Eminent people on Islam- Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1824 – 1883)
Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1824-1883)
Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1824-1883) was the founder of the Arya Samaj. He was a Sanskrit scholar and also a scholar of the Vedas. He was the first to give the call for Swaraj (Independence) as “India for Indians”, opposing the British rule which continued till 1947 – in 1876, later taken up by Lokmanya Tilak (1856-1920)- the Father of Indian Unrest. Denouncing the idolatry and ritualistic worship prevalent in Hinduism at the time, he worked towards reviving Vedic ideologies. The freedom of thought given in the Hindu religion permits Hindus to be atheists, agnostics, idol-worshipers, opponents of idolatory, polytheists, monotheists or anything one wishes to be. Subsequently, the philosopher and President of India, S. Radhakrishnan (1888 – 1975), called him one of the “makers of Modern India,” as did Aurobindo Ghosh (1872-1950).
Those who were influenced by and followed Dayananda included Madam Cama, Pandit Lekh Ram, Pandit Guru Dutt Vidyarthi, Shyamji Krishna Varma (who established India House in England for Freedom fighters), Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966), Lala Hardayal, Madan Lal Dhingra, Ram Prasad Bismil, Mahadev Govind Ranade, Swami Shraddhanand, Mahatma Hansraj, Lala Lajpat Rai (mostly all Indian freedom fighters) and others. One of his most influential works is the book Satyarth Prakash – first published in 1875, which contributed to the Indian Independence movement.
Swami Dayananda has commented on 159 Ayats of Holy Quran in the 14th Chapter of his book Satyarth Prakash (meaning Light of Truth, English translation by Dr. Chiranjiva Bhardwaj and published by Sarva Deshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, New Delhi, 1984, pp. 649-722).
Before commenting on Islam, he expressed his objectives as below :
“The object aimed at by this criticism is to contribute to the elevation of the human race and to enable all men to sift truth from falsehood by giving them some idea of the teachings of various prevalent religions, as this will afford them opportunities for friendly discussions so useful in helping men to point-out their defects and to appreciate their merits.”
“It is not our purpose to falsely condemn this or any other religion on the contrary what we aim at is that whatever is true should be recognized as such, and whatever is false should be condemned as such, so that no one should be in a position to palm off untruth for truth or hinder the progress of truth… We lay this criticism on the Mohammedan religion before all lovers of truth in the hope that they after having gone carefully through it, accept what appeals to their reason and common sense and discard what is repugnant to them.” (pp. 649-50)
Some of his comments on the main aspects of Islam are quoted below :
(i) “(I begin this book) In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful (Sura 1)
The Mohammedans claim that this Quran is the word of God, but it appears from the above passage that the author of this book was some person other than God, since had it been God Himself, He would not have said :-“In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful”, He would have instead said: “I write this book for the instruction of mankind.” (p. 651)
“Had the God of the Quran been the Lord of all creatures, and been Merciful and Kind to all, He would never have commanded the Mohammedans to slaughter men of other faiths, and animals, etc. If He is Merciful, will He show mercy even to the sinners ? If the answer be given in the affirmative, it cannot be true, because further on it is said in the Quran “Put Infidels to sword”, in other words, he that does not believe in the Quran and the Prophet Mohammed, is an infidel (he should, therefore, be put to death). Since the Quran sanctions such cruelty to non-Mohammedans and innocent creatures such as cows, it can never be the Word of God.” (p. 652)
“Since the Mohammedans do not believe in the previous existence of the soul, nor that it ever did any deeds before, their God will be open to the charge of being partial by showing favour to some and disfavour to others inasmuch as it is quite unjust to bestow happiness on men or subject them to pain and suffering without paying any regard to their merits and demerits. It is also against the nature (of God) to unreasonably look at some with mercy and others with disdain and anger. Indeed He cannot act arbitrarily. When the souls have done no good or bad action in their previous lives, is it not unfair that some should receive blessings while the others not…Now this book, which is so full of partiality and favoritism (to some), cannot be the Word of God.” (pp. 652-53)
“Now what kind of justice, wisdom or righteousness is it that one should support one’s followers even though they perpetrate injustice? He, who causes breach of peace and Himself fights as well as helps others to do so, loots other people and yet calls the loot lawful, can never be Merciful and Compassionate. Leave alone God, such a thing can never be true even of a good man. Such things make it impossible for us to believe that the Quran is the Word of God.” (pp. 681-82)
