Islam is a Religion of Peace

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According to Holy Quran Islam is the same religion that God Almighty had enjoined on Noah, Abraham, Moses and Isa (Jesus) and other prophets before them.

Islam is a Religion of Peace

By Shah N. Khan, Moderator, Pakistan Post - Internet Discussion Group

 

Literally the word 'Islam' signifies submission to the will of God almighty.  Metaphorically Islam is referred to as the religion of truth. According to Holy Quran Islam is the same religion that God Almighty had enjoined on Noah, Abraham, Moses and Isa (Jesus) and other prophets before them.

Holy Quran shows us that, because of moral weakness of mankind, God sent prophets to teach both individuals and nations correct moral and spiritual standards and values. As the messages of all prophets emanate from the same divine source, religions are basically one.

Holy Quran affirms that all prophets are are the most perfect exemplars for humanity. And Muhammad (sws) was the last and final prophet and that the Quran is the final and perfect revelation of God, consummating and superseding all earlier revelations like Torah and Bible.

Five Pillars of Islam, are in effect the basic articles of faith.

1. The first is the affirmation of faith: "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet."
2. The second article is that of five daily prayers.
3. The third duty of a Muslim is to pay zakat which is a sort of contribution or tax.
4. The fourth duty is the fasting during the month of Ramadan. Unlike Christian lent this requires total abstention from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset. Committing any kind of sin violates the fast.
5. The fifth duty is the pilgrimage to Mecca. Every adult Muslim who is physically and economically able to do so must make this pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime.

Believe in day of judgment for rewards and punishment in afterlife for good and bad deeds, is also central to Islamic faith.

Forcible conversion to Islam has been forbidden by Allah. But many people in the West were under the wrong impression that Islam spread by the Sword. It is now being refuted not only by Muslims but the enlightened and unbiased non Muslims and even by some the bitterest critics of Islam and they have given their own reasons for phenomenal spread of Islam. For instance:

Edward Gibbon in his book The Decline and Fall of Roman Empire observes A pernicious tenet has been imputed to the Mohammadans, the duty of extirpating all other religions by the sword. This charge of ignorance and bigotry is refuted by the Koran, by the history of Musalman conquerors, and by their public and legal toleration of the Christian worship.

Jihad, in Islam, means the spiritual struggle against evil.

Jihad, in Islam, means the spiritual struggle against evil. The struggle canbe by the heart, the tongue, the hand, and the sword. These refer to the inner, spiritual war of the heart against vice, passion, and ignorance; spreading the word of Islam with one's tongue; choosing to do good and avoiding evil with one's hand. Jihad also means a full fledged war as declared by the state to defend the sovereignty or repulse threat to the state's freedom, security or religion.

The concept of Jehad is still misunderstood not only in the West but also by a few Muslims -specially those struggling for freedom or who have been victim of human right abuses by their rulers.

Although suicide is prohibited, martyrdom in the course of Jihad is matter of great honor to be rewarded by Allah by a special place in paradise. Volunteering for suicide squads is not unique to Arabs. In many other countries like Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia etc such spirit is seen.

It would be observed that the countries that are worst affected by terrorism are those whose record of human rights abuses is bad or those who give aid to or favor the countries using brute state power to crush freedom movement. Desperate people burning with the desire of vengeance but having little means to fight with the State power resort to terrorist acts. But Islam does not permit such brutalities whatever the cause may be and killing of innocent people is prohibited.

Islam and Infidels

Some critics of Islam quote Quranic verses whereby Muslims are advised to slay infidels or those who insult the Holy Prophet and not to take Jews or Christians as friends. Indeed by reading some of the verses in isolation or out of context one can be mislead specially if one does not know the purpose and background of revelation of the verses. When the Holy Prophet had started preaching Islam he had to face stiff opposition. His own people who used to respect him and called him trustworthy and honest man started ridiculing him. When he did not deter they tried to bribe him and then started threatening him and his followers. As the Islam continued to spread, they tried to stop him with force and started beating his followers so much so that the Holy Prophet had to migrate to Medina from Makkha. The infidels continued to harass the Muslim by looting trade caravan or inflicting physical harm on Muslims. When Muslim started repulsing the attacks with force that resulted in different battles and wars. The verses relating to those incidents and circumstances if read out of context give quite different meaning then what can be understood when read with the entire surah and its background.

