Islam as Hinduism’s Fulfilment?:  Acharya Maulana Shams Naved ‘Usman’?s Approach to Islamic Mission

Introduction

?Acharya? and ?Maulana? are two titles that rarely, if ever, go together. The former is a term generally reserved for Brahmin teachers of the Hindu scriptures, particularly the Vedas. ?Maulana? is a title of respect for an Islamic scholar. Few in India, some noted medieval Sufis apart, could have claimed to have mastered both the Vedas and the Qur?an, and the late Shams Naved ?Usmani appears to have been, at least in the eyes of his followers, one of these rare souls. Author of numerous books on the Hindu and Islamic scriptures, ?Usmani was a passionate advocate of Hindu-Muslim inter-faith dialogue, spawning a new trend in Indian Muslim literary and activist circles. This chapter seeks to explore ?Usmani?s contribution to inter-religious dialogue in contemporary India, examining its major thrust and its underlying agenda.

        Although ?Usmani?s thought inspired the writing of a number of texts by his disciples, almost nothing has been written about his own life. ?Usmani chartered a new course in Islamic literature in India, seeking to combine a commitment to inter-faith dialogue with what seems to have been his principal mission, that of da?wah or inviting others to Islam. However, ?Usmani did not himself write any books on inter-faith relations himself. The available texts by his disciples describe him as the ?thinker? (muffakir) whose thoughts are presented in these books, but which have been actually penned by one or other of his disciples. Although technically ?Usmani cannot be said to be the author of these books, for the purpose of convenience we shall assume in the course of this chapter that these books actually reflect his own thought, and shall, therefore, present him as the writer whose spirit is the moving force behind his disciples? pens.

?Usmani: His Life and Works


Shams Naved ?Usmani was born in 1931 at the town of Deoband in northern India, the centre of a powerful movement of Islamic reform. His family, the ?Usmanis, claimed descent from the third Caliph of the Sunnis, ?Usman (d.35/656), and was known for the numerous scholars it had produced. Among the well-known ?ulama who belonged to the family were such figures as Allamah Shabbir Ahmad ?Usmani (d.1369/1949), who later went on to become one of the foremost Islamic scholars in Pakistan, Mufti ?Aziz ur-Rahman ?Usmani (d.1437/1928) and Maulana ?Amir ?Usmani, a well-known writer and editor of the Urdu monthly, Tajalli.

        Shams Naved ?Usmani lost his father, Maulana Mahbub ur-Rahman ?Usmani, while still a child, and was brought up by his mother, a pious woman. He began his education by studying Arabic and Persian at home, after which, at the age of ten, he enrolled at the Dar ul-?Ulum at Deoband in order to train as an ?alim, graduating in 1945. His mother?s death a year later led him to join his brother, the popular Urdu novelist, Ma?sud Javed ?Usmani, in Lucknow, where he enrolled for a Bachelor?s degree at the university. In 1954 he was appointed as an English teacher at the Government Oriental College, Rampur.

        ?Usmani was a gifted writer, and began contributing articles to various Urdu periodicals at a young age. He first experimented with poetry, composing ghazals and nazms and participating in musha?iras, where poets displayed their latest compositions. Later, he shifted to prose, and began regularly writing for such periodicals as Parcham (Karachi), Asia (Agra), Sha?ir (Mumbai), Burhan (Delhi), Aj Kal (Delhi), Mast Qalandar (Delhi), Mihrab (Delhi), Afkar (Bhopal), al-Hasanat (Rampur), Zikra (Rampur) and Tajalli (Deoband).

        ?Usmani saw himself, above all, as a missionary of Islam, and believed that it was the principal duty of Muslims to actively work to present God?s message to others. Indeed, for him, that was the very raison d?etre of the Muslim community. This commitment to Islamic mission runs as a common thread through all his writings. Thus, in a series of articles published in the monthly Tajalli, which were later put together in the form of a book titled Kya Ham Musalman Hai? (?Are We Indeed Muslims??)[1], ?Usmani lamented that the Muslims of his day had forgotten their duty of da?wah, and made an earnest appeal to them to abide by the teachings of their faith and to present to others a model of virtue and righteousness. ?Usmani himself acted on what he preached: he lived in a small two-room rented apartment in Rampur, spending much time in prayer and meditation.

 

Following in the path of numerous Sufis before him, ?Usmani took an interest in the scriptures of other religions. He spent several years learning Sanskrit, the language of the Brahminical scriptures, after which he is said to have made a detailed study of the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Gita, in addition to the Bible. Like many Sufis, he came to believe that the most appropriate way to carry on the Islamic da?wah in India was to express Islam in terms that the Hindus would find familiar and intelligible, and to this concern he focussed much of his attention. He gathered a number of close disciples around him, several of whom later went on to popularise his views through their own writings. He also set up the World Organisation of Religion and Knowledge at Rampur in order to promote research on other faiths from a distinctly Islamic perspective, to train Muslim scholars in the field of comparative religions, and to launch a programme of publications.[2]

 

 

?If You Do Not Wake Up Now!?

 

Having been through over ten editions and translated into several Indian languages as well as English, ?Usmani?s Agar Abhi Na Jage To (?If You Do Not Wake Up Now?) is his most well known work. It is said to have been the product of fifteen long years of research, first coming out in the form of several instalments in the Delhi-based Urdu paper, Akhbar-i Nau.[3] It is, to summarise its contexts, a heart-rending plea to the Muslims to ?wake up? to the ?fact? that the Hindus are the ?community of Noah? and that the Vedas are the divine scriptures which Noah was commissioned by God to deliver to his people. God, ?Usmani quotes the Qur?an as saying, has sent his prophets to every people, and these must necessarily include the Hindus as well. All the prophets, from Adam, the first, to Muhammad, the last, taught the same religion (din)?al-Islam, ?the submission [to Allah]?. In other words, they were all ?Muslim?, ?those who submit [to Allah]?. ?Usmani appeals to the Muslims to recognise the divine origins of the Vedas, and suggests that they, in turn, should reach out to the Hindus and reveal to them their ?true? contents, for Noah, the bearer of the Vedas, had predicted the arrival of Muhammad as God?s last messenger. An interesting dual ?conversion? is here suggested. Muslims, he asserts, must now learn to hold in respect the Vedas as having been divinely revealed by Noah, the ?prophet of the Hindus?. The Hindus, in turn, must re-discover the ?true? meaning of the Vedas, and, in accordance with the teachings of ?their? prophet Noah, should accept Muhammad as God?s last messenger. If Noah, like all the other prophets, taught Islam and was himself a Muslim, as the Qur?an says, then, the Hindus, too, should follow in his footsteps if they are to be true to the teachings of the Vedas. For Hindus this does not mean conversion to a radically new faith. On the contrary, it simply means returning to their old and long-forgotten religion as contained in the Vedas, whose actual meaning and import have, ?Usmani claims, now been forgotten. Islam and the mission of Muhammad, then, are but a fulfilment of the Hindu scriptures, not a negation thereof.

