I was out a couple of days ago, looking to meet people interested in spiritual life. I do this often, and especially in December every year, I’m in marathon mode.
It was in Kensington market in Toronto, I was out with my son.
We met a gentleman who introduced himself as Altaf. Altaf Bhai is from Pakistan and also has some Agra connections. He told me he is a yogi, even though he is a Muslim. I thought why not, yoga means to reconnect to God, so why can a Muslim not be a yogi. He started speaking some intricate philosophy. But I could see that there were many gaps in his knowledge. He was secretly trying to convince me to become a Muslim. I’m OK with that, but I’m not OK with ignorance.
As the conversation progressed, however, he began to say things that were insulting to another very very great personality, Lord Shiva. He said that Lord Shiva was actually satan. I had to stop him there. It is one thing to not know something, but for someone like me who knows better, it is a crime to stand there and listen to such things. According to the Vedic texts, the personality known as Satan in the Koran and Bible is actually the personality named Kalipurusha. Not to be confused with the goddess Kali devi, this personality is in charge of the current age of quarrel and hypocrisy. But I couldn’t get in a word edgewise with Altaf – he just didn’t want to hear anything.
He then mentioned sacrificing cows. He said that the Quran does permit sacrificing cows. He said that Allah gave us all the animals for our enjoyment.
A yogi who recommends cow slaughter? A yogi who does not know the basics of yoga? Hmmm… this was very fishy.
Every scripture has higher instructions and lower instructions. The lower instructions are meant so that humans who are on the level of animals may find something to adhere to, and rise higher, and when they do rise higher, then there are higher instructions to follow.
For example, there is also an instruction in the Quran that one should not have sexual relationships with one’s mother, or with the father’s wife. Why was this instruction present? Because at that time and in that place, there were men who did not hesitate to do so. So the Prophet had to include that instructions, just to civilize those animal-like men.
The highest instruction, of course, is to see every woman who is not your wife as your own mother. It does not matter if she is younger or older or what – if she is not your wife, she is as good as your own mother. Treat her with respect. That will resolve a lot of problems at one stroke, but that is another topic for another day.
Similarly, the instruction about ritual sacrifice of animals was in a place where food was hardly available – it was the barren desert after all. The instruction of ritual sacrifice and to cause the least amount of pain to the animal was there because there were people who took sadistic pleasure in torturing animals. This does not mean that the Quran encourages opening of slaughter-houses and killing of animals on a large scale. I couldn’t convince him, but this message is for him and other Altaf’s of the world.
It is not necessary to be a bloody thirsty animal killer to follow Islam, to be a Muslim. Meat is not for spiritualists, unless it is a question of absolute necessity.
I did not have the heart to tell Altaf about the hellish punishments given in the Vedic scripture for killing a cow. And I don’t want to shock my dear readers too. But it is not good, not in this world, nor in the next.
One of the greatest Muslims in the history of the world was Haridas Thakur. Born in Bengal, he is recognized as one of the greatest spiritual leaders of the world. He chanted the Hare Krishna Mahamantra constantly, and was able to convince Muslims with arguments from the Koran that he was doing the highest thing. If you want to read about Haridas Thakur, this book is highly recommended. http://torchlightinternational.com/shop/namacarya/.
Haridas Thakur was disliked by both the Muslims and the Hindus, because he knew both scriptures better than most and he personally followed both scriptures perfectly. Indeed, a Qazi had him whipped in 22 marketplaces, and while most people would die after 1-2 such beatings, Haridas Thakur felt no pain. He was praying for his assailants to be forgiven all the while!
In every scripture, including the Bhagavad Gita, there are higher and lower instructions, for example in the twelfth chapter of the Gita, Krishna says the following:
But those who worship Me, giving up all their activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, having fixed their minds upon Me, O son of Pṛthā – for them I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death.
Just fix your mind upon Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engage all your intelligence in Me. Thus you will live in Me always, without a doubt.
My dear Arjuna, O winner of wealth, if you cannot fix your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. In this way develop a desire to attain Me.
If you cannot practice the regulations of bhakti-yoga, then just try to work for Me, because by working for Me you will come to the perfect stage.
If, however, you are unable to work in this consciousness of Me, then try to act giving up all results of your work and try to be self-situated.
If you cannot take to this practice, then engage yourself in the cultivation of knowledge. Better than knowledge, however, is meditation, and better than meditation is renunciation of the fruits of action, for by such renunciation one can attain peace of mind.https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/12/ texts 6-12
Do you see how the highest goal may be unattainable for most? So Krishna gives alternatives. But those alternatives are not the highest thing. The highest thing is what Krishna mentioned first.
Similarly, in the Quran also there are lower and higher instructions, meant for people of different kinds.
I have many Muslim friends who are both Muslim and Vegetarian. In fact, many are vegan. See https://veganmuslims.com/ for a more background on that.
As I told Altaf, I was neither rejecting him, nor was I rejecting Prophet Muhammad, and I certainly am not rejecting Allah. What I am emphatically rejecting is his ignorance, and I am even more strongly rejecting words that are supposedly sacred but are actually meant to spread ignorance around. This applies to anyone from any tradition. I could not give him anything else except a vibration of the Mahamantra – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. May Altaf find peace in this life and the next.
My plea to all my Muslim brothers and sisters is this – please dear souls, please go higher in your knowledge and adherence of your own scripture. Follow the highest instruction of your scripture. Continuously chant the names of Allah with pure love and devotion, and you will find you will lose all taste for blood and flesh.
This is my prayer to everyone else, to Buddhists, to Christians, and to Jews. Thou Shalt Not Kill.