There is another group of verses occurring in the Quran which are also worth mentioning. On the whole, Islam gives much importance to the issue of peace. In one verse, it is explicitly defined:
"Was-solho Khayro" (Peace is better) (4:128)
Though, as we have said, peace is not the same as violence, misery and submission to an oppressor. In another verse we are told:
"O you who have found faith, enter peace wholly." (2:208)
But more illuminating still is this one:
"And if they incline to peace, then you incline to it, and trust in God" (8:61)
Here the Prophet is told that if the opponents advocate peace, if they make sincere efforts for peace, he too should make peace. If they sincerely desire peace, he too is to desire peace. These verses clearly show that the soul of Islam is the soul of peace.
In another verse which is in Surah an-Nisa, the Prophet is also told:
"So if they withdraw from you, have not fought with you, and have put forward peace to you, then God has not placed a path for you against them." (4:90)
"O Prophet, if they have withdrawn from war, and have not fought against you, and have made a manifestation of peace, have said that they are ready to make peace with you, then God does not give you permission to advance any further and fight them."
In the same surah, it is further stated, this time about the hypocrites:
"And if they flee, then seize them and slay them wherever you find them, and take them not as your dear ones, nor as helpers. Except those who connect themselves to a people between whom and you there is a bond, or who come to you with their hearts hindered from fighting with you or from fighting their people." (4:89-90)
If the hypocrites who are fighting us run away, they are to be taken and killed wherever they are, they are not to be taken as friends; we are not to accept help from them, except from those who have a treaty with people with whom we have a treaty, and who are ready to come to an agreement with us. These we are not to kill and with those who are tired of fighting, we are also not to fight.
Thus we have looked at four series of verses. One series consisted of those verses that tell us unconditionally to fight, so if we had ears and heard only these and not the others, it would be possible for us to think that Islam is a religion of war. The second series consist of verses that give the order to fight but with certain conditions; conditions such as the opposing side being in a state of war with us, or a mass of Muslims or non-Muslims having been placed under the heels of a group from amongst themselves which has trampled on their freedom and rights. The third series of verses make it perfectly clear to us that the call of Islam is not sounded with any force of arms. And in the fourth group Islam decisively announces its love of peace.
Adapted from the book: "Jihad; The Holy War of Islam and Its Legitimacy in the Quran" by: "Ayatullah Morteza Mutahhari"
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