        Much of ?Usmani?s work, both in Agar Abhi Na Jage To as well as other books and tracts inspired by him and purporting to reflect his thought, consists of an innovative reading of the Vedas, which alone he takes as the revealed scriptures of the Hindus. This effort entails a radically revisioning of several key Vedic terms and concepts, interpreting them in such a manner as to suggest their total congruence with Islamic teachings, albeit doing little justice to the different ways in which they have been historically understood by many Hindus themselves. Thus, the Hindu scriptures are said to preach a doctrine of monotheism, of one God without any partners, as pure as that contained in the Qur?an.[4] The notion that the Hindu scriptures teach a primitive polytheism is sharply denied, and the various gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon are explained away as simply names for the different attributes (Urdu: sifat, Hindi: vishshtayen, sagun) of God. Thus, for instance, God, in His capacity of Creator, is Brahma; as Preserver, Vishnu; and as Destroyer, Shiva. The Hindu sacred syllable ?Om? is equated with the Qur?anic Allah, the ?three arms? (tin bhujayen) of the mantra, ?a?, ?u? and ?m?, referring to three attributes of God?Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. If ?Om? is written upside-down, ?Usmani remarks, it resembles the word ?Allah? written in Arabic.[5] Like the Qur?an, the Vedas are said to preach a formless God, and the practice of idol-worship is proved to be a post-Vedic distortion. [6]

        ?Usmani deals with other aspects of the Hindu tradition that might seem to differ radically from the Islamic notion of God and revelation, reinterpreting them in order to prove his point of the striking similarities between Vedic Hinduism and Qur?anic Islam. Thus, for instance, he argues that the concept of transmigration of souls is a post-Vedic development, foreign to the Vedas, which, it is said, present a view of heaven and hell quite in line with the Qur?anic description.[7] The Hindu belief in God taking human form as an incarnation (avatar) is also denied as un-Vedic. Thus, ?Usmani avers, according to the Vedas, God is utterly different from His creation and communicates to them through his messengers (duta), who are presented in the same manner as the prophets in the Qur?an.[8] The figures whom Hindus revere as incarnations of Vishnu are shown to be all post-Vedic, and are said to actually have simply been holy, pious men (mahan insan) whom later Hindus have mistakenly deified.[9] The Ka?aba in Makkah is said to have been mentioned on numerous occasions in the Vedas as ?the house of God?[10], and ?Usmani claims that some Hindus still retain the belief that their ?greatest shrine? is the adi pushkar tirtha (?the first holy place of Shiva?), the black stone at the Ka?aba, which they also regard as the first shiva lingam. ?Usmani here decries the description of the lingam as a phallus, and says that the word actually means ?symbol?. The shiva lingam, in other words, is actually ?the symbol of God?.[11] All ancient Hindu temples are said to face the west, in the direction of the Ka?aba, suggesting, so ?Usmani claims, an ancient Hindu association with the Makkah that has now been forgotten.[12]

 

?Usmani?s comparative analysis of the Vedas and the Qur?an leads him to claim that the post-Vedic commentaries on the Vedas, the Vedanta, are identical with the Qur?an, the word ?Vedanta? meaning ?the end of the Vedas?, which ?Usmani translates as ?the end of revelation?, equating this with the Qur?an itself, believed by Muslims to be the last divinely revealed scripture. The gayatri mantra in the Yajur Veda [36:3], considered by Hindus to be the most scared verse in the text, is, he argues, an exact version of the first verse of the Qur?an, the Surah al-Fatiha. Another mantra in the Yajur Veda [40:96] is said to refer to a form of prayer (namaukti) which shall be adopted some time in the remote future, and ?Usmani interprets this as referring to namaz, the Persian and Urdu term for the Islamic way of worship.[13]

        After interpreting key Vedic notions to correspond to Islamic concepts, ?Usmani asserts that the Vedas are indeed a divinely revealed book.  They are the ?word of God? (ishvani)[14]. Echoing the traditional Islamic belief in the ?corruption? (tahrif) of the pre-Muhammadan scriptures of the Jews and the Christians, he says that the Vedas as we have them today do not represent in their entirety their original form. They, too, he argues, like the Torah and the Gospel, have been modified over time. The only means to decipher what remains of the original Vedas is, he writes, to critically examine the Vedic texts in their present form with the help of the only divine text that has undergone no modification whatsoever ever since it was revealed?the Qur?an. Those sections of the present-day Vedas that correspond to or are in consonance with the teachings of the Qur?an may, then, he says, be safely assumed to represent the original Vedas. All else is distortion and corruption.[15] In this manner, the stage is set to develop a full-blown theory of the Vedas indeed being a divinely revealed scripture sent by Allah to the Hindus.

        Since the Vedas are divinely revealed, ?Usmani suggests, they must certainly not have been the product of human hands, as modern scholarship insists and as some Hindus themselves believe. Rather, like all other scriptures that God has sent down to the world, they, too, must have been the word of God delivered by a particular prophet. Here, ?Usmani draws interesting parallels between passages from the Qur?an and the Vedas to suggest that the divine messenger who brought the Vedas to the Hindus was none other than Noah or Nuh, as he is referred to by Muslims.

 

Noah, the Prophet of the Vedas?


Drawing on their similar sounding names and on similarities in the stories about them, the Noah of the Qur?an, says ?Usmani, is none other than the Manu of the Hindu scriptures. Manu is regarded by traditional Hindus as the first human being, from whose sacrifice the four castes (varnas) were born. He is also regarded as the author of the Manusmriti, a key Brahminical text, that lays down the principles of ?righteous? conduct for the Hindus, these including fiercely cruel laws imposed on the ?lower? castes. In seeking to prove the identity between Manu and Noah, ?Usmani has two tasks before him. Firstly, to deny that Manu, being a prophet of God, could have sanctioned the caste system and the cruel oppression of the ?lower? castes, as Hindus believe. Secondly, to prove that the scripture brought by Manu was the Vedas, not the Manusmriti that is ascribed to him.

