Video: Prophet Muhammad’s Compassion, according to Karen Armstrong

· Islam
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Karen Armstrong FRSL (born 14 November 1944) is a British author and commentator known for her books on comparative religion. A former Roman Catholic religious sister, she went from a conservative to a more liberal and mystical Christian faith. She first rose to prominence in 1993 with her book A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Her work focuses on commonalities of the major religions, such as the importance of compassion and the Golden Rule.

Armstrong received the $100,000 TED Prize in February 2008. She used that occasion to call for the creation of a Charter for Compassion, which was unveiled the following year.

Armstrong was born at Wildmoor, Worcestershire,[1] into a family of Irish ancestry who, after her birth, moved to Bromsgrove and later to Birmingham. In 1962, while still in her teens, she became a member of the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus, a teaching congregation, in which she remained for seven years. Armstrong claims she suffered physical and psychological abuse in the convent, according to The Guardian newspaper:-

But the sisters ran a cruel regime. Armstrong was required to mortify her flesh with whips and wear a spiked chain around her arm. When she spoke out of turn, she claims she was forced to sew at a treadle machine with no needle for a fortnight. [1]

Once she had advanced from postulant and novice to professed nun, she enrolled in St Anne’s CollegeOxford, to study English. Armstrong left her order in 1969 while still a student at Oxford. After graduating with a Congratulatory First, she embarked on a DPhil on the poet Tennyson. According to Armstrong, she wrote her dissertation on a topic that had been approved by the university committee. Nevertheless it was failed by her external examiner on the grounds that the topic had been unsuitable.[2] Armstrong did not formally protest this verdict, nor did she embark upon a new topic but instead abandoned hope of an academic career. She reports that this period in her life was marked by ill-health stemming from her lifelong but, at that time, still undiagnosed temporal lobe epilepsy.[3][4]

 

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