Islam encourages spreading peace, and made it one the greatest virtues. The noble prophet described it as the best moral of people in this life and in the other life when he said “Shouldn’t I tell you about the best morals of the people in this life and the other life… spreading peace in the world”. Imam Mohamed Ibn Ali Ibn Alhussein (Albaqer) (A.S.) narrated that Salaman (R.A.) said “spread Allah’s peace, but Allah’s peace does not go to the unjust”. “What is meant by this is that the benefit wouldn’t reach the unjust because of the fact that they are unjust; the reason behind that is what was mentioned, that helping the unjust is another form of injustice that man should renounce”.
In the explanation of the Quran by Mohamed Rashid Reda in Almanar, he mentions the following about peace: “Islam is a general religion, and among its objectives is spreading its values and virtues among people, even if gradually, and to attract them towards each other so that all humans become brothers. One of the Islamic values that was common in the time of the prophet is spreading peace except for to combatants; whoever peace is announced upon is safe, and anyone who would harm him is considered a traitor and breaking the promise”.
He continues: “Spreading peace was mentioned as one of the qualities of the believers in the hadiths, and given as a reason of love among them. This is mentioned in the hadith: ‘the best kind of Islam is: giving food, and delivering peace to those who you know and you don’t’ and also in the sahih hadiths ‘Spread peace between you, you will love one another’, ‘spread peace and you will be in peace’ and ‘three things, whoever has them is having the whole belief, justice with yourself, giving peace to the world, and giving despite your need’. This is one of the values of the global peace”.
All of these great hadiths refer to the greatness and value of peace and those who spread it, knowing that those who are unjust and don’t keep promises and treaties won’t get peace because they have opposed its basis and requirements. Facing them is considered an action of spreading peace, as those who face them are trying to return rights to their owners - which means returning things to their proper place - and only with that will justice be established. Protecting rights and deterring abusers, as a way of being merciful and caring to them, establishes justice.
In addition to the concept of Muslims choosing peace and respecting treaties, many verses are mentioned in the Quran that encourage and state the necessity of facing the unjust and injustice to order to protect rights, establish justice, and restore peace. We will mention some of these verses, with explanations from the book Al-mizan fe Tafseer Alquran, in order to understand its noble contents that aim to spread peace between people:
In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful
“Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances) that do wrong.” Quran [60-9]
The Almighty says: “Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection).” Those who are meant by “who fight you” etc. are the unbelievers in Mecca and “support in driving” is helping and standing with those doing it. When He says “It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances) that do wrong”, “them” refers exclusively to the unbelievers in Mecca and those who support them, it does not mean all nonbelievers in general.
In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful
“(They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right― (for no cause) except that they say ‘Our Lord is Allah’. Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid His (cause); for verily Allah is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might” Quran [22-40].
This describes those who were oppressed and expelled from their homes. The nonbelievers expelled them from their houses in Mecca, without having the right to do that, and did not even let them get any supplies. They hurt them and continued to increase the torture until they impelled them to leave Mecca, leave their homes and money, and migrate to another land. Some went to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) , others to Medina after the migration of the prophet, peace be upon him. Thus, they expelled them by making them impelled to leave. Fighting should be the last option of defense, and should only be used in the case of the failure of every other means of defense, just as amputation should be the last resort in the treatment of infection. This is because fighting causes the death of some people in order for others to live. Bearing hardships is part of living in human society, not only for humans but for any partially conscious or independent creature.
In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful
“Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace. When ye should be Uppermost: for Allah is with you and will never put you in loss for your (good) deeds” Quran [47-35].
The meaning of the verse is that it is not the way of Allah or his prophet to forget about your deeds or retract God’s forgiveness, so don’t get weak during the fight or invite the unbelievers to a truce; you are the winners and God will help you to gain victory over them. You will not lose the rewards of your good deeds; He will give them to you fully.
In this verse Allah promises the believers victory; they will prevail if they obey Allah and his prophet. He says
“So do not become weak (against your enemy), nor be sad, and you will be superior (in victory) if you are indeed (true) believers” Quran [3:139].
These verses point to the obligation of fighting injustice, tyranny, and the unjust only as a last resort, after having advised them of all peaceful ways. This fighting is a way of spreading peace by stopping injustice and establishing justice through returning taken rights. A man should not only condemn injustice silently and verbally, as accepting injustice is a form of injustice in itself. It is a duty to not make peace with the unjust when they insist on their aggression and injustice, as this is considered as surrender, humiliation, and the loss of legitimate rights. It is these kinds of unjust actions that encourage the unjust and give them the legitimacy to continue with their corrupted actions that aren’t in line with the definitions of justice and peace.
This explains the invalidity of making peace with the unjust while they are insisting on their actions, as the oppressed might be forced to hold a compliant truce with the oppressors and tyrants, as mentioned in the definitions. This kind of truce and peace with oppressors is basically void, as what was built on something invalid is invalid in itself. In addition, the verses establish basic human rights such as freedom to believe and worship, protecting property and the prohibition of violating it , the prohibition of violating others and their rights, and the right and necessity of self defense in the face of oppression or assault, in order to establish justice and, as a result, peace among all.
