CONCEPT OF GOD IN WORLD’S MAJOR RELIGIONS:
FIRST WE DISCUSS THE CONCEPT OF GOD IN ISLAM
Concept of God in Islam :-
“Islam” is derived from the Arabic word “Salaam” which means “Peace“.
It’s also derived from the Arabic word “Silm” which means to submit your will to Allaah Subhana wa taala to Almighty God.
“Islam” in short means :-
Peace Aquired by Submitting your will to Almighty God.
Islam strictly believes in Monotheism, Tawheed :-
Oneness of God, who is the creator, provider, of this universe.
“Lord of the Universe”
[AL-QURAN : Ch 1 Verse 1]
“Shall I take for my protector any other than Allaah, the Maker of the heavens and the earth? And it is He who feeds and is not fed.”
[AL-QURAN : Ch 6 Verse 14]
“Among His Signs are the Night and the Day, and the Sun and the Moon. Do not prostrate to the sun and the moon, but prostrate to Allah, Who created them, if it is Him ye wish to serve.”
[AL-QURAN : Ch 41 Verses 37]
The concept of God Almighty in Islam :
“Say: He is Allah one and only
Allah, the eternal and absolute
He begetteth not, nor is He begotten
And there is nothing unto like him”
[AL-QURAN : Ch 112 Verses 1-4]
This four line definition of Allaah Subhana wa talaah, which is the ‘touch stone of theology’
Theology is a Greek word which means theo-means “God’ and logy means “study”.
Theology means “Study of God”
If anyone claiming to be Almighty God? If that candidate fits in this four line definition we Muslim have got no objection in accepting that candidate as Almighty God.
- “Say: He is Allah one and only”
- “Allah, the eternal and absolute”
Means : He has no beginning, he has no end, he is the one who helps other people but does not require help.etc..
- “He begetteth not , nor is He begotten”
Means : He has no father and mother. He has got no children, no begotten children.
- “And there is nothing unto like him”
Means : And there is nothing unto him like in this world’. There is nothing comparable to him in this world.
It’s so stringent on one can fit besides Allah.
The moment you can compare Allaah (Subhana wa taala) to anyone, he is not Allaah (Subhana wa taala).
If you say that God Almighty suppose is a thousand times as strong as Nuclear power or nuclear bomb, do you know Nuclear Bomb? it can destroy the whole city or country . If you say that God Almighty is a thousand times as strong as Nuclear power or Arnold Schwarzenneger or Dara Singh or may be King Kong, he is not God. The moment you can compare him with anyone whether a thousand times. Whether a million times, whether ten million times. The moment you compare him with anything is not God.
There is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things).
[AL-QURAN : Ch 42 Verse 11]
If anyone fit in this four line definition then we Muslim accept that so and so candidate as Almighty God otherwise he is false God.
EXAMPLE OF “RAJNEESH”:
What does Islam say about ‘god-men’? India is often called the land of ‘god-men’. This is due to the abundance of so-called spiritual masters in India. Many of these ‘babas’ and ‘saints’ have a large following in many countries. Islam abhors deification of any human being. To understand the Islamic stand towards such pretenders to divinity, let us analyze one such ‘god-man’, Osho Rajneesh.
Let us put this candidate, ‘Bhagwan’ Rajneesh, to the test of Surah Ikhlas, the touchstone of theology:
The first criterion is “Say, He is Allah, one and only”.
Is Rajneesh one and only? No! Rajneesh was one among the multitude of ‘spiritual teachers’ produced by India. Some disciples of Rajneesh might still hold that Rajneesh is one and only.
The second criterion is, ‘Allah is absolute and eternal’.
We know from Rajneesh’s biography that he was suffering from diabetes, asthma, and chronic backache. He alleged that the U.S. Government gave him slow poison in prison. Imagine Almighty God being poisoned! Rajneesh was thus, neither absolute nor eternal.
The third criterion is ‘He begets not, nor is He begotten’.
We know that Rajneesh was born in Jabalpur in India and had a mother as well as a father who later became his disciples.
In May 1981 he went to U.S.A. and established a town called ‘Rajneeshpuram’. He later fell foul of the West and was finally arrested and asked to leave the country. He came back to India and started a commune in Pune which is now known as the ‘Osho’ commune. He died in 1990. The followers of Osho Rajneesh believe that he is Almighty God. At the ‘Osho commune’ in Pune one can find the following epitaph on his tombstone:
“Osho – never born, never died; only visited the planet Earth between 11th December 1931 to 19th January 1990.”