        ?Usmani notes, and here he is in line with modern scholarship on the subject, that in the Hindu scriptures and tradition, several men have been referred to as Manu. This he regards as the root cause for the confusion regarding who the prophetic bearer of the Vedas was. He denies that the Vedic Manu sanctified the caste system, the oppression of the ?lower? castes and the practice of untouchability. Rather, he insists, drawing upon the story of Noah in the Qur?an, that the ?real? Manu was actually opposed by the ?higher castes? of his community, who, he says, refused to sit in his company because he fraternised with the ?lower? castes. Manu, he writes, rebuked them, saying that it was the poor who were actually the true believers in God.[16]

        The Hindus, ?Usmani suggests, have attributed all manner of wrong beliefs and acts to Manu, thus tainting the fair name of this prophet of God. He remarks that a close examination of the Vedas and the Qur?an clearly shows that Manu and Noah were actually one and the same person. He refers here to a saying of the Prophet Muhammad, contained in the authoritative Sahih of Bukhari, where Muhammad is quoted as having said that on the Day of Resurrection, people would gather around Noah and declare that he was the first prophet sent by God with a scripture.[17] Noah, ?Usmani says, is regarded in Islamic tradition as the first rasul (messenger), bringing the first holy book (kitab), containing the first holy (shari?ah) law, although even before him there had been many prophets.[18] Since Muslims must believe in all the prophets of God and testify to their scriptures, ?Usmani says that they must also believe in Noah?s scriptures, which he goes on to seek to prove were the Vedas.

        The problem here arises that Muslims, by and large, do not know which scripture Noah brought.  The Qur?an tells us that God gave David the Psalms (zabur), Moses the Torah (taurat) and Jesus the Gospel (injil), but it does not mention the name of the scripture that Noah was commissioned to preach. It does, however, refer to a people whom it calls the Sabians (al-Sabayyin), whom it includes along with Muslims, Christians and Jews as being promised God?s reward. The verse in question is:

Those who believe [in the Qur?an], and those who follow the Jewish scriptures, and the Christians and the Sabians?any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. [19]

 

?Usmani notes that Muslims are not clear about who the prophet sent by God to the Sabians was, but it is obvious, he says, that they were in fact sent a prophet because all the other peoples mentioned in the above Qur?anic verse had prophets commissioned to preach to them. Taking recourse to Qur?anic commentaries by early Muslim scholars, he says that the Sabians were possibly the people of Noah and were the inhabitants of Ur in Iraq, birthplace of the prophet Abraham. He remarks that archaeological evidence has proved that the people of Ur had close relations with the Indians living in the valley of the Indus, and this suggests that the Sabians of the Qur?an might actually refer to none other than the Hindus. As proof for this claim he points out to the similarities between the description given of the Sabians in the early Qur?anic commentaries and the actual practices of the Hindus. Thus, the Sabians, like the Hindus, are said to have confessed to be monotheists but actually practised some sort of polytheism; they offered their prayers facing Yemen, where many Hindu tribes had settled; they worshipped the angels, like the Hindus, several of whose deities are said to have actually been angels; they venerated the fire, as many Hindus do; like the Hindus, they, too, had firm faith in astronomy; and finally, they were of the Persian race, as is the case with the Indo-Aryans. In other words, the Hindus of today, ?Usmani claims, are the mysterious Sabians of the Qur?an, the people of Noah. [20]

In seeking to prove the identity of Noah and Manu, ?Usmani draws out common elements in the stories about them in the Qur?an and the Vedas. According to the Qur?an, since wickedness and evil had engulfed the world, God decided to unleash a fierce flood which covered the entire expanse of the globe, destroying every living creature except for Noah and the people and animals in his ship. After the flood subsided, Noah and his family spread out across the earth, and the human race as it exists today traces its descent from him. Noah, says, ?Usmani, came to India to preach after surviving the flood.[21] Surprisingly, ?Usmani shows, a similar story is related by the Vedas and the Puranas of the Hindus in connection with Manu, which describe him as the ?rescuer from the great flood?. According to the Hindu texts,  ?Usmani writes, Manu had two sons, from whom the rest of humanity trace their descent: Chandra or Som (?moon?) and Surya or Hom (?sun?), progenitors of the two great clans, the Chandrabansi and the Suryabansi. They are said to be identical with the Sham and Ham of the Qur?an and the Bible, from whom the great Semitic and Hamitic races derive their origins.[22] Having thus ?proved? Manu and Noah to be the same, ?Usmani says that Muslims must recognise the Manu of the Hindus as their own prophet, and his scripture, the Vedas, as having been, in its original form, a divine revelation. Since Muslims believe Noah to have been the first prophet to be given a holy book by God, his scripture, said to be the Vedas, are to be regarded as the earliest divine texts, and the law that they lay down, the first shari?ah. The Qur?an is said to contain the same fundamental teachings as the Vedas, and is thus, ?Usmani claims, to be considered as the ?last Veda? (antim veda)[23], revealing the last shari?ah.[24]

 

Manu and Muhammad: Tracing the Link


With Manu, prophet of the Vedas, having been thus ?proved? to be none other than the Qur?anic Noah, and the Vedas being shown to indeed be a divinely revealed scripture, ?Usmani goes on to an elaborate discussion of predictions that he claims the Vedas contain announcing the advent of Muhammad as God?s last messenger and prophet for the entire world, including the Hindus. All religions, except for Islam, ?Usmani says, have predicted the arrival of a ?great prophet?, the last messenger of God, and this, he asserts, is none other than Muhammad.[25]

        Although the Vedas were the ?first scripture? to be revealed by God (adi granth), they have, ?Usmani says, prophesied the arrival of the one who will come to the world with the ?final scripture? (antim granth). Who this great figure is, however, the Hindus do not seem to know. The key to this mystery ?Usmani locates in the term agni, which is used at several places in the Vedas, and which Hindus have ordinarily, but, in ?Usmani?s view, mistakenly, taken to refer to ?fire?.[26] The instruction of the Rig Veda [3:28:6]: ?Place the last wisdom (gyan) on the first and you shall find the secret of agni? is interpreted by ?Usmani to mean that the ?first scripture? (the Vedas) must be understood in the light of the ?last scripture? (the Qur?an) in order to uncover the mystery of agni, and this is what he proceeds to do.[27]

        Agni, says ?Usmani, is mentioned on numerous occasions in the Hindu texts. Indeed, he says, agni is ?the main topic? in the Vedas and several other Hindu scriptures.[28]  The Upanishads identify him with Prajapati, the ?lord of creatures?, while the Vedas equate him with the Aryan god Indra, describing him as an intermediary between God and the first man, to whom he passes on God?s commands.  Further, ?Usmani writes, the Vedas predict that agni, having already come to the world once, will manifest himself here once again as the ?leader of all humanity?. The Vedas describe agni as first being formless, then assuming a physical form in this world and then, finally, going back into formlessness. He can, however, only be recognised in his physical form (dehdhari rup).[29] Thus, in order to unravel the mystery of agni, we need to examine all the details that the Vedas provide us with of him in this physical form, when he appears among human beings.

