By Belinda F. Espiritu for New Age Islam
21 April, 2015
Name of the Book: Islam and World Peace
Author: MaulanaWahiduddin Khan,
Publisher: Goodword Books, New Delhi, India (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Price: Indian Rupees: 100
This book serves as an earnest explanation and exhortation to Muslims who have chosen the path of violence to understand that Islam is a religion of peace. The author, MaulanaWahiduddin Khan, a well-known Islamic scholar based in New Delhi, India, earnestly appeals to Muslims to respect the rights of others. Maulana speaks to non-Muslims, too, to clarify to them that Islam is a religion of peace, which means that terroristic activities have no place in it. He does not even blame the media for reporting about Muslims as terrorists, but, rather, exhorts Muslims to denounce violent acts committed in the name of Islam. He tells Muslims who have committed violent acts to ask for forgiveness from God and from those they have wronged. He seeks to explain, using examples from the life of the Prophet Muhammad and quoting some verses from the Quran that Islam is for peace, not war and violence. He speaks about the wisdom of nurturing a culture of peace. He speaks also about the real essence of Islam, the real meaning of jihad, and that what should be stressed is the personal dimension of Islam which is about beliefs, worship, morality, and spirituality, in order to enkindle the spirit of religion. The Islamic teaching of peace reverberates with Jesus’ teaching: “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you; bless those who persecute you. If anyone slaps you in one cheek, offer the other cheek”.
Maulana Khan explains that the culture of the cosmos is a ‘culture of peace’, which enables the cosmos to function for millions of years without witnessing any confrontation that could have impaired its functioning. In his thoughts, “if a ‘culture of violence’ had informed the cosmos, by now it would have been devastated, and there would have been no possibility for human life to exist”.
Being a religion of peace, terrorism and suicide bombings have no place in Islam. Ideological violence is against Islamic teachings for as the Quran says: “Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend”. Violent conflicts and wars triggered off by Muslims in the name of Islamic jihad are strongly criticized by Maulana, who writes that the only way in which Islam can rid of the bad image of Islam portrayed in the media is for Muslims to stop giving their communal or national conflicts an ‘Islamic’ label so that whatever they do can be seen for what it truly is – “actions linked to their community, and not Islamic or religious actions as such”. Muslims should collectively denounce terroristic activities engaged in by people who call themselves champions of Islam.
For peace to prevail, people must make the right choices which include respecting the ‘rights of God’ and respecting the rights of others. Peace is heaven and violence is sheer hell. In a world of differences, people need to practice tolerance of cultural and religious differences, “to live and let live”. Both Muslims and non-Muslims should realize that the way to protect one’s self is to become good neighbours to others, as Maulana says: “If you are genuinely concerned about their well-being, you will, in turn, receive the gift of love and concern from them.” Avoidance of violence is the injunction; peace is a much better way while violence leads to death, destruction, enmity, and disruption of life and constructive thought and activity in the society. Peace entails being genuinely concerned about the well-being of others.
All these thoughts—all very necessary in today’s context—need to be seriously reflected on and imbibed by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Belinda F. Espiritu is an associate professor of communication and is currently the Coordinator of the Mass Communication Program of the University of the Philippines Cebu.