1338297334 2008 Studies of Religion Notes

March 8, 2018 | Author: Mel Kane | Category: Peace, Jesus, Quran, New Testament, Hajj
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HSC – Stage 6

2 Unit – Studies of Religion

Religion and Peace The understanding of peace in TWO religious traditions 1. Peace expressed through sacred texts for TWO religious traditions drawn from: – Christianity – the New Testament – Islam – Qur’an and Hadith Investigate the understanding of peace and how it is informed through significant writings within sacred texts for TWO religious traditions drawn from: – Christianity – the New Testament The New Testament is the normative text for all Christians; it is the principal and foundational source of teaching for all Christians.

It is comprised of 27 individual books made up of 4 gospels, 21 letters or epistles mostly attributed to the apostle Paul and the Acts of the Apostles and the book of Revelation.

Peace is mentioned over ninety times in the New Testament, for example: –

The announcements of the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:14)

The teaching of Jesus (Matthew 5:9)

The life of the early Church communities (Galatians 5:22)

The vision of the messianic age (Revelation 6:4).

Most commonly it is used as a form of greeting and/or blessing. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:7)

Peace is also addressed as an underlying value (i.e. it is not specifically referred to):  

 

Peace is at the heart of Jesus' life and ministry and accordingly it is a foundational element of the Christian communities that seek to follow him Jesus himself is known as the prince of peace and is regarded as the source of peace. Christians are encouraged to model their "peacemaking" on his example The New Testament extols peace as a virtue and identifies it as a key element of the reign of God However there are very few practical instructions relating to the seeking of peace and the avoidance of conflict

Cynthia Chan 2009

HSC – Stage 6  

2 Unit – Studies of Religion

The vast majority of references relate to an inner peace and or a state of peace in interpersonal relationships A small number give guidance to Christians in relation to peace at a global level and the involvement or otherwise of Christians in warfare

The letter to the Philippians promises that "the peace of God which is beyond all understanding will guard your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7). This promise is given to those who devote themselves to God and make God the centre of their attention and the focus of their energies. It is an example of the inner peace that is promised to Christians who live faithfully according to the requirements of the gospel and who place their faith and trust in God.

More than an absence of conflict and violence

In this sense peace can be understood as a sense of wellbeing, free from anxiety. It is not merely an absence of conflict and violence but a far deeper notion recognising a profound serenity and sense of wellbeing. The peace of God experienced by followers of Jesus is thought to be a foretaste of the peace experienced in eternal life with God.

Throughout the ministry of Jesus, the notion of peace often accompanies the forgiveness of sin or an occasion of healing. (Luke 7:50 & Luke 8:48). Examples such as these confirm the notion that peace is experienced in the presence of God and through God's saving activity.

Presence of God

In his words to his disciples Jesus promises peace as his parting gift. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you" (John 14:27). Once again peace is clearly associated with God's presence in Jesus and subsequently in the Spirit which is to be given to the disciples.

The early Church communities also reflect the notion of peace being associated with the presence of God through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peace is seen as one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and it is regarded in the communities as a sign of God's activity and the fidelity of the Christians to the gospel. It is contrasted with selfish values which undermine the gospel. "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace" (Romans 8:6).

Example of Jesus Cynthia Chan 2009

HSC – Stage 6

2 Unit – Studies of Religion

For Christians to experience the peace of God they must devote themselves to listening to the good news and commit themselves to following the example of Jesus in his life and ministry. This brings with it a requirement of prayer and contemplation, of communal life and celebration and of commitment to the welfare of others and to the wider community. Peace in Relationships Peace with others

"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all" (Romans 12:18). In this extract from Paul's writings there is a clear understanding of the expectation that Christians live in peace with others. However, this statement is tempered by the qualification "so far as it depends on you". On one hand this is understood as a requirement to do all that is within your power to be at peace with others. On the other hand there is a recognition, due to the actions of others, it may not always be possible for this peaceful relationship to exist.


