Is peace possible in a world of religion?

Dr Sima Barmania

126289114 255x300 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.

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  • Slagpeece

    “Is peace possible in a world of religion?”

    If the past is a map to the future then I’d say it’s pretty damn unlikely.
    Or was it a rhetorical question?

  • And789

    Religion is the yoke of the world. 

  • VladTeppes

    Religion essentially involves giving up the rational and embracing the irrational, so that is the reason that as long people believe in religions as they presently stand peace will just be a distant dream.

  • Anteaus

    The gullibility of us humans toward religion is an intriguing aspect. Why DO people believe this stuff? By and large we’re not a gullible species, and are quick to spot when we’re being had. Yet…

    Let us assume for the sake of argument that spirit entities exist.

    Now, if the guy working in the chip-chop looked like Elvis, dressed like Elvis, had Elvis’ mannerisms off-pat, even sang like Elvis… We’d still call him a liar.

    But, when a spirit comes along and claims that as the almighty creator of the universe, he’s saved us (from his OWN wrath?!?) by sending his son to be tortured to death, we believe him.  Especially as our ‘believing’ means we are ’saved’ – no matter how badass we actually are.

    At least, the Elvis guy did a credible impression.

  • EddBarber

    @ VladTeppes  

    This assumes that the rational will lead, as a matter of necessity so long as it is followed without disgression, to peace. I’m not so sure this is the case. (Which is not to suggest that I think religions are especially helpful.)

  • cometoreality

    The fact of the matter is that religion is a great influencing force and urgently needs to be exploited in the interest of world peace. Rather than to look upon religion as defunct, it is vitally important that the great role of religion in human affairs should be recognised.

    Religion in this respect stands as a double-edged sword – religion on its own and religion in relation to other religions, and as such can be used, respectively, to socialise man and to unite mankind. The integration of man depends upon the truth that man cannot live on bread alone and upon the truth that all religions lead to God.

    The study of religions must be fostered so that their resources maybe understood and drawn upon for building harmony and peace. The ‘values for values’ philosophy should be totally discarded, for inherent in such a philosophy are the seeds of human destruction.
    This is exactly the time that all the religions of the world must unite on the basis of the ultimate truth – a truth which is common to them all. This is the time of revival of religion and of religious values. The religions of the world face a completely new situation today. Never before this century have they been in such close contact as they are now. And interestingly enough, never before this century has man been in such an urgent need for religious unity as he is now.

    The ’small’ world in which we live makes nonsense of religious isolation as well as of religious intolerance. The need of the day is to seek affinities between different religions – affinities leading towards unity, harmony, goodwill and peace. The religions of the world must lay aside their traditional rivalry and side with one another to preserve the highest cultural values of mankind and face the worst enemy that has ever appeared against them.

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