Prayer for Oneness of Our Human Family

“To all people, religious and nonbelieving, I make this appeal. Always embrace the common humanity that lies at the heart of us all. Always affirm the oneness of our human family…. Let not your differences from the views of others come in the way of the wish for their peace, happiness, and well-being.”

Dalai Lama

creator
From Prayer for Oneness

Few facts have become more evident in our lifetime than the fact that we live in a pluralistic world and society. With the rapid increase in the transmission of information and the ability to travel on a worldwide scale has also come an increasing awareness that both our world and society contain a multitude of diverse and conflicting viewpoints on many different issues. Nowhere is this pluralism more evident than in the realm of religion. What should our attitude be toward other religions?

In spite of the differences, all major religions foster a common “religious experience” aimed at the moral and ethical improvement of man. As Ian Gardner points out, ” irrespective of the colour of the cow, the milk is white” alluding to the fact that “there is but one spiritual Truth irrespective of which Master expounds it.” John Hick, a noted religious philosopher, supports that view, providing a ‘pluralistic hypothesis’ as a solution to conflict between religions. This hypothesis is based on a simple concept: religions are based on spiritual experience of the divine truth – but even in the best of us those experiences are experienced through the lens of our cultural conditionings. Hence the differences in the way that divine truth is presented in different religions.

How should we treat the followers of other religions or non-religious people? A few weeks ago I came across the following two examples on the Peacefully Beautiful blog:
“The Prophet said: ’There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over an Arab, nor for a fair-skinned person over a person with dark skin, nor for a dark-skinned person over a person with fair skin.”

“Once the Prophet was seated at some place in Madinah, along with his Companions. During this time a funeral procession passed by. On seeing this, the Prophet stood up out of respect. One of his companions remarked that the funeral was that of a Jew. The Prophet replied, “Was he not a human being?” (Sahîh Bukhârî)

We are all human beings inspite of the differences between us. Let’s always remember that.

Muslims and Christians

From Beyond Minds

THE END

True Compassion is an Action: stop the fatal love of suffering

love-of-suffering_2-550x550
From Mother Teresa and the fatal love of suffering

Unfortunately, there is a lot of suffering in this world. What should we do when we see someone suffering? To me the answer is simple: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world. Work hard for the positive change in this world by combating suffering. To me that’s the true nature of compassion and empathy, morality and spirituality. I could never understand why so many religious leaders and ambassadors refuse to take action, opting for prolonging suffering on this planet. Mother Teresa’s work provides an example of that approach.

Hitchens-Mother-TeresaFrom Mother Teresa Was No Humanitarian

The myth of altruism and generosity surrounding Mother Teresa is dispelled in a paper by Serge Larivée and Genevieve Chenard of University of Montreal’s Department of Psychoeducation and Carole Sénéchal of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Education.  These researchers collected 502 documents on the life and work of Mother Teresa. After eliminating 195 duplicates, they consulted 287 documents to conduct their analysis, representing 96% of the literature on the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity (OMC). Their findings were very disturbing.

“At the time of her death, Mother Teresa had opened 517 missions welcoming the poor and sick in more than 100 countries. The missions have been described as “homes for the dying” by doctors visiting several of these establishments in Calcutta. People coming to these missions hoped to a find a doctor to treat them, but were left dying without receiving appropriate care. The doctors observed a significant lack of hygiene, even unfit conditions, as well as a shortage of actual care, inadequate food, and no painkillers. The problem is not a lack of money—the Foundation created by Mother Teresa has raised hundreds of millions of dollars—but rather a particular conception of suffering and death: “There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s Passion. The world gains much from their suffering,” was her reply to criticism, cites the journalist Christopher Hitchens. Nevertheless, when Mother Teresa required palliative care, she received it in a modern American hospital.”

“Mother Teresa was generous with her prayers but rather miserly with her foundation’s millions when it came to humanity’s suffering. During numerous floods in India or following the explosion of a pesticide plant in Bhopal, she offered numerous prayers and medallions of the Virgin Mary but no direct or monetary aid?”

How can people understand the compassion by silently witnessing suffering and refusing to provide any help? As David Hayward points out, “it’s one thing to suffer well, it’s another thing to invite it and then keep it long after it wants to go. It’s one thing to sit with others in their suffering, it’s another thing to let it continue when you have the power to change things.” Let’s get that right and stop prolonging the suffering on this planet. True compassion is an action.

help
From Expanding our Capacity for Kindness

THE END

Unreasoning Animals

cat_and_dog01
From SodaHead

“Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal… In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.

Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh–not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.”

―    Mark Twain,    Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings

fighting
From The Mojo Company

THE END

You don’t need religion to have morals…

Religion MoralsFrom Global Awakening

“Perhaps it is just me, but I’d be wary of anyone whose belief system is the only thing standing between them and repulsive behavior. Why not assume that our humanity, including the self-control needed for a livable society, is built into us? Does anyone truly believe that our ancestors lacked rules of right and wrong before they had religion? Did they never assist others in need, or complain about an unfair deal?

Human morality must be quite a bit older than religion and civilization. It may, in fact, be older than humanity itself. Other primates live in highly structured social groups in which rules and inhibitions apply and mutual aid is a daily occurrence. Acts of genuine kindness do occur in animals as they do in humans. Altruistic behavior serves a cooperative group life, which benefits the actors of such behavior, yet the behavior is fueled by its own autonomous motivations, which vary from self-serving to other-regarding.

The animal kingdom offers so many examples that I surely cannot summarize them here (see my new book, The Age of Empathy), but the interesting part is not so much whether animals have empathy and compassion, but how it works.

In one experiment, we placed two capuchin monkeys side by side: separate, but in full view. One of them needed to barter with us with small plastic tokens. The critical test came when we offered a choice between two differently colored tokens with different meaning: one token was “selfish,” the other “prosocial.” If the bartering monkey picked the selfish token, it received a small piece of apple for returning it, but its partner got nothing. The prosocial token, on the other hand, rewarded both monkeys equally at the same time. The monkeys gradually began to prefer the prosocial token. The procedures were repeated many times with different pairs of monkeys and different sets of tokens, and the monkeys kept picking the prosocial option showing how much they care about each other’s welfare.

A flourishing new field of evolutionary ethics focuses on how humans solve moral dilemmas (usually not in a rational Kantian way), which parts of the brain are involved (often old “emotional” parts), why moral tendencies evolved in the human species (probably to promote cooperation), what kind of animal parallels can be found (from prosocial tendencies to obeying social rules), how empathy evolved out of mammalian maternal care (which explains why in human adults the hormone oxytocin stimulates trust and empathy), and how religion piggy-backs on moral sentiments to promote a cohesive society. The sequence of how various tendencies came into being is: first social instincts and empathy, then morality, and finally religion…

If human morality is part of the larger scheme of nature, there is neither a good reason to look at evolutionary theory as undermining morality nor to look at God as a requirement for it. … I have never seen convincing evidence that a belief in God keeps people from immoral behavior. Those who think that without God humanity would lack a moral compass totally underestimate the antiquity of our moral sense.”

From Morals Without God

Related Posts:

THE END

Spirituality vs. Religion

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From Angels Art

I always struggled to define my religious views. I’ve been to different churches, read different religous texts but did not feel comfortable with any religion or church. I felt that normative religious values get often misinterpreted . I felt that religious leaders are very rigid in their views and often refuse to address important issues in the society or even condone violence. Various cultural practices also tend to ‘pollute’ true religious values.

I had my Aha! moment when I came across that image. Spirituality is definitely closer to my heart than religious dogmas.

Spirituality means something different to everyone. Some people get in touch with their spiritual side through private prayer, yoga, meditation, quiet reflection, or even long walks. For me spirituality is about finding and spreading positivity as well as striving to live the core human values such as:

What about you?

A chicken is not a bird and a woman is not a person…

“A chicken is not a bird and a woman is not a person.”

( old Russian folk sayings )

( From Angels in Distress )

* * *

Bible

(From My View and Opinion blog)

“Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”c 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

( From Ephesians 5 )

BUT

  • Every hour one Russian woman dies at the hands of her husband or partner
  • Over one half (52.9%) of Russian women believed that intimate partner violence in Russia was a “serious problem”
  • Current statistics suggest that approximately 36,000 Russian women are physically victimized at the hands of their intimate partner on a daily basis and that 79% of married women in Russia have experienced physical abuse by their partners during their marriage
  • Women in Russia are four to five times more likely to experience intimate partner violence than women in the West
  • Women in Russia are two and a half times more likely to be murdered at the hands of an intimate partner than women in the United States
  • Certain interpretations of beliefs regarding the sanctity of marriage, the divine authority of men over the family, and the acceptance of suffering and endurance as necessary in individual lives, as an emulation of suffering of Christ, have been cited as common deterrents prohibiting women from actively questioning or challenging the inappropriateness of the use of violence by their partners
  • Spiritual abuse includes the misuse and abuse of religious doctrine as a means of maintaining male power and control in intimate relationships (including the use of religious doctrine as a justification for male violence)
  • The teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church have “condemned women as sinful – wanton, deceitful, instigator of lust and pollution to encourage men to fear and distrust women and to control their sexuality in order to protect the family from dishonor and society from disorder”. Women are assigned an inferior position within the family and society as man’s servant. As such, the main duty of a woman is obedience to her husband
  • The priest and Director of the Diocesan School of Orthodox catechesis and the church pedagogy of St. Sergius Radonezhskiy Anatoly Garmayev points out “The duty of the wife is to honor and respect her husband. … The next duty of the wife is to be submissive to her husband. After all, submissive to her husband – so, revering him”
  • The Church’s characterization of women as the servants of men not only influences the development of individual attitudes that support men’s use of violence against women but have also impacted the status of women in Russian society as a whole.
  • When cases of domestic violence are reported to the militia (police), the issue is often referred back to the family to address as a private matter.
  • The climate of social acceptance in Russia that allows violence against women by their intimate partners to remain largely unchallenged has been heavily influenced by the traditions and principles of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Church’s construction of the family as a private patriarchal institution contributes to the prevailing opinion of Russians that domestic violence is a private matter and should be solved within the family.

( From “A chicken is not a bird…” )

* * *
Qur’an
  • According to the Qur’an, men and women have the same spiritual human nature.
  • Men and women have the same religious and moral duties and responsibilities. They both face the consequences of their deeds
  • Nowhere does the Qur’an state that one gender is superior to the other. Some mistakenly translate “qiwamah” or responsibility for the family as superiority. The Qur’an makes it clear that the sole basis for superiority of any person over another is piety and righteousness not gender, color, or nationality
  • The Islamic Shariiah recognizes the full property rights of women before and after marriage. A married woman may keep her maiden name.
  • Greater financial security is assured for women. They are entitled to receive marital gifts, to keep present and future properties and income for their own security. No married woman is required to spend a penny from her property and income on the household. She is entitled to full financial support during marriage and during the waiting period (‘iddah) in case of divorce. She is also entitled to child support. Generally, a Muslim woman is guaranteed support in all stages of her life, as a daughter, wife, mother, or sister. These additional advantages of women over men are somewhat balanced by the provisions of the inheritance which allow the male, in most cases, to inherit twice as much as the female. This means that the male inherits more but is responsible financially for other females: daughters, wives, mother, and sister, while the female (i.e., a wife) inherits less but can keep it all for investment and financial security without any legal obligation so spend any part of it even for her own sustenance (food, clothing, housing, medication, etc.)
  • The Qur’an effectively ended the cruel pre-Islamic practice of female infanticide and went further to rebuke the unwelcoming attitudes among some parents upon hearing the news of the birth of a baby girl, instead of a baby boy
  • Education is not only a right but also a responsibility of all males and females
  • Marriage in Islam is based on mutual peace, love, and compassion, not just the satisfaction of man’s needs
  • The female has the right to accept or reject marriage proposals. Her consent is prerequisite to the validity of the marital contract according to the Prophet’s teaching. It follows that if by “arranged marriage” is meant marrying the girl without her consent, then such a marriage is nullifiable if she so wished.
  • The husband is responsible for the maintenance, protection, and overall headship of the family (qiwamah) within the framework of consultation and kindness. The mutual dependency and complementary of the roles of males and females does not mean “subservience” by either party to the other.
  • Divorce is seen as the last resort, which is permissible but not encouraged. Under no circumstances does the Qur’an encourage, allow or condone family violence or physical abuse and cruelty. The maximum allowed in extreme cases is a gentle tap that does not even leave a mark on the body while saving the marriage from collapsing.
  • Prophet Muhammad taught kindness, care, and respect of women in general: “I command you to be kind to women”

 ( From Gender Equity in Islam )

BUT

There exists, among Muslims a big gap between the ideal and the real.
Cultural practices on both extremes do exist.

* * *

Related posts:


Religious writings: normative teachings vs. diverse cultural practices

“When dealing with the Islamic perspective of any topic, there should be a clear distinction between the normative teachings of Islam and the diverse cultural practices among Muslims, which may or may not be consistent with them.”

