This is a claim which is commonly made. Let us consider its correctness.
Now I know some Muslims, and they are among the nicest people I know. Based on the Muslims I know, the claim has potential. But wait. Every time the news comes out, it seems like it has some people claiming (or claimed) to be Muslims killing innocent non-Muslims and even other Muslims, for reasons which seem to be religiously motivated. This throws doubt on the claim, to the point where it becomes questionable to state that Islam is a religion of peace. Yet there are all those Muslims who seem to be peaceful. What is the disconnect?
One option is that there are actually two separate religions: Muslims (peaceful) and Radical Muslims (not peaceful). In order to be separate religions, wouldn’t they pretty much need to have differing scriptures? No, they both claim to be based on the Qur’an. OK, another option is perhaps one group is misinterpreting or outright disobeying the scriptures.
“Prophet Muhammad (saw) was the final Messenger of Allah to humanity, and therefore the Qur’an is the last Message which Allah (swt) has sent to us. Its predecessors such as the Torah, Psalms, and Gospels have all been superseded. It is an obligation – and blessing – for all who hear of the Qur’an and Islam to investigate it and evaluate it for themselves. Allah (swt) has guaranteed that He will protect the Qur’an from human tampering, and today’s readers can find exact copies of it all over the world. The Qur’an of today is the same as the Qur’an revealed to Muhammad (saw) 1400 years ago.”
Thus, there is only one valid Qur’an source, and it appears that if we pick up a Qur’an, we can trust that it is complete and accurate. So, let us do that. Certainly, Allah is not fond of “infidels”, claiming He will punish them, but does He say it is ok for Muslims to kill infidels or otherwise commit violence against them?
From Surah 2 Al-Baqara, verses 190-191; “Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight you, and do not transgress. Verily, Allah does not like the transgressors. (190) Kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, as Fitnah (to create disorder) is more severe than killing. However, do not fight them near Al-Masjid-ul-Haram (the Sacred Mosque in Makkah) unless they fight you there. However, if they fight you (there) you may kill them. Such is the reward of the disbelievers. (191) ”
Fighting and killing does not sound peaceful except in the case of self defense. This is not looking good for Islam, peace-wise.
From Surah 4 An-Nisa, verse 140: “And it hath been revealed to you in the Book that when ye hear Allahs revelations being disbelieved in and mocked at, sit not down with them until they plunge in a discourse other than that; for, then, ye would surely become like unto them. Verily Allah is about to gather hypocrites and infidels in Hell together. (140)”
On the other hand, this sounds pretty peaceful. If someone mocks Allah’s revelations, don’t hang out with them until the subject is changed. Allah will take care of them. This does not seem to say anything about going into their building and killing a bunch of people (as just happened in France). This could be a case of the “Radical Muslim” misinterpreting or ignoring that which they call scripture.
There are many other instances in the scripture which seem to be violent and many which seem to be peaceful, at least as far as how the followers should be. It seems, like most every religion, it is subject to selective adherence. Basically, Radical Muslims may or may not be religious, but are provably not at all peaceful. This form of Islam is NOT peaceful, and anyone who says it is, really is kind of a moron. What about the rest of the Muslims? Is their version of Islam one of peace?
Let us consider what “defines” a Radical Muslim, at least when compared with a peaceful Muslim. Obviously, if one searches out and kills innocent children, women and men, that is the most obvious facet of the Radical. Even a person who would not kill an innocent person themselves, but agree that killing such an innocent is acceptable would be a Radical. The Radical believes that the entire world should be governed by “Sharia law”, which means the only law considered is that which it is claimed Allah specified.
So, what percentage of Muslims are willing and able to go out and kill innocent people? Probably not many, less than 10%. If that was the end of it, then perhaps we could pretty much conclude that the statement under investigation was pretty much accurate. However, this minority could not operate without support, and if a person supports Radicals, that person must be considered a Radical as well. Unfortunately, the number of Muslims who can legitimately be considered Radical is much larger than just the obvious killers. Surveys taken in 2009 in countries with a significant Muslim population indicate that the number of Muslims who approve of killing non-Muslims, and even Muslims in some cases, or believe that the leadership of their country should be under Sharia Law, is often over 50%. In some countries, this number is over 75%; in the best case, the United States, about a third of Muslims indicated views which identify them as Radicals. Based on the surveys, it is extrapolated that of the 1.6 billion Muslims on the Earth, slightly over half of them are Radicals. Not a minority, then.
The “minority” Muslims don’t seem to be able to, or in some cases, willing to, point out how they are following the scriptures and the Radicals are not. Some do decry the extreme acts. But none of this makes them “the religion of peace”.
At the current point of time, it appears that Islam is NOT a religion of peace. Even though many Muslims are themselves peaceful, the religion itself does not preach peace and there are those who use it, seemingly validly, to encourage violence.