Answered by Shaykh Gibril F Haddad
During a talk on Hinduism, the speaker raised these questions. Could you please reply to them?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
A man-made philosophy can never match an iota of the goodness of the Divinely-revealed true Religion much less be superior to it, and all the sadhus (Hindu ascetics) and gurus (Hindu spiritual guides) of humankind put together cannot match an iota of the goodness of a single Divinely-appointed prophet.
Further, of all the historical dispensations of the true Religion, Islam alone holds true until the end of time while all others are abrogated and no longer efficacious as spiritual paths, nor incorrupt as Divine Self-disclosures. Hence the Prophet Muhammad, upon him blessings and peace, alone is to be followed until the end of time while all the others came and went; and he alone is to be universally followed while they came only for their own people including Jesus who came only for the Israelites.
Hence Judaism, Christianity, Vedantism (a sect of Hinduism), any and all other purported paths of enlightenment and religious laws can no longer help the spiritual wayfarer to reach the supreme good which is knowledge of God except insofar as a terminally-stationary plane can help the traveller fly to his destination: he is inside the plane, the plane is thought by those in it to be fuelled and ready, but it no longer takes off and never will again.
In reply to the above points:
1. Hinduism does not recommend a person to follow any book whether its 1400 or 2000 years old, instead it allows man to attain the supreme conscious within himself.
In the pursuit of the supreme good “The Book” is not followed because of itself nor is it worshipped nor is its worth defined by its antiquity but rather by its quality as the uncreated Divine Speech from cover to cover, unlike any other book on the face of the earth. If any volume contains a recipe for attaining supreme consciousness it is the Discourse of its Maker Himself. Nor can “the supreme conscious within himself” be other than knowledge of God because there is no higher consciousness for creatures. However, inferior stations might be reached through self-denial and meditation which might be erroneously thought to be the supreme conscious by those that possess an incomplete knowledge.
2. Hinduism has pluralism and tolerance, whereas Islam lacks tolerance and pluralism
Islam certainly has more tolerance and pluralism than Hinduism or any other state belief can prove, as shown by the brilliant lives of the non-Muslim citizenry of Muslim states such as Andalusia and Mughal India.
3. Hinduism allows man to attain the supreme good through the process of a multifaceted theory of truth (i.e. One in many realities) whereas Islam speaks of only one dimensional truth (i.e. ones of reality).
To claim that Islam lacks a “multifaceted theory of truth (i.e. One in many realities)” and “speaks of only one dimensional truth” only shows ignorance of the ninety-nine Names of God in Islam and the relationship of the Divine Attributes to creation.
4. Hinduism offers no eternal hell whereas in Islam a non-believer will abide in hell for eternity.
Hinduism certainly teaches belief in eternal hell in the possibility of enduring bad karma for evil people. Further, it is wrong to attribute to Islam the teaching that the non-believer will abide in hell forever. Rather, the disbeliever will; while the non-believer is given another chance until he either believes or disbelieves.
5. Islam claims it only has ultimate truth and salvation is achieved only through it, while Hinduism acknowledges that everyone has the truth and anyone can achieve salvation.
So then, both Islam and Hinduism agree that Islam has the truth and achieves salvation. Why are you still not Muslim?
6. Why should a person follow the dogmas and rigid doctrines of Islam?
Because in Islam dogmas and what you call rigid doctrines are enlightened and rational and lift up the human condition. Islam is easy in comparison to man-made rituals, such as the Hindu daubing of one’s living quarters with cow-dung or the awful and iniquitous caste system, or the hellish karma cycle that condemns man to a perpetual abyss short of superhuman near-infallibility.
7. Why should a person obey the Islamic God, who will barbecue the non-believer in hell for Eternity?
Because our God commands nothing but what a sane conscience recognizes as pure goodness and truth, to deny which is enough in itself, regardless of any other-worldly hell, to roast that conscience in the unbearable fire of remorse and on the barbed spits of self-betrayal.
8. The Theory of Karma frees man from the fear of the “Jealous God” of the Abrahamic faiths
See replies 4 and 6.
9. The absolute monotheism of Islam is the root cause of intolerance whereas absolute monism (i.e. the Vedanta Philosophy of Shankara) is accommodating and accepts diversity
Accommodation and diversity are nice accidents, not the goal of the pursuit of truth. However, if they are goals in Hinduism then they should lead every sincere Hindu to Islam eventually. As for the Muslim tradition, we already replied (paragraph 2) if you mean by them pluralism and tolerance. Otherwise, the retrospective gaze of the accomplished ego-less spiritual seeker is all-accepting and all-loving because it realizes or experiences that everything Allah does is good without exception and He knows best.