Hello, In present world religion has lesser role to play. The four pillars of religion viz, Fundamental Principle, Rules, Laws and Way of worship. There had been a lecture by an Islamic scholar Dr. Zakeer Naik from Bhivandi near Mumbai. He had given a lecture on Universal Brotherhood and concluded that there is no better religion than Islam for universal brotherhood. I thought over this and came to conclusion no religion is superior to any other religion as religion in the world is one as far as fundamental principle is concerned. The other pillars of religion are based on time, place and society and they keep changing. In the present world, rules are given in the constitution of a nation, laws in the law books. The only thing different is ways of worship. Why should any one bother how the other worships as long as it is in a authorised places like home, temples, churches, etc. or any other place accepted by the nation?
Hello Dr. Zakir Naik, President Islamic Research Foundation
I have seen and heard your lecture (during a presentation organised by AQSA) on a dubbed CD (in Urdu) and understood the contents. Firstly I like to congratulate you on your scholarly thinking as an expert on Islam and other religions. I have given deep thought on all aspects of your lecture and the question-Answer session followed after the lecture.
You have thorough knowledge of religions, specially Islam. You have adequate knowledge in respect of many religions and found similarities and equal thinking in many religions. Your ability to give examples is unparallel. Your mastery on languages is unquestionable. Whatever I heard and understood is given briefly as under.
Brotherhood is needed for various groups. However Islam thinks about universal brotherhood. Every one on our earth, irrespective of colour of skin, location inherits a single couple. Man and woman are equal. However, it is overall equality. Man is superior in some respects where as woman is superior in other respects. Whoever works for peace is the friend and the one who spreads disturbance in society is the enemy. Whatever a person earns must donate a portion for others. Do not allow a witch or Satan in between people. There is only one god. The Sun is not the God but the Sun belongs to the God. Outside Christens society Jesus is accepted only in Islam. Any one accepts that there is only one god can only spread universal brotherhood. All religions have accepted this. Every one should study their religious books and understand it. If this is done universal brotherhood shall be among all. In short for universal brotherhood, Islam is the answer.
At the end of your lecture there had been some doubts expressed by a few in audience . I understood as follows. Islam doe not preach to worship Kaba. Kaba is just a symbol depicting their is only one god. All followers of Islam face in the direction of Kaba and express their gratitude towards the God. Kafir is just a Arabian word. This only means those who do not believe in Islam. It is not a bad word in any sense. Momin means those who accept that there is only one god. In India Rishis did used to eat mutton. Even trees have life. So eating vegetables involves killing. Instead of shying away from religion every one should accept that the God is one and work for universal brotherhood. Islam does shows this path. Any person just having a particular name or verbally saying he/she is Muslim does not makes him/her Muslim. Only those who devote their Karma (work) to the God. Therefore, terrorists cannot be Muslims. Every Muslim residing in Bharat (India) is Hindu because whoever stays on banks of the river Sindhu is Hindu. This is purely based on the geographical considerations. However, all those who worship idols cannot be Muslims. You expressed fundamentalism is desirable. To support this you gave examples of doctors and others. you also expressed that terrorist is a relative term. you gave examples of police and freedom fighters to support it. To a question 'Why there had been wars based on religion?' your solution had been every person must study his/her religion and agree on similarities. Differences can be tackled later. You confirmed that personally you follow this theory. You supported your views giving examples. While answering another question you disagreed that Islam was spread with the help of sword. You pointed to Indonesia to support your argument. You also suggested persons from all religions should get together and agree to similarities and should never criticize other's religion. I concede this point and confirm that this is the unparallel thinking. You feel in Bhartiya (Indian) politics this is accepted principle. This is the reason administration in the country is progressing properly. Another question was put up from audience 'What would be the priority while working towards brotherhood, religion, social science or administration? Your view is Islam not only preaches desirable conduct (as is in all other religions) but lays down rules for proper behaviour, specifies deterrents for ensuring it and punishment for unacceptable behaviour. In addition it has inherent provision for tax (Jakat). To support this you gave examples from USA and expressed that if Shariyat laws are applied in USA rapes, murders, thefts etc. would come to end. While answering a query you stated Islam does not support bachelors of marriageable age. While summarising your thoughts at the end of the proceedings you expressed, Islam is the only religion which is for all. Other religions preach that effects of the Karma would be available after death but Islam preaches these shall be available during the life. This is what I understood from your lecture and the proceedings.
