Saturday, September 10, 2011

EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY

This is beautiful story that the poet Theodore Tilton has very emotively expressed in the stanza's ...





EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY

Once in Persia reigned a king,
Who upon a signet ring
Carved a maxim strange and wise,
When held before his eyes,
Gave him counsel at a glance,
Fit for every change and chance:
Solemn words, and these were they:
'EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY."

Trains, of camel through the sand
Brought him gems from Samarcand;
Fleets of galleys over the seas
Brought him pearls to rival these,
But he counted little gain,
Treasures of the mine or main;
'What is wealth?' the king would say
"EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY."

'Mid the pleasures of his court
At the zenith of their sport,
When the palms of all his guests
Burned with clapping at his jests,
Seated midst the figs and wine,
Said the king: 'Ah, friends of mine,'
Pleasure comes but not to stay,
"EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY."

Woman, fairest ever seen
Was the bride he crowned as queen,
Pillowed on the marriage-bed
Whispering to his soul, he said
"Though no monarch ever pressed
Fairer bosom to his breast,
Mortal flesh is only clay!
'EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY."

Fighting on the furious field,
Once a javelin pierced his shield,
Soldiers with a loud lament
Bore him bleeding to his tortured side,
'Pain is hard to bear," he cried,
But with patience, day by day,
"EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY.'

Towering in a public square
Forty cubits in the air,
And the king disguised, unknown,
Gazed upon his sculptured name,
And he pondered, "What is fame?'
Fame is but a slow decay!
"EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY."

Struck with palsy, sore and old,
Waiting at the gates of gold,
Said he with his dying breath
'Life is done, but what is Death?"
Then as answer to the king
Fell a sunbeam on his ring;
Showing by a heavenly ray,
"EVEN THIS WILL PASS AWAY."


Life is a challenge. ....We all agree

Life does have its ups and downs.... its trials and tribulations, but the saving grace is no one is exempt from these things.No matter how fortunate, successful, rich, pampered, admired, or loved we are, some days will be better than others. .....Some days will be bad ....Some days we will crash against unrelenting stone walls ,which we can't dig under or climb over.

In the world of high finance and Wall Street, it has been said that what goes up will go down as if it were a see saw. Now if we look at this topsy turvy world.... the spirituality of ups and downs will get clarity.... it is a matter of seeing what you previously didn't see.

In other words, if learn to adapt the belief that change is a way of life  ...and this too shall pass.
Such a way of life will prevent the dramatic rise in elated feeling when things are going well and the depressed feeling when the roof appears to be caving in.

Theodore Tilton was an intense Poet perhaps came to terms  with vagaries of life ,when he penned the poem....


He was a young, handsome, religious, , journalist, editor, novelist, orator  and a  was a supporter of social reforms, including woman suffrage. The talented Tilton edited a New York daily, called The Independent, dedicated to emancipation. When businessmen Bowen bought the Independent in 1860, he named his pastor, Henry Ward Beecher, as editor and his fellow parishioner, Theodore Tilton, as editorial assistant.

The two men became devoted colleagues and friends. "There were also practical reasons why Henry Ward [Beecher] found young Tilton so valuable a friend. Tilton was well known in newspaper offices, and no one better than Henry Ward Beecher knew the importance of publicity.

Despite these successes, Tilton's professional and personal lives headed for a crisis. Tilton "liked to go off on long, strenuous lecture tours, leaving Liz and the children behind. Liz, a former Sunday-school teacher, worshiped ardently at Dr. Beecher's church, and during Theodore's long absences Beecher also ministered privately to her," Tilton subsequently charged Beecher with seducing his wife. The resulting scandal was aired in a courtroom and in church pews. It involved a complex myriad of charges, countercharges, retractions and reassertions. It was an unholy mess.

