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Peace and Justice in Islam

Peace and Justice in Islam
The absence of true peace in today's world is often rooted in the lack of justice. It's through justice that peace can become more accessible and more prominent in our lives

Some might be wondering what’s the tie between peace and justice.

I think peace and justice are like the two wings of the bird, who cannot fly with one. They are like the two sides of the same coin.

Indeed a lot of problems in the world today pertaining to the absence of true peace may be rooted actually in the lack of justice.

It’s through justice that peace can become more accessible and more prominent in our lives. But let me begin first with the notion of peace.

Some critics of Islam say that Muslims keep saying Islam is the religion of peace, but this doesn’t explain … and they start talking about certain misunderstandings of the Quran or reference to behavior on the part of some Muslims which is not in-line with what normative or ideal Islam teaches. But we should never react to that by simply saying let’s not talk about peace.

On the contrary, we have to speak about peace which I described earlier as the very core of Islam. The fact that some people do not abide by the requisites of that peace is their problem. It is not the problem of Islam. We should never be intimidated in not speaking about it as the core of Islam. We can look at that on a number of levels.

First of all, etymologically, that’s the linguistic origin from which the word Islam came, it is actually in an Arabic root that consists of three letters but without a vowel sign. In Arabic it’s (sin, lam, mim), so the sound in English will be like (S, L, M). And we call it root because these 3 letters appear in any derivative from that word, of that root.

For example, if you put “I” in the beginning and then you put “A” after the “L” then it would be “Islam”. The same with the word Muslim, that’s a male Muslim, and Muslima, a female Muslim, verb, noun, description, any adjective that come or a derivative has to have these 3 letters. That’s why we call it it’s foundational.

But what does all this mean? It means that we can never fully understand a derivative from that root unless we understand the root meaning. Because it’s that root meaning that it is reflected in all other derivatives. Now this root (S,L,M) or (sin, lam, mim) in Arabic, has related meanings.

The most important of which are: Peace is one. It also has the meaning of submission, meaning submission to the Creator. Thirdly purity. If we take the first two meanings from which the word Islam came, it actually means that the whole of Islam or the core of Islam really is to attain peace through submission to the Creator to have the purity of faith, and as such submit willingly to the will of the Creator of the universe.

Now the argument here is not just about the name Islam, which is quite significant in itself, that this is what Islam is; peace through submission to the Creator. It is much deeper than that. In fact when we speak about peace, we are not speaking in abstraction.

We speak about important and different levels, but interrelated levels of course, of it. One, that the foundation of pursuing it would have to start with peace with God, Allah, the Creator.

It is that peace with God that can result in another level of salam; that is inner peace within ourselves. And if indeed we are true to our faith.

Humans yes are the most important of the creatures of Allah, but peace with humans is only one part of it, whether those humans are on the level of family, community or society. Whether it deals with relationship with people who share the faith of Islam, or those who do not share it but share with us our common humanity; people of other faith communities.

It is also our relationship of peace with the animal world. And we find this in the teachings of Islam also; how to live in peace also with the animal world because it is part of the creation of Allah.

It is also peace with the inanimate objects, with the resources that God has created in this universe, i.e. it is complete peace with the Creator, with all the creations; humans, animals, vegetations, and ecology. These all come under that. But how can it be achieved?

The second meaning explains it. We can only as humans achieve this peace, or try to come as close as possible because we have shortcomings, to come as close as possible to that state of perfect peace, only by having an authority that we all accept, the authority of our Creator.

To submit not by force, as Islam rejects any form of compulsion in religion, but if a person chooses willingly, lovingly and trustingly to submit to the will of the Creator, that is the way from our viewpoints as Muslims. That’s one level to start with, what does the word Islam really mean.

But let’s take it one step further. If we look throughout the Quran; the Holy Quran, the scripture of Muslims, if we look also at many of the sayings of the prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad, we find that there are many terms, theological terms.

There are many what’s called eschatological terms, that are expressions or terms that refer to the end of the world or whether there’s life after death, we find that many of those key terms in Islam are also derived from the same root (S,L,M); that is peace through submission.

How?

Number one, one of the attributes, you can say names but actually it’s more than a name, an attribute of Allah the Creator, is as-Salam. We find that in Surat al-Hashr , the 59th. Surah of the Quran, that Allah calls himself as-Salam, which of course in the very literal sense of it means the peace.

Secondly, Paradise or the heavens as some people call it, something in the life to come actually is called by the name of Darus-Salam, because that is the ultimate place where there is no conflict.

Thirdly, the Quran indicates that when people are entering Paradise, the believers are entering into Paradise, the greeting they receive from the Creator is a greeting of peace, as we find in Surat Yasin, the 36th. Surah in the Quran, “Peace is a word (meaning a word of greeting) from a Merciful and Compassionate God, Allah”.

Fourthly, the Quran also says that when people are entering into Paradise, the angels will be there to greet them, and the Quran describes it “The angels will be entering, meaning to the believers, from every door, meaning greeting them with the greeting peace be with you”.


About Jamal Badawi

Dr. Jamal Badawi is a professor at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Canada, where he currently teaches in the areas of management and religious studies. He is the author of several works on various aspects of Islam.

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