Observing sanctity of the ceremony, Adv. Hegade accepted that being a Hindu he has never read Hindu books. Lecturer is a scholar and he has put forward Islamic basics in simple words. As a advocate he agreed that punishments are specified in Islam only. He also told that the first independence war was fought by Muslims. Adv Hingorani continued this line and added name Hindu given to religion of the people in India was by outsiders. He confirmed Shiva is his own. No one created him. He has no parents. Both the advocates expressed their gratitude and congratulated Dr. Zakir Naik for his mastery over Islam.
I have placed in brief what I understood from the lecture and proceedings on the CD. I did get impressed. However, when I tried to analyse this from the science point of view, I found some aspects different from the lecture and proceedings. I have tried to put these in following paragraphs. I do believe you would try to assimilate my views, give a thought and illuminate my mind. I also wish, whatever truth you find from my views you include in your future lectures.
Brotherhood is the axis of your lecture. Do we need brotherhood and why? this needs to be answered. My explanation is given in next paragraph.
Every person in this world wish to live forever. No one wish death for self. This is not only true for human beings but also animal, birds, fish and all those who have life. I remember a story. This may be true or falls is immaterial. Lesson in the story is important. A rishi came to know that in next birth he would take birth as a pig. Naturally he did not like it. So he asked his student to kill that pig. He gave all details of location and description. In due course of time, the student found the pig and lifted a stone to kill. However, the pig requested him for not killing. This shows that as a man Rishi did not like the life of a pig but he was born as a pig he did like to live. To live every one needs apart from food, water, air, clothes etc., Security. Security means protecting oneself from enemies. It follows that stronger a person there are more chances of survival. A person can improve his own strength physically and through weapons. However, there are limitations. The other proved method is to form a group. Strength of group shall be more than a single person. Bigger group is more strong. Even in animal kingdom from ant to elephant follow this rule. To keep a group together needs feelings of brotherhood among the members. Probably this is the reason we need to have feelings of brotherhood among all in the group.
In a family if all brothers nurture brotherhood among themselves, enemy of any of the brothers is enemy of the family. So their chance of protecting themselves against the enemy improves. (Physical strength being primary criteria, probably sons were given more importance over daughter. Hence the word 'brotherhood'. This also proves security is the first priority.) When this concept is expanded further it means brotherhood among neighbours in a city/town/village. Next would be brotherhood among people in a particular locality. This is expanded further to city/town/village, tehsil, district, state, nation and finally the universe. This brotherhood is must in this sequence. This shall give opportunity for survival of human beings on the earth.
For any system to remain effective and survive, there is a necessity for rules and following those rules strictly. If every person in a group experiences similar treatment and their individual needs are fulfilled to desired extent there is a great chance of remaining the group together. Whenever a person feels some kind of partiality, there is a possibility the person leaves the group. Scholars must have thought about religion to fulfil this need of their group. Originally there may not be any need to give a specific name to religion and even now there is no need to give a name to religion. Religion is a set of rules to keep a group together. To some extent it is appropriate to name the religion after the group.
Religion has two aspects, First aspect is Principle, and the second worship. Maharshi Vyas gave a simple definition of principle of the religion. 'Paropkaray Punyaya, Papaya Parpeednam.' This literally means if acts of a person in a group help other members of the group the action is acceptable and if it does not then it is a sin. This is an universal truth with no dependence on people, place or time. All so called religions with some specific name accept this. There is no reason for seeking any change in this principle. However, interpretation of this truth during different situations faced by a person is not simple. Many times help has to be taken from learned persons to interpret truth in day to day situations. Philosophers take in to consideration situation, surroundings, time, interest of the group and offer solution. The solution so offered may not be the universal truth. Consider Newton's rules in physics. His three rules were considered as truth for many years. However, Einstein thought there is a fourth axis i.e. 'Time' which is must while considering behaviour of an object. Taking time in to consideration the behaviour can be treated more accurately. He did experiments and proved it scientifically. Einstein never wanted to degrade Newton. He was simply interested in truth. Both of the great scientists knew they are just a step of a ladder and not the ladder. Whatever knowledge they have would be useful to others to find truth.
