By Ali Unal
After he received the first Revelation, the command read!, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, returned home in excitement. He was sleeping wrapped in a cloak, ‘enwrapped’ by the suffering of people and the heaviness of his responsibility, when God commanded him:
O you enwrapped one! Keep vigil the night long, save a little (a half of it, or diminish a little, or add a little), and chant the Qur’an in measure. For We shall charge you with a word of weight. (73:1-5)
The short period between the first revelation and the beginning of the communication of the Message to the others, the period marked by verses such as those above was of a preliminary kind for God’s Messenger. He had to prepare himself to perform the duty of conveying God’s Word of Weight, the Qur’an. He was to keep vigil the night long and recite the Qur’an in measure, because the vigil of the night is a time when impression is more keen and recitation more penetrating.
Jihad entails, besides conveying the Message to others, a believer’s struggle with his carnal self to build his genuine, spiritual character, overflowing with belief and inflamed with love
As was explained above, striving in the way of God entails, besides conveying the Message to others, a believer’s struggle with his carnal self to build his genuine, spiritual character, overflowing with belief and inflamed with love. A believer’s struggle in the way of God, with these two dimensions of it, continues, in the individual sphere, until the believer’s death, and up to the Last Day in the collective sphere. So, a short while after God’s Messenger received the order to keep vigil the night long, the following revelation came to him:
O you enshrouded one, arise and warn! Your Lord magnify; Your robes purify and defilement flee! And show not favor, seeking worldly gain! For the sake of your Lord, be patient! (74:1-7)
By these revelations, the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, was ordered to begin the preaching of Islam. He started from his relatives of the nearest kin and, after the command, Warn your tribe of nearest kindred (26:214), his call encompassed his tribe. This was followed by public preaching and, predictably, by reactions such as derisions, threats, tortures, offers of the most alluring kind and boycotting.
Islam came not to make mischief nor to cause dissensions among people; it aims to establish peace in the inner worlds of human beings themselves and make them at peace with God, nature, and the entire world and universe.
In Makka, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, never resorted to, nor allowed, retaliation. For Islam came not to make mischief nor to cause dissensions among people. It came, in the words of Amir ibn Rabi’, the Muslim envoy to the Persian commander in the war of Qadisiya during the caliphate of ‘Umar, to bring people out of the darkness of unbelief into the light of belief, to free them from ‘servanthood’ to servants to make them the servants of One God, and to elevate them from the pit of ‘earth’ to the height of ‘heaven’. Also, as stated earlier, Islam, literally meaning peace, salvation and submission, came to establish peace, first, in the inner worlds of human beings themselves, making them at peace with God, nature, and the entire world and universe. For this reason, peace and order are fundamental in Islam. It always seeks to spread in a peaceful atmosphere and refrains from resorting to force as much as possible. Islam never approves injustice in whatever form it is, and severely forbids bloodshed. According to the Qur’an:
Whoever slays a soul not to retaliate for a soul slain or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had slain all mankind, and whoever ‘gives life’ to a soul, it shall be as if he had ‘given life’ to the whole of mankind. (5:32)
Coming to eradicate injustice and corruption on the earth, and to ‘unite’ the earth with the heavens in peace and harmony, Islam seeks to call people with wisdom and fair exhortation, and does not resort to force until those who desire to maintain the corrupted order they built on injustice, oppression, self-interest and exploitation of others and usurpation of their rights, resist it to prevent its preaching. Thus, Islam allows the use of force in the following cases: