Maulana’s talk at the launch of his book The Age of Peace at the United States Institute of Peace
27 August 2015
The United States Institute of Peace hosted a roundtable conversation with the Maulana to discuss Islam and peace. The program began with the release of Maulana’s most recent book The Age of Peace, which was introduced to the audience by Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director for the Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances for ISNA.
In his opening remarks, the Maulana explained that in The Age of Peace, he has discussed the nature of the modern age and the changes brought about by it, through which he has shown that today anyone can achieve one’s goals by opting for peaceful means. The freedom to do what one wants without harming others and the numerous opportunities for work opened up in the present age have made it needless to resort to violence. It is unawareness of the opportunities presented by the modern age that has led some extremists to choose violence as a means to attain their goals.
In the session for questions, the Maulana was asked to elaborate on his idea of ‘peace without conditions’. Many people speak of peace with justice, that is, if they do not get justice, they would not be ready for peace. However, according to the law of nature, the Maulana explained, first of all peace has to be established without laying down any conditions. This was because peace opens up the doors to opportunities and by availing of these opportunities, one can achieve everything one wants including justice. Justice, therefore, cannot be bracketed with peace. Peace can only provide a base for achieving justice, and not justice itself. So, according to the Maulana, first one has to establish peace for the sake of peace and then in the peaceful atmosphere that ensues, one can work towards achieving one’s goals.
Maulana was also asked how the extremists groups which used examples from the life of the Prophet and his companions to justify their deeds should be dealt with. The Maulana answered that the Prophet was born in a tribal age, which was an age of violence. Due to this age factor, the tribal chiefs who were opponents of the Prophet tried to involve him in war at several occasions. However, it is on record that the Prophet tried to manage conflicts. It was because of his efforts at avoidance that wars happened briefly and were reduced to skirmishes. Therefore, the Maulana stressed that war is not an Islamic teaching, rather the Prophet had to engage in war only out of compulsion. Peace is therefore the rule in Islam.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan