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Islam:

Patriotism in Islam

No man is an island. He is born in some nook and corner in some part of the earth. Hence, he is part and parcel of this earth, which is divided into countries and continents. It is the birthright of man to be faithful, honest and love his country of birth.

In Islam patriotism is a part of faith. One must love his land of birth. Dedicate himself to its glory. Toil and moil for its development and if necessary and if the situation demands sacrifice one’s life to his country.

The Holy Prophet of Islam said “Hubbul Wathani Minal Iman” patriotism is a part of faith. Hence it is obligatory on the believers as Muslims to be patriotic and conscious of their duty towards their country.

In the Holy Quran Almighty Allah says “O, you, who believe, obey Allah, obey the prophet and obey those who are at the helm of affairs”.

In a family the father, in a school the principal, in a mosque the imam, in a village the headman, in a country the head of State, in Islamic law the grand Mufthi and similar position of power of those who are at the helm of affairs. It is our bounden duty to obey and act accordingly.

Patriotism signifies the emotional discipline of an individual to his country. History records many incidents of patriotic deeds of Muslims. J. H. Dennison in his book entitled “Emotions the basis of civilization” encounts many incidents of Patriotism. In Muslim India, Tippu Sulthan the ruler displayed courage to fight against the British ruler and sacrificed his life for his country.

In a significant incident in Islam prophet Muhammed (sal) when He was forced to leave his birthplace, he said “O Mecca, city of my birth, I do not want to leave you. But I am forced to, I love you so much and I will return to you victorious”.

He did so later. Sir. William Muirin his books Muhammed at Mecca and Muhammed at Medina says “The magnanimity in which Muhammed treated his people after their defeat has no parallel in history”.

Muhammed bin Cassim who brought Islam to India was a true patriot who worked for the greater glory of India. Islamic brotherhood is universal and this attachment does not prevent Muslims from Patriotic feelings.

Even though Allama Mohamed Iqbal the celebrated poet said, “China and Arab are ours, India is ours, being Muslims the entire world is ours” this feeling did not prevent Muslims from loving their country of birth.

The feeling of patriotism is well displayed in sports, competition and similar situations, when our own country plays or participates in such events we find patriotism at the best and Sri Lankans in particular exhibit enthusiastic patriotism - be they Muslim or not.

Earlier Muslims were ambassadors of faith and went beyond the seas on trade and commerce yet they choose their country of living as their birth and were faithful. It is interesting to observe that one lakh and forty thousand Sahabas of the prophet (sal) only thirty thousand were buried in Medina and the rest went around the world as true patriots and are buried elsewhere their patriotic emotions are unwept, unhonoured and unsung.


Hinduism:

Deepavali the festival of lights

Deepavali (The festival of lights). Throughout the world all Hindus celebrate Deepavali with great pomp and enthusiasm. This is the great festival honouring Mother Lakshmi (goddess of wealth).

The historic origins of some of the various Hindu festivals revolve around their special significance for each of the four castes. Sravan is primarily a festive month for the Brahmins (priests). Dassera (Vijay Dashmi) is a festival primarily for the Kshatriyas (warriors).

Holi is a festival primarily for the Sudras and Deepavali is a festival primarily for the Vaisyas. These distinctions are not rigid and generally all Hindus participate and celebrate all these festivals.

Lead us from falsehood to truth; from darkness to light; from death to immortality and from lethargy to activity. The essential principle of Vedic culture is eternal, universal and is applicable to the past, present and the future.

The alternate for the Vedic culture is Human culture or Universal culture. Where the aspects of human personality are fourfold: there are four goals of life (dharma, artha, kama and moksha); four Yogas (karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga and gnana yoga); four Vedas (Rig Veda, Sam Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda); four ashramas (Brahmacharyashrama, Grahasthashrama, Vanprasthashrama and Sanyasashrama; four Varnas (Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra); four yugas (Krata yuga, Treta yuga, Dwapar yuga and Kali yuga).

There are also four universally observed parvas (festivals) namely Shravani Upakarma, Vijaydashami, Deepavali and Holi. Parva means a link that joins two things. It is that link on which the skeleton stands. The joints of a man’s skeleton are, therefore, called parvas.

