definition: par•a•digm (pār'ə-dīm', -dĭm')

3. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.

Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this blog is four-fold:
to recognize that every person functions within a basic paradigm, which affects how all information is processed;
(2) to understand the paradigms of others;
(3) to discuss, in particular, paradigms which are related to science, religion, and philosophy.

(4) to reveal the paradigm shifts in my own life, a process that has completely changed the direction and purpose of my existence.

The purpose of this blog is NOT to convince anyone that their paradigms or beliefs are correct or incorrect. I am hoping for an honest dialog, but the discussions must remain respectful of others, even if there is profound disagreement. If any comments are not respectful, they will be removed.
(Revised 1/13/09)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Comparison of 11 Different Religions - Part 2


Beginnings of Daoism
Ancient roots

Daoism can be traced back to Shamanism, which spread into Mongolia and China at least ten thousand years ago. Two mythological figures from those early days are the divine brother and sister Fu Hsi and Nu Kua. Together they created human progeny and created all aspects of civilization, such as writing, agriculture, medicine and astrology. They were the first two of the Three August Ones of Chinese mythology. Later came the Yellow Emperor, bringer of order and the first recorded ruler. Legend puts his rule around 2500 BC. He is revered as the one who introduced divine knowledge into human society, especially the arts of medicine.

Formal beginnings

The influence of the Shamans in ancient China waned from the beginning of the first millennium BCE. During this period the great Lao Zi is supposed to have lived, and written the Dao De Jing (Tao Te-Ching), the most important book of Daoist wisdom. Daoism was formally established as a religion under the East Han dynasty, about 2,000 years ago. Since then Daoism has been one of the main components of Chinese culture, and has exerted great influence on the Chinese way of thinking, working and acting.

The five religions of China

Daoism is one of the five recognised religions of China – the other four are Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism and Islam. Now the influence of Daoism has spread beyond the Chinese-speaking world to attract international interest.


Beginnings of Hinduism

The religion of India
Hinduism is the indigenous religion of India. It grew over thousands of years into a body of teaching and culture which we now call Hinduism, named after the Western word for India, formerly called Hind, the land on the other side of the Indus River. India’s own name for its religion is Sanatan Dharma which means the eternal occupation of the soul. Religion in India has always been a natural part of daily life: for the body the natural thing is to breathe and to eat, and for the soul the natural occupation is religion.

Early sources

Hinduism has no single founder. It evolved out of the rich culture of ancient India. Between 3000 and 1500 BC the Aryans migrated into India from present-day Iran. In Northern India they met a culture already well-established, with cities such as Mohenjo Daro in present-day Pakistan. In Southern India the Deccan culture flourished for 1500 years up to about 1000 BC. Early Hinduism developed out of these three cultures.

The Vedic hymns
The source of Hindu teaching is the Vedic hymns, poems passed down from ancient times by word of mouth, and written in the Sanskrit language in their earliest form around 1500 BC. Hindus believe the Vedas are the inspired word of God, delivered at the dawn of the universe to Brahma, the first created being. The central theme of these poems, expanded in other sacred writings, is the soul’s search for liberation from suffering, and ultimately for release from the cycle of birth and death.


Beginnings of Islam

The Prophet Muhammad was born in Makkah, in present-day Saudi Arabia, in 570 and grew up as a trader. At the age of 40 he had a visitation from the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel), who gave him messages from God. He told these messages to the people of Makkah, and some believed him and began to follow the teachings of God as revealed to Muhammad. He and his followers were forced to leave Makkah and travel to Medina, where they founded the first Muslim community in the year 622. The Muslim calendar dates from this journey, known as the Hijrah. After a few years Muhammad returned to Makkah with an army of supporters and re-entered the city. He died in 632.

The Qur’an
Muhammad continued receiving messages from God throughout the later part of his life. He memorised these messages and passed them on to his followers. After his death they were collected and written down in the Qur’an (Koran). The sayings and deeds of Muhammad were recorded in the Hadith. These two books are the source of guidance for all Muslims.

The Spread of Islam

Within the Prophet’s lifetime Islam covered most of the Arabian peninsular. In the following 100 years, Muslims conquered the Persian Empire and much of the Byzantine Empire to rule from North Africa and Spain to the borders of China. Many of the conquered peoples converted to Islam, although in some cases this took several centuries.Now there are more than 50 independent Muslim countries and there is a worldwide population of around 1,300 million Muslims.

Beginnings of Jainism

The founders of the ancient Jain religion were the 24 Tirthankaras most of whom lived before recorded history. Their name means ford-makers, who cross over the river of birth and death. These sages were also called jina, meaning spiritual victors, and their followers, who revere them and remember their examples, are called Jains.


The last of the 24 Tirthankaras was Mahavira, born around 540 BC. At the age of 30 he left home to wander as an ascetic and practice penance. After 12 years he found enlightenment and started teaching. He gathered hundreds of thousands of followers and divided them into four groups: monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen. By the 5th century BC the Jain religion was an influential force in Northern India.

Tattvartha Sutra

The most important Jain scripture is the Tattvartha Sutra, written in Sanskrit in the 2nd century AD. It summarises the entire Jain doctrine and remains the basis for Jain education to this day.

Jainism today

By the 12th century was in decline in India, making way for Hindus and Muslims, but it has remained strong mainly in Gujarat, Maharastra and Rajasthan, in the North-West of India, where more than 7 million Jains live today. Small communities live in Britain and America.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Comparison of 11 Different Religions - Part 1

There is an organization called the "Alliance of Religions and Conservation" (or ARC), which describes itself as "a secular body that helps the major religions of the world to develop their own environmental programmes, based on their own core teachings, beliefs and practices."
Their goal is to "help the religions link with key environmental organisations – creating powerful alliances between faith communities and conservation groups. ARC was founded in 1995 by HRH Prince Philip. [They]... work with 11 major faiths through the key traditions within each faith."

Because this organization is secular, without a bias for or against any particular faiths, I thought it was a good source of information for this blog. I will summarize what they say about the 11 major religions of the world: Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shintoism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism. The following paragraphs are from the ARC web site. The page link for each religion is below the description.



Beginnings of the Baha’i faith

The Baha’i faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions. Its founder, Baha’u’llah (1817-1892), is regarded by Baha’is as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad.The central theme of Baha’u’llah’s message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. God, Baha’u’llah said, has set in motion historical forces that are breaking down traditional barriers of race, class, creed, and nation and that will, in time, give birth to a universal civilization. The principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth is to accept the fact of their oneness and to assist the processes of unification.

The Spread of Baha’i

The Baha’i Faith grew out of Islam, but is entirely independent of its parent religion. It first appeared in Persia, then spread to neighbouring Muslim lands in the Ottoman and Russian Empires and to northern India. Though some early followers were of Jewish, Christian, or Zoroastrian background, the vast majority had been followers of Islam. The forerunner of the Baha’i faith was an Iranian named Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti, known as the ‘Bab’. The title Bab means ‘gate’ and originated among early Shi’a Muslims as a name for the spokesmen of the 12th Imam following the Prophet Muhammed. In 1844 the Bab taught that he was the gate through which a Promised One would soon appear as messenger from God. To Islamic clergy the Bab and his followers were heretics, because they believed in the coming of further prophets. They were persecuted, and the Bab was executed in 1850. His follower Baha’u’llah was exiled to Baghdad, where he proclaimed himself as the expected messenger of God in 1863. From there he was removed eventually to Acre, in present-day Israel, arriving as a prisoner in 1868. He remained here under house arrest until his death in in 1892. His teachings had already spread beyond the Middle East, and his shrine in Bahja is today the focal point of the Baha’i world community.