Einstein is not considered superior to Newton. Scientist still consider Newton as a great scientist. Both of the scientists are given same importance and honour. This is true for all those who spent their life and died for keeping people together and happy. During their time whatever was needed for a group in a particular geographical area on this earth were considered while preaching and making rules for behaviour of the members of the group. Whatever rules made by any of the scholars had been the best for the time, place and the group. Although, these rules are not universal, these cannot be condemned too. These rules were truth under a particular situation and the complete solution for that situation. If some of these rule appear partial or useless now it is only because of change in place, people and time. This can be proved with any number of examples.
Food is food whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian. Important point is which is available in adequate quantity. Even grass may not grow in sand dunes. How can any one stress upon vegetarian food for people living in such area. Where water is inadequate for drinking how can any one make a rule for bathing thrice a day? On the other hand people on bank of river Sindhu cannot be insisted upon to take bath in pint of water. Would any wise man make a rule of burying deeds in sand dunes for the people living in thick forest? Would there be rule of FOUR wives for ONE male in areas where Male: Female ratio is near about one? Would it be proper to tell people not to worship stones where the people have great belief that god is in the stone? Where males would not mind killings to get a woman, keeping women in BURKHA cannot be termed as bad or any thing else. Just because it is given in old books to pray and worship the Sun before taking food would any one follow this rule while staying at North or South pole year round? If some one declares he/she shall not ask (receive) any interest from a bank what would others think about him? Rules does not mean religion. Rules guide members of a society for their behaviour with each other. Hence, just because there are different books of rules there cannot be different religions. Therefore, there is no necessity to give any name to a religion. In spite this if any one wish to name a religion it should be inline with the rules. As an example rules followed by a father may be named a 'Father Religion' or rules followed by a brother as 'Brother Religion' or rules to be followed in a family as 'Family Religion'. This may be extended to 'Neighbourhood Religion', 'Ward Religion', 'Village Religion', 'Tehsil Religion', 'District Religion', 'State Religion', 'Country Religion', 'World Religion', 'Universe Religion' etc.
Necessity of a society gives birth to a suitable person, a person who can lead them. A leader is born to fulfil needs of a society. Same principle is stated in 'Geeta' i.e. whenever there is need for the society the god takes birth. Christens believe that Jesus comes to the earth every two thousand years. People in various regions understand this as incarnation of the god, or the only son of the god, or representative of the god. He (may be she also) takes in to consideration location, time and people and preaches rules to be followed by them for achieving peace. The person protects the society and works for survival of the mankind. Whenever such a person is not developed people keep fighting and destroy each other. After large scale destruction peace follows and continues till people remember the destruction.
Any good rule is useful only if it is followed. Therefore simply preaching rules is inadequate. Leaders who made rules did know this and they used the best principle in administration. They installed police and judge in the mind of every person. Leaders made the people believe that this is the 'Creator' (Nobel prize offered to whoever discovered creator and installed in minds of people shall be honour of the prize rather than honour of the person.) In different regions during different times different societies named the creator as Ishwar, God, Khuda and many more. Creator cannot have parents, being the owner of the universe there is no need to have accommodation, and many more characteristics are obvious. The creator has no dimensions but possesses infinite energy and capabilities. Wise persons ensured that members of the society believe in the creator as the ultimate protector, guide and helper. Every member was made to believe that protector watches every action and decides on award or punishment. Nothing is hidden from the protector and his judgements are impartial. This way wise men ensured that the rules would be followed strictly. Probably this is why do a thing religiously. (This is the best way of administration or management. I would suggest this principle be explored for management in present time. All related to social science, history, administration, management, computer technology can help in finding a method of management with least or no cost)
There is no need to have a name for the God. However, people in different regions at different times gave specific name(s) and there should not be any objection from any one. In India, it is believed that there are three hundred and thirty million Gods. There may be two reasons for this. Bharat (India) is a big country like a continent. Olden days there had been difficulty in communication leave aside fast communication. Therefore, there might be small groups formed in small regions. Each of these groups had there own rules of conduct and every group considered there religion as different from others (May be the castes system is result of these religions). Every group named the God as per there thinking and language. With improvements in communication each of the groups accepted other groups and the names given to the God. This makes it possible why we have three hundred and thirty thousand gods. Second reason appeals to me more. Wise persons divide all (with or without life) in to FOUR categories based on the 'Karma'. These are:-
· Those who work for others even at their own cost. Person of this group is named as 'God'.
