ISLAM RECOMMENDS A UNITED, MUTUALLY HELPFUL AND DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY IN THE WORLD
by Syarif Hidayat
What is Islam? It’s certainly not a social or political regime. So what exactly is it? Islam has been revealed to us for a purpose: for man to identify himself according to the mechanics of existence and the universe, and for man to unveil the prime attributes from his true essence.
The holographic reality states that all that is present throughout the Universe also exists within the human mind. Islam provides the realization that the path for man to reach his creator is through his own mind… Islam provides you with the system and mechanics to reach your creator, to unleash the true potential within. Islam was revealed to you, FOR you.
In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful! “O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Now has come to you Our Messenger (Prophet Muhammad PBUH) explaining to you much of that which you used to hide from the Scripture and pass over (i.e. leaving out without explaining) much. Indeed, there has come to you from Allâh a light (Prophet Muhammad PBUH) and a plain Book (Al Qur’an). Wherewith Allâh guides all those who seek His Good Pleasure to ways of peace, and He brings them out of darkness by His Will unto light and guides them to the Straight Way (Islâmic Monotheism).” – Al Qur’an Surah Al Maidah, Verse 15-16.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. “Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not.” – Al Qur’an, Surah Al-‘Alaq, Verse 1-5.
In Al-‘Alaq Surah, Al Qur’an emphasizes the important of reading and learning in Islam. This includes learning a religion before converting. That is why Islam prohibits forcing (by way of forceful persuasion or giving food or money in exchange for converting) someone to convert into Islam. Converting to Islam must be based on his or her own free choice as a result of his or her full understanding of Islam.
A United and Mutually Helpful Society
Islam recommends a united and mutually helpful society, and this vision does not only refer to the level of nation, but includes international relations, too. In this sense, from an Islamic perspective, international law should take the establishment of peace as a foundation. The root of the word Islam, silm, refers to “making peace, being in a mutually peaceful environment, greetings, rescue, safety, being secure, finding peace, reaching salvation and well being or being far from danger, attaining goodness, comfort and favor, keeping away from troubles and disasters, submitting the self and obeying, respect, being far from wrong.”
The “submitting the self and obeying” here means “submitting to justice and righteousness in order to reach peace and safety and being in a peaceful environment by one’s free will.” In fact, salaam and salaamat, mean “to reach salvation,” and their rubai form (with four radical letters) aslama means “submitted, became Muslim, and made peace.” “Islam” as either a noun or a verb with these meanings is mentioned in many verses in the Qur’an.
In order to be able portray a fair image of Islam, we have to consider its divinely inspired purposes, which yield, as a result, a just worldly order. By applying preventive measures to ensure security of wealth, life, mind, religion, and reproduction, Islam aims to build a society in peace, serenity, friendship, collaboration, altruism, justice, and virtue. According to the Qur’an, all Muslims are brothers and sisters to each other and if a disagreement appears among them they make peace and correct it (Qur’an, 49:10).
They help each other to avoid what God forbids and to observe their religious awareness at every stage in their life (Qur’an, 5:2); they carry out important tasks after shura, that is, consultation (Qur’an, 3:159; 42:38); and they always witness truthfully and are just even if it is against their close relatives (Qur’an, 4:135).
Again, as mentioned in the Qur’an, a true Muslim follows the straight path. That means that he or she is faithful, honest, and just, is calm, lives to perfectly observe his or her religion and in guidance of reason.2 Pursuing the straight path can be understood as being absolutely truthful and honest in all circumstances, as well as embracing a moderate way of life that encourages good relations with everyone.
Peace and Reconciliation
The Qur’an emphasizes peace and reconciliation as basic to all social and even international relations. As mentioned in the Qur’an, Paradise, which is the reward for the pious, is a place of serenity. One of the ninety-nine names of God is Salaam, which means peace. Throughout history, Muslims have made every effort to establish peace and serenity everywhere in all divergent fields, only taking military measures when their enemies tried to hinder these efforts for humankind.
Prophet Muhammad PBUH commanded us to maintain social solidarity and cooperation, to open our hearts to our fellows, and to help one another at all times. He said, “Do not cut relations between each other! Do not turn your backs on each other! Do not grow hatred between each other! O God’s servants! Become brothers and sisters!” Over the course of history, the general approach of Muslims has been supportive of maintaining peace, spreading an environment of serenity and trust, and constructing a civilization of love, compassion, and mercy to share with other people in peace.
When the Messenger of God (Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) explained Islam’s potential to contribute to safety and peace in society, he specified one goal in his time as the following: “A rider will travel from Sana’a (a city in Yemen) to Hadhramaut (a region in the southwest of the Arabian peninsula) fearing none but God, or a wolf as regards his sheep.” If we consider the troubles due to the extreme violence Muslims were exposed to both in the Medinan and Meccan periods, we can understand how meaningful was this message expressed by the Prophet. It does not include any desire for revenge against any person or any group; instead, it only expresses an ardent desire for a violence-free world for all.
