The Islamic world peace forum interviewed with Dr. Ahmad Rasem al-Nafis about International Symposium on Diplomacy and Soft Power in the Seerah of the Prophet (pbuh) , you can read the interview in the following:
Islamic world peace forum: How far and with which actions and methods did the great prophet (pbuh) apply soft power to interact with other groups, tribes or countries?
Dr. Ahmad Rasem al-Nafis: When dialogue fails to achieve fair objectives, then fighting in God's path will be the main alternative, but diplomacy never starts with fighting and war. In Badr war, which was the first big war among Muslims and Qoraysh unbelievers, fighting and bloodshed was not the primary goal, but it has been the inevitable choice. Allamah Tabatabaee in his Tafseer (interpretation of Quran) wrote: When the unbelievers of Qoraysh saw the few number of the prophet's companions, Abujahl, one of the heads and planners of the war said: "The army of Yathrib is nothing more than a bite, if we only send our slaves, they will choke them all." Otbah ibn Rabiah said: "Do you see any ambush or support for them?" They sent Omair Ibn Vahab al-Jomhi, who was a brave jockey, to ride with his horse into the army of the prophet. He got back and said: "Muhammad's army has no ambush and no one will come to help them. Know that the camels of Yathrib carry nothing but miserable and comprehensive death." Then this Ayah descended to the prophet (pbuh)"and if they incline to peace, then incline to it and trust in Allah; surely he is the hearing, the knowing." (Surah 8, 61). The prophet (pbuh) sent someone to the Qoraysh unbelievers and said: "Oh! Qoraysh group refrain from war and go back to your home." Then Otbah mounted a red-hair camel. The prophet looked at Otbah and said: "if there is good among these people, it is in front of the owner of this red-heir camel, and if the army follows him they will have safety and happiness". With a loud voice Otbah said: Oh you Qoraysh group! I swear by God that there is no good for you in fighting with Muhammad and his followers. Because if you conquer and kill them, it will end in your sadness (for they are from Mecca and part of your own families and relatives), and you have killed your own cousins or one of your own relatives or families, and therefore, you can never look at each other's face (because of shame). So let's go back to Mecca, and leave Muhammad's affair to other Arabs, if they conquered him then your goal has been achieved, and if not you haven't been harmed much either. Inclination for peace was the main policy of Islam, and it was prior to fighting, war and bloodshed. The obstacles on this way never made the holy prophet (pbuh) to ignore it, and it was his permanent manner all over his bountiful life.
Islamic world peace forum: How far can we consider the prophet (pbuh) as the preacher of soft power and diplomacy in the fields of internal and foreign policy?
Dr. Ahmad Rasem al-Nafis : Soft power is based on using the common parts of various parties, and this is what could be observed in the relations between Christianity of that time and pure Mohammadan monotheistic Islam. Christianity in its pure basis is invitation for peace, compliance and affection, and does not believe in oppression, adversary and self-pride. These are the same values advised by pure Islam, and Quran states: “(as for) that future abode, we assign it to those who have no desire to exalt themselves in the earth nor to make mischief and the good end is for those who guard (against evil)” (Surah 28, 83). Before emergence of Zionism, Islam and Christianity both were calling people to peace and justice on earth. But nowadays Christians act like puppets in the hand of Zionists and serve their pride and arrogance. Had Islam and Christianity allied, now the world wouldn’t be observing such wild massacres and plunders. In this regard we can refer to the dialogue between the holy prophet and Heraclius, Emperor of Rome, and their bishop. Unfortunately, we have not access to the details, but undoubtedly it is based on the respect to common divine issues among followers of the two religions and the two great messengers of God. In Surah Al-e Emran Ayah 64, Quran says: "Aay: o followers of the book! Come to an equitable proposition between us and you that we shall not serve any but Allah and (that) we shall not associate aught with him, and (that) some of us shall not take others for lords besides Allah; but if they turn back, then say: bear witness that we are Muslims." (Surah 3, 64) The trend of the narrations mentioned, indicates that the obvious difference between Heraclius’s reaction to the prophet’s letter and how nearly he was to accept Islam, and express his belief in Muhammad (pbuh) as the last messenger of God promised by heavenly books. The main problem for him, to accept Islam, was the political system in which it was the system that controlled the commanders instead of the commanders controlling the system. Yet such problems did not make bishops to refuse Islam but they also sacrificed their life in this way too. The second problem is that the mission and its vast spiritual influences reveal the information about the followers of Christianity and confirming the holy prophet (pbuh) by them. In this regard Quran in Surah al-Aaraf, Ayah 157 states: “Those who follow the messenger-prophet, the ummi, whom they find written down with them in the Taurat and the Injeel (who) enjoins them good and forbids them evil, and makes lawful to them the good things and makes unlawful to them impure things, and removes from them their burden and the shackles which were upon them; so (as for) those who believe in him and honor him and help him, and follow the light which has been sent down with him, these it is that are the successful." (Surah 7, 157) Here this Ayah of the Surah Tawba proves that those, who believe that the holy prophet’s purpose for expedition to Tabuk was to fight with enemies, were wrong: “o you who believe! Fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil)”. (Surah 9, 123) The noble Muhammadan policy was not based on beheading people and forcing them accept the religion, but in fact it was based on political activities in which only in case of necessity power was used to push the enemies back and prevent their attacks.
