Those who do not know Islam very well and those who follow the propaganda of the media, especially in this period of time when several terrorist attacks have been committed by pseudo-Muslim groups, which do not have anything to do with Islam, accuse Islam of encouraging violence and terror. That is absolutely wrong. Islam is the religion of peace and intrinsically promotes peace. The reasons for that will be reviewed next.
The greatest miracle of Islam is the Quran; a Book. Books are among the most efficient and prominent means of connecting thoughts and minds. This means that Islam has chosen a very civilized way of communication with human beings; by having dialogues with them. By the means of the Quran, Islam, in the first place, deals with the thinking power of humans and then their emotions. In other words, Islam tries to communicate with people through common sense, mutual understanding, logic and reasoning which consequently prevents harshness or sudden actions caused by the outpouring of emotions. That is while “Book” and “communicating through words” did not serve like that regarding the previous divine religions [i].
According to Islam, one should truly believe in the Islamic principles and axioms. It means that one should accept these Islamic facts by reasoning and rational search and demonstrate his\her belief in every act and deed; otherwise, if one has not really changed his\her mind to accept Islam or accepts Islam in words but do not practice it, he\she will be a “Muslim” but not a “believer” (Mu'min). This shows that Islam educates the people who are adherent to rational and commonsensical rules and regulations and consequently prevents apostasy and chaos.
Many suppose that Immanuel Kant was the first who formed and introduced the Golden Rule, a rule of ethical conduct, while this ethical code has been among the teachings of Islam since 1400 years ago. Imam Ali (AS) and other Imams (AS) have emphasized this ethical advice by words and acts and encouraged people not to consider themselves superior to others or do not prefer their benefits to others .
Imam Ali (AS) has addressed Imam Hassan (AS) as such: “What you prefer for yourself, prefer for others; what you find objectionable for yourself, treat as such for others. Don’t wrong to anyone, just as you don't like to be wronged; do good to others just as you would like others to do good to you; that which you consider immoral for others, consider immoral for yourself” . There is no sign of injustice or cruelty among these words. On the contrary, this is an invitation to get along with others, to respect their preferences and not to expect too much from them. This is simply an encouragement to peace.
When hearing about Jihad, the first thing that strikes to mind is Al-Qaeda, ISIS and fire, and blood. Many people think that Jihad equals aggression, but that is wrong. Jihad has a clear definition. There exist two types of Jihad in Islam: Defensive and Offensive. Defensive Jihad, as can be guessed from the name, is for the aim of defending the Islamic territory against the assaults and intrusions of outsiders and invaders.
Offensive Jihad aims at liberating people from unjust oppressive regimes and allowing them to search, read and choose the right religion and lifestyle. Many Islamic jurists believe that the Offensive Jihad to invite to Islam is only allowed under certain circumstances; i.e. in the presence of the Imams (AS) and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). Otherwise, only Defensive Jihad is permitted which is actually obligatory to all Muslims in whatever condition. No one in the whole wide world would admit that defending oneself is aggression; Neither do the Muslims. Then, it is clear that unlike a widespread thought nowadays, Islam is against war and violence.
There is a theory in Islam: any harm to others or oneself is banned. It explains that a Muslim does not cause any harm to other people or do not misuse rules to cause harm to them . Through this theory, Islam protects the benefits and rights of others. This includes any individual or any group of people. It also covers both Muslim and non-Muslim societies and people, hence, this theory, in fact, reinforces and advertises the peace all around the world.
It was explained above that Islam also bans any harm to oneself. In this regard, suicide is illegal (Haram) in Islam. Some might suppose that they own their physical body while it is a divine trust offered to us to do good deeds (16:97), worship God (51:56) and practice the religion. This is another means by which Islam promotes peace all around the world.
Considering the Islamic approach described above in interaction with the humans, the efforts to establish ethical standards and to form the interrelationship among humans demonstrate the contribution and role of Islam to create a peaceful world.
[i] While Old Testament and New Testament are written by humans, the Quran is the divine revelation to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
[ii] Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated.
