Is Shankar an Islamic Prophet?
The debate has already commenced! Mufti Ilyasi, known for his die-hard relationship with the BJP and the RSS in the past, has claimed that Shankar is the first prophet of Islam, thereby meaning that Shankar is Adam and Parwati is Eve. Muslim scholars have come out in the open refuting Mufti Ilyasi’s claim.
As the debate gets heated, RNI approached Mohammad Alvi who has been long claiming in his writings and posts that original Hindu scriptures and Islamic teachings are from the same source. We at RNI do not claim to agree to what Mohammad Alvi has written in response but are presenting the views of the man who appears to be giving most reasonable responses to the ongoing debate so as to enable the learned scholars from both Hinduism and Islam to form a concrete view on whether any relationship exists and if it does, what it is. Here’s what Mohammad Alvi has to write…
I do not know what the motives of Mufti Ilyasi were when he said that Shankar (also known as Siva and Rudra in scriptures) is the first prophet of Islam. By saying this, Mufti Ilyasi has tried to equate Siva with Adam and Parvati with Eve. It appears that Mufti Ilyasi has merely used his speculation to come to this conclusion. If he has any arguments to support his view, he should come out with them. I am sure he can give no arguments to support his claim. Those who know me also know that I say nothing as conjecture or speculation. Rather, I base my arguments on the basis of information contained in the scriptures considered holy and believe-worthy by various religions.
Siva and Parvati certainly are not Adam and Eve. However, truth is that Siva and Parvati certainly have great relevance to Islamic teachings. It is not possible for Hindus nor for any human including Muslims to attain salvation without cognizing the real identity of Siva and Parvati. And Siva and Parvati have a far greater role to play in this cosmos than that of a mere prophet, who lived in a particular period on earth as the first of humans and departed. After saying so, I must also say that Siva and Parvati are not god and goddess, as most Hindus believe. They say so because they have merely heard the myths that are in circulation regarding Siva and Parvati and have not tried to understand the true identity of Siva and Parvati from their own scriptures.
Hindu scriptures maintain Manus to be fourteen in number. Some other scriptures give the number to be seven. When we see the meaning of word ‘manu’ in dictionary, it says they are ‘progenitors of mankind’. This means that the Manus – who are either fourteen or seven in number – had a role in the birth of mankind. Jews, Christians and Muslims are unanimous in their opinion that Adam and Eve were the first of mankind. Thus, this would amount to saying that the Manus must have a role to play in the creation of the first of mankind viz. Adam and Eve. This should also mean that Manus must be anterior to Adam and Eve. I have proved in my writings that both Quran and Old Testament have talked about presence of certain divine beings at the time of creation of Adam. I will prove here that Manus are those who are referred to as Aaleen’ (in plural), translated by some Muslim scholars as ‘higher personalities.’ Quran also says that God taught the names of certain personalities to Adam and then Adam was asked to cognize them. Old Testament even goes on to say that Adam wanted to become one like the divinities and Satan was able to lure Adam to eat the forbidden fruit by giving him this lure. All this confirm the presence of certain Divinities prior to creation of Adam and Eve.
The terms ‘God of gods’ in the Psalms and God being ‘judge of the judges’ on the Day of Judgment too go on proof that certain divinities were present at the time Adam and Eve were created. Let us see whether these divinities are indeed the Manus of Vedas, who are divine beings created from noor or light and therefore are also referred to as Devatas (from root ‘divya’ or light). Hindus of today, however, have no idea about the identity and role of Manus or Devatas. They give conflicting opinions regarding the number of Devatas that exist and some even go on to proof that there are no Devatas whatsoever. Fact is that modern day common Hindus consider all as gods, be they the Devatas, be they Siva or Parvati or even Paramatma, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Ask the Hindus of today and they won’t be able to tell the relationship that exists between Devatas and Manus, between Paramatma and Vishnu, between Devatas and Paramatma, between Devatas and avatars like Krishna and Ram and between Paramatma and God. Moreover, can any Hindu of today tell that if Manus are progenitors of mankind, what are they doing at present; what are the Devatas doing at present and what is the true role of various deities that are revered by the masses?
