Four Californian Lectures – Part 1

Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi

(Toronto, Canada)

Lecture 1: Islam, Religion of Peace


A lecture delivered at the University of California Merrill College, Santa Cruz on 28th October, 1987.


The name Islam and the Arabic word for peace, salam, both come from the same root, salima which indicates peace. So we may say that Islam and peace are twins. This peace and tranquility pervades the whole structure of Islam. The Muslims greet each other by saying salamun ‘alaykum peace be on you). It is a much better way of the old an’im sabahan or the modern ‘l-kahyr (Good morning). The ritual prayer of on Islam ends on peace, when the Muslims say: as-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh (Peace be on you, and mercy and blessings of Allah). In Islam one of the names of God is Salam; many Muslims address Him in these words after every prayer: Allahumma anta ‘s-salam wa minka ‘s-salam wa ilayka ya’udu ‘s-salam (O Allah! You are Peace; from You originates peace and to You it returns.)


That is why the final abode which Allah has provided for the believers, and to which He invites them, is called daru ‘s-salam (the abode of peace). The Qur’an says: They shall have the abode of peace with their Lord. (6:127)
And Allah invites to the abode of peace. (10:25).


And when they shall reach that final destination, they shall be greeted by the angels in these words: Peace be on you, because you were patient; how excellent is then the issue of the abode. (13:24).


Peace Based on Justice


If we want to study Islamic peace, we shall have to do so in the framework of the overall Islamic ideology. Islam is, in a manner of speaking, a single entity. We should not look at any Islamic concept in isolation; we must have the whole structure in view. We may describe the whole Islamic ideology in one word: Justice. God has laid the foundation of Islam on justice. Justice has been defined as “putting a thing in its rightful place”. A judge does justice when
he awards or restores a disputed item to its rightful owner. This brings us to the concept of peace. When every thing is kept in its rightful place, when every member knows not only his rights but also his duties towards others, then peace reigns in society; and the society works smoothly like a well-balanced watch. It is what we call balance, harmony and
equilibrium.

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About the author

He was born in 1957 in a family of ‘ulamã’ in Bihar, India. He comes from a region in Bihar (Siwan District, previously known as Saran) that has produced well-known Shi‘a scholars in the Indian sub-continent. Migrated to Africa with his parents where he received elementary education in English medium school. After that for two years, he studied Arabic and Farsi with his respected father and two other ‘alims in Dar-Es-salaam, Tanzania.

In 1972, at the age of fifteen, he went to the Hawza-e ‘Ilmiya-e Qum, Iran. During his ten years stay in Qum, he studied with various teachers; and moved from the levels of muqaddimãt to sutûh (equal to graduate level in secular universities) and, finally, attended the dars-e kharij (ijtihad lectures equal to post-graduate studies) of Ayatullah al-Uzma Shaikh Wahid Khurãsãni.

In 1982, he returned to India where he stayed at Gopalpur for about a year.

In June 1983, at the invitation of the Shia Muslim Community of British Columbia, he and his wife moved to Vancouver where he stayed till June 1991 and served Shi‘a Islam through his lectures, writings, and teachings. Based on his publications and educational background, in September 1987, the Simon Fraser University (Vancouver) admitted him in the post-graduate program at Masters’ level. This was even though he had no formal degree nor was he asked to sit for any exams. In 1990 he completed his thesis; and after successfully defending the thesis, was awarded the Master of Arts degree in History in 1991.

In July 1991, he moved to Toronto and till 1996 worked as the Director of Islamic Education & Information Center providing a variety of religious services to Shi‘as in North America. During this time, he was also involved in the founding of the As-Sadiq Islamic School, a full time Islamic school from KG to Grade 8 levels. Since July 1996, he has accepted the responsibilities of the Imam-e Jum‘a and Resident ‘Ãlim of the Jaffari Islamic Center / Jaffari Community Center.

He has traveled to most cities in Canada and U.S.A.; as well as to Australia, Guyana, Trinidad, United Kingdom, Dubai, Pakistan, Tanzania and Kenya for lectures.

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