Beginnings of Buddhism

Buddhism was founded around 550 BC by Siddhartha Gautama, born in North India as a Hindu prince. When he was still a young man he abandoned his palace and went alone to the forest in search of an end to suffering. For six years he practiced penance and meditation, before achieving enlightenment under a Bodhi tree. The Buddha, or Enlightened One, as he came to be known, dedicated the remainder of his life – he lived to be 80 – to travelling the Ganges plains teaching the path to enlightenment to whomever would listen. By the time he left this world he had gathered a large following of monks, nuns and householders, organised into communities called Sanghas.

The Dhammapada

His teachings were memorised by his disciples and passed down orally. In 80 BC they were written down in the collection of texts now known as the Pali cannon. The best known record of his teachings is a short collection of his sayings called the Dhammapada.

The Spread of Buddhism

Buddhism spread far beyond India to countries throughout Asia, particularly Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma. Altogether there are about 500 million Buddhists today.



Beginnings of Christianity


Christianity takes its name from the Greek word ‘Christ’, meaning Anointed One, whom Christians believe was Jesus, the son of God. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, near Jerusalem and grew up as a Jewish boy. At about the age of 30 he began three years of travelling and teaching. He taught a new way of drawing upon the Jewish tradition. He called this way the Kingdom of God. He gathered followers and aroused the opposition of the Roman authorities who suspected him of planning a rebellion and had him executed.

The spread of Christianity

After his crucifixion Jesus appeared to his disciples and told them to go out into the world and preach that we are all loved by God and are called to love those around us in response. [See below for an editorial note by Soul-and-Substance] By around 60 AD Christianity had spread west and north to many parts of the Roman Empire. In 300 AD Armenia became the first officially Christian country. At the same time Christianity also spread east through the Persian Empire as far as China. Since the 16th century European missionaries established Christianity in every continent.

Diverse traditions

Today there are about 2 billion Christians in the world divided mainly among three main traditions: the Orthodox churches in Russia and Eastern Europe, the Protestant churches mainly in Europe and North America, and the Roman Catholic church which is spread everywhere. Besides these are many independent traditions in different parts of the world.

Editorial note by Soul-and-Substance: There are two doctrines omitted here, that are central to all mainstream Christian denominations. (1) the belief in a triune God (the Trinity), wherein Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father are three and one, simultaneously--a single God; (2) the belief that the primary reason that Jesus (as God) came to earth was to die as a substitution for the death penalty that would be assessed on each individual, because of sin.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Muhammad the Prophet, by Prof. K. S. Ramakrishna Rao

By Prof. K. S. Ramakrishna Rao, Head of the Department of Philosophy,Government College for Women University of Mysore, Mandya-571401 (Karnatika).
Re-printed from "Islam and Modern age", Hydrabad, March 1978.
[Note: What follows is a condensed version of the article. The complete article can be found at the above web site.]
In the desert of Arabia was Mohammad born, according to Muslim historians, on April 20, 571. The name means highly praised....

When he appeared Arabia was a desert -- a nothing. Out of nothing a new world was fashioned by the mighty spirit of Mohammad -- a new life, a new culture, a new civilization, a new kingdom which extended from Morocco to Indies and influenced the thought and life of three continents -- Asia, Africa and Europe....

...The principle of Islam that there is no compulsion in religion is well known. Gibbon, a historian of world repute says, "A pernicious tenet has been imputed to Mohammadans, the duty of extirpating all the religions by sword." This charge based on ignorance and bigotry, says the eminent historian, is refuted by Quran, by history of Musalman conquerors and by their public and legal toleration of Christian worship. The great success of Mohammad's life had been effected by sheer moral force, without a stroke of sword.

