Is Islam a religion of peace, communion, and humanism? Ask any Muslim and they will say yes. But many terrorists claim Islam as their own. So, what’s the problem? Alas, terrorists are activating a traditional violent corpus that was perhaps valid at one time in history, but no longer has a place today in the modern world. We, assuredly, can make Islam a religion of peace, by highlighting its humanistic dimension, its history of tolerance and coexistence, its enlightenment, its openness, its ethics…
It should also be remembered that several lessons can be drawn from the history of different Muslim civilizations. The one that could be called the Century of Muslim Enlightenment did indeed exist. The Golden Age of Islam (750-1258) (1), embodied by the Andalusian civilization of the 11th and 12th centuries, produced many thinkers who influenced the world through their knowledge and writings. Humanist thoughts that have their origin in the Qur’anic verses as well as in Greek philosophy. In fact, one of the most recognized commentators on the work of Aristotle is none other than the Andalusian scholar Ibn Rushd (Averroes).(2)
Another reading of religion, embodied by Sufism (3), a subtle blend of humanism and spirituality, can also be an important vector of openness to the world. Different “Tariqahs” (Sufi currents) exist, and not only in the Arab world. These schools advocate the jihad of the soul, rather than the jihad of weapons. In other words, the Sufi seeks, above all, to improve his relationship with himself, his creator and his fellow man. A way of thinking that is resolutely human-oriented. It is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that the official teaching and media convey the right corpus and teach all this elevation that is an integral part of Islam.
On Sufism, Megan Specia writes in The New York Times:(4)
“Sufism has shaped literature and art for centuries, and is associated with many of the most resonant pieces of Islam’s “golden age,” lasting from roughly the eighth through 13th centuries, including the poetry of Rumi.
In modern times, the predominant view of Sufi Islam is one of “love, peace, tolerance,” Mr. Knysh explained, leading to this style of worship becoming synonymous with peace-loving Islam.”
Islam and peace
Peace in Islam is the rule; war, the exception dictated by necessity. A trivial, but so symbolic fact: the word peace in Muslim culture is an attribute of God (Allah) named as-salam. Hence the breath of the sacred, of the divine that accompanies this term when it is pronounced, said, sung, psalmodized or simply exchanged. The Muslim repeats the word as-salam about ten times, a hundred times, or even more, every day. This is to say how great is the predisposition of the Muslim to welcome, to approach the other, whatever his identity and his religion. Peace is then a permanent and open state of mind.
From the beginning, Islam defined itself as the Gentle Religion (al-Hanafiya as-samHa’), making tolerance a cardinal value. Therefore, the displacement of Islam in the geographical space was not a violent and aggressive penetration. Moreover, the peoples converted to Islam have kept their customs and habits, and nothing has changed for them. On the other hand, they have found in Islam something that brings them closer to one another, a bridge between men, that is to say their humanity (or bashariyyah)(5) expressed in terms of as-salam, a magic formula or divine sesame that softens hearts and cancels out tensions. This makes it difficult to dissociate peace and Islam. Peace is Islam itself; Islam is peace itself.
Allah prefers peace to war:
“Peace is better. But greed hath been made present in the minds (of men). If ye do good and keep from evil, lo! Allah is ever Informed of what ye do. “(Sûrat an-Nisâ’, 4: 128),
وَالصُّلْحُ خَيْرٌ وَأُحْضِرَتِ الْأَنفُسُ الشُّحَّ وَإِن تُحْسِنُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا
Generally speaking, all men prefer peace by nature. That is why all social systems, including those that base their philosophy on contradiction and conflict, try to promise lasting peace over time.
The Qur’an firmly denounces any war that is not necessary for the defense of the cause of Allah and the deliverance of people from the clutches of the devil:
“O you who believe! Enter all of you into your peace and do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. He is your declared enemy.” (Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2: 208),
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ
Islam not only wants inter-Muslim relations to be peaceful, it wants relations with non-Muslims to be peaceful as well:
“If they incline to your peace, do likewise and trust in Allah, for He is the One Who hears and knows all things. “(Sûrat al-Anfâl, 8: 61),
وَإِن جَنَحُوا لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
But we must be careful that the enemy’s desire for peace is not a military or political trick, and a pure mystification:
“But if they want to deceive you, Allah is enough for you. It is He Who assists thee with His help and through the Believers. “(Surat al-Anfâl, 8: 62),
وإِن يُرِيدُوا أَن يَخْدَعُوكَ فَإِنَّ حَسْبَكَ اللَّهُ هُوَ الَّذِي أَيَّدَكَ بِنَصْرِهِ وَبِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ
While attaching such great importance to peace, Islam wants Muslims to be vigilant and well-prepared. It wants them to be so strong that no one, among their declared or secret enemies, dares to think of committing any kind of aggression against them:
“Prepare to fight against them whatever forces and cavalry you can find to frighten the enemy of Allah and your own.” (Sûrat al-Anfâl, 8: 60),
It should be remembered that the word “force” used in this verse includes all kinds of industrial forces as well. Since industrial development is a constant process, the religious duty of all Muslims is to acquire modern industries and modern technologies, not in order to attack others, but to counter any aggression that is attempted against them because of their weakness.
To prepare the Muslim masses for participation in jihad to gain independence or defend their existence, an effective program of “horse racing and archery” was introduced, and Muslims were encouraged to take part in these competitions. To arouse the interest of the youth in these races, suitable prizes were awarded to the winners. The idea behind all this was to make Muslims fit to fight.
It is obvious that horse racing and archery were chosen for this purpose, taking into account the conditions of the time. The general spirit of this Islamic instruction is that every Muslim should take part, according to the tactics of his time, in a general training program in preparation for jihad. In short, every Muslim must be strong and able to defend himself, his ideology and his country, so that no aggressor can trample him underfoot.
According to an eternal divine practice, a nation that is not prepared to make sacrifices in defense of law and justice, and that does not safeguard its own rights and its own existence, is doomed to humiliation and ruin.
“Whoever abandons jihad and disregards it is humiliated by Allah. He is surrounded by disasters. His heart turns black. He moves away from the truth. Because he has not done justice to the jihad, he gets into trouble and disorder, and he is deprived of justice.”(“Nahj al-Balâghah”, vol. X)(6)
When the Muslims had conquered a small part of India, they remained among the people who saw the logic of Islam, its benefits and the good morals of the Muslims, they then entered Islam by legions. All these large masses of people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, did not enter Islam at the threat of the sword, otherwise they would have returned to disbelief after the conquerors left, but that was never the case.
There are other countries in which no Muslim army has ever penetrated such as Indonesia, which today is the largest Muslim country on the Planet with two hundred million inhabitants, more than ninety percent (90%) of whom are Muslims. There are also Malaysia and the Philippines… All these countries, no army forced them to Islam, which spread in these areas only through simple merchants.(7)
And in Africa, Islam did not come by sword or under the threat of Muslim armies either but by trade. The people had welcomed, willingly and with an open heart, the bearers of this religion who had come with the light of Allah, His justice and mercy, thus bringing people out of darkness into light, from the worship of servants to the worship of the Lord of servants.
Thus Islam spread only thanks to the sacrifices of the early Muslims in whom people found sincerity of language and action, fidelity and loyalty, good behavior and justice. They did not find in them the tyranny of despots nor the oppression of conquerors, nor the injustice of settlers, nor the mistreatment of the powerful. Rather, they found in them people who were open, inclined to good, forgiveness, love, brotherhood, and mutual aid. They loved them and accepted the new religion they brought of their own free will without any constraint, and this is one of the reasons why no one apostatizes after embracing Islam.
Let people know in all reality that Islam and Muslims are neither a threat nor a danger to Humanity, on the contrary they work for the salvation of all people here on earth and in the future life. Islam and Muslims fight only those who fight them.
Muslims, bearers of peace
What more do we want? Our Lord is Peace “as-salam“, our religion is that of peace “al-Islam”, our greeting is that of peace, mercy and blessing “as-salamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatu llâhi wa barakatuhu“. Muslims are not only supporters of peace, but are above all bearers of peace, distributors of peace and therefore guardians and guarantors of peace.
This is the religion of peace, a source of peace and moral tranquility for both the individual and the community. It keeps its followers on the path of the golden mean that condemns and rejects failure and default, just as it condemns and rejects exaggeration and extremism. Islam advocates peace, justice, tolerance, love, national and international unity, and good coexistence, and condemns their opposites. Islam works for the security, freedom, dignity, equality… of men without distinction of race, color, language, origin, blood…
This is the spirit, the soul, the body, the essence and the message of Islam across time and space, this is what Muslims preach and this is what Muslims teach to people and this is what Islam invites Humanity to do everywhere and always. The Holy Qur’an has therefore been ahead of all human laws in recognizing the rights and dignity of mankind for fifteen centuries. It is in Islam that one finds the complete system of sanctions against those who threaten human rights and security. Islam rigorously watches over the maintenance of security, peace and order in society. For this reason, Islam remains the only way to ensure that every individual in the social community has a greater share in happiness by providing security in his person, honor, family, dignity and property.
All the categories of crimes which Islam prohibits and punishes are likely to disturb the security of society, sowing disorder and anguish in souls, which will inevitably lead to the collapse of the human social community. In short, Islam came to build, not destroy. Islam has come to help the human being who is prey to all the evil forces of nature, to master his passions, his whims and the satanic temptations in order to rise up to his Lord, the Most High, and find his transcendental dimension which distinguishes him from the material world, more precisely from animals and plants.
The Islamic religion does not preach fatalism or violence and even less resignation and pessimism. On the contrary, it shows man the norms by which he must do everything: from the small gesture of drinking water to the relationship between men on earth, and the relationship between the servant and his Lord. Indeed, the Islamic religion is a reminder for man to remember his Creator and his origin. Let not man run in vain after the fleeting goods of this world to the detriment of the Hereafter; nor let him forget this world for the benefit of the Hereafter. Let him know that Allah has bestowed on him all things, both the goods of this world and those of the Hereafter: and it is not for man to do anything but worship his Lord, in order that he may be worthy of His favors on earth and in heaven: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
The Qur’anic teachings, like all the consecrated traditions of the different components of Islam, are traversed by the dialectic of peace. Proponents of peaceful coexistence among humans, whatever their beliefs (or unbelief), have been able to justify their choice on the basis of Qur’anic statements:
“The truth comes from your Lord; say: he who wants to be a believer let him be a believer and he who wants to be an unbeliever let him be a believer.” (Sûrat al-Kahf, 18:29),
“ There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” (Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:256).
لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ لَا انفِصَامَ لَهَا وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
The acceptance of diversity is willed by God, of “peoples”, of “tribes”…, aggression is prohibited because
“ Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.” (Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:190),
وَقَٰتِلُوا۟ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلَّذِينَ يُقَٰتِلُونَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوٓا۟ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُعْتَدِينَ
“O ye who believe! Forbid not the good things which Allah hath made lawful for you, and transgress not. Lo! Allah loveth not transgressors. “(Sûrat al-Ma’idah, 5:87),
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُحَرِّمُوا طَيِّبَاتِ مَا أَحَلَّ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ
The terms silm and salâm, in the sense of peace as opposed to war, are used in 49 verses.
Peace of conscience
With regard to peace of conscience, starting from the fact that Islamic methodology considers man as a whole, distinguishes two types of peace of conscience:
- Positive peace, which tends to value life; and
- Negative peace, which is resigned and forgotten in frustrations of all kinds, in the negation of principles and values in favor of vice and corruption.
Positive peace, as advocated by Islam, is that peace which recognizes the individual’s existence, impulses, instincts, and passions, just as it recognizes the group’s interests and goals, humanity’s aspirations and needs, and religion’s ideals and morals. This peace achieves the harmony of all these different component energies of the world. Moreover, in Islam, the conscience of the individual does not weaken under the weight of the original sin, a factor of anxiety and doubt.
The conscience of the individual, on the contrary, enjoys original forgiveness, as these verses from the Qur’an emphasize:
“Adam learned words of prayer from his Lord; God accepted his repentance; he loves to return to the man who repents; he is merciful.” (Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:35).
فَتَلَقَّىٰ آدَمُ مِن رَّبِّهِ كَلِمَاتٍ فَتَابَ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ
“O my servants! you who have acted iniquitously towards yourselves, do not despair of God’s mercy, for God forgives all sins; he is forgiving and merciful.” (Sûrat az-Zumar, 39: 53),
قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
Islam thus frees the human soul from the reminiscences of Fall, Negativity and Chaos. Original Sin is thus excluded in Islam. Redemption, repentance, forgiveness are always possible without any intercession (mediation), without blackmail:
“Intercession belongs exclusively to God and the kingdom of heaven and earth.” (Sûrat az-Zumar, 39:44),
قُل لِّلَّهِ الشَّفَاعَةُ جَمِيعًا لَّهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ
In these conditions, peace of soul, peace of conscience allow the individual to live in peace, to think peace and to participate in its establishment, all the more so since Islam, in its project of peace of conscience, offers the individual guarantees concerning his life, his property, his family, protects him against mockery, espionage, gratuitous accusation, burglary, etc.
In short, it guarantees his dignity and his privacy:
“Do not kill a man, for God has forbidden you, except for a just cause; whoever is killed unjustly, we have given his heir the power to demand satisfaction; but let him not exceed the limits by killing the murderer, for he is already assisted by law. “ (Sûrat al-Isrâ’, 17:33),
وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَمَن قُتِلَ مَظْلُومًا فَقَدْ جَعَلْنَا لِوَلِيِّهِ سُلْطَانًا فَلَا يُسْرِف فِّي الْقَتْلِ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مَنصُورًا
“O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.” (Sûrat al-Hujurât, 49:11),
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاءٌ مِّن نِّسَاءٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ بِئْسَ الِاسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ
Such divine guarantees can only ensure peace of mind and peace of conscience, serenity of soul and spirit. There can be no peace, therefore, in a world where the individual does not enjoy peace of conscience. Once this condition has been satisfied, the individual is then in a state of mind conducive to openness and sharing, to exchange and harmony. However, this extension-expansion of the being at peace with himself is first realized in the life of the couple, of the family.
Certainly the home is the place where children live and are brought up, but it is also the place of peace par excellence for the conjugal and family relationship. An individual who does not enjoy peace at home will be unaware of the value of peace and will not be an edifying element of it as long as anger, anguish and conflict persist in his mind and in his relations with his partner. That is why family or marital peace is another link in the chain that is indispensable in building peace.
Indeed, in Sûrat ar-Rûm, Islam expresses the vision of the marital relationship in terms of love and compassion:
“It is one of the signs of his power that he created you from dust…It is also one that he created wives of your own making for you to dwell with. He has established love and compassion among you. There are signs in this for those who reflect.” (Sûrat ar-Rûm, 30:21),
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُون
From this point on, the conception of marriage is seen as the expression of the sacred covenant establishing marital peace on the basis of concordance of hearts, love and virtue.
With regard to social peace, one can start from the following postulate: fundamental in the construction of Muslim society, peace is posed not only in terms of love and compassion, but also in terms of unity and fraternity, a symbol of the solidarity of men and their mutual aid, of the common bond that unites them:
“O men! Fear your Lord who created you all from one man; from man he formed his companion … Fear the Lord in whose name you make mutual demands on one another. Respect the entrails that are going to bear. God observes your deeds.” (Sûrat an-Nisâ’, 4: 1),
This makes the individual aware that he is not alone, that he is not living for his generation but for all mankind. Hence the importance and necessity of living under a political regime based on the principles of faith, namely unity, fraternity, and solidarity.
Hence the political regime advocated by Islam, which helps to establish peace in society, is based on the principle of shûra, as these verses of the Qur’an remind us:
“All the goods you have received are for your own use only; what God keeps in reserve is better and more lasting: These gifts are reserved for those believers who put their trust in God; who avoid great sins and evil deeds; who, carried away in anger, know how to forgive; who submit to God, observe prayers, deliberate in common on their affairs, and make of the goods we have bestowed upon them…” (Sûrat al-Mujâdilah, 34:36)
It is more than significant that this recommendation of deliberation in the management of the affairs of the state, or the community, follows and is part of a set of virtues-criteria distinguishing the profile of Muslim statesmen, and from which emerge the major obligations for a political power concerned with fidelity to the Qur’anic ethics, in this case justice and charity, the umbilical cord of the shûra regime.
Of course, the modalities of implementation of this type of governance obey the development and progress of societies. However, the principle is formal: it is a matter of involving Muslims, citizens in the management of their affairs on the basis of the law that guarantees justice.
To this end, the justice required by Islam for there to be peace is absolute justice, the just law, that which escapes the traps of love and resentment, the power of money, rank and rulers. Divine guidance is clear on this point:
“O believers! be strict observers of justice when you testify before God, whether you testify against yourself, against your parents, against your relatives, against the rich or the poor. Do not follow your passions, lest you deviate.” (Surat an-Nisa’, 4:135),
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًا فَاللَّهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا فَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا الْهَوَىٰ أَن تَعْدِلُوا وَإِن تَلْوُوا أَوْ تُعْرِضُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا
Or those recommendations in Sûrat al-Ma’ida:
“O you who believe, be upright before God in the testimonies you bear; let not your hatred lead you to do wrong. Be righteous: righteousness is closely bound up with godliness.” (Sûrat al-Ma’ida, 5:8),
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَاءَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَىٰ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
Or that verse from Sûrat al-Baqarah:
“Do not dissipate your wealth in useless spending among yourselves; neither bring it to the judges for the purpose of unjustly consuming the good of others. You know this.” (Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:184),
وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُم بَيْنَكُم بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتُدْلُوا بِهَا إِلَى الْحُكَّامِ لِتَأْكُلُوا فَرِيقًا مِّنْ أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ بِالْإِثْمِ وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
Such justice therefore carries within it the seeds of the serenity of spirits and the concordance of men.
Moreover, the preservation of human life, a principle inherent in God’s shari’ah, also participates in the establishment of peace in society. To violate this principle is to commit the irreparable; it is to declare oneself the enemy of God (the Slayer of Life) and the enemy of all humanity. God warns and commands:
“Do not kill your children because of want… Do not kill men, for God has forbidden you to do so, unless justice demands it.” (Sûrat al-An’am, 6:151),
But this inalienable right to life as a moral obligation is not enough; it goes beyond persuasion inasmuch as Islam lays down the legal modalities for punishing any violation of the dignity of life. In Sûrat al-Baqarah about the law of murder we read:
“Believers! Retribution is prescribed for you in cases of killing: if a freeman is guilty then the freeman; if a slave is guilty then the slave; if a female is guilty, then the female.But if something of a murderer’s guilt is remitted by his brother this should be adhered to in fairness, and payment be made in a goodly manner. This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord; and for him who commits excess after that there is a painful chastisement.” (Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:178)
يٰٓاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا كُتِبَ عَلَيۡكُمُ الۡقِصَاصُ فِى الۡقَتۡلٰى الۡحُرُّ بِالۡحُـرِّ وَالۡعَبۡدُ بِالۡعَبۡدِ وَالۡاُنۡثَىٰ بِالۡاُنۡثٰىؕ فَمَنۡ عُفِىَ لَهٗ مِنۡ اَخِيۡهِ شَىۡءٌ فَاتِّبَاعٌۢ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ وَاَدَآءٌ اِلَيۡهِ بِاِحۡسَانٍؕ ذٰلِكَ تَخۡفِيۡفٌ مِّنۡ رَّبِّكُمۡ وَرَحۡمَةٌ فَمَنِ اعۡتَدٰى بَعۡدَ ذٰلِكَ فَلَهٗ عَذَابٌ اَلِيۡمٌۚ
Likewise, adultery and theft are decreed as crimes whose harm destabilizes family and social peace and disrupts the balance and harmony that guarantee the progress and development of nations. The law also protects the individual from suspicion, from listening, from false accusations of being unjustly suspected:
“O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful. “ (Sûrat al-Hujurat, 49: 6)
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنْ جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَنْ تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ
“O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.” (Sûrat al-Hujurat, 49: 12)
يٰۤـاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوا اجۡتَنِبُوۡا كَثِيۡرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ اِنَّ بَعۡضَ الظَّنِّ اِثۡمٌۖ وَّلَا تَجَسَّسُوۡا وَلَا يَغۡتَبْ بَّعۡضُكُمۡ بَعۡضًا ؕ اَ يُحِبُّ اَحَدُكُمۡ اَنۡ يَّاۡكُلَ لَحۡمَ اَخِيۡهِ مَيۡتًا فَكَرِهۡتُمُوۡهُ ؕ وَاتَّقُوا اللّٰهَ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيۡمٌ
Further, on the economic level, and in order to realize the principle of solidarity and sharing, Islam prohibits the practice of usury, and consequently the monopoly of capital and wealth, which is considered an iniquity and a disruptive factor of social cohesion and balance, economic development and progress:
“Those who swallow the product of usury will rise on the day of resurrection as the one whom Satan has defiled with his touch. This is because they say: Usury is the same as selling. God has permitted sale, He has forbidden usury… God will exterminate usury and give alms.” (Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:275)
الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ الرِّبَا لَا يَقُومُونَ إِلَّا كَمَا يَقُومُ الَّذِي يَتَخَبَّطُهُ الشَّيْطَانُ مِنَ الْمَسِّ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا إِنَّمَا الْبَيْعُ مِثْلُ الرِّبَا وَأَحَلَّ اللَّهُ الْبَيْعَ وَحَرَّمَ الرِّبَا فَمَن جَاءَهُ مَوْعِظَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِ فَانتَهَىٰ فَلَهُ مَا سَلَفَ وَأَمْرُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَمَنْ عَادَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ
On the other hand, the right to work, by ensuring work for all and everyone, allows the building of social peace: work is fundamental in the Islamic approach, an important step in the achievement of global social justice through the distribution of national wealth. “Misery is almost synonymous with infidelity, “said Imam Ali (8), to sum up the importance of the law that puts what is necessary before what is essential in the concrete life of men. In short, the State that complies with Islamic ethics, while ensuring citizens the exercise of civil rights and freedoms, offers them reasonable conditions of individual well-being and social progress.
