The kingdom of God is inside you and all around you. Pick up a stone, slit a log and you will find him there. Through ages we have been moulded in our own different and peculiar ways, moulded into different cultures and religion. But why have we restricted our domain to a particular type? If we taste and understand different flavours of life, then why do we constrain our realm in the holy sphere of religion?
Each and every prophet born on this very soil has preached only one message — love. But as centuries have gone by, this simple message has transformed into a complex connotation. A kind of ethnocentrism has been formed among the extremist followers and the saddest part is that it are these extremist who represent their religion be it Islam, Hinduism, Christianity or Zoroastrianism.
It’s ironic how the same message preached by the greatest souls is not accessible to us all.
I went to attend the mass this week in a Church but was denied to take the communion because I wasn’t a Catholic. On the same lines, a non- Muslims is not permitted to enter the holy gates of Mecca and Medina.
We are deprived of the sight of the place where the great Prophet preached his tolerant teachings to his followers, the prophet who gave birth to the greatest and one of the leading religions followed in the world today. The guardians of our religious places today restrict the preaching of our prophets to their respective religious followers. Why do we have a limited access to this religious treasure?
One of my friends, who is a half Parsi and a half Jat, has got her Parsi ceremony done. According to rituals she is a Parsi, but on the basis of her blood line, she is not a pure one. Zoroastrianism is one such religion which doesn’t support conversions. On the contrary, even a child whose one parent is a fire worshipper is not termed as a Parsi.
She believes in hormuz and prays three times a day, wears an Ashofarohar (Parsi messenger of god), she has an idol of the Parsi God put in her room, right next to her other one, this one representing Lord Krishna (a Hindu God). Does this make her any less faithful to her religion? Does the blood prove your faithfulness more than your faith in your religion? Then why is she denied the right to worship in a fire temple. It’s her religious right to practice her religion, but it’s like saying that her religion doesn’t find her qualified to enter its religious province. It implies the fact that one can’t follow more than one religion at a point of time. You have to place your priorities correctly, or should I say the religion testifies you if you are worthy enough for it.
Religion has marked some never ending boundaries which can never be crossed. Every morning, I see my grandfather doing his religious prayers (he is a Sikh). One day out of curiosity, I picked up his prayer book. To my surprise I found out that the whole prayer was in Urdu (official language of Islam). When I asked my grandfather why he reads his prayers in Urdu, he answered that he doesn’t know how to read Punjabi that well. The reason being that in his times the Sikh prayers where written in Urdu and his childhood place, Lahore that time in Punjab, taught Urdu and Hindi as a part of his course. I sat with him the whole day listening to his childhood tales, to his version of the partition. He then became silent. There was an uneasy silence in that room that day. I asked him softly, “Grandpa, do you wish to see your place again?” I heard no answers. Maybe he couldn’t answer this question. I could see tears in his eyes. Then he said, ” Do you think there would be anything left there for me?” Everything is over and finished, his childhood died way back in Jan 1948 when he took the army convoy to Jalandar and left his past buried, with all the ancestral wealth they once possessed.
I recently read this book by Asra Nomani where she discovered her religion by finding her inner self. She became the first woman in her mosque in West Virginia to insist on her right to pray in the male-only main hall. She started a revolution to make a difference in her community, by making people realize that Islam is more than jihad and mujahidins. It’s about a prophet who approximately 2000 years ago preached the concept of love and tolerance to the people of Arabia, hoping that the message will spread around and the world would be a better place to live in. She made a point to make her existence being felt by people around her and voicing her opinion. She took a step to make the society better than what it is. She is constantly fighting with the extremist’s ideology, the ideology followed by the same people who slaughtered her American Jewish friend Daniel Pearl.
The need of the hour is to believe and realize one’s inner spiritual self rather than blindly following a faith. Your faith within your heart cannot be shaken by any extremist be it Hinduism, Christianity or Islam.
You and only you are answerable to your God who is there watching you all the time. It is your inner voice that will lead you on the divine path of faith and spirituality and make you become a better and tolerant human.
Religion is something that has been developed out of one common faith introduced by different messengers of God. But they all have a common link. It is that link which we should focus on, rather than abating the purity of their teachings to a restricted religious book. They hold much more importance than that; they are your testimonials which the Almighty has tried to contact us with. He has done his job of communicating us now it’s upto us to decide how to respond to him.
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/visionwithin/174156082/]