But in pure self-defense, after repeated efforts of conciliation had utterly failed, circumstances dragged him into the battlefield. But the prophet of Islam changed the whole strategy of the battlefield. The total number of casualties in all the wars that took place during his lifetime when the whole Arabian Peninsula came under his banner, does not exceed a few hundreds in all. But even on the battlefield he taught the Arab barbarians to pray, to pray not individually, but in congregation to God the Almighty. During the dust and storm of warfare whenever the time for prayer came, and it comes five times a every day, the congregation prayer had not to be postponed even on the battlefield. A party had to be engaged in bowing their heads before God while other was engaged with the enemy. After finishing the prayers, the two parties had to exchange their positions. To the Arabs, who would fight for forty years on the slight provocation that a camel belonging to the guest of one tribe had strayed into the grazing land belonging to other tribe and both sides had fought till they lost 70,000 lives in all; threatening the extinction of both the tribes to such furious Arabs, the Prophet of Islam taught self-control and discipline to the extent of praying even on the battlefield....His own treatment with his bitterest enemies is the noblest example for his followers. At the conquest of Mecca, he stood at the zenith of his power. The city which had refused to listen to his mission, which had tortured him and his followers, which had driven him and his people into exile and which had unrelentingly persecuted and boycotted him even when he had taken refuge in a place more than 200 miles away, that city now lay at his feet. By the laws of war he could have justly avenged all the cruelties inflicted on him and his people. But what treatment did he accord to them? Mohammad's heart flowed with affection and he declared, "This day, there is no REPROOF against you and you are all free." "This day" he proclaimed, "I trample under my feet all distinctions between man and man, all hatred between man and man." ...

The principles of universal brotherhood and doctrine of the equality of mankind which he proclaimed represents one very great contribution of Mohammad to the social uplift of humanity. All great religions have preached the same doctrine but the prophet of Islam had put this theory into actual practice and its value will be fully recognized, perhaps centuries hence, when international consciousness being awakened, racial prejudices may disappear and greater brotherhood of humanity come into existence.

Miss. Sarojini Naidu speaking about this aspect of Islam says, "It was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy; for in the mosque, when the minaret is sounded and the worshipers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and the king kneel side by side and proclaim, God alone is great." ...

Every year, during the Haj, the world witnesses the wonderful spectacle of this international Exhibition of Islam in leveling all distinctions of race, color and rank. Not only the Europeans, the African, the Arabian, the Persian, the Indians, the Chinese all meet together in Medina as members of one divine family, but they are clad in one dress every person in two simple pieces of white seamless cloth, one piece round the loin the other piece over the shoulders, bare head without pomp or ceremony, repeating "Here am I O God; at thy command; thou art one and alone; Here am I." Thus there remains nothing to differentiate the high from the low and every pilgrim carries home the impression of the international significance of Islam....

It is this same democratic spirit of Islam that emancipated women from the bondage of man. Sir Charles Edward Archibald Hamilton says "Islam teaches the inherent sinlessness of man. It teaches that man and woman and woman have come from the same essence, posses the same soul and have been equipped with equal capabilities for intellectual, spiritual and moral attainments."

The Arabs had a very strong tradition that one who can smite with the spear and can wield the sword would inherit. But Islam came as the defender of the weaker sex and entitled women to share the inheritance of their parents. It gave women, centuries ago right of owning property, yet it was only 12 centuries later , in 1881, that England, supposed to be the cradle of democracy adopted this institution of Islam and the act was called "the married woman act", but centuries earlier, the Prophet of Islam had proclaimed that "Woman are twin halves of men. The rights of women are sacred. See that women maintained rights granted to them."

Islam is not directly concerned with political and economic systems, but indirectly and in so far as political and economic affairs influence man's conduct, it does lay down some very important principles to govern economic life. According to Prof. Massignon, it maintains the balance between exaggerated opposites and has always in view the building of character which is the basis of civilization. This is secured by its law of inheritance, by an organized system of charity known as Zakat, and by regarding as illegal all anti-social practices in the economic field like monopoly, usury, securing of predetermined unearned income and increments, cornering markets, creating monopolies, creating an artificial scarcity of any commodity in order to force the prices to rise....

