Greetings and blessings that include the word ‘peace’ are in daily use all around the world. Perhaps, even more so in the Islamic world itself, which is hardly surprising seeing that Islam is, and has always been, a religion based on peace - much of the world prefers to think otherwise, but this statement is true!

Therefore, one has to wonder why it is that the Islamic world is currently being torn apart by war and civil unrest and has been, increasingly so, for the last few decades and, for answers, one does not have to look far. Human greed is top of the list of culprits and whilst this is most certainly stoked by the Western world, the east is not totally innocent either and, come to think of it, the Western world is far from being peaceful too.

People, who have spoken out in the name of peace and who tried to encourage the global population to live in harmony in recent decades, both in the east and especially in the west, have all, like their historical counterparts, met an untimely and violent end with Mahatma Gandhi, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and John Lennon being prime examples and those who have dared to take their place, live under permanent threat of meeting an equally sticky end.

The problem, or what certainly appears to be the root cause of the problem, is that it takes more ‘effort’ and a much longer time to reap a profit from people who live in peace and harmony than during times of upheaval, unrest and outright war and that governments, multinationals and other such money hungry organisations and individuals, are perfectly content, even openly gleeful at times, to put profit before people is a sad illustration of the world we live in today.

It is only necessary to open your eyes, not very widely at that, to see that this is absolutely true and, sickeningly, this rampant disease centred on money and possessions, has come to permeate every single level of the so-called ‘modern’ society where those who should certainly know better and some who obviously don’t, immerse themselves in an endless race of working to have things they very often do not even need, but ‘must have’ in order to impress all those myriad other lemmings playing the very same game.

Greed is an illness - be this greed for oil and other natural resources, greed for other people’s land, greed for ostentatious houses and cars, greed for the latest technological gadgets and the very latest line in clothes, shoes and ‘essential’ accessories and, as is so obvious at wedding receptions in this part of the world and, sadly to observe, during and after ifttar, people gorge themselves on mountains of food which would be far better distributed, in the true spirit of Ramazan, amongst the poor and needy who are never, irrespective of where people live, very far away at all. This being Ramazan then there are, it goes without saying, all of those basically ridiculous preparations for Eid which yes, should be celebrated of course but on a sensible level, rather than the outrageous one which is currently viewed as the ‘norm’.

Humankind has always, archaeological excavations confirm this, tended to be on the acquisitive side, probably, during ages past, due to an intrinsic need to survive on a reasonably acceptable level. But, over the past 50 years or so and maybe since the Second World War, the human race has climbed up to a level of acquisition, possession and downright greed which is unsustainable under prevalent circumstances and it is this, in one guise or another, that has created all the mayhem, death and destruction the entire global population has to live with today.

If we are ever to live in a harmonious world in which peace, the peace we wish people every day, is to be an actual reality for all rather than a magnificent dream for the few who, right now, struggle towards this seemingly unachievable goal, there has to be a change of attitude and of people’s expectations in life and, this must happen soon and before global conditions degenerate past the point of no return - a point we are reaching much faster than many people seem to realise.

To live in a state of tranquil peace does not, this needs to be emphasised, mean turning the clock back a few hundred years - although in some ways that may not be a bad idea - it, quite simply, means learning to be content with the basic requirements of a ‘comfortable’ life without going overboard in hot pursuit of ‘things’ that bring, in the end, neither satisfaction or contentment.

Living in peace also means living in harmony with your fellow human beings, irrespective of cast, colour or creed: It means respecting people for who, not what, they are and in re-developing an understanding that we are, truthfully, all brothers and sisters inhabiting this fragile planet together.

The writer is author of The Gun Tree: One Woman’s War (Oxford University Press, 2001) and lives in Bhurban.

Email: zahrahnasir@hotmail.com