Published on: Saturday 29 Oct, 2005
Mujlisul-Ulema (Port Elizabeth)
Published byYoung Men’s Muslim Association, P.O. Box 5036, Benoni South 1502 (South Africa)
Some “researcher” known as P. N. Oak has come up with some ludicrous, puerile and absurd comments regarding Islam. His theory postulating the “impact of the Vedic religion on Islam” is laughable. Those acquainted with history will smile at the silliness of the assertions made by Oak.
Among the fallacious claims made by Oak is that The Holy Ka’bah in Makkah was “originally a Shiva temple”. But for this astounding and absurd claim he fails to present any evidence. He permits his imagination to play havoc with him, hence he bases his claim on “a gold dish” supposedly located in the Ka’bah. Oak alleges that some inscription on the gold dish supposedly found in the Holy Ka’bah refers to “Vikram’s enlightened rule”. Assuming that such a dish was in fact located in the Holy Ka’bah, how on earth can such a chance finding override and abrogate the volumes of historical facts surrounding the Holy Ka’bah? If a copy of the Holy Qur’aan is found in some Hindu temple or in a Christian shrine or in the Pope’s headquarters, does it follow that these places were some Muslim Shrines in some remote point in time and that it will be correct to conclude from such a finding that Islam has made an impact on the respective religions? No person of intelligence can uphold such a ludicrous and unreasonable conclusion. The finding of some dish, parchment, plate, garment or any other object is not an intelligent basis for upturning and negating facts which have been testified for accuracy by authorities, from generation to generation. If every simple find such as a dish, constitutes a valid basis for revising historical facts, then we dare say that the entire history of the world will have to be re-written.
If Oak’s “key” to his “research” is a mere dish supposedly located in the Holy Ka’bah, every man of some intelligence can understand the fallacy of his entire research-conclusions. It staggers the imagination to be informed that a man, supposedly a research scholar, is prepared to dismiss the wealth and volume of historical facts on the basis of a dish which has been claimed to have been found in the Ka’bah. If the same or a similar dish singing the praises of Vikram had to be found in Buckingham Palace, will it be sensible to aver that this Palace was a Hindu shrine once upon a time?
We have no knowledge of any “golden dish” with Hindu praises having been found in the Holy Ka’bah. Let Mr. Oak furnish factual proof regarding this “dish”.
Mr. Oak should also be apprized of some historical facts pertaining to the Ka’bah. Prior to the advent of Prophethood of Muhammad (on whom be peace), the Ka’bah was filled with hundreds of idols — the gods of the pagans who had abandoned the true religion of their forefather, Nabi lbraaheem (Prophet Abraham) — on whom be peace. The pagan Arabs in fact had a god (an idol) for each different day of the year. It will not be at all surprising if Mr. Oak’s research could have suggested that the cult of idol worship which existed among pre-Islam Arabs was the impact of the Vedic religion. Since the Hindu or the Vedic religion is an idolatrous cult with a multitude of gods, the idolatry of the pagan Arabs in the pre-Islamic era can understandably and reasonably be attributed to the Vedic religion. The idols of the pagan Arabs and the idols of the Vedic religion are birds of a feather, but, to suggest that the Vedic idolatrous religion had any impact on Islam and its rigidly monotheistic teachings and beliefs is preposterous and absurd in the extreme.
Again assuming that some Hindu golden dish was located in the Holy Ka’bah, common sense would have concluded that the “dish” was a relic of the idolatrous pagans who had filled the Holy Ka’bah with 360 idols. The idolatrous pagans of the pre-Islam era, having imported their cult of idolatry from the Hindu east, had similar rites of idol-worship. Offerings of a variety of kinds were made to propitiate the idols. It will, therefore, not at all be surprising if the supposed golden dish was among the offerings which the pagans had made to the idols which had been installed in the Holy Ka’bah by the pagan Arabs heavily influenced by the idolatry of the east — the idolatry of the Vedic religion being the most profound.
In terms of the “golden dish ” theory as propounded by Oak, Vedic missionaries had arrived in Arabia to preach their religion. This is the claim supposedly made in the inscriptions on the “dish”. If this is indeed so, then it accounts for the paganism and the idolatry of the Arabs before the advent of Muhammad (on whom be peace). The Arabs, being the followers of Nabi lbraheem (Prophet Abraham) — on whom be peace — were rigidly and uncompromisingly believers in THE ONE GOD. The spread of idolatry among them is therefore surprising. However, the “dish” theory of Oak throws light on the origin of idol-worship among the pre-Islam Arabs. A “golden dish” located in the Ka’bah, with Vedic inscriptions is testimony for the origin of the idols which had once occupied the Holy Ka’bah Mosque in the days before Muhammad (on whom be peace). When the Holy Ka’bah had housed even the idols of the pagan Arabs sedated by Hindu idolatry, then the location of a mere “dish” with Vedic inscriptions should come as no surprise.
