“You know your Creator when you love his creation. If everyone remembers and practices this, there will not be any enmity in anyone’s heart … That is how you create peace in the world” ~ Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, 5th Khalifa of the Promised Messiah
What is Peace?
The word “Islam” literally means “peace” as well as “submission.” The word “Islam,” therefore, helps define peace – and how it is attained. Since God has created man in accordance with His attributes, peace requires man to acquire Godly attributes – i.e. to submit to God. The Holy Quran states, “It is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts find peace” (13:29). Peace, therefore, is harmony between God’s attributes and man’s attributes.
This definition of peace requires not only having harmony between one’s desires and God’s attributes, but exhibiting this harmony to others. A person exhibiting this harmony is called a Muslim. For example, Prophet Muhammad declared, “A Muslim is the one from whose hands and tongue other Muslims are safe” (Tirmidhi). Commenting on the Quran (5:33), Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah, stated, “He who abandons kindness abandons religion. The Holy Qur’an teaches that whoever kills a person without justifiable cause will be as if he has killed the whole world. In the same way, I say that if someone is not kind unto his brother, it is like he has been unkind to the whole world” (Al Hakm Vol. 9 No.15 April 30, 1905 p. 2; Commentary by the Promised Messiah, Vol. 2, p.405). Echoing these sentiments, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the 5th Khalifa of the Promised Messiah, recently stated during his tour of Ghana, “The taking of a single life is like the massacre of thousands of innocent lives.”
Islam does not consider peace to be a stagnant phenomena. In fact, the Holy Quran attaches perpetual self-refinement to the notion of peace, “And every one has a goal which dominates him; vie, then, with one another in good works” (2:149). Prophet Muhammad stated, “The beauty of one’s Islam lies in abandoning that which is vain” (Tirmidhi). Of Prophet Muhammad, a companion stated, “When he addressed a person he turned his whole body towards that person … He was the most generous and the most truthful. He was the most kind-hearted and the most noble of lineage … Any person who saw him suddenly would become awe-inspired. Anyone who came in close contact with him, and knew his excellent character was smitten with the love of his excellent attributes. Anyone who described his noble features said, ‘I have not seen anyone the like of him before or after him’” (Tirmidhi).
In accordance with the Islamic philosophy of peace, Islam draws a connection between service to mankind and peace. Prophet Muhammad declared, “One who is not grateful to man is not grateful to God” (Tirmidhi). The statement echoes a point of pride for Muslims found in the Quran, “You are the best people raised for the good of mankind; you enjoin what is good and forbid evil and believe in Allah.” (3:111).
For example, Prophet Muhammad once said, “ [The angel] Gabriel continued to advise me to treat neighbors well until I thought he would make them my heirs” (Muslim). He instructed that some water be added to broth to share it with one’s neighbor (Muslim). He instructed Muslim women to never look down upon a neighbor’s gift, even if it be sheep hooves (Bukhari). He defined the rights of the neighbor as: “When he is sick you visit him; when he dies, you go to his funeral; when he is poor you lend him (money); when he is in need you protect him; when he is in happiness you congratulate him; when he is struck with a calamity, you condole him; do not raise your building above his to cut off the wind from him; do not harm him with the good smell of your food unless you let him have part of it” (Tabarani). Accordingly, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah, reminded his followers, “Whoever deprives his neighbor of the very least good in his power, he is not of my Community” (Malfoozat). Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the 5th Khalifa of the Promised Messiah, has instituted the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s International “Peace Symposium” to honor those advocating peace.
Islam also emphasizes that mankind’s equality derives from man sharing a Single Creator and rejects any notion of racial or ethnic superiority. The Holy Quran states, “O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and we have made you tribes and subtribes that you may know one another. Verily the most honorable among you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely Allah is All Knowing, All Aware” (49:14). Commenting on this verse, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the 5th Khalifa of the Promised Messiah, said, “Peace and security cannot be established until people of each race and nation are able to recognize that they are indeed the children of Adam and created by a male and female and are therefore equal. If one is better than the other, it is in terms of righteousness alone. However, whose righteousness excels others, only Allah knows. No one can judge this for oneself” (Khilafat Centenary).
Prophet Muhammad’s words corroborate this view. In his Farewell Address, Prophet Muhammad declared, “An Arab possesses no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab over an Arab. A white man is in no way superior to a black nor for that matter, is a black man better than a white, but only to the extent to which he discharges his duty to God and man. The most honoured among you in the sight of God is the most righteous among you.”
