Christianity and Islam have similar teachings on peace and it is evident that there is a strong relationship between these fundamental teachings and the ways in which the religious traditions and their organizations actively strive towards world peace. World peace is understood in both faiths, not just as an absence of violence and conflict, but also as an overall sense of wellbeing and social cohesion. Inner peace is essential in achieving world peace, and must be attained in order to work towards peace at a higher level.
Christianity teaches that peace is Christ’s parting gift and a concept that begins with Him, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you” (John 14:27). The Catholic peace movement “Pax Christi” stands for the ‘peace of Christ’ and has launched a policy for a culture of peace and non-violence. “Pax Christi” uses the teaching of the peace of Christ to guide them, calling adherents to state that they are recognizing their responsibility to “respect life…practice active non-violence [and] defend freedom” (Pax Christi International Manifesto for a Culture of Peace and Non Violence 1999) in order to contribute to the achievement of world peace.
Islam teaches that peace can only be attained through the submission to Allah’s will. One is able to submit to Allah through the process of jihad, which is to struggle to overcome the obstacles in the way of submission, or the process of Shahada. The Sufism movement provides Muslims with a path to follow in order to contribute to the attainment of world peace through 3 stations. These mirror the teaching that peace can only be found in Allah, encouraging the submission as the initial step in moving towards world peace, “Submitting our…bodies to Allah is Sufism” (Sufism Equals to Islam).
The teaching of submission and anticipation of pleasing Him, establishes a Muslims role in actively working towards achieving world peace. The Quakers are a Christian denomination that follows the principal teaching of pacifism, as modelled by Jesus’ ministry. Christ’s teaching of the Beatitudes is fundamental in guiding the Quakers, especially in “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). The Quakers work towards world peace through things such as rallies and marches for peace and justice, as well as campaigning and raising awareness about social justice and supporting those looking for an alternative to violence.
The Quaker’s choice to refrain from war to contribute to world peace can be seen by their silent vigils against war, such as that in King George Square. In 1660, the Quakers presented “A Declaration from the Harmless and Innocent…Quakers”, which has been the basis for the Quaker’s peace testimony in which they strive towards attaining world peace. Rufus Jones, a Quaker, stated that Quakers have an “obligation to assist and to forward movements and forces which make for peace in the world” (The Quaker Peace Position).
Peace is a fundamental aim of Islam and teaches that war is only permitted to overcome oppression and tyranny. The Qur’an teaches that “whosoever killed a soul…it is as if he had killed all mankinds” (Al-Madiah 5:32). However, this is overlooked due to common misconceptions about the Islamic faith, especially due to exploitation by the media. After the violent aftermath of the London bombings in 2005, the NSW Islamic Council stated on their website, “We firmly hold the view that these killings and atrocities have absolutely no sanction in Islam…terrorism…has no support from…the Islamic community…and would never be endorsed”.
Partnerships exist between Muslim, Jewish and Christian organizations so that their voices aren’t overlooked, for example the 1991 ‘Prayer for Peace’ in which it was asked, “Forgive our violence towards each other”. Even though overlooked by the media, Muslims work tirelessly towards world peace. Christianity expresses that justice must come before peace is achieved. In 1972, in the World Day of Peace Message, the Catholic Pope Paul VI said, “If you want peace, act for Justice”. Accordingly, the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV), seek peace, justice and reconciliation.
In a report titled, “Called Together to be Peacemakers”, Catholics and Mennonites hoped to work together to assist the WCC’s DOV, stating, “Our similar identities as ‘peace churches’…our commitment to be followers…of Jesus Christ…Prince of Peace. ” They quote John Paul II in the World Day of Peace (2002), “no peace without justice”, adding, “in the absence of justice…peace is a mirage…justice is an inseparable companion of peace” (CTBP 177). It is evident, the relationship between the doctrine of justice before peace, and then the actions to chieve this to strive towards world peace. The Qur’an teaches that, “Allah guides those…to the ways of peace…and guides them to a straight path” (5:16), often termed ‘the paths of peace’. This teaching of being guided on a path of peace is demonstrated by the organization Muslim Peace Fellowship, declaring on their website that their main objectives are to “work together with all people of good will to keep open the straight path” and to “work against injustice and for peace…in our world” (Muslim Peace Fellowship Blog).
This organization actively seek world peace through the use of conferences, publications, speeches and interreligious action, as well as interior work and prayer. Evidently, principal teachings in both Christianity and Islam help to guide and encourage both their roles in the attainment of world peace. The fundamental teachings act as guidelines to be interpreted by current followers in order to play a role in the triumph of world peace. There is a strong correlation between the theoretical principal teachings and he actions performed by leaders and adherents to gain peace at a world level.
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