Dr Karen Armstrong gave the keynote address at the inaugural Ismaili Centre International Lecture in Dubai, organised jointly by the centre and UAE Ministry of Tolerance. Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: Internationally-renowned British author and commentator Dr. Karen Armstrong on Saturday said that compassion towards fellow human beings is the key to a more peaceful world.

Speaking in a keynote address during the inaugural Ismaili Centre International Lecture in Dubai, Dr. Armstrong stressed on why the world needs more compassion today.

“We need to advocate and promote the universal doctrine that we should treat others as we would want to be treated,” she said, in a lecture that was jointly organised by the Ismaili Centre Dubai and the Ministry of Tolerance in the UAE.

She emphasised that compassion is not only an inward quest, but more importantly an outward struggle for individuals and collective societies. “Compassion means to feel with and to endure with somebody else. It requires you to look into your heart, discover what gives you pain and refuse in any circumstances to inflict that pain on others,” she said, describing what it takes to be compassionate.

 We need to advocate and promote the universal doctrine that we should treat others as we would want to be treated.”

 - Dr Karen Armstrong | Author, commentator 

She highlighted that moral priorities of all religious traditions is fostering the ideals of mutual understanding for a peaceful world.

The event was attended by various community leaders and high-ranking dignitaries, including Shaikh Mohammad Bin Nahyan Bin Mabarak Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Dhabi One Investment Services, who introduced the speaker.

“Karen Armstrong has, in the last decade, focused our attention on the universally respected value of compassion and the ubiquity of the ‘Golden Rule’ in the world’s many religions. I commend the Ismaili Community for bringing her to Dubai and the UAE, for the Inaugural Ismaili Centre International Lecture in this country,” said Shaikh Mohammad Bin Nahyan, speaking on the occasion.

UAE embodies compassion, tolerance

Amiruddin Thanawalla, president of the Ismaili Centre, hailed the country as the embodiment of compassion and tolerance.

“The UAE represents a wonderful embodiment of the spirit of these ethics. With more than 200 nationalities living peacefully and successfully here, this country is an undisputed example of tolerance and inclusion and a beacon to the world of what the future might be,” said Thanawalla.

Dr. Armstrong is a thinker and author of several books on the role of religion in modern society, and winner of the TED Prize in 2008.

She has authored more than 20 books on major religions, having studied the commonalities between Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity.