Oct 14, 2008, 5:04 AM
The third aspect of peace for Islam is its universal perspective. In other words, the entire universe will not prosper, civilisation would not have flourished and the face of the earth clean of obstacles and filth if peace was not observed. (Akgunduz 2007: 17). That is why Islam believes and teaches that reconciliation supported by self-restraint is the best and the most ensuring way of observing and sustaining peace in society. In this regard Islam enjoins Muslims to establish peace even if it causes unilateral sacrifice and patience.
To ensure the prevalence of peace within the society, Islam has given numerous commandments to words achieving that. The Prophet of Islam (SAW) for instance observed, "A believer is one from whom people feel secure as regards their lives and property". (Al-Tirmizi). Another tradition of the Prophet (SAW) said, "By God, he is not a believer from whose nuisance, his neighbour is not safe. (Al-Bukhari). To make all individuals peace loving at the ultimate extent, Islam makes it a duty upon Muslims to greet one another by saying "Asslaamu Alaykum" (Peace be upon you). According to values that do not only form the foundation of Muslim communities, societies and the Islamic civilisation as a whole, but also, they are governing principles in all forms of human organisations. (Al-Hashimi 1979: 55). Thus society and civilisation in Islam are built upon the following values within which sacrifice and reconciliation are embedded:
a) Justice: "Fairness and Fair Play".
The concept of Justice in Islam does not only refer to relational situations of harmony and equilibrium existing between one person and another, between society and the state, between the ruler and the ruled, between the king and his subjects but rather, in a more profound and fundamental sense, Justice refers primarily to the harmonious and rightly balanced relationship existing between the human person and his/herself and in a secondary way to such relationships existing between him/her and his/her fellow human beings, the ruler, the king, the state and society at large. In other words Justice in Islam refers to a harmonious condition or state of affairs whereby everything is in its right and proper place. (Al-Attas 1993: 76-77).
This is Islam's most important principle of politics and governance at least in the practical sense of the business of administering and governing all form of political and other human organisations. The principle of mutual consultation has its origin in the Holly Quran. Allah says: "Those who believe conducts their affairs by mutual consultation". (Sura 43, Aih 38). It suggests the ideal way in which a person should take leadership and other responsibilities. The principle ensures good governance by encouraging the spirit of team and collective responsibility in the governing process.
c) Equitable equality:
The Qur'anic principle guarantees several fundamental rights and human values such as the right to equality, the right to human dignity and the right against all forms of discrimination whether based on racial, religious, cultural, ethnic, ideological, gender and all other differences.
d) Equal opportunities for all:
Through the history of the Islamic civilisation, justice and equity have always prevailed in Muslim communities and society at large. Consequently, the guaranteed and promoted equal opportunity for all citizens, regardless of language, ethnic, religious and cultural differences, economic and social status as well. This important socio-political value of Islam is deeply rooted in the universal nature of its message with addresses itself to the entire human family. The Islamic principle of equal opportunity for all ensures the prevalence of other equally important values like peaceful co-existence, tranquillity, tolerance, reconciliation and rule of law across the length and breadth of Muslim communities throughout the period of Islamic rule.
e) Mutual love and Brotherhood
The values of love and brotherhood are fundamental characteristics of the Islamic civilisation. Together, they constitute the basis of social relations and interactions in Muslim communities. The two values also have a religious or devotional dimension in the sense that they are rooted in the principle of "Iman" i.e. True belief in Good and therefore practiced and demonstrated purely for the sake of Almighty Allah. In other words, Islam teaches that Muslims should love one another, they should love their neighbours and fellow Muslims at large and maintain sincere brotherhood with and respect for everyone.
f) Generosity and Kindness:
Generosity has its origin in Islamic ethics and morality and it can have a strong positive socio-economic impact on people's relations in Muslim communities. Islam strongly urges its followers to be generous and kind to one another on the basis of "Iman" or belief in God and hope for His rewards and belongings. When a person is generous to his fellow human being, he automatically wins their hearts, respect, love and support. So long as this value continues to be fully observed or demonstrated by Muslims toward one another, peace, security and tranquillity will continue to prevail in their communities.
g) Altruism and selfishness:
The Islamic value of love, brotherhood and generosity are not to be taken as mere abstract theories or false propaganda and empty promises. Rather their full application and true observation require the demonstration of genuine selfless and altruistic attitude. A true believer in Islam must not only be preferred but must be seen preferring other people's interests to his/her own. It is a basic teaching of Islam that Muslims should sometimes sacrifice time, property and life for the benefit of society at large, for individuals and for the God.
When Prophet Muhammad (SAW) migrated to Madinah, the Madanite people demonstrated an unprecedented example of altruism, selflessness and preference of others. They share their houses, property, money and prestige with the Makkan companions of the Prophet who had just arrived with him in Al-Madinah. Those Madanites who had more than one wives divorced some of the wives so that their Makkan immigrants could marry them and settle comfortably in their new houses. (Al-Hashimi 1979: 56-66).
Thus Justice, Equality, Mutual consultation, Equal opportunity for all, Mutual love and Brotherhood, Generosity and Altruism are the main moral values that form the solid foundation for Muslim communities and society as a whole in the Islamic civilisation. A full application or observation of any of these values requires the demonstration of a high degree of sacrifice and altruism.
I now consider the Islamic values of sacrifice and reconciliation as embodied in the general principles and characteristics of Islam as a system of belief and worship.
(To be continued)