Islam, the Religion of Peace, Mercy and Forgiveness
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
Islam is the religion of reasoning and logic, and advocates peace, cooperation, and sensible development of everything including greenery and agriculture for betterment of human life.
Thus Islam achieves its objectives through reasoning, logic, and guiding people towards higher morals and loftier values. The main objective of Islam is that truth and righteousness should be upheld at all times, given their proper status, and that people should live freely and benefit from their “natural rights”.
For over one thousand four hundred years now, Islam, the universal religion for all mankind for all times that reached its perfection with the mission of the Last and Greatest of Divine Messengers, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), has like a spring of pure and fresh flowing water, quenched the thirst of the God-seeking and justice-seeking peoples of the world. Its message is against oppression, injustice and inequity, whilst providing a comforting shelter to all those who are poor and oppressed, showering mercy and forgiveness upon them.
Islam is proud of the fact that Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) invited and attracted different peoples from all walks of life to Islam, through friendship, cordiality, and good manners and exemplary morals. The Holy Qur’an says if it was anything other than this, that is, if the Prophet would not have possessed these egalitarian qualities, then people would not have been attracted towards him. Islam has the distinction that as the most comprehensive and complete of all messages revealed by God, it puts a great deal of emphasis on respecting human dignity, respecting individual freedoms and respecting the “high status of human beings”.
Thus all of Islam’s efforts are directed at bringing people back to their original identity on to the straight path of righteousness, in order to prevent them from going astray or falling into the morass of immorality.
Over the past millennium and four centuries, despite the huge attraction of peoples of different ethnic backgrounds from all over the world to Islam and their becoming Muslims, there have been ill-wishers indulging in conspiracies against Islam in the vain hope of undermining it and preventing people from embracing its truth. These retarded minds have tried to present a false image of Islam to the world by heaping illogical accusations against the spotless personality of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). In recent years there has been a desperate attempt by the enemies of Islam to portray Islam as a religion of violence and killing.
Sadly the ongoing events in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the misinformation campaign by Western media outlets, misinforming the public about what is really happening, has contributed to the false perception that Islam is a religion of violence. What is going on in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan is clearly a conspiracy against Islam and Muslims. It is a real shame that unaware Muslims have been tricked into carrying out this conspiracy against Islam. There are groups who claim to be Muslims, use the banner of Islam, and chant the slogan of following the Prophet’s Sunnah, yet they commit the most brutal and heinous of crimes. They play into the hands of the enemies of Islam.
Perhaps more accurately, these groups are being used as an instrument by the enemies of Islam to sully Islam’s reputation and to mar the beautiful image of the religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness. Certainly, members of these groups are not Muslims, they only “resemble Muslims”, or they only pretend to be Muslims. Given what has happened in recent years in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere, we have decided to give an accurate description of the principles of Islam – principles which have truly made Islam a religion of peace, kindness, mercy and forgiveness – in an interesting series of which this is the first episode.
How can Islam approve the vile and brutal crimes committed by groups which on the surface seem Islamic? It is the religion that encourages all of its followers to start every deed with the phrase “In the Name of God, The Compassionate, The Merciful”. It is the religion which says in ayah 6 of Surah Towbah or Repentance: “If any of the polytheists seeks asylum from you, grant him asylum until he hears the Word of Allah. Then convey him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.”
It is the religion which, even when faced with hostility, urges Muslims to perform good deeds and be kind, so that their sworn enemies become ashamed of receiving so much kindness, and turn into friends. How can such a religion condone or approve the vile a barbaric crimes of a group who pretend to be Muslims? Again, in the Holy Qur’an in ayah 94 of Surah Nisa, Almighty God tells us that even on the battlefield when you are offered peace do not dampen the hearts of such persons by saying: ‘You are not a believer.’ This ayah means to say that if someone claims to be a Muslim, his life and property should be respected, and no one has the right to cause a loss to someone, using an unjustified pretext or excuse. All the aforementioned examples tell us that Islam is the religion which is totally against violence and intimidation.