        ?Usmani writes that the Rig Veda [3:29:11] refers to agni in his physical form by two personal names. Firstly, as Narashams, a Sanskrit word which means ?the praised one?, which, interestingly, ?Usmani points out, is also the meaning of the Arabic word ?Muhammad?. The other name that agni in his physical form goes by in the Vedas is Asur, meaning ?he who comes at the end?, which ?Usmani translates as ?the last prophet?, again suggesting that agni is none but Muhammad. As further ?evidence?, ?Usmani refers to the Atharva Veda [20:127:1-3], where it is prophesied that Narashams would be protected by God from his seventy thousand and nine enemies, would ride a camel, would have twenty female camels in his possession, besides a hundred gold coins, ten necklaces, three hundred and ten horses and ten thousand cows. This verse refers to Narashams as ?Mamah Rishi? or ?the great one?. All this, Usmani asserts, points unmistakably to Muhammad. Thus, seventy thousand and nine is said to have been the population of Muhammad?s Meccan opponents; the Prophet did indeed ride a camel; he did, in fact, also own twenty milk-giving camels; the ?hundred gold coins? in the Vedic verse are said to refer to the hundred close disciples of the Prophet who sought refuge in Ethiopia to escape the attacks of the Qur?aish; the ?ten necklaces? are Muhammad?s ten most beloved disciples (ashara mubashara) who, Muhammad predicted while they were still alive, would go to heaven; the ?three hundred and ten horses? apparently refer to the number of the Prophet?s Companions who fought along with him at the battle of Badr; and the ?ten thousand cows? are said to represent an identical number of the Prophet?s followers who accompanied him on the conquest of Mecca.[30]

        In short, then, ?Usmani claims, Muhammad is agni, the ? great secret? whom the Vedas have prophesied about.  In fact, he stresses, so clear is the Rig Veda that Muhammad is the mysterious agni, the chosen one of God, that it in fact mentions his real name on numerous occasions [RV:1:13:3; RV:1:18:9; RV:1:106:4], describing him as the ?recipient of the Vedic sacrifice?, as the ?household priest of heaven? and as the ?powerful helper of those in distress?.[31] Likewise, the other Vedas are also said to refer to Muhammad, using various names such as ?Ahmet? [Yajur Veda:31:18], ?Ahmad? [Atharva Veda: 8:5:16] and ?Athmed? [Atharva Veda: 20:126:14], where he is described as ?the mighty one who will dispel ignorance? and as ?the guardian of all creatures?.[32]

         

Hindu Followers of Muhammad
Having ?established? that the great figure of Agni in the Vedas is none other than Muhammad, ?Usmani now strives to show that if Hindus are to follow the instructions of their own sacred scriptures, they must accept Muhammad as the last and most revered prophet of God and follow in his footsteps. ?Usmani here says that Muhammad, known in the ?world of the angels? (?alam-i malakut) as ?Ahmad?, was the first soul to be created by God, equating him with the Hindu adi purusha. He writes that God created all the souls from the soul of Muhammad, to whom he attributed His own qualities of ?Most Kind? (ra?uf) and ?Most Merciful? (rahim).[33] Then, God assembled all the souls He had created using the soul of Ahmad as an instrument and took an oath from them asking them if they accepted Him as their Lord. Ahmad was the first to answer in the affirmative [Q: 7:172]. This event, he says, is also mentioned in the Rig Veda [4:99:5], where the word ?Ahmad?, so he claims, is also employed, describing ?Ahmad? as the ?first to sacrifice himself?.[34] God then used this ?first soul? (pahli jiv atma), Ahmad, as a means (sadhan) for the manifestation of the entire cosmos, and it was he who transmitted divine knowledge from God to Adam. In other words, Ahmad was the ?teacher? (guru, shikshak) of all the other souls. That is why the Vedas call him the agni purohit (?chief priest?).[35]

        After creating the first soul, Ahmad, God created all the other souls. Then, he proceeded to give these souls physical bodies, the first being given to Adam. The word ?Adam? is said to be of non-Semitic origin, corresponding to the Sanskrit adi manav (?first man?).[36] According to Muslim tradition, Adam was sent down to India or Sri Lanka, to a place called Dajjana, which ?Usmani suggests could be a corruption of the word ?Dakkan? or South India. Thus, Adam is the ?physical father? (sharirik pitamah) of Hindus and Muslims, as well as all other peoples, while Ahmad or Muhammad is the ?spiritual father? (adhyatmik pitamah) of us all.[37] God appointed Adam as the first human and the first prophet on earth, and the succession of prophets continued till Ahmad took on physical form and appeared in the world as Muhammad, the prophet for all humankind till eternity. The Vedas are said to testify to this, describing Narashams (whom, as we have seen, ?Usmani equates with Muhammad) as God?s messenger (duta) [Rig Veda: 9:92:9] and as the priest (hota) of all human beings [Rig Veda:9:98:9].[38] The Rig Veda is said to declare that Narashams will arrive as the ?last divine messenger? (antim deva duta), who shall ?dispel all darkness? and ?conquer death?. The Yajur Veda [YV:39:98] is said to predict that once Narashams comes to the world, ?there will be no other way but through him to attain the ultimate goal?. All the other prophets shall testify to him, the Satpath Brahmana is quoted as saying, for they have entered into a covenant with God in this regard.[39]

        Now that the ?great secret? of the identity of agni that exercised the minds of scholars of the Vedas for centuries has been at last ?revealed?, ?Usmani declares that the end of the world is imminent. Changes of great import are predicted, the most important being that the Hindus, the ?caste of the [people of the] Vedas? (vaidik jati), will be appointed as leaders of the entire world (vishwa nayak), just as in the remote past the Hindus are said to have enjoyed this position, when the first man, Adam, was sent down by God to India. This development is said to have been predicted by the Vedas. According to ?Usmani, the Vedas say that when ?the final fire-stick is laid on the first fire-stick? [RV:3:29:3], which he explains as when the Vedas are studied in the light of the Qur?an, the ?mystery and glory? of agni will be unfolded. The Vedas are said to predict that this will happen as a result of ?investigative research? (manthan) by a ?race belonging to the desert? (marut) [RV:3:29:5; RV:5:3:3], which ?Usmani interprets as referring to the Muslims.[40]

        It is striking to see here how closely, curiously enough, ?Usmani resembles contemporary militant Hindu ideologues, who see the Vedic Hindus as having once been the font of civilisation and knowledge of the world and as now heading towards reclaiming that status once again. The difference, however, is crucial, for the Hindus, according to ?Usmani, would be appointed by God to lead the world only after they collectively realise who the hidden agni of their scriptures is. ?Usmani claims to have solved the mystery for them, having ?proved? that agni is none other than the Prophet Muhammad himself. In other words, once the Hindus accept Muhammad and his faith, they shall rise up as God?s appointed people to lead the world (vishwa nretitva).[41]