In this perspective, Islam in its various aspects, since it touches all areas of life, presents itself as the depositary of peace in the world. However, this universal vocation is accompanied by a sacred covenant to make peace reign, spread it, defend it and protect it. Believers thus constitute the nation of the happy medium (umatan wasata), the balance of the world:
“Thus we have made you an intermediate nation, that you may be witnesses to all men, and the Apostle may be a witness to you.” (Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:134),
Now, the nation of believers, in order to be faithful to its mission, has the duty to protect the weak from oppression, to defend them from injustice, and to offer them security and assurance: Jihad, in this case, is a sacred duty:
“Let those who sacrifice their lives here on earth for the life to come fight in the right way of God; whether they succumb or win, we give them a generous reward. “(Sûrat an-Nisa’, 4:74)
فَلۡيُقَاتِلۡ فِىۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ الَّذِيۡنَ يَشۡرُوۡنَ الۡحَيٰوةَ الدُّنۡيَا بِالۡاٰخِرَةِ ؕ وَمَنۡ يُّقَاتِلۡ فِىۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ فَيُقۡتَلۡ اَوۡ يَغۡلِبۡ فَسَوۡفَ نُـؤۡتِيۡهِ اَجۡرًا عَظِيۡمًا
And why did you not fight in the way of God, when the weak, the women, the children, cried out: Lord, take us out of this city of the wicked, and send us a defender from you, give us a protector?” (Sûrat an-Nisâ’, 4:75),
وَمَا لَـكُمۡ لَا تُقَاتِلُوۡنَ فِىۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ وَالۡمُسۡتَضۡعَفِيۡنَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ وَالنِّسَآءِ وَالۡوِلۡدَانِ الَّذِيۡنَ يَقُوۡلُوۡنَ رَبَّنَاۤ اَخۡرِجۡنَا مِنۡ هٰذِهِ الۡـقَرۡيَةِ الظَّالِمِ اَهۡلُهَا ۚ وَاجۡعَلْ لَّـنَا مِنۡ لَّدُنۡكَ وَلِيًّا ۙۚ وَّاجۡعَلْ لَّـنَا مِنۡ لَّدُنۡكَ نَصِيۡرًا ؕ
“Have you not seen those who were told: ‘Restrain you hands, and establish the Prayer, and pay the Zakah’? But when fighting was enjoined upon them some of them feared men as one should fear Allah, or even more, and said: ‘Our Lord, why have You ordained fighting for us? Why did You not grant us a little more respite?’ Say to them: ‘There is little enjoyment in this world. The World to Come is much better for the God-fearing. And you shall not be wronged even to the extent of the husk of a date-stone. “(Sûrat an-Nisâ’, 4:77),
اَلَمۡ تَرَ اِلَى الَّذِيۡنَ قِيۡلَ لَهُمۡ كُفُّوۡۤا اَيۡدِيَكُمۡ وَاَقِيۡمُوا الصَّلٰوةَ وَاٰ تُوا الزَّكٰوةَ ۚ فَلَمَّا كُتِبَ عَلَيۡهِمُ الۡقِتَالُ اِذَا فَرِيۡقٌ مِّنۡهُمۡ يَخۡشَوۡنَ النَّاسَ كَخَشۡيَةِ اللّٰهِ اَوۡ اَشَدَّ خَشۡيَةً ۚ وَقَالُوۡا رَبَّنَا لِمَ كَتَبۡتَ عَلَيۡنَا الۡقِتَالَ ۚ لَوۡلَاۤ اَخَّرۡتَنَاۤ اِلٰٓى اَجَلٍ قَرِيۡبٍ ؕ قُلۡ مَتَاعُ الدُّنۡيَا قَلِيۡلٌ ۚ وَالۡاٰخِرَةُ خَيۡرٌ وَلَا تُظۡلَمُوۡنَ فَتِيۡلًا لِّمَنِ اتَّقٰى
This heavy burden of jihad gives believers the status of protectors of mankind and guarantors of peace. If there is a question of universal peace, then it should be sought in Islam, which represents the advent of the universal, the last and ultimate link in the chain of faith to achieve global peace in the world.
Indeed, in order to establish peace with other religions, Islam is part of the tradition of Abraham, who achieved peace with God, the One, and established the Gentle Religion (al-Hanafiyya as-samHa’):(9)
Narrated by the Companion Ibn ‘Abbas:
“The Messenger of God was asked, ‘Which religion is the most beloved to God?’ He replied, ‘Primordial and Generous Faith. (al-Hanifiyya as-samHa’)’” (Quoted by Ahmad b Hanbal. Authenticated hadith, found in al-Bukhari)
On this particular point islamicuniversality argues quite rightly:(10)
“The fact that God’s Beloved Messenger, did not respond by claiming that “Islam” in the form of the final revelation was “the most beloved to God” or ‘the most superior religion’, and answered instead with a spiritual quality or innate orientation (al-hanafiyya al-samha) is quite profound in and of itself. Although this hadith does not exclude the possibility that this “most beloved religion” is Islam as the final religion, we must bear in mind there is an inexhaustible teaching regarding the subtle nature of “the most beloved religion” contained in the Prophet’s words. The wisdom contained in this Prophetic tradition (Hadith) has personal implications regarding how Muslims should devout themselves to God (primordial faith) and their comportment with others (generous faith). This Hadith also has Intra-Faith and Inter-Faith implications regarding how we view “Others” who do not belong to our religious denomination or the overall religion in general, especially in light of being “generous in faith” towards others through upholding the possibility of the spiritual sincerity in the Other, and a genuine devotion to the One and Only God as the Lord of Mankind, recognizing the inherent nature of primordial faith embedded in the heart and spirit of all humanity and all revealed religion.“
Islam claims this and its continuity. This is why Islam cannot be in a state of war with the People of the Book, those who claim the tradition of Abraham and his religion, Islam, i.e. peace with God, submission to his Law and recognition of his Transcendence. In fact, this rule of conduct towards the other descendants of Abraham is inspired by this common and universal heritage contained in Abraham’s message: peace.
When men create gods for themselves or seek substitutes for the oneness of God, they break the pact of peace with God, the Creator, by this act. Men, when they lose faith, enter into war against themselves and against others. Thus, peace of being, social peace, peace between tribes and states cannot be conceived or thought of without the prior establishment of peace with God. One cannot convince oneself of an idea of peace when somewhere in one’s inner self one carries hatred, one lives in permanent war against God. This state of war reflects or refers to the example of Satan who said no to the divine will, once Adam was created and chosen among God’s other creatures. War was declared against believers by Satan; he was banished from the land of absolute peace. The same fate was reserved for his descendants and his soldiers.
Furthermore, the rule of conduct that Islam advocates with regard to other religions is based on the principle of tolerance that inevitably arises from plural differences:
“ 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.” (Sûrat Al-Ma’idah, 5:48),
It is in this perspective that Islam, by its universal vocation, can only be a religion of tolerance. This is evidenced by the attitude of the Prophet of Islam, who was inspired by deep tolerance, towards his adversaries when he entered Mecca victoriously. His words could be summed up as follows: peace with those who follow me; peace with those who follow the Koraichites. The basis of this principle is the divine recommendation revealed in this Qur’anic verse:
“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” (Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:256),
لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ لَا انفِصَامَ لَهَا وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
Confusion is not possible then, in the sense that beliefs cannot be subdued by force, violence, war. Peace proceeds from tolerance of the other, both in that which distances:
“You have your religion, and I have mine”, (Sûrat al-Kafirûn, 109:6),
لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ
and in that which brings individuals together, that is, their humanity or, to put it better, their bashariyya.
Still, the Qur’an proclaims this principle of tolerance to develop and enrich human relations, encouraging men to overcome natural barriers in a spirit of knowledge and recognition:
“O men, we have given you a man and a woman; we have divided you into families and tribes, so that you may know one another. The worthiest before Allah is he among you who fears Him most. And God is wise and learned in all things.” (Sûrat al-Hujurat, 49:13),
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
Beautiful image of a peaceful and Islamic bashariyyah! Faith is the principle from which peace proceeds, prior to any action, to any thought.
