28th December 2021 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS
In the midst of increasing global tensions, which have only grown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is going through perilous times. Unfortunately, the religion of Islam is often wrongly accused of playing a role in the world’s unrest and its teachings are often brought into question. In his address at the concluding session of Jalsa Salana [Annual Convention] Qadian on 26 December 2021, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) dispelled such notions, and showed how Islamic teachings, in fact, hold the key to establishing true, and lasting peace at all levels. The Review of Religions is honoured to present the full translation of this address.
After reciting the Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz, and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) stated:
“Today is the final day and the concluding session of the Jalsa Salana [Annual Convention] Qadian. Similarly, Guinea-Bissau, a country in Africa, is also holding their Jalsa. They had also requested to be included in this proceeding, and so scenes from their Jalsa are also being occasionally shown on the screen. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, there are other countries as well where the Jalsa is taking place or is going to take place in these days as well. Nevertheless, as they are holding their Jalsa on the same days as the Jalsa in Qadian, I have mentioned them. I will now turn to the actual subject [of the address].
Islamic Teachings – A True Guarantor for Ever-Lasting Peace
We claim that it is the teaching of Islam alone that serves as the most excellent set of teachings that can establish a beautiful society, due to the fact that it has remained preserved in its original form. It is this very teaching, which if truly adhered to, draws one closer to God Almighty, and then, as a result of that nearness – along with the desire and effort to attain the pleasure of God Almighty – it provides unparalleled guidance for a true Muslim in relation to fulfilling the rights of others. It is the fulfilment of these rights which serve as a guarantor for establishing peace and harmony in society.
Nowadays, there is much debate about how long-lasting peace and security can be truly established. The potential for disorder, unrest and warfare at both the local and international level is ever increasing. Indeed, not even the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left the entire world shaken, has managed to remove the animosities harboured within the hearts of people or purged nations of their pride and arrogance over one another.
People are not paying heed to this warning of Allah the Almighty and should this same attitude continue to be displayed by people and nations, the ramifications will be incredibly perilous.
Nevertheless, at present, I am going to mention various aspects of Islam’s teaching in relation to peace, which if people were to truly implement, the world would become an abode of peace and harmony. The teachings presented by Islam guarantee the establishment of peace in the world. I will present these various aspects in light of the teachings of the Holy Qur’an.
Islam’s Teaching on Religious Tolerance
First and foremost, we will take a look at the Islamic teachings in relation to religious tolerance. Although the majority of the world is moving away from religion, there is nevertheless a group of people, which criticises others on the basis of religion and deems it essential to raise allegations and ridicule other religions in order to prove the superiority of its own religion. But, even if we leave other religions aside, allegations are still raised against Islam that it does not show any consideration to others. However, Islam completely rejects the notion of mocking other religions. Islam teaches not to raise allegations against the founders of other religions and to falsify them thereby, or to falsify them and raise allegations against them. Islam undoubtedly presents itself to be the final religion and that its teachings are all-encompassing. However, it does not state that the founders of other religions are false. Islam teaches that prophets of God Almighty appeared among every nation of the world in order to guide them. Allah the Almighty states:
اِنَّاۤ اَرۡسَلۡنٰکَ بِالۡحَقِّ بَشِیۡرًا وَّ نَذِیۡرًا ؕ وَ اِنۡ مِّنۡ اُمَّۃٍ اِلَّا خَلَا فِیۡھَا نَذِیۡرٌ
'Verily, We have sent thee with the Truth, as a bearer of glad tidings and as a Warner; and there is no people to whom a Warner has not been sent.' [35:25]
Hence, this is a clear distinction between the teaching of Islam and that of other religions. Other religions only consider their teachings to be true. However, according to the teachings presented to us by the Holy Qur’an, it is the duty of every Muslim to acknowledge that prophets appeared in every nation, and if they accept the fact that prophets have appeared in every nation, how then can they say that other prophets are false? At times, adherents of other religions raise, or can raise, foul allegations against the blessed character of the Holy Prophet (sa). However, Muslims address Moses (as), Jesus (as) and the avatars of the Hindu faith with reverence and respect. In this day and age, the Promised Messiah (as) has addressed these aspects for us in a most beautiful manner. The Promised Messiah (as) states,
‘I do not hold the belief that apart from Islam all other religions are based on falsehood. I believe that just as God – Who is the God of all creation and sees everything – fulfils the physical needs of everything, so too does He fulfil their spiritual needs. It is not true that He has only chosen one people from the beginning of the creation of this world, and shown no care for the rest. Yes, it is true that a time comes for one nation, and then for another. I do not say this to please anyone, rather, God Almighty has revealed to me that Raja Ramchandra and Krishna were also pious servants of God and had a true relationship with Him. I distance myself from the one who belittles or ridicules them. The example of such a person is like that of a frog in a well which fails to understand the vastness of the ocean. Based on the authentic accounts on their lives, we find that they made great endeavours and efforts to find the true path that leads to God Almighty. One who says that they were not righteous speaks against the Holy Qur’an, as it states:
وَ اِنۡ مِّنۡ اُمَّۃٍ اِلَّا خَلَا فِیۡھَا نَذِیۡرٌ
'And there is no people to whom a Warner has not been sent.'