These are subjects of discussion at some other stage. Our subject today is Siva and Parvati. We will show you the real identity of Siva and Parvati, show you that they have very important role in this cosmos but are not god and goddess and also show you what relationship Siva and Parvati have with Quran and Islamic teaching. I will show you that Manus and Devatas are one and the same and if there are fourteen Manus, it means there must be fourteen Devatas. These fourteen Manus or Devatas have actually seven names and hence at places they are referred to as seven. I will also show that each of the Devatas were known by several appellations and hence the commentators became confused regarding their true numbers. You will also see that Devatas or Manus have two roles – one as light or Noor when they are all powerful and manage the various affairs of the cosmos and the other when the same Noor descends (avtarit) on pure souls to guide mankind towards the path to God and salvation. Gita has confirmed that Paramatma has continued to descend in human bodies in various times and ages. Quran too has confirmed that prophets have been sent all across the world, during all ages.
But before we write anymore, let us confirm that a relationship exists between Manus and Devatas so you know the two are one and the same. They are Manus because manushya (mankind) evolved from them and they are Devatas because they have been created by Light or Noor; both refer to fourteen Divine Beings having seven names.
See the following text from Adhyaya II of Paingala Upanishad which mentions the presiding deities of the organs in the following order:
“Dik (the quarters), Vayu, Arka (the sun), Varuna, Ashwini Devas (they are actually two, one of them being Agni), Indra, Upendra, Mrtyu (the lord of death), Prajapati, the Moon, Vishnu, the four-faced Brahma and Sambhu (Siva).”
If you see clearly, these are fourteen names. All Sanskrit dictionaries agree that Ashwins stand for two divinities. The fact that the Upanishad calls the Ashwinis as Devas make it clear that this is the list of Devatas. Moreover, Indradeva too is a Devata. Why are only 14 names given here? This shows that the presiding deities of the organs are fourteen in number and they, at least some of them, are Devatas.
Khanda V of Subala Upanishad too mentions names of fourteen deities in a long narration, though it is not mentioned they are Devatas, as if people knew that well. Who would have thought that few thousand years later, the very people who hold the Vedas as Divine will start denying the presence of Devatas altogether?
The names are as follows:
“Sun, dik (the quarters), earth, Varuna, vayu, Vak (speech), Agni, Indra, Vishnu (or Upendra), Mrtyu, Prajapati, Moon, Brahma, Rudra (name of Siva).”
The two lists are similar though not exactly identical. Ten of the fourteen names are same, and four are dissimilar. As regards to the dissimilar names, this is due to the fact that the Devatas were known by several names. For instance, we know that Sambhu, Shankara and Rudra are the names of Siva, so we can say that the same Devata is meant even when two seemingly different names are taken. Likewise, we know from our study of various Upanishads that Aswini devas actually refers to two Devatas, who are brothers. One of them is Agnideva, which is given separately in this list. This is the reason why the list given in Paingala Upanishad that mentions Aswini devas carry only thirteen names, while there are fourteen names mentioned in Subala and Prasna Upanishad. If the list of Devatas comprise fourteen names, are we not justified in claiming that the 14 Manus are actually the 14 Devatas?
Interestingly, Brhad-aranyaka Upanishad and Paingala Upanishad also give details how these Divinities were created. After giving the entire process, the Upanishad says that they were made the guardians of the fourteen spheres, thereby confirming that they are fourteen in number. Both the lists given above from Upanishads mention the name of Siva, thereby confirming that Siva too is a Devata, in fact he has been described by Upanishads, as the head of Devatas.
It is the knowledge of these Devatas with relation to our being and their role in our guidance and salvation which is so important that it destroys even the gravest sins committed by man. Paingala Upanishad which describes the creation process of Devatas and their role in this cosmos tells in IV.24:
“He who studies this Upanishad everyday… becomes free from the sins of killing a Brahmana, drinking liquor, stealing gold, sharing the bed with the teacher’s wife and associating with those who have committed these sins!
Before we move ahead, we would like to mention here that some people, based on the myths that are prevalent, associate Devatas like Siva and Indra with drinking alcohol and intoxication. They should know that all this is untrue and not only Paingala Upanishad but also Chhandogya Upanishad have described drinking of liquor as one of the five most serious sins. Not only drinking, even association with one who does so is a sin.
