Islam Is A Faith Like Any Other Religion
17 Jul 2007, 0017 hrs IST,Tahir Mahmood
Believing in the existence of One Supreme and Omnipresent God,
one tends to respect the spirituality of all religious faiths as the
common heritage of mankind. If there is a God, it has to be One:
there cannot be one God for Muslims and another for followers of
other religions. If He is merciful and compassionate as the Qur'an
says, He cannot reserve Heaven for one chosen community and commit
all others to Hell.
In accordance with the Qur'anic exhortation that God sent His
messengers to all parts of the globe only some of whom the Holy Book
names, include among them Moses and Christ, Buddha and Mahavir, Ram
and Krishna, and give them equal respect. The Holy Vedas and the
Bhagavad Gita are, like the Torah and the Bible, covered by the
Qur'anic concept of suhif-il-oula or earlier scriptures.
Believing in the symbolic and metaphorical nature of teachings
of the Qur'an and all other holy books, i do not always take them
literally and hardly adhere to any rites and rituals. I have a firm
faith in the divinity of the Holy Qur'an, but find no sense in
reading it ritually without understanding its meaning and message.
Prophet Muhammad was a great social reformer whose revolutionary
teachings were much ahead of his time. His authentic saying 'verily i
am a human being so obey me in religious matters but not necessarily
in worldly affairs' is the guiding principle of my life.
Whatever Prophet Muhammad did in his personal life is not
Sunnat to be blindly followed by all for all times to come.
There is nothing wrong in adopting innocuous local customs.
Everything Arab is not necessarily Islamic, too. No religion can
claim to have a monopoly on truth. If religion has to be retained in
society it has to be as a cementing force, not a dividing element. If
religions create rift between people we would be happy without any.
Followers of various religions claim the existence of
rudiments, or even complete formulations, of human rights in their
scriptures and other holy books. Cons-picuous violations of human
rights should not take place in the name of religion. Religions are
not ends in themselves but means to achieve justice, fairplay and
humane solutions to all our societal and individual problems. Rigid
rules of religion should be ignored where this ensures a more humane
The following is a translation of my Urdu poem: "What comes out
of the core of my heart do i state/ Humanity is suffering, and a cure
may i suggest i may not be keeping fast on a hot summer day/ To the
hungry but a piece of bread i must give away/ Obligatory religious
tax i might be failing to pay/ But a crying child i should make smile
on my way/ ...A helping hand to cross the road i offer to the blind/
Rather than offering to a shrine a devotional cover/ Offering a
garment to the poorly clad do i prefer/ Flowers for worship i don't
pick every morning/ But those thorns on the road i keep on removing/
Ram's name i do not keep on ritually uttering/ But a promise made to
anyone i must be fulfilling/ These values of humanism as my religion
i cherish/ Everyone else's religion too these values be, i wish".
The writer is member, Law Commission of India.
Mirza Faisal Beg
I believe Tahir Mahmood has his own convictions and writing or
calling him wont change anything.
As far as I can see the only error that he did was in speaking with
conviction about including some people as the Messengers. I dont
think he is mentioning that Quran says so but he is mentioning that
in the Quranic spirit include them as Messengers.
I will put it the other way rather. Can we say Ram, Krishna and
Buddha were not Messengers? We cannot say so. If we cannot say so
then does it mean they are Messengers? Again we cant be sure about
that. So what does it mean? It just gives one option and that is to
respect them. I remember when I was a kid I heard Ali Miyan in a
speach (the renowned scholar from Nadwa) mention that we dont know
whether Shree Ram (sic) or Shree Krishna (sic) were Messengers but
they could have been and hence we should respectfully take their
What is the possibility? It is actually huge. Quran says 'to every
nation Messengers were sent', 'speaking the language of the
people', 'some have been mentioned and some not'. The Prophet's
Hadees is that there were around 1,20,000 Messengers sent over the
course of history. But the Quran mentions only 25! And all those 25
are from the area of middle east. What about those other 1,19,975!!
We dont know.
Now considering the above how many could probably have been in the
Indian subcontinent? As a rough estimate the Indian subcontinent had
always had around one fifth of the mankind living in this area (it is
today and it was so even 2000 years back and logically speaking even
earlier). So should there be 25,000 Messengers in the subcontinent?
Too much? Okay what about 1000? :) Now who are they? How will we
know? Definitely they cant be speaking Arabic because Quran itself
says 'speaking in the language of the people to whom they were sent'.
Which means they should be speaking Sanskrit, Pali, Bahmi, Tamil,
Telugu and so on.
Could these be Ram and Krishna? They could definitely be. Actually
for Krishna there is even bigger possibility. The Prophet said there
are three characteristics of Messengers, 'they marry, they are
shepherds and they like perfume'. Krishna did marry, was a shepherd
and I dont know if he liked perfume. On top of that there is a book
Gita that is linked to him. Still can we be convinced he was a
Messenger? We cant be. But there is a HUGE possibility. So let us
respect them all whether we believe they were Messengers or not.
Because if we dont, and in case they were, we violate this Quranic
verse 'we believe in all the Messengers and we do not differentiate
That would become one of the cornerstones of our good relations with
Hindus and a position which is SOLIDLY rooted in the Quran and
Hadees. So what if Hindus worship them? Even the Christians worship
Jesus Christ, does it mean we will not respect him?
And definitely there would have been Messengers to the aborigines of
Australia, to the jungles of Africa, to the eskimos of Alaska, to the
Mayan people and to the Incatha people and definitely thousands in
China who would have spoken Chinese, and to Japan and to Korea who
would have spoken Japanese or Korean. And there would have definitely
had been Messengers to the Red Indians in America and to the ancient