THE DIMENSIONS OF PEACE EDUCATION

IJTIHAD

by Mehol K. Sadain

In a land sporadically visited by discontent and violence, peace as they say, is a rare commodity, and has to be treasured. The best way of treasuring it is by inculcating its concept and application in the minds of the people, especially those who are willing to learn.

Among us Muslims living in the Philippines, I can think of three dimensions for learning peace: The first one, and the closest to our hearts, is the dimension of the Qur’an, the Recitation that contains guidance from ALLAH. The second is the dimension of Philippine laws, beginning with the Constitution. And the third is the dimension of our local and native experiences, or the realities on the ground.

Peace education for the Muslims should be anchored on these three dimensions: The Noble Qur’an as the Supreme Guidance; the secular laws to serve as enforceable limits and direction; and our individual field and social realities to keep us grounded in the implementation of peace initiatives. When all three converge, we are assured of a complete approach to peace education. Through this approach, both teacher and students get a sense of peace as a common aspiration, and a holistic condition for the propagation of development and progress in society. 

The Dimension of the Noble Qur’an

“And if they incline to peace, incline thou also to it, and trust in ALLAH. Surely, He is the Hearer, the Knower.” [8:61]

The Qur’an expresses peace as a universal yearning. There are many verses (5:16; 6:127; 25:63; 36:58; 56:25-26; 97:5) in the Qur’an where it talks of peace as a universal concept, and uses it as an ideal, as well as a divine, form of greeting.

The word “salaam” comes from “aslama” which is to submit or surrender one’s self to ALLAH by obeying and trusting Him. One who submits is called a Muslim and his religion is Islam. One of the Beautiful Attributes of ALLAH is “As-Salaam” or “The Peace”.

Functionally, “peace” or “salaam” means not just being free from violence or war or any form of physical turmoil or severity. It also means being able to enjoy the blessings of social justice, good governance, economic prosperity, educational access and emotional contentment, the confluence of which is summarized by the word “Sakinah” or “Tranquility”, which we shall see in the Experiential Dimension.

The Dimension of Philippine Laws

The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy… and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation and amity with all nations. [Art. II, Sec. 2, The 1987 Constitution]

The 1987 Constitution renounces war, and advocates “peace” as a policy of the State. It adheres to the maintenance of peace and order, and the protection of life, liberty and property, and the promotion of the general welfare and social justice for the enjoyment by all people of the blessings of democracy [Art. II, Sec. 5, Constitution].  The stress on peace likewise aims at recognizing the rights of national indigenous communities within the framework of national unity and development.

The Code of Muslim Personal Law enumerates parental duty to the children in Art. 73, part of which provides:

“Every parent and every person exercising parental authority shall see to it that the rights of the children are respected… and shall particularly, by precept and example, imbue them with religious and civic consciousness, love of country … and attachment to the ideal of permanent world peace.”

The Dimension of Individual and Communal Experience

O ye who believe! Enter into Islam (take the path of peace) wholeheartedly, and do not follow Satan for he is indeed your avowed enemy.” [2:208]

This dimension is at the end only because the framework starts from the universal level and proceeds down to the more specific levels. In truth, however, any attempt at peace always begins at the level of the individual or his personal inclination to search for and achieve, peace or peaceful co-existence. If the individual is not so-inclined, peace-building cannot move on to the higher rungs of the negotiation ladder.

This is where personal “Sakiinah” and the indwelling of peace in each individual comes in, and in turn, translates into communal, national and later, global peace.

In Surah Al-Fath (The Victory), ALLAH says: “It is He (ALLAH) who sent down Tranquility (Sakiinah or Inner Peace) into the hearts of the believers, that they may add faith to their faith.” [48:4] And in the same Surah, ALLAH continues, “He knew what was in their heart, and He sent down Tranquility (Sakiinah) to them, and He rewarded them with a speedy victory”. [48:18] Finally, there is the third mention of “Sakiinah” in the same Surah, as follows: “ALLAH sent down His Tranquility (Sakinah) to His Messenger and to the believers, and made them adhere to the commands of self-restraint; and they were all entitled to it and worthy of it.” [48:26]

Notice how inner peace is endowed by ALLAH, and settles in the hearts of people who have faith, and how it is linked with practicing self-restraint and achieving victory. Therefore, the “Peace” that we should learn should be one that is close to our hearts, strengthens our faith and renders us victorious in our quest for self-tranquility.

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