In the previous part of this topic, we emphasized that advertising peace and educating peaceful followers are of the main purposes of Islam. Here we review some more Islamic pieces of advice and lessons on having a balanced life and being in peace with other people of either the same religion or other.
Being equable and good-tempered, and avoiding irascibility and harsh words are continuously advised to in the Islamic teachings such that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is invited in the Quran to “argue with them (unbelievers) in a way that is best” (16:125). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Imams (AS), as role models for Muslims, have demonstrated these acts in a way that the Quran says about the Prophet (PBUH): “And indeed, you are of a great moral character” (68:4). That is why the Quran says about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “So by mercy from Allah, you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159).
Imam Sadiq (AS) has described being good-tempered as: “using friendly words, nice behavior and receiving your brother happily” . Imam Ali (AS) said that the best and most important deed of a “believer” is behaving nicely with people . Even in the case of facing ignorant people, it is encouraged to treat kindly: “And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace” (25:63).
These examples and many other Islamic pieces of advice demonstrate how much Islam cares about one’s behavior towards others.
This is true that moderation can develop peace. Islam recognizes moderation as the most efficient and pleasant approach in life and interaction with others. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that: “the best of every affair is the middle of it” . The Quran describes Muslims as a moderate community and says that: “we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you” (2:143). This means that the nation and people who are educated based on the Islamic teachings and the Quranic guidelines will avoid extremes; neither they are radical, nor conservative .
However, whenever the truth (Haq) and falsehood (Batil) are clear and apparent, there is no place for moderation. An example is the holy struggle (Jihad); i.e., when land is attacked by others, there should be no moderation and defense becomes obligatory.
Islam has considered the rights for every being, from parts of the body to neighbors, parents, etc. Then, it is not surprising if Islam also considers some rights for non-Muslims over Muslims. Of the rights of non-Muslims are to believe in the promises they have given the Islamic state; not to bother them about what they want or on what they are obliged to; to judge among them just as God has ordered; not to oppress them since Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said that he would be against anyone who oppresses a non-Muslim1 . Imam Ali (AS) was sensitive to any harm or injustice to whether Muslims or non-Muslims. He (AS) said that: “if someone is not of your religion, he is still a human being like you.”, he (AS) was therefore against any harm or damage to non-Muslims .
After the rise of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) adopted the approach of moderation and fairness with the followers of the previous Abrahamic religions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) defended boldly Muslims and himself whenever needed. He (PBUH&HP) opposed any violence to Muslims, but he (PBUH&HP) still cared about the prisoners of the wars. He (PBUH&HP) had ordered to treat them with moderation, mercy, and humanity, to do good to them and to forgive them. Prisoners were usually kept in the mosques or proper and clean homes. The troops of Islam, following the manner of Prophet (PBUH&HP), preferred prisoners to themselves such that they provided prisoners with better foods and clothes. If a prisoner did not want to reveal the secrets of the enemies, he would not be beaten but whoever did so would be released .
Considering the points mentioned above about how Islam educates peaceful followers and how it considers rights for non-Muslims, the role of Islam in promoting peace can be fully grasped. However, this should not be confused that a Muslim must endure every situation or the violation of his\her rights or the rights of the Muslims in general. The key point is that a Muslim chooses the moderation and peace as the first solution to his social affairs as long as it does not require the violation of the rights of one or several people.
1 Here, the term “non-Muslim” refers only to a non-Muslim who is the citizen of an Islamic state or a non-Muslim who lives in a non-Muslim country which is in agreement with Muslims.
- Ibn Babawayh, "Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih," vol. 4, p. 412.
- Ibn Shu'ba al-Harrani, "Tuhaf al-'uqul," p. 200.
- Allama Majlisi, “Bihar al-Anwar,” vol. 74, p. 383.
- Reference to: “How and why did Islam spread very quickly throughout the world? – Part 4: Islam and its moderate views.”
- Imam Zayn al-'Abidin (AS), “Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq).”
- M. al-Kulayni, "Kitab al-Kafi."
