From the Crusades to September 11th, the prevalent notion among non-Muslims is that Islam was largely spread by the sword and continues to be defined by violence. In fact, that belief is a distortion of the religion's tradition, of its history, and of the actions and beliefs of countless Muslims around the globe today.
This decisive account of the role of nonviolence in Islam and Muslim societies, both historically and in current times, chronicles an often-obscured but longstanding pacifist tradition.
"Islam" Means Peace: Understanding the Muslim Principle of Nonviolence Today provides a rebuttal to general misperceptions about the religion by documenting its rich tradition of nonviolence. To that end, the book examines the sources of Islam—the Qur'an, the main religious text of Islam, and the Hadith, the deeds and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. It contests the prevalent notion that Islam is built on violence in part by illuminating the role of the tolerant, mystical tradition of Sufism in Islam, while at the same time examining the misunderstood place of jihad in the religion.
The book is not, however, a historical or theological treatise. Rather, it focuses on the tradition of nonviolence in modern Muslim societies. By spotlighting recent peaceful protest movements in Muslim communities, the book underscores the truly global and multicultural nature of the Islamic tradition of nonviolence. The findings here will be invaluable for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, revealing an alternative tradition both can embrace.
• Voices of leading nonviolence activists, such as Nobel Peace Prize-winner Shirin Ebadi, Mubarak Awad, Gene Sharp, and rock star Salman Ahmad, that make the history of nonviolent activism immediate and up to date
• A bibliography listing a wide array of source materials
• Highlights the important role of nonviolence in Islam and the myriad sources of inspiration for nonviolence available in Muslim holy literature, countering the pervasive stereotype of Islam as a violent religion
• Emphasizes how intrinsic Sufism—the mystical, peaceful branch of Islam—is to the religion and reveals a different history of Islam where the religion was spread peacefully, often by Sufi mystic orders
• Presents an alternative, much less violent interpretation of jihad
• Discusses the war in Kosovo and the history of nonviolent action in Pakistan and Palestine/Israel, among others, in ways that will expand the understanding of the conflicts and may suggest avenues to potential solutions