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Spiritual Meditations

Maybe my need for belief in religion stemmed from a refusal to think that life is just about taking birth, growing up, eating, playing, marrying, growing old and dying, and my insistence that there must certainly be a greater purpose lurking behind this seemingly meaningless drama. Whatever the reason may be, I’ve been dabbling in different religions almost all my life.

 
Going Beyond the God of My Imagination
Joyous Agnos, New Age Islam

In all my years, I’ve never once encountered a person who has seen, heard or experienced God (in the sense ‘He’ is generally understood) personally, although, of course, I’ve met and closely interacted with thousands of ardent believers in diverse religions. They all claim to know about God, but they can’t honestly say that they know God—because they haven’t experienced God themselves, which is the only way to know God. And so, all that they can tell you about God is simply the information or claims that they’ve heard from others or have read in their scriptures.

 
Reflections on the Religious Search
Joyous Agnos, New Age Islam

As far as I am concerned, religion means—or, rather, ought to mean—a search for the Ultimate Truth--which, we may well realise as we travel on this journey, is simply beyond the grasp of human comprehension. This search is also a quest to know the reality of one’s self. A truly religious person, therefore, is a ‘seeker’ of the Truth.

If an ideological system, belief or practice definitely does promote such wholesomeness, you may regard it as true—not necessarily always true in terms of ‘hard facts’ as we conventionally understand them (such as the proven ‘facts’ of mathematics), but, rather, true in terms of the wholesome, and, therefore, truthful, consequences that it promotes. And hence, you might want to take it is an aspect or dimension or reflection of the Absolute Truth or God.

 
Religion, and Human Understandings Of It
Joyous Agnos, New Age Islam

What we believe to be ‘the true’ interpretation or version of our religion, then, is often simply the one we like best because it reinforces our particular likes and dislikes, supports our particular ways of viewing the world and legitimizes projects and plans that we have for ourselves. Whether we recognize or agree to admit it or not, our choice of one interpretation among many of our religion is often heavily influenced by our mundane and entirely extra-spiritual concerns.

God Has Guided Me to Truth
Dr. Kari Ann Owen

I grew up in a slave market, comprised not only of the promiscuous sicknesses of my family, but the constant negative judging of my appearance by peers.... I was taught from a very early age by American society that my human worth consisted solely of my attractiveness. I support and deeply admire Islam’s respect for same sex education; for the rights of women as well as men in society; for modest dress; and above all for sobriety and marriage...

 

The fundamental principles of religion and ethics are quite the same in both Holy Books

Islam, as enunciated in the holy Quran, is all for international understanding and unity of mankind for the great purpose of realization of human destiny. It does not recognize any barriers of racialism and all such aggressive ‘isms’ which are affronts to human dignity and worth, as the holy Quran regards men as the best creation.

The message of Islam is that they should all go back to the true faith which may be designated Deen (religion), or Islam (surrender and submission to the will of God). The root Slm in Arabic means "to be in peace, to be an integral whole." From this root comes Islam, meaning to surrender to God’s law and thus to be an integral whole. It asserts that religion does not teach that man should hate man. The object of religion is to increase love and unity among human beings by the recognition that "we are all the children of the one and only God." This is Humanism.

The message of Islam, as depicted in the holy Quran is the "unity of mankind under the fatherhood of God." It is opposed to all forms of grouping –– racial, national, sectarian, or other. This then is the True Path, and for this we ask God’s grace. The right path is essentially one of sympathy and love for those human beings who are most in need of them – the orphan, the slaves, the deprived, those who are poor or those who are lonely.

Having minutely gone through the Gita and the Quran, one may easily realize that both these sacred volumes are so similar in their intrinsic nature that they stand as a neck-vein to each other. Truly speaking, a true believer of 7th and 8th verses of the 4th chapter (Jnanayoga) of the Gita as well as the 48th verse of the Quranic Surah "Al-Maidah" will find no point of dissimilarity between these holy volumes. Both of these scriptures intend to establish religion on a firm footing for the protection of the virtuous, for the destruction of the evil-doers and for restoring order and peace in the society. The fundamental principles of religion and ethics are quite the same, in all respects in both.

The similarity between the Gita and Quran extends on a larger scale, as most of the verses of the Quran were preached under similar circumstances in which the Gita was preached. -- Dr. Debabrata Das

Ideological supremacism is often associated with religion, but this is not always the case. Witness, for instance, the terror and horrific violence wrought in the name of Nationalism, Fascism, Communism, Capitalism and Democracy, as votaries of these ideologies have sought to deal with those who dared to differ from them. The violence that belief in the supremacism of these non-religious ideologies has generated has been no less deadly than that blessed in God’s name.

Babba, As I Remember Her
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Babba, As I Remember Her
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam
The ‘servants’ slogged in our house till well after dinner, and then they went down to their suffocating “servants’ quarters” (which were only just a little bigger than dolls’ houses) to quickly snatch some sleep, only to come back to our home early the next morning and repeat the same tiresome daily routine. That was what life was like for Babba for years on end, which Existence, God, Fate or the oppressive caste-class system had decreed for, or forced on, her. But never once did I hear her complain or express the wish that her life had been better—less miserable or with more reason to be cheerful. She was really the sort of person whom neither pleasure not pain can move. She really had the equanimity of a Buddhist monk.

Religiousness Without Belief
Tril Shah, New Age Islam

They may all agree, for instance, on the importance of compassion, sincerity and selflessness. No matter what their religious beliefs, they may heartily concur with each other on the need to help the poor. These values, then, can serve as a powerful means to bring together people of differing religious persuasions. They unite, rather than divide, people of otherwise different religious and ideological persuasions.

Futility of Religious Reform
Tril Shah, New Age Islam

Religion is capable of taking humans to sublime heights, but it is equally capable of dragging them down to the lowest depths of depravity. Across the world and down the centuries, a bewildering host of horrors have been blessed in the name of religion—human sacrifice; hatred for, and ‘holy war’ against, ‘infidels’; conquest and genocide; caste inequality and untouchability; the enslavement of women and the poor….

A Man From Across the Border
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

A Man From Across the Border
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Despite fifty years of being separated from the land of his birth, his love for it remained intense. He couldn’t ever get himself to hate—much though the Pakistani establishment may have wanted this—the country of his ancestors. And then, he was convinced that all forms of nationalism were bunkum in any case.

The Dharam of the Desert
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

The Dharam of the Desert
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Letting a stranger into your home, feeding him and putting him up for the night was his dharam, the man had said. He had few worldly possessions of his own and he lived in a little hovel, but yet he believed that sharing even these was his dharam. And what about miserable middle-class me? If this man or someone like him—a poor peasant from the desert—ever came to my middle-class home and sought a place for the night, would I even speak to him, leave alone let him in? Might I not, instead, instinctively shoo him away or even report him to the police as a ‘suspicious character’?

The idea of “being crazy with God” has been around for a long time, particularly among Sufis and poets in Muslims lands. South Asia is no exception. Here is an example of such “craziness” as narrated—admiringly—by the poet Mir Muhammad Taqi “Mir” (d. 1810) in his autobiography, Zikr-e Mīr

It is thus that millions of us are almost instinctively led to waste our precious lives in enforced conformity to the religion we have inherited from our parents, not daring to speak our minds about how absurd it is to be forced to believe that our own religion alone is true and how suffocating it is to be compelled to uphold impossible and even patently immoral beliefs simply because these are mentioned in many of our scriptures and are preached by men who consider themselves to be eminent religious authorities.

 
Reflecting on the Purpose of Life
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Reflecting on the Purpose of Life
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Despite claiming to distance itself from religion and to abstain from imposing an answer to the question of the purpose of life, ‘modernity’ is informed by a quasi-religious conviction about life having a definite meaning, although it may not announce it as explicitly as religions do. In contrast to religion, ‘secular modernity’ sees the purpose of life as being geared to material ‘success’—limitless acquisition and consumption and relentless titillation of the ego,...

Political Implications of Religious Beliefs
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Political Implications of Religious Beliefs
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Religious beliefs are concerned with supposedly supernatural entities. The ways in which these entities are conceived of have different political implications. One way of understanding these implications is to categorise religious belief systems on the basis of whether the supposedly divine being/beings or divine force/forces they are centred on are seen as of transcendent or imminent, and then to draw out what this distinction means for people’s behaviour vis-à-vis others who don’t share their religious beliefs....

On religious podiums, similar with what HTI includes in its fliers, many clerics bark: “It is a curse from God. Humanity has been too far away from His teachings. It’s time to reflect and rebuild our belief in Him.” At night, when God is still awake, the clerics sleep tightly and forget how thousands of people are also remain awake because they have no place to go for even just an hour’s sleep....

