Thinkers and religious teachers have, for many years, strived hard to bring home the truth that all religions propagate the same faith-the goodness of human beings-similarities, rather than difference-are sought in detailing the tenets of Hinduism and Islam.
Hindu preachers and Islamic imams have time and again stressed the importance of peaceful coexistence.
The oneness of God is stressed in Islam-Allah is The Almighty, The Most Compassionate and The Most Benevolent for Muslims, whereas Hindus worship different forms.
There are cycles in evolution when Diwali and Eid Al Fitr or Eid Al Adha coincide. Three years from now, Eid Al Fitr will be held around the same time as Holi.
This year, Eid Al Milad, the Birthday of Prophet Mohammed will be observed during Diwali festivities, underscoring the concept of oneness.
Idol worship has been in vogue among Hindus for thousands of years but one ancient belief is often forgotten: That God is One, the Supreme Being and that all forms of worship, the various names given to male and female Gods are but the manifestation of One Great Power. A small Temple in the South Indian hamlet of ‘Chidambaram’ brings out this point. The sanctum sanctorum here, called, ‘Chidambara Rahasyam’ is the focal point of this argument. Here God (by whatever name He may be referred) is worshipped in ‘formless form’ and devotees who enter the sacred place find no deities or idols.
Similarities are drawn between the ‘Chidambara Rahasyam’ and the Khaba, the Holy Congregation for Muslims in Mecca for every Islamic observance.
Hinduism is often stated as a way of life rather than a religion with God worshipped as a Supreme Formless and Universal Self and as individual gods and goddesses.
Islam believes in one and only God who has 99 names but is most popularly referred by the name Allah. Islam is based on the sayings of the Almighty Allah conveyed through many Prophets, mainly Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him).
Hinduism is based upon the teachings of God in the form of His incarnations and manifestations, the Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita. According to legends, sages such as Valmiki, poets such as Kamban and even Gods (Lord Ganesha), specially wrote some of the epics like Ramayana to pass on teachings from generation to generation.
Tolerance and Harmony
Islam preaches tolerance, peace and harmony and so does Hinduism. While the latter does not speak of other faiths, Islam preaches that there is only one God, Allah and ordains all Muslims to observe the sacred five duties including faith in the oneness of God and the teaching of Prophet Mohammed, prayer (five times a day), fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan, almsgiving or Zakat and pilgrimage to Mecca (Haj) at least once in a lifetime.
According to one school of thought, Islam believes in rescuing people from eternal damnation through their conversion to Islam, whereas Hinduism believes in letting individuals choose their path according to their inner convictions and scale of evolution. Some preachers say Hinduism is more a group of religions that share some common beliefs and traditions and is not in favour or against a particular belief or religion.
Hinduism is stated to be the world’s oldest religion (dating back to several thousand years) while Islam is the youngest (1440 years to date). In Islam, free enquiry scientific pursuit is possible, so long as they do not question the foundations of the religion or the way of life of the believers. Some scholars argue that Islam does not proscribe any such limits to progress and cite a number of Muslim scientists, medical practitioners and philosophers who have contributed to inventions, advancement in various fields and research.
Islam in India
The ‘Indo-Muslim’ fusion left lasting monuments in architecture, music, literature and religion. The sultanate suffered from the sacking of Delhi in 1398 by Timur (Tamerlane) but revived briefly under the Lodhis before it was conquered by the Mughals.
It is well known that although India and Pakistan have been fostering mutual hostility at the political level and fought many wars since both became free in 1947, there is a feeling of compassion and friendship at grassroots.
The place of medieval cannons is now taken over by laser-guided nuclear missiles and people who are proud owners of these high-tech toys are well aware of their destructive nature. Ignorance rules their minds and hatred fill their hearts. Basic issues confronting both countries such as poverty and education remain unanswered.
But there is a lurking hope among the ordinary people of India and Pakistan-be they Muslims, Hindus, Christians are of any other faith that one day the two countries would forget their differences and live together as brothers and sisters.
May this Diwali and Mid ensuing the Holy Month of Ramadan light such hope.
- Lord Krishna preaches the Bhagavat Gita to Arjuna
- The Kaaba in Makkah
(Pictures in folder)