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1.

0 INTRODUCTION

Hinduism is the name given to the highly diverse religious tradition


that has evolved in India over the last 3000 years and today
represented by the beliefs and practices of well over 500 million Hindu,
majority live in India. Diversity is the key to understanding the religious
life o Hindus since Hinduism is not a unity, having no ‘founder’, no
single creed, no single universally accepted scripture, no single moral
code or theological system, nor a single concept of god central to it.1

Hinduism is commonly perceived as a polytheistic religion. Indeed,


most Hindus would attest to this, by professing belief in multiple Gods.
While some Hindus believe in the existence of three gods, some
believe in thousands of gods, and some others in 330 million Gods.
However, learned Hindus, who are well versed in their scriptures, insist
that a Hindu should believe in and worship only one God.

Generally, Hinduism is based on the Vedas, the Upanishads and the


Bhagavad Gita. Based on the above, we can conclude that the major
difference between the Hindu and the Muslim beliefs is the difference
of the apostrophe ‘s’. The Hindu says everything is God. The Muslim
says everything is God’s. 2

2.0 CONCEPT OF GOD IN HINDUISM

Hinduism has commonly been viewed in the west as a polytheistic


religion - one which worships multiple deities: gods and
goddesses. Although a widespread belief, this is not particularly
accurate.
1
Hinnells J. R. (Ed.). 1995. A new dictionary of religions. Blackwell Reference Publisher Ltd: Oxford,
UK.
2
http://www.irf.net/irf/comparativereligion/middle/hinduism/conceptofgod.htm
Some have viewed it as a monotheistic religion, because it
recognizes only one supreme God: the pane theistic principle of
Brahman, that all reality is a unity. The entire universe is seen as one
divine entity who is simultaneously at one with the universe and who
transcends it as well.

Some view Hinduism as Trinitarian because Brahman is


simultaneously visualized as a triad -- one God with three persons:

o Brahma the Creator of the universe and the sustainer of


the world
o Vishnu, (Krishna) the Preserver, who preserves these new
creations. Whenever dharma (eternal order,
righteousness, religion, law and duty) is threatened, Vishnu
travels from heaven to earth in one of ten incarnations.
o Shiva, the Destroyer, is at times compassionate, erotic
and destructive.

Strictly speaking, most forms of Hinduism are henotheistic; they


recognize a single deity, and recognize other gods and goddesses as
facets, forms, manifestations, or aspects of that supreme God.

Most urban Hindus follow one of two major divisions within


Hinduism:

o Vaishnavaism: which generally regards Vishnu as the


ultimate deity
o Shivaism: which generally regards Shiva as the ultimate
deity.

3.0 HINDU SCRIPTURES


There are several sacred scriptures of the Hindus. Among these are the
Vedas, Upanishads and the Puranas.

1. Bhagavad Gita (literally: Song of the God)

The most popular amongst all the Hindu scriptures is the Bhagavad
Gita.

The Gita states that people who are materialistic worship demigods i.e.
‘gods’ besides the True God. What holds the devotee's mind foremost
is Krishna's repeated injunction to abandon the mortal self to the
infinite love of the Lord. He not only speaks to the mind and to the
Hindu's innate sense of Dharma, but calls for overwhelming love. By
loving God one also loves the immortal Self, finds harmony in oneself,
and finds oneself at peace with the entire cosmos. The Gita speaks of
cultivating the intellect, properly using the body, and always remaining
equipoise in relation to the greater Self. The Bhagavad Gita truly
presents itself as a liberation scripture universal in its message.

2. Epics of Hinduism

Ramayana and the Mahabharata

4.0 HINDU BELIEFS AND PRATICES

4.1 Reincarnation

Hindus believe in the repetitious Reincarnation which is


the transfer of one's soul after death into another body. This produces
a continuing cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth through their many
lifetimes. It is called samsara and based on Karma which determines
how you will live your next life. It is the accumulated sum of ones good
and bad deeds. Through pure acts, thoughts and devotion, one can be
reborn at a higher level. Eventually, one can escape samsara and
achieve enlightenment. Bad deeds can cause a person to be reborn as
a lower level, or even as an animal. The unequal distribution of wealth,
prestige, and suffering are thus seen as natural consequences for one's
previous acts, both in this life and in previous lives.

