Summary Points

Students learn about:

peace expressed through sacred texts from TWO religious traditions drawn from:

  • Islam - Qur'an and Hadith

Students learn to:

investigate the understanding of peace and how it is informed through significant writings within sacred texts for TWO religious traditions drawn from:

  • Islam - Qur'an and Hadith

The understanding of peace expressed in the Qur'an and Hadith

  • Qur'an is the fundamental text for all Muslims
  • It contains the revelation of Allah, complete and unaltered as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad
  • Qur'an is organised into 114 surahs or chapters
  • Hadith refers to the collection of traditions of the words and deeds of Muhammad
  • The word "Islam" comes from selm and salam the Arabic words for peace Muslims greet one another with the expression "As-Salamu-Alaykum" which means peace be with you
  • The first verse of the Qur'an contains the wish for peace " In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most compassionate."
  • One of Allah's names in the Qur'an, is "As Salaam" which means peace.
  • The Qur'an refers to Islam as 'the paths of peace' ( 5:16 )
  • It describes reconciliation as a basic stance (4:128) and states that Allah abhors disturbance of the peace (2:205)
  • The mission of the Prophet Muhammad is one of peace and mercy to humankind. (21:107)
  • The ideal society, according to the Qur'an is "Dar al Salaam" which means the house of peace. ( 10:25 )
  • The accounts of creation and the natural order in the Qur'an present the universe as a model, which is characterised by harmony and peace (36:40)
  • When Allah created heaven and the earth it was ordered so that each element may perform its function peacefully without clashing with any other part
  • The Qur'an states that "the sun is not allowed to overtake the moon, nor does the night out pace the day. Each in its own orbit runs."  (36:40)
  • Peace is not simply an absence of war
  • The tradition of the Prophet Muhammad affirms "Allah grants to ifq (gentleness) what he does not grant to unf (violence), (Hadith4/255)
  • No aggressive war is permitted in Islam 
  • Muslims can engage themselves only in a defensive, not in an offensive war, whatever the circumstances (2:190)
  • According to Islam, peace is the rule and war is only an exception
  • In the situation of a defensive war if the likely outcome does not warrant the conflict Muslims should avoid the war
  • Jihad is a central teaching of Islam but is not synonymous for war
  • When the Qur'an refers to war or fighting it uses the word "qital" and not jihad.
  • Jihad literally means to strive or to struggle
  • In its proper usage Jihad refers mostly to the essential struggle in overcoming obstacles to submission to Allah
  • Jihad can, and does also refer to the military struggle to achieve religious freedom for Muslims and the protection of Muslim values
  • The use of force is always a last resort and war of aggression is never an option for Islam.
  • According to the Hadith, the daily prayer of the Prophet Muhammad was centered on peace "O Allah, you are the original source of peace; from you is all peace, and to you returns all peace, So, make us live with Peace; and let us enter paradise; The House of Peace.  Blessed be you, our Lord, to whom belongs all Majesty and Honor!"

Students learn about:

principal teachings about peace in TWO religious traditions

Students learn to:

