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Mystery of Religion

The following is an english translation of the first few pages of Mashriqi's striking book Tazkirah.

RELEGION is the greatest mystery of all that is believed and practiced in the world. What is this 'worship'? Why is this 'bowing down'? Why do there exist dogmatic 'beliefs' and conventional 'rituals', Brahman's 'blots' and idol worshipper's 'statues', Muslim's 'sacrifices' and Hindus's 'offerings'? Why the bonfire of the fire-worshipper? What the Christian's 'son of God'? Garlands of beads, rites of haj, pilgrimages, prayers, 'tappasia', alms, offerings, donations, presents, long flowing beards, confirmed appearances, amulets, baptism, dances, baths etc. etc. are such continuing mysteries of religious practices and customs as the common man does not consider necessary to fathom. And in spite of this, everybody performs them with extreme sense of devotion and duty, and does not utter a word about their truthfulness or falsity, genuineness or incorrectness. The ignorant and the informed, the insensate and the wise, all participate in this unknowable exercise, and consider the pursuit of these practices, as far as in their power, a vital purpose of life. In the entire history of man's presumption and belief, in fact, in much of what constitute an account of his struggle and action, Religion alone is that persuasive and quiet catalyst the amazing influence of which is visible almost on every individual. And Religion, too, is such an undebatable, unarguable and unceasing heritage of man that everybody considers it his inherent right to keep it unquestioned custody.

It is surprising that, in spite of the general learning towards Religion, it has not been possible, ever since man's creation, to establish which Faith is true; which is strictly in accord with the Will of the Creator; what the criterion of a Faith being true is; nay, what Religion itself is and what its real object is. It has not been possible, so far, to find an irrefutable and unanimous argument even about the Being of God and His real Will. The great secret of life lies utterly unexplored; in spite of billions of people having died, the profound mystery of death is entirely unfathomable. Human beings are unanimous on the facts of mathematics; not even an iota of difference arises on any of its propositions. The entire mankind is united on the findings of physics; it witnesses them with own eyes; it draws conclusions from them and arrive at new openings to power. Nay, the whole world is at last unanimous on the orbital motion of the earth or the relative rest of the sun, too; everybody is wonderstuck as if the visible evidence is a visual deception. There exists not a single follower of Aristotle's false 'religion' that the earth is stationary. All untrue theories of olden times have disappeared, but the difference between the Hindu and the Budhist, the Zoroastrian and the Brahman, the Muslim and the Christian continue as ever. Why have the dwellers of the earth presumed Religion to be such a thing as keeps them so divided? Why does not the all-embracing nature of truth bring them round to a common reality? Why is it that every man considers his own own Faith true and the rest a mere falsity, although these Faiths appear poles apart? Why is there a conflict, and if conflict is there, what is this claim of being TRUE?

These questions throw every sane person into a welter. However, their final solution for the collective good of mankind has a universal importance because much of the bloodshed in the world, its most horrifying wars, its great conflicts and massacres have born out of DIFFERENCE IN FAITHS. Often a people has massacred another because it had a different 'religion'; because it professed a different 'Faith', worshipped another 'god', had somebody else its Prophet and leader. If these bloodsheds and massacres, civil wars and killings were actually initiated at the instance of the leaders of mankind, and resulted out of the conflict in their messages or their conscious distortions, and if these conflicts continue in their present form for generations, it must then be the DIVINE WILL that mankind should one day perish through internecine warfare or keep on fighting till eternity. Mutual co-operation and integration is incomprehensible in the face of this SUPREME WILL; the evolution of a common plane of peace is contrary to the course of Nature. if, however, mankind is really one race, if it has the same ancestry and has been brought into being by the same motive power, if man was actually created for the same purpose and is evolving to the same objective, then all this mutual conflict is UNNATURAL; it is contrary to the Providential purpose; it is suicide and self-annihilation; it is stupendous injustice and a death in folly.