Mr. Oak presents a number of fallacious points for his conclusion that the Vedic religion had an impact on Islam.The article in The Leader states:
“In his research Mr. Oak furnishes other proof reinforcing the belief that Arabs were once followers of the Indian Vedic way of life.”
That the pre-Islam Arabs were pagans and idolaters is an undeniable and a well-established historical fact which ten-year old kids in a primary school are aware of. If the Arab idolatrous cult was the influence or even the product of “the Indian Vedic way of life”, there is nothing surprising about it. But, the cult of the pre-Islam Arabs should not be confused with the uncompromising religion of monotheism of Islam delivered to mankind by Muhammad (on whom be peace). No one will deny the idolatry of the pagan pre-Islam Arabs. If some theory or research establishes that the 360 idols installed by the Arabs in the Ka’bah prior to the advent of Islam were the influence or the impact of the Vedic religion, we shall not contest such a claim since reason can accept that a religion grounded and advanced in idolatry can spawn a cult of lesser idolatry, the lesser idolatry in this instance being the idolatry of the pagan Arabs.
One of his points is the Hajj. In this regard Oak states:
“The annual Hajj of the Muslims to the Ka’bah is of an earlier pre-Islamic congregation.”
It is clear that Mr. Oak is a poor student of history. Even our little children are aware of the fact that the Hajj pilgrimage was in existence prior to the appearance of Nabi Muhammad (on whom be peace). The Hajj worship came into existence among the Arabs during the time of Nabi lbraheem (on whom be peace). From this angle it will be correct to conclude that the Hajj of the present-day Muslims “is of an earlier pre-Islamic congregation”. By “pre-Islamic” will mean the era prior to the advent of Muhammad (on whom be peace). But, it is ridiculous to infer that the Islamic Hajj is the impact of the Vedic religion merely because it was in existence from the time of Prophet lbraheem. Every practice of the pre-Islam pagan Arabs cannot be attributed to Vedic influence or the influence of some other idolatrous cult. While the actual worship of Hajj among the Arabs came into existence during the time of Nabi lbraheem (on whom be peace), the Arabs who later abandoned the true religion of lbraheem (on whom be peace) introduced many pagan and idolatrous rites into the Hajj pilgrimage persumably under influence of Vedic idolaters who came to Arabia to preach the idolatry of the Vedic religion. But, such idolatrous influences introduced by the pre-Islam pagans cannot be cited as a basis for the preposterous claim that the Hajj itself is a Vedic rite. There is absolutely no factual or historical evidence to substantiate this fallacious claim made by Oak.
Another absurd claim made by Oak is stated in The Leader as folIows:
“The principal shrines at Varanasi, in India and at Makkah, in Arrastan, were Shiva temples. Even to this day ancient Mahadeva emblems can be seen”
Such emblems can be seen on the Shiva temples in India. But the allegation of such signs of idolatry — such emblems of paganism — on the Ka’bah is a blatent falsity. What is Oak’s proof for existence of such emblems in the Ka’bah? Such “emblems of Mahadeva” allegedly in or on the Ka’bah are the reflections of Oak’s imagination.
The “dish” theory constrains Oak to conjecture the following conclusion which ‘he seems to believe as factual evidence:
“According to the inscriptions, if King Vikram spread the Vedic religion, who else but he could have founded the Ka’bah Temple?”
If King Vikram did in fact spread the Vedic religion of idolatry which gave birth to the 360 idols of the pagan Arabs, it does not follow there from that the Holy Ka’bah was a Hindu temple built by Vikram. For such a preposterous claim factual proof is required. The wishful thinking of Mr. Oak cannot override the facts of history. Even the pagan Arabs were fully aware of the origin of the Ka’bah. They had full knowledge of the fact that Nabi lbraheem (on whom be peace) was the founder of the Ka’bah. The groundless suggestion of a man in this belated century is nothing other than pure wishful thinking — a fallacy to be dismissed with contempt.
In support of his conclusions based on the “dish” theory, Oak claims:
“Pilgrims’ shaving of head and beard and donning white cloth are remnants of the old Vedic practice of entering temples clean shaven.”
Oak demonstrates his lack of knowledge of Islamic practices by his claim of shaving the beard. Hujjaaj (pilgrims) do not shave their beards. Muslim males are not permitted to shave their beards whether they are at home or entering temples or Mosques, be it the Sacred Mosque of the Ka’bah or any other mosque. While shaving the head for male pilgrims is a rite of the Hajj, shaving the beard is not permissible. It may be a Vedic practice to shave the beard, but definitely not a Muslim practice.
