Peace is defined as a state of being that involves a sense of calmness and tranquillity. Establishing inner peace mentally, physically, and spiritually leads to world peace which is the concept of an ideal state of happiness, freedom, and harmony within and among all people and religions on earth.
Peace has always been a major focal point for many religions which has assisted in the prevention of conflict and war as well as the resolution of disputes. Peace is the core of many spiritual teachings as well as practices and is especially emphasised in Christianity and Islam. It is the principal teachings of inner peace in the Christian and Islamic traditions that have enabled the contribution and achievement of world peace.
In Christianity, the devoutness and religious observance of an individual leads to their attainment of inner peace which impacts their actions and contributes to world peace as demonstrated by many individuals throughout history. Similarly, observing the principal teachings of Islam with humbleness and faith enables individuals to achieve inner peace which also positively influences world peace. Both religions understand and preach that the key to inner and world peace is closely related to the notion of submitting to God which can be achieved through following the teachings instructed in the sacred texts and by building a connection with their creator.
Peace In Christianity
A Christian is an individual who upholds the teachings of God and Jesus in their life. Most Christians follow the New Testament, which is based on the teachings of Jesus, and describes the world and inner peace as well as general peace in relationships, with the emphasis that to achieve inner peace one must act with harmony and forgiveness to others.
The New Testament explores two kinds of peace; the first is objective peace, which is an individual’s relationship with God, and subjective peace, which is one’s experiences in life. Pacifism and seeking peace with others are principle teachings that clearly present the actions of Jesus as God bestowed peace onto Him and others (Galatians 1:3).
The Christian belief upholds that mankind came to Earth by sinning against God because of the Original Sin made by Adam and Eve and it was through Jesus that mankind was saved and made at peace with Him, resulting in objective peace (Romans 5:10). The concept of subjective peace is highlighted in John 14:27 where Jesus states that an adherent has a peaceful heart and soul which has a positive effect on life.
In addition, Christians believe that Jesus Christ is their eternal peace as he is the peace between man and God. Also, forgiveness is an important principle of Christianity which explores that to achieve inner peace, one must live at peace with all (Romans 12:18) since the New Testament preaches non-violence.
Peace In Islam
A Muslim is defined as a person who has surrendered to God in deep faith and as a result, finds peace within oneself and with one’s social and natural environment. Peace is the pinnacle of Muslim practice. This is explored in Islam’s sacred texts such as the Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s Hadiths that project the common idea of peace. The Quran guides Muslim adherents in their quest for inner peace by teaching them to make peace with each other as all believers are like brothers and sisters and they must make peace with each other (Quran 49:10).
The teaching and practice of the five pillars of Islam contribute towards peace as the first pillar is known as the shahada and states that whoever believes and remembers God shall find peace, clarity, and tranquillity in their hearts (Quran 13:28). During shahada, Muslims proclaim that there is no God, but Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger.
The second pillar, salah (prayer) is performed five times a day and allows Muslims to establish a strong connection with God which contributes to their inner peace. This is closely linked to the third pillar which is zakat (charity) as this is the physical aspect of staying away from evil sins by spreading goodness (Hadith - Muslim #720). It serves a dual purpose for inner purification and practical application of social and economic justice around the world by giving 2.5% of annual income to benefit the community (Hadith - Tirmidhi #626). Since Islam emphasises Taqwa (God consciousness), the rituals of prayer and charity demonstrate how adherents can abstain from worldly possessions in order to achieve inner peace through submission to God.
Prayer As A Source of Peace In Christianity
Prayer in Christianity relates to the spiritual connection with God which includes thanking Him for His love, asking for forgiveness of sins, and praising Him to attain inner peace. Individual prayer deepens a person's faith as it helps the believer come to a greater understanding of God's purpose for their lives.
For some Christians, meditation or contemplation is a way of trying to reach a higher spiritual level with God while achieving inner peace. Many Christians, especially Orthodox Christians, use the 'Jesus Prayer' which includes chanting “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner” which clears their mind whilst attaining inner peace (John 17).
Public worship focuses on praising God through preaching, Bible reading, prayer, and music, especially in the Holy Communion service where people receive bread and wine, reflecting the sacrifice of peace Jesus made through his death and resurrection. This allows Christian individuals to come together as a community known as ‘The Body of Christ’ to praise God and worship Him, allowing them to feel at ease together, resulting in inner peace. Public worship helps Christians to achieve a deeper understanding of the Bible, the life of Jesus, and Christian teachings. It also enables those who receive Holy Communion to welcome Jesus into their hearts assisting them in achieving inner peace.