It is with the help of these that an individual can stand, can sit, can bend and can lunge. Without these joints man would be stiff and not be able to make any movements. Likewise is the state of nations and societies, the framework of which is based on parvas (festivals). Without these parvas society would have collapsed a long time ago.

These four festivals commence with Upakarma (Raksha-bandhan) and end with Holi. The four festivals are associated with four different goddesses. Raksha-bandhan is associated with Goddess Saraswati (the goddess of education); Vijaydashami with Shakti (goddess of power); Holi with Prasannata (goddess of joy) and Deepavali is associated with Lakshmi (goddess of wealth).

Raksha-bandhan or Shravani is directed at spiritual education, Vijaydashami at military education, Deepavali at economic education and Holi at cultural education of the masses. As long as humanity is not moved with inner satisfaction and joy so long there would exist defects in the imparting of spiritual, economic and cultural education.

According to Vedic culture the message of Asato ma sad gamaya (lead us from falsehood to truth) through the parva of Shravani; of Mrityorma amritam gamaya (from death to immortality) through the parva of Vijaydashami; of Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya (from darkness to light) through the parva of Deepavali; and of Alasyatma shrama gamaya (from lethargy to activity) through the parva of Holi, is conveyed to the masses.

According to the Vedic culture, the message from darkness unto light is given through the festival of Deepavali to all peoples of the world. During the night of Deepavali the myriads of little clay lamps (dias) seem to silently send forth Deepavali messages: Come let us remove darkness from the face of the earth.

This is not the work to be done by one dia or by one individual. It requires collective effort. In the diffusion of light the question of high and low is forgotten. This is the lesson taught by both small and big dias.

The second message of the burning dias is to destroy the difference between rich and poor- the destruction of discrimination based on poverty and wealth.

The burning dia, whether in a palatial bungalow or in a grass hut, is a symbol of this unity. The wall of separation based on economic status cannot prevent the penetration and spread of the light of the dia.

The third message of the burning dias of Deepavali is to kindle the extinguished lights of our neighbours. Let us find out what is needed- whether there is a shortage of wick or oil- and just by a little help the neighbour’s lamps can be lit. One dia can light several others. A little charity can bring joy to countless others.

The row of lamps teach yet another lesson and that is of unity as exemplified in Satyam, Shivam Sundaram- Truth, Joy and Beauty.

The lights of Deepavali are displayed at the entrance doors, by the walls of houses, in the streets and lanes. This means that the inner spiritual light of the individual must be reflected outside. Passersby may thereby be prevented from stumbling on their way to reach their destination.

The lights of the dias on earth beckon the lights in the firmaments to descend upon earth and establish the heavenly kingdom of God for the welfare of the human race.

Feeding empty stomachs, lighting blown-out dias and providing cheer and joy amongst the downtrodden is to enter the true spirit of Deepavali. This is the true prayer to Lakshmi Devi.

The significance of all these five religious days, in short, is as follows: Dhan Teras- This is a day on which Lakshmi-poojan (worship of the goddess of wealth) is performed. Sages gave to wealth the status of a holy mother. Wealth is popularly regarded as fickle. A person may well be wealthy today and could be dispossesed tomorrow.

However, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth is not fickle. The fickleness lies in the human mind. The mental attitude of a wealthy person undergoes tremendous change. Wealth gives a feeling of power.

When used properly, it can benefit humanity. If misused, it could become a means of exploitation and a cause of misery. If one regards wealth only as a means of personal enjoyment, human morality will deteriorate due to unbridled indulgence.

Rishis teach us to regard wealth as a pious gift from God and as such must be utilised with the utmost respect and discrimination.

Navu Varsha (Vikram New Year)

This being the first day of a new calendar year (Vikram New Year). On this day new-year resolutions are made.

Traditionally, people greet friends and relatives either personally or at the temples where a havan is ceremoniously performed. In these modern times, greetings and well-wishing about health, prosperity and happiness, are exchanged by e-mails, telephone and by means of attractive and colourful Diwali-cards.

