Are Muslim countries innately violent?

Most Muslim countries are poor, post-colonial nations where public knowledge and official implementation of Islamic teachings is minimal. Law and order are often limited. Yet Islam places so much emphasis on societal non-violence, gentleness and forgiveness that a peace-loving spirit still penetrates to the general culture. Statistics show Muslim countries to have lower murder rates and even lower rates of deaths from political violence than their non-Muslim counterparts!

Professor M. Steven Fish of the University of California, Berkeley points out that despite all the turmoil of recent decades, the past century saw less political deaths in Muslim lands than non-Muslim ones. And bear in mind that Muslims have not had their lands to themselves over the past hundred years, as they’ve been overrun by foreign colonial/post-colonial regimes.

He also shows how Muslim countries have only about a quarter of the murder rate of non-Muslim countries.1 In fact many of the lowest murder rates in the world are found in Muslim countries—far lower than the United States—even in a good year (a few are sampled below).

The Qur’an describes the inviolable nature of human life:

“…whoever kills a person—unless for murder or for corruption [done] in the land—it is as if he had killed all mankind.” (5:32)

So killing even one human being is no less terrible a crime than killing all of humanity.

(Note: The punishment for murder and corruption does not necessarily entail the death penalty in Islam.)

The Prophet Muhammad did not permit even the killing of an animal without proper justification:

“Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger than that without a just cause, God will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment.”2

The Qur’an encourages forgiveness instead of retaliation:

“Let them forgive and overlook: do you not wish that God should forgive you? For God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (24:22)

“Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (i.e. don’t punish them).” (7:199)

The Prophet Muhammad encouraged love and compassion for others:

“Love for humanity what you love for yourself.”3

“The best deed after belief in God is benevolent love towards people.”4

“God is compassionate and loves compassion.”5

Violence in Muslim societies should not be attributed to Islam—but a lack of it!


Works Cited

  1. Fish, M. Steven, “No, Islam Isn’t Inherently Violent, And the Math Proves It” The Daily Beast (online), accessed 2/20/18. .
  2. Narrated by An-Nasai
  3. Narrated by Bukhari, Tareekh al-Kabeer
  4. Narrated by Tabarani
  5. Narrated by Bukhari, Al-Adab al-Mufrad

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