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THE PHILOSOPHY OF PEACE

Peace is a bilateral issue, but peace can be established only by a unilateral initiative, otherwise, there can be no peace. This Qur’anic concept of peace is set forth in the chapter Al-Anfal (The Spoils of War) of the Qur’an. The translation of the relevant verse is as follows: 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: it was He who strengthened you with His help, and rallied the faithful around you, and bound their hearts together. (8:61-62)

Where there has been a controversy between two parties, and finally an agreement has been reached, each party fears that the other party may not strictly follow the agreement or in other ways will try to act deceitfully. This kind of suspicion is a great obstacle to establishing peace. But the Qur’an advises believers to place their trust in God. They ought not to think about the behavior of the other party, but simply believe that God will be on their side and that the peace settlement will be successful.

Trust in God means, in effect, trust in the laws of nature. Following the laws of nature designed by the Creator is the only practicable course to adopt in this world. Peace is not simply peace. It is something that opens up others’ hearts. Showing leniency on your part makes others lenient also. If you take a back seat, the result will be miraculous. If you insist on raising controversial points, you will arouse the ego of the other party and the desired settlement will become more difficult to achieve than ever before. Insistence on your own point only causes a reaction, i.e. the other party becomes more cautious, and then reaching a settlement becomes almost impossible. Avoid controversy at any cost, as this will enable you to discover the common ground between the two parties. Always remember that peace can be established on some common ground, and common ground is that which is more acceptable to the other party. Your own wishes cannot provide a common ground. You can discover the common ground only by adopting the formula of practical wisdom. Peace is not simply peace. It is something that opens up others’ hearts. Showing leniency on your part makes others lenient also. If you take a back seat, the result will be miraculous. People themselves will ask you to go ahead and take the front seat. Don’t try to play the role of the leader. Be a follower and you will win the hearts of the other party.

Putting your trust in God means putting your trust in reason, common sense, and the indirect results that may emanate from the normalization of the situation. In the believer’s language, it is a divine blessing and in secular language, it is the law of nature. Two kinds of benefits flow from any kind of dealings—direct and indirect. This is true also of any peace settlement. Every peace settlement produces some benefits. In direct terms, these benefits may not be very great, but there are also some indirect benefits. These benefits may seem negligible at the time of the settlement, but the future will show you that indirect benefits amount to far more than direct benefits. One very important piece of wisdom is that you should not try to connect other problems with peace—peace for the sake of this and peace for the sake of that is not wise thinking. The only wise course is to adopt the formula: Peace for the sake of peace. For example, peace with justice is a beautiful idea, but it is completely unwise to lay down such a condition because such a move could prevent peace from becoming a reality. It should be borne in mind that the most important feature of peace is that it gives you the opportunity to strive towards the desired ends rather than provide instant rewards in terms of justice or financial gain.

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