Close study of Islamic religious, intellectual and spiritual traditions may demonstrate that peace and Islam are conceptually inseparable, and can be implemented in practice. Islam offers a path to strive for peace, justice and reconciliation in the world through which we may also strive for eternal peace and security in the presence of our Creator. Muslims may uncover, renovate and innovate peace-making practices that realistically embody Islamic ideals people commonly acknowledge yet too frequently ignore in their actual conduct of life. The materials provided by IAIS facilitate integration of theory and practice, aiming at more adequate applications of Islamic peaceful values for human wellbeing and security.
PURPOSE. IAIS Focus on ‘Peace-Security & Islam’ promotes wider awareness and involvement with Islamic Peace among Muslims. It offers research products, event reports, selections from classical and modern sources, and a detailed Bibliography. Research studies by IAIS-Malaysia Directors and Fellows are highlighted, along with relevant materials and on-line resources in the public domain. It will include contributions from leading thinkers and practitioners at the forefront of Islamic Peace Studies. Interviews with prominent Muslim peace exponents, knowledgeable religious authorities and scholars addressing relevant issues may eventually form part of this feature.
Critical research on Islamic Peace is undertaken from both historical and conceptual dimensions. The scope of research and discussion embraces the legal, religious, social and inter-civilisational legacy of Islamic thought and practice. These are integrated with ideas drawn from the contemporary discipline of Peace Studies with an eye to implications for governmental policies and societal harmony. Results are presented in comprehensible summaries of key aspects relevant to current Muslim concerns. This includes reports of IAIS seminars and forums addressing specific topics and conditions in Muslim societies related to Peace-making, peace education, resolving conflict, nonviolent action, socio–political transformation, and the situations of Muslim and non-Muslim minorities.
AIMS. ‘Peace-Security & Islam’ focuses on Islamic approaches to Peace-building, Peace-making, and Human Security. The higher aim is to explore the Islamic understanding of peace from multiple perspectives, and to assist Muslims in effectively applying this within their societies. IAIS pursues research and activities advancing the following goals:
- Integrate contemporary appreciation of the significant role religion may play for promoting Human Security at community, national and regional levels.
- Better comprehend and explain the original contexts and meaning of peace and war in Islam, resolution of conflict, and peace education, paying attention to their historical and conceptual development and to contemporary challenges.
- Revitalize Islamic resources for Peace-making and Peace-building, enabling socially engaged Muslim thinkers and civic actors to effectively meet the challenges they face with creative wisdom by reaching beyond dogma to the living root of values and ideals which may have grown stale.
RATIONALE. There exists an intimate connection between the faith of Islām with peace.making and peaceful.security. Today this assertion is radically questioned by many non-Muslims, who emphasize the combative role of a militant religion intent on conquest and dominion—echoing a medieval European perception still cultivated within intelligence and security establishments. Islam and Muslims are now often associated with irrationality and violence by many authorities and policy-makers in the West, while the foreign policy of certain nations is predicated on combatting Jihadist terrorism. Over the past ten years the United States has pursued large scale military operations in the heart of Asia, and presently in North Africa. The insecurity and violence unleashed by such massive intervention has been compounded by the spread of intra-Muslim violence aided by self-serving political agendas and regional rivalries.
However, recent massive popular uprisings in the Arab World caught observors by surprise, where the course of events is still unfolding. Nonviolent movements of protest and reform are proving their potential for transforming societies and reversing decades of abuse. At the same time Islam is playing a little-noticed role in a number of Muslim societies to heal conflict, neutralize violence, and nurture forgiveness and reconciliation. The potential for Islam to contribute to peaceable outcomes and ensure human security and wellbeing appears significant, despite its being minimised or forgotten. Such potential does not receive adequate attention and support from governments, civil society efforts or international organizations. Clearly, more serious consideration and deeper awareness of the possible contributions Islam may offer to regional and global security are needed.
Just Peace-Making. Muslims frequently prefer to frame issues of peace with an unyielding insistence upon rectifying injustice and righting wrongs. We often meet this linkage in calls for a “just peace” in the sixty-three year old Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Muslim advocates weighing in too heavily on the side of peace when resolving conflicts, open themselves to the criticism that the cause of justice is an integral and necessary condition for any stable enduring peace. Undoubtedly Justice is a most crucial component in the hierarchy of values embraced by Islam. Like all primary values, Justice points to one of the essential facets of divinity embedded in the very nature of the order of creation. The very same insight also pertains to the essential value of Peace in Islamic consciousness and practice.
Security.Peace. An essential value at the heart of Islam is ‘Security¬Peace’ (see Qur’ānic terms silm and salm). Traditionally security has been defined as a function of protection of the interests of the State. Yet many critics perceive this narrow state-centric obsession as ultimately counter-productive, and now advocate that our conception of “security” must be broadened. Current discussion seeks to deepen the understanding of security to include spiritual and ethical components. Classical Islamic teaching holds that the real purpose and source of true security is to draw closer to the ultimate origin and source of Peace: to God. In both conceptual and in practical terms Islām is inseparable from the experience of safety and security at the individual moral level, and at the communal level of society and polity.
Tradition has continually adapted and grown to meet new situations, and Islam in its best modus operandi is internally equipped with sufficient resources to accomplish such growth. Faith retains the capacity of empowering people to engage in effective social and political action promoting meaningful change and justice. Religious ideals represent a frequently overlooked resource for encouraging people to transcend ethnic and communal boundaries and to express solidarity with people of differing races and traditions, guiding humans in their struggle for justice and peace. Complementing its emphasis on just polity and equitable social order, the Islamic faith offers specific values and practices for active reconciliation between individuals and groups. The wealth of values mediated by Islam embraces essential principles of toleration, consensus, compassion, forgiveness, perseverance, hope, selfless sacrifice and purity of intent. Islamic ideals sought a balance between political dictates of justice and equity, and those of human clemency, harmonious forgiveness, and selfless love embraced by virtues of al-raḥmah ‘compassion’ and al-iḥsān ‘surpassing goodness’.
Vivifying Islamic resources for Peace requires a creative use of traditional precepts and teachings to communicate the need for change in thinking and deeds. It demands the use of ideas and language motivating people for the highest purpose and employing the most worthy and equitable means. Further exploration of how Islam functions both as a social-political community in historical context – mindful of the deeply lived experience of individuals whose being and world-view are molded by that historical community – and as a permanently valid ethical and spiritual teaching, should be undertaken in order to bring clarity to the quest for an authentic understanding of Islamic Peace.
‘Peace-Security & Islam’ welcomes concerned individuals, educators, officials and leaders to become actively engaged in peace building. IAIS invites their collaboration in this conversation and exchange of ideas.
Karim Douglas Crow – IAIS, June 2011
Man lā yarḥamu, lā yurḥam. One who does not practice compassion [show lovingkindness] toward others—is not shown mercifulcompassion (by God).
– God’s Messenger Muhammad [Recorded in Muslim; Abu Dawud; and al-Tirmidhi.]