I am convinced that the various Prophets, wherefrom they came, brought the same message. They viewed the Universe with he same sense of wonder; they were moved by looking at the wondrous species of man from the same high plane; sensation of wonder and stirrings of knowledge and awareness entered their bodies through the same passage. They grappled with the question of "WHAT is all this and WHY is all this". In the piercing commotion of this longing and love, the Masked Reality offered them a glimpse of Itself from behind the curtain, whispered something and again disappeared. But whatever was said was the same; the enchanting tune was the same; the message of kiss was the same; the bewitching wink was the same; the word of confidence was the same. These Knowers of Mysteries kept on proclaiming the Secret as long as they lived; they faced gallows and slanders but kept on inciting people to act; they united them on one objective and one programme. But when the unknowing and unseeing took over, they tore humanity apart; by misquoting the Divine Message, they lined up people behind them. God Almighty's vengeful wrath on the earth to-day is primarily due to this rift and revolt. It is the arrogance of stupidity and obstinacy of pettiness which have made the world a slaughter house. And if this state of affairs continued for some time, God alone knows what will befall the human race.

Thus, the conflict between various religions is, in fact, born out of stupidity and ignorance, petty-mindedness and narrow outlook, oblivion of the original teachings and ignorance about their universality; it is certainly not the conflict of KNOWLEDGE and REVELATION. Knowledge everywhere gives birth to unity and consensus, security and peace, effort and action. It disarms everybody; when it takes birth, conflict becomes impossible, doubt is rendered inconceivable, inaction is unlikely. No two persons have fought that water is not fluid, that fire is cold, or heavy body falls towards the sky, because all have the necessary KNOWLEDGE about them; because all have seen the reality with their own eyes; because everybody experiences them every moment and in every state. If, exactly in the same way, all Faiths are examined on the touchstone of Knowledge; if there reality and message, too, were explained to humanity after testing them as a science; if all the conventional masks with which people have, through ignorance and lapse, covered and distorted the truth, are removed, and attention is focussed on the common bias, the unadulterated truth and the FUNDAMENTAL REALITY, which constitutes the real anchorsheet and basis of world Faiths, which is operative everywhere and in every state, which is visible to everybody, by manifesting which the science of Prophethood united all, then mankind can forthwith be integrated and unified exactly as at the time of its creation; all massacres can again be ended immediately; the earth can again be put on the right course. In every domain of research and inquiry, the revealing effort of Science is such a powerful corrector of human actions and opinions that conflict at least at that particular proposition is rendered impossible. The object of Knowledge everywhere is to integrate, to narrow down the dividing gulf and by evolving a common basis, to enforce a universal agreement. But Knowledge must really be a Science; it must be an EVIDENCE of the Ears and the Eyes; it must not be a non-sensical 'belief', a supposed 'faith' or an illusion. If this materialises anywhere, the whole world finds it compulsive, in fact, natural to accept it, as is the case with algebra or gravitation.

