Ten Promises To Peace
What has happened to the Muslim Community since the Prophet Muhammad’s passing (peace be upon him) is anything but the message of unity, love and peace he delivered. Not entirely their fault because those who prosper by dividing mankind into collective groups, those who draw lines between people and families and then make deals with violent would-be-lords, presidents and dictators, must shoulder much of the blame also.
After entering Islam through the study of the Qur’an, what shocked me was how little people knew or wanted to know about the commonalities shared between Islam and other Faiths. The partial reason for this is the ‘Blame Game’; everybody accusing the ‘others’ for the terrible condition of the world: Afghanistan, Palestine, Bosnia, Iraq, all burning flames of hatred. Whereas the fundamental message of the Prophet (peace be upon him), calling for understanding, prayer and charity under God, is totally lost in the gun smoke and fury of the explosive wars that continue to fog many people’s understanding of Islam. Following my conversion, I realised the real battle front was ignorance and mutual antagonism, was left unattended.
After many years, and millions of fatalities the world is still a very dangerous place, and continuously in conflict. So what can we do? Well, I think we can all promise to try and make it better by following the things we all say we believe in.
Lessons from the Ten Commandments
Some people perceive believers in a Divine Code of life as unfashionable and unrealistic. But these people have left the safety of God’s palace of peace, and chosen to pitch their tents outside. That’s their choice, and choice is part of the license God has given every human being. However, when laws are broken and if people commit crimes and cross the lines, you can’t blame God for what happens next. Law and Order are primary requisites that God has provided humanity to maintain peace within the palace.
One of the most important objectives of all religions is teaching people how to live together. The lessons I learnt as a school child, the Ten Commandments, are not even referred to or looked at anymore. Yet these were the rules laid down by our Creator, for the benefit and betterment of all mankind. Why are they so easily overlooked?
When we hear that over four fifths of the world’s population believe or have a faith, why are we not profiting from things we already hold as valuable and right. In Islam, the ‘Ten’ are repeated in the Qur’an and other sacred books in so many verses and chapters. This is a plus! What is missing is commitment.
People have put their nationality and customs above the commitment to abide by a Divine template of universal rights and responsibilities.
Even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” It goes on to describe in detail what those rights are.
So what happens? Why do some of us look down at others, and consider their lives less than equal with our own? When a person kills another from the same race and society, it’s called murder. When someone kills someone from another country it’s war. It’s a complicated subject and cannot be dealt with in this short talk, but we can realize the basis of the problem if we revisit God’s commands.
Let’s look at the Ten promises every human being should learn and practice, first in relation to the Creator of us all:
1 I promise not to consider any other creature above my Creator.
2 I promise not to idolize or bow to anything – in whatever form – in this universe, apart from my Maker.
3 I promise not to misuse the name of my Creator by insult, or belittle faith in the Divine.
Next we look at the promises we need to keep as a human family within God’s boundaries:
4 I promise to stop work and peacefully join together at least once every week for Prayer.
5 I promise to be good to my mother and my father.
6 I promise never to murder any inviolable soul.
7 I promise not to commit adultery beyond the sacred bond of Marriage.
8 I promise never to steal.
9 I promise not to lie or accuse my neighbor or anyone else falsely.
10 I promise to God never to reach or invade my neighbor’s house; or wife, or anything that belongs to my neighbour.
Ref Exodus 20: 2-17 (cf the Qur’an 17:22-38)
Wow! What a revelation. Imagine what the world would be like if everybody kept those basic promises. As Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
`Abdullah ibn as-Salam reported: “When the Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) came to Madinah, the people gathered around him and I was one of them… the first words I heard him say were: “O people, spread peaceful greeting, feed the people, keep ties of kinship, and pray during the night while the others sleep and you will enter Paradise in peace.” ‘ 1
I’ve been writing and dreaming of peace for many years. Here is a familiar song for this nice occasion.
Out on the edge of darkness,
There rides a peace train,
Oh peace train take this country,
Come take me home again
Now I’ve been smiling lately,
Thinking about the good things to come,
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun
Oh peace train sounding louder
Glide on the peace train
Come on now peace train
Yes, peace train holy roller
Everyone jump up on the Peace Train
Come on now peace train
This talk was delivered at National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne on 19 June 2010
1. (Related by al-Hakim, Ibn Majah, and at-Tirmizhi who considered it an authentic and sound Hadith).