The Encyclopedia Brittanica says that "Mohammad is the most successful of all Prophets and religious personalities"....There is Mohammad the Prophet, there is Mohammad the General; Mohammad the King; Mohammad the Warrior; Mohammad the Businessman; Mohammad the Preacher; Mohammad the Philosopher; Mohammad the Statesman; Mohammad the Orator; Mohammad the reformer; Mohammad the Refuge of orphans; Mohammad the Protector of slaves; Mohammad the Emancipator of women; Mohammad the Law-giver; Mohammad the Judge; Mohammad the Saint.

And in all these magnificent roles, in all these departments of human activities, he is like, a hero..
From an orphan boy to a persecuted refugee and then to an overlord, spiritual as well as temporal, of a whole nation and Arbiter of its destinies, with all its trials and temptations, with all its vicissitudes and changes, its lights and shades, its up and downs, its terror and splendor, he has stood the fire of the world and came out unscathed to serve as a model in every face of life. His achievements are not limited to one aspect of life, but cover the whole field of human conditions.

If for instance, greatness consist in the purification of a nation, steeped in barbarism and immersed in absolute moral darkness, that dynamic personality who has transformed, refined and uplifted an entire nation, sunk low as the Arabs were, and made them the torch-bearer of civilization and learning, has every claim to greatness. If greatness lies in unifying the discordant elements of society by ties of brotherhood and charity, the prophet of the desert has got every title to this distinction. If greatness consists in reforming those warped in degrading and blind superstition and pernicious practices of every kind, the prophet of Islam has wiped out superstitions and irrational fear from the hearts of millions. If it lies in displaying high morals, Mohammad has been admitted by friend and foe as Al Amin, or the faithful. If a conqueror is a great man, here is a person who rose from helpless orphan and an humble creature to be the ruler of Arabia, the equal to Chosroes and Caesars, one who founded great empire that has survived all these 14 centuries. If the devotion that a leader commands is the criterion of greatness, the prophet's name even today exerts a magic charm over millions of souls, spread all over the world.

He had not studied philosophy in the school of Athens of Rome, Persia, India, or China. Yet, He could proclaim the highest truths of eternal value to mankind. Illiterate himself, he could yet speak with an eloquence and fervor which moved men to tears, to tears of ecstasy. Born an orphan blessed with no worldly goods, he was loved by all. He had studied at no military academy; yet he could organize his forces against tremendous odds and gained victories through the moral forces which he marshaled. Gifted men with genius for preaching are rare. Descartes included the perfect preacher among the rarest kind in the world....
After the fall of Mecca, more than one million square miles of land lay at his feet, Lord of Arabia, he mended his own shoes and coarse woolen garments, milked the goats, swept the hearth, kindled the fire and attended the other menial offices of the family. The entire town of Medina where he lived grew wealthy in the later days of his life. Everywhere there was gold and silver in plenty and yet in those days of prosperity many weeks would elapse without a fire being kindled in the hearth of the king of Arabia, His food being dates and water. His family would go hungry many nights successively because they could not get anything to eat in the evening. He slept on no soften bed but on a palm mat, after a long busy day to spend most of his night in prayer, often bursting with tears before his creator to grant him strength to discharge his duties....

Circumstances changed, but the prophet of God did not. In victory or in defeat, in power or in adversity, in affluence or in indigence, he is the same man, disclosed the same character. Like all the ways and laws of God, Prophets of God are unchangeable.

An honest man, as the saying goes, is the noblest work of God, Mohammad was more than honest. He was human to the marrow of his bones. Human sympathy, human love was the music of his soul. To serve man, to elevate man, to purify man, to educate man, in a word to humanize man-this was the object of his mission, the be-all and end all of his life. In thought, in word, in action he had the good of humanity as his sole inspiration, his sole guiding principle.
He was most unostentatious and selfless to the core. What were the titles he assumed? Only true servant of God and His Messenger. Servant first, and then a messenger. A Messenger and prophet like many other prophets in every part of the world, some known to you, many not known you. If one does not believe in any of these truths one ceases to be a Muslim. It is an article of faith.