In a notorious 1874 sex scandal he sued his friend and mentor, Henry Ward Beecher, for alleged adultery with Mrs. Tilton, nee Elizabeth M. Richards. The trial resulted in a hung jury. His popularity waned after the trial. In 1883 he exiled himself to Paris. He died there and was buried at Barbizon.
How we deal with things we can't control determines our quality of life. We all know of celebrities who destroy themselves because they see no reason to live, and cancer patients who continue to live and love and laugh and make the most of every moment they have left. Our character and attitude will make us or break us.

A great man, Abraham Lincoln, understood change.   At the memorial ceremony for Tim Russert , Maria Shriver told this story about a possible "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert and President Lincoln.   Mr. Russert asks President Lincoln, "How could you change your position?"   President Lincoln replied, "I'd like to think that my changing positions is an indication that I have grown smarter."  

The only constant is change.

Whenever I hear this quote from Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, I get the distinct feeling that he must have been  looking through a crystal ball at my life! ......Well .come to think of it  you will agree that it is definitely true of all  life  in the universe..... the only constant is change.
Does it not seem at  times this  makes us feel like we are dancing on shifting sand.

Just when you think you know which foot to move in which direction, suddenly the terrain has altered ....and thr ground rules change , and you have to re-think your next step. While this can be bewildering, and at times downright stressful, by accepting the fact that we never know what is going to happen next, we can learn to approach life as the great adventure that it can be.
Sometimes in life  it is best that we  throw away the map that we have created, and just take the steps  intuitively as a  steer .... We may just stumble and see the path that is forming in front of us.

There are times in our lives when we seem to experience even more change than usual. At times change maybe  difficult and unsettling...I agree, but let us  see in them an opportunity for great personal growth.

Can you see your life on a uni-planar level??

Surely  ... you will become aware of the stagnation, and when we are stagnating and not moving or changing, we are also not growing. This way... if we can recognize that rapid change can also bring rapid growth, the ‘growing pains’ we may experience from a lot of change can be easier to endure.

Realizing that the ebb and flow of life circumstances will not follow the path that we may want them to follow, the best way to cope with a life of constant change is to learn to flow with those changes, rather than trying to fight against them.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Kahu Nanak Gur Khoeae Bharam || Eaeko Alahu Paarabreham .....



RELIGION AND SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 
Today the world order is changing…..The societal ship has  already steamed out of the sheltered bays of established tradition and dogmas  of religiosity  and has begun its cruise upon the high seas of evolutionary destiny; our soul is carefully  searching   morality  painstakingly, to observe the compass of religious guidance in the multi faith world.
What is the paramount mission of religion as a social influence?
It is to stabilize the ideals of mankind during these dangerous times of transition from one phase of civilization to another, from one level of culture to another. Religion has no new duties to perform, but it is urgently called upon to function as a wise guide and experienced counsellor in all of these new and rapidly changing human situations.
This new and oncoming social order will not settle down  at desirous comfort  levels for a millennium or so. The human race will have to become reconciled to a procession of changes, adjustments, and readjustments.
Mankind is on the march toward a new and unrevealed planetary destiny.....This can happen only through real knowledge....A soul Search

Knowledge
The Prophet said: “There will be a time when knowledge is absent.”
Ziad son of Labid said: “How knowledge could become absent, when we repeat the Koran, and teach it to our children, and they will teach it to their children, until the day of requital?”
The Messenger answered: “You amaze me, Ziad, for I thought that you were the chief of the learned of Medina. Do the Jews and the Christians not read the Torah and the Gospels without understanding anything of their real meaning?”