outline the principal teachings about peace in TWO religious traditions

Principal teachings about peace in Islam

  • Islam is based on the notion of peace as an essential element
  • The word "Islam" itself comes from the Arabic words for peace selm and salam
  • The traditional Muslim greeting "As-Salamu-Alaykum" means peace be with you
  • The first verse of the Qur'an expresses the Muslim understanding of peace. " In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most compassionate"
  • One of the names for Allah is "As Salaam" which means peace
  • The Qur'an refers to Islam as 'the paths of peace' ( 5:16 )
  • It describes reconciliation as a basic stance (4:128) and states that Allah abhors disturbance of the peace (2:205)
  • The mission of the Prophet Muhammad is one of peace and mercy to humankind. (21:107)
  • The principal teachings of Islam strongly advocate peace
  • Clear teachings in Islam also permit the use of force in certain situations
  • The teachings of Islam on the use of force have frequently been misrepresented
  • The concept of "Jihad" is often the source of the misrepresentation
  • Jihad is a central teaching of Islam but is not synonymous for war
  • Qur'an uses the word "qital" and not jihad to refer to war and fighting
  • Jihad literally means to strive or to struggle
  • In its proper usage it refers mostly to the essential struggle in overcoming obstacles to submission to Allah
  • Jihad can also refer to the military struggle to achieve religious freedom for Muslims and the protection of Muslim values
  • The use of force is always a last resort
  • War of aggression is not permitted Islam
  • Peace is the fundamental aim of Islam
  • Wars can be fought to defend against acts of aggression and overcome oppression
  • War is not a way to advance ideology or extend political power and influence
  • Peace in Islam does not just mean the absence of war
  • Extends to the absence of oppression and tyranny
  • True peace can only exist where there is justice
  • Islam justifies war against oppressive regimes that prevent people from living in freedom and upholding their religious beliefs and practices
  • Does not justify war against non-Muslim people for the purposes of forcefully spreading the influence of Islam
  • In the early years of Islam, under persistent threats of persecution and harassment Muslims adopted a pacifist stance in Makkah
  • In Madinah, force was only used in response to those who attacked the Muslims Permission to use force is expressed in the Qur'an "to those against whom war is made, permission to fight is given" ( 22:39 )
  • Muslims remained at peace with the Jews who lived in Madinah
  • Muhammad forged an alliance of cooperation and friendship with the Jews
  • Assured them of their freedom of religion as well as their security in the Muslim world
  • Notion of the two domains "dar al lslam" and "dar al Harb" did not arise until sometime later during a period of conflict between Islam and the Byzantine empire
  • Previously peaceful relations had existed between the Islamic world and the Christian realm of Abyssinia
  • The Qur'an has been used to provide support for extremists in their campaigns Surahs such as 2:193 at face value suggest an endorsement of a campaign to force others to submit to Islam. "And fight them on until there is no more Fitnah and religion should be only for Allah" (2:193)
  • In context this surah clearly refers to a defence of Islam in the face of aggression by others. "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not commit aggression, for Allah loves not aggressors." (2:190)  . but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression" (2:193)
  • Another section of the Qur'an seems to invite aggression towards non Muslims "slay the mushrikin wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem; but if they repent, and establish Salat and pay Zakat, then open the way for them" (9:5)
  • The context is clearly a reference to the non Muslims at the time of Muhammad who were actively plotting against the Muslims in Madinah
  • This surah is not an endorsement of hostility towards non Muslims it does contain the basis for the Muslim support of a pre-emptive strike where the evidence of an imminent attack is unmistakable
  • In Islam, the permitted use of war is to establish and assure justice, and to overcome oppression and tyranny
  • Four situations can be seen where an Islamic state is justified in using force
  • The first situation is to overcome oppression where there is the denial of religious freedom
  • The second situation is when individual Muslims and their property are under attack from another group in the community
  • The third situation is where an Islamic state is invaded by a foreign power
  • The fourth situation relates to law enforcement where there is a need to subdue rebellion against legitimate authority within an Islamic state
  • Muslims see the use of force as necessary in certain contexts, believing that without the responsible use of force there would be chaos and the triumph of tyranny in the community
  • "Had it not been (the Will of) Allah that one set of people is repelled by another, certainly the earth would have been in a state of disorder." (2:251)
  • "Had it not been (the Will of) Allah that one set of people is repelled by another, certainly there would have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure." ( 22:40 ) 

Students learn about:

the contribution of TWO religious traditions to peace in the context of:

  • the individual - means of achieving inner peace

Students learn to:

demonstrate how TWO religious traditions guide the individual in achieving inner peace

