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Christian and Islamic principal teachings in the achieving world peace

Updated on May 15, 2017

Sacred texts and the subsequent principal teachings created a guideline for how adherents in Christianity and Islam were to achieve inner and world Peace. Peace was the ideal state of harmony concerning inner and external peace, referring to the absence of social and spiritual conflict. This entailed freedom from public disturbance or disorder; public security; law and order as permeated in Christian and Islamic religious traditions. Ultimately, significant individuals and organisations have further assisted adherents in comprehending principal teachings and strive toward world peace.

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Contributing to peace in accordance to The Old Testiment

The principal teachings of Christianity were founded by the Bible, which provided the basis for how adherents were to contribute to world peace. The New Testament played a significant role as it reverts around the ministry and life of Christ and the principal teaching of agape: ‘loving yourself, loving God, loving your neighbour.’ (Matthew 22:39.) Jesus’ birth was prophesied by the Old Testament to become the ‘prince of peace’ (Isaiah 9:6), who was born to catalyse a reign of peace. This principal teaching centralised Jesus as the ultimate role model for peace that has inclined adherents to follow his example.

This demonstrated how paramount the principal teaching of Agape was in assisting and adherents to develop inner peace and contribute to outer peace through strengthening one's connection to God. The fundamental teaching of agape advocated love and forgiveness to improve the world through outer peace through Christ who stated; 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:31.) This showed how the principal teaching taught adherents that equality and a lack of conflict were essential for peacemaking in Christianity. This was paramount in building a prominent connection with God based on faithful obedience. Therefore, sacred texts and the figure of Christ created the foundation for the principal teachings that guide adherents in pursuing peace.

Christianity - Core Beliefs & Practices

Principal teachings in Christianity contributing to peace

Guidelines for principal teachings of Christianity taught adherents how to respond to conflicts while still contributing to world peace throughout history. The initial response to violence was Christian Pacifism, which was emulated by the legacy of Jesus. Pacifism was shown through the notion of equality that Christ taught; “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4.) This showed that peace in Christianity was to be derived from the understanding that humans were ‘children of God’ ((Mt 5:9) and that peacemaking was to achieve peace through following His will.

This was to abide by the example of Christ on the Sermon on the Mount as he stated, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”(Mt 5:44) which applied to refuse participation in a war. Numerous organisations such as Quakers abided pacifism, maintaining a ‘Testimony to Peace’ through supporting suffering communities. Henceforth, the principal of Christian pacifism was and is still exerted by Christians in order to achieve world peace.

Retired medical artist Richard Neave has recreated the face of Jesus
Retired medical artist Richard Neave has recreated the face of Jesus | Source

While Christian Pacifism was met with brutality, Christians undertook a philosophical change with teachings of scripture in response to inevitable conflict. This was recalled as the Just War Theory that provided regulations for adherents in which they would be able to engage with warfare, morally justifying how Christians were to respond when feeling obligated to defend innocent civilians and themselves.

This constituted of the belief that warfare was to be an absolute last resort once other peaceful alternatives had failed while the intention had to be publically announced to defend human rights. On the other hand, the obscurity of such regulations had contradicted principal teachings such as Agape in Christianity to love one another.

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Just War Theory in Christianity

When pacifism was considered impossible, Christians were faced with the philosophical challenge of aligning necessary conflict with principal teachings. This eventually led to the development of Just War Theory, which acts as a set of guidelines that outline circumstances under which engaging in warfare could be morally justified, especially when Christians felt forced to fight in order to defend the lives and freedoms of themselves and other innocent people.

For example, this theory was applied to the use of strategic bombing in World War II including the use of the atom bomb. This was problematic as the concept of ‘just’ only consisted of the Ally perspective that also resulted in the loss of 90,000–166,000 lives of innocent civilians in Hiroshima. The aftermath of the conflict contradicted the goals publically expressed. This highlighted how bloodshed and mayhem were emblematic of war and it could never protect human rights as it harms them. Therefore, referring to principal teachings allowed Christians to scrutinise the flaws of pacifism and Just War theology and change how they approached world peace.