- peace in islam
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, a month that holds great significance for many Muslims around the world, including Shias and Sunnis. Literally meaning “forbidden, banned or prohibited,” this month is one of the four sacred months in Islam during which warfare is strictly forbidden. But what is that thing that makes this month, particularly the 10th day of it (Ashura), so special for many Muslims and generally a significant number of people throughout the history?!
About fourteen hundred years ago, on the 10th of Muharram, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP), Imam Hussain ibn Ali (AS) together with his family members and close companions were ruthlessly slain on the plain of Karbala.
Yazid, the son of Muawiyah, was illegally appointed as the leader of the Muslim community by his father. After Muawiyah’s death, Yazid started to take allegiance from the most influential tribal leaders. He also called upon Imam Hussain (AS) to swear the oath of obedience to him and accept him as the rightful leader.
Imam Hussain (AS) refused to do so as Yazid lacked the minimum qualities required for an ordinary Muslim let alone a Muslim leader. Anyhow, Yazid ordered his governors to either take allegiance from Imam Hussain (AS) or make him surrender by any means, even at the cost of taking his life. Imam Hussain (AS), however, did not give away to their unjust request and unkind pressure. So finally he was martyred along with his sincere companions by Yazid’s forces and their wives and children were taken as captives.
Since the 10th of Muharram of 61 A.H., millions of Muslims all over the world hold yearly mourning ceremonies throughout Muharram to commemorate the loss of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH & HP) grandson, Imam Hussain (AS). In their religious gatherings, each year, speeches are given about the life and merits of Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions, the sufferings they went through and the sacrifices they made. People recall the incident of Karbala many times and try to keep the message and purpose of this greatest martyrdom in the history of humankind alive through their sorrow and tears. Not only that, but lots of people are also engaged in charitable activities like blood donation, giving food to their fellow brothers and sisters, and helping the ones in need to follow their Imam’s lead.
You might wonder what the real cause of this incident was that still evoke great emotions in the hearts of Muslims and generally anyone who gets the opportunity to hear about it, despite the passage of centuries! The most important purpose for which Imam Hussain (AS) was martyred was his faith. He fought in an unjust battle to revive his grandfather’s religion, the invaluable merits, and values that had been violated and taken for granted all those years. He, along with his companions suffered great miseries and sacrificed all they had for the sake of the principles of Islam, which they believed to be a lot more precious than anything else even their own lives. They practically showed the humankind of all times that sacrifice and martyrdom are essential when the cause is just.
Now, throughout centuries, in the month of Muharram, Muslims turn over a new leaf in their lives by remembering Imam Hussain (AS) and the incident of Karbala. They answer Imam Hussain’s (AS) call for help by expressing their anger to Yazid and the likes. They follow their Imam’s footsteps in fighting the Yazid within themselves and generally resisting any violent oppression and injustice out there in the social and political levels.
As a result, Muslims fully comprehend the core message of Islam, which is the Quranic principle of Tawhid; that there is no one but Allah, and we all need to be committed to Him; that even ordinary Muslims deserve more than a figure like Yazid, and they should always remain defiant against him and any oppression or injustice. The month of Muharram is an opportunity for all of us to remind ourselves of the right belief and the true Islamic teachings that never harmonize with any kind of oppression.
When Western people travel to eastern Islamic countries, they often prefer to eat the folk and favorite local food of the region. But what is it that makes western Muslims starve for a KFC classic chicken–on–the–bone bucket meal, or a McDonalds’ double burger if they don’t eat meat?! Muslims are Muslims, not vegetarians and eating meat in Islam is allowed, But like the followers of other religions who have specific slaughtering rituals, Muslims also have explicit rulings for slaughtering particular animals to make it lawful (Halal).
As it is defined in the Quran, believers are welcomed to enjoy all of the blessings of this world . Therefore, about eating meat, Allah does not mention what to eat, but He excludes what is not lawful to eat and maybe physically or spiritually harmful to the human's body and soul. "You are permitted animals of grazing livestock, except what is [now] announced to you…" (5:1) and what is recited as prohibited is mentioned in the Quran as below:
You have prohibited carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, and what has been offered to other than Allah, and the animal strangled or beaten to death, and that which dies by falling or is gored to death, and that which is mangled by a beast of prey— barring that which you may purify —and what is sacrificed on stone altars [to idols], and that you should divide by raffling with arrows...(5:3).
