When Yasir Billoo took the pulpit during a church service in Coral Gables, he turned to the congregants before him.
“Salam Alikum,” he said. Peace be upon you.
A greeting recited earlier in the church service reminded him of the Islamic greeting: When we say peace be with you, we also say: justice be with you, mercy be with you, compassion be with you, love be with you and the Holy be with you..
“Spread peace among you,” Billoo said. “This is the example that Muslims are supposed to follow. This is the tradition that Muslims are supposed to carry.
Peace is at the heart of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions. And the concept has more in common than most realize.
Faith leaders shared their interpretations of peace during an interfaith service on Sunday morning at the Coral Gables Congregational United Church. The service included hymns and sayings from different faith traditions, even a Sioux prayer, and focused on remembrance, hope and harmony for the 21st anniversary of 9/11.
The terrorist attacks, the deadliest in US history, claimed the lives of 2,977 people and forever changed the fabric of American society.
Shalom, or peace in Hebrew, is central to every prayer and life event, including weddings and births, said Rabbi Robyn Fisher of Beth Or. And Jews are mandated to seek peace all the time, unlike other commandments which should only be obeyed when possible.
“Peace in Judaism refers to a sense of perfection that will not be fully achieved until a messianic era,” she said. “We are commanded to strive constantly to achieve peace each day.”
Christians greet each other with the peace of Christ: Peace be with you, said Reverend Aaron Lauer of Coral Gables Church.
“In the midst of the despair and violence of the crucifixion, Christ stood among his people and offered them peace,” Lauer said. “Peace was the last word he said to his followers before his betrayal.”
In biblical Greek, the word peace means to gather, he said. And Christians know peace when they are reunited with God.
“We will only know peace when we are united with each other,” Lauer said. “When we serve each other, we understand each other, we heal each other, we forgive each other, we do each other justice.”