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
The hours of fasting in Ramadan vary based on the geographical position of the city where one lives. In some regions, the fasting hours might be extremely long while in other places it might be too short such that one wonders if the goal of fasting (Sawm) has been accomplished or not. Extended fasting might cause difficulties.
Some might complain that there is no advantage in fasting long days. Others might find excuses to avoid fasting altogether. But, Islam does not want Muslims to suffer. There are, therefore, some rulings on how to fast on very long days and very short days, that we review them all next.
In the case where the days are very short, one should perform fasting in its typical way, from dawn to sunset, according to the prayer times. Hence, short fasting hours does not change the default time rulings on fasting (Swam) .
Fasting is not a mere act of depriving oneself of foods or drinks, but it aims at spiritual growth and salvation, inner peace, exercising patience, strengthening the social ties and experiencing how poor people live their lives .
Hence, the obligation on fasting is not to make people suffer; as it is stated in Surah Baqarah: “Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship” (2:185). So, there are some rulings on long fasts which make them less difficult.
Long fast (Swam), especially in hot summer days, is tough. In this case, one should fast according to the prayer times of his\her city of residence. But, if it is extremely difficult, whenever during the day he\she feels unable to continue, he\she is allowed to break the fast (Swam) and have to fast (it is obligatory, Wajib) later on for those missing (Qaza) fasts in shorter days of the current year and before the next Ramadan 
However, different religious experts (Mujtahids) have different opinions on this matter. We explained one of those views above. There are two other opinions as follows and one of them might be the opinion of your religious expert (Mujtahid):
In any case, one should fast according to the prayer times of the city of residence;
One should fast according to the prayer times in a “moderate region,” with the normal day length, that is on the same meridian as his\her city of residence.
Fasting is obligatory due to its spiritual and physical benefits. It is not to put pressure and make people suffer. If it is tough to fast in very long days, one can fast according to the rulings stated above.
Mankind is kept in a constant state of trying to understand and achieve happiness. Friends, love, family, success, recognition, material escapes, and sensual pleasures are among the avenues that humanity has explored in its quest to attain this elusive phenomenon. But what exactly is happiness, and how can we even, achieve it, if at all?
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle coined the term 'eudaimonia' to define 'happiness'. According to Aristotle, eudaimonia involves not only reason but also the practical application of reason to achieve excellence or 'arete'. He famously stated, “We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
In the 97th verse of Surah An-Nahl (The Bee), Allah tells us:
مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
To whoever, male or female, does good deeds and has faith, We shall give a good life and reward them according to the best of their actions. (16: 97)
So, it appears straightforward: all we have to do is to believe, do good, and Allah will reward with a fulfilling based on our deeds. However, a dilemma arises: why does it feel that this concept seem to elude us, even when we believe we are doing right? Why do many experience persistent unhappiness?
This quandary is due to our adversary, Satan, also known as Shaitan. He perpetually attempts to misguide us and disrupt our equilibrium -the righteous path that messengers were sent to guide us along.
In Surah An-Nisa, verse 120, Allah exposes Shaitan’s tactics:
يَعِدُهُمْ وَيُمَنِّيهِمْ وَمَا يَعِدُهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ إِلَّا غُرُورًا؛
Satan only makes them ˹false˺ promises and deludes them with ˹empty˺ hopes. Truly Satan promises them nothing but delusion. (4:120)
Thus, as soon as we attain a sense of contentment through achievements- be it material gains, intellectual accomplishments, or life or overcoming hardships- Shaitan sets to work, aiming to deceive us, disrupt our equilibrium, and draw us away from our state of balance and inner goodness (fitra) through deceit and temptations. Instead of turning back to Allah (the straightway) and expressing gratitude, recognizing that He has granted us the opportunity (tawfiq) to do good and enjoy His blessings, which would lead to happiness, this gratitude transforms into greed, ego, pride, and any other negative trait associated with accomplishment. These are the false deities, the “ungods,” warned about by Allah, to which we might turn to in moments of vulnerability and deception.