Thus, there is no doubt that the foundations of all these religions at the beginning was based upon truth and righteousness, but after the passage of time, all kinds of errors began to creep in, until the reality became hidden beneath these errors.’
The Promised Messiah (as) further states,
‘Just as God Almighty has been granting a physical nurturing to the people of all nations according to their capacity, He has also blessed every nation and every people with a spiritual nurturing. In one instance of the Holy Qur’an, God Almighty states:
وَ اِنۡ مِّنۡ اُمَّۃٍ اِلَّا خَلَا فِیۡھَا نَذِیۡرٌ
"And there is no people to whom a prophet or messenger has not been sent."
God Almighty’s grace is general and it encompasses all nations, all countries and all languages. This is so that no nation can have any room for complaint; nor claim that such and such a nation was granted a blessing, yet they were not; or that so and so nation was granted a book in order to attain guidance, yet they did not receive one; or that God Almighty manifested Himself through revelation and miracles in a certain era, but remained hidden in their era. Hence, having manifested His general grace, He removed all these allegations and demonstrated His vast morals in the fact that He has not deprived any nation nor any era of His physical and spiritual grace.’
Thus, these are the beautiful teachings through which peace and harmony can be established within society. Nowadays, every so often, allegations are levelled against Muslims, or against the founder of Islam, Hazrat Muhammad (sa). They can give extreme support in ruining peace, yet they play no role in establishing peace. Thus, our belief is that we must respect the followers of all faiths and revere the founders of every religion.
Refuting Islam’s Link to Extremism
Another misconception about Islam due to the lack of awareness of its teachings and history, is that Islam is an extremist religion, and due to its teachings of compulsion, it was spread by force at its inception and efforts are still being made to do so today. This allegation is one that has no basis. When one reads the Holy Qur’an, they will find that it negates this concept, and instead teaches to refrain from the idea of compulsion on many occasions, as is stated:
وَ لَوۡ شَآءَ رَبُّکَ لَاٰمَنَ مَنۡ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ کُلُّھُمۡ جَمِیۡعًا ؕ اَفَاَنۡتَ تُکۡرِہُ النَّاسَ حَتّٰی یَکُوۡنُوۡا مُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ
'And if thy Lord had enforced His will, surely, all who are in the earth would have believed together. Wilt thou, then, force men to become believers?' [10:100]
Hence, if we were to convince the world through force, God Almighty would not have stated that we cannot compel people to accept Islam. Allah the Almighty says that He has the power to make everyone Muslims, but He has not done so. Therefore, if Allah the Almighty has not done this, neither the Holy Prophet (sa) has the right, nor his followers, to force anyone to become a Muslim. In fact, one is commanded to preach, to convey the message of Islam and to show others the path. After having shown people this path, Allah the Almighty then states:
وَ قُلِ الۡحَقُّ مِنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ ۟ فَمَنۡ شَآءَ فَلۡیُؤۡمِنۡ وَّ مَنۡ شَآءَ فَلۡیَکۡفُرۡ
'And say, ‘It is the truth from your Lord; wherefore let him who will, believe, and let him who will, disbelieve.’' [18:30]
Allah the Almighty has revealed that this teaching is the truth and for your benefit. It is better that you accept it, but if you wish not to, that is your choice. Allah the Almighty will then judge us on the Day of Judgement and the affairs of this world will have come to an end. No one has the right to compel anyone in this world if they wish not to accept a religion. Hence, Islam does not punish anyone in the world on the basis of religion. It is the erroneous explanations and commentaries of certain scholars that have put Islam in disrepute. If one turns to the history of Islam and the Holy Qur’an, they will realise that if anyone refused to accept the teachings of Islam, it was on the basis that they would have been left expelled from their homes, or from their land, just as is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an:
وَ قَالُوۡۤا اِنۡ نَّتَّبِعِ الۡھُدٰی مَعَکَ نُتَخَطَّفۡ مِنۡ اَرۡضِنَا ؕ اَوَ لَمۡ نُمَکِّنۡ لَّھُمۡ حَرَمًا اٰمِنًا یُّجۡبٰۤی اِلَیۡہِ ثَمَرٰتُ کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ رِّزۡقًا مِّنۡ لَّدُنَّا وَ لٰکِنَّ اَکۡثَرَھُمۡ لَا یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ
'And they say, "If we were to follow the guidance with thee, we should be snatched away from our land." Have We not established for them a safe sanctuary, to which are brought the fruits of all things, as a provision from Us? But most of them know not' [28:58]
Thus, this shows that the reason why they were not accepting Islam was owing to their fear of non-Muslims; Islam was not accepted by these people because they feared those who opposed Islam. They said that if they accepted the Holy Prophet (sa), then the people would destroy, ruin and enslave them. However, Allah the Almighty states that if those people thought carefully over the matter, they would realise that Allah the Almighty has always safeguarded Makkah and has made it a place where He has gathered all kinds of blessings. However, those people did not understand this and allowed the fear of the world to overcome them, depriving themselves of the opportunity to accept Islam. Thus, the fear they had was from their peace being destroyed – not because of Islam, but because of the worldly kings.
