Many of us think that Islam is a new religion, but it is the same truth that Allah (SWT) revealed through all His Prophets (AS) to each people. It is a perfect, religion and a complete way of life too. It teaches us peace, mercy, kindness and forgiveness, and Muslims follow this religion, which is the absolute symbol of peace.
The meaning of Islam:
“Islam” is an Arabic word, which simply means, “submit or to surrender to the Will of Almighty Allah.” This term derived from the same Arabic root word “Salam”, which means, “Peace”. The word “Salam” is one of the Attributes of Allah (SWT), it means to be submissive, with intact soul and body, by obedience to what Allah commanded and prohibited in His Divine Revealed Religion. The following verse also confirms and points out the same meaning.
Allah (SWT) says:
“When his Lord said to him, “Submit (i.e. be a Muslim)!” He said, “I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists).” (Al-Baqarah 2:131).
This verse clearly indicates that Allah commanded Ibrahim (AS) to be sincere with Him and to abide and submit to Him; Ibrahim (AS) perfectly adhered to Allah’s command.
Peace in the Quran:
The word “peace” mentioned in many verses and several places of the Holy Quran. Islam comprises the absolute and comprehensive meaning of peace, which includes both inward individual and spiritual peace and the outward social peace of societies and communities.
Allah (SWT) says:
“And (remember) when We made the House (the Ka’bah at Makkah) a place of resort for mankind and a place of safety.” (Al-Baqarah 2:125)
Allah (SWT) made this place safe from enemies and armed conflict. During the time of Jahiliyyah, the people were often victims of raids and kidnapping, while the people in the area surrounding it (Al-Masjid Al-Haram) were safe and not subject to kidnapping. It is a place of safety and whoever enters it will find peace both inwardly and outwardly.
Similarly, Allah says about Quraish:
“(He) Who has fed them against hunger, and has made them safe from fear.”(Quraish 106:4).
This means, Allah (SWT) favors them safety and gentleness, so they should single Him out for worship alone, without any partner. They should not worship any idol, rival or statue besides Him. Therefore, whoever accepts this command, Allah will give him safety in both this life and the Hereafter. On the other hand, whoever disobeys Him, He will remove both types of peace from him.
In another verse Allah (SWT) commands His Prophet (PBUH) and says:
“And if anyone of the Mushrikun (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) seeks your protection then grant him protection, so that he may hear the Word of Allah (the Quran), and then escort him to where he can be secure, that is because they are men who know not” (At-Taubah 9:6).
There are countless verses, which highlight that Islam is the religion of peace.
Peace in the Sunnah:
The lives of the non-Muslims and the practitioners of other religions in the Muslim society was also given secure status. The following narrations tell us the importance of peace in our religion. It is narrated form Abdullah bin Amr (RA) that the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Whoever killed a person having a treaty with the Muslims, shall not smell the smell of Paradise though its smell is smelled from a distance of forty years.” (Al-Bukhari 3166).
The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“If anyone wrongs a Muahid (the non-Muslim who has a treaty or covenant of the Muslims), detracts from his rights, burdens him with more work than he is able to do, or takes something from him without his consent, I will plead for him (the Muahid) on the Day of Resurrection.”(Sahih Abu Dawud, Albani 3052)
Misconception that Islam was spread by Force:
This conception generated and promoted by the non-Muslims and the enemies of Islam who do not know and read the historical facts and sources equally but rewrite the old propaganda over many centuries. They falsely accuse that this religion of peace was spread by compulsion and force. Many texts of the Quran reject this great slander.
Allah (SWT) says:
“There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path.” (Al-Baqarah 2:256).
And He says:
“And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed, all of them together. So, will you (O Muhammad SAW) then compel mankind, until they become believers.” (Yunus 10:99).
These two verses indicate that Islam is plain and clear, and its proofs and evidences are plain and clear too. Therefore, there is no need to force anyone to embrace Islam. Rather, whoever Allah directs to Islam, opens his heart for it and enlightens his mind, will embrace Islam with certainty. Whoever Allah blinds his heart and seals his hearing and sight, then he will not benefit from being forced to embrace Islam.
The Prophet (PBUH) himself urged on prevailing peace in the societies and communities. The treaty of Hudaibyyah is the best example of his time. The Islamic societies and communities that abide by Islamic morality after the death of beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also paid unparalleled attention to this issue. Muslim rulers and leaders who were stick to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) exceptionally respected the treaties made with non-Muslims in spreading peace in conquered territories and countries and showed great tolerance to the clergy. Non-Muslims who lived in these territories never rebelled for religious matters. There is no doubt, that this was the result of such peaceful behavior and showing religious tolerance.
Some very informative books giving logical explanation on Jihad, Social /Moral Values and ethics according to Islam are: The light within Islam , Criminal Justice in Islam, Social Ethics in Islam and Islamic Ethics of Warfare.