Bhai-Beej

Bhai-Beej is a day on which all married sisters will invite their brothers for meals. The sisters will wish their brothers longevity, health, prosperity and happiness, thereby also renewing their affection.

Thus Deepavali must be understood in its wider context. The festival of lights does not simply mean lighting lamps. Hearts must be enlightened with goodwill for peaceful co-existence with fellow human beings and the rest of creation. Enlightenment (light of knowledge) leads to the dispelling of spiritual ignorance.

The illuminations and fireworks, joy and festivities, are to signify the victory of divine forces over those of wickedness. On Deepavali day, triumphant Sri Ram returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana, the demon of Lanka. On Deepavali day, we celebrate the marriage of Goddess Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu.

On this day also Lord Krishna killed the demon Narkasur.

On Deepavali day, everyone forgets and forgives the wrongs done by others. There is an air of freedom, festivity and friendliness everywhere. This festival brings about unity. It instills charity in the hearts of the people.

In a happy mood of great rejoicing, village folks move about freely, mixing with one another, all enmity being forgotten. They embrace one another with love. Deepavali is a great unifying force. The holy vibrations produced by the greetings of love fill the atmosphere, and are powerful enough to bring about a change of heart in every man and woman in the world.

On Deepavali day, merchants open their new account books and pray for success and prosperity during the coming year. The homes are cleaned and decorated by day and illuminated at night.

During Deepavali festival is celebrated the Govardhan Puja signifying the Govardhan episode in Sri Krishna`s life, and also anna koot (heap of grains and foods) conveying affluence and prosperity; and feeding the poor on a large scale.

The light reflected in the individual mind is the soul. The light reflected in the cosmic mind is the universal spirit. The microcosm and the macrocosm. Beyond both the individual and the cosmic is the one light of infinite spirit beyond name and form. The infinite consciousness is beyond all form and beyond all personality. This is the ultimate Reality.

For the ultimate Reality of infinite inner Consciousness, the best symbol is light.

The light of lights, the self-luminous inner light of the self is ever shining steadily in the chamber of your heart. Sit still, close the eyes, withdraw the senses. Fix the mind on this Supreme light and enjoy the real Deepavali, by attaining inner illumination. Wake up from the slumber of ignorance through meditation and self inquiry. Realise the constant and eternal light of the soul.

“The self is self luminous being pure Consciousness. The cognition of all objects arises from the light of pure Consciousness.” -Brhadaranyaka Upanishad.

May we attain perfect inner illumination. May the Supreme light of lights enlighten our understanding. May we attain the inexhaustible spiritual wealth of the eternal, all pervading Self.

May we all prosper gloriously on the material as well as on the spiritual planes.


Embryological development of the eyes as mentioned in the Holy Quran

The Holy Quaran contains clear and scientific references to embryology. The following Quarnic verses refer to the development of the eyes:

“It is he who created for you the faculties of hearing seeing, feeling and understanding (yet) how seldom are you grateful.” (Quran 23: 78)

“And God has brought you forth from your mothers’ wombs knowing nothing - but He has endowed you with hearing, sight and minds so that you may be grateful: (Sura 16: 78)

Many Quarnic Ayas (verses) mention the faculties of hearing and sight as gifts from the benevolent God. It also stresses that we acquire our knowledge via these channels to the minds.

It contradicts Plato’s philosophy which claims that we are born with already innate knowledge.

The above Quarnic Ayas emphatically stress that man is brought forth from his mother’s womb knowing nothing. He acquires knowledge through his senses mainly visual and auditory. The mind grasps, arranges and comprehends these sensations. The creation of eye is a remarkable example of the interaction between the developing brain and the thin skin of the embryo.

(Lennart Nilsson: ‘A child is born’ P-92)

First, the anterior part of the brain sends out a hollow stem on each side, on the 22nd day. This stem is called the optic stalk. The end of the stem bulges forming a vesicle, which when approaching the surface become invaginated forming the optic cup.

The cup is made up of two layers, separated by a lumen called the intra retinal space. With further development the lumen disappears and the two layers are then opposed to each other.”