(Caravan of Dreams by Sayed Idries Shah).
Religion has to become a forceful influence for moral stability and spiritual progression ...and in the process function dynamically in the midst of  ever-changing conditions and never-ending economic adjustments.
Religion must act as the celestial salt which prevents the tumultuous turbulence arising out of this transitional progression  of mankind from destroying the cultural flavour of civilization. These new social relations and economic upheavals can result in lasting brotherhood only by the ministry of religion.
Religions of the World today and its followers
  1. Christianity: 2.1 billion
  2. Islam: 1.5 billion
  3. Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion
  4. Hinduism: 900 million
  5. Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
  6. Buddhism: 376 million
  7. primal-indigenous: 300 million
  8. African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million
  9. Sikhism: 23 million
  10. Juche: 19 million
  11. Spiritism: 15 million
  12. Judaism: 14 million
  13. Baha'i: 7 million
  14. Jainism: 4.2 million
  15. Shinto: 4 million
  16. Cao Dai: 4 million
  17. Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
  18. Tenrikyo: 2 million
  19. Neo-Paganism: 1 million
  20. Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand
  21. Rastafarianism: 600 thousand
  22. Scientology: 500 thousand
We live in this large multi faith world order linked in new social relations…thus it becomes imperative for us to understand people ....their faith the commonalities and  differences. It is Eid today... And what better day to delve into the past, the centuries old historical context of Islam and Coming of the Prophet.....and how did it impact Sikhism.

Perhaps you may ask why Sikhism.....Well ...I am an adherent of Sikhism ...The spirituality of Sikhism   is what our Guru’s have bequeathed to us centuries ago....and my search for the meeting point in all religions intrigue me..
Sikhism originated in the Punjab region of northwest India, where it drew on elements from Bhakti Hinduism and Islamic Sufism to develop into a distinct religious tradition in its own right
The term Sikh is derived from the Sanskrit word for "disciple" or "learner." Sikhs are those who are disciples to the Guru.. Sikhs believe that liberation from the karmic cycle of rebirths occurs in the merging of the human spirit with the all-embracing spirit of God.

Guru Nanak (1469-1539 C.E.) was the first of Sikhism's 10 Gurus, a lineage of holy teachers of divine grace that continued until the end of the 17th century.

The compilation of the Sikh scriptures, the Adi Granth, was begun in 1604 by the Fifth Guru. The last of the ten Gurus, Guru Gobind Singh, announced that he would be the last persona of a Guru …..and that thereafter, Sikhs were to regard the Adi Granth ….Guru Granth Sahib as their teacher. This sacred book is considered the living embodiment of all ten Gurus and is therefore the melting pot of all teachings in form of Gur bani……and is worshiped in all Sikh temples/ gurudwaras.

 The Guru Granth sahib, though never claimed to be a  divine revelation scripture, unlike Quran, comprises of three main parts: a long poem by Nanak summing up the elements of Sikhism, a collection of Ragas, or songs composed by the first five Gurus, and a mixed collection of commentaries elaborating on the Ragas together with hymns of many Hindu saints and Sufi mystics, most prominent Muslim contributors of them all are Sant Kabeer, Sheikh Farid and Sheikh Bhikan.
Sant Kabir

There are 292 hymns associated to Kabir in Adi Granth. Kabir ….1398 to 1495…was probably born to a Brahmin mother and raised by a Muslim step mother. He lived as a Sufi saint, abhorred the caste system and all religious rituals.

Sheikh Farid has 4 hymns and 130 shlokas by his name. Sheikh Farid (1175 to 1265) was also a Muslim Sufi saint of great piety. He is considered the father of Punjabi poetry. Sheikh Bhikan has 2 hymns.

A Muslim Sufi scholar saint Sheikh Bhikan died in the early part of Akbar's reign. He was one of the most learned men of his time. He believed that only God's name can heal a diseased mind and body.
With contributions from such learned souls  , the reference to Islam and it's ideals, are too many to miss. 
Though there is a common misconception among some that Gurbani  is a derivative of Islam and its practices. ...in support of this conjecture, they present some quotes from Gurbani. .....perhaps such a intent is only due to mistranslation and misunderstanding arising out of context quote . Let us dig into this a little deeper.... and understand the real  truth  that the Guru’s were hinting at ....

When The Guru’s preached Gurmat, there were two major religions in the country, Hinduism and Islam. Guru Sahib rejected both and revealed a new path and preached it in a language commonly understood by the masses. To make it easier for the people to understand the divine message, Guru Sahib used many of the commonly known words in His preaching. ....For illustrative  exemplification , He used words like Allah, Khudah, Raam, Gobind, Kareem, Khalak, Vasudev, Hari etc. to relate to one almighty God.