“How did God send down the Quran? Does God live high up in the skies? If this be true, He cannot be God, being confined to a particular locality, for God is All-pervading, to carry or deliver messages is the function of a courier, and since God is confined to a particular locality, He must need to have one. And to keep an account (in dealings with others) becomes a man but no God Who is Omniscient. It follows from such statements of the Quran that it is the work of a human being, possessed of limited intelligence.” (p. 686)
“It is written in the Quran that one’s sins are forgiven by mere repentance. This encourages sin, since there is nothing to deter men from its commission. This book and its author, therefore, place a premium upon sin. Hence, it is clear that this book can not be the Work of God, nor can the Being described therein be Divine.” (p. 692)
“How funny! That a book like this should be regarded full of wisdom even though it teaches things opposed to science, such as the creation of the heavens without visible pillars to sustain them and the fixing of the mountains in the earth with a view to keep them immovable. Even persons who are a little bit educated cannot write such nonsense or believe in such balderdash. Again, how wise is the statement that the day is entangled with the night and night with the day! Everybody knows that day and night co-exist. The Quran cannot be a book of true knowledge, for this statement is absolutely foolish. It is not opposed to true knowledge to say that the ships run into the sea through the favour of God [eg. Quran 14:32, 17:66, 22:65, 30:46, 31:31, 36:41, 42:32, 45:12 etc] when in reality they are propelled by machinery and by sailors? Would not the sign of God (a ship) sink if it was made of iron or stone? Verily this book cannot have been written either by God or by a learned man.” (pp. 698-99)
“Does God show His special mercy to those who do not deserve it? If He does, He works great mischief, for all men will become indifferent to the practice of virtue. No one will then lead a virtuous life and hate sin, since His mercy depends upon His (arbitrary) will and not upon one’s deeds.” (p. 661)
“Does your God punish the wicked and reward the virtuous, or does He show mercy to the Mohammadans and torture others? If the latter, He is not God. But if your God is not partial (to you), He will reward the virtuous and punish the wicked whatever religion they may profess. This being the case, the belief in the Quran and in Mohammad (as the prophet of God) becomes unnecessary. Why did God create Satan-the enemy of the human race, who has been tempting all mankind? Is He not cognizant of the future? If you say, He has created Satan just to try man, it cannot be right, because only one who is possessed of finite knowledge would do such a thing; while One who is Omniscient is already aware of the good or evil deeds of the soul.” “Now if Satan tempts all mankind, who tempted Satan? If it be said that Satan tempts himself, why could not others tempt themselves? Where is then the necessity of supposing Satan to be the tempter of all mankind? If God was the tempter of the Devil, He was more devilish than the Devil. But such a thing could not be said of God. Whosoever goes astray from the right path does so through evil company and ignorance.” (pp. 664-65)
“If God really aided the Mohammadans with three thousand angels in the past, why does He not help them now that their rule (in India and other countries, in the 19th century) has greatly declined and is still declining? The real object of this verse is to tempt the ignorant and thereby ensnare them into the Mohammadan religion.” (p. 671)
“Had not God loved disorder, why would he have prompted them (the Muslims) to fight and befriended the quarrelsome Mohammadans? Is God pleased with one only when he embraces the Mohammadan religion? If so, He is partial to the Mohammadans, He cannot, therefore, be the Lord of the Universe. This clearly shows that neither the Quran is the Word of God, nor is the God described therein the true God.” (p. 667)
“If God guides whom He pleases, He might he misleading others with whom he is not pleased. He alone can be called God and apta (true teacher) who impartially guides all.” (p. 669)
“Does not God act like a tyrant when He does not forgive those who deserve forgiveness and forgives those who are not worthy of being forgiven? The soul should not be held responsible for its actions, if God makes one virtuous or wicked just as He pleases, nor should the soul, therefore, be endowed with happiness or afflicted with pain and suffering just as a soldier if he kills a person under the direction of his superior officer is not held responsible for his act.” (p. 669)
“Why does God repay good deeds doubly if he would not do injustice even of the weight of a mote? Why is He so partial to the Mohammedans? He would be unjust indeed if He were to award the soul reward or punishment out of proportion to its deeds.” (p. 673)
“What proof is there that the Mohammedans will go to heaven and the non-Mohammedans to hell ? He is indeed a fine God! May such a God as deceives others and is deceived by them always keep away from us. Let him associate with those that are hypocrites and cheats, because “Birds of a feather flock together.” Why should not they whose God deceives others be themselves cheated? Can it be right for anyone to associate with a wicked Mohammedan and hate a good man who is other than a Mohammedan ?” (p. 675)