But when He granted their descendants good offspring, they associated false gods in what He has given them. Exalted is Allah above what they associate ˹with Him˺! (7:190)
Consequently, humankind remains perpetually ensnared in a dichotomy between what their fitra (inner voice), guiding them in feelings, thoughts, and actions, and the voices incited by the enemy of truth and goodness. This results in being misaligned, unbalanced, and distancing oneself from the sole true source of goodness- Allah . How then can we resolve this dichotomy, fated to be face with Shaitan’s ever-present attempt to divert us from our equilibrium, the straight path?
We redirect to pleasing Allah whenever these deceptions infiltrate our minds. What actions, though, pleases Allah?
"Indeed Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves" The Quran 2:222
Purification takes on many forms, paralleling the various strategies of Shaitain's deceptions: seeking refuge from accursed Shaitan, affirming and witnessing the sole existence of the One True God (Allah), avoiding actions that would taint our body, mind, and heart by maintaining a state of ritual and spiritual purity (wudhu), acknowledging our mistakes, rectifying them, and continuing with righteous deeds. Allah assures that good deeds erase misdeeds and replace them with goodness.
The convergence of Islam and Aristotle’s teachings on happiness becomes evident-they both emphasize that it’s not the mere act itself that is excellent or brings happiness, but the habit and the continual process of being aware of ones thoughts, acknowledging imperfections, redirecting one’s thoughts towards Allah, abstaining from evil, and returning to the straight path.
Allah further instructs,
“O believers! Seek comfort in patience and prayer. Allah is truly with those who are patient.” (2:153)
This implies recognizing our inherent imperfection and inevitable deviations, but with Allah's assistance, patience, and prayer, we can always find our way back. Allah, in His compassion, has endowed us with tools to structure our lives in a way that fosters excellence through habitual practices.
These practices stand as the pillars of Islam- the five daily prayers, at a minimum, cleanse our hearts from the corrosive influences of Shaitan's schemes; charity helps us express gratitude for our acquired material wealth; jihad maintains vigilance and pushes us Allah; fasting combines physical discipline with the purification of actions, mind, and heart; and Hajj serves as a reminder (if the means are available) that our final goal is Allah.
However, even if we flawlessly perform our rituals, they can become lifeless motions. Thus, the Holy Quran, the teachings of the Holy prophet (pbuhh), and the guidance of his Holy Household (as) function as nourishment for our minds and hearts, replenishing them when our equilibrium of happiness is disturbed.
Reciting the Quran nurtures our hearts, aligning them with truth. As Imam Zaynul Abideen (as) noted, “Hearing is the gateway through which various concepts reach the heart.” (A divine perspective of rights, Imam Zaynul Abideen (as) Page 90). Reading the Quran replenishes our minds with reminders of Allah’s oneness, the importance of following the Prophet (pbuhh), reflecting on mortality, and staying true to the righteous path. It also presents instances of the consequences faced by those who succumbed to Shaitan’s temptations, alongside examples of those who prevailed- Prophets (as) and virtuous individuals like Lady Maryam, the mother of Prophet Isa (as), Asiya, the wife of Firoun and Yusuf (as). Despite confronting numerous external obstacles, Yusuf (as) exemplified patience and chastity, ultimately emerging as a true victor.
The Holy Prophet (pbuhh) teaches us morality through the laws of all actions in our lives, ensuring our hearts remain untainted while interacting with society, facilitating a state of utmost happiness. The Ahle Bayt (as) carry on this ethical legacy, guiding us to navigate society’s challenges while keeping our hearts pure, until the reappearance of the living Imam (atfs), when he will elevate the entire world to a heightened state.
In conclusion, aligning with the moderate and true path, persistently striving to achieve Allah's pleasure with all our faculties, allows us to rediscover happiness, even in the face of Shaitan's snares.