President George W. Bush gave a long speech to explain how the war on terrorism will be waged and that it is not a war against Islam. But if one picks up few sentences out of context that can be presented as declaration of war against Muslims.

Muslim Women

There is a general fallacy that Muslim women are oppressed. That used to be the case in Arabia before Islam. Rights for women and orphans were laid down by Islam. The policies that Taliban Government adopted in Afghanistan in regard to women, music, dress, beard etc. stemmed out of medieval Afghan values that existed since before conversion to Islam. The concept of veil in Islam is to preserve modesty in such a manner that identity is not hidden. But Afghan Burqa hides identity. Similarly the men's Afghani dress cannot be treated as Islamic.

Islam and Dignity of Women
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Islam is not a closed religion. The need for knowledge, research, progress and Ijtehad (deliberations)has been emphasized up on time and again. We are advised to be kind, considerate, understanding and courteous among other things. Therefore, to evaluate all truths and good things as Islamic or unislamic may be of little consequence. Holy Quran goes on to the extent of saying that all mankind is like a single nation.

Islam as a religion has its roots in the teachings of Abraham, Moses, Isa (Jesus) and other prophets of the God Almighty who sent Mohammed as His last Prophet with complete guidance to establish the moral, spiritual and material values and to show the right path and how God Almighty will surely reward us for good deeds and/or punish for our bad deeds and deficiencies not only in afterlife but sometimes in this world also. However, what happens to us in this world cannot be perceived by reason. Thus the faith of a true Muslim rarely waivers.

Generally the Weterners have a distorted view of Islamic values. Everybody knows that the US is not only a super power; they excel in many fields including sports, art and literature besides science and technology. How it became the world's most powerful nation? It is not merely because of their free economy and vast natural resources. It is because of their constructive and practical attitude toward work, conformity to laws and system of justice and governance.

Generally the Westerners do not realise that the system of governance in the United States, as compared to most of the other countries in the world, is closer to the values of good governance as laid down by Islam. The attitude of Americans toward pursuit of knowledge, research, their approach to human rights, fair play and justice and various aspects of life conform to the teachings of Islam. But their citizens enjoy more freedom than necessary for a clean and healthy society and they have shunned the values taught by the Holy Prophet Isa (Jesus)

It is because the Western culture has drifted toward materialism.its evolution is seen by Raoul Vaneigem (b. 1934), Belgian Situationist philosopher as: Production and consumption are the nipples of modern society. Thus suckled, humanity grows in strength and beauty; rising standard of living, all modern conveniences, distractions of all kinds, culture for all, the comfort of your dreams.

E. M. Forster, British novelist points out that materialism is not being handled properly. Our life on earth is, and ought to be, material and carnal.But we have not yet learned to manage our materialism and carnality properly; they are still entangled with the desire for ownership.

Materialism begets more worries, tension, selfishness, greed and many other vices. The good Samaritans in the West are worried over the moral decline in their society. The values for social freedom are under constant strain due to explosive rates of illegitimate child birth, adultery and ever rising graphs of social and moral crimes.

Spiritualism enables the individuals to find inner peace and happiness and draw comfort in adversity. And Islam enables us to balance our moral, material and spiritual values. How and why Muslims have obscured these values and drifted from their glorious past towards ignorance, bigotry and why some Muslim stick to medieval traditions and why and how the moral degradation in the West has acquired explosive rates and what will be its consequences is another subject that will be dealt with in another article.

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