[This is from a chain of email posts in which I had contributed. Someone from Nigeria had posted that one Dr Iyengar, while driving, was blinded by the headlights of a truck coming in the opposite direction, and had hit a Muslim family on the road of whom all but one died. Dr Iyengar was arrested but later released and went to ask for forgiveness from the surviving person. She said this was all Allah’s will, and Iyengar was not to blame. Some contributors then commented on the inner beauty of all religions, while some others joined issue. Now read on]
This has been a very instructive discussion. While on the one hand some have shown how an individual Muslim can be perfect human being, others have illustrated, and quite correctly, how Islam can be a threat to all non-Muslims; and while individual Muslims can be just like that Nigerian woman, Muslims en masse, driven by religious zeal, can rape, kill and maim with a clear conscience. No amount of Ahimsa would work against them at such moments. I should know -- my family are fugitives from Islamic persecution in erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
This really brings us to the truth of what the much-maligned Dutch politician Geert Wilders is fond of saying: "There are many good Muslims but there is no good Islam". I would like to add a few points.
First, while Islam has borrowed from Judaism and Christianity, Islam became a violently proselytizing religion and an immutable one. As opposed to that Judaism never proselytized. Christianity used to proselytize by violence (as they did in the Americas and Portuguese colonies), but they no longer do so; instead they now do it by persuasion (also known as evangelism), and if necessary by bribery and deceit. However much reprehensible the last two methods are, they are not violent, and therefore not in the same category as rape and murder.
Secondly, Christianity or Judaism are not immutable. Christians do not burn heretics at the stakes as they did in Joan of Arc's time nor do they sell indulgences for money like Pope Leo X did. Jews also do not any longer crucify their heretics. That way Hinduism is the most evolving religion; two hundred years ago suttee (widow-burning) was quite the norm. Today it is a capital offence. Islam on the other hand, takes pride in being immutable, and doing everything the way their prophet Mohammed did 1400 years back. Their Haadis, or Traditions, which are next to only the Quran in authenticity, are a description of what their prophet said, what he did, and what was done in his presence with his approval or without his disapproval. These are to be imitated to the letter by every devout Muslim. There cannot be any argument, any questioning of the edicts of the Quran or Haadis. Even interpretations are largely forbidden, and reserved only to big clerics. And these Traditions cover all facets of life from birth till death and covering diverse subjects such as study, bathing, inheritance, worship, excretion and sex. That is why it is said that Islam is a complete code.
Judaism or Christianity do not have anything remotely resembling these. Therefore, it is not correct to paint Islam, Judaism and Christianity with the same brush.
I personally think, and Kirpal Singhji would doubtless be pleased to hear this, that the Sikh religion (Khalsa Panth) is possibly the nearest thing to a perfect religion. So much so that I consider myself a closet Sikh, though I am Bengali Hindu, do not know Punjabi (except a few words), and do not wear a beard or long hair. I have visited Harmandir Sahib at Amritsar and Hemkund Sahib and have been greatly moved by the experience. The reason why I say this are principally fivefold:
1. The religion fosters great fellow-feeling and equality among its adherents. A Sikh can always find refuge in a Gurdwara and eat at a langar. I have seen very well-to-do Sikhs doing Kar Seva, polishing shoes at Harmandir Sahib and serving ordinary people at langar.
2. The religion teaches a fantastic work ethic and heroism. You will not find a Sikh beggar anywhere. Their over-representation in the armed forces is also significant.
3. There is a very good balance of spiritualism and worldliness in the religion.
4. They do not have a human Guru but accept an idea, that is the Guru Granth Sahib as Guru. A human being may have weaknesses, but an idea can be supreme. This was a stroke of genius that Guru Gobind Singh showed. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh also follows the same tenet and considers their flag, the Bhagwa Dhwaj, as Guru.
5. Most of all, it is their attitude about other religions that impresses me most. They do not proselytize, do not mess with other religions, and are totally tolerant. But if anybody messes with their religion they will teach him or them such a lesson that those persons will wish they'd never done it. This is one trait I find sadly lacking among my own people, Hindus in general and Bengali Hindus in particular, many of whom practice a kind of impotent acceptance in the name of 'secularism'.
It is not for nothing that they say,'Raj karega Khalsa'. I for one would not mind living under such a Raj.