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Ram Lalla, a resident of UP by : Antara Dev Sen

Ram Lalla, a resident of UP by : Antara Dev Sen

Source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com/

So it has happened. Ram has been demoted from a divine being to a mere earthly creature. He even has a birth certificate from the Allahabad high court. Soon he may be expected to acquire a voter identity card from Mayawati and a Unique Identity number from Nandan Nilekani. This court victory for litigant Bhagwan Sri Ram Virajman, among others, is just the beginning of his arduous life on earth. In a curious twist of destiny, the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu is now in his worldly avatar as a UP-ite.

Dragged down from his heavenly pedestal by his fanatical followers, Ram has other problems too, as a historical being. He seems to have been born several centuries ago, no one knows exactly when (but they will, they will, just wait!) and is still in his infancy.

This young VIP in Ayodhya, residing amidst ruins where the central dome of the Babri Masjid used to be, is Ram Lalla. It was in the name of this infant god that the centuries-old mosque was demolished by his followers. And thousands killed as a result. As an infant, Ram Lalla allowed what he would probably not have permitted as a grown-up Maryada Purushottama.

But while the infant Ram resides in this seat of violence he is reported to have all these heroic exploits as the prince of Ayodhya and Sita’s husband. Is dear Ram Lalla all grown up and married too? Why, there is even the Sita ki rasoi, his wife’s kitchen, right beside his nursery. Can he be both an infant and an adult at the same time? Can he be in several places at the same time? Sure he can, as a god. But as a historical being? When divine beings are reborn as earthlings, their wings are clipped. They cease to be gods. The same Allahabad high court may frown upon this claim of omnipresence from the litigant, accepting it may set a dangerous precedence.

As it is the courts set limits to the powers of gods. Recently the Bombay high court has ruled that gods are incapable of playing the share market as it turned down the petition from an association of gods demanding a account. But all these gods had PAN cards, insisted the gods’ counsel, and were shareholders already! Never mind, said the court, the gods did not have the “personal skill, judgment and supervision” required. When a god becomes a legal person, he needs to be judged accordingly.

And one of the powers that Ram has clearly lost in this court case is his divine ability to recreate himself and his world. “Ram is born in countless ways, and there are tens of millions of Ramayanas”, said Tulsidas in the 16th century. Not anymore. Ram has now been cast in stone, imprisoned forever in a unidimensional figure by this week’s historic court verdict.

Last year, when the Liberhan Commission finally released its report on the demolition of the Babri Masjid after 17 years, it made several recommendations. Regarding the authenticity of the claims of Ram Janmabhoomi/ Babri Masjid it said: “The question whether a structure was a temple or a mosque can only be answered by a scientific study by archaeologists, historians and anthropologists. No politician, jurist or journalist can provide a comprehensive answer to such questions… Therefore, set up a statutory national commission of experts to delve into these questions…

” The government curtly replied that it was not necessary to appoint another national commission, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) would be enough.

This week, the court ruled in favour of Ram Lalla based on the findings of the ASI. Senior historians like Irfan Habib doubt the authenticity of the findings, and believe that evidence may have been planted that the ASI could not detect. The courts can only act on whatever information they are given. And our government bodies are not known for efficiency.

I feel for the ASI. What on earth could they do? In 2007, when they were asked to tell us about the Ram Setu, they had their heads bitten off. They had stated that being a science and technology department, they would have to examine the Ram Setu in a scientific manner, not “solely relying on the contents of a mythological text.” So, although ancient mythological and literary texts are culturally important, they are not historical records that “incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters or the occurrence of the events depicted therein”. It neither accepted nor denied Ram’s existence, and said that the bridge was not manmade, but naturally formed.

Immediately there were charges of blasphemy, ASI officials were suspended, the culture minister almost had to resign and the ASI was forced to change its view in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile the law minister said of course Ram was a historical figure — sure, he existed.

But which Ram was the historical figure? Valmiki’s demigod? Kamban’s god? Tulsidas’s literary deity? Krittibas’s homespun hero? Vimalasuri’s Jain champion? Chandrabati’s householder? The Santhals’ tribal hero? Periyar’s flawed protagonist? North India’s imposing Lord Ram is hardly present in southern India. In the east he is more of a mythical hero than a god, and he practically disappears in the northeast.

In one court judgment we have swept aside our rich heritage of many Rams, each equally dear to the devotees of each region, swept aside thousands of years of cultural history and memory, and fixed on a “historical figure” — the UP-ite Ram Lalla, who is forever in infancy.

This is a sad day for our pluralistic tradition. Giving a third of the land to “Muslims” while “Hindus” get two-thirds may be politically expedient for the moment, but it will not stem the rot of refashioning collective memory. The verdict, well-meaning as it is, has been interpreted by Hindu fanatics as justification for their acts of desecration of the mosque.

Unless the government moves on these criminal acts, and brings at least the culprits named in the Liberhan report to book, there will never be closure. And in his new avatar as an earthly infant, poor Ram Lalla woudn’t be able to protect us either.

– Antara Dev Sen is editor of The Little Magazine. She can be contacted at: sen@littlemag.com

 

Ramadan : Fasting in the Hadith

Do You Know?