Guidance for Muslims in achieving inner peace

  • For Muslims, peace is not a single dimensional or individual concept
  • Peace is firstly to be at rest with one's own desires and ambitions
  • Secondly, to have peace with the world around
  • There is a reciprocal relationship between this inner peace and the peace with the wider world
  • No one can be at peace with themselves until they are also at peace with others
  • It will not be possible to live at peace with others until there is a sense of peace and wellbeing with one's self
  • In Islam the concept of peace is two-fold
  • Firstly, to be at peace with Allah and then, secondly, to be at peace with oneself and with the rest of the world
  • In Islam the concept of peace is closely related to the idea of submission
  • The goal of Islam is submission to Allah and in this submission peace is found
  • Muslims understand that peace is not possible outside of this relationship with Allah
  • In submitting to Allah a person finds peace, peace first of all with Allah then with self and also with others
  • Submission to the will of Allah is the only means of attaining peace with Allah
  • The Qur'an sets out clear paths for Muslims to follow in their desire to submit to Allah
  • The most significant of these are the five pillars or the pillars of Islam (arkan al-islam)
  • Each of the pillars requires both an internal or spiritual commitment together with an outward action or sign
  • The first of the five pillars is a witness to the oneness of Allah and the role of the Prophet Muhammad as its messenger
  • Known as the shahada which means to bear witness "I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah".
  • The witness in the shahada is essentially all that it takes to be considered a Muslim
  • The repudiation of anything false includes a repudiation of self and selfishness which frees a Muslim to worship Allah freely without the restrictions of egocentrism
  • This freedom is an integral part of the quest for inner peace as a focus on self and selfishness will effectively destroy this peace
  • The second of the pillars of Islam is the requirement of ritual prayer known as "salat"
  • The requirement here is that every Muslim will offer five daily prayers
  • They are an act of obedience to Allah
  • They proclaim the oneness and greatness of Allah
  • The prayers serve the function of bringing people closer to Allah
  • They contribute to the purity of the person praying, provide strength to carry out the requirements of Islam and forgiveness for transgressions
  • The purity and strength associated with salat provide important foundations for a sense of peace and wellbeing
  • The third pillar of Islam is the requirement of almsgiving known as "zakat"
  • The aim of zakat for the one contributing is to purify and cleanse wealth and to allow it to be free from greed and selfishness
  • It helps Muslims to overcome feelings of attachment to money and the wish to cling to it
  • It affirms that money is for the service of human kind and not for exclusive personal gain
  • The freedom from the attachment of wealth and possessions is considered by Muslims to be an essential element in the quest for inner peace
  • To maintain close ties to wealth and possession will effectively undermine the search for inner peace.
  • The fourth pillar of Islam involves fasting
  • It refers to voluntary fasting and is known as "sawm"
  • The period of fasting is for the month of Ramadan
  • The fast will be rendered worthless if the disposition of the person fasting is not as it should be
  • It is a primary way of commemorating Ramadan and honouring the occasion of the revelation of the Qu'ran
  • Secondly it is a time where the hunger of the person fasting brings to mind the reality of poverty and where almsgiving is strongly encouraged
  • The self discipline of fasting is an important companion to achieving inner peace as it is one of the ways of putting aside self and selfishness
  • The fifth pillar of Islam is the pilgrimage or "hajj"
  • Every devout Muslim male will desire to make the pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in their lifetime
  • The word "hajj" means to embark on a journey with a purpose
  • The purpose is essentially to visit the Ka'bah in Makkah and worship on Mount Arafat
  • The physical demands of the Hajj, the organisation required for someone to take part and the material cost are all elements which require sacrifice and dedication
  • These elements involve putting aside selfishness in seeking to submit to the will of Allah
  • The more perfect the submission to Allah, the more profound the sense of inner peace that will be experienced by the Muslim
  • The mystical movement of Sufism has had significant influence on the quest for inner peace
  • Sufi teachings have a strong emphasis on peace in general but most particularly on the attainment of a deep inner peace.
  • Sufism teaches that a person travels through three stations or stages of peace in their spiritual journey
  • The first station is known as the stage of Islam and it refers to the conscious act of submission to the will of Allah such as achieved through the sincere practice of the pillars of Islam
  • The second station refers to a stage where the peace of Allah has come into the heart of the Muslim and where the peace of Allah has become internalised
  • This second station is known as Iman
  • The third station known as the stage of Ihsan is a transformative stage where the power of evil is defeated and the Muslim experiences the peace of Allah free from the entrapments of evil

