Sunday, January 9, 2011


The Hindus of the Indian subcontinent have, even in the face of extreme cruelty and death, resolutely confronted and resisted the threat to their life, property and religion for over a thousand years – first by successive Muslim invaders of all shades and hues, who ruled the land of the Hindus for over five hundred years, and then by Christian traders and missionaries who occupied their land for two hundred years. Colonial rule ended with the vivisection of our Bhoomi, creating a separate nation-state for Muslims but the threat from Islam and Christianity, to what remains of India, has not mitigated. The Hindus of divided India are still under siege. The Church has declared that it is determined to plant the cross in Asia and will ‘harvest’ the souls of the Hindus and gather them into the Christian fold, while Islam is as determined as ever to conquer territory through violent means after altering the demography of territories in their favour.

Large parts of Asia managed to survive the holocaust of colonialism because of the pervasive influence of the Hindu (and this includes the Buddhist) civilization which had deep roots in almost all the social structures of these societies. Asia and Africa share a common history in that many of their countries were occupied and subjected to alien rule, first by Muslim invaders and later by European colonizers. In these countries for example, - in Egypt, Sudan, South Africa, Iran, and Afghanistan, to name only a few – all traces of pre-Islamic and pre-Christian religions and cultures have been wiped out completely. Islam and Christianity have divided between them, almost equally, the entire continent of Africa.

This book was triggered by the conviction that a similar fate awaits Asia if effective resistance is not built up to stanch the expansionist designs of both Islam and Christianity, both of which have built into their theology as the religious duty of the faithful, to wipe off from the face of this earth, all other religions.

The first step towards formulating any strategy to combat the expansionist, ambitions of Islam and Christianity would be to subject both religions to close, intellectual scrutiny. This would entail a study of their theology and their worldwide, which alone will explain the psyche of the adherents of both faiths. Unless we understand why the entire Muslim and Christian clergy, without exception, and large sections of the Christian and Muslim laity, consider it their religious duty to destroy all other faiths and cultures through religious conversion by force or fraud, we cannot even begin to devise effective strategies to stop them.

Hindu dharma classifies victors in war into three categories – the dharmavijayi, the lobhavijayi, and the asuravijayi – that is, he, whose conduct during war and after the war, with regard to the people and the territory he has won, is governed by the norms of Dharma; he, whose conduct during and after the war is governed by greed (this involves waging a war motivated only by greed and looting and plundering the people who have been overrun); and he, whose conduct during and after the war is asuric, which means any and every means are employed to kill, maraud, loot, plunder, offer physical violence to women, and finally completely devastate and exterminate the conquered. Hindus and all other non-Islamic and non- Christian peoples would thus consider Islam and Christianity to be asuric religions because both the Koran and the Bible call upon the faithful to destroy all other religions and cultures, and thus for twenty centuries now, the adherents of non-aggressive religions have been victims of wave upon wave of the asuravijayi.

The concept of secularism, which plagues our polity and informs the mind of establishment intellectuals, is the biggest hurdle that stands in the way of unmasking the face of these two religions in India. Both religions have historically proved that they do not subscribe to the concept of nation, to the idea of the sanctity of societies and their traditions and cultures, and above all to the concept of democracy. But in India, both religions expect that the Hindus will be democratic, secular, respect their religions in total, which includes even those dogmas inimical to the existence and well-being of Hindu themselves, and above all, will provide them the ideological space for cultural, religious and political pluralism to enable them to work unhindered to fulfill their religious duty to convert this nation to their faiths.

This book is timely effort to look at the theology of Islam from the Hindu perspective and to trace the history of the presence of this religion in the sub-continent. The book also deals with the imminent threat to Hindus posed by the demographic changes that are occurring in large parts of our country.

This book has been written from a sense of dharmic duty towards this Bhoomi and her rishis and acharyas who have preserved for all of us, through several yugas, this most ancient of all religions, our sanatana dharma. It is our sacred duty too to protect this dharma and pass on the sacred heritage to out progeny. We hope this book will motivate more and more Hindus to do their duty by their religion and culture.



Islam has been present in our subcontinent for thirteen centuries. It has ruled over a greater part of the country for over five hundred years. The saddest part of it is that even when we won our freedom the subcontinent was partitioned on communal basis, loosing one fourth of its territory to Muslim Pakistan and Bangladesh and from which the Hindu population has been hounded out. These countries along with elements on our country have not allowed us even a moment of peace since Independence. But we have refused to learn even after the partition of our country on communal lines. Even now we talk loosely of Sarva-dharma samabhava and ignore the long term implications of our innocence.

We have forgotten the fundamental fact that to deal with your adversary you should know everything about him and have better organization and weapons than what he has. Sadly even organizations which are dedicated to this cause have failed to understand the problem fully and take effective remedial measures. If we carefully study the demographic trends in the subcontinent for the last century and project them we can see that in all probability Hinduism will cease to exit in its homeland by the end of twenty-first century. We have barely a decade or two left to initiate effective action.

At least until the time of Mahabharata, the Hindu society did not hesitate to use force when necessary and eliminate the Asuras and Rakhsas of those days. Our rulers maintained powerful, well equipped armies as well as a good espionage system. Later also, we were successful against tribes like Shakas and Hunas which had ravaged Europe, and since they did not have any aggressive religion, they were eventually absorbed by our society. But Islam and Christianity have proved to be different. To deal with then we have to find an answer to the following dilemma : How does tolerance deal with intolerance?

Hence it was thought that a preliminary study of recent important literature available on Islam should be considered as to form a small handbook for the concerned. Its contents may be divided into three main sections. Chapters 1 and 2 cover the origin, development and theology from historical as well as a Hindu viewpoint. Chapters 3,4 and 5 cover various aspects of Islam in India and also give views of some of our ‘secular’ scholars who have looked into the religion seriously. Chapter 6 covers the demographic aspects of the religions in India.

The contents of these chapters are briefly summarized below. Each chapter may be read independently

1. The Religion of Islam
The chapter critically covers and analyses the development and contents of the basic scriptures and tenets of Islam. Modern research indicating probable myths and fabrications which shaped their formation and development is also highlighted in some detail.

2. Islam and Christianity – A Hindu View
The two basic divisions of the world’s faiths and religions – Abrahamic and ‘pagan’ (which includes Hinduism) are first described. The various contradictions and shortcomings of the former (prophetic) religions are clearly brought out from the viewpoint of a Sanatani. A convincing explanation of the origin and nature of the Semitic God and its prophets is given from the yogic standpoint.

3. Islam in India – History
Important events of the Islamic period are highlighted to show the valiant resistance shown by the Hindu rulers and the hollowness of several myths associated with the Muslim conquest and rule.

4. Islam in India – Social and Cultural
This chapter covers four important aspects of Islam especially in Indian context – a. Sufis; b. Fatwas; c. Women and d. Sects and Castes.

5. Secular Scholars on Islam
When genuine seculars have looked into Islam impartially, they have drawn conclusions which are close to the concerns expressed by Hindu leaders who are dubbed communal and fundamentalists. This chapter lists some of their findings.

6. Demography of Islam in the Subcontinent
This important chapter along with Appendix C presents several official statistics from 1881 and shows the demographic trends with projections upto 2050 AD and brings out the serious threat to the very survival of Hindu faiths.
Four appendices provide useful general information which is common to many chapters. Of particular importance is Appendix C which gives vital data on demography in a nutshell. Similarly Appendix A lists a few passages in Koran which hurt the sensibility of Hindu.

It should be made clear that this work only summarises the views of various authorities and the serious reader is requested to study the sources indicated in the original for more details. It is hoped that this will enable the reader to remove many current misconceptions among the Hindus about Islam and also prompt the scholars to study the original sources on this religion without depending on non Indian scholars.

Criticism of Islam does not mean condemnation of all its followers. We must clearly accept that most Muslim individuals are honest and good-neighbourly and make good citizens. Only they either themselves act brutally or condone such acts when their religion is invoked by their clergy. In other words it is their religion which makes them fanatic. Hence both Hindus and Muslims should be educated about the following points elaborated in this book.

1. The Muslim rulers who ruled Indian were mostly Turks (not Arabs). They held Indian Muslims in low esteem.

2. The British did not capture India from Muslims. Also Muslims did not rule the whole country for over one thousand years.

3. Although Islam talks of Ummah, in practice the Muslim nations are strongly tribal and nationalistic and are always at each others throats – Iran-Iran and Iran-Kuwait wars inability to fight Israel unitedly are recent examples. Violent Shia-Sunni sectarian quarrels are also well known. Even within an Islamic state there is no peace as in Pakistan. The Hindu society is far more peaceful.

4. Many passages in Koran and Hadith are anti-secular and extremely offensive to the Hindus. Hence they should either be declared as outdated or made applicable only to Arabia.

5. Sharia is outdated and the fatwas issued by the ulema on its basis are illogical. Ethics is reduced to obeying their orders. Muslims will be far better off if they follow modern civil laws.

6. The brotherhood of Islam is NOT a universal brotherhood, In fact it is often a sectarian brotherhood.

Education will be the mildest way to change the attitude and behavior of Muslims. And it is to be hoped that the enlightened Muslims of this country will in turn influence their brethren in Pakistan and Bangladesh and then the subcontinental Muslims will lead a renaissance of the Muslim world.

Ch. 1 : The Religion of Islam


Islam, although the youngest of the world’s major religions is the second largest and fastest growing religion in the world, presently constituting 20% of the world’s population and as shown elsewhere is likely to overtake Christianity at the global level, and to overtake Hinduism in the subcontinent by around the year 2050 AD. In the Indian subcontinent the number of Muslims in 1991 was 323million and constituted around 30% percent of the world Muslim population.

Muslims have always aggressively held that Islam is the only perfect and the final religion created by God. Unlike ancient religions like Hinduism and Taoism (which they contend are unhistorical religions based on mythology alone), they declare that Islam is a historical religion with all events and teachings truthfully recorded. It is THE final revelation of God. In this and the next chapter we propose to examine these claims. It is important to do this so that we can better understand the psychology of Muslims in general and the Muslims of the subcontinent in particular. The tenets of Islam are briefly covered in Appendix D. In this chapter we shall review their claims of historicity and also survey their basic scriptures and beliefs. This will enable us to philosophically examine this religion alongside with Christianity, its sister religion, in the next chapter before we proceed to study the religion in our subcontinent in the subsequent chapters.


According to the accepted version of the origin of Islam, the founder of this religion was Muhammad who was born in Mecca, Arabia in 570 AD. As an orphan he was brought up by his grandfather and uncle who belonged to a well known family in the Kuraish tribe. He was a sensitive young man given to deep contemplation and often went to a nearby mountain for meditation. There in 610 AD, he had a vision of the angel Gabriel who declared that God or Allah had chosen him to be the prophet of the true religion and also that he, Muhammad would be the last of the prophets of the Abrahamic faiths. The Angel was a go-between Allah and Muhammad and continued to give revelations until the end of Muhammad’s life. Muhammad had earlier married a rich widow, his employer, and carried on trade on her behalf for which he had to travel extensively across the nearby regions in the course of which he came into contact with several Jewish and Christian groups and studied their practices closely. He shared his revelations with close friends and relatives who became his first followers. After his death the revelations were collected together from various sources and came to be known as the Koran. Later on, ‘acting upon the advice of the Angel, he started to preach his religion openly which brought him into conflict with fellow Meccans who were polytheists. Ultimately he had to migrate to Medina in 622 AD. This year is taken as the start of the Muslim era. In Medina he consolidated his position and ultimately captured Mecca in 630 AD. He became the undisputed master of Arabia and consolidated his hold over the whole of the country and converted the Arabs of his country to his religion which he called Islam or ‘peace’. He died in 632 AD. His successors, the Caliphs, continued his mission-of; conquest and within one hundred years of the Prophet’s death, the Arabs became masters of a vast region extending from the Bay of Biscay to the Indus and the frontiers of China, from the Aral sea to the Upper Nile. The traditional chronology of the more important events in the early years of Islam, is given in Appendix B.