The teaching of the New Testament indicates that Christians have opportunities in relationships to be people of peace and to work towards harmonious dealings with all people. People are regularly confronted with situations of tension and potential conflict. In many of these situations they have a possibility of escalating or diffusing this tension by their response. The notion of peacemaking in relationships is linked to being able to diffuse situations of tension before they escalate and to create cycles of harmony and reconciliation rather than support cycles of conflict and violence.

Forgiveness and forbearance

Christians are encouraged to forgive one another, to bear with one another, to act with love towards each other and to avoid selfish motives in dealing with each other. These responses in relationships will lead to peace and help avoid the destructive behaviour which often leads to conflict and violence.

One area of apparent concern in the New Testament communities was to live peacefully with other members of the Church. Clearly, it would be a scandal for the ones who preach peace to be unable to

Cynthia Chan 2009

HSC – Stage 6

2 Unit – Studies of Religion

live at peace with each other. Accordingly, the writer to the Ephesians calls on Christians to be "diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3).

In the famous sayings of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) being someone who works for peace is highly praised. The peacemakers are recognised as God's children. War and Peace Non violence

While there is no doubt that peace is considered as a central value of the Christian life, the New Testament stops short of giving an unequivocal prohibition of warfare.

The strongest statements against engaging in warfare come from the preaching of Jesus himself. Most famously in the injunction to "turn the other cheek" (Matthew 6:39), Christians are told not to retaliate or return violence with violence.

Secondly, the Beatitudes provide another statement against warfare with their praise of the peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9). Other teachings such as the command to love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:39), the requirement to love enemies (Matthew 5:44) and to treat others as you would want to be treated (Luke 6:31) are all indication of the New Testament's support of peace and opposition to warfare.

Advocate of peace

Any fair minded reading of the gospels could not avoid the conclusion that Jesus was a strong advocate of peace and a staunch opponent of violence. It is not surprising, therefore, to learn that until the fourth century Christians on the whole refused to undertake military service and engage in warfare.


Cynthia Chan 2009

HSC – Stage 6

2 Unit – Studies of Religion

The pacifist stance of the Christian communities came to be one of their identifying features and was one of the reasons that they suffered persecution from Roman authorities.

Despite this clear response of the early Christian Churches there are, nevertheless, some grounds for discussion. The gospels provide accounts of Jesus ministering to the needs of military personnel such as the Centurion's request on behalf of his servant (Matthew 8:5-13). Nowhere in this encounter does Jesus question the Centurion's profession. Nor are there any indications in the New Testament letters that soldiers who convert to Christianity must renounce their military service.

Other issues arise with the account of Jesus expelling the money changers from the temple (Mark 11:15-18) and his statement about his mission bringing division not peace (Matthew 10:34). Whatever the intent of these accounts, it is not legitimate to portray them as an endorsement of the use of force or violence and in the context of the wider teaching of the New Testament they do not take away the strength of the message condoning peace and condemning violence.

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 Qur'an is the fundamental text for all Muslims; it contains the revelation of Allah, complete and unaltered as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. -

The 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)

Cynthia Chan 2009

HSC – Stage 6 -

2 Unit – Studies of Religion

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!"

Principal teachings about peace in TWO religious traditions Outline the principal teachings about peace in Christianity Outline the principal teachings about peace in Islam The contribution of TWO religious traditions to peace in the context of: – the individual – means of achieving inner peace – the world – means of achieving world peace Demonstrate how Christianity guides the individual in achieving inner peace Demonstrate how Islam guides the individual in achieving inner peace

Discuss how Christianity is contributing to world peace Discuss how Islam is contributing to world peace

Sample responses: For each of TWO religious traditions, identify a sacred text and explain how that text guides individuals in their quest for inner peace.

The religious traditions of Christianity and Islam share a common foundation as religions of peace. Each has peace as a foundational element of its beliefs. In the sacred text of each peace is regarded as a virtue. For both Islam and Christianity, peace is understood as more than merely an absence of violence and conflict. It refers more fully to an overall sense of wellbeing.

Cynthia Chan 2009

HSC – Stage 6

2 Unit – Studies of Religion

Ultimately peace is found in union with God. Christians and Muslims are taught to live at peace with others, both within their own communities and in the wider human family.