        If Hindus are thus promised the status of ?world leaders? once they recognise, accept and follow agni/Muhammad, what, then, of the present-day Muslims? ?Usmani here refers to the incident that took place on 1 Muharram 1400 AH (20 November, 1979), involving a group of Arab Muslims, under one Muhammad bin ?Abdullah Qahtani, the self-proclaimed Mahdi (?The Rightly Guided One?), who stormed the Ka?aba and remained holed up inside it for several days, leading to bloody clashes with the Saudi police. ?Usmani writes that this incident was a fulfilment of Muhammad?s prophecy that towards the Last Days, the guardians of the Ka?aba would themselves desecrate the holy shrine, and, so, would no longer be allowed to enjoy the status of ?world leaders?. He quotes a hadith in this regard, according to which Muhammad is said to have prophesied that a person would claim to be the Mahdi and would, along with his followers, desecrate the Ka?aba, after which the Arabs would soon perish. Another hadith which he refers to has it that Muhammad?s people would be destroyed by ?the rebellious hands of the Qur?aish?. Usmani sees both these traditions as referring to Qahtani and his storming of the Ka?aba, signalling the final decline of the Arabs for straying from the path of true Islam.[42] He refers to Imam Suyuti as having written in his commentary on the Qu?ran that the present race of Muslims would live for 1500 years after the death of the Prophet. After this, because they would deviate from the right path, they would be substituted by God by another people who would embrace Islam. This substitution theory, ?Usmani says, has been predicted several times in the Qur?an itself .[43] Thus, for instance, the Qur?an says:

O ye who believe! If any from among you turn back from his faith, soon Allah will produce a people whom He will love as they will love Him [Q:5:54].

       

?Usmani refers to the Qur?an and to the Hadith literature to argue that the new race whom God will choose to lead the world in place of the present race of Muslims are the Hindus. Thus, after quoting the above Qur?anic verse, he writes that when this verse was revealed, the Companions asked Muhammad who this race was who would succeed them if their people strayed from God?s path. According to one account, Muhammad is said to have that it would be the Persians, and, according to another, the Yemenis. ?Usmani argues that India is the only country in the world where the Persians and the Yemenis merge together. The Aryans from Iran settled in northern India, while large numbers of Dravidians from south India made Yemen their home, as did several other Indian tribes, such as the Meds, the Sabajas, the Siyabjas and the Ahamrahs.[44] In other words, then, the Indians (Hindus) are, ?Usmani argues, the people whom God will choose to succeed the present-day Muslims as leaders of the world once they embrace Islam. This they will do, ?Usmani says, by ?collectively accepting Islam as their own religion?, but adds that they shall come to Islam ?through their own scriptures?, when they at last discover who the mysterious agni really is, about whom their prophet Manu/Noah had prophesied in their holy scripture, the Vedas. Following the instructions of Manu, ?Usmani claims, the Hindus will accept Muhammad and his religion and, replacing the present-day Muslims, who have strayed from the path of Islam, will be appointed by God as the leaders of the world.[45]

 

Presumably, therefore, all that the Hindus now need to do to attain world supremacy is to turn Muslim en masse. This, however, is not to be seen as mass conversion to an entirely new faith, for all the prophets of God, Muhammad and Manu/Noah included, and all the divine scriptures, including both the Qur?an and the Vedas, have, ?Usmani stresses, taught the same religion.[46] The Arabic word for this religion is al-Islam, which is the same as the Sanskrit satya dharma (?true religion?),[47] sanatan dharma (?eternal religion?, the Qur?anic din-i qiyama), shashvat dharma (?divinely inspired religion?) and svadharma (?religion of the natural self?, the Qur?anic din-i fitrat), terms used by Hindus for the religion of the Vedas.[48] For Hindus to accept Islam, then, is simply to go back to the actual roots of their own Vedic religion.

        That the Hindus will actually convert to Islam in a body has already been predicted, ?Usmani claims. As ?proof?, ?Usmani cites a hadith from the Mishkat, according to which Muhammad is said to have remarked that on the Day of Judgement, God will ask Noah if he had conveyed His message to his people. Noah will answer that he had, but his people would say that no prophet had come to them. Then, God will ask Noah if anyone could bear witness for him, and Noah would point to Muhammad and his followers. This suggests, ?Usmani argues, that the people of Noah would convert to Islam and become followers of Muhammad. The Hindus, he remarks in this regard, are, like the people of Noah described in this tradition, the only people who do not know who their prophet was.[49] That the Hindus will finally embrace Islam ?Usmani does not doubt, for the Prophet is said to have foretold that a race known as the aja?ib-ul qaum (?the most strange people?), whom Usmani equates with the Hindus, will enter the fold of the faith. They shall do so, however, not directly, but initially by ?rediscovering their lost scriptures?, accepting Islam only after confirming the teachings of the Qur?an from their own holy books. [50]

        For those who refuse to follow the instruction of the Vedas and accept Muhammad, and, indeed, for all those who choose to remain hostile to God?s ?chosen religion?, ?Usmani predicts a woeful fate. The growing sin, immorality and strife in the world, coupled with massive natural calamities, he says, are clear signs that the Last Day is at hand. Now, agni/Muhammad, having passed through the first two phases of his manifestation, first in the world of the angels, as an instrument for the creation of the cosmos, and then in the physical world as a prophet for the whole world, will be sent by God in his third ?angry? (jalali) form to resort to power (shakti) to vanquish the enemies of the Truth. He shall fight the forces of evil and disbelief till they are wiped out from off the face of the earth. This, ?Usmani says, is the final war that the Vedas have predicted between the devas (gods) and the asuras (demons), between truth (sat) and falsehood (asat), the dreadful battle of Kali Yuga that shall engulf the entire world. This is the ?all-embracing revolution? that all the divine scriptures have referred to, the ?actual? (vastavik) Mahabharata, as it is known to the Hindus, and the Ghazva-i Hind (?Battle of India?), as it is called in Islamic tradition. After this terrible battle, agni/Muhammad will set about establishing the Kingdom of God, which the Hindu scriptures refer to as Ram Rajya (?the rule of Rama?). Everyone must decide now whose side he is on, ?Usmani stresses, for God shall use agni/ Muhammad to destroy all his foes, just as He used him to create all human souls.[51] It is ?Now or Never? for all human beings, as the title of ?Usmani?s most famous work tells us.

