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August - September 2004


Islam is a Religion of Peace

by Mirza Masroor Ahmed


Whenever one wishes to speak about Islam as a religion of peace, the question naturally springs to mind that whereas there are so many religions in the world such as Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., when it comes to finding out whether Islam is a religion of peace, why should Islam be the odd one out?

One reason for this is that a few years after the beginning of Islam, anti-Islamic powers began propaganda that Islam is a religion of extremism and violence and wants to compel others into belief by means of the sword. This, of course, is incorrect. In the beginning, the Muslims of Makkah suffered persecution but they remained silent. Finally, they migrated to Madinah but there too they were hounded and forced upon them a battle to which I will revert later.

The proof against those opponents who allege that
Islam was spread by the sword is that although the disbelievers of Makkah raised all sorts of objections, yet history stands witness to the fact that the people of Makkah themselves never complained that the Muslims had used the sword against the disbelievers to compel them to change their faith.

Secondly, what has given Islam a bad name is an ugly and awful image of extremism presented, whether knowingly or unwittingly, by some Muslim groups and organisations, and these groups unfortunately had personal vested interests.

In order to see a religion's beauties or its defects, justice requires that you should make its teachings or its holy scripture the anvil by which to judge it, otherwise everyone would accuse every other faith willy-nilly. For instance, the teaching of Christianity, according to the Holy Bible, is:

'But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the
right cheek, turn to him the other also.'(Matthew: 5:39)

But, in Bosnia or Iraq or other countries, America and the other Western powers, resorted or are resorting to aggression. If, however, we say that the Christian teaching is that if anyone raises his head against you, you should use all your might to trample it to death, this would be a grave injustice. In the same way, to find out the true teachings of Islam, we would have to study the Holy Qur'an and see what it says and not base it on the actions of some Muslims who have
forgotten the teachings of the Holy Qur'an.

The stand of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community is that the teaching of the Holy Qur'an promotes peace. We have to take this message to every corner of the world. Therefore, I shall begin my message today by reference to the Holy Qur'an. After that we shall examine the practice of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) to whom the teachings of the Holy Qur'an were revealed. Did he ever
support any kind of cruelty, violence or extremist terrorism? Then, based on the Holy Qur'an and the Traditions of the Holy Prophet(sa), some important clarification has been provided to us by the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian(as), who claimed that he was the Promised Messiah, and I shall refer to some of his writings.

Anyhow, let us first see what the Holy Qur'an commands us to do in order to establish peace. God Almighty says in the Holy Qur'an:

Whosoever killed a person - unless it be for killing a person or for creating
disorder in the land - it shall be as if he had killed all mankind.
(Al Maidah, Ch.5: V.33)

Explaining this verse, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community says:

'A person who kills a person unfairly or who kills someone who had neither rebelled, nor became a source of violating peace amongst the people nor created disorder in the land, it is as if he has killed the whole of mankind. In other words to kill a person without any cause is, according to God Almighty, like the murder of the entire human race. It is obvious from this verse, how big a sin it
is to take the life of another person without reason.'
(Lecture Chashma-e-Ma'rifat pp 23-24: Commentary by the Promised Messiah Vol.2: p.405)

Thus, this is the beautiful teaching of Islam that the unlawful killing or the shedding of innocent blood of someone is like the killing of the entire human race, that is to say, the taking of a single life is like the massacre of thousands of innocent lives. Now, everyone can very well imagine what kind of sentence would be passed on someone who is found guilty of the taking of thousands of innocent lives. So this is the beautiful teaching given to us by God Almighty in the Holy Qur'an. Whosoever acts against this, acts against the teachings of Islam.

Then, the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya community takes us further than this because it was after his true reflection and deliberation and his understanding of Islamic teachings that God Almighty provided him with the guidance. Commenting on this verse, he adds:

'He who abandons kindness abandons religion. The Holy Qur'an teaches that
whosoever kills a person without justi-fiable cause will be as if he has killed
the whole world. In the same way, I say that if someone is not kind unto his
brother, it is like he has been unkind to the whole world.'
(Al Hakm Vol. 9, No.15 dated 30 April 1905 p.2: Commentary by the Promised
Messiah, Vol.2: p.405)

Now on this verse, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community has drawn an interesting conclusion that people think that Islam is an extremist religion but this is a misunderstanding on their part. Islam is saying that even if you are unkind in your treatment with your fellow human being, you are a cause of destroying the peace and harmony of the world. Forget killing anyone, you should always be kind in your dealings with every person in the world and spread the
peaceful message of Islam.

I shall briefly explain some of the countless examples of kindness we find in the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) and how concerned he was about the condition of his people.

If someone is kind to some person and wants to see his or her betterment, then the person will try his best to do something for him or her. The Holy Prophet(sa) was so kind and anxious for his people and prayed for them even though they believed in so many gods that it is beyond our imagination. God Almighty has promised that He would most surely punish those who associate
others with God. Now, this thought that God Almighty would never forgive one who associates partners with God, used to make the Holy Prophet(sa) restless so much so that he would bow down repeatedly in prayers. He had a burning passion in his heart for the reformation of his people that he had become weary with worry for his people. Finally, God Almighty had to tell him not to grieve himself to death for sorrow after them (Ch.18:7) and that his mission was only to give them the message. We can judge his prayers from the following Tradition:

The Holy Prophet(sa) prayed for his enemies:

'O Allah! Guide my people because they know not (do not know the truth)'.
In the same way, when once he was asked to pray that a curse befalls the Dossan
tribe, he prayed instead:

'O Allah! Guide the tribe of Dossan.'

So this was the anxiety in him for kindness and for humanity. He never said that he was going to compel them into belief by use of the sword but in fact refrained from any malediction or uttering any curse that an evil befalls his enemy.

'The pagans of Makkah exiled the Holy Prophet(sa) from Makkah and gave him no respite in Madinah but whenever he met them, the Holy Prophet(sa) dealt with gracious kindness towards them. After the migration of the Holy Prophet(sa) to Madinah, the people of Makkah had to suffer a severe drought so much so that they had to live on dead meat and bones. Then in utter helplessness, Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Makkans, had to approach the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) and said: "O Muhammad! You command treating one's own relatives well. Your people are dying. Pray to your God in our favour (that this famine passes away) and it
begins to rain lest your people perish."

To bring Abu Sufyan down to earth, the Holy Prophet(sa) remarked that you are very brave and courageous that despite the transgression by the Makkans, you demand a prayer on their behalf. But the Holy Prophet(sa) did not refuse to pray because he was mercy personified and he could have never wished that his people should perish. Then the people observed that his hands went up in prayers immediately and the Holy Prophet's(sa) prayers for an end to the famine and the
heavens to open up was duly accepted. It rained so much that the days of ease and abundance returned for the Quraish of Makkah. But, at the same time, their denial and opposition grew rapidly.' (Bukhari: Kitabul Tafseer Sura Al-Rum lidukhan)

Now after this who can say that he gave a teaching of extremism and terrorism.

Then the Holy Qur'an states:

There should be no compulsion in religion.
Surely, 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 breaking.
And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.

The full article is available in the print edition.

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