Pacifism is the belief that all war and violence is wrong.
Both Christianity and Islam would say that in an ideal world peace is better than conflict and war but as we have seen there are those within both faiths who accept that violence and war is necessary under specific circumstances.
Pacifism in Christianity
At the heart of Christian pacifism is Jesus’ teaching:
‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God’ (Jesus)
They would also point to teachings such as ‘Thou shall not kill’ and the Sanctity of Life, God gives life only God has the right to take it away.
Many Christians refused to fight in both the First and Second World Wars. Pacifists who refused to fight were called Conscientious Objectors. Many Conscientious Objectors were Quaker Christians.
Some Quakers were prepared to support during the war in non-violent ways through eg ambulance work or as cooks or medics
Dietrich Bonhoffer was a Christian pacifist who lived in Nazi Germany. He frequently spoke out about the human rights abuses of the Nazis. He worked to save Jewish lives. He was eventually arrested and executed by the Nazis.
Pacifism in Islam
Islam has many teachings, which are linked to peace. However, it is very difficult for a Muslim to identify with being a pacifist because of their duty of Lesser Jihad. Fighting is self defence or to preserve Islam is allowed. If peace is possible Muslims would always seek to bring it about.
There have been examples of Muslim Conscientious Objectors such as Muhammad Ali. Ali refused to fight in the Vietnam War when called up. He was stripped of his boxing licence and titles.