The similarity in construct of the Arabic word for twins, tawʾam (توأم), and the word for peace and harmony, wiʾām (وئام), hints towards the need to consider the spiritual and temporal realms as twins for peace and harmony to prevail in the world. The commentary on the previous verse underscored the importance of man’s relationship and need for interaction with society at large. In addition to this, each individual is required to further comprehend that in order to be able to carry out his particular trade or craft, the prevalence of peace and harmony are essential. This assertion is seen in the plight of war-torn societies and nations embroiled in civil strife where day-to-day life is rendered nigh impossible. Likewise, the call in verse 33 to embrace fiṭra (nature) can also be extended to incorporating the harmony and congruence seen in the functioning of nature. Were societies to desist from conflict and assimilate the functionality and concord found in both the larger universe as well as its microcosm: man, they would be able to firmly tread the path towards prosperity and advancement.
Furthermore, the stability provided by peace and harmony is essential for man to fulfil his purpose in this world. The benefits of social stability are not limited to man being able to earn his livelihood and satisfy his temporal needs, but they allow him to devote himself to Allah Tāʿalā’s ʿibāda. Thus the absence of peace and harmony inhibits the extent to which one can benefit from the divine faiḍ entailed in sharia. It is with this larger goal in mind that the importance of fostering peace and harmony is fundamental to the philosophy of Fatimi governance. This philosophy holds that world peace can only be achieved through love, compassion, tolerance and forgiveness: attributes that are apparent in the exceptional conduct of both the Prophet Mohammed SA and the Fatimi Imams AS.
The Medina Charter, or Constitution of Medina, attributed to the Prophet Mohammed SA, laid the foundation for a society that respected the cultural and religious values of both Muslims and the eight Jewish tribes of Medina. The charter drew upon universal values such as love, unity, respect and tolerance to forge a peaceful co-existence between the tribes and communities of Medina as well as providing them with the means for peaceful conflict resolution.
Following in the footsteps of Prophet Mohammed SA, his descendants, the Fatimi Imams AS established a state that upheld the very model of governance and pluralism that he exemplified. Similar to the Conquest of Makkah, the Conquest of Misr (Egypt) reveals how the establishment of peace and harmony remained at the forefront of all Fatimi endeavours, military or otherwise. The Fatimiyeen AS retained many administrators from the previous regime and through a policy of tolerance and meritocracy ensured that competent personnel, regardless of their religious affiliations, rose through the administrative ranks and served in the best interests of the state.
At the very onset of Fatimi rule in Egypt, a peace document was drawn up which guaranteed that people of all faiths and denominations would be allowed to practice their beliefs, so long as public order was maintained. This document heralded the beginning of a sovereignty which protected the rights of religious minorities to an extent unseen in other Islamic lands. This policy also enabled the efflorescence of Cairo as a centre of learning where scholars and intellectuals from across the lands and of various faiths and backgrounds contributed to the corpus of knowledge, the radiance of which enlightened the world far beyond Egypt, North Africa and the contemporary age.
The peace document, handwritten by Imam al-Muʿizz’s AS commander-in-chief Maulana Qaidjohar RA, conveyed three key issues. First, the Imam’s AS intention in sending forth such an army was to protect them, maintain their honour and defend them against further oppression. He added that the Imam AS was well aware of the indignity and hardships that they currently face and that they have repeatedly sought deliverance from it. Second, the Imam AS sought to reestablish the hajj pilgrimage which had long been neglected. Many believers had forsaken hajj due to the fear of being looted, injured or killed as they made their journey. Finally, the Imam AS sought to assay the coins of the mint to ensure that they were of the correct content and purity. Maulana Qaidjohar RA then added that whoever looks into the matters of Muslims should address these three aspects. This passage from Maulana Qaidjohar’s RA letter reveals the importance of citizen rights, social harmony and economic stability as prerequisites to fostering a peaceful coexistence amongst humankind.
The other directives outlined in this letter further elaborate the conditions necessary for a pure and serene life. Maulana Qaidjohar RA writes that Imam al-Muʿizz AS had specifically instructed him to ensure that:
- justice prevails,
- haqq (truth) pervades,
- oppression is eliminated,
- hostility ceases,
- wrongdoing is dispelled,
- hardship is alleviated,
- all are equal before haqq,
- the wronged are granted refuge,
- the wrongdoers are censured and
- haqq is prioritised.
He further mentioned that he had been enjoined to strengthen bonds between the populace, show them compassion, maintain a positive outlook and soft disposition, remain approachable, enquire about others and guarantee the safety of all residents at all times. The eventual outcome of these efforts should be that differences are reconciled, shortcomings rectified, the betterment of the people attained and their hearts unified. Finally, Maulana Qaidjohar RA made it clear that in order to realise these ideals, all customs and traditions that Imam AS did not approve of would be discontinued, all inheritance would be distributed according to the jurisprudence of Ahl al-Bayt AS and all masjids should be well maintained, with their personnel receiving their stipends from the treasury.
This letter is but one document that reveals the Fatimi commitment to peace and harmony. It shows the efforts they expended in reconciling the various strata of society, faiths and denominations of Islam by invoking what they had in common. The fruits of these inclusive endeavours are evident in the political governance of Fatimi Egypt, its competent administration and the socio-economic vibrancy of its populace.