BY MARIAM KHALIFEH
My concept was inspired by the recent terrorist attacks in Lebanon, France, Syria, and Iraq and their association with Islam. Checking my Facebook lately, all I see are videos and news of governors condemning Islam and planning to limit Muslim refugee access to their countries. سلام the word itself says ..اسلام; yet it is extremely ironic that Islam is the one religion that is constantly accused of promoting violence and terrorism. Thus, I felt an urge to draw something that reminds the world of what Islam really is. I felt an urge to give a glimpse about Islam to those who do not know much about it by just using canvas and some paint.
Putting the newsfeeds and shared videos aside, looking deep into the message of Islam, one cannot but sense its peaceful message. The message of Islam is peaceful in all aspects. Islam promotes tolerance and forgiveness with other religions. It even came in the Holy Quran that There is no compulsion where the religion is concerned” (Holy Quran: 2/ 256). According to Islam, the three holy religions should coexist peacefully. Islam even granted Muslim men the right to marry women from other holy religions which reinforces the acceptance and respect Islam has for different religions. I presented this on my art work by putting a symbol for each religion on the letter “S” of the word “Salam,” meaning peace.
In addition, despite the common misconception about the treatment of women in Islam, Islam actually enhanced the status of women. Islam gave rights to women fourteen hundred years ago that some women do not have until the current day. It also stopped the burial of girls, which was a common practice before Islam. Islam honored mothers and granted them heaven. “And we have enjoined on and to be dutiful and kind to his parents, his mother bears him with hardship and she brings him with hardship” (Holy Quran: 46/15). Moreover, Islam did not distinguish between women and men in the way they pray and love God; women and men worship God the same exact way in Islam. The prophet Mohammed peace be upon him also encouraged Muslim men to treat their wives the best way possible and granted them heaven for well-raised daughters. I presented this by drawing a sketch of a woman on the letter “L” of the word “Salam.”
Islam is not only peaceful towards adults, but also towards children. Islam condemns abortion whatever the reason is. Hence, it came in the Quran “kill not your children because of poverty - We provide sustenance for you and for them” (Holy Quran: 6/151). Islam does not even permit termination of pregnancy because of financial difficulties; it encourages couples facing financial difficulties to be patient and believe that God will provide for them and their children. Islam gave parents the responsibility to raise their children with righteous morals and respectful manners. Islam also stressed on the importance of education of children and teaching them the right from wrong. Therefore, I represented the peace of Islam towards children by drawing a child on top of the “A” letter of the word “Salam.”
Islam’s peacefulness extended beyond family borders. Islam emphasized on the necessity of respect and forgiveness between neighbors. In fact, Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, is a great example of a respectful neighbor. It is known that he once had a neighbor that did not believe in Islam and always left his garbage at the door of the prophet. The prophet never said anything but always threw away the garbage. One day, the man stopped throwing his garbage on the prophet’s doorsteps. So, the prophet got worried about his neighbor and went to visit him. The neighbor was sick and was mesmerized by the manners of Prophet Mohammed. Islam gave rights to neighbors and a verse from the Holy Quran supports this by stating “And be good to the neighbor who is your relative and to the neighbor who is not a relative” (Holy Quran: 4/36). I showed this on my painting by drawing two houses next to each other representing neighbors.
Islam did not exclude environmental aspects from its peaceful purpose. Islam proposes that God provided Earth for humans to live on, protect, and take care of. The prophet, peace be upon him, once said: “The Earth is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you his stewards over it. The whole earth has been created a place of worship, pure and clean. Whoever plants a tree and diligently looks after it until it matures and bears fruit is rewarded. If a Muslim plants a tree or sows a field and humans and beasts and birds eat from it, all of it is love on his part” – Hadith. In addition, the Quran stresses on the idea that God created everything for a wise purpose and humans should not disrupt that purpose. On that note, the prophet said: “The world is beautiful and verdant, and verily God, be He exalted, has made you His stewards in it, and He sees how you acquit yourselves.” Hence, taking care of the environment is embedded in the message of Islam. I presented this by drawing a tree with its’ roots on the letter “M” of the word Salam.
Finally, Islam’s gracefulness reached all insects and animals as both the Quran and the prophet stressed on the kind treatment for animals. The Quran reminds humans that animals form communities just like animals do: "There is not an animal that lives on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but they form communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they all shall be gathered to their Lord in the end" (Holy Quran: 6/38). “The Quran further describes animals, and all living things, as Muslims - in the sense that they live in the way that Allah created them to live, and obey Allah's laws in the natural world.” The prophet forbid the cruel treatment to animals. He was always seen treating cats nicely and feeding them. He also once said with reference to animals: “Fear Allah in these beasts who cannot speak" – Hadith. I represented the peaceful message of Islam towards animals by drawing a cat on the top of the “M” letter of the word Salam.
Using just a few aspects, I was able to represent the peace of Islam in the word “Salam.” However, there are many other topics that the peaceful messages of Islam reach to. Islam promotes peace even in wars and fights. The misrepresentation of Islam has put the religion in a cave of injustice. I may not be the only one or the first one to try to deliver this message; but be it by me or by anyone else, I truly do hope that the message gets delivered. Islam in itself is Salam - Peace.
Mariam Khalifeh, 20 years old Palestinian engineering student. Passionate about politics, poetry, and music.
and The Holy Quran.