The University of Wales Trinity Saint David The Muslim Council of Wales The Knowledge Exchange Program of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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The University of Wales Trinity Saint David
The Muslim Council of Wales
The Knowledge Exchange Program of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

‘Ethical Approaches to Peaceful Coexistence’
Tuesday 5th December 2017 in Cardiff, UK.
Wednesday 6th December
By shaikh Mustafa Ceric

Unlike other world religions, Islam is in an unprecedented focus equally by its apologists and islamophobists. The apologists argue that Islam is a religion of peace (salām) and moderation (wasat), whereas islamophobeists say that Islam is a religion of terror (irhāb) and extremism (tetarruf). The former quote from the Qur’an and the Sunnah to prove their point, while the latter take violent acts carried by some Muslims to prove their case. It seems that no one is winning this quite controversial debate about a religion, which has brought about so much good to the world culture and civilization, but some people seem to be confused about its real message.


The great Egyptian scholar Muhammad Abdullah Draz (1894–1958) has spared us time and effort proving that there is an Islamic ethics independent from Greek ethical thought. In his master theses “La Morale Koran”, which was prepared in France during World War II, Shaikh Draz has remarkably proven the fact that the Holy Qur’an contains the teachings of ethics and morality in its own right. Indeed, he was awarded for it the degree of Ph.D. in 1947 at Paris-Sorbonne University. This doctoral theses was published in a form of book in French language by Al-Azhar in 1950 and then translated into Arabic in 1973 by Dr. Abd Al-Saboor Shaheen under the title: “دستور الاخلاق في القرآن”. Taking into account theoretical and practical aspects of an Qur’anic authentic ethics and morality, Sheikh Draz dealt with key ethical and moral issues such as the issue of moral obligation (الالزام), moral responsibility (المسؤولية), moral consequence (الجزاء), moral intention and motivations ((النيّة والدوافع, and hard work (الجهد).

Obviously, our task here is not to dwell on Sheikh Druz’s theses in its entirety but to point out that Sheikh Druz demonstrated that the often cited complaint that there is no an independent Islamic ethical and moral thought except what some Muslim scholars have inherited from the Greek ethical thought has no ground whatsoever. This complaint often starts with the great Muslim ethical scholar Abū ʿAlī Aḥmad ibn Muhammad Miskawayh (d. 1030), a Persian of the Buyid era. Indeed, Miskawayyh was a Neoplatonist, whose book ” تهذيب الاخلاق وتطهير الاعراق“ (“Refinement of Character”) is a reflection of the Greek ethical thought with an Islamic cultural touch. However, the first significant step of departure from the Greek ethical and moral stigma which has been sticked to the Muslim ethical and moral thought had been made by the great Muslim scholar Abu al-Qasim Al-Raghib Al-Isfahani (d. 1108). His book ”كتابالذزيعة إلي مكارم الشريعة“ (“A Path Toward the Ethics of al-Shari’ah”) is unique for the very fact that the great Imam al-Ghazali (d.1111) used to hold it in his packet for consulting it wherever he was going. This book though is not unique only because it had made a significant break through from the mere Greek moral thought, but also because it has introduced a new approach toward ethics and morality in Islam in terms of making the science of ethics and morality the core principle of Shari’ah, the God’s Law as such. The Al-Raghib Al-Isfahani’s statement that all moral actions are worship, but all worships are not necessarily moral action is really fascinating: – Be aware, Al-Isfahani said, the worship is more general than moral action. Hence, all moral actions are worship, but all worships are not necessarily moral action… It is not fitting for man to be God’s vicegerent on Earth, nor to perform his worship properly, nor to build his place on Earth if he is not of a pure soul that is cleaned of its filth and its dirt. For, the soul has its dirt as the body has its dirt. However, the body’s dirt is seen with the naked eye whereas the soul’s dirt is seen only by the eye of insightful mind or intelligence. And the reason why man without pure soul does not fit to be the God’s vicegerent is because vicegerency is an imitation of it as much as humanly possible in terms of acquiring a sort of divine actions… Because the one whose soul is not clean means that his word and his action are not clean either because each man is behaving in accordance with his inner being…

واعلم أن العبادة أعم من المكرمة، فإن كل مكرمة عبادة، و ليس كلُ عبادةٍ مكرمةً.. لا يصلح لخلافة الله تعالى ولا يكمل لعبادته وعمارة أرضه إلا من كان طاهرَ النفسِ قد أُزيلَ رجسُه ونَجِسُه، فللنَّفسِ نجاسةٌ كما أن للبَدَنِ نجاسةٌ، لكن نجاسة البدن تُدْرَكُ بالبصر و نجاسة النفس لا تُدْرُكُ إلا بالبصيرة.. وإنما لم يصلح لخلافة الله تعالى إلا من كان طاهرَ النفس، لأن الخلافة هي الاقتداء به على قدر طاقة البشر في تحري لأفعال الإلهية، و من لم يكن طاهر النفس لم يكن طاهر القول و الفعل، فكل إناء بالذي فيه ينضح.. (ابو القاسم الحسين بن محمد الرّاغب الاصفها ني، ”كتاب الذريعة إلي مكارم الشريعة“، دار السلام، ١٤٢٨ / ٢٠٠٨، ص ٨٥-٨٦).

It is not difficult to observe that in this piece of ethical lesson Al-Ragib Al-Isbahani had then suggested in the same way as T. D. J. Chappell is suggesting now that “one way of beginning ethics is to ask: ‘What is the point of acting’?. Indeed, as Chappell suggests that as far as the science of ethics is concerned we are faced with the question of motivation ( النِّيُّة ) in terms of asking “what is the point of acting”?; the question of the good (الخير) in terms of asking “what is the good”?; and the question of dispositions (القيم) in terms of asking “what are the virtues”?. Here we are dealing, as Chappell rightly has observed, with three possible ethical or moral motivations: monism, nihilism and pluralism. Monism is a motivation which is focused on one satisfaction or motivation like pleasure or praising God; nihilism is the idea of no point in acting whatsoever, like Sartre’s idea that “Man is useless passion”; and pluralism which offers many alternatives as to achieve the high level of motivation for ethical and moral acting, like a smile in face of your neighbor as an act of charity or helping an old man as an act of feeling good or calling a lonely friend as an act of friendly fulfillment.

By this short introduction I wanted to draw our attention to the fact that both the message of the Holy Qur’an and the messenger of the Holy Sunnah are of the ethical and moral nature before anything else. Here, the message is a divine ethical idea and the messenger is a divine moral carrier to the point of a certain way of moral acting. To prove that the divine message is worth of spiritual and intellectual guidance for humans, the divine messenger must show by his own good example the validity of message in theory as well as the credibility of messenger in practice. When it comes to ethics and morality, Muhammad, the messenger of God, has stated that his ethics, as an understanding of good manner, is based on an immediate divine inspiration and training of his good manner of behavior, when he said: ” أدّبني ربّي فأحسن تأديبي“ (“My God has taught me good manner of behavior and thus I have the best manner of all”); and speaking of his prophetic mission, Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: ” أنما بعثت لأتمم مكارم الاخلاق“ (“I have been sent in order to complete the way of the high standard of morality”).

These two Messenger’s statements are guiding us to make a distinction between the Arabic term (خُلُق ) and the Arabic term ” أَدَب“. The term (خُلُق ) is closest in meaning to the Latin term mōs, moralis, meaning manner, custom, way, usage, practice, habit… which is, once again, closest in meaning to the Qur’anic moral term (معروف), which is the core of the moral message of the Qur’an based on the main moral principle of “promoting right and forbidding wrong”(”الامربالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر“). The “right” here is called “المعروف”, which literally means: “something which has become known to every one to be morally right and thus morally good as well”, by the way of custom versus “wrong” ”المنكر“, which means: “something resentful to every one because it is morally wrong and thus morally evil as well”, by the way of custom as well. And the Arabic term , ”أَدَب“, which is closest in meaning to the Aristotle’s idea of ethos, which was his idea of a rhetorical strategy employed by an orator whose purpose was to “inspire trust in his audience” (Rhetorica 1380). Thus, ethos or ethics is promoted through the orator’s “good sense, good moral character, and goodwill”.