A study of Islamic scriptures reveals that Muhammad was not a original thinker; he did not formulate any new ethical principle or philosophy, but merely borrowed them from existing traditions and faiths. His genius lay in mixing old ingredients of Judaism, Zoroastrianism and the ‘pagan’ Arab rituals into a new panacea for human ills and forcing it down by means of the sword. It is obvious to anyone who has some knowledge of religions and traditions of the time that the Islamic varnish only thinly covers the prevalent Arab rituals and superstitions (particularly pilgrimage to Mecca). According to Ali Dashti1 Muhammad himself emerges as a shifty character who stoops t@ political assassinations, murder and elimination of all opponents. ‘Pious Fraud’ is an approved strategy in Islam. This verdict of Muir, one of the earliest English biographers, is accepted by non-apologist western authors. His other verdict which has also been accepted is that in Mecca, Muhammad, was a sincere seeker of truth and religiously motivated, but in Medina he showed his feet of clay and was corrupted by power and worldly ambitions. His revelations appear to come very conveniently; and as his pet wife Aisha has put it, not without a touch of irony it would seem, ‘Truly your God seems to have been very quick in fulfilling your prayers’.

The traditional Muslim accounts of the life of Muhammad and the story of the origin and rise of Islam are based exclusively on Muslim sources, namely, (1) the Koran (2) the Muslim biographies of Muhammad and (3) the Hadith. We shall briefly examine their content and authenticity.

The first biography known to us of the Prophet was written one hundred and twenty years after his death, by lbn Ishaq (d. 768 AD). The original is lost and is only available in parts in a later biography by Ibn Hisharm (and an even later biography by AI-Tabari) who died in 834 AD, two hundred years after the death of the Prophet. The other popular biographies have been written only after the first two hundred years. This long interval along with the other factors discussed below throws doubts on the authenticity of the material available from these biographies. A recent book, ‘The Quest for the Historical Muhammad’ edited by lbn Waraq (Prometheus Books, March 2000) has dealt with precisely this issue of historicity.
The Hadith or Hadis is greatly revered in the Islamic world and consists of a collection of saying.and doings attributed to the Prophet and traced back to him through a chain of supposedly trustworthy witnesses called ‘isnad’. Six authentic collections written in the ninth century are available, and an encyclopedia of 29000 traditions called Musnad has been compiled by Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 855 AD). Since the Koran does not cover all aspects of the religion and law, and since the Muslims consider the life of the Prophet as the Divine force in action, the sayings and doings of the Prophet compiled in the Harlith along with the Koran guide the jurisprudence of Islam.



It has been generally held that amongst the world’s major religions, only the historicity of Muhammad and Koran are undisputed and that the details of his life are more historically verifiable than the founders of other major religions. Recent findings suggest that this claim is not true and in fact, there is now a strong view that there has been a large scale fabrication of the prophet’s life and scriptures and that there has been a considerable influence of neighbouring religions and rituals as well as traditional pagan Arabian faiths and rituals. The present position has been neatly summed up by lbn Warraq in his book, ‘Why I am not a Muslim?’2. Unfortunately this book has been banned in India and therefore we can only list the original sources to which the reader is requested to refer for detailed information. The reviews of this book have been collected and summarised in ‘Time for Stock Taking.3

Speaking of historicity, many Indian scholars feel that the Mecca shrine, Kaba, the chief mosque of Islam itself was originally a Shiva temple and quote a Sanskrit verse to prove the same. P. N. Oak, 4 who has done pioneering studies in proving the Hindu origin of several ‘Muslim’ monuments in India, claims that the word Arabia itself is derived from Arvastan i.e. land of horses (Arva = horse in Sanskrit). He says that it was a part of Vikramaditya’s empire and the shrine was built by him. As a proof, he quotes some verses of pre-lslamic poetry preserved on gold and leather plates which escaped the destruction after Muhammad took over Kaba. These poems are part of an anthology of pre-lslamic Arab poetry known as ‘sayar-ul-okul’ compiled by Harun-al-Rashid and published in 1864 AD in Berlin. Oak also claims that the Prophet’s clan was mostly Hindu. Unfortunately no traces of the old Arabian culture has been left by Islam. Hindu scholars have to pursue this research further with whatever meagre evidence that is available.

Towards the end of nineteenth century. Western scholars began the process of sifting all available information and data on Islam since there was some suspicion that some of the traditions were deliberately forged in order to further the interests of certain groups and families. Wellhausen divided the historical traditions into two categories - the apparently authentic primitive traditions, which have been recorded in the late eighth century, and second, a parallel tradition that was deliberately forged to rebut the first. The second version was found to be full of tendentious fiction. Goldziher, another reputed scholar of the era, studied the Hadith extensively and demonstrated that a vast number of hadiths accepted even in the most rigorously critical Muslim collections were outright forgeries compiled from around the late 8th and 9th centuries.5 The reason for this parallel tradition can be traced to the politics of competition among the early successors of the Prophet, who had often assumed his mantle after eliminating their predecessors with great blood shed; and had hence to humiliate their memory and that of their forefathers through their version of the tradition, apart from proving their own legitimacy (see chronology of early Islam in Appendix B). Under the Abbasids (progeny of the Prophet’s uncle), the fabrication of hadiths greatly multiplied, with the explicit purpose of proving the legitimacy of their own clan as against that of the Alids (progeny of Ali, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet). The storytellers also excelled in inventing entertaining hadiths in order to make a fortune by drawing large crowds. Of course Muslims scholars were aware that forgeries abounded and attempted to eliminate many of them in the six authentic collections. But even these were not free from later interpolations an therefore there are several texts of the Hadith in use.

Since the biographies on the Prophet appeared much after his death and were based on these traditions, the early twentieth century scholars working at that time considered them suspect.6 Their conclusions were subsequently investigated by a group of Soviet Islamologists7 who concluded that the life of Muhammad and that of his immediate successors are as ‘mythical’ as the accounts of Christ and the Apostles (discussed later) and that Islam was merely an offshoot of Arianism (a Greek Christian doctrine) and that the Arian Islamites were indistinguishable from the Jews until the impact of the Crusades made them assume a separate identity. In fact some of them wondered if Muhammad was not a necessary fiction since every ‘historical’ religion must needs have a founder.

From the 1950s, Islamic studies received a further impetus under Schacht8 His conclusions were even more radical and disturbing. He proved that many Islamic traditions did not exist at a particular time by showing, for example, that they were not used as a legal argument in a discussion that would have made reference to them imperative, had these traditions existed. He in fact concluded that every tradition allegedly traced back in time to the Prophet must be considered inauthentic and the Fictitious expression of a legal doctrine formulated at a later date! Traditions introduced from around the time of the Successors (to the Prophet) were offered as traditions from the time of the Companions (contemporaries of the Prophet), and traditions from the time of the Companions to the Prophet were offered as traditions practiced by the Prophet himself. Details from the life of the Prophet were invented to support legal doctrines. He also showed that the beginnings of the Islamic law cannot be traced further back in the Islamic tradition, than to about a century after the Prophet’s death. Thus it did not directly derive from the Koran, but developed out of popular and administrative practices under the Urnmayads which diverged often from the intentions and even the explicit wording of the Koran. The integration of the two was done at a later stage.
Many scholars were convinced of the essential soundness of Schacht’s analysis and developed his thesis further. Wansbrough9 argued that the Koran and the hadith grew out of sectarian controversies over the course of a long period and then were projected back in time onto an invented Arabian point of origin. He felt that Islam emerged only when it came into contact with rabbinical Judaism,

The Koran

Doubts over the authenticity of the Hadith prompted scholars to take a critical look at the Koran too. As we have seen earlier, Muslims claim the Koran to be a historically verifiable scripture, which is the collection of the revelations of Allah through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet. These revelations were communicated by the prophet to various persons in his lifetime and many others were taken down by Muhammad’s scribes. According to one tradition, after Muhammad’s death, the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, appointed the former secretary and scribe of the Prophet, Zayd ibn Thabit, to undertake the task of collecting all available material and compile it together. He collected them ‘from pieces of papyrus, flat stones, palm leaves, shoulder blades and ribs of animals, pieces of leather and wooden boards, as well as from the hearts of men’. He compiled all the material in the amazingly short span of two years and handed it over to the Caliph. The Suras or chapters in the Koran have been so arranged that the longest suras find place in the beginning and the shortest in the end. Thus there is no way of knowing when, exactly the Prophet received a particular revelation. This becomes important since the message of a particular revelation, as we shall see later, is often contradicted by the message of a later’ revelation . Scholars, both Muslim and Western have generally been able to separate the revelations received in Mecca and those in Medina since the message of Allah is conciliatory in the former and aggressive in the latter.
According to traditions many versions of the book began to be circulated and serious disputes arose. According to the traditions, the third Caliph, Uthman (650-656 AD) approached Zayd again to edit and prepare the official text. This was prepared and circulated widely and the other versions were destroyed. According to orthodoxy, this text has not undergone any change since then and is the standard version followed all over the world.

Historical research, however, indicates otherwise. Wansbrough showed that far from being fixed in the seventh century, the definitive text of Koran had still not been achieved even as late as the later part of the ninth century. Thus, a statement of Muslim creed, Fiqh Akbar I, dated to the middle of eighth century, does not refer to the Koran at all, which is quite surprising. The ninth century also saw the first collections of the ancient Arab poetry seeing the light of day, in which too there are instances of manipulation, as alleged by some scholars. Both have perhaps gone hand in hand with an attempt to prove the antiquity and sacredness of the Arabic language and culture so that God could hand over the Koran in pure Arabic. Very much influenced by rabbinic Judaism outside Arabia, the early Muslim community took Moses as a model and Muhammad’s credentials as a prophet were gradually established in Moses’ likeness. The aim was to have a swadeshi prophet and a scripture in competition with the Jews and Christians!

Both Islam and Christianity, in comparing themselves witli pagan faiths to establish their superiority, claim historicity for their founders. But Western scholars have also questioned the historicity of Jesus Christ. They have shown that the gospels were written towards the end of the first century, some forty to eighty years after the supposed crucifixion of Christ, and that there was considerable interpolation afterwards. Thus the letters of Paul do not mention many extraordinary details of Jesus’ life. Even the post-Pauline letters written before 90 AD do not contain any convincing historical details. It now seems highly unlikely that any of the sayings attributed to Jesus in the Gospels was ever spoken by a historical figure. Hoffman10 concludes, ‘scholars now count it a certainty that the Gospels are compilations of “traditions” cherished by the early Christians rather than historical annals’.

The Koran extensively quotes from Pentateuch (called Taurat after Torah in Hebrew) i.e. the first five books of the Old Testament. Now the present opinion of the western scholars is that instead of being written by or revealed to Moses by God, it is a work of four different writers and edited by a fifth person around 400 BC. Hence the early prophets are probably not historic figures, but only legends.11
We have already seen that the same applies to Jesus. It is even doubted that they existed at all. Now the question arises that if the Biblical Prophets and their history is itself doubtful, what veracity does the Koran have as an eternal truth revealed by God himself, considering the fact that the Koran too acknowledges the old Testament to be an intrinsic part of the history of Islam.

