As-salamu ‘alaykum

Posted on: July 29, 2007

anak.jpgIn the West many people are afraid of Muslims. They think muslims are dangerous people who follow a traditional religion that teaches them to kill the infidels. As you all know, after the tradegy of 9/11 Islam has been more famous than ever in the Western society, everyone wants to know more about Islam. They keep asking themselves what kind of religion that thaught the terrorists to hijack some airplanes and crash them into World Trade Center building in New York. And when they started to realize that there was an oppressive regime called Taliban in Afghanistan they were amazed, they just could not believe what they were seeing on the news: women had to wear clothes that covered all their bodies and some of them had to even wear burqas to hide their faces. All the sudden women in the West held their breath and thanked God that they had not been born as muslims.

Now, all they know that Islam is an-anti-peace religion.

I am a muslim and I am proud of the religion that I believe in. I think that Islam is a religion that teaches love, peace, and tolerance. Islam that I believe teaches me how to respect differences from other people who are not Muslims and differences from Muslims themselves. That is why I am not a fan of Osama bin Laden although he is considered a big hero in some places for his efforts in fighting America, the so-called devil.

How Islam teaches peace to its followers can be seen from the very simplest activities that every Muslim should do in his or her daily life. See how Islam tells its followers to greet others. A Muslim is encouraged to say a greeting every time he or she meets other people or Muslims. It is said in The Qur’an that when the faithful enter paradise, they will be greeted by angels saying, “As-salamu ‘alaykum,” (‘Peace be upon you’) (7:46; 13:23-4; 16:32). Muslims all around the world have the obligation to spread love and messages of peace that when one Muslim meets another Muslim he or she should say the greeting just like the greeting that the angels would say, “As-salamu ‘alaykum.” This greeting should be responded with, “Wa-‘alaykum as-salam,” (‘And upon you, too, be peace’). The return greeting can be lengthened into, “Wa-‘alaykum as-salam wa-rahmatullahi wa-barakatuhu,” (‘And on you be peace, and (also) God’s mercy and (also) His blessing’). The concept of giving a longer return greeting is commanded by God in The Qu’ran:

And when you are greeted with a greeting,
greet with one fairer than it, or return it. (4:86)

Giving a peaceful greeting is not only to other Muslims because non-Muslims have the same right to be treated the same or even better. I once attended an Islamic lecture explaining how Muslims have to help other people who are the closest to them (geographically and emotionally) whether they are Muslims or not, and I agree with that while some Muslims may argue that other Muslims have to be always the number one priorities although they are not closely located or emotionally attached. We may not want to use the standardized-Islamic-greeting words to non-Muslims but we can still use other words in any languanges or body gestures just to express our peaceful minds towards other people. This should be done by Muslims because Islam is a religion of rahmatan lil ‘alamin or blessings for everyone.

As Islam is rahmatan lil ‘alamin, being a true Muslim is to be a bless for anyone: other Muslims or non-Muslims. Being a bless in life can be started simply by saying good words or greetings to others, show them that we respect them as God’s creations and that we want nothing but peace from having relations with them. So if you are a Muslim and you meet someone, you might want to say this in your heart and mind, “I know we may not have the same thoughts and opinions, but I still respect you as a God’s creation and I wish you the best in life. May peace be upon you.” As-salamu ‘alaykum.

Reference: The Qur’an by Bruce Lawrence.
Picture was taken from here.


23 Responses to "As-salamu ‘alaykum"

Once again, this article is to the point. And
sympathetic as well.

Most people just want to live in peace. They hope they will be able to earn a decent living. They work for a brighter future, to keep their family free of misery and to make their children happy. There is no difference in this respect, I think, between the overwhelming majority of Chinese who live according to Tao, the Hindi from India, the evangelistic rednecks from Texas, the orthodox Jews in western Jerusalem, the urban agnostics from all over the world or Indonesian Muslims.

As for Islam, it’s my opinion, that nobody should ever feel the need or obligation to defend his or her faith. Faith is just in the private realm.

I doubt however whether monotheistic religions – Islam included- are just inherently peaceful. Part of them is of course. But sometimes faith, especially the monotheistic religions, have fuelled the bloodshed that history shows. That belligerent part can also be found in the three holy books.

The problems usually arise when faith becomes a political phenomenon. Which at present is the case in those parts of the world where religion presents itself as the only viable vehicle for a revolution to bring about some social justice.

The goals may be reasonable. But things get nasty if these goals have to be reached regardless of the means. And more so if, whatever these means are, they are justified by giving them a religious blessing.

All of us should fight these radical, intolerant and narrowminded minorities, who discredit their religion to accomplish their political agenda’s. And at the same time we have to work hard to create an alternative to religion as a vehicle to get a better society.

Because that’s the root of the problem: millions of people who still are deprived of a decent life at home.

@yuki: It’s not your really informative comment that disturbed me. But the site that I was led to clicking your alias, did.

Of course everybody may believe and say whatever he/she wants. I do so myself. But I don’t think obscurantism does any good to any religion. Unfortunately the interpretation of the Apocalypse and Armageddon presented on the weblog is a good example of obscurity. It takes a lot of fuzzy logic for instance to “prove” we live in the end of times – and to scare people towards the absolute truth of the Bible-according-to gore…etc.

Although the site ends with the words “may God bless you”, it also states about people who have the bad luck not to be reborn Christians: “He that not believeth shall be damned”.

Well, proclaiming about 95% of the worlds population damned, doesn’t sound very peaceful to me.


I’m sorry for that, I didn’t even know that website..
If the link in my name still directs you to that website, you can go to

monyet, kok gw mouse over di atas nama gw yang di atas snapshotnya tulisannya blog gw tapi nyasar ke web kristen, jadi tak enak ama si colson..

makasiih udah mampirr. tukeran link yuk.


I wrote instead of

monyet, apus aja yang dua2nya komen gw di atas ini, thanks, masa gw linknya ke pantes aja nyasar ke situs gila itu..

I’m really sorry for this incovenience..
I’ll copy and paste my comment above then:

Frightening has already been the image of Islam before 9/11 happened. It was started in the beginning of 1990, when Ayman Zawahiri, mastermind of Al Qaeda, started to spread the idea that Qur’an should be made as the fundamental basis of Islamic society, he, then created fear in Egypt and Algeria by killing sooo many people (red: Muslims) who involved in election because implementing democratic system like that in Islamic society simply meant rejecting Qur’an. He believed they could legitimately be killed. His group also aimed at making the people to see that those politicians had been corrupted by liberalism.

Unfortunately, his Islamic Revolution failed, because, according to him, Muslims were not able to rise up and see the truth because their mind had also been corrupted by liberalism. Thus, in 1997, he and Usama bin Laden, went to Afghanistan and announced that they decided to attack the source of evil directly, the USA. Starting with he bombing of the USA’s embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, he continued his attack by 9/11. (CMIIW)

For more information, you should watch The Power of Nightmares, a documentary made by BBC.

I think, it is not only in the West; Japanese people, who are basically have nothing to do with Muslims, are even afraid of Muslims.

But I think, the most important thing here is that we have to be able to differentiate Islam with Radical Islam. Francis Fukuyama, clearly wrote in his Ameican at the Crossroads: “..we are not fighting the religion Islam or its adherents but a radical ideology that appeals to a distinct minority of Muslims.”

He also added:
“radical islam is not just as fanatical and unappeasable in its Anti Americanism, Anti Weternism, and anti modernism as anything we have ever known, they are being grounded in a venerable religion of over one billion adherents that not only provides a ready supply of recruits -trained and readied in mosques and madrassas far more effective, autonomous, and ubiquitous than any Hitler Youth of Komsomol camp- but is able to draw on a long and deep tradition of zeal, messianic expectation, and a cult of martyrdom… ”

I do not know much about Islam, but I believe that there is no religion that encouraging the followers to hate people from different religion. I think, Islam and Christian are much of a muchness, in a sense that both of these two religions are peaceful religion. If you guys say As-salamu ‘alaykum, we, Christians, say Shalom, which has almost the same meaning with As-salamu ‘alaykum.

nice article anyway..

@yuki: Wow, that’s much, MUCH better.

Good article Tasa.

I do wish to contest two of your earlier points:

Your first point:
“I doubt however whether monotheistic religions – Islam included- are just inherently peaceful. Part of them is of course. But sometimes faith, especially the monotheistic religions, have fuelled the bloodshed that history shows. That belligerent part can also be found in the three holy books. ”

All religions are inherently peaceful (except of course Satanism). What you mean to say is that not all religion is solely about living a peaceful life on a peaceful Earth aka Disneyland.

