Explorations of Peace and Reconciliation in the Islamic Traditions: A Case Study of Kashmir by Yousra Y. Fazili

Analysis, posted 11.07.2010, from India, in:

[See accompanying PDF below for full text and footnotes.]

Explorations of Peace and Reconciliation in the Islamic Traditions:
A Case Study of Kashmir

By: Yousra Y. Fazili

Whatever your name is, Shiva, Vishnu,
the genius who inspired Scherazade,
savior of the Jains, the pure Buddha,
lotus-born God, I am sick. The world
is my disease, And You are the cure,
You, you, you, you, you, you, you.
-Lalla, 14th century Kashmiri poetess

This paper seeks to explore a faith-based approach to the problem of communal violence and strife in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, looking specifically at Hindu-Muslim dynamics. While religion has been used to segment the population and exacerbate internal differences, is it possible to look at religion as a source of positive change---- religion as part of the problem and therefore as part of the solution? How can we mobilize religious leaders to think of religion in terms of peace building? Before Gandhi couched his pacifist movement of nonviolent resistance in Hindu theology, Hindu philosophy dealt with issues of peace and inclusivity. What needs to be explored, is an examination of Islam as part of a solution for building inter-religious dialogue. While the Quran and Sunnah can be read in ways to encourage pacifism and tolerance, this paper will explore the practical application of Quranic peace discourse to Hindu-Muslim violence in Kashmir.

A brief history
The state of Jammu and Kashmir (popularly referred to simply as Kashmir) incorporates 3 regions--- Jammu to the South, the Valley of Kashmir in the center and the northern plateaus of Ladakh. Islam is the predominant religion with a minority of Hindu Brahmins, referred to as Pandits, and a minority of Buddhists who live in Ladakh. Traditionally deemed part of the unfinished work of decolonization, in 1947 Kashmir was forcibly integrated into the Indian Union. Almost immediately a third of the region revolted and broke off to become a semi-autonomous region of Pakistan known as Azad Kashmir. While Pakistan and India have gone to war twice over the fate of Kashmir, the current stalemate is the result of an armed insurrection that began in 1989 after a contentious rigged public election. Unlike previous wars, this was instigated by local Kashmiris who felt that the state of India did not truly represent their concerns or seek to develop the region for the benefit of Kashmiri Muslims.

In many ways, the current struggle in Kashmir can be framed as a post-colonial struggle for liberation. The struggle in Kashmir has never been framed as a civil war, a revolution, or as a religious war of Hindu vs. Muslim. There is neither a readily identifiable leader nor a clearly articulated and singular aim. At the same time, there is no denying the decidedly Islamic component of the nationalist struggle. Indeed, there are three forces that operate in this theatre of war. One, Kashmiriyaat, is the ethno-nationalist struggle of Kashmiris for self-determination. Within this nationalist struggle there is no unified vision for an independent Kashmir. Some Kashmiris envision union with Pakistan, others hope for an independent country, and still others seek the implementation of India’s Constitutional Article 370 in which Kashmir is promised semi-autonomous status. The second factor is the religious nationalism of Pakistan and Kashmir’s symbolic value to maintaining Pakistani nationalism. Lastly, in the 1980s India witnessed the rebirth of militant Hindu nationalism, which threatened the democratic character of the country. The rise of Hindu nationalism within India has been a potent force that has shaped Indian policy in Kashmir. This movement strayed far from the secular democratic ideals enshrined in India’s constitution. Indeed, the secession of Kashmir would threaten not only India’s democracy but also reveals the cracks and fragmentation in the Indian Union as a whole.

