Islam and Christianity- A Pagan view-II
Continued from “Islam and Christianity- A Pagan view -I”
(The purpose of this article is not to demean any faith, but to try to make people who have blind faith a little open minded. This admin feels that no religion is from God-neither Islam, nor Christianity, nor Judaism, nor Buddhism nor Hinduism, and man can reach God irrespective of his beliefs. God does not throw people in Hell for disbelief, and if he does, He will throw those who regard Him as Jealous and attribute insanity to Him to Hell. The belief that pagans and idolators are sinners and offenders, and that monotheism is superior to polytheism, and that God will throw polytheists and idolators to Hell needs to be changed.)
For pagans like Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists, the religious beliefs of Islam and Christianity are very different and new. The concept of an exclusive, jealous God and belief in Jesus or Muhammad as the only way to reach Him, and merely being unbelievers i.e. non-followers of Islam and Christianity as a sin enough to merit eternal punishment in Hell is totally unknown. In fact, even after being shown evidence of these beliefs of Islam and Christianity, many Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists simply refuse to believe this, and claim that all religions including Islam and Christianity teach respect and tolerance of others, and they try to refute this fact that Islam and Christianity view idolators and polytheists as the worst offenders, deserving severe punishment.
But for an unbeliever who is a pagan, how would he know whether Islam or Christianity is true, since at least one of them has to be false? Islam says that Jesus was no ‘Son of God’ but just a human prophet who was not crucified and Muhammad was the best and last prophet, while Christianity claims that Jesus was not just a human prophet but the ‘SON OF GOD’ who was crucified while Muhammad was an absolute nobody but a hoax prophet. How can both of these be true simultaneously? At least one of them has to be false, though both can be false, and actually, they are. Even if Jesus is a Saviour, He is by no means the ‘only’ way to reach God, and idolators and polytheists do not go to Hell, nor is Hell Eternal. But if Christianity is false, then Islam automatically becomes false, since Islam accepts many Christian claims as true. Of course, there are many mistakes in the Bible, just like in the Quran. Then how can a pagan (Hindu, Buddhist or Sikh) go to either Islam or Christianity?
All religions are by no means the same. Religions differ in many ways- ways of worship, beliefs, attitudes towards non-followers of their religion, belief in God, atheism, agnosticism, rituals, etc etc. Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs believe that they can offer their prayers to God in any form they like. They look upon God with form or without form; He is infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. They believe that if they like, they can worship Him in the form of Mother Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Sun, Moon, Stars, Oceans, Rivers, Mountains, Intelligence, Memory, Learning, Valour, in fact, anything that inspires them to make their life noble, sweet and sublime. Hindus, Buddhists & Sikhs define this to be the substance of ”religion”. Anything contrary to this is not religion at all. Hindus believe that every other religion also should be teaching the same thing. They believe that all religions teach good, noble and helpful conduct towards all irrespective of caste, creed or colour. That all religions teach respect of others’ ways of worship and prayers. But as if we saw in Part I, this belief is absolutely untrue, since Islam and Christianity do not respect idolatry or polytheism and believe Hindus are the worst offenders. They believe that God is jealous, and worship of God in the form of an Idol or any other Symbol like Sun, Moon, Stars, Earth, Ocean, Rivers, etc. is equivalent to worshiping somebody other than the One God. This arouses jealousy of the One God who inflicts severe punishment for this type of worship. Hindus who worship God in many forms including Nature, are the worst offenders according to Christianity and Islam.
We saw the special beliefs of Christianity in Part I. Let us see the special beliefs of Islam now.