Use of such words in no way is advocating Hinduism or Islam. Guru Sahib preached that there is only one God who has many different names and can be remembered by different people with different names.
Here is just one example in which Guru Sahib used words from both religions to convey
His message:
ਕਾਰਨ ਕਰਨ ਕਰੀਮ  ਸਰਬ ਪ੍ਰਤਿਪਾਲ ਰਹੀਮ  ਅਲਹ ਅਲਖ ਅਪਾਰ  ਖੁਦਿ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਵਡ ਬੇਸੁਮਾਰ ੧॥ ਓਂ ਨਮੋ ਭਗਵੰਤ ਗੁਸਾਈ  ਖਾਲਕੁ ਰਵਿ ਰਹਿਆ ਸਰਬ ਠਾਈ ੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ  ਜਗੰਨਾਥ ਜਗਜੀਵਨ ਮਾਧੋ  ਭਉ ਭੰਜਨ ਰਿਦ ਮਾਹਿ ਅਰਾਧੋ  ਰਿਖੀਕੇਸ ਗੋਪਾਲ ਗੋ̮ਵਿੰਦ  ਪੂਰਨ ਸਰਬਤ੍ਰ ਮੁਕੰਦ ੨॥ ਮਿਹਰਵਾਨ ਮਉਲਾ ਤੂਹੀ ਏਕ  ਪੀਰ ਪੈਕਾਂਬਰ ਸੇਖ  ਦਿਲਾ ਕਾ ਮਾਲਕੁ ਕਰੇ ਹਾਕੁ  ਕੁਰਾਨ ਕਤੇਬ ਤੇ ਪਾਕੁ ੩॥ ਨਾਰਾਇਣ ਨਰਹਰ ਦਇਆਲ  ਰਮਤ ਰਾਮ ਘਟ ਘਟ ਆਧਾਰ  ਬਾਸੁਦੇਵ ਬਸਤ ਸਭ ਠਾਇ  ਲੀਲਾ ਕਿਛੁ ਲਖੀ  ਜਾਇ ੪॥ ਮਿਹਰ ਦਇਆ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਨੈਹਾਰ  ਭਗਤਿ ਬੰਦਗੀ ਦੇਹਿ ਸਿਰਜਣਹਾਰ  ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਿ ਖੋਏ ਭਰਮ  ਏਕੋ ਅਲਹੁ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ੫॥੩੪॥੪੫
kaaran karan kareem ||sarab prathipaal reheem || aleh alakh apaar || khudh khudhaae vadd baesumaar ||1|| ou(n) namo bhagava(n)th gusaaee || khaalak rav rehiaa sarab t(h)aaee ||1|| rehaao || jaga(n)naathh jagajeevan maadhho || bho bha(n)jan ridh maahi araadhho || rikheekaes gopaal guovi(n)dh || pooran sarabathr muka(n)dh ||2|| miharavaan moulaa thoohee eaek || peer paikaa(n)bar saekh || dhilaa kaa maalak karae haak || kuraan kathaeb thae paak ||3|| naaraaein narehar dhaeiaal || ramath raam ghatt ghatt aadhhaar || baasudhaev basath sabh t(h)aae || leelaa kishh lakhee n jaae ||4|| mihar dhaeiaa kar karanaihaar || bhagath ba(n)dhagee dhaehi sirajanehaar || kahu naanak gur khoeae bharam ||eaeko alahu paarabreham ||5||34||45||

