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Books and Documents

Spiritual Meditations

Rethinking Religiousness: Belief versus Knowledge
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

The more I think about the supremacism that many religionists champion because of their belief in the superiority of their respective religions, the more downright absurd I think such belief to be. In fact, I find the very notion of religious belief itself to be deeply problematic. It is, so I think, the fundamental cause of inter-religious conflicts that continue to rage in many parts of the world even today.....

Importance of Knowledge in Islam
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

Importance of Knowledge in Islam
Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

The first message of Islam, as was revealed to Muhammad, was not to offer salah (pray), nor to fast in the month of Ramadan, nor to give Zakat, nor to go to Hajj; it was to read, to gain knowledge, not just religious or Islamic knowledge but simply knowledge. In Islam, it is compulsory for every man and woman to gain knowledge. It is said that a dower of teaching a verse of the Holy Quran is equal to a mountain of gold!...

Competing Egos and Communal Conflicts
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Competing Egos and Communal Conflicts
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

The amazing thing about it is that almost adherents of all religions and ideologies, almost all members of all religious communities and ideological groups, are equally convinced that their respective religions or ideologies are the best of all! But this is hardly surprising if you realise that it is just their egos at work here, which impel them to think in this way....

The Power of Belief: You Become What You Believe In
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Scholars have devised several ways to categorise different religions—sorting them into different types on the basis, for instance, of the number of supernatural beings they revere, the historical periods in which they emerged, the regions in which their founders were born, and so on. Another interesting way to classify various religions is according to the personality-types of the deities or other important figures that they are centred on. These figures can be regarded as vengeful, spiteful beings, easily provoked to anger, grim and fierce….

A Biased Mind Cannot Grasp Reality
His Holiness the Dalai Lama

A Biased Mind Cannot Grasp Reality
His Holiness the Dalai Lama

I always say that every person on this earth has the freedom to practice or not practice religion. It is all right to do either. But once you accept religion, it is extremely important to be able to focus your mind on it and sincerely practice the teachings in your daily life. All of us can see that we tend to indulge in religious favouritism by saying, "I belong to this or that religion", rather than making effort to control our agitated minds. This misuse of religion, due to our disturbed minds, also sometimes creates problems....

Saraswati: The Lost River
Michel Danino

…the first scholar to propose that the Ghaggar-Saraswati combine was the relic of the Vedic Saraswati was the French geographer Louis Vivien de Saint-Martin, who authored in 1855 a massive Geography of India’s North-West According to the Vedic Hymns. Subsequently, nearly all Indologists, from Max Müller to Monier-Williams or Macdonell (and later Louis Renou) accepted this thesis. Geologists such as RD Oldham (1886) joined in, followed by geographers such as the Indian Shams ul Islam Siddiqi (1944) or the German Herbert Wilhelmy (1969)….

 

Dua Defines Us and Our Relationship with Allah
Arman Neyazi, New Age Islam

Dua defines us & our relationship with Allah جل جلاله - We ask and He gives. It is all because of Allah Kareem’s accepting our prayers that we are so beautiful, intelligent, wise and prosperous, to reach to the skies. It is the benevolence of Allah Kareem that He Himself calls us, “Is there anyone who is asking of Me, so I may grant his request?”...

Attempting to Solve a Seemingly Insoluble Question
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

The more you think about some questions in the hope of solving them, the more insoluble they seem to become. One such question, which you must certainly have agonised about if you really seek a compelling answer to it, is: Is there at all any rational way in which one can decide which, if any, of the many competitors in the global religious market represents the Absolute Truth?...

Quest for the King Within
Sadia Dehlvi

A wealthy merchant, Attar took to the mystic path following a visit by a mystic to his shop who asked Attar how he would die with all the wealth that surrounded him. An angered Attar told him that he would die the same way as him. The mystic said he owned nothing except his cloak and begging bowl, lay down, uttered the name of God and died....

Remember, Everything Is Temporary
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Remember,  Everything Is Temporary
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Ernest Shackleton is best known for his expeditions to Antarctica. On his third expedition, he faced a very serious situation when his ship sank. He and his group of twenty-seven men were literally stranded on ice, for they were drifting aimlessly in the wild southern seas. Apparently, they had no hope of survival....

A Rare Pair
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

A Rare Pair
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

I took them for intimate friends or even for a honey-mooning couple. No husband and wife married for a day over a year would, of course, giggle and gurgle and behave with such joyful spontaneity! You should have seen the fun the two had—the way they laughed at each other’s jokes, playfully slapped each other on their backs, forced one another to eat this and that, and kept talking almost non-stop!...

 

‘No Religion’ An  Approach to Universal Religious Harmony
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Our conventional, but false, understanding of religion, the Venerable Bhikkhu indicates, is rooted in delusion, in the notion of the ego or ‘I’, which, when deeply analysed, does not really exist. And, from this false sense of the individual ego or self comes the equally false notion of ‘mine’—in this case ‘my religion’, which is erroneously presumed to be, at root, different from, opposed and far superior to, other religions….

Compassion in Action
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Compassion in Action
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

‘They are God’s children, so innocent and trusting and loving, like little, helpless babies,’ he said to me. ‘I see God in them, and, over the years, I’ve come to love them dearly.’ I now know that I’m really not even remotely as altruistic as I once fancied I was. And I know, too, that if I now have to make a short list of the most amazingly successful people I’ve met so far, Ramesh would certainly be near about the top....

Piety and Religiosity Are Not a Guarantee against Wrongdoing
Badri Raina

At which I am reminded of how well somebody said “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” And religion here need not have reference merely to denominational identities. What is said might apply to our immersion in any form of totalitarian allegiance that hardens the heart and makes even the best of us brain-dead....

 

Can We Make Religion Scientific?
Swami Kriyananda

The need today is to translate the scientist's basic principles into spiritual terms. We must replace blind belief by direct, personal experience. A few centuries ago, no one thought in this way. It was enough to declare that you believed. There were great arguments among the pundits about things that could never be proved. But now, with the example of science, people are asking, "How can we test and prove spiritual truths?"

Why are constant Muslim prayers for guidance to the straight path not heard?
Arman Neyazi

Everybody in the Muslim community, even a nominal Muslim keeps asking God, the Almighty, to guide him to the straight path. They pray for direction, to be shown the right path, day in and day out. Does God not listen to them?

No, I do not think this is the case.  God listens to everyone irrespective of religion, caste or creed. God fulfils all the demands made to Him. May be not exactly in the way or in the form it is demanded, but the believers know it is accepted, one way or the other. Why then they, the Muslims, are so misguided?

From ‘Mad Man’ to ‘Mendicant’
Yoginder Sikand, New AgeIslam

From ‘Mad Man’ to ‘Mendicant’
Yoginder Sikand, New AgeIslam

I request you to ask yourselves the same questions that I can’t seem to stop asking myself: Why are family relations so complicated and tense-ridden? Why can’t parents treat children as unique individuals, rather than as their own private property? Shouldn’t parents be trained or counseled as to how to look after their children lovingly? Why is it so difficult for sensitive people to survive in this world? Why do they have to suffer so much, often for no fault of their own?

Water As An Act Of Worship
Sadia Dehlvi

Water has been a dominant theme in Islamic cosmology, art, architecture and poetry. That is why we find fountains and gardens around the monuments of Muslim emperors and verses from the Quran relating to the abundance of water inscribed in beautiful calligraphy on the walls of architectural wonders, including the Taj Mahal. Conservation of water is not just ethical but an act of worship.

Tear Out the Undesirable
Paulo Coelho

Now it is up to me to continue that work, although the philosophical question remains: Should I respect the work of the creator, of the gardener, or should I accept the survival instinct with which nature endowed this plant that I now call a ‘ weed’? I continue digging up unwanted plants and placing them on a pile that will soon be burned.

 

Bulla Ki Jana Main Kaun?

As the 254th urs of  famous sufi poet Bulleh Shah, starts today in Qasure. Whjo;e the government has spend quite a bit of fortune to organise for it; including mehfil-e-qawali and spiritual gatherings, we thought we could put up some of his soulful poetry here to irrigate the barren territories of  our souls these days. So, we could raise above the shackles of false egos and cold selfishness that tends to mark the times today.

 

Do The Hebrew Religions Explain How The Universe Was Created?
By Asif Merchant, New Age Islam

Even today, most of us subconsciously treat the Earth as flat. This can be seen in the way people look in only one particular direction when speaking of God. The hands are raised to direct the prayers in a particular direction. We speak of ‘The Lord above’. We point in that direction when we talk of Heaven. ‘The Heaven above’. Or point downwards to indicate Hell. Heaven is above, Hell is below. In between is the Flat Earth. In truth, whatever direction you point, it will be towards God, since the Earth is round. Since the Creation is so difficult to understand, it stands to reason that the Creator cannot be explained by normal concepts. In fact, one can go as far as to state that ‘Whatever you say about God is bound to be wrong’. It is best to avoid making a direct reference. At the most, one can speak around the subject.

Discover The “Mahatma” In You
Mohammad Asif Reyaz, New Age Islam

Discover The “Mahatma” In You
Mohammad Asif Reyaz
One who knows the art of copying never knows the art of living as a victor. A victor is he who keeps his originality and avoids imitating.  A man is always great but his greatness falls when he starts imitating every Tom, Dick and Harry.  An eagle never imitates. It comes with its own planning and ideas and always proved to be a victor. You have to create the spirit of eagle in you, so that you could do what you are supposed to do here.

From Jet-Setting Executive to Penniless Sanyasi
Yoginder Sikand, New AgeIslam

You must, I’m sure, have felt that way at some time or the other. The sudden impulse overtakes you and you think that the only thing you now want to do is to completely abandon the world and flee to some remote Himalayan cave or peak, there to spend the rest of your life all by yourself and on your own terms. And, then, just as suddenly as that urge hits you, it dies out. The temptations of the world, the responsibilities and relationships you are burdened with, the expectations that others have of you and which you feel compelled to meet, and, then, the enormity of the challenge of living on your own, with no security of family or bank balance, all act to drag you back to the ‘real world’ and you quickly abandon your dreams of giving up everything for a life of total freedom.

 
Let’s bid farewell to Ramadan!
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam

Let’s bid farewell to Ramadan!
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam

All people, more or less, feel a sense of regret by departure of the Holy month of Ramadan. However, the best thing we could do on this occasion is to take an account of ourselves. We need to do an evaluation of where we stand now after remaining hungry and thirsty for so long. We should ask ourselves certain questions like where we were before the arrival of Ramadan and where we are moving now after passing the days of fasting. Let this self-introspection lead us to feel infinite happiness for the good we have done throughout Ramadan and remorse for the bad which we have not yet changed, even at the end of Ramadan.

Certainty and intolerance
Khaled Ahmed

‘Wisdom’ (‘hikmat’), in Islam, is based on flexibility of response and becomes dysfunctional when views are strongly held. Wisdom may look to some like a dishonourable compromise. Principles become a force against flexibility. If Muslims were only intolerant of non-Muslims, they would still be an internally serene community; but they are intolerant of different schools of thought within Islam. This takes us into the domain of group psychology.



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