The Way to Peace
His Eminence’s lecture delivered during
The World Peace Forum of Representatives of World Religious Leaders
under the motto “Towards a World of Peace and Brotherhood”
16–17 November 1991
In the name of God,
the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All praise and thanks be to God, the Lord of all worlds, and may His peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad, upon his two brother prophets Moses and Jesus Christ, upon all his brother prophets and messengers and the households, companions and followers of them all.
Honoured clergymen and audience, you may have noticed that I have started my speech with the words that Almighty God started the Holy Qur’an with:
“All praise and thanks be to God, the Lord (Cherisher and Sustainer) of all worlds.” T.Q., 1:1.
Almighty God has not confined His mercy and love to certain people or ethnicity. He did not say that He is the Lord of Arabs alone or non-Arabs alone, but He rather says the Lord of all worlds. This encompasses all members of the human family, east and west, north and south. Prophet Muhammad stresses this meaning when he says, ‘All creatures are God’s dependants, and the most loved by Him are those most helpful to His dependants.’ Mu'jam Al-Tabarani.
Dear brothers and sisters, we have met here to discuss peace issues at a time when peace has become a persistent human concern. The world experienced two world wars where humans suffered severely. So much blood was shed that it could have made a running river, and scores of millions of souls passed away. All this resulted in an aimless existential philosophy that enjoins evil and forbids good, adorns play and carelessness and tries to convince humans that they have come from nowhere and will pass to nowhere saying, ‘It is merely wombs that give birth and earth that swallows, and only the passage of time will annihilate us.’ However, the truth is what Almighty God says in the Holy Qur’an:
“But they have no knowledge of that; they are only conjecturing.” T.Q., 45:24.
Then humanity lived for about half a century in the atmosphere of the Cold War, where humans lost their tranquillity. Their fate fluctuated between the selfish desires of the superpowers, whose hands were positioned alert on a button over a barrel of dynamite. Then God willed a periodic end to the Cold War and the establishment of a fragile unsteady peace on earth, more because of a change in the centre of power than in good morals and principles.
Here emerges our role as we meet, clergymen, politicians and media people, to alter this condition from a cessation in the Cold War to a constructive, real, constant and fair peace, based on human brotherhood, joint worship of the One God, the Creator and Originator of the universe, and belief in all of God’s prophets and messengers as Almighty God instructs us in many instances:
“We make no distinction between any of His Messengers.” T.Q., 2:285.
The first step we should take to achieve real peace is for humans to be reconciled with their Lord. We all have witnessed the dreadful collapse of atheism in the Eastern world. However, so far we have not witnessed the appearance of true faith that meets with science and reason, respects humans and their freedom and directs their behaviour and all their life through God’s guidance and light to attain eternal happiness on this earth and in Heaven. This is the inner, or personal, side of making peace in Islam. The wider scope can be summarised in achieving respect between all humans because of their shared membership of one human family since all humans are created and originated by God and should share worship of Him in the light of reason and the facts of science.
Depending on that guidance, Islam calls humans to believe in all heavenly messages and prophets. For further explanation, I have selected this text from the Holy Qur’an so that you can recognise how Islam extends its hand to all peoples on earth. Almighty God says, addressing all people:
“Say: we believe in God and the revelation that has been sent to us and that which was sent to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and to the Prophets among his children and descendants, and that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and that which was given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we do submit.” T.Q., 2:136.
In this verse, Almighty God mentions some of His prophets specifically, and then He includes them all. God orders us to believe in all of them. If Muslims do not believe in Jesus Christ or honour him, then they are not Muslims. Moreover, if Muslims do not believe in the prophethood of Moses and his heavenly message, then they are not Muslims. This is the case with respecting and believing in all of God’s prophets and messengers.
In many places, the Holy Qur’an mentions that the message of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) came to confirm and complement all previous messages. For example, Almighty God says:
“To you we have sent the Scripture in Truth, confirming the Scriptures that came before it, and guarding [and preserving] them in safety.” T.Q., 5:48.