4.2 Four aims of Hinduism (Purusarthas)

The three goals Hindus aim for in the world (pravritti) are:

i. Dharma: righteousness in their religious life. This is the most


important of the three.
ii. Artha: success in their economic life; material prosperity.
iii. Karma: gratification of the senses; pleasure; sensual, sexual,
and mental enjoyment.

The main goal for the "nivritti”, those who renounce the world is:

iv. Moksha: liberation from "samsara." This is considered the


supreme goal of mankind.

4.3 Meditation and Yoga

Yoga is a system of physical and mental exercises to hone the


body and mind that comes from the Indus Valley Civilization. These
can be used for meditation.

4.4 Worship of God through icons

Hindus may worship God through icons (murti), such as statues or


paintings symbolic of God's power and glory. The icon serves as a
tangible link between the worshipper and God.Another view is that the
image is a manifestation of God, since God is immanent. The Padma
Purana states that the mūrti is not to be thought of as mere stone or
wood but as a manifest form of the Divinity. A few Hindu sects, such as
the Arya Samaj, do not believe in worshiping God through icons.

5.0 HINDUISM IN MALAYSIA

5.1 History

Hinduism was more prevalent in Malaysia prior to the arrival of


Islam in the 15th century. Traces of Hindu influence remain in the
Malay language, literature and art.

Indian settlers came to Malaysia from Tamil Nadu in the late 19th and
early 20th centuries. Many of these came to work as labourers on
rubber plantations, while those who were English-educated occupied
more professional positions. A minority of Indian immigrants to
Malaysia during this time period came from Northern India and Sri
Lanka.

Malaysian Hinduism is diverse, with large urban temples


dedicated to specific deities, and smaller temples located on estates.
The estate temples generally follow the tradition of the Indian region
from which the temples' worshippers originate. Many people follow the
Shaivite, or Saivite, tradition (worship of Shiva), of Southern India.
Shaivism is a devotionalist grace-based concept and emphasises love
for the deity, rather than fear.

Folk Hinduism is the most prevalent variety, including


spiritualism and worship of local gods. Since the Second World War a
revival of Hinduism has occurred among Indian Malaysians, with the
foundation of organizations and councils to bring unity or to promote
reform.

In 1990, statistics shows that 83% of the Indians in Malaysia are


Hindus, while the remaining Indians are Christians (8%), Muslim (5%)
and Sikh (3%). 3

5.2 Festivals

Malaysian Hindus celebrate three major festivals – Deepavali,


Thaipusam and Thai Pongal.

Deepavali is also known as Festival of Light. The most famous


legend behind this celebration is the victory of Sri Krishnam (the
reincarnation of Vishnu), over the demon king Narkasura. So, the
lighting of oil lamps symbolized the good conquering the evil.

Thaipusam is another important religious festival celebrated by


Hindus in Malaysia. This festival is organized by Maha Mariamman
Temple in Kuala Lumpur to devote to Lord Murugan. The traditional
chariot procession by the kavadi barriers do their penance walking with
skewers pierced through cheeks, short spears poked through tongues
and hooks swinging from bodies. The kavadis is simple contraption
with posters of the deity Murugan to elaborate affairs with peacock
feathers, hooks and chains.

Thai Pongal is celebrated by the Tamil estate workers as a


harvest festival at the start of the month of Thai, even this celebration
has lost its significance to the Hindus.

5.3 Social system

3
Yousif A.F (1998). pg 109- 143 .Hinduism
In Malaysia context, the aspects of social distance traditionally
observed (i.e., caste) have lessened in certain places. Nowadays,
Hindus freely interact socially with members of a lower caste outside
one’s home. However, many limitations are still imposed within the
confines of the home. For example, the higher caste people don’t allow
lower caste to enter the interior of their house. Furthermore, lower
castes are served refreshments in separate glasses, especially
reserved for them. Caste practices are particularly strong when it
comes to marriage, which is limited to only allied castes or sub castes.

5.4 Beliefs and Practices

Apart from the beliefs and practices of Hindus all over the world, we
can see the following rituals which are prevalently practiced by
Malaysian Hindus.

 Burial/cremation

In Malaysia, some Hindus believe that if someone has not been


married, they should be buried rather than cremated. The belief varies
from region to region. Burying is not uncommon even if the person is
married, and in many cases follows the will of the deceased.

 The Red Dot (the third eye)

Hindu females wear a dot on their forehead. It is called a


Vindia/Pottu or a Teep. Unmarried girls are supposed to put a black dot
and married girls red ones. However, today it is more fashion than
religion or custom so a variety of colours and shapes are used by
married and unmarried girls

 The Vaastu Shastras


These are the Hindu scriptures covering temple construction, city
planning and home building. Their advice extends all the way to how to
arrange meeting rooms, like the Chinese fung shui.

5.5 Religious Organizations

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6.0 PREACHING (DA’WAH) TO HINDUS

6.1 Ways of dealing with Hindus

Al- Quran is the miracle, contains guidance in all aspect of life


from the small and tiny thing to the big and gigantic one. As Allah say
in the Quran in Surah Al- Baqarah verse 1-2:

“Alif Lam Mim. This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without


doubt, to those who fear God”.

Thus as Muslims, we must follow what is revealed in the Quran as well


as the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad PBUH so that we will never
astray from the right path in our life. Prophet Muhammad PBUH said in
the Hadith:

“I left two things for you: As if you follow them, you won’t astray
from the right path; Al- Quran and My Tradition”

Furthermore, as previously mentioned Al- Quran as a guidance to


human being, each and every single acts of men must inline with the
rules and regulation outline in the Holy Book. The only thing is whether
or not we really understand that guideline. If the rules are too general,
we need other explanation for us to understand either the Tradition of
the Prophet PBUH or the work of the prominent scholars. Otherwise, if
the revelation is specific, we can understand it easily but the most
important thing we rightly understand it. Therefore, it is better for us to
understand the meaning of the ayat in the Al- Quran as we read it.

Moreover, since Al-Quran has all the guidelines for human beings
so as their social affairs among Muslims as well as the non- Muslims.
Islam asks its followers to deal with all creatures of Allah in the
universe with good deed; men, animals, plants and other beings.
Among Muslims society, feeling of brotherhood is important to ensure
the sensation of love and affection as it is required in Islam. When
dealing with the non- Muslims, Muslims are asked to deal with them
with good deed because Muslims should be a role model to others,
demonstrate goodness, righteousness and integrity. Many Muslims
deal with non- Muslims in everyday lives either in doing business or in
other social affairs, as a friend, colleagues or a neighbor. Sometimes a
Muslim have desire to call their best non- Muslim friend to embrace
Islam as the close relationship make them as brother and sisters even
they differed in faith as Islam itself not forbid its follower to befriended
with non- Muslims. However, Muslims should observe their faith and
preserve it. Therefore, the Muslim friend should know how to preach
Islam to his or her best non- Muslim friend without make it hurt to the
other party and not touch the sensitivity issues with hope the
messages conveyed can be accepted successfully.4

Nevertheless, Al- Quran outline some ways to be followed in


preaching Islam to the non- Muslim as these ways were adopted by the
Prophets of Allah in calling their people to Islam. Allah says:

4
http://www.islamtoday.net/english/showme2.cfm
“Say: This is my way; I call to Allah upon clear knowledge, I and
those who follow me. Glory be to Allah! And I am not of those
who engage in polytheism.” [Sûrah Yûsuf: 108]

In addition to the above general points outlined in the Holy Quran on


how to preach to the non- Muslims, below are the extra points to be
noted in preaching Islam to Hindus:

1. Make sure to pick an appropriate time to bring up the subject of


Islam. Make sure that the other person is in the right frame of mind to
talk about it.

2. Avoid things that will make the other person uncomfortable. You
should be gentle and accommodating in your attitude and approach
various issues and questions as a seeker of the truth.

3. Never criticize or attack the other person’s beliefs. That is a very


indiscrete and unwise thing to do. For example asking the Hindus ‘why
their God has many hands?’. This might make him more adamant
about his beliefs as well as spoil the good relationship that you have
with him.

