Islam assimilates other religions
Milli Gazette Online
Following is the text of Dr Zafar Mahmood's speech at the Interfaith meet convened by President Bush in Delhi on 2 March 2006:
There is a general impression that Islam was founded 1400 years ago by Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). But that is not the truth. The world agrees that the basic source of what we know today as Islam is the Quran. Muslims believe that the book is authored by God and was revealed to Mohammad through Archangel Gabriel over a period of 23 years.
As per Quran, Adam was the first man and God’s first messenger to humanity of which Adam and Eve were the engines of the procreation. The world came into being. After some time, may be a few hundred or a few thousand years, the interpretation of God’s commands given through Adam got distorted. People went astray. Moral values went down the scale. At this stage God appointed another person as His messenger with the duty to do his best to bring back the humanity on the right track (Quran 2:213). Like this, after gaps of every few hundred or a few thousand years God kept on appointing messengers from out of the men living in a given phase of human history and in a given part of the world. Thus, no phase of history nor any part of the world was left out. God says in Quran that only some of these messengers have been named in this book. Likewise only some of the revealed books find mention by name. However, as per authentic researches the messengers number about 124,000 and the revealed books 115. God enjoins upon the believers to equally respect all these messengers and books (Quran 2:285).
More than twenty messengers find mention by name in Quran. These include, inter alia, Abraham, David, Solomon, Moses, Christ and Mohammad. The books so mentioned include Psalms, Old Testament, New Testament and Quran. I have gone through Quran, its meanings and well known interpretations about twenty times. I have also read the holy books of other religions. Particularly after reading the Hindu scripture Vedanta I have firm conviction that it is one of the revealed books referred to in the Quran. Similarly, I feel that the big names like Rama, Krishna, Budha and Mahavir are among the messengers whom the believers in Quran have been told to revere just like Mohammad. Also, it is prudent to respect by heart all the great men held in high esteem by every religious denomination. God exhorts, “Lakum deenukum wa liya deen” meaning ‘to them their religion, to you yours’ (Quran 109:6).
It may not be widely known that according to Quran, Moses and Christ were Prophet Mohammad’s immediate predecessors. If Mohammad was the last prophet, Moses and Christ were the last but two. Also, it is heartening to note that the words ‘Jew’ (or ‘Children of Israel’) and ‘Christian’ have occurred in the Quran hundreds of times. Out of Quran’s 114 chapters, Moses, Christ, their life and their followers have specially been mentioned in 29 (twenty nine) chapters. As per Quran, Moses was guided by God (his brother Aaron was appointed as his companion), he was given a scripture (Torah), twelve springs and clear signs. Likewise, the details of Christ’s birth, his miraculous speech from the cradle to the people, his steadfastness, his sacrifice for the cause of God and his elevation to the heaven have been graphically described in Quran. The basic tenets of Islam, as enunciated in Quran, include heartfelt belief in all the messengers and scriptures and non-discrimination among them (2:285).
Before I conclude I wish to draw your attention, Mr. President, to chapter 3 verse 64 of the Quran. Here God asks the believers to call upon the followers of all the religions to unite for the sake of Truth. Let us hold together in discipline pursuing the mission of righteousness for humanity. Let us seek mutual help and friendship and stand firm in constancy and patient perseverance.
Dr. S. Zafar Mahmood (Muslim), Swami Agnivesh (Hindu), Dr. James Massey (Christian), Ven. Daboom Tulku (Budhist), Mr. L. M. Singhvi (Jain), Dr. Ammar Rizvi (Shia Muslim), Dr. Dominic Emmanuel (Christian) and Dr. Tarlochan Singh (Sikh)
President Bush, Secretary of State Rice, Ambassador Mulford.
Mr Bush said: "I am a strong believer in Almighty. Religion and religious people should exist together. World has globalised. All of you are as much American as Americans themselves."
Dr. S. Zafar Mahmood is President, Zakat Foundation of India & Office on Special Duty, Justice Sachar High Level Committee. He can be reached via email email@example.com