Peace and Conflict-Islam



  • "And the servants of the Most Merciful walk upon the earth easily."
  • "When the ignorant address them harshly, they say words of peace." 

Definition of peace: understood to be the absence of oppression, tyranny, injustice and corruption. Muslims believe it is directly linked to the attaining of justice in the world. 

Islam as a religion of peace: 

  • Islam means peace.
  • Islam has been misrepresented and associated with terrorism.
  • Allah created and wants a peaceful world.
  • Many examples of peace in Islam. They greet each other with "As-salamu alaykum"- peace be with you.
  • Qu'ran promotes messages of peace, and Muslims promote peace and unity through being part of the Umman (community). 

Muslim teachings about peace: 

  • Allah created the world with the intention that peace would be part of his creation. 
  • The personal struggle for peace=greater Jihad
  • Standing up for peace is one way of achieving. 
  • In some cases, it may be necessary to go to war to secure peace. 
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  • "And not equal are the good deed and the bad deed. Repel evil by that deed which is better."

Importance of justice, forgiveness and reconciliation: 

  • Justice-Muslims believe there is a direct link between the ideas of justice and peace. If justice and fairness can be attained, peace will follow. The ummah demonstrates ideas of equality and justice.
  • Forgiveness-Muslims believe that forgiveness is important in achieving peace. They recognise everyone makes mistakes and deserves a second chance. Muslims believe Allah is merciful and they should follow his example. 
  • Reconciliation-the idea of making up after conflict. According to Muslims, this is needed in order to live in an ordered and peaceful world as Allah intends. 

Why do Muslims work for peace?

  • To follow the teachings of Islam, which promote peace and working together rather than conflict. 
  • The Qu'ran contains many quotes relating to ideas of peace. Muslims believe they should apply these through supporting charity and helping others. 
  • To live as Allah intended and to work to try to bring justice to the world.
  • To help care for others in the world, which is duty outlined by Muhammad to humans. 
  • To support and strengthen the Ummah. 
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Muslim organisations working for peace

Islamic relief: 

  • Founded to help victims of war.
  • Inspired by Islam to promote ideas of caring for others and achieving peace. 
  • Raises awareness of children living in extreme poverty. 
  • Provides teachers and school materials for children in poverty. 
  • Supports refugees with medical care and food in war-torn countries.
  • Provides emergency aid and relief. 

Muslim peace fellowship: 

  • Works to promote world peace.
  • Works against injustice-reaches out to people of all faiths.
  • Develops understanding and mutual respect. 
  • Promotes the ideas of peace and non-violence through conferences, publications, talks and prayers. 
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  • "Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress." 
  • Muslims believe everything possible should be done to try to resolve conflicts within the world.

Causes of conflict: Politics, resources, history, culture and religion. Many conflicts that emerge do so because of differing beliefs or a greed for wanting something someone else may have, such as land, power and resources.

Muslims teachings and responses to the nature and cause of conflict: 

  • Every Muslims is part of the ummah and deserve equality and respect. When conflict happens, Muslims should work to resolve it. 
  • Muslims may try to reconcile groups who are in conflict in order to achieve peace. 
  • Muslims believe Allah is merciful and forgiving and they should try to follow his example. 
  • Muslims can be seen to adopt a situation ethics standpoint on issues of conflict, and the action taken may differ from one situation to another. 
  • Despite Islam being a religion of peace, it does recognise that war and fighting may be needed in some circumstances as a last resort when all else has been tried and failed.
  • Muslims believe that they should not forgive those who work against Islam. 
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  • "If you should raise your hand against me to kill me-I shall not raise my hand to kill you."-suggest ideas in line with pacifism, namely a person should not face violence with violence. Some may interpret this as Muslims should not be the first to attack another. 
  • History of Pacifism in Islam: When Muhammad was exiled from Makkah, he was forced to use violence. Therefore, historically, pacifism has not been a part of Islam. Today, violence is not rejected completely by Islam, but ideas of peace are promoted. 

Nature of pacifism: Pacifism is a belief held that war and violence are wrong under all circumstances.

Muslims teachings about passive resistance: 

  • Islam teachings in the Qu'ran and Hadith strive for justice and to resist oppression.
  • Muslims believe it is important to resist zulm (cruelty and injustice). 
  • Islam teaches the importance of reconciliation and working together to achieve peace using non-violent protest.
  • Islam is often taken to mean 'submission to Allah' and 'peace'. 

Passive resistance in Islam: 

  • Muhammad and his followers continued to preach the message of Allah and confronted non-believers even when faced with violence. 
  • The Arab Spring was a democratic uprising that spread much across the Arab world and contained elements of protest using passive resistance. 
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The Just War theory

A Just War is one that is fought for the right reasons. "what is the matter with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and for the oppressed among men." 

