World Peace in Islam His Eminence’s speech at the inauguration ceremony of The World Peace Forum of Religious Leaders
Baku, Azerbaijan, the Soviet Union
1–3 October 1986
In the name of God,
the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All praise be to God, the Lord of all worlds, and may His peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad, his forefather Abraham, his two brothers Moses and Jesus, upon all prophets and messengers, their family members and companions and upon their followers.
May God’s peace, mercy and blessings be upon all of you.
World peace occupies a great and serious position in Islam. All heavenly messages, prophets and messengers were not sent but to make world peace and to raise its permanent banner along with the ideals that Islam calls for. Peace in Islam is neither a personal matter nor a national goal. It is a global, comprehensive and everlasting one. Prophets and messengers all participated in building the structure of peace, which was completed by the message of the noble Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) when he said, ‘The likeness of me and the other prophets before me is that of a man who built a house and beautified it except for a place of one brick in a corner. People went around it and wondered at its beauty, but said, “If only this brick were put in its place!” So I am that brick, and I am the final prophet.’ Sahih Al-Bukhari.
Heavenly messages were concluded by his message, and the divine plan was completed by him not only to achieve eternal human peace, but also brotherhood, cooperation and happiness for all humanity.
We can see this fact in the Holy Qur’an when God addresses Prophet Muhammad saying:
“We have not sent you save as a mercy for all creation.” T.Q., 21:107.
So he is the mercy of heaven granted for peace and permanent happiness of people on earth as long as they are committed to the teachings of heaven. These teachings have made believers loving brothers who help one another in goodness, compete in seeking knowledge and wisdom and sacrifice their dearest possessions and best efforts to bring happiness to their fellow believers as well as to all humans. They do all that under the motto of Prophet Muhammad’s words: ‘All creatures are God’s dependants, and the most loved by Him are the ones most helpful to His dependants.’ Musnad Al-Bazzar.
Almighty God says, showing the required relation between believers:
“Verily, believers are but a single brotherhood.” T.Q., 49:10.
Prophet Muhammad announces the same brotherhood between all prophets and messengers when he says, ‘All prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers (laws) are different, but their religion is one.’ Sahih Al-Bukhari.
Honourable audience, human reason and all honest peace lovers and supporters, no matter what efforts they exert, cannot glorify peace the way Islam did. Islam glorifies peace in legislation, practice and doctrine. It elevates peace to the highest degree of sacredness and glorification when it made it one of the ninety-nine names of God, the Creator of this great universe and the Originator of its precise and wonderful system.
We read this name in the following verse:
“He is God, besides whom there is none who has the right to be worshipped, the King, the Most Holy, the Source of Peace and Perfection.” T.Q., 59:23.
Almighty God mentioned peace among His names to make it loved and desired by believers, so the one who loves peace loves God, and the enemies of peace are the enemies of God.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) elaborated on this when he taught his companions the following supplication to be said after performing their prayers: ‘O Lord! You are the source of perfection and peace. Glorified and Blessed are You, O Possessor of majesty and honour!’ Musnad Al-Bazzar.
The Holy Qur’an also makes peace an important attribute of Paradise:
“God calls to the Home of Peace (Paradise).” T.Q., 10:25.
Islam does not stop at that but rather commands all believers to adopt peace:
“O you who believe, enter all into complete peace and submission to God whole-heartedly.” T.Q., 2:208.
Dear brothers and sisters, this is the sacredness of peace in Islam. As for peace in the Islamic law, the Holy Qur’an contains many verses that guarantee the establishment and support for world peace by giving people their rights and forbidding aggression on any creature.
Islam also orders Muslims to raise justice to the lofty attribute of benevolence on all levels: humans and animals, individuals and groups, white and black, and all humanity even with combatant enemies when they accept peace. The Holy Qur’an also states that truth and justice should be superior to any emotions towards our relatives, loved ones and even towards our own selves.
“O you who believe, stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even be it against yourselves, your parents or your relatives.” T.Q., 4:135.
As for establishing justice with enemies, it says:
“Let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just; that is next to piety.” T.Q., 5:8.
Almighty God also says:
“But if they incline towards peace, you [also] incline towards it, and put your trust in God. It is surely He who hears all and knows all, and if they intend to deceive you, then verily, God is All-Sufficient for you.” T.Q., 8:61–62.
