Islam is indeed one of the most influential ideologies of our times. The world would have been strikingly different had Islam not been there. All the contemporary discussions we have on various topics, have contribution of Islam hidden somewhere someplace, whether we recognize or not.
Humans have a tendency to exaggerate. I myself also am not perhaps alienated from this trait. Balance, though desirable, is a challenging virtue to follow for the untrained mind. We thus tend to judge people and concepts in extremes – either we call it all black, or all white, either we take it as final word or completely baseless. The controversies surrounding Islam also emanate from this very human characteristic. On one side we have people who claim that Islam and Islam alone is the only available and final word of Allah. To believe in anything beyond Islam is passport to Hell for them. On other side we have people who believe that Islam is cause of all terrorism. And in grip of emotions and peer pressure, it often becomes impossible to attempt to stay unbiased and not drift to one extreme.
At Agniveer, we started a critical analysis of Islam and its tenets which led to sharp division of viewpoints on Islam as discussed above. I am not sure if the articles caused this or articles were merely an alibi for surfacing of this trait which was already present. But this happened, and in process a lot more information was shared and discussed than what was provided in articles.
Let me very clear – the goal of these articles was not to insult or humiliate or criticize any person or group with ill intentions. These were also not spurred from hatred against anyone. The articles were merely an attempt to break foundations of extremist theories being propounded by that school of thought which likes of Zakir Naik and radical Islamists lead. The school of thought which claims that only Muslims believing in Quran, Muhammad etc will go to Heaven, and all other people, regardless of howsomuch virtue they exhibit will go to burn in Hell forever. What could be a more despising and hatred-filled ideology! That all the noble men of our humanity – who sacrificed everything to plant the trees whose fruits we eat so comfortably – will all go to Hell! All those freedom fighters, scientists, social workers, doctors, philantrophists, philosophers and even common men who helped us or our forefathers without any greed, are all cursed by us to burn in Hell forever simply because they did not believe in Zakir Naik’s brand of Islam! Those who gave life for nation and protecting dignity and life of common men and women, the commandos who died fighting terrorists in Mumbai – they all will go to Hell! Dr APJ, Dr Pervez, Abdul Hamid, Ahsfaqullah Khan will go to Hell. And likes of Osama, Kasab etc will go to Heaven because they, to their best knowledge, did everything with belief in Quran, Rasul etc!
It is this version of Islam as described above which we questioned in our articles. We questioned the very foundation of this fanaticism – that “is indeed Quran completely flawless and divine for even a scientist”? And is it that Quran alone is final and only available message of Allah? Do we accept Quran as another well-intentioned human creation intended for Arabs of that era and having some really good tips for today as well, or we simply claim that those who refuse to believe in Quran blindly are Kafirs?
Our tussle is only with these blinded fanatics who breed and nurture terrorism and not against Muslims and Islam in general. We cherish friendship of our loving Muslim friends the way Bismil cherished friendship of Ashfaqullah and devoted an entire chapter on this great man in his autobiography. We love those Muslims who can easily accept even harmless Kafirs entering into their definition of Heaven and would be ready to go even into Hell to be with poor Kafir friends whose only fault was that they could not trust Quran as final and ONLY available word of Allah.
We may have ideological differences with these Kafir-loving Muslims, but that is true even with non-Muslims. Intellectuals are supposed to have differing view points and that is how society progresses. We may still debate and argue over ideological points, but only as members of same family – humanity and not as warring factions. But at the same time, we also acknowledge the good points in those ideologies with which we have some differences. Agniveer movement started with exploration of these similarities in Why I am a Muslim. We then embraced Muhammad as a genius in another article.
We still maintain that. Muhammad was indeed a genius and was promoter of Vedic ideology of oneness of God and equality. We reject all Hadiths and many translations of verses of Quran as later day interpolations by selfish politically motivated people. Many other verses of Quran are interpreted wrongly by false scholars and presented as right interpretation to nurture fanatic tendencies. We also refuse to believe that Muhammad actually had any revelations of the kind that is claimed. Human mind is a complex thing and such experiences may happen due to various reasons. And then followers exaggerate these events for their own interests. In fact Muhammad abrogated many of his own verses at times to showcase that as all human thoughts, even his thoughts are subject to further improvements/ changes with time. Its a different matter that this was misused by many of his followers to claim abrogation and insert their own agenda in name of Quran.
We shall not go into details of all this. There is no need to provide references for these claims as well because all these are part of of core Islamic ideology – abrogation of verses, Hadiths written after Muhammad’s times, Quran compiled 20 years after his demise, his followers fighting each other and killing the compiler of first Quran etc.
