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Peace and Not Politcs

Reader comment on item: Did Michael Jackson Convert to Islam?
in response to reader comment: To Mahfoozur Rahman

Submitted by Mahfoozur Rahman (Bangladesh), Nov 8, 2006 at 15:09

Mr. Vijay,

Thank you for your measured reply. I am quite prepared to debate on any issue within the bounds of civility and the universally recognised ground rules of debate on any subject. That is to say, not to attack personally, not to attack any religion or faith per se (you are free to criticise a conduct or a behaviour pattern but not the principles which another holds dear) and never forgetting the objective of coming to a conclusion by learning from each other.

I may not agree with you, but I shall always agree to your right to disagreement, provided of course, we maintain decorum and show some respect to another person's views. With these little preamble, which I only mention as some respondents on this blog do not seem to possess even the minimum criteria of civilised conduct as they cowardly hide behind their non-identity and hurl abuses at others.

Firstly, I made a comment on this blog on entirely theological grounds. Politics was the furthest thing on my mind. But you responded by asking a most irrelevant question as to if Allah (God or Bhagaban or any deity in another faith) will forgive an act of human cruelty, however heinous or massive that may be. I could never reply on behalf of Allah (God, Bhagaban) as you well know. I assumed that you are asking me if Islam, (though I am not an authority but only a simple adherent), will allow forgive terrible acts of war that was perpetrated on my countrymen. The answer can only be found in the spirit of my or any other religion and not in the acts or what humans, even if they are nominal and purported followers of the same religion that forbids such acts, did or did not. Here are my answers once again.

Finally: Islam values forgiveness above retribution.

What Pakistan Army perpetrated in our country during 1971 were forbidden in Islam. It is totally wrong to blame a faith for the transgressions by some of the purported followers. If Pakistan calls itself an Islamic State, it a political decision, but a statement does not make it truly one. It is the practice and not the statement that will define an individual, a society or even a country. The basic principle on which Pakistan was formed died when they denied power to the political party (Awami League) won the 1970 general elections and was finally and brutally killed during the our Liberation War. But all these are politics and have nothing to do with Islam per se. Your attempts to mix politics with religion are also fallacious as they are not based on historical and sociological facts.

I could go point by point, refute them one by one, and then harp on numerous points that you did not respond to, as they are true and you know it. But those steps will be retrogressive and will not bring about any understanding. Debates go to their bitter ends but achieve nothing. I wish to come to some conclusions, not by myself, but with you, even though the subject has shifted from the theological to the political, which was never my intention. But then, let us proceed in a spirit of understanding and mutual respect, as I shall attempt to bring it back to the realms of faith and belief.

Christianity, as preached by Joshua of Nazareth, son of Virgin Mary, (Isa in Arabic, Jishu in Portuguese and Bengali), is fundamentally based on such principles of forgiveness, mercy and divine grace.

The essence of Hinduism as recorded in the Vedas and the Bhagabat Gita teaches mankind forgiveness in the face of aggression but also advocates taking up arms for the cause of righteousness (same as the Islamic principle of Jihad against oppression and injustice). In this respect, I shall draw your attention to the dialogue of Arjuna with Lord Krishna as their chariot was progressing towards the battlefield of Kuruskhetra, as he refused to take up arms against his own kin.

Buddhism is totally based on the principle of non-violence under any circumstances. Forgiveness is a fundamental article of faith in the religion preached by Lord Bodhishattya after he attained Enlightenment.

Confucianism and Taoism, though emphasise on the practical path of righteousness, also teach non-violence as the ideal means of conflict resolution.

So, you can see, Islam, which is the last revealed religion, is in fundamental spirit a continuity of all the great religions of the world.

The great apostle of peace, Mahatma Gandhi advocated 'satayagraha' and not-violence against aggression, and never advised retribution or revenge. He always preached forgiveness and himself practised forgiveness to the extent that he forgave Nathuram Godse, the cruel assassin who killed him, as he breathed his last, murmuring in prayer, ‘Hai Ram, Hai Ram ‘(Oh God, Oh God).

Mr Vijay, people of Bangladesh remember with gratitude the great help and solidarity that the government and people of India rendered us during the time of our great need. The late Mrs Indira Gandhi, a great friend of our country, was assassinated on religious grounds by her Sikh guards. Her son, Rajiv Gandhi was also assassinated by a Tamil extremist on communal if not religious grounds. These sad incidents and terrible events were mourned by all of India, which was sincerely shared by our people as well. But violence continues in India, from Kashmir to Gujerat to Nagaland, and now even in Agartala next to our borders. But why are these violence, murders and assassinations happening? Because of religious intolerance and bigotry of a few extremists who are to be found in any society and religion, not only among the Muslims, as history and recent events indicate. And because India today have largely forgotten the teachings of the Mahatma, the Father of the Nation of India, violence continues unabated. Even the million-man army of India can not prevent the internal violence and could not protect the lives of the Mahatma and the two Prime Ministers of India. Force of arms can not prevent violence nor can it protect lives, when revenge and retribution replace the principle of forgiveness and reconciliation.

To call the Al Qiada and other terrorist groups as representatives of Islam or the Muslims is a grave error. It is as much an absurdity as to call Hitler and Mussolini as representatives of Christianity. It will be absurd to call the war in Iraq as between the Christians and the Muslims! As absurd as to term the current violence in Gaza Strip (Hamas) as a war between the Jews and the Muslims! They all are engaged in violent political battles which has nothing to do with Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or any other religion for that matter.

Lastly, I shall draw your attention to the teachings of three great and revered men of India (only incidentally all of them were Bengalis), Swami Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and Shri Aurovinda. If you are not aware of their teachings, please do read their writings. And if possible, visit the nearest Ramakrishna Mission, (they are everywhere. One is located near my home) and talk to any mendicant (Sadhu) there, who will explain to you the essence of true Hinduism of the Vedas and the Upanishada, the principal foundations of which are based on non-violence and forgiveness among mankind, as per the edicts of Dharmaniti.

So, Mr Vijay, please do not preach violence, non-tolerance and retribution as steps towards progress, for, the majority of peace loving people in any and every country, in every religion, have rejected these aberrations and failings of humankind. They are also contrary your and my faiths. Violence begets violence, forgiveness brings about peace among all, including the victims of violence as the fire of revenge will then be quenched and he too will be at peace.

Besides, only the weak seek revenge. The morally strong will forgive his enemies, thereby conquering him forever. Remember that your Father of the Nation faced the might of the British Empire armed only with Satyagraha (soul force) and non-violence, and then forgave his enemies as well as his murderer. That, Mr. Vijay is true strength of a man of faith and principle, one that is sadly lacking in most of his countrymen to day, I am sorry to note.

Mr. Vijay, I request you to study Bhagabat Gita in depth and learn for yourself Truth which universal, the same Truth as revealed to the Prophet of Islam (SM). [Will it surprise you that, I, assured by revelations of Allah that every nation and every society had been blessed with a Prophet with a divine message who came before the Prophet (SM), believe that Shri Krishna was a Prophet and his revelations were divine.]

Let us then resolve that we shall not advocate violence and revenge as a means of conflict resolution, in stead, preach and practice forgiveness and amity among peoples and communities as per the teachings of the Quran as well as of the Bhagabat Gita.

Peace and Best Wishes

M. Rahman

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