Monday, 20 August 2007

Response to Dutch daily, De Volkskrant, on an MP's call to ban Quran

By Thaj Aluva

Recently, Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament, has written a letter in the daily, De Volkskrant, that calls for a ban on Quran. I am deeply saddened, not because of the ferocity of the comments made by Mr. Wilders, but at the horrific ignorance expressed by an MP in that modern and civilized nation about one of the greatest scripts ever in the history of mankind that has touched millions of lives. I am sure he has unleashed his fury against the divine book without taking a bit of his time to go through the same, at least once. Had he done that, I am sure, he would have a different opinion.

He says “Quran calls on people to kill non-believers and rape woman”. The first statement (to kill non-believers) is a gross misinformation while the second (to rape women) a blatant lie. I invite him to read this verse from the holy book: "If anyone slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people." (Holy Quran, Chapter: 5, Verse : 32)

Quran starts its every chapter with this verse: “In the name of God, Most Merciful, Most Gracious….” Mercy, modesty, tolerance and forgiveness are some of the inherent qualities Quran teaches. The Arabic word for mercy is repeated more than 300 times in this script which calls its followers to show patience at the time of hardships, even when they are attacked by others. Likewise, the Arabic word for patience is repeated over 100 times. It says: "Nor can Goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate!" (Holy Quran, Chapter 41 Verses: 34, 35) Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, was sent as a mercy to mankind (Chapter 21, Verse: 107). The word Islam comes from the root word 'salaam' which means peace. It also means submitting one's will to Allah.

Having said this, it’s also true that Quran contains verses exhorting its followers to fight where there is oppression. The fight against oppression may, at times, require the use of force. In Islam, force can only be used to promote peace and justice and that should be done by a government authorized by people (resisting foreign occupying powers is considered as an exception). If we study these verses, without any prejudice and with an intention to know the truth, we can understand that there is no open call for killing the non-believers. In fact, Quran explicitly says: "Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error." (Chapter 2, Verse 256). It also says: "Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious." (Chapter 16, Verse: 125)

On the other hand, let's look at some of the killings that have taken place in the recent history of mankind and who were behind them. Who dropped those destructive atom bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Were they Muslims? Can anyone forget Hitler? Was he a Muslim? Who was behind the Vietnam War and the chemical weapons used to kill poor Vietnamese? Stalin who killed millions of people in Russia was not a Muslim! The killing fields in Cambodia were the creation of Paul Pot! The two destructive World Wars! How many millions of people died in these wars? Who fought these wars? The examples do not stop here but these are more than enough to know the hypocrisy of people who spread false information.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Being content with what you’ve got is key to happiness

28 January 2007
PROPHET Muhammad, peace be upon him, once said: "Riches are not from an abundance of worldly goods, but from a content mind." On another occasion, he said: "Look to those inferior to yourselves, so that you may not hold God’s benefits in contempt."
An ordinary man is always of the nature that he cannot be satisfied with what is available to him at the moment. He always craves for more and more. The Prophet describes this state of mind of the common man thus: "If the son of Adam has a valley full of gold, he will crave for a second one. If he has two, he will crave for a third one. Nothing will satisfy him, except the earth."
One of the main sources of displeasure and absence of peace of mind in our times is our insatiable desire for more and more worldly resources. Each one of us goes through such a phase in one way or the other as we struggle to attain a state of total mental satisfaction by accumulating everything valuable in life.
The life, it is commonly believed, is a race for this mental state and a major share of our time and efforts is being spent in the pursuit of worldly pleasures. Even this state varies from person to person as many believe being rich is everything, while some others are under the impression that being famous will make them happy. There is yet another group of people who consider being in a powerful position will win them a totally satisfied mind.
However, is being rich and famous means everything in life? Does power and money win mental satisfaction? When we ponder over these issues deeply, and analyse real-life examples from our day-to-day life, it will become clear to us that happiness and peace of mind are something any of these cannot buy. So, what is that some thing, which if we practise every day, or rather every moment, that leads our hearts and minds to a state of total satisfaction?
The Prophet’s invaluable advice is thus for every one. Be happy with what you have at the moment. Learn to cherish what you enjoy at the moment rather than running after things which you do not have and cannot have in the nearest future, even if you try your best. Does this mean that you stop trying to improve your present state of affairs? No. The first step to attain complete mental pleasure is to learn to enjoy what is with you at the moment.
For instance, if we are in good health, we should look at the people around us who may be immensely rich, but are suffering from grave and life-threatening diseases and thank God. If we have a small house, let’s look at the people who do not have a place of their own to rest after a hard day’s work. We have a nice, loving family. But there are hundreds of people around us who crave for love and care from someone. We are employed. There are millions of unemployed people around the world. Thus, if we start looking at ourselves first and God’s blessings to us, soon we will appreciate each and every little thing that is given to us. That’s what Allah says in Holy Quran:
"If you would count up the favours of Allah, never would you be able to number them... (Chapter 16, Verse 18)"
So, if we learn to cherish what we have at the moment, we will obviously learn to thank God for whatever He has given to us in life. This will make us eligible for more benevolence from His side. Allah says in the Holy Quran:
"If ye are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you" (Chapter 14, Verse 7)
This is the best way to make ourselves and those around us happy and satisfied.