Is peace possible in a world of religion?
It is a widely held belief that religion is the cause of all conflicts, past and present; that religion and peace are simply not compatible. However, with a vast proportion of the world’s population subscribing to one religion or another, can it really be an issue to ignore?
Baha’i’s believe that “world peace is not only possible but inevitable”, a central tenet to their faith; they put forth a seminal statement in 1985 stating that: “no serious attempt to set human affairs aright, to achieve world peace, can ignore religion”. Further stating that “religion is a ‘faculty of human nature’ [and] the perversion of this faculty has contributed to much of the confusion in society and the conflicts in and between individuals can hardly be denied”.
It is often forgotten that nearly all religions hold central themes of peace in their sacred literature.
Speaking with Father Adam Kubis, A Polish Catholic priest, he explains that “the essence of Jesus’ message in fact is peace. He came to reconcile heaven with Earth and to reconcile a human being with him/herself”, whilst also quoting the Bible: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.” (Rom 12:18 NET).
In Islam, there are Qur’anic verses which also negate violence and promote peace. Following the terrorist attacks in Delhi, Imam Maqsood Ul Hassan has been mounting an anti terrorism campaign and often refers to scripture in his sermons which state “killing any innocent human is like killing the entire of humanity, saving any human is like saving the entire of humanity (Quran, chapter 5, Verse 32).”
In addition, in Judaism there is a central belief in unity as expressed in “how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell in unity.” [“Heney ma tov u-ma-naim, Shevet Akhim gamy a-khad,” (Psalm 133)].
So where did it all go wrong?
Professor Miroslav Volf, Christian Theologian, Director of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture and author of ‘Allah: A Christian response’ believes that “religions are not going away”.
“No peace will be possible if we disregard let alone suppress religions. The most important thing we can do to make religions contribute to peace rather than foment strife, is to decouple them from politics and resist their misuse as tools to achieve political ends”.
It is a sentiment shared by many, including the much respected Rabbi Ezekiel Isaac Malekar ”Religion has been used for inspiring hatred and instigation for violence and as means for the pursuit of power” and urges that this should cease to be the case.
Rabbi Ezekiel is one to be listened to, an Indian Rabbi, lawyer and peace activist. he serves the small but vibrant Judah Hyam synagogue in Delhi which I visited last year whilst in India. In addition, Ezekiel personifies all that a religious leader should be, sincere, humble, warm and non judgemental.
He is proudly Indian and keen to highlight the “peaceful existence of the Jews in India for more than 2000 years as a shining testimony to the complete absence of anti-Semitism in this country”. He believes that we need “to inculcate a new culture of peace among religions” and that “religions must earn reverence through truth and tolerance”.
Ultimately, whether you believe in all religions, one religion or no religion at all, what is universal and essential for peace is that we recognise our common humanity.Tagged in: Christianity, humanity, Imam, islam, Judaism, peace, Religion
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