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6 HSC II Unit Religion and Peace

Religious Traditions of Focus: Christianity and Islam

Mr J Portelli

on 18 July 2014

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Transcript of 6 HSC II Unit Religion and Peace

Religion & Peace
The understanding of peace in TWO religious traditions
Syllabus Outline
Peace expressed through sacred texts
Principal teachings about peace
The contributions to peace
the individual
means of achieving inner peace
the world
means of achieving world peace
New Testament references about Peace
Matt 5:9 - "Blessed are those who work
for peace;God will call them his children!"
1 Corinthians 14:33- "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace"
Eph 2:17 - "Christ came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. "
2 Corinthians 13:11- "Aim for perfection,
listen to my appeal, life in peace. And the
God of love and peace will be with you."
John 16:33- "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace."
Rom 12:21 'Do not be overcome by
evil, but overcome evil with good'
Mt 7:24-27 - "Peace through
hearing and doing the word"
Mt 5:43 "I say to you love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you"
Principal Teachings about Peace
Christians are meant to be stewards of creation (Gen. 1). This means respect and care for all aspects of life.
Jesus' death is the ultimate symbol of peace: Christians are meant to seek reconciliation over retaliation.
"A firm determination to respect the dignity of other people along with the deliberate practice of fraternal love are absolutely necessary for the achievement of peace"
Christians are meant reflect Jesus' teachings in their life, therefore people who seek reconciliation over retaliation.
St Thomas a Kempis said 'first be peaceful yourself, and you will be able to bring peace to others'.
The greatest reflection of Christian teaching is the belief in the equality of all people as created in the image of God (Genesis 1)
Individual means of achieving inner peace
The world means of achieving peace

The use of scripture (O.T & N.T) in both personal & group settings.
Joining reflection, discussion and retreat groups, particularly ecumenical and interfaith groups, and those for conflict resolution.
Can be spontaneous as encountered in charismatic communities as an expressive form of prayer based on beliefs relating to the action of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians.
Sacramental liturgy or worship, including Catholic/Orthodox Eucharistic Services & Penance/Reconciliation or Worship services for Protestants.
Use of aids for prayers has an important place in some Christian traditions. Examples of this include reflection on the icons to focus attention on the sacred, a practice evident practically in the Orthodox Churches. Catholics use the Rosary to pray for personal and public intentions.
Seek peace through fulfillment of teaching eg. reading, reflecting and praying based on documents issued by Christian Churches on peace, justice and non-violence.
For many Christians being part of particular Church community assists their quest for personal peace.
Joining web-based discussion threads or joining organisations like AFA (Aust. Family Assoc.) and writing petitions to governments about peace.
Taking part in peace rallies and demonstrations.
Taize is an international, ecumenical movement that promotes personal and communal movement that promotes personal and communal peace through prayer and meditation
Many of the strategies to achieve inner peace are of course relevant to achieving world peace. In a contemporary world when the phenomenon of violence has become increasingly complex the challenge for Christian Churches to achieve peace has become more relevant. Many Christians & their affiliated organizations are working towards justice & peace. The following are some examples this:
January 1 of each year is World Day of Peace initiated by Pope Paul VI in 1968. http://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/messages/peace/documents/hf_p-vi_mes_19671208_i-world-day-for-peace.html
The current Pope as leader of the Catholic Church issues a statement on a theme that is relevant to global issues at the time. e.g 2009 'Fighting Poverty to Build Peace'
NCCA's 'Act of Peace Campaign' is an ecumenical initiative that aims to reduce poverty, protect refugees, prevent conflicts and empower communities.
Pax Christi (Christ of Peace) an organization which works internationally on wide variety of issues including human rights including disarmament, a just world order, religion and violent conflict.
WCC in 2001 initiated the 'Decade to Overcome Violence' (DOV). Their aims were to seek Truth, Mercy, Justice, Community and Reconciliation.
There are many legitimate ways that individuals can achieve legitimate peace in Christianity. They include the following:
Principal Teachings about Peace
Peace through the Qur'an & Hadith
Individual means of achieving inner peace
The world means of achieving peace
A Muslim will greet another with 'Assalamu alaikum' (peace be with you). This is taught by the Prophet Muhammad as is recorded in the Hadith.
The pursuit of personal peace is necessary in order to ensure the order of Allah's creation is maintained.
Part of the order of life is to accept the events in life as inshallah (Allah's will).
Support for individual Muslims in their quest for inner peace is centred around the Mosque. This provides a spiritual leader in the Imam, religious prayer services, religious studies (eg. study of the Qur'an), youth programs, counselling and welfare services.
Sufism is also an expression of inner peace through mysticism i.e. drawing the believer into an intimate relationship with Allah. Centers like the Australian Centre for Sufism would provide its followers with the opportunity in attending retreats or groups to attend the Hajj.
From its establishment Islam emphasized peace. The word 'islam' is derived from the root slm. These are the root letters for peace.
Allah's commands in respect to justice and right relationship must be observed in all situations.
Only those who live in peace and justice can enter al-Janna (paradise)
According to the Qur'an, Muslims must continually strive to live in submission to the will of Allah by living a 'rightful and lawful' life. 'O you who believe! Come, all of you, into submission and follow not the footsteps of the gin.' (Sura 2:208)
Jihad is the notion of a personal and/or external struggle against evil.
Jihadin-Nafs or personal jihad is the internal struggle to uphold the principals of justice and to live a pure & holy life while rejecting violence (evil) in words, thoughts or actions.
The lesser jihad is the struggle to external evils. This can sometimes lead to war after all peaceful means are exhausted. However, it's clear by many Muslim scholars that Jihad is not just a 'holy war' as percieved sometimes in the Western context.
The purest way to achieve this personal jihad is through the Five Pillars of Islam.
The Five Pillars of Islam (z3sh)

