Karen Armstrong is the author of numerous books on religious affairs – including A History of God, The Battle for God, Holy War, Islam : A Short History, The Great Transformation, The Bible : the Biography, The Case for God, and Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence will be published in the fall. She has also written two memoirs, Through the Narrow Gate and The Spiral Staircase. Her work has been translated into over fifty languages. She has addressed members of the U.S. Congress on three occasions, lectured to policy makers at the U.S. State and Defence Departments ; participated in the World Economic Forum ; addressed the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington and New York, is an ambassador for the UN Alliance of Civilizations, and speaks regularly in Muslim countries, most notably in Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey and Indonesia.
In 2007, Dr. Armstrong was awarded a medal by the Egyptian government for her services to Islam, under the auspices of the prestigious Al-Azhar madrassah, the first foreigner to have been awarded this decoration. She was presented with the Four Freedoms Medal for Freedom of Worship by the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and the Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize at Tubingen University, in 2009. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the British Academy Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for improving transcultural understanding, and received the Gandhi/King/ Ikeda Prize for Community Builders in the Martin Luther King Memorial Chapel in Atlanta in 2014.
She is a Trustee of the British Museum and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Literature. In February, 2008, she was awarded the TED Prize for her vision of a Charter for Compassion (www.charterforcompassion.org), which was crafted by leading thinkers in six of the world’s religions as a cooperative effort to restore not only compassionate thinking but, more importantly, compassionate action to the centre of moral and political life. The Charter for Compassion is now being implemented practically, realistically and creatively in countries, cities, schools and religious communities throughout the world.
The Significance of Hijrah
The lecture will examine the creative and innovative dynamic that is so evident in early Muslim history and explore its relevance to our current predicament. What did it mean for the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to utter the word of God in a world torn apart by violence, cruelty and injustice ? I will also explore the notion of religious reformation and revival. What did reform mean in the premodern world ? What were its objectives and its limitations ? And what should reform mean today ?
(Original English Voice)