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The Pride of Humanity was a man of love and affection. One of his names was Habibullah (the Beloved of God). In addition to meaning one who loves, habib means one who is loved, one who loves God, and one who is loved by God. Sufi masters like Imam Rabbani, Mawlana Khalid, and Shah Waliyyullah state that love is the ultimate station of the spiritual journey.
God created the universe as a manifestation of His love for His creatures, in particular humanity, and Islam became the fabric woven out of this love. In the words of Bediüzzaman, love is the essence of creation. Just as a mother's love and compassion compels her to allow a surgeon to operate on her sick child to save his or her life, jihad allows war, if needed, to preserve such fundamental human rights as the right to life and religious freedom. Jihad does not exclusively mean war.
Once a friend said to me: "Without exception and regardless of differences in faith, you meet with everyone, and this breaks the tension of Muslims toward probable opponents. But it is an Islamic principle to love those things or people who must be loved on the way of God and dislike those things or people who must be disliked on the way of God." Actually this principle is often misunderstood, for in Islam all of creation is to be loved according to the rule of loving on God's way.
"Disliking on the way of God" applies only to feelings, thoughts, and attributes. Thus, we should dislike such things as immorality, unbelief, and polytheism, not the people who engage in such activities. God created humanity as noble beings, and everyone, to a certain degree, has a share in this nobility. His Messenger once stood up out of respect for humanity as the funeral procession of a Jew passed by. When reminded that the deceased was a Jew, the Prophet replied: "But he is a human," thereby showing the value Islam gives to human.
This action demonstrates how highly our Prophet respected every person. Given this, the involvement of some self proclaimed Muslim individuals or institutions in terrorist activities can in no way be approved of by Islam. The reasons for this terrorism should be sought for in the actions themselves, in false interpretations of the faith, and in other factors and motives. Islam does not support terror, so how could a Muslim who truly understands Islam be a terrorist?
If we can spread the Islamic understanding of such heroes of love as Niyazi-i Misri, Yunus Emre, and Rumi globally, if we can extend their messages of love, dialogue, and tolerance to those who thirst for this message, then everyone will run toward the embrace of love, peace, and tolerance that we represent.
The definition of tolerance in Islam is such that the Prophet even prohibited verbal abuse of unbelievers. For example, Abu Jahl died before embracing Islam, despite all the Prophet's efforts. His unbelief and enmity toward the Prophet was such that he deserved the title Abu Jahl: Father of ignorance and impudence. His untiring opposition to Islam was a thorn in the side of the Muslims.
Despite such hostility, when in an assembly of Companions where Abu Jahl's son Ikrimah was present, the Prophet one day admonished a Companion who had been heard insulting Abu Jahl: "Do not hurt others by criticizing their fathers." Another time, he said: "Cursing your mother and father is a great sin." The Companions asked: "O Messenger of God, would anyone curse their parents?" The Prince of Prophets replied: "When someone curses another's father and the other curses his father in return, or when someone curses another's mother and the other does the same in return, they will have cursed their parents."
While the Prophet of Mercy was inordinately sensitive when it came to respecting others, some Muslims today justify unpleasant behavior on the basis of religion. This shows that they do not understand Islam, a religion in which there is no place for malice and hatred.
The Qur'an strongly urges forgiveness and tolerance. In one verse, it says of pious people:
They swallow their anger and forgive people. God loves those who do good. (Al-Imran 3:134)
In other words, Muslims should not retaliate when verbally abused or attacked. If possible, as Yunus says, they should act as if they had no hand or tongue with which to respond and no heart with which to resent. They must swallow their anger and close their eyes to the faults of others. The words selected in the verse are very meaningful. Kazm, translated as swallowing, literally means swallowing something like a thorn, an object that actually cannot be swallowed; thus it denotes swallowing one's wrath, no matter how difficult. Another verse, while mentioning the characteristics of believers, says:
When they meet hollow words or unseemly behavior, they pass them by with dignity. (Al-Furqan 25:72)
When we look at the exalted life of God's Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, we see that he always practiced the precepts presented in the Qur'an. For example, a Companion once repented of a sin and admitted: "I am guilty of fornication. Whatever my punishment is, give it and cleanse me." The Prince of Prophets said: "Go back and repent, for God forgives all sins." This event was repeated three times. Another time, a Companion complained to the Prophet that someone had stolen his belongings. But as the punishment was about to be carried out the Companion said: "I have changed my mind and do not want to pursue my case. I forgive this individual." The Prophet asked: "Why did you bring this matter to court? Why didn't you forgive him from the outset?"
When such examples are studied from their original sources, it is clear that the method of those who act with enmity and hatred, who view everyone else with anger, and who blacken others as infidels is non-Islamic, for Islam is a religion of love and tolerance. A Muslim is a person of love and affection who avoids every kind of terrorist activity and who has no malice or hatred for anyone or anything.