¤ An Introduction
On the surface, Islam seems as dissimilar to Hinduism as chalk and
cheese. After all, Hinduism evolved gradually as a way of life while
Islam was founded by a historical person, the Prophet Mohammad.
According to Hindu mythology, Hinduism icons the existence of many
God and Goddesses all manifestation of Lord Bhrama - the creator of
the Universe, Lord Vishnu - the preserver and Lord Shiva - the
destructor. Islam strictly adheres to the concept of one god. Hindus
worship painted and sculpted images of their gods; Muslims regard
idolatry as the most grievous sin.
While the Hindu temple is enclosed on three sides and there is an air
of mystery in the dark inner sanctum, the Muslim mosque is open on all
sides, exposed to light and air. While Hindus agree that a person
cannot become a Hindu, Muslims regard the conversion of non-Muslims as
a meritorious deed.
¤ Hindu Islamic- The Two Religions Co-existed
This said, it is amazing to note the extent to which these two
religions have entwined. For all those who harp upon the differences,
a look down history will show that Muslims are very much a part of
India and well-integrated into our social fabric. Whether its
art, craft, architecture, poetry, music, dance or such towering
personalities as Kabir, Nanak, Rumi, Amir Khusrau and Akbar, they are
all proof that these two religions can and have co-existed.
¤ The Advent of Islam
Islamic influence first came to be felt in the 7th
century with the advent of Arab traders. This was followed by sporadic
raids into India by Muslim traders, but the first Muslim kingdom was
established in Delhi at the end of the 12th century.
The Muslims gradually spread their rule to the south and the east.
During the reign of Alauddin Khilji, only the southern part of India
remained outside their power. With the coming of the Mughals in 1506,
Islam seeped deeper into India. Akbars (1556-1605) policy of
religious tolerance brought the Hindus and Muslims still closer
¤ The Five Pillars of Islam
A good Muslim is to assert that There is no God but Allah, and
Mohammad is his Prophet.
The devout should pray, preferably five times a day.
Acts of charity should be performed.
A fast must be observed from dawn to dusk throughout the month of
Ramadan. The Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims because the Prophet
received his divine revelation in this month.
A pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during ones lifetime is a
Islam does not celebrate a number of festivals like Hinduism
does. The festivals are few and far between and frankly there isnt
much to see except on the occasion of Muharram, which is actually not
a joyous event at all.
An urs is usually the birthday of a Sufi saint which is celebrated at
the grave or dargah of the saint. Some of Indias most venerated
sufis are Salim Chishti in Fatehpur-Sikri (Uttar Pradesh), Moin-ud-din
Chishti in Ajmer (Rajasthan) and Nizam-ud-din Auliya in Delhi. The urs
at their dargahs are often an occasion for melas (fairs), qawwalis
(hymns in praise of Allah and his prophet Muhammad) and much frenetic
Id is celebrated twice very year and the two are separately referred
to as Id-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Zuha (Bakr-Id, when goats are
traditionally slaughtered to make special preparations). Id-ul-Fitr
marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. Id-ul-Zuha
commemorates Abrahams attempt to sacrifice his son.
Muharram mourns the murder of Imam Hussain, grandson of the Prophet,
at Karbala. Though it is an occasion for mourning, a colorful memorial
procession is led through the streets of Delhi, Agra, Lucknow and
Hyderabad, to name a few.
Decorated and brightly colored tazias of bamboo and paper are carried
as replicas of the martyrs tomb. The procession proceeds to the
frenzied beating of drums and heart-renting cries of Hussain,
Hussain ! A peculiar practice here is that young men armed with
leather whips often lash themselves repeatedly.