- Nahj al-Balaqa, Letter 31.
- peace in islam
After an exhausting day of unending work, you decide to have a night out with your friends. And you end up in a nightclub or casino where you can enjoy your time by playing a fun and simple-looking game. In no time you find yourself engaged in a gamble which seems to be going on forever. And you end up either losing the money – no matter how much - you have gained through too much effort, or achieve some money without doing any profitable action in return. That is only one instance of this kind of so-called fun called gambling. Though, it sometimes turns out to be much more than simple entertainment and results in losing one’s whole living in a matter of a few seconds. But does Islam allow its followers to go through such an experience? The answer is a definite No [i] & [ii], for this is a lose-lose situation for both parties, financially and psychologically, even though it may not look so. In this matter, Islam, as always plans what is best for the lives of human beings. Let’s regard this issue in depth. Is Gambling in Islam Allowed?
According to all Islamic jurists, games that include the special means of gambling such as cards, backgammon, etc. are forbidden if they are accompanied with betting. Moreover, every kind of game that is played through betting is forbidden. Nevertheless, some scholars believe that playing with the special means of gambling, even without betting, is not allowed [iii]&. This is because the one who plays with particular means of gambling will automatically be accused of betting or may seem like doing it.
The adverse effects of gambling on one’s life as well as the society he/she lives in are many and have been mentioned by many Islamic and/or non-Islamic scholars.
According to a study done in the United States, “more than $5 billion has been lost each year to gambling addictions. In addition, $40 billion has been spent on social services and creditor losses. These studies go on to state that two out of three gambling addicts will engage in illegal acts to pay for their gambling debts. The effect is that the addiction places a severe hardship on prison systems, public assistance programs and legal systems” .
Lose of credit and job is only one among many financial losses that are caused by gambling on an individual but it will not be limited to him/her and requires the society to take care of him/her. Moreover, when a game turns to a real-life lose or win, the one who engages in it sees his/her opponent as a real-life enemy whom he/she needs to defeat. This, as a result, spreads the feeling of enmity, avarice, and vengeance within the society . Quran also emphasizes the evilness of this action: “Indeed Satan seeks to cast enmity and hatred among you through wine and gambling, and to hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and prayer. Will you, then, relinquish?” (5:91).
No matter you lose or win in this game, the effect would be detrimental for you. Let’s say you are a very lucky person and win every time you gamble, what would you do with the growing sense of greed for money? Or with this incessant desire to gamble more and more to the point that you cannot think about anything except gambling? Losing also brings its own destructive results; aside from losing the money that you could spend in a much useful way for yourself or your family, you lose your own self-confidence and feel undermined.
The pressure that is inflicted upon the gambler will inevitably lead to physical problems. According to a study, “the stress of gambling problems sometimes causes health problems, for both the person who gambles and the family. This can include anxiety, depression and stress-related problems such as poor sleep, ulcers, bowel problems, headaches, and muscle pains”. Also, in some cases this mental pressure caused the individual to feel suicidal and want to end his/her life .
When your mind is occupied with gaining more money, how to beat your opponent on the next gamble or how to pay your debts, no place will remain for you to turn and remind yourself of your duty toward Allah and His mercy upon you. And when Allah is absent from your heart and mind, the result is the constant feeling of insecurity and stress, for: “…The hearts find rest in Allah’s remembrance!”(13:28).
Finally, gambling is the cause of many harms to the individual as well as the society. Based on a general rule in Islam, no one is allowed to either “cause harm or return harm”  to him/herself or others. As it was mentioned above, gambling brings many financial as well as psychological complexities for the people involved in it and the society they live in. Therefore Islam does not allow its followers to bear such disadvantages.
[i] (2:219), (5:90).
[ii] Imam Reza (AS) Said: “Allah forbids His followers from any kind of gambling and ordered them to refuse doing them and called them impure and evil…” .
[iii] It is important to note that for the participants in horse racing and archery the action of betting is allowed . The reason for that was Islam’s attention to the importance of learning the martial arts for Muslims.
