Islamic Morality: The Source of Peace and Security
Eat and drink of God's provision and do not go about the Earth corrupting it.
Some of those who say that they are members of a particular religion and something is done in the name of that religion may, in fact, misunderstand that religion and as a result, practice it wrongly. For that reason, it would be very wrong to form ideas about a religion or make judgments based on people's actions. The best way of understanding a religion is to study its Divine source.
Islam's Divine source is the Qur'an, which is based on concepts of morality, love, compassion, humility, sacrifice, understanding and peace. A Muslim who lives by those precepts in its true sense will be most polite, careful of thought, modest, decent, noble, just, trustworthy and easy to get on with. He/she will spread love, respect, harmony and the joy of living all around him. Despite this fact, the Qur'an and Islam have been associated with the word "fear" in recent years thus causing Islamophobia to spread even more. However, the real source of the fear in people's hearts isn't Islam; it is the religion of bigotry. The radicals that act in the name of Islam and the Islamophobes who fear those radicals, are making the same mistake. Both parties fail to grasp that Islam has nothing to do with the religion of bigotry, which is a horrid and hateful system devoid of love. For this reason, it is crucial to understand the real meaning of Islam according to the Qur'an and to show the grave mistake of those who are trying to associate terrorism with it.
The Source of True Islam Is the Qur'an
Looking at the evidences those who commit violence in the name of Islam offer in order to legitimize these murders, one sees that these are the superstitions included in some of the works regarded as the main Islamic sources in many countries of the world of Islam. While saying that Islam is a religion of love, the existence of some references that order the killing of those who do not fulfil their prayers, or those who do not fast or even trim their beards is both a serious contradiction and a grave danger. Those who make lengthy speeches about the importance Islam attaches to women constitute an exceedingly important problem when they do not admit to the invalidity of some so-called hadiths suggesting things such as, "Women are imperfect", "Do the opposite of whatever a woman does" or "A great part of hell is full of women." It will not be sufficient to say that "Muslims are loving people" or "Islam is the religion of peace", and to make lengthy speeches on this matter without putting an end to the hateful and violent rhetoric that have been added to Islam over the centuries and that directly contradicts the Qur'an.
Surely, according to the Qur'an, Muslims are supposed to be loving, compassionate and friendly, and no one has any right whatsoever to impose anything on other people; however the problem is most Muslims today follow not the Qur'an, but their tribal, local or regional traditions and superstitions. Therefore, unless all those superstitions are completely eliminated from the Islamic resources considered as fundamental, unless Muslims completely turn to the Qur'an, it is simply impossible to prevent those violent people that act in the name of Islam or to stop Islamophobia.
The only way to remove the impact of those extremists who portray as "Islam" the bigoted mindset that forbids science, technology, high quality, joy, beauty and the arts to Muslims, and thus condemns them to oppression and ignorance, is through education.
Modern Western education is definitely obligatory; however, the number of people educated in the West but then going to the East - and Africa - to participate in acts of terror is far from insignificant. Therefore the question that demands an answer is this:
How is it possible to convince those who are well-educated in all fields to become involved in terrorism?
When observed carefully, we understand that the crux of the problem is those teachings which legitimize violence and are widely seen in both West and the Islamic world. Everyone knows about the negative aspect of the Darwinian worldview, which is the basis of Western-style education, and we will be talking about this in detail in the coming chapters. However, what must be explained before is the fact that praises of violence that exist in some Shia and Sunni references are mostly ignored, and that during their primary Islamic education, many young people are first taught about these sources. A generation totally unaware of the content and context of the Qur'an and whose minds are moulded by radical views are readily directed to violence. For this reason the cause of terrorism is not a Divine religion, but it is a blend of Darwinist education and a bigoted state of mind. Spreading the true Islam based on the Qur'an, cleansed of bigotry, is the definitive solution to terrorism.
Islam is the Religion of Peace
Terrorism, in its broadest sense, is violence committed against non-military targets for political purposes. To put it another way, targets of terror are civilians whose only crime, in the eyes of terrorists, is to represent "the other side."
