11:00 AM, Sunday, May 3, 2009
Talk on : Religion, Islam and Sunni/Shia Muslims
Coit Road, Richardson
It was a pleasure to be a part of speakers on different faith at Unity Church, folks there are representative of Moderate Americans, like the Moderate Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Bahais, Buddhists and others who simply want to get along with all and beleive in live and let live.
My topic was on Islam with a focus on the difference between Shia and Sunni traditions.
Here was my program and if time permits, will elaborate on each one of the items.
Regardless of Evolution or Creation
Life and matter came into being, we exist, don’t we?
Life and matter is about balance; every thing that came out of the big bang theory or through intentional creation seeks its own balance. Everything be it matter or life, has a built-in mechanism to seeks its own balance.When it comes to matter, there is something that keeps the planets circumambulating around the Sun, that there is something that keeps the stars hung in a place. There is something that keeps the earth have its own precise balance. They are all put on a trajectory, they don’t have to think or work for the balance. Do we have a precise word to describe that 'something‘? For the sake of convenience, let’s call that 'something' a God?
Unlike the matter, human life was not put on a trajectory; we were not put on a plan to circumambulate around the Sun, or be hung in one place. We were given the freedom to create our own balance. Whether we believe in God or not, we still seek that balance.Friends, God loves his creation just as each one of us loves what we create, be it the food we cook, the clothes we wear, the paintings we paint or sculptures we sculpt.
God has reached out to every soul… a Just God Existence is based on solutions, when things to go wrong in a discussion group…. There is always one who fixes it..
ORIGINS OF RELIGION
It is the love of the creator that gave each one of us, each community, each nation and each tribe a “formula” to live in peace within ourselves and with what surround us.
God communicated that formula through the spiritual masters in the form of scriptures like Torah, Bible, Qur’aan, Bhagvad Gita, Avesta and other scriptures including the oral traditions.
Indeed, God has reached to every one of us and has offered that formula – to seek a balance for ourselves and a balance for what surrounds us; life and the environment.
Quraan says in 49:17
God is about love, kindness and justice.
God has indeed reached every one of us and has offered that formula – to seek a balance for ourselves and a balance for what surrounds us; life and the environment.The bottom line is Balance.
If we were to commission Mr. Spock from the movie Star Trek and ask him to study the essence of religion.. He would define;
Religion is a mechanism where individuals find answers to their fears and apprehensions with a belief in a super being. Answers what happens to justice, when it is not served in our life time.
Every Religion teaches one to have a balance within oneself and what surrounds; life and matter.
TO BE RELIGIOUS
To be religious Is to mitigate conflicts and nurture good will.
Nature is intentionally diverse, remember each aspect of creation is different, if we can accept the otherness of the other, and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the seven billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge..
And that would be a peaceful abode on the earth.. That is when we can say that the world is one place; one nation; and one people. Again, we have to accept the otherness of other and respect the uniqueness of the other.
To be spiritual or to be religious is to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill.
Earlier on I said, God has reached out to every living soul and, through the Spiritual masters who delivered a formula to live in peace with oneself and with what surrounds; life and matter.
Islam fits right-in along with other formulas, each formula, each religion is valid on its own.
Muslims do not consider Islam to be a new religion, they believe it is continuation of what God had suggested to different people in different places. What Abraham, Moses, David and several others taught was updated and given to Muhammad.
His message was simple – Belief in God and Justice is the basis for creating peaceful societies.
In one word it is Justice.
When there is justice, there will be a sense of safety and peace. If no one takes advantage of other, one feels safe and secure… that generates peace and goodwill.
If there is justice between spouses, family members, communities and nations, the peace is certain. God does not want any thing more; he wants his creation to live in peace and harmony.
When Justice is compromised for our own selfish reasons, the balance gets affected.. The oppressed and the oppressor will not have peace for a while… they both are afraid of their own conscience or what other might do to them.
ESSENCE OF ISLAM
The essence of Islam: Justice for every human being under one God (Universe is the only creation we know)
The Qur'aan starts with the word "God of Universe" (not necessarily Muslims) and ends with "Humankind" (and again not Muslims). As such it is understood that God, the cause behind creation of life and matter belongs to all of us. No one owns him (her or it) nor does one group has an exclusive favors over the other.
The creator is about Justice and Balance…will offer equal opportunities to all.
God will not sign a deal with any religious group behind our backs; who wants a God like that?
Islam teaches one to be non-judgmental, and consistently encourages individuals to do good. It emphasizes about individual responsibility towards the peace and security of society at large.
Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) described a good deed as an act which benefits others, such as planting a tree that serves generations of wayfarers with fruit and the shade.
The world is a better place today because of a good legacy bequeathed to humanity by people of all faiths that came before us. We owe it to coming generations to leave the world a little better than we found it, to usher an era of justice and peace.
ORIGINS OF ISLAM
Technically Islam is not a new religion, nor was it ever claimed. Prophet Muhammad said It is a continuation of what Abraham, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and other great spiritual masters taught.
However Islam as a distinct identifiable religion began in 712 AD, when Muhammad received a revelation from God that, it is his duty now to go and let the world know about an eternal God, who cannot be confined into images or words or gender or a being. Prophet Muhammad was the messenger of that message.
There is only one truth – we were all caused by a single event, or created by God, when God said “let it happen, it happened.”
