Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Islam and Hinduism - Different religions with common elements

There are 2 problems when writing about ancient religions – first they are ancient and second they are religions. Over millennia the mythology of ancient religions becomes more important than the core of the religion itself. Its followers adhere to these myths as if they were real and the followers of other religions target these very myths as the basis of their claim that their religion is nothing more than a bunch of lies. This problem takes on another dimension when the ancient religion is Hinduism and a Muslim tries to understand the truth behind the myths and find common truths between Hinduism and Islam. This is what I am attempting to do and hence opening the door to criticism from both Hindus and Muslims.

 I have always maintained that every major religion practiced on this planet had one Divine Source. If that was not the case Allah would not have said that He sent 124,000 prophets. They were sent to every civilization, every community starting from Adam and ending with Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). If this is the case then the source of every religion has to be Divine inspiration, and if this is so then not only the message but the components of all religions also have to be the same. Let’s just examine one aspect of Hinduism – the concept of multiple gods which are known as Devtaas. For practitioners of monotheistic religions especially Islam this is the very basis on which it is rejected as a false religion since our belief states that God is one and one only. But we need to go beyond the current belief system of Hinduism and examine what a Devtaa really is.

Devtaa simply means ‘the shining ones’ i.e. ‘of light’ and they basically control every aspect of our natural world such as fire, wind, rain, crops etc. According to Hinduism there are about 330 million of these devs. The ancient Aryans starting worshiping these devs because to appease them meant that the natural order of their world was maintained. Whether they should worship them or not is another debate, but what I’m interested to know is if devtaas really exist and does Islam recognize them? I came to the conclusion that Islam also recognizes devtaas. Devs are known in Islam as Malaaik or angels as we commonly refer to them in English.

Islam tells us that angels are made of ‘light’ which is precisely what dev means. In Islam too we are told that the angels have been assigned specific tasks by Allah in order to keep the universe in order. Muslims believe that angels are too numerable to be able to count them. The 330 million figure does not really mean that someone sat and made a list and counted all devtaas physically, its simply a number which emphasizes that they are too many to be counted by us.

The concept of Jins is also present in Hinduism, there they are called Asur. These Asur are the beings which are forever at war with the devtaas and spread malice, doubt, greed and general evil in this world. In Islam too the ‘shaitaan’ or evil jins are responsible for causing human beings to plunge into doubt and darkness, the chief shaitaan being ‘Iblis’ or the Devil as the west call him. If we know of angels and jins through Quran and our Prophet (PBUH), then how come the Hindus have been saying the same things for thousands of years before us? This would mean that the source of their knowledge would have to be the same i.e. Allah. Which means that some of His prophets must have been responsible for the establishment Sanatana Dharma (or Hinduism as we now call it).

Muslims and other followers of monotheistic religions can argue that the practice of worshipping these multiple devtaas is wrong and which is why they need to convert to their religions. Actually their religious texts also point to one God or Ishwar, but somehow the worship of devtaas became the established practice. But when a religion comes into being before writing itself, then chances are that the message will get contorted over the millennia. Which is why God kept sending his messengers to ensure constant updation.Next  time someone dismisses Hinduism as complete fiction they should remember that it isn’t. Religion itself has nothing to do with what its followers do to it.