Abdul Ghaffar Khan:
Faith, Love, and Nonviolence in Islam
By Adam Ericksen
Today’s world is traveling in some strange direction. You see that the world is
going toward destruction and violence. And the specialty of violence is to create
hatred among people and fear. I am a believer in nonviolence and I say that no
peace or tranquility will descend upon the people of the world until nonviolence is
practiced, because nonviolence is love and it stirs courage in people.
-Abdul Ghaffar Khan, 1985
The world is spinning out of control. The 20
century was the most violent century the
world has known. Unfortunately, the 21
century already threatens to surpass the 20
terms of violence. We seem to be stuck in a cycle of destruction and violence that breeds
intense hatred, fear, and misunderstanding. Some seem to suggest that the only way out
is more destruction and violence, but is there a better way? Do we have to use violence
to root out violence?
Part of the hatred, fear, and misunderstanding in the West is directed at Islam. Some
Christians suggest that Islam is inherently violent, intolerant, and stuck in a never ending
war instigated by the Prophet Muhammad himself. (See Robert Spencer, Religion of
Peace: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t, Regnery Publishing, 2007.) It is easy to fall
into this trap. It makes us feel good to think that we (the West, Christians, or whomever)
are good, and they (Islam) are bad. But this view is fatally flawed and overly simplistic.
Christianity is not peaceful or violent; Christians are peaceful or violent. Islam is not
peaceful or violent; Muslims are peaceful or violent. Sacred texts from any religious
tradition can be interpreted in a way that leads to violence or in a way that leads to peace.
Even the meek and peaceful Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”
(Matthew 10:34). The responsibility for people of any faith, and ultimately of any faith
community, is to interpret sacred text in a