Islamic perimeters of interreligious dialogue

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Peace, harmony and Islam: Peace indicates tranquility, mental calm, quiet, serenity, reconciliation, amity, accord, concord, friendliness, harmony, on the one hand and absence of, or cessation of war, state of reconciliation after strife and enmity, freedom from mental agitation or anxiety, freedom from civil disorder and strife, on the other.

Thus, peace has positive and negative dimensions. It implies that when there is no war, strife, enmity, mental agitation or anxiety and civil disorder, peace prevails as a consequence. But, in cases when personal or social problems and conflicts exist, there is no peace on individual or community level.

Therefore, to strive for changing, these circumstances with the virtues of tranquility, serenity, reconciliation, amity, harmony etc. are required for making peace or keeping peace at individual and societal levels. Thus, the natural harmony and law, when disturbed, lead to antithesis of peace, i.e., strife, war, anxiety, enmity and disorder etc. But, if the natural law, which governs human life and human societies, is preserved there will be peace.

There is a very close relationship between peace and harmony at personal and societal levels. Peace creates concord, balance, consistency, unanimity, compatibility and stability at individual and collective levels and helps to effect accord in facts, views and it acts and helps in making sympathetic relationships and mutual similarities the focal point of human concern. When peace and harmony are achieved in this inter-related manner, the expectation for a trustful, promising, secure, and faithful existence of human beings becomes possible.

Coming to Islam, when we observe this issue, we are thrilled to know that the root of Islam is from salam and silm, which means peace, reconciliation and concord. A derivative of this root (s-l-m) is aslama, which means to make sound and safe, save and attain safety, tranquility and prosperity, deliver, submit and obey. Aslama Amrahu Ilal-Allah means to resign one’s self or fate to the will of God, or to submit to Him.

Thus, words like peace, harmony and hope are very much part of the connotations of the terms “Islam.” Islam is a religion, which is based on certain tenets and doctrines, and only after following these tenets and doctrines in letter and spirit, a man can be called a Muslim or one who submits to the will of God and lives in peace with his fellow beings.

In this sense, it is a qualitative term, which requires its adherent a strict following of its teachings. By calling oneself “Muslim” one does not become entitled to the status of a true believer if his/her actions and deeds are in contradiction with the teachings of Islam. Such a person will be called a hypocrite (munafiq), and not a Muslim.


(The writer is director, Shah-i-Hamadan Institute of Islamic Studies, University of Kashmir, Srinagar)