Here we present top four inspirations that we derive from what we believe would have been original message of Muhammad. This may have got distorted though due to later adulterations, but we provide here the most core concept which might have been the original thought of Muhammad during inception of Islam. This is what Islam can surely teach us and we pray that these noble qualities are inculcated in all societies of the world:
1. The most touching lesson to learn from true Islam is the concept of equality. In a mosque, there is no preferred Muslim and non-preferred Muslim. All are equal. They all have same status. Be it a rich Muslim, or a destitute, they all pray and sit in first-cum-first serve order. There are no seat reservations in front for powerful Muslims. This is unlike many Hindu temples where depending upon the ‘dakshina’ you provide, and your status, you can have darshan of idol more quickly and easily. In some temples, privileged bhakts can have darshan from a closer place and for longer duration. I am not sure, when and how this evil practice emerged, but for sure it is a recent phenomenon and should be discarded immediately. And Muslims should be our role-models in this regard for reviving the original Vedic teaching of equality.
2. After Namaz on festive occasions, Muslims embrace each other in mosque. There is no concept of small, big, rich, poor when this embrace of ‘Id Mubarak’ happens. There are no barriers – of clothes, stature, age etc during this display of brotherhood with a warm hug. I pray that all communities of world adopt this brotherhood. This is the core of Vedic ideology. Expression of greeting may change in form and language – but this human-human bonding is the essence of Vedic dharma that was propagated by Muhammad. We desperately need this to be inculcated among Hindus of today and break the artificial walls of caste, status etc.
We recently received some comments on our articles where birth-based discrimination and prohibition of study of Vedas for Shudras on basis of birth was justified. Its a matter of shame that such perverted ideologies still exist to weaken us from inside. We severely condemn such mindsets and consider it both anti-Vedic and criminal. Such enemies of humanity do not even merit a discussion.
Our stand is clear – proactive efforts should be made to bring unity not only among Hindus but among all human beings and caste, gender should be outrightly rejected as determinants of social/ political/ cultural rights. Further, discrimination on basis of power, status, wealth is equally inhuman. We admire Islam for setting a right example in this matter that all humans need to emulate with utmost genuineness.
3. Another great teaching of Islam is its emphasis on charity or Zakat. When I review the ancient literature of Hinduism, I find greatest emphasis on Daana or charity. This was how the gurukul system was preserved and facilitated good work in society. But somewhere down the line, we became too commercial. In today’s era, Hindus are among the worst in terms of Daana. The only Daana that Hindus in general are obsessed with is for temples, yajnas, lavish events etc. But for more core work, hardly any charity comes. This has completely destroyed the gurukul system and for society-building activities there is hardly any funds to carry them effectively.
IRF today has tremendous funds for its activities, even though it is neither a political body nor a mosque. It gets free flow of Zakat to conduct its lavish events. I admit that neo-Wahabi factor has its role in getting a lot of funds for IRF. But nonetheless even the Zakat from non-Wahabi inspired sources is significant. On other hands, most of the programs to raise awareness on our own culture stop or fail because of lack of funds. The only way to access funds from typical Hindus is through conduct of events where influential people are garlanded or political people are eulogized or huge festivals are organized.
For Hindus, this is a great lesson to imbibe from Islam – let there be liberal Daana for those activities that nurture the foundations on which we stand. Geeta extols us to give liberal Daan taking into consideration Place, Situations/Time and the Recipient. Hats off to Muhammad for re-emphasizing the Vedic concept of charity.
4. Finally, we are inspired by the Islamic zeal to prevent vulgarity and nudity in public. A great comforting factor in many conservative Muslim locations is that a sane person can walk freely without bothering about eyes coming across yet another vulgar poster on road or a cheap remix song playing on widescreen. No, I am against the kind of hijaab that Zakir suggests which can cause Vitamin D deficiency. But the glam modeling of Bollywood/ Hollywood is yet another level of decadence that perverted human mind can reach.
The Bollywood today has many Khans, Hashmis, Kumars, Bachchans and Kapoors etc – birth based Hindu and Muslims – but we agree with our sensible Muslim brothers that these people are neither Muslim nor Hindu. They are simply germs of the society which better be quarantined. I personally agree with Shariat laws against them and they echo the message form Vedas – Those who promote vulgarity in society and project women as commodity for pleasure should be hung upside down and thrashed to set the right examples in society.
(No, I am not justifying Shariat in general, but in specific case of those who promote vulgarity, Muslims act as per Vedas in their hatred against his/her misdeeds.)
At least on this final point, I expect right-minded Hindus and Muslims working together to counter the menace of vulgar media and work to prevent depleting character of society.
There is lot more that Islam can teach us. And there is lot more we want to learn from Islam.
We only hope that we are able to counter the menace of fanatics like Zakir Naik, neo-Wahabis and their ideology effectively to nurture this learning process effectively.
May the truth prevail!