20. Dr. S.D. Kulkarni
Semitic Faiths are Political Creeds, not Religions
Since its inception, Islam is being practised as a political creed. It is not a religion. These two terms creed and religion are poles apart. Creed is a dogmatic belief system as propounded by a person who claims himself to be a prophet like the Jewish prophet Moses or the Islamic prophet Muhammad, or a super-intelligent person, or a thinker like Marx, next only to God. Whatever they say or do is the revealed truth. The followers are not to question, why? They have only to put implicit faith in what the prophet ordains them to do. They have no other choice. Religion, on the other hand, is a system of beliefs agreed upon by a group, particularly in the matter of worship of God who is taken to be the Creator. Religion thus is a mode of worship of the Creator.
Hindus haven�t studied the tenets of Islam and Christianity deeply. They, therefore, consider these faiths as religions and project conceptions like �Sarva-Dharma-Samabhãva� or �Sarva-Panth-Samãdara� and the like. Let us see what are the fundamental tenets of Judaism for both Christianity and Islam follow the Mosaic belief system known as Ten Commandments. The first two are: (I) �I am Jehovah your God who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slaves. You must not have any other God against my face; (2) You must not make for yourself carved image or a form like anything anywhere on the Earth or in the Heavens or in the Water.� (Bible, Old Testament, Ex-20, 2 to 16).
The other commandments are ethical rules like the teachings of the Hindu Puranas. There is nothing to quarrel about these. The first two are further elaborated in Ex-34,12 to 16 by Jehovah, the Jewish God Himself: �Watch yourself that you do not conclude a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you are going� But their altars, you people are to pull down and their sacred pillars, you are to shatter and their sacred poles, you are to cut down. For you must not prostrate yourself to another God, because Jehovah whose name is Jealous, he is a jealous God.�
This is a political command. It means: �You and your group are exclusively chosen by God. You should not have any relationship with any other group with a different belief system. It is your duty to destroy the places of worship of the others.�
In Ex-34.17 it is ordained: �You must not make idols of gods for yourself.� Moses himself destroyed the idols made by his followers (Ex-32,19 to 20). And Jehovah the Jewish God, forbade his followers to make any image of any god. It will be seen that in these commandments, there is no spiritual content at all. It is a hegemonistic political creed in the name of religion, so devised as if it is God�s word and directing the followers to put implicit faith in whatever is commanded. But the Jews were not proselytisers. They confined their beliefs to their group.
These two tenets are common to both Christianity and Islam.
Are these commands not criminal in content? Jehovah�s covenant is with the Jews alone. Christianity and Islam follow these. But their position is different. They call for utter destruction of life and property of those who do not believe in the utterances of their exclusive gods and their messengers. Christian theologians would throw into flaming fire all the non-Christians including the Jews and the Muslims. Christians are against the Jews in particular, even though to them the Old Testament (the Jewish Bible) is �holy�. Similarly, Islam consigns to hell-fire all the non-Muslims including the Jews and the Christians, even though the Bible is its mother scripture. Islam is modelled on the Jewish Bible.
Thus Islam and Christianity exhaust between themselves the universe of discourse and throw the whole of humanity into the hell-fire. This way also, Islam and Christianity are not religions for under their laws all human beings go to hell-fire.
Islam shares all the above Christian tenets and adds to these its own exclusive tenets, viz. an open war-declaration against those professing faiths other than theirs. They regard the land where Muslims are in majority or the land where they are in power as holy Dar-ul-Islam. The land where they are in minority or the land where they are not the rulers, they regard as Dar-ul-Harb or sinful land. Their theology tells them to lie low in such situations or act as fifth-columnists. They have, however, to continue to strive till they convert the Dar-ul-Harb into Dar-ul-Islam. Can a religion with such war-like theology be on par with the other faiths which have no such declared intentions?
In such a situation, only the Hindus, who believe in �universal botherhood� irrespective of caste, creed or religion as their fundamental tenet, would have a place in heaven. Their God�s name is Sat-Cit-Ananda or Existential Blissful Energy or simply Conscious Energy, which is the source of this Universe constituted of human beings, animals and plants. Even inanimate matter springs from this source. The Hindu prayer, therefore, is �lokãH samastãH sukhino bhavantu� - let all people be happy.
Hindus are, therefore, the only people fit to be the inmates of heaven.
The Hindu confusion about �sarva-dharma-samabhãva - all dharmas are equally honourable (dharma is wrongly taken as synonymous with religion) - is born out of misreading of the Semitic scripture, the Bible - Old and New Testaments. Religion is a mode of worship. Dharma means ethical conduct intended to hold human society together. It is a way of life, devised for the common good of all.
Without studying the fundamental tenets of Islam and Christianity, Hindus unwittingly call these as faiths or religions. Had the Muslims and Christians confined their belief systems to their groups alone, like the Jews, it would not have mattered much to the non-Muslims or non-Christians. But they are out to convert the whole world to their way of thinking. Even the use of the sword to achieve this objective is not taboo to them.
Are these illogical, dogmatic, exclusionist tenets not criminal in nature and content? Christianity thus cannot be on par with the Hindu tenet of �universal brotherhood�. Hindus have no quarrel with the Christian God. For the Hindus welcome good thoughts from any quarter. After all, Muslims and Christians are human beings as good or as bad as the Hindus or any others. By discarding these criminal elements in their belief systems, they can become part of the Hindu mainstream. The experience of leaders like Gandhiji and others is that Christian and Islamic theologies prevent these religionists to accept the Hindu theme of �sarva-dharma-samabhãva� or �sarva-panth-samãdara�.
Let the opinion-making leaders from the Muslim and Christian communities come forward with some proposal like �sarva-panth-samãdara�, and then there can be some dialogue with them; to-day, it is a one-sided affair. We concede to these religionists whatever is not due to them in the belief that they would join the Indian mainstream, once we take the initiative and be liberal to them, for Hindus are a majority community. Unilateral gestures are considered as a sign of weakness by hardheaded politicians as well as religionists.
Christians are showing signs of opening a dialogue with Hindus. The elites amongst them feel that Christian tenets and beliefs are illogical and thus irrelevant in the present-day world where rationalism is fast replacing the old-fashioned belief systems. Islamic thinkers also are showing cracks in their otherwise solid front. The present generation of Hindus should not commit the same mistakes as their preceding generations did. On the other hand, they should conduct a sustained operation to educate the Muslims by persuasive but firm methods, pointing out to them what their belief system means. They cannot continue their old game of raising their demands whenever some demand is conceded by the Hindus unilaterally.
As I have stated at the outset, the Semitic faiths are political creeds and not religions. In politics, firmness backed by diplomatic skill pays. The liberal stance is considered as weakness. In such a situation, they close their eyes and ears and pursue terrorist tactics ruthlessly against Hindus.
Can BJP succeed where Gandhi failed? Gandhi was considered as number one enemy of the Muslims. If the Sarva-Panth-Samãdara-Manch professes to have equal respect for all faiths, then this Manch would have to start a campaign against conversions. If Islam and Christianity are not better than the Hindu faith, then where is the case for conversion? Then why are Muslims against the common civil code? If the Islamic Sharia is better, let us sit together and discuss and adopt a common approach to all laws.
with the approach of Dr. Shrirang Godbole, a young man from the R.S.S.
writer is General Editor of BHISHMA, an 18 Volume series on History and
Culture, and an 11 Volume series of Veda Translations. He lives at Thane