(Arab. Sulh, Turk. Barış)
Peace is the expression of harmony, co-operation, cohesion, and order. At the same time, peace means that as a social being, the human individual demonstrates justice and refrains from violence in one’s behaviour towards oneself and one’s surroundings. Only peace can guarantee the protection of humankind and the survival of civilisation.
In the Qur’an, peace is described in terms such as ‘well-being (silm; cf. 2:208) and ‘peaceableness’ (sulh; cf. 4:128). Muslim exegetes define peace following the Qur’anic use of the term as agreement or a treaty that comes about following a conflict.
At the same time, peace is one of the beautiful names of God (59:24). The Qur’an calls for peace and forbids every form of discord (7:56; 8:61). Anarchy and war give rise to conditions that run counter to human dignity. According to the Qur’an, peace is the best and of terms (4:128, 2:208), and eternal paradise is referred to as the ‘Home of Peace’ (6:127; 10:25). The night in which the Qur’an was sent down is referred to as the night of peace and well-being (97:5).
The faithful are referred to as ‘Muslims’, i.e. they are the ones who achieve peace and calm through devotion to God. Among the most important obligations of the faithful is to make an effort on behalf of peace. For this reason, peaceableness is described as a high virtue in Islamic ethics. The individual who has found peace and harmony in him- or herself also contributes to social peace as a result.
Muhammad described the person of faith as someone who in dealings with others ‘socialises amicably, understands them, harmonises with them and gets along well with them’ (cf. ibn Hanbal). This is why religion should contribute to securing peace. Societies governed by a spirit of righteousness live in peace (5:2). The path that leads to peace stands in close association with a devotion to truth and a yearning for certainty. Forgiveness and tolerance, qualities reflected in the exhortation of the Qur’an, ‘Be tolerant’ (7:199), are also among the peace-making principles of Islam.
The essential prerequisite for peace is respect for human life. The best guarantee for peace is a belief in God that is rooted in knowledge, tolerance, and love. The central responsibility of humankind towards God consists in creating a peaceful society in which everyone has the freedom to develop.
Müfit Selim Saruhan