The Last Prophet

A group of scholars, Cook, Crone and Hinds12 continuing the work of Wansbrough. took an even more radical stand. They regarded the entire traditional Islamic history down at least to the time of Abd al Malik (685-705 AD) as a later fabrication. As a counter check, they studied the contemporary, neighbouring non-Muslim sources like the Greek, Syrian and Armenian. A totally unexpected picture emerged, as a result. The only facts they could confirm were that a merchant called Muhammad existed, that something significant happened to him in 622 (the year of Hijra), and that Abraham was central to his teachings. But there is no mention of Mecca, no indication that Muhammad’s career unfolded in inner Arabia and no reference to the Koran until the last years of the seventh century. Also, the Muslims prayed in a direction much further north than Mecca; hence their sanctuary could not have been in Mecca. Also when the first Koranic quotations appeared on coins and inscriptions towards the end of the seventh century, they showed divergence from the canonical texts. The earliest Greek source speaks of Muhammad being alive in 634 AD, two years after his death as per the accepted version of Islamic traditions. An Armenian chronicler of the 660s describes Muhammad as establishing a community which comprised both Arabs and Jews with the aim of conquering Palestine. The break with the Jews is placed immediately after the Arab conquest of Jerusalem. The oldest Greek source makes the sensational statement that the prophet who had appeared among the Arabs (Saracens) was proclaiming the coming of the (Jewish) messiah, and speaks of the Jews who mix with the Arabs, and the danger to life and limb by falling into the hands of these Jews and Arabs.

On the basis of available non Muslim evidence, Cook and Crone13 give a new account of the rise of Islam. Muhammad told his Arab followers that as descendants of Abraham through his first son, Ishmael. they too had a claim to the land God had promised to Abraham and his seed. His message appeared as Judaic messianism which lead to intimacy with Jews and marked hostility towards Christians. The Arabs soon quarreled with the Jews and their attitude softened towards Christians. But they yet had to develop a religious identity and religious structures. Here they were influenced by Samaritan philosophy. The latter were an offshoot of the Jews but they had a separate identity. They only accepted Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament and had a high regard for Moses. Under their influence, the Arabs proceeded to pattern their faith after Moses as follows
Moses Exodus Pentateuch Mt. Sinai Shechem
Muhammad Hijra Koran Mt. Hira Mecca

Evidence Of Fabrication

I. There is no reference to Mecca in early non- Muslim references. Mecca was supposed to be a very flourishing trading centre as it was on the trade route from South to North Arabia (i.e. from India to Europe) when Muhammad was born, but Crone has shown that geographically it does not fall on this natural trade route. In fact, the alignment of early mosques and literary evidence of Christian sources, suggests that the direction in which the early Muslims prayed was northwest Arabia. Mecca was chosen as a Muslim sanctuary much later in order to relocate their history within Arabia, to complete their break with Judaism and finally to establish their separate religious identity.

2. According to the traditions, Koran had many versions and Utthman destroyed all but one. Similarly Hajja) (661-714 AD), the governor of Iraq, had collected and destroyed all the writings of the early Muslims.

3. The Koran is strikingly lacking in overall structure. It appears to be a product of hasty and imperfect editing of materials from a plurality of traditions.

4. Many traditions in the Hadith appear to have been invented to explain the presence of some passages in Koran. Seemingly precise data seems to have been cooked up to provide authenticity. Thus the early historian, lbn Ishaq (d. 768) was vague about many events, whereas Waqidi (d. 823) gave precise dates and other details for the same events! If so much spurious information had accumulated in two generations, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that even more must have accumulated in the three generations between the Prophet and lbn Ishaq
Having looked into the weak foundations on which stands the historical edifice of Islam, we shall next see the message of Koran.


The Koran or Quran is written in Arabic and is divided into chapters called suras or surhas and verses called ayah. There are 114 suras and about 6200 verses. Except for the first sura, the Fatihah, the longest sura is placed first and the shortest at the last, without any regard for their chronology, that is, the temporal order in which they were revealed to Muhammad. The original text, the Muslims believe, is in Heaven, and it is eternal and uncreated. To the Muslim, the Koran remains the final word of God sent down to Muhammad, God’s messenger, through the Angel Gabriel, in perfect Arabic. Not a single syllable can be altered. To a non-Muslim, the Koran although very poetic in many places and exhorting usual morality, is also tedious, repetitive and even shockingly violent.

Sometimes it appears that it is Muhammad himself who is speaking and not God! This difficulty has been obviated by inserting the phrase ‘say’ meaning that God has commanded Muhammad to speak thus. In a few cases the translators have themselves inserted ‘say’, not found in the Arabic original as in sura 6.104,6.114, 27.91 and 17.1. Only Fatihah, a prayer or invocation, is an exception. But in some instances this leads to confusion. Thus in sura III, where Muhammad’s uncle and bitter .opponent, Abu Lahab is bitterly cursed, the words appear to be unworthy of God’ (and even of a prophet). Even some Muslim scholars and laymen have felt that God could not have called such passages ‘a noble Koran on a well guarded tablet’. And if we were to apply the same reasoning to all parts of Koran, there would be very little that was suited to be the word of God, since very little in the Koran is worthy of a merciful and compassionate, all-wise God. We also have instances of the Almighty God praising Himself and swearing by Himself.

The Language

We have earlier seen that there is only one standard text approved by Uthman. But here the limitations of the Arabic script came into play. The text was unpointed (i.e. without dots) and hence many consonants like ‘b’ and ‘f or ‘th’ could not be distinguished from each other. This applied to several letters like ‘f and ‘q’, ‘t’ and ‘z’. Pointing was done much later and this led to a lot of confusion. The vowels presented even a worse problem since the Arabs had no linguistic symbols for short vowels. These were introduced much later, further adding to the confusion. Adams ‘“ notes, “it must be emphasised that far from there being a single text passed down inviolate from the times of Uthman’s commission, literally thousands of variant readings of particular verses were known”. Eventually in the tenth century, some standardization took place but even this resulted in fourteen possibilities. At present two versions of the Koran are in use. Hence it is very difficult to ascertain the exact word Allah had used originally.

Although the Koran has been declared to be in pure Arabic, scholars like Jeffery have identified around 275 words which may be considered to be ‘foreign’. Of course, Muslim scholars counter this allegation by pointing out that these words, although borrowed, were earlier a part of Arabic at the time of the Prophet. The word ‘Koran’ itself comes from the Syriac, and Muhammad evidently got it from Christian sources. Critics have also indicated the stylistic weaknesses of Koran. Ah Dashti estimates that there are more than one hundred aberrations from the normal rules and structure of Arabic.

Missing and Added Verses

It also appears that there are some missing verses and some added verses. For example, there is a tradition from the Prophet’s wife, Aisha, that there once existed a ‘verse of stoning’ where stoning to death was prescribed as punishment for fornication. This is no longer to be found in the accepted texts of the Koran and instead the Koranic punishment for this crime only prescribes one hundred lashes. But the early prophets carried out stoning for adultery, and Islamic law still prescribes it. According to the above tradition, more than one hundred verses from the original, are missing. Shiites of course claim that Uthman left out a great many verses favourable to Ali, for political reasons. Muhammad himself, as we know, is said to have suppressed the now famous Satanic Verses. The authenticity of many verges has been called into question not only by modern Western scholars, but even by Muslims themselves. On the other hand, most scholars believe that there are many interpolations making the Koranic style uneven. Some of them are of a political and dogmatic character, such as 42.36-38, which seems to have been added to justify the elevation of Uthman as Caliph to the detriment of Ali. Of course, any interpolation, however trivial, is fatal to the Muslim dogma that the Koran is literally the eternal, uncreated word of God revealed to Muhammad and thereafter unalterable and unchanged.

Contradictions And Abrogations

Far worse is the matter of abrogation or cancellation of passages in the Koran. The Koran abounds in contradictions and hence Muslim theologians have a rather convenient strategy by which they abrogate or replace certain passages and verses with other verses and passages with a contrary meaning, and which, they claim, was subsequently revealed by Allah to Muhammad. This problem of contradiction would never have arisen had there been a specific chronology of the revelations, which would have enabled us to determine which verse was given earlier and which later. In the absence of it, there is obviously a lot of arbitrariness in determining the time of the replaced verse. There has been some unanimity in determining the Meccan i.e. early suras and Medinan i.e. later suras. While the former has many passages preaching tolerance when Muhammad’s faith and supporters were still in a minority, the later Medinan suras, when Muhammad was already a winner, abound in intolerance like the famous verse of sura 9.5, ‘Slay the idolaters wherever you find them ‘. This verse, along with others given in Appendix A, obviously nullifies the earlier 124 verses that exhorted tolerance and patience, and which are quoted extensively by the Indian Muslim scholars to deny accusations that the Koran and Islam are inherently violent and intolerant.

As an example let us take the oft quoted short sura 109, ‘The Unbelievers’, thought to be a Meccan sura, which says, “Say: Unbelievers I do not worship what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship. I shall never worship what you worship, nor will you ever worship what I worship. You have your own religion, and I have mine. ‘ How can this be reconciled with the numerous examples given in Appendix A (sections on Idolaters and Instructions to Believers) which are mostly Medinan verses and preach hatred and intolerance? A reading of these directives from Allah leaves no doubt that so far as non- Muslims are concerned, the Koran is not a religious book at all but a war manual and a penal code!

We also have strange incidences of an earlier verse cancelling a later one in the same sura. Thus verse 2.234 replaces verse 2.240 (dealing with maintenance of widows). In all, over 200 verses (some scholars estimate the figure to be 500, i.e. about 8% of Koran), have been cancelled or abrogated by later ones.
The doctrine of abrogation makes a mockery of the Muslim dogma that the Koran is a faithful and unalterable reproduction of the original scriptures that are preserved in heaven. If God’s words are eternal, uncreated and absolute, then how can we talk of God’s words being superseded or becoming obsolete? Are some words of God to be preferred to others? And who is to judge this? The doctrine of abrogation has indeed been very convenient to bale out Muslim scholars and politicians out of the difficulties that such questions create!


The Koran is unambiguously monotheistic. No other God except Allah is recognised and this has led to immense intolerance and violence. Now the question arises whether monotheism is essentially superior to polytheism. Philosophers like Schopenhaur and Hume have shown that intolerance is intrinsic to monotheism; an only God is by nature a jealous God who will not allow another to exist. On the other hand, polytheistic Gods are naturally tolerant, they live and let live as is seen in the non-abrahamic faiths in India and the rest of Asia and the pre-lslamic and pre-Christian faiths of Europe. Americans. thc Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand and Africa. Monotheistic intolerant dogmas like Christianity, Islam and Marxism have been responsible for almost all the violence, totalitarianism and destruction on earth.

But even monotheism after some time introduces mediators and agents like saints, demi-gods and angels and slowly introduces idolatry in subtle form (e.g. Cross. Mother Mary). Islam officially recognises the existence of angels and jinns and extensively classifies several categories of them. Superstitions are also prevalent, only they lake another form.

