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Friday, July 26, 2013

Most Beautiful Names

By BeJoy

"There is no deity except Allah. To Him belong the most beautiful names" (Qur'an 20:8). Among the various verses of the holy Qur'an, there are mentioned no less than 99 names (or attributes) of God. Talking about the virtues of these names, Prophet Mohammed affirmed that "whoever believes in their meanings and acts accordingly, will enter Paradise" (Hadith - Sahih Bukhari 8:419).

In this holy month of Ramadan, when hundreds of millions are practicing purity and austerities, let us appreciate these beautiful names of God and meditate on them:

1.  The All-Compassionate     (Ar-Rahman)
2.  The All-Merciful          (Ar-Rahim)
3.  The Absolute Ruler        (Al-Malik)
4.  The Pure One              (Al-Quddus)
5.  The Source of Peace       (As-Salam)
6.  The Inspirer of Faith     (Al-Mu'min)
7.  The Guardian              (Al-Muhaymin)
8.  The Victorious            (Al-Aziz)
9.  The Compeller             (Al-Jabbar)
10. The Greatest              (Al-Mutakabbir)
11. The Creator               (Al-Khaliq)
12. The Maker of Order        (Al-Bari')
13. The Shaper of Beauty      (Al-Musawwir)
14. The Forgiving             (Al-Ghaffar)
15. The Subduer               (Al-Qahhar)
16. The Giver of All          (Al-Wahhab)
17. The Sustainer             (Ar-Razzaq)
18. The Opener                (Al-Fattah)
19. The Knower of All         (Al-`Alim)
20. The Constrictor           (Al-Qabid)
21. The Reliever              (Al-Basit)
22. The Abaser                (Al-Khafid)
23. The Exalter               (Ar-Rafi)
24. The Bestower of Honors    (Al-Mu'izz)
25. The Humiliator            (Al-Mudhill)
26. The Hearer of All         (As-Sami)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Intrafaith Meeting

by Seeker

That title may sound a bit strange, and, you bet, it was a typographical error for an interfaith meeting. Usually the word "faith" in "interfaith" is associated with a major religion, and not with a particular sect of a religion. Hence in an interfaith meeting you will see representatives of Islam, Christianity, Buddhism etc., rather than a representative of Shia, Presbytarian, Theravada etc. So in the context of usage of the word "faith" in "interfaith," an intrafaith meeting would comprise representatives of sects within a religion: say, a meeting of Buddhists from Mahayana, Tibetan, Theravada etc. traditions.

You rarely hear about any such intrafaith meetings being held. In some religions, the differences between sects had led in the past and continues to lead even now to bloodshed. In some other religions, although there may not be a violent interaction between the sects, there is enough disharmony that the sects rarely see each other eye-to-eye. So why is it easier to profess brotherly feelings for followers of other religions but not with those from one's own?

I can think of two reasons. Let us look at them, considering Hinduism as an example, noting that the same holds for any other religion too.

1. The underlying fundamentals of all the sects in Hinduism are the same (Vedas) with differences only in practices or interpretation of scriptures, while catering to the same mass of people (largely of Indian origin). Since the same foundation (Vedas) is being interpreted by each sect differently, there is, in some counterintuitive way as a conflict of interest, more of a sense of disunity amongst the sects than they would have if they were having an entirely different fundamental basis. Also, each sect clamors for greater acceptance amongst the masses to have more followers, and this "cut-throat" competition completely contravenes the idea of brotherhood amongst the sects. However, these very sects in Hinduism will easily accept a sect of any other religion, say Christianity, that originated in an alien land, as there are clear demarcating fundamental differences (Vedas and Bible), and also they are prevalent amongst a different geographical/cultural populace.