By Elizabeth Rahman
The word Islam means ‘surrender to God’, and is related to the Arabic word ‘salaam’ which means peace. This word includes a sense of security or permanence, as in the afterlife; it is also the salutation of peaceful Muslims, and signifies accord with those around us. It also means acceptance /acknowledgment– that we are satisfied with what we have. The core message of Islam is individual inner peace, which leads to peace in the community and the world; it teaches abstention from aggression or war, except in self-defense.
But ‘peace’ also has a practical meaning. It is not just the absence of war; peace is like a balance with equal weights on each side. If the balance is disturbed, then peace is lost.
We are seeing this imbalance in the world today. Peace can only be achieved when there is hope and justice for people of all races and faiths; when people feel safe – when their property is respected and not taken from them. Peace can only be achieved when children are educated; when they have clean water and are free from malnutrition. Peace can only be achieved when people are free to practice their religion and are proud of their culture.
The pursuit of peace means we must demand justice and dignity for all people, and social programs which allow people to live with dignity. We must demand that civil rights are not compromised in our quest for security. As a Muslim, I believe every human being has a right to live in peace.
An Affirmation of Peace
Peace is not the product of terror or fear.
Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.
Peace is not the silence of violent repression.
Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all.
Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity.
It is right and duty.
Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador