The Words of the Syamsuddin Family

Need for More Inclusive Approaches to Peace

Din Syamsuddin
January 30, 2009
Chairman, Muhammudiyah, Indonesia
Address to the World Summit on Peace
New York, USA

We'd like to start with an Islamic greeting, and the way we Indonesians greet an audience is to say peace be upon you, asalaam aleikum.

This gathering for peace is timely because we are now facing very threatening challenges to human civilization. The opposite of peace is more than war; the real opposite of peace is the absence of peace. This is the very great challenge to human beings and human civilizations. According to the Interaction Council of Former Heads of State and Government, the absence of peace that we are facing includes accumulated global damages such as poverty, illiteracy, injustice, environmental collapse. So what we should do now is accumulated global damage control.

We don't subscribe to Huntington's thesis of a clash of civilizations. Rather, we would like to work for dialogue and cooperation among civilizations. Therefore, we need new paradigms -- new approaches to peace and new paradigms for interfaith and intercultural dialogues. These new paradigms, in my opinion, should be:

1. Comprehensive. We need to approach the absence of peace not only from a religious perspective, organizing interfaith dialogues, but also by including all other sectors and actors of civilization, including politicians, business people, academics, and even the media. A comprehensive approach may bring us to the real peace.

2. Accommodative. We need to include the excluded, because quite often gatherings about peace, interfaith dialogues, and intercultural dialogues include only the moderates who have the same vision for peace. Then when we go out of the room, the problems continue because not only the radicals and the hardliners but also other segments of the community have been excluded. I think we need to try to start to include the excluded.

3. Operative and applicative. Dialogue and cooperation need to take the form of dialogue of action. This is, I think, the value added by UPF and its activities such as the Global Peace Festival, which include not only international leadership conferences but also social impact programs. We need leadership that applies a dialogue of action, because the situation we are facing now is a crisis situation. We are not in a normal situation; thus, we need a new approach and new kind of leadership.

In order to bring peace in the world, as One Family Under God, I would like to mention one verse from the holy Qur'an: "Oh, mankind, we have created you male and female, nations and tribes, so that you may know and cooperate among each other. Surely the most respectable among you before God is the most pious."

So we as an international community, regardless of our religious affiliation, ethnicity, race, and even nationality, are one family under God. I would like to suggest not only one family under God, but one family under one God. We believe in one God, although we call him different names -- Allah, Jesus Christ, Yahweh, and others.

Furthermore, our religiosity should encourage us to recognize that while religion is from God, it is not for God. Religion is from God, but for humanity. We have a responsibility to humanity as vice-regents of God on earth.

Finally, I would like to comment that while we need rights for peace, at the same time we need responsibilities for peace. The Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities is of the same importance as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Our rights and responsibilities together enable us to perform our mission as vice-regents of God on earth and work together to establish real peace. We hope in the future to see a new international order based on morality, prosperity, and justice. 

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