The Revitalising Ramadan & The Essence of Islam
The month of silent and sincere remembrance of the lord is on. For the over 1.5 billion muslims across the globe, it is a time marked by prayer, penitence and the wilful sacrifice of one’s personal comforts and pleasures in honour of the divine. At this point in time , one must know the exact meaning and essence of Islam. To make the understanding easier, let us go step by step:
- Mohammed, The Prophet of Allah
- The True Essence of Islam
- The Five Pillars Of Islam
- The Call Of Sai
Mohammed, The Prophet of Allah
Born in the year 569 AD in the city of Mecca in Arabia the Prophet became an orphan in childhood. He knew neither the care of a mother nor the protection of a father. And this experience was the first preparation for the child who was born to sympathize with the pain of others. As a boy, he was a cowherd and looked after his cows with intense Love. This reminds one of Lord Jesus who called himself “the Good Shepherd” and Sri Krishna who is adored as the Divine Cowherd Boy.
Once while looking after his herd, a cowherd came to him and said, “I will look after your herd; you may go to the town and enjoy yourself. And then you must take charge of my cows, and I will then go for a time.” Young Mohammed said, “No, I will take charge of your herd. You may go, but I will not leave my charge.” This same principle was shown all through his life.
The Prophet was not learned; he could neither read nor write. Yet he became the repository of all Wisdom because he realized That, which when known, everything is known, and without which all knowledge is a bondage; namely, the knowledge of Allah. To become a perfect model for the fullness of the Divine Message which he carried, the Prophet experienced all aspects of life – as an orphan, a shepherd, a merchant, a warrior, a politician, a King, a husband, a father, a brother, a son and even as a grandson.
The turning point in his life came when his life had taken a downward spiral, in spite of all it could offer. He then sought refuge in solitude. Sometimes for hours, at times for days and weeks, he retreated into a cave on the mountain of Gar-e Hira. There, absorbed in meditation and contemplation, he sought to enter the cave of his heart. Patient as the Prophet was, he continued the search for Truth. It was at the age of 40, in the month of Ramadan, that he received his first revelation from God. It came in the form of the Voice of the Angel Gabriel – that word of inner guidance in the heart of all. The Voice said, “Cry out the Sacred Name of Thy Lord.” (Surah 96:1)
The message filled him with awe, and he humbly said in reply that he was unlettered, and unable even to read. Then God opened his heart, filled it with Divine Wisdom and spiritual knowledge, and then illuminated his being with Divine Effulgence. And as he began to follow this advice he found the echo of the Divine Word in everything; it was as if the Sky, the Earth, the Moon and the Universe, all said the same Name that he was repeating.
The angel came to Mohammed and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to read”. The Prophet added, “The angel caught me and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, ‘what shall I read?’ Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said, ‘Read in the name of your Lord, who has created all that exists and has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.” (96.1, 96.2, 96.3) HADITH ‘REVELATION’ Volume 1, Book 1, Number 3: as narrated by Aisha.
Gradually, the Prophet’s heart became tuned with the Infinite. He realized his soul to be One, within and without, and the call came to him to go forward into the world and carry out the command of God; to glorify His Name; to unite those who are separated; to awaken those who are asleep, and to harmonize one with another. As it is written in the Holy Qur’an,
“Alif Laam Raa; This Book which we have revealed to you so that you may lead the people from out of darkness into light, into the path of the Mighty, the Glorious.” (Surah 14:1)
The True Essence of Islam
The term “Surrender” is the hallmark of Islamism. The word Islām is derived from the Arabic verb Aslama, which means to surrender. It means that a Muslim is one who has totally surrendered his entire mind to God. Anyone who has been able to realize this state of being with God is a Muslim, irrespective of the person’s creed, country, caste, or colour. The Qur’an gave examples of such Holy ones – Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus etc, who reached the state of complete surrender to God and referred to them as Muslims.
Abraham was neither Jew nor Christian, but he was sound in the faith, a Muslim and not of those who add gods unto God.” [Qur’an 3:60]
Thus, Islam is a word which denotes not a particular religion but a state of mind, the state of total surrender to the Will of God. The Prophet, therefore, did not see himself as founding a new religion, but as restoring the foundations of Islam which had been there from time immemorial.
