Auron ka hai Payaam aur, mera Payaam aur hai, / Ishq key dardmand ka tarz-e-kalaam aur hai! (Iqbal)
So, when you want to talk about a celebration of light, then you are talking to the right crowd. I mean the Muslims of course. The Muslims, as usual, may be somewhat clueless about it, but that is what Islam is all about. It is about light.
When you want to talk about the triumph of light over darkness, that is us too, because that is what God does.
And that is what God’s book came into this world to do. And that is what God’s last and final messenger and prophet came into this world to do. Pull people from all kinds of darkness into divine light.
In the words of the Qur’an: Yukhrijuhum minaz zulumaati ilan noor.
So, let the Hindus of India and the world know that they are not alone in celebrating the victory of light over darkness; of knowledge over ignorance; of enlightenment over superstition; and of good over evil.
The Muslims are with them. And Islam is with them.
True Enlightenment Means Worship No One but God
But there is one thing Muslims will not do, and Islam does not permit. And that is worship anyone or anything but God Almighty – the maker and master of all things.
Not Sri Rama. Not Sri Bharata. Not Hanumanji. Not Sita. Not even Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. Nor, can, do or shall they worship the lovely lands on which they were born, whether it is India or Arabia.
Muslims don’t and cannot worship anyone born of a mother or of a father. For, true enlightenment means the realisation that none deserves to be worshipped but God.
For, God Almighty is the only one who is worthy of all worship and adoration. And he has neither a father nor a mother. Nor does he have offspring or a family.
As the Qur’an puts it: Lam yalid wa lam yoolad. Paraphrase: He neither begets, nor is he begotten. As a result: Laisa ka-mkithlihee shaiyi’. Paraphrase: He resembles nothing; nothing resembles him. Allahu Akbar! How clear God’s word is. And how simple, elegant and clear this Qur’an is.
And how much in need of clarity humanity is at all times and in all places.
As a result, those who believe in one true God cannot worship, not just humans, but also any other creation of God such as animals or trees or anything else.
“Me Too!” or “We Too!” Never Had It So Good!
And yet the concept of “Me Too!” or rather “We Too!” never had it so good. That means any thing good that exists anywhere around the world, Islam has – and Muslims should have – no problem or hesitation in declaring an instant affinity with it.
Examined deeply and historically, chances are these are all things that go back directly to Islam. Islam either as it was finalized and perfected at the hands of God’s last prophet and messenger Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
Or Islam as was sent down by God through all his other prophets (May God Bless Them All!) from the beginning of human life on earth, regardless of whether those prophets are named – as many of them are in the Qur’an – or not, as we have not been made privy to the names and identities of many others of them.
Allahu Akbar! What a system this Islam! How universal and how inclusive it is! And how open the borders of God’s blessings are that no one with anything good in or about them is excluded!
Qur’an: Wa man-ya’mal mithqaala dharratin khairany yarahoo.
Paraphrase: Even an atom’s weight of good anyone does shall not be lost.
Mind you this is language – on our earth – from 1400 years ago: an atom and atom’s weight or worth? What is this Qur’an if not a standing, running miracle?
Filial Duty (to Parents) Is Us!
So, you tell us about Sri Rama’s prodigious filial duty to his parents, we are ready to cry out: Me Too! We Too! We are ready to point out and claim and argue that it goes right to the very heart of Islam.
And everyone everywhere knows about Islam’s family values, whether it is duty to parents or love of spouse and children.
Ram’s love and regard for his brother? Hey, that is what Islam is all about: loving your family, both immediate and extended, and being kind and generous to them in every way you can.
Of course all this within the parameters of Halal and Haram – right and wrong.
I wish I had the time to tell you about all the wonderful things the Qur’an says about duty to parents and relatives, but I am afraid I don’t.
Marital Bliss and Brotherly Love: That Is Us Too
And then Sita’s love and regard for her husband and vice versa? That is Islam too.
How I wish I had the time to go into the details of what Islam says how a husband and wife should treat each other. But I am afraid I don’t.
But do allow me to cite a small part of a saying of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sllam, that simply says it all, and in the fewest words – no more than three words in fact.
Hadith: Khairukum, khairukum li-ahlihi.
Paraphrase: The best of you, as human beings and as Muslims and as everything else, are those who are best to your families.
That is the bottomline, ladies and gentlemen, that is the bottomline. It is does not get simpler or clearer or more powerful or more complete or more comprehensive than that.
You know, in fact, if you can say it better, try and say it, and share it with me. That is what I am going to call these things from now on. I am going to call them The Pasha Challenge.
So take The Pasha Challenge and try to improve “Khairukum, khairukum li-ahlihi.” Try to capture the essence and dynamics of family devotion and duty in three or fewer stronger or equally powerful words.
I am not saying you cannot. But I will be vastly surprised if you did. And I will be most certainly interested in knowing it.
So, let the Hindus of the world know that next time when they celebrate Rama’s filial duty (a son’s duty to parents) or Sita’s and Rama’s devotion to one another as husband and wife, they are not alone. The hearts and minds of the one-plus billion Muslims of the world are with them.
Even though the Muslims themselves may be somewhat clueless about some of these connections.
Once again, of course, all this, like everything else, within the clear boundaries and parameters of of Halal (what is lawful) and Haram (what is not lawful) as defined by God in the Qur’an and by the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sllam, in the Hadith.
As for the devotion and brotherly love that Ram and Bharat had for each other, well, what can I say? That is what Islam came into this world to teach. Not just to blood-brothers and consanguine relatives but to all believers – and to all of humanity.
Koonoo ‘ibaadallahi ikhwaana, is a quintessential Islamic cry in this regard.
Paraphrase: All of you, O Allah’s slaves, become and behave like brothers and sisters.
Fa-asbahtum bini’matihi ikhwaana, is the Qur’an.
Paraphrase: And then, believers, due to the blessings and bounties God Almighty showered upon you, you became a tight-knit brotherhood.
Hanuman Is Ours Too
Earlier I used the expression Hanumanji. No cause for alarm. I am not starting a new Shuddhi movement and asking Muslims to convert to Hinduism. I am just trying to point out the obvious.
First of all, the suffix “ji” is nothing more than a term of respect and affection. It is an endearing way of referring to someone. And what could endear Hanuman to any fair-minded person more than his risking his life to save the life, liberty and honour of an innocent woman?
No, we do not worship Hanuman. Not because we do not like him, but because we cannot worship anything or anyone other than God Almighty. So, whether it is a monkey like Hunuman or a man like Ram, our hands are tied, and our commitments are spoken for. We worship none, and we adore none, save the maker and master of all things living and non-living, God Almighty.
But we have no trouble with the basic concept of non-human beings and presences in the universe being mobilized in the service of humanity. If Hanuman was Ram’s man in Sri Lanka, Huhud was our emissary to the Queen of Shiba – was it?
Read the Qur’an and you will know.
And if Hanuman’s flying monkeys helped defeat Ravan’s army of demons, we have our own air force of little birds that destroyed the human-demons of Abraha who came to destroy the Ka’abah.
Again, read the Qur’an and you will know.