Friday, February 17, 2006

The farce of an inter-faith dialogue

Organiser - Content :: From Arun Kumar in Bangalore: "The event was organised by the Islamic Research Foundation, which was widely publicised through hoardings and newspapers in Bangalore. The place was heavily crowded and majority of the crowd (95 per cent) was Muslim.

While delivering his speech, Dr Zakir Naik exhorted the crowds with Islamic (Arabic) greetings. He gave briefs about the names of both the religions and their respective scriptures—Holy Quran for Islam and the Shruti (Vedas) and Smriti (Puranas, epics, dharma-shastras, Gita) for Hinduism. He gave trivia about all these scriptures. His talk was academic in toto and he “religiously” quoted from “the Books” giving chapter number, verse number, etc, for every quote, reminding one of the lawyers quoting the rule book in courts.

He defined a criterion from the Quran for the “candidate for God”. And he declared that idol worship is banned in Hindu scriptures also and Hindus better stop that.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also asked people to take good things from all religions and traditions. Just like you don’t become Danish by eating Danish cookies, you would not lose your religion, if you understand or honour other’s traditions. Tolerance is old-style, what we need is “respect” for each other’s traditions.

Sri Sri told the crowd that there is no point in condemnation and let us honour each other’s traditions. Image worship is going on in this country for thousands of years—how can you condemn it? Love and mutual understanding are the need of the hour.

From the questions that were coming, it appeared clear they were all “planted” questions which the designated persons started asking one after the other. One such planted question was “Is Prophet Mohammed prophesised in Hinduism?” directed at Zakir, to which he said an emphatic “yes” and quoted some obscure verses from Bhavishya Purana and said that these verses talked abut a future mahapurush from Vahleeka Pradesh (Sanskrit name for Arabia) and the details mentioned in those verses resembled Mohammed.

There were other questions to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar like “You said so much about love, but did not Krishna ask Arjuna to fight in the Gita? Is that not violence and enmity?” He replied: “Yes, but Krishna asked Arjuna to fight because it was his duty, but not with hatred and anger. Arjuna was like a policeman of dharma who has to punish wrong-doer. Krishna never preached hatred and terror.”

After observing some of the rigidity and fixated thought process, coupled with fundamentalist streak, one is left wondering, “if this is the liberal Islamic view, what would be orthodox Islamic view? What about hard-liner Islam?”


Anonymous said...


Oh man that was Damn funny, sometimes truth does hurt i can understand. Sour grapes???

anyway let people decide what is "farce" about it, atleast it was not as "farce" as the book written by sri sri full of lies.hmmmmm

Muthukaruppan said...

The trouble with these inter-faith shows is that the speakers are caught in a dilemma to defend their professed religion visavis the usual condemnations and ridicules made by the rival religionists and yet advocate harmony and amity between the different religious groups of the world. Now let us take the term 'inter-faith'. Faith does NOT apply to mere profession of a religion which is thrust on oneself because of the random chance of birth, but it connotes an implicit commitment to the essentials ( let us here avoid the term 'fundamentals') of the religion as well. The stark truth is that in their essentials, ALL religions are the same, and hence lead to the same goal. Truth and love in this world, and an unquestioned belief in God's unlimited grace to even a sinner who repents and rectifies himself by abhorring evil and also understands, and acts in accordance with, the inviolable need to dovetail (or marry) individual, self interests to the collective good of humanity and the ecology. Hinduism, I am aware, has EXPLICITLY stated this difference between faith and religion, emphasizing only the former and de-emphasizing the latter since religion is something which you show or profess and when it is ripe, it leads to faith. It says for example, love of God as represented in love of his Creatures (man and other beings as well as the inanimate envorenment) and the Creation (cosmos), does not care for Murti (idols of Hinduism or emblems of Christianity like the Cross, and Teertha (places of worship such as holy precincts, rivers, etc., which are for public use with sanctity). But in actual practice, idol worship, performances like father's anniversaries, sacrificial worship, and the like, when they are done in the right spirit, and not for the sake of form, are a great help to the common man in attaining faith to the maturity of a ripe fruit waiting to be enjoyed. Forms do help in this way, as true followers know by experience, and unfaithful followers despise because of refusal to practise them. The truth is that such forms (of observances and worship) do exist in ALL religions of the world, but they are not performed in the right spirit by an overwhelming majorities of the followers. Hence essentials - of love and beneficial truth - are often lost sight of, and religion flourishes while faith declines and dies. In this sense, whether it is Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or other religions, most people - both in the laity and among the ecclesiastcs/clergy- professing their respective religions are really not faithful to their essential tenets, and betray themselves in a sort of hypocrisy, and hold materialism and selfishness without a dedication to social good and human welfare, and commit sins and heinous crimes - and suffer in the end in utter delusion. It has been predicted in ancient scriptures of the 'eternal-universal' faith (miscalled Hinduism, a shorter and simpler term, due to ignorance and immaturity of early Europeans and others, who had problem with pronouncing the correct word, 'sanAtana dharma' due to lower lingual discipline), that in this Kaliyuga,which runs to millions of years, there will be decline, sometimes imperceptible and sometimes quite visible and flagrant, in the practice of all the essentials of true religion, and even those who profess to champion religion as their heads, will be merely clever tricksters and worst specimens of followers in their respective religions, who have a mere duty to increase the numbers of their nominal 'adherents'. Hence, let us understand this fundamental difference in the concepts of faith and religion, and let us follow faith in our turn, and urge our fellowmen - that is all humanity - to do likewise. Preaching without practice, it bears repetition, is no good and instead, practice AND ALSO preaching is very much needed at this day of this Kaliyuga (the last of four cycles of eonic duration comprising several million years). Last, but foremost, point is that the only basis of inter-faith understanding and amity and harmony and human progress with all creation of God loving man, is all religions are different in forms of observances but that is not essential, and that all religions are same in their essence - namely, their spirit and objective. Any Mullah or Swami, or Crusader who believes or preaches to the contrary is actually having a hidden agenda as an impostor. The inevitable corollary of this understanding is that it is unnecessary for a follower of one religion to look at the details of form of practices in a different religion, but he/she must rest assured that all religions are true and in terms of the underlying faith, point to the same objective of achieving godhead. It is meaningless, and 'fundamentalist' nonsense, to insist that everyone must call him as Allah, or Krishna, or Christ; or worship him in the form of idols or emblems or scarecrow representations, or decry that any one of these - idols/emblems/scarecrows - must be eschewed, and should plump for one of the other forms (meaning the preacher's preference, for which he is paid or otherwise believes it without believing its essence.) However, secular education can help every follower of religion with practices of hygiene, to ensure that his observances do not pollute the public facilities like transport, places of worship.