Brothers and sisters, Islam does not only guarantee peace with regard to wars but also ordains that we should avoid anything that might deprive humans of well-being and happiness.
With regard to ignorance, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, ‘Seeking knowledge is an obligation on every Muslim.’ Sunan Ibn Majah. He also said, ‘My true followers are either learned or learners.’ Ibn Al-Najjar.
With regard to need and poverty, Islam considers them as things that deprive a Muslim of one of the five pillars of Islam, namely zakat (the obligatory charity).
Islam commands that if the zakat money was not sufficient in a society, then an additional amount should be paid. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, ‘There are rights on your money [that you should pay] other than zakat.’ Sunan Al-Tirmithi.
Islam has nothing to do with a society that has one hungry person even if he/she is non-Muslim. Islam considers all individuals in society responsible for providing food. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, ‘Anyone who goes to bed with a full stomach, knowing that his neighbour is hungry, has not truly believed in me.’ Musnad Al-Bazzar.
As for peace among individuals, the Holy Qur’an states major principles that guarantee peace and security, such as the ones in these verses:
“Verily, God commands justice, the doing of good purely for God’s sake and giving help to relatives, and He forbids all indecent, shameful and evil deeds and injustice. He admonishes you that you may take heed.” T.Q., 16:90.
“Be conscious of God, and reconcile dissention among you.” T.Q., 8:1.
As for peace among fighting groups, we read:
“If two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel, make peace between them. Then if either of them acts unjustly to the other, fight the side that transgresses until it submits to God’s judgment, but if it submits, make peace between the two fairly, and be equitable. Verily, God loves those who are equitable. Believers are but a single brotherhood. So make peace and reconciliation between two [contending] brothers of yours.” T.Q., 49:9–10.
As for the practical side of peace, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his noble companions have been the prominent ideal in establishing peace and the living example in spreading benevolence, love and brotherhood in the global Muslim community. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) along with his students were able to unify half of the ancient world in less than a century and through primitive means, from the borders of France to the borders of China, under the banner of knowledge, civilisation, spiritual brotherhood and equality among the peoples regardless of their colour, religion and nationality. They eliminated all geographical and political borders, implemented social and judicial justice and truly brought people back their usurped rights. No one can deny this except an ignorant or arrogant person.
Therefore, Islam has produced many gifted leaders and scholars from many different nationalities and colours. Prosperity and security prevailed to such an extent that a woman could cross the forbidding desert of Iraq to Makkah, fearing no one except God. Human beings, through the teachings of Islam, became honourable and helpful, and even favoured other humans over themselves in all fields of life.
For example, the caller in the Muslim state used to call, ‘Oh people! Are there any poor persons so that we can provide for them? Are there any single persons so that we can join them in marriage? Are there any in debt so that we can pay for them? Are there any blind persons who have no helper so that we can hire someone for them?’
With regard to women, Islam has guaranteed them peace and security to the utmost level they could ever dream of by recognising their dignity and rights, which had been violated for a long time. A wonderful example of the position of women in the Muslim society occurred when Muslims led by Caliph Umar bin Al-Khattab unanimously agreed on fixing the marriage dowry (the obligatory property given to women at marriage by their husbands). One old woman opposed them, and they submitted to her opinion including Umar, who uttered these very wonderful words: ‘The woman was right, and Umar was wrong.’
Islam has also guaranteed workers their security and rights and placed labour in a very high position. It is narrated that Prophet Muhammad said, ‘Whoever goes home in the evening exhausted because of work will have their sins forgiven by God.’ Al-Tabarani.
The Prophet (pbuh) concluded his life with a practical step towards social peace. During his last illness, he ascended the pulpit and said, ‘I hope that I meet God without having wronged anybody in body or property.’ Musnad Ahmad.
When Al-Hurmuzan, the leader of Persians, was brought before Caliph Umar, he saw him sleeping on the ground in the mosque, wearing patched clothes and having no guards or soldiers. Caliph Umar woke up because of the noise and heard Al-Hurmuzan addressing him saying, ‘You Umar have judged with justice, so you have gained peace, security and contented sleep. Surely you are a great prophet.’ Umar replied, ‘I am not a prophet, but I do like what prophets do.’
