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  Islam—A Culture of Peace  

The Model World according to Islam, is a world of peace. Islam in itself means a religion of peace. The Qur’an says: And God calls to the home of peace. This is the message of Islam to mankind. It means that ‘Build a world of peace on earth so that you may be granted a world of peace in your eternal life in the Hereafter.’

Now what are the basic elements of building a culture of peace? According to Islam, to be brief, these are three—compassion, forgiveness and respect for all.

Let’s take ‘compassion’ first. If you go through the Qur’an and hadith, you will find many verses in the Qur’an and hadith which lay great stress on compassion. For instance, the Prophet of Islam said: O people, be compassionate to others so that you may be granted compassion by God.

Thus Islam makes compassion a matter of self-interest for every man, as one’s own future depends on one’s compassionate behaviour to other fellowmen. In this way, Islam motivates us to be compassionate in our dealing with each other. If one wants to receive God’s grace one will have to show compassion to others.

Let’s take forgiveness. The Qur’an has to say this in this regard “when they are angered, they forgive.” There are a number of verses in the Qur’an which promote forgiveness.

Then there is a hadith. Once a person came to the Prophet and asked him, “O Prophet, give me a master advice by which I may be able to manage all the affairs of my life.” The Prophet replied: “Don’t be angry.” It means that ‘forgive people even at provocation.’ That is, adopt forgiveness as your behaviour at all times.

Now let’s take the third principle—Respect for all. There is a very interesting story, recorded by Al-Bukhari in this regard.

The Prophet of Islam once saw a funeral procession passing by a street in Madinah. The Prophet was seated at that time. On seeing the funeral the Prophet stood up in respect. At this one of his companions said: ‘O Prophet, it was the funeral of a Jew (not a Muslim). The Prophet replied: ‘Was he not a human being?’ What it meant was that every human being is worthy of respect. There may be differences among people regarding religion and culture, but everyone has to respect the other. For, according to Islam, all men and women are blood brothers and blood sisters. And all are creatures of one and the same God.

These three principles are the basic pillars to form a peaceful society. Wherever these three values are to be found the result no doubt will be a society of peace and harmony.

The above references are enough to show that Islam is a culture of peace. It is true that some Muslims are engaged in violence in the name of Islam. But you will have to differentiate between Islam and Muslims. You have to see Muslims in the light of Islam and not vice versa.

The Culture of Mercy (Rahmat)

Islamic culture is one of mercy (rahmat). The aspect of mercy in Islam is so prominent that it engulfs the entire lives of those who have fully adopted the principles of Islam.

Islam teaches its followers that, when they meet one another, they should address one another with such words as “May peace and God’s blessings be upon you.’ Even when one sneezes, he should say, ‘May God be praised’, and the others sitting with him will respond ‘May God bless you.’ When the believer enters the mosque, he should say: ‘May God open the gates of mercy to me.’ Similarly, when worshippers have concluded their prayer, they are to turn their faces sideways and say: ‘May God’s blessings and peace be upon you.’

In this way, on all occasions and at every stage, the phrases of peace and mercy come readily to the lips of the believer. Thinking and speaking in terms of mercy become the distinguishing features of the believers. Their whole life is moulded by the demands of mercy and compassion.

The Prophet often uttered such phrases as ‘May God bless the man, may God bless the woman.’ This goes to show what type of attitude Islam wants to develop in its adherents. This is the culture of Rahmat and Love. Islam demands that on all occasions human beings should be well intentioned towards one another; on all occasions man should offer the gifts of love and compassion to others. Even in moments of conflict, such words come to the lips of the believers: “May God have mercy on you, why did you say or do such and such a thing?”

God is All-Merciful. He desires his servants to live in this world as merciful creatures.

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