Monday, July 30, 2012

Journey from Hinduism to Islam

 Journey from Hinduism to ISLAM It was the night of 26th Ramadan 1415 H corresponding to March 27, 1995 when one of my friends called me and told me about a Hindu priest, Ravi Shankar. He wanted to learn more about Islam, but was afraid of getting involved with unsuitable. We visited him the next day to find out this gentleman's concern. Shankar asked us to explain the different Muslim groups/sects in Islam as largely seen in India. He wanted to know the truth before accepting Islam. He told us that they worshipped idols which were senseless because if they broke or got old people simply threw them in the dustbin. However, according to his perception, Muslims also do something similar – they circumambulate the Ka'ba, bow in front of it and worship the dead. He also wanted to know how people from all walks of life come together to pray in the Mosque and stand close to each other. A scene like this in a temple is next to impossible as Hindu temples do not allow low caste Hindus to even enter it, let alone stand close to one another. Shankar wanted to know the difference between Hinduism and Islam. He also told us that people from different groups approached him and told him about their ideologies, but none in particular satisfied him. He asked us which group we belonged to. After patiently listening to his questions we tried to clarify his doubts to the best of our abilities. I told him that we were inviting him to the group of Abu Bakr and Omar, (May Allah be pleased with them) the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and that we only follow his teachings. I also clarified his doubt about worshiping the dead i.e. visiting graves and worshiping the dead even if it is Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) is not acceptable in Islam. We cannot benefit from the dead in any way. Islam is not a biased religion; it has the same rules for everyone, be it the king or the pauper. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "If Fatima Bint-e-Muhammad steals; I would certainly have her hand cut, too". Islam is not a loose, fragmentary system where one can pick and choose whatever they like and whatever they don't. It is a way of life with humble acts of worship and rites which one is required to perform individually and collectively as a strong community. A Muslim seeks blessings and mercy of Allah in whatever task he undertakes, he strives to keep his heart pure, devoid of evil innovations and practices. He works for peaceful progression of the Ummah. After listening to my answers Ravi Shankar Paliwal was ready to become Abdur Rehman – Allah-u-Akbar! He began his journey of a Muslim in Johra Masjid in Azizia, Jeddah, where he declared the Shahdah and came into the fold of Islam. Abdur Rehman told us that he had been long waiting for this moment. After returning to his accommodation several people visited him, amongst them some asked him to follow a particular school of thought, which was widely practiced and preached in India. Abdur Rehman said, "I belong to a Hindu family of priests in Rajisthan. I read the biography of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) — his teachings and behavior made me accept him as the Messenger of Allah – I want to adopt his practices and not anyone else's. If your Imam has better qualities than Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) than I may re-consider my decision, but if not then I will not leave the path of Allah's Messenger and his companions. His traditions are saved by Allah and we need to follow him. No other Imams traditions have been saved like his and I will adhere to them till the end of my life." He further added, "I am thankful to Almighty Allah for the guidance shown to me and my family, my two daughters embraced Islam following me – I am also thankful to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where we were welcomed as their brothers and sisters. The best moment of my life was when I entered the Holy Ka'ba with my family, we will never forget that. I would like my Hindu brothers to read about Islam. Don't think Islam means visiting graves and chanting slogans on the roads, it's complete guidance and a way of life for the human beings to take them from the darkness to the light. It's a peace for every one of us!