Eliminating polytheism in Arabia has been hailed as Muhammad’s great achievement, but it is yet to be proved that as a result, Muslims have become better people or that they have attained a higher degree of evolution than those of other faiths. Nor did they evince any need for spiritual solace and were quite content with their customs and rituals. In fact Margoliouth15 states. ‘When (Muhammad) was at the head of a robber community it is probable that the demoralising influence began to be felt, it was then that men who had never broken an oath learned that they might evade their obligations, and that men to whom the blood of the clansmen had been as their own, began to shed it with impunity in the cause of God, and that lying and treachery in the cause of Islam received divine approval, hesitation to perjure oneself that cause being reprehended as a weakness. It was then. too, that coveting of goods and wives (possessed by the Unbelievers) was avowed without discouragement from the Prophet.’ The Arabs preferred Allah to the old gods because he delivered the goods - lands, loot and women - here and now.

As Crone16 has put it: The Arabs were told, ‘if you hold out...then their property, their women, their children and their country will be yours’. God could scarcely have been more explicit. He told the Arabs that they had a right lo despoil others of their women, children and land. or indeed they had a duty to do so: Holy War consisted in obeying. Muhammad’s God thus elevated tribal militancv and rapaciousness to the heights of supreme religious virtues.


The omnipotence of Allah is so absolute that man cannot be said lo have a will of his own as will be evident from the verses on fatalism in Appendix A. But as in other cases there is contradiction here also as seen m the verses below:

1. As for Thamud. We offered them Our guidance, but they preferred blindness to guidance (41.16)
2. This is the truth from your Lord. Let him who will, believe in it, and whom he wilt, deny it (I8.28)

Thus man is not responsible for his acts, and it seems doubly absurd to punish him in the sadistic manner as shown above. The Koran describes hell in gory details in order to put fear in the hearts of men as can be seen from Appendix A. Moreover the punishment is perpetual, there is no release from it forever. There is an inordinate disparity between finite offences and infinite punishment. According to John of Damascus living in the eighth century, the difference between predestination and freewill is one of the chief points of divergence between Christianity and Islam. Mill has said that there is something truly disgusting and wicked in the thought that God purposefully creates beings to fill hell with, beings who in any way cannot be held responsible for their actions since God Himself chooses to lead them astrav. Allah is omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent, yet He is proud, jealous and behaves like a petulant tyrant.
Having reviewed some of the contradictions and intolerance in the Koran, we shall now briefly survey, the Hadilh or Hadis, its companion.


We have seen earlier that the Koran and Hadith were more or less simultaneously compiled so that they complemented each other. Ram Swarup17 has written a brilliant commentary on the Sahih Muslim, one of the six authentic texts with 7190 traditions grouped in 1243 chapters and 41 books as well as the compiler’s notes on them. We highlight below some of his important findings. The Hadith constitutes a voluminous literature describing even insignificant details of the Prophet’s life. Every hadis has a text {matn) and a chain of transmission (isnad). The same text may have several chains, but each text must be traced back to a Companion (as-hab), i.e. a person who came into personal contact with the Prophet. The Companions related their stories to their successors (tabiun), who passed them on to the succeeding generations. It is said that there were over six lakh traditions, but after much debate, only a few thousand have been accepted as ‘authentic’! Six such collections have stood the test of time.

Muslim theologians do not make any distinction between the Koran and the Hadith. To them the Hadith is the Koran in action, revelation made concrete in the life of the Prophet. In the Koran, Allah speaks through Muhammad, in the Sunnah he acts through him. Thus Muhammad’s life is a visible expression of Allah’s utterances in the Koran. God provides the divine principle, Muhammad the living pattern. Allah with the help of His Prophet has provided for every situation. Whether he is going to a mosque or his bedroom or the toilet, whether he is making love or war, there is a command and pattern to follow which has been faithfully adopted by Muslims wherever they are. The morality of the thoughts and actions of believers is defined and derived from the Prophet’s actions and is valid until the end of lime. There is also no reference to any inner quest, which is the-subject of our next chapter.
The very first book in Sahih Muslim is the ‘Book of Faith’ containing 92 chapters. It is stressed that belief in 41iah iions is not sufficient; it must be accompanied by belief in the apostleship of Muhammad. It holds a wrong theology to be worse than wicked deeds. The second and third books deal with acts of physical and ritualislic cleanliness. The fourth book, ‘Book of Prayer’ is the longest with 203 chapters. The fifth, “Book of Zakaf is on charity tax. Charity is confined only to the believers. Apart from helping the poor and the needy, the funds of the Zakat are also utilised for religious warfare and gifts for new converts. Although Zakat initially provided the wherewithal for the religion’s survival, it was subsequently no longer necessary as the means for survival because of huge war booties, twenty percent of which were appropriated to Zakat.

The sixth and seventh books concern fasting in the month of Ramadan and Hajj, both counted among the pillars of Islam, Many of these practices have been adopted from the pagan Arabs although paganism has been strongly denounced in Islam. The eighth deals with marriage and divorce. Muhammad discouraged self-denial and forbade celibacy. A Muslim man may have only four wives at a time, but there was no restriction on the numbers of slave concubines and women obtained as war booty.
The ninth book deals with business practices and the next three, the tenth, eleventh and the twelfth books deal with inheritances, gifts and bequests. The next two, the thirteenth and the fourteenth books of the Hadith deal with vows and oaths. The fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth books concern crime and punishment. The punishments are quite harsh but a Muslim is not punished with death unless he has killed another Muslim, or has been found guilty of adultry or has forsaken Islam. A woman’s testimony has only half the weight of a man’s.

Jihad And War Booty

The seventeenth book is on the all important concept of Jihad. Theologically it is an intolerant idea; a tribal God, Allah, trying to be universal through conquest. Historically, it was an imperialist urge masked in religious phraseology. Allah made war booty lawful for Muslims and this proved to be the most important incentive for marauding Muslim hordes who overran settlements and nations in the name of Islam. The distribution of the booty among the hordes was always a heated and disputed issue. The Prophet described war as a ‘stratagem’ while sonic have construed it as ‘cunning’. In the event of an armed conflict one fifth of the plundered booty went to the Prophet. If the enemy surrendered without war, the whole of it belonged to him or to the Muslim victors after him. Nothing was left in the hands of the infidels and what could not be carried away was destroyed. The prisoners were either taken as slaves or exchanged for a hefty ransom. Jizya was levied on the conquered if they were non- Muslims (zimmis. or second class citizens), and besides being made to pay the special tax, they were also required to be supplicant lo the conquerors. The issue of Jihad is again covered in the next book on Government in which, eternal Paradise as the reward for Jihad is elaborated. Since all territories which are not Islamic (dar-al-harb or region of war) have to be conquered by Muslims to be so converted (dar-al-Islam), jihad was the most important activity of the faithful in any nation.

Spiritual And Political Leadership

A closed politics or civics is a necessary corollary of a closed theology. The Khalifa or the successors of the prophet who constituted the spiritual and political leadership of Arabia had to be from the Quraish tribe to which Muhammad belonged. Members of this tribe were considered supreme in all matters and thus was established one of the most durable and privileged caste in history. The Saiyids, the direct descendants of the Prophet were the cream of this caste. Absolute obedience of the ummah to the ruler is expected.

The remaining books of the Hadith cover various other aspects of mundane life
19 Hunting; rules regarding suitability of animals for eating
20 Sacrifices (of animals for worship)
21 Drinks
22 Clothing and Decorations
23 General Behaviour
24 Salutations and Greetings which also covers magic, spells, medicines, Poisons, etc.
25 Use of correct Words
26 Poetry
27 Visions and Dreams

Although Muhammad did not prohibit drinking in his Mecca days, he prohibited it later. But drinking of wine and other kinds of alcohol is fairly widespread in Islamic countries especially among the social, cultural and intellectual elite. Pre -Islam Arabs were fond of wine and hence it could not be easily eliminated. The Koran expressly forbids pork as an abomination and this can be understood only if we see these restrictions as attempts of Muslim self-definition, especially vis-a-vis Judaism and Christianity. Pigs were not known to constitute a part of the culinary habits of pre-lslamic Arabs. Chess was forbidden. Homosexuality was tolerated and therefore prevalent in all sections of Arabian society. The next two chapters deal with the Prophet and his companions. The bodily characteristics of the Prophet have been described in great detail. His many miracles are also detailed. The Prophet’s Companions, especially Aisha, his favourite wife, are also eulogised.

The next four books are
30 Virtues, Good Manners and Relationships
31 Destiny
32 Knowledge
33 Remembrance of Allah

We have already referred to the theory of predestination, subject of the thirty-first book. Muhammad believes that everything is predetermined, ‘Evil one is he who is evil in his mother’s womb’. The next two small books deal with knowledge and remembrance of Allah. There are ninety-nine sacred names of Allah whose remembrance ensures entry into paradise. Knowledge refers only to that found in the Koran and that which should he implicitly believed. The next five books deal with the after-world

34 Heart-Melting Traditions
35 Repentance
36 Hypocrites
37 Day of Judgement
38 Paradise
39 Turmoil and Portents of Last Hour

Heaven And Hell

Muhammad says that the majority (among Muslims) of those entering Hell will be women, and they will only be a minority in Paradise. He says that he has solved all the problems of the world except those created by women. The poor fare better in his hands. While he will not allow everyone to have his own God, Muhammad believes that everyone has his own devil (qarin) attached to him, who leads him astray - the eastern polytheist theologies see a secret Godhead in man; a prophetic one, a devil!
The book on Paradise emphasises more the description of hell than that of heaven. And the occupants of the paradise are able to see the tortures undergone by their unfortunate brethren in hell and rejoice that they have been spared! The Koran describes in great detail rivers of water, milk and honey, flowing in the most beautiful fruit gardens of Paradise and numerous youths of perpetual freshness and beautiful virgin damsels waiting on the lucky inmates. The pleasures of paradise are eternal. Unfortunately the faithful Muslim women are denied analogous rewards. There are seven grades of habitation in Paradise, with the apostles occupying exclusive quarters.

In Hell, a smoky Fire seventy times more furious than anything known on earth will wrap the inmates and large stones will hurtle down on them. Their torment when they are fed with molten metals and the bitterest plants is described in great detail. In some of the seven regions in Hell, there are countless deadly snakes and scorpions to torment the occupants. Obviously the punishment is eternal and for the unbelievers it begins right from the day of death. They do not wait for the day of resurrection like the Muslims. Of course for most Muslims it is only a purgatory with a relatively comfortable environment. Hell is an important elements of the theology finding full scope for
hatred and misanthropy.

Allah‘s Mercy And Allah‘s Judgement

The thirty-fifth book deals with the all important subject of repentance. The Prophet says, ‘if you were not to commit sins, Allah would have swept you out of existence and would have replaced you by another people who have committed sin, and then asked forgiveness from Allah’. A man’s sinning is doubly rewarding. It helps him as well as his Maker. It helps the believer to realise that he is a favoured creature and provides an opportunity’ for Allah to exercise His mercy. It is not an accident that religious theologies of man’s sinful nature, like that of Islam and Christianity have also sought a God of mercy. Of course His Mercy is reserved for the believers only and the unbelievers and pagans have only His wrath in store. In fact He punishes the unbelievers for the sins of the believers. In this way both His mercy and His wrath is established. Muhammad says, ‘when it will he the Day of Resurrection, Allah would deliver to every Muslim a Jew or a Christian and say: ‘That is your rescue from the Hell-Fire’. Allah’s sense of fairness and justice is no better than that of the believers! Thus the believers have created Allah in their own image. Repentance is not only for the other world, it is very much part of this world also. Apostasy is severely punished. Doubters were seen as hypocrites. Social cohesion and political and ideological compliance were secured by means of social ostracism, psychological pressures, political boycott, and ideological untouchability. In offending the party, religion or the prophet, even more than the after-life, you face the wrath of its strongmen and hangmen. It is no wonder that Bertrand Russel considers Communism and Islam similar - ‘Muhammadanism and Bolshevism are
Practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of this world’.
According to Muir, one of the earliest English biographers of Muhammad, the ninth sura. ‘The Repentance’ is chronologically the last sura revealed to the Prophet. The Muslim scholars also date it on the occasion of the capture of Mecca, a little before the Prophet’s death. It is entirely fitting that a sura of such bitterness, condemnation, and inspiration should be the last inspiration of a life that breathed such pathological hatred toward the non-believers who constituted then, and do even now, the majority of men and women in the world.

