A few comments are appended below from Mirza Faisal Beg and others.
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.
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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From: Mike Ghouse
To: Mirza Faisal Beg
Thanks for expressing your understanding of the message that is at works.
The following observations made by you can be more elaborate, as it will benefit the communities and bring peace for all, so progress can be made on economic front.
1. If Muslims stand out with the Hindus at this point in a very public and vociferous way and say that 'Yes, if I believe Ram existed, then the state cannot judge that' it will take the winds out of the sails out of the wedgers of the nation.
2. The problem with accepting Sri Ram as a Prophet is the matter of lack of CERTAINTY from theological point of view.
3. I completely agree with you that we need to bring the two communities together and there is lot of space within Islam theologically where we can get together and say that we should respect the religious figures of antiquities. I have personally found that just an acknowledgement turns out surprising responses from even the hard core people.
What is a miracle to the believers (of that faith) are stunts to the others; Muhammad making the Meraaj, Moses parting the sea, Jesus bringing the dead alive, Mohammad parting the Moon, Hanuman bringing the whole mountain in his hand for herbs. Faith has no reason or rhyme, we simply believe in it. There is no need to prove the validity of any miracles, as there is no compulsion in faith. Always, the way others worship looks weird. As beauty is to the beholder, faith is to the believer.
Islam means peace… a concept is yet to be explored, what is usually parroted is the meaning of the word Islam and seldom the action it involves. As Muslims, we have been shut out to think beyond what is dished out to us. We are frightened by a few fanatics with their fatwa bombs, we are frightened by what the few (less than 10) other Muslims say. That is not Islam. Islam is about freedom, Islam is peace, Islam means removing conflicts and forging cooperation, thus creating a world of Justice through love, as Prophet did with the Aswad.
A few from our generation of Muslims are shut out completely; they find more excuses to oppose giving value to an individual that is revered by nearly 800 Million people, than finding reasons to accept.
And for what?
Mirza, as you have experienced, mere acknowledgement creates an air of goodwill. We owe the downtrodden of India; Muslims and all, a room to breath and build their lives, remove as many prejudices as we can to make their lives better.
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2007 09:35:11 -0700
Re: Rama :: a Muslim perspective
The description of religious figures is a slippery ground. Even some of the Prophets which we revere and consider as 'Masoom' have been described as doing incest and drinking in the Bible. Of course we reject those descriptions but not their elevated status. Our very own Prophet has been demeaned by the Orientalists and in recent times by anyone who is anti-Islam by picking up instances in his life and painting them in completely despicable ways.
While we should remain away from the debate over the Ram Setu issue we should stand WITH the Hindus that the belief cannot be ascertained completely through historical means. It will not bring problems for us but on the contrary bring the two communities closer.
On a similar note, we believe our Prophet did Meraj from Al Aqsa. There is no historic proof of it and I dont think there could ever be. If someone says they want to demolish Al Aqsa as the sacredness comes only from a BELIEF of the Muslims where should that argument be placed? I know Ram Setu does not fall in the category of Al Aqsa structure but I am trying to make a point about belief and historicity.
Before passing judgments on religious figures of antiquity we need to always remember that only 25 out of 1,24,000 have been mentioned in Qur’aan (ie 0.02% of all Messengers!!!). We also need to always remember that Qur’aan mentions that they were sent to EVERY part of the world speaking in the language of the people.
The problem with accepting Sri Ram as a Prophet is the matter of lack of CERTAINTY from theological point of view. It’s a matter of theology that we can NEVER be certain. But from a social point of view its an issue that should be seriously thought over as there is a huge possibility of him being a Prophet.
I agree with Firoz Bakht Ahmed on the point of miracles. If we believe through Quran that Hazrat Sulaiman could move over long distances and had jinn’s in his control then there is POSSIBILITY of another Prophet having a Pushpak Viman. Before anyone shouts at me I am just trying to ask people not to consider things remotely because looked at from another angle they speak back to us too. If Red Sea can be parted by Hazrat Musa in middle east then some miracles can be done by a Prophet in India too.
We can never be CERTAIN that Sri Ram or Sri Krishna were Prophets because of the nature of the rules of theology. We need to look into it from a social aspect and go ahead from there respecting the theological boundaries. I completely agree with you that we need to bring the two communities together and there is lot of space within Islam theologically where we can get together and say that we should respect the religious figures of antiquities. I have personally found that just an acknowledgement turns out surprising responses from even the hard core people.
In a response to Sudheendra Kulkarni that I wrote on (http://indianmuslims.in/an-open-letter-to-mr-sudheendra-kulkarni) I just wrote the below and I received acknowledgement from even the hard quarters very positively which I was surprised to find.
"Similarly the Muslims are obliged by their religion to respect Ram and Krishna (which I admit many do not do). It is further supported by the Quranic verse that to every nation Messengers were sent and by the Prophetic saying that there were more than a hundred thousand Messengers in the history of mankind. The corollary of which is that there have been thousands in India itself. The Muslims due to their religion are obliged to respect Ram and Krishna as there is a huge possibility of them being Messengers from the Islamic point of view. We accept Jesus Christ as a Messenger and respect him but we take Prophet Muhammad as our role model. We need to acknowledge these belief boundaries and not push a personal belief in the throat of others as a pre-requisite for integration."
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Rama - A Muslim perspective
A few comments are appended below from Mirza Faisal Beg and others.
Voice of Moderate Muslims
SUCCESSFUL NAATIA MUSHAERA ON 2.21.14
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August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916
Mirza A Beg
PLANNED MUSLIMS RESPONSE TO QUR'AN BURNING BY PASTOR JONES ON 9/11/13 IN MULBERRY, FLORIDA
We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.
Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”
God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.
We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration (www.UnitydayUSA.com) held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.
Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.
As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.
We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.
We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.
We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.
Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.
Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.
We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.