Compassionate life: Students subscribe to British author’s opinion

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Jinnah College for Women in collaboration with Oxford University Press on Monday organised a book review and discussion session on the campus in a bid to promote book reading among youths.

The book reviewed and discussed by participants was ‘Twelve steps to a compassionate life’ of Karen Armstrong, a British author known for extensive work on comparative religion. Chief organiser Zeenat Khan said the event was the first of its kind in the college’s history and might set an example for others to follow as part of extracurricular activities.

Bushra Shahab of Oxford University Press said Armstrong was a noted historian, who had authored great books on comparative religion. She said in ‘Twelve steps to a compassionate life’, Armstrong had defined compassion as not merely feeling pity but to suffer with others and share their pain.

“Learning about compassion, looking at the world around and recognising and accepting the limits of one’s own ideas and knowledge are a few steps towards a compassionate life. The author has declared the principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions,” she said.Around 50 students of intermediate-graduation level participated in the event. During the discussion, they responded to the questions of the guests, including Professor Qibla Ayaz of University of Peshawar’s faculty of Islamic Studies, Professor Adnan Sarwar of the university’s International Relations department and Yasir Hussain of Edwards College’s English department.

Participants responded to questions like ‘what is compassion and its importance today’ and ‘how religion can play role in bringing harmony’. They gave opinion on Armstrong’s book verbally and in writing.

The students stressed the need for feeling compassion, sharing the pain of others, discussing and sharing ideas, loving rivals to remove differences and increasing knowledge by listening to others in a bid to move towards a compassionate life.

According to them, by and large, the people in Pakistani society have no time for others, are self-centered and don’t care for others’ pain and feelings.

The students said though the people claimed they were Muslims and Islam was a religion of peace, they exhibited violent behaviour and intolerance by actions and that the people were divided on the basis of faith, caste, sect, nationality and even opinion.They agreed with the author that the principle of compassion lied at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, saying all religions preach peace and harmony with other beings but most people don’t truly practice their religions and don’t care for other human beings and that is why there is so much violence in society.

The guests praised students for excellent participation in the discussion and said such programmes should be held on regular basis to develop critical thinking among students and increase their knowledge.

Khadija Ashfaq got first prize, Riyaan Kareen second and Kiran Fatima third for excellent book review.