The issue of classifying lands into the land of peace and the land of war calls for careful study. Muslims’ relation with others is not founded on war only. Actually, war is legislated in Islam only to fend off aggression against Muslims, and not to impose Islam as a religion through forced conversion.
The eminent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi states the following: Islam is a religion that tends to bring easiness in all aspects of peoples’ lives. Part of achieving such easiness is to acknowledge the change that happens to people whether due to the corruption of time—as jurists express—or due to the social change in a certain society, or even due to the emergence of necessities. It is due to the above consideration that the Muslim jurists state that a fatwa can be changed according to the change of time, place, custom (`urf), and surrounding circumstances. Their proof in this is the practice of the Companions and the Rightly Guided Caliphs, and we are commanded by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to follow their sunnah and adhere to it so closely as if we are biting down on it with our molars. It is even evidenced by the Sunnah and by the Qur’an before it. This obligates us in this era to reconsider some sayings and opinions adopted in previous ages. These opinions might have been suitable for those ages and circumstances but became outdated due to the major developments that the ancients could never expect. Insisting on adopting such opinions defames Islam and its people and discredits the image of its message. Among these opinions are classifying the world into a land of peace and a land of war, maintaining that war is the basis in Muslims’ relations with others.
Such sayings have become unsuitable for our modern time, and there are no decisive texts supporting them. Rather, there are some texts contradicting them. Islam urges all humankind to know one another. Allah says (And (We) have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another) (Al-Hujurat 49:13).
In addition, Islam also considers peace and prevention of war as a blessing. Allah has commented on the Battle of Al-Khandaq: (And Allah repulsed the disbelievers in their wrath; they gained no good. Allah averted their attack from the believers) (Al-Ahzab 33:25). Moreover, Allah looks at Al-Hudaybiyah Treaty as a signal victory that He has bestowed upon His Messenger, so He revealed Surat Al-Fath: (Lo! We have given thee (O Muhammad) a signal victory) (Al-Fath 48:1).
Then Allah reminds His Messenger and the believers in this surah of His grace upon them when He withheld the hands of the two sides from each other: (And He it is who withheld men’s hands from you, and has withheld your hands from them, in the valley of Mecca, after He had made you victors over them) (Al-Fath 48:24).
Furthermore, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) makes the word harb (war) so hateful that he says, “The most truthful names are Harith and Hammam, and the most ugly names are Harb and Murrat.”
In addition, jihad that Islam legislated in the past times had a clear objective, which is to clear the hurdles in the path of da`wah. Emperors and kings at those times stood as an obstacle hindering the march of da`wah to their subjects. Thus, the Messenger sent the rulers messages in which he called them to Islam and held them responsible for their nations going astray, for the rulers isolated their nations from listening to any foreign voice for fear that it may wake them up and make them sense their own identity; consequently they get up from sleep and revolt against their tyrants. Thus we find the rulers sometimes killing the callers to truth, or starting the fight against Muslims or preparing themselves to invade them and threaten them in their own country.
As for today, there are no obstacles in the way of da`wah, especially in the open countries that accept variety. Moreover, Muslims can convey their call through the written and spoken word. They can reach anywhere in the world with its varied languages through the directed radio, and talk to all people in their languages to make the message clear to them. But actually they are very neglectful and they are responsible before Allah Almighty for the world nations’ ignorance of Islam.