Peace In Islamic Philosophy
As in other religions, peace is a basic concept in Islamic thought. The Arabic term “Islam” itself (إسلام) is usually translated as “submission”; submission of desires to the will of God. It comes from the term aslama, which means “to surrender” or “resign oneself”.
The Arabic word salaam (سلام) (“peace“) has the same root as the word Islam. One Islamic interpretation is that individual personal peace is attained by utterly submitting to Allah. The greeting “As-Salaamu alaykum“, favoured by Muslims, has the literal meaning “Peace be upon you“. Muhammad is reported to have said once, “Mankind are the dependents, or family of God, and the most beloved of them to God are those who are the most excellent to His dependents.” “Not one of you believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” Great Muslim scholars of prophetic tradition such as Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani and Sharafuddin al Nawawi have said that the words ‘his brother’ mean any person irrespective of faith.
Concept of Islamic Peace
Islam is a monotheistic religion and according to the Quran all people are children of Adam. Satan is considered the enemy of humanity, causing enmity among all people. The series of prophets and messengers coming from God throughout the ages is to call the people again towards their innate identity of love and friendship. The good life according to Islam is in submitting to God and in worshiping Him as The Creator and The Master and to recognize the innate nature of man. The individual who will recognize his true nature on which every person is created will be able to live together in society with peace and affection to each other. In his Last Sermon, the Prophet Muhammad admonished believers:
- “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.”
Jeffrey Wattles holds that the compassion appears in the following statements attributed to Muhammad:
- “Woe to those . . . who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure, but when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due”
- The Qur’an commends “those who show their affection to such as came to them for refuge and entertain no desire in their hearts for things given to the (latter), but give them preference over themselves”
- “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”
- “Seek for mankind that of which you are desirous for yourself, that you may be a believer; treat well as a neighbor the one who lives near you, that you may be a Muslim [one who submits to God].”
- “That which you want for yourself, seek for mankind.”
- “The most righteous of men is the one who is glad that men should have what is pleasing to himself, and who dislikes for them what is for him disagreeable.”
Rules for Peace
Islamic tradition dictates that prophets were sent by God to every nation. In Islam, only Muhammad was sent finally to convey God’s message to the whole world, whereas other prophets were sent to convey their messages to a specific group of people or nation. So the ideal nationhood in Islam is beyond all boundaries and differences. Prophet Muhammad is the final messenger according to Islam and his nation or ummah is called Ummat e Muhammad (nation of Muhammad).
The establishment of ummah (the Islamic community) on earth based on the rules of shariah is the ultimate goal of Islam according to the jurisprudential approach. The ummah is not confined to any particular geography, or limited to any specific race; rather it consists of all believers throughout the world from whatever background, language, creed, history or geography. Unlike race, language, history and other such involuntary criteria in nationhood, where the individual has no choice and nationalism and patriotism ask for allegiance to a particular nation and state not chosen by him/her, ummah arms the individual by allowing a choice to be made by him/her in joining or rejecting it. It is therefore a conscious and informed choice that establishes ummah and allegiance to it rather than non-voluntary factors as in nationhood.
Importance of Peace
One of the terms meaning peace and peacemaking in Arabic, sulh, which is used in the Quran, is also the root of the word islah denoting development and improvement. This term is used to refer to peacemaking. Peacemakers are agents of good and those who breach it are elements of corruption and sin. It is therefore observed that peace and peacemaking are seen in Islamic tradition as part and parcel of human development. In Islam peace and making peace are seen as Godly acts worthy of praise and reward. . In Islam peace is advocated as a divine quality to be pursued in order to achieve the state of felicity that we were in paradise, man’s former dwelling.
Peace and Justice
Justice, as outlined in the Quran, refers to balance and is the foundation upon which creation stands. “
Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph after the Prophet, has an incisive definition of justice. He considers justice to be the placement of everything in their proper order. The issue of proportionality and relativeness is thus an indispensable part of justice.
Quran states in chapter Al Maidah :O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.
Peace based on justice, therefore, would mean a balanced, fair and tranquil state of affairs, where all concerned would enjoy their due rights and protection. Muhammad is reported to have said once, “
“Mankind are the family of God, and the most beloved of them to God are those who are the most excellent to His family.” “Not one of you believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”
Great Muslim scholars of prophetic tradition such as Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani and Sharafuddin al Nawawi have said that the words ‘his brother’ mean any person irrespective of faith.
House of Peace
The ideal society, according to the Qur’an is Dar as-Salam, literally, “the house of peace” of which it intones: And Allah invites to the ‘abode of peace’ and guides whom He pleases into the right path. The establishment of abode of peace on earth means the establish peace in everyday lives, at all levels. This includes personal, social, state and international levels.
According to Islam there will be an era in which justice, plenty, abundance, well-being, security, peace, and brotherhood will prevail among humanity, and one in which people will experience love, self-sacrifice, tolerance, compassion, mercy, and loyalty. In his sayings, our Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, says that this blessed period will be experienced through the mediation of the Mahdi, who will come in the end times to save the world form chaos, injustice, and moral collapse. He will eradicate godless ideologies and bring an end to the prevailing injustice. Moreover, he will make religion like it was in the days of our Prophet, cause the Qur’an’s moral teachings to prevail among humanity, and establish peace and well-being throughout the world.
Muslims believe that Jesus invited the Children of Israel to follow the true path and showed them many miracles. He is the Messiah and, as the Qur’an says, he is the “word of God” . Together with his return to earth in his second coming he will be the best judge among all people on earth. The lack of understanding between Christians and Muslims, who believe in the same God, share the same moral values and, as the Qur’an says, are closer to one another in love than all other people, will be repaired and these two greatest of the world’s religious communities will be united. The members of the world’s third monotheistic religion, the Jews, will also accept Jesus as their true Messiah and find their way to the true religion.
So by the return of Jesus, religion will defeat the atheistic philosophies and pagan beliefs with intellectual means; the world will be saved from wars, conflicts, racial and ethnic hostility, cruelty and injustice. Humanity will enter a “Golden Age” of peace, happiness and well-being.