Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Peace in Islam: history, precept and practice

Peace in Islam: history, precept and practice


Delivered at University of Auckland, 21 September 2005


I could not help but feel touched the first time a New Zealand friend said salaam aleikum to me. The familiarity of the greeting, and the warmth with which it was said, made me feel a little closer to home, my native country Algeria. Reflecting on that experience recently, it occurred to me how much that simple greeting says about Islam. Salaam aleikum means ‘peace be upon you’, to which one replies alaikum assalam, ‘peace be upon you too’.

This evening, I would like to speak to you about this question: what is the idea of peace in Islam? Put in a different, though perhaps less precise way, is Islam a religion of peace? My thesis is a simple one – that salaam, which means peace, is at the core of Islam. The Qu’ran, the Muslim Holy Book, and Hadith, the sayings of Prophet Mohammed, are replete with exhortations to non-violence over violence and forgiveness over retribution. The life and actions of the Prophet Mohammed are an example of the value in which Islam holds peace. Thus, when my friend says salaam aleikum to me, he expresses an idea which is central to the Islamic faith.

Whether Islam is a religion of peace is, of course, central to a critical assessment of whether Islam itself is culpable for acts of terrorism committed in its name. Today, Islam is on trial. Some are convinced of its guilt. To take an extreme example, after September 11, Robert A. Morey, a prominent evangelical cult-watcher, announced a spiritual crusade against Islam and invited Christians to sign a pledge affirming the belief that Islam is at the root of all “Muslim terrorism”. A lesser form of Morey’s claim seems to have popular credibility. In a poll conducted last year, 44 percent of Americans agreed with the view that Islam, more than other religions, is likely “to encourage violence among its believers”.1 Others are sceptical whether Islam is the proper defendant at all. For example, Edward Said, the Palestinian intellectual, viewed the September 11 attacks as “the capture of big ideas…by a tiny band of crazed fanatics for criminal purposes”.2

While I will argue that peace is as the core of Islam, it would be of course inadequate to leave the matter there.

  • To view this full lecture by Ahmed Zaoui, click here…
  • ENDS

    © Scoop Media

    Top Scoops Headlines


    Gordon Campbell: On The Media Collusion With National’s Attack Lines

    For most of the past week, any consumer of this country’s management of Covid-19 would think New Zealand was actually Brazil, or Texas. The media language has been full of claims of “botches” at the border, and laxness and inexcusable errors ... More>>

    Gregor Thompson: Don’t Be Too Pessimistic About New Zealand’s Future.

    With the first hurdle hopped our Government will be turning its attention to trying to soften the economic damage this pandemic has on our little archipelago. More>>

    Eric Zuesse: U.S. Empire: Biden And Kerry Gave Orders To Ukraine’s President

    Eric Zuesse, originally posted at Strategic Culture On May 19th, an implicit international political warning was issued, but it wasn’t issued between countries; it was issued between allied versus opposed factions within each of two countries: U.S. and Ukraine. ... More>>

    Binoy Kampmark: Budget Cockups In The Time Of Coronavirus: Reporting Errors And Australia’s JobKeeper Scheme

    Hell has, in its raging fires, ringside seats for those who like their spreadsheets. The seating, already peopled by those from human resources, white collar criminals and accountants, becomes toastier for those who make errors with those spreadsheets. ... More>>

    Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

    Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>

    Binoy Kampmark: Welcome Deaths: Coronavirus And The Open Plan Office

    For anybody familiar with that gruesome manifestation of the modern work place, namely the open plan office, the advent of coronavirus might be something of a relief. The prospects for infection in such spaces is simply too great. You are at risk from ... More>>

    Binoy Kampmark: Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

    The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth. Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed. Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s ... More>>

    Binoy Kampmark: Brutal Choices: Anders Tegnell And Sweden’s Herd Immunity Goal

    If the title of epidemiological czar were to be created, its first occupant would have to be Sweden’s Anders Tegnell. He has held sway in the face of sceptics and concern that his “herd immunity” approach to COVID-19 is a dangerous, and breathtakingly ... More>>