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Pakistan’s Youth Needs To Be Taught Compassion And Humanity

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Reflecting upon the not-so-unintentional religious sectarianism in the country ever since an uber-religious culture gained popularity, one feels that that the basic value of humanity is not being taught to our younger lot. Quite simply, our youth need to be taught to respect human dignity in circumstances where environmental influences tend to deny it. They need to be taught the moral imperative for humane treatment of others.

Demonstrating humanity draws its strength from empathy and compassion. Not so surprisingly, the Creator has given this capacity to even non-human forms of life.

Psychiatrists led by Jules Masserman reported in 1964 in the American Journal of Psychiatry that Rhesus macaques refused to pull a chain that delivered food to them if doing so gave a shock to a companion. One monkey stopped pulling the chain for 12 days after witnessing another monkey receive a shock. The primates were literally starving themselves to avoid shocking another animal. And so, one therefore wonders how humans can show cruelty towards their fellow beings.

One wonders how someone can put fire to a house merely because it belongs to a Christian. Or how a mob attacks a Hazara Shia Muslim, or an Ahmadi, just because the individual happens to be from a dissenting school of thought. The Almighty has bestowed the gift of empathy and compassion to us humans in abundance. Humankind is not short of examples. We just need to follow the examples.

All religions advocate the display and practice of humanity, yet we see many claiming to be followers acting very differently. Take the example of the Buddha. He urged his followers to “Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life, you will have been all of these.”

Yet, Buddhist monks in Myanmar take pride in destroying Muslim property. If we run our sight across our border, we can see that the Hindu nationalists following the RSS ideology have forgotten that Hinduism teaches a human to treat all beings as living souls and part of god. They are mistreating Muslims in India and in Indian occupied Kashmir without any shame or remorse.

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In our country, too, we have seen a diseased mindset which conveniently forgets how a hadith states:

The Messenger (PBUH) of Allah said: “Allah will say, `Son of Adam, I fell ill but you did not visit Me.’ He will say, ‘O Lord, and how could I have visited you! You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say, ‘Did you not know that My servant so-and-so had fallen ill and you did not visit him? Did you not know that if you had visited him you would have found Me with him?’
`Son of Adam, I asked you for food but you did not feed Me’. He will say, ‘O Lord, how could I have fed You! You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say, ‘Did you not know that My servant so-and-so had asked you for food and you did not feed him? Did you not know that if you had fed him you would surely have found Me with him?’
‘Son of Adam, I asked you to give Me drink but you did not give Me’. He will say, `O Lord, how could I have given You a drink! You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say, `My servant so-and-so had asked you to give him a drink and you did not give him. Had you fed him you would surely have found Me with him.’”
(Sahih Muslim)

When Muslims are commanded to show compassion in Scripture, we don’t find the word Muslim mentioned. Yet there are people who advocate compassion for only those who follow their faith or doctrine.

In the backdrop of what is happening in the form of violence against the vulnerable communities in our society, it will not be wrong to conclude that vested interests have bombarded our youth in their formative years with propaganda. They have successfully used the emotive power of religion to transform the basic virtuous human nature into displaying actions that run contrary to humanity.

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In its milder form it manifests itself in the display of discriminatory and insulting treatment of people who follow a doctrine at variance with the majority, while in its most severe form it is displayed in the acts of terrorism which are affecting all of us.

There is therefore an urgent need that our youth is systematically taught to be humane, kind and compassionate with all the creation of God. It is imperative that our teachers make a conscious effort to try and encourage interfaith harmony and tolerance in our youth.

Proper education, based on syllabi that are unbiased, free from twisted interpretations of facts and are not politically or doctrinally motivated, is the only solution to the catastrophic situation of hatred and intolerance that is now deep rooted in our country.

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