But the question arises what this message really was; what that VAST TRUTH and fundamental verdict was; what its nature was; what its SCIENCE was; what it was that was unmade after having been repeatedly made, and continued to be reconstructed as long as the Prophets came? If human sense can find an objective solution to these vital and profound questions from a higher plane, then the answer is that whatever the Master of Time and Space and the Unseen Keeper of the Universe disclosed to these longing souls in His Imperious Indifference, certainly He did it for the GOOD OF MAN himself; it was stated with man's welfare in view. The revelation must have been--and it certainly is so--HOW the children of Adam should live in the world; what this ignorance and unwise creation should do in contrast to other animal species; how should it conduct itself; what is it that will, in this perpetual struggle for existence, grant PEACE to the human race, ensure its security and evolution, survival and stability. This was the substance of the great News which the Prophets got from the Exalted Administration of the Universe, and this constitutes the essence of PROPHETHOOD; this is the climax of knowledge and information, the supreme revelation and disclosure. In comparison to this , the knowledge of everything else is nothing, information about all lesser affairs has no significance, science of reality of things is valueless, knowledge of world's creation is vain. Foe humanity, the greatest and the most valuable information is what the ADMINISTRATION of the Earth and the Heavens is, how it adjudicates, what principles and laws determine the divine decisions; how nations emerge supreme, how they are pushed to the depths of degradation; what the criterion of punishment is, what course ensures recompense. These are the awesome issues which determine extinction and survival of mankind. In comparison, the question of an individual's welfare is meaningless, search for personal benefits is vain, thought of individual losses is valueless. What is basic and final is that this Colossal Workhouse is functioning on perfect justice and equity; it is operating with vigour and harmony, courage and confidence, might and majesty. Whatever happens here, it does after scanning and scrutiny, selection and sifting, orderliness and method, study and examination. Its Almighty Motivator is that All-Hearing and All-Seeing who witnesses everything with extreme care; Who scans the wast expanse of the earth, watches the human race, views actions of communities and efforts of individuals; Who is scanning the bad and the good, the small and the big, the rich and the poor, the high and the low. There is not a trace of TYRANNY in this orderly, mighty, awesome and flawless administration; there is absolutely no injustice, certainly no excesses and deficiencies; really no whimsicality of Nabob. I believe that all the Prophets were aware of this vital section of the administration of the Universe; it was the Knowledge of this basic law governing the award of reward and punishment which they unfolded to mankind. They taught man the proper way to live on earth; they indicated to him the course to collective survival; they stated principles governing the rise and fall of nations; they demonstrated Divine Administration's complete freedom from tyranny, and evaluated correctly the punishment in the world and recompense in the hereafter; they explained what an individual's conduct should be; they put their people on the right course, and ensured their stability and survival for centuries; they exhibited before the very eyes of the people how non-believers met their bad end. This was the 'DEEN' they brought, and it was this 'DEEN' (Course of Action) which God wanted man to adopt. If man has no fixed law to determine the course of his conduct in the world; if his behaviour is is mere supposition and guess-work; if decisions about his happiness and grief, poverty and plenty, punishment and reward are not taken according to any logic and method; if in this Universe man alone is that wretch whose conduct is unrelated to any principle, who has no appointed 'religion', although lesser animals and vegetations follow their appointed path and 'religion', and carry out their assignments; nay, when the sun, too -- 1.3 MILLION TIMES bigger than the earth -- in spite of its majesty and grandeur, rises at the appointed time with extreme precision and urgency, sends light to the dwellers of the earth, is bound by the command of some Incomparable Administrator, abides by an awesome and dreaded law; yes, if all this has been laid down for others and no such thing exists in the case of man, then in this world all recompense is a tyranny, happiness and distress are an injustice, annihilation and survival are a fraud; they are unbecoming of the Divine Dignity; they conflict with the honour of the Administration; they are contrary to the Ways of Allah and the Habit of the Creator of the Universe. The earth is certainly no fit abode for man if its administration is based on complete tyranny to him. And if the Designer of the Heavens and the Earth did not reveal to Prophets THIS course of action, this constitution, this law, He certainly revealed nothing to them.