· Those who help others but at not their own cost. Such a person is named as 'Human'
· A person who always try to harm others but not at his/her cost. Such a person is named as 'Danav' (appropriate English word may be 'Demon')
· Lastly who always harm others even at own cost are 'Rakshas' (in English may be Giant')
As per these definitions whoever works for my benefits even ignoring self interest is the 'God' for me. My parents provide me many facilities ignoring their comforts. Why should I not accept them as Gods? The Sun burns n provides me light and energy. Shouldn't I consider the Sun as the God? Cow gives medicine value urine, milk equivalent to full meal, and manure. Why cow is less than the God? Lord Shankara always shows north direction. Any one who has lost direction would consider Shankara as the God. Trees face wind, rain, the heat of the Sun, produce oxygen for our survival and protects us. I will consider a tree as the God. There are many in this world who always provide comforts to others even at their cost. There had been and may be with us today many human beings following this principle. If I consider them as the God would it be insult of any human or the God? There is only one ultimate protector but there are many Gods. Every one should be obliged to them and may express gratitude in the form chosen by each individual. I do agree the best way to express gratitude is to put their advise in practice in our life.
Persons like Ram, Krishna, Mahaveer, Jesus, Paigambar, Mahatma Gandhi were developed in this world at certain period of time due to the circumstances prevailing at that time. They all had been selfless and interested in continuance of mankind. Many times they did just right for mankind irrespective whether it benefit themselves or not. They did face obstacles in their ways, wrath of selfish persons, and many more impediments. However, they remained determined in their mission. In today's world people have forgotten meaning of their efforts. Consider Mahatma Gandhi as an example. Gandhiji said 'Go to Villages' He had in mind a majority (Eighty percent during those times) of people are in villages. Their life should be made honourable and comfortable. However, what we did? During election time had rounds of villages, gave assurances for development, won elections and never turned back to villages. Whatever development took place in villages, the credit goes to a few social workers. Gandhiji introduced Charkha (a fabric making hand driven tool) with sole aim of making villages self sufficient. He had in mind to ensure people's needs are fulfilled in their own place. Industry should be developed in their own area. This way people can earn and meet their needs. However we established 'Khadi Gramodyog' in cities and towns. We did spent considerable amount of money with no productivity. People started flooding cities and had to some how survive on footpaths and slums. Gandhiji fought against taxes on common salt. Today comparison of prices show gold price has increased to Eighty times and common salt Two hundred times. We followed the great people without understanding their thoughts. We have destroyed basic principles of religion, finance, productivity and all.
In order to establish faith of a common person in the God, learned persons developed ways using sentiments of a human beings such as 'Love', 'Belief' and 'Fear' Establishing the God in a persons mind is the way to keep him/her away from 'wrongs' Love makes a person so strong that 'death' does not appear to be a threat to the person. A person can fight against any odds (even if the opponent is much stronger) provided his/her belief is strong. Fear makes a person to keep away from certain aspects. Wise people made right use of these sentiments. This is the best example of management.
Initial stage of worship may be just remember the God. This might have been followed by expressing gratitude towards the God for whatever good done or happened. This may be a way to avoid bad thoughts and happenings because of bad thoughts. This way wise people ensured that people always think positively in support of themselves and their society. Environment plays a big role in development of mind. Peace, pleasant odour, light, pictures etc. help in this regard. This may be the reason for use of flowers, candles, lamps, odour sticks, music, pictures and replicas of the God came in to use during worship.
However these traditions got degraded during passage of time. People started giving more importance to rituals than the thoughts. This may have given birth to agents who misguided people. People were made to believe that offerings in terms of money and ornaments pleases the God and gives all that a person dreams off. People were made to believe that any thing can be achieved or obtained just by offerings to the God. People accepted this due to fear of the God. This might be the reason for degradation of worship.
