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Published in the 16-31 Dec 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Rich legacy

The world is changing, and so are thoughts and perspectives. Today’s youth want an upgrading of everything, be it clothes, food, gizmos, politics, socializing, and even religion. No wonder, there have been adjurations galore to make a change in the religion of Islam, to suit the norms of the generation next. In fact, advents of such appeals date back to the year 1929, when a famous poet and philosopher, Muhammad Iqbal started giving speeches on this theme, and also highlighting similarities between Islam and modern science. Even after so many years, we often hear people calling upon the Muslim community to "upgrade" their Shariah, the Muslim law according to the changing times.

I would like to point out how such intermingling of social needs and religion has marred other religions, e.g., Hindu scriptures strongly condemn idol-worship, and believe in one God. The Yajurveda, as well as the Rigveda, speak extensively about the oneness of God, but with the passage of time, Brahmins infused their superior position into them and the sages confused epic poems and stories with the real God, as being incarnated again and again in the world. The results as we see today, are the hundreds of gods and goddesses in the religion. Same for Christianity. The Romans condemned Jesus Christ for blasphemy, but it was only after his crucifixion, that people gradually started worshipping him as the Son of God, though he never claimed divinity in the entire Bible. Today there are several versions of the Bhagwad Geeta, and over 300 versions of the Bible available, making one wonder, which one is the most authentic one.

Speaking about propagation of Islamic science by Muhammad Iqbal during his various speeches in the year of 1929, I would like to quote a statement by the famous Muslim scholar, Dr. Zakir Naik, that "Qur’an is a book of ‘signs’, not ‘science’". Hence, let the scientific facts mentioned in the Qur’an remain just as a testimony of its authenticity rather than as science in itself.

Moreover, such upgrading makes a religion all the more ambiguous. We must not forget the fact that the Vedas, Bhagwad Geeta, Bible, and other such religious books may have been the revelations of God, but they have been blemished by people, and were for that particular time, and people, but as per the holy Qur’an, Islam is the final religion, and Prophet Muhammad is the last prophet ever to come on the surface of the earth. Unlike other religious scriptures, Qur’an is the only book which is clear and unequivocal in the entire world. I would like to ask today’s youth: if you want to buy an Oxford Dictionary, which one would you prefer, the old edition, or the new one? Islam is the final religion, and it is not subject to changes with the changing times.

Prakash N. Gowda, Vadodara, Gujarat

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