“In Islam, the expression salaam is used as a form of greeting. “Sa” in this term signifies the combined expression of Saalokyam, Saameepyam and Saayujyam (Seeing the Divine, Being near the Divine and Merging in the Divine). When these three expressions are combined and merged into one – “La” signifying merger – you have Salaam (the merging of the many in the One)”
– Divine discourse of Sri Sathya Sai Baba on 25th December 1991
“The foremost need today is for everyone to realise that God is One. This is what Jesus and Mohammed proclaimed. The word “Allah” really means the One Supreme which contains everything in the Universe. This is the primary message of the Vedas …The essential truth of all religions is that God is one. Jesus proclaimed the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. One can have only one father, not two.” – Sathya Sai Baba
“God is One; there are not many Gods, one for each tribe among men! Love is One; it transcends caste, colour and creed, if it has to be genuine. Truth is One; there cannot be two. For, two can only be One, occurring twice. The Goal is One; for, all roads must lead to the One God. Why then should men quarrel and fight over the Eternal and the Absolute?”
– Sathya Sai Baba (Divine Discourse 12th October 1983)
The Five Pillars Of Islam
Beloved Sathya Sai Baba tells us that these five spiritual pillars which are the bases of the inner and outer worlds are: Truth, Peace, Love, Right Conduct, and Non-Violence.
The Call Of Sai
Hear the clarion call of Sai. Awake! Arise! Realize your Oneness with Allah. Sai Baba has come to lead us to the sublime heights of Islam. Sai Baba has come to take us to that complete surrender to the Will of Allah. Sai Baba has come to teach us the art of “Die-mind” whereby it is not possible to create images of that which has truly, in its essence, cannot be confined to an image.
Many devout muslims who have recognized the resonance of the Islamic wisdom in the teaching of Sathya Sai Baba believe that now is the time to come to terms with ourselves by the signs of God which we have been witnesses:
Say He is Allah, the One and Only. Say He is Allah, the Absolute Eternal. Say He is Allah, He begets not nor is begotten. Say He is Allah, there is nothing like Him. Say He is Allah, He says, “Be” and it is!
Not only this! Sai Baba leads devotees world over to an experiential awareness of the Oneness of Allah; to a lived example of His Omnipresence; and to the pragmatic import of His Omnipotence.
Based on their first-hand experiences and the revelations they have received, they strongly believe and urge others to adhere to the call of Sai:
Here is yet another experience of Professor Abdul Razak Baburao Korbu who is one of the witnesses to these signs of God.
Say He is Allah Who Holds the Heavens and Earth in One Finger and Who says ‘Be’ and It Is
Sai Baba called me for an interview. Within the interview room, beloved Swami put a question to me which captured me fully:
Baba: “I know that you have faith in Me, but you do not believe in My power with which I create articles. is it not so?”
I could not think of anything to say. In a way, I was happy that finally this topic has surfaced as I was still not fully satisfied on this account. I wanted to see and experience it myself. During the past five years, I spoke of Baba and about Baba to scientists, doctors and other learned persons.
I could not answer their questions on creation of objects from sheer Will. I felt it maybe because I did not experience it or I had no adequate knowledge about it due to my half-hearted efforts.
Abdul: “Forgive me, Baba. It is so.”
Baba: “Your absence of belief in my power of creation is genuine and inquisitive also. I like your frankness and love you. It is very good that you do not take anything for granted. Your faith in Me is not blind; very good. Now I am telling you to ask Me for anything and I shall give it to you here and now. Take your time and ask for anything you desire.”
Now I had a break. I had seen a number of objects created by Baba and handled them also. I was convinced about the genuineness of the articles, but I was not sure whether Baba Himself created them. After thinking for a while, knowing very well that there were very few Muslims among Baba’s devotees, I decided to ask for an impossible article no one has seen so far!
Abdul: “Baba, please give me such a thing which embodies in it the entire Universe and only my own religion is shown on it.”
Baba: (With a sweet smile) “Abdul, do you really think that you have put an impossible request before Me?”
Without a reply, I kept on staring at Baba.
Baba: “Look at My Palm. Do you see anything in it? Nothing is in My palm or behind it. You can verify it.”
