Peace is one of the most natural and innate desires every human being is endowed with. Even a newborn yearns for peace and security instinctively and is blessed with the provision of a mother’s tender love in her lap.
Unfortunately, we are faced today with lack of peace at almost every level, even though humanity has made tremendous material progress at a pace unparalleled in human history. Little attention is being focused on this most sought-after feeling of peace, though the lack of it has the potential to endanger individual and communal peace, resulting in the destruction of the whole fabric of human society. Thus, conscious and determined efforts are required by society to strive towards achieving and maintaining peace at all levels.
God Almighty, the Creator of the entire universe, including humankind as a sublime creation, has blessed us with the discretion and intellect to make conscious and rational decisions. Our loving God has bestowed countless resources and bounties necessary for our existence and sustenance out of His attribute of Graciousness, which include not only material things for our physical survival but also spiritual guidance and wisdom, provided through His Divine messengers. The messengers are assigned only to convey His message, and through their own noble examples of compassionate demonstration of the benevolence of God’s guidance, they enable to make it very rational and appealing for humans to understand and to follow.
Yet the All-Knowing God has left many discretionary decisions to man out of His profound wisdom. We must strive consciously, therefore, to create the environments conducive for maintaining peace and tranquility in society through careful consideration of the options made available to us through His Divine guidance.
God Almighty has laid down some basic laws applicable to temporal as well as to spiritual successes in these words, “And that man will have nothing but what he strives for” (1). We are aware of this principle, and in acknowledgment, we make our best efforts for success in this world. It is clear that our desire for peace demands actions on our part to strive towards this desired goal.
Challenges to the achievement and maintenance of peace, however, come from multiple directions, and it would be prudent to identify and analyze each aspect to confront them effectively. One of the beauties of Islamic teachings is that God Almighty, Who is the absolute Knower and the Wise, has not left any of its aspects without Divine guidance. I can only enumerate a few examples to illustrate how His love for us helps us to establish peace in the society for our beneficence.
The search for peace starts with oneself, as no peace can be found unless an individual is at peace with oneself. God Almighty has engrained the search for peace into human nature, which knocks on various doors looking for it but can only find it through the guidance God provides in the Holy Qur’an:
“Those who believe and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of Allah. Aye, it is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort” (2).
Just as a fish out of water cannot find peace until it returns to its natural, life-giving habitat, the human heart cannot find peace without spiritually connecting to its source of creation. It is only the love of God that can bring about true respect for His creation. Man begins to respect his fellow beings with a higher and nobler objective out of his respect and obligation owed to his Creator. One can say that, in essence, it is the love of God which is transformed into the love for His creation.
The vacuum created by the concept of the non-existence of God is filled by man’s ego. Ego, selfishness, and commitment to serve one’s own ends grow stronger and all-powerful. Societies whose foundations are built with the bricks of such individuals always remain egoistic and self-oriented. This mindset becomes a catalyst for creating anxiety and restlessness, thus taking one away from peace unconsciously.
The character and attitude of individual members of society play a significant role in the creation of either a peaceful or a disorderly society. According to Islam, desires and ambitions are both activated and curtailed under Divine guidance so that a perfect balance is achieved. God Almighty declares the attributes of virtuous human beings in these words:
“You are the best people raised for the good of mankind; you enjoin what is good and forbid evil and believe in Allah” (3).
Our interactions with members of the society we live in, and our attitude towards them, can result in kindred-like relations if we follow the guidance provided to us by God Almighty in the Holy Qur’an:
“Verily Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others, and giving like kindred and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He admonishes you that you may take heed” (4).
Three levels of relationships, one after the other, have been proposed to promote peace and compassion in society. Additionally, avoidance of indecency and manifest evil have also been admonished, which are detrimental to the promotion of peace.
God Almighty has blessed humanity with guidance for all kinds of relationships and specific moments in their lives to provide peace and tranquility to individuals and thereby to society. At the time of marriage, when one starts a new and crucial phase of one’s life, enlarging the scope of personal interactions, He has guided in these words:
“O ye who believe! Fear Allah and say the right word. He will bless your works for you and forgive you your sins. And whoso obeys Allah and His Messenger, shall surely attain a mighty success” (5).