The Islamic Society of Democracy
Islamic values refer to the high values of peace, human rights, freedom of speech and belief, justice and equality, and democracy. Any society that upholds and practices these values is an Islamic society. Because democracy is only one aspect of this society, we have to mention briefly the other aspects:
1. Equality between races and cultures:
God (Allah SWT) said in the Holy Qur’an, “O people, we created all of you from the same male and female, and we made you into nations and tribes to recognize each other. The best among you is the most righteous. God (Allah SWT) is omniscient cognizant” [49:13].
So we are brothers and sisters from the same parents. God (Allah SWT) made us into different races and cultures to recognize each other, not to fight each other, to benefit from this plurality in this life. In this life God (Allah SWT) ordered us not to exalt ourselves, not to use the religion as a means of living and power. [53:32] [16:90 to 95].
2. Equality between men and women:
Al Qur’an confirms this equality in creation and in responsibility in this life and in the hereafter [3:195] [4:124] [16:97] [40:40]. In the realm of marriage, the Holy Qur’an states justice beside equality.
3. Equality between the different religions:
This is confirmed by two other Islamic values;: freedom of speech and belief, and peace. Accordingly, everyone has the right to believe or to disbelieve, to advocate his belief in a peaceful way without insulting anyone else’s belief or personality.
4. Human rights, and the balance between the society and the individual:
The Holy Qur’an mentions five rights, and makes a unique balance between the society and the individual in this regard.
Everyone has an absolute right to justice. Justice is the mission of the holy divine messages from God (Allah SWT) [57:25] and the mission of the Islamic state [4:58], [42 :15], [2:282], [65: 2], [16:90]. Any society or state that upholds and practices justice in any time, place, or language is doing so in the true spirit of Islam.
b) Freedom of belief and speech:
Everyone has an absolute right to believe or not to believe [17:107], [18:29], [41: 40] and to advocate what he believes without insulting the others [6:108], [23:3], [28:55], [29: 46]. On the Day of Judgment, everyone will be questioned before God (Allah SWT) alone, according to his or her freedom of belief. The Islamic state has nothing to do in guiding people to the right path; it is a personal choice and responsibility [28:56], [10:108], [17:15], [27:92], [39:41], [3:20], [6:104].
Individuals are entitled to wealth so long as they are not minors or fools who may squander their wealth. In such cases, society must appoint a guardian to manage the wealth on behalf of those incapable of doing so themselves. Society must also look after such persons, give them a good life from his income, and supervise the guardians charged with looking after the wealth [4:5-6].
Society is expected to look after its poor. The poor are entitled to charity and to alms, collected by the state or given directly to the needy [9:60], [2:215], [17:26], [30: 38], [6:141], [51:19], [70:24].
At the same time, the Holy Qur’an forbids the concentration of a society’s wealth in the hands of a few people [59:7] because it makes them control the power and the state. Such a concentration of wealth and power results in a class division pitting the hungry majority against the affluent few. The Holy Qur’an considers this a sign of a society’s eventual self-destruction [17:16], [23:33], [21:13], [11 :116], [34:34], [34:23], [56:45], [23:64], [2:195].
Individuals have an absolute right to security. Society has to defend itself from external enemies and to protect its people. An Islamic state is a strong, peaceful state; it prepares its army to prevent enemies from attacking its borders; and it has to be strong in maintaining peace. At the same time, it has to punish any criminal who violates the peace.
e) The right of power:
Shura, or democracy, means assuming power. According to Islam, it is the society as a whole—not one person, like the Egyptian pharaoh in the time of Moses—that owns and exercises power. [43:51 to 54], [40:37], [28:38], [79: 24].
The fanatics, according to their concept of ‘Al Hakemiyah,’ or the governance, believe that the ruler in Islam obtains his political authority from God (Allah SWT) and that he will be responsible before God (Allah SWT) alone on the Day of Judgment.
Did Prophet Mohammed PBUH have the same authority from God (Allah SWT) when he was the ruler of the Islamic state of Al Madina? If so, we may say: He was the final prophet revealed by God (Allah SWT), and no one has the privilege the final prophet had. But the fact is that Prophet Mohammed, as a leader, got his power and the authority not from God (Allah SWT) but from the people or the society, as is the case today in any democratic society.
The people around him gave him shelter after years of persecution in Mecca, and established a state for him to help him against his mighty tribe of Quraysh.
That is why God (Allah SWT) said to him: “And because of the mercy of God (Allah SWT), you treated them with compassion. Had you been harsh and hardhearted, they would have broken away from you. Therefore, you shall pardon them, ask forgiveness for them, and consult them in the matter. Once you reach a decision, then carry it out, putting your trust in God (Allah SWT).
God (Allah SWT) loves those who trust in Him” [3:159]. God (Allah SWT) made his Messenger deal with them gently in order to obtain their loyalty. If Prophet Mohammed had not acted with compassion, his people would have abandoned him and he would have become homeless and helpless in front of his enemies.
Because they were his source of power and authority, God (Allah SWT) made him gentle in dealing with them, ordered him to forgive them if they insulted him and to consult them in affairs of state.
Al-Shura, or consultation, is the Holy Qur’anic expression of democracy. A religious commandment, it refers to the discussions and deliberation that take place at meetings (or Majalis). In these meetings, Prophet Mohammed taught the early Muslims the culture of democracy in Islam.
Islam is against TERRORISM
“Jihad” is a term often misunderstood and associated with violent radical militants. This Arabic word is frequently mistranslated as ”holy war,” although there is no such thing in Islam. Holy war is something undertaken to forcibly subject others to certain religious doctrines. As we have seen this expressly forbidden in Islam.
The Arabic word “Jihad” actually means a struggle or striving within and applies to any great effort on the personal as well as the evil from oneself and from society. This exertion of effort can be spiritual, social, economic or political. For example, one of the highest levels of jihad is to stand before a tyrant and speak a word of truth. Restraining the self from wrongdoing is also a form of jihad.
It is a broad Islamic concept that includes opposing evil inclinations within the self, opposing injustice by peaceful means, the exertion of effort to improve the quality of life in society, as well as striving by military forces on a battlefield in defense of the community or of peoples oppressed. Jihad is not synonymous with war, as that is only one possible aspect of the term and it certainly does not include terrorism!
Islam is against terrorism: In Islam, the right to life is an absolute value. In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. “Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation (in legal punishment) of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. And indeed, there came to them Our Messengers with clear proofs, evidence, and signs, even then after that many of them continued to exceed the limits (e.g. by doing oppression unjustly and exceeding beyond the limits set by Allâh by committing the major sins) in the land!” – Al Qur’an, Surah Al-Maidah, Verse 32.
There is also jihad of the soul, which means striving to purify the soul, to increase its faith, incline it toward good and keep it away from evil. Then there is jihad through wealth, which means spending it in various beneficial ways, including charities and welfare projects. And there is jihad through the self which comprises all good works done by a believer.
It includes the protection of societies from oppression, foreign domination and dictatorships that usurp rights and freedom, that abolish just and moral rule, that prevent people from hearing the truth or following it, and that practice religious persecution. Jihad endeavors to teach belief in the one supreme God (Allah SWT) and worship of Him, to spread good values, virtue and morality through wise and proper methods.
Jihad means striving for social reform and the elimination of ignorance, superstition, poverty, disease and racial discrimination. Among its main objectives is securing rights for weaker members of society against the impositions of the powerful and influential.Armed jihad is not an option for Muslim individuals or groups. It can only be declared by the Muslim head of state and religious leadership. Moreover, it must never be fought for worldly gain, conquest or revenge. Muslims may only engage in battle to protect people’s lives, properties and freedom.
Peace in Islamic Philosophy
The Arabic term Islam itself is usually translated as submission, submission of desires to the will of God (Allah SWT) . It comes from the term aslama, which means “to surrender” or “resign oneself. The Arabic word salaam (peace) has the same root as the word Islam. One Islamic interpretation is that individual personal peace is attained by utterly submitting to Allah. The greeting Salaam alaykum, favoured by Muslims, has the literal meaning Peace be with you.
Prophet Muhammad PBUH is reported to have said once, “Mankind are the dependents, or family of God, and the most beloved of them to God are those who are the most excellent to His dependents. Not one of you believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself. Great Muslim scholars of prophetic tradition such as Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani and Sharafuddin al Nawawi have said that the words ‘his brother’ mean any person irrespective of faith.
Concept of Islamic Peace
Islam is a monotheistic religion and according to Al Qur’an all people are children of Adam. Satan is considered the enemy of humanity, causing enmity among all people. The series of prophets and messengers coming from God through out the ages is to call the people again towards their innate identity of love and friendship.
The good life according to Islam is in submitting to God and in worshiping Him as The Creator and The Master and to recognize the innate nature of man. The individual who will recognize his true nature on which every person is created will be able to live together in society with peace and affection to each other. In his Last Sermon, the Prophet Muhammad PBUH admonished believers: “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.”
Rules for Peace
Islamic tradition dictates that prophets were sent by God to every nation. In Islam, only Muhammad was sent finally to convey God’s message to the whole world, whereas other prophets were sent to convey their messages to a specific group of people or nation. So the ideal nationhood in Islam is beyond all boundaries and differences. Prophet Muhammad is the final messenger according to Islam and his nation or ummah is called Ummat e Muhammad (nation of Muhammad).