But sadly, we see that deviant groups, such as Takfiris, Wahhabis, and Salafis, under the false slogan of following the Sunnah of the Prophet, commit the most heinous of murders -- murdering persons who far from being a non-believers or apostates, are true Muslims. Persons who have dedicated their life to Islam and to the Holy Qur’an are murdered in the most brutal manner. Where in the history of Islam do we come across the Prophet treating even apostates and non-believers in such a way?
In the Hadith literature, we come across the question: “Is religion anything other than kindness and respect?” This is indeed the essence of Islam. Kindness and respect towards the Prophet, towards his Infallible Progeny (as specified by the holy Qur’an), towards the righteous people, and towards all fellow human beings, is the basic message of Islam. This is what makes Islam the religion of all mankind, since it is the creed that is firmly based upon kindness, mercy, and respect.
Sadly the actions of deviant groups such as the Wahhabbis, Salafis, and Takfiris, provide the perfect opportunity to the enemies of Islam to try to disfigure the face of Islam. The crimes and acts of violence committed by these groups are well-known. Members of these deviant groups, who are in no way Muslims, have committed acts of violence which have marred the image of Islam. This is why some naïve non-Muslims have begun to associate Islam with violence. Salafis have become tools in the hands of Zionists and the Americans. Perhaps we should be asking whether the Salafis, or for that matter members of other deviant groups such as Wahhabis and Takfiris, have read ayah 32 of Surah Ma’edah, where God Almighty says: “…whoever kills a soul, without [its being guilty of] manslaughter or corruption on the earth, is as though he had killed all mankind, and whoever saves a life is as though he had saved all mankind.”
Almighty God in ayah 199 of Surah A’raaf tells Muslims: “Adopt [a policy of] excusing [the faults of people], bid what is right, and turn away from the ignorant.”
Also in ayah 13 of Surah Mae’dah, the Lord says: “They pervert words from their meanings, and have forgotten a part of what they were reminded. You will not cease to learn of some of their treachery, excepting a few of them. Yet excuse them and forbear. Indeed Allah loves the virtuous.”
As it is clear, each one of these ayahs proves the kindness, forgiveness and magnanimity of Islam, and is an indication of this basic truth: “Islam invites us towards righteousness based upon logic and reason, and Islam avoids violence of all kinds”.
In other words, Islam is the religion of reasoning and logic. Thus Islam achieves its objectives through reasoning, logic, and guiding people towards higher morals and loftier values, since its main objective is that truth and righteousness should be upheld at all times, given their proper status, and that people should live freely and benefit from their “natural rights”. Islam gives permission to take up arms in self-defence only when there is no other option or alternative, after reasoning with logic and kindness. Even in such conditions, Islam has laid out excellent rules of defence that must be adhered to by Muslims. That ends the first of the three episodes.
Peace and friendship in Islam is strongly linked to the identity of Islam, and it is also linked to Islam’s view of the world and Islam’s view of human beings. Islam has a world mission, and the message of Islam is for all of humanity and for the entire world. In fact, Islam’s final objective is for divine values to be established and adhered to in the entire world. It is for this reason that an Islamic government should feel responsible for all the Muslims of the world, and for all the poor and underprivileged peoples of the world.
The philosophy of Jihad in Islam, which means striving sincerely for the sake of God, should also be seen from this perspective, and should not be confused with holy war. Islam has a world mission, and the message of Islam is for all mankind. Islam wants divine values to be established and adhered to in the entire world. To attain this ideal, not every peace is good or desirable, from Islam’s point of view, and not every war is bad. Islam, of course, does not advocate war, but it is equally true to say that Islam does not proscribe humiliating peace and compromise as a solution in every case. Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) signed many peace treaties, but, also for the sake of spreading Islam and combating injustice, tyranny and oppression, he organized armed defence, when it was necessary to do so in the face of attackers.
Armed defence is allowed in Islam, if it is meant to protect the lives, property, dignity, honour, independence and freedom of peoples and nations. Islam only considers a war to be “correct and lawful” if it is defence of humanitarian values in the way of God Almighty and against oppression, aggression and injustice. Thus, war in Islam is for defensive purposes and not for hegemonic purposes and not for conquering other people’s lands. Islam says Muslims should be able to defend themselves against aggression, and that is why Islam says Muslims should have a capable military force in order to defend themselves against enemy aggression. It is for this reason that Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) was involved in a number of armed conflicts that were imposed upon him, and he had no other choice but to defend. Thus from Islam’s point of view involvement in war is only justified in cases where reasoning and logic fail to make any impression, or fall on deaf ears. In such cases war may be legitimate, but even then war must be waged only to counter oppression, tyranny, injustice and corruption. God Almighty refers to this in Ayah 84 of Surah Nisa, which says: “So fight in the way of Allah: you are responsible only for yourself, but urge on the faithful [to fight]. Maybe Allah will curb the might of the faithless, for Allah is greatest in might and severest in punishment.”
It is only in such cases that Islam accepts resorting to arms and considers it armed jihad or striving in the way of God Almighty for the sake of peace and justice. In other words, it is armed defence of humanitarian values in the face of aggression for revival of peace and justice, restoring order to the society, and paving the way for peace and prosperity. Thus, any time during a war when Muslims reach this goal of reviving justice, they should terminate the war.
The duty of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) was to guide people, using reasoning, argumentation, and logic, by preaching and giving sermons; but when the enemies of Islam conspired and plotted against him, and when they obstinately refused to listen to any reasoning, and attacked him and the Muslims; then the Prophet had to take up arms for the defence of Islam. He personally took part in a number of battles. The Prophet was a courageous, brave, kind, prudent, farsighted and clam commander. In addition to having all the characteristics of a good commander, the Prophet followed strict humanitarian principles on the battlefield. He was always particularly concerned about keeping the casualties as few as possible.
He did not allow the pursuit of fugitives, or the humiliation of captives – most of whom were set free if they became Muslim or taught Muslims arts and literacy. He was very keen to guide people onto the straight path of righteousness, to guide people out of their ignorance, and in order to achieve this, he suffered a great deal of hardship. Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) spared no efforts to persuade people to give up worship of idols and polytheism, and to have faith in the One and Only God, through logic and reasoning. He was not hostile towards anyone, he was not after wealth or power, he did not want to invade or usurp a territory, and he did not support a particular ethnicity, tribe, people or race. He simply strove to awaken people, so that they become aware of God Almighty in order to live in peace and harmony as taught by Islam.
Despite the sincere and selfless efforts of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), aristocracy of the Qureish polytheists rejected the invitation towards God, truth, and spiritual values. Instead they decided to oppose him and kill him, if possible. After his migration from Mecca Medina, they gathered well-equipped armies to attack him and Muslims, leaving him no other choice but to resort to arms in self-defence. A sure sign that the Prophet was not a warmongering person was that he always left the door open for negotiations.
History tells us that Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) talked to even the most obstinate and implacable of his enemies. He always accepted to see their envoys and emissaries, and always replied to their letters and messages. For example, during the Battle of the Ditch, when a joint force of Arab and Israelite confederates besiege Medina with the intention to finish him and wipe out Islam, the Prophet entered into talks with the leadership of the Ghatfaan tribe and tried to dissuade them from joining the unholy alliance – that finally broke up ranks and fled after their leading warlords, such as the giant Amr Ibn Abduwad, were killed in single combat by the Prophet’s valiant cousin and son-in-law, Imam Ali (AS).
Another example of the Prophet’s peaceful diplomacy was during the siege of Bani Quraidha Jews with whom he was constantly in touch and tried to persuade them to surrender so that battle would be avoided altogether.