He is the Doer, the Cause of causes, the bountiful Lord. The merciful Lord cherishes all. The Lord is unseen and infinite. God is great and endless.
 ||1|| I humbly pray to invoke the Universal Lord God, the Lord of the World. The Creator Lord is all-pervading, everywhere.
 ||1||Pause|| He is the Lord of the Universe, the Life of the World. Within your heart, worship and adore the Destroyer of fear. The Master Rishi of the senses, Lord of the World, Lord of the Universe. He is perfect, ever-present everywhere, the Liberator.
||2|| You are the One and only merciful Master, spiritual teacher, prophet, religious teacher. Master of hearts, Dispenser of justice, more sacred than the Koran and the Bible.
||3|| The Lord is powerful and merciful. The all-pervading Lord is the support of each and every heart. The luminous Lord dwells everywhere. His play cannot be known.
||4|| Be kind and compassionate to me, O Creator Lord. Bless me with devotion and meditation, O Lord Creator. Says Nanak, the Guru has rid me of doubt. The Muslim God Allah and the Hindu God Paarbrahm are one and the same. ||5||34||45|| (Ang 896)

Notice that words from both religions are used collectively. This way Guru Sahib made it clear that God of the west ...Islam and east ...Hinduism are not two different Gods but He is the same. There is only one God who creates, sustains and destroys the creation. He loves everyone without hatred, gives salvation and is beyond death and birth. Hence, it is clear that words from Islam and Hinduism were utilized as tools to explain the revealed message of Gurmat. Ek onkar


With this in mind, Let us joyously celebrate Eid with our Muslim brethren....

In Arabic, Eid means “festival,” and Fitr means “breaking the fast,” so Eid ul-Fitr is literally a festival for breaking the fast. After the intense religious introspection and fasting of Ramadan, Muslims take Eid as an opportunity to have fun, celebrate their faith, and enjoy the company of friends and family. The festival may also get quite chaotic, with fireworks, and distributions of presents to friends and neighbors, along with music and dancing.


At many mosques during Ramadan, about one thirtieth of the Qur'an is recited each night in prayers known as tarawih. In this way, by the end of the month the complete scripture will have been recited.


Musims believe that during the month of Ramadan, Allah revealed the first verses of the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam.
According to the legends, Prophet Mohammad while meditating was visited by the messenger of God, Gabriel. It was Gabriel who taught Mohammad the holy verses of sacred Quran – which contains a set of code of conduct that Allah wants His people to follow on the earth.
One day, when he was about forty years old, Mohammad was alone in the cave when suddenly a man in a white dress appeared to him. Mohammad himself described what happened:

“Then he took me and squeezed me vehemently and then let me go and repeated the order ‘Recite.’ ‘I cannot recite' said I, and once again he squeezed me and let me go till I was exhausted. Then he said, ‘Recite.' I said, ‘I cannot recite.’ He squeezed me for a third time in  Arabic  and then let me go and said:
‘Recite in the name of your lord who created – 
From an embryo created the human.
Recite your lord is all-giving
Who taught by the pen
Taught the human what he did not know before
The human being is a tyrant
He thinks his possessions make him secure
To your lord is the return of everything’   
Qur’an: 96:1-8

To express his gratitude to Allah, Mohammad asked all the Muslims to spend the month of Ramadan with strict discipline and fasting. The first day of the following month is observed as Eid –ul–Fitr, the fast breaking ceremony aiming to promote, contemplation of soul, brotherhood, love and bringing oneself back to normal chores of everyday life.
It was the angel Gabriel, who told Muhammad he had been chosen to receive the word of Allah. In the days that followed, Muhammad found himself speaking the verses that would be transcribed as the Qur’an.


As I mentioned  earlier on this blog post....That religion can  prevent  the tumultuous  turbulence arising out of  transitional progression  of mankind  which can destroy the cultural flavour of civilization. ...Most conflict of minds come from darkness.....Lack of knowledge and shrouded truth....


Then what is the best we can do?


Open up our minds to the unknown factors....Meet people...in real world ...in cyber world encourage  cultural exchange of ideas  and negate the hypothetical conflicts of  religious beliefs....

Let me share an interesting excerpt from  Book of Urantia....

