One of the reasons for violence to continue unabated is the misconception that there can be peace only when there in justice,’ said the renowned Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, speaking on Peace and nonviolence in Islam at India International Centre, New Delhi, on Aug 11, 2007.
Emphasizing that if one keeps resorting to violence to address grievances, there can never be peace in the world, he condemned terrorism as totally un-Islamic. For, he clarified, the only warfare that is condoned in Islam is defensive warfare. Islam prohibits guerilla warfare, and any warfare where non-combatants suffer. Hence, in an age where weapons of mass destruction are bound to injure non-combatants, war itself is totally un-Islamic.
‘Assul-e-Khair’ (reconciliation is best), the Sufi principle which has its roots in Islam, is applicable universally, he said, adding that the Islamic principle is ‘God grants to non-violence what he does not grant to violence.’ The reason for violence and terrorism is that when people face injustice, be it perceived or real, they believe they have only two options; to take to arms or do nothing. However, there is a third option, Ishtihad, striving to improve the situation, he elucidated, citing Mahatma Gandhi’s example of a non-violent struggle, and the rise of Japan as an economic power even after severe setbacks during the World War.
‘Peace is defined as the absence of war, but this is a limited definition. Peace is something that brings about enormous opportunities,’ he averred, fervently appealing to all to shed violence, no matter what their sense of grievance was. He shared that he has been taking this message even to Palestine, where he encourages people to avail the opportunities in education and enterprise, instead of falling into the bottomless pit of terrorism and violence.
A vibrant question and answer session followed, with people asking various questions such as the Islamic stance on kafirs, and the American invasion of Iraq. The Maulana explained that respect for human life is paramount in Islam, and once again stressed that even if there were issues that needed to be addressed, violence was not the answer.
Rajat Malhotra, the compere during the talk, who is now part of Centre for Peace and Spirituality, founded by the Maulana, told the audience how he had misconceptions about Islam until he met the Maulana whose message was: ‘Do not judge Islam based on the actions of Muslims. Evaluate the actions of Muslims using Islamic tenets.’
Like Rajat, many people’s misconceptions were cleared in this enlightening and timely interaction with the wise Maulana.
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