Another example is seen in the punishment that Caliph Umar meted out to the son of the governor of Egypt, Amr bin Al-‘As, for lashing a Coptic Christian after a horse race. The latter’s crime was nothing more than winning the race. The Copt travelled to Al-Madinah to complain to Caliph Umar who summoned the governor and his son. When punishing the governor’s son by giving the Copt the whip and asking him to lash his opponent, Umar said to the Copt that, had he chosen to beat the governor’s head, nobody would have prevented him from doing so because his son acted unjustly relying on his father’s position. Caliph Umar rebuked his governor in a historic statement, saying, ‘How come that you enslave people when their mothers gave birth to them as free.’ Kanzul Ummal
Dear brothers and sisters and beloved ones, only few people in our time are ignorant of the danger of the nuclear arms race and weapons that are destructive to life and the living creatures on our beautiful planet. If Christ (pbuh) said, ‘Man cannot live by bread alone’, reality, fair people and myself would say, ‘We cannot survive by knowledge alone.’
Therefore, we must urgently implant the seeds of good morals in our children, based on rational faith or faithful intellect and on the light of intellectual and scientific dialogue to build a scientific peace, global brotherhood and human love. In this way, we can make an earthly paradise of our planet before we move to the heavenly one, as Almighty God describes the mission of Prophet Muhammad when He says:
“We have not sent you except as a mercy to all creation.” T.Q., 21:107.
Dear brothers and sisters, if we ask how much the annual budgets for the arms race in the world are, the immediate answer will be billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of people dedicated to that mission. If we ask how much money and how many people and means have been provided for establishing peace, the obvious answer will be that the two budgets are not equal, and the difference between preparation for war and preparation for peace is huge.
No wonder that all means of peace in the twentieth century, such as the League of Nations, the United Nations and its chaotic and veto-happy Security Council, the International Court of Justice and international treaties have failed to stop small wars let alone big ones. So how about nuclear wars?
Unfortunately, world organisations have been built on principles that can achieve neither local peace nor world peace. If we were to study how peace is accomplished in Islam and head for it, our planet would obtain more than the peace and security it aspires to. Such a guaranteed peace is well illustrated and confirmed in the Holy Qur’an through the rules it has established for world brotherhood and love.
Honourable audience, I would like to give one clear example about the failure of the current means of peace in a case that has occupied the whole world for a long time. That is the Palestinian case, which is not the only one. Have not Palestinians been displaced from their homeland by the leadership and planning of the United States, Britain and NATO just for the sake of world Zionism, and all within the hearing and sight of the world peace organisations? Nevertheless, the aggression is still ongoing, and the power of oppression and occupation against the Palestinian people is worsening despite all the peace organisations, which fail to stop what they witness. Today, we see in Palestine that if one Israeli is killed, America and all its allies are worried, whereas genocide is being practised against the Palestinian people after evicting them from their own land. Forty years have passed, yet nobody cares. All present peace means have failed to restore the rights of this oppressed people. Is not the reason that there are no practical means? The situation now is just like one an Arab poet describes who wrote disapprovingly about the peace of the weak:
Killing one person in a jungle is an unforgivable crime,
While killing a whole secure population is a case that needs consideration.
Another poet wrote:
I feel safe with the howling of a wolf,
But I am horribly scared upon hearing a human voice.
A wolf howled, and I found company.
A man spoke, and the world narrowed in my fright of him.
In brief, peace needs knowledge, rational faith, faithful intellect and educating ourselves with the best of morals. To achieve all that we need a world troika consisting of
1. University academics who are sincere and devoted to peace and humanity
2. Rational, progressive and reforming clergy
3. Devoted and sincere politicians.
In this troika, each one has to work sincerely to establish peace by putting in place the practical, scientific and world plan for peace.
Every work in this life starts with an idea and ends with a practical reality. An Arab poet wrote:
A human being is nothing but an intellect.
Paradise will result when thinking right:
Not bones, flesh or skin.
Hell is the result of thinking wrong.
We absolutely need to prepare the media and all requirements for achieving world peace. Thus, we move from words to actions and from ideas to reality.
Praise be to God, the Lord of all worlds. Thank you all.
(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)