Students learn about:

the contribution of TWO religious traditions to peace in the context of:

  • the world - means of achieving world peace

Students learn to:

discuss how TWO religious traditions are contributing to world peace

Contribution of Islam to World Peace

  • Islam is essentially a religion of peace and true Muslims are peace loving people
  • Strong misconception about the nature of Islam and its followers.
  • The sources of this misconception are varied
  • The misconception stems from a prejudice arising from the fear of the unknown. Islam is a relatively unknown religion in Australia
  • Only a small number of Muslims in Australia , few non Muslim Australians have had the opportunity of getting to know Australian Muslims
  • Most rely on secondary sources of information to inform their views on Muslims and Islam in Australia
  • Tendency to hold prejudices against people and groups who are not well known and understood in a community
  • The second source of misconception stems from the political conflicts that have existed in the Middle East
  • Particularly through the conflicts between Western interests and those of Middle Eastern countries
  • People in countries such as Australia feel uneasy when there is conflict around Western interests and the use of terrorist tactics by some groups has heightened this sense of unease
  • Many people are not able to differentiate between the political interests of some Middle Eastern countries and the religious interests of Islam
  • The activities of some extremists who claim to be acting in the name of Islam tend to reinforce the misconception that Islam is in some way responsible for the unrest
  • A third source of misconception is the media
  • Media organisations in Australia have been only too willing to promote misconceptions and stereotypes in order to create a greater interest in their product
  • Fear and uncertainty is a great motivator in Australian society and media organisations have traded on this fact
  • It serves their purposes to demonise certain members of the community in order to foster this sense of unease
  • The fact that so many Australians rely on the media for their information and the media's propensity to stereotype Muslims as terrorists has contributed greatly to the misconception of Islam
  • In the light of this prevailing misconception it is very difficult for Muslims to play a constructive role in the work for world peace
  • Many Muslim organisations and individual Muslims who are undertaking important work for peace
  • In Australia it is difficult for such work to be recognised and supported because of the negativity felt towards Muslims
  • Muslim groups in Australia have found that the most constructive way they can be involved in the peace process is to provide opportunities for people in the Australian community to become more familiar with Muslim values and beliefs
  • Such initiatives have profound significance in terms of addressing the underlying causes of conflict
  • Muslims has also taken active roles in partnerships with other religious organisations in the search for peace
  • In particular, Muslims work closely with Jewish and Christian organisations
  • Muslim organisations in Western countries include statements on their websites which state their opposition to the terrorist activities of extremist groups
  • Muslim leaders have also contributed to joint statements and programs with leaders of other religious faiths to condemn violence and work for peace
  • Throughout the world there are a number of countries which have predominantly Muslim populations and in all of these there are organisations and activists who are prominent in their work for peace.
  • Nurdin Rahman is a Muslim peace activist who has worked tirelessly during the conflict in Aceh province
  • The Israeli-Palestinian Relations Committee of the Israeli & Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace has worked in the midst of the conflict in the Middle East
  • It is a gathering of Palestinians and Israelis who've lost family members due to the occupation and the severe cycle of violence
  • They work towards an end to the occupation and peaceful reconciliation between warring sides in the conflict
  • In India the South Asia Forum for Human Rights has developed a number of important programs including the program of "Regional Dialogues of Women Building Peace"
  • Their work acknowledges that women are so often the innocent victims of conflict
  • The dialogues seek to engage women in partnerships that will begin to breakdown the sources of the conflict