Muslim pilgrims do not shave their heads in order to enter temples or Mosques. If shaving the head is a Vedic practice necessary for entry into a temple, Mr. Oak should learn from us that it is not a practice of Islam. Muslim pilgrims either shave or clip some hairs to release them from the restrictions of the Hajj (pilgrimage).
If donning white cloth was a custom of “old Vedic” religion, it does not logically follow therefrom that the white garments which Muslim pilgrims don are “Remnants of old Vedic practice”. What are Oak’s grounds for this fictitious theory? It is absurd to suggest that wherever a white religious garb exists it must be the result of Vedic influence.
Among the points put forward by Oak for his fallacy is the emblem of the crescent moon. Stating this point of Oak, The Leader says:
“In India the crescent moon is always painted across the forehead of the Shiva symbol. The same emblem now adorns the flag of Islam.”
Mr. Oak has transgressed all bounds of absurdity in putting forward this ignorant claim. What is the “flag of Islam” in Oak’s understanding? From where did this ‘research scholar’ obtain his information in this regard! If the flags of Muslim countries have the symbol of the crescent, itdoes not follow that the Flag of Muhammad (on whom be peace) — the Flag of Islam — also displayed the crescent emblem. The crescent emblem is an innovation which did not exist during the time of the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace) nor during the time of his righteous Khulafa (Representatives and Successors). Assuming that the crescent emblem did exist among the Muslims of the Prophetic era, then too, Oak will have no grounds to bolster his clatim of Vedic origin and Vedic influence. One cannot venture such claims without producing facts and proofs to substantiate one’s claims which are in conflict with all facts of history.
Endeavouring to present his wishful thinking as a fact of history, Oak asserts that the Tawaaf (circumambulation) of the Ka’bah by pilgrims is the influence of the Vedic religion. Thus, The Leader says:
“Muslim pilgrims go around the Ka’bah seven times, a common practice among Hindus. In no other mosque does circumambulation prevail.”
Circumambulation of the Ka’bah is because of the special religious significance which Muslims believe is exclusive to the Ka’bah, the first Place of Worship ever to be constructed on earth. According to Islamic belief, the first person to build the Ka’bah was Adam (on whom be peace) — the first man on earth. lts superior rank and the special divine presence which Muslims believe surrounds the Ka’bah are the facts underlying the circumambulation. If Hindus do in fact circumambulate some temple seven times, it cannot be claimed that such a Hindu practice gave rise to the Tawaaf (circumambulation) rite of Islam, Mere similarities between opposite and divergent religions cannot be cited as evidence for one’s claims unsupported by factual proof.
Another point of Oak stated by The Leader is:
“Eid in Sanskrit means worship and Bakri Eid, which derives from sacrifices of Vedic times was celebrated with mutton feasting at the time of the sun’s entry into Aries.”
If the term “Eid” means “worship” in Sanskrit, we have to apprize Oak of the fact that in Arabic the word “Eid” does not mean “worship”. In Arabic “Eid” means ‘the Day of Return’. The Islamic Festivals are known as such because of their ‘return’ or ‘repeated coming’. The term itself does not connote ‘worship’ in Arabic. Thus, there is no question of the Arabic term ‘Eid’ being the Sanskrit term contended by Oak. There is, therefore, absolutely no point for Oak’s “dish” theory” in the Arabic word, “Eid”. “Bakri Eid” being the occasion when Muslims sacrifice animals unto Allah Ta’ala has no resemblance with any Vedic mutton-feasting practice dedicated to idols. The word “Bakri” is not Arabic. It is an Urdu term meaning ‘goat’. Since goats are generally sacrificed in India on the occasion of Eidul Adhaa, Indian Muslims have coined the name “Bakri Eid”. The main animal of sacrifice for the Arabs has always been the camel. Eidul Adhaa — the original and correct name of this auspicious Day — is the name known to the arabs. The sacrifice of animalson this occasion is in commemoration of the supreme sacrificeof lbraheem (on whom be peace). There is absolutely no resemblance to any Vedic mutton-eating custom of idolatrous merry-making. If the Vedic custom of mutton-feasting is to mark the sun’s entry into ‘Aries’, the Islamic practice of sacrificing animals is not. Even the Christian Bible speaks of the sacrifice of animals. If the Islamic custom of sacrificing animals has to be the result of Vedict impact, then Oak may also argue that the Biblical practice of sacrificing animals is likewise the influence of the Vedic religion.
Oak then claims:
“The Islamic word Eidgah, signifies “House of Worship” which is the exact Sanskrit connotation of the term.”
