• Maryam Fatima

The Islamic Emphasis on Peace, Love, and Mercy

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

It's no secret that many people accuse Islam of being a violent religion and are quick to point out verses from the Quran that support such an accusation. Historically, these verses were revealed in response to the constant persecution Muslims faced by their tribespeople for merely practicing their religion in peace. There were also messengers before Muhammad (Moses, Joseph, Jesus, etc) who, along with their followers, would face similar hardships, so the Quran often references those stories as well.

Given this, yes, it is true that Islam permits fighting, but in very specific circumstances. To understand the circumstances in which Muslims are permitted to fight, one would need to study the history of Islam more in depth to get a better understanding of why such verses were revealed.

In addition, Islam does not permit fighting without imposing strict regulations as well. These regulations are explicitly stated in various hadith and verses of the Quran, yet many people who are critical of Islam are either unaware of them or choose to ignore them altogether, unfortunately finding it easier to stick to their original narrative of Islam being a violent religion that encourages the killing of anyone simply on the basis that they do not believe.

In response to such claims, I will you through some of the many examples in Islamic text where peace, love, and mercy are clearly emphasized and referred over violent and aggression. To be honest, I find it unfortunate that many people are completely unaware of these verses and rulings. Instead the "violent" verses and hadith are the ones most commonly referenced and blown out of proportion, thanks to the actions of extremists and religious fundamentalists and apologetics. 

Each one of these evidences are cited from either the Quran (the holy text of Islam and the primary source) or hadith (sayings of the prophet Muhammad or his close companions, secondary source).

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The Emphasis on Peace over Violence

"Fight in the way of God those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. God does not like transgressors" (Quran 2:190).

What does Allah mean by the word "transgress?" Well, this can be answered by examining the following verses and ahadith.

"Except for those who take refuge with a people between yourselves and whom is a treaty or those who come to you, their hearts strained at [the prospect of] fighting you or fighting their own people. And if Allah had willed, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you. So if they remove themselves from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not made for you a cause [for fighting] against them." (4:90)

"Say to those who have disbelieved [that] if they cease, what has previously occurred will be forgiven for them. But if they return [to hostility] - then the precedent of the former [rebellious] peoples has already taken place (8:38).

"And if they cease, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (2.192)

"And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon God . Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing (8:61)."

You are transgressing if you continue to fight those who have surrendered and asked for peace. Killing such people instead of showing mercy to them is unlawful, as made clear by the above verses. There is no excuse.

Do Not Kill Innocent People

Transgressing also includes taking the lives of those whom Allah and the Prophet (pbuh) have not allowed. 

"And do not approach immoralities - what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason." (Quran 6:152)

What are some examples of people who should not be killed, especially in cases of war? You can find the answer to that in these two hadith:

The Prophet Muhammad said: "I advise you ten things: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly." (Sahih Bukhari)

"Do not behave treacherously, nor misappropriate war-booty, nor mutilate [those whom you kill], nor kill children, nor the people in cloisters (those who uphold the peace treaties)." (Hadith Tirmidhi)

"The cause (for blame) is only against the ones who wrong the people and tyrannize upon the earth without right. Those will have a painful punishment." (Quran 42:42)

Abu Shuraih reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "Verily, the most tyrannical of people to Allah Almighty is he who kills those who did not fight him, or he demands the blood feuds of ignorance be settled by the people of Islam, or he claims his eyes have seen in a dream what they did not see." (Musnad Ahmed. Grade: Sahih)

The last hadith even says that the worst people before God are those who kill people who didn't even fight them! Can it honestly be made any clearer?

The Emphasis on Mercy

Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Allah will not show mercy to a person who does not show mercy to other people" [Sahih al-Mufrad 375]. ‏

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "When Allah created the universe, He decreed for Himself: "My mercy prevails over My wrath.'" Sahih (Darussalam)

"And never give up hope of God's Mercy. Certainly no one despairs of God's Mercy, except the people who disbelieve." (Quran 12:87)

"Indeed your Lord, to those who have done wrong out of ignorance and then repent after that and correct themselves - indeed, your Lord, thereafter, is Forgiving and Merciful." (Quran 16:119)

"The merciful are shown mercy by (God) the Most Merciful. Be merciful on the earth, and you will be shown mercy from Who is above the heavens. The womb is named after 'Ar-Rahman', so whoever connects it, Allah connects with him, and whoever severs it, Allah severs him." (Tirmidhi 1924)

Abu Umama that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, "Anyone who shows mercy, even to an animal meant for slaughtering, will be shown mercy by Allah on the Day of Rising." (Al-Mufrad 381 Grade: Hasan)

"There are one hundred (parts of) mercy for God and He has sent down out of these one part of mercy upon the jinn and human beings and animals and the insects, and it is because of this (one part) that they love one another, show kindness to one another and even the beast treats its young one with affection, and God has reserved ninety nine parts of mercy with which He would treat His servants on the Day of Resurrection."Allah's Greatest Names is in these two verses: "And your God is One God, none has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever-Merciful, the Mercy-Giving.' (Sahih Muslim)