The fortieth book deals with ‘Piety and Softening of Hearts’ and along with the thirtieth book contains several usual moral teachings like kindness towards widows, orphans and the poor, the need to practise charity, and abhors vanity of worldly riches and ostentatious display of one’s deeds. Even here the great theological sin of polytheism does not go unmentioned and the teachings are restricted only to the ummah. There is no elaboration of inner life at all. It is only an outer code without any sublimation of the soul. The forty-first and the last book in Sahih Muslim is called ‘The book of Commentary’ giving superficial information about some of the Koranic verses, particularly the context in which they were revealed.


The scriptures alone are not sufficient to guide the follower in his daily life. They have to be interpreted by competent authorities. Islam does not have a formal system like the Catholic institution with the Pope as its supreme head and a well-formed Catholic Hierarchy which issues canons to cover various situations. Instead they have the sharia (fiqh), i.e. Islamic law based on four principles – the
Koran, the savings and doings of the Prophet or Kunna summarised in the Hadith, consensus or ijma of scholars, and kiyas, the method of reasoning by analogy.
Interpreters or faqih, specialists in law, are even now needed to interpret various obscurities in the Sharia. Many schools of interpretation sprang up, out of which four, all surprisingly valid, have survived. The Muslims in India follow the Hanifi school. In the beginning of 900 AD, the Muslim law became rigidly and inflexibly fixed because scholars of all schools felt that all essential questions had been thoroughly discussed and settled. All future activity was confined to explanation and interpretation. This rigidity enabled it to maintain stability over the centuries which saw the decay of the political institutions of Islam.

In spite of this rigidity, rulings by the ulemas (plural of alim or one trained in the religious sciences) are needed lo deal with any situation that arises and is beyond the comprehension of the ordinary Muslim. Such rulings or decisions are called Fatwas, which have become particularly notorious after the fatwa issued on Salman Rushdie for his book, ‘Satanic Verses’. Although a very rigid religion, Islam has given birth to a number of sects over time. These, as well as the position of women in Islam and spiritual cults like Sufis, particularly in the Indian context, are discussed in Chapter four which deals with Muslim society in India.

1. Twenty-three Years. A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammed. All Dashti, London, 1985
2. Why I am not a Muslim, lbn Warraq. Prometheus Books, New York, 1995 .
3. Time for Stock Taking. Whither Sangh Pariwar, Ed. Sits Ram Goel, Voice Of India, New Delhi, 1997
4. Some Blunders of Indian Historica! Research, Oak, P. N. Bharati Sahitya Sadan. New Delhi.
5. Muslim Studies, 2 vols. Translated by C.R. Barber and S.M. Stern, Goidziher Ignaz, London, 1967-71
6. Islamic History. A Framework for inquiry, Humphreys, R. S., Princeton, 1991
Mohammedanism. Hurgronje Snouck, C, New York, 1916
7. Russia and Islam, Smimov, N.A., London, 1934
8. An Introduction to Islamic Law, Schacht Joseph, Oxford, 1964
9. Quranic Studies Wansbrough, J. Oxford, 1977
10. The Origins of Chistianity. Hoffman R. Joseph Amherst, N Y., 1985. p. 177
11. The Unauthorised Version, Fox R L., London, 1991, p. 176
12. Muhammad. Cook. M ., Oxford, 1983
God’s Caliph. Crone P., and Hinds M., Cambridge, 1986
13. Hagarism. The Making of the Muslim World, Crone P., and Cook, M., Cambridge, 1977
14. Quran : The Text and its History, Adams C.E., in Encyclopedia of Religion, pp 157-76.
15. Mohammed and the rise of Islam, Margoliouth D.S.. London, 1914, p 149.
16. Meccan Trade and Rise of Islam. Crone P., Oxford, 1987, pp 234-45
17. Understanding Islam through Hadis, RamSwarup, Voice of India. New Delhii, 1987

Ch.2 : Islam and Christianity – A Hindu View


Hindus generally take a very charitable and romantic view of other religions, particularly the Abrahamic faiths, to the point of ‘Satgunavikruti’, a word coined by Veer Savarkar to describe that excessive goodness which leads to perversity. Hindu scholars have therefore never studied these religions closely in order to compare their world view with that of the Hindu religion. Conditioned to an attitude of Sarva-dharma-samabhava, it would not occur to Hindus to even presume that some of these religions can he inherently violent and inspired by hatred and intolerance. This lack of our scholarship has made us to rely on the biased scholarship of Western and Islamic scholars. Here the example of Adi Shankara comes lo mind. He reestablished Hinduism after defeating Buddhist scholars in intense religious debates covering the entire gamut of human existence, and as a result, they acknowledged the superiority of the Hindu religion and became his disciples. Sadly this tradition of studying the scriptures and traditions of other religions and asserting the superiority of our dharma has not been carried forward
since the time of Adi Sankara.

Consequently, Hindus have been deeply conditioned by the work of Western scholars on Hindu scriptures and Hindu religion to believe that Hinduism is not a historical faith but is based only on mythology and steeped in superstition and irrational beliefs and hence can benefit from coming into contact with ‘progressive’ Islam and Western Christianity. Hence it is very encouraging that scholars like the late Sri Ram Swarup1 have made efforts in this direction and published books on this subject which cover admirably the fundamental differences between the Semitic faiths and the non-Abrahamic, the so-called ‘pagan’ or ‘heathen’ faiths. The purpose of including Christianity in this discussion is that both Islam and Christianity are off-shoots of the same parent religion. In fact, Islam is only a logical and Final destination of the process initiated by Christianity.

The God of both teaches them to prosecute religions other than their own; both are dogmatic, fundamentalist and theological; both lack yoga or a proper science and discipline of inner exploration; both are aggressively self-righteous; and both by nature do not know true theory of peaceful coexistence. Another reason for including Christianity is that more critical and scholarly literature is available on this religion as a result of Renaissance, Enlightenment and the process of modernisation, whereas the intolerance of Islam has prevented such development which still resembles the Christianity of middle ages.

Categories of World Faiths

The religions of the world can be essentially classified in two categories. The present dominant category is that of the Semitic faiths (which may well be described to be ideologies or dogmas) - the monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and their latest offshoot, the atheist Marxism. The other comprises of Eastern religions and philosophies like Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. It also includes various pre-Christian and pre-lslam faiths which pervaded all over the world before they were extinguished by the aggressive Islam and Christianity. The latter have distorted the meaning of the word ‘pagan’ and ‘heathen’ which essentially signify non-Semitic faiths. Due to constant propaganda these words are now synonymous with barbarism and irreligiosity. When this is clear, the word ‘pagan’ will not be as pejorative as it has been made to appear. It will he used frequently below since it enables us to consolidate various existing and extinct faiths and practices all over the world and hence unify various worldwide approaches leading to a common movement to establish a tolerant, humane and enlightened world order or dharma. Such a transformation is vital for co-existence.
The term ‘Hindu’ (or HINDUS as used in subsequent chapters) is used as encompassing all the religions and faiths originating in the Indian subcontinent, and apart from the Sanatanis who are usually called Hindus, includes the Buddhists. Sikhs and Jains too. Hindus are renowned for their acceptance and respect of others’ beliefs (Sarva-dharma-samabhava); they consider the land of their birth and this civilization as being wholly sacred (Punyabhoomi); they all believe in the law of karma, and know that all beings in Creation are the manifestation of the same Divinity. To them God is a unify and not a unit.

The Hindu Mission

Needless to say, the Hindu religion which embodies Dharma, continues to exist in spite of the relent- less attack on her for the last 800 years, and truly qualifies for its name ‘Sanatana’ or eternal dharma. It is eminently qualified to lead this movement, and this is perhaps what Sri Aurobindo implied in his message on the occasion of Indian Independence, “For I have always held and said that India was arising, ... as a helper and leader of she whole human race; the gift by India of the spiritual knowledge and her means for the spiritualisation of life to the whole race... The spiritual gift of India to the world has already begun….That movement will grow; amid the disasters of time more and more eyes are turning towards her with hope and these is even an increasing resort not only to her teachings, but to the psychic and spiritual practice.”

Islam and Christianity- Similar in Content

The spiritual equipage of Islam and Christianity is similar to each other. Their spiritual contents, both in quality and quantum, are about the same. The central piece of the two creeds is “one true God” of masculine gender who makes himself known to his believers through a single, favoured individual. The theory of mediumistic communication has not only a psychology, but also a theology laid down long ago in the oldest part of the Bible, m the Deuteronomy [18.19.20). The biblical God says that lie will speak to his chosen people through his chosen prophets : “I will tell him what to say, and he will tell the people everything I command. He will speak in my name, and I will punish anyone who refuses to obey him”. Similar sentiments are echoed even more vigorously in Islam. The whole prophetic spirituality, whether found in the Bible or in the Quran, is mediumistic in essence. Here everything takes place through a proxy, that is, through an intermediary or the sole agent. Here man knows God only through the proxy. The proxy is a favoured individual, a privileged mediator. “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him”, says the Bible. The Quran makes the same claim. “Muhammad is God’s Apostle” says the Allah of the Quran through his last prophet (48.29). Moreover, both of them are intrinsically incapable of promoting universal peace and harmony. The seeds of conflict, not only amongst the “believers” but also with the rest of the world, lie at the very heart of the two ideologies. Each of the two is presided over by a bellicose God, each chief of his own hosts; each claims sole sovereignty. A larger charity and mutual respect of others’ faiths and even tolerance and co-existence cannot be the strong points of such theologies.

Hence it is not surprising that the faithful belonging to these two religions were at each other’s throats when they finally came face to face. For centuries, they fought with fire and sword. At one time it seemed that Islam had gotten the better of crusading Christianity when it was knocking at the door of Europe. But the tide turned in favour of the West and Christianity when Europe eventually colonised the Americas, Asia and Africa and established empires all over the world and could not he challenged. It also added another weapon to its arsenal - ideological warfare. Christian theologians tried to prove the historicity of Jesus with the help of Quran, while the Muslims tried to prove Muhammad’s mission with the help of the Bible. The controversy was sharp, as it often is between creeds which share common beliefs and aims and methods. Both believed in the same God, but each claimed sole heirship to His throne. Both were rational in their critique of each other’s faith, but were emotional and unwilling to listen to reason when it came to defending their own. Although this quarrel goes on, their real and ultimate target remains destroyed idolatry and polytheism, which in effect means all religions of the past and most religions of the present. The Church has always appreciated Islam’s role in “cleansing the world of the scourge of idolatry, and preparing the way for the reception of a purer faith.” Similarly, Islam acknowledges Christians to be “people of the Book”, no small honour this and yet it does not stop them from waging murderous wars against each other wherever one or the other is in the minority - the countries of the middle-east (Lebanon), and south- east (East Timor and Irian Jaya) Asia and the nations of Africa (Sudan, Nigeria) being some of the most recent examples of their bitter enemity.

Exclusive, Jealous God

It is well known that Christianity and Islam derived their much vaunted monotheism from Judaism, but the Jews themselves were not monotheists in the beginning. Like other neighbouring peoples, they had their tribal god towards whom they felt a special loyalty but it did not occur to them yet to deny the gods of others. That other gods do not exist or were false, and that their god alone was true and enjoyed some sort of universal sovereignty, was a later development which had to wait till the arrival of their prophets, beginning with Moses. It seems that the early Jews did not know Jehovah according to the biblical testimony itself. ‘’By name Jehovah was I not known to them,” says the Bible (Exod.6.3). It is possible that the Jews may have borrowed Egyptian Gods, at least in some measure, while they were in Egypt and that they continued worshipping them even during the days of their wanderings in the desert. There are also indications that the new religion, whatever it was and whenever adopted, was imposed against great opposition and with great ferocity. While Jehovah revealed himself to Moses as the only God of the Jews, they were worshipping another God under the symbol of a Bull. “Slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour,” ordered Jehovah to those who truly followed him. Three thousand men were killed in a day and a new religion was inaugurated. The killers were consecrated and they became the priestly class, the Levites. The precedent for many similar such genocide in the name of religion in future, was thus established as early as in Biblical times.
In course of time, this God, in all his exclusiveness and jealousy, was adopted by Christianity and Islam. In fact, in their hands, he became still more exclusive and jealous. He also became more ambitious and bellicose. While with the Jews, he remained their God alone; but, except spasmodically, he refused the be the God of others. Other people had to make do with their own Gods, howsoever “false”, and these Gods had to be content with their own followers, howsoever benighted and out of grace with Jehovah. But things changed with the advent of Christianity and Islam. Through them, Jehovah came into his own and He offered to be THE GOD of all. This God was not a universal principle but a singularity, not a force of unification (monism) but one of separation (monotheism). The Semitic God lacks interiority – these is nothing to show that his followers know of a “god or gods in the heart” but they speak of a “god in heaven” or a sky –God. He also lacks universality and has suffered further contraction and denotation with the passage of time.

He asked His followers to go in all directions and preach His Name, to “go out in the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in.” He armed them and asked them to declare from housetops several times a day that He alone was true and that other Gods were false. Other could refuse this invitation or call only at their own peril, spiritual and physical. As His followers became more powerful, the threat became increasingly more physical!

The Prophets Of God

There is another major difference between Judaism and the two religions which were in fact off-shoots of Judaism. Though the Jewish God was single, yet he spoke through many prophets. Moses was probably the most important, but a plurality or prophethood was recognised. It is unfortunate that the Judaic religion could not take full advantage of this principle. As the Mosaic-Monotheistic tradition was too strong, in practice, the Prophetic message tended to be the same - more of the same Mosaic God. For the same reason, even some movements among -Jews like those represented by the Essenes, influenced by Hinduism-Buddhism, could not break away sufficiently from that tradition.

Just as the Jews finally believed that they are the special people of the only God, their Prophets and Messiahs also transformed likewise. They had initially many and Jesus also began as a Messiah of his people. But as he was rejected by them, he began to declare that God was terminating his covenant with Jews and entering into a new one with those who believed in His Son. Christians replaced Jews as God’s chosen people and Jesus himself was converted from a Messiah into a Saviour, into God’s First Begotten Son, the Intermediary between God and Man. This transformation took some time in the happening, and in order to get the better of their critics and their opponents, the Christians invented the myth of a Saviour, the Dying God and His Resurrection. In fact, many scholars regard Jesus’ life closer to myth than to history, and whether there was any historical Jesus at all is a much discussed question in academic circles (see previous Chapter). Apart from the figure of the Saviour, Christianity also borrowed most of its central rites from other creeds and mystery cults prevalent at that time. Its own contribution were the Cross, the concept of Hell, Satan, possession and exorcism.

Thus with time the idea of prophet took a new turn. It was not enough that God talked to you; what was equally important was that he did not talk to anyone else. And by the time Muhammad came it was not enough to be A prophet; he had to be THE prophet. He declared that he was the most authentic spokesman of God up to his time and also for all time lo come as well, and that he was the seal of prophecy, and that through him religion was now finally made perfect, and that any old revelation was now redundant and a new one presumptuous. He was able to get it established through the display of superior brute force and now this dogma is the most important part of the Muslim creed and to question it is punishable by death.
The question is why were persons specifically chosen for the role of prophet? Why were certain things revealed to them which were kept hidden from others before’? Had they some special moral or spiritual qualities to qualify for these roles? All of them have made such claims without trying to justify them.

Summarising this development, just as the Semitic God was evolving in theology into becoming the ‘only one’, he was also becoming exclusive in his communication. Even when he had a chosen people, these people had no direct approach to Him. He told them that he will send them a prophet and He ‘will tell him what to say and he (the prophet) will tell the people everything I command. He will speak in my name and I shall punish anyone who refuses to obey him.” In due course, the intermediary became more than a medium. In Christianity, he became the Saviour, in Islam, he became the Intercessor and also the last Prophet through whom God ever spoke. Claims began to be made on the prophet’s behalf, claims almost as tall as for the God he represented.

In fact, with passage of time, God tended to become redundant and the intermediary took his place, who in turn was ‘represented by his own nominees. The New Testament says: “Salvation is to be found through him (Jesus) alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us”. At another place it says: “God put all things under Christ’s feet and gave him to the Church as the supreme Lord over all things.” The Koran makes even stronger claims for its Prophet. Such claims are offensive to man’s rational as well as spiritual sense (Buddha’s last message was, ‘Be your own light’), but they have proved highly profitable to those who speak in the name of these intermediaries. They represent a great vested interest.

Intolerance and its consequences

Intolerance must be the fruit of such bitter seeds. Other Gods must be dethroned, and so those who speak in the name of other Gods must die (Deut-18.18-19). Appendix A gives a number of verses from the Koran, which preach this even more stridently.
The Semitic God is jealous, and so is his sole prophet. Just like his God, he too can brook no rivals. Jesus tells us that “all who came before me were thieves and robbers” (Jn.l0.8). He warns his flock again and again against his rival claimants. “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Mt.7.15; or 24.4). Muhammad admitted to the historicity and legitimacy of some prophets before him, in order to give his own prophethood an ancestry, but he abolished further prophethood. He was the latest and also the last prophet, the seal of Prophecy.

The fact is that intolerance is in-built into the basic Semitic approach and cursing comes naturally to it. The Bible is full of curses invoked on rivals - gods, prophets, apostles, doctrines. For example, Paul told his Galatian followers that “should anyone preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed.” This tradition has continued and has been the strongest element of all branches of Christianity and Islam (see previous chapter as well as appendix A).

Christians claim that unlike the Jewish prophets, Jesus is an incarnation, an idea which was an innovation lo the Jewish tradition. It is not difficult to see that Christianity only incarnated a new religious intolerance! This tradition of intolerance Islam also faithfully continued with even greater zeal. Religious intolerance was there before, but it was spasmodic and it was not supported by a theology. It was only with the coming of Christianity and Islam that religious bigotry and arrogance descended on the earth on a pervasive scale and with a new destructive power. They know so little about themselves but they claim to know everything about God. And in imposing their definition upon others; they have killed millions of people. They have been even more fanatic about their founders. “If you won’t believe that you are redeemed by my redeemer’s blood, I’ll drown you in your own,” says the Christian, to put in the language of Aldous Huxley. The same is true of Muslims, in their practice, Muhammad has been more central to their religion than their One God. You could jest about his God but woe unto him who jests about the Prophet. His punishment is death.

If religious tolerance is a virtue, both Christianity and Islam do not possess it. Wherever they have gone, they have carried fire and sword and oppressed and destroyed so far as it lay in their power.

Christianity first spread all over Europe in this manner. They demolished and occupied the temples and shrines of others. Any tolerance shown was an exception. Hindus know the extent of the murderous campaigns that Muslims of various hues undertook against them and their land. Similar graphic descriptions are available about the genocide and extermination of the native peoples of the Americas and the Caribbean by Spanish and British Christians in the name of religion and Western civilisation. Their record has been matched only recently by Communism, considered a Christian heresy by thinkers like Bentrand Russel. In China, for example the Communist regime destroyed half million Buddhist shrines while in the Soviet Union, Stalin reportedly exterminated 20 million of his own people who either opposed him or the communist ideology.

The theology of a single god, a single prophet, a single revelation, a single church or ummah, and also of a single life and single judgement is very different from the one the world at large has known in the past and knows even today. Historically speaking, these religions which were local and small tribal faiths, may be considered an aberration, which consolidated themselves through conquest and propaganda, and which could impose themselves in no other way. These are different not only from polytheism, a religious expression at a more popular level, but also from religions which allow for mysticism and the internal quest for a spiritual life. They are certainly different from the spirituality known in the East by Hermits, Stoics, Pythagoreans. Taoists, Buddhists and Vedantins, particularly in their concept of deity, man and nature; different in their definitions, modes, theory and practice.

Worship and Sadhana

Every religion has its own modes and forms of worship, both public and private, informed by its dominant ideas of God, Creation and man. Prophetic religions take great pride in “one” God who despises idolatory, but have steadily degenerated into worship of relics and graves as we shall see with the Sufis. Spiritual practices or what Hindus call sadhana, are shaped by the way a religion intuits God, man and Creation. Religions like Hinduism and Buddhism prescribe a regimen of discipline known as sila, samadhi and prajna, to open up higher consciousness. They believe that even with all the guidance and help, each individual has to discover the spiritual truths for himself, that unless they are so done they can be of no use for him. When one cannot cat or clothe by proxy; how can one live spiritual truths by proxy? But as prophetic religions believe that God has already chosen them for no rhyme or reason and already revealed to them truths hidden from others, they do not need any sadhana. They already know the truth and they have nothing to learn or discover for themselves to. Prophetic religions prescribe only certain beliefs and the religious duty to convert others to those beliefs through preaching and holy wars.

It is therefore not strange that we find very little by way of sadhana in the New Testament. There are, on the other hand several exhortations aimed at pleasing this ‘one God’ or his Prophet or messiah. One such is “speaking with tongues” i.e. the believers gather together in the church and wait on the Holy Ghost to descend upon them and speak through them (I Cor.Ch.14). As is to be expected, it led to pandemonium. From all that people spoke, it was not clear what came from the Holy Ghost and what came from the Devil - a problem which continues to dog the Church! Most of the time, these phenomena arise from self-suggestion and make believe, and in extreme cases, border on abnormality.

The other is “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”, which may be termed as the cornerstone of biblical teaching. This should be taken in conjunction with other teachings about sin, its remission by sacrifice, and its once-for-all atonement by the blood of Jesus. Christians are as self-conscious about being sinners as communists are about being proletarian. To be sinful has become a cult with them. Paul was (he “foremost of sinners” and “he received mercy for tins reason”. Allah also favours the sinner as seen in the previous chapter. The Christian and Muslim heaven has more joy over one sinner who repents than over ninety nine righteous persons who need no repentance. All this could not be healthy either for the mind or the soul and has created a religion of what has been appropriately termed “spiritual terrorism.” It gave rise to much neurotic, masochistic-sadistic behaviour. Wisdom, enlightenment, opening up of higher consciousness were altogether unknown to them.

OF course we cannot leave out iconoclasm, the most important religious sadhana these prophetic religions have preached and practised. They have believed that demolishing the images on an altar, particularly in the temples of their neighbours, is the best way of worshipping their God and it is the service most acceptable to him. This unrelenting hostility towards ‘other’ Gods is the defining characteristic of the faithful. They have never realised that a good deal of religious reflection must take place before images are used in worship. In India, the outer images were most often contributed by men who practised most advanced internal disciplines. These were “icons”, internal realities expressed in outer forms in so far as that is possible.

