by Fatima Kermalli
Islam, one of the three Abrahamic religions, comes from the word “silm” which means two things: “Submitting to God” and “Peace”. Hence, both meanings are intertwined. The Holy Qur’an states, “O You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace (Islam)…” (2: 208)
This is contrary to what has been portrayed by the media. Terrorism and violence are often equated with Islam, rather than the peaceful religion that it is. The message sent by God through the Messenger was to solely believe in one God and to promote peace towards one another. The Messenger of God, Prophet Muhammad was sent as clearly stated in the following verse, “Indeed, in this [Quran] is a message for a worshiping people. And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.” (21:106-107)
This act of mercy and peace is exemplified throughout the Prophet Muhammad’s life. One particular instance was when he established the first true Islamic State in Medina that was based on mutual respect and tolerance. Different faiths were able to practice their own religion. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, knew the Jewish Community in Medina did not wish to convert; thus, he made a peace agreement with them and called them Ahlul Kitab—the People of the Scripture which guaranteed them safety and security. Therefore, the Prophet of Islam lived in Peace with the Christians, Jews and people of other Faiths.
Consequently, the concept of Jihad which is also misconstrued by the Media has diminished the true meaning of the very act. Jihad is not a holy war. It is defined as a struggle. There are two types of Jihad: Minor and Major. The major Jihad is a struggle against the self. It is a spiritual struggle against the two powers within our self, the soul and the body. This is an ongoing struggle that humans must overcome on a daily basis. The minor jihad is an armed struggle. The armed struggle is permitted in defense as it is the right of every individual and society to defend themselves. An armed struggle is also permitted to maintain peace. Therefore, aggression against any people is not permitted in Islam. The battles in which the Prophet took part in were all fought in defense.
Subsequently, the honor and the life of a person is precious as taught by the Holy Prophet and would not be aimlessly lost. He stated, “The example of the believers is that they have a mutual love for each other, they have mutual mercy for each other and they are like one body. If one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers.”
This is the view of which humanity must envision. If one part of a community or person is in difficulty than the rest of civilization who are aware of it, must also sense that suffering. These are the steps toward peace and brotherhood.