Part 4: Similarity of the two divine messages

By Sultan Shahin



http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/EL25Aa02.html



TIRUPATI, South India - Research shows the distinct

probability of Hindus being the lost ummah (people) of

Prophet Noah, and thus one of the four major

Ahl-e-Kitab (people bearing revealed books),

communities that the Koran mentions repeatedly. These

findings have still not percolated down to the Muslim

masses. But this information has been welcomed as an

intellectual confirmation of what Muslims have known

intuitively for centuries. It also satisfies the

students of comparative religion who have been amazed

to find passages in the Vedas, Puranas, the Holy

Koran, the Hadees and the Old and New Testaments that

correspond to each other almost word for word. 



Beginning with the term employed to describe

themselves, dharma and deen (both meaning ways of

life), and an emphatic assertion of the oneness of God

(Ekam sat: la llaha lllallah), Islam and Hinduism

share the vision of a moral order prevailing in the

universe. 



In a manner reminiscent of the Hindu guidance on

social relations, the Koran, too, outlines essential

components of relationships between people. These

include respect, kindness, honesty, tolerance,

self-restraint, patience, forgiveness and compassion.

Such virtues apply between parents and children,

spouses, business partners, neighbors and friends,

regardless of gender. The following Koranic verses

illustrate these ideals:





And as for the believers, both men and women, they are

close unto one another: they [all] enjoin the doing of

what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong,

and are constant in prayer, and render the purifying

dues, and pay heed unto God and His apostle. (9:71) 



And vie with one another to attain your Sustainer's

forgiveness and to a paradise as vast as the heavens

and the earth which has been readied for the

God-conscious who spend [in His way] in time of plenty

and in time of hardship, and hold in check their

anger, and pardon their fellow men because God loves

the doers of good.(3:133-134) 



And among his wonders is this: He creates for you

mates out of your own kind, so that you might incline

towards them, and He engenders love and tenderness

between you: in this, behold there are messages indeed

for people who think.(30:21) 



And do good unto thy parents. Should one of them, or

both, attain to old age in thy care, never say [a word

of disdain] to them or scold them, but [always] speak

unto them with reverent speech, and spread over them

humbly the wings of thy tenderness, and say: "O my

Sustainer! Bestow Thy grace upon them, even as they

cherished and reared me when I was a child!"

(17:23-24) 



Similarly, both dharmas inform us of cosmic agencies

keeping an account of all our deeds for which we will

be made accountable. Take, for instance, the following

verses from the Koran: 



We shall set up scales of justice for the Day of

Judgment, so that not a soul will be dealt with

unjustly in the least, and if there be [no more than]

the weight of a mustard seed, we will bring it [to

account] ... and enough are we to take account.

Al-Anbiya 21.47) 



To these will be allotted what they have earned; and

God is quick in account ... God will not call you to

account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the

intention in your hearts; and He is oft-forgiving,

most forbearing. (Al-Baqara 2.20-22) 



If God so willed, He could make you all one nation:

But He leaves straying whom He pleases, and He guides

whom He pleases: but ye shall certainly be called to

account for all your actions. (An-Nahl 16.93) 



Similarly both Hinduism and Islam talk about life

after death, though in Islam there are differences of

opinion about whether reincarnation constitutes a part

of Islamic teachings as well. 



Reincarnation in Islam 

The Hindu belief in reincarnation is well known. But

it is not known that the Koran refers as kafir

(deviant) anyone who doesn't believe in the

possibility of rebirth. Not many in India have perhaps

come across the verses of the great mystic, Hazrat

Jalal-ud-Deen Rumi, describing the process of

evolution through reincarnation - from mineral and

plant to animal and man and then to angelhood and

beyond. Take the verses from the world famous Masnawi

by Hazrat: 



I died as mineral and became a plant, 

I died as plant and rose to animal, 

I died as animal and I was man. 

Why should I fear?

When was I less by dying? 

Yet once more I shall die as man, 

To soar with angels blest; 

But even from angelhood I must pass on ... 



Another great mystic, Mansur al-Hallaj, famous for his

formulation, Anal Haq (I am the truth: Aham Brahmo

Asmi) wrote: 



Like the herbage 

I have sprung up many a time 

On the banks of flowing rivers. 

For a hundred thousand years 

I have lived and worked

In every sort of body. 



The Koran itself seems quite clear: "And you were

dead, and He brought you back to life. And He shall

cause you to die, and shall bring you back to life,

and in the end shall gather you unto Himself." (2:28).

The words "you were dead" can only mean that they had

lived before becoming dead. And the words "in the end

shall gather you unto Himself" could very well mean

the attainment of moksha (release) rather than an

eternal life in heaven or hell. Those who disagree,

however, contend that "dead" is very commonly used for

non-living things. "It does not necessarily mean that

you were alive before being a non-living thing or

dead." (S Abdullah Tariq in Islamic Voice, February

2002) 



Responding to my published view that the concept of

reincarnation may be a part of Islamic teaching as

well, Tariq also quotes the following verses in

support of his contention that reincarnation is not an

aspect of Islamic teaching: "Every living being shall

taste death, then unto us you will be returned."

(29:57)"Until when death comes to a wrongdoer, he will

say: 'Lord let me go back, that I may do good works in

the world I have left behind'. Never! It is only a

word which he will speak. Behind them, there shall

stand a barrier till the day of resurrection."

(23:99-100)"And spend of that with which we have

provided you before death befalls any of you and he

says: 'Reprieve me my Lord a while that I may give in

charity and be among righteous'. But Allah reprieves

no soul when its term expires and Allah has knowledge

of all your actions." (63:10-11)"They [the

unbelievers] will say: "Our Lord! Twice you have

caused us death and twice you have given us life. We

now confess our sins. Is there any way out [now]'?"

(40:11) 



But Tariq and other critics seem to be confusing

reincarnation with transmigration of souls, which are

not necessarily the same concepts. He goes on: "The

theory of transmigration of souls popularly known as

avagaman or punarjanam is non-existent even in the

Hindu scriptures proclaimed as the word of God by

them. Following are the declarations of two

well-renowned scholars of Hindu philosophy. The rishis

[seers] of the Vedic era were not aware of punarjanam

(Rahul Sankrityayan, Darshan Digdarshan, Kitab Mahal

Allahabad, 1992, page 388. 



"In the ancient Indian literature, Chandogya [author

of an Upanishad] was the first to talk of punarjanam

ie besides parloka [the world hereafter] a being takes

birth in this loka [this world] also according to

deeds. (ibid P.403) There are dozens of Koran-like

descriptions of heaven in Vedas, but at no place do

the Vedas talk of humans taking rebirth in inferior

moulds according to deeds. Much later, the

philosophers of the Upanishads presented the idea of

transmigration of souls." 



Thus the debate goes on. One thing, however, is

certain: most of the greatest saints Islam has

produced believed in reincarnation and it does

constitute a part of many Muslims' belief system. This

is primarily caused by a reluctance on the part of

many Muslims to believe that God will merely reward or

punish human beings on the basis of a lifetime in

which they may not have received the guidance

necessary to improve their conduct. That God will just

be reconciled to their being sent to an eternal life

in heaven or hell withouttheir being given another

chance to improve themselves becomes a proposition

difficult to believe. The greatest mystic poet of

Urdu, Mirza Ghalib said:

Ham ko maaloom hai jannat ki haqiqat lekin;

Dil ke bahlane ko Ghalib yeh Khyal achcha hai. 



(I am aware of the reality of heaven; 

But, O, Ghalib; it is a good thought, to beguile the

heart.) 



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