The Six Articles of Faith As A Source Of Peace In Islam
The six articles of faith, known as the six pillars of Iman (Faith), are a framework of belief and goals which generates a sense of inner peace for Muslims and the aim to complete good deeds in the world. The first article is known as tawhid (Belief in God), as Muslim individuals obtain the knowledge that there is no God but Allah (Quran 2:163) as there is a purpose to live by being reassured that one is never alone as they seek God for refuge from difficulties and trust that their fate is controlled by Him.
The second article of Iman is about the belief in angels which reassures that one is never alone since angels are always present, who worship, glorify, and obey God and record all sins and deeds which will be presented in front of God on the Day of Judgement. This gives Muslims the perseverance and instruction to do good in the world by spreading peace and by upholding the five pillars of Islam.
Belief in the messengers and their Holy books allows Muslim adherents to feel tranquillity through following the prophet’s teachings and reciting the Quran as it is guidance from God. This brings peace to Muslims as it teaches and confirms the correct ethical behaviour to maintain and what sins to avoid committing since they will bring disruption to social relationships and world peace (Quran 21:25).
Muslims believe in the akhirah (Hereafter) as it is a reassurance of meeting Allah where He will acknowledge all difficulties and injustices will be rewarded in the afterlife as He will save who He wills from the torment of hellfire (Quran - 2:201). Belief in fate or predestination allows Muslim adherents to attain inner peace as all difficulties have been allowed to occur by God which is good for individuals if they learn from them and endure patiently for the rewards in the Hereafter leading to Heaven.
World Peace In Christianity
Once individuals have achieved inner peace, they then influence others to also attain inner peace by reflecting it in the world as an act of Jesus’ Commandment of Love. For instance, Jesus was a saviour of Christians and is seen as the one who makes peace between mankind and God. He sacrificed himself on the cross to wipe away the Original Sin made by Adam and Eve for Christians which provided them salvation, a promise to heaven, and a truce with God. Jesus describes those who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven in ‘The Beatitudes’ as they are those who pray, are kind to others, and pious through religious observance (Matthew 5:3–12). Christians try to emulate his teachings and actions to achieve salvation and inner peace.
The New Testament plays a significant role in spreading world peace as it teaches loving yourself, God, and your neighbour (Matthew 22:39). The fundamental teachings of Christianity advocate love and forgiveness to improve the world through world peace as it was enforced by Christ who stated, 'Love your neighbour as yourself.', “There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31). This shows how the principal teachings of Christianity inform adherents that equality and a lack of conflict are essential for peacemaking in Christianity. This is 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 world peace.
World Peace In Islam
Muslim individuals who have achieved inner peace have also guided others throughout history spreading world peace. The prophet Muhammad established the Sunnah (Practices of the Prophet) and stated that peace is important between people and is more of a fundamental teaching than fasting or charity. Peace can be shown through the most basic action even by greeting others with ‘Asalam Alaikum’ which means peace be upon you. This allows an individual to spread peace through the words of God in the community (Hadith - Ibn Majah #3694).
The act of submission to God forms the basis of inner peace in Islam. Islam allows a person to achieve inner peace, which is then reflected in the world (Quran 5:15-16). World peace is the goal for all Muslims as overcoming their desires in this world will allow them to live in harmony and strive for paradise in the akhirah (Hereafter). This is achieved through striving to overcome the nafs (self), desires, and negative deeds through the active worship of Allah (God). God states that those believers who suffer exile and strive with might, will achieve salvation (Quran 9:20). This demonstrates that the internal struggle of the nafs (self) results in personal suffering for the sake of God, but ultimately achieves salvation and peace which is then spread through peaceful actions into the world.
Peace In Christianity And Islam
Both Christianity and Islam emphasise peace in their teachings and practices by promoting it through compassion, kindness, empathy, patience, perseverance, and respect. Most Christians and Muslims live their life by upholding the teachings of their sacred texts and religious role models. Both religions believe that it is through attaining inner peace that you can then achieve world peace. Peace is the driving force of both Christians and Muslims as they find comfort, serenity, and calmness in following the words of God and His teachings then implementing them in their daily lives.