Wise people from time to time understood this and convinced some of the people that worship in this way is wrong. During earlier period every person in a society had strong belief in the wise persons. However, in later time period there had been some who didn't believe in the wise as wise persons told many things for good of the society but against the interest of those persons. This divided the society in two groups viz. 'Believers' and 'Non-Believers' Wise people did do their the best but were happy with the lot who believed in them. This had an important effect on the religion. Religion got a name. A name based on the teachings of a particular wise man in a particular territory at a particular period of time. his lead to different rules of conduct as these were framed for a society in a region at a period of time. Succeeding generations forgot the basic principle and thought that the rules are universal. They also believed that the wise man was the only son of the God or specially sent by the God to guide people. The result had been enmity among groups, wars, and further deterioration of worship. Instead of offering good deeds to the God people started offering money, gold, diamonds, land and similar precious things. This in plain words may termed as 'bribing the God' How can a person offer some thing to the God except his deeds? How can a place be considered as sacred against a pure mind? How can the God differentiate persons based on certain religion with some name? People believe in the basic principle that the whole universe belongs to the God. This had been degradation of the religion.
With this explanation I would like to put forward my thinking. Hope you would not just read this but assimilate and tell me what is correct and where I have gone wrong.
Darwin's theory says in course of time life was developed possibly in water first. Based on the requirements to sustain life there had been development in the physical shape, parts etc. and today we find livings beings of different shapes sizes, capabilities, strengths etc. In India it is believed that the earth was saved by the God at different period of time in the form of Fish, Turtle, anthropomorphic, Parshuram, Raam, Krishna and expected in future Kalanki. This does show similarity to Charles Robert Darwin's theory. Amoeba may be the first living being on this earth, motherless and fatherless life. As per your definition amoeba happens to be the God. In India since ancient times 'Energy' is considered the supreme and hence the God. Indian name is 'Shakti' This would be acceptable to modern science too. As per laws of thermodynamics, energy neither can be created nor destroyed. Energy has neither a shape nor visible properties. Rules of the energy are fixed and no one can change them. Effects of energy can be felt in different ways. Therefore, there is only one and one supreme power. However, as explained above the Gods can be any number.
While answering a question you supported 'fundamentalism' I do agree with you and all must follow the basic principle of the religion. The principle which lead to establishing religion i.e. as stated earlier 'helping others is religion and troubling others is sin' This had been the shortest definition of religion. Rules framed by the wise, worship, traditions etc. are not the basic principles. Simply because these do change. These are not the fundamentals. If every person understands the fundamental principle and becomes a fundamentalist, there would be no reason for differences and quarrels.
You are proud of Islam and I do appreciate it. One thousand and four hundred years before Islam did save mankind from destructions in the middle east. One cannot be proud of a religion without thorough knowledge. One cannot appreciate other religions without knowing at least one religion. However this did happen in other places in the world and possibly in the universe. However, the solutions found by Islam cannot be treated as universal. Is there any thing written about bombs, tsunami, heavy rainfall, rise in earth temperature etc. in any of the books written during olden times? There is a need to change so called rules with time, place and the society. This cannot be treated against any religion.
Islam has laws. While preparing these laws both aspects i.e. 'avoid offence' and 'punishment' This principle is visible in laws of every nation on the earth. Income tax (Jakat) is charged every where, rapes do attract punishment. In my opinion today we can administer punishment of sex change instead of death penalty to rapist. This could be more severe punishment than death in the world of male superiority. This was not possible One thousand and four hundred years ago. Islam has solutions for every problem may be an over statement. Which books gives solutions for today's problems like, destruction of female foetus, farmers' suicides, unemployment, profitable sale of cotton, environmental pollution, water, roads, electricity, bomb explosions, Bangladesh citizens in India, etc.? How can it be accepted that the knowledge in old books is perfect and full? With time, problems faced are different and solutions have to be found in today's contest. As an example let us consider destruction of female foetus. My thinking says the solution should be to accept equality of a female with a male in every respect. If a female is authorised to perform all rituals which as on today only a male can perform, if a female is given responsibilities like taking care of parents in old age, if a female continue family name why people would want a male child? For family name I suggest the name system should be changed. The first name should be name of the child, middle name that of mother and the last name that of father. If all religious heads and the Government accepts this why should any one kill female child before birth?