"Looking at the circumstances of the time and unbounded reverence of his followers" says a western writer "the most miraculous thing about Mohammad is, that he never claimed the power of working miracles." Miracles were performed but not to propagate his faith and were attributed entirely to God and his inscrutable ways. He would plainly say that he was a man like others. He had no treasures of earth or heaven. Nor did he claim to know the secrets of that lie in womb of future. All this was in an age when miracles were supposed to be ordinary occurrences, at the back and call of the commonest saint, when the whole atmosphere was surcharged with supernaturalism in Arabia and outside Arabia.

He turned the attention of his followers towards the study of nature and its laws, to understand them and appreciate the Glory of God. The Quran says,
"God did not create the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in play. He did not create them all but with the truth. But most men do not know."

The world is not illusion, nor without purpose. It has been created with the truth. The number of verses inviting close observation of nature are several times more than those that relate to prayer, fasting, pilgrimage etc. all put together. The Muslim under its influence began to observe nature closely and this give birth to the scientific spirit of the observation and experiment which was unknown to the Greeks.... Robert Priffault concludes in his well known book The making of humanity, "The debt of our science to the Arabs does not consist in starting discovers or revolutionary theories. Science owes a great more to Arabs culture; it owes is existence." The same writer says "The Greeks systematized, generalized and theorized but patient ways of investigation, the accumulation of positive knowledge, the minute methods of science, detailed and prolonged observation, experimental inquiry, were altogether alien to Greek temperament. What we call science arose in Europe as result of new methods of investigation, of the method of experiment, observation, measurement, of the development of Mathematics in form unknown to the Greeks. That spirit and these methods, concludes the same author, were introduced into the European world by Arabs."

It is the same practical character of the teaching of Prophet Mohammad that gave birth to the scientific spirit, that has also sanctified the daily labors and the so called mundane affairs. The Quran says that God has created man to worship him but the word worship has a connotation of its own. Gods worship is not confined to prayer alone, but every act that is done with the purpose of winning approval of God and is for the benefit of the humanity comes under its purview. Islam sanctifies life and all its pursuits provided they are performed with honesty, justice and pure intents. It obliterates the age-long distinction between the sacred and profane. The Quran says if you eat clean things and thank God for it, it is an act of worship....

This new conception of religion that it should also devote itself to the betterment of this life rather than concern itself exclusively with super mundane affairs, has led to a new orientation of moral values. Its abiding influence on the common relations of mankind in the affairs of every day life, its deep power over the masses, its regulation of their conception of rights and duty, its suitability and adaptability to the ignorant savage and the wise philosopher are characteristic features of the teaching of the Prophet of Islam.

But it should be most carefully born in mind this stress on good actions is not the sacrifice correctness of faith. While there are various school of thought, one praising faith at the expense of deeds, another exhausting various acts to the detriment of correct belief, Islam is based on correct faith and righteous actions. Means are important as the end and ends are as important as the means. It is an organic Unity. Together they live and thrive. Separate them and both decay and die. In Islam faith can not be divorced from the action. Right knowledge should be transferred into right action to produce the right results. How often the words came in Quran -- Those who believe and do good thing, they alone shall enter paradise. Again and again, not less than fifty times these words are repeated as if too much stress can not be laid on them. Contemplation is encouraged but mere contemplation is not the goal. Those who believe and do nothing can not exist in Islam. These who believe and do wrong are inconceivable. Divine law is the law of effort and not of ideals. It chalks out for the men the path of eternal progress from knowledge to action and from action to satisfaction.

But what is the correct faith from which right action spontaneously proceeds resulting in complete satisfaction. Here the central doctrine of Islam is the Unity of God. There is no God but God is the pivot from which hangs the whole teaching and practice of Islam. He is unique not only as regards his divine being but also as regards his divine attributes.