Emphasis on Love and Kindness

"Verily God is kind and He loves kindness and confers upon kindness which he does not confer upon severity and does not confer upon anything else besides it (kindness)." (Sahih Muslim)

Aisha reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "Indeed among the believers with the most complete faith is the one who is the best in conduct, and the most kind to his family." (Tirmidhi 2612)

The Prophet ﷺ said: "None of you has believed until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." (Sunan an-Nasai. Grade: Sahih)

Aisha reported: "I was upon a camel which was misbehaving so I began to strike it, then the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: 'You must be gentle. Verily, gentleness is not in anything except that it beautifies it, and it is not removed from anything except that it disgraces it.'"(Musnad Ahmad 24417, Grade: Sahih)

The messenger of Allah ﷺ said "the believer is gracious, for there is no goodness in one who is neither kind nor friendly." (Sahih Musnad Ahmed)

The messenger of Allah ﷺ said: "He who is deprived of kindness is deprived of goodness." (Sahih Muslim)

Islam condemns oppression and injustice

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: "Whoever has oppressed another person concerning his reputation or anything else, he should beg him to forgive him before the Day of Resurrection when there will be no money (to compensate for wrong deeds), but if he has good deeds, those good deeds will be taken from him according to his oppression which he has done, and if he has no good deeds, the sins of the oppressed person will be loaded on him." [Sahih al-Bukhari]

This is a really, really important hadith. I remember learning about this in elementary school and actually feeling terrified. The hadith states that if you wrong a person and never tried to compensate for it, or even so much as ask for God's forgiveness, then on the Day of Judgment that person can actually take all your good deeds until you have none yet. And if you somehow don't have any good deeds to show for, then the sins of that person will be loaded onto you. It's that serious.

Islam does not joke around when it comes to oppression and injustice. And this ruling doesn't just apply toward other Muslims, but non-Muslims as well.

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Beware, if anyone wrongs a contracting (non-muslim) man, or diminishes his right, or forces him to work beyond his capacity, or takes from him anything without his consent, I shall plead for him on the Day of Judgment (Abu Dawud).

"Plead for him" means that the Prophet Muhammad (s.) will beg God on the Day of the Judgment to forgive that person, because that's how serious of a sin this is. All human beings are deserving of being treated with justice, not just Muslims. 

Jabir reported that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Beware of injustice. Injustice will appear as darkness on the Day of Rising. Fear avarice. It destroyed those before you and caused them to shed one another's blood and to make lawful what was unlawful." [Sahih Al-Albani]

"Indeed, God is with those who are conscious of Him and those who are doers of good." (16:128)

Be Kind and Just Toward Non-Muslims

"Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly." (Quran 60:8)

"My mother was an idolater and she came to me during the truce with the Quraysh. I asked the Messenger of Allah , 'O Messenger of Allah, my mother has come to me and she is hoping for kind treatment. Should I treat her well?' The Prophet said, 'Yes, treat your mother well.' [Sahih Bukhari]

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Beware, if anyone wrongs a contracting (non-muslim) man, or diminishes his right, or forces him to work beyond his capacity, or takes from him anything without his consent, I shall plead for him on the Day of Judgment (Abu Dawud).

Be just toward people, even if you dislike them

"And do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. (Quran 5:8)

"Perhaps Allah will put affection between you and those to whom you have been enemies. And Allah is competent, and Forgiving and Merciful. (Quran 60:7) 

If those extremists in the media were truly Muslims, they would be following the Quran and sunnah to its entirety. But how many of these hadith and verses do you think they actually abide by? 

One cannot simply call themself a Muslim and then turn around and outright disobey Allah and his messenger. The meaning of a Muslim is "one who submits" to his Lord. If you are ignoring the overwhelming amount of evidence from your Lord about maintaining peace, showing mercy to others, being kind and just to non-Muslims, and not transgressing Allah's limits, then the fact of the matter is that you're not really a Muslim. You are a hypocrite. Take a look at what the Quran says about such people.

"And [there are] those [hypocrites] who took for themselves a mosque for causing harm and disbelief and division among the believers and as a station for whoever had warred against Allah and His Messenger before. And they will surely swear, "We intended only the best." And Allah testifies that indeed they are liars. (Quran 9:107)

"They (the hypocrites) have taken their oaths as a cover, so they averted [people] from the way of Allah . Indeed, it was evil that they were doing." (Quran 63:2)

"[They are] as if they were pieces of wood propped up - they think that every shout is against them. They are the enemy, so beware of them. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?" (Quran 63:4)

I believe that Islam is very clear about its stance on violence in that it should only occur when it is absolutely necessary, while upholding the rules and regulations that are stated above. For anyone who was having doubts about Islam's stance on violence and fighting, I hope I was able to help clear up some of your misconceptions.

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