Ramadan is the time when Muslims are required to fast. But we might wonder: Is our fasting accepted? Do we really observe the conditions that are essential for fasting? After all, what are these conditions? Can the fast (Sawm) of those who do not perform the prayer (Salat), talk behind other people’s back, drink Alcohol, etc. be accepted? Does it bring all the benefits of fasting on body and soul, in its real sense of the word?
Or even sometimes, some non-Muslims show interest in performing fasting (Sawm). They might want to know what it feels like to fast. To know why Muslims are so enthusiastic about this act, or as they say to put themselves in Muslims' shoes. Indeed they are welcomed to take part in this beautiful ritual. Yet, they should note that Islam has specified some conditions for fasting (Swam) to be accepted.
What Are the Conditions that Make Fasting Meaningful and Pleasurable?
Converting to Islam
Having faith in the pillars of Islam
Being in sound mind and Not being unconscious [i]
Having the intention (Niyyah) of fasting
Avoiding whatever renders fasting void
Also, the one who is traveling, a menstruating woman, and the person who would receive harm by fasting are not required to fast.
As stated earlier, fasting is not the mere act of not eating and drinking. Rather it is a multi-dimensional practice. Aside from being a bodily endeavor, fasting is the spiritual effort of Muslims to elevate their souls and reach Allah’s satisfaction. So, not eating and drinking will not necessarily bring about the many spiritual and psychological effects of fasting. It is a process that influences the manner and the soul of the person, with the passage of time.
It is a whole series of actions that are accepted only when one has embraced Islam previously, believes in the Oneness of Allah and performs other practical principles of Islam such as prayer (Salat) as well.
In other words, if there were no spiritual and divine side to this action, it would not be called fasting (Sawm) anymore. As Imam Ali (AS) puts: “It is possible that a person who fasts, does not receive any benefit from his/her fasting other than hunger and thirst” . Why would anyone want to bear hunger and thirst just for the sake of it? There must be something to motivate one going through such a challenging practice.
Intentions are the driving forces for actions, which determine their value and their expected effects. This is true for fasting as well, same as any other obligatory practice in Islam.
Fasting is first and foremost an act of worship and not a mere physical practice. Thus the first prerequisite for this act is to be done with the intention of serving Allah. There may be someone who is only interested in the health effects and physical benefits of fasting. Yet without a divine intention, his/her practice cannot be called fasting in Islam. This does not mean that you need to perform a special ritual before fasting; you should only be aware of your own will to fast and the reason why you fast.
Muslims believe that they fast for Allah [ii]. And what they have for breaking their fast is given by Allah, as a manifestation of His infinite mercy [iii]. With this in mind, Muslims feel inner joy and bliss after a long day of fasting with all its hardships. Since they find a meaning for their efforts. Then, they ask Allah to accept their act of worship [iv], regardless of its physical benefits or any other worldly attitude. At last, they whisper their needs and wishes to Allah, knowing that He is “all-hearing and all-knowing” .
We are born free, and Allah has endowed us with the power of choice. We choose to refrain from eating and drinking consciously. We choose to secure our tongue, eye, and ear from any vices. We choose to surrender to the will of Allah, and we choose to get closer to our divine Creator.
If our power of choice is undermined by any circumstances (e.g., not being mentally sound, being unconscious, not having the intention for fasting), fasting loses its meaning and necessary function. That is to emphasize human being's free will to be better, to go forward and prove his/her value.
[i] i.e., one must be aware of what he/she is doing, or be in control of his/her actions.
[ii] A Hadith from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) .
[iii] اللّهُمَّ لَكَ صُمْنَا: “O Allah: For You have we fasted” 
[iv] وَعَلَى رِزْقِكَ أَفْطَرْنَا :“and with Your sustenance have we broken our fasting” 
[v] فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا : “so, (please) accept form us” .
- Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari, vol.1, p.18-17.
- Nahj al-Balaghah, Wisdom no. 145.
- Dua after breaking the fast (Iftar)