Wednesday, August 04, 2010

'Sometimes, I doubt the existence of God'


V.A. Mohamad Ashrof, writer and social activist, veers from belief to disbelief in God, and back to belief again

By Shevlin Sebastian

“Recently, my son, Hafiz, had an accident,” says V.A. Mohamad Ashrof, a writer and social activist. The eighteen-year-old was travelling pillion on a bike, which hit a scooter, at Edapally. He fell down and his face was bloodied. Hafiz was rushed to a hospital, but remained unconscious for several hours.

“I asked God why did this happen?” says Ashrof. “I told Him I am following Your teachings, so why are You going against me? I am also striving for peace, justice, and the betterment of humanity.'”

It is at these moments that Ashrof doubts the existence of God. “Then I become an agnostic,” he says. “After a while I realise it is a folly on my part. No one can ever know the ultimate truth or the reason behind a son’s accident.”

Ashrof is consoled by the fact that even great personalities have expressed misgivings. In the Qur’an, Chapter 2, Verse 260, Abraham expressed doubts about the resurrection of human beings. “My Lord, show me how You give life to the dead?" he said.

God said, “Take four birds, kill them and put a portion each on four hills.”

Accordingly, Abraham slaughtered the birds and dispersed the remains. Then God gathered it all together and made it whole. “God is a life-giver,” says Ashrof. “However, if you doubt the existence of God it does not mean you are anti-God or anti-religion. God allows us to question His very existence. That is why He has given man free will.”

On Fridays, on his own free will, Ashrof goes to the Palarivattom mosque. “I pray for that time when the people of all religions will have a peaceful co-existence,” he says. “I ask God to build a society based on justice.”

But Ashrof is devastated that women are not allowed to enter a mosque. “Every woman, according to the Qur’an, has the right to pray at any mosque,” he says. “But unfortunately, in our male-dominated society, they are not given permission.”

Ashrof says that the Qur’an clearly states that from one soul, God made a man and a woman. “And from this first couple all of humanity has emerged,” he says. “At the dawn of creation, there was egalitarianism. But man did not allow this concept to flourish. So, I am fighting for gender equality and justice.”

Asked whether we need God, Ashrof says, “Only a belief in God can enable one to lead an exemplary life. God is the only moral authority in the world. Therefore, we need religion to guide us, so that we can remain on the right path. If you stray, you will invite God's wrath.”

Ashrof admits that God will be enraged at the men who chopped off Newman College Professor T.J. Joseph’s hand because he named a character, Mohammed in a question paper.

“Those assailants did an evil act,” he says. “God is not communal. He wants us to show benevolence. He has asked us to pardon those who sin against us. Those men should have forgiven Prof. Joseph, instead of inflicting violence on him.”

(The New Indian Express, Kerala)

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