Peace and its execution and conservation is a concept embedded within the teachings of both Christianity and Islam. Thus the sacred texts of each tradition, namely; the Christian Bible and the Qur’an and Hadith instruct the adherent as to the best way of contributing to peace at a global level. Upon the analysis of the principal teachings of Christianity and Islam pertaining to peace, it is the contention of this paper that; the inspiration and desire for peace derives directly from the sacred texts of the two traditions.
Essential to the concept of peace contained within the Christian Bible is the belief that peace as a concept was given to humankind by God, demonstrated by the teaching and example of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament. “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace I give to you. ” (Jn) This teaching is as such evident in a number of movements which advocate and attempt to achieve world peace. The World Conference on Religion and Peace is a prominent initiative created through the influence of Christian teaching, aiming to encourage dialogue between nations in order to foster and conserve the peace ordained by God.
They have provided mediation is such areas as Kosovo and have brought together world leaders to discuss issues such as global security and disarmament. This elucidates the way in which global initiatives for peace are heavily influenced by the principal teachings of Christianity. Moreover, another prominent initiative directed towards the attainment of peace at a global level is the promotion of the World Day of Peace by Pope John Paul VI, declaring that annually, New Years Day should be dedicated to reflection regarding the need for peace, saying that; “peace results from the harmony built into society by its divine founder. (John Paul VI) This highlights the direct influence of Christian teaching on movements for world peace.
Although conflict in contemporary society in a global context is still prevalent, it can be observed that small in-roads to peace have been made as a result of the adherent’s capacity to act on the principal teachings of the tradition. Another prominent teaching of Christianity pertaining to world peace encompasses the concept that peace s attainable if adherents exercise the virtues of faith, hope and love which were bestowed by God in all aspects of ife. Moreover, this teaching demonstrates the notion that evil should not be re-paid with evil but must be dealt with by way of righteous action. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. ” (Mt) This is thus demonstrated on a practical level through the National Council of Churches in Australia’s (NCCA) initiative, the “Decade to Overcome Violence. ” This employs the aforementioned teaching as its basis and urges the Christian community collectively to practise these virtues.
Moreover, the council works to denounce international conflict, saying that; “war as a method of settling international disputes is incompatible with the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. ” (NCCA) This demonstrates the way in which the worldwide Christian movements for peace place at their foundation the ethical principals of Christianity as reflected through the Bible. Perhaps one of the more prominent ethical teachings of Christianity with reference to world peace is that which highlights the correlation between being a Christian and working for peace. If your enemy is hungry, give him food… resist evil and conquer it with good. ” (Rom) This highlights the concept that working towards peace is an obligation of being a Christian. This is well exemplified by such movements as Pax Christi International, a peace organisation who sought to rectify the problems of the world in the aftermath of WWII and to promote such ideas as ecological awareness, disarmament and human rights. Moreover the pacifist movement, the Quakers or Society of Friends actively promote pacifism, typifying the notion of the practical application of Christian teaching.
With reference to Islam, the cornerstone of the Islamic view of world peace is the Lesser Jihad. The principal teaching surrounding this is that Allah desires peace but acknowledges the human capacity to be violent and aggressive. Thus, the concept of the Lesser Jihad or the struggle against external evil in pursuit of world peace is developed. Adherents focus every aspect of their lives in the pursuit of Jihad and it is through this that one may finally achieve submission. O soul at peace, return to the lord. ” (Qur’an) This struggle against external evil is demonstrated at a practical level through the initiatives of Australian Muslims to enter into dialogue with non-Islamic Australians to attempt to quell misunderstandings regarding Islam such as the misconception regarding Jihad. In 1989, The International Scholars Annual Dialogue was established by scholars from various faiths to clarify such issues as the aforementioned, helping to achieve world peace.
This organisation believes that the western media “oversimplifies the position of Islam” on matters such as terrorism, thus impeding initiatives towards peace in a global context. Moreover such movements as the Bridges not Walls Foundation is an interfaith movement instigated by Muslims and Jews in order to oppose the conflict in the Middle East. Although peace in its entirety has not yet been achieved, initiatives such as these possess an incalculable significance in directing the world towards peace.
Peace is a concept that is embedded into the sacred texts and principal teachings of both Christianity and Islam. These texts instruct the adherent toward the most appropriate way to peace and as such it is the concluding contention of this paper that; the inspiration and desire for peace derives directly from the sacred texts of the two traditions and although this has not yet been fully achieved, the movement towards world peace has been aided by the capacity of adherents to act practically on the principal teachings contained within the sacred texts of the aforementioned traditions.