Why are prophetic religions so hostile to images? Why do they nourish this obsessive hatred towards them? The images seem to have more attraction for and more power over iconoclasts than over the worshippers - some kind of idolatry or fetish worship in reverse. Through spiritual awakening some have turned idols into Gods; others of the unawakened soul have turned Gods into idols! Semitic iconoclasm is a child of crass materialism; it comes from the incapacity to see that the physical is also the standing ground of the metaphysical. Prophetic religions have given their God all human weaknesses and passions; on the other hand, Hinduism has thought of man with all divine virtues. The former have reified God, the latter have deified man.

Theology, Mission and Jihad

Every religion has its own ethos or distinctive characteristics which reflect in its theology or investigation of the Divine. It is shaped by the kind of questions raised and the answers given by the leaders of that religion. In Hindu religions, the seeker raised the question: what is real? What is the highest Good? What is man? What are his roots? Is he only his body or even his mind and intellect? His mind, his proud possession, is a prisoner of its passions; its knowledge is so little and so uncertain. Is there in him some other principle of greater and surer knowledge? Is there something by knowing which all this is known or at least makes sense? Hindu spirituality sought answers to these questions.

There is nothing to show that any spokesman of prophetic religions ever raised these questions. His questions were different. They were : Who is the true God? What is His will? How can it be fulfilled? We cannot explain how, but he arrived at the conclusion, often even before he raised the question, that he knew the true God, that the Gods his neighbours knew were false, that he was the mouthpiece of his God, and that unless others believed in him and followed him, they were damned. He felt strongly that it was his duly and God-given responsibility to propagate this view about his God and about himself. Men must be told the truth about this God and Ins authentic spokesman and be made to embrace this truth even by force if necessary. Their dominant ethos has been shaped by this theology.
Therefore the characteristic figure of these religions is a preacher, a crusader or a mujahid. He has nothing to learn; he has been sent to teach and correct and wherever possible even to punish. A Missionary is not taught to reflect but to act, and so he does not doubt that he knows the truth or whether his truths are worth knowing, or if what he knows are truths at all. His work is also accompanied by liberal use of force but the religious end justifies it as is seen from the record of several ‘saints’ like a Christian Xavier or a Sufi Ahmad Sirhindi.
With this kind of understanding of man and God and their own mission, Christianity and Islam started as soon as they gathered enough strength, along a career of persecution. They persecuted pagans, Jews, their own critics and mystics whom they branded and condemned as heretics. They were intolerant of cultures and people, and modes of worship which had a different conception of God. We in India know something of Islam in action, but the record of Christianity has been as black and as thorough in other continents. Similarly Islam has not only been a great imperialist, but it has also been a great suppressor of thought and opinion. It simply could not allow itself to be freely investigated and discussed by its followers. Conformity is secured by exercising ‘holy terror’ on “impostors”.
Phrases like “Kingdom of God within” have confused the Hindus. But it should be noted that that the very word ‘within’ is a mistranslation of the Greek word ‘entos’ which means ‘among’ or ‘in the midst’ and the phrase meant ‘the end of the world’, which was expected any day by Jesus (and even by Muhammad). Similarly the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ is perhaps an interpolation, and is not organic to prophetic message and ethics. Various Christian Churches and sects in the past have not been very conscious of the Sermon, leave alone implementing it. In fact it is people like Gandhiji who have made the Christian theologians aware of it.
There is something false about the very idea of ‘founding’ a religion. To say the least, it is a thoroughly materialistic idea, and it must lead lo its own excesses. Again the falsehood that accompanies the business of religious conversion is even worse than its intolerance. Mahatma Gandhi called proselytising “the deadliest poison that ever sapped the foundation of truth”, and he regarded a Missionary “like any vendor of goods” though he pretends to be something else.

Prophetic and Yogic Spiritualities

How and why does this happen? As a matter of fact, the founder is often quite sincere in the ordinary sense of the term and has no intention of deceiving anyone. But what if he is himself deceived? Not to deceive others is relatively easy, but to prevent self-deception is very much more difficult. Sri Ram Swarup offers an insight for this phenomenon by invoking the following yogic insights for such ‘divine revelations’.

Yogic spiritualities like Hinduism differ radically from the family of prophetic religions. These begin by asking the fundamental question: what is man, and progressively proceed to delve deeper in consciousness to discover higher truths about the soul and the universe. The Upanishads speak of a consciousness (Satchidananda) which is unified, characterised by bliss, and knowing all (prajna). Hinduism gave us Gods that were friends of men and of each other, it gave us Gods that were conceived as mothers, fathers, consorts, sons and daughters. There cannot be a developed knowledge of Gods without a developed knowledge of self.
The concept of Dharma is unique to the religions of Indian origin. While there can be no adequate definition or description of Dharma, it is often used to mean Universal Law which creates and sustains all Creation. It essentially means that a code of conduct cannot be absolute or universal. This also does not mean that Hinduism encourages the concept of moral relativism. An individual’s dharma, that is, his svadharma will depend on his spiritual maturity and place in life. Ethics, in such an understanding, cannot be one monolithic code. Here it allows for plurality, different paths, different ways. It believes in higher spiritual beings, in God and Gods, and in the idea that they can be seen and experienced and one can live in fellowship with them. In fact, man knows God when he is most God-like (Shivarn bhutvll Shlvam yajet). It is obvious that in this kind of spirituality, there can be no place for a one-man revelation. A truth must become your own if it is to do good to you. One cannot live another man’s truth whatever his claims may be. Most advanced spiritualities in the world have held this approach and today Hinduism is its best example.

Yoga is the intense discipline of the mind and body that an individual practices when he turns his consciousness inward, into himself- a significant contribution of Hinduism. Some of its elements were borrowed by Christianity and Islam (Sufism) but these could not be fitted within their rigid system of beliefs and were either banished from the corpus of religious traditions or treated peripherally. Christianity has no place for self-reflection in its spiritual practices because religious experiences resulting from contemplation often contradicted established dogma and was therefore not encouraged. Its hermits and more pious monks practised fasting, vigils, and extreme and sometimes even competitive self-mortification. There was little place for contemplative methods. In Islam too mysticism in its off-shoot Sufism, is more of a graft than a natural flowering. According to the Dictionary’ of Islam, Sufism ‘is but a Muslim adaptation of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophers’. Prophetic Islam would have withered and died from its own formalism and legalism, but Sufism saved it from its fate by importing into it some principle of warmth and intenality. But in this association, it itself suffered a great setback as we shall see later. The Sufism that survived and even prospered was tame and poised to promote prophetism except for some great Sufi poets like Rumi and Attar. They became part and parcel of Islamic imperialism, its enthusiastic sappers and miners and also its beneficiaries as in India.
The ‘inward journey’ of Yoga which ultimately leads to samadhi and atma-jnana is unknown to the Semitic religions. It leads to the realisation that God alone is monism), which is quite different from saying that there is only one God (Monotheism). He is not known by those who say they know him, but he is known by those who say they know him not.

In a private communication, the author of ‘Hindu view of Christianity and Islam’, an advanced yogi, has given a Note which is meant to be incorporated in the above book. It is given at the end of this chapter as it explains the whole concept succinctly.

The Origin of Semitic God

A spiritual person of the non-Abrahamic faiths is struck by the amazing resemblance that these religions bear to asuric and rakshasic traditions. Our yogis have been too polite to throw light on this subject. Sri Ram Swarup, however, gives the following very interesting insight into how these gods are created and nourished.
Vyasa, in his commentary on Yogadarshana tells us that the mind has Five habitual planes (bhumis): mudha (dull or inert), Kshipa (restless), vikshiptta (scattered), ekagra (one-pointed) and niruddha (stopped). Samadhis can take place in all bhumis, but he adds a warning that the samadhis of the first three bhumis are non-yogic and asuric and only those of the last two are truly yogic, leading to proper spiritual development. These non-yogic samadhis or ecstasies in the lower bhumis (kumo-bhumis) have their own Revelations, their own Prophets and their own Deities with rajasic-tamasic inclinations. They project ego-gods and desire-gods and give birth to hate-religions and delusive ideologies. They have strong likes and dislikes, cruel preferences and favourite people, and implacable enemies. They are the ‘jealous god’ as described in the Bible and which offend the moral sense of our rational age too. For example Thomas Jefferson thinks that the “Bible God is a being of terrific character, cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.”
But why should these gods have such qualities? Why should they be called God? And why should they have so much hold? Yoga provides an answer. It says that though not a truly spiritual being, he is thrown up by a deeper vital source in the mind. He is some sort of psychic formation and carries the strength and attraction of such a formation; he also derives his rajasic qualities and dynamism from the chitta-bhumi in which he originates. This will explain that the biblical God is not unique and he is not a historical oddity. He has his source in man’s psyche and he derives his validity and power thereof; therefore he conies up again and again and is found in cultures widely separated.

In actual life, one seldom meets truths of the kama-bhumi and krodha-bhumi unalloyed. Often they are mixtures and touched by intrusions from the truths of the yoga-bhumis above. This however makes them even more virulent; it puts a religious rationalisation on them. It degrades the higher without uplifting the lower. Lower impulses are indeed difficult to conquer and even affect those who have experienced the truths of higher life. Hence the insistence of Yoga on a moral and spiritual discipline and on inner purification i.e. chitta-shuddhi. Without this, Yoga could be put to negative use as is done in the ‘Spiritual Exercises’ of the Jesuits for theological self-conditioning.

Yogic samadhi involves progressive purification; there are several levels and each level has its characteristic qualities. If the mind is sufficiently purified, it automatically moves from one stage to the next. This progressive movement is divided into several dhyunas. The first few are characterised by reflection, sustained application, joy, felicity, one-pointedness and mindfulness. Above these four dhyanas, from which the higher Indian spiritual traditions begin, comes samata or equal-mindedness which opens doors to many kinds of infinities or anantyas. Beyond lies the nirodhabhumi of Patanjala Yoga or the nirvana-bhumi of the Buddhists.

In prophetic religions the truths are restricted lo the first two or three dhyanas and include several good traits like faith, piety, belief, joy and fervour. But they don’t touch samata, the basis of higher truths. As a result the truths of the initial dhyanas are not secure because they have not been fortified by a higher vision. This has happened with the Semitic religions which on the other hand, are always under the gravitational pull of a different kind of vision derived from monotheism and prophetism. Their zeal turned into zealotry and became persecutory, their faith became narrow and dogmatic, their confidence arrogant and sectarian, ultimately constituting a danger to the rest of humanity. This subject is discussed in detail in the Note below.

But it does nut mean there are no believing Christians and Muslims now or in the past who did not overcome the fault of their theology. Many have loved their fellow believers without learning to hate their pagan neighbours. All this shows that man is greater than his creeds and ideologies and that humanity can survive its hate-ideologies. It gives great hopes that when India rises after winning the second phase of its freedom struggle of regaining its Hindu identity, it will play a leading role in the rise of a global and truly spiritual humanity by overcoming asaric and rakshasic forces as envisaged by Sri Aurobindo.

