The relation of interfaith, environmental peace-building and Gaza

Submitted by munir on Wed, 12/20/2023 - 10:26

The intersection between faith, peace, and environment forms a vital relationship where the principles of diverse faith traditions fosters a shared commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable peace.


The current era confronts unprecedented challenges, including climate change, global pandemics and accelerated rates of species extinction, cyber security threats, water scarcity, food insecurity, and social inequality, among others. These pressing issues underscore the urgency of environmental peace-building, resonating louder than ever as a crucial response to such interconnected crises humanity is facing now.


Peace and faith are not merely terms, rather individuals guided by principles capable of positively influencing their environment. While the wisdom of faith and its principals of compassion, justice, and the pursuit of harmony, provide a common ground for fostering peace, the values of peace including harmony, cooperation, justice, equality, compassion, non-violence and sustainability have a positive impact and can influence and benefit the environment.


On the other hand, religious leaders, inspired by their faith teachings, can employ profound influence in shaping the values and behaviors of their communities.  Across the diverse faith traditions, a shared understanding emerges—that the responsibility to care for the environment is not merely a practical necessity but also a duty.  Thus, emphasizing on the religious principals enough to make them a style of living, should be the aim of all religious leaders around the world.


Since the shared goal of preserving Earth exceeds cultural and religious differences, environment serves as a unifying ground for fostering peace. Therefore, by integrating faith principles into environmental initiatives, individuals and communities contribute to the cultivation of peace—a peace that extends beyond human interactions to encompass the harmonious coexistence of all living beings and the delicate ecosystems that sustain life. Thus arises the importance of engaging interfaith communities in environmental peace-building as a dynamic and transformative force, address shared concerns for the well-being of humanity. 


Interfaith initiatives bring together diverse religious traditions, fostering dialogue and collaboration on environmental issues. By tapping into the ethical foundations of each faith, these efforts promote a collective responsibility for environmental stewardship. The recognition that earth is a shared space, instills a sense of unity and common purpose among different religious communities, and through joint advocacy, sustainable practices and communal initiatives, interfaith engagement contributes to the broader mission of environmental peace-building, creating a harmonious intersection where shared values, and the urgent need for ecological conservation meet.


While environmental peace-building is a noble endeavor, several obstacles hinder its progress. These challenges arise from a complex interplay of social, political, economic, and ecological factors. One significant obstacle is the lack of awareness and understanding, as some individuals and communities may not recognize the direct connection between environmental sustainability and peace, which lies in the understanding that a healthy and balanced environment is fundamental for social stability and global harmony. 


Environmental degradation, resource scarcity, and the impacts of climate change can contribute to conflict, displacement, and competition for essential resources such as water and fertile land.    Another obstacle is the geopolitical tensions and resource competition which can also hinder international cooperation on shared environmental issues. As well as corruption, and the absence of effective policies will obstruct efforts towards sustainable practices. 


Overcoming these obstacles and more, requires a concerted effort, involving education, diplomacy, and the fostering of a collective understanding that environmental well-being is strongly linked to lasting peace.


As for the Middle East region, the profound implications of faith, peace, and the environment on the war on Gaza are immense. Gaza can be recognized for so many important and enjoyable things, such as beautiful nature and natural wealth. Regrettably, it has been well-known as an open-air prison, and now tragically the biggest graveyard for innocent children in history. In the span of a mere three months, nearly 7,000 children were killed, with countless more are missing beneath the rubble due to the continuous bombardment.  The killing of civilians, journalists, exceeds mass punishment, and the damage to the infrastructure is eternal- a true reflection of the dawn fall of humanity.  In addition to many fake news, misinformation disinformation, reality is lost to many.


Confusion, disdain, hatred and pain have spread. Destruction is everywhere!  The war’s impact on the environment is profound; intensive infrastructural damage, contaminated soil, water and air, and the fear of forced displacement. 


The war on Gaza, marked by many conflicts and human sufferings, is also a challenge to peacemakers. While the conflict itself represents a breakdown in peace, working towards a resolution is an essential process through law; the International Law applied by the UN. To begin with is by an immediate release of hostages, permanent ceasefire, and flow of humanitarian aids are essential. Subsequently, efforts should focus on achieving the aspiration of the Palestinian people for a sovereign state: the two state solution on the 4 June 1967 border.


The key to peace in the Middle East, emphasized over the years by His Majesty King Abdullah, lies in finding a solution to the Palestinian conflict. Only then the Middle East region will find peace, and establish a true sustainable development. 


Environmental peace-building is not just a mission; it is a responsibility that demands our most serious attention. To honor our shared humanity, we must enact and uphold serious environmental laws. This is not a task for one individual or nation, but a collective effort that transcends borders, ideologies, and backgrounds.

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Rula Samain