He that chooses a religion over Islam, it will not be accepted from him and in the world to come he will be one of the lost.
– Quran 3:85, “The Imrans,” Dawood, p. 60
Hinduism is a relentless pursuit of Truth. “Truth is God” and if today it has become moribund, inactive, irresponsive to growth, it is because we are fatigued; and as soon as the fatigue is over, Hinduism will burst upon the world with a brilliance perhaps unknown before.
– Mahatma Gandhi
Judaism boasts of no exclusive revelation of eternal truths that are indispensable to salvation, of no revealed religion in the sense in which that term is usually understood.
Either Christ is true or false. If you bet he is true, and you believe in God and submit to Him, then if he IS true, you’ve gained God, heaven, and everything else. If he is false, you’ve lost nothing, but you’ve had a good life marked by peace and the illusion that ultimately, everything makes sense.
If you bet that Christ is not true, and it’s false, you’ve lost nothing. But if you bet that he is false, and he turns out to be true, you’ve lost everything and you get to spend eternity in hell.
— Blaise Pascal (Interpreted)
MIDDLE EAST, INDIA, June 12, 2011 — What is Truth?
To learn who God is has to be the ultimate Truth.
Pontius Pilate asked that question and walked away from Jesus who stood on trial before him without learning the answer. (John 18: 38) Most people are like that, despite their religiosity they avoid open spiritual discussions like the plague – creating such a vacuum in their lives. In No 2 Religion Yes 2 Faith my goal is to constantly explore that issue with readers and encourage you – to draw your own conclusions, I make no bones about my own!
Conversations on spiritual matters can be fascinating or phoney, friction free or ferocious, forward thinking or foolish, but authentic dialogue is easy to identify. Genuine seekers are humble and they don’t exhibit spiritual pride.
In one of my poems I wrote:
What are the beliefs we cannot agree to hold?
Is Mohammed only the last prophet to behold?
In Sruti & Smriti is the true Sanatan Dharm told?
Does Christ redeem man’s sin as the lamb of God?
Why do these important thoughts keep us apart?
Isn’t faith a journey to know Truth in the heart?
If only a tradition, is our conviction a false start?
Something acquired from the religious supermart?
Two good friends, one Hindu, and one Muslim, each tell me frankly, that they cannot, “accept Jesus as the Son of God…..” it is haram (Arabic meaning “forbidden”) for my Muslim friend Ikram to believe that primary biblical teaching. For some reason he cannot accept it as sire-e-illahi, a mystery of God that man cannot comprehend.
Strangely, the biological birth process is more compelling than the unknown for most Muslims in this regard. Yet people believe in miracles and know the Quran confirms this most extraordinary birth of all.
My Hindu friend Madhu is understandably wise in a land of many notorious ‘godmen’ and she finds the ‘Son of God’ idea farcical. She has seen too much deception in religion and Indian Christians generally do not inspire her. Looking back at myself in the days when I followed something called Christianity not Christ, I am not surprised – she is no fool!
Truth seeking friends like these are dear to me, and our dialogue will continue, our friendship will remain even as we continue to challenge one another.
I often wonder if Muslims seriously ponder the significance of Jesus’ virgin birth. In Sura 4: 159, “the Quran virtually admits and testifies to all that Christians believe in faith about the Messiah,” says Dr Ibrahimkhan O. Desmukh a scholar of the Bible and the Quran in his book The Gospel and Islam (Page 166).
Why does the Quran confirm the Nazarene’s sinlessness? Why is he unique among all the prophets? Why exalt him as Kalimuttalah – the eternal Word of God? The absurdity that the Bible has been altered is believed by most Muslims who forget that such an accusation itself is haram, to suggest that God’s Word can be changed by mere humans.
I also can’t blame Madhu my Hindu friend for her views. It’s quite obvious that Christianity has hidden Christ from India for 2,000 years. Gandhi didn’t care for this western religion and he passed on his aversion to his countrymen. Nevertheless to turn down Jesus because of India’s thriving crooked godmen betrays a serious misunderstanding about Jesus or even a basic knowledge of the gospel.
But non-Muslims have their concerns too. For them the greater haram is the appalling situation that all terrorists today appear to be Muslims even though all Muslims may not be terrorists; and why educated Muslims do not come out en masse against daily Muslim vs Muslim killings and widespread terrorism?
Non-Hindus are not surprised at what Pavan K. Varma, author of Being Indian writes about Indians having, “a deep-seated need to belong to the “moral and the moral-less world simultaneously. Hindu culture was not, as is widely believed, benevolent towards interactions with outsiders. It regarded all foreigners as mleccha, perennially beyond the pale. It was based on the most inflexible insularities within, and the most unforgiving barriers without.”
To outsiders, it is dumbfounding how intelligent Indians can excuse seriously flawed character traits in who they choose to worship as gods or revere as godmen. Or how they ignore the fact that India is one of the last bastions of great social evils on planet earth – yet Indians try and claim the spiritual high ground.
But such arguments could go on and on without any meaningful discussion or learning and eventually destroy relationships.
Viktor Frankl, the holocaust survivor and great Austrian psychiatrist said what I think applies especially to religious discussions, ”The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond…The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”
Jesus is the model for harmony. He did not utter one word against any religion in his time, but he didn’t compromise either. He audaciously claimed to be the way, the truth and the life. He gave people the choice to accept or reject that revelation.
Nobody else has made such a claim – they just point to this way or that way. They do not claim to be the way.
Making known their position is not a problem for most people – but discussing it with an open mind is usually fraught with conflict, because though most people hardly know what they believe, they are militant in their stance.
Mahatma Gandhi once observed: “It is impossible for me to reconcile myself to the idea of conversion after the style that goes on in India and elsewhere today. It is an error which is perhaps the greatest impediment to the world’s progress toward peace … Why should a Christian want to convert a Hindu to Christianity? Why should he not be satisfied if the Hindu is a good or godly man?”
Gandhi was outspoken on the subject, declaring, “I do not believe in telling people of one’s faith, especially with a view to conversion. Faith must be lived, and when it is, it becomes self-propagating.”
I wholeheartedly agree with Gandhi. No one in his right mind should try to draw a person out of one religion to lead him into another religion. But Gandhi often engaged in ongoing debates with people of all persuasions on faith. Experimenting with the truth like Gandhi did in lively dialogue with others can be meaningful if relationships are nurtured – not negated.
If you thirst for the truth, Isa 55: 1-7 makes it clear you don’t have to pay for it like organized religion makes you do in various ways. The truth is available freely, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”
One day we will know the truth about who is God.
Until then we can only try and discern what is true and what is untrue.
Organized religion is unlikely to provide the clarity needed.
Frank Raj is based in the Middle East where he has lived for over three decades.
He is the founding editor and publisher of ‘The International Indian’, (www.theinternationalindian.com) the oldest magazine of Gulf-Indian society and history since 1992. Frank is listed in Arabian Business magazine’s 100 most influential Indians in the Gulf and is co-author of the upcoming publication ‘Universal Book of the Scriptures,’ and author of ‘Desh Aur Diaspora.’ He blogs at www.no2christianity.wordpress.com
Read more of Frank’s work in No 2 Religion, Yes 2 Faith in the Communities at the Washington Times.
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