Islam, peace and universal brotherhood

Create: 04/30/2015 - 00:00

Islam is a religion that sets great store by peace, brotherhood and amity. Every Muslim, while meeting his brother-in-faith, should wish him peace by saying Assalam-o-Alaikum(peace be unto you) before engaging in discussions.
Peace brings human beings harmony that purges hearts of hatred, fear and other negative feelings. It ends the war, fosters love and paves the ground for development and prosperity.
Islam enjoins upon its followers to promote peace and do good to fellow Muslims. Muslims are under religious obligation not to tell lies, refrain from violence and avoid using drugs -- acts that harm tranquility.
Bara bin Aazib says Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always emphasised on his companions to follow seven things: Inquiring after patients, participating in funerals for Muslims, saying Yarhamakumullah to sneezers, supporting the weak, strengthening the victim of injustice, greetings (Salam) and forging the divider.
While surfing the Internet for writings on peace, I chanced upon a piece on the topic of Salam by Saudi scholar Salman al-Ouda. He writes Assalam Alaikum has four meanings:
1. One offering Salam gifts you Allah’s name, which means may Allah shower His blessings and protection on you.
2. He wishes you protection from suffering and ailments. He prays to Allah to keep your religion, honour and respect intact.
3. One who greets you announces peace with you, i.e. don’t be afraid of me; rest assured. In response, the other Muslim comes up with similar sentiments.
4. Salam also means piety, purity and greatness. One who greets you reaffirms the promises of brotherhood with you. With this, doors of loyalty and love open. You know, the preaching of Islam began with an abiding message of peace... 
Islam prohibits everything that hampers peace, such as lies, breach of promise, spreading corruption and other harmful acts. To discourage such evils, punishment has been defined for perpetrators.
As stated earlier, Islam spreads the message of peace. The Hudaibiya Treaty was an important event that took place in March 628, defusing tension between Muslims and non-Muslims and authorisingthe companions of Muhammad(PBUH) to return the following year to a peaceful pilgrimage
Muhammad (PBUH) desired to enter Makkah and do tawaf around the Ka'bah. His companions in Madina were delighted when they were informed about it. They all revered Makkah and the Ka'bah and yearned to do tawaf there.
In 628, the Prophet of God and a group of 1,400 Muslims marched peacefully to Makkah to perform the Umrah (pilgrimage). They were brought sacrificial animals, hoping the Quraish would honour the Arabian custom of letting converts enter the city.
The Muslims had left Madina in a state of ihram, a premeditated spiritual and physical state which restricted their freedom of action and prohibited fighting. This, along with the paucity of arms, indicated the pilgrimage was always intended to be peaceful.
They camped outside Makkah and Muhammad (PBUH) met an emissary from Makkah. He said: “We have not come here to fight anyone, but to perform Umrah. No doubt, the war has weakened Quraish and they have suffered great losses, so if they wish, I will conclude a truce with them, during which they should refrain from interfering between me and the people.
“And if I win, the Quraish will have the option to embrace Islam as the other people do, if they wish; they will at least get strong enough to fight. But if they do not accept the truce, by Allah in Whose Hands my life is, I will fight with them death. Allah will definitely make His Cause victorious.”
It was a pivotal treaty between Muhammad, representing the state of Madina, and the Quraish tribe of Makkah. The Prophet of Islam and his followers were persecuted by the other residents of Makkah, primarily the powerful tribe of the Quraish, and eventually forced to flee to Madina. Armed hostilities ensued, at events such as the Battle of Badr and the Battle of the Trench.
The two parties decided to resolve the matter through diplomacy rather than warfare, and the treaty was drawn up.
“In your name, O God!This is the treaty of peace between Muhammad Ibn Abdullah and Suhayl Ibn Amr. They have agreed to allow their arms to rest for 10 years. During this time each party shall be secure, and neither shall injure the other; no secret damage shall be inflicted, but honesty and honour shall prevail,” the text read.
Whoever in Arabia wished to enter a treaty or covenant with Muhammad could do so, and whoever wanted conclude an accord with the Quraish could also do so. And if a member of the Quraish tribe came without the permission of his guardian to Muhammad, he shall be delivered to the tribe.
On the other hand, this condition did not apply to the followers of Muhammad (PBUH). “This year, Muhammad, with his companions, must withdraw from Makkah, but next year, he may come to the city and remain for three days, yet without their weapons except those of a traveler -- the swords remaining in their sheaths.”
In 629, the Muslims returned as promised in the treaty to perform the first pilgrimage. The next year, the clan of the Banu Bakr, allied with the Quraish, attacked the Bedouin Khuzaa, the prophet’s allies. Muhammad considered the attack a breach of the treaty, citing one of the clauses of the treaty: "an attack on an ally of the party will be considered an attack on the party itself".He offered the Quraish three alternatives:
1.Dissolve their alliance with the Banu Bakr
2.Compensate by paying money
3.Dissolve the treaty
The Quraish chose the third alternativeand Muhammad decided to march on to Makkah with an army of 10,000, leading to the Conquest of Makkah.
In a nutshell, Islam urges its adherents to resolve all their problems peacefully. The Holy Quran says: “Mediate between the warring parties.” At many points, the Quran underlines the need for peace, which has been preferred over war.
We should live in consonance with the Quranic teachings for the sake of peace across the globe, at least in the Islamic world. Our religion asks its followers to live like brothers. This has to be done practically. Hajj is one significant move toward a closer global fraternity.
Every year, up to 2.5 million Muslims -- men, women, youth and the elderly, rich and poor clad in white -- converge on Makkah to perform the ritual. This teaches us international brotherhood. Long before contemporary scientific discoveries, Allah declared Ka’bah the centre of the world. All Muslims must face it while worshipping.
All people are the offspring of Hazrat Adam (AS) and hence equality among them. Allah says:  “O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female and We made you nations and tribes so that you may know one another. Indeed, (the) most noble of you is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah (is) All-Knower, All-Aware.”
In Islam, equality among men is not the sole objective behind brotherhood; this also applies to women. By the same token, the concept of international brotherhood aims to discouragediscrimination among people on the basis of colour, caste, language and gender.
However, based on certain distinction, men have been placed over women. Men have been declared “protectors and maintainers” of women. The Arabic word qawwâm is an emphatic form of the qayyim, which means a person who manages the affairs of others. The qayyim of a woman is either her husband or her guardian -- the one who has to look after her and ensure that her needs are met.
Because of their physical strength, men have been entrusted with protecting their women. The Prophet of Allah says a mother has three times greater rights than a father over their progeny. In Surah Fateha, Allah describes Himself the Lord of the World -- not only men or women.
About strengthening the bond of brotherhood, Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) says: “When you offer prayers, stand shoulder to shoulder and foot to foot.” In another Hadith in Katbus Salat, he says: “While praying, straighten your rows, stand shoulder to shoulder and foot to foot. Don’t leave any gaps for Satan…”
Here the Prophet cautions Muslims against allowing Satan -- who fuels linguistic, caste and creed prejudices -- to enter their rows. Islam offers a comprehensive moral framework for international brotherhood. We, therefore, should emulate this principle of equality and unity to strengthen peace.