Today the calls for independence have grown louder amid India’s gross human rights violations. At the same time, so too have calls for an end to violence. War weariness has settled upon the valley carrying with it a more ardent desire to find a way to make peace. Muslims represent the majority of those killed by India’s armed forces and by Muslim militants who seek to silence dissent. On the other hand, most Kashmiri Pandits are displaced people who have been forced from their homes and live either in Jammu, India itself or abroad. Of 200,000 Pandits less than 5000 remain in the Valley. On all sides is a sense of loss and betrayal. While Kashmiri Muslims feel that their human rights have been trampled upon, Kashmiri Hindus feel uprooted and betrayed by both their former neighbors and the Indian government. Militancy represents the dangerous face of Islam and the Indian army represents the oppressive face of Hinduism. According to Embree:
Both the Hindu and Muslim Kashmiris insist that there was little religious prejudice as such…before the militancy began. Both stress the commonalities they shared in Kashmiri culture and social relations and argue that it is only after the outbreak of militancy and the harsh response of the Indian security forces that social identities as Hindu and Muslim became sources of antagonism.”
In this era of extremes, a tolerant center seems to have collapsed. Given these deeply held identities and their association with recent violence, how can religion play a useful role in conflict resolution? In a place where religion has made differences more pronounced, can we imagine religion working as a positive force to bring together Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits?

Religion as a Source of Conflict Resolution
Examining the Middle Eastern equivalent to India’s communalism, Mohammed Abu-Nimer analyzes the prospects for religion and peace building in the context of Israel/Palestine. According to Abu-Nimer, research on conflict resolution focuses on the destructive elements in religion or neglects analysis of religion, examining political concerns and societal issues in a vacuum of sorts. But, he argues, assumptions about religious identity—from rituals to symbols to moral values—impacts public perception of the “other,” even among the non-religious. As a result, he argues that “religious identity can be a source for cooperation and a force for peace when individuals and religiously active groups manage to reframe the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from an existential conflict over land and salvation into a conflict over resources and ability to live together as different yet diverse Abrahamic traditions.” The same can be said for Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits--- the issues need to be reframed in such a way that dialogue is seen as a partnership and where religious morality can be the basis of a common ethic of peace and reconciliation.

In the context of Judaism and Islam, a shared ethico-moral base is easy to imagine given that both are Abrahamic faiths. Yet when it comes to Hinduism and Islam it may seem more challenging to create a perception of shared ethics. It is both possible and realistic to put Hinduism and Islam on the same moral plane when we examine the mystical elements of both faiths. In fact, this is the way religion has been lived at a social level in Kashmiri society. Hindus worship at Muslim saint shrines and Muslims visit Hindu mystic sites. Muslim parents take their children to Hindu astrologers to have their astrological courses chartered. Historically the two religious communities have been close not just in terms of physical proximity, but also in terms of a mystical understanding of the divine and the metaphysical.

Abu Nimer suggests that for religion to be a meaningful force for peace, faith communities must reframe exclusionary aspects of their faith into a more inclusive and tolerant set of beliefs. In Kashmir mysticism could provide a path for different faith communities to come together now as they once did in the past. In fact, as we shall explore later Embree posits that the mystical trend of Kashmiri Sufism and Kashmiri Hinduism can be a platform for the religious communities to intersect and build bonds of fraternity. Beyond the mystical, what more mainstream elements of Islam can we unlock to promote reconciliation and inter-faith understanding?

Problematic Quranic Elements
Farid Esack aptly notes that the Quran and Sunnah offer somewhat “discordant” impulses when it comes to a discussion of peace, reconciliation and non-Muslims. This is related to the historical trajectory of Islam, which moved from a minority religion to the majority in the city-state of Medina. We see that Quranic ayats and hadiths that stem from the Muslim community’s initially less powerful position promote peace making with non-Muslims. Considering that Hindus are seen as polytheists it’s easy to see the similarities between analogies to early Muslim struggles against a polytheist, idol worshipping majority, the mushrikeen.
The pagan polytheists of Mecca are often reviled in the Quran:

O ye who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean...Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (9:28-9)

Let not the unbelievers think that they can get the better (of the godly): they will never frustrate (them)…Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly. (8:59-60)

They [enemies of Islam] but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks. (4:89).

From these verses we see one side of the Quran’s story, the story of a monotheistic faith trying to plant the seeds of its ideals in a hostile climate. In this regard Esack notes the Prophet Mohammad “disturbed the peace” because the peace was based on injustice. Thus, Islam is not a religion of the status quo, but one that advocates the righting of wrongs. As such it’s a faith that actively promotes conflict in the interest of justice.

Despite verses of the Quran that seems to promote violence, the Quran also promotes peace, justice and reconciliation. The Quranic and Islamic legal tradition places a great deal of emphasis on the importance of amicable settlements and respect for negotiated contracts. Furthermore, if the Prophet’s life is an example of righteous conduct we see that he concluded and respected several peace treaties with non-Muslims and polytheists. Importantly, with regards to Hindu-Muslim relations, historically the ulema expanded the definition of dhimmis from “people of the book living in Muslim lands” (Christians and Jews), to include Hindus, Parsis, and Buddhists. If anything, this legal movement reveals the broad flexibility in Islamic law and Islamic doctrines.

Quranic Elements promoting peace
As a religion whose name stems from the word for peace (salaam), issues of justice, peace, reconciliation and forgiveness are interwoven into the fabric of the faith. Both the Quran and the Prophet’s life reveal a pattern of dialogue with enemies, and seeking understanding with people of different faiths. It is important to keep in mind that the Quran certainly does not advocate a moral imperative akin to “turning the other cheek.” Yet the Quran does not dismiss pacifism, it promotes pacifistic ideals centered on notions of justice. For example, in Sura 60 the Quran states: “Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just.” (60:8).

In his search for a Quranic hermeneutic of religious pluralism for liberation Farid Esack notes that Islam is concerned with justice and that notions of fairness inform the authenticity of what it means to struggle in the path of God. To truly create an Islamic liberation theology he argues that Muslims must acknowledge the specificity of certain Quranic verses (such as those noted in the previous section), and regard these as endemic of a certain time and place to better conceive of an “Islamic” pluralism. Muslims today must also be willing to acknowledge that the “Other” in the Quran is not void of moral authority nor are they void of righteousness. For example we see: “If any do deeds of righteousness,- be they male or female - and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them.” (4:124).

Similarly, Sulayman Nyang posits that the Quran promotes diversity and pluralism by encouraging people towards mutual respect and understanding as evidenced in the following verse:

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (49:13).

The Quranic goal of diversity underscores a common moral wisdom for the human race as a whole. In many ways this principle is analogous to notions of dharma in which there is a manifest goodness in pluralism when all are different paths to the same truth. Nyang explains “the process of mutual understanding is the sine qua non for human solidarity.” He then extends this metaphor to expound upon Islam and its receptivity to reconciliation, focusing his argument on the concept of sulh, which is deemed a normative moral value in Islamic law.

As Khaled Abou el-Fadl explains, sulh means conciliation and settlement. It stems from the Arabic islah, meaning to make good, proper, right, to reconcile and to settle. As such, reconciliation is a normative good in the Quran. This makes sense considering that Islam began as a minority faith in hostile territory where blood ties and clan loyalties were strong. Historically making alliances was part of 7th century Arabian life. Alliance building was a way to maintain survival and promote peace building. In many ways we can see the virtue of sulh as part of the fundamental pragmatism of Islam.

According to el-Fadl, the Quran advocates conflict resolution in several contexts. Verse 4:128 focuses on “amicable solutions” to marital problems. Other verses look at reaching agreements and settlements regarding inheritance, personal injury or disputes between two Muslims. Additionally, the Quran encourages arbitration in several contexts. For example, speaking in the context of marital disputes it states : “If ye fear a breach between them twain, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family, and the other from hers; if they wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation: For Allah hath full knowledge, and is acquainted with all things.” (4:35). Again we see this sentiment expressed in other contexts:
If two parties among the Believers fall into a quarrel, make ye peace between them: but if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of Allah; but if it complies then make peace between them with justice and be fair: for Allah loves those who are fair (and just). (49:9).

Rather than the popularly held misconception of retributive “an eye for an eye” type of justice, the Quranic paradigm upholds amicable settlements over personal justice or vindictive retribution. If anything, the very corpus of Islamic law is a testament to the fact that Islam favors process and thoughtfulness over simple vigilantism. We can turn this analysis onto the legal concept of maslaha. Maslaha is the public interest goal of Islamic law. Jurists from the 14th century Andalusian al-Shatibi to the 19th century Egyptian Mohammad Abduh to today’s Sudanese Abdullahi An-Na’im have advocated the use of logic for the public interest to govern affairs between people when the Quran and Sunnah are vague. When issues involve acts of worship, the Quran and Sunnah should be society’s sole guides, but when they deal with man-to-man interactions we can introduce an element of logic that looks to advance a perceived “public good.” In terms of modern western philosophy this aligns with the Rawlsian notion that religion and the public good need not be mutually exclusive as long as religious ideals can be supported by a public rationality that is not grounded specifically in religion; but rather in logic for the public good. Consequently, one can argue that the normative Islamic value of peaceful and amicable settlement of disputes encourages a maslaha that favors dialogue, and seeks understanding and mutuality as a means to overcome disputes rather than violence.

In fact, a careful examination of certain verses of the Quran reveals a tendency to take steps towards peace if the other party does likewise:

It may be that Allah will grant love (and friendship) between you and those whom ye (now) hold as enemies. For Allah has power (over all things); And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (60: 7).

But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah. for He is One that heareth and knoweth (all things). (8: 61).

Except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. If Allah had pleased, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: Therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (Guarantees of) peace, then Allah Hath opened no way for you (to war against them). (4:90).

But if they [your enemies with whom you are engaged in a physical conflict] cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (2:192).

As a result of this peaceful orientation, the Prophet’s life presents great examples of reconciliation with warring factions and tribes. The Constitution of Medina mandates peaceful resolutions to Muslim/non-Muslim disputes and, in some cases, arbitration. Indeed, peace and neutrality agreements with non-Muslims and polytheists were frequent during the Prophet’s lifetime. In fact there were peace agreements between the Prophet’s Medina and the non-Muslims of Mecca, pagan tribes in the Yemen, Bahrain and Thaqif. During the time of the Rightly Guided Caliphs there were peace agreements with then non-Muslim Egypt, Damascus, Jerusalem, Sudan and Nubia. Thus, if we analyze whom the Prophet was reconciling with (largely pagan polytheists), this sets a great example for Kashmiri Muslims to reconcile with Hindus and approach their differences with the rational level-headedness of treaty building and dialogue rather than violence.

Furthermore, if we look at the development of Islamic law in the Indian subcontinent we see a remarkable willingness to align Islamic principles with those of Hinduism. For example, the 18th century jurist Mirza Mazhar Jan-i-Janan construed Hinduism as essentially monotheistic and noted that the Vedas qualify as a “divinely inspired” book so as to grant Hindus status as “people of the book.” His assessment of Hinduism as monotheistic is not unfounded since high Brahmin philosophy articulates that the many gods are all different aspects of a singular divinity. Similarly the medieval writer al-Birfuni was decidedly sympathetic to Hinduism and Buddhism, explaining idol worship as a necessity of the uneducated masses that cannot comprehend the abstract. When contrasting medieval South Asian Muslim thinkers with those today one notes a trend Farid Esack remarked upon: the conservative impulse to narrow the definition of iman (faith) and widen the base of kufr (disbelief). In many ways this is tantamount to limiting the scope and possibilities for inter-religious dialogue by limiting understandings of the nature of the divine. Esack aptly cautions that this trend must not only be resisted, it must be reversed for Islam to function as a force for reconciliation in a pluralistic world.

Mysticism and its Potential for Uniting Islam and Hinduism
According to Douglas Johnston mystics make natural peacemakers and pluralists because they have an expansive definition of both the divine and love. Mysticism is both “fluid and syncretistic.” The importance of mystical traditions is important to keep in mind when discussing an area like Kashmir because mystical traditions and Sufism, more so than ulema-based Islamic orthodoxy, inspire and shape the lived religious realities of everyday Kashmiri Muslims.

Ainslee Embree postulates that the intersection of mystical traditions provides fertile ground for inter-religious dialogue in Kashmir. Specifically, he focuses upon Bakhti, a devotional form of Hinduism involving intense devotion to one deity and characterized by mystical love. In many ways Bakhti is analogous to Sufism, the vehicle by which Islam came to Kashmir. Indeed, Bakhti and Sufism are related as both seek a personal and emotional relationship with the divine. Both call for a search for unity with the divine. Alas, Hinduism and Islam fundamentally differ when it comes to questions of an “ultimate reality.” Yet, despite this we find that Kashmiri Muslims have great respect for Hindu philosophy. For example, Yasin Malik and Shabir Shah, both separatist leaders, have expressed great respect when they speak of Gandhi and his philosophy.

Noting the fluidity of Islamic dogma in Kashmir, Embree further remarks:
[G]reat Sufi shrines became important urban centers because the Sufis “worked with characteristic missionary zeal for the acceptability of the new regime at the base level of their jurisdiction.” Their good deeds, spirituality and ascetic lifestyle attracted multitudes around them, narrowing the differences between the alien and the indigenous and “leading to the emergence of a synthetic cultural pattern.” In this manner we see that Islam became uniquely Kashmiri when it came to the Valley because the Sufis proselytizing Islam wanted to find and use the vocabulary of the locals and local concepts. As such, Kashmiri Muslim perspectives do not exist in a vacuum separated from Hindu religious philosophy; rather there are grounds to begin a dialogue that starts with religion.

Embree maintains that the concepts of dharma and satyagraha (truth-telling) are important for using Hindu theological concepts to promote reconciliation in Kashmir. Dharma is akin to religious commandments of duty and obligation. In this manner dharma proscribes obedience to a moral order. As such it is similar to Islamic conception of the “good life” defined as obedience to God’s will.

Uniquely, Kashmiri Muslims and Hindus also share devotion for the same saints--- people seen as close to the divine or holders of mystical secrets. Lalla (1335- 1376), was a Kashmiri Brahmin woman whose mystical poetry had a profound influence on Bhakti Hinduism and Sufism. She encouraged her followers to outwardly conform to society, but inwardly renounce all ties to family, caste, and gender in the search for union with the divine. Interestingly, Kabir, a 15th century poet, also represents another shared Hindu/ Muslim poet-saint even though he specifically disavowed religion in general. Not isolated examples, the sharing of mystics and mystical appreciation highlights a unique undercurrent of Kashmiri Islam and Kashmiri Hinduism that comes together in exploring love for the divine.

Unlike negotiations, the process of dialogue creates a win-win situation for both sides, like a rising tide lifting all boats. In this new millennium we see that religious leaders have opened themselves up to inter-faith dialogue but in the context of Hinduism and Islam they are plagued by the absence of highly organized religions. While the lack of formal hierarchy is one of the most important parts of Islam and Hinduism (and another commonality that links these faiths together) it also engenders the need for a certain level of realpolitik when it comes to the maintenance of public support and authority by religious leaders. For example, in 2000 the Shankaracharaya of Puri, Swami Adhokshayananda, held talks with members of the All parties Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella organization for the main Kashmiri separatist groups fighting to change the status quo. One of the few documented cases of Hindu-Muslim dialogue, this meeting jeopardized the Swami’s claim to his position as a high level guru. In fact, because his position is contested, he was declared a fraud and condemned for meeting with Hurriyat leaders since such a meeting was seen as treason. In fact, for his foray into politics the Swami was even arrested.

On the Muslim side of the dialogue equation, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who has a special position in Kashmir as the Mirwaiz (an inherited office that makes him a revered religious leader), has tried to start dialogues between different groups. As head of the All Parties Hurriyat conference he united 23 Kashmiri political groups to encourage working together for the common goal of restoring human rights in Kashmir. According to Time magazine:

Today, Farooq is a plain-speaking preacher trying to win a war without firing a gun. From the start, he has used the moral authority of his ancient office to display a thoroughly modern pragmatism in the search for a solution. In 1993, Farooq united 23 separatist and militant groups in the Hurriyat Conference, which he has led into negotiations with India, Pakistan and diplomats all over the world. "Some people say we must join with Pakistan, others that we must have independence," he says. "I'm not going to set any target that another side can dismiss outright. I will go for any solution that restores the dignity of the people of Kashmir." Youth, instead of inexperience and immaturity, has given him energy. Crucially it also gave him a flexibility that contrasts well with the tired intransigence and blood-feud intrigues endemic to Kashmir.

Embree sees the Mirwaiz as crucial to developing interfaith dialogue. In this assessment he is quite correct. The Mirwaiz’s youth, refreshing outlook, and inherited moral authority allow him to make somewhat daring and bold moves towards interfaith dialogue while maintaining his religio-popular authority.

Footsteps in the Right Direction
The International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, a Washington DC-based NGO run by Douglas Johnston, began an inter-faith dialogue initiative in Kashmir in 2001, a little over a decade since the current uprising for self-determination began. The first foray into inter-faith dialogue was in fact an intra-faith initiative, focused on bringing 30 Muslim leaders together to discuss peace-building possibilities. In July 2002 50 Kashmiri Muslim and Pandits came together in a Himalayan resort for a retreat that focused on inter-religious dialogue and reconciliation. According to Brian Cox: “An initially awkward, tense and angry atmosphere was transformed by God into a time of healing, forgiveness and a commitment to work for return of the Pandits to the Valley. Our most recent seminar in Ladakh, our sixth, was with Muslims and Buddhists from both Leh and Kargil.”

As the battle for Kashmir rages on, the people---Muslim and Hindu—have become united by a desire to put the violence to an end and reinvigorate the Kashmiri economy in order to return to normalcy. The International Center for Religion and Diplomacy supports a reconciliation framework with five basic elements: “imparting moral vision, building bridges between estranged groups, establishing a lasting peace, social justice, promoting political forgiveness and healing the wounds of history.” Similarly, faith-based reconciliation is based on eight principles: “pluralism, inclusion, peacemaking, justice, forgiveness, healing deep wounds, sovereignty and atonement.” In the context of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism there are many overlapping religious themes that bring people to peace, from the Buddhist/ Hindu concept of truth-telling and dharma, to the Islamic emphasis on social justice and reconciliation through negotiation. Sufi mysticism, Buddhism and Hinduism also intersect when it comes to metaphysical doctrines. This congruence has led some to see mystical and ethical approaches as the most effective bridges to interfaith dialogue in the region.

What is central to Kashmiris, irrespective of faith background, is the politics of personal dignity. The essence of Kashmiriyaat is cultural, not religious, identity, and that basic fact is what should unite Kashmir Muslims and Pandits towards peace and justice. Interfaith meetings are rare but crucially important to advance healing in Kashmir. Indeed peace workshops create empathy and understanding between members of fighting groups. Significantly, even if for limited periods of time, intergroup contact can often help reduce prejudice so long as the contact takes place in an environment that enfcourages mutual respect.

Peace builders are agents of social change who seek to find nonviolent solutions to address social problems and injustice. While religion often divides people and leads to conflict or politicizes identities in deeply divided societies, it can also be used as an ethico-moral reason to bring disparate people together. Religion offers a keen awareness of justice, evil and kindness. It is through faith that we can come to understanding the “other” as less other, to feeling empathy and sympathy and to walking a path to peace that is surrounded by notions of love, reconciliation and healing rather than a zero-sum game of blame and lament.

Because religion plays such a prominent role in the development of conflicts like Kashmir, it cannot be left out of the equation for peace. Rather, the question becomes, how can we formulate a faith-based diplomacy in which Islam is a source of peace and reconciliation; where instead of separating people, Islam can bring together two opposing sides to the bargaining table to approach each other with mutuality and respect. As it turns out, Islamic history and theology is laden with examples of interfaith dialogue and understanding, and these principles can be applied today to bring Kashmiri Muslims and Hindus together to explore peace building and reconciliation in the hopes of ending a conflict that has had a terrible human toll.

Don't talk of different religions.
The one reality is everywhere,
not just in a Hindu, or a Muslim,
or anywhere else! Realize:
your awareness is the truth about God.


Kashmir and peacebuilding.pdf193.05 KB