In response to an article in Organiser dated March 1, 2015, by the same author titled ‘Please, will you answer too?’, Eastern Crescent , a monthly magazine, has published answers in the September and October 2015 issues. Here the writer likes to continue with the dialogue further.
My endeavour of opening dialogue with the followers of Islam has actualised. I contributed an article in weekly Organiser issue of March 1, 2015 titled ‘Please, will you answer too?’. I was very happy to know that many Urdu publications have taken note of it and have published the replies to these questions. I cannot read Urdu. One of the monthly magazines, which I subscribe, Eastern Crescent (EC) too has published answers in two parts in English taking five questions each in the September and Octpber 2015 issues. Over the last few years, I have been talking to individual Muslims about their religious beliefs and their perceptions about people of other faiths, especially the Hindus. In response to the six questions posed to RSS by certain Ulamas, I too felt like seeking answers to many questions which I have time to time asked to the Muslim individuals. Of these, ten were mentioned in the article in Organiser. The list is not exhaustive. However it opens up dialogues with the Muslim clerics, writers and religious heads.
Let me clarify my position here at the outset. I am an ordinary volunteer, a Svayamsevak and not an office bearer of RSS. As it always appears at the end of my articles, I am a Vedic scholar and a freelancer. I am not bound by any particular organisation or a political party. I write on any topic I wish to express myself. I have been contributing to many newspapers and magazines, such as The Economic Times, occasionally for The Times of India, The Indian Express, The Organiser and the host of Marathi magazines. My views do not represent the official views of the RSS. The people interested in seeking answers from RSS will have to go ahead with the suggestions of Shri Indersh Kumar ji. Since many magazines have taken note of the questions I raised I will go ahead by commenting on these. These will be my personal views. These can be summed up as A Hindu’s Views on Islam and Muslims. I am not sure as to how many Hindu readers will agree with the views expressed by me. So I do not claim to represent Hindu majority or even a small fraction of the fellow religionists. So should be with the rejoinders published in the EC. There are numerous divisions and sub-divisions on theological and sectarian lines in the Muslim community. The EC represents typically Deobandi school of thought and not the totality of the Islamic thought. This I came to know from my direct interaction with Ulamas and Mufties at Bareilly and at Deoband. Although at Deoband College, the staff members interacting with me were modest enough not to call others Kafirs, the Bareilly muftis called the Deobandis as Kafirs. So I am very clear that when I reply based on the articles in the EC, I will be dealing with only a fraction of opinion from the Muslim community. But either way this is an opportunity to continue with the dialogue. Let me also make it clear that I have no intention to offend anybody’s feelings or to force anybody to follow what I say. I represent myself, an individual, Dr Pramod Pathak, a Hindu who has certain views on Islam and Muslims. These views have been formed from my direct interactions with Muslims, of different sects and from other countries like USA, UK, Australia and Malaysia and study of the Islamic scriptures and Muslim authors. Looking at the vengeful atmosphere prevailing in other countries due to malicious influence of ISIS and as franchises of terrorism opened by its overt or covert followers in many countries, I will not be revealing the identities of the Muslim individuals and put them in difficult position. Only when I feel no unsavoury implications are expected, I will quote their names. I am only responsible for what I write in the following pages.
My knowledge of Islam comes from reading of translations of the Holy Koran; I have ten translations including two in Marathi. I have partly read Hadith text translations published by Muslim authors and I am more familiar with Sahih Bukhari Sharif. An individual Muslim can and has right to deny the Hadith sources I will quote. But these are there in print and followed by numerous religious experts. I will also quote from the books by many Muslim individuals who have shared their personal experiences through their writings. I am not trained in legal profession. I will not be touching Sharia or Muslim personal law at this juncture.
I also wish to express the view that the Muslim religious leaders, masses and intellectuals are in a denial mind set. They avoid answering the questions directly. Just some weeks ago I interacted with a well-educated Muslim at a seminar on Religious harmony organised at the International Centre in Panaji, Goa. As our conversation continued I asked him as to which sect he belonged to? He at once denied that there exists any sect in Islam, stating that at the time of Holy prophet there existed no sects. This is what I call as denial mind set. Can you overlook the reality that within three decades of Holy Prophet i.e. from the fourth Caliph Hazarat Ali onwards, the vertical split in Islam has taken toll of millions Muslims. Also that in the last four years about half a million Muslims belonging to different sects, mainly Shia, Sunni and Kurds have been killed; and about seven million have left their homes because of sectarian divide. Here an educated Muslim denies the divisions in the Islamic society. He could have said I am a Sunni/Shia but I do not believe in these divisions. I could have accepted. Because I cannot deny being born in Brahmin cast but I sincerely do not believe in the cast divisions prevalent among the Hindus, specially the practise of untouchability in Hinduism. It is a blot on Hinduism. I am of the firm opinion on the lines of erstwhile Sarsanghachalak Swargeeya Balasaheb Deoras who had expressed during his lecture at Pune in 1978 in no uncertain terms, “untouchability has to go lock stock and barrel”. His words are itched on my heart. Well the Hindus have done introspection for the last two centuries right from Raja Rammohan Roy in 1820s till today. It has produced luminaries like Mahatma Fule, Mahatma Gandhi, Swa. Veer VD Savarkar, and host of their followers in their own areas, who fought against untouchability. Dr BR Ambedkar although burnt manusmriti, became the writer of new law book, the constitution of Bharat. In Islam this is not happening. Those who express forward looking thoughts are denounced, threatened and become outcast. I am of the firm opinion that the Islamic society and the Muslim communities of different sectarian belongings have to undertake sincere introspection. Then only there will be peace in the Islamic society, in the West Asia and the global peace. My motivation to write below is to open up the questions to ponder over and seek changes. With slight change in the well-known column title by author and avowed atheist columnist late Khushwant Singh, I write “with malice towards none, one and all”.
Dr Pramod Pathak (These are the personal views of the writer. He is responsible for his views.) (To be concluded)
(The Writer is a Vedic Scholar based in Goa and a freelancer)