It is on the basis of faith that perpetual peace should truly be built. Faith in peace is the universal remedy for the evil of war. To have peace, for there to be peace, one must have faith. All the world’s problems thus come down to being in conflict with God, with oneself, with others and with the world. The relationship is then made up of opacity; and the gaze of the eyes supplants that of the heart, the main tributary of faith.
“The servants of the Merciful are those who walk with modesty and respond: Peace! to the ignorant who speak to them.” (Sûrat al-Furqân, 25:64),
وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا
“And the salutation which they shall receive in the day when they appear before him shall be this word: Peace. He has also prepared for them a great reward.” (Sûrat al-AHzâb, 33:44),
تَحِيَّتُهُمْ يَوْمَ يَلْقَوْنَهُ سَلَامٌ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا كَرِيمًا
Peace is neither a theory nor an ideology. It is a way of living, of behaving, of believing; it is a state of mind, of fidelity to God, of attachment to his law and of overcoming psychic and selfish burdens.
Extremism of the activist minorities
The violence has been fueled by the splintering of the Muslim community into hostile fractions (firâq), each claiming to be the only one faithful to the Qur’anic teaching and to “the tradition of the prophet“. The most extremist of each current consider that Muslims who do not share their views, or who have allegiance to princes (Caliph, Imâm, Sultan or other) on whom they cast anathema, are to be fought as infidels: takfîr. The less extremist ones set rules not to be broken (the preservation of children, women and the elderly…). The most Machiavellian only legitimize the use of violence when they are sure of its victorious outcome. Otherwise, they advocate concealment or patience and “prayer” by which one asks God to “lighten” the burden of the community and “shorten the reign” of the prince who must be obeyed in order to avoid a fitnah (discord, fratricidal war or disorder) whose consequences may turn out to be worse than his reign.
The advocates of intolerance and violence in the name of “fighting in the way of God” are not short of arguments to support their conception either. The Qur’an encourages believers to wage this struggle using terms that derive mainly from two roots, DJHD and QTL. From the first root we have the term jihad, which refers to the general notion of effort, which some interpret as being primarily “the struggle against oneself“, against one’s own inclinations or temptations, and which would be “the supreme struggle“. However, the Qur’anic use of this term does not exclude the meaning of war, especially when the combat thus designated is aimed at the “ungodly” (Sûrat at-Tûr 52:25), or the “hypocrites” (Sûrat at-Tawbah 9:73 and Sûrat at-TaHrîm 66:9).
From the second root comes the term qitâl (mortal combat). This term, whose warlike and violent meaning is more obvious than the first, comes up some thirty times in the form of the injunction to “fight in the way of God” against the “leaders of ungodliness, the friends of Satan“. Some consider that the verses calling for respect for freedom of conscience, tolerance and the search for peace have been abrogated by the verses calling to “fight in the way of God“. Others consider that the latter verses cannot abrogate the former, since they have, in their eyes, validity only in relation to the precise circumstances in which they were enunciated, whereas the former have the scope of a general and universal rule.
It is to the extremism of the activist minorities that we owe the first formulations of the dâr al-Harb/dâr al-‘islâm opposition presented today as consubstantial with Islam. This opposition did not initially concern the division of the world into two parts – “the house of Islam” where the law of Islam is imposed, and “the house of war” which covers the rest of the world, “until the final and inevitable triumph of Islam over unbelief.“ It aimed, for the insurgents against the Muslim authorities, to legitimize their action by presenting the territories of these authorities as an area where the use of war was not only lawful but also obligatory: they were not pointing to some other non-Muslim country, but to territories ruled by Muslims whose legitimacy they contested. It was on the side of the authorities, and their theologians, that the notion of dâr al-‘islâm came into being, in which any recourse to arms would be a fitna, a disorder. The objective was the sacralization of the authority in place, and the presentation of any dissent as an attack on the integrity of Islam and “its territory”.
Muslims must submit to authority, whatever it may be, as long as they are not forced to renounce their religion. Malelikite jurists in the Maghreb have summed up this view by saying: “One must obey the one whose authority becomes burdensome“. In the end, even a state that is not led by a Muslim can be accepted as a legitimate authority as long as it does not prevent Muslims from being as they wish. The shari’ah only aims at guaranteeing “the five necessities: the preservation of life, the preservation of religion, the preservation of property, the preservation of reason and the preservation of descendants” (or “of honour”). As long as the authority does not compel contravention of these necessities, it can be considered legitimate, including from the point of view of religion. This view leads Muslims living in Europe or America today to consider the countries in which they live, and which allow them to profess and practice their religion freely, as “the land of Islam”.
The dâr al-Harb / dâr al-‘islâm opposition therefore has nothing to do with relations between the Muslim world and the rest of the world. It has to do with the ideologization of religion to legitimize and sacralize issues of power and internal contestation, as was the case with the wars of religion in Europe. Legal theologians, in solidarity with these issues, have taken up these notions in order to integrate them into their doctrines and give them the status of legal categories under a law that is presented as being above partisan struggles and the particular interests of factions fighting for power. It is through this mystification, which is at the basis of all legal constructions in the Muslim world or elsewhere, that we have come to speak of an Islamic law, a Muslim law, of divine origin, intangible!
Such a cardinal question cannot be approached solely through pseudo-legal categories – of so-called Muslim law or Islamic law – that are completely disconnected from the historical processes that produced them and that determine their meanings. It must be approached in all its complexity and in the light of its concrete interrelationships with human realities and the issues that condition the choice of peace or violence, over and above the cultural and religious loyalties and affiliations of those who are led to make that choice.
While it is legitimate to take into account the specificities of religions, cultures and concrete situations in order to avoid the pitfalls of ethnocentrism, the universality of the human being must not be sacrificed on the altar of culturalism and essentialist conceptions, reducing human groups and their representations to fixed and uneventful determinations, or to systems that would inevitably set them against each other. This negative conception of the universality of human beings and their rights inspires the prophets of the war of cultures, or the “clash of civilizations”, and all the xenophobes in all societies.
Coexistence and respect for others
We all agree that no society or community can emerge unless the freedom aspect we have defined is taken into account. And emergence in all its aspects can only come about through peace. Without peace we can do nothing; praying well, fasting, reading the Holy Qur’an, learning the rules of religion, doing the Hajj, working to withdraw God’s right to the benefit of our work (zakât, khums) visiting the Prophet, his Family etc. Islam is the only religion that is concerned with giving every human being both physical and spiritual peace even as there are many allegations that Islam has spread by the sword or that it encourages violence to the detriment of peace and dialogue simply because some people who claim to act in the name of the Islamic religion advocate violence and forbid dialogue with people they do not share the same opinions. That is why it would be wrong to form an idea of Islam based on the actions of such people who, let us remember, are enemies of that religion. The best way to understand Islam is to refer to its divine source.
The source of Islam is the Holy Qur’an; and the model of morality described in the Holy Qur’an is completely different from what is conveyed in the West. The Holy Qur’an is based on the concepts of good morality, love, compassion, mercy, humility, devotion, tolerance and peace. A Muslim who lives according to these moral precepts is refined, thoughtful, tolerant, trustworthy and obliging. He offers love, respect, peace and a joy of life to those around him. And if we stick to the radical word of Islam, which is “salâm” and means “peace”, it is easy to understand that Islam is based on peace; that it is social and spiritual. The facts of history – which are solid and absolute – as well as the testimonies of non-Muslim scholars from East and West confirm this. The victims of all the wars of the Messenger of God who was only in a defensive posture in twenty battles during nine years are limited to 203-386 of the polytheists against 183 of the Muslims!… while Voltaire (1694-1778) enumerated the victims of the religious wars between Catholics and Protestants in Europe, it is said that they are ten million, that is to say 40% of the peoples of Central Europe !!… Moreover, all the battles of the Islamic conquests were against the armies of Roman and Persian imperialism, those who colonized the East and subjugated it religiously, culturally, linguistically, and politically for ten centuries!! Moreover, no battle between the Islamic armies and the inhabitants of the Eastern countries took place.
The testimonies of non-Muslim scholars on the peaceful spread of Islam fill the books, which are quoted as follows: The words of the English orientalist Georges Sale (1697-1736) (12) who is the author of a translation of the Holy Qur’an into English:
“the law (sharia) of Mohammed has met with an unparalleled welcome in the world …and those who imagine that it was spread by the sword are caught in a great illusion!”
Though he did not place Islam at an equal level with Christianity, Sale seemed to view Muhammad as a conqueror who sought to destroy idolatry and a lawgiver who managed to change and supplant many practices in Arabia:(13)
“The remembrance of the calamities brought on so many nations by the conquests of the Arabians may possibly raise some indignation against him who formed them to empire, but this being equally applicable to all conquerors, could not, of itself, occasion all the detestation with which the name Mohammed is loaded. He has given a new system of religion, which has had still greater success than the arms of his followers, and to establish this religion made use of an imposture, and on this account it is supposed that he must of necessity have been a most abandoned villain, and his memory is become infamous. But as Mohammed gave his Arabs the best religion he could, as well as the best laws, preferable, at least, to those of the ancient pagan lawgivers, I confess I cannot see why he deserves not equal respect, though not with Moses or Jesus Christ, whose laws came really from heaven, yet with Minos or Numa, notwithstanding the distinction of a learned writer, who seems to think it a greater crime to make use of an imposture to set up a new religion, founded on the acknowledgment of one true God, and to destroy idolatry, than to use the same means to gain reception to rules and regulations for the more orderly practice of heathenism already established.“
The English scholar Sir Thomas Arnold (1864-1920) (14) who is the greatest man who chronicled the spread of Islam in his book: The Preaching of Islam (the call of Islam) writes:
“the idea that the sword was the factor in the conversion of people to Islam is far from being believed…the theory of the Islamic faith respects tolerance and freedom of religious life for all followers of other religions…it has been said that “Justinian” (483-565) – the Roman Emperor – ordered the killing of two hundred thousand Copts in the city of Alexandria, and the persecution of his successors led many people to take refuge in the desert.“
The Islamic conquest brought to these Copts a life based on religious freedom that they had not enjoyed before that for a century and there is no evidence that their apostasy of their old religion and their widespread entry into Islam was due to persecution or pressure based on intolerance on the part of their new rulers, but many of these Copts converted to Islam before the conquest, when Alexandria – the capital of Egypt that day – was still resisting the conquerors; many Copts followed in the footsteps of their brothers a few years later.