We would like to clarify here that the presence of the name Vishnu in the list of 14 should not confuse you. Vishnu truly is the name of the Manifest Self of God, which has been described as Wajhallah in Quran; also as Paramatma in Hindu scriptures and as Holy Spirit or Rooh in Quran and Old Testament. I have been showing time and again that Vishnu is the Manifest Self of Absolute Invisible All-Pervading God called Mahesh or Allah. It is the Manifest Self which created the one light viz. Brahma, that divided manifold to form 14 Noors or Light called the Manus or the 14 Divinities. It is this reason why certain Upanishads have talked about Brahma remaining no more once the rest got created. It was one light that divided to create 14 lights, all of whom were exactly similar and same as the first light from which they were created. Thus, we can safely say that the 14 Divinities together form the Manifest Self or Vishnu.
Varaha Upanishad has given a long narration citing a relationship between Agni, Vayu, etc. with consciousness and atma inside our body. Most of the passages seem non-comprehensible. This is perhaps because the translators, not being aware of the truth, have translated it as per what they could understand. What does appear clearly from this Upanishad is that recognition of this Self, that constitutes the Devatas, lead to salvation. Moreover, all the sins are burnt up, if a person recognizes their true identity.
“Thus all the sins collected together during many crores of births are burnt up.”
Also, it is said towards the end that a person who recites this Upanishad becomes a jivanmukta, i.e. gets freedom from rebirth or attains salvation. Gita too has endorsed the same view when it describes wisdom as the knowledge of the relationship between our Atma and Paramatma. Now we know that our Atma (self) is linked with the Supreme Self (Paramatma) only through these Devatas, who are presiding deities of our organs. Vedas have also described them as guardians of our organs of action and senses. Upanishads clearly state that this recognition, and not meaningless rituals or oblations, actually lead to salvation or freedom from the cycle of rebirth. How do you hope to attain salvation when you do not even know the identity of these Devatas, who are the rope to salvation?
Before we give proofs from Hindu scriptures regarding the identity of Siva (Shankar or Rudra), let us see what comparable description exists in Quran regarding the Aaleen (higher personalities), who existed even at the time of creation of Adam and Eve. It is the Noor or Light of these Aaleen which kept descending in human bodies and those pious bodies upon whom the Noor or Light descended became ‘enlightened’ people and were called Avatars or Prophets. When the entire ‘Spirit of God’ comprising the 14 Noors or Lights of Aaleen (higher personalities), descended one after another in fourteen bodies in the ‘secret place’ of Arabia, they were referred by Quran as Ahlulbayt meaning ‘People of the House [of God]’.
When we look in Quran, we find that while describing the conversation that took place between God and Satan who refused to prostrate before Adam despite the Divine Command, the Quran talks about presence of certain ‘Aaleen’ (in plural), translated by some as ‘higher personalities’. God says to Satan:
Quran, 38: 75; Trans. Yusuf Ali says:
“(God) said: “O Iblis! What prevents thee from prostrating thyself to one whom I have created with my hands? Art thou haughty? Or art thou one of the high (and mighty) ones?”
Unable to fathom the presence of certain divine personalities besides God at the time of creation of Adam, various Muslim scholars have translated the word ‘Aaleen’ differently, including some saying that God is referring to the exempted ones, but fail to clarify that when none of the angels were exempted from prostration, who were the people who had been exempted? We are guided by a generally accepted tradition of Prophet Mohammad, which says that ‘I was the Prophet even when Adam was between sand and water (i.e. in the process of creation). The Prophet even said that ‘my Noor (light) was created prior to all creation’ and ‘Ali and I are from the same Noor (light).’ From Prophet Mohammad’s statements, it is evident he wanted to say that the Noor or Light which was working in his body was created prior to creation of Adam; thereby indicating that he was the first of the creation and his Noor was in existence even at the time of creation of Adam.
There are several traditions ascribed to these 14 Ahlubayt which state clearly their role in Noor or Light state prior to the Noor or Light descending in human bodies on earth. Quran also mentions the presence of these Divine Beings at the time of creation of Adam.
