The Islamic World Peace Forum holds " International Symposium on Diplomacy and Soft Power in the Seerah of the Prophet " In this regard IWPF has had an interview with Dr. Zafar Bangash, Islamic movement journalist and commentator in Toronto, Canada and the Director of the The Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT), to ask about some concepts considered as the keywords and basic ideas in this regard...
IWPF- First of all will you give us a definition of divine diplomacy and soft power?
Dr. Bangash- Usually, when we talk about “power”, most of the time the western conceptions of this issue comes to the mind; issues such as military force, political power and economic power to force others to behave in such a way that the interests of the dominant side is met. But power have some other dimensions as well.
Soft power deals with one’s feelings, wisdom and intellects. For example I have an special idea about something. I can persuade you to accept my point of view with two ways; First can threaten you verbally or physically to accept my idea or I can talk reasonably, logically and politely to you and interact with you in a proper and nonviolent manner. So you think about my ideas and find it just and rational. So you accept it.
IWPF- And about “divine Diplomacy”?
Dr. Bangash – You see, Every individual as a muslim should live and behave in accordance with Islamic principles and teachings. Also in interacting with others, whether ordinary fellows or in the broader levels of social and international interactions with other and nations, we should base our strategies and rules and regularities on Islamic principles and teachings.
IWPF- Will you elaborate on these basic principles which shape the framework of Islamic divine diplomacy?
Dr. Bangash -You can find so many verses in the Holy Quran in which Allah the Almighty, apparently command mulsims to behave and interact with each other and with people of other nations and groups, even non muslims peacefully, justly, honestly and fairly. In other words conducting a manner to appeal the other side to Islam not behave aggressively and repulse him. In fact the, the main principle of divine diplomacy is respecting the other side as a human being, regardless of his race, gender, wealth, religion or any other factor.
IWPF- We all now that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) deeds and words were thoroughly in accordance with the Allah revelations which are quoted in the Holy Quran. Will you explain on of these verses in which Allah the Almighty explains the codes of conducts for His last Prophet (PBUH)?
Dr. Bangash -Sure. One of theses wonderful verses is in Surah “Nahl”, verse 125 says:
ادْعُ إِلَى سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُمْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ
In my opinion in this verse, there is a wonderful word: أَحْسَنُ
This word has a deep meaning; some thing far more than “good” or “proper”. It is and ideal model of behavior. The best one that some one can have. And the Holy Prophet at the time of entering Medina, acted precisely in accordance with this role model, towards those residents who became muslim and those who didn’t; mostly Jews.
And His strategy and domestic diplomacy towards Jews is really outstanding and remarkable. . When prophet Muhammad (PBUH) arrived in Medina and gained control of the city, He signed a contract with all the residents of Medina including two Arab tribes and there Jewish tribes.The convention guaranteed safety and civil rights for all of them and it is interesting that He recognized the Jews as citizens of the city and declared that they, as the followers of Prophet Moses(PBUH) who practice monotheism are in par with muslims. The point is that in the case of non muslims as those who have “BOOK” (اهل كتاب), He focused on common point of views which are monotheism and believing in prophecy. This is the most noble form of dealing with non muslims.
In fact, the last messenger if Allah, used this strategy to call them to Islam and deal with them fairly.
IWPF- So this is one example of great and powerful domestic policy of Prophet Muhammad which is fully clear in His Seerah. Can we consider muslim immigration to Abyssinia where “Jafar ibn-Abitaleb”, His envoy, successfully convinced the King as the first victory of Islamic foreign policy?
Dr.Bangash -Absolutely. That significant event clearly proves that during the Mecca period of time the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was not powerless at all! In fact he had such a great extensive influence that made Him able to negotiate from a king of a foreign country! Pay close attention that this victorious foreign policy strategy gained when He was in Mecca where the muslims were a weak minority under severe suppress and very difficult conditions. So although Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was not a ruler in Mecca, He possessed a different kind of power: The Soft power of effective and operative negotiations.
IWPF- Recently, lots of offensive cultural product such as cartoons, videos, movies and books were released which insult the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the unique and noble character of Him as the last messenger of Allah. What do you think about these activities? What are the reasons?
Dr.Bangash- In fact Zionists and Christian Zionists are very afraid of the power of Islam and in order to undermine it they attack the Holy Prophet (PBUH) whom all muslims around the world respect and love. In other words, through these cultural struggles they try to degrade the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) from the last messenger of Allah and infallible, powerful leader to an ordinary individual who could make mistakes and commit sins. You see, if muslims lose their belief and faith toward the Prophet (PBUH), it is more likely that they will surrender to the problems they face.
IWPF- Unfortunately when muslims condemn these offensive actions through demonstrations and express their disguise and hatred, those who suffer most are themselves. Most of these protests turn violence and offended and upset muslims are pictured as violent people who lack tolerance. In your opinion how can muslims respond effectively through soft power and cultural strategies?
Dr. Bangash-I believe producing high quality cultural material which are powerful and effective enough to confront these cultural invasions is the best way.Active presence in social networks such as facebook can be helpful. Also muslims who live in western countries can invite non muslims to their communities to show them what the real islam is.
IWPF- How do see conferences and symposia such as the current one? How can the results of such activities become permanent and effective?
Dr.Bangash-You see, it is a very demanding process which require great perseverance and broad continuous acts. It is a long tem goal and not an objective to fulfill in short term.
Courtersy: Islamic World Peace Forum