Special Beliefs of Islam
i) There is no Power other than Allah. Prophet Mohammed is His Representative/Messenger on the Earth.
ii) Allah gave this Earth to Prophet Mohammed; the latter gave this Earth to Mohammedans. As such, the whole Earth legitimately belongs to Mohammedans. If others are to live on this Earth, they have to live as Mohammedans or as willing sub-ordinates (Dhimmis) to Mohammedans, paying Jizya Tax till they get converted to Mohammedanism.
iii) Allah revealed all His Laws of correct conduct through Prophet Mohammed; his is the correct conduct in all respects-sitting, standing, eating, drinking, dressing, sexing, fighting, taking, giving, etc. He has been the ideal representative of Allah, the best and last of Allah’s Prophets; there can be no Allah’s Prophet after him; anyone claiming to be a Prophet after Mohammed is a hoax; followers of such a hoax prophet deserve extreme punishment and even extermination from this Earth.
iv) The Laws of correct conduct spoken and practised by Prophet Mohammed form the Laws of SHARIAT. This Shariat is the Divine Law of life on this Earth. All other laws of conduct enunciated by any other person or group of persons on this Earth are invalid unless they are perfectly inline with Shariat. Any civil, moral, criminal or economic law, not in line with Shariat, is an unjust, immoral and tyrannical law which has to be removed from the surface of the Earth; to remove this type of injustice and tyranny from this Earth is the bounden religious duty of every Mohammedan. As such, no government other than Mohammedan government, functioning strictly under Shariat Law, is a legitimate government; other governments have to be abolished; there is no other option for a Mohammedan; he cannot live under the rule of any other law, wherever he may be living on this Earth.
v) To establish Mohammedanism and Shariat Law in every part of this Earth, Mohammedans have to follow, individually and collectively, the following three stages of struggle (Jihad):
a) Persuasion and quiet pressurization.
b) TERRORISM: This should create a sort of TERROR in the minds of non-Mohammedans, that sooner or later, they have got to become Mohammedans; the sooner they adopt this as their own religion, the better it is for them; otherwise, nothing is safe for them -their limbs, their life, wife, family, friends, property, land, etc. When such TERROR is created and established in the minds of non-Mohammedans, the latter shall have no psychological will to fight a pitched battle or military war against Mohammedans. Even if a pitched battle or military war is organised by non-Mohammedans, their defeat is assured because they have been terrorised to lose self-confidence; within their minds they feel frightening diffidence, to fight.
c) Pitched Battle/Military War: The psychologically weakened, emaciated and demoralized military force of non-Mohammedans cannot face the Mohammedan force which believes that it is fighting for the cause of Allah, for establishing His religion and His Law of Shariat on this Earth; Allah is Great (Allah-O-Akbar).
vi) This three-stage struggle (Jihad) to establish Mohammedan religion and Law of Shariat on this Earth is a religious obligation for every Mohammedan; to relax on this front is tantamount to dis-obedience of the Command of Allah; the obedient ones will have all the fruits of Jihad: global empire, wealth, and access to all enjoyments. Should a Mohammedan die in this God’s war against non-Mohammedans, he will be greeted by beautiful Hoories at the gates of Heaven; even beautiful handsome boys will be available to the Mohammedan for his enjoyment in the gardens of Heaven; he can sit there reclining against soft cushions, the Hoories will come to him with glasses of wine which does not create intoxication; the Hoories chasten chanting glances at the reclining Mohammedan and he enjoys infinite happiness in the company of handsome Hoories and beautiful boys; the Mohammedan does not grow weak or old at all in that Heaven; eternal enjoyment in that company is the fruit he has legitimately earned through living and dying in the cause of Allah, the cause of His religion of Mohammedanism on the Earth.
vii) On this Earth, Mohammedans form community and community laws of their own, as per the Law of Shariat; all other laws are unjust and tyrannical and hence invalid for them; they have the divine right to disobey all such laws. For them, political boundaries have no meaning; those boundaries are made by man, not by Allah. The all-powerful Allah has validated only one community – the Mohammedan community; one country-the Earth; one loyalty -loyalty to the Holy Prophet Mohammed; one valid Law-the Law of Shariat. A Mohammedan belongs to only one nationality-Mohammed’s nationality; his allegiance is to only one land-the Holy Mecca. Every piece of land under Mohammedan rule and under the Law of Shariat is a land of justice and peace for him; every other piece of land is a land of tyranny for him where he has to wage a war of Jihad and Sabotage for establishing Mohammedanism. If a Mohammedan is taking his food and hears a call from Mohammedans outside in a street-quarrel, he has to leave his food and rush outside to join his Mohammedan brothers.
viii) When all other rules and rulers are removed from the surface of the Earth and replaced by the Mohammedan ruler under the Law of Shariat, then there will be total peace and justice on this Earth. As such, the Mohammedans are working only for Peace; Mohammedanism is “Peace and Justice”. It is for this that they are fighting; the second name for Mohammedanism is PEACE. Mohammedans want to establish this PEACE on this earth. They cannot rest until this type of PEACE is established.
ix) About one hundred years back, in most literature and in spoken language, the religion propagated by Holy Prophet Mohammed was called Mohammedanism and his followers were called Mohammedans; the words Islam and Muslims were not common. To give greater legitimacy and acceptability to this system, the words “Islam” and” Muslims” were made to become more common in usage; it is not a religion given by Prophet Mohammed; this religion already existed with Allah and it prevailed in Allah’s Heaven; Prophet Mohammed only brought it down from Heaven to this Earth. Religion prevailing in the Heaven of Allah was and is ISLAM and its followers are MUSLIMS.
The weakness of these Christian and Islamic Beliefs is very obvious, but who is to question? These Beliefs, without openness to reasoning, have led to cruelty and wars. As Dr. S Radhakrishnan (1888-1975), world-famous scholar and the late President of India, said in his Book “Hindu View of Life” (Unwin Books, 1960, 92 pages) as follows:
a)“Hinduism is wholly free from the strange obsession of some faiths that the acceptance of a particular religious metaphysic is necessary for salvation, and non-acceptance thereof is heinous sin meriting eternal punishment in Hell” (page 28).
b)“Heresy-hunting, the favorite game of many religions, is singularly absent from Hinduism” (page 28).
c)”The intolerance of narrow monotheism is written in letters of blood across the history of man from the time when first the tribes of Israel burst into the land of Canaan. The worshippers of the one jealous God are egged on to aggressive wars against people of alien cults. They invoke divine sanction for the cruelties inflicted on the conquered. The spirit of old Israel is inherited by Christianity and Islam (page 40).
d)”Wars of religion which are the outcome of fanaticism that prompts and justifies the extermination of aliens of different creeds were practically unknown in Hindu India (Page 40).
e)”Hinduism insists not on religious conformity but on a spiritual and ethical outlook in life”. (Page 55)
Can anyone call Prof. Radhakrishnan an ‘Ignorant Hindu Communalist’? He was a learned and knowledgeable person; we must listen to what he has written.
Hindus also mistreated lower castes for a few centuries in India and followed harmful practices like Sati, again due to lack of free thinking, but they are abolished long back. Hindus have accepted the flaws of their behavior and followed modern civil laws, given reservation to those who belong to castes which were mistreated. In the last two centuries, with the advancement of free thinking in Europe and USA, the illogical doctrine of the Church has also lost its appeal and a lot of the orthodoxy has gone down. Hindus and Christians have both reformed to a large extent. Of course, there are still hundreds of misguided Missionaries in India and in other countries in the world who try very hard to convert others to ‘the only true path of Christianity’. But Islam has totally refused to accept any reforms and Islam of today resembles the Christianity of the Middle Ages.
Note here that criticism of these religions does not mean condemnation of all their followers. Most Muslims and Christians make good citizens. A large number of Christians have softened down and largely abandoned out-dated childish beliefs, and generally ended forced conversions, but still there are many missionaries who are wedded to these beliefs and trying their best to convert, genuinely thinking that they are saving others (particularly Hindus) from the Fire of Hell after death, and showing them the only ‘true path’ of Jesus. Most Muslims make good citizens in ordinary times, but either condone acts of violence or themselves commit such acts when their religion is invoked by the clergy.
The falsehood that accompanies the business of religious conversion is even worse than its intolerance. Gandhi called proselytising “the deadliest poison that ever sapped the foundation of truth”, and he regarded a Missionary “like any vendor of goods” though he pretends to be something else. How and why does this happen? As a matter of fact, the founder is often quite sincere in the ordinary sense of the term and has no intention of deceiving anyone. But what if he is himself deceived? Not to deceive others is relatively easy, but to prevent self-deception is very much more difficult. A scholar, the late Ram Swarup offers an insight for this phenomenon by invoking the following insights for such ‘divine revelations’, given below.
Spiritualities like Hinduism differ radically from the family of prophetic religions. These begin by asking the fundamental question: what is man, and progressively proceed to delve deeper in consciousness to discover higher truths about the soul and the universe. The Upanishads speak of a consciousness (Satchidananda) which is unified, characterised by bliss, and knowing all. Hinduism gave us Gods that were friends of men and of each other, it gave us Gods that were conceived as mothers, fathers, consorts, sons and daughters. There cannot be a developed knowledge of Gods without a developed knowledge of self.
Yoga is the intense discipline of the mind and body that an individual practices when he turns his consciousness inward, into himself- a significant contribution of Hinduism. Some of its elements were borrowed by Christianity and Islam (Sufism) but these could not be fitted within their rigid system of beliefs and were either banished from the corpus of religious traditions or treated peripherally. Christianity has no place for self-reflection in its spiritual practices because religious experiences resulting from contemplation often contradicted established dogma and was therefore not encouraged. Its hermits and more pious monks practised fasting, vigils, and extreme and sometimes even competitive self-mortification. There was little place for contemplative methods. In Islam too mysticism in its off-shoot Sufism, is more of a graft than a natural flowering. According to the Dictionary of Islam, Sufism ‘is but a Muslim adaptation of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophers’. Prophetic Islam would have withered and died from its own formalism and legalism, but Sufism saved it from its fate by importing into it some principle of warmth and internality. But in this association, it itself suffered a great setback as we shall see later. The Sufism that survived and even prospered was tame and poised to promote prophetism except for some great Sufi poets like Rumi and Attar. They became part and parcel of Islamic imperialism, its enthusiastic sappers and miners and also its beneficiaries as in India.
The ‘inward journey’ of Yoga which ultimately leads to worship & self-realization is unknown to the Semitic religions. It leads to the realisation that God alone is monism, which is quite different from saying that there is only one God (Monotheism). He is not known by those who say they know him, but he is known by those who say they know him not!
The Origin of Semitic God
Vyasa (An ancient Hindu Sage and writer), in his commentary on Yogadarshana tells us that the mind has Five habitual planes: dull or inert, restless, scattered, concentrated and niruddha i.e. stopped. Worship can take place in all planes but he adds a warning that the worship of the first three planes are non-yogic and and only those of the last two are truly yogic, leading to proper spiritual development. These non-yogic or ecstasies in the lower planes have their own Revelations, their own Prophets and their own Deities with improper inclinations. They project ego-gods and desire-gods and give birth to hate-religions and delusive ideologies. They have strong likes and dislikes, cruel preferences and favorite people, and implacable enemies. They are the ‘jealous god’ as described in the Bible and which offend the moral sense of our rational age too. For example Thomas Jefferson thinks that the “Bible God is a being of terrific character, cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.”
But why should these Gods have such qualities? Why should they be called God? And why should they have so much hold? Yoga provides an answer. It says that though not a truly spiritual being, he is thrown up by a deeper vital source in the mind. He is some sort of psychic formation and carries the strength and attraction of such a formation; he also derives his improper qualities and dynamism from the plane in which he originates. This will explain that the Biblical God is not unique and he is not a historical oddity. He has his source in man’s psyche and he derives his validity and power thereof; therefore he comes up again and again and is found in cultures widely separated.
In prophetic religions the truths are restricted to the first two or three levels and include several good traits like faith, piety, belief, joy and fervour. But they don’t touch the basis of higher truths. As a result the truths of the initial levels are not secure because they have not been fortified by a higher vision. This has happened with the Semitic religions which on the other hand, are always under the gravitational pull of a different kind of vision derived from monotheism and prophetism. Their zeal turned into zealotry and became persecutory, their faith became narrow and dogmatic, their confidence arrogant and sectarian, ultimately constituting a danger to the rest of humanity.
AN EMINENT SCHOLAR RAM SWARUP’S NOTE ON SPIRITUAL SYMBOLS
Prophetic religions have no worthwhile theory of self-purification. They have felt that they do not need one. They deal in ready-made truths received from their God by their prophet in a revelation and communicated to his followers as dogmas. In Hinduism there is a problem of truth itself, the problem of receiving and communicating it. In this tradition, problems relating to the message, the medium and the source are important and are open to questions and inquiry. In prophetic tradition (e.g. Islam, Christianity), to raise questions about them is unbelief, infidelity and is punishable.
Prophetic religions have at best a theory of inspiration (IIham and the holy ghost). But in actual practice, this doctrine is a veritable psychological trap and has often led to much charlatanism and to excesses. Apollonious, the great saint of the Greco-Roman world advises that we should avoid philosophies and people who “claim to be inspired, for people like that lie about Gods and urge them to do many foolish things.”
In prophetic religions, the prophet is supposed to speak for God, but in most cases, it is difficult to decide who speaks for whom– the prophet for God or God for the prophet! Similarly, it is not sure where God begins if he begins at all and where the prophet ends. In the case of the prophet of Islam, it was seen that his revelations were quite accommodative and served his convenience as Aisha, his young wife, pointed out. Sometimes it also happened that words supplied by the recorder became part of the heavenly text which upset him greatly. But Umar was flattered when he saw that some of the suggestions he had made became Allah’s injunctions.
Salman Rushdie has discussed the phenomenon of revelations of Islam’s prophet in his Satanic Verses from the modern psychological angle. He finds there is no Allah and no message. It is prophet’s all over. He dictates with one mind and listens to what he himself has dictated with the other.
Though Semitic religions lack the culture of meditation, pious and believing Muslims and Christians have often dwelt on their founders with great piety and reverence. This has benefited the symbols and under the alchemy of piety greatly improved them. In fact, some Sufis have given us a very different kind of prophet than the one we know in history. This prophet-figure of piety is at adds with the prophet of history. In some ways, this has produced much confusion and one figure has been mistaken for the other. It also became a source of mischief. The figure of the prophet of piety is used to sell the prophet of history and to propagate his cult.
Similarly, Christian monks have often meditated on Jesus in their monasteries. In one way, he is better fitted for this role. For in his case, there is little history to contend with and to shed. But he is a figure of theology which makes him equally intractable and impervious to light. Meditation on historical Jesus also benefited the Jesus-figure. When dwelt upon with loving regard it tended to lose its blemishes and become more luminous. Thus it became acceptable to the meditating monks in spite of its inherent unreasonableness and untenability. And here too again as in Islam, the meditation-figure was used to promote the Jesus of theology.
For the sake of our Christian readers who lay great store by historical Jesus, let us dilate on the subject a little more. Let us say that Yoga does not care for a historical figure as such; it cares only for its psychic truth. It would suffice to say that to a man who sincerely follows the soul’s native aspiration for self-recovery, any chosen symbol, physical or psychic, historical or non-historical, any figure of a guru living or past – they are all acceptable starting points. The rest is added as he proceeds on the path and as the need arose. Therefore, a sincere Christian could, if he is so minded, adopt the figure of a historical Jesus without harm and even with profit. In the simplest way, it provides a focus for his religious impulses – in itself no small gain. And if his aspiration is pure, persistent and one-pointed, it could take him further on the spiritual path. As the believer dwells on his chosen figure with loving care, a process of change is set up which transforms the symbol. What is redundant drops and what is necessary is added. Under this alchemy, the figure thaws, becomes freer and is released from its historical and psychological confines; it turns to light above and within, absorbs it and is converted into its likeness; under this influence, it loses it opacity and becomes transparent and a reflector of truths beyond itself.
