Note: By Quran we imply the modern Quran and its translations as patronized by dominant representatives of Islam like Zakir Naik et al. There are alternate interpretations by minority scholars who are considered apostates by these dominant representatives and are victimized. These minority views do not form focus of the article. Similarly by Islam and Muslims we mean dominant version of Islam and their representatives/ rulers.
Idols are considered to be another means of representing and meditating upon the Ultimate Ishwar/God which cannot be easily appreciated by human minds. Thus humans created idol of God to show their respect to Him and offer their gratitude. Vedas however do not prescribe idol worship because they offer alternate and more effective means to worship and thank God – through noble actions, noble thoughts and noble emotions. The Vedic approach also saves us from various potential pitfalls of idol worship like human tendency to attempt to fool God by assuming that his/her job is done after the bowing down or ritual of worship. It also ensures that dumb minds do not start taking an idol to be actually God and not mere a piece of stone. And most importantly, the Vedic view is that the root cause of all grief is ignorance or Avidya. And eradication of Avidya implies that everything should be considered what it exactly is. Thus a formless Ishwar must be worshipped like a formless entity alone, through Yogic methods, to achieve salvation.
Nonetheless, Vedas, while not recommending idol worship, are also not intolerant to those who perform idol worship. The only means that Vedas prescribe to eradicate the habit of idol worship is through spread of Vidya or true knowledge, compassionate relationship among all humans like that between mother and child, and allowing time and space for each soul to discover the truth by itself rather than being forced to believe in something through threat or force. That is why, in Vedic culture, while many saints and scholars have been worshippers of formless Ishwar and many others have been idol worshippers, they have debated with each other in peaceful and cordial manner to come closer to truth without terming each other as Hell-seekers, apostates or scoundrels. This is the way of the civilized as inspired from the Vedas.
There is however one cult – fanatic Islam – that claims to be completely monotheistic and against idol worship and has had a history of banning idol-worship through all possible forceful and deceitful means. Idol worship, as per Islam, is greatest sin. And if someone worships an idol, despite he or she being how-so-much noble, gentle, saintly or good-hearted, there is no way he or she can go to Heaven and will have to burn in Hell forever. The doors of Heaven are closed forever for a person, who despite the best qualities, is an idol worshipper. And he or she has no choice but to burn in Hell forever and drink boiled water till eternity. A rapist, pedophile, murderer, cheat can still have access card to enter Heaven if he shuns idol worship and embraces Quran, Muhammad, Allah without idols, Angels and Judgment Day without any application of brain.
So much has been paranoia against idol worship in Islam, that even pictorial or artistic representation of any animate entity is haram or banned.
In this article, we shall not analyze idol worship in general or the cause of hatred of Islam against idol worshippers. We would simply analyze if indeed Muslims are not idol worshippers? As we shall see, it is impossible for anyone to be a Muslim without being an idol worshipper. And the greatest example of this idol worship is Kaba worship. No Muslim can be a Muslim if he does everything else as per Quran, but refuses to bow down to Kaba in his passion to avoid idol worship of all forms.
Our dear old friend, Zakir Bhai, gives 6 arguments to prove that Kaba worship in reality is not worship. The arguments are as intelligent as his overall intellect exhibited in his other articles and videos. (Though I still admire the confidence with which he puts forth the most stupid argument, and still gets a big applause from his semi-literate audience. I wish I had the same shameless confidence or had access to such a great audience that would clap on my silliest PJ’s!)
For novices to Islam, let me set the context. Kaba is a square building in Mecca which is the most sacred place for a Muslim. Kaba used to be worshipped in a set ritualistic manner since ages before advent of Muhammad. And while Muhammad tried to stop almost prevalent practices of his times, he curiously allowed continuation of the same Kaba worship and kissing of black stone there. The other practice that he continued to be allowed was circumcision. While all the Mecca dwellers were butchered by Muhammad’s army in ‘Holy’ war (Zakir Naik gives evidence of Vedas to prove that Muhammad killed 60,000 people of Mecca!), still he could not stop the Kaba worship in same ritualistic manner, perhaps because the affection of the people towards Kaba in that era was too strong to be mellowed down by sword. So an exception was made for Kaba in Muhammad’s Islam. And hence, if you want virgins of Heaven, better not ask any questions and simply go round the Kaba without applying your mind.
(I have just provided gist of story as propounded by Islamic scholars. I personally do not believe in Muhammad being author of all verses in present Quran in first place)
So here are the brilliant arguments of Zakir Naik. (Note that we will not dwell into whether the black stone is washed after kissing by so many people, or the hygiene aspects of millions of people kissing the same stone and mixing each other’s saliva. Zakir Naik having been an MBBS sometime ago, may evaluate this better.)
