Today marks International Peace Day, a UN initiative that embraces togetherness and denounces conflict. Last year’s celebrations marked the incorporation of Goal 16 – the peace goal – to the UN’s sustainable development goals. This milestone on the journey toward global peace solidifies the local, national, and international endeavor to establish and maintain sustainable world peace.
This year the focus of International peace day is on the notions of inclusive safety, dignity and respect. These three attributes act as pillars of peace, and embody diverse but inclusive concepts. To promote such conceptions seem common practise, yet to only narrate the promotion of a safe, dignified and respected world is simply not enough. Each year the atrocities we observe appear to be worsening, as discrimination, prejudice and oppression intensifies in all corners of the world. We are exposed to the plight of refugees, the ongoing conflict in the Global south, the scuffle for natural resources and dissension of diverse ideals – all from the comfort of our homes. Our safe, dignified and respected homes. Before we embark on the journey to define, understand and act upon these three pillars we must firstly appreciate the mercy and protection Allah has bestowed on us all.
The first pillar identified is that of safety. Safety [mass noun]:The condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury. When we think of safety we may contemplate notions of well-being, welfare and security. Safety is what we pray for ourselves and our family, we may even pray for safety for humanity, and we may feel there is little else we can do. This feeling is a product of distance, of sympathy but no empathy, and of distraction. We are all to aware of the distraction of the dunya, yet we must stay focused on the reality of our existence. Let’s begin to pro-actively promote safety to the entirety of our world. From those prosecuted in Rakhine, to the child soldiers of Sierra Leone and labourers of Congo, let us unify to promote a safer world for us all.
The second pillar is that of dignity. Dignity [mass noun]: The state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect. Dignity is a term that holds great weighting in our religion and many of our cultures. To be dignified is to embody a sense of morale and consideration that extends to all those that may cross our paths, regardless of religion, race, class, ability, sex and sexuality. From women whose life has been taken from them in crimes of honour, to those who are prosecuted for living a life others don’t agree with. We must ensure that as muslims we pride ourselves on our sense of humanity and strive to ensure the dignity of both our ummah and the entirety of humanity. For every human that refrains from transgressing upon the rights and freedoms of the other deserves dignity.
The third pillar is that of respect. Respect [mass noun]: Due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others. In essence, respect should be considered a human right, as it encapsulates the concept of humanity. To respect others is highly underrated and must be granted more attention and urgency. In Islam we consistently speak of respect, yet many of us fail to exercise such qualities when faced with the differences of others. We must abandon this hollow narrative and adopt an inclusive, pro-active and considerate rhetoric that we ensure materializes.
World peace appears a utopian ideal, however if each of us is to practise the concepts of safety, dignity and respect for others, this once utopian concept has the possibility to actualize. As Muslims, it is our duty to promote and practise peace; for to serve Allah, we must serve humanity.