Peace, "salaam" in Arabic, is mentioned in the Quran with varying meanings. Among the attributes of Allah, one finds in the Quran the mention of God as As-Salaam, in whose being one finds the very source of peace in the world. This peace is manifested and experienced by His creation as tranquillity, which arises out of a trust in Him.
“O Allah, You are the source of peace and from You comes peace, Blessed are You, O possessor of majesty and honour.”
Coming together in unity, irrespective of belief or background, is not a call to surrender our identity for the sake of harmony. Indeed, our identity is the very basis for getting to know one another, for differentiation is dependent on there actually being differences. It is what God wills. Every one of us has something of value to share.
Mahatma Gandhi, who not only led the fight for independence through peaceful means, but also united a nation categorised by great diversity, cautioned: “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation.”
I have spent many of my younger years travelling and it was during this period that I embraced the faith of Islam. I spent 22 years in Kashmir, the last seven years of which were spent trying to survive a proxy war with my family.
In 1996, I returned to Australia as a widow with my five children. These life experiences were formative in my taking the role of being an executive member of the Newcastle Muslim Association and liaising for international students and staff at the University of Newcastle. I have since retired from these positions but continue in my work independently with cultural and religious awareness programs.
Anything that brings us together to display diversity in ways in which bring about meaningful engagement with one another, ways that seek a common ground, is a step towards finding peace.
Diana Rah was to be the speaker at the Sisters of Faith dinner on 17 March, which was subsequently cancelled. She shares her story with Aurora.