Thursday, August 7, 2008

Origin of Hindu Fundamentalism : In search of Montheism

-Biplab Pal :12/3/05
In my recent debate with Mehul Kamdar, I proved the fact that Hindu fundamentalism has grown up from Indian nationalist movement that started during 1870-1900. My argument is simple-there was no such cohesive religion as Hinduism before British. It was merely a paganism of diverse culture with obscured religious texts, divided into thousands of sects, casts and subcasts. Such a dilapidated and dying force, striving for its existence in fanatic forces of Maratha nationalism and thousands of local feudal kings serving under Newabs, could never unite against pan-Islamic and Christian fundamentalism that was threatening the existence of local pagan culture. In those days, it was a mixture of Bramhinical Hinduism with locally rooted deism. By 1830, Christian missionaries with their everlasting zeal of mass conversion caused resentment among conservative Hindues. Along with it, grown a section of Hindu population, educated in Lord Bentinck’s vision of humanism, started a mass reform of Hinduism. Notable among them are Raja RamMohan Roy, VidyaSagar, Keshav Sen, Debendranath Tagore , Dwananda Swaraswati and Bal Gangadhar Tialak, who were increasingly aware of the fact that in order to establish Hindu unity against the threat of monotheism, polytheist deism in Hinduism would be of very little help. Hinduism as a platform boosted virtually every religious philosophy, and therefore, a booming need for monotheism forced the reformed Hindues towards Gita and Adityabad or non-dualism in Vedanta as a primary source of inspiration.
Though Gita was written around 1000BC and Koran was composed roughly about 7th century AD, central message of Gita and Koran are similar:
Both the texts transpire a non-material philosophy based on sacrifice of materialism. Sacrifice and submission of ego as our existence as biological being on the feet of supreme creator is the central theme of both Gita and Koran.
Both the holy texts demand absolute devotion to the lord (Allah) and nothing but the lord (Allah)
Also similar are the facts that both the books demand they are the absolute truth-all other religious texts are adulterated!
And both the books declared war against invaders and tyrannical leaders-holywar is translated as DharmaYudhya in Gita and Jihad in Koran.
Difficulty is, considering the historical timeline of the past, when science didn’t emerge as supreme military power, above mentioned cannons were extremely powerful tactics to unite and strengthen a society. Pure deism is good for a flourishing culture but it can not boost a military unity. The central canons expressed in 1-4, are deadly religious weapon which can be used for both fundamentalism and unification of a society.
I was looking for more information into the subject and found this wonderful article by a professor from University of Utah on the origin of Hindu fundamentalism.
Strangely the article supports and states everything I stated in the debate in connection to political promotion of Monotheism for Hindu fundamentalism. Hope the article will be interesting reading to our audience.
Let me begin with some observations that should give any reasonable person pause. In 1998 Hindu fundamentalists proposed that a new Goddess temple be built at Pokharan, 50 km from the site of the atomic bomb tests that were conducted in April of that year. According to their program this would be the 53rd example of Shaktipeeths (seats of strength, literally Goddess power) of Hindu preeminence. Another power center is the new temple to Rama in Ayodhya, being built on the site of the Babri mosque, destroyed by a Hindu mob in December 1992.) Some suggested that radioactive sand from the test site should be distributed as prasad, the Hindu sacrament, but cooler heads vetoed that idea. Some Hindu fundamentalists also believe that ancient Indians actually possessed atomic weapons, which they call AOm-mad-bombs.
The Indian military helps to fuel this religious enthusiasm by having named its long range missile after the Vedic god of fire Agni. (The Pakistanis countered by appropriating the power of the Hindu Goddess by naming their missile Ghauri, a name for the Goddess in Southern India.) The followers of Shri Shena, a fundamentalist organization in Mumbai, proudly proclaim that, after the bomb tests, Hindus were no longer eunuchs and now could stand up to the world as real men. During 1999 Durga festival in Calcutta celebrants found new figures in the traditional tableau of the Goddess Durga and her attendants. They saw life size figures of brave Indian soldiers who won a victory in the mountains of Kashmir because of Durga’s divine grace. Hundreds of years ago Hindu kings went into battle only after receiving Durga’s blessing by sacrificing dozens of water buffalo to her.
