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Understand Islam

What Does the Qur’an Say About Peace & Non-Violence?

The issue of peace and justice in society, and in the international community at large is of fundamental importance and must be thoroughly addressed if the community – national or international – were to prosper and coexist in peace and harmony. However, this would not be maintained if the code of conduct between individuals and states were not based on tolerance and non-violence when addressing matters of disputes and contentions. And there are the unavoidable circumstances that lead to conflict, but then war should be seen as the last resort in settling any conflict. This is the approach that is encouraged by Islam.

Islam comes from the root word Salaam, which means ‘peace’. It also means submitting one’s will to Allah Almighty. Qur’an describes the desirability of peace and the means of attaining it in various passages, including the verse, “If they incline toward peace, then seek you peace also,” which clearly demonstrates that peace is a desired state to be striven for.

Even when wronged, the Glorious Qur’an advises Muslims to repel the evil with what is best, so that even the enemies would become a warm friend [Al-Qur’an 41:34]

Furthermore, one of the various names for heaven is ‘Dar al-Salam’, meaning “Abode of Peace.” Thus, peace is a goal that Muslims are required to strive for, in their own selves, in their families and in their communities.

Sanctity of Treaties:

The Prophet and his companions did make treaties, such as that of Hudaybiyya in the sixth year of the hijra and the one made by Umar with the people of Jerusalem. Faithfulness to a treaty is a most serious obligation which the Qur’an and hadith incessantly emphasize: “Believers, fulfill your bonds.” (Quran 5:1)

“Keep the agreements of God when you have made them and do not break your oaths after you have made them with God as your bond…” (Quran 16:91)

“Covenants should not be broken because one community feels stronger than another.” (Quran 16:92)

Breaking treaties puts the culprit into a state lower than animals (Quran 8:55). As stated above, even defending a Muslim minority is not allowed when there is a treaty with the camp, they are in.

International Co-operation:

In the sphere of war and peace, there is nothing in the Qur’an or hadith which should cause Muslims to feel unable to sign and act according to the modern international conventions, and there is much in the Qur’an and hadith from which modern international law can benefit.

There is nothing in Islam that prevents Muslims from having peaceful, amicable and good relations with other nations when they read and hear regularly the Qur’anic injunction, referring too members of other faiths: “God does not forbid you front being kind and equitable to those who have neither made war on you account of your religion nor driven you from your homes. God loves those who are equitable.” (Quran 60:8)

This includes participation in international peace-making and peace-keeping efforts. The rule of arbitration in violent disputes between groups of Muslims is given in the Qur’an: “If two, of the believers take up arms against one another, make peace between them. If either of them commits aggression against the other, fight against the aggressors until they submit to God’s judgment. When they submit make peace between them in equity and justice. God loves those who act in justice.” (Quran 49:9)

This could, in agreement with rules of Islamic jurisprudence, be applied more generally to disputes within the international community. For this reason, Muslims should, and do, participate in the arbitration of disputes by international bodies such as the United Nations.

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