Argument 1. Kaba is Qibla (direction) and since we Muslims believe in unity, we face in the direction of Kaba while praying.
a. Muslims believe in unity according to Zakir Naik! More than 100 sects of Islam today are in support of his claim! Sunni, Shia, Qadiyani, Khoja, Wahabi, Bohra…..all support him with unity! Can anyone still dare to ask him that if muslims were/are so united, how could more than 100 sects within Islam come into existence?
b. What is the need of unity during the prayers? Should not one be free to pray as per one’s own choice? If unity is required everywhere then why not eat, drink, and sleep at the same time and in same direction? If I want to pray in any direction, why will not God accept it?
c. Many Muslims pray alone in their houses most of the times. How does Qibla (direction) matter in this case when there is no one to get united?
d. Do Muslims actually have unity in direction while prayers? When a Muslim in east of Mecca faces west, at the same time a Muslim in west of Mecca faces east! Both face opposite to each other! If Zakir Naik says this as unity then two armies facing each other should also be considered as united and thus friends!
e. To which direction a Muslim will bow, who is just opposite of Mecca on spherical earth ? He has both options to bow to his east or west! How does the concept of unity work there?
f. Very few Muslims know that inside Kaba, no direction is needed. People can face and bow down to any direction they want. This exposes the fallacies of Zakir’s claim of unity blatantly. Zakir says that Muslims should bow down to one direction only, so that they can remain united. One can ask him; don’t Muslims inside Kaba need unity? And if they can remain united without bowing down to a common direction inside Kaba, why can’t they do it outside too?
g. This is very strange that after so much of efforts to remain united, today, most of the bombers and their victims are Muslims!
h. Uthmaan, third Caliph of Islam, compiler of modern Quran was killed by none other than Muslims led by Aisha’s brother and Abu Bakr’s son while he was offering prayer. Can there be a greater example of unity during prayers than this? (Remember that Aisha was Muhammad’s beloved child wife with whom Allah had divinely fixed his marriage!)
Argument 2. Kaba is at the centre of the earth.
a. According to Zakir’s science, Kaba is at the centre of the globe but science says that every point on a sphere is geometrically same. In this way every place on earth is centre. If Zakir means equidistant from both poles, he is wrong. Kaba is at 21 degree north on globe which means that if it is at a distance of 30 units from North Pole, it has to be 50 units distant from South Pole!
b. Anyway, whatever may be the case with Kaba’s latitude and longitude, one thing is clear. There are infinite number of places on earth which either have same latitude or same longitude as that of Kaba. So there is no reason why Kaba should be given a special status.
Argument 3. We Muslims circumambulate the Kaba because it represents that there is only one God just like there is only one centre of a circle.
a. Many hindus circumambulate their holy places. But then why is that Shirk in the eyes of Zakir Naik if circumambulation can mean “just believe in one God”?
b. During “Aarti”, a Hindu ritual, in which prayers are offered by devotee, the plate is moved around making circle with a unique centre! So Hindus also believe in one God and they show it by moving the plate so that it makes circle with one centre!
c. Can a Muslim circumambulate his house or a temple for this purpose? If yes, why do Muslims go for Hajj? How does circumambulation of the temple or a house different than that of Kaba?
d. Can Zakir Naik give any reference from Quran or Sahih Hadith, which supports his claim of “one centre-one God” concept behind circumambulation?
e. If I interpret the circumambulation as “a circle has infinite points inside it and thus there are infinite Gods in Islam”! How can Zakir refute my claim?
f. If circumambulation means “one centre-one God”, why don’t Muslims do it in their mosques along with their prayers every time? If one says that prayers already include One God philosophy then circumambulation at Hajj is needless as Muslims offer their prayers there too!
g. According to Zakir Naik, unique centre of a circle represents One God. Is it not Shirk to believe the centre of a circle similitude of God? If Muslims themselves believe in such representations of God, why do they condemn non Muslims for their idols? If such rituals in the name of One Allah can be accepted by Zakir Naik, why can’t he accept the idols as yet another representation of God’s different qualities in different forms?
Argument 4: Bukhari [2-56-675]-Umar told muslims that he kissed the black stone only because Muhammad did so, otherwise this stone can neither benefit me nor can it cause me harm. This is the proof that we Muslims don’t worship the Kaba.
a. Now Zakir Naik has the testimony of Umar that, kissing black stone is not idol worship because there is nothing special about that stone other than Muhammad kissed it. Can we ask, why did Muhammad kiss the stone then? There must be something special with the black stone so that Muhammad kissed it.
Umar sees nothing special with black stone and thus Zakir says kissing it is not idol worship! By the same logic, since Muhammad kissed it, he would certainly be convinced of its divinity and thus kissing it is idol worship and Muhammad did it! Since Muhammad was a bigger authority than Umar, kissing black stone is idol worship! ( I know this one would be too complex for madarsa minds!)
b. If Umar and Muslims kiss black stone just because Muhammad did so, and if it is not idol worship, it is no less than human worship since following someone’s order even without thinking its right or wrong shows the ultimate belief of the followers of a person in him. This is Shirk to believe someone other than God to be ultimate. So it is up to Zakir Naik what he wants to be, an idol worshipper or a human worshipper! In both cases, Islam would send him to Dozakh (Hell).
c. By the same logic, Hindus and Christians can say that they do idol worship because this is written in their books and their ancestors did so. If their ancestors would have not done this, they also would not be doing so! How will Zakir Bhai refute their claim?
Argument 5: At the time of the prophet, Sahabas (companions of Muhammad) used to stand on Kaba and then give the Azaan. Can any idol worshipper do that? This is the proof that we Muslims don’t worship Kaba.
a. Great logic! But all the Hindus on Ganesh Utsav throw their idols in the rivers! Can any Muslim do that with black stone? Since no Muslim can do that, it proves by Zakir’s logic that Hindus don’t worship idols but Muslims do!
b. Can any Muslim today, to debunk the claims of non Muslims of idolatry in Islam, touch the black stone with his feet?
c. If Kaba is just a Kibla (direction), can Zakir Naik hammer it down just like his Arab masters did with the idols of Hindus while they invaded India? (If anyone is hurt by this, please read those verses of Quran which order Muslims to break idols of others and kill the idolaters)
Argument 6. We Muslims don’t bow to Kaba, we only bow to Allah.
a. Zakir Naik says that Muslims actually bow to Allah, but for unity they bow in one direction. But as we know, Allah is on seventh heaven, should not then Muslims face upwards which is the actual direction of Allah instead of facing Kaba, which is a mere stone?
b. Every idol worshipper says that he bows to his God only, but for the sake of physical representation, he bows before idol. Why then Zakir Naik sees Shirk in the idols of others but “Tauheed” in bowing, kissing, circumambulation of a stone called Kaba?
Now we will quickly summarize the similarities and dissimilarities between idol worship and Kaba worship.
1. Muslims bow down to Kaba. Hindus bow before idols.
2. Muslims claim to remember Allah while they bow to Kaba. Hindus claim to remember Eeshvar while bowing before idol.
3. Muslims circumambulate and kiss the Kaba. Hindus do Aarti before idol and fold their hands.
1. Muslims bow Kaba five times a day whereas most of the Hindus hardly bow to idols once a week.
2. Muslims don’t have liberty of choosing their direction of bowing whereas Hindus can face whichever direction they want by choosing appropriate direction of idol.
3. Hindus throw their idols after they perform their rituals especially on some occasions but no Muslims can ever think of doing so with the stone of Kaba.
4. Hindus fold their hands before idol just to give respect to God but Muslims kiss the black stone because Muhammad did so.
The above analysis proves that if Hindus are idolaters for performing certain rituals, Muslims are no less than idolaters. In fact Muslims, in addition to idol worshippers, are human worshippers as well, which we have proven above.
Further, idol worship by Hindus has some rationale behind it, and is not obligatory to save one from Hell. Islam idol worship of Kaba is must to save one from Hell and get 72 virgins in Paradise.
We request our Muslim brothers and sisters to think about it with an unbiased mind and then draw conclusions themselves. We also request all Hindus, Christians and public in general to start worshipping the Ultimate in the most perfect manner – as described in Vedas – through noble thoughts, noble actions and noble meditation as prescribed by the path of Yog.
Remember: “God is existent, intelligent and blissful. He is formless, omniscient, just, merciful, unborn, endless, unchangeable, beginning-less, unequalled, the support of all, the master of all, omnipresent, immanent, un-aging, immortal, fearless, eternal and holy, and the maker of all. He alone is worthy of being worshiped”.
Let us worship God/Ishwar in the way He actually is, and achieve ultimate bliss for one and all. That is the sole purpose of our life and that is also the need of the hour. Let us start worshipping Ishwar in the truest form, unite together, and bring back the era of bliss, prosperity and salvation for everyone. Let us worship Ishwar in same manner as Ram and Krishna worshipped them. Let us arouse the Ram and Krishna within us and be the best devotees of Supreme Lord!
May the truth prevail! Let us work towards making truth prevail! Let us come back to the Vedas!