Your second point:
“The problems usually arise when faith becomes a political phenomenon.”

In the discussion of Islam in particular, I think this statement is only partially true.

Islam is a complete system including governance. In the true spirit of Islam, faith and politics is one. The Zakat for example, is a system of tax meant to better a society.

Islam is not like any other religion in the world in the sense that it is a complete system that can stand on its own. No other religion can claim this feat.

And it is for this reason that the prominent historian, Michael H. Hart has named the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) the most influential person in history.

“Hart recognized that ranking Muhammad first might be controversial, but felt that, from a secular historian’s perspective, this was the correct choice because Muhammad is the only man to have been both a founder of a major world religion and a major military/political leader.”

The problem that we are seeing in today’s world with ‘religion + politics’ is that religion is used to legitimize state and strengthen nationalistic ideologies.

Religion is the tool and not the system itself.
Islam is used to popularize political organizations. It is not the ‘organization’ itself.
And this is what the problem is.

@yunir: Inspiring comment. I like it. And tough to disagree with. Yet I’ll try.

First of all I want to point out that one convictions, beliefs, values etc will play a role in politics. The point whether a religion, or the interpretation of a religion, should dictate the way a country should be managed.

It’s no secret to me Islam has the pretention to be total ( and even totalitarian maybe?), encompassing all aspects of human life, including governance. But in essence Christianity is no different. The only difference is that in 1122 the emperor Henry V, forced the concordate of Worms on pope Calixtus – which meant that from that moment on worldly, political, affairs would always be the prerogative of the worldly political leaders.

It was the start of the founding of successful secular societies. This has helped the development of the western civilization. The Islam world badly needs a Henry V, I dare say. Don’t you think so?

Secondly I think the thesis that monotheistic religions, especially Islam, are/is absolutely peaceful,t has to be scrutinized.

So. How about the Shi’ites who still think it is appropriate – and in line with the Qu’ran – to stone an adulterer to death . As happened the other day in Iran.

Or the Saudi Wahabi who, a number of years ago, had a princess beheaded who had been involved in adultery. They also claimed this was in line with the Holy Book.

Or Islam armies who, about the thirteenth century, had conquered large parts of Spain (Alhambra) and Portugal. That was done by the sword. Rather similar to what happened some centuries later when other armies were at the walls of Vienna.

And what about the fatwa that recently was re-issued in Tehran and supported from Islamabad. It’s purpose is to kill (= murder) an English author, who, they assume, had insulted the Prophet or the religion.

Well, in my dictionary these examples, do not match a total peaceful religion. Don’t you agree?

Hi Colson, Yuki, and Yunir. I see a nice discussion going on, cool. For Yuki: Yeah, you put the wrong url address man, hehe. You know you have to be very careful in this cyber world, one wrong letter can give you a completely different thing.

I don’t think I’ll join the discussion right now because it seems to be kind of too late. But, yeah, you guys have been giving very interesting views and opinions. I just would like to add that religions were, have been, are, and will always be manipulated by people. I am sure you will all agree.

Prita: Dengan senang hati bertukar link 🙂



I think the ‘Concordat of Worms’ proved little of what you are trying to say. It didn’t result in any abandonment of religion by the authorities. And it certainly didn’t result in the secularization of Europe.

I realise that both your points are based on a distorted and narrow view of what religion is. You are buying the nonsense that fanatics have been preacing – that religion is about conquering the world and it is about punishing the sinners.

You agree with the fanatics what religion is, but for obvious reasons, you do not like it and therefore you are claiming that religion is problematic wherever it shows up. Religion is fine so long as it remains in the realm of the individual life. – “Faith is just in the private realm.”

But for Islam, it should not just be a personal matter, my dear Colson.

And this very article, “As-salamu ‘alaykum” proves the point.

Cheers 😀

It is a dare, honest, straightforward and critical question;
Is Islam a peace religion?

As a secular-Christiant I am interested to know about Islam after 9/11 not because of religious reason but just to fulfill my curiosity.

In the first as a devout-secular, not too religious in term of doing all religion’s rituals, I think that’s all religions are same. No religion inherently teaches or at least encourages violence.

