The Season for Non-Violence
May 12, 2007
The Season for Nonviolence is an international 64-day grassroots campaign demonstrating that nonviolence is a powerful way to heal, transform, and empower our lives and our communities. It extends from January 30, the anniversary of the assassination of Mohandas K. Gandhi in 1948 through April 4, the anniversary of the assassination of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968.
March 6, 1967:
Muhammad Ali is ordered by the Selective Service to be inducted. He refuses, citing his Muslim religious beliefs forbid him to kill others.
By the simple, yet weighty reality that one acknowledges believing in The One All-Mighty Creator, and if one truly recognizes how everything comes from Allah and returns back to Him, we then would carry within ourselves a deep and profound respect and reference towards all of creation, mundane and magnificent, friend and antagonist;
The fact that one is submitted to the Will of Allah – a muslim - would make one have deep reverence towards anything created.
Though Allah SWT allows everything created to manifest for the human experience in opposites, Allah makes it our individual challenge and test, to be balanced on the ‘middle path’.
Moving along this ‘siratul-Mustaqim’, or straight Path, is where virtues of any kind are to be cultivated, such as the virtue of modesty (self-restraint in conduct and expression), which lies exactly between the vice of indulgence and the vice of total abstention, or the virtue of courage, lying between the vices of recklessness and cowardice.
Non-Violence never means non-action. The characteristic of non-violence lies in the virtue of forbearance (to remain tranquil, hold ones composure, and keep from becoming angered easily) which lies between the vices of undisciplined disruptiveness and meek docility/passivity.
Mahatma Ghandi’s non-violent movement in India he called ‘satyagraha’, which means ‘truth-force’: it means resisting injustice by creatively and non-violently exposing inequalities and imbalances which manifest, because humans divert off the Path of Balance.
Islam is a way of life, which entirely embraces non-violence.
According to the Qur’an, God does not love fasad, violence, expressed in 2 :205. fasad is that action which results in disruption of the social system, causing huge losses of lives and property.
If we take the qur’anic term ‘jihaad’, we can understand from surah 25:52, which says, “Perform jihaad with this (i.e. the word of the Qur’an), most strenuously”, that we are to put great effort into utilizing to the utmost extent this Book, this divinely revealed complete ideology. If we value from the outset that the word ‘jihaad’ is used for non-violent struggle as opposed to violent activism - ‘qital’ -, then we totally appreciate the holistic energy to turn peoples’ hearts and minds through Islam’s superior way of life, peacefully, as it says in Qur’an:
"Respond with that which is better, so that he, between whom and you there was animosity, shall be like an intimate friend. And none shall be accorded this rank except those who have stood fast, and none shall be accorded it except one blessed with great good fortune." 41:34
"Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious." 16:126
(Awareness-exercise: observe what words and expressions you are exposed to in everyday interactions, and how infused with words of violence our rhetoric is! You’ll be surprised. Reflect that this impresses on growing minds and hearts and insults the purity of the mature and calmed soul!)
In Hadith there are many examples of non-violent behavior being the preferred way:
According to one tradition, the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) observed: ‘Allah (SWT) grants to rifq (gentleness) what he does not grant to unf (violence).’ (Sunan, Abu Dawood, 4/255)
The word rifq has been used in this hadith as an anti-thesis to unf. This hadith clearly indicates the superiority of the non-violent method.
Putting words into action, our greatest example is again our beloved Prophet Muhammad himself, as are all the Prophets (peace and blessings be upon all of them):
The non-violence of the Prophet Abraham overcame King Nimrod's violence, and Prophet Moses' non-violence defeated Pharaoh's violence, and Prophet Jesus' non-violence defeated Herod's violence, and the non-violence of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon them all) overcame the violence and insistent provocations of the pagans.
All battles and skirmishes that happened during the time of the Prophet of Islam where defensive by nature: not once did he initiate conflict.
We see that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used to exemplify Bilaal, Sumayyah, Ammar, (r.a.) and others who tolerated numerous assaults from the pagans. Not because it was necessarily wrong to stand up against an attack, but since to return aggression for a man with a mission would defeat its cause. Therefore, when Muslims did have to resort to force, it was to prevent chaos and greater aggression, even though normally the Prophet (pbuh) offered forgiveness on many, many occasions, when deemed not harmful to the greater good.
A Muslim contemporary to Ghandi, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, was a steadfast proponent of nonviolence and social change who lived in Pakistan. Khan told an interviewer in 1985: "For today's children and the world, my thoughts are that only if they accept nonviolence can they escape destruction, with all this talk of the atom bomb, and live a life of peace. If this doesn't happen, then the world will be in ruins."
from Imam Shirazi's book, The Islamic Government, volume 102 of the ‘Al-Fiqh’ series:
‘Non-violence is another stand upon which the Islamic movement bases its call for an Islamic government, and this is of utmost importance. Non-violence requires a very strong and resilient character, which can withstand any assault with total tolerance, and without retaliating, even if the opportunity is there to do so.
Non-violence is manifested in the hand, in the tongue, and in the heart. Each is easier than the other. Non-violence of the hand is easier than that of the tongue and non-violence of the tongue is easier than that of the heart.
The meaning of non-violence is that an individual puts things right, whether constructive or destructive, with total leniency so that no one is harmed by this cure. It is in fact like the Balsam that is placed on an aching part of the body so that it is healed.’
There will always be conflicts, and disagreements: it is a reality of this world of duality which Allah The One and Unique created.
We all work for the ultimate goal of justice for all humankind, which is a God-given right. Our responsibility is to recognize, that justice will never be forced into existence: justice will be re-established once peaceful methods of conflict resolution and dialogue allow for just and properly balanced solutions to manifest:
At the time of signing the peace-treaty of Hudaybiya, the Prophet of Islam (SAW) had not found justice. He had achieved peace, but only by holding out on justice. The Prophet made this agreement not to exact justice but to receive the opportunities. And great opportunities for actions did open up: dialogue and dawa’- growth. The Prophet allowed these opportunities to bloom in full measure. Therefore, in just one years’ time the Prophet not only ensured justice, but set Islam upon a much more solid footing.
It would benefit us of the present day, to understand better the ways to first establish treaties of peace, then work tirelessly towards the desired goal of justice.