“This work is inspired by none other than DrZakir Naik, the head of Islamic Research Foundation. I am a fan of his convincing communication style and confidence that he displays while applauding Osama and appealing all Muslims to be a terrorist! I consider him to be a great magician, in the league of Houdini and Copperfield, and sincerely applaud his stage-performance that enthralls the semiliterate audience. His memory skills are simply superb and amply demonstrate the possibilities of memory-power surpassing analysis-power while addressing fanatics. I possess none of that awe-inspiring stage charisma or elephant memory that has motivated innumerable followers to become self-proclaimed Islamic scientists. I thus bow down to his performance as a captivating illusionist, and attempt to merely explore the truth behind his magic tricks as a humble student. ”
Note: Muslim/ Islam/ Quran and other words relating to Islam in this article refer to the version presented by Zakir Naik.
In absence of easy access to relevant information in layman terms and preponderance of myths propagated by various groups to serve their own agenda, most Hindus and Muslims alike are bound to be extremely confused and subject to plethora of misleading notions. The objective of this article is to present an authentic perspective of both Quran and Vedas and evaluate their claims of divinity. I shall not dwell into content of modern Quran (we shall call it simply Quran for ease) because that has been dwelt in great detail by followers and skeptics alike and sufficient material is available online and offline. But let us evaluate some other aspects.
Facts about Quran
Quran is supposed to be the final edition of God’s instructions sent through His beloved final messengerProphet Muhammad.
Muslims do believe that God sent His message from time to time for the people on earth. However Quran is the latest and final edition and hence all other versions stand null and void.
What remains unclear is why suddenly God decided to stop sending further editions of His knowledge? If you consider human history, situations were similar during times when Quran was sent or Biblewas sent. But in last 200 years, world has changed significantly. The world today lives in a way that was never even heard of when Quran came! So what was the need for God to keep bringing new editions of His knowledge when none was required and suddenly refuse to send any further amendments when the whole world has changed. In fact, if a new version is sent today, its security and authenticity is much more ensured than it was ever!
What also remains unclear is if God is perfect, why should His knowledge change from time to time? Or is it that God is also learning about the creation and hence improving? Some Quranics answer this by claiming that though God is perfect and His knowledge is also perfect, but application of His knowledge changes with changing times and hence new editions are required.
But this brings us again to previous point. Is it not then that greatest change has happened in recent years and hence we deserve a new Quran?
Further can anyone specify what new application or message came in Quran which was not applicable before that and suddenly became applicable? Apart from justification of slavery, sex-slavery, iron-hand treatment of non-believers and concept of Paradise and Hell, as explained by Zakir Naik!
Many Muslims claim that Vedas are first message of God and Quran the final. And as explained in previous point, they believe that God added a series of amendments from Vedas to Quran. But what is intriguing is whether God also kept changing structure of universe and even history of the world from time to time?
– Quran believes this life is first and last. Vedas state the concept of rebirth of soul.
Image via Wikipedia
– Quran believes that this creation is first and last. After that there is only permanent Hell and Heaven. Vedas state that creation and dissolution of universe is a continuous cyclical process with no beginning and end.
– Quran states that God sends messengers from time to time. Vedas state that God is all-powerful and does not require any messenger to bring any new concepts.
– Quran believes in Paradise and Hell. Vedas state that accumulation of good deeds lead to salvation and bad deeds lead to rebirth in various species. There is no permanent place like Paradise where one gets virgins and boys, and no place where one keeps burning in Fire.
– Quran believes that if one accepts Quran, Muhammad and his doctrine, God will forgive his or her past sins. Vedas state that no act of souls goes without paying its result. By worship and pleading, one ensures that bad deeds are not repeated in future. Hence good results start accumulating. But there is never a deletion of past records.
– Quran allows 4 wives and innumerable concubines for general Muslims and even more for messenger. Vedas clearly proclaim merits of monogamy. (Why did God decide to suddenly increase the quota is beyond comprehension?)
