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Islam and Peace Project regularly undertakes researches on various aspects of Islam, peace and modernity. As there are many misconceptions about Islam, our researchers attempted to conduct researches to find answers to some frequently asked questions. The following are some conclusive findings. 

Is Islam a religion that sanctions violence?

Islam and Peace Project conducted a preliminary research of the primary sources of Islam, Quran and Sunnah, to see if Islam is a religion of peace or does it sanction violence. The following are the interim results of the research.

Islam is actually a religion of peace and humanism. The very word ‘Islam’ (from Arabicsilm connotes peace). Not only Islam, but also all other religions may be defined in this way. The Qur'an calls its way 'the paths of peace' (5:16). It describes reconciliation as the best policy (4:128), and states that God abhors any disturbance of peace (2:205). So the spirit of Islam is the spirit of peace.

One of God's names, according to the Qur'an, is As-Salam, which means peace. Moreover the Qur'an states that the Prophet Muhammad was sent to the world as a mercy to mankind. (21:107) The ideal society, according to the Qur'an is Dar as-Salam, that is, the house of peace (10:25).

The Qur'an presents the universe as a model that is characterized by harmony and peace (36:40). According to a tradition of the Prophet of Islam:

“God grants to gentleness (rifq) what He does not grant to violence (unf).” (Sunan Abu Dawud 4/255)

That is to say, in the eyes of God, the peaceful or gentle method is superior to the violent method. It is a well-known fact of life that in a situation of violence and war feelings of hatred and enmity flares up between people while an atmosphere of peace enables normal relations to be established between people. It makes it possible for feelings of love and friendship to prevail. In a favourable atmosphere constructive activities flourish and the existing resources can be used for development or other creative activities. A positive bent of mind will prevail which will help develop academic and intellectual advancement.

The research concluded that Islam is a religion of peace in the fullest sense of the word.

Does Islam teach confrontation?

Islam and Peace Project conducted a preliminary research of the primary sources of Islam, Quran and Sunnah, to see if Islam teaches confrontation. The following are the interim results of the research.

There is a common view that Islam teaches its adherents confrontation. We consulted the original sources to find the Islamic perspective. One of the verses of the Quran states:

“forreconciliation isbest.” (4:128)

According to this verse, God has decreed that success will be met with only on a reconciliatory path, and not on a confrontational or a violent course of action.

Another verse of the Quran also that led us to this conclusion. During the times of the Prophet of Islam, as a result of the aggression of the Quraysh, his opponents, a state of war prevailed between the Quraysh and the Muslims. One of the commandments given in the Quran on this occasion was:

“And if they incline towards peace, you too incline to it, and put your trust in God. Surely, it is He Who is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. And if they intend to deceive you, then surely God is sufficient for you.” (8:61-62)

This verse of the Quran shows that peace is desirable in Islam to the greatest possible extent. Even if peace can be established only by incurring risks, this course should unhesitatingly be embarked upon in the way enjoined by the Quran. If reconciliatory offers are made by the antagonists in the course of the war, they should be accepted without delay. Even supposing that there is the fear of some deception being practiced in the making of the offer of peace, this offer should nevertheless be accepted in the hopes that God will always be on the side of the peace lovers and not on that of the deceivers.

The research concluded that Islam promotes the reconciliatory path and the peaceful method.

Is Islam intolerant of other religions?

Islam and Peace Project conducted a preliminary research of the primary sources of Islam, Quran and Sunnah, to see if Islam is intolerant of other religions. The following are the interim results of the research.

Many people are of the view that Islam is intolerant of other religions. When we consulted the Quran with respect to this point in view, we found two main principles in verses of the Quran One is derived from the following verse of the Qur’an:

Say: O People of Book, let us come to a word common to us and you that we will worship none but God (3:64).

As can be seen from this verse, Quran does not teach intolerance, but promotes the concept of dialogue and reconciliation between people of different religions. It teaches us that when differences arise we should try to find a common ground through dialogue. As per the above verse, the first and foremost principle for any dialogue held to discuss two or more religions is to strive to find a mutual basis for peaceful co-existence, what it terms as ‘a word common to us and you’.

In the extreme case when, even through dialogue, a common ground cannot be found, the Quran gives us another principle for peaceful existence in a pluralistic society. That is, in such situations, matters should be settled on practical grounds by avoiding their theoretical aspects. This principle is derived from this verse of the Qur’an:

               To you your religion and to me mine (109:6).

