Further on Communal Harmony

This is a follow up note on our recent discussion happened over the religious harmony video [Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8liXJfq_xWo&t=91s%5D. In the response i explained: “how important it is to know the right understanding of a concept we believe in”. Only if we know what we believe in, 1) we will be able to reconcile our belief with our self, and 2) to an extension reconcile and live with peace with others. Knowing the differences is almost as important than knowing the communalities and gray areas. Further understanding the right concept gives us an opportunity to assess our own position as well, to whether we should carry on the belief system we are taught to or not. This is a stance taken when A) we are mature enough to question the status quo and B) ready to accept alternative options with peaceful reconciliations with whom we love and value to our life.

The next big question is: How does it work in different age groups, different social classes and different belief systems? Especially how the differences and commonalities are taught to younger generations?

I think the pertinent theme in the video portrayed is a very innocent lesson being taught by an innocent kid to an old man (a Muslim figure), that there is no difference in Gods people believe in, whether be a “Hindu idol present in a Mandir (referred Bhagwaan)” or Muslim’s God being remembered in a mosque (referred “Allah”). Is there a scope of disagreement in this proposition? Let’s see.

First of all the portrayal of the old man here is questionable as he is unable to explain the answers of young kid with right wisdom and correct understanding. The old man might be hesitant in receiving the offering for so many reasons. One conspicuous reason could be the “aastha” associated with an act of religious ritual. He must have been cautious that if he takes what is not supposed to be his, that may offend the family of that kid. We see these kinds of issues in society not only in religious circles but in our social transactions. Regarding the brief discussion of presence of Allah in Masjid and Mandir, the premise of kid’s argument is, what i will call is very innocent and natural. On the other hand, the response of old man is not so wise and in line with the Islamic teachings of such a discourse in hand.

Leaving religion aside, the old man should have explained the kid that this food is meant to be received by the person whom it is intended for (Obeying parents is more important here). For the sake of argument if we take in consideration that the child has got a notion that the food is being offered to a “God”, the old man should have explained that the food is made for mortal being like humans and animals and not for God. Instead, food can be given to poor and needy directly without any ritualistic means of religious nature.

For the question on, if Allah is everywhere, why is not he present in the Mandir, or conversely if we call referred deity “Bhagwan” to be present everywhere, why is he not in the Masjid, let’s analyse this premise in some specifics here. First of all, the deity referred in Hinduism (taught to general hindu masses) are considered as the intermediaries or tools (as swami Jaggi Vasudev aka Sadhguru refers in his talks) to practice spiritual exercise in an effort to realise divine presence, referred “God” in some sense. In Islam the term Allah is used for one God, who is the reason for all existence we see and is the creator of this space and time continuum we see and experience. There is a distinction in the concept in Islam as we believe Allah to be ultimate creator and separate from its creation (in an empirical sense), however Allah’s knowledge encompasses all the creation. This contrast is referred as Pantheism (in Hinduism) and Monotheism (in Islam). So for Muslims, a mosque is not a place where God or its any intermediaries exist in any form we can rationalise, however it is just a place where Muslims gather to remember Allah. Allah is beyond what we can comprehend or imagine and is not limited to a specific piece of land. The importance of Masjid exists as its sole purpose of existence is to facilitate group prayers and imparting religious knowledge. Nothing less nothing more. Whereas in Mandirs, we have specific deities, the priests, offerings and specific rituals of religious importance. This is the reason kid’s mother sent the food for a Pandit, as it is with a belief that with some rituals associated with specific jaap/mantras if the food is served to poor, ultimately its equivalent form will reach to the soul of deceased in heavenly realm. However, if the same food is served in Masjid, A) A masjid do not entertain food and religious rituals to satisfy any dead person in heavenly realm, B) It will be dishonest for a masjid Imam to take the food and upset the daughter (or son) of the dead person. The portrayal of old man’s hesitation reflects point (B), as in Indian subcontinent, getting offended on religious grounds cost dearly, even life and especially if you happen to be a minority [“Muslims minority in Hindu majority” or “Hindu minority in Muslim majority”].

