Muslims are increasingly being killed in the name of Islam. It is apparent that some among those who proclaim to be part of the Muslim fraternity, have lost sound understanding of the teachings of the Islamic faith and are substituting the sublime message of Islam by a discourse of anger and the rhetoric of rage; writes Sa'dullah Khan
Salam & Wasatiyyah
Islam is salam (peace) and taslim (submission to the Divine). In Islam Peace is the standard, it is the principle, and each person of faith has the moral obligation to maintain peace, without compromising on justice and truth. Islam invites to the subul as-salam (pathway of peace); peace of mind, peace of conscience, peace in the family and society, peace with one's Creator and His creation. One of the attributes of the Divine is As-Salam (The Source of Peace) and Muslim greeting universally, upon meeting and departing, is As-Salamu 'alaykum or "peace be unto you". The final and ultimate reward for human endeavor is Paradise, referred to in the Qur'an as Dar-us-Salam (Abode of Peace)
Moderation, not Extremism
Believers were intended to be a ummah/community that serves as a standard/model for others; as the Qur'an describes ... . "And we have made you (ummatan wasata) a median community / a people of moderation/ a balanced medium; in order that you may be a testimony or model for humanity". [Qur'an 2:143] It is the absence of the balance provided by wasatiyyah (moderation) that extremism creeps in. Wasatiyyah is an antidote to ... ghuluww (excessiveness), tanattu' (harshness), tashaddud (severity), tatarruf (extremism) ... in all its forms.
The Prophet cautioned ... I warn you regarding extremism, because communities before you were (uhlika) destroyed due to extremism [an-Nisa'i] The prophet warned thrice; "the extremists are destroyed/annihilated" [Sahih Muslim]. Furthermore, he cautioned; "My intercession will not be availed two categories of my community; an oppressive/unjust ruler and a rebellious extremist." [Tibrani]
Remember the words of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh): "A Muslim (one who proclaims faith) is that person from whose hands and tongue other Muslims are safe; A Mu'min (one who manifests faith) is that person in whom humanity find safety and security regarding their lives, property and honor." [Baihaqi] The Prophet (pbuh) further advised ... Allah is kind and loves kindness in every matter, and kindness has been granted capacity which violence could never attain. [Sahih Muslim]
How is it then that some Muslims are so intolerant of other faiths, involved in atrocious and heinous acts of violence and senseless killing? Are they oblivious to historic example of how the Prophet engaged those of different Faiths?
So, though the very word Islam means "peace" and not withstanding a well-documented history of contribution to world civilization, Islam is portrayed as an aggressive religion and used most synonymously with violence and intolerance.
The very fact that Islam considers Christians and Jews endearingly as "People of the Book" clearly indicates tolerant ecumenical attitude of Islam.
Labeling something "Islamic" does not make it so
Labeling something "Islamic" does not make it justifiable. Realize, that just because you are religious does not mean that everything you do is necessarily right. Desiring to implement Islamic values is always noble, but having a meaningful and effective strategy is indeed most significant. Forcing other is never an acceptable resort and certainly not the first resort; especially since our Deen commands us not to use compulsion as a tool. Just because something needs to be done does not mean that anything that is done is okay; and just because something is done in religious fervor does not in any way prove that it is Islamically correct.
Flaring Sectarian Flames
In some sectors of our communities there is the recurring flaring up of sectarian flames and resurrecting the tendency to ...
- misconstrue differing perspectives as opposing forces,
- divide the community into enemy camps over secondary issues rather than uniting them on greater common issues.
- make that universal, ever relevant Islam a cause of major conflicts by infighting over insignificant issues.
- urn minor points of jurisprudence into major ideological conflicts. ... sadly, all this in the name of "Islam". We are weakened by our divisons and our enemies are strengthened by our disunity.
In his Musaddas. Over a hundred years ago, Maulana Altaf Husain Hali lamented about our intra-faith intolerance
Na Sunni mein aur Ja'fri mein ho ulfat
Na No'mani-o-Shaf'i mein ho millat
Wahhabi se Sufi ki kam ho na nafrat
Muqallad kare na-muqallad pe la'nat
Rahe ahl-e-Qibla mein jang aisi baaham
Ke Din-e-Khuda par hanse saara 'aalam.
Between Sunni and Shi'a there is no love
Between Hanafi and Shaf'i there is no bond
Between Wahhabi and Sufi there is dislike
Followers of a school of thought berate those who do not follow schools;
Such hostility is ensuing between the community of one qiblah (Muslims)
that people of the world are mocking the Din of Allah (Islam)
Imam Malik cautioned, "I have not seen anything more harmful to religion, more undermining to one's sense of honor and more unnecessary in pre-occupying our feelings than disputes/argumentation."
Lasting harmony and understanding for a community starts from within and then it can spread the same respect towards others. How would other people take a community seriously which misunderstands itself and misrepresents each other?
- We should recognize that in submitting to Allah, building a wholesome and harmonious community is one of our primary objectives.
- We should confirm the importance of promoting a culture of dialogue within our faith community.
- We should affirm that it is important for us all to listen to and learn from other perspectives so that we can value Islamic plurality as a factor that enriches our communities.
- We should attempt to explain our own perspectives in a manner that is intelligible and inoffensive to people of other perspectives.
- We should commit ourselves to engage in dialogue with sincerity and patience, without considering what separates us as an insurmountable wall. Rather recognize the fact that facing our differences can become an occasion for greater reciprocal understanding and that such dialogue can take place only on the basis of mutual trust and respect.
May Allah protect the innocent from the injustices of the self-righteous.
Shaykh Sadullah Khan is the Director of Impower Development International.
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