By Harun Yahya
Some people who say they are acting in the name of religion may misunderstand their religion or practice it wrongly. For this reason, it is a mistake to form any idea of that religion from the activities of these people. The best way to understand Islam is through its holy source.
The holy source of Islam is the Qur'an; and the model of morality in the Qur'an is completely different from the image of it formed in the minds of some westerners. The Qur'an is based on the concepts of morality, love, compassion, mercy, modesty, self-sacrifice, tolerance and peace, and a Muslim who truly lives according to these moral precepts is highly refined, thoughtful, tolerant, trustworthy and accommodating. To those around him he gives love, respect, peace of mind and a sense of the joy of life.
Islam Is A Religion Of Peace And Well-Being
The word Islam has the same meaning as "peace" in Arabic. Islam is a religion that came down to offer humanity a life filled with the peace and well-being in which God's eternal mercy and compassion is manifested in the world. God invites all people to accept the moral teachings of the Qur'an as a model whereby mercy, compassion, tolerance and peace may be experienced in the world. In Surat al-Baqara verse 208, this command is given:
You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace (Islam). Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. He is an outright enemy to you.
As we see in this verse, people will experience well-being and happiness by living according to the moral teaching of the Qur'an.
God Condemns Mischief
God has commanded humanity to avoid evil; he has forbidden immorality, rebellion, cruelty, aggressiveness, murder and bloodshed. Those who do not obey this command of God are walking in the steps of Satan, as it says in the verse above, and have adopted an attitude that God has clearly declared unlawful. Of the many verses that bear on this subject, here are only two:
But as for those who break God's contract after it has been agreed and sever what God has commanded to be joined, and cause corruption in the earth, the curse will be upon them. They will have the Evil Abode. (Surat ar-Ra'd: 25)
Seek the abode of the hereafter with what God has given you, without forgetting your portion of the world. And do good as God has been good to you. And do not seek to cause mischief on earth. God does not love mischief makers.' (Surat al-Qasas: 77)
As we can see, God has forbidden every kind of mischievous acts in the religion of Islam including terrorism and violence, and condemned those who commit such deeds. A Muslim lends beauty to the world and improves it.
Islam Defends Tolerance And Freedom Of Speech
Islam is a religion which fosters freedom of life, ideas and thought. It has forbidden tension and conflict among people, calumny, suspicion and even having negative thoughts about another individual. Islam has not only forbidden terror and violence, but also even the slightest imposition of any idea on another human being.
There is no compulsion in religion. Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error. Anyone who rejects false gods and believes in God has grasped the Firmest Handhold, which will never give way. God is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Surat al-Baqara: 256)
So remind, you need only to remind. You cannot compel them to believe. (Surat al-Ghashiyah:22)
To force anyone to believe in a religion or to practice it, is against the spirit and essence of Islam. Because it is necessary that faith be accepted with free will and conscience. Of course, Muslims may urge one another to keep the moral precepts taught in the Qur'an, but they never use compulsion. In any case, an individual cannot be induced to the practice of religion by either threat or offering him a worldly privilege.
Let us imagine a completely opposite model of society. For example, a world in which people are forced by law to practice religion. Such a model of society is completely contrary to Islam because faith and worship have value only when they are directed toward God. If there were a system that forced people to believe and worship, people would be religious only out of fear of the system. What is acceptable from the point of view of religion is that religion be practiced in an environment where freedom of conscience is permitted, and that it be practiced only for the approval of God..........