4. Avoid getting into discussions about secondary issues. No matter


how much the other person insists upon doing so, stress to him that
essential matters and principles should be discussed first and it is not
going to get us anywhere to look into into secondary matters when the
primary issues are not fully understood.

For example, it is wrong to talk about why the Prophet Muhammad


(peace be upon him) had the number of wives that he had before
discussing the concept of prophethood and what it means for him to be
a Prophet.
5. Get acquainted with the standard misconceptions about Islam that
are being circulated and how to answer them. Many of these
misconceptions are well known. For the Hindus, according to Dr. Zakir
Naik the frequent asked questions towards Muslims are:

1) Hinduism is the old religion and thus the pure and authentic religion
of the world.

2) Are Ram and Krishna the prophet of God?

3) Are the Vedas a revelation of God?

6.2 Errors in Current Mode of Preaching

Preaching or propagating is one of the matters encouraged in


Islam. Preaching or calling others to Islam is everyone tasks and no
one excluded. But the success or failures of the propagation highly
depend on the preachers themselves. Propagating Islam to non-
believers is not an easy tasks as it need knowledge and deep
understanding of Islam. Therefore, to ensure the successful of the
propagation, the preacher must occupy themselves with knowledge of
Islam as well as other field of knowledge such as psychology. Lack of
knowledge is a weapon that will hurt the preacher themselves. Here
are some of the reasons behind the failure in preaching Islam.
According to Amin Ahsan Islahi “The shortcomings are of two types:
conceptual and practical. In other words, the philosophy and the
methodology are both wrong.” We begin by examining the mistakes in
the philosophy and relate it to the preaching to Hindus. Among the
mistakes in philosophy are:

i) Lack of knowledge and understanding Islam: This could


happen when the preacher did not acquire deep knowledge of
Islam. Sometimes he himself does not know the reason
behind why Islam asked him to pray 5 times daily. This people
will worsen the situation if he was asked to call others to
Islam. Therefore, it is the task and responsibility of the society
and the da’wah institutions to ensure only the qualified
person to bring the heavy tasks of preaching.
ii) Propagate on unnecessary issues: If the preachers put the
greatest emphasis on certain issues such as the eternity of
matter, reincarnation, the divinity of Christ, and the Trinity
instead of explain on the Islam as a system of life which binds
in a unity all the problems; personal and collective, doctrinal
and practical of life and solves them in a rational and natural
manner.
iii) Criticizing the Hinduism; the rituals and belief: If the preacher
try to provoked the Hindus with their wrong belief and make
fun of their rituals, we can not successfully call them to
embrace Islam. As a result they will claim that Islam is
irrelevant religion to be followed and the worst thing is if they
allege Muslims as terrorist.

Then we proceed to examine on what is the mistakes done in practical


as what has been discussed by Amin Ahsan Islahi. There are three of
them:

i) Wrong targets: According to Amin Ahsan Islahi we must


preach to the head or the people in power because they have
influence in the society. If we successfully call them to Islam,
automatically we are able to preach their followers to
embrace Islam. Comparing to the Christian where they aims
at the lower part of the society because their objectives is to
outnumbered the Christians but Islam is to call people to
understand Islam and live inline with the Shariah.
Incompetence: Incompetence in the sense of doesn’t know how to call
Hindus to embrace Islam and even no one want to put their ears to
him. The preacher should understand the audience; their belief, rituals
and practices, and avoid things that can touch their sensitivity. The
good and competence preacher is the one who can make the audience
to hear what he going to say even not to accept what he say.5

6.3 The Success in Preaching to Non- Muslims Hindus

‘History must repeat itself’ a frequently used jargon nowadays


when there are incident that might happen in the past reiterate in the
present time. Thus looking to the experience of previous work in calling
people to Islam, there is also victory as in the prophetic era and the
companions. Therefore, according to Sheikh Salman al-Oadah there
are two primary causes for the success. These successes can be
achieved together with our understanding on the audience we are
calling. Thus as being mentioned before, after we understand Hinduism
we will easily preach Islam to them.