Quran says that certain names were taught to Adam at the time of his creation.
Quran, 2:31 says: “And He taught Adam all the names, then presented them to the angels; then He said: Tell me the names of those if you are right.”
While some commentators claim it refers to the names of Allah, Pooya/Ali commentary of Quran states: “The hum of aradahum does not refer to the “names” but to the “named”, and as a plural term cannot be used for Allah, therefore, it cancels the possibility of interpreting these names as the names of Allah. When reference is made in Arabic to several objects of inanimate nature, a singular feminine pronoun is used, but when the objects are conscious beings, a plural masculine pronoun is used, as done here through aradahum, to point out the “named ones”. If the object referred to is inanimate, the singular feminine pronoun, tilka or hadhihi should have been used. Here the personal demonstrative pronoun refers to the conscious beings of a superior-most status, knowledge of whose names entitled Adam to the vicegerency of Allah. Thus the existence of the beings of the highest status has been established.”
Pooya/Ali further writes that these beings are the highest beings, the most perfect and the most blessed beings. See what the commentary says: “Due to the affinity between Adam and these highest beings (Aaleen), he was capable to function as the medium of their manifestation. Verse 4 of Chapter al-Tin of Quran says that the status of man, in the order of creation, is the highest in excellence. The Aaleen, the highest beings, referred to in this verse, are the most perfect and the most blessed human beings, for whose manifestation in the arc of ascent, Adam was chosen. Till then the names of the highest beings along with the insight and vision of their realities, their latent qualities and inherent endowments were unknown to the angels.”
Now see these verses from the Quran (2:32-33).
“They said: Glory be to Thee! we have no knowledge but that which Thou hast taught us; surely Thou art the Knowing, the Wise.
He said: O Adam! Inform them of their names. Then when he had informed them of their names, He said: Did I not say to you that I surely know what is ghaib in the heavens and the earth and (that) I know what you manifest and what you hide?”
Through Adam the angels became acquainted with the glory of the glorious beings. When Adam, at the command of God, stated the names, qualities and symbols of those highest beings whose collective and comprehensive status can be termed as wisdom personified, the angels witnessed the glory of the infinite power and wisdom of the Lord that could create such perfect beings of the highest calibre, in substance as well as in style, like of whom they did not know till then.
In Durr Manthur, Jalaluddin Sayuti says that the Holy Prophet had said:
“The objects shown to the angels were five lights. Allah informed the angels pointing to each of the lights respectively
(i) This is Mohammad, the most praised, derived from My name, the praised one.
(ii) This is Ali, the high, derived from My name, the highest.
(iii) This is Fatima, the original, derived from my name, the originator of the heavens and the earth.
(iv) This is Hasan, the bountiful, derived from My name, the benefactor.
(v) This is Husain, the good, derived from My name, the good in origin.
O angels! It is in love of these five that I have created the universe.”
These 5 are known as the Panjetan or first 5 of the 14 Ahlulbayt. Remaining 9 were born in the progeny of Husain. Quran has repeatedly talked of Noor, which is reference to them. The relationship between these 5 is exactly similar to the process of creation of first 5 Devatas described in the Upanishads and Vedas, though the 5 are understood as ‘five elements’. Upanishads, after describing the process of creation of 5 refers to 9 more and then conclude that they were made the guardians of the fourteen spheres; thus confirming they are fourteen in number.
Let us see whether similar description is available in the Upanishads and Vedas. We wish to emphasize here that ‘Noor’ means ‘Light’. In Sanskrit, the word with same meaning is ‘deepan’ or ‘divya’ i.e. light. ‘Deepan’ or ‘Divya’ is the root word for ‘Devata’, which are the subject of discussion in entire Vedas. It is these Devatas who got created right in the beginning of the creation and Vedas have extensively described their powers, position and role in this cosmos.
Hymn IV of Rig Veda, while referring to Indra-deva and the Maruts, in plural, refers to their relationship with light and says they were born prior to the creation of dawn (the universe).
“Thou who createst light where there was no light and form. O men! Where there was no form, hast been born together with the dawns.”
