Sunday, February 18, 2007

Islam and Peace: A Quick Guide

       When we take a look at today’s current events (2006-2007), we seem to be hearing a lot about Islam and how it is a religion of hatred and violence; that it spawns extremism and terrorism. The following short paper shall attempt to dispel these myths: for indeed, Islam is a religion of peace only, not in the sense of absolute peace: a peace devoid of war. We shall use mainly evidence from the Qur’an, our (Muslims) Holy Book, to support our arguments. It must be stressed that the Qur’an is the literal word of Allah, as revealed to his final Prophet, Muhammed (Sal’Allahu alayhi wa salaam). We shall also include some of the “slander” people use to try and denigrate Islam, and say that is nothing but a religion of hatred and evil that teaches violence and terrorism, and is passed on only by extremism, for reasons of comparison.

       A brief caveat should be made before we begin with our topic. This world is one of positives and negatives: should one or the other cease to exist; this world of ours would be unbalanced. For those who wish to see perpetual peace instated on Earth: we are sad to inform you that this shall never happen. For if it were possible then, God (Allah: the One, Supreme God) would have never created Heaven (Jannah) or Hell. These “other worlds” are places for us as humans to strive for. This world is but a playground in which Allah tests us to see if we shall turn to Him: enjoin the right, forbid the wrong, and be worthy of Jannah.

       Now, we begin by explaining what Islam means; what it is Islam exactly? It is a verb and a noun at the same time(1). Islam is derived from the Arabic root s-l-m (sin-lam-mim) or aslama: it is the same root for the words Salaam, which means peace, and the word Ism , which means submission or to submit(2). Verbs which are derived from this root are: to surrender; to submit; to obey; sincerity, and to be in peace(3). This root is also where we get the famous As-salaamu Alaykum (“may peace be upon you”), the common greeting of all Muslims. The second meaning, the noun, is Islam and when the prefix mu- is added, we have mu-Islam or rather Muslim(4). To expand this, Islam therefore means, in the religious sense peaceful submission, bowing to, and faithfully and sincerely, obeying to the will of Allah. A Muslim is one who bows peaceful submission, faithfully and sincerely obeying the will of Allah. If one submits him or her self completely to the will and laws of Allah, only then shall they achieve true (inner) peace (5).
       There are slanderers and detractors who have opposed Islam since its very inception, much for the same reasons people seek to denigrate and speak ill about it. For these people they look at how the Qu’ran allows for war; in their view allows for violence. But they fail to read the proper ayats(6), which state that violence should only be used when one has been wronged, that is in lawful manners. And even then, in certain circumstances, Allah asks for us to restrain ourselves. Allah states in the Qur’an:

"Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, and do not transgress; for Allah loveth not transgressors."(7)

Allah has warned us that to restrain oneself, i.e. controlled, justified violence, is preferred over unrestrained and excessive violence. There must be constant balance; we should fight only to match an injustice committed against oneself, anything else would be a transgression, an illegality. In the same Surat we read:

"The prohibited month, for the prohibited month, and so for all things prohibited, there is the law of equality. If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress ye likewise against him. But fear Allah, and know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves." (8)

Most likely there are some who are reading this and saying to themselves: “well Christianity is a real religion of peace for Jesus taught to “turn the other cheek”. To them I show this:

"But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah: for He is the One that Heareth and Knoweth (all things)." (9)

"O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.”

       Thus far we have exhibited how Muslims have been commanded by Allah to engage in violent activity in lawful and legal ways, we now turn to a more concise look into how peace exists in Islam. Peace is the ideal state of Islam; it is what all humans should strive for. Islam allows for war as was just mentioned, as a last resort, but if the opponents are asking for peace, whether in the middle of a battle or at the outcome, Muslims are obliged to accept the “olive branch”(11). Being a Muslim does not make you peaceful: it is what you strive for; it is what you are rewarded with when you freely surrender yourself to the Islamic way of life, with a sincere commitment and understanding(12).

       Likewise, it must be clarified, and further stressed, that while Islam does allow for force, it must be within the confines of Sacred Law or al-Shari’a. Islam simply seeks to establish balance between the forces and tensions that are already present in nature and society, in man and the human soul(13). Force which is used in accordance with divine Law All force used under the guidance of the divine Law, intending to re-establish a just balance that has been destroyed is in fact necessary, for it means carrying out and establishing justice. Subsequently, not to use force with the aim of re-establishing equilibrium is to fall prey to other forces, which cannot but increase imbalance and disorder and result in greater injustice(14).