How can we explain this difficult situation to a 7 years old kid?

Well, it starts at home. It starts with rising above superstitions and a sincere reconciliation with what we believe in. The Imam could have explained what is “God”, “Soul” and “Nature”  and should have advised the kid to feed the poor instead of offering on an idol (if the kid was a Hindu) or a dead person in a grave (if the kid was a Muslim). Parents should look for an opportunity to work on religious ethos, rather than dry practises. It is important to give a poor and needy a blanket, rather than offering chaadar on Dargah and feed the poor directly rather taking a redtape route via a stone idol in Mandir. If we practice religion with the right spirit, in line with scriptures and question superstitions, we will live a life of love and our actions will cement the differences, else we will be fighting on differences created by politicians and religious gurus. Religion is to acknowledge the spiritual component of our self which calls for being Good and tells us to avoid immoralities, and if we escape this calling we are just another animal in a race of survival of fittest, where nothing is Good or Bad, except to survive and excel in the race. We choose what we are destined for.



Decoding components of destiny

The subject of destiny seems to be complex if we seek an immediate answer, in terms of the way we want to understand topics in 5 minutes YouTube session. In recent times with the advent of information age, humanity at large is seeking a more quick impatient lifestyle. We started to appreciate Industrial revolution in colonial past and we matured to be in this age of free thinkers, which (it seems) enabled us to have tools and technology at our disposal like never before. The mesmerising effect of the magical encounters made people to be more earth-centric (materialistic) forgetting hereafter, equipping themselves with enough reasons to not believe in what is beyond this material life.

The reason it seems to me has never been the case of Islam vs. science but people falling under what is termed as “category mistake”. What it means is that people accept an explanation of “how/why something works” as “who made it working”? Science addresses “how/why” aspect, whereas Islam addresses “Who/Reason” aspect [1]? This distinction is presented as a question to humanity in Quran in following verse.

“Or were they created by nothing? Or were they the creators [of themselves]? Or did they create the heavens and Earth? Rather, they are not certain.” Holy Quran 52:36

As an example, in day to day life we know that motion of any object we see around follows a set rule of nature, which was explored and put forth lately by Isaac Newton in classical laws of mechanics (Category 1: How/Why) [2], however mere existence of these laws will not set a ball in motion. We will need an external agent who initiates the motion (Category 2: Who/Reason). Scientific philosophy at best keeps silence over category 2 when it comes to the origin of universe (to the extension existence of energy, creation of matter, matter getting life i.e. totipotency [4] and life getting a consciousness), whereas zealots with atheistic allegiance make it a matter of certainty that there is no God and universe popped out from nothing just like a bunny from a magic hat. This is an irrational proposition[3].

Having said that, the subject of this discussion here is destiny and the understanding of this subject can not be dealt in isolation with the concept of divine. Those who reject divine, can not comprehend destiny, free will and reckoning. In simple terms, if you reject the concept of a divine supreme as a creator and perceive this life just as a meaningless array of sequence and events propelled by cold, blind, random physical processes, there is no reason for a discussion over destiny. The life under such assumption is an “accident”, devoid of any meaning. In strict terms, the evolutionary core engines namely “survival of fittest” and “mutation” (discussed in context of biological evolution) drives a cruel flow where love, joy, pain, sorrow, sacrifice and overall human creative capacity is nothing but some chemical reactions. This is more extreme (blind faith) to believe that the creative capacity of human beings (expressed in poetry, engineering, humanities and different arts) emanates from random, cold, blind chemical reactions. How can something gives rise to a quality which in itself do not contain [5]?

