Feature: The Prophet (SM) campaigned for peace and non-violence

Dr Md Shairul Mashreque :
As in other religions peace is a basic concept in Islam denoting ‘submission’; submission of desires to the will of God. It comes from the term aslama, which means, ‘to surrender’ or ‘resign oneself.’
To quote Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
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 ‘As-Salaamu alaykum,’ favoured by Muslims, has the literal meaning ‘Peace be upon you.’ Muhammad 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.’
A series of Prophets and messengers coming from God throughout the ages is to call the people again towards their innate identity of love and friendship. Our prophet Hazrat Muhammed (pbuh) is real messenger of peace.
The Prophet(SM) campaigned for peace ‘signing non-aggression treaty with the Jews and other tribes. His peace mission fructified and gradually ‘northern part of Arabian Peninsula’ came under the banner of Islam. Islam preached by him became a ‘world force.’ He contributed to the establishment of new civilisation with new introspection and realisation blazing a new field in the realm of governance. He gave a new lead to humanity. He laid the foundation of universal love for mankind
Muhammad (SM) fought a host of battles and was blessed with success as his forces won battles one after another. As a messenger of peace he wanted to avoid any face-to-face confrontation with the formidable foes of Islam. His organised fighters were first attacked by the enemy and he ordered his them to retaliate. This was a real Jihad against aggression, conspiracy and evil design. He appeared with a compromise attitude even at battlefield to avoid bloodletting. Hodabia Sondhi (treaty) bears a testimony to this fact. The episode around the treaty contributed to the development of peaceful co-existence.
True our great Prophet (Pbuh) started his glorious mission in a peaceful manner with a small number of followers including his beloved wife Khadija (RA). He resorted to persuasion rather than force. He had to involve in ‘full-fledged wars that were thrust on him and his followers.’ The army of the truth under his leadership fought with ‘incredible fortitude and ultimately came out victorious.’ So the western allegation of sword being used to expand Islam is rather ludicrous for the reason that the ‘Holy Prophet (SM) never used sword even sparingly unless the exigencies of the situation so demanded.’
His charming personality coupled with humanitarian predisposition ‘earned him hundreds and thousands of admirers from all over, including the established Christian world. To quote a writer:
Undoubtedly to the world at large the Prophet of Islam (Pbuh) had given a religion of peace, without perhaps knowing that 1400 later, some irresponsible people would endeavour to give it a bad name through acts of militancy, which would be difficult to defend easily.
The prophet(SM) was the embodiment of spiritualism. This greatest spiritual leader was blessed with the help of Allah when he was challenged by his adversaries. Before he came down to the earth to guide the people with the gospel of peace and universal brotherhood the humanity was facing backlash at the critical point of the history of mankind. On the eve of his advent there were some miracles as evidenced from the antecedents like Persian blaze, cracks in the palace of the Rome emperor and the collapse of twelve tower-all being the symbol of falsehood, injustice, persecution, structural and non-structural violence and other sinful acts. It indicated that Hazrat Muhammad (Pbuh) was coming to purge the society of all the menacing setbacks like immorality, injustice, inhuman torture, incest and misrule.
The Islamic way of life that he cherished and also established in his lifestyle helped a lot in creating an environment of peaceful co-existence with other religious groups. Muhammad(SM) attached importance to tolerance and respect for other dogmas. Subsequently the Sufi saints with immense love for mankind preached Islam in a peaceful manner coming in touch with the locals. They followed the footprints set by Rasool (SM). Islam in the subcontinent was always full of tolerance advocated by Sufism.
“Sufism is more concerned with the unity of being, the oneness of humanity and oneness within the ‘Light of the Divine,’ rather than with political unity.” It emphasizes ‘the contents rather than the cloth, communitarianism rather than individualism, humanity rather than identity, love rather than hatred.’
. True Islam preached by Muhammad (SM) is largely misunderstood. Misconception grips the whole thematic view of the sacred continuum with differing interpretations and connotations. Schism within the belief system has become reinforced as different schools of thoughts have been springing up to mesh up things so far purity of the belief system is concerned. More the deluge of extremism and militancy as the fall out of the misdirected role of the extremists mattered a lot in tarnishing the image of Ummah. “Misunderstanding is also due to the activities of the back dated and incompetent local clerics issuing edits in the name of Islam from time to time.”