Do we know who the Devatas are? No! just as Christians don’t have an idea what ‘divinities’ are being talked about in Genesis; just as most Muslims are not aware of the role of ‘Noor’ despite the word being used several times in Quran as well as in Prophet Mohammad’s traditions, Hindus have no idea who the Devatas are. The most unfortunate part is that we have ceased to reflect and in most cases we merely accept the present translations and commentaries, howsoever absurd they become when we try to give our own meanings to them. Even absurd is the fact that despite knowing nothing about the true identity of these Divinities, we go on to compare Shankar (Siva or Rudra) with prophets.
There was a time when some Brahmins did have a genuine understanding of the role of Devatas. But we lost the crucial information with time. So much so that when European scholars attempted to study the Vedas and other Sanatan scriptures, and accused the Hindus of holding a book sacred that talked of fight between Devatas and Asuras in some pre-historic times, we had no answer to give. Instead of finding the correct answer, what we eventually did was to write commentaries refuting that there were Devatas, and concluded that Vedas were actually talking of fire, steam engine, Madam Curie’s invention of radium, cars running on road, etc. Thus we tried to prove that Vedas too were talking about One God only and there are no ‘gods’ (in plural), as Devatas are translated in English. It was the fault of English language that it had no suitable word for Devatas. We committed the mistake of translating it as ‘gods’ and thus lost all the meanings that Vedas wanted to give. Eventually, we came to a position where despite the fact that there are countless mandirs all across India dedicated to one Devata or the other, there are countless myths of Devatas meeting Krishna, Rama, Buddha and other sages, and even countless stories concocted by people that Devatas provided their army with arms and even Devatas coming to impregnate lonely maidens in forests, an increasingly large number of Hindus now are accepting the commentaries which say there are no Devatas at all as the most correct one. They are doing so because they are not aware about the true identities and role of Devatas and hence are getting digressed further from the true meaning which the Vedas contain.
I wish you to see once again how we have erred! Old Testament is revered by Jews and Christians and talks of ‘divinities’ but Jews and Christians have no idea who the divinities are. Quran talks of ‘Aaleen’, ‘Noor’ and ‘Pure Ones’ but Muslims have no idea what is the true role in this cosmos of those referred to as ‘Aaleen’ and ‘possessors of Noor’. Even if a segment among them indeed believe that the Noor of Prophet Mohammad was created prior to Adam, they do not know what was the purpose of creation of this Noor, what is its role in this cosmos and what this Noor was doing from the time of Adam and until the time a boy was born in the house of Amina and Abdullah in Makkah, who was named Mohammad.
An oft-quoted tradition of Mohammad too sheds light on this. “Al-Muhibb al-Tabari narrates on the authority of Salman, from the Prophet, in al-Riyad al-Nadirah, ii, 163:
“Fourteen thousand years before Adam upon whom be peace was created, I and Ali were a light in the presence of God. When God created Adam upon whom be peace, He divided it (Light) into two parts, I am one of the parts and Ali is the other part.”
Among others who have narrated this tradition are: Ahmad ibn Hanbal in Al-Fada’il; Sibt ibn al-Jawzi in Tadhkirat alkhawass, 46; Abu Hatim Muhammad ibn Idris alRazi in Zayn alfata fi tafsir Surat Hal ata, MS.; Abd Allah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal in Zawa’id manaqib Amir alMu’minin, MS.; also Ibn Mardawayh ibn Abd alBarr, alKhatib al Baghdadi, Ibn alMaghazili, Al’Asimi, Shiruyah alDaylami and others from Ali, Salman, Abu Dharr, Anas ibn Malik, Jabir ibn Abd Allah and other companions.
Interestingly, Brhad-aranayaka Upanishad and Paingala Upanishad give detailed description of one light (Brahma) dividing into two, which was exactly similar to the first one from whom the division took place. Then it talks of one portion or part of one light uniting with the other to create the golden womb, ‘hiranyagarbha’. Mohammad, on the other hand, kept talking of one Noor dividing to form two similar and same Noors of Mohammad and Ali; kept describing Fatima (his daughter) as part or portion of him. Fatima got married to Ali and the rest of the Ahlulbayt were born from their union, which has been described by some scholars as silsalatul zahad (Golden Chain), leading to creation of 14 Ahlulbayt, who are all powerful in their Noor or Light state and spend their entire lives in providing guidance and showing the way to salvation when the Noor descended in human bodies. Can there by more proofs to show that Vedas, Upanishads and Quran are talking about the same personalities?