Another chilling experience is to read about the recovery of an original Hindu Empire, extending West into Afghanistan and Central Asia encompassing all Buddhist sites; extending North to recover the Tibet, the original land of the Aryans according to Dayananda Saraswati, extending Northwest to Cambodia to recover the Hindu Khmer kingdoms of Angkor Wat and North Vietnam, where Shiva lingas have been found; and extending Southeast to Java, where a Hindu-Buddhist kingdom once flourished, and Bali where three million Hinuds still live. This reminds me of Zionist maps of Greater Israel or plans by some Calvinists for a new Confederate States of America where God-fearing Anglo-Celtic top males will rule their households and their nation of fifteen states.
The origins of Hindu religious nationalism are quite recent considering the long history of advanced cultures in the Indian Sub-Continent. V. D. Savakar’s Hindutva (literally Hinduness ) was published in 1923, but the ideas of this book go back to the beginning of the 19th Century. The supreme irony about Hindu fundamentalism is that its first writers were profoundly influenced by European Orientalism and its archeological and linguistic discoveries. The same Orientalism that gave Europeans the excuse to view Asians as effeminate and impotent, thereby lacking the capacities for self rule, was used by Indian writers to create a view of India as a unified nation that gave birth to not only to the European languages but also to its first civilized peoples and the world’s greatest religion. The idea of India as the cradle of civilization and spirituality is, amazingly enough, found in Voltaire, Herder, Kant, Schegel, Shelling, Hegel, and Schopenhauer. Some scholars argue that the Indian philosophy that we now know as neo-Vedanta found in Aurobindo, Vivikeananda, and Gandhi, is just as much German idealism and Indian philosophy.
Hindu fundamentalists were flattered by Aldous Huxley’s idea of the Perennial Philosophy and its mystic monism, originally found in the Upanishads and only later, according to their views, spread to other cultures. Thesophists such as Annie Besant turned orientalism on its European creators, claiming that what they perceived as weaknesses-- namely, non-dualism, nonviolence, renunciation, meditation, and tolerance were precisely what was needed for the salvation of Western societies. In the 1870s there was a concerted effort on the part of English theosophists to merge with the Indian Arya Samaj (Society of Aryans) as part of Annie Besant’s vision of a World Federation of Aryans. Ironically, in another move of reverse orientalism, members of Arya Samaj vetoed this idea because they insisted that Indians were the only true Aryans! Interestingly enough, both Indians and Europeans agreed on at least one proposition: Hindu civilization was indeed corrupt and suffering a long decline, but Hindu fundamentalists believed that the solution to that problem was not Christian capitialism; rather, it was the recovery of a glorious Hindu past that Europeans had conveniently rediscovered for them.
Even before Arya Samaj there was the Brahmo Samaj (Society of Brahma, the Hindu Creator God) founded in Calcutta in 1828 by Rammohan Roy, who, although still preserving the idea of Vedic authority, developed a fully modernist, that is rationalist and humanist, approach to Indian identity and nationhood. Debendranath Tagore, father of the more famous Rabindranath Tagore, broke with Roy over the issue of Vedic authority, and another nationalist Keshab Chandra Sen proposed that Hinduism ought to be Christianized. The result of these developments within the Bengal Renaissance was a growing view of Hindu supremacy and exclusivity. One of the most dramatic examples of these views came from Bajnarain Basu, who waxed eloquent as follows:
The noble and puissant Hindu nation rousing herself after sleep, and rushing headlong towards progress with divine prowess. I see this rejuvenated nation again illuminating the world by her knowledge, spirituality and culture, and the glory of the Hindu nation again spreading over the whole world.
Rajnarain was insistent that the Hindu Motherland could have no place for Muslims because their religion was alien to India. India’s religion should be a cultural Hinduism based on the Upanishads but allowing for the mediation of the one true God by means of the traditional idols. The Brahmo Samaj proposed gradual but sure reform on the elements that had tarnished the image of Hinduism word wide: caste problems, widow remarriage, untouchability, and child marriage.