As a practical matter, Prophet Muhammad instructed Muslims to liberate slaves and help make slaves independent so that they could leave productive lives. Simultaneously, he instructed that slaves feelings must never be injured. For example, Abu Dharr, a prominent companion of Prophet Muhammad, once walked by a group of Muslims while wearing a simple garment while his slave was wearing a robe. When asked why this was so, Abu Dharr replied that Prophet Muhammad said, “Allah has put your brothers under your authority. If someone has his brother under his authority, he should feed him from what he eats and clothe him from what he wears and not burden him with what will be too much for him. If he burdens him with what will be too much for him, he should help him” (Bukhari). Again, Abu’l-Yasar, a prominent companions of Prophet Muhammad, was once observed wearing a fancy robes – and his slave the same. When asked why this was so, he replied, “The Prophet said, ‘Feed [slaves] from what you yourself eat and clothe them from the clothes you yourself wear’” (Bukhari).
Prophet Muhammad also commanded that when a servant has finished cooking, the servant should be invited to eat at the same table (Bukhari). Similarly, his servant Anas reports, “I served [Muhammad] for ten years, and he never even said ‘Ugh’ to me. He never said, ‘Why did you do that?’ for something I had done, nor did he ever say ‘Why did you not do such and such’ for something I had not done” (Bukhari).
While emphasizing the need to serve, Islam notes that the one being helped should not feel embarrassed – they have the inalienable right to be treated decently. The Quran (51:20) reminds benefactors that they are not to feel pride for their service, even when they serve others when it is difficult to do so (Quran 3:135) – but as an expression of thankfulness to Allah.
In accordance with its philosophy of peace, Islam ensures peace between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Holy Quran (2:63; 3:114-116; 5:70; 7:160) declares that no single religion has exclusive control over who enjoys salvation. The Holy Quran (4:165; 16:37; 35:25) declares that every people have been sent at least one prophet. The Holy Quran (2:286; 4:151) further recognizes no distinction in the truthfulness of any prophet. While Islam recognizes Prophet Muhammad as the greatest prophet, Islam also instructs Muslims to not discuss such matters as to injure others feelings.
For example, once a debate arose between a Muslim and a Jew. The Muslim insisted on the superiority of Prophet Muhammad, and the Jew insisted on the superiority of Prophet Moses. Ultimately, the Muslim slapped the Jew. The Jew reported the incident to Prophet Muhammad who censured his follower and stated, “Do not declare my superiority over Moses.” On another occasion, Prophet Muhammad declared, “Prophets are brothers in faith, having different mothers. Their religion is, however, one” (Muslim).
On another occasion, a Christian delegation from Najran came to discuss some affairs with Prophet Muhammad. When prayer time approached, they offered their prayers in Prophet Muhammad’s own mosque (Seerat Ibn Ishaq).
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has faithfully upheld the Islamic tradition of inter-religious harmony. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah, in 1896, participated in the Conference of Great Religions with this speech The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam. The conference was held to allow scholars of the world’s religions to explain the beauties of their respective faiths before the public. The worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has, since then, regularly conducted such conferences on local and national levels to gather people of different faiths.
In accordance with the Islamic philosophy of peace, Islamic places heavy emphasis on an equitable and dynamic economic system. Islam argues for an economic model rooted in social welfare, confining the pursuit of self-interest within the confines of Rahimiyyat. A divine attribute, Rahim connotes the idea of mercy, giving, and rewarding. An Islamic economic system allows for capitalism but does not allow reward for one’s labor at another’s expense – economic self-interest requires it being beneficial to one’s neighbor. For example, Prophet Muhammad stated, “Pay the laborer his wages before his sweat becomes dry” (Ibn Majah).
In a globalized economy, what affects America affects the entire world – particularly foreign investments and currency purchasing power. Individuals are also spending less on leisure, depression becoming contagious. Today, due to usury-based economic models, capitalism encourages indulgence in excessive borrowing, even from one’s future. When nations as whole experience this, foreign economic subjugation, and eventually war, ensues.
Instead of relying on usury and risk-heavy ventures, Islam promotes free-trade and joint business ventures. In doing so, risk is diversified, and more parties benefit. Furthermore, Islam has instituted a charitable flat-tax on idle capital (Zakaat) that, unlike usury, punishes the hoarding of money. Thus, some level of capital is always circulating in the economy, net social welfare rises, purchasing power declines’ lessen, and systemic risk is marginalized. Islam also forbids predatory lending that allows the original lenders to avoid all risk, while dumping the entire economic burden on the loanee and other institutions. This, in turn, avoids a loan freeze, markets gridlocking, and stagnation and unemployment.
Through merchant capitalism, Islam fashioned the earliest market economy, while creating a powerful and steady monetary system. During this period both capitalism and society flourished. International trade, trading companies, partnerships, trusts, startup companies, negotiable instruments, savings and transactional accounts, and contracts were all created or developed, as well as concepts such as credit, profit, exchange rates, and capital accumulation.