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Interfaith Dialogue ( 3 Jan 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Aiman Reyaz responds to Saif Shahin’s suggestion: ‘Muslims Needn’t Tell Hindus Who, Or What, They Are’


By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

4 Jan 2012

In response to my article, ‘Proofs That Hindus Are People Of The Books’, Saif Shahin has written a wonderful and thought-provoking article. I urge the readers to read all the articles and form their own opinion.

Mr Saif Shahin says “I also wonder if such arguments really serve the purpose they set out to achieve.” I don’t know what “purpose” he was talking about. If he had thought that my purpose for writing the article was Hindu-Muslim unity, then I must say that it may have been present unconsciously in my mind at the time of writing. The real motive behind writing on the this topic was an idea that occurred to my mind when I first read Romila Thapar’s book ‘The Penguin History of Early India’ and I was astonished to see the stark similarity between Hinduism and Islam regarding Noah’s ark and the Manu Svayambhu. These informations were like a flash of revelation to me.

She says:

“The earth was ruled by the Manus, of which the first was Manu Svayambhu (the Self-born Manu); born directly of the god Brahma. It was during the time of the seventh Manu that the great flood occurred, when everything was submerged. The god Vishnu had warned Manu of the flood, and told him to build a boat to carry his family and the seven sages of antiquity”.

The story of the flood quickly brings to mind the Hebrews the story of Noah’s Ark. How could this information, separated by thousands of miles and hundreds of years be similar to each other, unless there is common source?

How could Muhammad, an illiterate man in the desert with no source of information, was able to know about Moses and Jesus? The answer- God told him. God repeatedly tells Muhammad (pbuh) that ‘thou wert not present’ when this happened or that happened. Similarly Hindus are not Mushrikun and they are People of the Books because God also blessed them with His revelations and so we find such similarities between them.

The Quran repeatedly says that ‘every age have We sent a revelation’, ‘to every people a guide’, ‘of some Messengers We have told you, of some We have not’. All this, reinforced with the similarity between the Hindu and Muslim Holy Scriptures prove that Hindus are People of the Books.

By trying to prove that Hindus are people of the book, my goal was not to unite the people, although people can be united by this ideology. In any case, only a minority among the Muslims have a negative view about the Peoples of the Book (Jews and Christians, in this case) but the majority of us do respect them and we can link with them spiritually. Similarly if we think and act that Hindus are also People of the Book then here too we can connect with them in the matters of religion. My only goal was to spread this revelation that I felt.

Mr Shahin has rightly pointed out that Muslims have had the worst relations among themselves and with the generally accepted People of the Books i.e., Jews and Christians. But it was not because of the religious teachings, as no religion promotes violence; most of the wars happened and happen for personal gains and political ambitions (although many a time the name of religion was and is used as a prop for their selfish motive and also to legitimise their actions).

He says: “When this expectation is not met―and it won’t be, because Hindus themselves don’t care whether they are Ahl-e-Kitab or ‘mushrikin’ or not―it can lead to resentment, coercion and bloodshed.” I agree with him partially that Hindus are not bothered whether they are Ahle kitab or mushrikin or not. Leave out bothering about what people of the book is, majority of them don’t even know their own holy books, hence there is gulf between Hindus and the Muslims.

By pointing out that we, Muslims, too accept the Vedas and the Upanishads to be the Word of God, without any selfish motive, then I believe that we will be united. The Gita says “Perform your duty properly but think not of the reward”. My duty was to show the common origin of these religions, I was not thinking of the reward: that it will improve Hindu-Muslim relation.

I think all the wars in the name of religion happened because of two reasons: number one, selfish motive and number two focusing of differences between the religions, as I have said in the beginning. We can have universal peace if we focus more on similarities rather than on differences. Suppose there are 10-10 things written in my religion and your religion and out of that 10 points only 3 things match between us, then if we follow only those three things staunchly then there can never be any differences. Let us agree to follow what is common, we can leave out the differences for discussion later on; but if someone is bent on following the differences then I will humbly tell him “to you is your way to me is mine”. I don’t have any “expectation” from him but I have hope that majority will follow what is common. God says in ch3 v 64:“Come to common terms as between us and you”. God wants us to talk about similarities and common points.

His thought-provoking article is entitled “Muslims Needn’t Tell Hindus Who, Or What, They Are”. I say, why not? When he was a child, didn’t his parents and his teachers teach him, corrected his mistakes, spanked him if he did some mischief. I am sure they have; similarly since all the “established religions”, as K C Sen has beautifully said, have a common origin Muslims can correct the mistakes of their Hindu brethren, and I will also accept my Hindu brother to correct me in my religion if I am doing anything wrong. I will not shy away from him; in fact I will gladly accept my mistakes and embrace him for showing me the true path.

God says “Invite all to the way of thy lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue with them and reason with them in the ways that are best and most gracious”.

God does not say that we should talk only to the Muslims, rather He encourages us to reach out to all- whether it be Hinuds, Jews, Christians etc and we should talk to them with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and we should also talk about “common terms”, which God wants us to do, as mentioned in ch 3.

Mr Ghulam Ghaus says “The religion which is practiced practically by all Hindus in their daily life is, certainly somewhat different.” I agree and so is the case with the Muslims. We cannot claim that Muslims are following the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). That is why we need to enlighten the people about religion as prescribed in the scriptures and not as practiced by the people because many a time people themselves do not know their own religion.

He also says : “Besides, Ahle-kitab (the people of book) the Christians by believing Jesus the son of God, are no longer true Ahle-Kitab now”. I do not agree with this because God, even after knowing this ideology, says ‘to you is your way, to me is mine’; ‘there is no compulsion in religion’; ‘Jews, Christians and Sabians will achieve Heaven’. Christians are called so many times in the Quran as ‘People of the Books’. If fact, Abdullah Yusuf Ali says: ‘True Christians are Muslims at heart, never mind what the label may be’.

Mr Raihan Nezami said: “Now the question arises, what should be the next step? Should we support Dr. Zakir Nayak in bringing the Hindus into the Islam's fold?” First of all, why the need to bring people in “Islam’s fold”? Since Hindus are our ancestors in terms of religion we should learn from them and respect them.

He says further “What is the aim and objective of such theories which are mere assumption and personal opinion based on similarities in the meanings of some of the verses of different scriptures?”

There are two ways to prove a case: 1) Direct method- in this method, as is the case here, Hindus should be mentioned specifically ; 2) Indirect method- in this we can see for hints and match with the scriptures. I have to say that direct method fails i.e., Hindus are not mentioned specifically that they are ‘People of the Books’, but indirectly it can be proved that they are indeed ‘People of the Book’ which I have tried to do in the above lines. If it is “mere assumption” and “ personal opinion” then one should believe that God lied by saying that He has sent numerous Messengers in every age and every nation. (The word ‘Messenger’ is used which means a Prophet who has got a revealed book from God).

Being ‘People of the Books’ do not guarantee that peace will prevail, I agree; but it sure does show that they have a common origin and the source of the various established religions is One, this is the best example of Unity in Diversity.