I believe that the real weapon of Islam is and will be nothing less than the logical demonstration in dialogue, love of neighbor and justice. Moreover, when we approach the story of the life of the Prophet and the Immaculate Imams, it is clear that there was a coexistence between Islam and other religions or schools of thought. The Holy Qur’an says:
“If they bow down to peace, do likewise and trust in Allah, for He is the One who hears and knows all things.” (Sûrat al-Anfâl, 8:61).
وَاِنۡ جَنَحُوۡا لِلسَّلۡمِ فَاجۡنَحۡ لَهَا وَتَوَكَّلۡ عَلَى اللّٰهِؕ اِنَّهٗ هُوَ السَّمِيۡعُ الۡعَلِيۡمُ
Why today we want to live the opposite. It is important today for every responsible Muslim to give a bright image of Islam that is based on respect for the thoughts of others.
On the subject of extremism among some Muslims inclined to violence and terrorism, Fethi Bensalma, a psychoanalyst and essayist, analyses the complex phenomena that, in a given context, can lead to radicalization and violent behavior. His work also uncovers the contradictory currents that confront each other within Islam, torn between supporters and defenders of the Enlightenment. He also questions the place of the subject in this culture. On Islamist extremism, He says in an interview with the newspaper “l’Humanité:(15)
“The movements that are called radicals or Islamists have based their doctrine on the idea that Islam means submission. However, this word is polysemous, it means many things and can mean peace as well as salvation. What has been chosen, therefore, is only one of the possible meanings, which they have made the requirement to submit to a supposed literal order. Let us note that everywhere there are forms of submission, especially to the law. The life of the normal neurotic is itself conditioned by a certain order. The mode of submission which is demanded in the name of God is here a mode of total, literal submission. It is against this that I have proposed the idea of insubordination, not to reject everything, but to replace the religion of submission with a reflexive religion that questions one’s own faith and beliefs. There is also a political dimension to this declaration of insubordination. This text was written in 2004 and was intended to advocate insubordination vis-à-vis the political regimes of the time. This insurrectional movement was revived in 2010. There was something in the air, the demand for new rights and freedoms. Everywhere these aspirations were destroyed by the Islamists and their friends in the Gulf countries, mainly Qatar and Saudi Arabia.“
Peace as unconditional recognition of the other
A point that should serve as a positive reference point for Muslims to apprehend the relationship to the other different, that of peace as the foundation of the practical status of the foreigner in Islam and of intercommunity relations. It is a matter of ensuring hospitality as a primary value, of unconditionally respecting the sanctity of the other’s life and the difference of traditions, of participating in the defense of the new city on the basis of a voluntary and consensual act, common sense and reason.
The concept of peace in Islam is central, in addition to being of the same root as the word Islam and one of the Beautiful Names of Allah (16) as-Salâm, whose importance is equal to that of ar-Rahmân, the Merciful. It is a culture of peace to which the Qur’an first of all calls forcefully. This concept is linked to living together. In this sense, peace requires unconditional recognition of the other. The act that expresses this orientation is that of hospitality, which must be carried out in an infinite manner. Welcoming difference, on a personal level, in human relations, must be done in the greatest of openings. Hospitality is infinite or it is not.
The concept of peace in Islam goes beyond all others: it is religious, human and political and beyond. The qualities of the believer, generous, hospitable, good, all converge in the sense of establishing peace with regard to oneself, to others and to the world. The Constitution established by the Prophet Muhammad in Madinah reflects the concept of peace and the acceptance of difference. What primarily defines the identity of beings in the city is not confession, worship or religion, but citizenship. Indeed, the foreigner, in the sense of the other who is different, beyond his religion, culture or race, is admitted, quite naturally, into Muslim society since, from the outset, on the basis of the orientations of the Qur’an, secularity and human rights are affirmed therein.
In Islam, heaven does not crush the earth: man is not bound by a thousand bonds. At the advent of Islam, if we talk about foreigners, we think mainly of the People of the Book (ahl al-kitâb), and by extension, all human beings. According to the precepts of the Qur’an, the People of the Book are given hospitality and protection; this is an expression of their status. The term dhimma, which is mentioned once in the Qur’an, means, according to the Islamologist Louis Gardet,(17)
“the protected host who has made a pact with Muslims.”
Indeed, in its original meaning, according to Arabic dictionaries and the Encyclopedia of Islam, dhimma means protection, pact, contract. According to the majority of exegetes, it is a contract by which Muslim society practices hospitality. Deviations and overruns are the responsibility of the history of politics and societies.
At times, the vagaries of history, from yesterday to today, have compromised the intentions and distorted the references of the text, which is open to difference; it allows non-Muslim populations, especially monotheistic ones, to maintain their religion, culture and autonomy, with the sole reservation of not undermining the security of Muslims and paying a compensatory tax jizyah. In legal and practical terms, for example, non-Muslim inhabitants of a conquered territory were guaranteed security of person and property, recognition of their civil rights, and their religious and cultural specificities were preserved. In this way, hospitality has become one of the profound characteristics of Muslim societies.
Specialists consider it to be a form of right of asylum, a sacralization of hospitality and respect for the human person through the foreign host. From the outset, the Prophet sought forms of peaceful coexistence and cohabitation, a major concern, especially when dealing with monotheists. According to the majority of scholars of the tradition, the Prophet is believed to have said:
“Whoever killed a Mu’âhid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling).” (Sahih al-Bukhari 6914),(18)
حَدَّثَنَا قَيْسُ بْنُ حَفْصٍ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الْوَاحِدِ، حَدَّثَنَا الْحَسَنُ، حَدَّثَنَا مُجَاهِدٌ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ “ مَنْ قَتَلَ نَفْسًا مُعَاهَدًا لَمْ يَرَحْ رَائِحَةَ الْجَنَّةِ، وَإِنَّ رِيحَهَا يُوجَدُ مِنْ مَسِيرَةِ أَرْبَعِينَ عَامًا ”.
Unfortunately, in the course of history, against the hospitality and the rights of the protected, limitations have appeared, i.e. a tendency to close rather than open.
But a great gap between theory and practice has not dominated, as researchers, however severe, such as Bernard Lewis (19) confirm that, in the past, that is to say for almost fifteen centuries, Muslim societies were, in practice, rather tolerant: persecution, that is to say violent and systematic repression, was rare and atypical. Jews and Christians (for example) who lived under Muslim rule were not, in general, called to martyrdom for their faith. They were not subjected to any ostracism, territorial or professional, comparable to that long experienced by the Jews of Europe. The exceptions, and there were exceptions, did not alter this overall picture. Islam has often been described as an egalitarian religion; in many respects it is indeed egalitarian. Human nature being what it is, the deviations from equality have always taken place in spite of Islam. But the imagination of certain ideological groups is, at times, marked by distortion and arbitrary approaches and a penchant for prejudice.
The drifts of closure and extremism
This analysis forces us to ask ourselves about this bitter reality: why are there other practices, other readings, those that are extremist, intolerant and unreasonable? We must try to provide an explanation and try to untie this knot. Why do Muslims, or people who present themselves as Muslims, behave in flagrant opposition to the lines, to the dominant values of openness that we have described and interpreted? The vast majority of Muslims know that the multiplicity of beings and things, their division into genders, species, colors are beneficial, that they are willed by God, that the plurality of the world, of cultures, of singularities arouses the desire for knowledge and makes it possible to better face the difficulty of existence.
This near unanimity is, it must be emphasized, an irrefutable reality; only a tiny minority contradicts the orientations of the Qur’an, prejudices what it believes it defends and, from within, distorts Islam. Moreover, the number of Muslims is irrelevant to the validity of the truth; if more Muslims practiced closure tomorrow, it would not change the truthfulness of the basic facts of Islam. So let us look for reasons why there may be superficial, negative readings and practices that contradict the true meaning of the Qur’an.
The intervention of revelation in human time is, in itself, a phenomenon that runs the risk of seeing its recipients become idolaters; this is the case if there is a lack of openness and effort of reflection, or, worse, violence against those who do not adhere to it, or if arbitrary choices are made among what is suggested and signified. There are internal and external causes. The external causes are that which has to do with injustice, which today refers to the aberrations of the world order, to aggression and provocation and also to the excesses of modernity, that is to say, all kinds of influences and manipulations. The causes and internal origins of closed readings, intolerance and extremism are equally manifold.
The term “extremism”, which is a common generic term, means that all religions, all ideologies, all policies, under certain socio-historical conditions, can secrete forms of extremism that contradict their principles. For the vast majority of Muslims, the notion of extremism expresses the idea that extremism is anti-Islamic. Islam defines itself as the median religion (umatan wasatâ (wasatiyya)), the religion of the happy medium, of moderation, values that underpin creation and the line to be followed, as opposed to all forms of extremism.
The closed readings is the forgetting of the context of the Revelation: the Qur’an was revealed for about twenty-three years. The immediate reasons for the descent and the context in which it was transmitted relate both to the history of salvation and to the contingencies of the time. Generally speaking, the fixed, apologetic and ideological readings of the Text do not take this into account. They extrapolate and thus betray the meaning of a Word which is, as we have seen, fundamentally open, since Revelation is the Open One who opens up and asks us to be worthy of it. Closure runs counter to the revealed meaning; it petrifies its points of reference and prevents them from relativizing closed positions; it is difficult to understand, for example, that such and such a verse was revealed in a particular situation at the time, that it aims to give force to law, and not to subject law to force.
For the believer, this is obviously an uncreated Word, valid at all times and in all places, but this does not prevent us from recognizing that many injunctions, facts, and recommendations open the possibility of changing the interpretation; this is how future generations will be able to put in place new conditions of understanding, as well as new practices with regard to application. In this way, they can take into consideration their own conditions without contradicting divine guidance.
The Qur’an itself states that it is necessary to receive it as if it were addressed to each person. The conditions for the birth of the ultimate monotheistic religion are specific, non-renewable. It is conceivable that God, in these precise circumstances, ordered us to act in such and such a way: it was always defensive; it was then a matter of collectively facing up to the adversities and challenges of the time so that these obstacles would not prevent the Revelation from being universally known and so that it could assert itself and endure. It goes without saying that the situation is a current one.