Arya Samaj was founded by Dayananda Saraswati in 1875 in Bombay, now renamed Mumbai because of Hindutva. (Madras is now called Chennai and Hindu nationalists want to change all English street names to Hindi and do not want their children to attend English medium schools.) Dayananda’s philosophy is sometimes called neo-Hinduism or Semitized Hinduism, what I would call an Abrahamic Hinduism. Dayananda claimed that the Aryans originated in Tibet, a hypothesis that the Nazis tested by sending Ernst Schaefer and Bruno Beger on two expeditions there in the 1930s. (The Nazis were also captivated by an alternative bizarre idea that the Arctic was the home of Aryans, an idea promoted by Hindu nationalist B. G. Tilak.) While in Tibet the Aryans, according to Dayananda, purged themselves of inferior people (identified as the dasyus in the Rigveda) and then spread to the rest of the world. In India they established the Hindu Golden Age described in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. This great age came to an end with the Kurukhetra War, the beginning of which is dramatically described in the Bhagavad-gita and the result, according to the text, was over a million deaths. Hindu civilization then descended into a long decline that was exacerbated by the pacificism and nihilism of Buddhism and Jainism, which were seen as failed off shoots of Hinduism and not separated religiously from Hinduism. During the Second Millennium CE a weakened Hindusim was easy prey for first the Mughal invaders and second British imperialism.
Dayananda saw the Aryans as paragons of virtue and the world’s first monotheists. Even though he uses the Hindu epics as proof of the Golden Age, he argued that only the Vedas and the Upanishads have religious authority. (Oddly enough, the members of the Ayra Samaj retained the Vedic fire ritual for their services.) He rejected the authority of the priests to interpret scripture and set himself up, in a way very similar to some preachers in the Abrahamic religion, as the only one that could interpret the Vedas correctly. He saw the Vedas and Upanishads as the literal Word of God and as the infallible text of the one true Hindu church, a concept alien to the Indian religious tradition, but one again very similar to the Abrahmanic religions. Setting the stage for 20th Century Hindutva, Dayananda lauched systematic attacks on traditional Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Christians, and Buddhists.
On the plus side, Dayananda believed that the subjugation of women came with the decline of Hinduism and declared that this was a social ill that needed correction. He also spoke out against the thousand plus subcastes (jati) that divide Indians according to specific vocations and prevent lateral movement in Indian society. With regard to the four main castes Dayananda thought that it was a mistake to think of them as hereditary, a position that was an advance over Gandhi, who, while rejecting the oppression of the Dalits, still maintained the hereditary nature of the four main castes.
After Dayananda’s death there was a campaign to reconvert Dalits whose families had gone over to Christianity and syncretistic Muslims who, because they so fully participated in Hindu celebrations, ought, according to Arya Samaj, to return to the fold of the true faith. This campaign of reconversion is still at the forefront of Hindu fundamentalist efforts today, especially among the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
A key figure in the transition from the Brahmo Samaj and the Arya Samaj is Chandranath Basu who is the author that coined the term Hindutva (Hinduness) and he turned Hindu nationalism in a decidedly conservative and reactionary direction. In 1892 he published Hindutva: An Authentic History of the Hindus in which he defended traditional views Hindu ritual, caste, restriction of women’s education and civil rights, and the maintenance of male authority. Chandranath was firmly committed to demonstrating the superiority of Hinduism over Christianity, especially after the wide spread concern that conversions to Christianity were increasing in the latter half of the century.
