What is the basic message of Islam?
God chose Islam for humanityís individual and collective welfare in both
worlds. It is based on belief in and worship of God only, alone and without
partners. Such belief and worship requires all believers to be concerned deeply
with all of creation, whether animate or inanimate. The deeper their belief
in and submission to God, the deeper their concern for all creatures. Belief
in His Unity means that no one has absolute freedom when dealing with creatures.
The basic position of Islam vis-ŗ-vis war and peace
Islam is derived from the root s-l-m (salvation, peace, submission) and thus
is the expression of Godís Grace flowing in the arteries of the universe. It
is the Divine system to which all creatures, except humanity, have submitted
willingly. Thus the universe shows no disorder, for Islam is its religion. Everything
is Muslim, for it obeys God by submission to His laws. This applies even to
atheists or polytheists, for even if people do not believe in God, every part
of their bodies follow to course for it prescribed by Godís law.
The principle of Tawhid (Divine Unity) implies the necessity of humanity
being in harmony with the surrounding world. The vast universe, including our
own world, obeys God and so displays a coherence and harmony. Earth is subject
to its own particular set of laws and the general laws of nature, as well as
in harmony with other laws governing all phenomena beyond it. Unlike the rest
of creation that treads ďthe path of nature,Ē we have free will. We have this
gift of freedom and its accompanying obligation: to harmonize our life with
the rest of nature in the realization that such harmony is the path of our exaltation
and progress. This is the path upon which God created human nature:
Set your face to the religion, a man of pure faithóGodís original nature
in which He originated mankind. There is no changing Godís creation. That is
the right religion, but most people know it not. (30:30)
Islam is the universal order, the integral religion of harmony, and the unique
system that harmonizes the physical with the metaphysical, the rational with
the ideal, and the corporeal with the spiritual. All dimensions of our earthly
life have specific places within Islamís matrix so that they can perform their
own functions and enable us to be at peace with ourselves, our community and
nature, and to gain happiness in both worlds.
To harmonize our life with the rest of nature, we first have to realize our
own personal integrity by using our free will to keep within the limits established
by God. For example, we must restrain our desire so that we do not steal from
others, engage in extramarital sex, or use our intellect to exploit others.
Rather, we must restrain our intellect with wisdom, and our desire and anger
with lawfulness and moderation. Also, since we are social beings, ignoring the
limits that God has established can result in wrongdoing, injustice, exploitation,
disorder, and revolution.
God does not approve of wrongdoing and disorder, for He wills that we live
in peace and according to justice. Thus all believers in and worshippers of
the One God are expected to work to secure justice in this world. This task
is known as jihad. In English, the most suitable words are struggling or striving.