 ISLAM
The Religion of Submission to God

Islam is the youngest of the major religions of the world. It is the dominant religion of the third-world nations of the Middle East and Africa and the second largest of the world's religions with 589,143,400 followers. Muslim philosophy is a blend of Arabic, Jewish, and Christian elements and one of the simplest and least complicated of the world's religions.


The basic belief of Islam is that there is only one God, Allah, who is the sole and sovereign ruler of the universe. Allah has made himself known through other prophets at other times; but his best and final revelation was to the prophet Muhammad in the seventh century. The central demand of Muslims (submitters) is submission to the will of Allah.



Pre-Islamic Arab religion was an animistic polytheism. Images to these gods were carved and cherished and blood sacrifices were made to them. They recognized one supreme high god whom they called Allah (the God). They venerated a black meteoric stone at Mecca. Legend says the stone fell from heaven during the time of Adam and Eve and that Abraham and Ishmael built the Kaaba around it.


Muhammad was born around 570 A. D. at Mecca. His father died before he was born and his mother died before he was six years old. He was reared by an uncle and had no opportunity for any kind of formal education. He was an illiterate caravan worker and camel driver. In his travels he met Christians, Jews, and perhaps Zoroastrians. Around the age of twenty-five he married a wealthy widow caravan owner, Khadija. During their twenty-five years of marriage she bore him two sons and four daughters; but only one daughter, Fatima, survived him.


In the years following his marriage he began to go into the hills surrounding Mecca to contemplate the fate of his people. Muhammad entered a period of spiritual stress. He was concerned about the idolatry of his people and their fate on the judgment day at the end of the world. As time passed he became. agitated with the thought that the Last Day and Last Judgment might be near at hand. According to Muslim tradition he visited a cave near the base of Mt. Hira north of Mecca for days at a time. Here one night when he was around the age of forty the archangel Gabriel appeared to him. After a series of revelations extending over many years Muhammad became convinced that there was only one God, Allah; and that he was the last and the greatest in a series of prophets (28) of this God--which included Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.


Muhammad began to preach but was met with rejection and hostility. His first converts were from the younger and poorer classes in Mecca. As opposition mounted Muhammad received protection from his uncle; however, some of his followers took refuge in Abyssinia. In 619 both his wife and his uncle died. Muhammad tried to move out of Mecca to a nearby town but was rejected.


A fortuitous event took place in 620. Men from Yathrib (Medina) came to seek Muhammad as an impartial judge to settle disputes within the city. It was 622 before Muhammad could leave Mecca. A group of assassins had pledged to kill him but finally Muhammad and his friend and successor, Abu Bakr, escaped to a cave on Mt. Thaur and thence to Medina. The Hijrah (migration) normally took eleven days but they made it in eight. Muslims date their calendars from the Hijrah (A.H.)

At Medina Muhammad set up a theocracy and directed Muslims to pray toward Jerusalem but when he was opposed by the Jews he commanded his followers to pray toward Mecca. The final break with the Jews came when a Jewess, Zainab invited the Prophet and his friends to dinner and fed them poisoned lamb. The Jewish tribes were either expelled from Muslim territory or offered the choice of conversion or death.
Although Muhammad greatly improved the treatment of women, they were still under the rulership of men. Muslims were allowed four wives if all of them were treated the same. A man could divorce his wife by repeating three times, "I divorce you." Muhammad, through special dispensation married eleven wives. When he married his cousin, Zaynab, who had been the wife of his adopted son, Zayd, he was not criticized so much for taking another man's wife as for marrying a cousin which was considered incestuous in the Arab culture.


Muhammad launched military campaigns to consolidate their position. At the battle of Badr in 624 the Muslims defeated the Meccans. In another battle the following year the Muslims lost more men than the Meccans. A force of 10,000 Meccans attacked Medina in 627 but no decisive battles were fought and the Meccans withdrew. A peace treaty was worked out which allowed Muslims to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. In 630 Muhammad entered Mecca with an army of 10,000 men as its complete conqueror. He went to the Kaaba and destroyed all of the idols and images. With this symbolic act the Prophet became the sole leader of the Arabian people. At the age of sixty-two in 632 Muhammad led another pilgrimage to Mecca. When he returned he gave a farewell message to Muslims and died in the arms of his wife Aishah. His last words were, "Lord grant me pardon! Join me to the companionship on high! Eternity in Paradise! Pardon! The blessed companionship on high!" Muhammad was a man of unquestioned religious experience, a man of prayer, one utterly devoted to the religious ideal as he saw it. He was an attractive leader and an efficient organizer. At times he was vindictive and autocratic; yet he could say, "There is no compulsion in religion."


