Religion of peace

After the September 11 attacks in 2001, some politicians and activists in the Anglophone world, including U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, as well as U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, have described Islam as a religion of peace in an effort to distance it from Islamism.

Usage of the termEdit

In the past the epithet "religion of peace and good will towards men" has been applied to Christianity.[1]

In the 1960s, Malcolm X, acting as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam, said on multiple occasions that Islam was a "religion of peace".[2][3]

In 1996, the Organisation of The Islamic Conference agreed to call for "pragmatic and constructive steps to counter the negative propaganda against Islam; to remove and rectify misunderstandings; and to present the true image of Islam: the religion of peace and tolerance."[4]

In September 2001, in the wake of the September 11 attacks, U.S. President George W. Bush said: "The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war."[5][6][7][8] Some have pointed out that the word "Islam" is etymologically related to the Arabic word salām meaning "peace".[9] This prompted criticism from some quarters[10] and a poll of United States Evangelical Protestant leaders taken in 2002 revealed that only 10% agreed with Bush that Islam was synonymous with peace.[11]

Mahathir bin Mohamad, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia said in 2002, "Islam, as I said, is a religion of peace. However through the centuries, deviations from the true teachings of Islam take place. And so [people who call themselves] "Muslims" kill despite the injunction of their religion against killing especially of innocent people.[12]

Dalil Boubakeur, mufti of the Paris Mosque, said in 2006, "The prophet did not found a terrorist religion, but a religion of peace."[13]

Following the 2015 San Bernardino attack, US President Barack Obama used the term, as part of his efforts to counter a perceived anti-Muslim bias, in an address following the attack,[14] and in his first visit to a US mosque.[15]

On March 18, 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Islam a religion of peace and called terrorism a dividing force, lauding the peaceful message of Sufism, at World Sufi Conference.[16]


Sherman Jackson says that the expression does not imply a rejection of the laws of Jihad, but rather the idea that Islam desires "a state of permanent, peaceful coexistence with other nations and peoples who are not Muslims".[17]

The term "The Religion of Peace" is used mockingly by critics of Islam, such as right-wing commentator Ann Coulter.[18] Philosopher and New Atheist writer Sam Harris wrote, "The position of the Muslim community in the face of all provocations seems to be: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn't, we will kill you."[19]

When asked by reporters in 2005 if Islam was a religion of peace, Pope Benedict XVI stated that some elements of Islam can favor peace, but it also has other elements. [20]

Islamist Sayyid Qutb wrote that Islam is the religion of peace in the sense of submitting all of mankind to Allah.[21]

On May 13, 2015, ISIL released an audio message by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who asserted that Islam is not a religion of peace, but rather the religion of fighting. [22]

