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Today I would like to talk about the centrality of peace and tranquility

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Today I would like to talk about the centrality of peace and tranquility Powered By Docstoc
					Assalamu 'alaikum




All praise is due to God. We praise Him, rely on Him and repent to Him. We seek refuge
in Him from our evils and sins. Anyone who has been guided by God, he is indeed
guided. And anyone who has been misguided, no one will be able to guide him. I bear
witness that there is no deity except God, the One, without associate. And, I bear
witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.
God Says in Surah Al-Baqarah: Then do ye remember Me; I will remember you. Be
grateful to Me and reject not faith [2:152]



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         Whenever we walk into this room, we see this beautiful painting/tapestry hanging
on the wall in this room in Old Union. The banner reads „salam‟. Today I am going
attempt to answer the question, „How and why is salam at the center of the Islamic
spiritual universe‟? So, I would like to talk about the centrality of peace and tranquility in
Islam.
         First, some disclaimers. I am not a scholar and the topic of peace in Islam is a
huge subject and this is only one attempt to examine and understand peace within
Islam. We could easily spend days and days discussing this subject because peace and
tranquility are big topics. So in this khutbah I will highlight what I believe are the salient
points. Anything that I say that is good is from Allah (swt) and anything I say that is
mistaken is from myself.
         Outline of this khutbah: First I will briefly define peace. Second, using this
definition I will explain the motivation for choosing this as the topic of this khutbah. Third,
I will try to demonstrate that the attainment of peace and tranquility is central to Islam.
Fourth, I will offer suggestions on how to achieve inner peace and tranquility.


Definition of peace/salam
         We don‟t want to turn „peace‟ into a cliché, something we throw around without
really understanding what it is. Instead, we want to gain a deep understanding of the
several shades of meaning of the word peace - what it encompasses, what it really
means to attain peace and the different contexts in which peace can be achieved.
Thus, it is important to define peace, because as I will show, there are many different
dimensions of peace – there is no single, monolithic type of peace. Once we have an
idea of what peace means, then we have an appreciation of it, and then as we proceed
to see how so many different dimensions of Islam point towards peace, we can perhaps
gain a deeper understanding of Islam itself.
         We could stay here all day just defining peace, but in this short amount of time I
would like to decompose peace/salam into three different components where it is
experienced:
a) Inner Peace - experienced internally, within the individual: this is inner/spiritual peace
ie. tranquility. It‟s like an emotion we „feel‟ when we are tranquil, calm, without worry or
stress or pressure or fear. [hereafter tranquility]




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b) Peace experienced between individuals physical peace between individuals in the
physical world [security, safety and harmony in the real world]
c) Peace in the hereafter.


The first two are familiar to us – they refer to peace not in the hereafter but in this world.
The third – peace in the hereafter – is something that we will understand more as I go
through this khutbah – in a nutshell, peace is a defining characteristic of heaven itself,
and in fact when God describes heaven in the Quran, He repeatedly uses salam –
peace - as a way to describe heaven.


I also wanted to quote the definition of salam from two well-known individuals who
translated the Quran into English (these are only excerpts of their definition):
Definition of salam:
Asad: “Salam denotes inner peace, soundness and security from evil of any kind, both
physical and spiritual”
Yusuf Ali’s translation includes inner peace, security and adds a sense of soundness,
freedom from defects, perfection, being satisfied and not dissatisfied and freedom from
any jarring element.


2) The motivation for this topic: a preview of whats to come
       Why discuss peace and tranquility? I will answer this question mainly using the
definition of peace I just discussed.
       Real-world benefits
As we just saw, one dimension of peace is the tranquility we experience in this world. I
think we would all agree that tranquility/inner peace is all something that we desire. So,
one motivation for discussing peace is to answer the question,
“How can I attain tranquility in this world?”
       Sometimes it is easy fall into the mode of thinking that religion is almost
exclusively only about experiencing reward in the hereafter – so religion is basically
some kind of delayed gratification, in other words we need to struggle/toil/put up with
hardship in this world and the reward only comes in the hereafter. But the hereafter
reward is only part of the story, because as I hope to demonstrate, we are also rewarded
with real-world inner peace and tranquility.