Without doubt, orientations and precepts, linked to a certain context, must serve as lessons, points of reference and sources of inspiration; it is, however, the duty of each generation to renew, in accordance with the passage of time, the conditions of the life of faith. Not only does the Qur’an permit this, but it also requires it. The verses which are based on firmness, which is not closure, are generally linked to the historical conditions of the time of the birth of Islam and in any case are addressed to the community, to the city, to the state, not to the believer alone:
“Fight, make an effort against those who do not believe in God nor in the Last Day, nor forbid what God and His Messenger forbid, and who, among those who have received the Scripture, do not follow the religion of the True, until they pay in one movement a capitation as a sign of humility. » (Sûrat at-Tawbah, 9:29),
In his private relationship, the believer is always called to prefer forgiveness and unconditional acceptance of the other. Moreover, in the land of Islam, it was sufficient for foreigners, the followers of other monotheistic religions, to accept the authority of the Muslim power and pay the compensation tax jizyah in order to preserve their freedom and religious autonomy.
The revealed religion is for the whole of humanity. Within the conditional and limited framework of self-defense, the so-called just war, the duties of respect for human life, for non-belligerents and even for nature were expressly and unambiguously specified. Today, some minority groups arbitrarily isolate certain verses by pretending to be unaware of the context in which they occur, thus violating major obligations based on openness.
Although there is no justification for extremism, closed reading and violent practices, the issue of ambivalence is the second cause. Retrograde currents make a selective reading of the verses that leads to an amputation of the full meaning. Everyone knows, in fact, that in most things, in the majority of created beings and possible situations in existence, the expression of truth involves a certain form of ambivalence. In any reality, there are, in general, two aspects, one major and first, the other minor and second, the latter of which can, however, be taken into consideration when one wants to understand reality.
The Qur’an says that forgiveness, clemency and mercy are primary virtues, close to piety, which God prefers, but that it is nevertheless possible to ask for reparation from others when he has done you harm. This possibility, which is not recommended, obviously belongs to the second level of the Qur’an’s orientations; narrow minds, or those who are not inclined to rise to the first level of reality, where the main axis of the Message is found, fixate on the second level, moreover.
If, under certain specific conditions, the Qur’an does not exclude resistance, counter-violence or, in the case of aggression, self-defense, this concerns the community, the State and not the individual and private believer. The plural is referred to, not the singular. In this sense, the Qur’an clearly states:
“Fight those who fight you in the way of God, without committing aggression. God hates aggressors.” (Sûrat Al-Baqarah, 2:190),
وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ
For the Qur’an, non-violence and a sense of justice take on their full value at times when events and history demand restraint and more restraint.
According to the Qur’an, fairness is verified when there is asymmetry; when I am attacked, when I am wronged, I must not react blindly. It is legitimate to resist, protect and defend oneself, but without revenge, without excess. It is in the difficulty of these situations that the correctness of our behavior is verified. This is what is lacking in closed and fixed readings: their hatred is doomed to failure. Firmness, resistance and vigilance consist in giving all their power to the precepts revealed, so that the reason of the strongest does not prevail. Otherwise, the pot of earth will forever collide with the pot of iron, and the lamb with the wolf. To resist, to defend oneself justly, not to allow oneself to be taken hostage by the other, this is how the Qur’an is directed; moreover, one should never lose sight of the need for forgiveness: neither angel-like attitude nor blind violence are appropriate. Understanding that being true means controlling tensions.
To be open, in vigilance, to the other. The Qur’an sheds light on the data of reality on the basis of an approach which presents the different faces, aspects and categories which, with a certain ambivalence, make up and constitute things, beings and situations. This can be confusing to an uninformed eye, and an ill-intentioned mind can even make an arbitrary reading. Thus, on the one hand, the human being is described as forgetful, ungrateful, weak, sometimes even scoundrel, but on the other hand, his noble qualities, his perfect forms, are put forward; endowed with reason, he represents God on earth and the angels prostrate themselves before him.
Life itself is presented from the point of view of dialectical relationship, ambivalence, tension, relationship. On the one hand, it is a serious, well-founded, logical creation. It has a meaning: it is necessary to be committed to life, says the Qur’an, to be truly alive, creative, responsible; existence must be fully assumed. On the other hand, the visible side of this world is presented as an illusory form, a frivolous game made up of ephemeral moments from which one must keep one’s distance and from which one must not allow oneself to be carried away or dazzled. The Qur’an describes the different other as my human brother; he is close to me, he is the same, he is indispensable to me in order to perceive, or glimpse, understand and master reality and the beyond. But he can also become an enemy, an adversary, a rival; tensions and contradictions threaten this fundamental relationship. The test consists in overcoming the difficulty, that is to say, not to lock oneself into one aspect, and to always prefer openness to closure.
There are some supporters of tradition and religion as an intolerant ideology who operate with dubious dress, emphasize community and claim to be spokespersons for believers and sometimes even use unacceptable violence. While no one in the world can afford to represent Muslims as such. It’s a usurpation of the name. Even though we can, of course, represent worship in an organized setting, defend the religious interests of people who have mandated us with a well-defined mission, or simply put forward opinions and ideas on matters of religion. Our societies and elites, sometimes intellectually disarmed, have not always been able to denounce errors and usurpations loud enough, early enough and clearly enough.
Movements of intolerance require unequivocal refutation in the name of Islam and universal human values. Especially in order to morally get Muslim citizens out of the ghettos in which they are locked and to face the challenges of the present day. These ideologues and preachers create confusion by making people believe that the religious norm must always be higher than the civil norm. It is at the same time an admission of powerlessness to really understand the Qur’anic fact, the difficulty in thinking about the question of the relationship between the different dimensions of life and a negative tendency to mix genders. As a result, they make the fatal mistake of subordinating in all circumstances membership to religious-ideological dogma and to the fixed past.
This strategy of withdrawal, confusion and closure has produced immense damage: because of the blind adherence to Islamism of the disinherited, the desperate, and also of people who lack the spirit of knowledge, discernment and criticism. While the Qur’an does not demand an unquestionable pre-eminence of the religious fact over other fields, it aims at coherence, complementarity and connection, with respect for life and peaceful coexistence as its priority. Islam refutes confusion. Distinguishing between the religious “I” and the citizen “I” is natural and logical. It is important not to marginalize one or the other, nor to set them against each other. Faith and its attestation must not close the horizon of free and responsible life in the city. Others do not have to suffer my conviction, just as I do not have to suffer theirs. This is possible in secularity, the pre-eminence of universal norms and the autonomy of the individual, which preserve each other from coercion, monopoly or exclusion.
Conclusion: Urgent need for dialogue of peace between religions
Why is Islam targeted by the propaganda of the “clash of civilizations”? How do we explain to world opinion that Islam is open, tolerant and can even be a decisive ally in facing the common challenges of our time? What are the challenges facing all humanity today?
Today, the dialogue between peoples; should, first of all, aim at recalling hidden truths: that our common basis is more important than our differences, that we must assume as wealth and not as superiority. No one has a monopoly on the truth, even if everyone, naturally, believes that he or she holds the perfect dimension. Islam is misunderstood, it has always been unfairly caricatured, perceived as a heretic. In spite of our common values and our common basis, too many amnesias and prejudices in the West stand in the way of living together, and temptations to withdraw or dissolve on the southern shore distort our image.
The West has been Judeo-Islamic-Christian and Greco-Arab. Some want to make people believe that it was only Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman. My analysis is based on the observation that we are in a state of amnesia, intolerance, stigmatization and violence, which some people display without shame. Lack of dialogue, ignorance and injustice are, according to my hypotheses, among the causes of these abuses. The ideas about Islam that circulate are often excessively apologetic among Muslims and systematically denigrated by non-Muslims. Sometimes scholarly writings are not readable by the non-specialist public. One has to be self-critical and adopt constructive criticism and refute, at the same time, the movements of withdrawal and dissolution and depersonalization, both of which are doomed to failure. It is the universal that is one’s horizon, without losing one’s roots.
For some people, stigmatizing Muslims, mixing them up, seeking a scapegoat for their own dead ends, by exploiting the excesses of the new monstrosities of political and religious extremism and terrorism of the weak, and for others, constantly accusing the West of all evils, without being self-critical, is, at the same time, a diversion and a delay in coming to terms with the challenges, risks and excesses of our times.
Without nostalgia, we must learn to reinvent “Andalusia”, a Latin-Islamic-Mediterranean ensemble, a noble response to the challenges of the future. The important thing is to preserve a dignified dress in life, based on reasonable reason, capable of contributing to the birth of a new common universal, which we lack. My plea is hopefully based on the fact that, if they know how to remember and bet on a common future, the Mediterranean countries, as in the past, with their history and their potential, are capable of setting an example, of showing the way to balance between progress and authenticity, between unity and plurality.
1. Islam’s “Golden Age”, is a period of Islamic development that lasted nearly five centuries beginning with the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid (c. 786–809) and ended with the collapse of the Abbasid Caliphate following the Mongol invasions and the sack of Baghdad in 1258 CE. Some scholars, though, extend the period of Islam’s Golden Age to cover a longer period of time. All, though, agree that the Golden Age, a truly remarkable period in human history, on that encompasses the remarkable accomplishments made by Islamic scholars, humanists, and scientists in all areas of the arts and humanities, the physical and social sciences, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, finance, and Islamic and European monetary systems over a period of many centuries. This chapter briefly identifies many of the most important changes in human development brought about by the Abbasid dynasty of Baghdad, the Fatimid dynasty of Cairo, and the Umayyad dynasty of Andalusia. Further, the chapter presents multiple examples of the lasting contribution of the Islamic Golden Age from ancient to modern times—many of which lay the foundation for an optimistic future for the world-as-a-whole and for Islamic societies more particularly. Cf. “The Golden Age of Islam,” in Khan Academy, https://www.khanacademy.org/…/a/the-golden-age-of-islam.