Hiroshima, Japan, in September 1945, a month after the detonation of an atomic bomb. Credit Stanley Troutman/Associated Press.
Hiroshima, Japan, in September 1945, a month after the detonation of an atomic bomb. Credit Stanley Troutman/Associated Press.

Inner Peace in Christianity

The expression of inner peace in adherents to be applied to their external lives was founded on principal teachings in the image of Jesus’ peace. To achieve inner peace a prominent spiritual connection with God was to be achieved before achieving external peace. Frequent prayers such as the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) were to strengthen this connection along with emulating charitable acts from figures such as Angelo Roncalli (John XXIII.)

Following in the principal teachings of committing oneself to God he developed a committed and loving relationship with Jesus Christ in and through the Catholic Church. He was a prime example of how adherents were to contribute to world peace. For instance, Pope John XXIII's 1963 encyclical ‘Pacem in Terris’ ("Peace on Earth") radically affected Catholic social teaching not only on war and peace but on church-state relations. Pope John analysed the intrinsic dignity of every human person with its implications for religious freedom, the equal rights of women, concern for the poor, rights of developing nations and other key social and political issues of church concern.

This mirrored the principal teachings of Agape, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) His pacifist approach demonstrated to adherents how they were to follow Christ’s teachings in order to contribute to world peace. This linked to pacifism since this denounced authority of the Church to accentuate that despite social status, all Christians were equal in the eyes of God. Henceforth, the principal teachings of Christianity contributed to inner peace and demonstrated how inner peace could be converted to efforts towards world peace.

Pope John XXIII

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Christian organisations

The principal teachings of Christianity were used to contribute to the image of world peace through organisations. The World Council of Churches was the solidarity of churches that maintained the goal of promoting justice. This was in line with the ministry of Christ through initiatives such as how in 2002 the Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa were launched to support those with health and physical disabilities and other marginalised groups.

This ensured that church leaders and theologians engage all those who were usually excluded in establishing equality and a culture of peace. Furthermore, Pax Christi was a movement and teaching that advocated peace through their lives through respect to oneself and others. This encouraged adherents to embed principal teachings into their lives through, for example assisting in homeless shelters.

This organisation’s structure was constructed on Agape, believing that all adherents were capable of achieving peace towards humanity since adherents were to, “let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15.) The New Testament embodied the peace adherents wished to follow and imitate by contributing to organisations and pursuing the advancement of peace within the world.

The World Council of Churches

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Islamic Organisations

Principal teachings on peace in Islam were based on the sacred text of the Qur’an and the Hadith as the figure of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him or PBUH) functioned as a model for peace. The crucial principal belief of submission to Allah was found in the meaning of the word ‘Islam,’ the concept embedded in the Qur’an to highlight how that would promote world peace. Hence, Islam was regarded as the ‘paths to peace,’ (5:16), since submission to Allah was an essential belief.

Multiple names of Allah have been used such as Al-Saleem (Peace), to convey him as the ‘source of peace and perfection’ (Sura 59:23). This revealed in the Qur’an that paradise with Allah was the optimum peace that was reached through abiding by His will in order to enter ‘the home of peace’ (Sura 10:25). The significance of obtaining world peace through this concept was accentuated by the common greeting of ‘Assalamu Alaikum’ that wished the peace of Allah upon others.

Furthermore, the example set by Muhammad (PBUH) was shown through the Hadith, which was a secondary text in the system of Islamic jurisprudence. Muhammad demonstrated the significance of the mission of who was regarded as one of peace and mercy to humankind (21:107) towards adherents.

His teachings were utilised and consoled by adherents to assist the application of teachings from the Qur’an to particular situations. Hence, through examining these texts, Muslims understood principle teachings that assisted them how to enact them and ultimately achieve world peace.

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Islam

Obtaining world peace hinged on submission to the will of Allah, as it was the core principal teaching in Islam (Sura 5:15–16). To contribute to world peace adherents were to understand Allah’s will and purpose through promoting care and justice, to become ‘most righteous’ (48:13). In support to this, the Quran taught adherents that, “God does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who have neither fought against your faith nor driven you out of your homes. In fact, God loves the equitable.” (Qur’an :60:8).

This highlighted how that in order to obtain peace they were to be altruistic towards others. This demonstrated the potency of an adherent’s faith in Allah. Therefore, though addressing principal teachings in the Quran and Hadith adherents were guided in odyssey for world peace.

The Quran

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Jihad

Jihad was the core principal teaching addressing efforts towards world peace. It was a broadly misconstrued concept whilst it meant to struggle on the path of Allah, most believed Jihad meant holy war (which was Qudus Qitaal). The struggle Jihad delineated referred to the preservation of a Muslim’s faith and the right to worship freely. This encouraged peaceful worship and activism within the guidelines of the Quran whilst describing that Jihad was a spiritual struggle against within oneself against sin, referred to as greater Jihad.

This was obtained through Islamic jurisprudence, developing spirituality through the study of the Quran and spread the ideologies of the Quran. However, conflict with external enemies has known as lesser Jihad drew upon lesser principals in The Quran. Lesser Jihad was only to be utilised as the final recourse for self-defense and “fight in the cause of Allah (against) those who fight you”, (2:190). It was clear from the teaching of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that the Quran preached that greater Jihad took precedence over violence. Essentially, the principal teachings of Islam were created and interpreted with the objective of obtaining world peace.

Achieving inner peace in Islam

The principal belief of submission to Allah must have been achieved to exhibit inner peace, essential before contributing to world peace. The core expressions of faith consisted of the five pillars, advising adherents on how to establish inner and outer peace. Shahada and Salat allowed adherents to form and fortify the submissive connection with Allah in order to attain inner peace. This was to advocate promising relationships and conduciveness to world peace. This allowed them to understand the principal beliefs and integrate them into their lives so they would “not help one another in sin and transgression’ (Quran 05:02.) Furthermore, the fifth pillar (Hajj) embodied a Muslim’s desire to fall into submission of Allah in order to, through the collaborative effort of the umma, to contribute to world peace.

A modern example of an advocate for peace and embodiment of greater Jihad was Malala Yousafzai. She met aggressiveness of the Taliban at 15 making it clear that, "Jihad in Islam is STRIVING IN THE WAY OF ALLAH by pen, tongue, hand, media and, if inevitable, with arms.”( M. Amir Ali, Ph.D) This reflected how she fought for the rights of women in her umma for their education. She wrote ‘I am Malala’, overcoming her misfortune to raise awareness to share her inner peace. Consequently, this inspired millions to contribute to the cause and initiate societal peace. Hence, through expressing principal teachings despite oppression, Muslims could convey their understanding of the Quran to contribute to world peace.

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Principal teaching and world peace in Islam

In addressing principal teachings Islamic organisations formed to amalgamate Muslims to promote world peace. The Islamic Relief Worldwide was a charity that operated in over 30 countries. Consequently, they contributed to world peace through relieving poverty and illiteracy, responding to disasters and disease outbreaks in communities.

Hence, in the spirit of Zakat, they provided support of Allah’s creation and promoted progress towards societies beneficial to world peace. Furthermore, the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) was an organisation that provided service to the community in a manner that was in accordance with principal teachings within the framework of Australian law. The foundation’s motto was that ‘O your who believe! Seek help in patience As-Salat (the prayer). Truly! Allah is with As-Sabirum (the patient.)’ This emulated greater Jihad, conducive to world peace through care for others and spreading Allah’s teachings.

The Executive Board was committed to the cohesion of a Muslim community of diverse ethnic groups and to advancing the cause of Islam in modern Australia. Henceforth, Islam’s principle teachings were extracted from the Quran and Hadith to comprehensively exemplar what adherents were to do to endeavor to Allah’s desire of world peace.

Conclusion

World peace clearly was the paramount teaching and fundamental objective within Christianity and Islam. Through embedding the insight of principal teachings into their lives adherents endeavour toward a shared mission. Extracted from sacred texts, principal beliefs created the foundation for how adherents were to achieve peace. This allowed adherents to seek inner and external peace, and in due course create world peace.

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