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       Of course it is true that we will be tested in this world. But what I am proposing is
that once we see the centrality of peace and tranquility in Islam, we are better equipped
to handle these tests, because we will see how to achieve tranquility in this world as we
are being tested. In other words, we will be tested, but at the same time we can attain
tranquility in this world. And just to give you a preview of what is to come later in this
khutbah, when I discuss how to attain tranquility, the attainment of inner peace is one of
the deep meanings of our acts of worship – our acts of ibadah. Through our acts of
worship (such as prayer, fasting, charity, pilgrimage) we come closer to God, and we
experience tranquility in this world. So our acts of worship have real-world benefits.
       b) Secondly, as we become closer to God, not only do we experience real-world
tranquility, but we also will also be rewarded with peace in the hereafter. This I think is
very familiar to us. So, in a nutshell, as we seek God, we are rewarded with tranquility
and peace in both this world and in the hereafter.


3) Showing that peace is at the core of Islam; peace is embedded at the heart of Islam.
The following will seem like just a laundry list of ways in which peace/salam crops up in
the Islamic spiritual universe. And I think you already know many of the facts that I will
list next. But I think that once we lay them all out, the natural question is to ask ourself a
question: what do these individual clues mean collectively? Are they just the product of
coincidence, or is there a very deep meaning? I think they collectively form an ayah – a
sign. The deep meaning of these individual clues is that 1) they collectively point to the
centrality of peace within the Islamic spiritual universe; 2) they indicates that Islam
directs us towards tranquility; 3) and that Islam enjoins peace.


       a) Salam is a name of God: We all know that to God belong the most beautiful
names –asma-al-husna. In Surah Al-Hashr, God calls himself Al-Salam. Salam is one of
God‟s names. Salam is one of God‟s attributes and when we experience tranquility, we
are actually experiencing one of God‟s attributes. In fact, as Muslims we can say that
our yearning for inner peace and tranquility is nothing more than our yearning for God.


       b) Linguistic approach – I will examine two roots (s-l-m and a-m-n) and show how
peace is literally embedded in Islam
First I need to explain something about the Arabic language. According to Lane‟s
lexicon: Arabic words are made from a few component letters, ie. the "root" which



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usually consists of three letters, which convey a basic idea. By adding various vowels
(i.e. changing pronunciation) as affixes, associated meanings can be derived. The
interesting part is that we can even see this in the English spellings which I will
demonstrate below.
       Root #1: S-L-M
For example, the Arabic letters: Siin–Lam–Miim (‫ )م ل س‬are the root for the following
words: salaam (peace), islam (submit to God), muslim (one who submits to God). In all
these words, you will see the root (component letters) are the same, and in the same
order, i.e. Siin-Lam-Miim; in English when you spell the three words Islam, Muslim and
Salam, you will see that s-l-m come in the same order.
So the word Islam and the word salam, the Arabic word for peace, both come from the
same root. This demonstrates that there is going to be a relationship between the two.
So, even linguistically, there is an inherent element of peace connected even within the
word Islam – peace is literally embedded in Islam. The same is true with the word
Muslim, implying that the person who submits to God experiences peace.


       Root #2: A-M-N
The root A-M-N is associated with safety, security, and peace. Thus amn means safety,
peace, protection (even in Urdu).


Word #1: Iman = faith = the collective term for all those beliefs on which the Islamic faith
is based. A-M-N is the root for Iman ie. it‟s the root for FAITH
Word #2: Aminu [believers]
Word #3: Mo’min [the believer]


       It is striking that the very words used for faith itself [iman], the word for believers
[aminu] and the word for the believer [mo‟min] comes from the root a-m-n which means
peace. So those who are faithfully committed to God find security, peace and protection
in God; it points to the peace and tranquillity that the believer enjoys in his heart as a
result of upholding these beliefs.


       c)Salam is embedded in our everyday lives. It‟s easy to forget (and I forget this
often), but when we greet eachother, „Assalamualaikum‟ – which means „May peace be
with you‟ – we are actually wishing peace and tranquility upon the other person. So



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recall, that s-l-m is embedded in the word Muslim, and when Muslims greet eachother
they spread peace and tranquility. So I think we are beginning to see the centrality of
peace and tranquility in Islam.
       The centrality of peace is also demonstrated within our prayer. Every single time
we pray, in Tashahhud we recite,


        „As-salamu „Alaika Ayyuhannabiyyu Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu
       Assalamu „Alaina Wa „Ala „Ibadillahis Salihin‟


       Which means, “Peace on you, O Prophet and the mercy of Allah and His
Blessings; Peace be on us and on the righteous servants of Allah‟.


