A conversation about Compassion and Mercy, values common to Islam and Buddhism, had been organized by the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) and the Tibetan Buddhist Culture Centre (TBCC), Malaysia.
Prof Osman stated that mercy is the essence of Islam. The Arabic word for it from the Quran is ‘rahmah’ and it may be defined as compassion, love, mercy, kindness and so forth. It is comparable to what ‘karuna’ or compassion means to Buddhists and what ‘agape’ or love signifies for Christians.
Mercy, he said, is the most divine attribute of God, who is described as ‘most gracious’ and ‘most compassionate’. ‘Mercy to the world’ is one of the epithets of the Prophet Muhammad, who was especially compassionate to orphans, the poor, the weak and oppressed.
Prof Osman also remarked that the divine law of Islam (Shari'ah) was given as guidance and mercy by God the lawgiver, not out of a sense of compulsion or punitive enforcement, but out of his compassion, mercy, and kindness. The Professor concluded that since all human beings have a seed of compassion and mercy, these qualities are among their essential attributes.
Prof Osman suggested that it was important to distinguish between different interpretations of the teachings and misinterpretations. He conceded that religious instruction can be interpreted in different ways.
Prof Osman remarked that Shari'ah offers guidance. Prayer has the effect of weakening self-centredness, as does fasting and ‘zakat’ or charity.