Shahada (profession of Faith) submission to Allah means obedience to his law and especially with respect to others & creation.

Salat (daily prayer) rythm in life encourages personal peace and commitment to others.

Zakat (charity) reminds Muslims of their responsibility to others especially the weak. Justice is a component of peace.

Sawm (fasting) during Ramadan Muslims are challenged to review their faith, therefore as part of this tradition reading the Qur'an assists in their understanding of living a good live, hence peace.

Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) the ultimate symbol of the ummah. The ritual involved encourage the equality of people and the peaceful interactions of many cultures.
Peace was established by God as the instigator of creation.
Jesus' teaching emphasise respect, unity and reconciliation
The peace of God is beyond the peace of this world.
Jesus provided a new and radical interpretation of the Mosiac law e.g.
no longer 'an eye for eye' rather 'love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you'
Islam teaches that it is imperative that the individual be at peace with himself before the goal of universal peace may be realised. This is the real struggle of jihad. Therefore a Muslims priority is to live in full submission to Allah and this primarily lived out through the Five Pillars. Through this obedience to the will of Allah a Muslim will become award of God's mercy and compassion.
Confusion in the modern western world today towards Islam stems from a misunderstanding of the crossover between religion and politics, and the association of jihad to 'holy war.' However their millions of Muslims who's experience of their religion is based on spirituality rather than politics and violence. Hence they have been great efforts between these adherents and followers of other traditions to try and focus on what unites rather than what divides. The following are some example of efforts by Muslim groups who work towards peace:
International Scholars Abrahamic Trialogue (ISAT). A body set up in 1989 formed by Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars to reflect on and dialogue about issues of conflict and how they can be resolved. Some of the issues discussed include the relationship between religion and state.

An open letter of peace was written to leaders of the international Christian community by Jordan's Royal Aalal-Bayt Insitute for Islamic Thought. It was a call to harmony based on the principle of peace that both traditions proclaims.

Islamic Relief Worldwide is an international relief and development charity founded in the United Kingdom 1984. It responds to disasters and emergencies as well as the promotion of sustainable economic and social development by working with local communities - regardless of race, religion or gender.
John 14:27
... true peacemaking is never merely a matter of policy or document, but first a matter of heart..... repentance and forgiveness... charity and justice, peace and peacemakers isn't something that emerges as an option when war raises its head it is fundamental commitment to way Christians live their lives and the values they hear.
Clearly the first Christians were pacifists in their own right. However, the fear of extinction allowed early philosophers to develop the idea of a 'Just War Cause' hence people like St Augustine suggested that one was allowed to defend himself and to attack someone before they attacked you and still uphold his Christian principles
A very important element of Christianity is Pax Christi (the peace of Christ). These include 1. a way of life; 2. reverence for life; 3. the role of sacramental/saintly life; and 4. non-violent action. Therefore Christian peace firstly an internal change of the heart. This includes repentance, reconciliation and forgiveness. This is then reflected in an external way which includes seeking justice for all. e.g. recognising the dignity of the human person and their inalienable rights.
An essay on 'Essay on Religion and Peace' by Rev. R. Arulappa Archbishop of Madras

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