By Ghulam Ghaus, New Age Islam
21 Jan 2013
The universal dream of a peaceful, prosperous world has remained unrealised. Humanity failed in this mission despite best efforts. Why so? Did the bloodshed occur due to religion or other social and political ambitions of sections of the human race? Is religion responsible for all or at least some violence? Undoubtedly, much violence has been perpetrated in the name of religion throughout history, though other factors are often involved.
Humankind on the whole is engaged in war. At one count or another. What motivates the people who are waging this war and how can it come to an end? Is there any possibility of bringing all humanity together and end this war?
The answer is, yes, indeed. To end war humanity will need to resolve root issues like injustice, exploitation of the weak and all sorts of supremacism that the mankind is suffering from and, in my view; Islam has the panacea for all these maladies.
The first enmity between Adam and Devil
The holy Quran points out that the first enmity began between Adam (human) and Iblis (devil). Allah says in the holy Quran:
“And (remember) when we ordered the angels to prostrate before Adam, so they all prostrated, except Iblis (Satan - devil); he refused and was proud - and became a disbeliever”. Baqarah 2:34]
Hence the first notion of prejudice and hate began between Adam and Iblis. Iblis thought that he was made of fire and Adam was made of earth. Consequently he went against the command of Allah and cemented enmity with Adam. Allah Almighty endowed Adam with high prestige and dignity whereupon Iblis got irritated and took revenge as mentioned in the holy Quran:
“And We said, "O Adam! You and your wife dwell in this Garden, and eat freely from it wherever you please - but do not approach this tree for, you will become of those who transgress." [Baqarah 2:35]
“So the devil destabilized them in it and removed them from where they were - and We said, "Go down, one of you is an enemy to the other; and for a fixed time you shall stay on earth and feed in it." [Baqarah 2:36]
The Arabic word اهبطوا (i.e. Get down), was addressed to Adam, Hawwa', Iblis and the snake. Some scholars did not mention the snake, and Allah knows best. The enmity is primarily between Adam and Iblis, and Hawwa' follows Adam in this regard. Thus Iblis made a promise in front of God to misguide his slaves but Allah said to him whosoever would be His beloved slave, would never fall prey to him. When they got down, Iblis set out on his mission of misleading the human race.
Evolution of Violence and Advent of Prophets
A few years after Adam descended on the earth, serious differences developed between Habeel and Qabeel, one of which killed the other brother making him the first murdered person on the earth. At that time there was no Islamic regime, nor was the discrimination between black and white nor did the local and tribal precedence exist, but it was violence which existed even then. Subsequently, the offspring of Adam increased across the world and the war between good (human) and evil (devil) continued unabated.
Given the gravity of situation, Allah Almighty successively sent his prophets Sheath, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and the final messenger Muhammad (peace be upon them) to enlighten the mankind on good and evil. But a series of war on the divine message erupted in the age of every prophet of Allah Almighty. Iblis hammered evil acts in the sub-conscious of human being so much that some followed the divine messages of Allah, whereas some followed the evil track of Iblis.
The prophet Noah (pbuh) tried to save mankind from unlawful acts living for nine hundred and fifty years but the then pagans turned deaf ear to him and told him to go away. The leaders of pagans used abusive words for him and threatened to stone him.
The prophet Hazrat Shuaib pbuh was sent to guide Madian (people of the woods). He preached them to fear Allah and stop violence. The people committed malpractices in commerce and trade, involved in theft, debauchery, adultery etc. They had plenty of wealth that had made them stubborn and wayward. They had no fear of God and did whatever they liked. They ignored all moral values. Allah sent Shu'aib for the reformation of His people. The prophet Hazrat Musa (A.S) strived to correct and improve his nation and unruly people. His nation was granted great bounties but did not accede to correct their behaviour fully, and they were always condemned to derogation. The pharao used to exercise violence over the slaves. Allah Almighty sent Hazrat Moosa (a.s) who set the slaves free and reformed his people.
The Prophet Ibrahim's nephew Hazrat Loth (a.s) was sent to guide Palestine, Sodom and its seven cities, where disbelievers committed evil crimes. Robbery, stealth, murder was common in these cities. The prophet Loth (a.s) tried to guide them to be good and follow ALLAH's way but they kept on sinning.
The prophet Jesus (pbuh) embodies non-violence and is the reference point for a theology of non-violence. He spent his life teaching and practicing non-violence. According to him, violence leads to further violence and non-violence leads to further non-violence. He further declares that nonviolence leads to life, love, justice and peace. If you are non-violent, you will find life. His message of non-violence continued until he was tortured and presumably crucified.
Many years after Hazrat Isa (Jesus Christ) (a.s), when the people had corrupted in their beliefs and started following waywardness, Allah Almighty sent his last prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as a mercy to all mankind. The divine message he brought is known as Islam.
