Photo Credit: Gabriella Fabbri
Every year, September 21st is observed as the ‘International Day of Peace’ as declared by the United Nations. Though it is not commemorated on national level in Pakistan (as we noticed this year too), the internal situation demands that we start observing this day at all levels in order to realize our need to end all the ills of our society that adversely affect the peace prevalence. That means addressing the violence issues, the problems pertaining to minorities, the factors provoking hatred against different sects and ethnicities and similar other matters that affect the overall state of affairs.
Here, I would like to narrate a recent happening relating to a woman activist from a small town in Sri Lanka who belonged to the Muslim minority group and was able to avoid a major incident of violence in her community. Due to certain anti-minority actions taken by some Buddhists in the recent past, a local mosque’s Imam in his Friday sermon offended the Buddhists. As a reaction, reportedly, there were high chances of clashes between the two groups. Realizing the possible consequences, the lady activist immediately got in touch with few maulvies of the mosques from the surrounding locations and insisted them to send a strong message to the Muslim community through their respective mosques to prevent any kind of clashes with the Buddhists. Similarly, the same maulvies made the offender apologize to the Buddhist community. Meanwhile, a chief Buddhist monk of the vicinity was approached by the lady activist to make sure that the Buddhists are also given a message through the nearby temples to stay calm and not get into any act of violence. The whole effort turned out to be a success whereby tensions were restrained.
This incident highlights the value of minorities and how they can contribute towards making their part of the world a peaceful place. Similarly, we get a lesson that how people from different faiths can work together for co-existence.
Here in Pakistan, we are in dire need of similar initiatives. That calls for a commitment not only by the individuals in various ways, but also by religious scholars to stop delivering or encouraging any kinds of speeches/sermons that are likely to incite acts of violence among individuals. According to a Hadith recorded in Abu Dawood, Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Faith is a restraint against all unjust violence; let no believer commit violence.”
The lady activist of Sri Lanka through her initiative gave a true message to the world of what Islam is all about i.e. Peace. It is us the Muslims, who can work to spread the true message of our religion. After all, the followers of a religion are its representatives and any non-conformity can hence give a wrong message to the rest of the world. And this responsibility becomes even greater for the citizens of our country because Pakistan is an Islamic state.
So what can we do to make our country a better place where peace can prevail? One of the influential figures of Buddhism, Dalai Lama says, “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” There is a lot we can do even on the individual level which requires the transformation of our mindsets, a revival of the way we think, and abolishing the negativity within ourselves. Some simple ways of doing so would be to:
- Be kind towards the younger, to end the child abuse
- Respect women to end sexual harassments and rapes
- Have respect for, and curse none of the religions
When the Prophet’s opponents greatly increased their persecution, his Companions asked him to curse them. At that point, Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, “I have not been sent to curse. I have been sent as compassion.” (Muslim)
- Get rid of the poison of provincialism, the ethnic divides and unite for the country’s progression
- Eradicate discrimination based on sects and castes which has no place in Islam
- Engage in healthy rational dialogues instead of exchanging abusive arguments with the opponents at any level
These are little efforts which can make huge difference if we inculcate them in our daily lives leading us to become more tolerant, humane and civilized citizens of a country that stands for the religion of peace.
We all remember that very famous milli naghma sung by late Nusrat Fateh Ali; “Mohabbat aman hai aur iska hai peghaam Pakistan…” Let’s make that happen in a true sense. Yes, we can do it. We just need an honest determination to be peace-loving human beings. There may be a long way to go, but together we can, and together WE MUST!
PS: This post originally appeared in ‘The News Tribe – Blogs’