There have been arguments made that Islam should be judged on its actions, some have pointed to abstract examples and elements in a complex history to say that Islam is a religion that cannot preach peace. Well, let us then take Islam up by its actions.
Let us look at the DNA of a Muslim’s life. The essence of the faith they live by. Let us find the commonality that surely binds Muslims into a homogeneous block.
Every Muslim will rise in the morning and begin his or her day praising life, praising the beneficence of creation. Every Muslim will spend the day wishing peace on everyone. Every hand shaken will be blessed with the words “Salam”, or Shalom , or peace by with you. Every room entered is preceded by the words that push forward peace and blessings into it. When praying, Muslims will spread the words of peace around them as they finish. Muslims parents will teach their children to bless those around them with the words of peace from the moment they learn how to interact and will praise them whenever they do so.
If you were to take all the exceptions; if you were to root out all the differences in literacy, culture and class; if you were to take a billion people and find the basic common denominator of action between them all that you would find the word Peace. Salam would be the collective voice of the people and the only generalisation that you could make. That is the essence of Islam.
But what kind of peace does Islam pursue. Why this constant injunction to find it, to give it, to pass it on? Simply because achieving peace is the furthest thing from our base nature and the closest thing to God.
Peace is not just the absence of conflict, but the presence of certainty and harmony. Peace comes when all things are balanced and we have a deep understanding of our true selves. It is both an external state and an internal one.
Peace is hard. Peace demands that you fight for it, that you wage a jihad on your own hormonal yearnings to quell the unrest of your own soul so that you may be able to deliver tranquillity to those around you. Peace is also reflexive, peace involves your sacrifice and your submission, it involves empathy with other human beings and with God.
Peace demands justice, it demands fairness, it demands equality and it demands love. Love of God and love of your fellow human being. Thus blessed are the pacemakers, because their work is the most laborious, because their efforts seem most in vain but are ultimately the most important for all of creation.
This is the nature of Islam. Yes, we may argue about its flavours, its structures, its cultural traditions and the complex history, but the motion is Islam is a religion of Peace and by understanding the how that word Salam is anchored in the very spirit of every Muslim one can see the essence of Islam. In this Islam shares the ancient impulse of man, the constant craving that we have gnawing away at our existence and the need to find a way to calm our fissile natures, after all were born in the furnace of the stars.