The Center for Non-violence and Peace Studies is an integral part of Madina Seminary, a premier destination for Islamic education in which Muslims from all backgrounds can engage traditional Islamic teachings in a healthy and tolerant environment. The primary goal of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies is to continue the Madinan School of Nonviolence and Peace as laid down in the Prophetic example, and to challenge global extremism, in both its violent and nonviolent forms.
The concept of nonviolence can be traced back to the very first human beings on earth; Adam and his immediate children; Abel and Cain. Abel’s refusal to retaliate against Cain, and his insistence that those who fear God would never allow envy to cause them to harm another human being, serves as a powerful example and reminder of the importance placed upon nonviolence in Islam. Throughout human history, prophets, saints, reformers, and activists have continued the path of nonviolence. Jesus son of Mary, Prophet Muhammad, al-Husayn bin Ali, Abu Hanifah, Shafi’i, and others have provided a wealth of information and their examples of nonviolence continue to guide us today and is the frame of the Madinan School of Nonviolence.
Modern schools of nonviolence were spurred by Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), leading to the independence of India. Gandhi himself credits al-Husayn bin Ali for some of what he learned about nonviolent resistance by saying, “I learned from Hussain how to be wronged and be a winner; I learned from Hussain how to attain victory while being oppressed.”
Other schools of nonviolence include that of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) who led a nonviolent movement in the United States in his persistent struggle for civil rights and equality.
Badshah Khan (1890-1988) AKA the Muslim Gandhi waged a nonviolent war, established the first army of peace, and left behind a school and methodology of nonviolence and peace. His methodology of nonviolence was influenced considerably by al-Husayn bin Ali’s methods, philosophy, tactics, and approach.
The Madinan School of Nonviolence
The Madinan concept of nonviolence can be traced back to the Prophet Muhammad, particularly during the first 13 years in Mecca, which were war-free despite relentless smaller scale violence. For the next 10 years, Madina benefited greatly from the nonviolent practices of the Prophet Muhammad, whose life is rich with examples of nonviolent and peaceful practices in a time when wars and violence were imposed upon him and his followers.
A collection of the Prophetic nonviolence and peace methods and practices are composed in a book by the founder of Madina Seminary and the Madinan School of Nonviolence: Dr. Muhammad al-Ninowy. His book, Nonviolence: a Fundamental Islamic Principle, serves as a simple guide and is part of a continuous effort. It makes no pretense to be complete.
The Madinan School of Nonviolence also draws its methods and practices from the example of the Prophetic companions and family, such as al-Husayn bin Ali; the Prophet’s grandson who led the most famous nonviolent resistance movement in Islamic history. Many other reformers and activists throughout history followed suit and were innovative in waging peace and nonviolence, which epitomizes the mission, vision, philosophy, teachings, and methodologies of the Madinan School of Nonviolence: Love for all, malice toward none.
To draw a distinctive separation between Islam as a religion, and violence that is portrayed in its name, whether old or new. The basics in that are:
- Violence violates the very core principles of Islam;
- Islam teaches us first and foremost that all of our fellow human beings, irrespective of religious, racial, ethnic, gender, or other differences have an inherent and immeasurable worth and dignity; for each human life is considered sacred;
- Our radical equality before God leads us to think no less of another human being for being “different”.
To institutionalize and internationalize nonviolence as a process that reduces and eases human suffering and promotes love and unconditional compassion among all people.
To foster mutual understanding among all people, in which nonviolent processes are used for conflict resolution, peace building, tolerance, unconditional compassion, and love.
To increase awareness about the evils of violent and nonviolent extremism, and to counter hate with love.
To increase awareness about the abuse of religion when it comes to violence; the focus being that the causes of violent conflicts and wars are usually greed, envy, and ambition, but in an effort to sanitize them, these self-serving emotions have often been cloaked in religious rhetoric.
To help Muslim minorities living in the West to cope with Post-Terrorism Stress Disorder, especially children affected by bullying, verbal, emotional, and/or physical abuse.
The Madinan Nonviolence Program
Why does nonviolence require more courage, bravery, wisdom, knowledge, and humanity than violence?
Is nonviolence really effective? Does it work, and how? Why do some individuals and nations resort to violence despite unequivocal evidence that nonviolence works best to attain the same desired results.
What is the Muhammadan nonviolence method, Imam Husayn nonviolence, Abu Hanifah, Shafi’i, Badshah Khan’s, and others? Why were they considered radicals and suffered many attempts on their lives?
These questions, and many others represent the core of the program in nonviolence at The Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at Madina Seminary, the first of its kind in the world. The program focuses on peace and nonviolence as a way of life and not just a political or social strategy.
Post-Terrorism Stress Disorder
A secondary goal of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies is to address the sudden emergence of what Dr. Muhammad al-Ninowy has coined, “Post-Terrorism Stress Disorder”: a disorder that develops in many Muslim adults and children who have experienced bullying, verbal, emotional, and/or physical abuse due to Islamophobia following a shocking, scary, or dangerous event carried out by extremists claiming and/or accused of being associated with Islam. Muslims living in the West suffer tremendously after violent acts carried out by terrorists claiming and/or accused of Islamic religious motivation. Such suffering is not limited to adults experiencing harassment on the job or in public spaces; innocent children are also suffering at school and in public places due to the scarring of their psyche, which stems from the effects of Post-Terrorism Stress Disorder: a direct consequence of Islamophobia.
Core Madinan Nonviolence and Peace Studies Curriculum:
- Nonviolence: A Fundamental Islamic Principle, by Dr. Muhammad al-Ninowy
- Sufism, Salafism, and the Phenomenon of Al-Qaeda/ISIS by Dr. Muhammad al-Ninowy
- Unconditional Compassion and Love: The Core of Faith by Dr. Muhammad al-Ninowy
- Nonviolent Soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan – A Man to Match His Mountains by Eknath Easwaran
- Post-Terrorism Stress Disorder Affecting Muslim Minorities in the West: Implications, Diagnosis, and Coping; a Manual by Dr. Muhammad al-Ninowy
And many other select readings.
Madinan Nonviolence and Peace training course objectives:
- Develop a profound knowledge and understanding of the history and theory of nonviolence
- Practically apply nonviolence in all aspects of daily life
- Harness essential nonviolence skills such as strategy, communication, analytical thinking, negotiation, and conflict resolution
- Connect with and take nonviolent action into your respective community and discover specific ways you can positively contribute to spreading peace, unconditional compassion, and love in the world
- Identify extremism, both violent and non-violent, and identify effective ways to intellectually challenge it
- Develop spirituality and tolerance
Students may participate in The Nonviolence Program in several ways:
- by taking individual course offerings through the Program;
by participating as volunteers in any programs sponsored by the Program;
by pursuing a minor in Islamic nonviolence through the Program’s course offerings;
Majoring in Nonviolence
Students wishing to complete a major in nonviolence must complete twenty-four courses.
Madina Seminary offers a custom-designed major in Madinan Non-Violence. Please consult individually with Dr. Muhammad al-Ninowy.
Minoring in Nonviolence
Students wishing to complete a minor in nonviolence must complete six courses:
- NV 101: Introduction to Nonviolence and Conflict Resolution
- NV 102: Violence: Its Philosophy, Causes, and Short and Long-Term Effects
- NV 201: Islamic Principles of Nonviolence
- NV 202: Prophetic Biography in Relation to Nonviolence
- NV 301: Effects of Violence and Terrorism on Muslims
- NV 302: Violent and Nonviolent Religious Extremism