The essence of Islam: Creating a Just society. (Universe is the only creation we know)
The Qur'aan starts with the word الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبِّ Sura Al-Fatiha 1:2 All praise is due to God alone, the Sustainer of all the worlds, "God of Universe" (not an exclusive)
and ends with قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ (114:1) An-Nas (The Mankind) 114:1 SAY: "I seek refuge with the Sustainer of men, "Humankind" (and again not Muslims).
It is understood that God, the cause behind creation of life and matter belongs to all of us. No one owns him (her or it) nor does one group has an exclusive favors over the other. The creator will offer equal opportunities to all and will not sign a deal behind one's back with the other.
WITH PREJUDICE TOWARDS NONE
Almost all Muslims are cognizant and repeat the verse مَـالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ (1:4) Al-Fatiha - Lord of the Day of Judgment! مَـالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ (1:4)
“God is the master of the Day of Judgment, and he alone we worship”. A fully observant Muslim recites this verse at least 50 times a day.
The idea is to inculcate the values to accept the otherness of other and refrains from judging others, as he or she believes God only can make that call.
There is no compulsion in the matters of faith, say the Qur'aan.
Islam emphasizes on Individual responsibility for one’s words and actions.
Prophet’s comment to his daughter about responsibility.
Qur'an, Al-An'am, Surah 6:163-164: All people will reap the harvest of their own deeds; no one will bear another’s burden. Ultimately, all of you will return to your Lord, and he will resolve your disputes. Al-An'am لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ وَبِذَلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَاْ أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ (6:163) Then Al-Anam 6:164 Say: “ And whatever [wrong] any human being commits rests upon himself alone; and no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another's burden.  And, in time, unto your Sustainer you all must return: and then He will make you. [truly] understand all that on which you were wont to differ. 
Islam is indeed a pluralistic faith and imbues a sense of humility and ideals of equality of humankind. These values are embedded in its rituals practices. All people harvest their own deeds.
He fashioned each one of you--and each one of you is beautiful. To God you will all return. He knows all that the heavens and the earth contain. He knows all that you hide and all that you reveal. He knows your deepest thoughts. At-Taghabun (Loss and Gain) 64:1 ALL THAT IS in the heavens and all that is on earth extols God's limitless glory: His is all dominion, and to Him all praise is due; and He has the power to will anything – Had he willed all of us would have been Christians, M, J, H..
The Madinah pact, It was an all inclusive agreement between the Jews, Christians, Sabeans, Quraish, Muslims and other tribes for a peaceful co-existence. An example was set for a pluralistic society in documenting the rights of individuals.
FREEDOM OF THOUGHT
RITUALS IN ISLAM
Rituals are the path markers to spirituality, whether you to Yoga, Meditation or any other activity… the ultimate goal is well being of the person. Islam has laid out pathways to the followers to reach - Piety and humility through the following rituals;
1. Faith – everything starts with a belief
2. Prayer – piety, humility, arrogance
3. Fasting – self discipline
4. Zakat – things belong to God, trustee…
5. Haj – Large scale equalizer
Belief in God,
Prophets – from Adam to Muhammad
Day of Judgment – accountability
Muhammad was born in 671 in Mecca, a city in Saudi Arabia. Early on in his childhood, he earned the reputation for being honest and truthful.
Like Gautama Buddha he pondered about the purpose of life and often went in to caves to have moments of solitude to reflect upon.
One day when he was 40, angel Gabriel came to him in the cave and Muhammad felt an extraordinary presence of super natural phenomena, Just as Moses saw the fire in the Brush……. Gabriel, asked him to recite… Muhammad was illiterate, just as Moses was and finally he did. He went and told his cousin Ali about it, who believed in him, then his wife Khadija believed in him and took him to the Christians and Jewish Scholars.. Who acknowledge that this was the man predicted…earlier – Karen Armstrong’s Book…
Are those individuals who submit to the will of God.
When Jesus said, follow me, Krishna said surrender to me.. They meant the same thing as submitting to the will of God in Islam.
What does God will?
He simply wants his creation to live in peace and harmony. He wants us to have the freedom to make the right choices in mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill.
It may come as a surprise to many of you… that there is no clergy in Islam.
Prophet Muhammad in his last sermon made a clear declaration “ Oh people, I am leaving behind two things for you – Qur’aan and my examples”.
He said the religion was complete and you are on your own. There is no clergy in Islam… however, there are always individuals who proclaim to be “more” knowledgeable and take over things.. You see that happening in every aspect of life.
The simple truth is; it is you who will bear the burden of anxieties, apprehensions from what you say and do… not the clergy, not your parents or kids.
SUNNI & SHIA
After the last sermon – Ghadeer Khom
Last Sermon – book, example and Family
Division Upon Prophet’s death
Like all denominations, they started out with a small difference, over the years, reems of work is asserted to show the difference and the chasm grows deeper and wider. However, the difference affects only a small group of people who do not grasp the essence of their faith.
Finding the truth is your own responsibility… what you see on TV or hear on Radio… is propaganda to malign the other… you may have witnessed that even against Unity Church.
Religion was given to each one of the 7 billion of us to make us a better being, most of us get it no matter what faith you practice and a few don’t get it.
A few Residents of your city violate the traffic rules, do evil things, murder people....
people wearing faith badges violate their faith as well.
That does not make the city a bad City or a religion a bad religion. Individuals commit crimes and we need to make them accountable and not their faith or their City. Blaming the City or the Religion does not do a thing, blaming the individual allows to bring justice to the society.
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