„Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar..!“ Allah is great! About twenty five men stand in a line on a blue carpet in the direction of Mekka, bowing down again and again offering prayers. It`s Friday, 9:33pm, a group of devotees and I are guests at the Blue Mosque here in Zurich for the evening prayers. The day before, some members of this Turkish Muslim community had visited our temple and participated at our Sandhya Arati, Evening Temple ceremony. Our communities were brought together through a local Interfaith Organization and formed into a Partnership.
I personally found it was a very interesting encounter. These kinds of events help to dismantle prejudice towards each other. Murat, the Mosque`s President, admitted that he was not sure what he should think about the Hare Krishna`s. He remembered seeing Hare Krishna devotees from his youth, dressed in orange robes and were seen on the streets, dancing and singing. And from our side there was definitely also some prejudice. „Are women welcomed there? Do we need to wear a Burka? But these people eat meat, do we have to accept food at their place?“ were some of the concerns of the devotees who I invited to join me to visit the Mosque. And of course not only Hindu - Muslim Conflicts from the past, such as the Muslim ruler Aurangzeb’s destroying hundreds of Hindu temples in India, but also the present propaganda against Islam in the Media adds to these concerns.
The beauty of such events is that once you meet with people, hear from them, and get to know them, you realize although there are differences, there are also many similarities, e.g. in regard of culture and lifestyle. The most relevant similarity is the element of Bhakti. We have a lot in common because we have dedicated our lives to the same Supreme Personality of Godhead. Srila Prabhupada states in this regard: „They accept God. They are also our brothers because they accept God. They want to please God. They go to the church, go to the Mosque, offer prayers. Prayer is also bhakti, devotional service.“ 1
Srila Prabhupada was extremely liberal and non-secterian. He had a very broad understanding of religion and often stated that he did not come to turn everyone into a Hindu or a Hare Krishna. If someone was already practicing some faith, Srila Prabhupada was encouraging them to continue. The only thing he wanted people to understand was that in this Age the process of chanting the Names of God is the most effective way to reconnect with God and that pure love of God is the ultimate goal of life: „The test of any scripture is how one is developing love of God.(..) If you find that following some religious principles you are developing your love of God, then it is perfect. It doesn't matter whether it is Bible or Koran or Bhagavad-gétä. We have to see what is the fruit. If the fruit is that people are developing love of Godhead, then it is perfect…“ 2
Our Muslim brothers and sisters were impressed when they learned about our focus on developing love of God. Here we are definitely on the same page. Leaving the Blue Mosque 3 on this Friday evening, returning to our orange temple, I felt grateful to practice a spiritual process that gives so much facility to reawaken our love of God.
To encourage everyone to again develop their love for God is the duty of every saint, every representative of God. How this is true also with the Prophet Muhammad shows the following prayer: „Oh Lord, grant to me the Love to You; grant me that I love those that love You; grant me that I may do the deeds that win Your love; make Your love dearer to me than my soul, family and wealth“. 4
1 - Room Conversation - Theran, 14/03/75
2 - Lecture 18/10/68 - Seattle
3 - Their Mosque is called blue mosque (without a connection to the blue mosque in Istanbul) accordingly the walls of the building are blue, since our temple has orange painting, I call our temple `orange temple` just for the sake of the partnership project.
4 - From `The Sayings of Muhammad` by Abdhullah Al-Muamun Al-Suhrawardy, London
1905, page 128
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