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Islam and World Peace - Explanations of a Sufi
by M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

Justice For All

I seek refuge in Allah from the evils of the accursed satan.
In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate.

There is a traditional story 1 about `Umar Ibn al-Khattab, the Islamic caliph who captured the city of Jerusalem and built the first mosque on the grounds of the sacred sanctuary now known as the Dome of the Rock. 2

`Umar was a ruler of great justice and peace. Because of his noble qualities, he was given the beautiful name, Commander of the Faithful, 3 and it was his rightful duty to receive the key to the Holy City which was the original qiblah, the direction Muslims face while praying.

The armies of `Umar had already entered Jerusalem and taken control of the city from the Christians who had ruled there since the time of Constantine, but when `Umar came to take official possession of Jerusalem, he came alone. He journeyed from Damascus to Jerusalem with only one camel and a cameleer. The caliph, being a man of great humility, had arranged with the cameleer that they would both take turns riding the camel. According to justice, he would ride for a while, then the cameleer would ride and he would walk.

Meanwhile, the entire city was awaiting `Umar's impending arrival. The bishop of the Holy Sepulcher had announced, "The great Islamic leader is coming! We must greet him and pay our respects to him." And so all the people had gathered at the city gate, awaiting a grand royal procession. But no procession appeared.

Instead, two people became visible on the horizon, approaching very slowly. When they finally reached the city, it was the cameleer's turn to be riding, and so all the people mistook him for the caliph and rushed to greet him.

''Wait! I am not the caliph!" he protested and explained their arrangement to take turns riding and walking. The people, overwhelmed by this justice, praised the great caliph.

The bishop was also amazed by such justice. His heart filled with joy, and he handed the key of the city to `Umar Ibn al-Khattdb.

The bishop then invited `Umar to perform his prayers within their church. But when `Umar saw the interior decorated with all the Christian symbols, he politely declined, saying, "I will pray just outside your doors."

Once he had finished, the bishop asked, ''Why would you not come inside our church?"

"If I had prayed in your sanctuary,'' `Umar explained, ''my followers and those who come here in the future would take over this building and turn it into a mosque. They would destroy your place of worship. To avoid these difficulties and allow your church to continue as it is, I prayed outside."

Again the bishop was amazed by his justice. ''Today, because of your justice, faith, wisdom, and truth, you have received the key to the Holy City. But for how long will this remain in your hands? When will this sacred place come back into our possession?

`Umar Ibn al-Khattab then replied, ''Today we have indeed taken over this place of worship. It is with the four qualities of faith, wisdom, justice, and truth that we have regained the city. As long as these four exist in Islam, as long as the Muslims have all four in their hands, they will retain the city. But when these qualities depart from Islam, this place of worship will change hands once again.

"If it happens that we must lose this place to someone else, it will be because we lack certitude in our faith. When the Muslims sell the truth and collect worldly wealth and seek worldly pleasures; when they lose good faith, good conduct, and the good behavior of modesty and reserve; when they relate to women in an immoral and unjust way; when they behave with backbiting, jealousy, and envy; when they lack unity and establish hypocrisy; when they destroy good deeds and degenerate into committing evil actions-when all this occurs in the midst of Islam, then unity and peacefulness will be destroyed. These evil qualities and actions will cause divisions and separations, and this Holy City will be taken from our hands. That is certain.

"When this happens, the followers of Islam will be as numerous as the granules of flour in dough. But the number of those who shall take possession of the city will be as few as the grains of salt in the dough. This will happen when degradation permeates Islam."

These were the words of `Umar Ibn al-Khattab when he took possession of the Holy City and the sacred ground of the Dome of the Rock.

______________


My brethren, we have to understand the state of Islam today and reflect upon the words of `Umar Ibn al-Khattab. When he was given the key to the Holy City, he spoke about four essential things that must always exist in Islam: justice, truth, wisdom, and faith. As long as Islam retains these four and lives in unity, comforting with compassion and giving peace to other lives, there will be peace in Islam. But when this justice changes, peace will be lacking. The time is now approaching when we will find no peace in Islam or in the hearts of the people. We must realize that if man wants peace and justice in the world and in his life, then he himself must conduct his life with good qualities. That is the only way man will find peace anywhere. Islam and the human society must realize this.

Each one of us should reflect and understand what we must do. We must develop and strengthen our faith, certitude, and determination. Each person must look within, find clarity, and raise that benevolent flag of Islam in his life.

