Reis CERIC 003X crDr. Mustafa Ceric
Grand Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia
President of World Bosniak Congress
Bosnia and Herzegovina


Peace and cooperation as human values

- The concept of peace in Islam - A way to economic peace -

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ (كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بَارِزًا يَوْمًا لِلنَّاسِ فَأَتَاهُ جِبْرِيلُ فَقَالَ مَا الْإِيمَانُ قَالَ الْإِيمَانُ أَنْ تُؤْمِنَ بِاللَّهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَبِلِقَائِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَتُؤْمِنَ بِالْبَعْثِ قَالَ مَا الْإِسْلَامُ قَالَ الْإِسْلَامُ أَنْ تَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ وَلَا تُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَتُقِيمَ الصَّلَاةَ وَتُؤَدِّيَ الزَّكَاةَ الْمَفْرُوضَةَ وَتَصُومَ رَمَضَانَ قَالَ مَا الْإِحْسَانُ قَالَ أَنْ تَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ كَأَنَّكَ تَرَاهُ فَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُنْ تَرَاهُ فَإِنَّهُ يَرَاكَ...

- Abu Huraira reported: One day the Messenger of God (may peace be upon him) appeared before the public that a man came to him and said: “Prophet of God, (tell me) what is īmān?” Upon this, he (the Holy Prophet) replied: - That you affirm your faith in God, His angels, His Books, the encounter with Him on the Day of Judgment, His Prophets and that you affirm your faith in the Resurrection hereafter. 

"(Tell me) what is Islām?” The Holy Prophet replied: - That you worship One God and do not associate to Him anything, that you perform prayer, that you observe prescribed zakāt (charity), and that you fast the month of Ramadan. 

"(Tell me) what is Ièsān?” The Holy Prophet replied: - That you worship God as if you see Him because if you do not see Him, He certainly sees you.

I Al-Īmān

Thus, based on this well known Hadith of the Holy Prophet, there are three pillars of a solid edifice of peace in Islam: al-'amnu (ألأًمْنُ) al-salāmu (ألسَّلاَمُ) and al-èasanu (ألحَسَنُ). Indeed, these three Arabic words constitute the roots of the fundamental concept of security, peace and solidarity in Islam.

A common translation of the Arabic word of al-īmān as "faith", does not designate the exact meaning of the roots of that word. The three root letters of al-īmān ( أ م ن) indicate to the idea of al-'amn: security, safety, continuity, reliability, trust. Hence, the meaning of al-īmān is not just a faith of the faithful, but rather a security of the secured, a safety of the safer, a continuity of the persevere, a reliability of the brave and a trust of the trustworthy.

The participle active of al-īmān, which is the fourth verbal form of Arabic, is Al-Mu'min (المُؤْمِنُ), which means the one who is security minded, who is safer, who is persevere, who is reliable, who is trustworthy of confidence. Thus, the mu'min is confident man because he is self-confident, and he is self-confident because of his inner soul security, al-'amn, as it is meant to be his al-īmān, trust in God, which is a result of his ability to trust in his inner feeling of security, al-'amn, as well as his ability to communicate his inner security with the outside world.

The opposite to al-īmān within the context of a faithful society is not al-kufr, disbelief, but rather al-nifāq, hypocrisy. Here al-kufr is out of context because it indicates to the idea of a denial of belief in God. But the idea of al-nifāq is not a denial of belief as such. The nifāq, hypocrisy is an intentional misleading claim of faith as a trust in God and a trust in man. And this is the core value of sustainable economics. 

The state of nifāq is a sign of an inner man's insecurity and a lack of man's moral responsibility for peace in the society. We are told in a Hadith of the Holy Prophet that you may recognize a hypocrite (al-munafiq) by three signs: first sign is that when he speaks, he lies; the second sign is that when he promises, he fails to keep his promise; and the third sign is that when he is entrusted, he betrays the trust (آيَةُ الْمُنَافِقِ ثَلَاثٌ : إِذَا حَدَّثَ كَذَبَ , وَإِذَا وَعَدَ أَخْلَفَ وَإِذَا اؤْتُمِنَ خَانَ).

The trustworthy (al-mu'min) is just the opposite to the hypocrite (al-munāfiq) because when he speaks, he tells the truth; when he promises, he keeps his promise; and when he is entrusted, he fulfills the trust. Hence, the one who is al-mu'min (faithful), and that is the state of al-īmān (inner security) and al-amān (public trust), is a genuine Muslim, who loves peace, who works for peace, and who brings about solidarity and cooperation into the society. For, we know that neither the meek nor the aggressive will inherit the earth, but the cooperative, which means the peaceful man.

