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Saturday, September 22, 2007
Rama - a Muslim perspective
As beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, faith is in the heart of the believer.
There is a consistent theme in Qur'aan of looking the world from a pluralistic point of view. Qur'aan, Al-Hujurat, Sura 49:13 " O mankind, we have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah know and is aware of everything."
For a moment forget about religion and look at the day to day situation. Whenever there is a conflict in an office, party or elsewhere, there is always one wise person who will straighten things up. Just as water finds its own level, people will figure out a balance.
God has sent 124,000 messengers to every tribe, nation or community. The 124,000 number is a number to rerpesent everything, and for us to include any one who has brought a message of peace to the society. God also speaks through Krishna in Bhagvad Gita that whenever there is adharma, some one will bring the dharma back to you. We will find similar message in every revered book, that is God's wisdom emerging in different places at different times.
The Name Krishna or Rama is not specified in Qur'aan, so are the 123,976 other names. Does that mean the 123, 976 did not exist? or was left open deliberately so we can use our judgement.
Islam means peace! Peace means absence of conflict and a sense of living in harmony. Prophet Muhammed set the model for peace making earlier on in his life when he removed the conflict and forged cooperation between the competing Quraish tribes to lift the sacred stone called Aswad, in a piece of cloth by involving every party in peace making. That is what Islam means, reducing conflicts, and creating peace.
God has given us all the resources to keep that Meezan ( Sura Rahman) the balance around us. Now, it behoves the Muslims of India at their own free will to accept Ram as another prophet of God whom we revere.
Muslims do not have to place an idol of Ram, as they do not do with Jesus's image or Prophet Muhammad's image. It is just acceptance of Ram, as the peace maker.
By doing this we fulfill the primary role of a Muslim, the peace maker, being a catalyst to reduce conflicts between the communities. I am sure Hindu's do not have a problem accepting Prophet Muhammad as one of their own Gurus. Whether they accept it or not is not the issue, the question is, are we willing to be the peace makers and create inclusive societies and fulfil God's vision of knowing each other and living in harmony.
I support Firzo Bakht Ahmed's piece below. Faith and reason don't go together, it is what you believe. Hindu's believe Lord Rama was human manifestation of God himself and that is their belief. We have to respect every belief, as the author has rightly quoted, to you is your faith and to me is mine. Such is the freedom available in all religions, we just have to learn to free ourselves from shackles put on us by traditions.
Personal note: I sincerely debated about writing this piece. Should I compromise and let things go, as I may turn a few Muslims and a few Hindus off. But I beleive, that is the mistake most of us make; afraid to speak up. No body wants to lose one's social connections or get chewed out by a few. A wise man said once, when you speak without compromising, God is with you. Speaking up for creating better societies is the right thing and should not be compromised. If the world has to change for better, we have to make that happen. I am willing to lose my friends and my groups but not willing to give up my God given right to share the truth as I see it.
To Muslims, Ram is their Imam-e-Hind
IANS Firoz Bakht Ahmed
September 20, 2007
On behalf of all Muslims who believe in reason and sanity, I declare that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) affidavit (since withdrawn) questioning the existence of Hindu god Ram was vitriolic, scathing, unfortunate and blasphemous - not just to Hindus but to all those who cherish our pluralistic cultural heritage. How can a government decide the veracity of a figure like Ram?
He Ram ke wajood pe Hindostan ko naaz/Ahl-e-nazar samajhtey hein usko Imam-e-Hind!
Iqbal, the poet of the East, has written a wonderful and moving poem on the authenticity of the existence of Ram. Logic and science have their say but not in matters of faith. In a nation where religion percolates to all levels of culture, secularism and modernity, themes like Ram, Mohammed, Mary and Moses are all interwoven within the existence of the people. A denial can drive people into a frenzy.
As Sri Sri Ravi Shankar rightly puts it, one cannot dismiss Sri Ram as a mythological character just because a lot of miracles were reported in his life and there are no scientific evidences to prove them. There were unproven miracles in the lives of the religious figures of every faith. Just because we can't prove the parting of the Red Sea, we can't say that Moses was a fictitious figure. Just because there were miracles in the lives of Jesus, Moses and Mohammed, you cannot call them mythical figures.
Historical evidence of most of the eminent religious figures would be difficult to find. Nevertheless, the authenticity of Ram's reality cannot be doubted, as most legends and myths have their roots in real incidents and actual happenings of religious figures. So far as Ram is concerned, there are numerous places in India and Sri Lanka closely linked to his life including Ayodhya, Janakpuri, Dhanushkodi and Rameswaram.
The whole debate about whether or not Lord Ram existed or not is redundant. Even if he did not exist, this is not going to diminish his importance because he actually exists in the hearts of not only Hindus but also Muslims. According to Islam, 120,000 messengers were sent to the earth. According to Muslim belief, Ram not only exists but also is part of the community's religious legacy.
Nearly a billion Hindus believe that Ramayana happened and that Ram existed. If there is no archaeological evidence to this effect, it is something for ASI to keep in their records, not for a secular government to pronounce from rooftops.
To a Muslim it is a surprise that it is only the Hindu groups that have taken umbrage at this affidavit. The average Hindu is by and large silent. In contrast Muslims would have risen en masse in protest against such blasphemy.
Ram is entrenched deeply in the minds of a vast majority of people of all faiths, including Muslims of Indonesia. Ram is the MaryadaPurushottam to all irrespective of caste, creed or faith.
Questioning a largely tolerant and pluralistic people to provide proof that their god actually exists is driving them to aggression. The weakness lies here with the Congress party, which time and again has failed to handle sensitive issues pertaining to faith.
However, the Congress was able to salvage some ground by withdrawing from the Supreme Court the offending affidavit questioning the existence of Ram. But the secular credentials of this government have been sacrificed.
The author is a commentator on social, educational and religious issues and the great-nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. He can be reached on firozbakht @rediffmail.com
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