Before the time of the Prophet Muhammad, the Arab nations underwent tremendous difficulties. There was so much poverty, famine, and sorrow. Then through the Prophet's pleading for God's blessings, these countries received the amazing wealth of faith. 4 The light of Islam burned in every house. The undiminishing wealth of patience, contentment, trust in God, and praise of God 5 filled every heart. Because of the Prophet's prayers and because of the richness of faith, certitude, and determination, Almighty God changed the desert into His benevolence. Where there was not even water to drink, He made oil, and that oil was converted into gold and jewels. Endless wealth was poured into the desert where nothing would grow and was given to the community of Islam, and that wealth still exists there today. Almighty God gave them this because of their faith, did He not? But if the community of Islam now forfeits that treasure of faith, then those earthly treasures will be lost. You and I should realize this.

__________

In another traditional story, the Prophet said, "Do not waste your fortune, do not waste your money, do not throw away your wealth, do not waste anything. Instead, share it with your brothers. Help your brothers, take care of them, and take care of your relatives. Do not be wasteful." We who are Iman-Islam 6 must understand this today. If all the leaders, the teachers, the sheikhs, and the respected ones understood this, no one would be poor in Islam.

Allah has said that kings and beggars must pray to Him side by side, embrace each other heart to heart and give greetings of peace7 at each time of prayer. He has given us this way to express the unity of Islam to everyone who is accepted by the Qur'an. And since nothing can be found in the words of the Qur'an that indicates showing any differences among people, everyone in the world must be accepted.

The Qur'an speaks of twenty-five prophets, which include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Moses, David, Jesus, Muhammad, Idris, Isaac, Job, Salih, Joseph, and Jonah, may the peace of Allah be upon them all. The prophets, the saints, the angels, and the great holy men of divine wisdom8 are all spoken of in the traditional stories and in other holy books:

There is no god other than Allah, and Adam is the pure one of Allah.
La ilaha illa Allah Adam Safi Allah.

There is no god other than Allah, and Noah is the one saved by Allah.
La ilaha illa Allah Nuh Naji Allah.

There is no god other than Allah, and Abraham is the friend of Allah.
La ilaha illa Allah Ibrahim Khalil Allah.

There is no god other than Allah, and Ishmael is the sacrifice of Allah.
La ilaha illa Allah Isma'il Dhabih Allah.

There is no god other than Allah, and Moses is the one who spoke with Allah.
La ilaha illa Allah Musa Kalim Allah.

There is no god other than Allah, and David is the prince of His faithful.
La ilaha illa Allah Dawud Khalifat Allah.

There is no god other than Allah, and Jesus is the soul of Allah.
La ilaha illa Allah 'Isa Ruh Allah.

There is no god other than Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
La ilaha illa Allah Muhammad Rasul Allah salla Allah 'alayhi wa-sallam.

Allah sent down each of the prophets and directed them to preach His commandments. Their message came from His resonance. He alone sent them the revelations9 and gave them the words. Therefore, we must not see the prophets as differing from each other; they should only be seen as one. Allah does not reject any of them.

The Qur'an does not show hatred toward any religion; it accepts them all as paths leading to the One. Can we then reject any of these teachings, considering them separate from ourselves? No, we must take everything embraced by the Qur'an into our hearts. We are told in the Qur'an to accept what is accepted by God and to discard what is discarded by God. Satan, alcohol, drugs, falsehood, jealousy, anger, sins, the arrogance of the I, and other evil qualities and actions like these are discarded by the Qur'an. They are all opposed by the Qur'an, by Allah, and by the messengers of God,10 and therefore should also be discarded by the heart of a true human being. That heart is the true Qur'an and should be a place where only faith and love for Allah dwell. True man11 should accept only Allah's duties, Allah's commands, and the resonance of the Qur'an. That is justice and that is Islam.

But think about what we are doing now! If we understood and accepted the words of Prophet Muhammad and the words of the Qur'an, we would not consider anyone our enemy; we would not fight with anyone. We would not see any differences or cause any opposition. Everyone who accepted God would be a brother to us. This is what the Qur'an points out. No matter what religion or scripture or prophet people may follow, all are the children of Adam, all belong to the family of Abraham. They are our brothers and followers of Muhammad. There is one sun and one moon. They do not show any differences toward the things they shine upon. When the rain falls does it fall on one thing and not another? When the wind blows does it show any differences? No, it blows the same way for all. Does the earth show preferences? Does water show any differences?

