The aggression of the Quraish of Makkah had led to war between them and the Muslims. At this juncture, among the verses that were revealed to the Prophet were these (8:61-62):
Then if they should be inclined to make peace, make peace with them, and put your trust in God. Surely, it is He who is All Hearing and All Knowing. Should they seek to deceive you, God is enough for you […]
From this Quranic verse we learn that according to Islam, peace is desirable to the maximum possible extent, so much so that if establishing peace entails a risk, then it, too, must be accepted. Moreover, in the course of war, if the opposing party makes an offer of peace, then it must be accepted without delay. Even if there is a doubt that this offer of peace may involve some deception, peace should be made with the opposing party based on the faith that God is always with those who love peace, and not those who engage in deception.
From this we also learn that in this world those who work to establish peace are those who have much courage. Here, in this world, people and groups always have problems with each other. There will always be issues about rights being trampled upon and injustices being committed. In such a context, those people can establish peace who rise above other considerations to focus on peace at all costs. Only such brave people can establish peace in the world. Those who lack this courage can only engage in conflict. They cannot make any contribution to peace.
The Quran (20:131) explains a fact of life in the following words:
Do not regard with envy the worldly benefits We have given some of them, for with these We seek only to test them. The provision of your Lord is better and more lasting.
There are two ways you can lead your life. One way is to make the material world your focus and your goal, seeking your success in worldly acquisition and power. These things are the sort about which there is always competition and conflict between people. And that is why materialistically-minded people always feel that their rights have been trampled upon by others. This feeling leads to endemic jealousy, revenge and violence.
Another way of leading your life is to focus on achieving a higher purpose. People who live in this way are satisfied with themselves. They seek whatever they want within themselves, and that saves them from resenting or hating others or inflicting violence on them. These are the people whom the Quran describes as obtaining the ‘better’ provision of their Lord. The provision of the Lord is that we should acquire firm faith that we have found the Truth, that we have discovered that the existence that God has bestowed on us is far more valuable than all the treasures of gold and silver. A person who receives the provision of the Lord lives with such an enlightened consciousness that the entire cosmos becomes for him an intellectual and spiritual feast. Such a person has risen so high that things such as power and wealth appear to him to be very paltry. His insight into things and the way he thinks makes him a lover of peace. He comes to see hatred and violence as so utterly meaningless that he simply cannot hate or inflict violence on anyone. Why would someone who has gained an invaluable treasure ran after paltry baubles?
(Maulana Wahiduddin Khan heads the New Delhi-based Centre for Peace and Spirituality. He can be contacted on email@example.com A prolific writer, many of his writings can be accessed on http://www.cpsglobal.org/articles/mwk and on www.spiritofislam.co.in)