 

A New ?Hinduism??:  Implications for Hindus and Muslims
?Usmani?s radical reformulation of traditional Hindu beliefs and concepts has crucial implications for the image of the religion of the Hindus that he seeks to present as a basis for Muslims to dialogue with. What is particularly striking in his analysis of Hinduism is his effort to formulate out of the immensely diverse traditions that come under this umbrella a well-defined and clearly bounded belief-system. The model that he adopts, of course, is the Islamic, or, more generally, the Semitic. For ?Usmani, and here he echoes general Islamic opinion on the subject, a divinely inspired religion must have its own prophet, commissioned by God with a particular scripture. God is seen as having revealed His Will through a book, in contrast to the traditional Hindu understanding of God revealing Himself, taking on human form as an incarnation (avatar) in order to communicate with human beings. ?Usmani?s restatement of Vedic Hinduism, while conditioned by his own Islamic understanding of the normative features of divinely revealed religion, are quite in harmony with efforts of neo-Hindu groups to posit a central text, such as the Gita (eg. the Gandhians) or the Vedas (eg. the Arya Samaj), as the pivot of their faith, seeking, thereby, recognition for Hinduism in the family of organised, ?world? religions. ?Usmani, of course, views his project as one of rescuing Hinduism from the Hindus, cleansing it of the ?corruption? and ?distortions? that it has undergone at their hands over the centuries, and bringing it back to its ?true? original form, as al-Islam or the real sanatan dharma, the religion taught by all the prophets of God. This process, as we have seen, involves reflecting on the Vedas by using the Qur?an as the interpretive key, for, ?Usmani argues, the Qur?an is the only scripture to have escaped distortion.[52] ?Only those portions of the [existing] Vedas?comprise the real Veda that get authenticated by the Qur?an?, he lays down as his guiding principle.[53] All concepts and beliefs in the Vedas that are not in accordance with the Qu?ran, he says, are to be rejected outright, being dismissed as later accretions. In this manner, what we have is a new Vedic ?Hinduism?, different in no substantial way from the teachings of the Qur?an.

        If the Vedas are indeed a divinely revealed scripture and the Hindus have had a prophet sent to them by God in the form of Manu/Noah, this has crucial implications, ?Usmani suggests, for the way in which Hindus and Muslims should relate to each other. Since a Muslim must believe in all the prophets and in all their scriptures in order to be a true believer, ?Usmani says that belief in the Vedas and Noah/Manu is also to be regarded as a cardinal aspect of the faith of a Muslim. Indeed, he says, it is this fact of belief in Manu/Noah and the Vedas as integral to his faith as a Muslim that gives him the right to comment on the Vedas and unveil their ?hidden? truths to those who claim to be their followers but have ?strayed? far from the ?true? Vedic path. Hence, Muslims, ?Usmani says, ?have as much right on the Vedas as anyone else?. [54] ?Usmani goes so far as to suggest that the Vedas may in fact be the ?first scattered pages? (suhuf ul-?ula) that the Qur?an refers to (Q:26:196) or even the ?first scriptures? (zubur ul-awwalin) (Q:26:196), and hence it is incumbent on all Muslims to hold them in respect and reverence. [55] Muslims must show no hesitation in studying the Vedas, for it has now been ?shown? that it is as much theirs as it is the Hindus?. Anticipating objections to this suggestion on the grounds that Muhammad once rebuked one of his chief disciples, ?Umar, from reading the scriptures of other peoples (in this case, the Torah), ?Usmani writes that this was only because at that time ?Umar had only recently converted to Islam and so was not ?fully matured in knowledge?. However, later, when the Prophet was assured that his disciples? faith in Islam was firm and secure, he even went so far as to let them quote from the Torah and the Gospel, albeit only from those portions that were in accordance with Islam.[56]  Indeed, one of the closest companions of the Prophet, Salman Farsi, is said to have converted to Islam after studying the Gospel and discerning therein prophecies about Muhammad. When Salman narrated Gospel verses predicting Muhammad?s arrival, Muhammad?s face ?became radiant?. Hence, ?Usmani says, it is legitimate for Muslims to quote from those sections of other peoples? divine scriptures that are in consonance with Islam in order that others might discover the truth of Islam and predictions about Muhammad contained in their own holy books.[57]

        The Vedas, then, are seen to provide a bridge between Hindus and Muslims as they are now to be regarded as the shared heritage of both. ?Usmani presents the Vedas and their prophet, Manu/Noah, as the symbol of ?true Hindu-Muslim unity?. Based on a common love for and obedience to Manu/Noah, Muslims and Hindus can turn their backs to their antagonistic past and charter a new course of amity and brotherhood. This, in turn, ?Usmani argues, promises to have universal appeal, because the Jews and the Christians, too, regard Noah as a prophet of God. Hence, ?Usmani stresses, ?The foundations of international unity [must] be laid upon Noah?s religion so that aversion yields place to mutual understanding?.[58] Muslims must now accept the Vedas, and the Hindus, discovering the predictions said to have been made in the Vedas about Muhammad, should accept the Qur?an. Both Hindus and Muslims would then be united in a common faith in Adam, whose children all humans are, in Noah/Manu, their common prophet, and in Muhammad, whose arrival Manu is ?proved? to have predicted. On this firm foundation, ?Usmani says, the basis of lasting Hindu-Muslim brotherhood can be laid.[59]

        The Hindu-Muslim unity that ?Usmani envisages is one that is, of course, based on a crucial redefinition of what it means to be a Hindu and a Muslim. For Muslims, it would mean that they must recognise the sanctity of the Vedas as a divine revelation, for a Muslim must have faith in all the prophets and their scriptures prior to Muhammad. The pre-Qur?anic divine scriptures, including the Vedas, have not been abrogated, ?Usmani says. Rather, the Qur?an simply reiterates the basic message of all these scriptures in their original forms?submission to one God?and the only sections that have been replaced are those that relate to matters of the law. The din, in other words, of all the scriptures is the same, while they differ on issues related to the shari?ah, the Muhammadan shari?ah (shari?at-i muhammadi) having replaced all previous laws.[60] A true Muslim who believes in this oneness of the din of all prophets and scriptures emerges, ?Usmani says, as a true universalist.