Muhammad made no provision for succession. The first four caliphs (deputys) were chosen by election and are often referred to as the "orthodox caliphs" because they were selected from the circle of the friends of the Prophet. Alip the last of the orthodox caliphs, had the caliphate usurped by those who formed the Umayyad dynasty in 661. The Umayyad caliphs ruled from Damascus, Syria from 661 to 750. They were succeeded by the Abbasid dynasty which ruled from Baghdad, Persia between 750 and 1258. This was the golden age of Islam. The Abbasids were replaced by the Mamelukan Turks who ruled from Egyp. They were succeeded in the sixteenth century by the Ottoman Turks who made the caliph title synonymous with that of the sultan of Turkey. When the Ottoman-Empire was broken up after World War I the caliphate ceased to be.
Islam is not a temple-oriented religion; however, Muhammad decreed that Muslims were required to pray together at a mosque on Friday. There an iman leads in prayer; the iman is not a priest but a pious man. The scripture of Islam is the Quran (reading) which is made up of 114 surahs (chapters) arranged according to the length of the surah. The Quran is the Word of God; it is eternal, absolute, and irrevocable. Muhammad acted only as a stenographer for Allah. Probably no scripture has influenced its people more than the Quran. It is dutifully read by Muslims and memorized in its entirety by many. The Quran has twenty-five references to Jesus Christ and represents Jesus as predicting the coming of the founder of Islam.
Essential beliefs of Islam include: (1) The one God, Allah, who is the omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient creator and ruler of the universe. He has ninety-nine names which are suggestive of his infinite nature. Allah in referring to himself uses a plural pronoun, "we," like the Hebrew plural "Elohim." (2) Angels of various kinds which are both good and evil. The leader of the demons is Iblis (devil) who was responsible for the fall of Adam and Eve. (3) The Quran and other books such as the Hebrew Law and Psalms and the Evangel to Jesus, (4) Prophets of Allah-- twenty-eight are mentioned in the Quran and Muhammad is the last and the greatest of the prophets. (5) Judgment, Paradise, and Hell--the Islamic Paradise has abundant pleasures such as beautiful gardens with flowing water, large-eyed maidens, and wine with no headaches. Hell is a horrid place filled with scalding winds, black smoke, and brackish water. (6) Divine decrees-things are predestined by the will of Allah. This emphasis gives Islam an atmosphere of fatalism. The most frequent statement among devout Muslims is "if God wills it."
Every Muslim must perform "the five pillars of Islam:" (1) Repeat the creed, "There is no God but Allah; and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah." (2) Prayer--the Quran says three times a day but in later years it was raised to five times each day. The muezzins climb the minarets of mosques five times a day to cry out that it is time for prayer. The Muslim must cleanse himself and face Mecca in a prostrate position for prayer. (3) Almsgiving--a Muslim is expected to share his possessions with the poor of his community. Later almsgiving became obligatory and was assessed as a tax amounting to two or three percent of one's wealth. (4) Fasting is required during the month of Ramadan. Between daylight and dark Muslims are expected to abstain from all food, drink, smoking, and sexual relations. Exceptions are made for those who are sick, nursing mothers, small children, and those who are traveling. Pork, wine, and gambling are also forbidden to Muslims. (5) Pilgrimage (hajj)--once in a lifetime every Muslim is expected to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Wearing seamless white garments, they will make seven trips around the Kaaba and kiss the sacred black stone. On the tenth day of the hajj they will sacrifice a sheep or goat. They may also visit Medina and perhaps Jerusalem. When the pilgrim returns home he may have the title "hajj" attached to his name.