It is regretful that the Muslim governments of today are failing to understand this, and that misconceptions about Islam are being established that it is, God-forbid, a religion of extremism. Even now, if the actions of Muslims accord with the teachings of Islam, the world’s attention will turn positively towards Islam, and Muslims themselves would realise that after truly turning to God Almighty and abandoning all worldly idols, not only will global peace be established but the status, respect and honour of Muslims will also increase manifold. But this can only happen when they accept the true servant of the Holy Prophet (sa), the Imam of the Age [the Promised Messiah (as)], who was sent by Allah the Almighty for the establishment of peace and harmony in the world.
Allah the Almighty has mentioned another principle for establishing peace, and this principle applies not only to personal relations but to broader external relations as well; from the smallest disputes in society to the major plots and ploys of enemies. This principle is to either punish or forgive the offender or enemy and this instruction is based on two different circumstances and conditions. Allah the Almighty states in the Holy Qur’an:
وَ جَزٰٓؤُا سَیِّئَۃٍ سَیِّئَۃٌ مِّثۡلُھَا ۚ فَمَنۡ عَفَا وَ اَصۡلَحَ فَاَجۡرُہٗ عَلَی اللّٰہِ ؕ اِنَّہٗ لَا یُحِبُّ الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ
'And the recompense of an injury is an injury the like thereof; but whoso forgives and thereby brings about an improvement, his reward is with Allah. Surely, He loves not the wrongdoers.' [42:41]
Thus, it has been made clear that firstly, do not foster such enmity that it leads to an endless cycle of conflict. If one commits a wrong, then the retribution for that deed should remain proportionate to the wrong committed. But remember that administering retribution is not so that one may harbour grudges or maintain hostilities, nor should it be for the sake of taking vengeance. Rather, the objective should always be reformation. Always focus on how reformation can be achieved in any such circumstance. Is it through punishment, retribution, or forgiveness? Allah the Almighty states that if reformation comes about by forgiving someone, then forgive them and the reward of forgiving them is then with Allah the Almighty. In the aforementioned verse, Allah the Almighty has taught us two different ways of dealing even with the enemy; either to punish them or to forgive them. However, Allah the Almighty has clearly stated that the underlying objective should be to bring about reformation. If we observe the [Arab] society in the time whereby people harboured enmity not for years, but for generations, however after accepting Islam this commandment brought a complete transformation in them. Age-old and ignorant traditions of fostering enmity are seen in some nations even today, and there is an endless cycle of enmity that is ongoing. Malice and rancour against Muslims has increased significantly, and this enmity exists internally amongst Muslims as well. This malice and rancour is taking root not only in the people living in some of the developed nations, but developing among politicians of these nations as well. Nonetheless, Allah the Almighty has stated that if you desire to establish peace, then you must follow this teaching. If we follow this teaching, then it will become a means for us to attain true peace. If the world adopts this principle, then true peace will be established in the world and enmity and resentment will disappear. Thus, this is such a teaching whereby no one can claim that it cannot completely eliminate enmity.
Furthermore, the Holy Prophet (sa) has imparted a golden principle to us in order to establish peace; and that is to show compassion to both the oppressor and the oppressed. It is clear how to show kindness to the oppressed, but how should one be sympathetic to the oppressor? In this regard, the Holy Prophet (sa) states that one can show sympathy by stopping the oppressor from their wrongdoing. Thus, whether it is the relations among developed nations or developing nations, whether a small aspect of the society or the relations among different ethnic and racial groups within those nations, or even if one observes the relations on an international scale, there is a severe lack of this [teaching being implemented].
Whoever is tasked to decide between two parties and seeks to establish peace tends to lean in favour of one party over the other. If we look at the United Nations it can be clearly seen that there is bias [in its policies] Either it shows such overwhelming favour to the victim that there comes a time when the oppressed becomes the oppressor, or it sides with the oppressor to such an extent that life becomes impossible for the oppressed.
Hence, lasting peace can only be established when a balanced approach is adopted by the people of authority at every level. Where they listen to the issues and perspective of both sides, then mediate and remove grudges.