        The problem of the legal status of the Hindus, however, still poses a challenge, which ?Usmani attempts to resolve in a novel way. Traditional Islamic law envisaged only two broad categories for non-Muslims, as ahl-i kitab (?People of the Book?) and mushrikin (polytheists). The former were chiefly identified with the Jews and Christians, peoples who had received a divine book before the advent of Muhammad. The early Muslims in India seem to have had some difficulty in classifying the Hindus. For some Muslims, the Hindus did not appear to have a divinely inspired book or a prophet, and hence were technically seen as mushrikin. However, treating the Hindus as mushrikin was seen as impractical for most Muslim rulers, who, on grounds of convenience, allowed them the privileges associated with the ahl-i kitab. ?Usmani here makes an important contribution to the debate on the legal status of the Hindus, which seems to have generated some controversy in the ranks of some sections of the ?ulama.[61] He argues that in addition to the polytheists of Mecca, the word mushrik has also been used in the Qur?an for the Jews and the Christians for their ascribing partners to God, although it also recognises them as ahl-i kitab. He adds that many Muslims, too, cannot escape the label of mushrik due to ?some of their wrong actions and conceptions?. Likewise, he adds, the Qur?an also refers to believers in the Christian Trinity as committing kufr (infidelity), and a hadith has it that ?those [Muslims] who deliberately shun ritual worship commit kufr?. Thus, Muslims, along with the ahl-i kitab, too, can be guilty of shirk (associating others with God) and kufr to various degrees. Only atheists are absolute kafirs in that they totally deny God. The Hindus, on the other hand, do have a faith in God or some divine power, however ?distorted?, and so, while ?guilty? of a degree of shirk and kufr, are not absolute disbelievers. This, however, does not make them ahl-i kitab, although they have received a divine book, the Vedas. ?Usmani argues that according to the Qur?an, God has sent messengers to all peoples, but it explicitly mentions only the Jews and Christians as ahl-i kitab. The reason is that these groups alone, in addition, of course, to the Muslims, ?maintained an affiliation, although a distorted one, with the Book of God through a well recognised prophet, knowing and believing in the prophet who brought the book to them?. The Hindus, on the other hand, have ?lost? their ?living relation? with their book, the Vedas, and their prophet, Manu/Noah.  Hence, they are not to be considered ahl-i kitab. However, ?Usmani speaks of yet another class of non-Muslims, in which he places the Hindus. This is the category of the ?Ummiyyin, one that is rarely, if ever, used in South Asian Islamic jurisprudential thought. The original ?Ummiyyin, Usmani says, were a people living in Muhammad?s time who called themselves followers of Abraham but did not possess the book given by God to him. ?Usmani says that today the Hindus alone are qualified to be classed as ?Ummiyin, because they have ?lost? their organic link with their own scriptures.[62] The task of the Muslims is to seek to draw the Hindus out from their ?Ummiyyin status by taking them back to their original faith, based on a ?true? reading of the Vedas. When this happens, ?Usmani claims, the Hindus will automatically join the ranks of the Muslims en masse.

For Hindus, then, ?Usmani?s project has critical implications. The Vedas having been ?shown? to have predicted the arrival of Muhammad, the Hindus must accept Muhammad as the last messenger of God and follow his teachings if they are to remain faithful to their own scriptures. In this way, they would, ?Usmani says, not be converting to a radically new religion, but only going back to their original Vedic religion, from which, so he argues, they have been separated by centuries of distortion and superstition. Muslims must assist the Hindus in thus recovering their ?lost? faith, guiding them back to the ?real? teachings of the Vedas, after which the Hindus, discovering the predictions said to have been made therein about Muhammad, would collectively embrace Islam. In this regard, ?Usmani sees Muslim scholars and preachers as having a vital role to play. They must, he says, study the Hindu scriptures in the light of the Qur?an and then appeal to the Hindus to embrace Islam, not as a radical break from, but, rather, as a fulfilment of, these scriptures, showing them the identity between the teachings of the Vedas and the Qur?an and the numerous predictions about Muhammad said to be contained in the former. ?Usmani argues that the Hindus should be ?invited to the Truth [i.e. Islam] through their scriptures only?.[63] If this is done in the right manner, the Hindus ?will never hesitate to accept it?. [64]

        The mode of conversion envisaged, therefore, is that of the entire community of Hindus going over to Islam, an act that is to seen as a recovery of their own faith, restoring, ?Usmani says, ?Hinduism to its original form?. ?Such a method?, he notes, ?will prove beneficial for converting the entire race rather than individuals?. This is not to be understood as simply a clever tactic in order to ward of Hindu opposition to what may be seen as mass Islamic proselytisation. Rather, it is said to be the very same method that Muhammad adopted with regard to the Jews and Christians of seventh century Arabia, appealing to them to discover the prophecies about him said to have been contained in their own scriptures. [65]

 

The process of conversion of the Hindus envisaged is gradual, and unfolds in stages. The first step is to convince them that their Vedas do indeed foretell the coming of Muhammad and instruct them to accept him and his message. Then, gradually, they are to be instructed in following the shar?iah of Muhammad. Seeking Prophetic sanction for this strategy, ?Usmani remarks that this is precisely the method that Muhammad followed. In Mecca, Muhammad insisted that he had not come to preach a new religion but simply to revive the religion of Abraham, whose descendants the Qur?aish claimed to be. Once increasing numbers of the Qur?aish accepted Muhammad, the shar?iah laws were gradually revealed and implemented, a process that took many years to complete, reaching its conclusion only after the Prophet had shifted to Medina.[66] Finally, ?Usmani says, when the Hindus all enter the fold of Islam, they will be appointed as the new leaders of the world, like the early Muslims, and, after uniting all of humanity on the basis of God?s true religion, shall usher in the much-awaited ?age of truth? (sat yug) which their ancient Vedic ancestor, Manu, had spoken of many thousands of years ago.[67]


                                        *

 

Faced with the growing challenge of militantly anti-Muslim Hindu assertion, on the one hand, and a consciousness of the Islamic imperative for da?wah, on the other, ?Usmani charted a new course for Muslims seeking to relate to people of other faiths in India, particularly the Hindus. His ambitious efforts at Hindu-Muslim dialogue may be seen as an innovative way for Muslims to deal with Hinduism in a spirit of positive appreciation for some aspects of the Hindu faith and tradition, while at the same time enabling them to remain faithful to what he regarded as the fundamental Islamic obligation of da?wah.  His method of dialogue was, of course, based on the Muslim understanding of the absolute truth of Islam, in contrast to the relative truth of other religions. However, even while insisting that salvation could be had only by conversion to Islam, he advocated a policy of peaceful dialogue as a means for Muslims to relate to others.  What is particularly significant in his approach to Hindu-Muslim relations was his insistence that the scriptures of the Hindus, in their original forms, might also contain divine truths, and that, like the Qur?an, they might have been divinely revealed. This in itself was not a new perspective, for many Sufis and others had indeed articulated such views much before him. One has only to mention, as an instance, the seventeenth century Mughal prince, Dara Shikoh, who believed the Upanishads were actually the ?hidden book?, the ?great secret? (sirr-i akbar) mentioned in the Qur?an. Further, key aspects of Usmani?s radical reinterpretation of ?Hinduism?, such as his argument of Muhammad being mentioned in the Hindu texts, are to be found in the writings of earlier Muslim scholars, most noticeably the works of medieval Isma?ili missionaries.[68] Moreover, his references to predictions about Muhammad in the Jewish and Christian scriptures had a long provenance of their own, going back to early Muslim debates with the ahl-i kitab. What was original about ?Usmani?s contribution was not his particular claims as such, but, rather, his effort to frame all these together in the form of a detailed and carefully articulated theory to argue that the Vedas were indeed a divinely revealed scripture, that they had predicted the arrival of Muhammad and that, therefore, the Hindus should, following the instructions of the Vedas, convert to Islam. This eventual outcome, he argued, was to be seen as a fulfilment, and not a radical negation of, the teachings of the Vedas.

