Prior to the advent of Judaism, all human races were idolatrous, animist or pantheist. Ancient Indian, Chinese, Inca, Maya, Aztec, Greek, Egyptian or Raman was devoid of monotheism. It was the Jews who introduced monotheism. Then followed Islam which also emanated from the Old Testament. According to Islamic theology, Abraham was the first Muslim and a pronounced iconoclast, despite being the son of a sculptor.
Islam in Arabic means a ?state of submission?. When the submission is Allah, the one and only God, the submitted person is a Muslim and his tenet is called Islam. Muhammad was Allah'smessenger who came to Earth in AD 570 and around the age of 40 years began to receive divine revelations, which were taken down by his followers on palm leaves, camel bones and particle of leather to compile into 114 surah (chapters) of some 6666 verses into the Quran. In Medina, Muhammad laid the foundation of the Islamic umma and dar-ul-Islam.
In the book under review, with primary knowledge of Islam, Vinoba Bhave tried to show the similitude between the Quran and the Upanishad through his book Essence of the Quran. He was interested in the virtues of all religions and wanted to achieve ?union of hearts? and this was what the author of the book under review describes as an ?idiotic way?. Analysing 400 verses, Vinoba used the term ?God? for Allah. The author feels that such a view by Vinoba was influenced largely by Mahatma Gandhi, who was well aware of the doctrine of jehad. In the aftermath of Moplah jehad in 1921, Gandhiji had said, ?The brave God-fearing Moplahs are fighting for what they consider as religion and in a manner which they consider as religious.? This earns the author'scriticism as he says that this was ?a patent untruth? and ?cheating of his countrymen for the privilege of Muslims which was part and parcel of Gandhi'smission? and it was regrettable that ?Vinoba followed suit?.
Talking of Rafiq Zakaria'sviews as expressed in his book Muahammad and the Quran, the author Chattopadhyaya says that deliberately Zakaria selected only 1111 verses out of the 6666 as he felt it was not possible ?even for the Muslims, much less non-Muslims, to understand the Quran without an acquaintance with the circumstances in which each revelation descended on Muhammad.? The author says that Dr Zakaria concealed the real face of Islam and ?humbugged a large cross-section of the Indian populace and projected a rosy picture of Islam.?
The author'saim is to show that both the above proponents aimed to confuse the Indians about Islam. It is understandable Dr Zakaria justifying his objective being a Muslim but why did Vinoba Bhave do so – what was his design and why did he pursue a way for total destruction of the Indians? The author thinks that it was probably because Vinoba was ?imitating his mentor?.
(Amrita Saran Prakashan, Vidyasagar Road, Kolkata-700 126.)