Thinking Ill of Others is a Grave Sin
Among the ill-habits that Islam strictly forbids is thinking ill of others. Thinking ill of others causes one to be overcome with malice and spite, which, in turn, ruins the peace and tranquillity of society. Allah the Almighty has declared thinking ill of others to be a sin. In the Holy Qur’an, He states:
یٰۤاَیُّھَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوا اجۡتَنِبُوۡا کَثِیۡرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ ۫ اِنَّ بَعۡضَ الظَّنِّ اِثۡمٌ وَّ لَا تَجَسَّسُوۡا وَ لَا یَغۡتَبۡ بَّعۡضُکُمۡ بَعۡضًا ؕ اَیُحِبُّ اَحَدُکُمۡ اَنۡ یَّاۡکُلَ لَحۡمَ اَخِیۡہِ مَیۡتًا فَکَرِھۡتُمُوۡہُ ؕ وَ اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ
'O ye who believe! avoid much suspicion; for suspicion in some cases is a sin. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his brother who is dead? Certainly you would loathe it. And fear Allah, surely, Allah is Oft-Returning with compassion and is Merciful.' [49:13]
On the one hand, it has been made clear that some suspicion can take one toward sin, and on the other hand, Allah the Almighty states:
وَ لَا تَجَسَّسُوۡا
In other words, do not spy and seek out the vices of others. When one thinks ill of others, then one also seeks out their weaknesses. The moment an ill thought regarding someone takes root in the heart, one immediately begins to search for their weaknesses as well. One who abides by the teachings of Allah the Almighty will think positively about others instead of thinking ill of them, and one who thinks positively could never can never set out in search for the weaknesses of others. The companions would think positively about one another to such an extent that is incomparable. On one occasion, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) related an incident regarding the positive thinking of the companions. This incident not only highlights positive thinking, but also the lofty standards of honesty and trustworthiness; it shows how enmity turned into friendship and how a sense of peace and brotherhood was established.
An Inspiring Incident from the Lives of the Companions
This incident is as follows:
During the Khilafat [Caliphate] of Hazrat Umar (ra), there was a person on trial for murder, and the court decided that he should be sentenced to death. The person said that he had the trusts of many orphans, and requested enough time to return those trusts. He asked for a few days in order to do this, and said that he would return after a certain number of days. When he was asked for some assurance, he looked around and saw a companion, Hazrat Abu Dharr (ra) standing there and pointed to him saying that he would be his guarantor. When Hazrat Abu Dharr (ra) was asked whether he agreed to be this man’s guarantor, he said, ‘yes’, and the man was granted permission to return home. When the appointed day for that man to return came, the companions grew worried and looked around, as it was getting late and he had not yet returned. Some people asked Hazrat Abu Dharr (ra) whether he knew the man for whom he agreed to be the guarantor. He replied saying that he did not know the man personally. The companions thought it was strange that he agreed to be the guarantor for a man sentenced to death, yet he did not even know him. They asked why he had done so, because if the man did not return, then Hazrat Abu Dharr (ra) would lose his life instead. He said, ‘Although I did not know him, but when a Muslim asked me to be his guarantor, how could I refuse and think ill of him?’
This was the standard to which the companions thought positively of others. He became the guarantor of a person who he did not even know, only because he did not wish to think ill of him. When the time was just about to run out, people saw a cloud of dust in the distance and everyone saw a man riding swiftly on his horse. When he drew near, they realised that it was the same man who had given assurance. He dismounted his horse and said, ‘Forgive me, it took me a little longer than expected to return the trusts which is why I am late. In any case, I am thankful to God that I was able to return in time. Now I am ready to face my sentence.’ Hearing this had a profound impact on the victim’s family, and they told the judge that they had forgiven the man for his crime.
These were the pious people who thought positively and did not even know how to think ill of others. Allah the Almighty would then bring their positive thinking of others into fruition as well. These people were firmly established upon the truth, and were willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the truth and fulfilled their oaths. These are the qualities that can help bring about peace in society, where punishing a staunch enemy turns into forgiveness and mercy.
Backbiting is Also a Form of Cruelty
In this verse, Allah the Almighty has also forbidden cruelty by saying:
وَ لَا یَغۡتَبۡ بَّعۡضُکُمۡ بَعۡضًا
'Do not backbite one another.'
Backbiting is also a form of cruelty which attacks the honour of others. Then, the person regarding whom the backbiting was done will speak about the weaknesses of the backbiter, or they come face to face and fight. In either case, the peace of society is ruined. Hence, backbiting is forbidden, and in order to establish an aversion to backbiting, it is stated that backbiting is akin to the repulsion of eating the flesh of one’s deceased brother. These are the standards of peace and harmony established by Islam. In this regard, the Promised Messiah (as) states,
‘Some sins are so hidden that a person does not even realise when they have fallen into them. A young person will grow old, yet still not realise that he is committing sin. For example, there is the habit of stating grievances. People consider this to be insignificant, whereas the Holy Qur’an has regarded it to be extremely grave. It is stated:
اَیُحِبُّ اَحَدُکُمۡ اَنۡ یَّاۡکُلَ لَحۡمَ اَخِیۡہِ مَیۡتًا
["Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his brother who is dead?"]
It displeases God Almighty for someone to say something demeaning about his brother, or to go about any undertaking that would cause him harm; to say anything that would make his brother appear ignorant and foolish, which secretly stirs sentiments of shame and enmity against him. These are all evil deeds.’
Adopting Honesty in All Dealings
Then, Allah the Almighty states:
وَ لَا تَاۡکُلُوۡۤا اَمۡوَالَکُمۡ بَیۡنَکُمۡ بِالۡبَاطِلِ
'And do not devour your wealth among yourselves through falsehood.' [2:189]
Doing so would be cruel, leading only to enmity and quarrels. We find that worldliness is rampant in society, and people try to devour the wealth of others through deceitful means. In fact, these injustices are being carried out at an international level as well. Wealthy nations use various plots and ploys to unjustly usurp the wealth of poorer nations. Now, some African nations complain that after being given independence, wealthy nations wrongfully lay claim to their wealth, under the guise that they are using it for the sake of their progress and safety. In this way, millions of dollars are taken every year, which leads to such countries developing an increasing hatred for developed countries. The results of this can be catastrophic, because after taking this wealth, they do not spend it for the sake of that country, rather the wealthy nations keep the wealth for themselves.
Similarly, we see that injustices are committed through business, both by small businesses and large businesses as well. Hence, Allah the Almighty forbids such injustices, as they ruin the peace and harmony of society, and the world. Thus, Allah the Almighty states:
وَیۡلٌ لِّلۡمُطَفِّفِیۡنَ ۙ الَّذِیۡنَ اِذَا اکۡتَالُوۡا عَلَی النَّاسِ یَسۡتَوۡفُوۡنَ ۫ وَ اِذَا کَالُوۡھُمۡ اَوۡ وَّزَنُوۡھُمۡ یُخۡسِرُوۡنَ
'Woe unto those who give short measure. Those who, when they take by measure from other people, take it full; But when they give by measure to others or weigh to them, they give them less.' [83:2-4]
Islam curses those who usurp the rights of others; those who measure one way for themselves, and use a different scale for others. Through these verses, Islam has forbidden all types of injustice, thereby safeguarding life, wealth and honour. But did Allah the Almighty merely bestow these teachings, or have Muslims actually implemented them as well? We claim that Islam’s teachings are the most beautiful, but have they actually been acted upon? We would be hard-pressed to find such examples among the general Muslim population of today. However, as Ahmadis, who have accepted the Promised Messiah (as), we must establish these examples just like the companions did. No one should be able to lay blame on us, that we claim to be different by having accepted the Promised Messiah (as), yet no change has come about within us. Therefore, our uniqueness should be apparent, because it is only then we can claim that after accepting the Promised Messiah (as), we are among the people of the latter-days. What were the examples of the companions? How did they safeguard the lives, wealth and trusts of others? I have already mentioned one example of how a true believer was concerned about returning the trusts of orphans and the weak before his demise, after which he did not care whether he was killed. This level of security is not afforded to trusts perhaps even by today’s banks.
The Exemplary Standards of Honesty of the Companions
There is another incident of a companion; one day he went to the market to sell his horse and set the price at 200 Dinars. There was another companion in the market who said to him, ‘I would like to purchase this horse, however you have set the price too low. The price of this horse is not 200 Dinars, but in fact, it should be 500 Dinars.’ Hearing this, the first companion said: ‘Do you think that I would indulge in Sadaqah by taking more than its worth? The actual price of this horse is 200 Dinars.’ This led to a dispute between the two; the seller insisted that he would only take 200 Dinars, while the buyer insisted that he would give 500 Dinars. Thus, how peaceful would society be when there are people whose faith is of such lofty heights, It is through examples such as these that one can observe the practical effect of Islam’s teachings.
Modern day people would laugh at the individual who was refusing to take the additional profit that he was receiving for free; [they may think that] he had not acted dishonestly, he openly stated what the price was, so if the buyer was insistent in offering more, then he could have taken the profit and there would have been no harm in doing so. However, the companion thought that taking the higher amount would contradict the teachings of Islam, and this indeed was the reality. The companion could never think to act in a manner that was contrary to the teachings of Islam. However, today we see that the more a person becomes rich and wealthy, the greedier they become, and they try their utmost to extort as much as they can from others. They would argue for mere pennies to such an extent, that one is left astounded.
Similarly, wealthy nations seek to exploit poorer nations. As I mentioned earlier, the less developed countries of Africa are beginning to realise that the wealthier nations are looting from them, all in the name of their welfare and protection. Then, in business, wealthier nations purchase goods from poorer, under-developed or developing nations for a low price. They then sell those very goods – which have been made using their [the poor countries’] raw materials – for an extremely high profit. In this way, they take advantage of the cheap labour in these countries to manufacture goods and then go on to sell them at an extremely high price. Both the ordinary and the rich people of these poor countries are involved in exploiting the labour of the poor at such a low cost, that they can hardly afford to put two meals on the table for their family. All the while, the rich are making billions from the goods manufactured by these poor people. Such things create unrest, and a time will come when the poor people will erupt like a volcano, because various modes of communication have created increased awareness and people are able to easily access information about others, This has increased the desires of the poor and when they see that they have been treated unjustly, it will cause restlessness and destroy the peace. Thus, in order to eradicate this restlessness, Islam states that peolpe must give due rights to others in all business dealings and transactions. This is the only way to establish lasting peace and tranquillity.