Dear participants, this peace that was established by Islam among people of different faiths is not a written invitation in history books, but it was evident to the whole world during the age of the global Islamic State, which extended from ocean to ocean during the Middle Ages. The great capitals of the Muslim world still have the towers of churches and synagogues that were constructed throughout different eras of the history of Islam.
These churches and synagogues still preserve their rituals under the patronage of the Islamic community and its state. Many of them were built before Islam entered these countries, and none of them were closed throughout Islamic history, not for a single day. Moreover, the number of churches and synagogues in the time of Caliph Al-Ma’moun reached twelve thousand.
Swords lifted by Muslims when they conquered some countries were never directed towards people to force them convert to Islam, but they were directed against colonial tyrants who forced people to do or say things that were against their own will or desire. Accordingly, that sword of Islam was to break the handcuffs of the oppressed and not their hands, to unveil their eyes and not to pluck their eyes out. Thus, when they became free, they were able to choose the religion and doctrine they wanted. Almighty God says in the Holy Qur’an:
“Let there be no compulsion in religion. The right path has become clearly distinct from the wrong one. Whoever rejects false gods and believes in God [Allah] has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. God is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” T.Q., 2:256.
Islamic rule prevailed in the Middle East for a long time, yet we still find various places of worship in good condition and without any trace of force or prejudice. Although the armies of the conquering Arab Muslims left the conquered countries, we find that the peoples of those countries kept their faith and did not revert to their previous idol worship or religion after enjoying the blessings of faith.
Dear brothers and sisters, all religions are messages of love and peace. Is there anything more beautiful than God choosing Islam as the name of His religion? This name, Islam, is derived from total submission to God’s commands. Thus, it implies the full meaning of peace.
In Islam, the greeting of believers is as-salamu alaykum, which means peace be upon you. For further sacredness of peace in Islam, Almighty God called Himself Peace for He is the source of peace and perfection. Paradise is the House of Peace in the Hereafter. Makkah is also the dwelling of peace. The greeting of the people in Paradise is ‘peace.’
Almighty God commands all believers saying:
“O you who believe, enter, all of you, into peace and total submission to God wholeheartedly.” T.Q., 2:208.
Dear brothers and sisters, with all its invitation for peace, Islam does not stop at that. Rather it elevates human beings to the status of mercy, brotherhood and cooperation because peace is a kind of truce between two fighting parties, or could be a truce between parties whose hearts are full of rancour.
Islam does not accept peace alone. Its objective is to transcend it in mercy, kindness and compassion for all humans regardless of their doctrine. Almighty God addresses His Prophet Muhammad in the Holy Qur’an saying:
“We have not sent you except as a mercy for all creation.” T.Q., 21:107.
Dear brothers and sisters, if I want to go into detail in this subject, it would take long, and the allocated time would not be enough. But don’t you see with me that our responsibility as clergymen is the greatest responsibility at this time, and that we will one day stand before God and will be asked about our trusts, messages, unity and cooperation in the light of a free, frank and logical dialogue?
From this platform, I address all clergymen in the world, asking them to implement the messages of their prophets by spreading love, brotherhood and peace and to emulate their prophets’ teachings.
I would also like to address Colonel John Garang and his group in South Sudan, and call upon them to respond to Jesus Christ’s call for love and peace by being true Christians in word and action. Further, I call upon them to sit at the negotiating table with their brothers, be they Muslims, Christians or others, to preserve their people’s welfare.
If we are to imagine Jesus Christ (pbuh) being with us, I believe he would undoubtedly work to silence guns and to take people back to dialogue, the negotiating table and love.
May God bless this honourable meeting and conference.
I pray to Almighty God to inspire us with truth and the right path.
All praise be to God, the Lord of the entire universe.
(T.Q. = Translation of the meanings of the Holy Qur’an)
(pbuh = May Allah's peace and blessings be upon him, and may Allah exalt his mention and raise his position more and more)