Sources of Extremism and Terrorism (Intellectual and Physical Terrorism)
Terrorism arises when a person or institution deals with different opinions by ignoring and deleting them, both intellectually and in action. Tyrannical thinking is only an expression of the culture of deleting the “other” who has a different opinion or path. This kind of tyrannical thinking works by oppressing other opinions in word and action, and punishing other opinions through exercising social, cultural, economical, and political exclusion, until the different opinions surrender to the oppressing one. This kind of tyranny is practiced by connecting it with ideologies and nationalities, criminalizing other opinions, and to creating an environment where it is possible to exclude others. This kind of tyranny is usually used to monopolize power and resources and to use them for their own interests, under the name of nation or ideology. But history and the divine law confirm that tyranny and injustice cannot maintain power or resources neither do compliance treaties; these only lead to their confirmed demise because of the repulsion of the people when conditions, which are always variable and never constant, change. The best evidence of this is the Arab Spring that occurred in so many Islamic countries - people demanded dignity, freedom, and the right of self-determination free from internal or external control.
The seriousness of opinion tyranny is when it is done in the name of religion, which means that the tyrant is going against divine law, says that he owns the absolute perfect divine truth and others don’t, and thinks that he rules in the name of God and whoever disagrees with him is disagreeing with God and will therefore be judged by God’s law and punished by being exiled, tortured or killed.
Opinion tyranny is considered intellectual terrorism because it prevents people who have different ideas, opinions, and worldviews from expressing them in public or practicing them. They are usually prevented by taking away their personal rights such as individual and public freedom in all its forms and their right to form their own present and future. They become subjected to different types of pressure to repress their thoughts and expression.
Intellectual terrorism transforms into physical terrorism when it assassinates and creates violence for individuals or genocide against societies. Physical terrorism is only a result of intellectual terrorism, which is considered an introduction to physical terrorism. Our societies are, in general, diseased with this kind of intellectual extremity that monopolizes the absolute truth and pushes in the direction of public control on societies by the tyrant ruling class and international powers that control people’s decisions to serve their own goals and interests. This is the new world system that we were preached to about; however the uprisings of the Arab Spring started to change the present and the future by regaining their dignity, freedom and rights. This uprising, insha’Allah (by the grace of God), will sweep away the origins of extremity and intellectual terrorism, as well physical terrorism, on the way to achieving humanity through spreading just peace for all societies. This era could perfectly be called the Era of the People.
Spreading the Culture of Peace and Facing Terrorism
One of the most important elements in spreading the culture of peace and facing terrorism is working on maintaining human rights, especially the rights of those with whom we disagree, even before those with whom we agree. Disagreement in opinions is actually the prosperity of a people and an entrance to integrity. It is important to work on sharing what’s on people’s minds in order to ensure the positive benefit from differences in points of view, to face an idea with an idea, to listen to what is being said, and following whichever is deemed better after reasonable discussion between specialists and decision makers. It is important to be careful not to turn differences into disagreements through tyranny in opinion and decision-making. The sharing of minds only happens between those who are different; there is no point in the sharing of minds that are identical as there is nothing there to use for integrity. Even foods and drinks are diverse. One does not integrate with oneself, but with others through common human values that reinforce societies, even those that are different in their thoughts and ideas.
It is normal that a human integrates with other humans based on a positive outlook about cooperation in humanity, and it is even more noble if they have in common the same divine belief. This requires basic rules of interaction that establish positive integrity and protect from negativity. These basic rules are based on the following:
A. The Theory of Absolute Truth
It is constant in every way, all the time, and never changes; this is only for what is always constant and exclusively in the absolute right, which is Allah the Almighty.
Absolute truth is defined as whatever is true at one time and in one place is true at all times and in all places. What is true for one person is true for all people. Truth is true whether we believe it or not. Truth is discovered or it is revealed, it is not invented by a culture or by religious men.
B. The Theory of Relative Truth:
it is defined as truth that is true at only one time and in one place. It is true to some people and not to others. It is true now but it may not have been true in the past and may not be again in the future. It is always subject to change. It is also subject to the perspective of people.
A man can act believing that he has the absolute truth, and herein lies the danger and the ignition of extremism and intellectual terrorism (which leads to physical terrorism). When a man thinks that whoever disagrees with his thoughts is disagreeing with the truth, and that they are wrong, must be faced, and a limit put on them, this is the cradle of human and international conflict. Then things turn from sanity and subjectivity to personalizing the subjects, and diversity in opinion and thought to disagreement that calls on conflict in all its forms. What makes this even more dangerous is if one is making the disagreement in the name of religion, and thus he thinks that whoever disagrees with his opinion is against the truth, and who is against the truth is against God and his prophet, and as a result is out of the religion and must be killed. This is the start of takfiri thinking, that is against humanity and religion, and that snatches mercy from man’s heart and wisdom from his mind.
C. Fuzzy Logic:
this idiomatic expression appeared academically in 1965 in the research of Dr. Tariq Lotfy, the founder of this theory. Fuzzy logic refers to the study of the ways and the basis of the human mind. It is defined as a multi-variable system that allows one to define values that are between the classic definitions of either yes or no, right or wrong, black or white, etc. In this way it is possible to simulate the human way of thinking when programming computers.(20)
D. Other Issues
First: The free flow of ideas and developing them to sustain innovation and renovation.
