Peace and Justice in Islam

Toward a Better World:
(Episode 1 - Part 2/2)
Dr Jamal Badawi 2
The most noble fear is the fear from disconnecting oneself from God. The fear of displeasing the Creator who created us and gave us all the blessings.

Part 1

The fifth point is that the Quran also says that when people greet each other in Paradise, their greeting is the greeting of peace. The Quran puts it this way “Their mutual greeting among themselves is a greeting of peace.”

Now, in this sense then we can see that peace is not only just an abstract concept. It’s not only inherent in the very term “Islam” but in many of those theological terms. May we add to this that it is well-known that there’s only one greeting that is known and used by hundreds of millions of Muslims all over the world irrespective of their linguistic background.

In fact that greeting became incorporated in the variety of languages spoken by Muslims. It is the key to the heart of a Muslim, whether you are coming from Africa, from Asia, from Europe, from America, you name it. Just tell a Muslim “Assalamu `alaikum”, meaning (peace be with you), or the more complete one “Assalamu `alaikum” (peace be with you), regardless of background they will know what you are talking about. It is the most common greeting in the world. It is a greeting also that has good meaning.

I tell my friends in Europe and North America I have no problem if somebody says hi or hello, I don’t know what it means, but there is one thing I know for sure that has a beautiful meaning, that mutual greeting “Assalamu`alaikum”  (peace be with you).

You know something, on my phone at home I have a recorded message of course as many people would have, and the recorded message begins with “Assalamu`alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh” (May the peace and blessings and mercy of God be with you).

Even if I’m at home and able to pick the phone, the first thing I say irrespective of who is speaking, I say “Assalamu`alaikum Warahmatullah” or “Assalamu`alaikum” and that arouses some interest and curiosity among people, especially those who are not Muslims. Many of them say “What, what did you say?” I say “I said Assalamu`alaikum which means peace be with you, and that’s the Muslim greeting”.

You know, many times I hear people say “Oh, that’s nice”. This is a natural innate inclination among all human beings to pursue the peace. When the greeting here is a greeting of peace, it really touches the heart, and in my humble understanding, much more than hi and hello. It’s really much more beautiful. All of this are part of the argument again that peace is at the core of Islam. That’s the second level.

The Supreme Objectives of Islamic law

Islam is about safeguarding faith, which means again peace, and people are entitled to believe in what they want to believe in

But you can take it also to a third level even; just the term peace itself and its derivatives. That if we examine what is called the supreme objectives of Shari`ah or Islamic law, even though the word Islamic Law and Shari`ah may not be exactly equal, we will not get into these details.

But the five major objectives of Islam you might say, the supreme objectives, as derived by the scholars from reading the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are five.

Some say that you could even add one to them like justice. In that order, Islam is about safeguarding faith, which means again peace, and people are entitled to believe in what they want to believe in, to worship and practice what appeals to their heart and mind. It doesn’t matter whether they agree with you or not, they are entitled to that, they are entitled to equal protection for their right to believe and their right to worship the way they want. That could be a whole topic by itself but I’m just stopping at that. Number one.

Secondly, or the second supreme objective, is to safeguard life, the sanctity of human life. That again is connected with peace. Because it means that a person is entitled to live in peace with others, and if you are not aggressing against others you are entitled to have the tranquility and peace and to use your right to exist.

The third, is to safeguard the mind, both positively in the sense of encouraging reading, studying, researching and experimentation. And from the negative standpoint by prohibiting for example the toxics or anything that destroys or damages that beautiful gift from God. That again is connected with peace. How could I be at peace without, or how could I achieve that peace intellectually without, being free to research and to benefit myself and humanity at large.

The fourth is to safeguard and protect the family or in general owner, owner of all people. In fact, this is also another implication of peace. It includes also fifthly to safeguard property, the right to own things and use it in the legitimate way.

Acquiring wealth legitimately, disposing of it legitimately as well. So even the ultimate objectives, or supreme objectives in Islam, are really connected very much in that notion of peace. With this in mind, let us go back to the definition of Islam beginning with peace with God, the Creator. Peace with God means to have close relationship with our Creator.

A relationship that involves first of all confession of faith willingly and convincingly that God, the one God of all people, not the God of Muslims, but the God of all humanity, God of the whole universe, is the sole Creator, Sustainer and Cherisher of the universe, that’s where it begins. It can’t be achieved without what we said earlier by being willing to submit to God and to God alone, an unqualified submission.

Fear of punishment comes from the fact that Allah knows our psychology and our nature,

To have a relationship which combines elements of fear of God, and fear of God here doesn’t mean like fearing from God. We might be afraid of tyrants or we might be afraid of death but we don’t like or appreciate or respect these things. No, that’s a different meaning of fear altogether.

Actually the most noble fear is the fear from disconnecting oneself from God. The fear of displeasing the Creator who created us and gave us all the blessings that we are enjoying in our lives. Yes part of it, as the Quran indicates, is the fear of punishment but this is not the only one.

Fear of punishment comes from the fact that Allah knows our psychology and our nature, and when a person is so much attracted to sin and transgression or hate or violence, sometimes remembrance that Allah is more powerful than we are and He is able to punish us for our transgression against others, sometimes that also provides at least for some people or for all people in different states of spirituality a motive not to disobey God.

One element of it obviously is to seek the reward of Allah, our Creator. That everything good we do righteous we may get reward in this life in some form or the other, but definitely we get also a reward in the life to come. But that’s not the whole thing because as one of the great scholars describes it, it becomes like a merchant kind of relationship that I donate that much for charity now but God will give me many folds, so they tend to think of the rate of return. But it’s not just fear of the hellfire, which is there. It’s not only hope for the reward of Allah, but above all hope for the mercy and closeness of Allah.

But the third element is very important and the Quran does refer to that as well. It’s very key in our understanding of our relationship with the Creator. A relationship that is based on the love of Allah the Almighty. And the Quran does refer to this. Describing the true believers, it says “The true believers are more intense in their love of Allah”. They are not forbidden from loving others, but the greatest love that a believer has, the most intense love is that of Allah the Creator.

And Allah the Almighty (Glory be to Him) is so kind and merciful to us that He used a term in the Quran in a couple of places to describe Himself as Wadud, which is more than just loving. Actually Abdullah Yusuf Ali came close to the true meaning of Wadud as “Full of loving kindness”. But that love of Allah or the mutuality of the love between the believer and the Creator is not a slogan. It’s not just a nice feeling. It’s a responsibility above that.

As we read in the Quran, addressing Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to teach Muslims “Say to them, O Muhammad, if indeed you love Allah, follow me” – Why follow him? Because he speaks for Allah, he receives the revelation from Allah, so we are not equating him with Allah by any means, but he speaks for Allah, he communicates to us the commands of Allah. Follow me meaning, follow the teachings of Allah revealed through me. Allah will love you more and forgive your sins.

These are essential ingredients in achieving that peace with Allah as the One and only Creator, as the One who is not only worthy of being believed in as the Creator, but the One also who is the only entity that we worship, that nobody else, no entity in general is to be worshiped instead of Allah the Creator or alongside to be equated with Allah. Nor are we as Muslims permitted to pray to Allah through any of His creatures.  No intermediary even of the greatest of the prophets, we are not supposed to pray through him.

We pray to God directly. This I hope might shed some light, at least on that level of peace, peace with the Creator.  

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Related Links:
Peace and Justice in Islam: (Episode 1 - Part 1/2)
Are We Really Inspired by Prophet Muhammad?
Peace in an Unstable World
Contentment: A Paradise on Earth
How to Achieve Tranquility of the Heart

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