The world watches as violence continues in the Middle East. Every day there are reports of more fighting, more death and destruction. I have been thinking a lot about how far things have gotten from the teachings of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the major religions born from Abraham. What’s interesting is that these faiths have such similar teachings, and yet that fact seems to be lost in the fighting.

All three religions, which are found in that region, teach their followers to treat their neighbors with kindness, respect and tolerance. I want to share what I discovered on the subject.

The Prophet Muhammad summarized good treatment of neighbors this way.
“He who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him be kind to his neighbor; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him show hospitality to his guest; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him either speak good or remain silent.” Our generous spirit should not be limited to only Muslim neighbors. We must reach out and offer kindness and help no matter our neighbors’ faith or background.” (Huda, about.com)

From Judaism 101, Tracy R. Rich writes, “A large part of Jewish law is about treating people with kindness. The same body of Jewish law that commands us to eat only kosher food and not to turn on lights on Shabbat, also commands us to love both Jews and strangers, to give tzedakah (charity) to the poor and needy, and not to wrong anyone in speech or in business. In fact, acts of kindness are so much a part of Jewish law that the word “mitzvah” (literally, “commandment”) is informally used to mean any good deed.”

Jesus said this about how to treat our neighbors, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40 ESV)

Because those of us within these faiths are all decedents of Abraham, doesn’t that make us much more than neighbors? Are we not brothers who believe in the same God?

It has been said that peace begins within. Let us begin to live from peace by showing love, kindness, respect and tolerance for all we encounter. In our prayers may we seek tolerance and compassion for each other, peace on earth and a genuine love and respect for all souls.