On Remembrance Day, Rabbi Dow Marmur, a man I admire, exhorted us to hazard peace with Iran. Rabbi Marmur is correct to state that we mustn't fall back on the failure of Chamberlain's attempt at peace prior to WWII each time peace is within our midst.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines peace as "a state or period of mutual concord between governments; a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity."
Peace means something else in Islam and it behooves us to negotiate peace respecting their definition. We have been asked by Progressives to accept the fact that all cultures must be treated equally, that no one culture is "better" than another. The mid-twentieth century anthropologist, Franz Boas, wrote that there were no inferior or superior cultures, that all were equal and could not be ordered in an evolutionary scale. Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) believed that the survival of democracy required tolerance and understanding of others. To that end we must make every effort to understand the Islamic interpretation of peace that has been taken on by the Islamic extremists in Iran and organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah.
One interpretation of peace in Islam is submission or surrender to God, or Allah. Peace comes only after one surrenders or submits one's self to Allah and his messenger Muhammad. Therefore peace exists only inside the Dar-al-Islam -- the house of submission, after the conversion to Islam. That is the ultimate meaning of Islamic peace.
Modern-day Islamic scholar, Ibrahim Sulaiman, says submission and peace can be very different concepts, even if a form of peace is often brought about through forcing others into submission. "Jihad is not inhumane, despite its necessary violence and bloodshed, its ultimate desire is peace which is protected and enhanced by the rule of law."
Recourse to armed confrontation is allowed only when all the possibilities for a peaceful education of the people have been exhausted or dar al-Islam comes under the threat of attack or more appropriately, when one has mustered sufficient strength to confront the prevailing order, because once the fighting begins, it does not stop "until the war lays down its burden" as Allah has mentioned in the Qur'an 47.
Shaykh Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Buti, until his recent death, was the leading Islamic scholar in Syria, professor and retired Dean at the College of Islamic Law at Damascus University, and author of Jurisprudence of the Prophetic Biography, regarded as one of the best Prophetic biographies written in the 20th century. It is said that he goes beyond mere narration of the events of the Prophet's life to look at the lessons and "religious understanding" that can be gleaned from it.
"The theory that our religion is a peaceful and loving religion is a wrong theory. The Holy war as it is known in Islamic jurisprudence is basically an offensive war, and it is the duty of all Muslims of every age...because our prophet Muhammad said that he is ordered by Allah to fight all people until they say 'No God but Allah,' and he is his messenger. It is meaningless to talk about the holy war as only defensive, otherwise, what did the prophet mean when he said, "from now on even if they don't invade you, you must invade them."
The late respected Egyptian scholar, Sayyid Qutb, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, wrote 24 books, including several on education and religion. Translations of his work exist in every Arabic language, including Farsi, the language spoken in Iran. Ayatullah Seyyed Ali Khamenei who was appointed as Iran's Supreme Leader after the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989 did the translations.
Qutb's ideas attracted particular interest in the faculty of religious law in Kabul, Afghanistan. His works are studied from Malaysia to Morocco and a direct line of influence runs from his writings to Osama bin Laden, and bin Laden's Egyptian partner in terror, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Milestones, Revised Edition, Qutb wrote that western democracy is infertile of life-giving ideas, that obedience to Shari'ah is necessary to achieve harmony and peace for mankind and any place where Shari'ah is not enforced and Islam is not dominant is the abode of war (Dar-ul-Harb).
"The value of civilizations lay in what universal truths and worldviews they have attained." The modern obsession with science and invention was a moral regression to the primitive condition of the first toolmakers.
Qutb specifically claims the conquest of non-Muslim states as "a movement to wipe out tyranny and to introduce true freedom to mankind. A true Muslim not only has no loyalty to any country "where the Islamic Shari'ah is not enforced," but must be prepared to fight against such countries.
"When Islam strives for peace, its objective is not that superficial peace which requires that only that part of the earth where the followers of Islam are residing remain secure. The peace which Islam desires is that the religion (i.e. the Law of the society) be purified for God, that the obedience of all people be for God alone, and that some people should not be lords over others."
Islamist groups all over the world frequently cite Qutb as a major influence in their own ideologies from the blind sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, now in prison in the United States for conspiracy to commit terrorism to the leaders of many of the major terrorist groups. Hamas and Islamic Jihad regularly cite his works. His influence is heard in the language of contemporary Islamists.
Iran is today the world's only clerically-ruled government. Shiite Islam is not just the religion of state, but also forms the framework for a theocracy. Religion and politics are inseparable. The starting point for debates in Iran is not secular law and civil rights, but the tradition of Muslim jurisprudence and practice called the Sharia. The leaders of Iran are followers of Qutb.
If we are going to abide by the belief that all cultures are equal then we must accept the views of those with whom we negotiate a priori when we sit down to discuss and hazard peace.