Sunday, September 6, 2009

For the Love of God


Someone told me a joke about a man who had just bought a car. It was his first car and, not wanting to have even a scratch on it, he took it to a hindu temple, a buddhist temple, a church and a mosque.

At the hindu temple, the hindu priest chanted mantras over the car and tied a red string around the car's right wing mirror.

The buddhist monk sprinkled the car with water after chanting traditional mantras and then a white string was tied to the left wing mirror.

The christian priest blessed the car with holy water and gave the driver a cross to hang from the rear view mirror.

At the mosque, the imam was astounded since nobody ever asked to bless a car before. So after a recitation of selected verses from the Qur'an, he took a hacksaw and promptly cut the tip off the car's exhaust pipe..... to circumcise it.

When I first heard this story, I thought the new car owner was an atheist, albeit a superstitious one. This man, I had deduced, did not really believe in the existence of God, but he just didn't want to take any chances.

Furthermore, it is inconceivable in my mind that anyone should have more than one religion.

Then there's Piscine Molitor Patel. A hindu at (after) birth, he met a christian priest when he was sixteen and became a christian and soon after that he met an imam and became a muslim.

You will find him on Thursdays at a hindu temple for Pooja, on Friday afternoons at the mosque for Friday prayers and on Sundays, he's at church. Had he been a Jew, he'd be at a cynagogue on Saturdays.... and as his brother chided him, he needs to finds only three more religions and he'll be on holiday for the rest of his life.

He requested from his parents for a baptism and then for a prayer mat for his daily solah (five times a day). It was strange at first, but soon his family got used to it, although the pandit, the imam and the priest of his local temple, mosque and church respectively was utterly incensed when they found out about this multi-faithed teenager. Thereafter, he only goes to temple at crowded times, had to attend mass at another church and no longer lingered after Friday prayers at the mosque.
When asked why... his answer is always the same..."Bappu Gandhi said that all religions are true... I just want to love God."

"I just want to love God"

Is it really possible then for a person to have multiple religion? Why not? Is there so much difference between the beliefs and practices? All religions preach goodness and all religions are against evil...so what's the problem?

Being a born muslim, I was taught that there is only one God. And, it is wrong to say that the non muslims, when they are performing their prayers, are praying to their god/s. There is no other God, the ustaz told me. And, Islam is the completion of the human faith in God. And ,despite what Mahatma Gandhi said, I am told there is only one true religion, and that is Islam....

It is the only religion I know.

So, in my mind, Piscine, just like our new car owner, is an atheist, too. Praying is just a hobby for him, a past time. Like learning different kinds of martial arts or various types of dances. Because, had he really studied Islam, than he would have inevitably come to the surah called the Disbeliever (surah 109). It is the revelation that clearly defines that there can be only one faith in a muslim, for in the last verse God tells Muhammad to say to the disbelievers who had asked him to compromise his beliefs: "For you your religion, for me mine." (La kum deenukum wa liadin).

Piscine Molitor Patel was born in Pondicherri, India and later moved to Toronto Canada. On his way to Toronto, the ship he was on, capsized and he suddenly found himself in a life boat, along with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450lb Bengal tiger...

It's a good book... check it out: The life of Pi by Yann Martel.

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