Peace in Christianity and Islam

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Two reflections from International Day of Peace, 21 September 2012

As we approach Christmas it seems a good time to share these.

Peace in the Mosque

I was invited, with colleagues from the Salvation Army and other guests to Friday Prayers and Sermon at East London Mosque last Friday: The International Day of Peace. We were joined after the sermon by the Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Chairman of the mosque, Dilowar Hussain Khan, the Executive Director and other staff members as well as a representative from London Citizens.

Apart from the wonderful hospitality we received, we were able to reflect on the sermon which had as its theme: "A World built on Peace and Justice." This was delivered in Arabic, Bengali and English. The imam considered the greeting performed from one person to another in Islam, "As-salaamu 'alaikum" which speaks, not just of peace but bears witness to the "unique peace" characterised by God himself. Further, that peace is not just for ourselves but an all-encompassing and everlasting peace for all. This peace too is inextricably linked to the duties of life as mandated by God, namely maintaining family ties, being good to our neighbours, establishing justice and standing against injustice.

As a follower of Jesus, standing with those from my own faith tradition and my Muslim neighbours, I was reminded afresh of the words of an Old Testament prophet, Micah, who wrote: "God has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Indeed Jesus himself, as the Prince of Peace, calls us to love of God and neighbour. Peace (Salaam) has its origins in God and He calls us to work for peace and justice. It was humbling to share these moments and to pray for peace in our community and our world.

Mark Hutchings
Youth Specialist, Christian Muslim Forum
@markyhutch

Peace in Parliament

It was a joy to be joined on the morning of 21 September, International Day of Peace, by some of the activists who were part of the Christian Muslim Forum’s ‘London Leaders’ event in May. We were a growing gathering of Christians and Muslims in Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament until Lord Bates led us into a corner of the hall down a dark staircase and into the small basement chapel at the heart of government, an excellent venue for peace. Catriona Robertson, co-ordinator for the London Peace Network and also of London Borough’s Faith Network was our focal point as she introduced the organizers and spokespeople for our campaign (listed in this newsletter).

When it came to my turn to speak I commented on the maturity that came from working together over a number of years, of joy, peace, friendship and harmonious collaboration. Working together peacefully is second nature to us, whatever our religious differences. I offered these words written about peace by a Christian woman:

‘The human heart has great capacity to show love and compassion, to reflect our Creator’s likeness, but we need to nurture and protect these precious qualities to help them flourish.  Love and Compassion are the tools for harmonious living and peaceful existence. They are the antidote to hatred. I am reminded of the importance of daily discipline to cultivate the soil of our hearts to enable such healing seeds to grow. We need to strengthen our connection to each other through connecting to God in quiet meditation (prayer) and desiring the best for each other.‘

I was mindful on the day that one of the videos we had shared on our Facebook group was of a young Muslim woman talking about peace from an Islamic perspective. One of my contacts had almost immediately challenged this, saying that Muslims don’t really believe in peace, thus starting another of those internet arguments with people exchanging opinions. I always appeal to reality, and here I was in a very old Christian chapel with as many Muslims as Christians in the ‘congregation’, holding a booklet produced by a Muslim organization with the ‘salaam bird’ on the front cover which contained a message of peace from the Grand Mufti of Bosnia and the Archbishop of Canterbury. There is no doubt where peace is and who is sharing it.

[This isn't the video mentioned but conveys a strong message of peace between people of different religions Samiha Rafiq]

Julian Bond
Director, Christian Muslim Forum
@ChrisMusForum
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