Pacifism in Islam

Islam does not have any normative tradition of pacifism, and warfare has been integral part of Islamic history both for the defense and the spread of the faith since the time of Muhammad.[1] Prior to the Hijra travel Muhammad struggled non-violently against his oppressors in Mecca.[2] It wasn't until after the exile that the Quranic revelations began to adopt a more defensive perspective.[3] However, different Muslim movements through history had linked pacifism with Muslim theology.

Quran, Hadiths and Sunnah


I am going to give you such a weapon that the police and the army will not be able to stand against it. It is the weapon of the Prophet, but you are not aware of it. That weapon is patience and righteousness. No power on earth can stand against it.[4]Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan

In the 13th century, Salim Suwari a philosopher in Islam, came up with a peaceful approach to islam known as the Suwarian tradition.[5][6]

Khān Abdul Ghaffār Khān (6 February 1890 – 20 January 1988) (Pashto: خان عبدالغفار خان), nicknamed Bāchā Khān (Pashto: باچا خان, lit. "king of chiefs") or Pāchā Khān (پاچا خان), was a Pashtun independence activist against the rule of the British Raj. He was a political and spiritual leader known for his nonviolent opposition, and a lifelong pacifist and devout Muslim.[7] A close friend of Mohandas Gandhi, Bacha Khan was nicknamed the "Frontier Gandhi" in British India.[8] Bacha Khan founded the Khudai Khidmatgar ("Servants of God") movement in 1929, whose success triggered a harsh crackdown by the British Empire against him and his supporters, and they suffered some of the most severe repression of the Indian independence movement.[9] Khan strongly opposed the All-India Muslim League's demand for the partition of India.[10][11] When the Indian National Congress declared its acceptance of the partition plan without consulting the Khudai Khidmatgar leaders, he felt very sad and told the Congress "you have thrown us to the wolves."[12] After partition, Badshah Khan pledged allegiance to Pakistan and demanded an autonomous "Pashtunistan" administrative unit within the country, but he was frequently arrested by the Pakistani government between 1948 and 1954. In 1956, he was again arrested for his opposition to the One Unit program, under which the government announced to merge the former provinces of West Punjab, Sindh, North-West Frontier Province, Chief Commissioner's Province of Balochistan, and Baluchistan States Union into one single polity of West Pakistan. Badshah Khan also spent much of the 1960s and 1970s either in jail or in exile. Upon his death in 1988 in Peshawar under house arrest, following his will, he was buried at his house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of mourners attended his funeral, marching through the Khyber Pass from Peshawar to Jalalabad, although it was marred by two bomb explosions killing 15 people. Despite the heavy fighting at the time, both sides of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the communist army and the mujahideen, declared a ceasefire to allow his burial.[13]

The Palestinian activist Nafez Assaily has been notable for his bookmobile service in Hebron dubbed "Library on Wheels for Nonviolence and Peace",[14] and hailed as a "creative Muslim exponent of non-violent activism".[15]

See also

Further reading


  1. Johnson, James Turner (1 November 2010). "1". Holy War Idea in Western and Islamic Traditions. Penn State Press. pp. 20–25. ISBN 0-271-04214-1.
  2. Boulding, Elise. "Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History", p. 57
  3. Howard, Lawrence. "Terrorism: Roots, Impact, Responses", p. 48
  4. Nonviolence in the Islamic Context by Mohammed Abu Nimer 2004
  5. Emily Lynn Osborn (10 October 2011). Our New Husbands Are Here: Households, Gender, and Politics in a West African State from the Slave Trade to Colonial Rule. Ohio University Press. pp. 18–. ISBN 978-0-8214-4397-2.
  6. Louise Müller (2013). Religion and Chieftaincy in Ghana: An Explanation of the Persistence of a Traditional Political Institution in West Africa. LIT Verlag Münster. pp. 207–. ISBN 978-3-643-90360-0.
  7. An American Witness to India's Partition by Phillips Talbot Year (2007) Sage Publications ISBN 978-0-7619-3618-3
  8. Raza, Moonis; Ahmad, Aijazuddin (1990). An Atlas of Tribal India: With Computed Tables of District-level Data and Its Geographical Interpretation. Concept Publishing Company. p. 1. ISBN 9788170222866.
  9. Zartman, I. William (2007). Peacemaking in International Conflict: Methods & Techniques. US Institute of Peace Press. p. 284. ISBN 1929223668. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  10. "Abdul Ghaffar Khan". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
  11. "Abdul Ghaffar Khan". I Love India. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
  12. "Partition and Military Succession Documents from the U.S. National Archives". Retrieved 2016-09-04.
  13. January 23, 1988 edition of the New York Times
  14. Minke De Vries, Verso una gratuità feconda. L'avventura ecumenica di Grandchamp,Paoline, 2008 p.173
  15. Jerry Levin,West Bank Diary: Middle East Violence as Reported by a Former American Hostage, Hope Publishing House, Pasadena, California 2005 p.xx
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