Kategori arşivi: İnanç Dosyası

Comparison Of The Living Religions 2

The Claim of a Supernatural Origin of the Founder

Buddha, in some later scriptures which abound in the marvellous is represented as a pre-existent heavenly being who, in connection with a prophetic dream of a queen, became her first-born child when she was forty-five years old.

Lao Tzu in documents dating a thousand years after his day is represented as having been born a fully matured Wise Old Boy or Philosopher, with white hair, who had been carried in his mother’s womb for seventy-two years, or for eighty-one years, according to different traditions.

Mahavira in a Jain document is represented as a pre-existent being who, in fulfilment of fourteen prophetic dreams, was supernaturally placed in his royal mother’s womb.

A virgin birth seems to be intimated in the case of Zoroaster. His mother was supernaturally glorified when she was an unmarried young woman of fifteen. Three future saviors in Zoroastrianism are predicted to be born of a mother who, similarly, is to be a virgin fifteen years old.

In the canonical New Testament of Christianity there are varying data concerning a divine origin of Jesus. Jesus represented himself as having come from God, whon he called father.

Titian (1490-1576), Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos, c. 1547.

Titian (1490-1576), Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos, c. 1547.

 

The Claim of Divine Revelation

The following may be specified as outstanding revelations of truth:

Hinduism -  The immanence of the divine in the world; human society, a divinely ordained structure; union with the divine, the goal of existence.

Jainism – Self-renunciation, the condition of salvation; the ideal of a liberation of the spirit with subjugation of the flesh.

Buddhism – Selfishness as the root of misery; salvation through inner purity and self-discipline.

Confucianism – The essential goodness of human nature, as divinely implanted; religion as exercised in proper social relationships.

Taoism – Religion as exercised in humbly following the divine Way.

Zoroastrianism – Religion as involving active co-operation with a cosmic power of goodness in a struggle against evil.

Shinto – Nature to be recognized as a beautiful divine creation; religion as involving purity and also loyalty to the supreme authority.

Sikhism – Religion as discipleship of the One True God, with trust in His Name.

Christianity – The supreme power in the world is a perfect person; that He may best be conceived of and lived with as a Father-God; that He has been presented by His Son Jesus Christ; and that the supreme satisfaction of every human being consists in loving obedience to Him and in loving service to brother man.

Islam – Superlative satisfaction to be obtained through submission to an omnipotent God, who is not only a sovereign, but also a judge and rewarder.

Rembrandt (1606-1669), the Evangelist Matthew Inspired by an Angel, 1661.

Rembrandt (1606-1669), the Evangelist Matthew Inspired by an Angel, 1661.

 

The Claim of an Inspired Scripture

Living religions do possess definite sets of documents which are regarded unique divine truths which need to be known for salvation. For all of them claims have been made as pre-eminent above the rest of literature.

Hinduism – Vedas, book of knowledge.

Jainism – Angas, bodies of knowledge.

Buddhism – Tripitaka, three baskets of of teachings.

Sikhism – Granth.

Confucianism – The Five Classics and The Four Books.

Taoism – Tao-te-Ching, the canon of reason and virtue.

Shinto – Ko-ji-ki, the records of ancient matters and Nihon-gi, the chronicles of Japan.

Zoroastrianism – Avesta, the knowledge.

Judaism – The Old Testament.

Christianity – The New Testament.

Islam – Koran.

 

Comparison Of The Living Religions 1

The religions of the world have some features in common.

  • The belief in One Supreme Being,
  • The claim of divine incarnation,
  • The claim of a supernatural origin of the founder,
  • The claim of divine revelation,
  • The claim of an inspired scripture,
  • The report of miracles wrought,
  • The principle of the “golden rule”,
  • The recognition of an especially sacred community,
  • The hope of a universal religion,
  • The hopes and fears of a future life.

The Belief in One Supreme Being

This idea was repudiated by original Jainism and by original Buddhism. But in the later developments of both systems the founder was worshipped.

Judaism believed in one supreme worshipful God, Jehovah. After the period of the Exile the Jews were consistently monotheistic.

Confucianism teaches the beliefin one Supreme Being, designated either personally as Supreme Ruler or impersonally as Heaven. But Confucianism has limited the worship of this Being to only one person in China, the emperor, and only once a year, on the night of the winter solstice, December 22. Popular Confucianism encourages the common people to worship many spirits, both nature spirits and the spirits of deceased ancestors.

Zoroastrianism sets forth one cosmic power, which is supremely worshipful, Ahura Mazda. But this being is not supremely powerful, because there has always existed an opposing cosmic power, Angra Mainyu, the spirit of evil. Furthermore, Zoroastrianism recognizes many other good spirits, subordinate to Ahura Mazda, yet deserving of worship.

Both Hinduism and Taoism believe in one supreme impersonal cosmic being, named Brahma and Tao, respectively, to be meditated upon, but not exactly to be worshipped. But in both religions the popular phases have been polytheistic, characterized by the actual worship of many deities.

A definite belief in and a worship of one supreme cosmic power by all people, can be found in only four religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism. These four religions agree as to the oneness of God.

The Claim of Divine Incarnation

The idea that deity can become incarnate is found in several religions, but with various settings and applications.

In philosophic Hinduism, ever since the period of the Upanishads, every object may be regarded as a temporary manifestation or embodiment or impersonation of the impersonal, non-moral, eternal Brahma, though the high cast Brahman priests are especially venerated as such.

In popular Hinduism there are several deities, who are believed to have taken the form of men. For instance, the god Vishnu, is believed to have entered upon several incarnations; the list varies from nine to twenty-two, but always includes animals. None of these Hindu avatars are represented as morally perfect, nor are they represented as manifestations of one supreme personal cosmic deity.

In Buddhism, despite its explicitly non-theistic basis, Buddha came to be regarded as a kind of incarnation, yet even so only as one of some twenty-four incarnate Buddhas, with a twenty-fifth still to come.

In Christianity, Jesus Christ is the unique incarnation, the Word of God.

In Islam, despite its dominant doctrine of the absolute transcendence of Allah, Shi’ism broke away from Sunni’ism on the issue of imams, divine incarnations. Some subsects among the Shiites differ concerning the exact number of still other incarnations, seven or twelve, and concerning the identity of the last one.

 

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio, 1601-02, Neues Palais, Potsdam, Germany. The Divine One became human so that human beings might become divine.” — Athanasius Photo:www.ibiblio.org

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio, 1601-02, Neues Palais, Potsdam, Germany.
The Divine One became human so that human beings might become divine.” — Athanasius
Photo:www.ibiblio.org

 

Islam 17

The family of Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), a poet born in Balkh (now in Afghanistan), but later settled in Konya, Turkey, which was then the capital of the Seljuk Empire, then known as Rum, whence his name. He carried out orthodox study and teaching there and had become a highly esteemed mystic, prior to his encounter of Shams of Tabriz, the central event of Rumi’s life.  This friendship led Mevlana to the innermost parts of the spiritual world.

Shams was an unknown itinerant who appeared in Konya in 1244, disappearing two years later. Under his influence, Mevlana dedicated himself to the study of Sufi mysticism, becoming a supreme master in this field. He was the spiritual founder of the Mawlawi Order and his most important work was a vast compilation of Sufi doctrine and Sufi lore, the Mathnawi-i Ma’nawi.

At the shrine built after Mevlana’s death, his followers began reading the Mathnawi, performing the Sema and also carrying out all other religious duties. Mevlana’s eldest son, who founded the Order and organized the regulations for administering the Dervish Lodges, eventually, became Sultan Veled, Master of the Lodge (Sheikh). After this, the office passed by tradition from father to son, or to the head of the family, a tradition, which really begins with Mohammed. The person occupying the position of Sheikh is given the title “Chelebi”. Each Dervish novice (murid) must be familiar with the genealogy of his fraternity. Mevlana, conforming to the Shari’a as the basis for spiritual study, regarded the Sema as a vital element in helping to achieve divine love and ecstasy. “The love of Allah leads to the lover forgetting himself in the love of the Beloved”. The principal rite in the Dervish service is the Sema (Ayin-i Sherif), while remembrance of God (Dhikr) is the chief exercise of devotion, which serves to stress the worshipper’s dependence on the spiritual world. “Spiritual maturity is the realization that the self is a reflection of the Divine”. This ritual emphasizes the emotional element of religion, and causes an ecstatic trance in the worshippers, such rituals explain how the epithets ‘howling’, ‘whirling’ or ‘dancing’ have been attached to the word ‘dervish’. However, such practice is considered to be an aid to concentration, to enable the dancers to intensify their awareness of God to the exclusion of their surroundings. While rotating, they lose all sense of the material self. Whirling Dervishes are like the planets orbiting the sun, and they are thought to make divine love an orbit of the spiritual experience. The left hand faces downward, towards earth, the right hand upward, reaching up to heaven, thus forming a link between one another. Mevlana stated that music, which accompanies the Sema, is the means of increasing divine love and ecstasy. Dervish music is largely provided by a choir singing in unison accompanied by musical instruments. Mevlana characterized the day of death as the day when he would be united with Allah, his Beloved. According to him, mysticism is the pathway to knowing Allah and being united with Him, saying that a person’s soul, mind, and love form a triangle.