Arrogance Destroys the Peace and Harmony of Society
Furthermore, a big factor in destroying peace and harmony [in society] is arrogance. Arrogance leads to injustices being committed against others and their rights being usurped. Islam strictly forbids arrogance; Allah the Almighty states:
وَ لَا تَمۡشِ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ مَرَحًا ۚ اِنَّکَ لَنۡ تَخۡرِقَ الۡاَرۡضَ وَ لَنۡ تَبۡلُغَ الۡجِبَالَ طُوۡلًا
'And walk not in the earth haughtily, for thou canst not rend the earth, nor canst thou reach the mountains in height.' [17:38]
Thus, Allah the Almighty questions why one would show arrogance, [since] a person cannot tear up the earth nor can one escape far away from this world. A person can only survive using the resources and provisions present in the earth. [How then, can one show arrogance when] people make use of the poor people around them? No matter how successful a businessman is, or no matter how rich a person is, it is these [poor] people who assist him. Were it not for these people, then the rich would not be able to do anything. Thus, every arrogant individual should realise that the people who they look down upon with conceit are the very same people who assist them. Without them, they would be unable to live a comfortable life. Upon developing this understanding, a wealthy person would never even think of usurping the rights of the poor. Hence, Allah the Almighty advises mankind by saying that one should not be arrogant, nor should one think that people around them are inferior or worthless. If one does not uphold the self-respect of those who are lesser than them [in worldly standings], then people will move away from such a person. Consequently, that person will never be able to live in peace.
Then, poor people will turn against those who treat others harshly, consider other people to be worthless and do not fulfilling their due rights. And when people turn against leaders or the government, it will result in a rebellion. This will destroy peace and order in society and the country.
Allah the Almighty then states:
وَ لَنۡ تَبۡلُغَ الۡجِبَالَ طُوۡلًا
[nor canst thou reach the mountains in height.” [17:38]]
Remember, that a person cannot be a leader of the people by usurping their rights and remaining distant. The word ‘Jibal‘ can also refer to leaders or prominent figures. Thus, arrogance never affords a person any true rank or standing. It is only humility that can give a person command and make one a true leader. It is this type of authority that can establish lasting peace.
Whilst mentioning injustices against a nation, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) states: ‘A grave moral injustice committed against a nation is for one to ruin the morals of their people. Allah the Almighty stops mankind from doing this by saying:
لَا یُحِبُّ اللّٰہُ الۡجَھۡرَ بِالسُّوۡٓءِ مِنَ الۡقَوۡلِ اِلَّا مَنۡ ظُلِمَ ؕ وَ کَانَ اللّٰہُ سَمِیۡعًا عَلِیۡمًا
"Allah likes not the public declaration of evil, except on the part of one who is wronged. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing."' [4:149]
Expanding upon this verse, Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra) says: ‘People usually take the purport of this verse to mean that if a person has been wronged, then they are permitted to openly do and say whatever they please, but other people are not permitted to do the same. However, in my view, the actual meaning of this verse is that even if a person has been wronged, it is not appropriate to speak about immoral acts in front of other people. Allah the Almighty forbids everyone from doing this and says that if a person raises a hue and cry about the injustice committed against them, then that person is raising their voice against the injustice, but also destroying the morals of their own people. For example, if a person uses foul language and women and civilised people pass by and stop him by saying: “has he no shame? He is corrupting the morals of people while there are people including women and children are passing by and others who cannot tolerate such shameful behaviour.” In this manner [it is as if] Allah the Almighty questions why one is making such a hue and cry? Is it because they have been wronged? Whereas that person does not realise that although they may be speaking up against injustice committed against them, they are also corrupting the morals of everyone else. In this teaching, Allah the Almighty advises the oppressed that if they wish to attain their rights and seek recompense for the injustices committed against them, then they should go to the relevant authorities and await the verdict, lest that person’s situation, causes them to become the oppressor against others, as this can also happen. Here the person who has been wronged is reminded that although they may have been wronged, they themselves should not become oppressors. Thus, where Islam grants a person their rights, it also ensures the rights of others as well, in order to achieve an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity.
Allah the Almighty then states:
وَ اعۡبُدُوا اللّٰہَ وَ لَا تُشۡرِکُوۡا بِہٖ شَیۡئًا وَّ بِالۡوَالِدَیۡنِ اِحۡسَانًا وَّ بِذِی الۡقُرۡبٰی وَ الۡیَتٰمٰی وَ الۡمَسٰکِیۡنِ وَ الۡجَارِ ذِی الۡقُرۡبٰی وَ الۡجَارِ الۡجُنُبِ وَ الصَّاحِبِ بِالۡجَنۡۢبِ وَ ابۡنِ السَّبِیۡلِ ۙ وَ مَا مَلَکَتۡ اَیۡمَانُکُمۡ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ لَا یُحِبُّ مَنۡ کَانَ مُخۡتَالًا فَخُوۡرَا
'And worship Allah and associate naught with Him, and show kindness to parents, and to kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and to the neighbour that is a kinsman and the neighbour that is a stranger, and the companion by your side, and the wayfarer, and those whom your right hands possess. Surely, Allah loves not the proud and the boastful,' [4:37]
Belief in the Unity of God is Key to Establishing Peace
As mentioned in this verse, one should worship Allah and not associate any partners with Him. This means that one ought to establish the Unity of God; hence, when one truly believes in the Unity of God, they would never commit an injustice against another. At the same time, Allah has outlined a list of people towards whom a believer must show kindness. If one lives their life according to this, it would bring an end to all those means that destroy peace. This list covers all those people who one deals with in society; [it mentions] one’s relationship with their parents and the importance of other relationships as well. In the end, Allah the Almighty has warned that He does not like those who are proud and boastful.
