There is no one, nor has ever been, on earth, who had died and come back to earth to testify that there is heaven and hell, or, for that matter, there is nothing like this. We can realise this here only with our knowledge derived from the most authentic source and wisdom that God has given us. This was the thought expressed by Mr. Iqbal Mulla, Secretary for Dawah Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) while setting the tone for an inter-faith Dialogue on “Concept of Salvation in Religions” held under the aegis of JIH at Rajendra Bhawan in the Capital on Mar 4.
Representatives of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam participated in the dialogue.
Speaking from the chair, Mr. Nusrat Ali, Secretary-General JIH, said people have different views on self-realisation and salvation.
“A number of individuals and groups are trying their level best to find the way for attainment of salvation. But sometimes the attempt is not made in the right direction. This is why the more they try, the more salvation becomes a distant dream for them,” he averred.
“In this physical world, we see that we get success when our efforts are in the right direction. To get success in the hereafter also, the same principle of success is applicable: God blesses a person with reward if his deeds prove worthy enough in the eyes of God, and if otherwise He punishes him,” Mr. Ali further said.
Justifying Prophethood, he said principles alone are not enough for a successful life; there must be someone who can play a role model for people to follow. This is why God sent Messengers in different regions and in all times, and perfected Islam – the way of life He liked – with His Last Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him). This He did because He is the Creator and it did not behove Him to leave man, His best creation, to wander about in search of the Ultimate Truth.
Mr. Ali also underlined the need of interfaith dialogue. He said: “Sometimes we get worried about different opinions. But if we are open-minded and are in search of the Ultimate Truth, we should bear this difference of opinion with utmost patience, particularly in a plural society like ours.”
Speaking on the concept of salvation in Hinduism, Prof. R.V. Tripathi, Vice-Chancellor Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi, said: “We want salvation of entire humanity. We want that every person on earth gets at least minimum requirement; only then we can get salvation.” However he contended that salvation cannot be explicitly expressed in words as there are varied sources of attainment of salvation.
In one of the sources of attainment of salvation, a person has to qualify three levels of the vertical structure of universe; these levels are empirical world, imaginary world and the spiritual world. And, it is only by qualifying one level after another that one can attain salvation, he stressed.
Representing Buddhism, Dr. Gyana D. Shakya said human life is full of problems. “If we overcome problems, we can get nirvana or salvation.” However he contended that every person cannot attain salvation.
In reply to a question on eating meat, he said the Buddhists do not kill living beings. “But people living in coastal areas where the only source of getting food items is the sea, the Buddhists have to live on the plants and fish that they get from the sea.”
“What is the use of religion when you are left with nothing to eat?” he further said, adding that as a Buddhist monk he does not eat meat but his counterpart in Thailand does. Thus he seemed to assert that the Buddhist prohibition of eating meat in not universal.
Speaking on Christian concept of salvation, Fr. D. Emmanual said the Bible is the history of salvation though it is a not a book of history. He also talked of what the Christians call the ‘original sin’. However, in reply to a question whether God forgave Adam and Eve for testing the forbidden fruit, he did say that God forgave them but could not clarify what was the need to carry on for centuries together the concept of ‘original sin’ when God had already forgiven Adam and Eve.
Representing Islam, Er. Muhammad Saleem, Secretary JIH, explained the meaning of the Arabic word ‘Islam’ as complete surrender to the will of God.
Er. Saleem said: “It is misunderstood that Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) was the founder of Islam while the fact remains that the foundation of Islam was laid down with the birth of Adam, who happened to be the first man on earth and also the first Messenger of God. This is enough to show that God has not left even a single man without guidance.”
Citing two verses of Surah Al-Mulk, he said God is the most powerful, who has put man on test here on earth, and the result of this test is reward or punishment in the hereafter as per the deeds of the individuals.
Real salvation lies in that our Creator is pleased with us, He forgives us and blesses us with Jannah. “If a person performs great deeds like establishing educational institutions, opening hospitals and other facilities for public welfare; but he does it all for his own name and fame and not for the sole intention of earning the pleasure of God, he cannot attain salvation,” he asserted.
A major highlight of the programme was release of two DVDs in Hindi: Islam Falah wa Nijat ka Rasta and Aadhi Duniya Khatre Mein. Both the DVDs have been produced by the Dawah Section of JIH; the former is on the concept of salvation while the other deals with solution to female foeticide in the light of different religions.