One may well ask how ‘the religion of peace’ became a brand of Islam, for the phrase cannot be found in the Qur’an, nor in the teachings of Muhammad.
Islam was first called ‘the religion of peace’ as late as 1930, in the title of a book published in India by Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi. The phrase was slow to take off, but by the 1970s it was appearing more and more frequently in the writings of Muslims for western audiences.
What does “religion of peace” actually mean?
Words for ‘peace’ in European languages imply the absence of war, and freedom from disturbance. It is no coincidence that the German words Friede‘peace’ and frei ‘free’ sound similar, because they come from the same root.
While there is a link in Arabic between salam, a word often translated ‘peace’, and Islam, the real connection is found in the idea of safety.
The word Islam is based upon a military metaphor. Derived from aslama ‘surrender’ its primary meaning is to make oneself safe (salama) through surrender. In its original meaning, a muslim was someone who surrendered in warfare.