An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

Charter for compassion

In Uncategorized on January 15, 2012 at 1:39 am

I was once waiting in a queue. It was a long queue. About half way through I realised I didn’t have enough cash to pay for my lunch. I asked the person in front of me if he knew weather or not they accepted card at the till. He told me they didn’t. I said “I’ll have to go to the cash machine around the corner then”. He offered to pay. I said “thank you but I’ll get some cash”. He persisted and said “you’ll have to queue up all over again”. With a smile he said “no problem, I’ll pay” I took his generous offer. He then went on to say “Is there any other item you need?”

I’ll never forget the compassion I felt in that moment. It seemed like my state of consciousness was being tuned. A similar thing happened when I was in Damascus, Syria. It was late and I was trying to catch a cab. Whenever I would stop a taxi, I was told the taxi-meters no longer operate and was quoted ridiculously high prices. I asked a passer by, a teenager, if the meters were really not operating at this time of day. He said they should be and stopped a taxi for me. He got in as well and sat at the back. Initially, I thought he might have needed a lift and decided to ‘jump in’ as is common in the Arab world. Half an hour later, we got off the other side of town. He asked me where I was staying and began walked with me. Again, I thought may be he’s from this part of the city. As we got to my hostel, he asked if I needed anything? I said I forgot my toothbrush in Jordan. He helped me buy a toothbrush. After talking to him, I realised he wasn’t from this part of town and had to return. As he was leaving, I thought I would pay for his fare back. To my surprise he totally refused to accept any money whatsoever. I was left thinking ‘what kind of hospitality is this?’

I was speaking to a parent the other day who has grown children. In his experience he felt the most important thing you can give a child is “an environment in which Love rules and is reflected in the adult relationships around them. We cause harm to our children if we put great effort in showing them that we love them, but create an environment around them that is devoid of love between ourselves and our spouses, parents, and other significant adults.”

I was reflecting on this and would like to take it further by finding ways of transforming those relationships of mine which can do with more compassion. That environment needn’t be just our homes but also extends to the society and world we live in. If I could have a choice of what kind of world I would like for my children to grow up in- it would be one filled with compassion for our fellow human beings. After the ascension of the Prophet pbuh, I cant think of a better sunnah to emulate. I realised everything that I would like to teach my children, I would have to embody and live for it to have value and be meaningful for them. Maybe forgiving or clearing any resentment about something that happened in the past for example, will clear the psychic space we share in our environments. What better way to teach values, principles & religion then with compassion. Even if we live in comfortable environments with healthy relationships, exploring compassion and empathy with our children may be a wonderful real life learning experience for them.   One way of exploring this that came to mind is Karen Armstrong’s charter for compassion (available on kindle too). In her book ’12 steps to a compassionate life’, Ch1 ‘the first step: Learning about compassion, begins with “All the twelve steps will be educative in the deepest sense; the Latin educere means ‘to lead out’ and this programme is designed to bring forth the compassion that, as we have seen, exists potentially within every human being so that it can become a healing force in our own lives and in the world”. Its a beautiful vision that allows us to come together as children of Adam (bani Adam) whatever our backgrounds or differences may be and in the process to know one another (Quaran 49:13).

In her brilliant TED talk she spoke of how the study of other religions traditions brought her back to what religion can be and enabled her to look at her own faith in a different light. There are many short 3 min clips of people sharing their stories of compassion on youtube (worth having a look)

One way we could use this space, would be to run a 12 week program based on Karen Armstrong’s Charter for compassion- with a post, every Sunday say, dedicated to a chapter from her book. We can then share experiences, reflections and lessons learned from working with that chapter.  Anybody interested?

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  1. > an environment in which Love rules and is reflected in the adult relationships around them. We cause harm to our children if we put great effort in showing them that we love them, but create an environment around them that is devoid of love between ourselves and our spouses, parents, and other significant

    Saqib, this quote made me cry- around me my adult relationships require sooooooooooooo much work- you have no idea….!!! I have recently been desperately trying to reconnect with husband, mum, brother, sister, inlaws etc! I have felt hurt, frustrated, irritated and ready to quit 10000x over but with kids the brokeness of each relationship is highlighted so much more! Additionally, since entering motherhood, i am revisiting my childhood and once again wounds i though were healed have been re-opened and i find myself trying to make peace with them all over again!!

    You humble me Saqib, i am really on the lowest wrung of humanity, struggling with my nafs, battling with my past, trying to make this soul evolve without the discipline or patience required. Your email has truly touched my heart as i really do not feel at times i have much wisdom to share as i feel overwhelmed with my own inner struggle.

    Wrt kids- trying to detach from expecting them to see and feel “my” truth is the hardest thing. I expect them to love who i love and dislike who i dislike which is so wrong.I am learning to slowly try and let go and allow them to form their own relationships as their innocence and purity may infact melt my preconditions and preconceptions.

    I feel honoured you would like me to contribute and it would be my absolute pleasure. May this be an opening for a shared sacred space where good, love and light will flourish and penetrate all whose heart it touches. “

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