Islam became the unifying force for Arab people. It conquered all of the Middle East and moved into India, China, Indonesia, and some of the Pacific Islands. In 711 the Muslims entered Spain where they were dominant for the next seven centuries. Europe was saved from further conquest by Charles Martel in 732 at the Battle of Tours. Muslims made real contributions to philosophic thinking during the early Middle Ages. They translated and discussed Plato, Aristotle, and other Greek thinkers and helped preserve this literature during the Dark Ages. Toward the end of the nineteenth century missionary activity began to spread into Africa.
Islam in the modern era has been characterized by extreme conservatism. The Wahhabi movement founded in 1744 opposed all forms of change. They suppressed the Sufis and others who were seeking to grow in the modern world. The isolation of the Muslim world came to an end in the early part of the twentieth century due to involvement in World War I and the need for Arab oil. They achieved wealth and political power almost overnight. This revolutionary upheaval preempting evolutionary development is causing many problems in the Middle East
Like all religious movements Islam is divided into various sects. Around eighty-five percent of all Muslims are classified as Sunnis (traditionalists). They practice their religion exactly as it was established by the Prophet. Certain Quran instructions have presented problems--all thieves, for instance, are to have their hands cut off. To wrestle with these difficulties four schools of thought have developed within the Sunnis group which differ in the interpretations of the life of Islam.


The Shi'ite sect constitutes the second largest group in Islam, making up around fourteen percent of the Muslim world. The Shi'ites live mostly in Iran and Iraq. They believe the descendants of Ali, who was murdered by those establishing the Umayyad dynasty, are the only true claimants to the caliphate. The twelve descendants of Ali are called Imans. The twelfth Iman disappeared in 878 and Shi'ites believe he will return again to lead Islam into a golden age. This messianic figure is called Mahdi. There are many minor sects among the Shi'ites. One group of interest founded by Hasan ibn-al-Sabbah used hashish to psych up followers and while thus intoxicated they were sent out to murder selected victims. They became known as Assassins, and this word was eventually added to the European languages.
Islam, like Judaism, has always been a "this worldly" religion; nevertheless there have always been some Muslim mystics. They are known as Sufis (wool-wearers). They became an organized movement around the ninth century and have produced some of the finest mystic literature of the world. At times the Sufi movement has gone underground and taught its more unorthodox beliefs in secret. During the twelfth century the Sufis began to organize themselves into monastic orders. When a convert came to join the order he was known as a fakir or a dervish (poor man). Sufi monastic practices emphasize discipline, poverty, abstinence, and sometimes celibacy. Some dervishes gained notoriety for their whirling about in ecstasy. Other Sufis became known for their practice of walking on live coals and similar feats. The important contribution of the Sufi movement to religious thought is that union with God may be an authentic inner experience.
Some of the reform efforts in Islam have been syncretistic such as the Baha'i movement. Baha'i began as a sect of Islam but is now a separate religion. The central themes of Baha'i are that all religions of the world spring from the same source, that there is a basic unity in all religious truth, and that all the prophets have had a partial message of this one God. They believe religion must work in harmony with science and education to build a peaceful world order.

  Even though some beliefs can be similar, Sikhism has nothing to do with the beliefs of other faiths including Hinduism and Islam.
One can find great similarities in Christianity and Islam. Does that mean Islam came from Christianity?

Absolutely Not! Many similarities can be found in other religions as well but it does not mean that one faith is derived from the other.


Bismillah of the Quran and the Mul Mantra of the Guru Granth Sahib are both dedicated to One Merciful God and are placed at the beginning of every new chapter. In both the nature of God transcends all concepts of time.


"God is one. His name is True. He is the Creator. His is without fear. He is inimical to none. His existence is unlimited by time. He is beyond the cycles of birth and death, self existent and can be realized through the grace of the Guru." (Guru Nanak)