Voices of Faith offers perspectives from religion columnists. This week’s question: How does your faith reflect the Golden Rule?
Syed E. Hasan, chairman, Shawnee Mission (Kan.) Islamic Education Center: There are many verses in the Quran that deal with aspects of human behavior, including interpersonal dealings, and rights and responsibilities at both individual and societal levels.
However, the principle of promoting good and prohibiting evil that occurs in several passages in the Quran, e.g. verse 71 of chapter 9, carries a profound message that applies not only to individuals but to society at large.
Because the Quran provides rules that apply to every aspect of human life: marriage, divorce, inheritance, diet, worship, care and respect for all creatures and the Earth – besides laying down the criteria to distinguish right from wrong – this command constitutes the bedrock of a sound and wholesome ethical and moral system.
Despite differences in their teachings, most religions promote love, compassion, care and respect. Adding to these the pragmatic principle of promoting good and prohibiting evil would transform our troubled world into a peaceful habitat for all.
In addition, there are many hadith (collection of words and/or actions of Prophet Muhammad) that come close in meaning to the Golden Rule.
Some of these are “Love your brother as you love yourself” and “The most righteous person is the one who consents for other people what he consents for himself, and who dislikes for them what he dislikes for himself.”
Muhammad went on to emphasize this mutual love by making it a part of Islamic creed; for example: “None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”
Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center: The Golden Rule that originated in the Bible and is sometimes referred to as the “ethic of reciprocity” can be found in nearly all of the world’s religions – Buddhism is no different. The Buddha said, “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful” (Udanavarga 5:18).
The logic behind this ethic is obvious. If we don’t like to suffer or experience pain, why would we want another to suffer? It is such a basic teaching and takes no scholarly learning – you just have to look at yourself. If it harms you, then don’t do that to others. Anybody is capable of understanding this fundamental teaching.
In Buddhism we have a teaching about karma. This states that wholesome acts produce wholesome results, and unwholesome acts produce unwholesome results. Therefore harming another is believed to be the same as harming ourselves. H.H. Dalai Lama said, “If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.”
Shantideva, the eighth century Indian saint, is among the most renowned and esteemed figures in the entire history of Buddhism. In his seminal text, “A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life,” Shantideva said, “All those who suffer in the world do so because of a desire for their own happiness. All those happy in the world are so because of their desire for the happiness of others.”
This principle of not harming others (ahimsa in Sanskrit) is one of the cornerstones of the Buddhist teachings.