If we claim that Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or any other religion is a religion of peace, what are we saying? Are we making a historical judgment that one religion has been shown historically to be more peaceful than others? Are we making a theological judgment that the messages of peace within the sacred texts and models of a tradition outweigh the messages of conflict? Are we making an apocalyptic judgment that one religion or another will be shown at the end of time to have brought true peace? Are we making an interreligious gesture of trust, with those of one religion stating that acts of violence carried out in the name of another religion do not represent the true message of our neighbor’s religion? Or are we making an apologetic statement that no one of our religion could carry out violence in the name of our tradition, since our religion is a religion of peace, and that, therefore, those accused of the crime were innocent and others were involved. (Using this apologetic logic, some Muslims claimed that the 9/11 attack was not perpetrated by Muslims; some Christian leaders in the Balkans denied the clear evidence of atrocities committed by Christian militias; and some Hindu extremists in India denied the clear role of Hindu extremists in organizing and carrying out mass-killings of unarmed Muslims in the province of Gujarat in the spring of 2003.)

Michael Sells, preface to Approaching the Qur’├ín: The Early Revelations