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Friday, March 15, 2013

PEACE STARTS WITH JUSTICE AND RESPECT


          Achieving peace with God and with the world’s inhabitants is the two-fold purpose of the religion of Islam and the central focus of the Quran. It is thus no surprise that aspects of life and human nature which seek to destroy or hinder peace are subjects of frequent admonition in the Quran and Hadith (sayings) of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
          One such verse in the Quran, if put into practice by Muslims, would lay the foundation for and ensure peace among Muslims, and between Muslims and all others. In chapter 16 (Surah al-Nahl), verse 91, we read:

                   Verily, Allah [God] enjoins justice, and the doing                                                
                   of good to others; and giving charity to strangers                                                 
                   like they were kindred; and forbids indecency and                                                
                   manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. . .

          On an individual level, one can see how living by these basic commandments would prevent animosity, immorality, evil done openly by others (manifest evil) and evil done to others (wrongful transgression) either openly or secretly. Obeying just this one verse in the Quran would promote peace, mercy and justice among members of a family and between all people in general. By striving to be just to all and doing good to others (regardless of their status relative to you) mutual respect and goodwill would naturally flourish between people on a grassroots level with the ease and healing power of a smile.
          If put into practice on a national level, a government that tried sincerely to act with justice towards its citizens and sought the best for all members of society would ultimately do the most good for the most people. And if nations treated other nations with respect, graciousness and true justice without ulterior motives or ill intent, there would be peace between nations.
          Of course, in the real world, it is virtually impossible to find such examples of altruism and respect between nations because it rarely exists between people, but that does not invalidate the truth of the principle because the principle comes from God and God’s principles are always just. In every case where God gives us a commandment, it is for our betterment and it is achievable. The responsibility for that achievement rests with us, not God.
          With the Holy Quran, God has given us the final, complete code of Laws to live by and be successful in every circumstance and situation, but He does not force us to live by that code. He tells us clearly the negative consequences for failing to do so and leaves the choice up to us. Our ultimate success or failure in this life -- and in the next -- always resides squarely in our own hands.
          With the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him), God has given us a complete and perfect example to live by. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) was the embodiment of the Holy Quran, and his life and sayings have been preserved unlike that of any other prophet. Literally tens of thousands of Hadith (traditions or sayings) of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) have been recorded which present not only the teachings of the Quran but various interpretations of them to deal with different situations and changing needs. And where conflict may arise over the validity of a particular Hadith, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) has provided an easy remedy: he proclaimed that any saying attributed to him that goes against the teachings of the Quran or his Sunnah (example) is not from him.  
          Here are two of his sayings that corroborate 16:91 in the Quran: the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said, “A true believer is one who shows respect for his elders and kindness to his young ones.” The Holy Prophet (pbuh) also once said, “When dignitaries from other countries come to visit you, give them all respect and treat them with kindness and good hospitality.”
             Again, simple commandments that create lasting goodwill and respect, and ensure justice and tranquility if applied as directed. This is why peace starts with justice and respect and why its absence so easily creates discord and disrespect. Let us strive to embody the truths of these sayings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and the teachings of the Holy Quran so that peace and justice can be realities and not just wishful thinking.
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[ Ghosted with Imam Shamshad on Friday, March 15th, 2013; appeared on AhmadiyyaTimes.com March 16th at this link: http://ahmadiyyatimes.blogspot.com/2013/03/peace-starts-with-justice-and-respect.html ]


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