In response to an article in Organiser dated March 1, 2015, by the same author titled ‘Please, will you answer too?’, Eastern Crescent (EC), a monthly magazine, published answers in the September and October 2015 issues. The dialogue continues here.
Question 2: Do Muslims consider other religions at par with Islam?
Just as it was done in question 1, here too the main theme is skirted. As far as the textual similarities between the Quran and the Vedas are concerned, not only the Vedas, but almost all the theist beliefs will have the Supreme God, His Super Human attributes and qualities, dictum to follow His orders or Prophetic injunctions as common basis. A big difference between the teaching of the Vedas and Islam is deliberately overlooked by the author. The Vedas preach polytheism. There are Vedic Gods who are sons of Mother Goddess Aditi. Indra, the Supremes God, was born to a mother Goddess and has a wife Indrani. There are mother Goddesses like Saraswati, Ila, Bharati. Islam does not permit existence of female Gods. The Vedic verse “Ekam sadviprah bahudha vadanti” – The savants and saints call the Only One God by different names—is not acceptable in Islam.
If one refers to the Rigveda text, it carries no description of ‘nark’, the hell. My research points to the fact that the idea of ‘nark’ was borrowed by Hindus from the Middle East. Garuda Purana, which elaborates on the various punishments in the hell runs parallel with the Biblical and Quranic versions.
Quran refers to ninety-nine attributes of Allah. The ‘Vishnu Sahasranama’ and other similar ‘Sahasranama’ texts in the name of other Gods also list very similar attributes of these Gods. Then why one should not follow these texts too? Because it is shirk. So before suggesting Hindu brethren to follow the Vedic religion, writer should have considered these aspects related to polytheism. Or his version of Islam accepts only the Vedic polytheism. Does he not accept the subsequent changes evolved in the Hindu religious thought? As far as the atheist approach in Buddhism and Jainism, the writer has shirked even to mention these. Both these religions preach ahimsa along with the norms of good social behaviour.
By stating that Mohammad Saheb is the last Prophet, and Islam the last religion, the answer is obvious. The group of followers of Islam responding to my questions do not regard other religions as paths to attain God-Allah-Ishawar, Nirvana-Arhathood.
Now-a-days, there are Vedic schools which impart Vedic training, teach Vaidiki – ritualistic performances – to the students belonging to the so-called Shudras and Vanvasi sections. We Hindus now no more believe and even follow Manusmriti. For us the Bharatiya Constitution given by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar is the new Smriti – the law text. In my own way, I do not accept the idea of eternal hell. The Modern cosmology negates it. Many Hindus have stopped believing it. Modern Hindu Gurus too do not even mention it. We have in some sense gone back to the Vedic perspective of the life hereafter. Will that be acceptable to the writer of article in Eastern Crescent magazine?
I was happy to read about Guru Nanak Dev. That Great Prophet saint appears to be acceptable to writer. We Hindus regard all the ten Gurus as incarnations of the Great Sage King and self-realised soul King Janak from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Sikhism is then the latest religion preaching equality, humanity and accepts Holy Quran as a holy text. In one of my interactions with young Sunni Muslim B.Com and aspiring to be CA, he too preached me that we should follow the latest religion, which was ordained by Lord Almighty. I said ok. We both accept Sikhism as our religion, to which he denied vociferously. Are we all to accept Sikhism as the last religion? Winding up, he gave excuse to go to bed to wake up for the morning prayer of Ramzan. I asked him whether he can pray for the welfare of kafirs like me? He said it is a wonderful suggestion but he will have to check up with his elders. Possibly he knew the answer and I too know, he cannot.
Will Muslims consider Sikh Gurus as the Prophets? Or we as human beings in the modern times have choice to choose our religion, mode of spirituality or even to be atheist? Swami Vivekananda in his Chicago address rightly stated that all religions are equal paths to Godhood. His preaching came for his Guru, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who had undergone sadhana—penance from different religions. He had visions of both Christ and Prophet Mohammad. Is the Mullahdom ready to accept equality of religions or will continue to deliver hate speeches against kafirs?
Hereafter for the Kafirs
I often ask Muslims, what happens to a kafir, who is really pious as stated in the words of saint Narsi Mehta in a Bhajan “Vaishnav Jana”. What happens to a person who is good to people, who speaks only truth, he honours others, is non-corrupt, does not covet for other’s wealth and considers women other than his wife at par with mother or sister, but is an idol worshipper, believes in polytheism? Will he too go to hell just because he is not worshipper of Allah? There is a dichotomy here. Allah had in earlier times sent Prophets to all the human societies. That means although these people were not the followers of the Semitic religions, God had blessed them with knowers of the righteous way, HQ 15.10, 16.36, 35.24. Anybody following the righteous path, performing good deeds could go to heaven. All the Surahs mentioned above were revealed at Makkah. However when Prophet visited tomb of his mother and prayed for her soul to go to heaven, stern came the admonition from Allah: “It is not fitting, for the Prophet and those who believe, that they should pray for forgiveness for pagans, even though they be of kin, after it is clear to them that they are companions of the fire” (HQ 9.113).