Unlike the French word morale, which means both ethics and morality, in English we have it as in Arabic that morality (الاخلاق) designates more or less the idea of man’s natural (born with) morality which man has inherited or which has been imposed upon him by a society. On the other side stands ethics (الأدب), which comes in a way of teaching and training of the mind and heart to be able to make clear distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, just and unjust moral behavior. Here comes the Qur’anic idea of “a light upon a light” (” نور علي نور“)… Indeed, we are born with a moral light (” نور“) or (”الخُلُق“), a natural moral sense, which is capable unmistakably by its nature to differentiate what is right and good from what is wrong and evil: “God has inspired the human soul to be able to sense what is wrong and evil for it, the soul, so that it does not miss what is right and good for it in terms of its right and good understanding of the nature of God, its Creator and Sustainer”, (”فألهمها فجورها وتقواها“).

In light of this first “Light” we should read the the Qur’an’s statement about the Prophet Muhammad’s high standard of ethics and morality when it sates in the way of assuring him: – Indeed, you are on the high level of original or natural morality (وَإِنَّكَ لَعَليَ خُلِقٍ عَظِيمٍ). This was said to Muhammad, peace be upon him, on the occasion of his first encounter with the angel Gabriel who taught him how to offer the prayer (الصلاة) . The Meccan’s lords at the time didn’t like the news about Muhammad’s contact with a mysterious heavenly being. The most vehement against the news about Muhammad’s gaining some extraordinary spiritual power was Walid ibn Al-Mughirah Al-Makhzumi (d. 622). As soon as he heard the news, he announced that Muhammad was insane (مجنون). It is because of this Walid’s accusation that the Qur’an has cleaned up the Muhammad’s morality by assuring him that he was not insane but instead he was of a highest natural moral standard as a light upon the light (نور علي كور ).

Let me say now that the first light is God’s immediate light and the second light is God’s circumstantial light of human mind, which must be a subject of education and training about right and wrong, good and evil, just and unjust manner of behavior. The more we seek the God’s immediate light, the more we benefit from the God’s circumstantial light of human mind and, consequently, the less we are exposed to the God’s immediate light, the less God’s circumstantial light of human mind is enlightened. These two lights, the light upon a light, are twins that make the science of ethics meaningful and the custom of morality workable. Without this natural God given moral light in us and without that educational light for us as an enlightenment for the sake of peaceful coexistence, man cannot survive, as Ayn Rand rightly put it: – Man has been called a rational being, but rationality is a matter of choice—and the alternative his nature offers him is: rational being or suicidal animal. Man has to be man—by choice; he has to hold his life as a value—by choice; he has to learn to sustain it—by choice; he has to discover the values it requires and practice his virtues—by choice. A code of values accepted by choice is a code of morality. (Quoted from Galt’s speech).

– A being who does not know automatically what is true or false, cannot know automatically what is right or wrong, what is good for him or evil. He is not exempt from the laws of reality, he is a specific organism of a specific nature that requires specific actions to sustain his life. He cannot achieve his survival by arbitrary means nor by random motions nor by blind urges nor by chance nor by whim. That which his survival requires is set by his nature and is not open to his choice. What is open to his choice is only whether he will discover it or not. He is free to make the wrong choice, but not free to succeed with it. He is free to evade reality, he is free to unfocus his mind and stumble blindly down any road he pleases, but not free to avoid the abyss he refuses to see… Man is free to choose not to be conscious, but not free to escape the penalty of unconsciousness: destruction. Man is the only living species that has the power to act as his own destroyer – and that is the way he has acted through most of his history. (Quoted from: Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 21)

Now, let me turn to the idea of peaceful coexistence in light of an Islamic understanding of this noble idea based on some ethical and moral premises presented above. I believe that the venture of Islam in the seventh century had been perhaps one of the most radical reform of religious thought in the history of mankind. Indeed, here are some points that I would like to add to this claim in order to show the genuine ideas of Islam for human rights and peaceful coexistence. I consider these arguments to be fundamental principles for an Islamic ethical and moral approach toward a peaceful coexistence in light of a need for a global ethics and morality of sharing that Islam had brought about in the 7th century.

1) The first one of these points is the cancelation of the institution of priesthood in terms of an intermediary between God and man. – As for monastic asceticism – God did not demand it upon them: they invented it themselves out of a desire for God’s goodly acceptance. But then, they did not [always] observe it as it ought to have been observed:… (2, 57:27). The point here is that faith is not meant to be an isolationistic, elitist or privileged salvation but rather it is meant to be a shared blessing for all. Of course, there are some people who are more knowledgable about the meaning of faith than others, but they are because of that morally more responsible before God and men. I call great Imam Al-Ghazali for my witness to what I have just said. And Al-Ghazali said:

– If someone is ignorant of faith, you should say: – This man has sinned against God in ignorance, and I have sinned against Him knowingly, so God’s case against me is stronger, and I do not know what end He will give to me and what end to him.

And it goes the same if someone is an infidel, you should say: – I do not know; perhaps he will become a Muslim, peacefully faithful, and his life will end in doing good, and because of his acceptance of Islam, the faith of peace, something of his sins will be taken away, as a hair is taken from dough; but as for me – God is our refuge (God grant it does not happen) – perhaps God will lead me astray so that I become an infidel and my life ends in doing evil, and then tomorrow he will be among those brought near to God and I shall be among the punished. (Ghazali’s The Beginning of Guidance [Bidayat al-Hidaya]).

There are two different statements regarding this matter like: “There shall be no celibacy in Islam”, (” لا رهبانيةفي الإسلام “) and “There shall be no abstinence from marriage in Islam”, ”لا صرورة في الإسلام ”. The first one is not the Hadith, while the second is the Hadith reported by Ibn Abbas.

2) The second point of the reform of religious thought, which Islam had bout about in 7th century is the cancelation of discrimination based on religion. We have several verses in the Holy Qur’an which indicate to that effect. But, the most powerful statement is the phrase in the Paragraph II, verse 256, where is stated: “There shall be no compulsion in religion”, (”لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ“).
(3) The third point is the cancelation of discrimination based on race. Here we have the Farewell Sermon of the Prophet Muhammad at the 9th of Dhu al-Hijjah, 10 AH (6 March 632) in the Uranah valley of Mount Arafat, where the Prophet had declared as clearly and as loudly as it could be that “there shall be no superiority of an Arab over a Non-Arab, nor of a Non-Arab over an Arab, nor of a red over a black, nor of a black over a red person except by a good character”. Those who are familiar with the story of racial discrimination even today in some parts of the world, comprehend very well the significance of this declaration in 7th century of the Milad Era.
هذا الحديث قد رواه الإمام أحمد بن حنبل في ( باقي مسند الأنصار – روقمه 22391 ) ما نصه : حدثنا إسماعيل حدثنا سعيد الجريري عن أبينضرة حدثني من سمع خطبة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في وسط أيام التشريق فقال (( يا أيها الناس ألا إن ربكم واحد وإن أباكم واحد ألا لافضل لعربي على أعجمي ولا لعجمي على عربي ولا لأحمر على أسود ولا أسود على أحمر إلا بالتقوى أبلغت قالوا بلغ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ثم قال أي يوم هذا قالوا يوم حرام ثم قال أي شهر هذا قالوا شهر حرام قال ثم قال أي بلد هذا قالوا بلد حرام قال فإن الله قد حرم بينكم دماءكم وأموالكم قالولا أدري قال أو أعراضكم أم لا كحرمة يومكم هذا في شهركم هذا في بلدكم هذا أبلغت قالوا بلغ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال ليبلغ الشاهدالغائب).
(4) The forth point is the cancelation of discrimination based on gender. There are several verses in the Holy Qur’an which indicate to that effect. Of course, the most important point is the cancellation of filicide of female children, which was an accustomed habit in the pre-islamic time.
وَإِذَا الْمَوْؤُودَةُ سُئِلَتْ (81:8) بِأَيِّ ذَنبٍ قُتِلَتْ (81:9)
– When the female (infant), buried alive, is asked for what crime she was killed?
رَبَّنَا وَآتِنَا مَا وَعَدتَّنَا عَلَى رُسُلِكَ وَلاَ تُخْزِنَا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّكَ لاَ تُخْلِفُ الْمِيعَادَ (3:194) فَاسْتَجَابَ لَهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ أَنِّي لاَ أُضِيعُ عَمَلَ عَامِلٍ مِّنكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىبَعْضُكُم مِّن بَعْضٍ فَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُواْ وَأُخْرِجُواْ مِن دِيَارِهِمْ وَأُوذُواْ فِي سَبِيلِي وَقَاتَلُواْ وَقُتِلُواْ لأُكَفِّرَنَّ عَنْهُمْ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ وَلأُدْخِلَنَّهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ ثَوَابًامِّن عِندِ اللّهِ وَاللّهُ عِندَهُ حُسْنُ الثَّوَابِ (3:195)
And their Lord has responded to their prayer: – I will never allow that a good deed of anyone be lost, be it male or female because you belong to each other… you are like one…

وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِنَ الصَّالِحَاتَ مِن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلاَ يُظْلَمُونَ نَقِيرًا (4:124)
Whoever does good deeds in good faith: be it male or female, he/she will enter the Heaven, and there shall be no injustice done to anyone!

(5) The fifth point of the reform of religious thought, which Islam had brought about in 7th century was the cancelation of an inherited guilt based on the original sin and, instead, Islam has introduced the promotion of the idea that all men and women are born free. It was Muslim philosopher Ibn Sina (980 – 1037) who had introduced the idea of (الصفحة البيضاء ) “White Paper” before John Locke (d.1704) came to the the idea of “tabula rasa” or “black slate”. This idea brought about a new approach to epistemology in the sense that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that therefore all knowledge comes from experience or perception. So, if that is the case with knowledge, then it must be also with ethics and morality in the sense that all men and women are born free of sin. No one bears the sin of others, which means that every one is responsible for his own sin, as we have it in the Holy Qur’an: (لاَ تَزِرُ واَزِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَي ). And we have it in the Hadith also that “each and every child is born in his/her own free nature, which is designed by God, and then his/her parents made him/her to become of such and such faith – Judaism, Christianity or Sabaism, etc.”.

روى البخاري في صحيحه عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال: (مَا مِنْ مَوْلُودٍ إِلاَّ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ، فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ أَوْ يُنَصِّرَانِهِ أَوْ يُمَجِّسَانِهِ)، هذا الحديثالنبوي يشهد على صدق النبي الأعظم صلى الله عليه وسلم، ولكن كيف؟
Now, let me share with you something that has been for a long time on my mind. I’ve dared not to speak about it loud so far. It seems to me that this is the right place and the right time to say it loud before this noble audience in Cardiff.

