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Essays on islam is religion of peace

Messenger Questions are being raised as to the role of religion in deadly attacks in Paris that killed more than 100 people.

Islam Is a Religion of Peace

Specifically, is Islam a religion of war or of peace? The current dominant reading of Islam is that it is a religion of peace. This is a reading supported by the Western ruling political classes anxious not to alienate Muslim populations living in their midst, accepted by those anxious to encourage religious tolerance in multicultural societies and endorsed by moderate Muslims.

It enables the claim to be made that violent radical Muslims are either not true Muslims or not Muslims at all.

Religion of peace

But this interpretation of Islam within the West is only a century old. From war to peace and back again From the origins of Islam in the seventh century until the beginning of the 20th, Islam was predominantly viewed as a religion of violence compared with Christianity, the religion of peace.

To combat this, the West constructed a narrative of Islamic success being due not to the favour of God but to the sword.

  • But this interpretation of Islam within the West is only a century old;
  • But the uncomfortable conclusion to be drawn from the theology of both Christianity and Islam, and from the way they have acted throughout history, is that both peace and violence can be true and authentic expressions of these religions;
  • Caliphs got the full secular and religious authority;
  • However, it is not always true in practice;
  • The complicated truth of the matter is that the extremist violence that has overtaken a majority of Muslim countries, including Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan, is the product of complex political and social circumstances.

It is certainly one of the most convincing proofs that Mahommedism was no other than a human convention, that it owed its progress and establishment to the sword; and it is one of the strongest demonstrations of the divine original of Christianity that it prevailed against all the force and powers of the world by the dint of its own truth.

In 1882, William Muir, in a popular essay for The Leisure Hour, summed up what was by then unquestioned and virtually unquestionable: But the myth of an essentially violent Islam did reflect a deep-seated Western fear, always potent in the imagination and sometimes grounded in reality — the fear of the West being overwhelmed by the East.

Yet this fear was abating as the 19th century drew to a close. The West now developed more benevolent understandings of Islam. A burgeoning imperial confidence enabled Islamic culture to be viewed not so much as a political threat but as a sphere of Western patronage — both religious and secular.

Only since September 11 has the image of a violent Islam returned to the forefront of Western consciousness, aided and abetted since then by new forms of violent Islam. Bringing out the best and worst Islam, like Christianity, has a capacity for violence and a capacity for peace, and neither is in essence peaceful or violent. Each of these religions contains the theological conditions for both peace and violence in their doctrine of God.

In both traditions, God is identified with goodness, mercy and compassion. But God is also a being who at times demands obedience to his commands, even when these suspend ethical obligations to the good and entail acts that are evil.

The God who is merciful fortunately stayed his hand. It is this theological paradox of a God who is good and yet whose sovereign will at times demands the suspension of human goodness that allows for both peace and violence in these traditions to be theologically justified.

Our modern, Western, liberal predilection is to believe that true religions endorse only the good.

Islam: A Religion of Peace

But the uncomfortable conclusion to be drawn from the theology of both Christianity and Islam, and from the way they have acted throughout history, is that both peace and violence can be true and authentic expressions of these religions. And in the modern world, violence is as much of a problem within religions as between them. We do both of these religions a disservice if we fail to recognise that they can inspire and justify not only the best but also the worst of human behaviour.