In the novels and commentaries of Bankimchandra Chattopadhyaya, we see again the profound influence that European philosophy had on the rise of Indian nationalism. Particularly important was the work of Immanuel Kant, Herbert Spencer, John Stuart Mill, and Auguste Comte. Interestingly enough, Bankim early support for women’s equality, presumably under Mill’s influence, disappeared in his later works, which also contain stronger claims to Hindu supremacy and more stringent anti-Muslim comments. He criticized Mill and Comte for their atheism and substituted Krishna’s religion of love as the key to human spiritual cultivation and progress. Nineteenth Century Indian nationalists were fully caught up in the idea of evolution and Bankim proposed that Hinduism was the perfect candidate for Comte’s idea of Apositive religion, the final stage of human perfection. Huxley’s Perennial Philosophy finds a new Indo-European home, but it has a new humanistic twist. Bankim rejects both the abstract monotheism he finds in Abrahamic religions and the impersonal monism of his own Brahmo Samaj in favor of the divine incarnation of Krishna as a human being.
At the turn of the century one of the most important Indian nationalist figure is B. G. Tilak, whose importance and standing in the Congress Party was second only to Gandhi. For purposes of our study of Hindu fundamentalism, Tilak was instrumental in inventing a powerful new form of devotionalism centered on the elephant god Ganesha. Tilak’s strategy was calculated and very effective: the new Ganesha festival (first celebrated in 1893) would compete with the Muslim festival of Muharram, which Hindus had always attended. Hindu nationalists in the state of Maharastra were successful in creating a new division between Muslims and Hindus that would intensify decade by decade into the new century. The Ganesha festival in Bombay is now so huge that it is common to see pictures and stories of it in the international press.
Tilak also resurrected King Shivaji, who, by the grace of his patron goddess Bhawani, was by far the most successful Hindu warrior king against the Mughal Empire during the 17th Century. Hindu fundamentalists admire Shivaji’s courage and excuse his ruthlessness against the Muslims he defeated. Tilak also instigated celebrations honoring Shivaji but many of them in the 1890s turned violent, the beginnings of the communal conflict that was to increase in the next century but was an uncommon occurrence in earlier times. Tilak used the Bhagavad-gita to justify Shivaji’s campaigns against the Mughals but also the violence that may be necessary to keep the Muslims of his day in line. Shivaji has become a hero and a model for a militant leader who will bring back the glory of all things Hindu. It is significant, however, in terms of the historical Shivaji that while Muslims repeatedly declared jihad against him, Shivaji principal motivations were Maratha nationalism rather than a broader Hindu nationalism based on the concept of the Indian Sub-Continent as one nation and the idea of Hinduism as a universal religion. Tilak also ignored the fact that Shivaji not only had Muslim allies but employed Muslims in his army and administration, demonstrating that his concept of a Martha nation included non-Hindus as well. Nonetheless, the revival and revision of Shivaji’s reign resulted in a number of Shivaji societies that believed that violence against British rule was a religious duty.
Tilak was also involved in researching and writing about the origins of Hinduism and the Hindu nation. I have already mentioned his wacky thesis, defended in a book entitled The Arctic Home of the Vedas, that Aryan culture actually goes all the way back to the last Ice Age. Drawing on astronomical allusions in the Vedas, Tilak takes Vedic history back 8,000 years and argues that the Vedic gods were polar deities worshiped by arctic Aryans. From all of his research he drew the same conclusion that many other 19th Century Indian nationalists did, and I will conclude with this illustrative but problematic passage:
During Vedic times, India was a self-contained country. It was united as great nation. That unity has disappeared bringing great degradation and it becomes the duty of the leaders to revive that union. A Hindu of this place [Varanasi] is as much a Hindu as one from Madras or Bombay. The study of the Gita, Ramayana, and Mahabharata produce the same ideas throughout the country. Are not these. . . our common heritage? If we lay stress on forgetting all the minor differences that exist between the different sects, then by the grace of Providence we shall long be able to consolidate all the different sects into a mighty Hindu nation. This ought to be the ambition of every Hindu.
The sects of which Tilak speaks the Sikhs, the Jains, and the Buddhists. Not at all included, unless they pledge allegiance to Hindutva (conversion itself is not mandatory), are India’s 40 million Christians and 120 million Muslims.
Needless to say, seeds sowed by Tilak, Bankim and Dawananda have grown up as today’s RSS, Bishwa Hindu Parishad and Shiva Sena. That will be another story.