In the same way, Islam must not see any differences between one life and another. Like the sun and the moon, Islam should perform its duty and show its love to everyone alike. The sun showers its brilliant rays upon the whole world, and the moon gives its cooling light, dispelling the darkness. In the same way, Islam should dispel the dark torpor of evil. It should give cooling love to all hearts.

Allah gave man this benevolent umbrella of Islam, the umbrella of His grace. To have equality, justice, compassion, unity, tranquility, and peace-this is Islam. Divisiveness is not Islam. Truth, compassion, and unity are Islam. Tranquility and peace are Islam. To end the worries of all lives and to embrace all lives is Islam. This is the message of the Qur'an, the treasure that came from the resonance of Allah. Islam should understand this. These were the instructions, the truths, and the justice given to the prophets.

O brothers and sisters, think about this. This same truth can be found in the traditional stories, which we have already spoken about. We can understand many things from them. On the outside, they are stories, but when we examine them with wisdom and with faith and certitude, we can see the real meaning inside. Just as there is a difference between the inside and outside of a mirror, a difference exists in everything that the eyes can see. A snake looks beautiful on the outside, but it is full of poison inside. Some fruits that look beautiful on the outside may have no taste, while others that look ugly may be very tasty. Such differences also exist in the divine knowledge12 that we learn, in the wisdom that we learn, in the qualities and actions that we learn, and in the body. Differences exist between the outside and the inside of everything. Therefore, we must look at both in order to understand the meaning.


However, true Islam is the same on the inside and the outside. Its actions are the same inside and out. Its justice and its words are the same. We must understand this. Allah is the only One who is not hidden by any outer covering. Neither is Islam hidden by anything. A light which has nothing blocking it is pure light. The word that contains no envy is a true word. That which shows no differences is love. True unity does not distinguish between high and low. True compassion considers all lives as its own and does duty without showing preferences. True justice is to act without the difference of "mine" and "yours." Conscience is to realize one's own faults rather than looking at the faults of others. It is to understand the state of another and say, "If I were in his place, wouldn't I have done this also? If I had been in his state of poverty, I too might have stolen and lied the way he did. Therefore I share in his guilt." Having understood this, we must show patience and contentment. We must realize why that man acted as he did, then comfort him, give him love, help him to be peaceful, and bring him to the good path. That is Islam. That is what is called conscience.

Like this, in every way we have to look at our own faults and understand the faults of others. Then we must correct our faults and give peace to the others. If we are true believers,13 we will not see any differences between others and ourselves. We will see only One. We will see Allah, one human race, and one justice for all. That justice and truth is the strength of Islam. That compassion and peace is the strength of Islam. That unity gives strength and peace to man in this life and in the hereafter." That is Iman-Islam. Islam is Allah's good gift. It is the completeness and resplendence that gives peace to all lives. It is love, grace, unity, and compassion. It is to live as one race and one family. That is Islam.

It is this that conquers the world by conquering every heart with love. It is compassion that conquers. It is unity that conquers. It is Allah's good qualities, behavior, and actions that conquer others. It is this state that is called Islam. The sword doesn't conquer; love is sharper than the sword. Love is an exalted, gentle sword.

My brethren, peacefulness and equality are greater than anger. Instead of gaining victory by fighting, use the sword of patience. That is the best way to receive Allah's wealth. Try to understand the outside and know the inside. Then you will receive that good gift of Iman-Islam. As long as this state does not develop within us it is certain that destruction will occur. The life of man and the world will both be destroyed.

However, if we conduct ourselves with the qualities of Allah, then Islam will never be in a low state and truth will never decline. Goodness will not decline. The kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of Allah's truth and justice will always be in His hand. As long as we hold onto good qualities and actions, this world will be the hereafter,14 and our life here will be a life in heaven, a life of grace. That is certain. This is true Islam. These are Allah's words, given in His commandments and in the revelations that were sent down to the Prophet. May we in Islam think about this.

This is the certitude of the heart of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. Forgive me if there are any mistakes or faults.

May all the peace, the beneficence, and the blessings of God be upon you.15 Amen.

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Footnotes

1. hadith
2. al-Bayt al-Muqaddas
3. Amir al-Mu'minin
4. Iman
5. sabr, shukr, tawakkul 'ala Allah, and al-hamdu lillah
6. Iman: absolute faith, certitude, and determination. Islam: the state of absolute purity. See glossary.
7. salams
8. qutbs
9. wahy
10. rasuls
11. insan
12. 'ilm
13. mu'min
14. akhirah
15. al-salam 'alaykum wa-rahmat Allah wa-barakatuhu kulluh


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