roman Empire, grudgingly concedes that ‘the Jews of Spain hung on to the coat tails of Saracens because they found freedom and l i b e rty for their religion’. It is a fact that Jews and Christians rose to high ranks and the Jewish culture, medicine and 12 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 art flourished under the Muslim rule. Arnold sums up b e a u t i f u l l y : ‘In 711 the victorious Arabs i n t roduced Islam in Spain; In 1502 an edict of Ferdinand and Isabella forbade the exercise of the Muhammadan re l i g i o n t h roughout the kingdom. During the centuries that that elapsed between these two dates, Muslim Spain had written one of the brightest pages in the history of mediaeval Europe. Those were the triumphs of civilised life, a rts and poetry, science and p h i l o s o p h y … … . ’ We see the same scenario in the Ottoman Empire. From the very beginning till when the empire had expanded from the Middle East to Europe, there was never any compulsion to change the religion of the subjects of the Empire. Persecution of the Christians was strictly forbidden. The first Patriarch after the Turkish conquest, received from the hands of the Sultan himself the seal of his o ffice and his pastoral staff . Wilfred Blunt, the famous English traveller who visited Turkey in the early part of seventeenth century, tells us: ‘T h e re is seldom any compulsion of conscience in matter of religion as long as no criminal offence occurs.’ I would leave the last word to George Finley. In his History of Greece, he writes; ‘We find that many Greeks of high talsent and moral character w e re so mindful of the superiority of Mohammadans that they voluntarily embraced the faith of Mahomet. The moral superiority of the Ottoman society must be accepted as one of the reasons of numero u s conversions in the fifteenth century.’ The same picture emerges from the Muslims in Western Asia, in Christian Africa, from captive Muslims among the Mongols and the spread of Islam in China and Malay Archipelago. Muslims never enforced their religion. It was only by their tolerance and 13 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 general conduct in everyday life that they impressed the locals who became Muslims v o l u n t a r i l y. Even those who remained with their own religion enjoyed freedom of faith and realisation of their social careers that were not possible under other environments. Islam is a comprehensive religion. It realises that with human weakness, ambition and dynamism, there will be occasions when dispute, conflict and even wars will be inevitable. Although Islam forbids initiation of war of aggression but it does become inevitable for Muslims to fight a defensive war, the teachings of Islam lay down strict guidelines. For instance, the freedom and rights of non- combatants must be respected. The old and infirm, the women and children must be protected from any harm. Residential properties must be left intact and crops and fruit orchards must not be damaged; and the list goes on. Even when it comes to the opponents in the battlefield, Islam enjoins that if the enemy sues for peace, the hostilities must stop and peace accepted. And if they should incline towards peace, incline thou also towards it and put thy trust in Allah…………And if they intend to deceive thee, then surely Allah is sufficient for thee…. (Ch.8: Vs.62, 63) For the prisoners of war, Islam lays down strict rules that the rights of prisoners must be respected and no harm should come to them when they have surrendered. As soon as agreement has been reached, the prisoners must be set free to go back to their homes. One can safely say that more than fourteen hundred years before the compilation of the Geneva Convention, Islam prescribed the rules to make physical conflict restricted to combatants and provide the protection to the innocent. In the field of human rights too, one has only to read the last sermon of the Holy Prophet of Islam(sa) to realise that hHuman 14 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 rights and the respect for human dignity was established fourteen hundred years ago. At the occasion of his last pilgrimage, he delivered his last sermon sitting on his camel. The Holy Prophet(sa) after praising God and thanking Him, turned to the people and said: ‘O men, listen well to my words as I do not know whether I shall meet you again on such an occasion in future. Safety of your lives and your property is as inviolate as this holy day and holy month……. Whoever of you is keeping a trust of someone else shall return that trust to the rightful owner. All interest shall henceforth be waived. Your capital is, however yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any injustice……. Every right arising out of murders of pre- Islamic days is henceforth waived………. With God, the months are twelve in numbers. Four of them holy……………. O men, to you a right belongs with respect to your women and to your women a right with respect to you………..Tr e a t your women well and kindly for they are your partners and committed helpers…. O men, ponder well that I am leaving the Book of God and the Sunnah of His prophet. If you follow them, you will never go astray. O men, listen well to my words. Every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim, and Muslims constitute one brotherhood (without distinc- tion of colour or race). Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim if it belongs to another Muslim unless it is given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore do injustice to yourselves. The rest of the ‘Charter of Human Rights’ is already integral in the teachings in the Holy Qur’an The contemporary world history only mentions December 10, 1948 as a landmark in the march of human civilisation when the United Nations proclaimed the 15 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Let us not belittle the credit that is due to the United Nations because it was the first time ever when the nations of the world, for once unanimously agreed to give dignity and assurance to the human race. With 30 articles, this Charter is one of the most comprehensive in assuring the equality to man without any prejudice to colour, creed and race. 1400 years ago, God Almighty, through His Divine Commandments revealed the most comprehensive Charter of Human Rights in the Holy Qur’an through the prophet of Islam. At the risk of repeating myself, I must explain that the word ‘Islam’ implies the achievement of peace in this world and in the Hereafter. It is a well-recognised fact that peace in its true meanings does not comprise solely of physical security or absence of war and conflict. Although important and essential, this condition is only a limited aspect of the wider concept of peace. The Islamic concept of peace means adjust- ment and orientation of the individual with and towards, on the one side with his Creator and, on the other side, with his fellow beings. This applies to the entire relationship between individual and individual, individual and c o m m u n i t y, community and community, between nation and nation and, in short between the whole of human race. It comprises all spheres of life – political, moral, intellectual and spiritual. This has always been the primary concern of Islam. The Holy Qur’an provides us with all-embracing guidance for the establishment of peace. It lays down the basic guidance for the adjustment of human relations to establish peace between man and man. The world is not uniform either culturally or socially. It is populated by people of different colours and creed, different tribes and communities and each community has its own social, cultural and religious norms. This diversity that we observe all 16 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 around us is part of the Divine Design and Divine Wisdom. The Holy Qur’an says, And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colours. In that surely are the Signs for those who possess knowledge. (Ch.30: V.23) The diversity is neither a sign of superiority nor an indication of inferiority neither does it confer any privilege nor handicap. Again, the Holy Qur’ a n emphasises: O mankind, we have created you from male and female, and We have made you into clans and tribes that you may recognise one another. Verily, the most honourable among you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Ch.49: V.14) The only badge of honour recognised by Islam is the righteousness of a person and his conduct. Everything else is irrelevant. Part of this diversity is the 17 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 variation in man’s intellect. This leads, among other things, to different faiths and creeds. This has often been alleged to be a source of conflict. There is not the least reason why that should be so. It should be emphasised that truth has only one facet but error has many; yet no compulsion is permitted in so vital a matter as the fundamentals of truth. It is part of dignity with which man has been endowed by his Creator, that his conscience should be free. It is unequivocally proclaimed in the Holy Qur’an T h e re should be no compulsion in religion. Surely right has become distinct from wrong. (Ch.2: V.257) ‘And say ‘It is the truth from your Lord; wherefore let him who will, believe, and let him who will, disbelieve. (Ch.18: V.30) The Holy Qur’an goes far in establishing this freedom that it proclaims that even God Himself, Who indeed possesses the power to do so, would not force anyone in the matter of conscience. And if thy Lord had enforced His Will, surely, all who are on the earth would have believed together. Wilt thou, then, force men to become believers?’ (Ch.10: V.100) The tolerance and respect towards other religions is one of the unique features of Islam. Islam bases itself upon the truth that Divine Guidance has been given to man all through the ages. It follows, therefore, that all great faiths had a single Divine origin and must be respected and revered. Say ye: We believe in Allah and what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob and his children, and what was given to Moses and Jesus, and what was given to all other Prophets from their Lord. We make no difference between 18 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 any of them and to Him we submit ourselves’. (Ch.2: V.137) After naming several of the prophets mentioned in the Bible, the Holy Qur’an directs: These it is whom Allah guided aright, so follow thou their guidance. (Ch.6: V.91) S u rely We sent down the Torah wherein was guidance and light. (Ch.5: V.45) And We caused Jesus, son of M a ry, to follow in their footsteps fulfilling that which was revealed before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel which contained guidance and light fulfilling that which was re v e a l e d before it in the Torah. (Ch.5: v.47) Islam extended a hand of friendship 1400 ago to the religionists of the world and that has remained a basis of mutual accord for all times: Say: O People of the Book! Come to a word equal between us and you – that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him (Ch.3: V.65) Islam teaches the believers that the real guarantee of peace and security is through faith in the Merciful and Compassionate Creator. If the winning of Allah’s pleasure becomes the dominant motive of all the people of the world, there will be an everlasting peace that will emerge from the inside of man. The essence of religion of Islam is faith in the Divine and that faith is responsible for the adjustment and coordination that brings about peace and harmony. It is our responsibility and duty in today’s world to explain all the beautiful teachings of peace that are given in the Holy Qur’an and Islam. The forces of darkness, ignorance and prejudice have surrounded the citadels of 19 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 civilisations. They give a bad name to Islam. It is for us to combat these forces with exposure to the true teachings of Islam and by setting a true example as Muslims. On the subject of love, peace and brotherhood, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih V, in a recent Sermon, advised all members of the J a m a ’ a t : ‘It is a duty of every Ahmadi today that he should take this message to the whole world that the true teaching of Islam is the one that has been given to us by the Promised Messiah(as). They should take the message of love, peace and brotherhood; and declare to the whole world that Islam was not spread by the sword but because of the excellence of its teachings. Tell those who are associating Islam with the sword that they are following the wrong course. Explain to them and pray for them because they come in the category of ‘Inna hum La Yaalamoon’ – They do not know. It is the crying need of the time to convince the world that Islam spread during the time of the Holy Prophet(sa) because of his prayers and supplications; and in this age, God willing, this will happen only by presenting the true teachings of Islam as expounded by the Promised Messiah(as), the true devotee and servant of the Holy Prophet of Islam (sa). A quotation of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi(as) of this age seems pertinent at this stage. He declared more than a hundred years ago, in his book A Message of Peace: ‘Irrespective of whether we are Hindus or Muslim, and although we have many d i fferences, we believe in God who has created this world and all that is contained in it. We also claim commonality as human beings and we live in one country as neighbours. It is our duty that we should become friends with a clear 20 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 conscience and honest inten- tions. We should sympathise with each other on all matters temporal or religious. My Friends! That faith is no faith that does not teach sympathy for mankind. A human being is not human unless he displays some element of sympathy. Our God has made no distinction in any nation. Whatever faculties were given to the ancient nations have been given to the Arabian, Persian, Chinese, Japanese, European and American nations. The earth serves as a common ground for all and the sun, the moon and the stars perform common service for all mankind. These Divine manifestations teach us that we should, also treat each other equally, with amity and with tolerance. Narrow- mindedness or hard- heartedness has no place in human relations.’ This is not the age of confrontation or of fostering mutual hatred. True and faithful Muslims have lived for too long under the shadow of the activities of a minority who have distorted beyond recognition the tradi- tional spirit of Islam. That minority has fostered inter- national terrorism and sectarian hatred to gain their political ends. It is time for all the Muslims to stand up and explain the true ideology and peaceful credentials of Islam. The Holy Prophet’s(sa) message was one of peace and unity, not contempt and war. From this platform, I want to make a plea, a request, an appeal to the whole Muslim world! Let us get together and show to the world the true and beautiful face of Islam – Islam that was taught by our beloved Prophet(sa). His final message was of unity and mutual love. Hatred did not feature in his teachings. His successors respected the freedom of conscience of all their subjects. We will have to show to the world by our conduct and by our actions the true spirit of tolerance and peace. We will have to put flesh and blood on the bare bones 21 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 of theory. It is one thing to quote the Qur’anic verses and the Holy Prophet(sa), quite another to put these in action in every day life. We have rich treasures of Sunnah to draw for this purpose. What I am trying to emphasise is that it is the sacred duty of every Muslim today to lead the world towards peace and establishment of justice. It can only be done if we work together putting aside the comparatively minor differ- ences. We can have unity without unanimity and we can have diversity without division. Eventually we can have a world community of Muslims without the scourge of communal hatred, sectarian malice and oppression and the madness of terrorism. There is power that sets people free from age-old prejudices and that power is love of God Almighty. That is the source of true religion and it brings together all who are truly human. Muslims can show the world what is true peace – peace within and peace in society. Before they can do that they will have to get together and purge the society of those who preach and practise oppression, terrorism and sectarian hatred. 22 Islam and Peace The Review of Religions – September 2003 PLEASE NOTE: In this journal, for the information of non-Muslim readers, ‘(sa)’ or ‘sa’ after the words, ‘Holy Prophet’, or the name ‘Muhammad’, are used. They stand for ‘Salallahu alaihi wassalam’ meaning ‘Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him’. Likewise, the letters ‘(as)’ or ‘as’ after the name of all other prophets is an abbreviation meaning ‘Peace be upon him’ derived from Alaihi salato wassalam’ for the respect a Muslim reader utters in the form of a prayer for a Prophet. Also ru or (ru) for Rahmahullahu Ta’ala means the Mercy of Allah the Exalted be upon him