This principle is generally referred to, in today’s context as religious co-existence or giving mutual respect to others while following one’s own religion. This means that whenever common grounds for agreement between two or more parties cannot be arrived at on an ideological basis, then the way of practical co-existence must be adopted.

The research concluded that Islam teaches tolerance, mutual respect and promotes the culture of dialogue. 

What is the importance of patience or sabr in Islam?

Islam and Peace Project conducted a preliminary research of the primary sources of Islam, Quran and Sunnah, to see what importance Islam attaches to sabr or patience. The following are the interim results of the research.

Sabror patience is the exercise of restraint in trying situations. The Qur’an repeatedly stresses the need for patience. In chapter 31, we are enjoined to remain patient in these words, “Endure with fortitude whatever befalls you.” (17) In chapter 8, we are told to “have patience. God is with those that are patient.” (46) Chapter 103 says, “Perdition shall be the lot of man except for those who believe and do good works and exhort one another to justice and to fortitude.

Sabr is no retreat. Sabr only amounts to taking the initiative along the path of wisdom and reason as opposed to the path of the emotions.Sabr gives one the strength to restrain one’s emotions in delicate situations and rather to use one’s brains to find a course of action along result-oriented lines.

Similarly, the traditions have laid great emphasis on the importance of patience. The Prophet once said:

“Listen and obey and be patient.”

On another occasion he observed: ‘God has commanded man to be patient and forgiving.’ A companion of the Prophet said: ‘The Prophet and his companions always remained patient in the face of persecution at the hands of enemies.

Sabr or patience is actually a virtue that enables one to proceed towards worthy goals, undeflected by adverse circumstances or repeated provocations. If he allows himself to become upset by opposition, taunts or other kinds of unpleasantness, he will never reach his goals. He will simply become enmeshed in irrelevancies.

The research concluded that sabr or patience is a very important principle of Islam that teaches man how succeed in life.

What is the concept of non-violence in Islam?

Islam and Peace Project conducted a preliminary research of the primary sources of Islam, Quran and Sunnah, to see what is the concept of non-violence in Islam. The following are the interim results of the research.

Islam is a religion which teaches non-violence. According to the Quran, God does not love fasad, violence. What is meant here by fasad is clearly expressed in verse 205 of the second chapter in which it is described as that action which results in disruption of the social system, causing huge losses in terms of lives and property.

Conversely, we can say with certainty that God loves non-violence. He abhors violent activity in human society, as a result of which people pay the price with their possessions and their lives. This is supported by other statements in the Quran. For instance, we are told in the Quran that peace, As Salam is one of God’s names (59:23). Those who seek to please God are assured by verse 5 of the 16th chapter that they will be guided by Him to “the paths of peace.”

The entire spirit of the Quran is in consonance with this concept. For instance, the Quran attaches great importance to patience. In fact, patience is set above all other Islamic virtues with the exceptional promise of reward beyond measure. (39:10)

Patience implies a peaceful response or reaction, whereas impatience implies a violent response. The word sabr exactly expresses the notion of non-violence as it is understood in modern times. That patient action is non-violent action has been clearly expressed in the Quran.

The research concluded that non-violence is a very important principle of Islam which is synonymous to peace, patience and tolerance. 

What does Islam say about enmity?

Islam and Peace Project conducted a preliminary research of the primary sources of Islam, Quran and Sunnah, to see what Islam about enmity. The following are the interim results of the research.

In the world there are many times that enmities may develop between people (20:123), which sometimes lead them to hatred, violence and eventually war. But Islam makes a clear difference between enmity and war. The Quran gives a clear injunction on this subject:

“And good and evil deeds are not alike. Repel evil with good. And he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend.” (41:33-34)

According to the above verse of the Quran, believers do not have the right to wage wars against their enemies. What the believers have to do as regards their enemies is, not waging war, but to respond positively, which will result in enmity turning into friendship. That is to say, Islam believes in turning one’s enemy into a friend through peaceful means, instead of declaring him an enemy and then waging war against him.

According to Islam God has sent man to this world for a test. Underthe scheme of the divine trial of human beings, God has granted man freedom. When people misuse their freedom enmity develops between them. At such times believers are instructed to return good in exchange for evil. When one does this, instead of touching the ego of a person, he invokes his conscience. As a result even enmity is turned into friendship.

The research concluded that Islam instructs people not to consider others as their enemies, but to return good in exchange for the evil deeds of others.