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It is All about Peace (Salam)

Salam is not a meaningless and obsolete slogan, nor mere words. It is the threshold of a peace action. The kernel of salam is also the key to mutual understanding and cooperation.

It follows that peace (salam) is essential and indispensable. It is a good upon which every other good depends. It is a divine gift and blessing which man should strive to keep at all costs. Only when peace is lost do people realize its true meaning and benefit. No gain or blessing compares to peace, just as no loss or harm compares to the loss and harm of losing it.

A hint at such a devastating, especially psychological, state is given by the words of Prophet Adam and his wife Hawa, after they had been removed from Jannah (the Garden or Paradise), the place of ineffable beauty, felicity and peace, to the earth, the place of perennial trials and conflicts between good and evil during which sometimes the former and at other times the latter prevails:

Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If You forgive us not, and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers” (7:23).

No wonder that among the first words which Prophet Muhammad had pronounced after arriving in Madinah from Makkah, in order to advance his prophethood mission from a largely individual spiritual and intellectual experience to a complex community and civilization building enterprise — a feat called hijrah or migration – were the following ones:

O people, spread peace (salam), offer food to people and pray at night when people are sleeping, you will enter Paradise in peace (Sunan Ibn Majah).

The critical significance and role of peace is readily apparent.

On more than one occasion did the Prophet (peace be upon him) relate the notion of salam and its spreading, both as a greeting and life paradigm, to the other major religious requirements, regarding them collectively as prerequisites for entering Jannah (Paradise). He also said:

By Him in Whose Hand my soul is! You will not enter Jannah until you believe, and you shall not believe until you love one another. May I inform you of something, if you do, you will love each other? Spread peace (salam)” (Sahih Muslim).

It goes without saying that Islam, as a comprehensive belief system and code of living, is all about peace (salam). It does everything to ensure its institution and preservation, not only among Muslims, but also non-Muslims.

As a result, such concepts as justice, trust, brotherhood, human honor and dignity, enjoining good and forbidding evil, helping others in multiple ways, etc., are deemed supreme in Islam. At the same time, such vices as injustice, oppression, distrust, mischief, corruption, violation of people’s basic human rights, causing harm to people or the environment, etc., are regarded as most detrimental to the individual and societal well-being.

Against the backdrop of these verities, the pivotal tenet of jihad (struggle or effort to make Allah’s Word supreme) is also to be observed. Because it is often approached and studied from wrong perspectives, jihad remains the most misunderstood principle in Islam.

It is therefore no coincidence that both Islam (submission) and salam (peace) are derived from the same root, conveying different, but in essence relatively close, meanings. Thus, only in a state of total peace can Islam be most ideally practiced, whereas ultimate peace can only be realized in a state of total submission to Almighty Allah, the Creator, the Master and the Ultimate (Absolute) Being and Reality. Ideally speaking, there can be no true Islam without salam, nor can there be genuine salam without Islam.

That is why salam (peace) as a greeting, comprehensive in meaning and effect, extends from the physical to the metaphysical realm. It accompanies man from the very commencement of his existential journey to the very end. It is a boon and tradition of this world (dunya) as well as the Hereafter (akhirah).

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About Dr. Spahic Omer
Dr. Spahic Omer, an award-winning author, is an Associate Professor at the Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). He studied in Bosnia, Egypt and Malaysia. In the year 2000, he obtained his PhD from the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur in the field of Islamic history and civilization. His research interests cover Islamic history, culture and civilization, as well as the history and theory of Islamic built environment. He can be reached at: [email protected].