Problem of extremist was raised from some one from audience. I recollect the examples of 'Pandavas' and 'Kauravas' from Mahabharata. All Hindus (i.e. all those residing in India) know about it as its part of ancient history. When Gandharvas invaded Kauravas' kingdom Yudhishtara ordered his brothers to help Kauravas and fight with Gandharvas. One of his brothers Bhima had a doubt whether helping Kauravas would be proper? However Yudhishtara knew the implications. He knew that if Kauravas loos the war the next target of Gandharvas would be Pandavas. Hence, Kauravas loosing war would put Pandavas also under threat. This the reason why he added his strength of five brothers to hundred brothers of Kauravas. This is the principle of addition against all external enemies. Another story of four bullocks is also similar. As long as they used to rest together with their eyes in four different directions and tales together no enemy could harm them. Hence whatever may be religious convictions, all citizens must fight with external enemy. On the other hand a few citizens help enemies thinking the enemy belongs to their religion.
Brahmacharya (meaning keeping away from sexual pleasure other than the spouse) has a great importance in India since time immemorial. It is well known fact that sexual pleasure is root cause for most of the offences in a society. To get over this problem brahmacharya has been professed in India. This had been a case with all societies in the world till recently. There in no harm in eating meat or beef. After all every living being is food for some other living being. However, if there is exception for pig why not for cow? Answer for this need to be found. All so called vegetarians must be obliged to non-vegetarians though. If all in the world become vegetarian then there would be complex problem. One side there would be food shortage and on the other animal population.
I wish to invite your attention to religion. Religion stands on four pillars. Firstly fundamental principle, secondly rules, thirdly laws and fourthly worship. It is believed in Bharat (India) that the time cycle on this earth is in four phases and it repeats forever. The first phase is termed as 'Satya Yug' meaning truth prevailed in minds of all on this earth during that period of time. Second is 'Treta Yug' meaning some people drift away from truth. Third is 'Dwapar Yug' meaning approximately half of the people drift away from truth. The last is 'Kali Yug' meaning only a small number of people believe in truth. The four pillars of religion collapse one by one and finally in kali yug religion is supported only on one pillar. This can be interpreted in many ways. I am giving two of the many interpretations. First it can be treated as deterioration of religion or increase in population of people who have no belief in truth. Second meaning may be dependence on religion reduces with passage of time. I personally find the second interpretation more meaningful. Let me elaborate. During the period of satya yug a small population could always approach the wise and find true meaning of truth in various activities. With time population increased and it was not possible always and for all to consult the wise to understand truth in many situations. Not that all situations were entirely different but never faced earlier. The wise made rules and were published through mouth publicity. So common person need not to think to find truth based on the fundamental principle. In Treta yug rules got more importance and there had been no necessity for any one to check truth. Following rules ensured the fundamental principle. Population increase had been a continuous phenomenon. Some of the people found ways and means to fulfil their desires in without giving any importance to the larger segment. So in dwapar yug wise considered about specific punishment for specific selfishness. The result had been people followed the fundamental principle basically because they were afraid of punishment. Kings were authorised to take care of peoples' behaviour using the second and third pillar of the religion. Result had been people forgot first two pillars of the religion. As the time passed and people settled in a specific part of the earth concept of nation and kingdom found place in the minds of people. They felt more safe in a particular area under a particular king. Every nation had its own rule/regulations n laws. The only role religion had to play had been worship. The present period in the cycle is kaliyug and the religion is left on a single pillar that is worship. In present time religion is limited to worship alone and this boundary should not be crossed. Religion is for brotherhood and brotherhood is not for religion. We need to understand this concept.
Universal brotherhood is your prime concern. This is definitely a concern for all in the universe. Protection against external enemy needs forgetting differences and working together. However, jumping straight to universal brotherhood may not be the solution. Brotherhood needs to be established step by step. The first step is a family then it should lead to neighbours, blocks in a village/town/city, next would be village/town/city, tehsil, district, state, nation, world and finally universe. External enemies should be recognised in a particular contest. To establish such a brotherhood there is no necessity to ask help from any religious head. every one in this world should understand and implement for their own survival.
Religion be limited to worship in individual's residence, temple and mosque and church and monastery and all places accepted by the administration. Other aspects i.e. fundamentals and laws need be dealt by fundamental principle of 'help others' and state constitution respectively. Religion should not be trapped in the discussions on universal brotherhood.
Now I would be obliged if you give a thought to my thinking and correct me wherever necessary. I am prepared to listen to your views. Namskar.
26 January 2006