Islam: The Religion of Peace (Part 1)
The Light (Pakistan), 1st September 1922 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 18, p. 2)
Perhaps the foulest charge against Islam is that it is a martial religion and was spread with force.
The Christian missionaries have made much of this calumny and have invariably harped upon the “Sword of Islam.”
The Moslem World, a well-known Christian journal of Dr Zwemer, loses no opportunity to point out that Islam
“breathes the spirit of intolerance,”
and this allegation has often been the basis of the contention by the Christian politicians that Muslims are unfit to govern non-Muslims.
The doctrine of Jihad is not infrequently quoted to support this criticism, and the stories of ruthless slaughter of non-Muslims by Muslims for the sake of religion are often concocted with such a consummate skill that an average man takes them for facts and thinks that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of God be upon him) had sword in one hand and the Quran in the other.
This view of Islam naturally appears abominable to those seekers-after-truth who have no other sources of information in regard to Islam except Christian literature and Christian propaganda. It is therefore the sacred duty of every Muslim to do all that he can for the dissemination of the real teaching of Islam and thus to enlighten those who are groping in the dark.
In regard to the doctrine of Jihad, which is the basis of so many calumnies by the hostile critics of Islam, it is most important to note that the word does not necessarily mean “fighting.” Its primary significance is to strive for the cause of righteousness, and the word has been used in this sense by the Holy Quran itself. For instance,
“O Prophet, strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites” (The Holy Quran, 9:73).
Here, the Arabic word used in original is Jahid (i.e., do Jihad). It is evident that it does not mean here “fighting,” as the Holy Prophet [pbuh] never wielded the sword against the hypocrites. Had it meant fighting, the Prophet [pbuh] was bound to use the sword against hypocrites as well. But there is not a single occasion in the whole history of Islam where the Muslims took up arms against the hypocrites.
Then, there is another verse which is still more lucid on the point:
“And strive against them a mighty striving with it [i.e., the Quran]” (The Holy Quran, 25:52).
This verse, which also contains in original the same word, Jahid, was revealed at Mecca long before when fighting was allowed. It is admitted on all hands that the Holy Prophet [pbuh] led a most peaceful life at Mecca [Makkah], in spite of this verse which ordered him for Jihad. Had the word meant fighting, the Holy Prophet [pbuh] would have been the first person to obey the divine command. But he was peaceful all the time, which conclusively proves that the word does not mean fighting.