This humanitarian spirit, and strict adherence to humanitarian principles, and the fact that Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) always left the door to negotiations open, led to the bloodless capture of the city of Mecca by the Muslims. At the fall of Mecca, Abu Sufyan, the archenemy of the Prophet came on foot to meet the Muslims, and there was no obstacle in the way of killing him. Even some companions of the Prophet suggested that Abu Sufyan should be put to death for his crimes against humanity and his shedding of blood of innocent Muslims, but Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) allowed such a mortal enemy to live wander freely within the ranks of the Muslim forces, so that he should see for himself how powerful they are, and to realize the stupidity of trying to resist such an army.
At the fall of Mecca, the Prophet ordered his army that no one had the right to be aggressive towards anyone – with the exception of emergencies. No one had the right to spill any blood or to physically attack anyone. Even when Wahshi, the killer of his uncle, Hamza, submissively entered his presence and claimed to have accepted Islam, the Prophet spared the life of such a wretch, on condition not to ever appear before him, for this would rekindle the memories of his beloved uncle, whose chest was torn apart and liver chewed by Hind the wife of the infidel leader, Abu Sufyan. The city of Mecca was captured by the army of Islam, without the shedding of a single drop of blood, without any battle. The army of Islam entered Mecca, and Muslims gathered next to the Holy Ka’ba, the Symbolic House of the One and Only God, and purged it of the filth of the idols.
Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) was at the height of his power, and thousands of soldiers were under his command, yet he behaved magnanimously towards the leadership of the city of Mecca, who had troubled him for 13 years and waged wars against him. Under such circumstances the Prophet prepared himself for a speech. Hearts were thumping, and young and old, military and civilian, men and women, the elderly and the children, were all awaiting his speech.
Suddenly, and unexpectedly, one of the Muslim commanders shouted: “Today, is the day of revenge!!” On hearing this, the Meccans became fearful. The shout by a top commander of the Prophet’s army struck a deep fear into the hearts of the people. The leadership of the Qureish tribe literally saw the approach of death. But Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), expressing disgust, immediately sent Imam Ali Ibn Abi-Taleb (AS) to take the flag away from the Muslim commander, and to instead declare that “Today, is the day of Mercy, Kindness and Forgiveness”.
The Prophet then addressed the people of Mecca and members of the Qureish tribe, saying: “How, do you think, I will treat you?” They replied: “O Messenger of God, we expect you to treat us well, and to show kindness and goodness.”
Thus with kindness and gentleness, the Prophet told them: “Go. You are free to go, and no one will bother you.” With this sentence, he issued a general amnesty for the people of Mecca and all members of the Qureish tribe, which had a long history of hostility to Islam. In the height of victory, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) refused to take revenge. He defeated his bitter and vindictive enemies, but did not take a single prisoner of war from them, did not kill anyone, did not take any of their possessions as reparation, but showed only kindness, generosity and magnanimity. The behaviour of the Prophet softened the hearts of even the hardest and most implacable of his enemies.
In Islam the killing of prisoners of war is not allowed. The Holy Qur’an says in part of Ayah 4 of Surah Mohammad (SAWA): “Thereafter either oblige them [by setting them free] or take ransom till the war lays down its burdens. That [is Allah’s ordinance], and had Allah wished He could have taken vengeance on them,1 but that He may test some of you by means of others. As for those who were slain in the way of Allah, He will not let their works go awry.……
The behaviour of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) was such that after the battles, he would order the release of captives, of whom some returned to their families and kin in return for reparations, while others were released conditionally – for example after agreeing to teach reading and writing (to Muslims). Truly, the way of Islam is the way of kindness, magnanimity, mercy and forgiveness. Islamic laws are based on the concept of justice. Islam wants to develop the spirit of freedom in people, and Islam opposes tyranny, oppression, injustice and discrimination. We bring this programme to its end with two more ayahs from the Holy Qur’an. God Almighty, in Ayahs 9 and 10 of Surah Hujuraat says: “If two groups of the faithful fight one another, make peace between them. But if one party of them aggresses against the other, fight the one which aggresses until it returns to Allah’s ordinance. Then, if it returns, make peace between them fairly, and do justice. Indeed Allah loves the just.The faithful are indeed brothers. Therefore make peace between your brothers and be wary of Allah, so that you may receive [His] mercy.”