I do not prejudice Islam from a few Muslim terrorist but I go directly to the heart of Islam i.e. Quran and hadist. I do this because there is one question in my self;

if some Muslims around the world are very easy to be angry irrationally for what they think insult their God, religion, prophet or whatever, is it as a result of their ultimate source i.e. Quran (and hadis) or just because they simply wrongly interpret them?

If the answer is the second the problem is not very difficult to be solved. But if the answer is the first one, then the problem will be permanent because it is Quran and hadis actually encourage and give example to its follower to do violence or at least prejudice to other peoples.

I start to open Quran and soon found many verses which disturb me as a human living with modern, pluralistic and humanistic value;
“Fight the unbelievers who gird you about, and let them find firmness in you. (Q.9:123),
“Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people” (Q.5:51),
“Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. (Q.9:5).
“Truly the Pagans are unclean” (Q.9:28,.
“Take not for protectors your fathers and your brothers if they love infidelity above Faith: if any of you do so, they do wrong.” (Q.9:23),
“And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.” (Q.2:193).
“When ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens.” (Q.47:4).
“I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.” (Q.8:12).
Still many verses I found talking about killing some one else, fighting, cutting some one’s head, etc.
I also found in hadis ;

Sunan Abu-Dawud Book 38, Number 4348
Narrated Abdullah Ibn Abbas:
A blind man had a slave-mother who used to abuse the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and disparage him. He forbade her but she did not stop. He rebukes her but she did not give up her habit. One night she began to slander the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and abuse him. So he took a dagger, placed it on her belly, pressed it, and killed her. A child who came between her legs was smeared with the blood that was there. When the morning came, the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) was informed about it.
He assembled the people and said: I adjure by Allah the man who has done this action and I adjure him by my right to him that he should stand up. Jumping over the necks of the people and trembling the man stood up.
He sat before the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and said: Apostle of Allah! I am her master; she used to abuse you and disparage you. I forbade her, but she did not stop, and I rebuked her, but she did not abandon her habit. I have two sons like pearls from her, and she was my companion. Last night she began to abuse and disparages you. So I took a dagger, put it on her belly and pressed it till I killed her.
Thereupon the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Oh be witness, no retaliation is payable for her blood.
Killing some one (in Muhammad’s case a mother with her baby) just because you are insulted really far beyond my sense, moral, ethic, justice, human value what ever you can say.
No wonder this Hadis story will be followed by many Muslim around the world hundreds years later till this modern time. Not only terrorist got inspiration from Quran and Hadis but many young Muslims even intellectual ones. Here I got from internet how Quran and hadis change some one ;

buat adadeh

kasus 1 sampai 3 saya pribadi belum pernah dengar yang persis seperti itu. kalo yang mirip, pernah. yaitu membunuh pembantunya yang yahudi karena pembantunya tersebut menghina nabi muhammad dan itu DIBENARKAN. Kenapa? karena dia menghina nabi, bukan karena dia non Muslim. yang jadi inti masalah disini adalah penghinaannya bukan karena beda keyakinan. begitu seseorang menghina islam (illah, rasul, maupun agama itu sendiri) maka darahnya halal ditumpahkan. dan bila yang menghina itu punya hubungan darah, maka hubungan darah tersebut putus. putus? ya, kami Muslim lebih cinta pada illah, rasul dan agama kami lebih dari apapun.
How horrible??!!! We, human who still have sense, will tremble when read post above.
Back to the honest and critical question in the beginning, Is Islam a peace religion?
I am still doubt to answer that…..

(sorry the first posting is revised. Here is the right one)


Dear opponent,

Yes! Balls of fire! Excitement!

Well, I read some misunderstandings. Like this one: I don’t think and I did not I write, “religion is problematic whenever it shows up”. Sometimes it’s a blessing, sometimes it isn’t. If one tries to take a cool and standoffish view to religions, it’s hard to escape the conclusion they are neither inherently good nor bad. That is because believers ( and non-believers as well by the way) all have a bright side as well as a dark side to them. And it is by humans beings – sometimes peaceful and compassionate, sometimes aggressive and brutal human beings- that the holy books are interpreted and communicated.

For instance. One of those communicators was Chomeiny. I guess you count him in as a real and sincere Muslim. But he was the one who ordered to murder Rushdie in the first place. You can hardly believe to convince me of having a distorted view (“part of religions is not peaceful”) when such a prominent cleric and de facto acting head of state, airs these kinds of views.