Baba turned His Palm upside down, His cape was above the elbow. I could not dare to hold His hand. Then Baba caught my wrist forcefully and moved my palm from around His palm to His elbow.
Baba: “Now, go on looking at the centre of My palm for some time.”
The revealing ring materialised by Swami for Abdul within seven to eight seconds, the skin in the centre of His palm opened up and I saw a round large sized object coming out of it, soon the skin became normal as before and there was a beautiful luminous ring there.
Baba: (In Hindi) “You pick it up and give it in My hand. Before that have a careful look at it.”
As ordered by Baba, I picked up the ring and inspected it very carefully. It had a crescent moon and a star engraved in gold. I put it back in Baba’s palm.
Abdul: “Baba, I cannot understand anything about this ring. Please explain.”
Baba: “You are only born as a Muslim. You do not understand anything about Islam.”
That was the truth. I am not a religious person in the true sense.
Baba: “I have made this gold ring in Asta konas (Octangular), embedded Nava-ratnas (nine gems), both represent the Universe, and in the middle of the navaratnas I have put the Islamic symbol of the star and crescent in emeralds (green gem stones.)”
Abdul: “Baba, where is the Muslim religion on this ring?”
Baba: “Look at these green stones. That is your religion. Now I will put this ring on the fourth finger of your left hand as your right hand finger is disfigured.”
With this talk, Baba put the heavy ring on the said finger. Ah! It fitted perfectly. I bowed down again at His feet, now with plenty of tears. After a few minutes, I followed Baba to the outer chamber. Baba told the nine foreigners, who were waiting in there, about the ring and described me as “My naughty devotee?”
I came to the outer veranda. The fourth finger of my left hand became heavy with the ring which had a heavy sparkling beauty.
Prof. Kasturi’s attention was drawn to it at first. He raised my palm, examined the ring minutely and exclaimed, “I have never seen such a beautiful creation by Swami so far! These are navaratnas (The Nine Universes). But what is this in the middle green portion of the ring? Is it Aum?”
Dr. V. K. Gokak, who also examined it, said, “It is not Aum certainly. Whatever it may be, this ring is an exquisite beauty. I am also witnessing such a creation by Swami for the first time.” A few other devotees also saw this ring and touched it to their foreheads and eyes.
I had almost lost my speech, finding it difficult to utter even a single word. As I came into the Darshan hall, a very large number of devotees surrounded me, amongst them were many foreigners.
One of them was a bearded American devotee. He came near me saw the ring closely, took my hand with the ring, put it on his chest and said, “All Hum do Allah!” (Oh! God, your pastime is fathomless).
I was astonished by this and asked him to tell me more. He answered, “I am a Muslim. The ring reveals that you too are a Muslim.” I asked him again, “How did you make this out?”. He said, “Can you read Arabic?” When I answered in the negative, he clarified, “It is inscribed in the middle all in green.” I further asked, “What is the meaning of the inscription?” He answered: “It is ‘Allah’ in Arabic.”
At that time I came to know that Baba has inscribed the word “Allah” in the centre of the green emerald stone. I had asked Baba for my religion, and Baba blessed me in this wonderful manner! Who else but Allah that can Say, ‘Be’ and It is! To Him we bow down in worship.
I have not come to speak on behalf of any particular religion. I have not come on any mission of publicity for any sect or creed or cause; nor have I come to collect followers for any doctrine. I have no plan to attract disciples or devotees into My fold or any fold. I have come to tell you of this Universal unitary faith, this Atmic principle (principle of the Oneness), this path of love, this Dharma of Prema (nature of love), this duty of love, this obligation to love.” – Sri Sathya Sai Baba “Each should practice his own religion sincerely. A Christian should be a good Christian. A Hindu should be a good Hindu. A Muslim should be a good Muslim. Let each one be a true practitioner of his religion” – Sri Sathya Sai Baba
“Each should practice his own religion sincerely. A Christian should be a good Christian. A Hindu should be a good Hindu. A Muslim should be a good Muslim. Let each one be a true practitioner of his religion” – Sri Sathya Sai Baba
“All who in a spirit of surrender and dedication, live in peace and harmony in society, do really speaking, belong to Islam. Because Islam means surrender to God.”