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Peaceful Harmony… or Violent Intolerance?

Question and answer details
Michelle
Peaceful Harmony… or Violent Intolerance?
2003-07-10
Salaam, I have two questions:I have not read the Qur’an, but am sure that it teaches peace and harmony. Why then does it seem to be the subject of such extreme interpretations by so many Muslims? Is it merely a coincidence that in the world today - and before September 11 - wherever there are Muslims, there is intolerance and violence? Muslims worldwide criticize Western media for its racism. But when atrocities are committed in the name of Islam, and/or by committed Muslims, do you believe it is unreasonable to criticize the culture or religion that is said to provide the moral basis for these actions? Thank you.
Salem Al-Hasi
Answer
Salaam Michelle,

Thank you for very much for asking this question.

You are correct; the Qur'an does teach peace and harmony. In encouraging people to seek peace and maintain it, the Qur'an states that the purpose behind the creation of different tribes and various nations is to interact and know each other and not to be a reason to fight each other. The Qur'an states in Surah 49, verse 13, the meaning of:

*{O mankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other.}*

To emphasize the importance of peace and harmony among people, the message of Islam, from the beginning, declared the unity of mankind in its three aspects; origin, value and destiny.

About the unity of origin, the Qur'an says in Surah 4, verse one, the meaning of:

*{O mankind! Fear your Lord Who created you from a single person, and created out of it his mate, and from them twain scattered [like seed] countless men and women.}*

Concerning the unity of value, the Qur'an says in Surah 49, verse 13, the meaning of:

*{Verily the most honored of you in sight of Allah [God] is [he who is] the most righteous of you}*

As for the unity of destiny, the Qur'an says in Surah 28, verse 88, the meaning of:

*{Everything is bound to perish, save His eternal self. With Him rests all judgment; and unto Him shall you all be brought back.}*

Also, the message of Islam never limited peace and harmony to those who accepted the faith. On the contrary, by establishing the principle of *{no compulsion in religion}* that was stated clearly in the Qur’an, Islam made peace a right for every one, whether affiliated with the religion or not.

Most importantly, Islam was not a man-made invention, or an odd revelation! Islam in its essence is the final message of God, which is a continuation of all the previous messages. Thus, it contains all the values of peace and harmony, which were revealed in the preceding divine religions.

For your particular question, at first, I would like to remind you that it is very essential to differentiate between a faith and the practice of those who are affiliated to it. We should judge faiths by their teachings and values to which the faith is calling, and not by the perception and practices of its followers.

The reason is that a faith's values and teachings are constant because they are revealed by a constant Supreme Being; that is God. Yet, our perceptions and practices are variable due to the changes in our psychology, culture, abilities, and sometimes desires or inclinations.

This fact is not limited only to Islam and Muslims. Other religions were also subject to some extreme perceptions and practices. In our contemporary time, many who act against the values of Christianity claim to be Christians, and others proudly proclaim being Jews while acting contrary to Judaism. However, the media and international political conflicts have positioned Islam in the front seat for receiving criticism, whether for factual or fabricated reasons.

Furthermore, people insist on portraying extremism as a religious phenomenon, whereas it is merely a social phenomenon. There is no one single command or teaching in Islam can be referenced as the direct reason behind an extreme act. Yet, people usually use their own interpretation of Islam as reference to as such acts.

Finally, Islam gives no religious or moral basis for any action that goes against the values and the teachings of the message. People of all faiths tend to use religion to justify their actions and legitimize their opinions. Yet, logically faiths never provide legitimization to actions and practices, which are prohibited by that very religion.

Islam commanded Muslim to appreciate good and denounce evil. This command is a result of a focus on justice, which is the highest value in Islam. Good in Islam is good whether committed by a Muslim or by a non-Muslim. Simultaneously, evil is evil whether committed by a Muslim or by a non-Muslim. The meaning of justice in this regards is that praising or rejecting actions or opinions relies on the act itself not on who committed the act…

The Qur'an says in Surah 5, verse 8, the meaning of:

*{O you have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any one lead you into the sin of deviation from justice. Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do.}*

Definitely, Allah knows best.

Thank you again and please keep in touch.

Salaam.

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