(Longman medical embryology -

P-368)

Along the invagination which extends from the cup to the stalk runs the hyaloid artery. The groove is known as the choroid fissure. During the seventh week lips of the choroid fissure fuse and the mouth of the optic cup then becomes a round opening.

(Langman “Medical Embryology” p370)

Instructions (by the angel who enters the womb at 40th-42nd day according Hadith of the prophet (sal)) are forwarded to the surface ectoderm (the skin), “Make a lens!”. The skin then pinches off a bubble which is placed in the opening of the cup, forming lens”

(Lennart Nilsson A child is born-p92)

By the end of the seventh week, the nucleus of the lens is formed. (Lengman p372). This confirms with the Hadith of the prophet (sal) narrated by Muslim that angel enters the womb at 40th-42nd day and starts forming the different organs including the eye.

The surface ectoderm (the future skin) forms the cornea, a thin transparent curved part of the skin which covers the pupil in front of the lens.

On the front of the lens the iris grows from the edges inwards. The muscles of the iris which control the eye aperture, and the pupil are the only muscles of the body derived from ectoderm. All the muscles of the body are derived from mesoderm.

At the end of the fifth week, the eye primordium is completely surrounded by loose mesen chyme. After the sixth week (i.e - after the angel has entered the womb) this mesen chyme differentiates into i) a loose inner tissue which becomes highly vascularised and pigmented the choroid ii). a thick outer layer which forms selera.

The choroid is continuous with the piamater of the brain and the selera is continuous with the duramater (the thick covering of the brain).

The outer layer of the optic cup develops into the pigment layer of the retina, while the inner of the optic cup transforms into the rods and cones (the sensitive parts to light), the inner and outer nuclear layers and the ganglion cell layer. The ganglions are nerve cells, their fibres from the optic nerve which is connected to the brain.

These changes start at the seventh week of intra-uterine life, which agrees with the above mentioned Hadith of the Prophet Muhammed (sal) whereby an angel sets to work amazingly at the end of the sixth week and the beginning of the seventh week.

15 week embryo the eye is almost completely developed. The conjunctival sac is formed n front of the cornea. The lens is still laminar and the hyaloidatery is degenerating inside the vitreous body.

The choroid celera and retina are well established. Even the anterior chamber is recognisable at this stage. At four weeks, 4 mm, embryo. the eye cup, optic cup is derived from the ectoderm. At five weeks, (7-8 mm) dark pigment has already formed in the wall of the cup, forming the future retina.

At eight weeks (3 cm) the early eye lids are forming. The pigment of retina is shimmering through the developing lens and cornea. At 20 weeks (21 cm), the eye lids are formed and the eyes are closed. The eye lids appear at the 3rd month and open again during the 7th month.

The prophet (Peace be upon him) says: “ Glory be to God WHO split open my hearing and sight”, This Hadees confirms the above embryological development of the eyes.

A new born baby starts looking around. His eye registers the pictures like a camera and sends them to the brain to process them like a film that is processed in the photographer’s laboratory.

A newly born baby can see but cannot comprehend the pictures he sees because to discuss and comprehend the pictures is an elaborate complicated process of the brain, which takes time to grasp and learn.

Our eyes are not only the windows of our hearts but are the windows through which our brains acquire knowledge.

The Quranic Sura (Chapter) 78 says, “God has brought you forth from your mother’s womb knowing nothing, but he has endowed you with hearing sight and minds so that you may be grateful.”

Sometimes Allah may create a baby in a new shape He wishes, for instance there was a newly born baby with a congenital abnormality whereby both Orbits were joined, and there was only one median eye.

Here, two eye balls were connected in one orbit. The nose was not developed. Both cerebral hemispheres of the brain are united and underdeveloped. In this cyclops, one cerebral hemisphere, one optic nerve and no olfactory nerves were found at autopsy. But, the abnormal child died three days after delivery.

This is a rare type of congenital abnormality so that me may consider how God can shape man in any form He wishes. The following Quranic verse substantiates this type of creation: “In whatever form, He wills, does he put thee together” (Sura 82:8)

There are other congenital abnormalities, fortunately, these are very rare. The Quran refers to Allah’s creation of man in the beautiful form: “Verily, we create Man in the best conformation” (95:4)

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