Islam means

Islam means peace. Islam means surrender. The end of the Bhagvad Gita is made strong by Arjun’s surrender. Arjun tells Krishna: “I will do as you say.” In these words, Arjun’s ‘Islam’ is revealed – we can take a slight liberty in saying that. In Jainism, it is important for saints, sages, teachers and great souls alike to surrender. In Buddhism, it is important to surrender to the sangha ie, the enlightened ones, to the Dharma or the laws of virtue laid down by Buddha; and to Buddha. The word ‘Islam’ means ‘surrender’. One can surrender only to God, no one else.

Islam’s greatest principle is: ‘Tauheed’, which means : ‘Belief in one God.’ There is only one merciful and benevolent God who takes care of the world, Allah. I was born into an Arya Samaj family. My father never asked me to go to a temple, but in our house, every morning, the Ved mantras would be recited. In the Arya Samaj, the belief in one God was very strong. Kakasaheb Kalelkar used to say lightly, that a strict Arya Samaji was a “Muslim who believed in the Vedas.”

The Prophet was asked “ What could be called virtues?” He answered, “ Those which give peace to the mind and calm your inner self.” The second question was: “What are vices?” The Prophet answered: “Those that make your heart restless and your inner self discontented.” I have never known virtues and vices described in such simple language, in such basic terms. Sufism believes in devotion. On my visit to Turkey, I was able to spend four hours at the shrine of the famous Sufi saint Jalaluddin Rumi. Islam’s true beauty is seen in the thoughts of Sufism. I can tell from experience that Sufism can help the cause of Hindu-Muslim unity.

Pakistan’s learned writer Akbar Ahmed has stated the four central concepts of Islam: equality, compassion, knowledge and patience. These four concepts are present in the Gita as well. The Gita says: Equality is the best. Krishna while describing the qualities of a devotee mentions friendship and compassion. In the Gita, steadfastness includes learning. And patience is considered a holy possession. These four virtues are lacking in our society, therefore there are riots. If you want to fight amongst yourselves, you are free to do so. But don’t forget there are many similarities between the Koran and the Gita. You are free to fight, but you are not free to fight in the name of religion. Christ said rightly: “He who lives by the sword, will die by the sword.”

On the day of the Urs, I remembered Ajmer’s Khwaja Moinuddin Chisthi. He is called “Khwaja Garib Nawaz” or “the comfort of the poor”. Devotees, out of love and respect, also call him the “Sultan of Hind”. Look at the poetry in calling a poor Sufi fakir, the Sultan of Hind! The one who has nothing, is the true “Sultan”! Vinobaji used to say: “Instead of saying that Tulsidas belonged to Akbar ’s times, say that Akbar belonged to Tulsidas’s times.” The people of India salute the king, but they bow before the saint.

Khwaja Moinuddin Chisthi explained the essence of two words: “lajmi” and “mutadi”. “Lajmi” is the private religion of each individual through prayer, fasting and pilgrimage. “Mutadi” is the service of others, sacrifice for others, and giving one’s all to others. Khwaja Garib Nawaz described two kinds of pride: “nafas” and “qalb”. ‘Nafas’ is the ego that comes from power, wealth, comforts, anger, jealousy and such coarse elements (material ego). ‘Qalb’ is the identity that comes from peace, goodwill and harmony. During riots, when we resort to violence, our religion becomes bankrupt. When will this evil in the name of religion, stop? Allah must surely be laughing at our foolishness!


in his study of the Gita says: “Man does not need proof of his own body. We need even lesser proof of one’s soul, because the body is outside, but the soul is even closer to us.” Now compare the Shankaracharya’s words to what is said in the Koran. The Koran says: “Oh Allah! We are closer to you than we are to our own pulse.”

How shallow is our devotion? One Muslim was praying namaz by the side of the road. A girl, hurrying by, crossed him. After some time, when the girl returned, the Muslim asked her: “How did you dare to cross someone who is praying?” The girl answered: “I was going to meet my beloved, so I did not see you. But you were praying to Allah, and yet how did you see me?”

From a lecture in a madrasa in village Kanthariya near Bharuch, in Gujarat, India. The lecture, on 21 September 2002, was attended by around 4000 people – students, teachers, priests and guests.

Batul: May be one day you will make Gunvantbhai’s literature international. Very impressive

12:18 PM, June 06, 2006

Max Babi said…
Batul, this is amazingly succinct and potent like all of Gunvantbhai’s writings… there’s typo at ‘TulsidasAkbar’ which seems in need of correction. Great work… keep doing this, I have sent the link to hundreds.

2:08 PM, June 06, 2006

Batul said…

Thank you, Surenbhai. And thanks, Max, specially for sending the link to others. Batul

2:30 PM, June 06, 2006

farrukh: copywriter & journalist said…

Thought provoking, Batul. Good stuff.

Just one little thingie – when you have written ‘kalb’ it is perhaps ‘qalb’. ‘Qalb’ is heart and ‘kalb’ is dog in Arabic.

7:46 PM, June 06, 2006

Batul said…

Thanks, Farrukh. Will change accordingly. Batul

8:26 PM, June 06, 2006

Jugal said…

Brilliant, simply brilliant! This is one link that’s going to make tremendous rounds of the internet 🙂

There isn’t a man who has put forth everything in such simplicity and beauty *bows down to the writer* Can we get the original Gujarati transcript? It would be beautiful to listen to it in Gujarati.

9:31 AM, June 07, 2006

Batul said…

Thanks, Jugal. Do pass on the link to other people you think may be interested. Maybe I could scan the original essay in Gujarati and put it in as a link.

Any other ideas on how I can do it?

10:50 AM, June 07, 2006

scribe said…

Thanks for the Link, Batul. This is such a frustrating topic. Gunvantbhai puts it so simply and coherently. You would think a child could enjoy and understand this (and that’s a tough one), and yet it seems like a whole world can’t get it.
Cheers – Ania

12:12 PM, June 07, 2006

rehana ali said…

So simply explained and yet delves deep into the philosophy of Islam. Thanks for sharing the link that presents the essence of our religion in such a wonderfully impressive manner Batul

6:43 PM, June 09, 2006

The Rendezvous said…

Great article batul..

But please seriously separate Islam from various cultures..

Only then will you find Islam attractive to all mankind..

Do u suppose?

10:31 PM, July 12, 2006

Batul said…

Ibrahim, I don’t believe that Islam needs to be seperated from various cultures, and to be the single most attractive religion to mankind. I believe that everyone has the right to their own faith.

7:01 PM, July 13, 2006

2 thoughts on “Islam means

  1. hi batul
    to be honest, this is the first time i am hearing of dr gunavant shah and his writings. i find this piece particularly inspiring – because of how simply and clearly it is put. am requesting the right to reproduce it on my blog. i dont have too many readers, but would like to save it for posterity there, more for myself than any other. will of course link it back here.

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