(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur'an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And which One Does Not?)
How Peaceful Is Peaceful?
And then there is the question of characterizing Islam as "peaceful" and doing so under duress. That is, when you are being pursued and hounded by people who brand you as totally irrational and uncontrollably violent.
So, you have a knee-jerk reaction, purely defensive and purely self-protective and blurt out that you are a "peaceful religion."
And you are absolutely and one hundred percent right in saying that. For, Islam is all about peace and truth and justice and kindness and compassion.
But that is not what your accusers and tormenters are saying. They are pointing to all the violence that is going on in different parts of the Muslim world, violence in which Muslims are involved in one way or another, and saying that it is all Islam's fault.
But what some of these people conveniently forget is that there are all kinds of background factors and conditions that lead to violence in individuals, groups, nations and societies.
They forget that peace is one state of human life and reality. Another is strife and conflict. A third reality of human life is force.
Peace is the ideal state to which we all aspire and toward which we all work. Strife is the sad and gloomy reality in which human life is all too often mired.
Legitimate, lawful and societally sanctioned force is the instrument that human beings have devised for minimizing and controlling strife and for maximizing peace.
The foundation of true and lasting peace on earth and in any society is justice, love, compassion, integrity, truth, reasonableness and sound morality.
Where this foundation is absent or weak, and where people's most basic needs and legitimate rights and aspirations are not met, and are persistently and blatantly denied, chances of stable and lasting peace are minimized or jeopardized.
All too often, then, those who have been systematically denied their basic and legitimate rights, and who are not allowed by nations, societies and governments any rightful recourse to the redress of their lawful grievances, begin to resort to force and violence as an instrument of resistance to their domination, subjugation and exploitation by others and for the amelioration of their situation.
There are all kinds of university books, full of all kinds of theories, that explain why and how people develop violent tendencies and behavior.
For example, extreme poverty, deprivation, hopelessness, oppression, marginalization, cruelty and systematic discrimination and abuse may potentially move people toward violence. So also may serious perceptions of injustice, usurpation of property, abuse of power, violation of basic rights and deeply held values such as honor, personal dignity and the life, honor and dignity of family members.
Colonization, mass enslavement, social and political tyranny, occupation of lands, exploitation and stealing of resources will all make nations and societies rise up in revolt.
This has been the history of the world. And everyone knows that.
Right to Self-Defense Guaranteed by Civilized World
That is why the constitutions of practically every civilized country in the world, as well as the United Nations Charter Article 51, guarantee people individually and collectively the inherent right to self-defense and the defense of their family and property.
What Islam does is it takes this universal and fundamental human right of individuals, families, societies and nations to self-defense and canonizes it - to use a Christian religious expression. That means Islam makes that right a sacred and not just a mundane or secular one.
So, self-defense in Islam is not just a legal right but also a sacred one, blessed by God.
So, some of those who assert that "Islam is a peaceful religion" seem to want to cover up this fact.
They have been thoroughly intimidated and demoralized by the relentless and ruthless propaganda that brands Islam and Muslims as inherently violent and irrational.
So, is Islam "peaceful" then? Of course, it is. In fact, Islam is peace, period.
But Islam is also about truth - quite possibly much more than any other system in the world.
And Islam is also against all forms of injustice, inequity, cruelty, oppression, exploitation, domination, tyranny and abuse.
But does Islam permit self-defense? Of course, it does. How can it not?
Which constitution of the world, and the law of which civilized country, does not permit self-defense?
Turning the Other Cheek
Is Islam about "turning the other cheek"?
No more than Christianity is and no more than the 1000-year practice and politics of the Christian nations is. No more than any other system of law or government in the world is. No more than international law is. And no more than the UN Charter is.
But Islam does offer you the higher option of turning the other cheek, and forgiving those who sin against you, should you choose to exercise that option.
But Islam does not mandate it. How can it?
How can any sane or sensible system of thought or laws or government in the world mandate that every thief, murderer, rapist, arsonist, bank-robber, child-molester and traitor be ab initio forgiven and coddled as a long-lost brother or sister?
With all this, are there some Muslims in this world who go overboard, lose control of their emotions and better judgment, and resort to violence? Of course there are.
Is that acceptable behavior on their part? No, it is not.
Does Islam condone or sanction behavior like that? No, it does not.
Should we criticize and condemn senseless and irrational violence when it is perpetrated by Muslims? Of course we should. In the same way as we and all Muslims and non-Muslims should criticize and condemn senseless and irrational violence when it is perpetrated by non-Muslims.
Does Islam condone or sanction violence against civilians, women, children, the aged, the infirm and the priests, pundits and the clergy? Of course it does not.