Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Rabi-Ul-Awwal \ Rabi-Ul-Akhir 1424 H
June 2003
Volume 16-06 No : 198
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Reflection


Islam and Universal Brotherhood– Part 3


Islam and Universal Brotherhood– Part 3


By DR. ZAKIR NAIK

PRACTICAL DEMONSTRATION OF UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD DURING MUSLIM PRAYER AND HAJJ: Muslims demonstrate Universal Brotherhood five times a day in their prayer, i.e. Salaah. When we offer Salaah, we practically demonstrate Universal Brotherhood. It is mentioned in Sahih Bukhari, Vol. No. 1, in the Book of Adhan, Ch. No. 75, H. No. 692: Hazrat Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said that when they stood for Salaah, "Everyone of us used to put his shoulder with the shoulder of his companion and his foot with the foot of his companion." It is mentioned in Sunan Abu Dawood, Volume No. 1, in the Book of Salaah, Ch. No. 245, H. No. 666, that our beloved Prophet said:

“Set the rows in order, stand shoulder to shoulder, close the gaps, be pliant in the hands of your brethren, and do not leave openings for the devil…”

The Prophet was not referring to the devil with the two horns and a tail, which you see in the Onida TV Advt. in India. The Prophet was referring to the devil of Racism, of Caste, of Colour, of Wealth. Irrespective of whether you are rich or poor, a king or a pauper, when you stand for prayers, for Salaah, stand shoulder to shoulder, so that brotherhood increases and it is practically demonstrated that all are equal and the devil of racism, of caste, of colour, of creed and of wealth does not came in between you.

The best example of International Brotherhood, is the pilgrimage prescribed by Islam – the Hajj. About two and a half million people from various parts of the world assemble in Makkah to perform Hajj. People from various parts of the world – from America, from Canada, from U.K, from Singapore, from Malaysia, from India, from Pakistan, from Indonesia and other parts of the world. Men are dressed up in two pieces of unsown cloth that is preferably white. One cannot identify nor ascertain whether the person standing next to him he is a King or a pauper. The Hajj is the best example of International Brotherhood.

Hajj is the biggest annual gathering of the world. Two and a half million people gather every year. Irrespective whether they are rich or poor, black or white and from whichever part of the world they have come from, all are dressed in the same attire.

ISLAM STATES THAT ALL HUMANS ARE EQUAL: Prophet Mohammed (saw) said in the speech of his farewell pilgrimage ‘There is only one God, and no Arab is superior to a Non-Arab; nor is a Non-Arab superior to an Arab; a White is not superior to a Black, nor a Black over the White. The only criterion for superiority is Taqwa – i.e. righteousness, piety, and God-consciousness. In the sight of Allah, the Creator, all are equal. Only if you are more pious, more God-conscious, and more righteous, can you be superior to another human and this too is not something that humans can perceive – this superiority is only in the sight of Almighty God. While the Hajj is performed, every person recites and repeats, ‘Labbaik Allah humma labbaik’ which means:
‘Here I am O my Lord; here I am. Here I am –You have no partners – here I am. All praises are due to You – all bounties are yours. To You belongs the whole dominion, the whole Universe, and You have no partners.’

The corner stone of the Islamic faith is the belief in one and only sole Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe who alone deserves worship and obedience. It is only through belief in one God can there be Universal Brotherhood. The same God has created all human beings, irrespective whether you are rich or poor, whether a male or female, whether black or white, whichever caste, colour, creed you belong to – all humans are equal – they are created by the one and only Creator, Almighty God.

