Wednesday, August 3, 2022

In The Context of Religion, Old Is Not Always Gold

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 2 August 2022 Muslims or Hindus or Christians of the Past Were No Better Than Today's Muslims, Hindus and Christians ------ “Waqt Ke Mutabiq Zindagi Basar Kar/ Daur-E-Guzhista Ko Paimana-E-Hayaat Na Samajh “(Live life according to the contemporary times/Don't view the past as the yardstick of life). This pertains to Arshad Alam's bold and brilliant piece, “How Relevant is the Prophetic Model Today?” As expected, a modern ' Imam Ghazali ' posted a meandering rejoinder extolling Muhammad and his 'immaculate' persona. Well, that's inconsequential. The point is, Arshad Alam's intrepid analysis is an open sesame to further discussions on not just Muslims' tendency to eulogise the past but also of all mortals who feel nostalgically good to bask in the romanticised glory of the days gone by. In Mahabharata, the grand patriarch Bhishma often says, “Puranmityev Na Saadhu Sarvam “(Old is NOT always gold and right). Past is good for reference, but not ideal for living in the present. Just like nostalgic Muslims, today's ' Sanatani ' Hindus are also constantly reminding their co-religionists of an imaginary Satyug when everything was quintessentially good and perfect. This is nothing but indolent lotus-eating. Muslims or Hindus or Christians of the past were no better than today's Muslims, Hindus and Christians. According to sociologists, there has been a more or less religious status quo right from the inception of every religion. In fact, we've become a trifle better than our religiously sanguinary ancestors. Today, no Adi Shankar can dare burn a Jain or Buddhist monk, no Christian can even think of burning a heretic at stake or no Muslim may openly go on beheading those not converting to Islam. The unnecessary glorification of the past, esp. religious past, is an impediment to moving ahead. Muslims must come out of the mental ghetto of yore when Khalil Khaan Fakhta Udaya Karte Thay. Don't forget that you're in different times and climes with different values and parameters of life. Way back in 1930, Dr Muhammad Iqbal exhorted Muslims to get rid of their grovelling Seerat un-Nabi Syndrome during his lectures in Madras (Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam). What he meant was, Renaissance of Islam and Muslims' disassociation with the past. Altaf Hussain Hali ' Panipati ' also said the same thing in his Musaddas-e-Hali. Past takes you back and is always regressive. Muslims' sickening veneration of Muhammad smacks of hero-worship and this relegates Islam to a cult. Calling him Mard-e-Kaamil or flawless will only evoke criticism. Be open to flaws and foibles of your religion and its revered characters and never forget the words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, " So long as an individual is in a human body, whether he/she is an apostle or prophet, infallibility is impossible " (courtesy, an interview to The Indian Express during Dr King's visit to India in 1959). --- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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