Dear brothers and sister, ladies and gentlemen, I see that we are faced today with two big myths, which make us blind to see the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about Islam and Muslims today both in the West as well as in the East. And, as you know, the myth is false, but not entirely. The myth has in it some truth or half truth, and not the whole truth. Indeed, in this half truth of the myth lies today’s predicament about Islam both in the West and in the East. In the East, i.e. the Muslim world, there is a myth of Islamic tolerance, Islamic dialogue, Islamic peaceful coexistence, Islamic nonviolence and Islamic morality, which I have tried to highlight here as well. But, this is only one half of the truth, and not the whole truth. The other half of the whole truth is often missing from our story because it is very painful for us to hear it quietly let anole to speak about it loudly. But, we have no choice but to hear it clearly and wisely as well as to speak about it honesty and loudly. Indeed, we have to save the myth of Islamic tolerance, dialogue, peaceful coexistence, nonviolence and morality before it is killed by the myth of Islamic intolerance, Islamic conflict, Islamic sectarian wars, Islamic violence and Islamic immorality or amorality. Indeed, I see it now. This myth of Islamic incompatibility with today’s world is developing nowadays in the West and is spreading widely across the globe. The Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar are victims of such a myth. They are suffering an ethnic cleansing because of the the myth of Islamic threat that has being projected for a long time. As a Bosnian Muslim in Europe I bear witness to that effect. Indeed, I am survivor of Genocide at the end of the last century because of such a myth. But, let us be honest. This negative myth about Islam has its roots in a long history of misunderstanding between the Cross and Crescent. But, this myth is just a half truth, and not the whole truth. Moreover, the Muslims believe that it is not true at all. It is a myth of lie and conspiracy against Islam and Muslims. The Muslims believe that this myth has been invented by old and new islamophobists who hate the Muslims because of their staunch islamophobic prejudice and that the Muslims are totally innocent of such a negative prejudice. There is some truth in this Muslim apologetics, but not the whole truth. This kind of Muslim apologetics is not convincing because the other half of the Muslim whole truth is not properly presented to the world audience. Indeed, these two opposing myths, one positive and one negative, about Islam and Muslims today, have been fighting each other for a long time with one slight difference recently. The myth of Islamic incompatibility is becoming stronger as the myth of Islamic compatibility is being pushed back by Muslim bloody conflicts in the Middle East. And here is the puzzle that the Muslims must solve. The Muslims must kill the myth of Islamic incompatibility before the islamophobists kill the myth of Islamic compatibility. And to achieve that the Muslims must make a serious and responsible review of the meaning of the myth of Islamic tolerance, Islamic dialogue, Islamic peaceful coexistence, Islamic nonviolence and Islamic morality by including the other half of the whole truth, namely that there are some Islamic historical texts which are not compatible with the pure faith of Islam and thus these texts must be removed both from the Muslim mind and the Muslim desk not because impressing the West but because these texts do not belong to the spirit of an inclusive Islamic worldview. I have to say here that in the same way as the Muslim world is embarrassed by the Western myth of Islamic incompatibility with today’s world, the Western world is not impressed by the myth of Islamic compatibility as long as the Muslim world is not capable to recognize the reality of the other half of the whole truth, which has become too obvious to be ignored. The West is not correct in building the false myth about Islam’s incompatibility, but the East makes a grave mistake if it assumes that this myth will disappear by itself. No, it will not, but it will continue as long as the Muslims do not grasp the reality of their situation and take appropriate actions to make the Muslim myth of Islamic compatibility with today’s world sustainable in the sense of an authentic and real Islamic culture of tolerance, dialogue, peaceful coexistence, nonviolence and morality as it is the main goal of the mission the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who said it clearly that his mission was to improve the moral state of the world. The Prophet did not say that he was sent to rule the world by force as some extreme groups would like us to believe. Personally, I believe in the myth of Islamic compatibility with today’s world. Without this belief I could not imagine my Bosnia in the aftermath of Genocide, but also without my belief in the whole truth of the Bosnian reality I could not imagine my place in the European society. And, personally, my belief is that the Knowledge Exchange Program of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is timely and good one. Indeed, this Program will enable us here in Europe to cope with the negative myth by teaching us how to the tell the truth, and nothing but the truth about the true faith and culture of Islam, about the faith and practice of Islam which are aimed at reaching out the people of different races, nationalities and religions of good will and peaceful coexistence. It is because of this noble mission of the Knowledge Exchange Program of the Kingdom that I have accepted to be an active member of it with a strong belief that this is exactly what we need today – an exchange of thoughts, experiences and good will so that we may live peacefully in this time when we all need the peace of mind like the piece of daily bread.

It is an historic fact that the true Islam has been a challenge since its very inception not only for its immediate surroundings of Mecca and Medina, but also for its further surroundings of Persian and Byzantine civilizations. Therefore, it is not surprising that Islam is today a challenge for its immediate surroundings of alienated Muslim generations from a genuine Islamic faith as well as for its farther surroundings of observers who see nothing in Islam but a threat to their worldview.

While a debate about an Islamic worldview versus the other worldview will continue to dominate a discussion, our interest here is a debate about Islam within Islam as a religion of Peace and Moderation. In fact, we need not to prove that Islam is a religion of Peace because it is in the very meaning of the word “Islam” the meaning of “SALĀM”, “PEACE”. We need here something else. We need to explain the meaning of the word “WASAT”, which is commonly translated as a “moderation” or “middle way” or “just balance”. Indeed, we need a Critique of Pure Faith in the light of conflicting values that must be balanced in the spirit of the WASAT, the Good Balance of Human Character.

While the above translations of the word “WASAT” are not incorrect, they are, however, short of pointing out to the essence of Islam as a religion of Good Balance, or, to put it in a more practical sense: Islam is a balanc of two goods for the sake of a greater good for the sake of man’s success here and his salvation in the hereafter. Thus, Islam is not a choice of lesser of two evils. Islam is a combination of two goods. Indeed, Islam is an algebraic equation of two goods by adding the same significance to each side of two driving wings. These two driving wings are two driving goods capable to carry out the Muslim community through the storms of human history.

Of course, two evils do not make up any good, but two goods make up one greater good. – Good and Evil are not the same. Therefore, you should always promote Good and thus if there is an enmity between you and him, he might as a result of your goodness become your sincere friend (Qur’an,فصلت:34).

Although the lesser of two evils principle (أخَفُّ الضَرَرَيْنِ ) in Fiqh has a sense in the context of necessary conditions (darūriyyāt), which both Muslim classical and modern scholars are using extensively, the greater of two goods principle (اَفْضَلُ النَّفْعَيْنِ ) or (اَفْضَلُ الخَيْرَيْن) of which, as far as I know, the scholars have not spoken yet, has the better sense because in its essence Islam is the binding of two goods as two wings bay way of which birds are flying in the air or as two positive energies are needed to make the balance (التوازن) necessary for the Islamic civilization to fly or to walk through history.

Therefore, instead of a debate which of the two evils are lesser, it is time that the Muslim scholars change the focus of their thinking as well as the direction of their view and movement. The scholars have spent a lot of intellectual and spiritual energy arguing that one evil is lesser than the other because of the fact that the Muslim history for two last centuries has been in such a state that the scholars had to opt for the principe the lesser of two evils, following the fiqh maxim of necessity (darūriyyat). But the question must be posed as to whether it is, really, necessary (dārurī) to accept the lesser of two evils if one is determine to accept and implement, mentally and practically, the greater of two goods principle, as two wings by way of which the Muslim right and balanced (wasat) place should be maintained in history. Is it, really, necessary that one value be sacrificed in order that the other value be saved? Is it not the other way around that it is necessary that both good values be saved because of their organic interdependence? This is called win-win situation, the principle that has united Europe, nay, the whole western world. After many historical deviations and bloody internal conflicts Europe has come to a realization of the importance of “the Algebraic Equation by way of which the two goods are summed up to become a whole of a greater good for all” spiritually, culturally, intellectually, politically, economically, militarily and civilizationally as a whole.

Obviously, there is a need today like never before for the Muslim mind to change its focus from the lesser of two evils principle to the principle of the greater of two goods. This dualism of two goods is different from dualism of two evils as well as from dualism of good and evil. The philosophy of dualism of two goods is excluding evil as such because the world is based on good. The world is not based on evil because evil cannot survive. The evil comes out only as a result of the absence of good in the same way as the darkness is a result of the absence of light. The world is made up of the value of good as its essence in the same way as the value of halāl is the essence of morality. The evil and harām are accidents, which appear only as a result of the lack of good and halāl.

