The Meaning of Islam: Peace or Submission?

Most Muslims have habitually insisted that Islam is a religion of ‘peace’. They claim that the meaning of Islam is derived from ‘al-salaam’, which means peace in Arabic.

Thus, if the word Islam actually means peace, why are there so many killings around the world, being perpetuated by Muslims in the guise of protecting Islam?

For instance, a few days ago, some Muslim men killed 12 people in the premises of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical Magazine that’s published in Paris, France. Their reason for carrying out the atrocious killing is because the Magazine had a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed in one of their editions.

But the Magazine is known for spoofing institutions and personalities in France. Their mocking has no limit, which has targeted Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism including French celebrities etc. and nobody was killed; they just laughed it off.

Ironically, it is the members of the religion of ‘peace’ (Islam) that didn’t see the humor aspect of the Magazine’s creativity, and therefore decided to kill the Company’s staff in order to protect Prophet Mohammed and Islam from ridicule.

By now, it is obvious that if indeed Islam is the same as peace; then it is not the same peace that Google defines as “freedom from disturbance”. In fact, there are so much terror activities by some Muslims to contemplate the word Islam to be anything but peace.

There are so many Islamic terrorist groups in every part of this planet earth that the world has lost count of. The few that are currently making headlines are al Qaeda, Islamic State (IS), al-Shabaab and Boko Haram.

One thing in common with all the Islamic terrorists in the world is; they are all adherents of Sunni Islam, according to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

And in responding to the Paris terrorist attack, Nasrallah, who incidentally belongs to Shia Islam, was quoted by Lebanon’s Daily Star as follows; "the behaviour of the takfiri groups that claim to follow Islam have distorted Islam, the Koran and the Muslim nation more than Islam’s enemies ... who insulted the prophet in films... or drew cartoons of the prophet".

To know exactly what influenced Mr Nasrallah’s statements; it is best to examine the difference between Sunni and Shia Islam. The main contention between them was who would be the leader of Islam after the death of Prophet Mohammed.

The Shias believed that the rightful leader should be Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Mohammed. But the Sunnis thought the leadership should be selected/elected from what they referred to as the four “Rightfully Guided Caliphs” — Abu Bakr, Omar, Othman and Ali.

In the end, Abu Bakr was selected instead of Ali, which has displeased the Shias till date. And so, they refer to each other as takfiri, which is when a Muslim accuses another Muslim of apostasy. The word takfiri is derived from kafir (infidel), a non-believer in Islam.

Anyway, irrespective of their differences, all Muslims (Sunnis & Shias) believe that the meaning of Islam is peace.

However, some scholars (including Islamic scholars) agree that the root word of Islam is not al-salaam (peace) but al-silim, which means submission. It is so because the Quran, in Surah 9:29 commanded Muslims as follows:

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued”.

In all, the real meaning of Islam is Submission rather than Peace. But if the Muslims succeed in converting humanity to Islam either through terror or by willing submission; there will be peace. And it is only then can Islam claim to be religion of peace.