“The forgiveness of sin, is almost as bad as the sanction of its commission which encourages its further growth. A book whose teachings tend to encourage the commission of sin can neither be the Word of God, nor the work of an enlightened author. It is, on the contrary, one that promotes sinful conduct. It is true though that the prevention of the further commission of sin can be secured by one’s praying to God, repenting of his past conduct and by exerting himself to his utmost (to lead a virtuous life).” (p. 676)
“How destitute of compassion are God and his Prophet who order that the heads of the infidels should be cut off. Is such a God, as commands the faithful to put the infidels to sword, and sever their limbs (from their bodies) and aids them in this work, any better than Ravan, the cruel king of Ceylon [Sri Lanka]? This command is the invention of the author of the Quran and is not from God but if it be from Him, our earnest prayer is that such a God may remain at a respectable distance from us.” (p. 680)
“Does God favour the Mohammedans? If so, He is unjust because He is the Lord of all (and not of the Mohammedans only). Is your God deaf that He cannot hear you unless He is spoken to (aloud)? Is it not wrong to couple the name of the Prophet with His name? Where is God’s treasure that He should be so afraid of its being stolen? Is it right to steal (the wealth of) others barring that of God and His Prophet? Only the ignorant and the wicked can teach such things. Why is not that God, who deceives others and associates with the deceitful, hypocritical, cunning and wicked? Theses things lead one to infer that the Quran is not the Word of God. Its author must have been a hypocritical and deceitful person, otherwise such objectionable things would not have been found in it.” (p. 680)
“Now how can God be All-pervading if He lives near those who are in paradise? But if he is not All-pervading, He can neither be the Creator nor the Judge of the world. It is wrong to advise men to forsake their parents. Of course, one should not obey them if they advise one to do wrong, but all the same one should always serve them. If God was kind to the Mohammedans and sent down troops of angels to help them in the past, why does He not do so on? If He punished the unbelievers and “turned unto whom He pleased,” why does He not do the same at the present time? Could not God advance His faith without commanding His votaries to fight? We say good-bye to such a God! He is more of a showman than a God” (p. 682)
“Is God the monopoly of the Muslims only, and have others no claim on Him? And is He partial, that He reserves His mercy only for the Muslims, and denies it to others. If by Muslims He meant “the faithful,” they do not stand in need of guidance. If God does not furnish guidance to people other than the Mohammedans, His knowledge is of no use.” (p.684)
“If God forgives all sins, He leads the entire world to unrighteousness. He is also merciless, for if a wicked man is shown mercy and forgiven, he will commit more mischief and cause suffering to many a good men. Even if the slightest offense is left unpunished, the world will become full of sin. Is God resplendent like fire? Where is the page of destiny and who writes it? If God dispenses justice with the aid of prophets and witnesses, He must be of limited knowledge and power. If He is not unjust and dispenses uniform justice, He must be dealing with all people according to their deserts. Deeds must have been done either in the past birth or in the present one. It is, then, clearly unjust to forgive sins, to seal the hearts, to keep people in ignorance, to let the Devil tempt them, and to subject them to torture.”
Associating Prophet Mohammad with Allah
“Why does this verse inculcate faith in Mohammad along with that in God, when the Mohammadans profess to believe in none but God, and hold that none is worthy of sharing homage with Him? Hence they can not call God Incomparable. If it be argued that this verse only teaches that people should have faith in Mohammad as a Prophet, we should like to know where is the necessity of Mohammad (being regarded as a Prophet). If God cannot accomplish his desired object without making him His Prophet, he is certainly powerless.” (p. 672)
“Now (the Mohammadan) God Himself has made Mohammad His partner (in Divine honours, etc.) and has Himself declared this fact in the Quran. God is so much attached to Mohammad that He has made him His partner even in paradise. It is useless to call the Mohammadan God Independent when He is dependent upon Mohammad for every little thing. Such things can never be found in a revealed book.” (p. 672)
“This (Obey God and obey the apostle V. 93.) goes to show that God is not “One without a second,” hence it is absurd for the Mohammedans to believe that it is otherwise.” (p. 676)
“When the Quran bears witness to this that God gave the book of law to Moses, it is incumbent on the Mohammedans to believe in it. All the defects found therein will, therefore, be regarded as those of the Muslim religion itself. Again what is said about the miracles is absurd. The story of miracles seems to have been concocted with a view of play upon the credulity of simple and ignorant people. All things which are against the laws of nature are false. If miracles could be wrought in those days, why can’t they be done now-a-days? If no miracles can be worked now, it is certain that none were wrought in days gone by.” (p. 660)
“The true religion with God is Islam (III. 17).”
“Is God the Lord of the Mohammadans alone? Did not Divine religion exist at all thirteen hundred years back? It shows that the Quran is not the word of God, but of some bigot.” (p. 670)
“If every soul shall be paid what it has earned, its sins can not be forgiven. It will be unjust to forgive sins. If God gives power to the soul without its having done anything to deserve it, He will be guilty of injustice. Can one ever bring the dead out of the living and the living out of the dead, as the laws of God are unchangeable and inviolable.
“Is it not sheer prejudice to call those, who do not profess Islam infidels? That Being can not be God who teaches that the Mohammadans should not associate even with good people of other faiths, while they may take even the wicked Mohammadans for their friends. One is, therefore, fully justified in inferring that this Quran, its God and the Mohammadans are, therefore, groping in the dark. Now reader mark! How clever Mohammad is! He makes his God say in this verse that God will love those who follow Mohammad and even their sins will be forgiven. This shows that the heart of Mohammad was not pure. It appears that Mohammad (made or) had the Quran made in order to serve his selfish interests.” (p. 670)
“Now mark the prejudice of God and of His Prophet! Mohammad like other men of his stamp, was well aware that if he did not stamp his religion with divine authority it would never flourish, nor would he or his followers be able to obtain help and power which might help them to live a life of ease and luxury. All this goes to show that Mohammad knew only too well how to compass his selfish ends and to deprive others of their due-a fact which proves that he was no well-wisher of humanity. Such a man can never command the trust and confidence of good and enlightened men.” (p. 674)
“Who but the Mohammedan God would be so unjust in fighting and helping others to do the same and so active in causing breaches of peace? Now look at this religion, which sanctions wholesale robbery for the benefit of the Prophet! Are these people any better than thugs ? God participates in the crime of robbery when he takes his share of the loot. He brings disgrace on Himself by favouring such dacoits. We are at a loss to understand whence came such a book, such a God and such a Prophet in order to disturb the happy relations between different nations of the world and thereby, inflict great suffering on them. Had not such faiths flourished in the world, all would have lived in peace with each other.” (pp. 680-81)
Treatment to non-Muslims in Islam
“Where is the necessity of slaying others and of being slain on God’s path? Why do you not say plainly that all this is meant for accomplishing your selfish ends. You hold out this inducement to people that they may fight well and help you to gain victory over your enemies and to acquire wealth and power by looting others and thereby enable you to live in luxury and enjoy sensual pleasures.” (p. 664)
“Had not such teachings existed in the Quran, the Mohammadans would not have been so cruel to the non-Mohammadans. They have greatly sinned by slaughtering the innocent. They hold than one who does not believe in the Mohammadan religion is an infidel, and that it is better to put the infidels to sword. They have always lived up to their professions in this respect. They have lost their political supremacy while “fighting” for the cause of their God. This religion does indeed teach cruelty towards the non-Mohammadans. Should theft be punished with theft? Should we also break into the house of a person because he has stolen our property? Surely this is not right. If an ignorant man abuses us, shall we also abuse him in return? Such things can never be taught by God nor by one of His enlightened votaries, nor could they be found in His Word. They can only be the utterances of an ignorant and selfish man.” (p. 666)
“This is the height of prejudice. The Quran enjoins on its believers to kill the non-Mohammedans but to spare the Mohammedans. If they kill their co-religionists by mischance, they shall have to make amends for it by freeing a believer from slavery, but if they kill non-Mohammedans, even though it be through a mistake, they shall inherit Heaven.