1 comment:

akhter said...

What does “Allah” mean?

By Abu Iman Abd ar-Rahman Robert Squires. © Muslim Answers

Some of the biggest misconceptions that many non-Muslims have about Islam have to do with the word “Allah”. For various reasons, many people have come to believe that Muslims worship a different God than Christians and Jews. This is totally false, since “Allah” is simply the Arabic word for “God” - and there is only One God. Let there be no doubt - Muslims worship the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus - peace be upon them all. However, it is certainly true that Jews, Christians and Muslims all have different concepts of Almighty God. For example, Muslims - like Jews - reject the Christian beliefs of the Trinity and the Divine Incarnation. This, however, doesn’t mean that each of these three religions worships a different God - because, as we have already said, there is only One True God. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all claim to be “Abrahamic Faiths”, and all of them are also classified as “monotheistic”. However, Islam teaches that other religions have, in one way or another, distorted and nullified a pure and proper belief in Almighty God by neglecting His true teachings and mixing them with man-made ideas. First of all, it is important to note that “Allah” is the same word that Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews use for God. If you pick up an Arabic Bible, you will see the word “Allah” being used where “God” is used in English. This is because “Allah” is the only word in the Arabic language equivalent to the English word “God” with a capital “G”. Additionally, the word “Allah” cannot be made plural or given gender (i.e. masculine or feminine), which goes hand-in-hand with the Islamic concept of God. Because of this, and also because the Qur’an, which is the holy scripture of Muslims, was revealed in the Arabic language, some Muslims use the word “Allah” for “God”, even when they are speaking other languages. This is not unique to the word “Allah”, since many Muslims tend to use Arabic words when discussing Islamic issues, regardless of the language which they speak. This is because the universal teachings of Islam - even though they have been translated iin every major language - have been preserved in the Arabic language.It is interesting to note that the Aramaic word “El”, which is the word for God in the language that Jesus spoke, is certainly more similar in sound to the word “Allah” than the English word “God”. This also holds true for the various Hebrew words for God, which are “El” and “Elah”, and the plural form “Elohim”. The reason for these similarities is that Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic are all Semitic languages with common origins. It should also be noted that in translating the Bible into English, the Hebrew word “El” is translated variously as “God”, “god” and “angel”! This imprecise language allows different translators, based on their preconceived notions, to translate the word to fit their own views. The Arabic word “Allah” presents no such difficulty or ambiguity, since it is only used for Almighty God alone. Additionally, in English, the only difference between “god”, meaning a false god, and “God”, meaning the One True God, is the capital “G”. In the Arabic alphabet, since it does not have capital letters, the word for God (i.e. Allah) is formed by adding the equivalent to the English word “the” (Al-) to the Arabic word for “god/God” (ilah). So the Arabic word “Allah” literally it means “The God” - the “Al-” in Arabic basically serving the same function as the capital “G” in English. Due to the above mentioned facts, a more accurate translation of the word “Allah” into English might be “The One -and-Only God” or “The One Truee God”.

More importantly, it should also be noted that the Arabic word “Allah” contains a deep religious message due to its root meaning and origin. This is because it stems from the Arabic verb ta’allaha (or alaha), which means “to be worshipped”. Thus in Arabic, the word “Allah” means “The One who deserves all worship”. This, in a nutshell, is the Pure Monotheistic message of Islam. You see, according to Islam, “monotheism” is much more than simply believing in the existence of “only One God” - as seemingly opposed to two, three or more. If one understands the root meaning of the word “Allah”, this point should become clear. One should understand that Islam’s criticism of the other religions that claim to be “monotheistic” is not because they are “polytheistic” in the classic sense, but because they direct various forms of worship to other than Almighty God. We will discuss the meaning of worship in Islam below, however, before moving on it should be noted that many non-Muslims are unaware of the distinction between simply believing in the existence of only One God and reserving all worship for Him alone. Many Christians are painfully unaware of this point, and thus you often find them asking how Muslims can accuse the followers of Jesus, peace be upon him, of being “polytheists” when they were all “monotheistic Jews”. First of all, it should be clarified that the word “polytheist” doesn’t really sound right in this context, since to many it implies simply believing in the existence of more than one God. So in an Islamic context, “associators”, “man-worshippers” or “creature worshippers” might be more accurate and appropriate terms - especially since Christians believe Jesus to be both “100% God and 100% man”, while still paying lip-service to God’s “Oneness”. However, as we’re previously touched upon, what is really at the root of this problem is the fact that Christians - as well as the members of other religions - don’t really know what “monotheism” means - especially in the Islamic sense. All of the books, articles and papers that I’ve read which were written by Christians invariably limit “monotheism” to believing in the existence of “One Sovereign and Creator God”. Islam, however, teaches much more than this.