Pre-Islamic Condition of the world
Before the advent of Islam, the people were steeped in ignorance. Their hearts and souls had darkened. They were so polluted in thoughts and morals that they would cut their idols into pieces and eat them. The difference between good and evil had been blurred. Women were degraded and used only as objects of lust, not only in pre-Islamic Arabia but also in the Babylonian, Roman and Sassanid civilizations. They were not even allowed to touch religious books. The widows were condemned to live in a state of perpetual misery. The height of cruelty was that on the death of her husband, the wife was coaxed to burn herself to death on the funeral pyre. When a female child was born, she was burnt alive. At this heart-wrenching stage Allah Almighty sent his holy prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as a mercy to the whole world.
Muhammad (pbuh) As Mercy Personified
God Almighty says: “And We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds.” (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:107). Prophet Muhammad.
This reflects that his distinctive quality was that he was blessing embodiment in word and deed not only for a particular Muslim community but for the entire world. His impassioned engagement and dedication was just with the distribution of love, peace and tranquillity among all mankind.
According to a tradition recorded in the Sahih of Imam Muslim, when the Prophet’s opponents greatly increased their persecution, his Companions asked him to curse them. At this the Prophet replied, “I have not been sent to lay a curse upon men but to be a blessing to them.” His opponents continued to treat him and his Companions unjustly and cruelly, but he always prayed for them.
Once, while he was on the way to Ta’if where the Hijaz aristocracy used to while away their summer days, he was so badly stoned by his enemies that the blood streamed from all over his body. When he attempted to call them to Islam, instead of listening to his words of wisdom, they set the street urchins upon him, who kept chasing him till nightfall. After all, he did not curse. When he was at all exhausted and bleeding from head to toe, all he said was, “O my Lord, guide my people along the true path, as they are ignorant of the truth”.
According to a Hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) once said, “A true believer is one with whom others feel secure and one who returns love for hatred.” The Prophet made it clear that we should never think that we should treat the people well only if they treat us well. Not only Love for love but we should, rather be accustomed to being good to those who have hatred for us.
According to another Hadith, the Prophet once said, “By God, he is not a believer, by God, he is not a believer, by God, he is not a believer, with whom his neighbours are not secure.”
This Hadith teaches us that we should live with others like flowers, and not like thorns, without giving trouble to anybody. One of the great qualities of Muhammad (pbuh) was that he never sought revenge on his own behalf for any wrong done to him personally. Only if God’s commandments had been broken, would he mete out retaliation for the sake of Allah Almighty.
His wife “A'ishah reported that Allah's Messenger was not unseemly or obscene in his speech, nor was he loud-voiced in the streets, nor did he return evil for evil, but he would forgive and pardon”. The people of the Quraysh rebuked him, taunted and mocked at him, beat him and abused him. They tried to kill him and when he escaped to Madinah, they waged many wars against him. Yet, when he entered Mecca victorious with an army of 10000, he did not take revenge on anyone. He forgave all. Even his deadliest enemy, Abu Sufyan, who had fought so many battles against him, was forgiven, as was anyone who stayed in his house.
Once, the Prophet was seated along with his Companions at some place in Madinah. During this time a funeral procession passed by. On seeing this, the Prophet stood up. One of his companions remarked that the funeral was that of a Jew. The Prophet replied, “Was he not a human being?”
One old woman made a habit of throwing rubbish on Prophet Mohammed (saw) whenever he passed through her house. Prophet Mohammed (saw) had to pass through her house daily on the way to the mosque. Even when the old woman threw rubbish on him, he would pass silently without showing any anger or annoyance. This was a daily event.
One day when Prophet Mohammed (saw) was passing by, the woman was not there to throw the rubbish. Prophet Mohammed (saw) stopped and asked the neighbor about her well-being. The neighbor informed Prophet Mohammed (saw) that the woman was sick and lying on the bed. Prophet Mohammed (saw) went to her house and politely asked for her permission to enter her house. When he (pbuh) her house, the old woman thought that he had come there to take revenge when she was unable to defend herself because of her sickness. But Prophet Mohammed (saw) assured her that he had come to her, not to take any revenge, but to see her and to look after her needs, as it was the command of Allah (SWT) that if anyone is sick, a Muslim should visit him and should help him if his help is needed. The old woman was greatly moved by this love and kindness of Prophet Mohammed (saw).
By the example of greatness of Prophet Mohammed (saw), she understood that he was truly the Messenger of Allah (SWT) and Islam was the true religion. She accepted Islam at once by reciting the Shahadah.
Besides, there are many Hadiths which show how he developed the notions of peace regardless of religion, caste, color etc. There is a message that If we desire peace, we must tolerate many unpleasant things from others. On the contrary to that, there is no other way to establish peace in society. The outstanding perfection of his prophetic mercy can be attributed to mankind, family, children, orphans, widows, sick and animals.
But Alas! Let alone standing up on seeing the funeral of a Jew, the Muslims are hell bent on carrying suicide attacks on the funeral processions of their own brethren. Today the violence is growing even among Muslims themselves. That is why the prophet pbuh who was the messenger of love, kindness, peace and universal brotherhood, is being blamed and humiliated by others. Above all, some extremist Muslims (Jihadis and Talibanis) too have been misinterpreting the teachings of the holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in pursuit of their petty interests, thereby presenting a distorted image of Islam and Muslims.