In early school days, if we recall, we all have studied basics of relations and functions. There in we study dependent and independent variable in following way (equation #1).

y = f (x)  <= equation #1

Here y is a variable which depends on a variable x. the letter f denotes some kind of relationship between x and y which depends on attributes of “the system” under investigation. The system itself should have a capacity to entertain the variable x, and a capacity to produce an output y. If the system do not have such capacity, the function do not exist. Alternatively if a system (i.e. function) exist and is producing some outputs as y, there has to be some input which manifest as a processed result, we term as output. Here we can ask a question: “Do we know a system/function which produces a fine-tuned, measured output without any input and without a system (in existence)”? Think for while, have we ever had a magical moment in our life experience (talking empirically) where we witness a system which is producing an output without 1) an input being provided, and 2) a system processing the input?

In mathematics, such a relation between x and y is called a “function” where x is an independent variable. What we mean by an independent variable here is that the value of x in respect to the system (i.e. f ) and output (i.e. y ) is independent. It can assume any value it like. However the system must be able to process the value x and the output y will always (necessarily contingent upon) depend on x. One other interpretation of such interdependent relationship is that, for multiple values of x, we can have same value of y; but it is not possible to have multiple values of y for same value of x. In simple terms, it is possible that you were at home at both 9AM and 10AM, but it is not possible for you to be at home and in office (5KM away from your home) at the same time 9AM. Why? Since your position (specifically material position, not talking a skype chat or video conference) is dependent on time, and your existence in time domain is contingent on the value of time. Is it possible for you to escape this contingency?

With the above example, if we go back to equation #1 we realise that the events in this materialistic realm like the “spatial existence” of any person (y) is dependent on a system (f) which is this space-time continuum (heavens[6] and earth and overall cosmic movements) and an independent variable we call as time (x). Here the independent variable x (which is “time”) is a “perceived outcome” of the events (which work in synchronisation) resulted by the perceived relative motion of planet earth, sun and moon, giving us a meaning of our mortal position [material sensory]. In general terms we call this “perceived output” as morning, noon or evening or week, months or years or hours, minutes and seconds to the milliseconds and microseconds. Here “You exist” (i.e. y, the output) in “This Moment” (i.e. x, the input) as a result of  “Cosmic Movements” (i.e f, the system).

spatial existence = f (time) <= equation #2

material existent position = space-time-continuum (this moment) <= equation #3

Here we should also appreciate that there exist a relationship between the independent variable time and the cosmic movements in space time continuum as well (as i hinted in previous paragraph), in a way that the independent variable time (which we perceive as independent on planet earth) is a dependent variable on the outcome of cosmic movements. Just imagine someone in a place devoid of any relative motion between his material presence and its surroundings. Will time exist for that person? If there exist a possibility of biological progression of human body in that state (hypothetically, highly improbable though), how the ageing experience will be interpreted as we have no relative motion (i.e. no day/night)? Let’s also ponder over the “question of a function” whose output is the cosmic movements. We are going in the direction of general and special theory of relativity, but without going in much details, we can comprehend that the existence of a necessary independent function necessitates for a logical conclusion of what we perceive as a moment which gives us a material meaning. In a pure theistic term, this implies “since i exist, a creator exist”, else i do not exist [taking in consideration not only the material laws, but the life governing laws and its source]. This understanding is of a paramount importance as it will serve as a foundation to further explore possible discourse of Destiny.

Till now i have tried to put forth a reasoning in terms of basic mathematical logic of relations and function, as 1) this is very easy to reflect upon for people who know even basic mathematics and 2) functions are the basic building blocks of all the systems we observe in nature. Now, let us explore few specific examples.

Destiny in a simple term is defined as “the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future”. It also refers to the hidden power believed to control future events called fate sometimes. How does it fit in the design of universe we see around? Can we have a logical construct to rationalise this term? To understand this, let us investigate this term in some details.