They forget to mention that he was not granted visa for 21 countries of the world. Can a person ever imagine ‘God’ visiting the earth, and requiring a visa to enter a country! The Archbishop of Greece said that if Rajneesh had not been deported, they would have burnt his house and those of his disciples.
The fourth test, which is the most stringent is, “There is none like unto Him”.
The moment you can imagine or compare ‘God’ to anything, then he (the candidate to divinity) is not God. It is not possible to conjure up a mental picture of the One True God. We know that Rajneesh was a human being, having two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth and a white flowing beard. Photographs and posters of Rajneesh are available in plenty. The moment you can imagine or draw a mental picture of an entity, then that entity is not God.
CORRECT UNDERSTANDING OF A RELIGION
- Don’t observe followers of a Religion. Refer to Authentic Sources of that Religion.
- Followers of major religions, whether it be Hinduism, Islam or Christianity, have divided themselves and their beliefs into various sects.
- It is not appropriate for one to try to understand a religion by observing the followers of that religion. Most followers may themselves not be aware of the correct teachings of their religion.
- Thus, the best and the most appropriate method of understanding any religion is to understand the authentic sources of that religion, i.e. the sacred scriptures of that religion.
CONCEPT OF GOD IN OTHER RELIGIONS SCRIPTURES CHRISTIANITY, JUDISM, HINDUISM, SIKHISM, ZOROASTRIANISM
1. CONCEPT OF GOD IN CHRISTIANITY
Bible (New Testament)
JESUS CHRIST (peace be upon him) Never Claimed Divinity.
One may ask, if both Muslims and Christians love and respect Jesus (peace be upon him), where exactly is the parting of ways? The major difference between Islam and Christianity is the Christians insistence on the supposed divinity of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him). A study of the Christian scriptures reveals that Jesus (peace be upon him) never claimed divinity. In fact there is not a single unequivocal statement in the entire Bible where Jesus (peace be upon him) himself says, “I am God” or where he says, “Worship me”. In fact the Bible contains statements attributed to Jesus (peace be upon him) in which he preached quite the contrary.
The following statements in the Bible are attributed to Jesus Christ:
“My Father is greater than I.”
[The Bible, John 14:28]
“My Father is greater than all.”
[The Bible, John 10:29]
“…I cast out devils by the Spirit of God….”
[The Bible, Mathew 12:28]
“…I with the finger of God cast out devils….”
[The Bible, Luke 11:20]
“I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgement is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”
[The Bible, John 5:30]
THE MISSION OF JESUS CHRIST (peace be upon him) – TO FULFILL THE LAW
Jesus (peace be upon him) never claimed divinity for himself. He clearly announced the nature of his mission. Jesus (peace be upon him) was sent by God to confirm the previous Judaic law.
This is clearly evident in the following statements attributed to Jesus (peace be upon him) in the Gospel of Mathew :
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
The Bible, Mathew 5:17-20
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
[The Bible, Mathew 5:17-20]
GOD SENT JESUS (peace be upon him)
The Bible mentions the prophetic nature of Jesus (peace be upon him) mission in the following verses :
“…and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.”
[The Bible, John 14:24]
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.”
[The Bible, John 17:3]
Jesus Refuted even the Remotest Suggestion of his Divinity. Consider the following incident mentioned in the Bible :
“And behold, one came and said unto him, ‘Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?’
And he said unto him, ‘Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God : but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’ “
[The Bible, Mathew 19:16-17]
Jesus (peace be upon him) did not say that to have the eternal life of paradise, man should believe in him as Almighty God or worship him as God, or believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) would die for his sins. On the contrary he said that the path to salvation was through keeping the commandments. It is indeed striking to note the difference between the words of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) and the Christian dogma of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus (peace be upon him).
Jesus (peace be upon him) of Nazareth – a Man Approved of God
The following statement from the Bible supports the Islamic belief that Jesus (peace be upon him) was a prophet of God.
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know.”
[The Bible, Acts 2:22]
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT IS THAT GOD IS ONE
The Bible does not support the Christian belief in trinity at all. One of the scribes once asked Jesus (peace be upon him) as to which was the first commandment of all, to which Jesus (peace be upon him) merely repeated what Moses (peace be upon him) had said earlier:
“Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adonai Ikhad.”
This is a Hebrew quotation, which means:
“Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.”
[The Bible, Mark 12:29]
It is striking that the basic teachings of the Church such as Trinity and vicarious atonement find no mention in the Bible.