The sacred texts Islam and Christianity, principally the Qur'an and the New Testament respectively, have a strong emphasis on peace and peacemaking. The quest for inner peace is at the heart of the message of both the New Testament and Qur'an and Christians and Muslims are each taught that ultimately, inner peace will come from faithfully devoting one's self to the will of God.

In the New Testament, peace is mentioned over 90 times and many other passages also address the quest for peace without specifically using the term.

A study of the New Testament literature reveals an important relationship between an individual's fidelity to the requirements of the gospel and their own sense of peace and wellbeing. In other words, Christians can expect to find inner peace ultimately in and through living out their vocation as disciples of Jesus Christ and directing their lives towards the following of his teaching.

Jesus himself is regarded as the bringer of peace and to live in close relationship to him and his teaching will allow the follower to experience this peace. Jesus' own life is seen as a model of living in peace and therefore Christians are encouraged to model their lives on his example in doing so they will be able to find peace.

For individuals to achieve inner peace, following the example of Jesus is a fruitful and worthwhile path. Various groups within the Christian tradition will have established methods of following this example. They will normally include the use of prayer, ritual and the reading of scripture, the service of others and the participation in community with those of similar beliefs.

Creating a basic orientation in life which supports the quest for integrity and fidelity to the gospel is an important foundational element. It will not be possible to achieve inner peace while values are seriously compromised. In his life and ministry, Jesus faced various occasions where it would have been expedient to turn his back on his vocation and accept a compromise or succumb to a temptation of

Cynthia Chan 2009

HSC – Stage 6

2 Unit – Studies of Religion

selfishness. These temptations are essentially about serving one's self or avoiding challenging situations. Jesus' example clearly shows the importance of being true to the values of the gospel and not being prepared to accept compromise. Such compromise would inevitably erode a sense of inner peace as it amounts to a lack of integrity and will always result in inner conflict.

Maintaining a sound balance between prayer and service is also fundamental to Christians in the quest for a sense of inner peace and wellbeing. Both prayer and service are essential and each should support and draw from the other.

The ministry of Jesus highlights the aspects of prayer and service being kept in balance. The gospel accounts portray Jesus as a man of prayer who is frequently in communion with God. These occasions of prayer are particularly evident leading up to significant moments in his ministry.

Clearly prayer is a vehicle through which Jesus is able to nurture and sustain the relationship with God which is the source of his wellbeing and inner peace. This relationship of prayer is something which followers of Jesus are strongly encouraged to emulate in order achieve this sense of peace and serenity.

For Jesus, prayer is not a withdrawal from the events of daily life but rather an opportunity to reflect on them and gain strength to face their challenges. Jesus' ministry conveys a sense of balance between prayer and contemplation on one hand and active service on the other.

These two elements are seen as complementary, not in competition with one another. Prayer is seen as an essential adjunct to the active ministry while the ministry is seen as a practical expression of the life of prayer.

Engaging with a local community is also an important element for Christians in the search for inner peace. Communities provide important occasions of interaction for sharing, for learning and for support. The absence of meaningful community undermines the possibility of achieving inner peace.

For Muslims peace is not a single dimensional or individual concept. Peace is, first and foremost, to be at rest with one's own desires and ambitions and having a balance, which is an

Cynthia Chan 2009

HSC – Stage 6

2 Unit – Studies of Religion

internal affair, and then, 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. Conversely, 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). These activities and beliefs are regarded as foundational for all who follow Islam. Each of the pillars requires both an internal or spiritual commitment together with an outward action or sign.

By devoutly and sincerely following fulfilling the requirements of the five pillars, Muslims will find themselves living according to the will of Allah and as a consequence experience a deep sense of peace and wellbeing that can only come through this submission.