 

Turkey – Istanbul. Dervishes at the Church/Mosque/Museum, Haghia Sophia, the 6th century church, the third (and present) are on this site.

Turkey – Istanbul. Dervishes at the Church/Mosque/Museum, Haghia Sophia, the 6th century church, the third (and present) are on this site.

The greatest message from Mevlana’s philosophy is love, charity and unity. Mevlana embraces all humanity, making no discrimination, and invites all to unity.

 

“Come again, again!

Come again, whoever you may be,

Whether an infidel, a fire worshipper or a pagan;

No matter whether you have broken your vows a hundred times.

Ours is not a door of despair.

Just come as you are.”

In the Sema ceremony, three meanings are expressed by the three stages in putting on the mantle. The meaning of the first is, “Allah wished to express Himself” so He created the universe. In the second stage, He created nature, and in the third, He created the whole of the animal kingdom. But none of these could express Him, Himself. At the end of the third stage, dervishes take off their mantles, which mean “Allah created mankind”. Then, representing Man, they place their hands crosswise on their shoulders. This position represents ‘elif’, the first letter of God’s name in Arabic, and expresses God’s unity. The Sema now begins with four salutations. These are: Shari’a -learning religious law; the Order -finding the pathway of love leading to God; Truth -striving for awareness of God’s truth and beauty; and Skill, meaning that having become aware of God’s beauty, one can be of service to mankind.

The Mawlawi Order is not a closed community. Its doors are open to all, whether a Dervish or not. However, there are a few traditional rules: Give, do not take; he who begs or lives off another is not one of us; our doors are open to those who make an honest living. Not only our own doors, but the doors of Allah are shut to those who do no good to themselves, to their family, to their neighbour or to others. Love is the key to unlock all doors. First, love the Creator, then love His creatures. Allah is beautiful and He loves all things of beauty. The Mawlawiyya value a beautiful voice, beautiful sayings and beautiful writings and lend their support to activities which benefit society, cherish the Arts and contribute to the economy.

Turkey – Istanbul. Dervishes at Haghia Eirene Church, the early 4th century, Byzantine Church built by Constantine I.

Turkey – Istanbul. Dervishes at Haghia Eirene Church, the early 4th century, Byzantine Church built by Constantine I.

The Sema is a form of worship. “Tennure” is the name given to the garments worn, and each colour conveys a meaning: red represents love, the sunrise and sunset; green is peace; pink is love; yellow is the lover’s countenance, for when a person suffers the pain of love, his/her face grows pale and wan; white is for the Prophet Mohammed’s radiance; black stands for innocence, and navy blue represents the Chelebi. It is said that in Mevlana’s time women, too, performed the Sema, but not together with men. However, there are those who oppose the participation of women and wearing the colours of the Tennure. In the Dervish Lodge at Galata, Istanbul, however, the number of women performing the Sema is increasing day by day. Here is a place where men and women together perform the Sema and where anyone may seek their own answers, regardless of their religion, race, language, age or sex.

 

 

Every prophet and every
saint has a way,
but all lead to God. All
ways are really one.                                                            

[I, 3086]                                                          

Dervishhood is not for the
sake of avoiding
entanglement with the world;
no, it’s because nothing
exists but God.

[II, 3497]

 

Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

The Mathnawi

 

Turkey – Istanbul. Dervishes at Haghia Eirene Church, the early 4th century, Byzantine Church built by Constantine I.

Turkey – Istanbul. Dervishes at Haghia Eirene Church, the early 4th century, Byzantine Church built by Constantine I.