– Quran allows meat-eating but Vedas call
for mercy on all living beings (Again, why did God become so offended by poor
animals is beyond me)
Muslims also regard Quran as book without any distortions. However there are certain sects of Islam who regard that the popularly available Quran is not the authentic one. Some even claim that some verses in Quran are actually verses of Devil, and not Allah. There are fierce debates within various sects over which are such verses. There is a story that Muhammad in his fit (he is supposed to have something like epileptic fits in which revelations would come to him) revealed some verses. Later he retracted stating that they were passed to him by Satan and not the angel Gabriel
Another confusion that comes over infallibility of Quran is the fact that it was written not by Prophet Muhammad who received the revelations, as per Muslim belief, but by his followers after his death. They are said to have memorized the Ayats or verses of Quran as and when they were brought on in Prophet Muhammad by Allah through his agent Gabriel.
Now since it was Muhammad who was the messenger of God with special talents, and not his followers, there is question mark over authenticity of the first Quran itself that became publicly available. This doubt is further enhanced if we consider the fact that immediately after Prophet’s death there was bitter infighting among his followers leading to murder of several of its leaders and the celebrated split of Shia and Sunni. Every Moharram is a tragic witness to this brutal enmity.
Most of the ayats were revealed when Muhammad was alone with Aisha, supposedly her child-wife whom he had married when she was 6 years old. Now many sects claim that Aisha had actually planned the murder of Muhammad. It is a historical fact that Aisha fought for blood of other followers of Muhammad after his death. So how authentic can be claims of Aisha is a question mark.
Hadiths, which are books explaining Quranic verses and detail other events and sayings of Muhammad, are mostly composed from Aisha’s evidence. All the contemporary Muslim practices find their source in these Hadiths. Many of these Hadiths are source of huge controversy. Still they are considered necessary to understand Quran.
The story that is popular about origin of Quran is that Prophet Muhammad went to a certain mountain cave when verses of Quran were revealed to him through an angel called Gabriel. The festival of Ramadan is celebrated to mark this period of Prophet’s stay in the cave. However, while this was inception of the Quran, most of the ayats (verses) were revealed from time to time throughout the life of Prophet.
The Tafseers are explanations to Quran which get into more detail on how and when a particular ayat was revealed. For example, in Arab there was an evil custom of people considering their adopted sons to be equivalent to their own sons. Muhammad wanted to put a stop to this evil custom. So Ayats were revealed to Prophet by Allah which made him marry his adopted-daughter-in-law after having her divorced from his adopted-son.
Tafseer-e-Jalayan narrates another event when Prophet had visited her wife Hafsa. She was not in home that time. So Muhammad started having sex with his slave-girl Maria on Hafsa’s bad. Hafsa was hurt when she witnessed this. Then an ayat was revealed stating that it is Allah who has legitimized the slave-girl for Prophet and he has no rights to go against wishes of Allah.
raise questions that was God a home-agent of Muhammad so as to reveal the Quran
during such embarrassing private affairs of his?
This is how, from time to time, ayats were revealed which were later compiled by Prophet’s companions after his death.
11. Recently a lot of myth is being propagated that claims that Quran contains miraculous descriptions of scientific phenomena. You would find many a barely-literate Quranic scientists trying to convince the world about science in Quranic verses. Zakir Naik has also written a book on this.
But all that these attempts do is to make big mockery of Quran and purpose of Muhammad. For example, there is a verse which says that sky is vast. Now Zakir Naik changed word ‘vast’ with ‘expanding’ and claims that Quran predicts expanding universe!
The attempts to prove science in Quran is supposed to be as old as Quran itself. And as new discoveries came up, the descriptions changed. In fact earth was flat for centuries till modern discovery proved it to be round. Now suddenly new translations of Quran claim earth is round.
Similarly, till seventies Saudi Arab funded research to prove that sun moves around the earth as indicated in Quran. And now Zakir Naik has changed his stand.
Most experts of Islam would suggest translations of Yusuf Ali and Pickthall to understand Quran. They refer to Tafseer-Ibn-Khatir. None of these prove any science in Quran. However certain verses are smartly inserted and changed to prove new science in Quran. Ask them to provide exact meaning as in these translations, and they would tour mum. Several stories of funding these researches through petrodollars have been exposed since long. A basic google search would reveal many such examples.
And you would find many a intermediate-educated scientists of Zakir Naik School of Islamic Sciences arguing vociferously on these scientific topics in spirit of Nobel Prize winners!
To counter the allegations that the Quran existing today is unlikely to be authentic, or to prove that Quran is final word of Allah, Islamic scientists provide a simple test. They challenge anyone to produce even one verse like that in Quran. Since that is impossible, hence Quran is final authentic word of Allah.
I never heard of anything more hilarious than that!
It is as if I claim that Satyagni is the final authentic messenger of Allah. And if you deny, then I challenge you to produce even one person like me – who has same face, voice and physique!
In their fanatic zeal, they forget that this challenge is valid for almost every creation of human and God. All books, all songs, all dramas, all cricket matches, all football matches, all elections, all bus queues, all terrorist attacks can be subject of such a challenge exactly like Quran.
Once, Pandit Mahendra Pal Arya was issued a similar challenge. He uttered several verses in Arabic and asked the crowd to tell which of them belong to Quran and which do not. They agreed that all belong to Quran. But none were from Quran. He had simply created few verses in Arabic!
Recently, a new Quran has been created in America and no one has been able to counter their claim that they have met the challenge of reproducing another Quran. It is called Al-Furqan which is another name for Quran.
Facts about the Vedas:
The Holy Text of Hinduism (Sanatan Dharma) are the Vedas. Vedas are acknowledged as the oldest texts by researchers world over. The Hindu belief is that Vedas were revealed by formless God during inception of human civilization.
Vedas remain unchanged since then. And its quite a wonder that has amazed scholars across the world, that Vedas are still available in the same pristine form even today. This was made possible through a mathematical system of Patha Vidhi where various permutations of mantra recitations were memorized. Such sophisticated is the accuracy of these various permutations, that not even a syllable of Vedas has altered ever. Gurukuls mastering each of these Patha Vidhi exist till date. Any discrepancy can be easily cross-checked with a different permutation of Patha. Max Muller termed it as greatest miracle of human civilization.
Many skeptics do try to prove that Vedas have been written at various points in time or that Vedas as available are not authentic. But they fail to provide any credible reason to claim so. At best, there logic is that no text can remain unchanged so long, or that different parts of Vedas have different kind of language hence they must belong to different era. They conveniently forget that different parts of Vedas explain different concepts and hence have different language. Even same author uses different language for different contents – articles, stories, poems, reports, mails etc.
Now in sync with the unchangeability of Vedas, Hindu belief is that knowledge of God never changes because knowledge of God is also perfect if God is perfect. A cursory glance over Vedas would reveal what this means. What we find is that Vedas do not contain ritualistic or geography specific instructions or guidelines. Instead they contain more fundamental concepts that remain true – like laws of nature – in all circumstances, time periods and geographies.
Unfortunately, even many Hindus try to relate Vedas with geography in past and the names in Vedas with persons in past. However there is no reason for this. In fact, language originated from Vedas and hence also names of people and places.
To a neutral person, Vedas would appear more like a book of physics or self-help concepts whose contents are universal applicability. That is why Vedas are supposed to contain seeds of all forms of knowledge. However specific details and applications are left to be worked out by human beings, because that would change from time to time and geography to geography.