Second: Working upon the basis of what is in common, while refining the differences. This happens by respecting others’ opinions on the ground of the common fate of humanity, and not adopting the way of deleting the other.
Different opinions are actually a grace, not an indignation, and are evidence of the intellectual diversity of the society and are what allow it, when put in institutional frameworks, to advance and prosper. We shouldn’t be scared of other opinions; we should receive them and discuss them with the aim of integrating with them. Differences are the well of innovation and creativity, and as such we should include them in institutional frameworks as a guarantee of the continuous advancement of society. Doing this will guarantee the dignity of all humans, as the leader of believers, Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (A.S.) said, “People are of two kinds, your brother in religion or your peer in humanity”.
Allah the Almighty talked of using the policy of peace and softness and avoiding violence and harshness. He talked of the policy of forgiveness, and using systems like Shura (consultation) as a way of free, persuasive, wise, peaceful, and cooperative conversation and decision-making: “And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh hearted, they would have broken away from about you” Quran [3:159]
The starting point to this is tolerance, accepting the other, and that what is scientifically defined as the theory of relative truth, as we mentioned. In other words, a man doesn’t own the absolute truth to judge the others by, especially to judge whether they are or are not unbelievers or human. A man should integrate by accepting the other, communicating and dialoguing with him, as this other might have a part of truth and this will help towards integrity and intellectual and spiritual richness. One should avoid a narrow point of view and pre-judging people before interacting with them.
Based on the above, and because countries prioritize and speak in the language of interests rather than the language of values in international relationships, and because of the performance of these countries in organizations that haven’t achieved the desired state of peace between humans, we think that it is vital to focus on civil society organizations that prioritize values rather than interests, to activate public diplomacy between them, to reinforce relationships and integration between people, and through a cultural-social process to face intellectual extremism and tyranny, and as a result face the basis and premise of terrorism.
Based on this we suggest working with civil society organizations on the practical goal of creating a unified framework that will allow them to adopt professional, specified programs with the aim of spreading peace and facing terrorism individually, socially and internationally. These are outlined along the following axes:
A. Strategic Axis (public strategic thinking forums): coordinates between institutions of public strategic thinking, suggests common initiatives, and unifies terms and definitions in order to maximize the effectiveness of all initiatives.
B. Cultural and Social Axes (cultural organizations working in cultural dialogue and social interaction): works on initiatives and projects specialized in cultural and social approaches between people, and on sustaining communication through cultural and social events.
C. Human Rights and Legal Axes (public human rights and legal organizations): works on the observation and the follow-up of violations and exchanging information, with the aim of jointly and simultaneously facing all national and international forums.
D. Political Axis (political pressure groups and lobbies): works on communication and coordination between all the political pressure groups towards a joint and simultaneous facing for all national and international decision makers.
E. Media Axis (public media organizations): works on media initiatives, exchanging information, and coordination between the media campaigns of different media, in order to face the violators of human rights and of public peace at the regional and national level, and international peace at the international level.
F. Human Aid Axis (humanitarian relief services organizations): offers initiatives of common cooperation between relief organizations, organizing and coordinating activities according to their available capacities, and working on observing injustice and violation as a start to facing the violators.
G. Environmental Axis (organizations that defend the environment): works on coordinating between environmental organizations about all crimes and violations against the environment that harm human health and affect society and future generations.
After this, coordination will be held between similar civil society organizations interested in participating, from all around the world, to suggest initiatives and projects and adopt their own agenda into an integrated strategy that unifies their efforts and energies and focuses them against the tyrannical agencies that promote terrorism and violate peace.
Based on what was presented in this paper analyzing the culture of peace and facing terrorism, we conclude with the following recommendations:
First: develop public relationships between active civil society organizations around the world, with no exceptions, and activate public diplomacy objectively and systematically to guarantee a constant presence on different forums in order to create and sustain a fair, comprehensive, and sustainable peace on the basis of rightness and fairness.
Second: Agreement between the civil society organizations that are active in peace, on a systematic work with multiple initiatives built on a system of priorities. This systematic organized work should use energies according to ability and potential and be based on objective conditions of each party to achieve peace.
Third: enhance practical communication between knowledgeable people in the nations through building intellectual and operational networks between all civil society organizations in order to enhance coordination, concentrate efforts and energies, and maximize the effectiveness of their work.
Fourth: transform all intellectual events into working programs that can be followed up and developed. These programs should be managed by a special follow-up and management authority that forms from the related civil society organizations and works on making work plans, coordinating events, and specialized initiatives in these axes:
A. Strategic Axis (public strategic thinking forums)
B. Cultural and Social Axes (cultural organizations working in cultural dialogue and social interaction)
C. Human Rights and Legal Axes (public human rights and legal organizations)
D. Political Axis (political pressure groups and lobbies)
E. Media Axis (public media organizations)
F. Human Aid Axis (humanitarian relief services organizations)
G. Environmental Axis (organizations that defend the environment)