1. Hindu View Of Christianity and Islam, Ram Swarup, Voice Of India, New Delhi, 1995

Prophetic religions have no worthwhile theory of self-purification. They have felt that they do not need one. They deal in ready-made truths received from their God by their prophet in a revelation and communicated to his followers as dogmas. In Hinduism there is a problem of truth itself, the problem of receiving and communicating it. In this tradition, problems relating to the message, the medium and the source are important and are open to questions and inquiry. In prophetic tradition, to raise questions about them is unbelief, infidelity and is punishable.
Prophetic religions have at best a theory of inspiration (IIham and the holy ghost). But in actual practice, this doctrine is a veritable psychological trap and has often led to much charlatanism and to excesses. Apollonious, the great saint of the Greco-Roman world advises that we should avoid philosophies and people who “claim to be inspired, for people like that lie about Gods and urge them to do many foolish things.”

In prohetic religions, the prophet is supposed to speak for God, but in most cases, it is difficult to decide who speaks for whom - the prophet for God or God for the prophet. Similarly, it is not sure where God begins if he begins at all and where the prophet ends. In the case of the prophet of Islam, it was seen that his revelations were quite accommodative and served his convenience as Aisha, his young wife, pointed out. Sometimes it also happened that words supplied by the recorder became part of the heavenly text which upset him greatly. But Umar was flattered when he saw that some of the suggestions he had made became Allah’s injunctions.
Salmon Rushdie has discussed the phenomenon of revelations of Islam’s prophet in his Satanic Verses from the modern psychological angle. He finds there is no Allah and no message. It is prophe’ all over. He dictates with one mind and listens to what he himself has dictated with the other. We reed not disagree with Salmon’s observations about the prophet of his discussion. But we need not accept his larger intellectual format about spiritual life. Hinduism believes in Gods, in higher life and higher truth; it believes that this truth is not alien to man but is akin to him; that he is surrounded by it, lives in it and breathes in it, but to become aware of it requires a pure heart.

To a superficial look it may appear like prophetism, at least in some essentials. But a little discrimination will show that it is not so. Prophetism deals in special Gods, special revelations, special dispensation. Sanatana Dharma tradition is concerned with laws of the spirit that apply to all and are true for all time. It does not discuss historical oddities; it discusses higher life as a regular phenomenon of life. Revelation is taking place all the time and man is nourished regularly by heaven and he lives in interchange with Gods. Prophetism with its exclusive Gods and special messengers and revelations is a caricature of this truth.

Sanatana Dharma teaches that to become aware of the higher life and establish its rule, the soul has to develop new organs of perception like faith, dhyana or meditation (devout attention), discrimination and prajna. Faith is recognised in many religious traditions, but the others find emphasis mainly in Hindu tradition and those which are related to it, like the Greek, Pythagoreans and Neo-platonists Upanishads say that meditation is greater than thought and they found that the earth, atmosphere, waters, mountains, Gods as well as men, all are mediating as it were. In this tradition, spiritual discrimination (viveka) and purified intelligence {buddhi) are highly valued.

Upanishads also teach that a man becomes what he desires, aspires to, thinks and dwells upon. So it gives importance to purify his seeking, his desire and his thoughts. This can best be done by contemplating and dwelling on the objects of his seeking themselves.

In Hindu spiritual tradition, man’s seeking is for truth, for immortality, for light, for plenitude, for fullness, for the vast, for liberation. Lead me from falsehood to truth, from darkness to light, from death to deathlessness, from the small to the vast is the Upanishadic prayer. The Upanishads also teach that the best way to realise them is to meditate and reflect on them. The great truths of the spirit are also the great anusmritis and anudhyonas - that is subjects and objects worthy to be remembered and meditated upon reverentially again and again.
In Hindu Yogic tradition, there is a great emphasis on an in-gathered or recollected mind. A man can make no spiritual progress with a scattered mind. Such a mind is lost in its objects and it neither knows them nor itself properly. But once a mind is recollected, it knows what it is to be mindful. A dissipated mind is by nature sorrowful but a recollected mind is by nature joyful and luminous (vishoka and jyotishmati). A man with a recollected mind realises that he is more akin to mind than to its objects.

To conquer mind’s wanderings (vikshepa), it is necessary to acquire one-pointedness (ekagrata) For that one should practice the culture of One-principle (eka-tattva abbyasa). For this purpose, Indian Yoga has mentioned many subjects, objects and symbols for concentration and meditation (loosely rendered here as karma-sthana). They Help to settle the mind and a settled mind helps to purify them further.
Ultimately the best subjects and objects of dhyana are, as we just observed, the great truths of the Self itself but nothing that has a psychic and spiritual significance is ruled out. In India’s yogic tradition, friendliness, compassion, joy, passionlessness, mindfulness and equal-mindedness are considered great purifiers.

Many other subjects, symbols and objects are mentioned: elements, luminaries like fire, sun or sky and earth, any chosen deity or guru-figure, the mystic sound of Om, in short every symbol of psychic and spiritual potential is acceptable.
A karma-sthana is not good enough and subtle enough to start with. But the process of meditation itself sets up a process which purifies it further, removes its blemishes and makes it a fitting channel for further spiritual progress. Under the alchemy of meditation, the symbol becomes increasingly more luminous, joyful and psychic. The process of meditation converts it into a new currency and makes it worthy of a new journey in a new terrain. Opened to higher influences, it is further purified and raised up. Unknown inner doors open and new Gods are born.
All this transformation is necessary. Any chosen symbol or figure must purify itself before it purifies others; it must become spirit-worthy before it guides on the spiritual path. The transformation takes place as a matter of course in accordance with the spiritual laws; it cannot be manipulated; it is self-determined and charters its own course. Its moving power is the aspirant’s sincerity and intensity of aspiration. On the spiritual path, nothing that is honest and sincere is lost and all lost and all threads meet and everything is added up and taken into account.

The process of meditation accepts all sattwika sentiments, objects and symbols but has no use for those which are rajasika and tamasika. Those who sit with their eyes closed but dwell with their mind on its lower attractions become worse. Strong hatreds, egoistic opinions, prejudices and preferences- whether one’s own or one’s God’s and prophet’s does not matter, for let us remember that there is lot of self-worship through worship of one’s deities and prophets- are most unacceptable. They add another danger. In a meditative mind, they appear as visions, voices and commands of one’s deity. They have deep roots, a stubborn life. A cat has nine lives, they have ninety nine; they can remain dormant fora long time and reappear in many guises. To overcome them and to make them seedless is a great problem in the spiritual quest. But we are not taking up
that question here.

Though Semitic religions lack the culture of meditation, pious and believing Muslims and Christians have often dwelt on their founders with great piety and reverence. This has benefited the symbols and under the alchemy of piety greatly improved them. In fact, some Sufis have given us a very different kind of prophet than the one we know in history. This prophet-figure of piety is at adds with the prophet of history. In some ways, this has produced much confusion and one figure has been mistaken for the other. It also became a source of mischief. The figure of the prophet of piety is used to sell the prophet of history and to propagate his cult.

Similarly, Christian monks have often meditated on Jesus in their monasteries. In one way, he is better fitted for this role. For in his case, there is little history to contend with and to shed. But he is a figure of theology which makes him equally intractable and impervious to light. Meditation on historical Jesus also benefited the Jesus-figure. When dwelt upon with loving regard it tended to lose its blemishes and become more luminous. Thus it became acceptable to the meditating monks in spite of its inherent unreasonableness and untenability . And here too again as in Islam, the meditation-figure was used to promote the Jesus of theology.
For the sake of our Christian readers who lay great store by historical Jesus, let us dilate on the subject a little more. Let us say that Yoga does not care for a historical figure as such; it cares only for its psychic truth. It would suffice to say that to a man who sincerely follows the soul’s native aspiration for self-recovery, any chosen symbol, physical or psychic, historical or non-historical, any figure of a guru living or past - they are all acceptable starting points. The rest is added as he proceeds on the path and as the need arose. Therefore, a sincere Christian could, if he is so minded, adopt the figure of a historical Jesus without harm and even with profit In the simplest way, it provides a focus for his religious impulses - in itself no small gain. And if his aspiration is pure, persistent and one-pointed, it could take him further on the spiritual path. As the believer dwells on his chosen figure with loving care, a process of change is set up which transforms the symbol. What is redundant drops and what is necessary is added. Under this alchemy, the figure thaws, becomes freer and is released from its historical and psychological confines; it turns to light above and within, absorbs it and is converted into its likeness; under this influence, it loses it opacity and becomes transparent and a reflector of truths beyond itself.*

If the figure of normal Jesus was allowed to run its course, it could become a channel of further spiritual progress. If a man has it in his soul and is spiritually ready, he would realise that though the figure is now lighted, it has no light of its own. He would become increasingly more aware of the forces at work within him - forces that bind and those that liberate. His soul may wake up and become a aware of its original, untarnished status. This would open up his prajna, or wisdom-eye; he would realise that salvation is a lawful act and it does not depend on a historical accident; that soul in its original status is not sinful but pure, untouched by evil (shuddham apapaviddham); that man is raised and saved by the Self, his true light and refuge; he would meet the indwelling saviour - who is in all and belongs to all. He would realise that he is nothing and God is everything, in all.

But a Christian believer operates in a very different atmosphere. He is not to find his God or saviour for himself, but both are given to him by the Church; he is not to follow his inner light - he is taught to distrust it - but be guided by an official theology. Under its influence, the saviour is conceived as a mediator between an offended deity and a sinful man; the figure obviously belongs to those religious cults and practices in which blood and sacrifice, both human and animal, dominate, not inquiry and contemplation.

It is obvious that such theology can have no exalted idea either of God or man. This theology is spiritually disabling in other ways too; it gives its believers exclusive revelations, exclusive gods, exclusive saviours. It gives a god revealed to a chosen intermediary but to be believed by all; it gives a saviour who saves few but condemns many - the unbelievers invariably so. In this theology historical Jesus plays a pre-determined, ideological role. Under its influence, this figure deteriorates badly; instead of getting purified and uplifted as on the first route,. It is debased and lowered in conception and spiritual quality; instead of converting into a psychic truth, it becomes a fanatic and intolerant idea; instead of becoming luminous and transparent, it becomes opaque with little capacity for receiving and reflecting higher truths.

The figure of Jesus as developed and available in Christian tradition is tamasika-rajasika. It would be difficult for it to recover whatever other possibility it ever had; it has now become a symbol - a frozen symbol - of religious aggrandisement; it is badly infected with raaga-dvesha -inwoven with its followers’ ambitions and hatred. The believer operates in the atmosphere of what is called theological odium; he learns to hate on a large scale, hate under many names and guises, hate his pagan neighbours and the whole past of humanity. While he loves after a fashion his god - a form of self-love -he is taught to hate all other gods or rather the gods of others. While great claims are made for his god, gods of others are abominated and denied. Thus the figure of a historical Jesus is made to support a huge, doctrinal superstructure of denials and arrogant claims; it presides over a vast apparatus of repression and self-aggrandisement, In this approach while history and the fraternity of believers run amuck, eternity and humanity have little place.

Christianity is a living example of a case where an innocent symbol was destroyed by a bad theology. But it does not mean there are no believing Christians now or in the past who did not overcome the faults of their theology. Many have loved their fellow believers without learning to hate their pagan neighbours. All this shows that man is greater than his creeds and ideologies and that humanity could survive its hate-ideologies.

* This process should not be confused with the process that applies to cases like Krishna or Rama. Though these too could be abd often are used as karmasthana, they are differetly conceived. They are spiritual realities which took birth in the hearts of sages like Vyasa and Valmiki and given a psychic earthly life. But in the case of Jesus and Muhammad, they are historical characters being invested with a spiritual significance through the alchemy of piety : Psychically they were born - one in the mind of Paul and the other in the minds of Umar and Abu Bakr.