Let me ask you a question. Imagine you are holding a ball and you release it. Where the ball will go? If i ask you, what is the destiny of a ball (in terms of its future position) when you release it from a height? You will answer, it will fall to the ground. We know this destiny of a ball “based on our experience”. There is nothing special about this answer as we all know that everything on the earth is attracted to earth, and we are witnessing it since long, making it no miracle to predict its future state. Although there is a precise equation which governs the movement of ball, but we do not realise its existence unless we explore it (we do not see the law, but we experience its existence). Just to demonstrate it, if i ask another question: “what is the speed of the same falling ball after 10 second?”. Now this is complex as “speed” is a derived term (it amounts to the magnitude of motion contained in an object), and can not be seen in the units of meters and seconds with our eyes (unless we are in a car and see it in meter reading), though we can see the movement and say it is fast, slow or at rest. However if we know the laws of gravity and the relationship between speed, time, acceleration and “Gravitational constant”, we can tell that the speed of ball after 10 second will be approximately 98m/s. How do we get this number “98m/s”? We got this number by decoding one of the laws of nature and knowing the constant (the gravitational constant) by which material objects attract each other, and the relationship between associated variables namely speed and time. In another way, we were able to predict the future value of a property associated with a matter by knowing the rules in which it operates. In more general way we can say that we predicted the “destiny of speed” of a moving ball by knowing the details of forces it was acted upon.

This was a very simple example to explain how destiny operates and how can we predict the destiny of any system, or the property of a system if we know the constants and variables associated with its existence. The same holds true for other natural laws like electrostatics, magnetism etc. We may have various theories and explanations for laws, but the point is, if we understand the equation of interactions in a law, it gives us an insight to understand its current and future state. In scientific terms the objective of such an analysis is always to know “how a stuff works”? The question “why” remains unanswered and is left to other interpretations as this is not the subject of science to deal with these questions. The interim whys can be answered in developed theories and these theories have a lifeline as they are always subjected to be reviewed against another better explanations (or better complied with the established facts and more precise experimental outcome). The logical conclusion of a supreme being as a lawgiver of all these experienced laws is something detested by atheistic community, and they try all the possible theories to reject God. They develop theories like multiverse and existence of material particle popping in some special nothingness but will not accept any theory of religious sources. To me such a proposition arises with the lack of self introspection and a predestined divine will for people who ignore the self innate calling for echoing the definition of good and bad within themselves.

There are other laws beyond inert material laws, like the laws which govern life, its existence and its propagation. We know that at some point in time, long ago, universe came in existence with matter and associated energy. There are a set of laws we know and understand about matter and energy. In explaining life, at some point of time we know that the cold, dark, blind physical process (as some scientists see (not the most), and atheists to an extension believe in it) got life like property in the development of prokaryotic cells, and then eukaryotic cells and then to various other complex life forms. There is a hidden underlying law there as well which we understand in terms of totipotency, survival of fittest, biological evolution or sudden mutations. We also see that these life forms were diversified and different ecosystems exists to support and nurture them. At a next stage we see one specific life form getting the property of “consciousness” (to be self aware and to name, classify and understand actions) and acting as a builder for this planet earth making an impact no other species has. So, why the matter was originated? Why it got life? Why life gets a consciousness? And then why one life got consciousness to such a degree? Is it all random or there is a purpose? It is debatable and not part of this article.

What if we know all the laws and all the equations of this universe? not only the material, biological and psychological laws, but the laws that give rise to these laws and the source where it ultimately originates. If we know all the laws, and all the dependent laws, and ultimately the source of laws, we will be truly in a position to see the future state of material, life and consciousness we call destiny. The answers of an ultimate destiny and our actions impacting the future state of our destiny will only be understood if we are such a reference frame where we have explanations for each and every laws which govern us [in a sense outside the realm of this space and time].

Is it possible? Hopefully i will explore some more key points in another article.


[1] The Qur’an, Chapter 52, Verses 35 and 36.
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_mechanics
[3] This argument has been inspired by and adapted from Idris, J. (1994) The Contemporary Physicists and God’s Existence. Available at: http://www.jaafaridris.com/the-contemporary-physicists-and-gods-existence/ [Accessed 23rd November 2016].
[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_potency#Totipotency
[5] Chapter 5. The divine reality: God, Islam and the mirage of atheism by Hamza Tzortzis
[6] Here Heavens means anything except earth. Please do not confuse this with Paradise, which is opposite to Hell and exists in a form we can not comprehend with our limited sensory faculties now.