Does Islam promote violence? By Aftab Ahmad Malik
“ Do not let your hatred of a people incite you to aggression ”. The Qur’an 5:2 “ And do not let ill-will towards any folk incite you so that you swerve from dealing justly. Be just; that is nearest to heedfulness”. The Qur’an 5:8 “ We have made you a middle nation ”. The Qur’an 1:43
The world community shares this small planet with the Muslim community which comprising comprises of some 1.2 billion adherents to the faith, and so anyone who understands Islam to be a religion of terror would naturally be concerned. However, these fears are not well - grounded. Writing in TIME magazine, Karen Armstrong asserts that: “ If the evil carnage we witnessed on September 11 were typical of the faith, and Islam truly inspired and justified such violence, its growth and the increasing presence of Muslims in both Europe and the U.S. would be a terrifying prospect.” Fortunately, this is not the case……
If Islam is a religion of peace, why the misunderstanding? How can a religion of peace become depicted as being a religion of war and terror? The answer lies in the way that Islamic scriptures are misinterpreted to suit perverted agendas . Words and phrases that are often repeated in the media have been misconstrued by individuals to give abhorrent incorrect meanings, and by extension, to Islam itself. The deliberate blur between ‘ jihad ’ and acts of terror has been a phenomenon that has resulted from those unqualified in the science of Sacred Law . Sunni Islam engenders a faith and practice that makes the taking of innocent lives unimaginable and which is shared by the great majority of the Muslims worldwide, however the radicals appear to have overlooked this pivotal pillar with their new interpretations of Sacred Law.
Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace , warned his companions to avoid extremes - which he explained was the cause of the destruction of earlier communities. Terrorists it appears, feel that this injunction does not apply to them. Terrorism is an act against God : it is as simple as that. Anyone who tries to justify such atrocities ultimately fails, since both the Shari’ah (Scared Sacred Law) and theology abhor such acts as moral sins and that run contrary to the essence of Islam. The Qur’an instructs Muslims in times of adversity to act with justice, perseverance and with patience . Terrorists apparently never think to relate relating their acts to the elementary pillar principle that Islam places a great value on: on the sanctity of a single human life . ‘ I f someone kills another person – unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth – it is as if he had murdered all mankind If you kill one person it's as if you kill all humanity ,’ is a saying verse of the Prophet Muhammad, which is discarded disregarded by the fanaticism of hate.
In a famous saying of Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace, says: ‘ The merciful are shown mercy by the Merciful one. Show mercy to those on earth and you will be shown mercy by the One in Heaven.’ The Qur’an declares that Muhammad was sent as a Mercy to the worlds (21:107), something to which he himself testified to when he refused to curse a warring tribe: ‘ I have not been sent to curse, but as a summoner and as a mercy’ . Such is the centrality of mercy and compassion in Islam, that the aforementioned tradition is the first tradition of Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace, that is taught to the student of Sacred Law. Muslim scholars have said that in every matters, Muslims should be just, merciful, beneficial and wise – anything that is devoid in any one of these principles , cannot be said to be derived from Sacred Law .
Does Islam promote violence? While many Muslims around the world feel great sympathy for the suffering and subjugation of fellow Muslims – Islamic Law does not allow one act of aggression to be met with another, and actually sets out to preserve life – not take it…….
Interestingly, of the ninety nine Most Beautiful Names of God ( al-asma’ al-husna ) Muslim tradition has it that the most favored by God are ‘ al-Rahman’ and ‘al-Rahim’ that is – The Most Beneficent and The Most Merciful.
Along with mercy, Islam stresses the sanctity of life – as the Qur’an asserts:
We ordained for the children of Israel that is anyone slew a person, unless it be for murder or fro spreading mischief in the land, it would be as if he slew the whole of mankind. And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of whole of mankind ( al-Ma’ida : 5:32)
One of the greatest Islamic scholars that the Islamic civilization produced was Imam al-Ghazzali (d. 1111 CE) known as the ‘ hujja ’ – or proof of Islam . He asserted that:
‘ in respect of the sanctity of life and the prohibition of aggression against it, Muslims and non-Muslims are equal’. Even during military engagements – Muslims cannot destroy civilian life and have strict rules of engagement to the extent that the chopping of trees is prohibited.’
The Qur’an forbids all forms of aggression and is unequivocal:
‘ avoid aggression, for God loves not aggressors’ ( al-Baqara , 2:190),
As well as violence to oneself:
‘ and kill not yourselves, for God is Merciful to you’ ( al-Nisa , 4:29);
And in order to preserve life commands:
‘ not to throw yourselves into the mouth of danger by your own hands ’. ( al-Baqarah, 2:195)
For a brief, but concise over view of Islamic Law, see: Hashim Kamali, Mohammad, The Dignity of Man: The Islamic Perspective , Ilmiah Publishers and The Islamic Foundation (Malaysia: 1999), to read in greater detail, refer to: Hashim Kamali, Mohammad, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence , Islamic Texts Society (UK: Cambridge) 1991 and: Khalid Masud, Muhammad, Shatibi’s Philosophy of Islamic Law , Islamic Research Institute, International Islamic University (Pakistan: Islamabad) 1995