       In Islam, every living thing must be in harmony, in order for peace to exist: it is a duty. How is this achieved? There are five ways. 1- By worshiping the Creator, Allah; 2- by fulfilling rights towards your family members; 3- through good deeds and services to your fellow citizen, neighbour, etc; by setting a good example through good behaviour;4- by pursuing justice and striving to eliminate inequality and oppression; and5- by preserving the harmony and sacredness of nature(15). Furthermore Islam underscores the fact that a world in which injustice is committed daily, and persecution and oppression is tolerated peace will not exist. The Qur'an actually views oppression worse and crueler than killing(16).
       What about terrorism and extremism? We again turn to the Qur’an:

“They commit a gross sin, then say, "We found our parents doing this, and GOD
has commanded us to do it." Say, "GOD never advocates sin. Are you saying about GOD what you do not know"?”

It has been oft repeated but oft forgotten that people of all religions, and all political inclinations have perpetrated violent, terrorist acts. Christians in Bosnia, England, Ireland, Germany, Spain, etc. and Jews in Israel, Palestine and Lebanon have all used the excuse of religion to legitimize their violent and terrorist acts(18). No religion has clean hands, and therefore none have the right to accuse.
       We have just attempted to illustrate how Islam is a religion of peace only insofar as one should submit themselves completely and sincerely to God’s divine Laws. It disdains unrestrained violence and oppression, and furthermore, it prohibits the use violence or committing sins in the name of God (Allah). It must be noted that our survey has been rather cursory and may have benefited from a more in depth paper. We therefore suggest, that those who are reading this should seek out their own answers by reading the Qur’an; they are usually handed out free of charge or can be downloaded online. There are numerous books and articles that have been published on the subject, and there are also the registries of time; the history books. For knowledge is key, and only education will help dispel the myth that Islam is nothing but a religion of intolerance, hate and violence.


(1)“Islam: What is it?” <> (Last Updated: N/A. Last Accessed: November 23rd 2006).

(2)Siddiqui, Shahina. “Peace has a broad meaning in Islam”. <> (Last Updated: November 23rd, 2006. Last Accessed: November 23rd, 2006).

(3)Ibid. Islam: What is it?


(5)‘Abd al ‘Ati, Hammudah. “Islam in Focus”. Eds. Shaykh Salih al Husayin & Dr. Mustapha Abu Sway,. (Maryland: Amana Publications, 1998) p. 7

(6)The Qur’an is composed of Surahs, which could be translated as chapters and, ayats, which are within the Surat and, which could be translated as verses. But it is preferred to call them by their proper names.

(7)Al-Qur’an Al-Karim: Surah 2; Ayat 190

(8)Al-Qur’an Al-Karim: Surah 2; Ayat 194.

(9)Al-Qur’an Al-Karim: Surah 8; Ayat 61

(10)Al-Qur’an Al-Karim: Surah 4; Ayat 135

(11)Ibid. Shahina


(13)Nasr , Seyyed Hossein. “Al-Serat Islam and the Question of Violence” Vol. XIII, No. 2. <> (Last updated: 2006. Last accessed: November 27th, 2006).


Ibid. Shahina

(16)Ibid. Shahina

(17)Al-Qur’an Al-Karim: Surah 7; Ayat

(18)“Terrorism and Islam”. <> (Last Updated: 2003. Last Accessed: November 24th, 2006).

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Yearning to speak the Truth

Bismi’llah ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim
(In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful)

As-salaamu Alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh
(May Peace, and Blessings, and the Mercy of Allah be upon you)

For the non-Muslim who just wandered in: the name Talib means "student" or "seeker of knowledge", and al-Haqq the Truth. Therefore I am "a seeker of knowledge" and/or seekker of the Truth. Al-Haqq also is but one of the 99 Beautiful Names of Allah the Most High: in this context it means the Truthful One, and it must be connected with the prefix Abd' meaning servant or slave; for only Allah Most High is Al-Haqq, to give one that name withouth the prefix is blasphemy. But this is not the topic of our discourse today. Nor is the fact that I am a North American Muslim: a convert, of Italian and Polish descent (two of the most Catholic backgrounds on the planet). Insha'Allah (God willing) we shall address these topics some other day.

Today I'd simply like to discuss or rather "vent" a great pain that grieves my heart; an aggravating and nagging sensation that which leads me to believe most of the world does not have the slightest clue or idea about what Islam is, who are Muslims, who is our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sal'Allahu alayhi wa salaam): May peace blessings and prayers be upon him) and who is Allah Most High?

It grieves me to watch interviews such as this one , in which people known as the “Christian Right”: Fundamentalist Christian Evangelicals, and are Zionists ( are for the establishment of a Jewish national state in Palestine), speak of our beloved Prophet (S.A.W.S) as a “Terrorist”. How they’ve come to this conclusion only Allah, Subhanna wa Ta’ala (“Glorified and Exalted is He”), may know; perhaps He has led them a stray purposefully…? I invite people to watch that 60 Minute interview on “You Tube”…A minister by the name of Jerry Falwell, claims that he “thinks Muhammad was a terrorist”, and has read sufficient history of his life written by Muslims and non-Muslims alike,coming to the conclusion “that he was a violent man; a man of war…”. He obviously claimed that he believes Jesus to be the ultimate example of peace and love… Once again it grieves me to no end to see human beings wallow in such deep and dark ignorance. For had he made any sincere research he would have seen that all acts of violence were acts of retaliation, and as Allah Subhanna wa Ta’ala said in the Qu’ran:

"Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, and do not transgress; for Allah loveth not transgressors." (Al-Qur’an Al-Karim: Surah 2; Ayat: 190)

"But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah: for He is the One that Heareth and Knoweth (all things)." (Al-Qur’an Al-Karim: Surah 8; Ayat: 61)

In the beginning of his Prophethood Muhammad (S.A.W.S) was only instructed to preach the message of Islam, make Daw’ah (call people…) to the people of Mecca, (as well as the rest of the world...), and to establish the Deen (“the way”, or “religion”; among other meanings) of Islam. When tensions grew, and more and more pagan Arabs were plotting against him, Muhammad (S.A.W.S) had to migrate to Medina (then known as Yathrib). This was the Hijra or “flight”, and it marks the beginning of the Muslim era. Over the course of time, the order to fight back came, as the quotes from Surah’s 2 and 8 above attest to (the Qu’ran is made up of Surah’s: Chapters, and Ayats: Verses). However Muhammad was reticent to do so, so were the majority of the Umma (Muslim community), and therefore this Ayat was revealed:

“Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.” (Al-Qur’an Al-Karim: Surah 2; Ayat: 216)

Now if any non -Muslim who perchance is reading this and, which I truly hope, shall desire to go out and find out more about the final Prophet (The Seal of the Prophets) Muhammed (S.A.W.S) was. To these I recommend a book by Martin Lings entitled “Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources”: it is one of the most excellent Sira’s (biographies) in the English language. There is also Ibn Ishaq's classic sira, translated by Alfred Guillaume.

To get back to the people who seem to make a living out of defaming, and spreading calamities and lies about the Noble deen of Islam: I simply shake my head in disgust and awe at the same time. Truly the only reason why so many of these “enlightened ones” and so-called “bearers of truth” succeed in convincing so many people that Islam is bad; it is violence; it is terrorism; etc. etc. Is because they themselves have no knowledge what so ever of Islam to begin with, and therefore it is all too easy to convince someone who knows nothing about any given topic that that thing is either good or bad…I therefore urge all readers of this Blog, whether you’ve stumbled upon it by chance or have been directed to it…I urge you to educate yourselves.

Fellow brothers and sisters in Islam, who may be reading this as well, we must know more about our deen, to the point where each of us are unofficial Sheyukhs or Ulema’s so that we may refute any slanderer…we must have more knowledge about our deen. To the non-Muslims, you must know that the all the negative things being said about Islam are lies! I know: you are saying to yourselves that it’s obvious I’d protect my religion; yes this is true. But I also invite you to sincerely research on your own and I guarantee, that you will either be convinced about the truth of Islam and become a Muslim, like I did, or simply respect our religion. Knowledge and education is key: it always was and always will be.

This blog is a place for all searchers of Haqq: of truth. Insha’Allah, the Most High shall allow me the mental acuity and perseverance to present to you topics that shall deal with Islam in general and in particular. Over the course of this blog’s existence I shall attempt to dispel some, if not most of the myths surrounding this beautiful religion and, insha’Allah, educate many ignoramuses in the long run.

(And Peace)