Earlier, it was mentioned with relation to arrogance, that Allah the Almighty warns those who are arrogant that the only guarantee for peace and tranquility is in fulfilling the rights of people. We see within society that issues, arguments and agitations mostly arise when people are angry with one another. Quarrels and arguments arise when one is overcome by anger. Allah the Almighty has guided the Muslims towards one fundamental principle and after mentioning particular traits, [Allah says] that they have been created as اُمَّۃً وَّسَطًا i.e. a nation that is balanced in all their affairs. Therefore, this principle should be followed in both cases of love and anger. In a state of anger do not go to the extreme whereby you are not able to forgive, nor in a state of love should one go to the extreme whereby they suffer greatly. In such a state of love, one cannot fulfil their duties in a just manner. Thus, it has been advised that there should be a limit to one’s anger and also a limit to one’s love. It is a great misfortune that this principle has diminished amongst the Muslims. Allah the Almighty states in the Holy Qur’an:
وَ الۡکٰظِمِیۡنَ الۡغَیۡظَ وَ الۡعَافِیۡنَ عَنِ النَّاسِ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ یُحِبُّ الۡمُحۡسِنِیۡنَ
'And those who suppress anger, and pardon men; and Allah loves those who do good.' [3:135]
Wisdom and Anger Cannot Co-exist
In other words, a hallmark of a Muslim is that they supress their anger and forgive. This is a principle which is truly reflective of a Muslim; it is a principle which brings an end to all enmities; it is a principle which establishes a spirit of peace and harmony in society; and it is a principle through which the message of peace and security can spread in all directions. In relation to this, the Promised Messiah (as) states,
‘Remember that there exists a dangerous enmity between wisdom and rage. When one becomes enraged and angry, they no longer remain in control of their senses. However, one who is patient and demonstrates forbearance, is granted a spiritual light which gives new light to their faculties of intellect and deliberation. This spiritual light becomes a source of producing further spiritual light. And since the heart and brain become darkened as a result of anger and rage. Darkness then leads to further darkness.’
The Promised Messiah (as) further states,
‘Remember that those who are overcome with aggression and anger can never speak words of knowledge and wisdom. A heart that quickly becomes enraged and rampant beyond bounds upon a challenge is bereft of wisdom. A foul tongue and unbridled lips are deprived of the fountain of deep knowledge. Rage and wisdom cannot go together. One who is overcome by rage is left with a dim mind and dull reasoning. He is never granted victory or help in any situation. Anger is half of insanity, and when anger blazes, it becomes full-fledged insanity.’
The Promised Messiah (as) then states,
‘The injunction of our Shariah [Islamic law] is to take the circumstances into consideration. If the circumstances necessitate for leniency to be shown then reduce yourself to dust [out of humility]; and if it demands for one to show strictness, then be strict. If forgiveness leads to reformation, then one ought to forgive. If a virtuous and modest helper commits an error, they ought to be forgiven, however there are some bold people, who, if forgiven, will perpetrate an evil the very next day that is twice as bad. In such an instance, to punish them is imperative.’
Thus, Islam’s teaching covers every aspect and it is this very teaching through which a spirit of peace and security can be established. Generally, a believer should show forgiveness, but in the case of a habitual offender, they need to be punished in order to bring about their reformation. The real underlying object of Islam’s teachings is to reform the society and not to simply punish a person. Hence, a believer should strive to fulfil this very objective. Moreover, Allah the Almighty states that after suppressing anger and pardoning others, one should then do good to others because Allah the Almighty states:
وَ اللّٰہُ یُحِبُّ الۡمُحۡسِنِیۡنَ
'And Allah loves those who do good.' [3:135]
The Three Stages of Moral Excellence
Whilst mentioning the quality of doing good to others, it is stated in another place:
اِنَّ اللّٰہَ یَاۡمُرُ بِالۡعَدۡلِ وَ الۡاِحۡسَانِ وَ اِیۡتَآیِٔ ذِی الۡقُرۡبٰی
'Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred.' [16:91]
This Qur’anic injunction is such that if it is truly implemented it can create an extraordinary spirit of peace and security in every section and in every level of society. The first commandment which Allah the Almighty gives is to act with justice [Adl] with one another; in other words, to act with equity. For example, if one wants to seek recompense for being wronged, then it must only be to the extent of the wrong committed, and even then the matter should be put before a person in authority. At times, certain people harbour such intense enmity for one another that they claim that they will not leave the matter until the person who wronged them is completely disgraced and brought to their knees. This is a completely wrong attitude and Islam rejects this.
