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Compassion: The Essence of All Existence
May 1, 2008

Stories of the prophets are found both in the Qur’an and the Bible, and the prophets appear as historic figures in several other versions in literature. Although these stories do not always match each other’s content a hundred percent, believers read them over and over, not only to enjoy reading in itself, but also seeking lessons to learn and teach. Interestingly, a quick browse of these stories starting from Prophet Adam reveals in a sense that it is almost the same scenario put on stage in human history. Replicas sometimes come along very frequently and intensely-there are times when there is more than one prophet for a single community, whereas at other times there are centuries-long intervals between two messengers.

Considered from various angles, the contemporary era is not one to be proud of; doomed peoples of the past would no doubt be embarrassed if they were to witness many of the atrocities we no longer feel moved watching on the news on a daily basis. As the Lead Article asserts, “Communities and diverse groups within communities live with apparently endless anger, hatred, and detestation, pursuing plans of murder and complete destruction that would never previously have been held possible.” In the face of such vices, the noble prophets always acted with compassion and strived to soften the hearts of those who challenged their message. In fact, compassion is the “essence of all existence,” and despite the gloomy skies of our time, rays of a bright sun are visible on the horizon: “Hopefully, we are not distant from the coming days in which we shall be roused to a feeling of compassion in our hearts, by the grace of God.”

Thomas Petriano observes the same horizon, and he seeks a closer tie between two great religions of the world while speculating on the compassionate example of their prophets: “It is not hard to imagine Jesus and Muhammad as friends, linked by their love of God and their vision of a world characterized by justice, compassion, and equality” (may peace be with them).

Hurisa Guvercin illustrates another portrayal of compassion in her piece where she discusses an Islamic perspective on people with disabilities. It is very refreshing to find such examples from human history giving us a good reason to be proud of our past.

Roberto Colella expounds on an age-long debate on science vs. faith, and he asks, “Is it possible for a scientist to believe?” His is an interesting contribution that increases our hopes for a world where faith and science can coexist, not as contradicting phenomena, but as two inevitable components of the same truth.