The first of the five pillars is a witness to the oneness of Allah and the role of the Prophet Muhammad as its messenger. This pillar is known as the shahada which means to bear witness. Its central statement affirms the oneness of Allah and expressed in the negative "there is no god but Allah" provides not only an affirmation of the oneness of Allah but also includes a repudiation of anything which falsely claims to be God. 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 ritual prayers of salat play an important role in Islam at a number of different levels. Firstly they are an act of obedience to Allah. Secondly they proclaim the oneness and greatness of Allah. The prayers also serve the function of bringing people closer to Allah, they contribute to the purity

Cynthia Chan 2009

HSC – Stage 6

2 Unit – Studies of Religion

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". Zakat operates as a kind of tithe where money is collected from Muslims and given to the poor. It has also been described as a charitable tax. 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. While one emphasis of sawm is on the physical denial of the body it also includes important elements relating to the internal disposition and intention.

The fast will be rendered worthless if the disposition of the person fasting is not as it should be. There is to be a concerted effort to ensure that no evil acts are committed during the period of the fast and also that evil thoughts are also avoided. "If you do not give up telling lies Allah will have no need of your giving up food and drink" (Hadith). 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 pilgrimage takes place during the twelfth month of the Muslim calendar "Dhul-Hijjah".

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.

Cynthia Chan 2009

HSC – Stage 6

2 Unit – Studies of Religion

The religious traditions of Christianity and Islam give clear guidance to their respective followers on how to achieve inner peace. For Muslims, it is through seeking a more perfect submission to Allah through the faithful carrying out of the five pillars. For Christians, it is through following and emulating the example of Jesus in integrity and fidelity, in prayer and service and in community.

For Muslims, the requirements of the five pillars are clearly specified in the Qur'an while for Christians the New Testament provides significant guidance on the examples of the life and ministry of Jesus.

Outline and assess the contributions of TWO religious traditions to the quest for world peace.

Although both Islam and Christianity have a fundamental commitment to working towards peace, the particular circumstances in recent decades has meant that the nature and effect of their efforts have been quite different in Western Countries such as Australia .

For Christians there are a range of opportunities to urge individuals and leaders to take up the work for world peace. The majority of people in Western Countries such as Australia are nominally Christian and as such the Christian Churches are generally respected and understood, although their influence is rapidly declining in the increasingly secular Western world.

On the other hand, Muslims are a small minority in Australian society and like in other Western countries they are frequently misunderstood and demonised by certain elements of the society. Due to these circumstances, the main contribution the small Muslim communities can make in countries like Australia is to work towards achieving a greater understanding of Muslim beliefs and values to begin to overcome some of the prejudices which underpin much of the conflict and violence that presently exists.

The Christian tradition makes significant contributions to world peace at a number of different levels. Among these are public statements by Church leaders, programs of action at local and international levels, organisations dedicated to bringing about peace, courses of study, commemorative days etc.

Cynthia Chan 2009

HSC – Stage 6

2 Unit – Studies of Religion

In recent decades, Church leaders have frequently made statements in support of peace. In some cases these statements have been specific appeals for peace in particular circumstances, however, on other occasions they have also published more comprehensive statements on the need for peace and the means of achieving it. One of the more well known statements was the 1963 statement of Pope John XXIII "Pacem in Terris" (Peace on Earth). Other organisations such as the World Council of Churches and individual denominations such as the Society of Friends (Quakers) have also released many public statements relating to peacemaking. Although statements like these often contain many important insights, the increasing secularisation of the Western world is leading to a significant diminishing of the effect of these pronouncements.

There has always been a tradition of opposition to warfare in Church communities even during times when the Church actively used warfare for its own purposes. Francis of Assisi is a famous example of opposition to war. Another interesting example is the Society of Friends (Quakers), a Christian group with a pacifist stance. The modern peace movement, now embraced by a wide coalition of groups and individuals has a strong link to Christian peace groups in its infancy.

Movements such as the Catholic Worker movement in the United States have been prominent in the quest for world peace. The Catholic worker movement developed an approach of active nonviolence and often used civil disobedience as a means of protest.

Recent trends in anti terrorism legislation in Western countries have made active non violence and civil disobedience strategies far more difficult to sustain. Governments are now far more likely to use extreme force and severe penalties to thwart peaceful dissent.

Another well known organisation is the international group Pax Christi which has pioneered peacemaking at an international level for decades. In preparation for the coming of the third millennium, Pax Christi published a manifesto for a culture of peace and non violence.

