Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Practice Peace In Our Deeds

Every year, on the 21st of September, the world celebrates peace day. This day was initiated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981 in which a resolution declaring an international day of peace was adopted. The resolution declared that the International Day of Peace shall henceforth be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, an invitation to all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities for the duration of the day.The declaration ‘invite all member states, organization of the United Nations system, and non-governmental organizations and individual to commemorate in an appropriate manner, an International Day of Peace, including through education and public awareness, and to cooperate with the United Nations in the establishment of a global ceasefire.

Therefore on this day, all around the world, citizens of member states, members of non-governmental organizations and civil society are expected to pay respect by observing minute of silence at twelve noon to offer prayers, throughout every time zone.

What does this mean to us?

According to the United Nations, Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and people. The day will serve as a reminder for all peoples that our organization, with all its limitations, is a living instrument in the service of peace and should serve all of us here within the organization as a constantly pealing bell reminding us that our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to peace.

Recently, on the 21st of September 2008, the Association of Malaysian Royal Army Veterans organized a walk for peace at the Putera World Trade Centre which was attended by more than 3000 peace activists. At noon, a moment of silence and prayers for world peace were observed. The message was clear that Malaysians are a peaceful people and the act of peace must be continuously encouraged.

The practice of peace is inherent to Islam. A verse in the Quran 2:190, warns the faithful not to initiate hostilities.

The observation of peace is not only meant for a specific time but must also be practiced daily. In the Quran, there are a number of references to certain months in which wars and violence are prohibited, and in which peace is clearly mentioned.

For instance, in verse 9:5 there is mention of ‘al-ashhar al-hurum', meaning the prohibitive months, sometimes translated as sacred months, namely Rajab, Dhul Qa' edah, Dhul Hijjah and Muharram, the 7th,11th,12th and 1st months of the Arabic lunar calendar.

The month of Rajab was reserved for the Umrah or lesser Hajj while the other three months were considered months for the Hajj, the greater pilgrimage to Makkah. During these months the Arabs would celebrate peace for the safe return from their travels to Makkah. War or looting was prohibited. This indicates that peace was strongly encouraged in the religion of Islam.

Apart from special mention of the sacred months, Muslims are also obliged to observe peace by performing their five daily prayers. Prayer submits oneself totally to the his Creator, because the happiest moment in life is when one becomes close to his or her Creator. Prayer leads us to the full realization of our identity and existence. It will direct our focus towards responsibility and a sense of accountability as prescribed by Allah. Such awareness is crucial because it will always make one realize that each of us have roles and responsibilities towards the other by maintaining harmonious interaction.

The message in performing five daily prayers is clear that when we performs prayers, it behoves us to be self assissive and to improve. At the end of prayer, one contemplates what we have done in between the five daily prayers, hoping for improvement. By doing so, it will become habitual to always assess ourselves towards improvement.

Sadly, we notice that conflict, violence and war still happen around the world. Today, we have a big responsibility to promote peace and therefore, we should always initiate peace by our actions. It is clear that for those who initiate hostilities without reasons or act in contrary to peace, their prayer is incomplete. Such are the action of hypocrites.

Suzalie Bin Mohamad