Thus, it is man's correct course of conduct in the world which, in fact, is his 'religion', and it is his bounden duty to comprehend the Immutable Law which governs the rise and fall of nations. The Knowledge of this alone constitutes SCIENCE OF RELIGIONS; ()it is this course which is everybody's urgent need. It were the parts of this whole or the whole in its entirety which the Prophets brought to mankind at different occasions, and for centuries enabled human beings to tread the path indicated by it. The entire sense of good and bad, true and false, right and wrong, developed in the 'ignorant' animal of man only though this Knowledge. The collective virtues and 'fitness' of action, which form the second nature of every individual of a live nation from the very beginning, are derived from these teachings; they are bits of the same Science. The principles of survival and stability which today are assiduously pursued by all progressive nations are the remnants of this supreme Science. The Prophets got the knowledge of this exhalted Department of Providence through a unique sense of understanding; they attained it through a total view of the Universe by intense meditation and deep thought, broad outlook and lofty vision; they got it by climbing to the high altar of learning and the SUPREME HORIZON of perception, by lifting themselves several stages above the earth, rather by reaching the OBSERVATION OF STARS; nay, they got it from the HEAVEN and its Dweller, GOD ALMIGHTY; they acquired it through revelation and prophethood, humility and passion, meditation and communion. During a prophet's lifetime, his prophethood had been so earth-shaking and activating a force, that every band of people entering his fold did whatever he said. The great leader would, through his immense knowledge and ceaseless struggle, inspiring teachings and invigorating instructions, lucid explanations and revealing expositions, illustrate, like two and two make four to every companion the Divine Law and its supreme capacity to secure peace and stability. Multitudes of activated people then swarm around his moth do to a candle; in a short time would such a people emerge victorious and supreme, and in this abode of struggle serve for long as a beacon of light for future generations. Human communities often forgot the Divine lesson; many a times they foltered and lost the track. They repeatedly renounced the Divine PLEDGE, partly on account of time lapse, partly though mispropagation, partly due to misconception and the wrong leadership of the misinformed, partly on account of man's inherent tendency to twist and distort, some through pious intentions of wishful thinkers and some through dishonesty and conceit of imposters. But the Prophets revived the lesson after some time, generated action by reiterating the Divine Law; replaced prolonged phase of frustration and degradation by courage and confidence. They made the Directive more complete through additions to the old lesson; they designed new weapons of actions because of new situations and dispensed with the older modes, which had no bearings on the fundamentals, as ineffective and unnecessary; they adopted fresh and effective means to enforce the same Basic Law. In short, whatever form and complexion the teachings assumed, only the ORIGINAL 'DEEN' was revived, rather perfected. None of the Prophets carved a contrary course, a new Faith or different Religion. They all stated afresh the same original and the fundamental, the same unadulterated truth and boundless reality, the same RELIGION OF NATURE and the Divine Law which viscous and rebellious human societies repeatedly forgot and after dreadful sufferings met their end. In short, they based their convictions, actions and efforts, practices and conventions on the same infallible law. Subsequent generations took exteriors and procedures, which were only devices to follow the Divine Law, as fundamentals of the 'Deen'; they accepted subsidiaries as the fundamental code and ignored the basic reality; they became entirely concerned with superficial and the conventional, and totally lost sight of the actual efforts. On the other hand, various communities displayed undue exaggeration in personal devotion and difference to their leaders, and allotted unnecessary priority to the commandments of their own liking. They considered it an insult to give up the rituals of one Prophet and enter the fold of the new. Then, instead of following, through the Prophets, the Divine Law and taking it as the true source of knowledge, they became partisan by lining up behind them. Instead of believing in God and thus becoming 'Muslim', they became Mosesites, Budhists, Christians and MOHAMMEDANS; they considered it a vital part of Religion merely to heap praises on Prophets and to idolise them. Reality was totally distorted in this tumult of conceit and conflict; the Divine Law was pushed out of view; Religion became to denote only a few useless rituals and baseless customs; their real significance completely disappeared. The Hindu went too far in his defense for the cow and started worshiping it; he carved out a symbol in the form of a 'diety' for each Divine attribute on the pretext of emphasizing its external significance; the Christians actually began to uphold Jesus as Son of God; the Muslims accepted beards, 'tehmads', 'miswaks' and earthren balls as Islam; the Jews ran after the beaded strings; the Budhists were immersed in "chilla kashi"; the Zoroastrians took glow of fore to be God. Then haj, pilgrimages, prayers, zakat, fasting etc., etc., all became purposeless rituals and fruitless performances; Religion became a senseless thing; it ceased to have any concern with brain and logic. God-made Law of Action and KNOWLEDGE communicated by Prophets totally ex-communicated the God-given BRAIN. To-day, alienation between Religion and Science, and the internal and external factiousness of world communities are mainly the result of forgetfulness of the original message and a DISTORTION OF RELIGION.

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