In fact, various verses of the Bible point to Jesus (peace be upon him) actual mission, which was to fulfill the law revealed to Prophet Moses (peace be upon him). Indeed Jesus (peace be upon him) rejected any suggestions that attributed divinity to him, and explained his miracles as the power of the One True God.
Jesus (peace be upon him) thus reiterated the message of monotheism that was given by all earlier prophets of Almighty God.
NOTE: All quotations of the Bible are taken from the King James Version.
2. CONCEPT OF GOD IN JUDAISM
Bible Old Testament:
God is One
The following verse from the book of Deuteronomy contains an exhortation from Moses (peace be upon him) :
“Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad”.
It is a Hebrew quotation which means:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord”
[The Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4]
Oneness of God in the Book of Isaiah
The following verses are from the Book of Isaiah:
“I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.”
[The Bible, Isaiah 43:11]
“I am Lord, and there is none else, there is no God besides me.”
[The Bible, Isaiah 45:5]
“I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.”
[The Bible, Isaiah 46:9]
OLD TESTAMENT CONDEMNS IDOL WORSHIP
Old Testament condemns idol worship in the following verses:
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:””Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”
[The Bible, Exodus 20:3-5]
A similar message is repeated in the book of Deuteronomy:
“Thou shalt have none other gods before me. Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that in the earth beneath, or that is in the water beneath the earth.”
“Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”
[The Bible, Deuteronomy 5:7-9]
3. LET US DISCUSS THE CONCEPT OF GOD IN “HINDUISM”
Common concept of God in Hinduism according to the common Hindu :
If you ask a common Hindu that how many Gods he believe in, some may say three some may say thirty three, some may say a thousand while some may say thirty three crore i.e. 330 millions. But if you ask this question to a Hindu learned man who is well Versed with the Hindu scriptures, he will
reply that the Hindu should actually believe and worship only one God.
Difference between Islam and Hinduism is ‘s’
(Everything is ‘God’s’ – everything is ‘God’):
The major difference between the Hindu and the Muslim is that the common Hindu believes in philosophy of Pantheism i.e. everything is God, the tree is God, the sun is God, the moon is God, the snake is God, the monkey is God, the human being is God.
The Muslims believe that everything is God’s. God with and apostrophe ‘s’.
Everything belongs to God, the tree belongs to God, the sun belongs to God, the moon belongs to God, monkey belongs to God, the human being belongs to God.
Thus the major difference between the Hindus and the Muslims is the apostrophe ‘s’. The Hindu says everything is God. The Muslim says everything is God’s, God with an apostrophe ‘s’. If we can solve the difference of the apostrophe ‘s’, the Hindus and the Muslims will be united.
The Holy Qur’an says, “Come to common terms as between us and you”, which is the first term? “That we worship none but Allaah”, so lets come to common terms by analyzing the scripture of the Hindus and the Muslim.
The most popular amongst all the Hindu scriptures is the Bhagwad Geeta.
“Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires worship demigods” that is “Those who are materialistic, they worship demigods” i.e. besides the true God.
[Bhagwad Geeta Ch 7 Verse 20]
According to the interpretation given by “Swami Dhrupadha” means ‘they worship false god, Idols worship.
I am undetermined, invisible to sense organs, the one who has unthinkable shape, the one who is beyond the weaknesses, the constant and the one who spread everywhere
[Bhagwad Geeta Ch 12 Verse: 3-4]
“I am All-Knowing, Ancient, the Lord of the worlds, so microscopic than atom, the origin of the Universe, the one who has unthinkable shape, the self-shining”
[Bhagwad Geeta Ch 8 Verse: 9-10]
Upanishad are also one of the sacred scriptures of the Hindus.
(i) Chandogya Upanishad, Chapter 6, Section 2, Verse 1,
It is mentioned in the Chandogya Upanishad, Prapathaka (Chapter) 6, Khanda (Section) 2, Shloka (Verse) 1 :
“Ekam evaditiyam”, “He is one only without a second”.
The principal Upanishad by S. Radhakrishnan, page 447 and 448 (sacred books of the east Volume 1 the Upanishads, part I, page 93)
(ii) Svetasvatara Upanishad, Chapter 6, Verse 9,
It is mentioned in the Svetasvatara Upanishad, Adhyaya (Chapter) 6, Shloka (Verse) 9 :
“Na casya kascij janita na cadhipah”
“Of him there is neither parents nor lord”.
“na tasya kascit patir asti loke, na cesita naiva ca tasya lingam, na karanam karanadhipadhipo na casya kascij janita na cadhipah”.
“Of him there is no master in the world, no ruler, nor is there any mark of him. He is the cause, the lord of the lords of the sense organs; of him there is neither progenitor nor lord”.
