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A.P. Salahuddin: Community Resource Center in New Jersey

Jesus said that in order to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, we must come as babies. That is also the attitude we need in order to bring peace. We have to find a neutral position, get rid of our baggage, and purify our thinking, because we cannot really establish peace unless we are men and women of peace.

But we have to make progress here because the world, indeed, needs peace. Only God can give us peace, and He works only through those who are sincere and purified enough to be able to do exactly as He would command that we do. We can begin by forming partnerships with other communities of like-minded people, or build strong relationships within the community. While we are doing these things, we can also teach people new values, values to help them realize that it is better to be moral, to live a decent life, to live a life of peace. I do not perceive myself as being just a Muslim. When we become true servants of God we become something like Gandhi: we become a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew. After I matured, I understood that there is only one God with one religion. He does not give us a way of life that confuses us. Too many people are holding on to old baggage as the world moves forward.

In Paterson, New Jersey, we are establishing a resource center for the community. A lot of poor people live in the neighborhood, people who have no computers, people who don’t know how to make contact to get the city and government services they need. So we have set up a resource center in our building, where people can learn how to ask for government services, learn computer skills, and connect to the Internet so they can obtain knowledge they could not access before.

People coming out of jail, for example, can stop in and get help in finding a job. It is a great way to share information with people who need information. Now if we really want to spread peace, we have to develop relationships with people, with the community, and this is one good way to do that. Relying on the government is not the way to bring peace to the world. Instead, we have to build bridges with people, develop relationships. When we educate people, when we provide for people as all of our religions teach us, it is the best way for us to serve God, to serve His creatures, to serve humanity. In serving the community that way, we can be models for its residents. They will accept our values, and as a result our values should be of the highest caliber. Most certainly we will be creating an environment and an atmosphere of peace.

[Source: Islamic Perspectives on Peace. Tarrytown, NY: Universal Peace Federation, 2006.]