“Such teachings deserves to be utterly discarded. Such a book, such a Prophet and such a religion do nothing but harm. The world would be better of without them. Wise men would do well to discard a religion so absurd… The Mohammedans say that one who kills a Mohammedan shall be condemned to a residence in hell... The fact is that all false creeds begotten of ignorance should be renounced, the Vedic religion deserving the allegiance of all-a religion which directs every human being to follow in the footsteps of the righteous and shun the path of the wicked.” (pp. 673-74)
“Mark this teaching, which, in defiance of all noble instinct, advocates the destruction of one’s very friends! God here teaches the Mohammedans to fight with their neighbours and slaves, to wage war against them and to slaughter them whenever they get a chance to. The Mohammedans have materially helped in spreading such ideas, taking their inspiration from this very book-the Quran. They should, in the present enlightened age, realize the evil nature of such a teaching and give it up. They would be gainers by doing so.” (p. 684)
Allurement of Paradise for Sensuous pleasures
“Now is it paradise or a brothel? Should we call such a Being (as described in the Quran) God or a libertine? No enlightened man can ever believe such a book to be the Word of God. Why does God show favoritism? Were the women that live in paradise born here (in this world) and then went there, or were they never born at all? If they went there from here, why where they allowed to enter paradise before their husbands? Why did God violate His law of judging all persons on the last day for the sake of those women? On the other hand, if they were born there, how can they control their passions? But if they have got their husbands with them, how will God manage to provide the faithful with women when they enter paradise? Why does He not keep also men forever there in paradise just as He keeps women? This goes to show the Mohammadan God is unjust and ignorant.” (pp. 669-70)
“Well! The Mohammedans cry that it is a sin to drink wine on this earth, but in their paradise streams of wine flow. It is good that Mohammedans have rendered some service to the cause of temperance here, but they have been more than compensated for this abstinence in paradise. So many women have been allotted to each man there, he would find it difficult to fix his affections on one. The place must be afflicted with maladies. If the dwellers have got bodies, they must die and if they have got no bodies, they cannot gratify their lust. What then is the use of a paradise? If you believe that Lot was a prophet, do you also believe what is recorded in the Bible that he begot children of his own daughters. If you do, it is foolish to regard such a person a prophet. If your God grants salvation to such persons and their associated He must also be like them. A being who recites ‘old wives’ tales and kills other people through prejudice cannot be God, for such a God can only live in a Mohammedan house and nowhere else.” (p. 704)
“If there are gardens and orchards in paradise as stated in the Quran, they neither have existed from eternity nor can they remain there for ever, for the things which result from the combination of elements, did not exist before that combination and will surely cease to exist after Dissolution. When these things will disappear from paradise, how can the dwellers live there forever? The very fact that the Arabs have been promised cushions, cushioned seats, pillows, fruits and drinks, proves that Arabia was not in affluent circumstances at the time the Muhammadan religion was founded. It was for this reason that Mohammad entrapped the poor people into his net by holding out of them such temptations.” (p. 705)
“Perpetual happiness cannot reign where women (of Paradise) are to be found. Where did these women come from? Are they dwellers of paradise or have they been imported? If they have been imported, they will surely go back and if they permanently dwell there, what were they doing before the day of resurrection? Were they idling away their lives? Now look at the resplendence of God Whom all the angels except Satan obeyed by paying homage to Adam; Satan alone held aloof. God said to Satan, “I have made him with both my hands, do thou, therefore, not be proud.” [Quran 38:75] This shows that the God of the Quran was two-handed person. He cannot, therefore, be Omnipresent and Omnipotent.
“Satan was right in saying that he was better than Adam. Why was the resentment of God excited at this? Is the house of God in the sky and not on earth? Why was Kaba at first called the house of God? How can God separate Himself from His Creation? All this creation belongs to the true God. This shows that the God of the Quran was a landlord in paradise. God cursed and rebuked Satan and sent him to jail. Satan said, “O Lord! Release me till the day of judgment.” God being not insensible to flattery complied with his request. When Satan was free, he said, “Now I will tempt people and raise the standard of rebellion.” God retorted, “Who-ever is tempted by you will be hurled into hell by me along with thee.”
“Gentle reader! Just consider whether God tempted him or he was tempted of his own accord. If God did it, He was a greater Devil of the two, and if Satan was tempted on his own accord, other people can also be tempted likewise. Where then is the need of Satan? In so far as God let the rebel Satan loose, He also was responsible for the mischief wrought by the fiend. Who can be more unjust than the being who instigates theft and then sits in judgment over the thief? (pp. 705-706)
Even young boys available in Paradise
“Of course it stands to reason that there should be youths in paradise when God has created virgins there. But we are told that the virgins in paradise are destined to be united to those male mortals who repair to paradise from this world. What about those male youths then who perpetually dwell in paradise? God has kept reticent as regards their marriage, will they also along with the virgins be surrendered to their candidate-mortals from this world? God has thrown no light on this point, and it must be regarded as a great omission on His part…So much regarding the Mohammadan paradise. As regards the Mohammadan Hell, its inmates will have to feed on (thohar) Euphobia nereifolia [This means that there are thorny trees in hell bearing thorns], and drink hot water. Such then are the sufferings they will be afflicted within Hell.”
Swami Dayananda Saraswati had characterized the Allah of the Quran as Muhammad’s domestic servant. He was very right when he did so.