 

Every Religion Has Two Versions: One Spiritual, For Life As A Minority, Another Predatory, For Life As A Majority
Sohail Arshad, NewAgeIslam.com

However, the most intriguing aspect of the followers of almost all the major religions is that they do not stick to the principles and spiritual values of their respective religions and their interpretations of their faiths change according to their political conditions. Religion to them has become a political tool to further their narrow political interests and in pursuance of their interests, they most often become savages and indulge in bloodshed and mayhem in such a dastardly and heinous way that even the most savage beasts would be embarrassed.

Swami Vivekananda on the Ideal of a Universal Religion:  How It Must Embrace Different Types of Mind and Methods
Swami Vivekananda

Religion is the highest plane of human thought and life, and herein we find that the workings of these two forces have been most marked. The intensest love that humanity has ever known has come from religion, and the most diabolical hatred that humanity has known has also come from religion. The noblest words of peace that the world has ever heard have come from men on the religious plane, and the bitterest denunciation that the world has ever known has been uttered by religious men. The higher the object of any religion and the finer its organisation, he more remarkable are its activities. No other human motive has deluged the world with blood so much as religion; at the same time, nothing has brought into existence so many hospitals and asylums for the poor; no other human influence has taken such care, not only of humanity, but also of the lowest of animals, as religion has done. Nothing makes us so cruel as religion, and nothing makes us so tender as religion. This has been so in the past, and will also, in all probability, be so in the future. Yet out of the midst of this din and turmoil, this strife and struggle, this hatred and jealousy of religions and sects, there have arisen, from time to time, potent voices, drowning all this noise — making themselves heard from pole to pole, as it were — proclaiming peace and harmony. Will it ever come?...

Nothing more fulfilling than occasions to repay debts of kindness and friendship: Burmese Leader Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi

“Pandit ji” was a name known to me since I was little past the toddler stage. My mother spoke of him as a revered friend, almost a father figure, both to her and to my father. I had little idea of his importance as a statesman beyond the fact that he was the Prime Minister of India. To my infant mind he was the kindly old man who had provided my father with two sets of uniform, the smartest he ever possessed. In January 1947 my father had stopped in Delhi for two days on his way to London for the Aung San-Attlee talks that were to be the first phase of formal negotiations for Burmese independence....

Miracles in the Quran
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

Miracles in the Quran
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

The Glorious Quran is the last and final revelation which was revealed to the last and final Messenger Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). For any book to claim that it is a revelation from God, it should stand the test of Time. Previously, it was the age of miracles; the Quran is a miracle of miracles. After that, came the age of literature and poetry. Muslims and non-Muslims alike say that the Quran is the best piece of Arabic literature present on the face of the earth….

Gamble during Diwali is Cosmic Lila, Divine Play, the Grand Illusion and Maya
Narayani Ganesh

Parvati not only plays dice with the universe, she is engaged in an eternal game of winning and losing with Shiva, her partner. It’s a game spanning the cosmic cycle of creation and destruction, of fragmentation and reunification. It is Cosmic Lila, Divine Play, the Grand Illusion, Maya. Gambling during Diwali is considered auspicious, not the least because it emulates - however weakly - the cosmic interplay of Parvati and Shiva. It’s not about winning or losing but how you play the game….

 

Waris Shah’s Love Story
Sadia Dehlvi

Waris Shah gave it the classical form. Heer became a powerful commentary on the social, cultural and religious customs of the times the two lovers lived in. The verses of Heer are short and have been interpreted in a mystical sense. “Our soul is the tragic heroine Heer, Our body is the lover Ranjha, Our spiritual preceptor is the yogi Balmath, and the five helpful saints are our five senses, who support us in our adventures dread. Truth is our judge.”...

 
Babri Masjid: Opportunity for Muslims
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

Babri Masjid: Opportunity for Muslims
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

Muslims have gone through a traumatic period in the last several years. They have spent a lot of time in introspection. They have shown great wisdom and maturity in fending off severe and very brazen provocations. One hopes that it is this maturity that is now beginning to be reflected....

This brings me to my main plea—forgiveness. Forgiveness is the essence of both the Muslim and Hindu spiritual traditions. It is the only way out of the vicious and very debilitating grip of bad karma. It is our belief that one has to always pay individual or collective karmic debts in this or any subsequent incarnations or on the Day of Judgement. Both Hindu and Muslim spiritual traditions consider God as the greatest teacher, this world a great school, the events that involve us in this mayajaal (illusionary world) as messages.

What could this Great Teacher be teaching us in this section of the school through the great Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi drama? Perhaps the all-important lesson of forgiveness. It may take us years, decades, centuries or millennia to learn this lesson. But learn we will. There is no escaping. God is a very determined teacher. We have the option to learn the lesson now. Let us exercise it.



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