 

Islam 16

  • Two mystical movements rising from the basis of Alevi-ism are the Bektashi and the Mawlawi (Mawlawiyya) Orders. One section of the Mawlawis is inclined towards the Alevis, and their followers trace a line of Alevi faith within the Sunni sect. Because of the Mawlawi orthodox Sunni tendencies, Mawlawis are occasionally made partners in administration.
  • Although neither Hadji Bektash nor Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi were the actual founders, after their death these Orders were established and named after them.
  • In the highly cultured environment of Konya, Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi produced works expressing his ideas in Persian, the noble literary language of the period. Hadji Bektash, however, was surrounded by Turkomans, whom he addressed in Turkish, the language they best understood. From this it can be extrapolated that the former was mentor to intellectuals and the latter to the general public.
  • Besides Alevi-ism and Bektashi-ism, the Dede procedure in Anatolia is still practiced in certain Sunni sects, such as the Melamis and Mawlawis.  Dede is the title given to a senior member of the order. The Dede procedure involves a process by which an individual follows a spiritual guide. In the Dede practices ceremonies in which both sexes participate are common and religious dances called Semah (in Alevi-Bektashi) and Sema (in Mawlawiyya) are performed. These go back to Turkish traditions of pre-Islamic times. Even though Alevi-Bektashi and Mawlawiyya are two different orders, there are similarities in some of their beliefs and practices.
This is a photograph of Sema and Semah being performed side by side on the same stage.

This is a photograph of Sema and Semah being performed side by side on the same stage.

Islam 15

The New Year of the Shi’ites and Alevis commences at the Spring Equinox, and is celebrated as the Feast of Nevroz. For them there are two new years: one, reckoned in lunar months, is the first day of Muharram; the other is the Spring solstice of the solar year. The former is a sad day, the anniversary of genocide; the latter is a day of good omen, a joyful occasion. The Festival of Nevroz, the national festival of Iran, is called “Crimson Egg Day” and a number of beliefs and myths are associated with it: Ali’s birthday, the beginning of Spring, the grounding of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat after the Flood, God’s recognition of Mohammed as His prophet, Mohammed’s acceptance of Ali as candidate for His successor, and the destruction by Prophet Mohammed, like the Prophet Abraham before him in the Temple of Nemrut, of 360 idols in the ancient Temple of Mecca. March 21st, when day and night are of equal length, is anticipated as a joyful day, full of hope for the future, and being sad or mournful on this day is regarded as shameful and a sin. Houses are cleaned from top to bottom for Nevroz, when, it is believed, illness and evil will cease to exist, quarrels are reconciled, graves are visited, people leap over Nevroz bonfires making various wishes as they do so, and the Festival is celebrated with assemblies and special programmes. Nevroz is the Persian word for “new day” and it is celebrated as the Feast of Life among those Parsees who are adherents of the Zoroastrian religion.

 

 

At the Feast of Nevroz, people leap over bonfires making wishes.

At the Feast of Nevroz, people leap over bonfires making wishes.

Turkey – Nevşehir, Town of Hadji Bektash, the Statue of Hadji Bektash.

Turkey – Nevşehir, Town of Hadji Bektash, the Statue of Hadji Bektash.

A religious order known as Bektashism, taking its name from Hadji Bektash who lived in the 13th century is distinct from, but similar to Anatolian Alevism. Only a person born into an Alevi family may become an Alevi, but anyone who joins the order may become a Bektashi. There are more similarities than differences between the two orders. The saying, “The only difference lies in the practice not in the path”; is generally used when referring to Alevi-Bektashi culture, beliefs or traditions. Hadji Bektash is of great importance to Alevis and in their centres of assembly and worship his portrait is displayed with pride alongside that of Ali. Very few historical facts are known about his life, but he is thought to have been a Turkoman, born in Nishapur, Turkistan. Having qualified as a mystic, he later travelled to Anatolia. “You alone are responsible for your words, deeds and morals” is one of his precepts, and another is “Do as you would be done by”, literally translated as ‘Do not practice on another what would be hard for you to bear.” One of the cornerstones of the Alevi-Bektashi creed is the Spiritual Brotherhood which advocates mutual help, mutual support and fraternity. Ahi-ism, a branch of Alevi which applies to commercial and professional sectors, whose tradition carries certain of its qualities to the present day, joined Bektashism after the murder of Ahi Evren, and was united and totally absorbed by it. Today many members of Alevi-Bektashi order preserve some of the old folk-religious customs, such as placing lighted candles at the tomb of a saint, kissing the door frame on entering and avoiding treading on the doorstep of a holy building, requesting prayers to be said by distinguished healers, or writing a wish or request on a strip of cloth and tying it to a sacred tree or shrine. The belief that after his death Hadji Bektash turned into a falcon and flew away can be associated with Shamanistic roots.

Turkey – Nevşehir, Town of Hadji Bektash, Dervish Lodge and Tomb of Hadji Bektash.

Turkey – Nevşehir, Town of Hadji Bektash, Dervish Lodge and Tomb of Hadji Bektash.