Improving International Peacemaking with Islamic Principles 

As part of an international team negotiating to end a violent conflict in a Muslim-majority country, a stark realization hit us – we were talking past each other, as if we inhabited two separate worlds. Concepts that resonated effortlessly in international circles – human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy, secular societies – seemed to bounce off our Muslim counterparts, leaving a void where understanding should have been. 

Initially, we assumed resistance to these principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which presented us with a paradox, as the UDHR are drawn from a great number of cultures and religions from across the world. This assumption, however, was flawed. With insights from our team and scholars, we realized our contemporary peacemaking frameworks often overlooked the intricate local, traditional, and religious nuances vital to effective dialogue. Religious elements, particularly in Muslim-majority societies, required deeper exploration. 

Through this lens, we uncovered many commonalities between international norms and Islamic principles rooted in the Quran, the Prophet’s last sermon, and early Islamic practices. These commonalities provided a fresh, invaluable dimension to enhance existing peacemaking frameworks.  

The Development of the Guide to Peacemaking 

This realization led to the development of the ”Guide to Peacemaking Using Islamic Principles: Commonalities between International Norms and Islamic Principles.” This guide is the culmination of four years of collaboration among esteemed Islamic scholars and international peace practitioners. It arrives at a critical juncture, with conflicts raging in regions such as Gaza, Yemen, Syria, Sudan, the Sahel, and beyond, where misconceptions about Islam, peace, and conflict often hinder resolution efforts. 

In the guide’s foreword, the former Vice President of Indonesia, Jusuf Kalla, underscores the urgent need for contextual understanding to resolve conflicts in the Muslim world. Meanwhile, Martin Griffiths, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, reflects on the shortcomings of many international peace processes in the Muslim world. Both highlight the guide’s value to contemporary peacemakers. 

Integrating Islamic Principles in Peacemaking 

While religion is often seen as divisive, it is crucial to recognize the rich heritage of mediation and conflict resolution within different faith traditions. The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), known as al-Amin, the trustworthy, was renowned for his mediation skills. In Islamic principles, peace is not just an aspirational goal but a divine mandate, emphasizing community well-being, relational harmony, and universal values of justice and inclusivity – which are consistent with international norms. Our hope is that this guide will elucidate these principles, historically fostering peace within and between Islamic and non-Islamic communities, and bridge polarized misconceptions on both sides. 

One of the most contentious issues addressed in the guide is the relationship between Islam and women’s rights. Through a review of original texts, the guide demonstrates that Islamic frameworks can support gender equality. It advocates for inclusivity and diversity through a humanistic interpretation of the Quran and the Prophet’s traditions, promoting gender equality and combating biases. Recognizing that local cultural practices often mistaken for Islamic principles can distort perceptions, the guide highlights ways to empower women and girls while engaging men and boys in transformative gender role approaches. It underscores the critical importance of women’s participation in peace processes, celebrating their historical and contemporary roles in Islam as educators, political figures, peacemakers, and more. 

This guide is a pivotal step in integrating Islamic principles with international norms to enhance contemporary peacemaking practices. It aims to enrich conflict resolution strategies by adding a new and much-needed dimension, fostering a deeper understanding and more effective dialogue in our interconnected world. 

Access the Guide to Peacemaking using Islamic Principles here 

Eldridge Adolfo, Senior Adviser on Dialogue and Mediation at FBA, and Houda Abadi, Executive Director of Transformative Peace.

av Eldridge Adolfo, Houda Abadi
Profilbild Eldridge Adolfo, Houda Abadi

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Dr. Houda Abadi has extensive experience in peacebuilding, particularly in MENA region conflicts. As the Executive Director of Transformative Peace, she works on inclusive peace processes and women's roles in security. Her previous roles include Associate Director at the Carter Center’s Conflict Resolution Program. Dr. Abadi’s work emphasizes community-based approaches and she is recognized for her contributions to international peace policy.  Eldridge Adolfo is Senior Advisor on Dialogue and Mediation at the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA). His broad experience spans negotiating with armed groups and designing peace processes globally. His previous roles include Mediation Advisor at the European External Action Service and with the United Nations. He has pioneered innovations in inclusive peacemaking and initiated the International Norms Project in response to the needs of a peace negotiation he was conducting. His geographic experience spans Africa, Colombia, Venezuela, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, the Balkans, Myanmar, and Afghanistan. 

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