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ISLAM: EXPRESSION OF PEACE, LOVE AND MERCY

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In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

Peace be upon the prophet Muhammad (saws), his family and companions

 

At this critical time where so many false accusations, wrong interpretations and negatives attitudes motivated by worldly gains and political retributions, are tarnishing Islam and twisting its universal message, it behooves us Muslims to speak up and have a word in order to explain clearly Islam’s positions regarding issues such as: Peace, love and Mercy towards our kinsmen and humankind.

 

 

Allah (SWT) has clearly delineated, in the Holy Quran, straight paths that could not fail mankind in its quest for lasting Peace and love, supported by His infallible Mercy.

From these regards, we will try in this humble presentation to review these tenets of Islam and as a reminder show to our non Muslim counterparts that the message of Islam has always been and will remain that of Peace, Love and mercy.

 

In the Holy Quran, the main source and the basis of Islamic teachings, Allah (SWT) states that good relationship and mutual understanding are as necessary as other elements in nature, like water or food, vital sources of sustenance, for our existence and survival in this world, for Allah has created us all differently, but equal, in many aspects so that we can learn from each and interact peacefully and justly.

 

Allah created mankind in different races, nations, tribes and endowed each one of them with different abilities, personalities, intelligence and so forth; so that they can learn from one another. They live in different geographical locations whereby they can find useful resources needed for their subsistence, and to sustain decent living conditions.

It is a fact that in order to trade off or exchange such resources, we need to build strong bridges of communication based on sincere and good relationship bonds, mutual understanding that could also create the necessary conditions for us to live in peace regardless of race, ethnicity or social background.

Allah (S.W.A.) says in the Holy Quran: “O, mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another.”

 (Quran: S 49/V 13).

And to help Muslims establish a strong relationship among people (the children of Adam) Allah (SWT), in His peaceful and merciful nature orders that the first word to come out from a Muslim’s mouth when meeting other people is “As Salaamu Alaikum” or Peace be upon you!, the meaning of such statement is: in my heart I wish peace and loftiness not only to you, but to all human beings.

 

 In calling the Deen (Islam) of which root meaning is peace, He is teaching us another lesson that the religion of Islam is all about peace, love and mercy and that we should take inspiration from this vision to spread such ideals of Peace, mercy, and Love to all mankind.  

Allah expresses clearly in the Holy Quran that the reason He chose to send Muhammad (peace be upon him) the Seal of Prophets, to humanity was he can build bridges of communication, and mutual understanding between people of all horizons, that could instill in them peace, mercy and love not only among Muslims but to all human beings.

Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Quran: “And we did not send you, but as a mercy to mankind.”(Quran: S 21/ V107).  Whether, walking, flying or crawling, for, so immense is Allah’s mercy.

 

For these regards Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a symbol of mercy, peace and love to all beings. And Allah (S.W.T) says in the holy Quran that: “by the mercy of Allah, You (Muhammed) dealt gently, and had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from you.” (Quran: S 3/ V159), following the prophet’s preaching to a group of unbelievers in Mecca.

And also Allah (SWT) describes His prophet (PBUH) as a blessing bestowed on us. He says “certainly there has come to you a messenger from amongst yourselves, grieves to him is your sufferings, to prove us how profound the prophet (PBUH) love and mercy towards his companions was.

 

In his lifetime the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has undergone so many sufferings, so much dishonoring humiliations, verbally and physically, from his own people and relatives during his prophecy, but he never fought back or sought personal revenge of any kind. Instead he has always forgiven his foes and forgotten the evil they perpetrated upon him, saying that their wicked and jealous behaviors were only motivated by ignorance of the light of God, the Merciful.

And the messenger Muhammad (PBUH) taught his companions to be merciful and kind towards their kinsmen. And he once said “truly, you will not be true believers until you are merciful to one another.” And they responded in unison “O, Messenger of Allah (SWT), we are all merciful.” He said “it is not that you should be merciful to each other, but you should be merciful in general.”(Agreed upon).

And the prophet (PBUH) used to say “whoever is not merciful towards people, will not be treated mercifully by Allah.” (Reported by Ahmed).

 

On another occasion Abu Huraira narrated that the prophet (PBUH) kissed once Al-Hassan or Al-Hussain in the presence of Al-Aqra Ibn Habis Al-Tamimi who immediately told the Prophet ``I have ten children and never kissed one of them.” The messenger of Allah (SWT) looked at him and said “whoever is not merciful to others, will not be treated mercifully.”(Reported by Al-Bukhari).

 

Islam’s strong emphasis on love and mercy in general, which facets reflect goodness from Allah (SWT) , its greatest human manifestation is when it is directed towards the weak and the helpless, such as orphans, widows, the needy, the homeless and servants. Many Ahadeeth reinforce this mandate.

In this regard the Holy prophet (PBUH) said: “I and the person, who looks after an orphan and provides for him, will be in paradise like this.” And he put his index and middle fingers together. (Reported  by Al-Bukhari).

 

In addition, Islam did not only urge Muslims to be merciful towards other people, but also to Animals whether they are used as means of transportation for people or goods, carrying loads, or for human consumption, or just as pets. We should treat them humanely with love and mercy as we treat ourselves.

The prophet (PBUH) has reported that a man entered paradise, because of a dog he helped quench the thirst. Hellfire was the home of a woman who starved to death a cat she held in captivity, as well.

And the Quran also teaches Muslims to respect the rights of animal, Allah (SWT) says: “there is not an animal that lives on earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but forms a part of communities like you.”(Quran: S6/ V38).