1.5 billion Muslims of the world celebrate their holiest month of Ramadan every year. It is an obligation on every adult and healthy Muslim to fast during the month of Ramadan. Fasting is a total abstention from eating, drinking, and sexual relations from dawn to dusk for 29 or 30 days of the month of Ramadan. Also, avoiding immoral behavior and anger and showing compassion is part of the requirements of the fasting. The month of Ramadan is also the month in which the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in piecemeal basis over a period of 23 years. It is a very joyous occasion for the Muslims of the world. Muslims fast during the day and pray and read Quran during the part of the night.

A Few Hadith On Fasting:

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 115

Narrated Talha bin ‘Ubaid-Ullah: A bedouin with unkempt hair came to Allah’s Apostle and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Inform me what Allah has made compulsory for me as regards the prayers.” He replied: “You have to offer perfectly the five compulsory prayers in a day and night (24 hours), unless you want to pray Nawafil.” The bedouin further asked, “Inform me what Allah has made compulsory for me as regards fasting.” He replied, “You have to fast during the whole month of Ramadan, unless you want to fast more as Nawafil.” The bedouin further asked, “Tell me how much Zakat Allah has enjoined on me.” Thus, Allah’s Apostle informed him about all the rules (i.e. fundamentals) of Islam. The bedouin then said, “By Him Who has honored you, I will neither perform any Nawafil nor will I decrease what Allah has enjoined on me. Allah’s Apostle said, “If he is saying the truth, he will succeed (or he will be granted Paradise).”

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 118

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “Fasting is a shield (or a screen or a shelter). So, the person observing fasting should avoid sexual relation with his wife and should not behave foolishly and impudently, and if somebody fights with him or abuses him, he should tell him twice, ‘I am fasting.” The Prophet added, “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, the smell coming out from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk. (Allah says about the fasting person), ‘He has left his food, drink and desires for My sake. The fast is for Me. So I will reward (the fasting person) for it and the reward of good deeds is multiplied ten times.”

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 120

Narrated Sahl: The Prophet said, “There is a gate in Paradise called Ar-Raiyan, and those who observe fasts will enter through it on the Day of Resurrection and none except them will enter through it. It will be said, ‘Where are those who used to observe fasts?’ They will get up, and none except them will enter through it. After their entry the gate will be closed and nobody will enter through it.”

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 123

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.”

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 124

Narrated Ibn Umar: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “When you see the crescent (of the month of Ramadan), start fasting, and when you see the crescent (of the month of Shawwal), stop fasting; and if the sky is overcast (and you can’t see It) then regard the crescent (month) of Ramadan (as of 30 days)”.

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 125

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Whoever established prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven; and whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.”

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 126

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: The Prophet was the most generous amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel visited him, and Gabriel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month. The Prophet used to recite the Holy Qur’an to Gabriel, and when Gabriel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind (which causes rain and welfare).

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 127

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)”

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 128

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “Allah said, ‘All the deeds of Adam’s sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.’ Fasting is a shield or protection from the fire and from committing sins. If one of you is fasting, he should avoid sexual relation with his wife and quarreling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, ‘I am fasting.’ By Him in Whose Hands my soul is’ The unpleasant smell coming out from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk. There are two pleasures for the fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord; then he will be pleased because of his fasting.”

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 212

Narrated Abu Sa’id: The Prophet forbade the fasting of ‘Id-ul-Fitr and ‘Id-ul-Adha (two feast days) and also the wearing of As-Samma’ (a single garment covering the whole body), and sitting with one’s leg drawn up while being wrapped in one garment. He also forbade the prayers after the Fajr (morning) and the ‘Asr (afternoon) prayers.

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 32 :: Hadith# 226

Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying regarding Ramadan, “Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.”

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 32 :: Hadith# 228

Narrated ‘Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) Allah’s Apostle used to pray (at night) in Ramadan.

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 32 :: Hadith# 231

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Whoever fasted the month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith (i.e. belief) and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his past sins will be forgiven, and whoever stood for the prayers in the night of Qadr out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven .”

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 32 :: Hadith# 233

Narrated Abu Salama: I asked Abu Sa’id, and he was a friend of mine, (about the Night of Qadr) and he said, “We practiced Itikaf (seclusion in the mosque) in the middle third of the month of Ramadan with the Prophet . In the morning of the 20th of Ramadan, the Prophet came and addressed us and said, ‘I was informed of (the date of the Night of Qadr) but I was caused to forget it; so search for it in the odd nights of the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan. (In the dream) I saw myself prostrating in mud and water (as a sign). So, whoever was in l’tikaf with me should return to it with me (for another 10-day’s period)’, and we returned. At that time there was no sign of clouds in the sky but suddenly a cloud came and it rained till rain-water started leaking through the roof of the mosque which was made of date-palm leaf stalks. Then the prayer was established and I saw Allah’s Apostle prostrating in mud and water and I saw the traces of mud on his forehead.”

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 32 :: Hadith# 237

Narrated ‘Aisha: Allah’s Apostle used to practice Itikaf in the last ten nights of Ramadan and used to say, “Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan ,”

  • Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 32 :: Hadith# 241

Narrated ‘Aisha: With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to pray all the night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers.