“I say that religion isn’t about believing things. It’s about what you do. It’s ethical alchemy. It’s about behaving in a way that changes you, that gives you intimations of holiness and sacredness.” She points out that religious fundamentalism is not just a response to but, paradoxically, a product of contemporary culture. “We need to create a new narrative, get out of the rat-run of hatred, chauvinism and defensiveness; and make the authentic voice of religion a power in the world that is conducive to peace.”
Source article : http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/sep/18/religion.catholicism
With disturbing regularity, this medieval conviction surfaces every time there is trouble in the Middle East. Yet until the 20th century, Islam was a far more tolerant and peaceful faith than Christianity. The Qur’an strictly forbids any coercion in religion and regards all rightly guided religion as coming from God; and despite the western belief to the contrary, Muslims did not impose their faith by the sword.
The early conquests in Persia and Byzantium after the Prophet’s death were inspired by political rather than religious aspirations. Until the middle of the eighth century, Jews and Christians in the Muslim empire were actively discouraged from conversion to Islam, as, according to Qur’anic teaching, they had received authentic revelations of their own. The extremism and intolerance that have surfaced in the Muslim world in our own day are a response to intractable political problems – oil, Palestine, the occupation of Muslim lands, the prevelance of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, and the west’s perceived “double standards” – and not to an ingrained religious imperative.
But the old myth of Islam as a chronically violent faith persists, and surfaces at the most inappropriate moments. As one of the received ideas of the west, it seems well-nigh impossible to eradicate. Indeed, we may even be strengthening it by falling back into our old habits of projection. As we see the violence – in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon – for which we bear a measure of responsibility, there is a temptation, perhaps, to blame it all on “Islam”. But if we are feeding our prejudice in this way, we do so at our peril.
Source article : http://charterforcompassion.org/the-charter
Why a Charter for Compassion?
The Golden Rule requires that we use empathy — moral imagination — to put ourselves in others’ shoes. We should act toward them as we would want them to act toward us. We should refuse, under any circumstance, to carry out actions which would cause them harm.
The Charter, crafted by people all over the world and drafted by a multi-fath, maulti-national council of thinkers and leaders, is a cry for a return to this central principle which is so often overlooked in our world. It reminds the faithful that in the past leading sages of all the major traditions insisted that the Golden Rule was the essence of religion, that everything else was “commentary,” and that it should be practised “all day and every day.” They insisted that any interpretation of scripture that led to hatred or disdain was illegitimate and that exegesis must issue in practical charity. Like the Charter of Human Rights, this Charter for
Compassion is a yardstick against which the laity as well as religious and secular leaders can measure their behaviour; it can empower congregations to demand a more compassionate teaching from pastors and preachers; it can mobilise youth, who have seen at a formative age what happens when bigotry becomes rife in a society; it can make interfaith understanding a priority; inspire exegetes, scholars, educators and the media to explore the role compassion has played in the traditions, and ensure that it compassion is a focal point in the curricula of schools, colleges and seminaries.
The Charter seeks to change the conversation so that compassion becomes a key word in public and private discourse, making it clear that any ideology that breeds hatred or contempt ~ be it religious or secular ~ has failed the test of our time.
We need everybody to participate ~ atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Jews, Muslims ~ everybody! Our polarized world needs to see compassion practically implicated ~ politically, socially and economically ~ and show that in our divided world, which so often stresses difference, compassion is something on which we can all agree.