This Surah was revealed during Madinah period. By then Allah appears to have hardened his stand against nonbelievers even of the past. A comment on the Ayat 9.113 written in HQ translation published from Saudi Arabia is confusing. It states: “This is usually understood to refer to the prayer for the dead, (1) if they died unrepentant after Islam was preached to them, (2) if they actively resisted or opposed the Faith to the last.” Both these conditions do not apply in the case of Prophet’s mother Hazarrat Aminah, because she died an early death when Prophet Mohammad was very young. There was no chance of her having rejected or opposed the Faith. I have heard during discourses in Mosque on the occasion of Id-e-Milad, that Haz. Aminah was very pious and that she experienced divine omens during her pregnancy; in fact in spite of being a widow she exuded fragrance from her body which was sign of divinity. Why such a pious lady, who conceived the last Prophet should go to hell? Is Allah so discriminating even for a person like Hazrat Aminah? One reason given is that it was the period of jahallia, the period of ignorance, but then for whom? Were prophets not sent for people of Arabstan that they followed the correct faith? What happened to the saints and seers born in Bharat who indulged in worshipping idols in pre-Islamic period? The message of Allah had not been pronounced by then. Will Mullahdom agree that Bharat too received prophets like Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Mahavira and many others?
Great philosopher saint Adi Shankara although follower of the Adwait philosophy, composed hymns, in praise of Gods he described in human forms and actively promoted worship of idols. Where must he have ended up after leaving his mortal body? Above comments on Allah’s revelations in HQ 9.113 are baffling.
A Group of Church of England bishops has written to British Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to increase the number of Syrian refugees the country would like to take in by 2020 to at least 50,000. “We believe such is country’s great tradition of sanctuary and generosity of spirit that we could resettle at least 10,000 people a year for the next two years, rising to a minimum of 50,000 in total over the five year period you foresaw in your announcement” passionately urged the bishops (The Indian Express, October 19, 2015). This is in spite of the fact that British Government is facing imminent threat of Islamic radicalisation from within. Khaled Ahmad has anticipated the possible threat looming large not only over UK but all over Europe as a result of mass migration of the Arabs from the countries. The body of bishops is not naïve to overlook the possible threat to their national fabric in future. But humanitarian urges have prompted the body of bishops to make that appeal.
Will atheists of today, however good they may be in their personal life have to end up in the hell fire? Will Allah not reward them for their even minor good deeds as he will to the believers? I often think what will happen hereafter to the kafir volunteers in Europe who serve the Muslim refugees on the way by giving food water and extending facilities without expecting anything or the Doctors beyond borders putting their life at risk and at stake while serving the millions of Muslim refugees?
Will these people good at heart be rewarded by Allah even if they are not Muslims or are atheists? Do the Ulamas and Muftis think that Allah will be kind enough to accept these kafirs in heaven for their service to migrating Muslims persecuted by their own brethren? Or as Khaled Ahmad writes, are their minds too closed in the realms of compassion and religion?
Which Islam to accept?
Is Islam a single religion? Even with acceptance of Allah as the only God, no God but God, Mohammad Saheb as the last Prophet, following five tenets of Islam such as namaz, jakat, haj, proclaiming shahada – article of faith etc, there are several versions of Islam. This aspect got highlighted most in Pakistan. When it came to defining identity of a newly formed country, Pakistani masses, intellectuals, Mullahdom and the judicial commissions could not arrive at the conclusive definition of Islam. This dilemma is well highlighted by Naveeda Khan in her book “Muslim Becoming” (2012, Published by Duke Uni. Press.) She has quoted from the Justice Munir Commission report: “If we adopt the definition given by any one of the Ulama, we remain Muslims according to the view of that alim but kafirs according to the definition of everyone else” (Page 104). However Muslim masses, law makers intellectuals in Pakistan were unanimous in denouncing Ahamadias as kafirs.
My article in Organiser dated January 18, 2015, “Owaisi, are you a Muslim?” refers to the dilemma of the Muslim masses. As I have written in that article, branding kafir and defending burqua–veil—have become the only basis for the religious followers of Islam and breeding Kafirophobia the only aim to be achieved. I personally consider Shia and Sunni as two different religions. Is it acceptable?
The vivisection of the society in Pakistan has gone to such an extent that masses have developed extreme aversion for the Mullahdom. As Naveeda Khan experienced, a Mullah is defined by masses as “bad mijaji dini banda”- a foul tempered religious person (Page 147). Many newspapers there publish caricatures on Mullahs showing their hypocrisy (pages 165-166). To quote Naveeda Khan again on Mullahdom, “Along these lines, it (Mullah or Maulavi) also means a bigot, a censor, or even a person who exacerbates differences among Muslims (in Pakistan and in Hindus in Bharat) through his insistence on the right way to attend to religious obligations” (page 150). When I heard Mau, Ruhool Amin, I was reminded of this quote. During my tour to Kerala in 2012, I happened to stay in a hotel owned by a Muslim. I opened dialogue with him. He told me that he was a mechanical engineer and served in Mumbai. When I told him to verify some aspects of Islam with a Mullah, he burst with all fury against the Mullahdom there. There is no chance of Pakistan overcoming Kafirophobia deeply rooted in mass psyche, but will Mullahdom in Bharat too prefer continue to tread the same path? So before suggesting Hindu brethren to imbibe Islam voluntarily, let the author, Maulana Kahalid Saifulla Rahmani Saheb decide on the version of Islam acceptable to the Muslim society as a whole, because accepting any one version of Islam will only lead to more conflicts and beheadings in Bharat too.
It is not that Hindus have no obscurantists. They too utter nonsense statements. But immediately after that there are condemnations, vociferous discussions against them in media, common people start tweeting in media against them. Many a times they are forced to take back their words, offer apologies in public. None from Muslim Mullahdom has come forward to condemn junior Owaisi; none in my neighbourhood showed guts to denounce Mau Ruhool Amin for equating female folk of mothers, sisters, daughters and wives as gosht—pounds of flesh. That is why I repeatedly say, Muslims have to undertake introspection.
Dr Pramod Pathak (The writer is a Vedic Scholar based in Goa and a freelancer. These are the personal views of the writer. He is responsible for his views.)
(To be concluded)