(The principal Upanishad by S. Radhakrishnan page 745 and in sacred books of the east Volume 15, the Upanishads, part II, page 263)
(iii) In Svetasvatara Upanishad, Chapter 4, Verse 19,
It is mentioned in Svetasvatara Upanishad, Adhyaya (Chapter) 4, Shloka (Verse) 19 :
“Na tasya pratima asti”
“There is no likeness of him”.
“nainam urdhvam na tiryancam na madhye na parijagrabhat na tasya pratima asti yasya nama mahad yasah”
“There is no likeness of him whose name is great glory”.
(The principal Upanishad by S. Radhakrishnan page 736 & 737 and in sacred books of the east Volume 15, the Upanishad, part II, page 253)
(iv) In Svetasvatara Upanishad, Chapter 4, Verse 20,
It is mentioned in Svetasvatara Upanishad, Adhyaya(Chapter) 4, Shloka(Verse) 20 :
“na samdrse tishati rupam asya, na caksusa pasyati kas canainam”
“his form cannot be seen, no one sees him with the eye”
“nasamdrse tishati rupam asya, na caksusa pasyati kas canainam. Hrda hrdistham manasa ya enam, evam vidur amrtas te bhavanti”
“His form is not to be seen; no one sees him with the eye. Those who through heart and mind know him as abiding in the heart become immortal”.
(The principal Upanishad by S. Radhakrishnan page 737 & in sacred books of the east Volume 15, the Upanishad part II, page 253)
Vedas are the most sacred amongst all the Hindu scriptures, there are principally 4 Veds :
iv) and Atharvaved.
“na tasya pratima asti” “There is no image of Him”
It further says as “He is unborn, He deserves our worship”
“There is no image of him whose glory verily is great. He sustains within himself all luminous objects like the sun etc.
May he not harm me, this is my prayer. As he is unborn, he deserves our worship”.
[Yajurveda, Chapter 32, Verse 3]
(The Yajurveda by Devi Chand M.A. page 377)
It is mentioned in Yajurved,
“He is body less and pure”
“He hath attained unto the bright, bodiless, woundless, sinewless, the pure which evil hath not pierced. Far-sighted wise, encompassing, he self existent hath prescribed aims as propriety demands unto the everlasting years”
[Yajurveda, Chapter 40, Verse 8]
(Yajurveda Samhita by Ralph I.H. Griffith page 538)
“Andhatma pravishanti ye asambhuti mupaste”
“They enter darkness, those who worship natural things” For e.g. air, water, fire etc.
It further continues and says,
“They sink deeper in darkness those who worship Sambhuti i.e. created things”, For example table, chair, idols etc.
“Deep into shade of blinding gloom fall asambhuti’s worshippers. They sink to darkness deeper yet who on sambhuti are intent”
[Yajurveda, Chapter 40, Verse 9]
(Yajurveda Samhita by Ralph T.H. Griffith page 538)
It is mentioned in Atharvaveda,
“Dev maha osi”
“God is verily great” its further says ;
“Verily, surya, thou art great; truly, aditya, thou art great. As thou art great indeed thy greatness is admired: yea, verily, great art thou, O God”
[Atharvaveda, Book 20, Hymn (Chapter) 58, Verse 3]
(Atharvaveda Samhiti Volume 2, William Dwight Whitney page 910)
The most oldest and sacred amongst all the Vedas is Rigveda.
It is mentioned in Rigveda:
“Sages (learned Priest) call one God by many names”
“They have styled (Him, God or the sun) indra (the resplendent), mitra (the surveyor), varuna (the venerable), agni (the adorable), and he is the celestial, well-winged garutmat (the great), for learned priests call one by many names as they speak of the adorable as yama (ordainer) and matarisvan (cosmic breath)”
[It is mentioned in Rigveda Book no.1, Hymn no. 164 Verse 46]
It is mentioned in Rigveda,
“Ya eka ittamushtuhi”
“Praise Him who is the matchless and alone.”
[It is mentioned in Rigveda, Book No VI, Hymn 45, Verse 16]
(Hymns of Rigveda by Ralph T.H. Griffith page 648)
It is mentioned in Rigveda,
“Ma Chidanyadia Shansata”
“Do not worship anybody but Him, the divine one Praise Him alone”
“Ma cid anyad vi sansata sakhayo ma rishanyata in dram it stota vrishanam saca sute muhaur uktha ca sansata”.
“O friends, do not worship anybody but Him, the divine one. Let no grief perturb you. Praise Him alone, the radiant, the showerer of benefits. During the course of self-realization, go on repeatedly uttering Hymns in His honour”.
[It is mentioned in Rigveda, Book 8, Hymn 1, Verse 1 ]
(Rigveda Samhiti, Volume IX, page 1 and 2 by Swami Satyaprakash Sarasvati and Satyakam Vidhya Lankar)
Brahma Sutra of Hindu Vedanta
The Brahma Sutra of Hindu Vedanta is :
“Ekam Brahm, dvitiya naste nen na naste kinchan”
“Bhagwan ek hi hai dusara nahi hai, nahi hain nahi hai zara bhi nahi hai.”
“There is only one God, not the second, not at all, not in the least bit.”
“Therefore only if you read the Hindu Scriptures will make you understand the correct concept of God in Hinduism.”
4. CONCEPT OF GOD IN SIKHISM
The best definition that any Sikh can give regarding the concept of Almighty God in Sikhism, is quote the ‘Mul Mantra’ – the fundamental creed of Sikhism, which occurs in the Beginning of Shri Guru Granth Sahib at the beginning, i.e. of Shri Guru Granth Sahib or Japoji Mulmatra’ –
‘Only one God exists’. And He is called by ‘Dadru’, – the ‘Creator’, ‘the One free from fear and hatred’, ‘the Immortal, ‘Not begotten’, ‘Self-Existing’ ‘Great and Compassionate’.
[Volume No.1, Ch. No.1, Verse No.1.]
Sikhism strictly believes in Monotheism.
And Almighty God, in the unmanifest form is called as ‘Ek Omkara’ and in the manifest form; He is called as ‘Ek Omkara’.
And Guru Granth Sahib, he gave various attributes to this manifest form of Almighty God,
Omkara – and called it also as
Kartar – the Creator
Akal – the Eternal
Satyanama – the Holy One
Sahib – the Lord
Parvadigar – Cherisher
Rahim – the Merciful
Karim – the Benevolent
Wahe Guru – One true Lord, one true God.
Sikhism besides believing in Monotheism, it is also against Avtarvada- the concept of incarnation of God. They are against that God can take human forms can incarnate – and they are also against idol worship.
“GURU NANAK” WAS VERY MUCH INFLUENCED BY “SANT KABIR”
“Guru Nanak” Was very much influenced by Sant Kabir – No wonder, if you read the “Guru Granth Sahib several chapters contain many couplets “Doohas” of Sant Kabir.
And one the most famous ‘Dohas’ of Sant Kabir is :
“Dukhmeinsumren sab kare Sukhmeinkarena koi. Jo sukhmeinsumrenkare, to dukhkahe hoi.”
“Everyone remembers God during trouble – no one remembers Him during peace and happiness. The one who remembers him during peace and happiness, why will he have trouble?”
A similar message is given in the Holy Qur’an.
“When some trouble toucheth man, he crieth unto his Lord, turning to Him in repentance: but when He bestoweth a favour upon him as from Himself, (man) doth forget what he cried and prayed for before, and he doth set up rivals unto Allah, thus misleading others from Allah’s Path. Say, “Enjoy thy blasphemy for a little while: verily thou art (one) of the Companions of the Fire!”
[Al-QURAN – Ch. 39, Verse No. 8]
5. CONCEPT OF GOD IN ZOROASTRIANISM:
God in Zoroastrianism is known as ‘Ahura Mazda’. ‘Ahura’ means ‘the Lord’ or ‘The Master’ and ‘Mazda’ means ‘the Wise’; hence ‘Ahura Mazda’ means ‘the Wise Lord’ or ‘the Wise God’. Ahura Mazda stands for God, in a strictly monotheistic sense.
Qualities of God according to the Dasatir:
According to the Dasatir, Ahura Mazda has the following qualities:
- He is One.
- He is without an origin or end.
- He has no father or mother, wife or son.
- He is without a body or form.
- Nothing resembles Him.
- Neither the eye can behold Him, nor the power of thinking can conceive him.
- He is above all that you can imagine.
- He is nearer to you than your own self.
Qualities of God according to Avesta
According to the Avesta, the Gathas and the Yasna give various characteristics to Ahura Mazda such as :
Yasna 31:7 & 11
- MOST MIGHTY, THE GREATEST
- BOUNTIFUL SPENTA;
Thus, in Zoroastrianism too, we find a concept of an eternal, omnipotent God. Several verses of Yasna praise the Lord as a Bountiful Creator.
If we Analysis the concept of God on bases of Religious scripture they are same the teach us to worship only one true God.