II Al-Islām

A journey from a state of al-īmān and that is to say of a deep inner awareness of security, to a state of al-islām and that is to say, of a genuine acceptance of the idea of peace as against the idea of war is the most important journey of human life. In the same way, as we have it for the word al-īmān, we have three root letters for al-islām (س ل م) to guide us to the real meaning of Islam and Muslim. Thus, the letter sīn, mīm and lām are the three Arabic letters to designate the concept of peace in Islam as the core drive of an entire Weltanschauung of a Muslim.

It is not false to say that Islam means submission to the will of Allah Almighty, but it is not fully understood if we do not add that Islam means: peaceful submission, peaceful acceptance and peaceful practice of Islam by the name of Allah Almighty. It is the very idea of Islam that bears the witness of a historic affirmative action that "there shall be no compulsion in religion" (لاَ إكْراهَ فىِ الدِّينِ).

This Qur'anic declaration of the seventh century is unique not only in its historic initiative but also in its farsighted divine vision for the humanity that has learned by now that forceful submission not only to religion but also to any ideology has not been working and will never work. Therefore, the idea of Islam has brought about a principle that a forceful submission to God is not acceptable by God Himself because only peaceful acceptance of a submission to God is valid submission to God because God Himself is the Peace, al-Salām, and thus He accepts only peaceful worship and peaceful relation among human beings. Of course, we are aware of the fact of physical laws by way of which the entire universe or multiverse is made to function willingly or unwillingly (طوعاً أو كرهاً), but here we are talking about human freedom of choice for good (الإختيار), which is recognized by God: (التغابن، 2) هو الذي خلقكم فمنكم كافر ومنكم مؤمن - It is God who has created  you while some of you are now disbelievers and some of you are believers.

Indeed, the peaceful submission to God assumes a peace of mind which comes as a result of an inner security of al-īmān, that is to say, a trust in God who has breathed of his spirit into Adam, when he was only a clay, neither alive nor dead (ونفخ فيه من روحه) in order for him to become al-insān, the human being with a light of his reason because, in order to survive man must acquire knowledge, he must go through the process of learning, he must go through the process of thinking, he must activate his faculty of reason. This is why we have it in our Islamic tradition that:  -  The first thing created by God was the ’aql (reason), and as the great Muslim philosopher and mystic Imam Muhammad al-Ghazālī had said it: - The power of reason is God's scale on earth (سلطان العقل الذي هو ميزان الله في الارض   ).

If al-islām means the peaceful submission to Allah Almighty, then the word al-muslim, which is a participle active of the Arabic fourth verbal form of islām, literally means "a peaceful man", the man who spreads the peace in the world. This is best expressed by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, a.s., by his definition of a Muslim when he said: - The Muslim, i.e. the peaceful man, is the one who make other Muslims, i.e. other peaceful men, to be safe from his hands and his words! (المسلم من سلم المسلمون من لسانه ويده..).

It is the "Other", whomever he/she is, that should feel at peace and safety by a Muslim at any time and at any place. And it is this idea of peace and safety of the "Other" that made the early Muslim jurists to come with an historic moral and legal principle based on an overall spirit of the Sharī'ah Law, that each and every non-Muslim person in a Muslim society must enjoy five essential human rights, i.e. the right to life (al-nafs), the right to religion (al-dīn), the right to freedom (al-'aql), the right to property (al-māl) and the right to dignity (al-'ird). It must be said that this principle of basic human rights had been adopted by Muslim Jurists centuries before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 by UNESCO.     

This historical evidence shows that Islam is not opposite to non-Islam and that Muslim is not opposite to non-Muslim. Islam is opposite to fesād, corruption; to zul, injustice; to ijrām, crime; and to 'unf, violence; and the Muslim is opposite to corrupt, unjust, criminal and violent people.

III Al-Ièsān  

The third pillar of an Islamic edifice of peace and security is the idea of al-ièsān, the fourth verbal form of three Arabic root letters (ح س م), which designates to beauty-beautiful, to well- wellbeing, to good-goodness, to right-righteousness. Thus, in the said Hadith we read that one should always maintain his/her human character beautiful in the eyes of others, he/she should be always well doing for others, he/she should always be good to others and he/she should be always righteous to fellow human beings to gain the title of al-muèsin, the one who is doing well, good and right to others not only to be praised by man, but also to be seen by God, who sees what he/she is doing although he/she does not see God. This is the highest degree of beauty of human soul, this is the highest moral value of human being - indeed, this is the highest ideal of a concept of peace for the human society.