       It is remarkable that everytime we pray we are asking God to bestow his peace
and tranquility upon ourselves. Similarly, when we end our prayer we turn to the right
and then the left, and say „Assalamu „Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah‟ which means may the
„Peace and the mercy of Allah be on you‟.


d) Salam in the Quran
I will now make several points about salam using references to salam in the Quran. At
the outset, I want to point out that the Quran itself guides us to peace. In Surah al-Maida
God says,
        „There has come to you a clear book with which God guides all who seek his
       good pleasure to ways of peace and leads them from darkness out into the light‟
       [5:16-17]


        So, the Quran contains guidance which leads us to peace and tranquility.
       The second critical point made about peace in the Quran is that those who follow
guidance will experience peace and tranquility. In Surah Taha, we are told:


                                   [20:47]
       Which means “and Peace be on all who follow guidance!”. IMHO, this is an
important link between following guidance and peace: when we follow guidance, we
experience peace. So, when we are be tested and we are put in difficult situations, then




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when we follow guidance and do the right thing, we are assured that we will experience
peace in the long run, though it may not be immediately obvious how or when.
       Another fascinating point about peace in the Quran is that salam – peace and
tranquility – is a defining characteristic of heaven. Note that the hereafter is something
we cannot imagine, but the Quran repeatedly describes what we experience in the
afterlife using language that we can understand.
       Recall that we just established that the greeting we use here on Earth is „peace
be upon you‟, ie. assalamualaikum. I think it is not a coincidence that repeatedly in the
Quran we are told that God – and the angels - greet those in heaven with literally this
exact phrase, ie. peace/salam or peace be upon you - assalamualaikum. Just a few
examples-
       In Surah Maryam, we read “ [In heaven] They will not there hear any vain
discourse, but only salutations of Peace: And they will have therein their sustenance,
morning and evening.” [19:62]
       "Enter ye therein in Peace and Security; this is a Day of Eternal Life!" [50:34]
       “And those who feared their Lord will be led to the Garden in crowds: until
behold, they arrive there; its gates will be opened; and its keepers will say: "Peace be
upon you! well have ye done! enter ye here, to dwell therein." [39:73]
       “Their salutation on the Day they meet Him will be "Peace!"; and He has
prepared for them a generous Reward.” [33:44]


       Thus, In so many different Surahs We are told that peace/salam is the greeting
used in heaven – Surah Ar-Ra‟d [13:21-24], Surah An-Nahl [16:30-31], Surah Az-Zumar
[39:73], Surah Qaf[50:31-35], Surah Maryam [19:62], Surah Al-Ahzab [33:44], Surah Ya-
Sin [36:58], Surah Yunus [10:9-10:10], Surah Ibrahim [14:23], Surah Al-Hijr [15:45],
Surah Al-Waqi‟a [56:10, 56:88].
       The last point I want to make in this discussion of salam in the Quran is that God
himself invites us to the abode of peace in this world and in the hereafter – God invites
us to peace and tranquility. The abode of peace is known as „dar-as-salam‟. In Surah
Yunus we read, “And [know that] God invites [man] to the abode of peace, dar-as-salam,
and guides him that wills [to be guided] onto a straight way.” [Asad‟s translation of 10:25]
This is an important concept because, to quote M. Asad:
       „dar as-salam („abode of peace‟) denotes not only the condition of ultimate
       happiness in the hereafter – alluded to in the allegory of paradise – but also the



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        spiritual condition of a true believer in this world: namely, a state of inner security,
        of peace with God, with one‟s natural environment, and within oneself‟




God loves those who ask for forgiveness.


------------------------Break for second khutbah------------------




(sit down and wait 5 seconds)




        All praise is due to God, the Lord of the Universe; may the greeting and the
peace of God be upon the best messenger Muhammad, the unlettered Prophet; and
upon his family and upon all of his companions.


        So, let step back to summarize the evidence – the signs, or ayahs - that points to
the simple yet deep fact that peace and tranquility are at the center of the Islamic
spiritual universe. First, from a linguistic perspective, peace is literally embedded in the
words Islam, Muslim, Iman (faith) and aaminu and mo‟min (believers). Salam -
Peace/tranquility - is one of the asma-al-husna ie. the 99 most beautiful names of God,
and so we can say that God is the source of peace and that our yearning for tranquility
and peace is a yearning for God. Salam is embedded in our everyday practices when we
greet each other and when we pray and even when we make reference to the Prophet
Muhammad (pbuh). In the Quran, God tells us that those who follow guidance will
experience salam, or peace and tranquility. The greeting of salam is used by God to
greet those in heaven – a remarkable parallel to our greeting used on Earth. And, God
himself invites us to abode of peace and tranquility – the dar-as-salam.




