With the 42nd amendment of the Constitution of India enacted in 1976, the Preamble to the Constitution asserted that India is a secular nation. However, neither India’s constitution nor its laws define the relationship between religion and state. To add to this confusion, people have distorted the meaning of the word religion itself. If the real essence is understood, religion can be a useful and good tool for the humanity.
Over the years, there have been misleading discussions among us—thanks to all the people with their half-baked knowledge—about different belief systems in India; and their ways of living. One such discussion that usually occurs is about the rituals of Hindus and Muslims.
Although I am full of half-knowledge, I have read many ancient scriptures over the years and collected information about the differences and similarities of different belief systems; or what we usually refer to as religion.
If you carefully examine each person individually, you’ll be surprised to learn that there are lots of differences between the two in as much as there are also many similarities.
Hindus and Muslims both put a large emphasis on charity, kindness, compassion, gratitude, simplicity, and forgiveness. I believe these are the most important virtues that a human should have. Although a very few—from both belief systems—follow it rigorously, I m assured that these virtues are the true essence of religion.
In the country where there is ALI in Diwali and RAM in Ramadan, we keep foolishly discussing the different rituals in both belief systems. I this blog post, I want to try to debunk the irrational debate that Muslims do the opposite of Hindus.
Before I start, please note that Google suggests 4,200 different belief systems on this planet and believe me, most of them are DIFFERENT, not OPPOSITE of each other.
OPPOSITE is not the right word in the first place. We all are unique and different. We all have similarities and difference but no belief system was designed to be an opposite to any belief system.
It’s just us who want to look at things that way. Although I don’t know everything, in this blog post, let me try and debunk some of the popular myths.
Myth 1: Muslims write the opposite of Hindus
The writing script that Muslims use is Arabic. It’s one of the many Semitic languages invented before the wide adoption of paper and ink. In that time, the most common way you could put things in writing was carving it on stone or wood. Assuming most people are right-handed, it’s much easier to carve letters from right to left, when your strong right hand is holding the hammer and the left hand is holding the chisel.
Later, when paper or papyrus and ink were widely adopted since most people are right-handed, it made much more sense of writing from left to right, but some people found the old style of writing comfortable.
Hebrew, Persian, and some more languages are still written from right to left. Chinese and Japanese and some more languages are written vertically. So, it’s just about finding the best and comfortable style to write and stick to it.
Myth 2: Muslims pray to the moon unlike Hindu who pray to the sun
First of all, Muslims don’t pray to anything other than Allah. Islam is a monotheist belief system, unlike Hinduism that is polytheist belief system. Muslims believe in the ONE GOD concept but the moon is of use to them as they follow a lunar calendar. They have their own reasons for following the lunar calendar.
Hindus, on the other hand, follow a lunisolar calendar. Our months are the basis of the calendar and are determined around the phases of the moon. Hindus wholeheartedly follow the—no moon and full moon—days.
Myth 3: Muslims pray to face the east direction and Hindus pray to face the west direction
If one has studied even little science, she or he should know that there is nothing as a universal direction in the universe. The earth is revolving around its axis and rotating around the sun. This means that no direction is constant for more than a minute. The direction depends upon the location of the observer.
Having said that, we can still map an imaginary direction on the base of our axis and name it east, from where the sun is seen—mind it not, from where the sun rises.
Coming back to the point, Hindus worship the sun because of its importance in the ancient scriptures whereas Muslim face in the direction of the shortest distance to their holiest shrine while praying. It’s different directions for different countries. For the Indians and other southeast countries, they face the west, whereas in Europe and Africa it is towards the east and northeast respectively.
Myth 4: Muslims open and raise their hands whereas Hindus fold their hands
There is no set pattern or rule for praying. Everyone has their own ways or patterns for praying to whoever they believe.
Muslims raise open and raise their hands in the glory of their lord whereas Hindus fold their hands in the glory of their gods and goddesses. Both are praying, asking, being grateful at that particular moment.
In fact, in some postures of meditation in Hinduism and Buddhism require us to open our hands and sit. It’s believed that you can collect the blessings and powers of the universe if you open your hand.
Myth 5: In the place of worship, Muslim move anticlockwise while Hinduism move clockwise
This is in regard to circumambulation that Muslims do in their holiest shrine as discussed earlier.
Again, if one has studied even little science, she or he should know that there is nothing as a universal direction in the universe. The direction depends upon the location of the observer. Modern science has observed many things that confirm the importance of the anticlockwise movement:
- The moon revolves around the earth anti-clockwise.
- The earth rotates around its own axis in an anti-clockwise direction.
- All the galaxies orbit in the space in an anti-clockwise direction.
- Although not fully right, the planets of the Solar system revolve around the sun in an anti-clockwise direction.
- Although not fully right, the electrons of an atom revolve around its nucleus in an anti-clockwise direction.
If we have an open mind and use little of our brain, we can see that no one is doing the opposite of anyone. Different belief systems have their rituals as per their requirement, comfort, time zone, history, geography and many others factors.
So the next time you’re in such an illogical and foolish discussion, you know what to do and what not to do. Although I am no domain expert, this is what I have understood in life.
PS: No one can get detailed knowledge about belief systems until she or he reads the ancient scriptures and understand them. I suggest staying away from people who don’t have any idea about what’s written in these ancient scriptures.