As for Henry V I grant you that his victory didn’t mean immediate secularization. It took at least over half a millennium till the final blow was dealt. But I do not buy your point that rulers who stick to their old faith equal the continuation of a kind of theocracy. What happened is that rulers gradually, over the centuries, made their faith a strict personal matter. In any modern state the rule of the game is: separate religion from state affairs.

And last but not least, I’m afraid you are quite right when you write: “but for Islam, it should not just be a personal matter”. Exactly. There you are. A major problem – especially when applied to government.

Because religion is not mathematics, there always will be a lot of ambiguity. And so there alway will be room for discussion and different opinions. I think yours is very worthwhile.

Very nice article, Tasa. The world will be a much better place if all people were like you. Peaceful and graceful. Well said.

Too bad hardly anyone’s gonna take you seriously.

It was wrong for me to have bundled you up along with other anti-religion who see religion as a destructive force in itself..
I have to agree that humans exists in numerous forms – from the graceful to the destrcutive

But to contest your point about Khomeini and other ‘Muslim’ leaders who are overzealous,
they are the result of rapid modernization of the Arab countries. No one liked it and everyone felt that religion was being ‘attacked’. So, the people fight back with an overzealous attitude of religion.

And this brings us to the next point, of having a non-secular state.

This in itself is not a problem. The problem lies when that State uses religion as a tool to serve the interest of political groups.

And this is “the nonsense that fanatics have been preacing – that religion is about conquering the world and it is about punishing the sinners.”

yes, you’re right. Later I realize my posting probably can make some one offended.

How ever I do not mean to offend some one or some thing since offending is far from my natural habit.

I admit it is difficult for me to choose approriate word to convey my message more elegantly since I not used to write such this topic which is not my core.

If some one feels offended by my posting, here sincerely I offer MY APOLOGIZE.

@yunir: Great, I love a tough & good discussion on a touchy issue with a well informed opponent. Although: Calling ordering murder and barbaric punishments an “overzealous” reaction to the evil modernization…. Isn’t this what’s known as an euphemism?

By the way: isn’t is too bad and a pity you don’t take Kunyuk serious. The quotations he ( she?). mentions are factual and worth some comment, don’t they?

I don’t know if its euphemistic, but I do know that the ‘leaders’ did not gain power from a vacuum and then started giving out death sentences.

Anyway, regarding Kunyuk’s post,

Come on,
Someone starts reading the Qur’an and then see all of these ‘”offensive” verses?

The only ones kunyuk’s fooling are the ones who don’t read the Qur’an for themselves.

@Come on Yunir. You are to good a debater to deny the quotations are not just “offensive”, but just outright offensive.

(May be I can help you out: “They are not at all representative”, or “They are out of context” or “The real meaning was lost in translation”)

That’s it. You are a believer. That’s great and all right with me of course. I rather stick to some sound scepticism, even in matters of faith.

By the way: I honestly think you’ve got a really beautiful and fabulous site.

Jennie: Thank you Mba.

Colson+Yunir: Nice discussion. Yeah I agree, Yunir’s blog is great, especially the stuffs on Islam, very cool.

Kunyuk: You can’t just plug out verses from The Qur’an that way, you will translate the verses too literally. You will find many disturbing verses from the Bible and other holy books too if you do it that way.

Alright, thx guys, for the compliments….

monyet, izinkan gw melink post loe yang ini di post gw.. hehe.. (udah di link padahal), thanks man..

Yunir: My pleasure 🙂

Yuki: Dengan senang hati bro.

Assalammu’alaikum bro, bagus ni artikelnya. tapi jarang di Jakarta orang muslim yang gw kenal ngucapin Assalammu’alaikum ke gue, entah malu atau gak pede mungkin juga gak mau menunjukkan kalau dia muslim ataukah karena pengaruh budaya atau kebiasaan? yang jelas sih kayaknya kurang dari 20% paling orang muslim yang gue kenal yang sering bilang Assalammu’alaikum kegue. Assalammu’alaikum

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guebukanmonyet is Tasa Nugraza Barley. He's a free man with unique thoughts and dreams. He sees his life and this world differently from anyone else. That's because he knows what he wants; and for that reason he doesn't want to be the same. Read why he blogs, here.

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