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Sacred Cities and Sadus’ Interpretations

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A common question among many who possess a little knowledge of Islam is, why no non-Muslims allowed in Makka and Madina, two most sacred cities of Islam.  The instant answer, that goes usually is, what business do they have in these cities? Picnic? Leisure? Official? Religious visit?  Absolutely no need exists for a non-Muslim to travel to these cities.  In the first place, they have never been tourist attractions, neither for Muslims nor for others.  And for that matter, Muslims never travel there for the purpose of merry-making.  They are meant for pure and focused worship of Allah alone.

The Qur’an has very explicitly proclaimed that polytheists are not allowed in the precincts of these holy cities,  “Believers, those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity are unclean. So, after the expiry of this year, let them not even go near the Sacred Mosque” (Surah Al Tawba:28)

The above prohibition came into effect in the year 9 H, one year after the bloodless conquer of Makkah(Fatah Makka).  Until that time the performance of Hajj had remained polluted with practices of ignorance, to the filthy extend that men and women used to circulate the Ka’bah in the state of nudity.    When the message of Islam through its dynamic persuasive style penetrated the hearts of Makkan polytheists, they renounced their beliefs and embraced Islam.  With their own hands destroyed their former gods and cleansed the city for Tawheed (Monotheism).  The above declaration foremost meant for them not to return to the past.  The beautiful part history has recorded was that the Makkans themselves voluntarily cleansed the city of polytheism.

 

The conclusion is, Makkah and Madina are exclusive enclaves for the worship of Allah Almighty. No coercion was adopted at any time of the history to grant them this exclusivity.

 

Islam has never been intolerant to other religions.  Among numerous Qur’anic and Hadith injunctions on this subject, we bring only one below:

 

Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) said,

 

He who unfairly treats a non-Muslim who keeps a peace treaty with Muslims, or undermines his rights or burdens him beyond his capacity, or takes something from him without his consent; then I am his opponent on the Day of Judgment. (Abu Dawud)

A glamorous aspect of Islam’s tolerance was the way Khalifa Umar (R.A) behaved with Christians on the heels of Jerusalem’s conquest.  No history book can escape the truth of this episode.   The Christian officials of Jerusalem urged him to spread his carpet(For prayers) in the Church (of the Holy Sepulchre) itself, but he refused saying that some of the ignorant Muslims after him might claim the Church and convert it into a mosque because he had once prayed there. He had his carpet carried to the top of the steps outside the church, to the spot where the Mosque of Umar now stands.

 

Established history shows, so long as Muslims were truly practicing Islam they were tolerant to other faiths.  As the Qur’an says, there is no compulsion in religion, because Truth stands out clear from error.  Man has been given the faculty to distinguish right from wrong, hence true Muslims believed the need for coercing people to accept Islam does not exist at all.   Nevertheless, it is true there were scattered incidents of coercion by some ignorant followers.  The religion of Islam is not responsible for their rash actions.

 

Coming to the issue of sacred area of Dambulla Rajamaha Vihara, Sri Lankan Buddhists have every right to preserve the sacredness of their religion.  The issue should be viewed more objectively.  Did  lord Buddha or true Buddhist scriptures encourage violence as a means for acquiring a sacred area for his worship?  Can the Ven Sadus and their followers who are fighting so valiantly, put their hands in their chests and say that their effort is purely for the worship and preservation of Buddhism, devoid of any vested commercial interests?  Has religious bias and jealousy of Islamic practices played any role in pushing these followers against the worshippers at Masjidul Khaira? Have they thought for a moment how many liquor bars, kasippu dens, brothels in the guise of massage parlour and other arrangements for promoting promiscuous  behaviour are in operation in one of Sri Lanka’s finest tourism destinations neighbouring the sacred areas?  Do they think, infringing the religious rights of other people and hurting their sensitivities are lesser evil than fighting against the social evils that eat into every Sri Lankan’s family lives?

 

Is damaging social cohesion Buddhism?  Many Buddhist scholars have declared it is not Buddhism, but Sinhala chauvinism.

 

We quote Late Ven.  Dr. K. Sri Dammananda Thero on lord Buddha’s advice to Bhikkhus on compassion and tolerance:

 

Go ye, O Bhikkhus, and wander forth for the gain of the many, for the welfare of the many, in compassion for the world; for the good, for the gain, for the welfare of gods and men. Proclaim, O Bhikkhus, the sublime doctrine, preach ye a life of holiness, perfect and pure.'

Let us ponder over before another volcano of ethnic strife erupt.

Courtesy: ' THE TREND'  (Magazine) Gateway to Alternative Views

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