Role of religious scholars in enforcement of peace

Create: 05/20/2015 - 10:09

As we all know, Islam is the only way of reaching Allah and the fountainhead of good fortune. By the same token, we believe, Islam is a complete code of life and a collection of divine blessings. Muslims believe in Islam as a favour, not curse, from God.
The Quran characterises Islam as a blessing in these words: “And remember the favor of Allah to you - when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers…”
Initially, the words were directed at Prophet Muhammad’s companions, who lived in enmities and cruelty before the advent of Islam. But after embracing Islam, they became exemplary brothers. Today, we should not be ungrateful to Allah for this huge favour, and avoid a return to war and destruction.
We must live like brothers forever. Once the prophet’s companions were in a friendly meeting. A Jew by religion, Shamas bin Qais was pained to see them in this cordial huddle. In a contemptible bid to damage this cordiality, he moved swiftly to recite verses regarding pre-Islamic hostilities and libelous exchanges between Oas and Khazraj tribes.
This infuriated the prophet’s companions, who almost came to blows with Shamas. When Muhammad (PBUH) came to know about the incident, he came to his companions as a guide to resolve the issue. Allah’s Apostle said: “Are you once again reviving the slogans of ignorance while I am amongst you?”
Allah immensely liked the Islamic brotherhood among the prophet’s companions, instructing believers to remember the big blessing of Islam and wholeheartedly accepting its demand. Adherence to it ensures unity and harmony in an Islamic society and eliminates disunity from it.
Afghanistan as Muslim country:
Afghanistan is a predominantly Muslim country. More than 99 percent of its population is Muslim, having made unforgettable achievements in the service of their religion. Their achievements include spreading Islam to 50 percent of the Indian Sub-continent, standing up to Mughals and Tatars with unprecedented courage, struggle against the British and jihad against the Soviet occupation forces in recent history.
Ulema as credible leaders:
As stated previously, the Afghans are deeply committed to Islam. Based on their strong religious beliefs, they have strong bonds with ulema and always consider them as reliable guides. In compliance with fatwas from religious scholars, the Afghans have rendered great sacrifices in the form of migration and jihad. They are certain to abide by ulema’s teachings.
Look, my brothers! In keeping with religious leaders’ fatwas, this nation sacrificed 1.5 million people. A much higher number was left disabled by anti-Soviet jihad. While going through long trials and tribulations, they lost their homes, crops and other valuables. All this reflected their willingness to follow the ulema and render the ultimate sacrifice for the greater glory of Islam.
By the grace of Allah and the role of religious scholars, the Afghans stand united and will continue to do so. The ulema have always invited sons of the soil to brotherhood, protecting the country against external aggression and paving the ground for the Afghans to live in deference to their Islamic identity. This reality is known to the world, including Poet of the East Allama Iqbal, who said Afghanistan would retain its sovereignty as long as the ulema wield power in that country.
Ulema role in peacemaking:
What role ulema can play in bringing about peace? Given the clout and respect they command in society, the ulema can naturally play an effective part in this regard. A nation that has always acted on advice from clerics will definitely heed their calls for peace. Equipped with knowledge, the scholars are better-placed than other segments of society to espouse and advance the cause of peace.
A - Ulema’s affection for nation:
Allah says about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “My Messenger is kinder to Muslims than themselves.” At another place in the Quran, God says: “The prophet is pained by what puts you in trouble. And he tries his best to seek good for you. And he is so kind and sympathetic to you Muslims.”
The righteous ulema are followers of Allah’s Apostle, known as mercy for the worlds. In a Hadith, the prophet is quoted as saying: “… And verily the Ulema are the inheritors of Prophets. Verily the Prophets did not leave behind dirhams and dinars; rather they left behind knowledge. ” This heavy duty is both an honour and a responsibility for the scholars. Just like the Prophet loved the Ummah, his inheritors follow in his footsteps. Their services are indicative of their concern about the Ummah. The ulema will be at forefront of the struggle for peace, a vital necessity of life.
B- Close ties to society:
Every problems has a cause, or reason, behind it. Obviously, one who is more familiar with the causes of a problem can suggest more viable solutions to it. Ulema have a closer interaction with society, live among the people, know their problems and have the capacity to resolve them. Fully aware of the Afghanistanconundrum, they can certainly play a better role than anyone else in resolving it.
C – Expectation of adjudication:
Knowledge alone does not guarantee solution to a problem. What is needed is strength of faith, disregarding undue personal, material, tribal and regional considerations and enabling enforcement of merit. The ulema are genuinely expected to deliver more equitably on this front.“It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah.”
I would like to explain that continued war is not the only issue facing us; there are other problems as well that are either perpetuating the war or making it more complex. We need to the strength of faith, a broad vision, an optimistic view of the future and a bold stance to fight ignorance and biases -- a job that can be well done be well done by the ulema in light of Allah’s instructions. The inheritance of prophethood remains as strong as ever; it is still capable of eradicating present-day ignorance and fraud.
Controlling the corrupt:
Promoting the peace process requires mediators to be capable of curbing corruption, attracting financial support and tell evil and benefit apart. Unfortunately, many scholars and specialists are focused only on achieving economic gains. Lest we know that religious beliefs, socio-cultural values and sovereignty can never be compared with material benefits.
If we tie Afghanistan’s fate to only economic gains, it will be a grave mistake. Saur Did not Saur Revolution and coup leaders raise similar slogans? Could the proponents of food, clothes and shelter, who ignored religious and cultural values, save the nation? What can the individuals, who drop values for palatial houses, contribute to peace? What face they will show families of 1.5 million martyrs.
Ulema know well what national interests are; they can prevent the corrupt who have held the nation hostage to backwardness and moral depravity. Again, it is religious scholars who know national priorities, war limits, the need for peace, reasoning with different quarters and demands of integrity. Based on these qualities, they can ably spearhead the peace process.
Ulema and mediation:
Since enforcing peace between Muslims is an Islamic teaching, ulema have consistently struggled to realise the objective. For instance, when the Khawarij (apostates) rose against Hazrat Ali (RA), Abdullah bin Abbas started arguing with them. As a consequence, 2000 of the 6000 Khawarij changed their mind, deciding against the war. The Afghan ulema are trying even today to reconcile rival tribes and individuals. Given a fair chance at a higher level, the religious scholars will help a great deal in addressing present-day challenges. Insha Allah.