IV Conclusion

In this short article, I have tried to show that the very word of Islam and Muslim carries the message of peace and security in the world. It is worthwhile of noticing that unlike Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism, the name of Islam is not derived from a person but from an abstract concept, i.e. the concept of peace. Therefore, Islam is a faith of peace and Muslim is a peaceful man.

However, the fact that Islam is portrayed as a religion of violence and Muslim is seen as a man of terror and terrorism should not confuse genuine Muslims to believe in peace and work for peace in the world.

It is not first time in history that a religion is misinterpreted by prejudices of those who are stuck by their hatred toward the Other; it is not first time in history that a concept of a faith has been constantly misguided into the opposite direction; and it is not first time in history that the victims of prejudices must realize that a misconception about them will not go away by itself. They must rise up and speak up about their real concepts of life, of faith, of culture and of peace in the world. But not only speak, they must act in a convincing manner so that what they say that they believe, preach and teach is in the practice of their own life. A personal example is more powerful than a thousand of words of an empty preaching.

Indeed, as Muslims, we must admit that there are some irresponsible men among us who are doing a disservice by their service to Islam and Muslims in a way that no one understands and no one can accept. They are spreading misconceptions about Islam and Muslims in such a way that generations will have a hard time to clear that up. An injustice does not justify another injustice. The Muslims are advised by Allah Almighty that they should promote peace and do justice even to their enemy in order to change their heart and make them their friends: - Good and Evil are not the same. Therefore, you should always promote Good and thus, if there is an enmity between you and him, he might as a result of your goodness become your sincere friend.
وَلا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ). فصلت:34(

And that is the concept of peace in Islam - to make all people feel friends to each other, especially in a multicultural, multireligious, multiracial and multilingual societies.
And that is the way to a global sustainable economic development.
That is the way to “Economic Peace”.   
- Post Scriptum -
YES,  I do have hope... indeed, I have two hopes: a hope with fear and a hope without fear. My hope with fear is that the cry “Never Again” will ever work. I hope it will. But still I am afraid it will not when it comes to test human wicked mind. However, I have a hope without fear because I have seen that the life of hope is stronger than the fear of death. I saw it with my own eyes in my country Bosnia. I saw it in the eyes of a mother who lost six sons in genocide. She was happy that she had one more son who was blessed by his son, her grandson. She is hopeful of her grandson’s bright future. Indeed, she is a miracle of hope. She is the greatest inspiration for me and my hope without fear. Knowing her I have no fear of fear, but I have fear of not having hope because without hope there is no life and without life there is no hope. So, hope is life, and life is hope that keeps us dreaming of a better world, a world without genocide. This is the hope of my people of Bosnia together with all the people of the world. And this is my hope of not fearing hope... Hope to be free from fear... Hope to be free from poverty... Hence, we need „Economic Peace“.


Dr. Mustafa Ceric's professional experience

Dr. Mustafa Ceric is Grand Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia-Herzegovina and is currently serving as President of World Bosniak Congress. He was an independent candidate for the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the October 12 2014, Bosnia-Herzegovina election. He was previously an imam in Northbrook, Illinois and Zagreb.

Dr. Mustafa Ceric is a member of the Interreligious Council of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Foundation of Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial and Cemetery, the Council of 100 Leaders of the World Economic Forum, the European Council for Fatwas and Research, World Conference of Religion & Peace, the executive committee of the European Council of Religious Leaders, the board of trustees of International Islamic University Islamabad, the Sharia'h Board of Bosnia Bank International, the Fiqh Academy in Mecca, Aal Albayt Foundation for Islamic Thought in Jordan, the World Council of Religions for Peace, International Commission for Peace Research, UNESCO, the Executive Council of World Forum of Ulama, Advisory Council of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and  Writers Association of Renewal Jordan.

Dr. Ceric was the co-recipient of the 2003 UNESCO Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize. In 2007, he received the Theodor-Heuss-Stiftung and was named the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association of Muslim Social Scientists UK. In 2008, he received the Eugen Biser Foundation award. In 2010, he received the King Abdullah I Bin Al-Hussein International Award and 2012 received Ducci Foundation Peace Prize.



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