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         In my second khutbah I will offer some suggestions on how to achieve inner
peace and tranquility. These are just a few personal suggestions – note that we could
spend days and days on this subject alone.
         First of all, every act of worship ie. every act of ibadat is intended to bring us
closer to God, and when we are near to God, we experience peace as a result. So when
we pray, when we fast, when we give charity, when we serve humanity, when we make
hajj, when we overcome our nafs, we draw closer to God. We could spend many hours
discussing how each of these acts of ibadah result in us coming closer to God, but
essentially there is deep meaning to all of these and when we perform these acts of
ibadah with the intention of coming closer to God we can experience tranquility and inner
peace.
         Second is paying attention to the signs of God. There are ayahs everywhere. As
you know, the word „ayah‟ in English means sign, and it also means verse. There are so
many different signs, and the Quran – which is a sign in itself – directs us to signs of
God in the universe.
         I‟ll give a few examples of signs that come straight out of the Quran. A very large
fraction of the Quran points to nature as a sign. Nature itself is a sign of God. In other
words, creation itself is a sign of God; we can say that to experiencing creation is
experiencing the Creator . In fact, God swears by his signs of nature. I‟ll give just one
example from Surah Ash-Shams:




By the sun and his brightness, (1) And the moon when she followeth him, (2) And the
day when it revealeth him, (3) And the night when it enshroudeth him, (4) And the


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heaven and Him Who built it, (5) And the earth and Him Who spread it, (6) And a soul
and Him Who perfected it (7) And inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and
(what is) right for it. (8) He is indeed successful who causeth it to grow, (9) And he is
indeed a failure who stunteth it.


          I will quote Fazlur Rahman‟s Major Themes of the Quran - “nature is so well-knit
and works with such regularity that it is the prime miracle of God, cited untiringly in the
Qu‟ran. The universe with all its causal processes is the prime „sign‟ (aya) or proof of its
maker… The problem is that people do not take the ordered universe to be a sign or a
miracle at all, but rather look for the interruption or supression of natural processes in
order to find miracles of god; people mistakenly attribute the occurrence of natural
events to their natural causes alone without recognizing the presence of God in them
and when a „supranatural miracle‟ (like floods, hurricanes, tornados) occurs, it must be
such that there is no doubt that it is authored by God. “
          Once we recognize the signs of God, what is their purpose? Their purpose is to
inspire awe of God and rememberence of God. And when we remember God, he
remembers us (2:152).
          Third, purification of the heart: purification of the heart brings us closer to God
and as a result we experience tranquility. In past khutbah‟s we‟ve talked about all the
positive qualities we should foster in ourselves and the negative qualities we should
avoid. I can give a list of positive/negative qualities but I think every human being
possesses an intuitive sense of right/wrong: right is compassion, tolerance, justice,
equality, honesty, generosity, serving humanity; wrong is pride, arrogance, greed,
selfishness, oppression, jealousy, hatred, discrimination etc. As we work and strive to
embody these qualities, we come closer to God, and this produces inner peace as a
result.
          Lastly, due to time constraints I will only offer a brief hint of how to achieve outer
peace within society. When we have a society that is enjoining the qualities I just listed –
compassion, tolerance, justice, honesty, generosity, serving humanity and avoiding
arrogance, jealousy, hatred, selfishness, oppression, then we will achieve external
peace.
          I hope that through this we have managed to peer past what we sometimes take
for granted and see beyond the surface, so that when we see the banner of salam
hanging on the wall of Old Union or when we greet each other everyday we can



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understand the centrality of salam within Islam. Inshallah we will gain a deep
appreciation for the beauty of peace and tranquility that is at the core of the Islamic
spiritual universe.




O God, forgive the believing men and women, and the Muslim men and women, the
alive amongst them and the dead, indeed You are All-Hearing, Ever-Close, and
Answerer-of-calls, with your mercy, O Most Merciful.


O God! Give our souls piety, and purify them for you are the best of those who purify,
you are the Master and Protector of our souls.


O God! Endear faith to us, and beautify it in our hearts, and make loathing to us
disbelief, wrongdoing and rebelliousness, and make us of the guided.


O God, we ask you for guidance, piety, chastity, and self-sufficiency.


O God, show us the truth as the truth and bestow upon us the ability to obey it,


And show us falsehood as falsehood and bestow upon us the ability to refrain from it.


O God, send blessings and peace upon Your servant and Messenger Muhammad, and
on his family, people, and companions.


Our Lord, give us in this life that which is good, and in the hereafter that which is good,
and save us from the punishment of Hell.


Rabbana aathinaa fidduniya hasana wa fil akhirati hasana, wakinna azabannar [2:201]


Wa aqeemussalah.




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