If the figure of normal Jesus was allowed to run its course, it could become a channel of further spiritual progress. If a man has it in his soul and is spiritually ready, he would realise that though the figure is now lighted, it has no light of its own. He would become increasingly more aware of the forces at work within him – forces that bind and those that liberate. His soul may wake up and become aware of its original, untarnished status. This would open up his prajna, or wisdom-eye; he would realise that salvation is a lawful act and it does not depend on a historical accident; that soul in its original status is not sinful but pure, untouched by evil, that man is raised and saved by the Self, his true light and refuge; he would meet the indwelling saviour – who is in all and belongs to all. He would realise that he is nothing and God is everything, in all.
But a Christian believer operates in a very different atmosphere. He is not to find his God or saviour for himself, but both are given to him by the Church; he is not to follow his inner light – he is taught to distrust it – but be guided by an official theology. Under its influence, the saviour is conceived as a mediator between an offended deity and a sinful man; the figure obviously belongs to those religious cults and practices in which blood and sacrifice, both human and animal, dominate, not inquiry and contemplation.
It is obvious that such theology can have no exalted idea either of God or man. This theology is spiritually disabling in other ways too; it gives its believers exclusive revelations, exclusive gods, exclusive saviours. It gives a God revealed to a chosen intermediary but to be believed by all; it gives a saviour who saves few but condemns many – the unbelievers invariably so. In this theology historical Jesus plays a pre-determined, ideological role. Under its influence, this figure deteriorates badly; instead of getting purified and uplifted as on the first route. It is debased and lowered in conception and spiritual quality; instead of converting into a psychic truth, it becomes a fanatic and intolerant idea; instead of becoming luminous and transparent, it becomes opaque with little capacity for receiving and reflecting higher truths.
The figure of Jesus as developed and available in Christian tradition is now of domination & intolerance, exclusisivity. It would be difficult for it to recover whatever other possibility it ever had; it has now become a symbol – a frozen symbol – of religious aggrandisement; it is badly infected with hatred of unbelievers –inwoven with its followers’ ambitions and hatred. The believer operates in the atmosphere of what is called theological odium; he learns to hate on a large scale, hate under many names and guises, hate his pagan neighbours and the whole past of humanity. While he loves his God – a form of self-love, he is taught to hate all other gods or rather the gods of others. While great claims are made for his god, gods of others are abominated and denied. Thus the figure of a historical Jesus is made to support a huge, doctrinal superstructure of denials and arrogant claims; it presides over a vast apparatus of repression and self-aggrandisement. In this approach while history and the fraternity of believers run amuck, eternity and humanity have little place.
Christianity is a living example of a case where an innocent symbol was destroyed by a bad theology. But it does not mean there are no believing Christians now or in the past who did not overcome the faults of their theology. Many have loved their fellow believers without learning to hate their pagan neighbours. All this shows that man is greater than his creeds and ideologies and that humanity could survive its hate-ideologies. Missionaries have been trying to paint the religions of pagans (Hindus, Buddhists & Sikhs) as demonic barbarism for the past 3 centuries, but already many in the Christian world have come to realize the threat of Islam and have softened towards pagans (Hindus and Buddhists), empathizing with what they have had to suffer. Sensible people who care for the future see that Islam of today is as fanatic as ever, as wedded to violence and conversion, while Hindus & Buddhists are peace-loving people who do not try to forcibly convert anyone. People like Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes see Hindus as friends and allies. Reason has already defeated the irrational blind faith of many Christians, who see idolatrous Hindus as allies, and monotheist radical Muslims (who oppose idolatory & polytheism and have not reformed at all) as a threat to human freedom and progress.
It then gives encouraging signals and makes one hopeful that as predicted by many scholars and ex-Muslims, in the end, reason is bound to defeat Islam, and also those followers of Christianity who believe that non-believers go to Eternal Hell.