2. Ibn Rushd of Cordoba (in Arabic: ابن رشد, Ibn Rushd), better known in the West under his Latinized name Averroes, is an eleventh-century Andalusian Muslim philosopher, theologian, jurist and physician of Arabic language, born on April 14, 1126 in Cordoba, Andalusia and died on December 10, 1198 in Marrakech, Morocco. He served as Grand Cadi (Supreme Judge) in Seville and Cordoba, and as private physician to the Almohad Sultans in Marrakesh at a pivotal time when power passed from the Almoravids to the Almohads.
A critical reader of Al-Fârâbî, Al-Ghazâlî and Avicenna, he is considered one of the greatest philosophers of Islamic civilization even though he was accused of heresy at the end of his life and had no immediate posterity in the Muslim world. He was only rediscovered in Islam during the Nahda, the Arab Renaissance, in the nineteenth century during which he inspired rationalist, reformist and emancipatory currents. In his work, Averroes emphasized the need for scholars to practice philosophy and to study nature created by God. Therefore, he practices and recommends the secular sciences, especially logic and physics, in addition to medicine.
His work is of great importance in Western Europe, where he influenced medieval Latin and Jewish philosophers known as Averroïsts, such as Siger of Brabant, Boèce of Dacia, Isaac Albalag and Moses Narboni. During the Renaissance, his philosophy was much studied in Padua. Generally speaking, he is esteemed by the scholastics who call him the “Commentator” of the “Philosopher” (Aristotle) for whom they have a common veneration. On the other hand, Thomas Aquinas and then the Neoplatonists of Florence reproach him for denying immortality and the thought of the individual soul, in favor of a single Intellect for all men that activates intelligible ideas in us.
Cf. Fakhry, Majid. Averroes (Ibn Rushd) His Life, Works and Influence. London: Oneworld Publications, 2001.
3. Sufism (in Arabic: تصوّف, taṣṣawuf) is the esoteric, mystical vision of Islam. It is a path of spiritual elevation through an initiation known as tassawuf or tariqah, which by extension designates the brotherhoods gathering the faithful around a holy figure.
Sufism finds its foundations in the Qur’anic revelation and in the example of the Prophet Muhammad , and it can therefore be said that it has been present, since the origins of the prophetic revelation of Islam, in the Sunni and then Shiite branches, although it took different forms in both cases.
From the very beginnings of Islam, ulemas and scholars like Ibn Khaldun spoke out against what they called the “aberrations” of Sufism, and they criticized both religious practice and dogma.
4. Cf. Specia, Megan. “Who Are Sufi Muslims and Why Do Some Extremists Hate Them? “ in The New York Times of November 24, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/world/middleeast/sufi-muslim-explainer.html#:~:text=Sufism%20is%20a%20mystical%20form,13th%20century%20Iranian%20jurist%20Rumi.
5. Bashariyyah: (n.f.) from the Arabic basharon (human being), equivalent to insân (man), as opposed to jinn and angel. The term humanity in the use of Indo-European languages remains insufficient to express the idea of the human species in its original entity, because conveying ideology, culture, progress … the concept of bashariyyah better expresses the entity of human beings stripped of the weight of the acquis. It thus designates human beings more than men (the concept of man requires a whole issue of and about man), insofar as it directly links the first bashar to Adam. Human beings are thus the sons of Adam, banû Âdam, in Arabic. In this sense, the concept of bashariyyah would be more appropriate, than the concept of humanity, to designate human beings, associated in their belonging to the same species, to the same nature.
Why, however, this relentlessness to muddy the waters and to seek some kind of origin for mankind through anthropological-archaeological and other elucubrations? The origin of human beings, of bashariyyah, is simple; it does not need a philosophy or to be philosophized. The father of us all is Adam. He cannot be a simple or some kind of bi-pattern. We would then lack the marker and the scale, and the fracture would only be more painful. It would be primitive, barbaric, civilized, terrorist, white, black, Arab, Jewish and so on.
Bashariyyah, more than humanity, is the bedrock of human beings in conflict, given their plural and diverse differences. The concept of bashariyyah includes both the value of unity, because it has the same Adamic origin, and the value of equality, because it is the same human species. The native Frenchman would also find in this word bashariyyah the term charity, which constitutes a moral added value in addition to the semantic charge of the forged word.
Imagine an American introducing himself by saying I’m bashar instead of I’m American? The difference would be the same as that between modesty and pride, similarity and difference
6. The Nahj al-Balagha (Arabic: نَهْج ٱلْبَلَاغَة Nahj al-Balāghah; “The way of Eloquence”) is the most famous collection of sermons, letters, tafsirs and narrations attributed to Imam Ali, cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad. It was collected by Ash-Sharif Ar-Radhi, a Shia scholar in the 10th century AD (4th century AH) Known for its eloquent content, it is considered a masterpiece of literature in Shia Islam.
Nahj al-Balagha is a collection of 241 sermons, 79 letters, and 489 (or 480) utterances. As per each new publishing versus past volumes, the number of sermons, letters, and utterances has varied from 238 to 241, 77 to 79, and 463 to 489, respectively.
The book contains the ideology of Ali ibn Abi Talib to establish an Islamic government. Also, he nominated to the balance between rights and duties by a deep discussion and believed that “greater responsibilities result in greater rights”. Equitable treatment with women in society has been discussed in Nahj al-Balagha.
Since the book is a literary work meant to demonstrate Ali ibn Abi Talib’s eloquence, it does not gather all of Ali’s sermons. Instead, only segments deemed to possess greater literary value are included. An alternative sourcing of the book’s content by Muhammad Baqir al-Mahmudi represents all of Ali’s extant speeches, sermons, decrees, epistles, prayers, and sayings that are found in Nahj al-Balagha. Thus, except for some aphorisms, the original source of all the content of Nahj al-Balaghah has been determined.
7. Cf. Chtatou, Mohamed. “Aspects of Islam in Asia, “in South Asia Journal of August 7, 2017.
Cf. also: Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib. Peak of excellence “Nahjul-Balagha,“Edited by Yasin J. Al-Jibouri. Elmhurst, New York: Tarsile Qur’an Inc., 2009.
9. Cf. “Revisiting “Which Religion is Most Beloved to God?” in islamicuniversality of December 29, 2015. https://islamicuniversality.com/tag/al-hanafiyya-as-samha/
Suggestions for further reading:
1.The Spirit of Tolerance in Islam, by Reza Shah-Kazemi. The most succinct and comprehensive evaluation of the Quranic, Prophetic and Historical roots and manifestations of the spirit of tolerance in Islam to date (published 2012). The book opens with this very hadith treated here.
In 1932, the eminent British scholar of Islam, Sir Hamilton Gibb, wrote: “The nobility and broad tolerance of this religion [Islam], which accepted all the real religions of the world as God-inspired, will always be a glorious heritage for mankind. No other society has such a record of success in uniting, in an equality of status, of opportunity, and of endeavor, so many and so various races of humanity.” (Whither Islam?) Such scholarly objectivity towards the tolerance which has historically characterized the Islamic tradition as a whole is in short supply these days. Through an insidious symbiosis of fanatical Muslims and prejudiced Islamophobes, the very opposite image of Islam has emerged as one of the most dangerous stereotypes of our times. The most cursory glance at history will not only reveal the falsity of this stereotype of an intolerant Islam, it will also reveal the little known fact that, not so long ago, it was the Islamic world that provided models of tolerant conduct for a fanatically intolerant Christian world tearing itself apart over dogmatic differences. The first part of this monograph examines the historical record of tolerance in the Islamic tradition, illustrating the expression of the principle of tolerance through the rule of such dynasties as the Ottomans, Mughals, Fatimids, and the Umayyads of Spain. In the second, the principle of tolerance is shown to be rooted in the spirit of the Qur’anic revelation and embodied in the exemplary conduct of the Prophet.
2. “Generous Tolerance in Islam”, by Hamza Yusuf, in “Seasons: Semiannual Journal of Zaytuna Institute, 2 (2005), which provides a profound and much needed traditional perspective on the term “al-hanafiyya as-samha”. The etymological references to these Arabic words are discussed as well.
3. Ideals and Realities of Islam, by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, especially his chapter: ‘Islam, the Last Religion and the Primordial Religion’. The whole book is a landmark book which is a pure classic and synthesis of Sufi and Philosophical teachings on the universal dimensions of Islam, and is catered to a Western audience.
11. François-Marie Arouet comes from a bourgeois background, his father was a notary. He studied brilliantly with the Jesuits of Louis-Le-Grand. Irreverent verses forced him to stay in the provinces, then provoked his incarceration at the Bastille (1717). An altercation with the chevalier Rohan-Chabot led him back to the Bastille, then forced him into a three-year exile in England. In contact with philosophers from across the Channel, where freedom of expression was then greater than in France, he committed himself to a reforming philosophy of justice and society.
Back in France, Voltaire pursued his literary career with the aim of searching for truth and making it known in order to transform society. At the Château de Cirey, in Champagne, he writes tragedies (“Zaire”, “La mort de César”…) and, with less success, comedies (“Nanine”). He criticized the war in “L’Histoire de Charles XII” (1731) then attacked Christian dogmas in “Epîtres à Uranie” (1733) and the political regime in France, based on divine law, in “Lettres philosophiques” (1734).
Official poems enabled him to enter the French Academy and the Court as the King’s historiographer in 1746. However, “Zadig” forced him to go into exile in Potsdam at the invitation of Frederick II of Prussia, and then to Geneva. Voltaire settles permanently in Ferney, near the Swiss border, where he receives all the intellectual elite of the time while having an abundant literary production.
In 1759, Voltaire published “Candide”, one of his most famous and accomplished novels. In it, he denounced the intolerance, wars and injustices that weighed down on humanity, denouncing providentialist thought and idle metaphysics. With his biting pamphlets, Voltaire is a brilliant polemist. He fights tirelessly for freedom, justice and the triumph of reason (the Calas affair, Sirven, Knight of the Bar…). In 1778, he finally returns to Paris, to the Academy and the Comédie Française, but exhausted by his triumph, he dies there shortly afterwards.
A universal spirit having marked the century of the “Enlightenment”, a staunch defender of individual liberty and tolerance, Voltaire had great success with the liberal bourgeoisie. He leaves a considerable body of work. Because of censorship, most of his writings were banned. They were published anonymously, printed abroad and smuggled into France.