Similarly, when we analyse this at an international level, we find that owing to relations breaking down between countries, one country seeks to inflict so much loss on the other that consequently, the other is left destabilised for many decades. Nowadays, we find many powerful nations doing this. Allah the Almighty forbids this and in fact, commands to act with justice.
The second stage is that of doing good to others [Ihsan]. Doing good to others does not mean that you should first look at how others are treating you, in fact, it means that even if someone treats you wrong, you should treat them well, forgive them and pardon them. This injunction includes forgiveness, pardon, helping the poor, charity and all other deeds, whether they are done individually or as a community.
Thereafter it states that the next stage above doing good to others is ‘giving like kindred’ [Ita’i Dhil Qurba]; that is to treat one another like one treats their near relatives. This is a stage above ‘doing good to others’ otherwise there was no need to mention this separately. This means to treat one owing to one’s natural love for them and not to seek anything in return. Whilst doing good to others there can be certain personal incentives at stake, even if it is just the mere thought that by doing good to another it will improve their relations. However, ‘giving like kindred’ is the way a mother treats her child. A natural urge to love is what compels a mother to love and tend to her child, and show kindness, not because she seeks anything in return for it. Thus, Allah the Almighty states that people should establish this level of love for one another. One should elevate to a standard whereby they are always thinking of giving to others as opposed to taking something from them; they should develop such levels of passion. One should deem all of humankind to be like their own children and they ought to have a passion to serve others. If people treat each other in this manner, how beautiful, peaceful and harmonious would society become? If only the Muslims could understand this principle. The Promised Messiah (as) has mentioned this principle in relation to God Almighty and in relation to people. In one instance, the Promised Messiah (as) states,
‘True piety is that one should develop a pure relationship with God. His love should be ingrained in the very fibre of their being, just as God Almighty states,
اِنَّ اللّٰہَ یَاۡمُرُ بِالۡعَدۡلِ وَ الۡاِحۡسَانِ وَ اِیۡتَآیِٔ ذِی الۡقُرۡبٰی
[Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred. [16:91]]
Adl [justice] with regards to God is to remember His favours and show obedience to Him, not to associate any partners with Him and to recognise Him. When one seeks to progress from this stage, it is the stage of Ihsan [doing good], which is to have such a level of conviction in His existence as if one can see Him, and to afford good treatment to even those who have not treated them well. And if one seeks to progress even beyond that stage, then it is to develop a natural love for God without the desire for paradise nor the fear of the hellfire. If one were to imagine that there was no paradise or hellfire, even then it should make no difference to their love and obedience for God. When this level of love develops within a person, it then creates an attraction in them and they are free from any form of defect.’
The Promised Messiah (as) further states,
‘One should treat the creation of God in such a manner as if they have close relations with them. This is the most elevated stage because in the stage of Ihsan [doing good to others] there is an element of pretentiousness. For example, if one shows ingratitude, the one who bestowed the favour immediately recounts his favour. However, the natural love a mother has for her child has no element of pretentiousness. If a king was to issue an order that if the mother were to kill her child she would not be questioned about it, even then she would not bear to hear such a thing and would in turn curse the king. Despite the fact that she knows she will pass away before the child grows old, but owing to her love for the child she will continue to care for the child. It is often the case that the parents are elderly and they have a child. They do not have any hope of being able to acquire any benefit from their children, yet they show them love and look after them. When one’s love reaches such a state this becomes a natural phenomenon and this has been alluded to in the words, ‘giving like kindred’. This is the kind of love one should have with God whereby one does not display this love for the sake of seeking an elevated rank and nor out of fear of being humiliated.’
The Promised Messiah (as) then stated,
‘Morals are of two types. One type of morals are those which are displayed by the modern day intellectuals whereby they adopt flattery and duplicity when they meet someone , while their hearts are full of hypocrisy and enmity. These morals are against the Holy Qur’an. The second kind of morals are that one should show true compassion and there should not be any kind of hypocrisy, use of flattery, nor should they act with duplicity, etc. just as God Almighty states,
اِنَّ اللّٰہَ یَاۡمُرُ بِالۡعَدۡلِ وَ الۡاِحۡسَانِ وَ اِیۡتَآیِٔ ذِی الۡقُرۡبٰی
[Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred. [16:91]]
This is a perfect practise and every perfect way and perfect form of guidance is found in the Word of God. Those who turn away from this cannot find guidance anywhere else. An excellent teaching requires a pure heart in order to show its impact. If one carefully observes those who are distant from this [teaching], they will most surely find impurity in them.’
The Promised Messiah (as) further stated,
‘There is no guarantee of how long one is going to live. Therefore, progress in your prayers and in your sincerity and piety. Excel in your worship, elevate the standard of your truthfulness and also improve your relations with one another.’