India has the third largest Muslim population in the world with almost 200 million followers of the Islamic faith. Muslims total around 15% of India’s population, with Islam being the second-most practiced religion in the Republic of India after Hinduism. There are a lot of different sects and interpretations to Islam and the Islam in India today shaped in a unique form within the sub-continent.
MaulanaWahiduddin Khan, a famous and world renowned Indian Islamic scholar from the Centre for Peace and Spirituality International in New Delhi, represent an interesting approach to Islam. We are happy to give stage here to this refreshing approach, described in short in the following post:
Islam literally means peace. The Quran calls its way ‘the paths of peace’. It describes reconciliation as the best policy, and states that God abhors any disturbance of peace. To promote this culture of peace, Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, in the year 2000, set up the Centre for Peace and Spirituality International in New Delhi.
Drawing from the original sources, the Centre endeavours to help one rediscover Islam. Although various commentaries and interpretations have formed a veil over the message of Islam, the text of the original scriptures of the religion, Quran and Sunnah, is preserved; therefore all is not lost for the seeker of truth. To make the original scripture accessible, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan translated the Quran into English.
Quran, the book of Islam, is a book of peace. The very first verse of the Quran reads: “In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the most Compassionate.” This verse, which is repeated in the Quran one hundred and fourteen times, clearly shows that the God of Islam is the God of Mercy and Compassion, and the book of Islam too is the book of mercy. The people of Islam must also possess the quality of mercy and compassion, otherwise they could not be true believers.
Furthermore, in his talks and books, Maulana W. Khan asserts that when there is a conflict between two individuals or two groups, Muslims ought to follow the course of reconciliation. In controversial matters, the policy of Islam is one of adjustment and not of confrontation.
Why does Islam lay such a great emphasis on peace? Because all the good things which Islam wants to see in human life can be brought about only in peaceful environment. For instance, such constructive activities like spiritual uplift, character building, educational activity, social welfare, worship and prayer can be performed only in peaceful conditions. No peace, no progress; no peace, no development. Due to this great importance, the Prophet of Islam always wanted to maintain peace even at the price of unilateral adjustment.
The Prophet Muhammad advised people never to take a negative course of action, and to keep to peaceful and positive behaviour in all situations, even in the face of provocation. According to a tradition, the Prophet of Islam once observed: “Don’t wish for confrontation, instead always ask for peace from God.” This means that Muslims are not allowed to take the course of confrontation. They must rather seek the way of avoidance. The Quran, on the other hand, urges us to return good for evil. Peace, therefore, is the greatest concern of Islam. The Islamic method is a peaceful method. Islamic activism is a peaceful activism.
If you would like to know more about Islam in India today, about MaulanaWahiduddin Khan and the Centre for Peace and Spirituality International in New Delhi, visit their website or reach them on Facebook. You can also visit the center in Delhi: Centre for Peace and Spirituality International 1Nizamuddin West Market, New Delhi.
* The writer is a member in the Centre for Peace and Spirituality