I would like to share some examples of how deeply rooted and embedded is the idea of “peace” in Islam and in the Muslim psyche.
• “Islam,” literally and linguistically in Arabic, is derived from a root which means “submission” and “peace.” This means that by submitting one’s individual will and self to the will of Allah (God), one enters into a state of peace, tranquility and security.
• There are 99 names of Allah (God) revealed to man in the Quran. Muslims are asked to recite these names to help understand the attributes of Allah (God). One of the names is “As-Salam” which means “The Source of All Peace.” The word “Salam” is mentioned 42 times in the Quran.
• “As-Salam Alaikum,” the greeting mandated by God in the Quran and used by all Muslims, means “peace be unto you.” The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that Allah (God) has selected this kind of greeting as a compliment to the Muslims and as a protection to the non-Muslim citizens because it states a declaration and expectation of security, harmony and goodwill.
• The Prophet is described in the Quran as the Messenger of Peace and Mercy: “We (Allah-God) have not sent you Muhammad but as mercy to the worlds.”
• The Quran states that the closest to Allah (God) on the Day of Judgment is the one who always initiated peace by his or her word or action. Paradise itself is called in the Quran “Dar Al-Salam” the Abode of Peace. “Salam” (peace) will be the greeting from the angels to the people of Paradise as they are being received.
• The Great Mosque of Mecca has many gates – one of them is called the gate of peace, “Bab Al-Salam.” The mosque of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in Medina has many gates; one of them is also called the door of peace.
• The Quran requires Muslims to build good relationships with those of other beliefs and to do so with understanding, cooperation, justice and peace. This is described more concisely in the Quran as “birr” (pure goodness or righteousness). The Quran states: “Allah (God) does not forbid you to deal with birr with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes. Verily, Allah (God) loves those who deal with equity.”
• Muslims believe that God had previously revealed Himself to the earlier prophets of the Jews and Christians, such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus. These people are called “The People of the Book” in the Quran. There are many examples of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) dealing with “The People of the Book,” such as when he bought some foodstuff from a Jewish man on credit and mortgaged his iron armor to Medina, clearly indicating that the Prophet had not hesitated in working and dealing with Jewish people in economic matters with goodwill and trust.
• Even in situations of outright war, the Prophet maintained as much of a peaceful spirit as feasible. In one battle he encountered his enemies outside the city perimeters to secure the residents of the city from undue harm. Similarly, when attacked by a huge pagan army, in order to limit the number of civilian casualties in another battle, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) dug a trench around his city of Medina.
• It is extremely noteworthy that whenever Prophet Muhammad was invited to a peaceful initiative, he would be the first to join.
• One of the most beautiful and time-honored moments of Islamic history illustrates the humility and intent of Islam shown by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his fellow Muslims. When the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) entered the city of Mecca, after having successfully secured and conquered, commandeering an awesome army of 10,000, without spilling a single drop of blood, he showed profound mercy to his most ardent and arch enemies by openly declaring that none shall be harmed and no vengeance will be sought, nor shall any property be destroyed. All were free and safe that day. He faced the holy sanctuary of the Kaaba, the sacred sanctuary built by Abraham and Ishmael for the worship of the One God under instructions from Archangel Gabriel. Neither the pomp nor the roar of a conqueror was seen, only the image of a humble man before his maker.
This is the Islam of peace that is so much misunderstood.
IMAM MOHAMAD JAMAL DAOUDI IS IMAM OF THE ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF AUGUSTA IN MARTINEZ.