Only if you believe in and acknowledge the uniqueness and Oneness of God can you truly practice Universal Brotherhood. All major religions that prescribe belief in the concept of God have at a higher level the belief in the existence of only One Almighty God.
CONCEPT OF GOD IN MAJOR RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD AND ITS IMPACT ON UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD: In the last issue of the Islamic Voice we had stated that it is only through belief in one God can there be Universal Brotherhood. The corner stone of the Islamic faith is the belief in the one and only sole Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe who alone deserves worship and obedience. All humans are equal since they are created by the one and only Creator, Almighty God.
Only if you believe in and acknowledge the uniqueness and Oneness of God can you truly practice Universal Brotherhood. All major religions that prescribe belief in the concept of God have at a higher level the belief in the existence of only One Almighty God.
In this issue, we shall study the concept of God in major religions of the world and study the impact it has on the concept of universal brotherhood. According to the Oxford Dictionary, Religion means ’a belief in a super human controlling power – a God, or gods, that deserve worship and obedience’. This implies that if you want to analyze any religion, you have to understand the concept of God in that Religion.
The best way to analyze the concept of God in any Religion is to analyze what the scriptures of that religion speak of Almighty God, and not by examining what its adherents do or believe because many of the followers themselves do not know what their religious scriptures state about Almighty God. The Glorious Qur’an says in Surah Al Imran, Ch. No. 3, V. No. 64:
Say: "O people of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you: Which is the first term? that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not from among ourselves Lords and patrons other than Allah." If then they turn back say: "Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah's will)."

Allah shows you a way how to speak with different people. It says ‘come to common terms as between us and you.’ So in order to understand the concept of God, in any Religion, we have to understand what that Scripture has to speak about Almighty God. If you understand the concept of God, you will understand the Religion. 1. Common Concept of God in Hinduism: Hinduism is commonly perceived as a polytheistic religion. Indeed, most Hindus would attest to this, by professing belief in multiple Gods. While some Hindus believe in the existence of three gods, some believe in thousands of gods, and some others in thirty three crore i.e. 330 million Gods. However, learned Hindus, who are well versed in their scriptures, insist that a Hindu should believe in and worship only one God. The major difference between the Hindu and the Muslim perception of God is the common Hindus’ belief in the philosophy of Pantheism. Pantheism considers everything, living and non-living, to be Divine and Sacred. The common Hindu, therefore, considers everything as God. He considers the trees as God, the sun as God, the moon as God, the monkey as God, the snake as God and even human beings as manifestations of God! Islam, on the contrary, exhorts man to consider himself and his surroundings as examples of Divine Creation rather than as divinity itself. Muslims therefore believe that everything is God’s i.e. the word ‘God’ with an apostrophe ‘s’. In other words the Muslims believe that everything belongs to God. The trees belong to God, the sun belongs to God, the moon belongs to God, the monkey belongs to God, the snake belongs to God, the human beings belong to God and everything in this universe belongs to God. Thus the major difference between the Hindu and the Muslim beliefs is the difference of the apostrophe ‘s’. The Hindu says everything is God. The Muslim says everything is God’s.. If we can solve this difference of apostrophe ‘s’, the Hindus and the Muslims we will be united. How do we do it? The Qur’an says ‘come to common terms as between us and you.’ Which is the first term? ‘that we worship none but Allah.’

2. Concept of God according to Hindu Scriptures: We can gain a better understanding of the concept of God in Hinduism by analysing Hindu scriptures.

BHAGAVAD GITA: The most popular amongst all the Hindu scriptures is the Bhagavad Gita. Consider the following verse from the Gita: “Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures.” [Bhagavad Gita 7:20] The Gita states that people who are materialistic worship demigods i.e. ‘gods’ besides the True God.

UPANISHADS:
The Upanishads are considered sacred scriptures by the Hindus. The following verses from the Upanishads refer to the Concept of God:
i) “Ekam evadvitiyam” “He is One only without a second.” [Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1] 
ii) “Na casya kascij janita na cadhipah.” “Of Him there are neither parents nor lord.” [Svetasvatara Upanishad 6:9]
  iii)"Na tasya pratima asti” “There is no likeness of Him.” [Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:19] 
iv)The following verses from the Upanishad allude to the inability of man to imagine God in a particular form: “Na samdrse tisthati rupam asya, na caksusa pasyati kas canainam.” “His form is not to be seen; no one sees Him with the eye.” [Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:20] 

THE VEDAS:
Vedas are considered the most sacred of all the Hindu scriptures. There are four principal Vedas: Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samveda and Atharvaveda.
1. Yajurveda The following verses from the Yajurveda echo a similar concept of God: i) “na tasya pratima asti” “There is no image of Him.” [Yajurveda 32:3] 
ii) "shudhama poapvidham" “He is bodyless and pure.” [Yajurveda 40:8] 

(To be Continued...)

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