For this reason, terrorism means subjecting innocent people to violence, which is an act bereft of any moral justification. Each and every terrorist act, as in the case of the atrocities committed by Hitler or Stalin, is a crime committed against humanity. For a believer, this is clear act of defiance of the orders of God. Those who are trying to associate Islam with terrorism need to remember this important fact.
The Qur'an is a true Book revealed to people as a guide to the true path and in this Book, God commands men to adopt good morals. This morality is based upon love, compassion, understanding and mercy. The word "Islam" is derived from the word meaning "peace" in Arabic. Islam is a religion revealed to mankind with the intention of presenting a peaceful life through which the infinite compassion and mercy of God manifest on earth. God calls all people to Islamic morals through which compassion, mercy, peace and love can be experienced all over the world. In the Qur'an, God addresses believers as follows:
O you who believe! Enter absolutely into peace (Islam). Do not follow in the footsteps of satan. He is an outright enemy to you. (Qur'an, 2:208)
As it is made clear in the verse, security can only be ensured by "entering into Islam", that is, living by the values of the Qur'an. The values of the Qur'an hold a Muslim responsible for treating all people, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, kindly and justly, protecting the needy and the innocent and "preventing the dissemination of mischief". Mischief comprises all forms of anarchy and terror that remove security, comfort and peace. As God says in a verse, "God does not love corruption". (Qur'an, 2:205)
Murdering a person for no reason is one of the most obvious examples of mischief. God repeats in the Qur'an a command He formerly revealed to Jews in the Torah thus:
... if someone kills another person – unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth – it is as if he had murdered all mankind. And if anyone gives life to another person, it is as if he had given life to all mankind... (Qur'an, 5:32)
As the verse states, a person who kills even a single man, "unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth", commits a crime as if he had murdered all mankind.
This being the case, it is obvious what great sins are the murders, massacres and attacks, popularly known as "suicide attacks", committed by terrorists. God informs us how this cruel face of terrorism will be punished in the hereafter in the following verse:
There are only grounds against those who wrong people and act as tyrants in the earth without any right to do so. Such people will have a painful punishment. (Qur'an, 42:42)
Organizing acts of terror against innocent people is entirely against Islam and it is unlikely that any sincerely believing Muslim could ever commit such crimes. On the contrary, Muslims are responsible for stopping these people, removing "mischief on earth" and bringing peace and security to all people all over the world. Islam cannot be reconciled with terror. Just the contrary, it should be the solution to and the path to the prevention of terror. This is the basis of Islam; peace is the spirit of Islam. However, the bigoted worldview, which practices Islam according to superstitions rather than the Qur'an, believes the opposite is true.
The fanatics' problem is that they regard what they've learned from specious superstition as their faith. However, those who criticize those fanatics are sometimes just as radical as them and believe in the accuracy of that same superstition. The more one produces evidence from the Qur'an, the more they try to produce their own from the superstitions the fanatics subscribe to. That is where they make their gravest mistake: If they want to know the true Islam and find a solution to fanaticism, they must heed the true faith described in the Qur'an.
Until the clear difference between bigotry and Islam is demonstrated, radicalism and Islamophobia is going to continue to plague the world.
For this reason, it is very important to explain the beautiful morals of the Qur'an, in other words Islam all around the world with serious education campaign intended to display the clear difference between bigotry and Islam. Various facts need to be made clear, such as that God prohibits corruption and encourages virtue, and that freedom of thought and the finest democracy are enshrined in the Qur'an:
God has Condemned Wickedness
God has commanded people to avoid committing evil: oppression, cruelty, murder and bloodshed are all forbidden. A few of the many verses on this matter in the Qur'an read:
Eat and drink of God's provision and do not go about the earth corrupting it. (Qur'an, 2:60)
Do not corrupt the earth after it has been put right. Call on Him fearfully and eagerly. God's mercy is close to the good-doers. (Qur'an, 7:56)
Those who think that they will be successful by causing wickedness, upheaval and oppression, and by killing innocent people are committing a great error. God has forbidden all acts of wickedness involving terrorism and violence and condemned those who engage in such acts.
In the present era, however, acts of terrorism, genocide and various massacres occur all over the world. Innocent people are being savagely killed, and countries where communities are being brought to hate each other for artificial reasons are drowning in blood. These horrors in countries with different histories, cultures and social structures may have causes and sources peculiar to each. However, it is evident that the fundamental cause is a moving away from the Qur'an. As a result of lack of religion, communities emerge that have no love for or fear of God and that are deceived by the lie that they will not be called to account in the hereafter. Since they falsely believe that "I will not have to account for my actions to anyone," they can easily act with no compassion, morality or conscience.
The existence of hypocrites who emerge in the name of God and religion, but actually organise themselves to commit wickedness condemned by God, is indicated in the Qur'an. The fact that some people do things "in the name of God" or even swear in His name, in other words that they use the kind of language designed to show themselves as very religious, does not mean that what they do is in conformity with religion. On the contrary, what they do can be quite against the will of God and the morality of religion. The truth of the matter lies in their actions. If their actions are "causing corruption and not putting things right", as the verse reveals, then you can be sure that these people cannot be truly religious, and that their aim is not to serve religion.
It is quite impossible for someone who fears God and has grasped the morality of Islam to to take part in such actions as violence or wickedness. That is why Islam is the true solution to terrorism. When the sublime morality of the Qur'an is explained in a way purified of superstition, it will be impossible for people to connect true Islam with those who support or join groups that aim at hatred, war and disorder. That is because God has forbidden wickedness:
Whenever he holds the upperhand, he goes about the earth corrupting it, destroying (people's) crops and breeding stock. God does not love corruption. (Qur'an, 2:205)
It is out of the question for someone who fears God to turn a blind eye to even the smallest action that might harm mankind. Someone who does not believe in God and the hereafter, however, can easily do all kinds of evil, since he thinks he will not have to account to anyone.
The first thing that needs to be done to rid the world of the present-day scourge of terrorism is to explain the errors of bigotry that stirs up radicalism, to use education to do away with irreligiousness as well as with deviant beliefs that are put forward in the name of religion, and to teach people true Qur'anic morality and to love and fear God.
Islam Encourages Justice, Kindness and Everything that is Beautiful for Everyone
One of the reasons behind terrorism is the failure to see differences as a source of beauty. Today, all around the world, some people are being treated unfairly and ruthlessly only because of the colour of their skin or owing to their ethnicity. However, God orders mankind in the Qur'an to treat everyone equally regardless of language, faith, race or ethnic background.
God informs us in the Qur'an that the purpose in the creation of different tribes and peoples is "that they should come to know each other". Different nations or peoples, all of whom are the servants of God, should get to know one another, that is, learn about their different cultures, languages, traditions and abilities. In brief, one of the purposes of the creation of different races and nations is not conflict and war but richness. Such variation is a bounty of God's creation.
The fact that someone is taller than someone else or that his skin is yellow or white neither makes him superior to others nor is it something to feel ashamed of. Every trait a person has is a result of God's purposeful creation, but in the Sight of God, these variations have no ultimate importance. A believer knows that someone attains superiority only by having fear of God and in the strength of his faith in God. This fact is related in the following verse:
O mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in God's Sight is that one of you who best performs his duty. … (Qur'an, 49:13)
The understanding of justice recommended by God in the Qur'an calls for equal, compassionate and peaceable treatment of everyone, with no discrimination between them. For example, hatred and anger are the major sources of evil, and are likely to prevent people from making just decisions, thinking soundly and conducting themselves rationally.
People in societies where hatred and anger prevail worry that they can fall victim to someone else at any time. Having lost their sense of mutual trust, they also lose their human feelings such as compassion, brotherhood and co-operation and start hating one another.
However, the feelings someone holds in his heart towards a person or community should never influence a believer's decisions. No matter how evil or hostile the person he is considering may be, the believer sets all these feelings aside and acts and makes his decisions justly. His feelings towards that person cast no shadow over his wisdom and conscience. His conscience always inspires him to comply with God's commands and advice, and never to abandon good manners, because this is a command God gives in the Qur'an. In Surat al-Ma'ida, it is related as follows:
O you who believe! Show integrity for the sake of God, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to faith. Heed God (alone). God is aware of what you do. (Qur'an, 5:8)
As is related in the verse, displaying a just attitude is what most complies with having fear of and love for God. A person of faith knows that he will attain the pleasure of God only when he acts justly. Every person who witnesses his or her good manners will trust this person, feel comfortable in their presence and trust them with any responsibility or task.
It is obvious that those who fear and heed God hold spiritual values in high regard and are filled with eagerness to serve people. In general, such people are there to serve humanity and bring with them great benefits to mankind. For this reason, it is very important for people to learn about the true religion and live by the morals explained in the Qur'an – the final Revelation from God.
God has Commanded Forgiveness and Compassion
In the verses of the Qur'an, God has always described forgiveness as a superior quality, and in one verse, He has given the good news that such behaviour will be rewarded: "The repayment of a bad action is one equivalent to it. But if someone pardons and puts things right, his reward is with God. Certainly He does not love wrongdoers." (Qur'an, 42:40)
God has revealed in the Qur'an that it is virtuous behaviour to forgive someone even if one has been wronged, and to respond to bad with something better. Verses on the subject read:
... You will never cease to come upon some act of treachery on their part, except for a few of them. Yet pardon them, and overlook. God loves good-doers. (Qur'an, 5:13)
A good action and a bad action are not the same. Repel the bad with something better and, if there is enmity between you and someone else, he will be like a bosom friend. (Qur'an, 41:34)
Islam Defends Freedom of Thought and Expression
Islam is a religion which provides and guarantees freedom of ideas, thought, expression and life. It prevents tension, disputes, slander and even negative thinking among people. According to Qur'anic moral values, every person is free to adhere to any belief they wish or advocate any idea they want - as long as it does not violate the law and public order nor restrict the freedoms of others. A Muslim who abides by the Qur'an would not impose any belief or idea upon others, compel people to convert to Islam, or interfere themselves with others' way of living Islam. In the same way that all types of force and imposition are determinedly prohibited in Islam, even the slightest ideological pressure to be put on them is also forbidden:
There is no compulsion in religion. True guidance has become clearly distinct from error. (Qur'an, 2:256)
So remind them! You are only a reminder. You are not in control of them. (Qur'an, 88:21-22)
Forcing people to believe in a religion or to adopt its forms of belief is completely contrary to the essence and spirit of Islamic morality. According to Islam, true faith is only possible with free will and freedom of conscience. Of course, Muslims can advise and encourage each other about the features of Qur'anic morality. All believers are charged with explaining Qur'anic morality to people in the nicest manner possible. They will explain the beauties of religion in the light of the verse, "Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition..." (Qur'an, 16:125), however, they must also bear in mind the verse, "You are not responsible for their guidance, but God guides whoever He wills." (Qur'an, 2:272)
Believers who abide by the Qur'an will never resort to compulsion to force others to embrace faith, nor any kind of physical or psychological pressure. Neither will they use any worldly privilege to turn someone towards religion. When they receive a negative response to what they say, Muslims will reply along the lines of: "To you your religion, and to me, mine," as revealed in the verse (Qur'an, 109:6). Muslims must respect and be compassionate towards all beliefs they encounter, no matter what they may be, and behave forgivingly, justly and humanely towards everyone, even if they don't believe in any faith at all. This responsibility placed on believers is to live by the beauty of the religion of God by means of peace and compassion. The decision whether or not to implement these truths, whether or not to believe, lies with each individual himself. Forcing that person to believe, or trying to impose anything on him, is a violation of Qur'anic morality. In fact, God issues a reminder to believers in the Qur'an:
If your Lord had willed, all the people on the Earth would have believed. Do you think you can force people to be believers? (Qur'an, 10:99)
A model of society in which people are forced to worship is completely contradictory to Islamic morality. Belief and worship should be directed to God by the free will of the individual. If a system imposes belief and worship on people, then they will act as if they are religious out of fear of that system. This will mean the encouragement of hypocrisy and no Muslim would approve that. From the point of view of Islamic morality, what really counts is that religion should be lived with the love of God, for God's good pleasure, mercy and paradise in an environment where peoples' consciences are totally free.
The history of Islam is full of the compassionate and understanding practices of Muslim rulers who have respected all religions and built religious freedom with their own hands. For example, Thomas Arnold, a British missionary employed in the service of the Indian government, describes that Islamic morality favours freedom in these words:
But of any organised attempt to force the acceptance of Islam on the non-Muslim population, or of any systematic persecution intended to stamp out the Christian religion, we hear nothing. Had the caliphs chosen to adopt either course of action, they might have swept away Christianity as easily as Ferdinand and Isabella drove Islam out of Spain, or Louis XIV made Protestantism penal in France, or the Jews were kept out of England for 350 years. The Eastern Churches in Asia were entirely cut off from communion with the rest of Christendom, throughout which no one would have been found to lift a finger on their behalf, as heretical communions. So that the very survival of these Churches to the present day is a strong proof of the generally tolerant attitude of the Muhammadan governments towards them.1
Killing a Person is One of the Greatest Sins Related in the Qur'an
Killing a person for no reason is one of the greatest sins related in the Qur'an:
... if someone kills another person – unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth – it is as if he had murdered all mankind. And if anyone gives life to another person, it is as if he had given life to all mankind. … (Qur'an, 5:32)
... those who do not call on any other deity together with God and do not kill anyone God has made inviolate, except with the right to do so, and do not fornicate; anyone who does that will receive an evil punishment. (Qur'an, 25:68)
As the verses suggest, a person who kills innocent people for no reason is threatened with a great torment. God informs us that killing even a single person is as evil as murdering all mankind on earth. A person who observes God's limits can do no harm to a single human, let alone massacre thousands of innocent people. According to the Qur'an, a Muslim is only granted the right of self-defense, which is a right recognized universally and found throughout the world, and protected by international laws for every individual who faces a life-threatening situation. (Detailed information on the topic can be found in the following sections.)
All of this shows that the morality that Islam recommends to mankind brings to the world the virtues of peace, harmony and justice. The horror known as terrorism, that is so preoccupying the world at present, is the work of ignorant and fanatical people, completely estranged from Qur'anic morality, and who have absolutely nothing to do with religion. The solution to these people and groups who try to carry out their savagery under the mask of religion is the teaching of true Qur'anic morality. In other words, demonstrating to them the errors of their bigotry, causing them to completely abandon it; explaining Islam based on the Qur'an will fundamentally destroy the ideology of terrorism and terrorists and therefore is the only solution to save the world from the nightmare of terrorism.
True Democracy is Only Possible When People Live by Islamic Moral Values
God wishes ease, comfort, happiness and joy to people. God does not wrong people. The religion, which is the commandment of God, also shows people the way to the most peaceful, blissful, safest, highest quality, comfortable, and delightful life. There is no compulsion where religion is concerned. A person believes in God and lives by religion, by seeing God's existence and oneness by using his conscience. Religion is an acceptance by the heart.
God describes in the Qur'an freedom, love, compassion, forgiveness, justice and an environment where everyone can live freely, can speak up their minds freely and live in peace. This is a summary, a description of democracy; therefore, the true source of democracy is in the Qur'an. Anyone seeking social justice and equality will find the best manifestation of these in the Qur'an:
1- SOCIAL JUSTICE: Almighty God commands social justice and sharing
Social justice is one of the basic principles of democracy. People learned social justice from the Prophet Noah (pbuh) and the Prophet Abraham (pbuh). According to religious sources, when the Ark came to dry land after the flood, the Prophet Noah boiled together the small quantities of remaining chickpeas, lentils, raisins, figs, wheat and the like to make a kind of sweet broth. Everyone on the Ark then ate it together. That is one of the best examples of social justice, because by this example the Prophet Noah teaches everyone equality, solidarity and generosity and the importance of distributing food to all.
As revealed in the Qur'an, in verse 69 of Surah Hud, "Our messengers brought the good news to Abraham. They said, 'Peace!' and he too said, 'Peace!' and brought in a roasted calf without delay" the Prophet Abraham immediately killed a calf when guests arrived and had it prepared for them to eat. Almighty God notes that by offering food to people whom he had never met, the Prophet Abraham was behaving in the best way, and wisely stresses the importance of feeding the poor and of social justice.
2- EQUALITY: Almighty God reveals in the Qur'an that no race is superior to any other
As Almighty God reveals in one verse of the Qur'an, superiority lies in piety alone. In this verse God tells us:
Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in God's Sight is the one with the most piety. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Qur'an, 49:13)
Our Prophet (pbuh) expresses this truth commanded by God as follows:
"You are sons of Adam, and Adam came from dust. Let the people cease to boast about their ancestors." (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 5097)
During his final sermon, the Prophet (pbuh) called on Muslims in these terms:
"There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab and for a non-Arab over an Arab; nor for white over the black nor for the black over the white except in piety. Verily the noblest among you is he who is the most pious." (The Prophet Muhammad's Last Sermon; http://www.stanford.edu/ ~jamila/Sermon.html)
3- JUSTICE: Almighty God commands justice
God issues this commandment to believers in the Qur'an: "...You who believe! Be upholders of justice, bearing witness for God alone, even against yourselves or your parents and relatives. Whether they are rich or poor, God is well able to look after them. Do not follow your own desires and deviate from the truth. If you twist or turn away, God is aware of what you do." (Qur'an, 4:135)
The commands that our Prophet (pbuh) issued among Muslims and his just and affectionate attitude toward people of different religions, languages, races and tribes, as well as the way he treated everyone equally, making no distinction between rich and poor as God revealed in the Qur'an, represents an excellent example of the conception of democracy.
Democracy will Come About When People are Living by the Moral Values Commanded by God
As we have seen, in the essence of Islam, there is intellectual freedom, freedom of faith and expression. Some people assume that democracy entered the history of humanity with the ancient Greeks. However, it is God Who teaches democracy to people. From the time of the Prophet Adam (pbuh), all prophets have been the genuine representatives of intellectual freedom and respect to views. The essence of all the primary concepts – freedom of justice, not putting any pressure upon anyone, treating everyone as a first class citizen, respecting and trusting people, not judging anyone due to his views - which are associated with democracy, are present in the morality of religion. Throughout history, people have learned these concepts from the righteous religions revealed by God and witnessed its most beautiful examples during the times when people lived by the righteous religions.
When we look at the times when people were oppressed due to their opinions and their different ideologies, members of various religions were humiliated, while the arts, science and architecture died out; times when people lost their joy in living and almost turned into robots, or when book burnings, murders, massacres, genocides became widespread, we see the influence of irreligious, atheist ideologies or those who misinterpreted religious morality with a radical mindset by distancing it from its essence.
Once God's righteous religion is lived in the form it is commanded by God, the true justice, democracy, respect and love, that people have been longing for, can be experienced. Very soon, democracy, brotherhood, love, friendship and peace will, by God's leave, dominate the world and people will experience the joy, bliss and abundance of faith as much as they can. As one can clearly see from the signs of the verses, hadiths of our Prophet (pbuh) and words of great Islamic scholars, the time in which we live is the End Times.
The difficult and troublesome days of the End Times will, in this century, come to end, and the world will enter a brand new, bright era. Communicating the Oneness and Unity of God in the most beautiful and wise manner, and introducing people to Islam as described in the Qur'an and lived in the Age of Felicity lays a very important foundation for the bright days that we will attain in the near future.
Do they then seek the judgement of the Time of Ignorance?
Who could be better at giving judgement than God for people with certainty? (Qur'an, 5:50)
1. Prof. Thomas Arnold, The Spread of Islam in the World, A History of Peaceful Preaching, Goodword Books, 2001, pp. 79-80