As regards the attributes of God, Islam adopts here as in other things too, the law of golden mean. It avoids on the one hand, the view of God which divests the divine being of every attribute and rejects, on the other, the view which likens him to things material. The Quran says, On the one hand, there is nothing which is like him, on the other , it affirms that he is Seeing, Hearing, Knowing. He is the King who is without a stain of fault or deficiency, the mighty ship of His power floats upon the ocean of justice and equity. He is the Beneficent, the Merciful. He is the Guardian over all. Islam does not stop with this positive statement. It adds further which is its most special characteristic, the negative aspects of problem. There is also no one else who is guardian over everything. He is the meander of every breakage, and no one else is the meander of any breakage. He is the restorer of every loss and no one else is the restorer of any loss what-so-over. There is no God but one God, above any need, the maker of bodies, creator of souls, the Lord of the day of judgment, and in short, in the words of Quran, to him belong all excellent qualities.

Regarding the position of man in relation to the Universe, the Quran says:
"God has made subservient to you whatever is on the earth or in universe. You are destined to rule over the Universe."

But in relation to God, the Quran says:
"O man God has bestowed on you excellent faculties and has created life and death to put you to test in order to see whose actions are good and who has deviated from the right path."
In spite of free will which he enjoys, to some extent, every man is born under certain circumstances and continues to live under certain circumstances beyond his control. With regard to this God says, according to Islam, it is my will to create any man under condition that seem best to me. cosmic plans finite mortals can not fully comprehend. But I will certainly test you in prosperity as well in adversity, in health as well as in sickness, in heights as well as in depths. My ways of testing differ from man to man, from hour to hour. In adversity do not despair and do resort to unlawful means. It is but a passing phase. In prosperity do not forget God. God-gifts are given only as trusts. You are always on trial, every moment on test. In this sphere of life there is not to reason why, there is but to do and die. If you live in accordance with God; and if you die, die in the path of God. You may call it fatalism. but this type of fatalism is a condition of vigorous increasing effort, keeping you ever on the alert. Do not consider this temporal life on earth as the end of human existence. There is a life after death and it is eternal. Life after death is only a connection link, a door that opens up hidden reality of life. Every action in life however insignificant, produces a lasting effect. It is correctly recorded somehow. Some of the ways of God are known to you, but many of his ways are hidden from you. What is hidden in you and from you in this world will be unrolled and laid open before you in the next. the virtuous will enjoy the blessing of God which the eye has not seen, nor has the ear heard, nor has it entered into the hearts of men to conceive of they will march onward reaching higher and higher stages of evolution. Those who have wasted opportunity in this life shall under the inevitable law, which makes every man taste of what he has done, be subjugated to a course of treatment of the spiritual diseases which they have brought about with their own hands. Beware, it is terrible ordeal. Bodily pain is torture, you can bear somehow. Spiritual pain is hell, you will find it almost unbearable. Fight in this life itself the tendencies of the spirit prone to evil, tempting to lead you into iniquities ways. Reach the next stage when the self-accusing sprit in your conscience is awakened and the soul is anxious to attain moral excellence and revolt against disobedience. This will lead you to the final stage of the soul at rest, contented with God, finding its happiness and delight in him alone. The soul no more stumbles. The stage of struggle passes away. Truth is victorious and falsehood lays down its arms. All complexes will then be resolved. Your house will not be divided against itself. Your personality will get integrated round the central core of submission to the will of God and complete surrender to his divine purpose. All hidden energies will then be released. The soul then will have peace. God will then address you:
"O thou soul that art at rest, and restest fully contented with thy Lord return to thy Lord. He pleased with thee and thou pleased with him; So enter among my servants and enter into my paradise."

This is the final goal for man; to become, on the, one hand, the master of the universe and on the other, to see that his soul finds rest in his Lord, that not only his Lord will be pleased with him but that he is also pleased with his Lord. Contentment, complete contentment, satisfaction, complete satisfaction, peace, complete peace. The love of God is his food at this stage and he drinks deep at the fountain of life. Sorrow and defeat do not overwhelm him and success does not find him in vain and exulting....

Azmat N. Khan