The first reason of the glory is the truth of that which is being
called towards. The more truthful it is, the more harmonious it will be
with both sentiment and reason. People are much more ready to
accept it. As stated in Al- Quran Surah al- Jinn: 1-2, we can see how a
party from among the Jinn heard the Prophet PBUH reciting the Qur’ân
and said:

“'We have really heard a wonderful Recital! 'It gives guidance to


righteousness, and we have believed therein. We shall ascribe no
partner unto our Lord.”

Thus this situation inspired them to call their people to the truth
and warn them to follow the Prophet and believe in Him as the
5
http://www.renaissance.com.pk/main.html
Messenger of Allah. Therefore, today’s Muslim preacher should observe
this and explains the truth of Islam as Islam is the comprehensive
religion and the way of life. Islam is the finest religion and there is no
extreme in this religion of truth. The Muslims preacher must be able to
convey the message of Islam correctly to avoid from being
misunderstood by the non- believers.

Moreover, knowing and preaching the truth of Islam as a main


mission and vision in calling people to embrace the finest religion. As a
complementary to the former, the Muslims preacher must also
understand the people of other religion; their beliefs and practices, in
this case is Hinduism as this will ease us to propagate the teaching of
Islam. We must gradually convince them that no other religion as easy
as Islam because Islam asked its follower to practice balance in their
life. However, we must be careful in explaining such and try to avoid
from being harsh and biased.

The second factor for successful propagation is the faith that the
propagator has in it. Solid assurance in the correctness of what he is
calling towards makes him into an example for others in both his words
and his deeds. It gives him the ability to lead others. Allah says in
surah al- Sajdah: 24:

“And We appointed, from among them, leaders, giving guidance


under Our command, so long as they persevered with patience and
continued to have sure faith in Our Signs.”

‘There are four crucial words and phrases in this verse: leaders, giving
guidance, patience, and sure faith. For people to be honest in what
they call towards and be true leaders who can guide others, they must
have patience. They need to be able to persevere without faltering in
their faith when they are confronted by those who disdain what they
believe in. they need absolute conviction that is not tainted with the
slightest doubt’. 6

Furthermore, certainty of conviction can be discernable from


what we say, in our speaking without faltering or hesitation and
without fear or what other might say. We must speak clearly without
any ambiguity, announcing that Islam is in fact Allah’s religion and that
Allah will accept from us no other religion to be followed. We must
declare to them with total frankness that we disbelieve in the
falsehood that they are on and that we dislike what they believe until
they believe the truth. We must demonstrate our convictions in our
deeds, our conduct, and our way of life. Those who carry with them the
true religion in their hearts and have confidence in what they have do
not run after the scraps that fall from the tables of others.

7.0 CONCLUSION

Hinduism has a deserved reputation of being highly tolerant of


other religions. Hindus have a saying: "Ekam Sataha Vipraha Bahudha
Vadanti," which may be translated: "The truth is One, but different
Sages call it by Different Names”.

Dos and don’ts

 Religion is a sensitive topic


 Do not eat cow meat (cows considered holy)
 Some are vegans (eat only vegetables)
 The term ‘Keling’
 The term ‘Paria’

6
Sheikh Salman al-Oadah in http://www.islamtoday.net/english/showme2.cfm
 Speaking Malay with local Indian accent

REFERENCES:

Eliade M (Ed.). (1995). The Encyclopedia of Religion. Volume V. pg 330


– 366. Macmillan Library Reference: New York.

Kim Knott (2000). Hinduism: A very short introduction. Oxford


University Press: New York.

Klaus K. Klostermaier. (1998). A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism.


Oneworld Publications: United States.

Thames & Hudson. (2002). Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend.


Thames & Hudson Ltd: United Kingdom.

Yousif A. F.(1998). Religious freedom, minorities and Islam. Thinker’s


Library: Batu Caves, Selangor.

Introduction to Hinduism by Dr Zakir Naik. Retrieve: 3rd May, 2007


from:
http://www.irf.net/irf/comparativereligion/middle/hinduism/conceptofgo
d.htm

Sheikh Khâlid al-Sayf, professor at al-Imâm University. Retrieve from:


http://www.islamtoday.net/english/showme2.cfm