The scholars and intellectuals in the Muslim world are equally divided about some basic concepts of faith, state, democracy, human rights, freedom, etc. It is, therefore, the task of all wise and responsible Muslim thinkers to find out the best possible way for a spiritual, cultural, intellectual, political, economical, military – indeed a civilzational recovery.

It is not difficult to conclude that current internal Muslims bloody conflicts have come as a result of unsettled opinions about basic issues such as the meaning of life, the role of religion, the importance of morality, the function of democracy and the constitution of state. The matter here is not about the content of Islam, but about a methodology of implementing the content. There is no Muslim, male or female, who questions the divinity of the Qur’an, who does not believe in the prophethood of Muhammad, a. s., who does not take the Ka’ba as his/her direction in daily prayer. Furthermore, there is no Muslim, male or female, who does not appreciate the basic values of human rights, freedom, equality and social justice as basic Islamic values. However, the differences emerge in a methodical approach to these basic values so that some tend to focus at one time only on one value neglecting the other equally essential for a whole picture of Islamic civilization. By doing that they distort the balance of two goods as two wings which are carrying out the Islamic civilization throughout the history.

From the connectivity of idea about the origin of the world (cosmogony) with the belief in the hereafter (eschatology) up to the interdependency between the worldly success and heavenly salvation, Islam is offering a way of life in the manner of dualism of two interconnected values, which are meant to design a historical path of Islamic civilization. Thus, God’s message (al-risālah) and God’s messenger (al-rasūl) are interconnected in such a way that it is impossible to grasp God’s message without God’s messenger, and also it is not possible to speak about God’s messenger without God’s message. Hence, those who neglect God’s messenger by an unduly emphasis on God’s message are hitting the balance (التوازن), indeed – they are furthering themselves from the integrative force (الوسط) of Islam as an inclusive worldview. Equally so, those who intentionally or unintentionally make emphasis on God’s messenger on the expense on fundamental principles of God’s message are breaking the designed order of Islamic culture and civilization.

Following the philosophy of dualism of two goods, that we are offering here, is opening a possibility to see that the truth of tawhīd of Mecca and the social justice (al-‘adl) of Medina are two equally valuable foundations of a holistic Islamic worldview. For, thirteen years of the prophetic mission in Mecca is just a half of a whole. The other half of it is ten years of Medina, where the truth had been embodied into the social justice. Medina was not possible without Mecca, but also Mecca without Medina had not met the necessary conditions for a holistic Islamic worldview. Those who exclusively emphasize the truth of tewhīd, neglecting the principle of ‘adl, the social justice, are distorting the balance of the Mecca-Medinian holistic historical experience. Truth is a condition for an individual mental health of man, while justice is a condition for a social mental health of the human society. Therefore, truth and justice are two goods as two wings of the holistic Islamic being. There cannot be the holistic Islamic being without both wings, without both energies: truth in the soul of individual man and justice in the life of human community as well as of state.

Let me conclude with what I have began: the morality al-akhlaq is a matter of natural habit and societal custom (al-ma’ruf) and the ethics al-adab is a matter of education or literature, indeed, it is a matter of belles-lettres, “beautiful” or “fine” writing, aimed at improving human character of whatever human race and faith. I strongly believe that we need today a new P. R. based on our mutual understanding and respect. Indeed, we must understand that two living civilization of today: the Islamic and Western are like Siamese twins that cannot be separated without severe surgery. But, after the surgery one of these twins might not survive, but no one knows which one. Even worse than this is a possibility that none of them might not survive. So, what the Siamese twins are supposed to do? They are supposed to understand the needs and rights of each other; they are supposed to cooperate with each other because neither the meek nor the aggressive will inherit the Earth, but the cooperative; they are supposed to respect individual personalities of each other so that they may peacefully coexist without fear from each other; they are supposed to free themselves from their false myths and to embrace the reality of their worlds together for the sake of peaceful coexistence all together in this troublesome world.

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