Vedas have a very simple language. But problems come in interpretation because of following:
– like any book of science, they demand a scientific spirit
– since they discuss most fundamental concepts, they demand a minimum control over mind and its tendencies
– since language originated from Vedas, interpretation of mantras through later day usages of words is a stupid exercise. This ploy has been used by western indologists to denigrate Vedas and now promoted by those who have their own agenda. For example, word Vishwamitra in Vedas refer to a person who considers entire world as his friend, and not to a person born during Ramayan.
– same mantra of Vedas can have different meanings and hence they require sincere introspection
There are 4 Vedas – Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva comprising around 20,000 mantras. Rigveda deals mainly with concepts and knowledge. Yajurveda deals more with duties of humans, Sama focuses on devotion and Atharva provides applications of the previous three aspects. There are many mantras which repeat in various Vedas. This is not a flaw, but essential to convey different meanings in different contexts.
Apart from Vedas, there are Upavedas, Upangas, Darshans, Brahmans and Aranyaks among the ancient Vedic literature. Then we also have Upanishads and Smriti. But all declare that Vedas are the divine revelations and rest are creations of noble sages to explain various aspects of Vedas. Applicability of these may change from time to time, but Vedas remain unchanged.
Thus Vedas leave no scope for any messenger to come ever to bring new discoveries of God’s knowledge. Its a different matter that noble people do take birth from time to time to set right examples and explain the Vedic knowledge better. These include all the sages, role models and even our freedom fighters. But none can equal God or claim special status of a messenger. Each soul has the capability to rise to that level through efforts.
Vedas clearly lay the purpose of this life to get rid of sorrow through removal of ignorance. The ultimate state of no-sorrow is called Moksha. This is not a state of deep sleep as many propagate. On contrary, it is a state of ultimate awareness. This has to be achieved through right knowledge, right actions and right devotion. There are no shortcuts to this and there is no concept of escapism in Vedas.
Scholars claim that all sciences originate from Vedas. However unlike in case of Quran, this is not based on mere word-play to fit in new discoveries. The advancement of ancient India in science and technology is a well-established fact. Swami Dayanand Saraswati in his book “Introduction to Vedas” and translations of Vedas described mechanism of building an airplane. He died in 1883 and the first plane was built in 1904. In seventies, IISc while condemning an ancient text on aeroscience as fake admitted that the plane as explained by Dayanand is a working model. You can refer to my article on Science in Vedas to catch a glimpse.
The claim of Vedas for being revelations come from following:
– They being available from inception of civilization. No one has been able to date them
– They are resistant to any kind of change, even in a syllable
– They contain description of all kinds of knowledge
– They are sufficiently open-ended to live scope for applications as per time and situation and do not contain specific sets of injunctions that are time-bound
– All ancient texts accept the supremacy of Vedas
– Certain puzzles remain unresolved if we assume that knowledge did not exist from inception. These include origin of language, old languages being more complex and new ones being simpler, commonality in several basic practices across remote parts of the world – respect for parents, avoidance of incest, language, rituals, and in fact origin of several tools used around the world etc.
13. Many contemporary practices commonly associated with Hinduism are not derived from Vedas. They are more of social practices that have evolved over time and are not subject-matter of Vedas. Some are in fact against the Vedas because masses are unaware of Vedas today. However, since Vedas call for peaceful coexistence and prohibit brute-force methods to force otherwise good people to behave or believe in a specific way, there is no concept of non-believer or Kafir and their thrashing. And hence its an essential feature of Vedic society that peaceful people are provided full liberty to explore the truth in the way the want. The only situation where brute-force approach is advocated is when certain people act like criminals or fanatics.
If I were to translate this to present day application, in Vedic society, all the different sects and religions would be allowed to live in peace and harmony and explore truth, but the likes of Osama Bin Laden and those who support Osama Bin Laden would be dealt with in a brute force manner.
I provided a very brief overview of modern Quran and Vedas in this post for ready reference. In subsequent posts, we shall dwell deeper into various aspects of Vedas so that no detractor can use Al-Taqiah to confuse us. (google to know what Taqiah means)
May the truth prevail!