Islam is a peaceful religion because Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, has called Himself as-Salaam (the One Free from all defects; this word also means peace'), and Islam is His religion that He has approved of for mankind. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
He is Allah than Whom there is La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He) the King, the Holy, the One Free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures, the All-Mighty, the Compeller, the Supreme. Glory be to Allah! (High is He) above all that they associate as partners with Him
Islam is a peaceful religion because it forbids mischief on earth. Allah, may He be glorified, says (interpretation of the meaning):
and do good as Allah has been good to you, and seek not mischief in the land. Verily, Allah likes not the Mufsidoon (those who commit great crimes and sins, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupt)
Verily, Allah enjoins Al-Adl (i.e. justice and worshipping none but Allah Alone - Islamic Monotheism) and Al-Ihsan (i.e. to be patient in performing your duties to Allah, totally for Allahs sake and in accordance with the Sunnah (legal ways) of the Prophet SAW in a perfect manner), and giving (help) to kith and kin (i.e. all that Allah has ordered you to give them e.g., wealth, visiting, looking after them, or any other kind of help, etc.): and forbids Al-Fahsha (i.e all evil deeds, e.g. illegal sexual acts, disobedience of parents, polytheism, to tell lies, to give false witness, to kill a life without right, etc.), and Al-Munkar (i.e all that is prohibited by Islamic law: polytheism of every kind, disbelief and every kind of evil deeds, etc.), and Al-Baghy (i.e. all kinds of oppression), He admonishes you, that you may take heed
The blood of the peaceful individual (one who is living under Muslim rule or who has been granted the protection of the Muslim state) is regarded as sacrosanct to such an extent that transgression against a single individual with no justification is regarded as equal to transgression against all of humanity. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. And indeed, there came to them Our Messengers with clear proofs, evidences, and signs, even then after that many of them continued to exceed the limits (e.g. by doing oppression unjustly and exceeding beyond the limits set by Allah by committing the major sins) in the land
Islam is a peaceful religion that allows followers of other religions to live in the Islamic state and practice their religion without putting any pressure on them. They are the ones who are known as ahl adh-dhimmah or ahl al-ahd (those living under Muslim rule and enjoying the protection of the Muslim state). They are granted complete rights that are not granted to them by the most democratic countries nowadays.
The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) ruled Madinah when there were many Jewish tribes living there, and he established a constitution between him and them which required all citizens to defend the state and strive together for its wellbeing, and granted security to them, their property and their children, with freedom of worship, trade and travel. They mixed with the Muslims to such an extent that they used to invite the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) to meals in their homes, and he would accept their invitations. He (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) also gave them the right to judge matters amongst themselves according to their own laws.
This is how the Rightly Guided Caliphs who succeeded him also acted; they did not shed anyone's blood on the basis of identity, ethnicity or religion. Rather they resisted the aggression of hostile parties, supported those who were weak and oppressed in the land, and strove to spread the religion of Allah, call people to Him and tell them about Him: so that those who were to be destroyed (for their rejecting the Faith) might be destroyed after a clear evidence, and those who were to live (i.e. believers) might live after a clear evidence [al-Anfaal 8:42].
The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: If anyone wrongs a muaahid [non-Muslim living under Muslim rule], detracts from his rights, burdens him with more work than he is able to do or takes something from him without his consent, I will plead for him (the muaahid) on the Day of Resurrection.
Narrated by Abu Dawood (3052); classed as hasan by Ibn Hajar in Muwaafaqat al-Khabr, 2/184; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood
It was narrated from Abdullah ibn Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: Whoever kills a muaahid will not smell the fragrance of Paradise, although its fragrance may be detected from a distance of forty years.
Narrated by al-Bukhaari (3166)
The basis for all of that is the verse in Soorat al-Mumtahinah in which Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.
It is only as regards those who fought against you on account of religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and helped to drive you out, that Allah forbids you to befriend them. And whosoever will befriend them, then such are the Zalimoon (wrong-doers those who disobey Allah)
And Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah and be just witnesses and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do
Al-Baydaawi says in his Tafseer (commentary on the Qur'an) (303):
That is: do not let your intense hatred for the mushrikeen (polytheists) cause you to fail to be just towards them and thus transgress against them by doing things that are not permissible, such as mutilating the dead, slandering them, killing women and children, or breaking treaties, because of the resentment in your hearts. End quote.
Although Allah has instructed His slaves to show enmity towards the disbelievers with regard to their religion and to disavow them, that too is governed by the definitive general principle, which is to treat them justly and fairly, and not to wrong or mistreat them.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Justice (or fairness) is obligatory upon everyone towards everyone in all circumstances, and injustice (or unfairness) is not permissible under any circumstances, to such an extent that Allah, may He be exalted, has enjoined the believers to treat the disbelievers with justice, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
Be just: that is nearer to piety, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do
The believers treated the disbelievers justly in accordance with the command of Allah, because Allah told them: do not let your hatred of the disbelievers make you fail to treat them justly; rather treat them justly, for that is nearer to piety.
End quote from Majmoo al-Fataawa, 30/339
This is the code of conduct that governs Muslim practices and highlights to you the peace, justice and security that Islam brought to the inhabitants of earth.
But if you want to judge Islam on the basis of the actions of some of its followers and adherents, then you must let us judge Christianity and Judaism based on the actions of some of the followers of these two religions too. How can it be said that Christianity is a religion of love when we see that the holy war (crusade) that was declared by the US president Bush (the son) is killing hundreds and thousands of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq?
Even if we accept that al-Qaeda has attacked peaceful citizens in the USA, and we overlook the reports and studies that suggest otherwise and point to the involvement of intelligence agencies, can that aggression be warded off by occupying other countries? If Afghanistan was occupied in order to strike at al-Qaeda in that country, then why was Iraq occupied, which led to the killing of thousands and widespread abuse of prisoners [Abu Ghraib], and put an end to the peace and security that existed before the occupation, so that rivers of blood could continue to flow because of the consequences of occupation?
How can it be said that Christianity is a religion of love, when we see complete support for the Zionist occupation of Muslim lands, the expulsion of millions from their homes, the imprisoning of hundreds of thousands, and the wholesale replacement of one people by another? Didn't the Jews live in peace in Palestine and other Arab lands before the establishment of the state of Israel? So why this occupation? And why do Western countries continue to support this usurper state? Why does the Christian West support this state, and why was it given the Balfour declaration by Great Britain in order to kill Muslims and stir up the grave turmoil, trouble and war that resulted from the planting of the Zionist entity in the region?
What do you want us to tell you about the current situation that is filled with terrorism of Christian states and the blood they have on their hands, represented by the new conservatives in the USA, Britain and elsewhere?
Or do you want us to tell you about the armed Christian terrorist groups, of which there are more than forty-one, and more than twenty-two militias in the USA alone? If we were to list for you the operations that these groups have carried out throughout the world, it would take far too long. How about if we listed all the terrorist groups throughout the world, which are motivated by racist or religious beliefs, all of which have emerged from the Christian world?
But let us set all of that aside. Why should we delve so deeply into the Western world? Have you not heard about the Muslims in Central Africa, and the massacres and atrocities to which they are being subjected?
Have you heard about the offenses being committed against the Muslims in Myanmar, before the eyes of the entire world?
Do you want us to tell you about the past? The pages of history are filled with the Crusades in which the Muslim lands were occupied and their blood was shed for hundreds of years?
Do you want us to tell you about what happened to the Muslims in Andalus (Spain) and the atrocities carried out against them by the Inquisition?
Do you want to us to tell you about the atrocities committed by European colonialists - French, British, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch - in Muslim lands?
Nevertheless, we - as an independent Islamic research organization - cannot accuse Christianity, in the form that Allah sent down to the Messiah Eesa ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary - peace be upon him), of being a religion of terror or aggression; rather it was a religion of peace, as were the religions of all the Prophets. Rather terrorism occurrs among some of the followers who distort the divinely revealed books, or follow their own criminal agenda, or get confused and they are deceived by the Shaytaan (Satan), so they begin to shed blood, transgress sacred limits and provoke wars throughout the world.
We believe that we can find a great deal of common ground if we agree to respect treaties and covenants, and restore people's rights in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq, and other countries that have long suffered oppression and occupation, and the plunder of resources, sometimes in the name of freedom and sometimes in the name of fighting terrorism. At that point we will be able to find a way to debate calmly and wisely, for we are the people of this call, as Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
Invite (mankind, O Muhammad SAW) to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom (i.e. with the Divine Inspiration and the Quran) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided.
And if you punish (your enemy, O you believers in the Oneness of Allah), then punish them with the like of that with which you were afflicted. But if you endure patiently, verily, it is better for As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.)
And endure you patiently (O Muhammad SAW), your patience is not but from Allah. And grieve not over them (polytheists and pagans, etc.), and be not distressed because of what they plot.
Truly, Allah is with those who fear Him (keep their duty unto Him), and those who are Muhsinoon (good-doers)
And Allah knows best.
Reproduced from Islam QA