Does Islam Deserve the Title “Religion of Peace”?

21 September, 2016
Q "What makes Islam deserving of the title "the religion of peace"? I'm not implying that Islam is violent, but I am genuinely interested in knowing what makes it deserving of that title. How is Islam more deserving of that title than any other religion....like Jainism for example?"

Answer

Salam (Peace) Dear Sister,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

If we look at any religion we find there are variations in the practice of the adherents to that religion. The differences are usually described as geographical or cultural. To study a religion we need to go to the sources; which, for Islam, are the Quran – the Divine Source and the Sunnah – the sayings and practice of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

We need to search these two sources thoroughly with an open mind to arrive at the correct understanding without the cultural baggage. Muslim scholars have classified the ahadith –the sayings of Muhammad into authentic, sound, weak and fabricated. Only authentic and sound can be quoted for legal rulings. The best explanation of the Quran is by the Quran.

If we were to look into the Quran with an open mind, we would find that Islam is a religion of peace and forgiveness as well as all the high moral values.

Let us look at Islam and its relationship with peace.

The basic understanding of Islam as a religion is peace. “According to the Quranic terminology and its particular language the word ‘believing’ (Aaman) has two meanings depending on the context in which it is used: you can believe in (Aamana be…) or you believe or trust others (Aamana le…).

Additionally, since the usual (Western) understanding of belief implies some element of doubt, the Islamic understanding of Aaman has to do with certitude or degree of certainty, the opposite of which is uncertainty rather than doubt.

The first meaning (to believe in) is related to faith as in the verse:

{The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord. As do the men of faith; each one (of them) believes in God, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers….} (Quran 2:285)

Thus, to ‘believe in’ means to have deeply rooted faith (certainty) in your heart concerning the relationship between man and God.

The second meaning ‘to believe or trust others’ refers to the relationship with people. This relationship implies that when someone is safe and secure people trust him. The Quran refers to such people as believers because they can be trusted by the people.

This meaning is repeated in the Quran especially concerning the Prophets. For example, concerning Noah (peace be upon him):

{Shall we believe in you when it is the meanest that follow you?} (Quran 26:111)

Meaning how shall we believe in you, trust and feel secure with you, when it is the meanest (lowest of the people) that follow you? This meaning of ‘believing’ that is, trusting someone (or not), is also in (Quran 6:82) for Abraham (peace be upon him), (Quran 12:17) for Joseph (peace be upon him), for Moses (Quran 44:21 & 23:47), and also for Muhammad (peace be upon him) (Quran 2:104 & 9:61).

The two meanings of ‘belief’ are found in Quran 9:61 where God says: He believes in God, has faith in the believers.” This is an example of believe and trust (have faith). This verse shows to believe in God is to worship Him and to believe in others is to trust them.

Since the outer expression of faith is the relationship with others we should live in trust, safety, security and peace: and this is what should concern each and every one of us.

The inner expression of faith is what we actually believe. To believe in God, for a Muslim, is to acknowledge He is the One and Only God. The evaluation of this truth Muslims believe will take place on the Last Day by the One and Only God.

So, we have shown that faith in Islam is equivalent to peace among people. At the same time being a believer means a man of God and a man of peace and trust. This is how a Muslim understands faith in the religion of Islam.

Similarly the word ‘Islam’ can be shown to have an inner dimension concerning the relationship with God and an outer dimension concerning the relationship with people. The inner dimension is the natural consequences of voluntarily submitting oneself to the commands of God (Quran 6:161-163).

In Islam, all the Prophets of God came with the same message: Worship One God and follow my example, culminating in the final revelation (Quran) to the last Prophet (Muhammad (peace be upon him)). We are told (Quran 3:19) “The religion before God is Islam …” Islam in this context is a way of life. Compare with (Quran 5:3). Also, in (Quran 3:85) we find:

{If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to the commands of Allah) never will it be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost.}

This has reference to the Last Day when God will judge all mankind.

Islam in dealing with people’s relationships is directly related to the safety and security expressed and practiced by those people regardless of their inner beliefs. God says (Quran 2:208):

{O you who believe enter peace wholeheartedly.}

A Muslim’s greeting is ‘peace’ and here we are being told to enter into peace with no reservation. All of this expresses the confirmation of peace in Islam and it confirms that belief also means safety and security.

The meaning of belief in Islam and its reward on the Last Day means that a person who demonstrates his / her belief in goodness in their dealings with people making them trust him / her, and at the same time has a firm belief in God Alone, would be deserving ‘security’ and will be secured and protected by God on the Last Day and/or in the Hereafter as a reward for being trusted by the people.

Similarly, for a person who practices Islam in his dealings with others and at the same time maintains his / her relationship with God by submitting to Him his / her heart, and behaviour will be deserving of ‘peace’ in the Hereafter.

The Quran tells us (6:82):

{It’s those who believe and confuse not their belief with wrong, for them there is security and they are truly guided.}

Their reward is the result of their deeds. God says referring to Paradise: (Quran 15:46):

{Enter you here in peace and security.}

God says further, regarding Paradise (Qur;an 6:127):

{For them will be a Home of Peace with their Lord: He will be their Friend, because they practiced (righteousness).}

This article could be extended by studying the life of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and peace, including the early battles Just a taste, initially the early Muslims suffered – enough to migrate to Abyssinia twice and then to Madinah. They were not given permission to fight until Madinah.

When the permission came some asked for a delay, some turned back after the peaceful conquest of Makkah, Allah revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon him) that he should secure the fledgling Islamic State. Accordingly, (Quran 9:1-7) was revealed.

All seven verses should be read in context. How the treaties were to expire and not be renewed, how anyone who wanted to leave was free to do so. They should understand Islam and make their free choice If they chose to leave they were to be escorted to a place of safety.

If they didn’t become Muslim and they chose to stay, they could become insurgents etc. So, the solution was; if you are not with us then you are against us.  (You might like to compare this with ethnic cleansing today and yesterday: e.g. the American Indians, the Maoris and the Aborigines, the Incas etc.)

So, we have seen how peace and security in dealing with others coupled with the submission to believe in the One God leads to peace and security in Paradise. This is the formula actually presented by the Quran. Unfortunately, there is on the other hand transgression, oppression and injustice perpetrated and inflicted on others which is the pathway to Hell.

Please Note: Any differences between what is written here and local practices should be looked at in the light of the evaluation of the current and historical situations. Only then can one begin to understand some of the problems facing the world today.

Some people have two kinds of transgressions; these are those who kill innocent people in the name of God. All religious terrorists, Muslims included, are clear examples of this. It’s imperative these people are faced from within the religion to prove the contradiction between them and Islam and Islamic Jurisprudence.

The one who kills innocent people believing he is doing it for God, is also killing the real values of the religion he professes. Justice will be seen to be done on the Last Day.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Salam and please keep in touch.

About Daud Matthews
Daud Matthews was born in 1938, he embraced Islam in 1970, and got married in Pakistan in 1973.
Matthews studied physics and subsequently achieved Chartered Engineer, Fellow of both the British Computer Society and the Institute of Management.He was working initially in physics research labs, he then moved to computer management in 1971. He lived and worked in Saudi Arabia from 1974 to 1997 first with the University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran,and then with King Saud University in Riyadh. He's been involved in da'wah since 1986.