It has been highlighted that the significance of straight talk under the domain of love and fear of Allah can help to bind relationships with respect, love, and compassion for each other.
The economic state of humankind is one of the significant factors for maintaining peace at all levels. There cannot be any peace in a society where some are so poor and destitute that they cannot secure even basic food nutrients to feed themselves and their families, while others possess unlimited wealth. Acquisition of wealth can breed an addiction to accumulating more and more wealth, even at the cost of deprivation of others. This creates a significant imbalance that leads to undesired attempts by the deprived to resort to a host of societal ills to satisfy their natural needs. Islam provides remedies based on the human psyche to resolve this issue of economic disparity by guaranteeing the rights of all members of society, irrespective of their financial status. God Almighty admonishes us in these words, “And in their wealth was a share for one who asked for help and for one who could not” (6). It is a stark reminder to the wealthy that their wealth is a God-given bounty that must not make them feel exclusive and arrogant. God says in the Holy Qur’an:
“Say to my servants who have believed that they should observe Prayer and spend out of what We have given them, secretly and openly, before there comes a day wherein there will be neither bargaining nor friendship” (7).
This clears the misperception that wealth is earned solely from one’s own efforts and capabilities. God, if He so wills, can take away one’s capabilities at any time without any warning.
Some people might, however, become ungrateful to their benefactors: instead of expressing gratitude for any favors they received from others, they may misconstrue that what has been given us is their right. If this attitude were to be promoted, it would be at the cost of courteous and decent behavior. Thus, turning to the recipient of favors, the Holy Qur’an repeatedly reminds him of his duty to be grateful, expressing his gratitude for even the smallest favor shown to him. The believer is told continually that God does not love the ungrateful: “If you are ungrateful, surely Allah is Self-Sufficient, being independent of you. And He is not pleased with ingratitude in His servants. But if you show gratefulness, He likes it in you” (8). Once again, Islam provides guidance in accordance with the human psyche to promote peace and compassion in society by satisfying the physical as well as spiritual needs of both the donor and the recipient.
The weak and poor should not be denied their fundamental economic rights such as freedom to choose one’s profession, equal access to opportunities, and basic requirements of life. In fact, Islam has provided guidance for the promotion of the economy, benefitting all segments of society. It prohibits hoarding of wealth, which might be used for accelerating the wheels of business and industry. God has ordained:
“Whatever you pay as interest that it may increase the wealth of the people, it does not increase in the sight of Allah; but whatever you give in Zakat seeking the favor of Allah-it is these who will increase their wealth manifold” (9).
Islam clearly forbids the system of interest, which becomes a source of exploitation of human deprivations and promotes the accumulation of wealth in fewer hands. Instead, the hoarding of wealth is taxed in the form of Zakat not only to incentivize investing wealth in the broader economy but also to help the needy to stand on their own feet through Zakat funds. This action results in a more equitable distribution of resources and opportunities, bringing about well-desired peace for all. Such an approach is also perfectly aligned with the fundamentals of modern economics, which demand greater buying capacity amongst the majority in order to sustain a strong and healthy economy.
The discussion about the search for universal peace can be summarized in the understanding of the verse of the Holy Qur’an, which says:
“And if Allah had enforced His will, He would have made you all one people, but He wishes to try you by that which He has given you. Vie, then, with one another in good works” (10).
This explains the wisdom behind the exclusive characteristic of discretion bestowed upon us to benefit from Islamic teachings by striving in the guided path. Islamic history is a manifest witness for when the world saw a perfect human and humane model of love and compassion in practice in the character of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa). During his prophethood, he oversaw a society where every person was eager to sacrifice their wealth, honor, and life to uphold peace and security for their fellow human beings fulfilling the rights of God as well as humanity. God Almighty has now ordained to revive the same spirit through the second manifestation of Islamic revival. This process is underway through the advent of the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), and his successors.
1. The Holy Qur’an (53:40)
2. The Holy Qur’an (13:29)
3. The Holy Qur’an (3:111)
4. The Holy Qur’an (16:91)
5. The Holy Qur’an (33:71-72)
6. The Holy Qur’an (51:20)
7. The Holy Qur’an (14:32)
8. The Holy Qur’an (39:8)
9. The Holy Qur’an (30:40)
10. The Holy Qur’an (5:49)
Last modified: February 2022