Beliefs and practices
Hinduism and Islam are two of the world's three largest religions. Orthodox Hinduism is the socio-religious way of life of the Hindu people of the Indian subcontinent, their diaspora, and some other regions which had Hindu influence in the ancient and medieval times. Islam is a monotheistic religion in which the supreme deity is Allah and the last prophet being Muhammad ibn Abdullah. Orthodox Hinduism mostly shares common terms with the dhārmic religions, including Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Islam shares common terms with the Abrahamic religions (those religions claiming prophet Abraham), i.e. Judaism and Christianity.
The scriptures of Islam are the Qurān, which is primary book because it is considered the word of God, and the several Shia and Sunni Hadīths, which are secondary in authority, and deal with the life and acts of Islamic Prophet Muhammad. The scriptures of Orthodox Hinduism are the Shrutis (the four Vedas and their three tier of commentaries), which are considered authentic, most authoritative and Divine Revelation. Furthermore, Hinduism is also based on the Smritis (including the Ramāyana, the Bhagavad Gītā and the Purānas), which are considered by be of secondary authority and human creation.
Nevertheless, Hinduism and Islam do have many similarities, as well as differences, as discussed below.
Moral and Ethical behaviour
Hinduism encourages duty based philosophy.
Rituals and Fasting
Both religions encourage a family system, having progeny and respect for elders. Orthodox Hindus and Muslims condemn homosexuality. The two religions also share similarity when it comes to religious rituals. For example, five times Namaz in Islam and Naam Jap/Prayers in Hinduism. Muslims observe a strict fast during Ramadan and Hindus do so on different days and occasions. Muslims are encouraged to give to charity (Zakat) during Ramadan whereas Hindus have 3 1/2 days reserved for charity work.
Theology and Concept of God
In contrast, Hinduism's belief in God can be variously categorized as monotheism, monism, henotheism or polytheism. To understand the concept of God in Hinduism, it is necessary to know that Orthodox Hinduism has six systems of philosophy, viz.:
- Pūrva Mīmānsā
The last one, Vedānta is further split into sub-branches, of which the most popular is Advaita Vedanta propounded by Sage Adi Shankara in the Early-Medieval India. Each philosophical system and sub-system has its own distinct concept of God. This leads to a variety of concepts of God in Hinduism.
Angels versus Devī-Devatās
Saints and Holy men
Muslims do not believe in the concept of saints, whereas Hindus do. Many states in India have their own patron saints. However, Sufi Muslims believe in the concept of Wilayat (sainthood), and revere all the great Sufis as Walis (saints). Many such Sufi saints are buried in India, such as Moinuddin Chishti, Nizamuddin Auliya, Hazrat Babajan, and many others.
Meat and food habits
Muslims cannot eat pork or any pig byproducts. They can not consume alcohol in any form. Hindus cannot eat beef or slaughter cows, The first hymn of yajurveda prohibit humans to kill animal and eat.. Only a certain section of Hindus believe that anything and everything is acceptable in Hinduism as it monotheistic, pantheistic, atheistic at the same time. So it is more of a socio-cultural way of living than just a religion.
One life versus Reincarnation
Muslims believe that each person has a body and soul. At death, your body is separated from your soul. Your faith and actions in this life will determine your fate in the Life After Death. There is a Day of Judgment when this life will come to an end for every one, and all humans from Adam to the last person, will be brought to a second life, rejoining of your body and soul. On that Day, God will put people in Hell or Heaven based on their beliefs and deeds of this life. While Hinduism believes in body and soul. Your soul returns to your body after your death. This cycle repeats seven times according to some. Your status or caste and even species in next life depends on your deeds of the previous life.
This is called Reincarnation in Hinduism.
During the Muslim conquests, Islam gained many converts on the Indian sub-continent primarily from Hinduism or Buddhism; the two dominant local religions. Inter-marriage and immigration from other Islamic lands have helped in instilling this idea in the people of Greater India. Many of the new Muslim rulers looked down upon the idea Hinduism as having Iconodulistic religious practices and were to various degrees iconoclastic. Prominent examples of these are Mahmud of Ghazni and the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb on either end of the timeline for Islamic rulers. In addition, Muslims in India also developed a caste system that divided the Foreign-descended "Ashraf" Muslims and the "Ajlaf" converts, with the "Arzal" untouchables at the lowest rung The term "Arzal" stands for "degraded" and the Arzal castes are further subdivided into Bhanar, Halalkhor, Hijra, Kasbi, Lalbegi, Maugta, Mehtar etc.
In contrast there were also many Muslim kings who wished to live in harmony with the Hindus for interests of the Islamic empire. Akbar and Ibrahim Adil Shah II of Bijapur Adil Shah dynasty are notable examples. Akbar's court was home to intellectuals and saints both Hindu and Muslim, among them the great musician Tansen who converted to Islam, and he (Akbar) even went so far as to try and create a new religion (the din ilahi) to create a rapprochement of both creeds for creating a stable empire. 'Todar Mal' who was highly regarded Hindu minister (vizir) of Akbar. Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, does not credit Akbar for saving the temple instead gives credit to the "infidels" for building their own temple by demolishing the mosque. Frustration in the sub-continent grew as a result of this leading to the gradual decline of the Muslim mughal empire replaced by the Sikhs, Marathas, the Vijayanagara kingdom and later the British.
In the last 60 years after Indian independence, the Muslims have had to live without the preferential treatment that was offered to them during the days of the sultanates and even during the British Raj's positive discrimination against the Muslims as a part of the divide and rule policy. The communal tensions between the Hindus and the Muslims have erupted many a times during this period. Notable incidents of this phenomenon include the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the Gujrat Riots of 2002.
Kabir wrote poetry and preached to the people, advocating a blend of philosophy and spiritual practices. Sufism as a whole is primarily concerned with direct personal experience, and as such may be compared to various esoteric forms of mysticism such as Bhakti form of Hinduism, Hesychasm, Zen Buddhism, Kabbalah, Gnosticism and Christian mysticism.
The synergy between certain Sufis and Bhaktas in many regions of India led to Muslim and Hindu laity worshiping together at a mazar (Sufi shrine). However, Muslim and Sikh conflict erupted in India fueled by a history of regional politics, nationalism, continued conflict and the partition movements during independence from the British Raj in 1947.
However the main proponents of this new synergy included Saints like Rumi, Shirdi Sai Baba and Kabir today it can be said it exits in the form of the Qawwali
Qawwali is a form of devotional Sufi music common in Afghanistan, India, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkey. It is known for its secular strains. Some of its modern-day masters have included Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the Sabri Brothers. Amir Khusro, a disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya, of the Chishti Order, is credited with inventing Qawwali in the 14th century.
Mughal art forms, especially miniatures and even certain niches of Urdu poetry, were quick to absorb classic Hindu motifs, like the love story of Krishna and Radha. Hindustani classical music is a complex and sonorous blend of Vedic notions of sound, raga and tala and absorbed a many instruments of either Middle Eastern origin or Indian-Muslim invention such as the ghazal
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