By: Dr. Zakir Naik
There are various and different types of prayers and modes of worship in Hinduism. One of them is called ‘shashtang’. The word ‘shashtang’ is made up of ‘Sa’ and ‘Asht’ which means eight and ‘Ang’ which means ‘parts of the body’. Thus, shastang is a mode of worship touching eight parts of the body. The best way a person can do this is like Muslims who prostrate in their Salah touching their forehead, nose, two hands, two knees and two feet.
Idol Worship Is Prohibited in Hinduism
Idol worship, which is very common amongst the Hindus, is prohibited in Hinduism. It is mentioned in Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7, verse 20:
“Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires they worship demigods i.e. idols. (Bhagavad Gita 7:20)
It is mentioned in Svetashvatara Upanishad chapter 4, verse 19 as well as in Yajurved Chapter 32, Verse 3:
“There is no image of Him.” (Svetashvatara Upanishad 4:19, Yajurved 32:3)
It is also mentioned in Yajurveda, Chapter 40, verse 9:
“They enter darkness those who worship natural things (for e.g. air, water, fire, etc.). They sink deeper in darkness those who worship sambhuti i.e. created things (for e.g. table, chair, car, idol etc.)” (Yajurved 40:9)
Zakah is the third pillar of Islam, which means purification and growth, as it purifies the giver from sin and his wealth from impurities and saves his property from lose and damage. Every rich Muslim who has a saving which is more than the minimum level called ‘Nisab’ and equal to 85 gms of gold, should give 2.5% of his wealth in charity every lunar year.
Giving Zakah contributes to the eradication of poverty from this world. There will not be a single human being who will die of hunger. Zakah ensures that wealth does not circulate only amongst the rich. Almighty Allah says:
In order that the wealth may not (merely) circulate amongst the wealthy. (Al-Hashr 59:7)
Charity in Hinduism
Charity is also prescribed in Hinduism. In Rigved, book, 10 hymn 117, verse 5:
“Let the rich satisfy the poor implorer, and bend his eyes upon a longer pathway. Richest come now to one, now to another, and like the wheels of cars are ever rolling.” (Translation by Ralph Griffith).
“If it is expected of every rich man to satisfy the poor implorer; let the rich person have a distant vision (for a rich of today may not remain rich tomorrow). Remember that riches revolve from one man to another, as revolve the wheels of a chariot.” (Translation by Satyaprakash Sarasvati & Satyakam Vidhya Lankar) (Rigved 10:117:5).
Charity has been prescribed in Bhagvad Gita in several places including chapter 17, verse 20 and chapter 16, verse 3.
‘Sawm’ or fasting is the fourth pillar of Islam. Every healthy adult Muslim has to abstain from eating and drinking, from dawn to sunset, in the complete lunar month of Ramadan with the intention of worshiping Almighty Allah.
The wisdom behind fasting has been mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an:
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous (Al-Baqarah 2:183)
Today the psychologists inform us that if a person can control his hunger, it is very likely that he will be able to control most of his desires.
Fasting for one complete month is a good opportunity for giving up one’s wrong habits. If a person can abstain from drinking alcohol, from dawn to sunset, he can very well abstain from alcohol from the cradle to the grave. If a person can abstain from smoking, from dawn to sunset he can very well abstain from smoking from the cradle to the grave.
Also, there are various medical benefits of fasting. Fasting increases the absorption of the intestine; it also decreases the cholesterol level.
Fasting in Hinduism
There are different types and methods of fasting in Hinduism. According to Manusmriti, chapter 6, verse 24,
“Fasting has been prescribed for a month for purification.” (Manusmriti edited by Dr. R. N. Sharma)
Fasting has also been prescribed in Manusmriti, chapter 4, verse 222 and Manusmriti chapter 11, verse 204.
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. Every adult Muslim who has the means to perform Hajj to the holy city of Makkah should at least perform Hajj once in his life time.
Hajj is a practical example and demonstration of universal brotherhood. The Hajj is amongst the largest annual gathering in the world where about 2.5 million people from different parts of the world gather, from U.S.A., from U.K. from Malaysia, from Indonesia, from India and other parts of the world. All male pilgrims wear two pieces of unsown cloth, preferably white, such that you cannot differentiate whether a person is rich or poor, king or pauper. People of all races and of all colors gather together in unity to worship the One Creator.
Pilgrimage in Hinduism
There are various places of pilgrimage in Hinduism. One of the sacred places mentioned in Rigved, book 3, hymn 29, verse 4 is
“Ilayspad, which is situated at Nabha prathvi.”
‘Ila’ means God or Allah, and ‘spad’ means place, therefore Ilaspad means place of God. Nabha means center and prathvi means earth. Thus, this verse of the Veda prescribes pilgrimage to a place of God situated at the center of the earth.
The Sanskrit-English dictionary by M. Monier Williams, (Edition 2002) states that Ilaspad is “Name of a Tirtha” (i.e. place of Pilgrimage) however its location is not known.
According to the Glorious Qur’an:
Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for mankind was that at Bakkah – blessed and a guidance for the worlds. (Aal `Imran 3:96)
Bakkah’ is another name for Makkah and we know today that Makkah is situated at the center of the earth.
Later after seven verses Rigved book, 3 hymn, 29 verse 11, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is mentioned as ‘Narashansa’.
Thus, we can conclude that this Ilayspad, place of pilgrimage mentioned in Rigved is Makkah. Makkah is also mentioned as Ilaspad i.e. Allah’s holy place in Rigved book 1, hymn 128, verse 1.
Thus, we note clearly that Hinduism has some sorts of worship similar to the worships in Islam, however, in Hinduism those worships have been twisted and changed and were mixed with polytheistic rituals and additions until the true monotheistic nature and quality was lost. On the contrary, Islam brought its system of rituals and worship in a true nature and was preserved in the Glorious Qur’an and Sunnah. The principles of worship and their proofs were saved by the practical examples of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Also those worships were transmitted by his companions and were followed by the Muslim community, generations after generations throughout the glorious Islamic history. Truly, a sound mind demands us to follow the message of Islam which represents the last, final and preserved divine message.
And all praises are for the One and Only Allah, the Creator, Who Alone is Worthy of devotion, complete submission and worship.
Source: Taken from www.irf.net with modifications.