Peace as a Universal Islamic Value
In many different ways the Qur’an and Sunnah bring peace into the heart of Islam’s spirituality, law and ethics. There is a persistent quest to instil tranquillity into the hearts and minds of the believers. The thrust of this presentation is to explore and substantiate the grounds of our belief that peace is a universal and normative principle of Islam. An introduction raises the question as to why Islam is associated with violence, and whether there any basis for this. This is followed by discussion of Islam’s self-definition and self-identification as a religion of tranquillity and peace. The sub-headings that follow are a reading of the source evidence, especially of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Then I take a glimpse into how in Islam Divine love and grace constitute the leitmotif and origins of God’s creation. The discussion proceeds to expound the centrality of ihsan (beauty and benevolence) as a theological foundation of Islam. This is followed by a brief exposition of compassion (rahmah), justice (‘adl), human dignity (karamah) and the vicegerency of mankind on earth (khilafah) and how these feature in Islam as a religion of submission and peace. Then I explore the place of non-violence, forbearance and patience (sabr) in the teachings of Islam. Finally I turn to the use of force and the much-debated subject of jihad (selfless striving) under two sub-headings, one of which expounds textual dispensations and early developments on jihad, while the other examines jihad in the modern period. I show how the meaning of jihad has been changing in tandem not only with juristic and theological thought but also with the politics of power, domination and conquest. I end with a conclusion and recommendations.