Islam, in Arabic, means “Submission (to Allah) without any objection.” It also means “Peace.” Thus, Islam can be further defined as a path to attain complete peace through voluntary submission to the Divine Will of Allah (SWT).

Being a major religion practised by over 1.8 billion people spanning across the world, still, sadly Muslims have been and still are facing dire situations due to the misconceptions of the teachings of Islam, believed by many people. Consequently, this has led to Muslims becoming receivers of hatred, caused by these misunderstandings.

On the contrary, what they don’t realize is that Islam and the Quran only spread messages of peace. In the Holy Quran, Allah (SWT) states:

O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.

Surah Baqarah Chapter 02 verse 208

Teachings of Islam promoting peace

1. Muslims are prohibited from proactively initiating war

Followers of Islam have long been admonished for the conducts of Jihad (Holy War, in this context), by people who misunderstand the verses of the Quran without understanding its real implications. As opposed to common belief, the Quran and the teachings of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) lay an excellent set of guidelines on the rightful acts of maintaining peace.

Muslims are only allowed to act in defence. They have permission from God to fight back when their lives are in danger. Some of the commands in war, as directed by the Prophet (PBUH) at his companions are as follows:

  • Do not cut a tree
  • Do not kill a woman
  • Do not kill a child
  • Do not kill a sick person
  • Do not kill an older person
  • Do not destroy an inhabited place
  • Do not kill an animal (camel or sheep) except as means of nourishment
  • Do not disfigure the dead (impalement, dismemberment, beheading, etc.)
  • Do not kill those who stop fighting back
  • Do not kill those who surrender.
  • Be kind to the prisoners and feed them
  • Do not enforce Islam
  • Do not steal spoils of war

“I advise you ten things:

Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly.”

Muwatta malik Book 21, Hadith 10

Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah . But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.

Surah Baqarah Chapter 02 Verse 193

And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah . Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.

Surah Anfal Chapter 08 Verse 61

….do not be treacherous, nor mutilate, nor kill a child.”

Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1408

2. Muslims are expected to treat prisoners of war with honour.

Islam forbids gruesome and horrible acts, such as the use of torture techniques, deprivation of food and water, immolation and caging them, to name a few, from being performed on prisoners. Instead, the Quran directs that they be fed and treated with honour. Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran:

And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, [Saying], “We feed you only for the countenance of Allah . We wish not from you reward or gratitude.

Surah Al-Insan Chapter 76 Verses 8 – 9

3. Followers of Islam are not allowed to enforce Islam on anyone.

Muslims are allowed to call people to the righteous path (towards the path of Allah) with kindness and love, but never on any occasion are they allowed to use coercion to force their religious beliefs upon anyone. Freedom of thought and religion is essential, according to the Holy Quran. Related to this, the Quran states:

There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion.

Surah Baqarah Chapter 02 Verse 256

Allah also mentions:

Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.

Surah Al-Mumtahanah Chapter 60 Verse 8

According to a Hadith narrated by Abdur Rahman bin Abi Laila:

Narrated `Abdur Rahman bin Abi Laila:

Sahl bin Hunaif and Qais bin Sa`d were sitting in the city of Al-Qadisiya. A funeral procession passed in front of them and they stood up. They were told that funeral procession was of one of the inhabitants of the land i.e. of a non-believer, under the protection of Muslims. They said, “A funeral procession passed in front of the Prophet (ﷺ) and he stood up. When he was told that it was the coffin of a Jew, he said, “Is it not a living being (soul)?”

Sahih al-Bukhari 1312, 1313

4. The Quran preaches the importance of doing good.

The Quran strongly emphasizes the act of doing good and being righteous. It urges man to be mindful of his demeanour at all times. It is expressed in the Holy Quran:

And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations away from what has come to you of the truth. To each of you We prescribed a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ.

Surah Al-Ma’idah Chapter 05 Verse 48

Another example of this teaching cites:

And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.

Surah Al-Baqarah Chapter 02 Verse 195

5. Muslims are encouraged to be kind and compassionate towards others.

The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) fervently preached the Divine Truth to his Ummah, while leading a life of piety and righteousness. After attaining Prophethood, he made it his earnest duty not only to spread the message of Allah but also to teach ethical, moral values while abolishing the bad.

The Prophet (PBUH) warned us about destructive emotions like jealousy, pride, anger and hatred, which Satan often instils in man to guide him into wrongdoing. Eventually, these emotions lead man into committing more significant crimes. Allah (SWT) firmly asserts in the Holy Quran:

whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.

Surah Al-Ma’idah Chapter 05 Verse 32

Some narrations of Hadith report the wise words of the Prophet (PBUH) regarding this:

That the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: He who shows no mercy to the people, Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, does not show mercy to him.

Sahih Muslim 2319 a

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should not hurt his neighbor and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his guest generously and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should speak what is good or keep silent.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 6136

Based on the verses of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), we may reach the conclusion that Islam is indeed a religion of peace. May Allah enlighten those who were oblivious to the message of peace and shed light on doubts that may prevail.

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