Nature (n) and importance (i) of the Just War theory: 

  • It is wrong to take human life. (n)
  • Countries may need to protect their people and war may be necessary to do this. (n)
  • Protecting moral values may require force. (n)
  • It provides a set of rules as to the best way to act at times of conflict. (i)
  • Offers a framework to decide whether war is the best option. (i)
  • Aims to prevent war. (i) 

Is a just war possible? (Italics=Muslim beliefs) 

  • Yes-Depending on the circumstances, it might be reasonable. Fighting might be the only way to achieve peace. Weapons programmed to damage set targets rather than affect innocent lives. Qu'ran suggests fighting to defend Islam is acceptable. 
  • No-No circumstances necessitate war. Other ways can achieve better results. There's always the risk of causing suffering. Should a religious leader declare war, it may be too influenced by faith. 
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The Just War theory in Islam.

Divergent responses to the Just War theory: Some Muslims may believe that war is permitted in self-defence. Others may believe war is never justified and should never happen. 

  • Some Muslims recognise war is necessary and sometimes required as a last resort. 
  • Sunni and Shi'a Muslims may conflict over the exact interpretation of the Just War theory. Shi'a Muslims recognise jihad as one of the Ten Obligatory Acts, whereas Sunni Muslims do not place the same emphasis on it. 
  • Some may traditionally accept that Islam allows war in self-defence and to protect the innocent and oppressed, for example, as seen in the Hijrah when Muhammad and his followers were persecuted for the Battle of Badr. 
  • Others may believe that war is never the right choice, believing that peace and reconciliation are at the heart of Islam. 

Conditions of Just War-the lesser jihad: 

  • Has the support of the community and not one person
  • Is an act of self-defence
  • Does not aim to win new land or power
  • Is not an act to convert people to Islam
  • Is the last resort
  • Will not threaten lives
  • Is declared by a religious leader. 
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Holy War-Harb al-Maqadis

  • Islam teaches that if you fight and die in a Holy War, you will go straight to heaven. 
  • Muhammad fought in Holy Wars. 

The Nature of Harb al-Maqadis: Is only justifiable in cases where the intention is to defend the religion of Islam. This can involve: 

  • Protecting the freedom of Muslims to practise their faith. 
  • Strengthening the religion of Islam if it is being threatened.
  • Protecting Muslims against attack. 

Teachings about Holy War: (the conditions) 

  • be for reasons of defence
  • be declared by a religious leader
  • avoid harming innocent civilians/people 
  • not cause women to be abused or *****
  • treat enemies fairly, including enemy soldiers
  • be stopped as soon as the enemy asks for it 
  • Not target property. 
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Weapons of mass destruction

  • Perceived benefits-Minimal losses are incurred by the attackers. Can be used as a deterrent to other nations. They provide the ability to end a war quickly, preventing further casualties. 
  • Problems-Moral issues of the amount of destruction and devastation caused. The attack is indiscriminate and can kill innocent victims. Can make war unfair. The conditions of the Just War theory would not be met. 

Muslim teachings and responses on WMD: The Qu'ran was recorded long before WMD came into existence, but lessons can still be applied. 

  • "If anyone slew a person-it would be as if he slew the whole people." 
  • Use of WMD not supported because of the extensive damage they would cause.
  • Innocent lives should not be threatened.
  • Impossible to regulate WMD under Islamic conditions of war because of the damage that could be caused. 

Non-religious attitudes and utilitarianism: 

  • A non-religious view-It is difficult to find any justification for the use of weapons that cause so much damage and threaten innocent life to such an extent. 
  • Utilitarian view-WMD may be justified if peace is achieved in the long term and if they act as a deterrent. 
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Issues surrounding conflict

  • "I advise you ten things: Do not kill."

1. Violence-increase in constant violent acts which endanger lives-people are less afraid of laws. 2. War-development of new stronger and more damaging weapons. 3. Terrorism- a violent form of protest occurring all over the world-often has religious links-"in the name of God'.

Non-religious views: 

  • may be concerned with the growing number of conflicts in society.
  • even though they hold no religious beliefs, they believe in the principles of justice and equality. 
  • some may hold religion at fault- rising example of terrors and violence centrally connected to religion.

How Muslims have worked to overcome these issues: 

  • Muslim Council of Britain runs education programmes to inform and break down barriers. 
  • Peaceful rallies/marches are held to promote peace.
  • Interfaith groups work together to promote peace,
  • Police and community groups work together.
  • Organisations such as Mosaic work to bring people within communities together. 
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