Other than the mentioned meats all other kinds of meat are Halal as described in the Quran: Say, ‘I do not find in what has been revealed to me that anyone is forbidden to eat anything except carrion or spilled blood, or the flesh of swine—for that is indeed unclean—or an impiety offered to other than Allah.’ But should someone be compelled, without being rebellious or aggressive, indeed your Lord is all-forgiving, all-merciful’ (6:145).
Please note that all kinds of lawful (Halal) meat must be slaughtered according to Islamic rulings: “Do not eat [anything] of that over which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned, and that is indeed transgression…” (6:121).
Even the above mentioned prohibited meats are lawful (Halal) while you are living in a problematic situation and following the rules of Islam will put you in extreme difficulty. Please note that difficulty does not mean that you do not have ready food at home and therefore you may eat forbidden (Haram) meat. A difficulty, as written in Islamic jurisprudence, is when one’s life is at risk, and there is no other food available but forbidden (Haram) meat.
A Detailed Description of Lawful (Halal ) and Forbidden (Haram ) meats
To be more precise on which meat is lawful, let’s have a review of the Islamic jurisprudence.
Fish that have scales are the only type of Halal sea creatures. Other sea creatures and fish are Haram .
Among all domestic land creatures; sheep, cow, and camel are Halal, but eating the meat of horse and donkey is detestable (Makruh). The rest of domestic land creatures such as dogs, cats, etc. are forbidden (Haram).
Deer, cow, zebra, mountain goat, and wild donkey are all Halal. However, eating the meat of wild predatory animals that are predatory in essence, have strong and sharp nails, claws, and fangs such as, lions, leopards, cheetahs, wolves, or animals with less sharp fangs such as foxes and hyenas as well as rabbits, while not part of the predatory category, are considered Haram.
Also, insects and reptiles, such as snakes, mice, lizards, hedgehogs, fleas, lice, etc., are all Haram. Animals who have undergone metamorphosis (maskh) [i] such as, elephants, monkeys, bears, etc. are Haram as well .
Birds that flap their wings more than they glide while flying are Halal, but birds that glide and spread their wings more while flying in the air instead of flapping their wings are Haram. Also, birds with gizzards and spurs at the back of their feet are Halal [ii] .
All insects are Haram [iii] .
It is permissible to eat Halal meat cooked or uncooked or even burned (as long as it has no harm to human health) .
Please note that the rules of slaughtering and eating hunted meat are slightly different from all the rulings mentioned above, and we will discuss that in a separate article.
"For every nation, We have appointed a rite so that they might mention Allah’s Name over the livestock He has provided them" (22:34).
Although Jews have their specific rules of slaughtering that have many similarities to the Islamic rulings, as there are minor differences in the slaughtering of Jews and Muslims, therefore kosher meat is not lawful (Halal) for Muslims .
[i] In Arabic, Maskh means for something to change form to an uglier one. In the Quran and Islamic tradition, this term refers to a specific divine punishment that was sent upon the wrongdoers and wrongdoing nations in the past (of course not all wrongdoers, but those who committed certain wrong acts) which can be called metamorphosis .
[ii] Birds with sharp claws such as eagles, hawks, falcons, etc. are Haram.
[iii] If a locust is caught by hand or any other means, it is lawful (Halal) (after dying) .
- “Say, who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which he has produced for his servants and the good (lawful) things of provision?”(7:32)
- Imam Khomeini, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 2, pg. 137, the book of foods and drinks, issue 2; al-Mukhtasar al-Nafi’, pg. 251; Sharayi’ al-Islam, pg. 169.
- food in Islam
- Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 603.
- Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 593, issue 2622.
- Imam Khomeini, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 2, pg. 162
- Halal food
- halal food in Islam