Following the 2017 Barcelona attacks, the cover of Charlie Hebdo ran with an image of a van driving away from bloodied victims with the caption "Islam, religion of peace... Eternal".[23][24][25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Defensive War not Inconsistent with a Religion of Peace, a sermon, Seeley, Jackson, & Halliday, 1860, p. 11 Quote: "While however it is manifest and unquestionable that Christianity is emphatically a religion of peace and good will towards men — men of all countries and of all climes — it is assuredly not a religion of absolute and passive non-resistance."
  2. ^ Nessen, Stephen. "Remembering Malcolm X: Rare Interviews and Audio". WNYC - New York Public Radio. WNYC - New York Public Radio. Retrieved 1 April 2018. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us the religion of Islam, which is a religion of peace.
  3. ^ Malcolm X: Speech excerpt from Los Angeles (speech). Educational Video Group. 1962. Retrieved 1 April 2018 – via Alexander Street. They also say that, uh, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was a draft dodger. No he wasn't. He just refused to go to the army because he was a man of peace. He was a minister of a religion of peace. He was teaching peace, so he outright refused to go to the army.
  4. ^ Littman, David. "Islamism Grows Stronger at the United Nations". The Middle East Quarterly.
  5. ^ Merskin, Debra. "The construction of Arabs as enemies: Post-September 11 discourse of George W. Bush." Mass Communication & Society 7.2 (2004): 157-175.
  6. ^ Smidt, Corwin E. "Religion and American attitudes toward Islam and an invasion of Iraq." Sociology of Religion 66.3 (2005): 243-261.
  7. ^ Lincoln, Bruce. "Bush’s God Talk." Political Theologies: Public Religions in a Post-Secular World (2006): 275.
  8. ^ ""Islam is Peace" Says President" (Press release). Office of the Press Secretary. 2001-09-17. Retrieved 2007-11-22.
  9. ^ Armstrong, Karen (23 September 2001). "The True, Peaceful Face Of Islam". Time. Retrieved 22 July 2017. The very word Islam, which means "surrender," is related to the Arabic salam, or peace.
  10. ^ Till, Farrell (November 2001). "The Real Culprit". The Skeptical Review. Archived from the original on 2012-03-18. Retrieved 2007-11-22.
  11. ^ Green, John (2003-04-07). "Evangelical Views of Islam". EPPC and beliefnet. Retrieved 2007-11-22.
  12. ^ "Islam, Terrorism, and Malaysia's Response (page 2)". Asia Society. 4 February 2002.
  13. ^ "Prophet cartoons enraging Muslims". International Herald Tribune. 2 February 2006. Archived from the original on 4 February 2006. Retrieved 2007-11-22.
  14. ^ U.S. Muslims Reach Out to Address Questions on Islam and Violence, New York Times, Laurie Goodstein, 22 Dec 2015
  15. ^ Obama, in Mosque Visit, Denounces Anti-Muslim Bias, New York Times, Gardiner Harris, 3 Feb 2016
  16. ^ "At Sufi meet, Modi lauds Islam as a religion of peace".
  17. ^ Jackson, Sherman (December 2001). "Jihad and the Modern World" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-09-10. "... Religion of peace" connotes, rather, that Islam can countenance a state of permanent, peaceful coexistence with other nations and peoples who are not Muslims. In other words, contrary to the belief that Islam can only accept a world that is entirely populated by Muslims Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. ^ Siddiqi, Imraan (5 June 2003). "Ann Coulter's Foul Mouth: The Blond Hate Machine". Counterpunch. Archived from the original on 13 June 2003. Retrieved 2007-11-22. Ann on the other hand, apparently missed this Sunday school lesson, and continues to ridicule Islam sarcastically as the "religion of peace" whenever a negative story arises within the Muslim world.
  19. ^ Harris, Sam (5 May 2008). "Losing Our Spines to Save Our Necks". Retrieved 19 March 2011. (updated 25 May 2011)
  20. ^ "Pope says terror attacks cannot be defined as anti-Christian". Catholic News Agency. 2005-07-25. Retrieved 2016-02-25. I would not like to use big words to apply generic labels. It certainly contains elements that can favor peace, it also has other elements: we must always seek the best elements.
  21. ^ Qutb, Sayyid. Fiqh al-Da'wah. Fiqh al-Da'wah. IslamQA. pp. 217–222. Archived from the original on 2006-10-17. Retrieved 2007-11-22. The defeatists should fear Allah lest they distort this religion and cause it to become weak on the basis of the claim that it is a religion of peace. Yes, it is the religion of peace but in the sense of saving all of mankind from worshiping anything other than Allah and submitting all of mankind to the rule of Allah.
  22. ^ "ISIS Caliph Baghdadi in New Audio Message: 'Islam Was Never a Religion of Peace,' Our Jihad Is 'The War of All Muslims'". The Christian Post. 2015-05-15. Archived from the original on 2015-05-17. Retrieved 2015-05-16. Islam was never a religion of peace. Islam is the religion of fighting. No one should believe that the war that we are waging is the war of the Islamic State. It is the war of all Muslims, but the Islamic State is spearheading it. It is the war of Muslims against infidels. O Muslims, go to war everywhere. It is the duty of every Muslim.
  23. ^ "Islam religione di pace" Charlie sfida i musulmani, Il Giornale, 23 August 2017
  24. ^ 'Charlie Hebdo' dedica su portada al atentado de Las Ramblas de Barcelona, Publico, 23 August 2017

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