Islamic world peace forum: How can we explain prophet’s diplomacy and soft power as a model for world peace and justice?
Dr. Ahmad Rasem al-Nafis : We believe that it is incumbent upon us as Muslims to reread the Quran text and historical trend to get access to the dialogue circles with those people who do not put their weapons down, those who especially sacrifice their lives in others’ wars and for fulfilling world powers goals. We must emphasize that dialogue with others is the permanent principle of Islamic principles, and this dialogue should not be a means for twitting anybody for the favor, but it is a divine duty and responsibility of all of the prophets’ followers, the prophets and religious leaders to achieve God’s satisfaction. We also should notice the importance of the stance of the eastern christen churches, who share their racial origins and sufferings with us, and know that what make us suffer makes the real children of Abraham suffer as well. And we must fight those who have gone astray from Abraham’s true religion and serve the evil Zionists to instigate war flames among human beings.
Islamic world peace forum: In your opinion why despite the role of soft power and diplomacy of the holy prophet (pbuh), in some societies people try to insult him recently?
Dr. Ahmad Rasem al-Nafis : Given the historical trend mentioned before, we find out that the true followers of Christ did not treat the holy prophet (pbuh) arrogantly as Khosrow Parviz did, but they had dialogue with him and showed a proper reaction to his message. Therefore, the insults of the followers of western churches or those ignoring the true principles of Christianity indicate that such wicked actions follow the models of shameful actions of Zionist who try to increase the flames of war between the world of Islam and the west. We believe that facing these horrible behaviors need comprehensive planning based on the following principles: a. Once again start the dialogue between Christian followers of eastern churches and Islam, on the basis that they are genuine inseparable parts of our existence and land, in order to discharge the probable west-east disaster. b. To reemphasize on the true face of Islam as a religion of justice, dialogue, peace and rejection of violence. This must be done in a manner that first encourage those people who have gone astray from religion and chosen fighting and killing, to get back to the religion which calls for justice, generosity and forgiveness toward relatives and prevents from bad actions. Such actions necessitates reconstruction of Islamic unity and possession of necessary power elements for defending ourselves, just as the holy prophet (pbuh) did during wars of Muteh and Tabuk.
Islamic world peace forum: Through which tools and strategies can we apply diplomacy and soft power of the holy prophet (pbuh) in the complicated conditions of present world?
Dr. Ahmad Rasem al-Nafis : The tools and preparations for fulfilling such objectives are the same responsibility put on the Islamic government and social society organizations that makes preaching and dissemination of the true mission of Islam incumbent upon them. The mission of Islam, dialogue and affection, is accomplished only through possessing power, knowledge, science, spirit and emphasis on military power for defending the life, land and rights, otherwise dialogue will be considered as a type of begging and requesting for help. This is the same prominent historical concept mentioned before, that the followers of the school of expedition, in spite of the heavy damages our Ummah suffered through past centuries, still persist on their ignorance.