Again Oak exhibits his total ignorance of Islam and its practices. In Arabic there is no such term as “Eidgah”. Thisterm was unknown to the Prophet and his followers during the early history of Islam. The term ‘gah’ means place in the Urdu language. It is not of Arabic origin nor does Eidgah in Urdu mean “House of Worship”. The Eidgah is a special venue set aside for solely the prayers which are performed on the Day of Eid. Eidgah, therefore, means in Urdu the place where the special Eid prayers are performed. Since the term is not of Arabic origin nor is it the word used by the Arabs to describe the place where the Eid prayers are conducted, there is no support in it for Oak’s conclusions stemming from his “dish” theory. In Arabic the place where the Eid prayers are conducted is known as the “Musallaa”.
Oak betrays his ignorance of Islam in similar fashion by tendering the following point in substantiation of the “dish” theory:
“Also, the word Namaaz derives from two Sanskrit roots, ‘Nama and yajna’ meaning bowing and worshipping.”
The word “Namaaz” is not an Arabic term. It was never used by the prophet of Islam nor by the Arab Muslims. Even to this day the Islamic practice of prayers is described as Salaah, not Namaaz. Namaaz isof Persian origin. While Salaah (Islamic prayers) is known as ‘Narnaaz’ in Persian and Urdu, it has never been the case in Arabic. How ridiculous then, is it not, for Oak to cite an Urdu term coined ages after the Prophet of Islam (on whom be peace), to bolster his theory arising out of a dish supposedly found in the Ka’bah? The Urdu language consists of words from many languages, including Sanskrit. But the Urdu language was not the language of the Prophet or of the Arabs.
It is therefore meaningless to seek to forge a theory concerning the Arabs of the pre-Islam and post-Islam era by tendering terms introduced by non-Arab Muslims centuries after the advent of the Prophet of Islam (on whom be peace).
Presenting another preposterous and fallacious point in substantiation of his “dish” theory, Oak says:
“…that Shabibarat is the corrupt form of Shiva Ratra and that the term ‘Eidul Fitr’derives from the Eid of Piters (worship of forefathers in Sanskrit tradition and Pitri Paksha among Hindus).”
The term “shab” is not Arabic. The occasion referred to is the 15th night of the month of Sha’baan in the Islamic calendar. The Arabs do not know this night by the name, ‘Shabibarat’. This is an Indian term, also introduced ages after the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace). It is blatantly false to aver that the Urdu or Faarsi word ‘shab’ is the corruptform of ‘shiva’. Whatever shiva may mean in Sanskrit, it has absolutely no relationship with the Urdu term, ‘shab’ which means night. The word ‘baraa-ah’ is not a corrupt form of the Sanskrit term, ratra’- Oak has allowed his imagination to play havoc with him. He makes sweeping claims without furnishing grounds for his fallacies.
His claim regarding “Eidul Fitr” is just as fallacious. Eidul Fitr has absolutely no connection with some idolatrous worship of forefathers. Eidul Fitr is the Day of Happiness marking the end of the month of fasting, viz., the month of Ramadhaan.
In Islam there is no ritual or practice which is even remotely akin to the Hindu custom of worshipping forefathers.
Oak claims that the word ‘Allah’, the Islamic term for God Almighty, is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘goddess or mother’. If there is some such word in Sanskrit having these meanings stated by Oak, there is absolutely no proof for the claim that the Arabic word, Allah has been borrowed from Sanskrit. In Arabic, the word ‘Allah’does not mean ‘goddess’ nor ‘mother’. The word, ‘Allah’ has been known to the very first man on earth, viz., Aadam (on whom be peace). If some of the progeny of Aadam in the different parts of the world retained the term ‘Allah’ after having abandoned the true religion taught by the Prophets, there is no surprise whatsoever.
It is the belief of Muslims — a belief stated by the Qur’aan –that Almighty Allah had sent Prophets to all nations. Prophets of Allah have therefore appeared in India and in all places to deliver the Truth of Islam. It is, therefore, quite possible, in fact, almost certain that the Prophet or Prophets who came to India many thousands of years ago, had come with the word, Allah. The Indians must have been apprized by the Prophets that God Almighty is Allah, The One. Therefore, it is not at all surprising if the term ‘Allah’ has been retained by the Sanskrit language. But, then why do Hindus not refer to God with the Name Allah if their language and their religion claim that the correct word for God is ‘Allah’?
Oak, spurred on by his imagination, is reading too much in word similarities. Word similarities exist in most languages. A word of the same or similar pronunciation may be found with the same or different meanings in different languages. Historical facts of certitude cannot be deduced from such similarities of ambiguity. Such flimsy theories which are the product of mere imagination and wishful thinking cannot constitutefacts and grounds for the negation of historical and religious facts supported by the testimony of generations of authorities.
In conclusion we are compelled to observe that the findings of Oak are amazing in absurdity and in their degree of fallacy.