The Essence of Peace By Nurideen Bashir About two weeks ago I found something on television that intrigued me; a debate on whether Islam was a “peaceful” religion. The forum was headed by a white man and featured two prominent Muslim scholars on the proposition and two atheists on the opposition. The objective of the show was to sway the audience in favor of the side that laid the best argument. For a while I became enthralled in the debate and tactics of both sides as they argued and counter-argued, jostling back and forth to prove their superior knowledge of the subject matter and then at some point it hit me. After quarrelling within myself for a few profoundly futile moments I came to a precipice that led to one question in particular; who was I to question whether Islam is peaceful or not? When did we as human beings become so righteous that we‟d have the gall to question higher power? If anything, it would seem that what should have been debated was whether “people are peaceful” not Islam. The interesting thing about this is when Allah created the human, He infamously proclaimed the word “BE” and there we were. It‟s never said that Allah mentions the word peaceful or harmonious after that word “BE,” so what makes us think we are so peaceful? If we are arbiters of peace, what does it say that as many wars have been started in the name of peace, just as much have in the name of conflict? After all, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X died in the name of this great concept that we‟ve claimed as our own. Wasn‟t the war in Iraq, prisons, and the creation of the Taliban all built around this concept? Say what you will but in order for there to be a peace, one must thwart some other form of opposition, much like this debate. Prisons, police, and yes, even the Taliban were conceptualized in the name of peace. So do we really need Islam to be peaceful? And did Allah intend for it to be peaceful?
The fact is, Islam is the way of life but it‟s not the life and the human; the life itself, is a mere vessel of both good and bad. There is NO life that is above this rule. This is why we say „As salaam wa alaikum’(may peace be upon you). This is not because we are inherently peaceful people; rather we are suggesting that the peace of Allah and the peace within us be brought to light instead of the evils within. But the truth is, peace is not the only thing we are asking for, as the greeting is supposed to be ex-
tended to „As salaam wa alaikum wa rahmatu Allahi wa barakatu’ (may the peace and mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you). This is the essence of what Islam is. It is not just peaceful; it is merciful and breeds blessings. More than peace, this is the essence of balance and this is what we must understand about Islam and about us as human beings. It is not a matter of whether Islam is peaceful, it is balance. And we are in need of balance; neither peace nor conflict can compare to contentment. This is what Islam is. A young Muslim brother representing the essence of peace through du’a and connection to Allah (swt); Image taken by Ridwanur Rahman
Published on Dec 3, 2010