The establishment of ummah (the Islamic community) on earth based on the rules of shariah is the ultimate goal of Islam according to the jurisprudential approach. The ummah is not confined to any particular geography, or limited to any specific race; rather it consists of all believers throughout the world from whatever background, language, creed, history or geography.
Unlike race, language, history and other such involuntary criteria in nationhood, where the individual has no choice and nationalism and patriotism ask for allegiance to a particular nation and state not chosen by him/her, ummah arms the individual by allowing a choice to be made by him/her in joining or rejecting it. It is therefore a conscious and informed choice that establishes ummah and allegiance to it rather than non-voluntary factors as in nationhood.
Importance of Peace
One of the terms meaning peace and peacemaking in Arabic, sulh, which is used in the Quran, is also the root of the word islah denoting development and improvement. This term is used to refer to peacemaking. Peacemakers are agents of good and those who breach it are elements of corruption and sin. It is therefore observed that peace and peacemaking are seen in Islamic tradition as part and parcel of human development.
In other words peace and making peace are seen as Godly acts worthy of praise and reward. Enmity takes root within and is the cause of conflict amongst humans without; wars start in the minds of men’ reads the UNESCO Charter.
Therefore, the main ingredient and instigator of much of armed conflict in history, enmity and hatred, befell mankind as a result of having succumbed to Satanic temptation and deception. The commonality with Kantian as well as Hobbesian perspective in considering enmity and war as state of nature (outside of the original dwelling) is all too clear. However, there is a striking difference in man’s approach to the state of nature: Whilst both Hobbes and Kant believe that peace is a better way of life and prescribe an artificial state of peace to promote human security, progress and stability (they, however, disagree widely on how to achieve that state) as a rational discourse, in Islam peace is advocated as a divine quality to be pursued in order to achieve the state of felicity that we were in paradise, man’s former dwelling.
Peace and Justice
Justice, as outlined in the Quran, refers to balance and is the foundation upon which creation stands.Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph after the Prophet, has an incisive definition of justice. He considers justice to be the placement of everything in their proper order. The issue of proportionality and relativeness is thus an indispensable part of justice.
Quran states in chapter Al Maidah :O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.
Peace based on justice, therefore, would mean a balanced, fair and tranquil state of affairs, where all concerned would enjoy their due rights and protection. Muhammad PBUH is reported to have said once: “Mankind are the family of God, and the most beloved of them to God are those who are the most excellent to His family.” “Not one of you believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”
Great Muslim scholars of prophetic tradition such as Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani and Sharafuddin al Nawawi have said  that the words ‘his brother’ mean any person irrespective of faith.
House Of Peace
The ideal society, according to the Qur’an is Dar as-Salam, literally, the house of peace of which it intones: And Allah invites to the ‘abode of peace’ and guides whom He pleases into the right path. The establishment of abode of peace on earth means the establish peace in everyday lives, at all levels. This includes personal, social, state and international levels.
According to Islam there will be an era in which justice, plenty, abundance, well-being, security, peace, and brotherhood will prevail among humanity, and one in which people will experience love, self-sacrifice, tolerance, compassion, mercy, and loyalty. In his sayings, our Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, says that this blessed period will be experienced through the mediation of the Mahdi (Imam Mahdi), who will come in the end times to save the world from chaos, injustice, and moral collapse.
He will eradicate godless ideologies and bring an end to the prevailing injustice. Moreover, he will make religion like it was in the days of our Prophet PBUH, cause the Qur’an’s moral teachings to prevail among humanity, and establish peace and well-being throughout the world.
Islamic view of Jesus (Prophet Isa AS)
After Imam Mahdi, we would also have Phophet Isa AS in his second coming. Muslims believe that Jesus invited the Children of Israel to follow the true path and showed them many miracles. He is the Messiah and, as the Qur’an says, he is the word of God . Together with his return to earth in his second coming he will be the best judge among all people on earth.
The lack of understanding between Christians and Muslims, who believe in the same God, share the same moral values and, as the Qur’an says, are closer to one another in love than all other people, will be repaired and these two greatest of the world’s religious communities will be united. The members of the world’s third monotheistic religion, the Jews, will also accept Jesus as their true Messiah and find their way to the true religion.
So by the return of Jesus, religion will defeat the atheistic philosophies and pagan beliefs with intellectual means; the world will be saved from wars, conflicts, racial and ethnic hostility, cruelty and injustice. Humanity will enter a “Golden Age” of peace, happiness and well-being. (HSH)
1.The Holy Al Qur’an Tafsir in English by Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Khan.
2. “Islam is a Religion of Love and Peace” by Professor Huseyin Algul
3.“Peace in Islamic philosophy” from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
4. “THE ROOTS OF DEMOCRACY IN ISLAM” by Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour