The Qur’an makes it clear that the state of war between the early Muslims and their enemies was started by the latter. I have cited in Jihad As a Means to Peace a number of verses that promote peace and encourage the Muslims to respond immediately and positively to the first signs of the enemy becoming interested in peace. That was the attitude that the Qur’an taught Muslims to adopt in an era in which peace did not commanded any respect. While the Qur’an injected genuine love of peace into the Muslims, the interest of their enemies in peace was mainly pragmatic. Nevertheless, Muslims had to stretch out a hand of peace toward their enemies whenever the latter showed any interest in peace. Significantly, there are verses that indicate that the Muslims used to make peace even with enemies who would break their word each now and then.
Allah ordered the early Muslims to seek peace at a time when peace lovers were few and far between. No question, there is much more appreciation of peace today, not the least because of the awareness of the increasing degree of destruction and devastation that modern wars can cause. In fact, there is hardly a modern violent conflict where peace seekers cannot be found on all sides. This is a sign of optimism in a world that has become increasingly depressing with its level of aggression and violence. The followers of the Qur’an have to make the most of this increasing inclination toward peace. This is a great time to emphasize the Qur’anic message of peace and put it into practice.
The growing appreciation of peace has resulted in growing interest in talking even to what they perceive as their sworn enemy. This is also a great opportunity for Muslims. Let’s remember that the Prophet used to talk to various people and that he would stop only when they wouldn’t be willing to listen anymore. It is time to cite this great verse again:
Call [O Muhammad!] to the way of your Lord with Wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in the best manner. Surely, your Lord best knows those who go astray from His path, and He best knows those who follow the right way. (16.125)
Resolving conflicts through dialog is much more valued by today’s educated people than by the population of the Arabian Peninsula at the time of the Messenger of Allah. Given that the above was Allah’s command to the Prophet, today’s Muslims are certainly required to be continuously engaged in dialogue with other people, including their enemies. The Qur’an makes it absolutely clear that patience, endurance, tolerance, and, particularly, responding to evil with good can turn an enemy into a close friend:
The good deed and the evil deed are not equal. [O Muhammad!] Repel [evil] with the best response, then the person between whom and you there is enmity shall be as though he is a close friend (41.34). But none will receive it (this grace) save those who exercise patience, and none will receive it save he who has great fortune. (41.35)
Note how verse 41.35 stresses that responding to evil with good requires patience. Forcing one’s self to behave in this way involves a great deal of jihad. The fruit of this jihad, which is converting enemies into friends, is so great in the sight of Allah that He describes those who get it as people of “great fortune.”
The Qur’an was the guide of the Prophet in his debates with people which verse 16.125 refers to. All Muslims must seek inspiration from this unique Book. Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the greatest miracle, but many of them don’t really treat it in a way that reflects this belief. This divine peaceful weapon can achieve results no other weaponry can. Man-made weapons can allow Muslims to kill their persecutors. The Qur’an, on the other hand, can make Muslims instead win over many of those enemies, or at least convince them that they can all live in peace. By teaching the true message of the Qur’an and applying it, Muslims should be able to at least make peace with many of their enemies before they get to the point where using arms to defend themselves is the only option left. This is real victory. This is a miracle that only the Qur’an can work.
During the time of the Prophet, there were disbelievers who wouldn’t accept to live in peace with Muslims, leaving the latter with no option but to fight them. But other enemies who were ultimately won over and who chose to convert to Islam were manyfold more than those who were killed. This is one miracle of the Qur’an.
Despite the intensive hostile propaganda, Islam is the fastest growing religion today, with many people converting to Islam all the time. These numbers can be substantially higher if Muslims can better utilize the great power of the Qur’an. The degree of success of the enemies of Islam in distorting its image is indicative of the extent of the failure of Muslims to present the truth of Islam to the world.
Copyright © 2009 Louay Fatoohi
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