        Predictably, ?Usmani?s writings generated considerable controversy in both Hindu and Muslim circles. Some Muslims accused him of secretly attempting to Hinduise the Muslims by insisting that they should recognise and accept the Vedas as a divine revelation. Militant Hindus saw in his writings an appeal for the launching of a mass conversion drive to Islam among the Hindus.[69] Not to be left out, radical Dalits, spokesmen of the ?untouchable? castes, espied in ?Usmani?s programme a hidden Brahminical hand, accusing him of seeking to Brahminise Islam by granting legitimacy to Manu, whom they regard as the author of the caste system and the practice of untouchability.[70] Yet, many Muslims have clearly been inspired by ?Usmani?s appeals, as can be gauged from the numerous editions which his Agar Abhi Na Jage To has seen. If his hopes for Hindus coming to accept his radical revisioning of their faith have yet to fructify, they continue to inspire many Muslims, providing them, if nothing else, with inspiration for what they see as a divinely appointed task.

 

————————————————————————————————————————

[1] Shams Naved ?Usmani, Kya Ham Musalman Hain?, Maktaba-i Tajalli, Deoband, 1962. This was ?Usmani?s first book.

[2] Presently, the organisation is headed by ?Usmani?s chief disciple, Sayyed ?Abdullah Tariq.

[3] Sayyed ?Abdullah Tariq, Now or Never [being the translation by Altaf Hussain Tak of Tariq?s Agar Abhi Na Jage To], Raushni Publishing House, Rampur, n.d., p. 19.

[4]Ibid., p.17.

[5] Javed Anjum, Namaz Sanatan Dharam Ki Drishti Mai, Raushni Publishing House, Rampur, n.d., p.10.


[6] Sayyed ?Abdullah Tariq, Vahi Ek Ekta Ka Adhar, Raushni Publishing House, Rampur, 1991, p.9.

[7] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., pp.122-28.

[8] Anjum,op.cit., pp.8-10.

[9] Tariq, Vahi Ek?, op.cit., pp.19-25.

[10] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., pp.141-44.

[11] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.150. It is interesting to note in this regard that some militant Hindus, too, claim that the Ka?aba is an ancient Shiva temple and demand that the Hindus wrest it from Muslim control.

[12] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.49.

[13] Anjum, op.cit., pp.5-7. Usmani adds that the Islamic form of prayer (salat) is explicitly mentioned in the Gita (6:10-13) as the sashtang, or the worship that involves eight parts of the body in prostration before God. He notes that namaz, the Persian word for the Arabic salat, has a Sanskrit root, consisting of two words, nam (?to prostrate before?) and aj (?God?) (op.cit., pp.10-20).

[14] Anjum, op.cit., p.4.

[15] Anjum, op.cit., p.5.

[16] Sayyed ?Abdullah Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an Faisla Karte Hain?Kitne Dur Kitne Pas?, Raushni Publishing House, Rampur, 1989, p.11.

[17] Ibid., pp.22-23.

[18] Ibid., p.39.

[19] ?Abdullah Yusuf ?Ali, An English Interpretation of the Holy Qur?an, Bilal Books, Bombay, 1996, p.12.

[20] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., pp.43-45.

[21] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.54.

[22] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an…, op.cit., pp.29-30.

[23] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an?, op.cit., p.29.

[24] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.49.

[25] Sayyed ?Abdullah Tariq, Gavahi, Raushni Publishing House, Rampur, 1991, p.34.

[26] Ibid., p.32.

[27] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an…, op.cit., pp17-18.

[28] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an…, ibid., p.55.

[29] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an?, op.cit., pp.51-55.

[30] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an?, op.cit., pp. 60-69.

[31] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.119. ?Usmani adds that the Bhavishya Purana, a late post-Vedic text, is said to refer to one ?Mohmad? who will ?appear for the eradication of the darkness of ignorance? (Now or Never, op.cit., p.118).

[32] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.92.

[33] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., pp.98-99.

[34] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an…, op.cit., pp.69-70.

[35] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an…, op.cit., pp.75-76.

[36] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an?, p.36. Since Moses, Jesus and Muhammad did not know Sanskrit, the inclusion of the non-Semitic word ?Adam? in the Bible and the Qur?an is proof, ?Usmani argues, that these scriptures were divinely revealed.

[37] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an?, op.cit., p.46.

[38] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an…, op.cit., p.77.

[39] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an…op.cit., p.79.

[40] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.102.

[41] Tariq, Vahi Ek?, op.cit., p.32.

[42] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.24.

[43] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., pp.27-28.

[44] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., pp.31-32.

[45] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.33.

[46] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.12.

[47] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an…, op.cit., p.12.

[48] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an?, op.cit., pp.15-16.

[49] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.37. 

[50] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.82.

[51] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an…, op.cit., p.94.

[52] Anjum, op.cit., p.22.

[53] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.87.

[54] Tariq, Vahi Ek?, op.cit., p.4.

[55] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.85.

[56] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., pp.160-62.

[57] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., pp.161-62.

[58] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.179.

[59] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an?, op.cit., p.96.

[60] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.157.

[61] Interview with Altaf Hussain Tak, Srinagar, 4 November,1999.

[62] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.165-67.

[63] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.179.

[64] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.174.

[65] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., p.171.

[66] Tariq, Now or Never, op.cit., pp.157-58.

[67] Tariq, Ved Aur Qur?an?, op.cit., pp.29-30. Just as all divine knowledge was ?put together? in Arabia, ?Usmani says, so will all humanity become one in India. This is said to have been predicted in the Qur?an, the Bible and the Vedas.  This, ?Usmani claims, will be the real ?intermingling of the two Gangas [i.e. the Vedas and the Qur?an]?.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


[68] See, for instance, Ali S. Asani, Ecstasy and Enlightenment: The Ismaili Devotional Literature of South Asia, I.B.Tauris, London & New York, 2002.

[69] Interview with Altaf Hussain Tak, Srinagar, 4 November, 1999.

[70] Interview with V.T.Rajshekar, editor of Dalit Voice, Bangalore, 18 November, 1999.


Visit Yoginder Sikand’s website at http://www.islaminterfaith.org


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