In Persia, there is a Ka’bah in one of the oldest Zoroastrian temples very similar to the Ka’bah in Mekah. The question that many scholars ask is are Hinduism and Islam ‘sister’ religions that have its roots in Zoroastrianism? Can both Hinduism and Islam be traced back to Zoroastrianism 4,000 years ago?
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Compared to those of other religions, Muslims (in Malaysia that would mean Malays as well) talk the most about religion and yet they are the most ignorant people in the world (at least the majority are). What they know — not only about Islam but about all other religions as well — is based on folklore and myths.
How often do we read Muslims posting comments that one must not learn Islam from reading books but one must sit cross-legged on the floor in front of a guru pondok (village preacher) to learn about Islam? I myself have many times been chided by readers who say my knowledge on Islam is from books and hence is not valid unless I go learn Islam from a human (meaning a person or teacher).
Is that from the Qur’an? The first word in the Qur’an is supposed to be Iqraq (‘read’). That is the consensus of most scholars although some say it should be translated as ‘recite’ and others say ‘proclaim’.
According to Aishah, as reported by Imam Ahmad, “This continued until the revelation suddenly came to him while he was in the cave of Hira’. The angel came to him while he was in the cave and said, “Read!” The Messenger of Allah said, (“I replied: ‘I am not one who reads’.”). Then he said, “So he (the angel) seized me and pressed me until I could no longer bear it. Then he released me and said: ‘Read!’.” So I replied: I am not one who reads.’ So, he pressed me a second time until I could no longer bear it. Then he released me and said: ‘Read in the Name of your Lord who has created’.”
So, the first word in the Qur’an is not ‘sit crossed-legged in front of a human and learn’ but ‘read’. So that is what you must do, read. If you sit crossed-legged in front of a human to learn and if that person teaches you the wrong thing, according to Islam, you are responsible for your actions because if your guru goes to hell then you also will follow your guru to hell. And you cannot argue with hell’s ‘gatekeeper’ later and say that it is not your fault but the fault of your guru who taught you the wrong thing.
Hence never trust gurus. Trust your instincts and common sense. God gave you a brain for a reason: so that you can think. And you do not need any ‘holy book’ or religion to know right from wrong. Common sense can tell you that rape, robbery, stealing, hurting another person, murder, etc., are wrong even if you are an atheist and do not believe in God or any religion. Do you need a so-called guru to tell you that raping your own ten-year old stepdaughter is wrong?
One favourite word Muslims are so fond of using is Aqidah. That has been loosely translated to mean many things such as ‘faith’, ‘that which binds you’ (such as a rope), ‘covenant’ (‘contract’, ‘pledge’ or ‘agreement’: in this case with God). This can actually be interpreted as your Shahada (creed or declaration of the oneness of God and the acceptance of Muhammad as God’s prophet).
To become a Muslim you must accept or utter the Shahada and that binds you like a rope to your pledge or declaration. Hence you are said to have Aqidah and if you violate this you have lost your Aqidah (and one without Aqidah is not a Muslim).
It sounds very simple, does it not? You make your pledge (the Shahada) and once you have done that you have Aqidah and hence you are a Muslim and if you break your covenant you cease to be a Muslim. In practice, however, it is more complicated than that.
Islam emerged only about 1,400 years ago but Hinduism come to India 4,000 years ago. The Indian religion (I would not call it ‘Hinduism’ yet because it was a different religion when it first came to India) was brought down into the Indus Plain by the Aryans from the north which today can be said to be part of Iran. The Aryans are in essence Indo-Iranians who around that time were Zoroastrians (a religion said to have emerged also around 4,000 years ago).
It was not until 1,500 years later that a Hindu prince named Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha decided to abandon his comfortable life and seek the true religion of God. This was precisely what a man named Muhammad did about 1,000 years later.
For seven years Buddha traveled all over India in poverty and at one stage even starved himself to the point of death. And like Muhammad he meditated and contemplated and finally found the truth.
Buddha wanted to find out how to break the continuous cycle of birth and rebirth (reincarnation or Samsara), which in essence is your soul forever wandering and never finding liberation or salvation (Nirvana). This can happen millions of times and your next life will depend on how you conduct yourself in this life. So your next life can be better or worse depending on what you do in this life (called Karma).
Christians and Muslims do not believe in reincarnation but do believe in the next life or Afterlife and the next life will be in God’s ‘Kingdom’. And you either go to heaven or hell. Whether you go to heaven or hell depends on whether you accept Jesus, say the Christians, while for Muslims it is not only acceptance of the Shahada but the balancing of your accounts (all your good deeds on one side and your bad deeds on the opposite side and see whether the bottom line is black or red).