12. George Sale (1697–1736) was a British Orientalist scholar and practising solicitor, best known for his 1734 translation of the Qur’an into English. He was also author of The General Dictionary, in ten volumes, folio.
In 1748, after having read Sale’s translation, Voltaire wrote his own essay “De l’Alcoran et de Mahomet” (“On the Quran and on Mohammed”). Voltaire shared Sale’s view that Mohammed was a “sublime charlatan“[a] Voltaire bestowed high praise on Sale but misasserted him to have spent twenty-five years in Arabia.
In 1734, Sale published a translation of the Qurʻan, Alcoran of Mohammed, dedicated to John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville. Relying heavily on O.M.D. Louis Maracci’s Latin translation, Sale provided numerous notes and a Preliminary discourse. Sales had access to the Dutch Church, Austin Friars 16th century manuscript of al-Baydāwī’s The Lights of Revelation and the Secrets of Interpretation and this seems the source for his Arabic Quran rather than his own personal Quran, catalogued MS Sale 76 in the Bodleian.
Sales footnotes provide the literal translation where it differs from the idiom of the body text; he gives alternate variant readings; and supplementary historical and contextual information.
His Books :
- The Koran, First Edition, 1734. (ed. high resolution scans from the Posner Memorial Collection.)
- George Sale (Translator) and Claude Etienne Savary (illustrator), “The Koran: Commonly Called the Alcoran of Mohammed“. J.W. Moore, 1856. 670 pages
- George Sale, et al., “Sacred Books of the East: With Critical and Biographical Sketches“. Colonial Press, 1900. 457 pages
- Sale, George, Bower, Archibald and Psalmanazar, George; An Universal History, from the Earliest Account of Time. Millar, 1747.
- George Sale, “Selections from the Koran of Mohammed“. Priv. print. by N.H. Dole, 1904. 211 pages.
- George Sale, et al., “Arabic Reading Lessons: Consisting of Easy Extracts from the Best Authors“. Wm. H. Allen, 1864. 103 pages.
14. Sir Thomas Walker Arnold, né le 19 avril 1864 et mort le 9 juin 1930 à Londres, est un orientaliste et historien britannique. Il est surtout connu pour son œuvre The Preaching of Islam : A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith (” La Prédication de l’islam : histoire de la propagation de la foi musulmane ” en français).
The preaching of Islam: a history of the propagation of the Muslim faith. Westminster: A. Constable and co, 1896, 388 p.
The Caliphate. Oxford 1924, réédité avec un chapitre supplémentaire par Sylvia G. Haim : Routledge et Kegan Paul, Londres 1965.
The Old and New Testaments in Muslim Religious Art (Schweich Lectures for 1928).
Painting in Islam, A Study of the Place of Pictorial Art in Muslim Culture. (1928, réimprimé en 1965).
15. Cf. l’Humanité of April 17, 2015. https://www.humanite.fr/fethi-benslama-le-mot-islam-peut-signifier-aussi-bien-la-paix-que-le-salut-571555
“Les mouvements qu’on appelle radicaux ou islamistes ont fondé leur doctrine sur l’idée que l’islam veut dire soumission. Ce mot est pourtant polysémique, il veut dire beaucoup de choses et peut signifier aussi bien la paix que le salut. Ce qui a été choisi n’est donc qu’une des significations possibles, dont ils ont fait l’exigence de se soumettre à un ordre littéral supposé. Notons que partout il y a chez les hommes des formes de soumission, notamment à la loi. La vie du névrosé normal est conditionnée elle-même par un certain ordre. Le mode de soumission qui est demandé au nom de Dieu est ici un mode de soumission total, littéraliste. C’est contre cela que j’ai proposé l’idée d’une insoumission, non pas pour tout rejeter, mais pour substituer à la religion de la soumission une religion réflexive qui interroge sa propre foi et ses croyances. Il y a aussi dans cette déclaration d’insoumission une dimension politique. Ce texte a été écrit en 2004 et visait à prôner l’insoumission vis-à-vis des régimes politiques de l’époque. Ce mouvement insurrectionnel a été relancé en 2010. Il y avait quelque chose dans l’air, la réclamation de nouveaux droits et de libertés. Partout ces aspirations ont été détruites par les islamistes et leurs amis des pays du Golfe, pour l’essentiel le Qatar et l’Arabie saoudite.“
16. Cf. Karim, Fatima.“ The Most Beautiful Names of God : 99 Names of Allah, “in Medium.com of February 21, 2018. https://medium.com/@Marytn/the-most-beautiful-names-of-god-99-names-of-allah-b898f624cada
17. Louis Gardet (August 15, 1904 – Toulouse, July 17, 1986) is a Thomist philosopher, specialist of Islam. Presenting himself as a “Christian philosopher of comparative cultures and religions”, Louis Gardet was associated, at the head of the “Études musulmanes” collection published by Vrin, with Etienne Gilson, one of the most remarkable proponents of contemporary “Christian philosophy”, which stems from neo-Thomism, a current of thought that had been encouraged by Rome since the end of the 19th century and within which Jacques Maritain also distinguished himself in philosophy. The latter had been seeing Louis Gardet for a long time and it was with him, at the fraternity of the Little Brothers of Father de Foucauld in Toulouse, that the philosopher retired during the last years of his life. Maritain’s integral humanism left its mark somewhat on Gardet’s in-depth studies of Islam as religion, thought and society, in which he asserted the concepts of Islamic humanism, Islamic economics, Islamic politics; this appears convincingly, albeit on a theoretical and somewhat timeless level, in La Cité musulmane (Vrin, 1954). Together with the writings of Louis Massignon at the same time, this book had a great influence not only on the young movement of the Little Brothers of Foucauld but also on the many French conscripts and conscripts recalled from the Algerian War.
- Introduction à la théologie musulmane, essai de théologie comparée, par Louis Gardet et le P. Anawati, préface de Louis Massignon, Vrin, 1948 1946
- La pensée religieuse d’Avicenne, Paris, Vrin, 1951.
- Expériences mystiques en terres non chrétiennes, Paris, Alsatia, 1953.
- La cité musulmane, vie sociale et politique, Paris, Vrin, 1954.
- L’Islam, par Youakim Moubarac, le P. Jacques Jomier, Louis Gardet et le P. Anawati, Saint-Alban-Leysse (Savoie), Collège théologique dominicain, 1956.
- Les fins dernières selon la théologie musulmane, Revue Thomiste, 64, 1956.
- Connaître l’islam, Paris, Fayard, 1958.
- Mystique musulmane : Aspects et tendances, expériences et techniques, par Georges Chehata Anawati et Louis Gardet, Librairie philosophique J. Vrin, Études musulmanes, 1976.
- L’islam. Religion, et communauté, Paris, Desclée De Brouwer, 1967.
- Dieu et la destinée de l’homme, Paris : J. Vrin, 1967 (“Les grands problèmes de la théologie musulmane”)
- Les hommes de l’islam, approche des mentalités, Paris, Hachette, 1977. [Paris] : Hachette, 1977.
- L’Islam : hier, demain, par Mohammed Arkoun et Louis Gardet, Paris, Buchet-Chastel, 1978.
18. Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari 6914, In-book reference: Book 87, Hadith 52, USC-MSA web (English) reference: Vol. 9, Book 83, Hadith 49
19. Bernard Lewis, born on 31 May 1916 in Stoke Newington, a district of London, and died on 19 May 2018 in Voorhees Township, New Jersey1, was a historian of British citizenship at birth, he also acquired American and Israeli citizenship.
Professor Emeritus of Middle East Studies at Princeton University, a specialist in the Middle East, particularly Turkey, and more generally in the Muslim world and the interactions between the West and Islam2. He is the author of numerous reference books on the subject.
In addition to his academic activities, Bernard Lewis is an intellectual engaged in the political struggle. He is known for his defense of Israel. He is at the center of a large controversy in France where intellectuals accuse him of denying the Armenian genocide and associations file complaints against him. He was convicted in civil proceedings under Article 1382 of the Civil Code for “fault” and for having caused damage to others, a conviction that was commented on abroad as being an infringement of freedom of expression.
He was an advisor to the British Secret Service during the Second World War [ref. necessary], a consultant to the National Security Council of the United States, an advisor to Benyamin Netanyahu, then Israeli Ambassador to the UN (1984-88) and remains a close associate of the neo-conservatives.
Arnold, Thomas Walker.The Caliphate. Oxford 1924, réédité avec un chapitre supplémentaire par Sylvia G. Haim. London : Routledge et Kegan Paul, 1965.
Arnold, Thomas Walker. The preaching of Islam: a history of the propagation of the Muslim faith. Westminster: A. Constable and co, 1896, 388 p.
Chtatou, Mohamed. “Aspects of Islam in Asia, “in South Asia Journal of August 7, 2017. http://southasiajournal.net/aspects-of-islam-in-asia/
Fakhry, Majid. Averroes (Ibn Rushd) His Life, Works and Influence. London: Oneworld Publications, 2001.
Jonathan A.C. Brown. Misquoting Muhammad: the challenge and choices of interpreting the Prophet’s legacy. London : Oneworld Publications, 2014, 384 p.
l’Humanité of April 17, 2015. https://www.humanite.fr/fethi-benslama-le-mot-islam-peut-signifier-aussi-bien-la-paix-que-le-salut-571555
Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib. Peak of excellence “Nahjul-Balagha,“Edited by Yasin J. Al-Jibouri. Elmhurst, New York: Tarsile Qur’an Inc., 2009.
Islamicuniversality. “Revisiting “Which Religion is Most Beloved to God?” in islamicuniversality of December 29, 2015. https://islamicuniversality.com/tag/al-hanafiyya-as-samha/
Karim, Fatima.“ The Most Beautiful Names of God : 99 Names of Allah, “in Medium.com of February 21, 2018. https://medium.com/@Marytn/the-most-beautiful-names-of-god-99-names-of-allah-b898f624cada
Khan Academy. “The Golden Age of Islam,” in Khan Academy, https://www.khanacademy.org/…/a/the-golden-age-of-islam.