Suffice it to say that just because someone claims to be a “monotheistic” Jew, Christian or Muslim, that doesn’t keep them from falling into corrupt beliefs and idolatrous practices. Many people, including some Muslims, claim belief in “One God” even though they’ve fallen into acts of idolatry. Certainly, many Protestants accuse Roman Catholics of idolatrous practices in regards to the saints and the Virgin Mary. Likewise, the Greek Orthodox Church is considered “idolatrous” by many other Christians because in much of their worship they use icons. However, if you ask a Roman Catholic or a Greek Orthodox person if God is “One”, they will invariably answer: “Yes!”. This lip-service, however, does not stop them from being “creature worshipping” idolaters. The same goes for Hindus, who just consider their gods to be “manifestations” or “incarnations” of the One Supreme God.

Everyone should be aware of the fact that throughout the long history of the “Abrahamic Faiths”, there have people who, while believing in “One God”, have adopted beliefs and practices that completely nullify their claim to “monotheism”. This is the Muslim view of Christians. We’re well aware of the fact that they claim belief in “One God” with their lips, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t nullify their claim in other ways. This is because many people simply haven’t been taught everything that Pure Monotheism entails. From an Islamic point of view, “monotheism” can be nullified in many ways. For example, simply believing that it is permissible to rule by Western “liberal” and “democratic” laws in lieu of the Divinely Revealed Law of Almighty God makes one a “polytheist”. Certainly, a person who does such a thing, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, doesn’t ever believe that there is another Almighty Creator and Sovereign Lord. However, for all practical purposes, such a person has take another “god”, whether they choose to admit it or not. In this way they are associating partners with Almighty God (Arabic: shirk), and thus become a “polytheist” in a practical sense, regardless of their lip-service to “monotheism”. This holds true even if the person doesn’t believe what they are doing is “worship”. For example, Roman Catholics who pray to the Virgin Mary will staunchly deny that they are “worshipping” her. They instead call it “adoration” or some other watered-down term. However, from an Islamic point of view, what is worship if not this? Islam teaches that prayer and supplication are the marrow of worship, so if one directs their prayers to an intermediary (even if the pray is “ultimately” meant for God), then what is left of worship? Additionally, how can someone who believes in Almighty God follow man-made laws instead of God’s Law, without admitting that they’ve begun worshipping other than God? Do they know better than God?

Additionally, the Old Testament makes it perfectly clear that making a “graven image” of any created thing (not to mention ones which are supposed to “represent” Almighty God) is prohibited. Please see Exodus 20:4-6, Leviticus 26:1 and Deuteronomy 4:16, 23, 25, 5:8 and Nehemiah 9:6 for some statements in regards to this point. Without addressing the issue that Christians commonly violate the unambiguous commandment not to even “make” representations of anything that is in the “heavens above or on the earth beneath”, these verses not only teach that worshipping idols is prohibited, but also that Almighty God is eternally distinct from His creation and thus nothing in His creation can represent Him. To believe otherwise is to be a de facto idol worshipper - even if one claims belief in one, and only one, “True God”. In Exodus 20:4-6 and Deuteronomy 4:16, Almighty God - who is a “Jealous God” - makes it perfectly clear that He is distinct from His creation.

By giving such clear and merciful guidance to human beings, God is establishing a universal and eternal Truth for the benefit of mankind. This eternal Truth is the bedrock of religious guidance, since once people begin to believe that Almighty God mixes with or can be represented by His creation, they can be duped into believing almost anything. Once someone accepts that God has become “incarnate” in His creation, or that someone or something is a “manifestation” - and thus representation - of Him, the floodgates are open and “Truth” becomes a matter of subjective guesswork. Once the first and most basic concept is violated - regardless of how complicated and sophisticated the rationale for it might be - it is very easy to fall further and further away from the Eternal Truth of Pure Monotheism. In the final analysis, it is not a question of whether God is capable of becoming a man, but rather a question of whether one bases their beliefs about God on clear, unambiguous and authentic guidance. Once it is left up to the human mind to decide what Almighty God can and cannot do, the stage is set for misguidance to take root. Human speculation about God only ends up leading to misguidance and despair, since no clear conclusions can ever be reached. For example, is God capable of creating an object so heavy that He is incapable of moving it? If not, does that mean that He is incapable? It is because of misguided questions like this that Islam clearly teaches that mankind should only say about God what He has said about Himself. This means all of our ideas about God must be based on Revelation - not human speculation. In short, the final prophet of Islam - Muhammad - was sent by Almighty God to preach the same Pure Monotheism that was practiced by Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus - peace be upon them all. This Pure Monotheism means not only believing that there is only One God in existence, but realizing that He is transcedent above His creation and that all worship is due to Him alone.

Before concluding, we should probably address the practice of those Muslims who insist on using the Arabic word “Allah” even when speaking English. Even though this practice certainly is not to be condemned when it is done around those who understand the meaning of the Arabic word “Allah”, it is my experience - both during my years as a non-Muslim and my years as a Muslim - that such a practice can (and usually ddoes) breed misunderstanding. It seems that often times, many of the Muslims who use the word “Allah” in lieu of the word “God”, even when trying to attract people to Islam, are unaware of the severe misunderstandings that many non-Muslims have about Islam (and the distorted way which Islam has been portrayed in the West). Insisting on using the word “Allah” only fuels the flames of misunderstanding - so there’s no good reason to do it. I’ve often wondered what value some Muslims think that using the word “Allah” adds to the Pure Message that they are trying to convey. ( . . . and I’m still waiting for an answer!) Unfortunately, those Muslims who insist on using the word “Allah” even when addressing non-Muslims who are unfamiliar with Islam and the Arabic language, do both a disservice to themselves and their religion. Unfortunately, this practice is usually based on the false assumption - by a non-native speaker of English - that the word “God” in English is incapable of expressing a pure and proper belief in Almighty God. This is certainly false. If someone says that the English word “God” cannot be used to express the Pure Islamic Belief in Tawhid, they are wrong not because they don’t understand Tawhid, but simply because they don’t understand the English language. Many people who insist on using the Arabic word “Allah” usually don’t realize this, because in reality, they are not so much affirming the word “Allah” as they are rejecting the word “God” as unsuitable - based on incorrect assumptions. For someone to assume that the word “God” presupposes a certain theological point-of-view (such as the Trinity) is simply Wrong - and that’s Wrong with a capital “W”. To say the word “God” should be rejected because it can be changed into “god”, “gods” or “goddess” is illogical because each of these words has a distinctive meaning and a distinctive spelling - at least to someone who knows how to speak English correctly. Using the same logic, I can demonstrate that the root letters “ktb” can be used to form the Arabic words “kitab” (book), “maktabah” (library), “maktab” (office) and “kaatib” (writer), but does that mean that these words have the same meaning? Do Arabic-speaking people go through life confusing libraries with writers and offices with books (both in conversation and in reality)? I think not! This is not to mention the fact that if the Arabic “Al-” was put in front of these words in order to make them definite, confusion would be even less likely! So the logic in both cases is the same, and this is because even though the same letters are used in “God” and “god”, these two words have two different meanings in the English language. The capital “G” implies something different than the small “g” - and anyone who denies this simply doesn’t know how to speak the English language.

In concluding this point, it should be mentioned that Arabic-speaking Muslims who believe in Pure Tawhid, Arabic-speaking Christians, the idol worshippers of Mecca and (so-called) Muslims who believe in “Wahdat al-Wujud” all use the word “Allah”. However, does this guarantee all of them proper belief in “Allah”? Certainly not, because if they have a corrupt concept of “Allah” it doesn’t matter what word they use!