Turning through the pages of Islamic history and culture we find that ‘certain western scholars and intellectuals brand Islam as the religion of sword wielders and proponent of terrorism which is anything but truth. A chunk of literary works on Muslim history contributed largely to a good deal of mis-conceptulisation about the development of Islam in the oriental as well as Indian contexts. So something wrong with the epistemology Islamic history adds to misunderstanding of Islam per se so often with distortion and fabrication of facts. The history of the rise and fall of aristocratic dynasties, conquest and defeat in battles replete with the stories of bloodshed and annihilation does not reflect the history of Islam.
I feel it incumbent upon me to reflect the true meaning of Islam at the moment when we are passing through the spell of degeneration. There are newspapers reports about the defamation of the preacher of Islam and great religious personalities misusing face book and blogs. At times there are reports about the reactions of the proactive Muslim believes to such defamation with face book playing the main role.
Our young bloggers now try to occupy cyber pace as global advocacy for the dissemination of progressive movement upholding the spirit of liberation. The movement centrally spearheaded by the young leaders at Shahbag stirs the whole society at its depth stretching far to remote world. Shah bag set the stage with tumultuous youth expression and the city dwellers in Chittagong, Sylhet, Comilla, Khulna, Rajshahi and others towns followed suit. I and my son visited Chittagong gatherings several times. We observed 3-minute silence at our respective positions on February 13 (pahela falgun) as a mark of respect to the movement.
We cannot accept any attempt at undermining our religion flouting the sentiment of the believers. Despite some religious groups overact things contributing to misunderstanding and misinterpreting the meaning of Zihad and Islam using cyber pace for the articulation of their views. They go for global expansion using face book. The persons harboring sympathetic feelings for their articulation use face book to share views with their face book friends.
The information ministry on 26th February, 2013 issued Short Message Service (SMS) over mobile phone in response to abusive words against Islam and Prophet Muhammad (SM) through Face book and blogs. The government stands firm against defamation of Prophet(SM)
The youths now spearheading movement against war criminals denied such allegation attempting to dishonor our Prophet(SM).According to media reports:
The protesters at Shahbagh have made it clear that they are against any blasphemous comments to defame the great Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (sm) and have no demand regarding the banning of religion-based political parties. Addressing an unscheduled press conference at Shahbagh Square on February 26, 2013 We want to make it clear that we have no connection with any blasphemous act and shall never be involved in any such effort,” Blogger Rajib Hyder did not write the content in his blog. A fake account was opened in his name and defamatory write-ups against Islam were posted.
We my well lodge protests through mass demonstration. The expression must not be violent to create violence and vandalism-the act very much discouraged by Islam preached by our great Prophet (pbuh).
The way some Islamic parties appeared in a deadly fashion with vandalism and violence on the holy Jumma day on February 22, 2013 is really mind boggling. Vandalism inside the Baitul Mukarram, the central mosque of the capita, ransacking and setting fire with burning flames of holy carpets by the perpetrators goes against Islam more than enough to destroy the image of the ulemas.
The clashes erupted simultaneously after juma prayers when the Islamists staged violent demonstrations demanding punishment of the bloggers whom they accused of maligning the Prophet (SM).
The Islamists blocked highways at some places for several hours and damaged Gonojagoron Moncho platforms in different cities from where people continued protests in solidarity with the Shahbagh Projonmo Chattar movement for capital punishment for the war criminals and ban on Jamaat-e-Islami. The Islamists also attacked and damaged the Shaheed Minar disrespecting national flags
At this critical juncture we should follow the instruction of the Prophet (SM) for establishing peace, progress and harmony in the wake of devastating terrorism, vandalism with unprecedented ferocity in the name religion. The legacy of militancy with distorted meaning of jihad threats to destroy the age-long fabric of the Muslim societies with pre-existing institutions based on the values of Islam projected by the Prophet(SM). n

(Dr Md Shairul Mashreque is Professor of Department of Public Administration of Chittagong University, Bangladesh)

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