Also in response to the United Nations' decade for a Culture of Peace and Non Violence, the World Council of Churches in launched a campaign of a "Decade to Overcome Violence". This campaign provides an ecumenical dimension to the search for peace and highlights the commonalities held among Christian Churches in this area.

Cynthia Chan 2009

HSC – Stage 6

2 Unit – Studies of Religion

In Australia major Christian denominations have organisations which have responsibility in working towards peace. These would include the Uniting Church Board of Social Responsibility and the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council. These organisations, together with the National Council of Churches of Australia have peacemaking as an important part of their mandate.

The element of working towards peace is carried out alongside other social concerns such as justice and ecology. This highlights the close relationship between the search for a more just society and the search for peace. Church organisations have frequently stated that the achievement of lasting peace will only be possible with a renewed social order where there poverty is substantially overcome and there is justice among people and between nations. Throughout the world major learning institutions provide studies in peacemaking. Among these, universities run by Christian denominations often feature prominently in offering such courses. In Australia the Society of Saint Columba (Columbans) has been prominent in providing peace education firstly through their Columban Mission Institute and through their Centre for Justice, Ecology and Peace. Courses of study in peacemaking are available at major theological institutes such as the United Theological College and the Catholic Institute of Sydney. Although these opportunities to study peacemaking are well established, they are only taken up by small numbers of people. The accompanying lack of professional opportunities for people who have undertaken such training is a further obstacle to their overall effectiveness. Christian Churches have made use of significant days of commemoration to help focus people's attention on the need for peace. All major denominations will have special liturgical events on Anzac day. Many would also hold events on other occasions such as Remembrance Day and Hiroshima Day.

Over the past few decades the most significant day of commemoration and working for peace has been Palm Sunday. This has become a day for public gatherings, marches and rallies in support of peace. Christian churches have traditionally sponsored these events which usually begin with an ecumenical service followed by a rally and a march through city streets.

While Islam is essentially a religion of peace and true Muslims are peace loving people, there remains, nevertheless, an unfortunate misconception about the nature of Islam and its followers.

The sources of this misconception are varied. Firstly, the misconception stems from a prejudice arising from the fear of the unknown. For many people in Australia , Islam is a relatively unknown religion. Because there are only a small number of Muslims in Australia , few non

Cynthia Chan 2009

HSC – Stage 6

2 Unit – Studies of Religion

Muslim Australians have had the opportunity of getting to know Australian Muslims and rely on secondary sources of information to inform their views on Muslims and Islam in Australia . There is an unavoidable 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 in recent decades and 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. Unfortunately, many people are not able to differentiate between the political interests of some Middle Eastern countries and the religious interests of Islam. Further 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 fact that most people in Australia have the media as their main source of information regarding. Unfortunately, media organisations in Australia have been only too willing to promote misconceptions and stereotypes in order to create a greater interest in their product. Recent years have shown that fear and uncertainty is a great motivator in Australian society and media organisations have traded enthusiastically on this fact. Thus 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. There are indeed many Muslim organisations and individual Muslims who are undertaking important work for peace, however, in Australia it is difficult for such work to be recognised and supported because of the negativity felt towards Muslims and the strength of the misconceptions held in the community. 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.

Given that a great deal of present conflict stems from a misunderstanding of Islam, 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 as these three monotheistic religions have a great deal in common and are able to work together

Cynthia Chan 2009

HSC – Stage 6

2 Unit – Studies of Religion

readily. This is especially the case in working of peace which is a core value of each of these religions.

Although both Muslims and Christians work tirelessly for peace, their effect of their efforts is limited. In the case of Islam, the prejudices, misconceptions and media stereotypes are powerful forces to overcome. Despite the best efforts of the small Muslim communities in Western countries like Australia the progress is slow and difficult. For Christians, the increasing secularisation of the Western world has led to a significant diminishing of its influence, even in countries such as Australia where the majority of the population are nominally Christian. Considerable work is taking place but with limited effect.

Cynthia Chan 2009

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