 

In addition to these above mentioned teachings and recommendations of Islam regarding relationships between Muslims, it has also introduced guidelines and principles on how to interact with people from other religious beliefs.

Islam teaches Muslims not only to be just and maintain good standards their Muslim counterparts, but also towards members of none-Muslim communities who do not share the same sets of beliefs and who do not behave unjustly against them. In this regard Allah (SWT) says “Allah does not forbid you to deal justly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes, verily Allah loves those who deal in equity.”(Quran: S 60/ V8).

 

In the case of those who used to unjustly behave or act in partiality towards Muslims, but in some way or another changed their mind and sought to improve their relationship and live in peace with Muslims, Allah (SWT) orders Muslims to accept such compromise anyhow and not have second thoughts about such intentions.

In this regard Allah (SWT) says: “but if they incline to peace, you also incline to it and put your trust in Allah.”(Quran: S8/ V61).

 

Furthermore, if none-Muslims come to seek refuge or protection from Muslims, they should positively accept their request.

Allah (SWT) says in the holy Quran: “And if a non-Muslim seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the word of Allah, and then escort him to where he can be secure.”(Quran: S 9/ V6).

 

And in spite of the truthfulness and high values of Islam’s teachings, Muslims should not look down upon none Muslims who believe differently than they do or view this life other than they do. They should instead be very tolerant towards people from different religious background, refrain from being judgmental towards them for to Allah belongs the final judgments. In this respect, Allah (SWT) says: “Verily, those who believe in Allah (SWT) and his messenger Muhammad (PBUH) and those who are Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians and the Majus, and those who worship others besides Allah, truly, Allah will judge between them on the day of resurrection. Verily, Allah is over all things a witness.”(Quran: S 22/ V17).

This verse we just mentioned reminds us of Shaykh Ahmadou Bamba’s teachings regarding how to shun arguments about faith from ignorant people. He said to just remember or mention this verse.

 

It would not be a utopia to see our relationship with people from other faith improved forever, but if conflicts of interest occur in the process and impact negatively such relationship, Islam, has put into place guidelines to avoid such conflicts and, if so has provided equitable solutions to solve any given conflict.

As a religion of justice, Islam has given the right to retaliate to the limit of the prejudice caused upon oneself, but do not transgress such limit. The following Quran verse highlights such right:  And fight in the way of Allah those who fight you, but transgress not the limit.” (Quran: S2/ V190)

 But Islam accordingly urges its followers to preserve peace and show mercy to their friends and enemies. The story of the man who intended to assassinate the prophet while he was resting under a tree’s shade is a good example. When he was about to hit the prophet with his sword and asked him “who will interfere on your behalf” the Prophet replied “ Allah (SWT), and then the man got confused and dropped his sword, the prophet picked it up and asked him the same question and the man answered nobody. The prophet put the sword down and let him go. Such attitude is the right attitude we Muslims should display where retaliation is unnecessary. Forgiveness and mercy, For Allah (SWT) provides a great reward for those who do forgive and show mercy to other beings. It is also important in that instance to demonstrate the place occupied by patience in the relationship between these three concepts (peace-love-mercy) as being in total control of one’s composure can be rewarding for those who pardon. Allah (SWT) says: “The recompense for an evil is an evil like thereof, whosoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is with Allah, verily, He likes not the wrongdoers.         (Quran: S42/ V40).

And He further emphasizes: “And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah,” (Quran: S42/ V43).

And to prevent violence (verbal or physical), extremism and the like, Islam forbids Muslims to coerce anyone to embrace the religion of Islam. It says: “There is no compulsion in religion.”(Quran: S2/ V256). It also taught them the approach to take when arguing with none-Muslims; Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Quran: “And argue with none-Muslims in a way that is better.”(Quran: S16/ V125).

In addition, it taught them how to convey and relay the universal message of Islam, Allah (SWT) says “Invite (mankind, O, Muhammad) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching”. (Quran: S16/ V125). Islam also has explicitly defined the role, duties, and responsibilities of the messenger and those who would later take over such responsibilities and duties when reminding others of the teachings of Islam.

Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Quran: “The Messenger’s duty is only to convey in a clear way.” (Quran: S24/ V54). He also says: “So remind them (O, Muhammad) you are only a reminder”. (Quran: S88 /V21).

 

These Islamic lessons and teachings of peace, love, and mercy the Noble Quran, have been the lifelong inspirations of our great leader, Sheik Ahmadu Bamba, whose return from exile in Gabon, is being celebrated today by the Murid community all over the world.

In his quest for Allah (SWT)’s satisfaction, and in spite of his enemies merciless actions of tortures and abuses, in trying to physically eliminate him, he never  failed or backed down from applying these tenets of peace love and mercy as fundamental teachings for a better cohabitation on earth.

 The very first words he uttered, when he descended the boat that brought him back from Gabon, to address the euphoric welcoming crowd were: “I have forgiven all my enemies for the sake of Allah (SWT), who protects me. I don’t fight back or retaliate”. He further stated regarding the issue of Peacefulness in this supplication in Matlabul Fawzayni .), that he is not the selfish person who only thinks of himself, but the one who instead wishes unto others what he wishes unto himself: “O God, protect from the evil of your creatures protect your creatures from any harm originating from me

There is an array of literature he left behind that attest of his humanistic philosophy and philanthropist way of life. He further stated that “I have acted under your eyes, I have spoken to you, I have left written manuscripts to your attention, and my life is my message”.

 

Iman Bassirou Lo, New York

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

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