From Gender Equity in Islam

From One Chinese Muslimah

Core Islam Values

Family Life
The bonds between family is something that is extremely sacred. To illustrate that point the Prophet said that “no sin is more swiftly punished than oppression, and the breaking of family ties.” Also, the nature of the family in Islam is one that allows for everyone their specific roles and rights.

Humility
Often times during the life of Prophet Muhammed he would be sitting in the masjid with his companions. When others would walk in looking for him, they wouldn’t be able to distinguish him from the crowd because, unlike many rulers and kings of the time, the Prophet didn’t dress or speak in a way that was different or above those that were around him.

Generosity
The word for the charity given by Muslims yearly is Zakah and literally speaking, it means to purify and to make grow. These two definitions can be combined to conclude that giving from your wealth, no matter the size or your financial situation will not only purify your soul, but will put blessings in and increase your wealth as well.

Loving Your Neighbor
Islam isn’t just a religion that’s focused on only for one day–it’s a way of life, and because of that so many societal customs are emphasized. One prominent example is the importance of treating your neighbors right, no matter where they come from.

Trustworthiness
Trustworthiness is a trait that’s appreciated in all spectrums of society and is essential in order to promote community cohesiveness.

Holding Your Tongue
The idiom “if you don’t have anything nice to say you shouldn’t say anything at all” spans countless cultures and times, and is an important aspect of Islam as well. Along with trying to speak the truth always, refraining from speaking bad can be just as noble.

Tolerance
As the world seems more to be heading to the extremes, it is important to learn and understand one another. Tolerance is an extremely important concept in Islam, whether it be understanding other races, religions, or customs.

Education
Whether it be seeking Islamic knowledge of secular knowledge, it’s important for Muslims to constantly be absorbing information. Many Muslims scholars throughout history are credited with inventing or discovering ideas that revolutionized the modern world, such as Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi and his work in algebra and the chemist Jabir Ibn Haiyan. Education in Islam is important for the Muslim to seek at all times in life, from the cradle to the grave.

( From Curious About Islam? )

It is important that we study the religious texts in their proper context…

“It is important that we study the religious texts in their proper context. When these texts are not read in their proper textual and historical contexts they are manipulated and distorted. It is true that some Muslims manipulate these verses for their own goals. But this is not only with Islamic texts, it is also true with the texts of other religions. I can quote dozens of verses from the Bible which seem very violent, if taken out from their historical context. These Biblical texts have been used by many violent Jewish and Christian groups. Crusaders used them against Muslims and Jews. Nazis used them against Jews. Recently Serbian Christians used them against Bosnian Muslims.”

(From Islamic Writings)

* * *

From OpEdNews

“Orthodox Christians have often failed to proclaim the severe tension between the use of violence and a life of holiness. Serbia, however, provides a recent example of the church opposing the abuse of the faith in support of war. In the midst of the Bosnian civil war, Patriarch Pavle proclaimed that “the Church must condemn all atrocities that are committed, no matter what the faith or origin of the person committing them may be. No sin committed by one person justifies a sin committed by another. We will all face the Last Judgment together where each of us must answer for his sins. No one can justify his sins by saying someone else is guilty of a crime.” The Serbian bishops declared that “The way of nonviolence and cooperation is the only way blessed by God.” They also added the following petition to the Liturgy: “For all those who commit injustice against their neighbours, whether by causing sorrow to orphans, spilling innocent blood or by returning hatred for hatred, that God will grant them repentance, enlighten their minds and their hearts and illumine their souls with the light of love even toward their enemies, let us pray to the Lord.”

(From In Communion)

“I want to assure you that we Muslims also do not hate non-Muslims, be they Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhist or followers of any religion or no religion. Our religion does not allow killing any innocent person regardless of his or her religion. The life of all human beings is sacrosanct according to the teachings of the Qur’an and the guidance of our blessed Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him and upon all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah. The Qur’an says about the prohibition of murder:”

(From Does the Qur’an teaches violence?)

“The Qur’an repeatedly emphasizes that defensive war — fighting to protect oneself against invading enemies — is the only kind of combat sanctioned (2:190 – 191). In numerous other examples, it teaches that the use of force should be a last resort (2:192, 4:90); that normal relations between peoples, nations and states, whether Muslim or not, should be peaceful (49:13); that necessary wars must be limited in time and space (2:190); that maximum effort must be applied at all times to advance the cause of peace (10:25); that whatever means are undertaken to work for peace during a conflict (such as mediation and arbitration) must be attempted over and over again until resolution is achieved (8:61); that freedom of religion must be granted to every one (2:256), and so on.”

(From Does the Qur’an sanction violence )