The Balance Has To Be Just Right
Faith, God, And Religion
Unlike most scientists, the French philosopher, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal always offered a pragmatic reason for believing in God. He argued that a rational person should accept that God does exist, because if you are right, you have everything to gain. If you are wrong, you have nothing to lose, a principle that my husband Shanker also religiously follows.
But faith means believing in something you can’t know for sure is real, and that’s why we sometimes struggle with our beliefs. But think about it. If gravity were a little more powerful, the universe would collapse into a ball. If it was a little less, all the stars and planets would be flying about.
The balance has to be just right. Perhaps this particular precision, this steady sense of symmetry, is what makes it logical for us to conclude that there has to be a Creator.
However, God and Religion are entirely different. If you don’t believe me, just look around. Sometimes it actually feels like what is spinning on its axis is not a planet we inhabit, but a global mental hospital run by a bunch of lunatics.
So, what is religion? Whatever it is, it sure isn’t a commodity that an infant can go around scouting for, hoping to find it in an assorted cookie jar. It’s a sacred legacy handed down from your forefathers and conditioned into your childhood so you grow up thinking you were born along with it. You get so profoundly, physically, mentally and emotionally addicted to a certain way of life, that there’s no room to think otherwise.
So when anyone asks what religion I belong to, without a second thought I say that I am a Muslim. But if I jog my rational grey cells for a while there are multiple possibilities.
If I reflect on a broader spectrum, which lineage do I really belong to? Who are my progenitors? Have I evolved from those primal uncultivated species that carved their thoughts, their fears and their religions into caves?
Was I a direct descendent of Aadam and Hawwa? Was I a product of one of those organisms that germinated, pulsated and disseminated across the earth? Or was I a spin-off of the matter, created in a cosmic explosion billions of years ago?
When anyone questions us (my husband and I) about whether he converted to Islam or I to Hinduism, I find it even strange. What do they think we are, some flashy sports convertibles?
Converting for convenience’s sake may have been a reason for societal acceptance once, but with the torturous way religion has taken a turn in the past few years, it feels more like a show of dumb charades. Moreover, with all the mass conversions, the re-conversions and the re-re-conversions that besieged our country time and again, where is the point of a re-re-re-conversion? Who knows who our forefathers were?
The last time I traced my roots (with the help of an App) it pointed to a British branch. Had I had dug deeper my forefathers could easily have been Hindus, who converted to Islam, who reconverted to Christianity and who ‘re-re-reconverted’ back to Islam again. Who knows? Who cares?
According to me, the entire human race is bound by a single chain and we all are a group of convoluted converts. Does it really matter ‘when’ and ‘where’ we became ‘what’?
So unless Shanker and I invent a time machine, go back in history, to the Palaeolithic or Neolithic ages, or pay a visit to Darwin and discuss unravelling the mysteries of creation, I’m afraid our religion will always be a mystery. But guess what? It isn’t, because we never let the world outside cheapen our gifts of reasoning.
We both know what religion we belong to. We are absolutely sure of it because we were lucky enough to be born into families that first and foremost practiced Humanity as Religion and believed Truth to be God.
Shanker is an agnostic. Whatever little I have grasped of my other religion (the one that society expects me to follow) has been ingrained in me through my father’s sound reasoning. The primal fact is that Islam denotes Peace.
What it dictates is how to live an unpretentious life that claims equality to all and subjugation to one- the Supreme Being. That’s all I know. That’s all I need to know.
What every ‘Mohammedan’ is supposed to do is to follow the kind of existence Prophet Mohammed led. Something I’m afraid is not as simple in modern times, especially when a sea of centuries separates the time span.
The greetings ‘Assalam alaikum’ and ‘Khuda Hafiz’ carry no religious undertones. They simply mean ‘Peace be with you’ and ‘God be with you’. Period.
So when the world questions us about the religion our children follow, the answer is also simple. Since faith is an innate inheritance, we have naturally passed on our faithful legacy to them and sincerely hope they pass it on to their children.
As long as the future generations continue not to debase Humanity they will all be true to their Religion. And as long as they continue to believe in Truth, they will always be true to their God!
As long as our planet keeps orbiting around the sun and does not float around aimlessly, there is still hope. All we need is some wise heads on earth to come together with the right balance of power.
On our part we can only join our hands to applaud, and pray to the One who amidst all the negative and positive energies, somehow manages to balance our Universe with just the right amount of equilibrium. Let us invoke Him to send some sensible and learned leaders who can overpower all the devious, crafty, Artful Dodgers, and finally bring about a New World Order!
Views expressed here are the writer’s own.