As per another tradition (mentioned in Al-Kafi, Vol. 1 Pag. 193), Ali ibn Muhammad has narrated from Sahl ibn Ziyad from Musa ibn al-Qasim ibn Muawiya and Muhammad ibn Yahya from al-Amrakiy ibn Ali together from Ali ibn Jafar from abu al-Hassan Musa, who has said the following:
“Imam Abu Abdallah [one of the 14 Ahlulbayt in whom the Noor is said to be working] has said: “Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High, created us and He made our creation the best. He formed us and made us the best. He made us the treasurers of in His heavens and His earth. For us the tree spoke and with our worship Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High, is worshipped. Had we not been in existence Allah would not have been worshipped.”
Quran (3:183) says:
“And all hold onto the rope of Allah and do not disperse.”
Imam Shafi’ confirmed this to mean that rope of Allah is the Ahlulbayt and by loving, respecting and following them, we will be lead on the straight path to Allah. Prophet Mohammad has confirmed the role of Ahlulbayt in our salvation on countless occasion. The favourite subject of Upanishads too is rope. These Devatas were to be identified as rope, and their path followed, so that we may climb the rope of salvation.
There are countless other similarities. Quran says that Ahlulbayt (who are fourteen in number) are made perfectly pure with not an iota of impurity coming near them. This is so because they are made from Noor [Divine Light] in contrast to Zulmat or Tamas or Darkness, which is total misguidance.
And the Upanishads too confirm the Devatas to be made from pure tattvas (essence). Svetasvatara Upanishad, IV.2 states:
“That indeed is Agni, that is Aditya, that is Vayu and that is the moon. That indeed is the pure. That is Brahma. That is the waters. That is Praja-pati.”
Even Mundaka Upanishad talks of the Devatas as pure. After talking about the Devatas in detail, Verse II.2.10 shows the link of the Devatas with Brahman (Absolute God, Mahesh or Allah) and calls Brahman as the light of the lights. Interestingly, Quran too has described Allah as light of lights (noor-al-noor)
“In the highest golden sheath is Brahman without stain, without parts; Pure is it, the light of the lights. That is what the knowers of self know.”
Similarly Prasna Upanishad, after describing Indra-deva, Rudra, earth, deva and other Devatas, and after citing their relationship with everything on earth, including the food that we eat and the water that comes down in the form of rain, calls the Devatas as perfectly pure. Likewise, Hadees-e-Kisa, a very famous tradition among Muslims says that the God created the earth, the sun, the moon, the sky – all in love of the Ahlulbayt.
Prasna Upanishad, II.11 says: “Thou art ever pure, O Prana, the one seer, the eater, the real lord of all. We are the givers of what is to be eaten. O all-pervading Air, thou art our father.”
My point of writing this is to show that we all, Hindus and Muslims, have digressed and thus lost the true meaning of what the scriptures wanted to say. There indeed is a relationship that exists between Shankar (Siva or Rudra) with Quran and Islam but Shankar is not the first prophet of Muslims. There is also relationship of Indradeva with Quran and Islam and of the entire Vedas with Quran and Islam; read more in the next part of this write-up.
Since there was one path that was being shown by One God of the Universe, the same Divine Plan has been talked about in the revealed books of Hindus and Muslims. Divinities are the subject of conversation everywhere but we have given our meaning and understanding to the terms. And then we are committing the mistake of comparing distorted understanding of one religion with the distorted understanding of other and even writing hundreds and thousands of words to prove our point. If we do not wake now, we will continue to get digressed and continue to create wall after wall between various religions and their followers. On the contrary, attempt should be to remove the walls that have been built over time and, in the light of the view propagated by me, make a fresh attempt towards understanding of the scriptures rather than proving supremacy of one religion over other.
To be continued…