This brings us to a more important point: It should be clearly understood that what Islam is primarily concerned with is correcting mankind’s concept of Almighty God. What we are ultimately going to be held accountable at the end of our life is not whether we prefer the word “Allah” over the word “God”, but what our concept of God is. Language is only a side issue. A person can have an incorrect concept of God while using the word “Allah”, and likewise a person can have a correct concept of God while using the word “God”. This is because both of these words are equally capable of being misused and being improperly defined. As we’ve already mentioned, using the word “Allah” no more insinuates belief in the Unity of God than the use of the word “God” insinuates belief in the Trinity - or any other theological opinion. Naturally, when God sends a revelation to mankind through a prophet, He is going to send it in a language that the people who receive it can understand and relate to. Almighty God makes this clear in the Qur’an, when He states:

“Never did We send a Messenger except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people in order to make (things) clear to them.”

(Qur’an, Chapter 14 - “Abraham”, Verse 4)

As Muslims, we think that it is unfortunate that we have to go into details on such seemingly minor issues, but so many falsehoods have been heaped upon our religion, that we feel that it is our duty to try to break down the barriers of falsehood. This isn’t always easy, since there is a lot of anti-Islamic literature in existence which tries to make Islam look like something strange and foreign to Westerners. There are some people out there, who are obviously not on the side of truth, that want to get people to believe that “Allah” is just some Arabian “god”, and that Islam is completely “other” - meaning that it has no common roots with the other Abrahamic religions (i.e. Christianity and Judaism). To say that Muslims worship a different “God” because they say “Allah” is just as illogical as saying that French people worship another God because they use the word “Dieu”, that Spanish-speaking people worship a different God because they say “Dios” or that the Hebrews worshipped a different God because they sometimes call Him “Yahweh”. Certainly, reasoning like this is quite ridiculous! It should also be mentioned, that claiming that any one language uses the only the correct word for God is tantamount to denying the universality of God’s message to mankind, which was to all nations, tribes and people through various prophets who spoke different languages.

Before closing, we would like everyone to be aware of the fact that some Christian missionary organizations print English literature intended to teach Christians about Islam which say such things as: “Allah is the god of the Muslims” and that “Muhammad came to get people to believe in the god Allah” - implying that “Allah” is some sort of false “god”. However, when these same organizations print literature in the Arabic language, hoping to lead Arabic-speaking Muslims “to Christ”, they use the word “Allah” for God. It seems that if they were on the side of truth, they would not have to resort to such inconsistencies. And on an even more ridiculous note . . . there are also missionary organizations that exceed this in ignorance (or deceit) by writing books that call on Muslims to give up their belief in “Allah”, and instead worship the “Lord” Jesus, “the Son of God”. Besides making it abundantly clear that they are outside the community of Pure Monotheism, the people who write such material don’t even realize that if they wrote such a pamphlet in Arabic, it would be self-contradictory. This is because in an Arabic Bible Jesus is the “Son of Allah”! If an Arabic-speaking person gave up the worship of “Allah”, they would have no God to worship, since “Allah” is simply the Arabic word for God!

Before we conclude, however, we would like to ask our readers to ask themselves what they think the reasons are behind all of these lies? If Islam was just some false religion that didn’t make any sense, would so many people, from Western scholars to Christian missionaries, have to tell so many lies about it? The reason is that the Ultimate Truth of Islam stands on solid ground and its unshakable belief in the Unity of God is above reproach. Due to this, Christians can’t criticize its doctrines directly, but instead make up things about Islam that aren’t true so that people lose the desire to learn more. If Muslims were able to present Islam in the proper way to people in the West, it surely might make many people reconsider and re-evaluate their own beliefs. It is quite likely that Christians, when they find out that there is a universal religion in the world that teaches people to worship and love God, while also practicing Pure Monotheism, would at least feel that they should re-examine the basis for their own beliefs and doctrines