Every religion in the world whether divine or man-made has some sorts of worship. Likewise, Hinduism has some types of worship and religious rituals. Mostly, the worship in Hinduism is associated with idols.
The most popular worship in Hinduism includes:
1- Puja: Ritual worship, especially of the deity.
2- Arti: The greeting ceremony with lamps, etc.
3- Bhajan or Kirtan: Hymns and chants (often during Arti).
4- Darshan: Visiting a deity or holy person.
5- Prasad: Offering and eating some sacred food or sweets that are presented to idols.
6- Pravachan: Talk or lecture on the scriptures.
7- Havan: The worship of sacred fire.
8- Japa/Meditation/Prayer: Internal practices of worship.
9. Parikram/Pradakshina: Circumambulation or moving around a sacred object or idol.
10. Selva: Active service, to the deity, holy people, etc..
Furthermore, dance, drama and music also have been regarded as worship in the Hindu culture. Worship can be performed at any time and frequently. While nothing is required, it is recommended that a regular frequency to be chosen in the morning or evening, and sometimes on the way to or from work, in addition to participating in major festivals at their local temples.
It is noteworthy that these acts of worship are unconditional, unrestricted and not dependent on fixed time. They are optional not mandatory and can be performed individually or in congregation, at home or in a temple. The nature of worship in Hinduism remains undefined; it depends on the will of a person, it is not obligatory. Every house has some idols, family members are free in their choices of worship. If one prefers to worship the idol of Kali, he is free in his worship and he can place an idol of Kali in his house while his father, mother or brother can choose an idol of another deity.
However, worship in Islam is a comprehensive term that includes any good act that is performed with the intention of seeking the Pleasure of Almighty Allah. Helping a needy is one kind of worship in Islam. Pronouncing good words has been regarded as worship that pleases Allah, the Almighty. Also, there is some mandatory and daily worship in Islam like the five Prayers. There is some weekly compulsory worship like Jumu`ah (Friday) prayer. There is some yearly and occasional worship like `Eid Al-Fitr and `Eid Al-Adhha.
There is a very spiritual worship of fasting during the month of Ramadan that represents a secret and special relationship between the Creator and His slave. Also, there is some worship related to spending one’s wealth on poor and needy like Zakah and charity. There is a spiritual, physical and financial worship like the pilgrimage. In Islam, some acts of worship are optional and individual like Nafl (non-obligatory) Prayers and fasting in other than Ramadan.
In brief, Islam brought a system of worship that is appropriate and suitable for human nature and its spiritual need. Those acts of worship teach and implant all kinds of sublime, ethical and moral values in human mind and heart. A Muslim woman has to cover her whole body whether in prayer or out of prayer. Also, the Muslim man who has to cover his body, contrary to Hindu worship as is seen in the Kumbh Mela where men and women mingle in an indecent and impolite manner and take holy dive in Ganga River together. Once every 12 years, up to 10 million people share in ritual bathing at the Kumbh Mela festival at Allahabad where the waters of the Ganges and Jamuna combine.
In this context, we would like to present some sorts of worship in Hindu society. The intention is merely to compare between the concept of worship in Islam and Hinduism. If the comparison was possible without mentioning them, it would have been preferably avoided, but the nature of comparison demands to mention them here in order to explain the characteristics and distinctions of worship in both religions. This never intends to hurt sentiments or religious feelings of any community in any sense.
Worship of Shivlingam
In Hinduism, Shivlingam and Yoni are worshipped, Lingam and Yoni in Sanskrit means the male and female sexual organs respectively. Hindus are allowed to worship anything, including the sexual organs. It is common among them to name their children as Shiva Lingam (God Shiva’s sexual organ) or Rama Lingam (God Rama’s sexual organ).
In some places in Karnataka, the gods demand both male and females to pray naked together. Devadasi (Religious Prostitution), the Devadasi system was set up, according to a Times of India’s report (10-11-87), as a result of conspiracy between the feudal class and the priests (Brahmins). The latter, with their ideological and religious hold over the peasants and craftsmen, devised a means that gave prostitution their religious sanction. Poor low-caste Hindu girls, initially sold at private auctions, were later “dedicated” to the temples. They were then initiated into prostitution even to this day this religious prostitution blessed by Hindu religion is still alive in Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Brahmins have also created Kamasutra; a set of instructions on how to have sexual intercourse. Some of the postures detailed in Kamasutra are so complex that they can only be performed with the help of one or more assistants! Some Hindu temples have stone carvings of Kamasutra sexual poses and Hindus worship them. One feels shame to visit those naked idols lonely not to mention with family.
The Devadasi System
Times of India, 10th Nov 1987, confirms that the practice of dedication young Harijan (Hindu) girls (Mahars, Mangs, Dowris and Chamar) at childhood to a goddess, and their initiation into prostitution when they attain puberty continues to thrive in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and other parts of South India. This is largely due to social backwardness, poverty and illiteracy. The Brahmins with their ideological and religious hold over the Hindu community devised this practice which acquired religious sanctions. They noted in their study on -”Devadasis”- “the link between religious culture and child prostitution”.
The study revealed that girls from poor Hindu families were sold after puberty at private auctions to a master who initially paid a sum of money to the families ranging from 500 to Rs. 5,000. The study, made during health camps organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Devadasi populated areas, revealed that the dedicated girls formed 15 percent of the total women involved in prostitution in the country, and as much as 70 percent of the prostitutes in the border districts of Karnataka and Maharashtra.
In fact, the word Devadasi has a religious sense as the word Dev denotes a deity or god and Dasi means a female slave, thus Devdasi means a female slave of god. Those girls were devoted to the gods and dedicated to satisfy the carnal desires of priests in the name of god and worship of god. Human mind disdains to ascribe such system of worship to Ishvar, rather it’s more deserving to be attributed to some selfish priests who have invented such heresies under the name of religion and worship.
When we compare the system of worship in Islam and the system of worship in Hinduism it shows clearly that Islam is distinguished in its worship system. It includes every kind of spiritual, physical and mental purity. Take for instance the five prayers in Islam, every prayer must be preceded by purity of body and place of Prayer. Every Prayer includes Beautiful Names of Almighty Allah His Glorification and Praises. In fact, Islamic Shari`ah is a divine, complete, comprehensive and pure guide in every aspect of human life.
Human Sacrifice in Hindu religion
A recent report by the press trust of India stated that during the past three years more than 2,500 young boys and girls were sacrificed to goddess Kali in India, an AFP’s recent reports say: “Hundreds of young boys and virgin girls are sacrificed every month for the deity Kali. In one case, Rama Sewak hacked his eight year old son to death in broad daylight in Delhi, because Goddess Kali had told him he would come back to life and bring him good fortune. Blood-thirsty Kali is worshipped openly in the length and breadth of India. Kali’s statue stands naked aside the inanimate body of the Hindu deity Siva, tongue stuck out with blood dripping from fang-like teeth. She holds a noose, a skull-topped staff, a blood-encrusted sword and a severed head. She is also known as Durga, Devi, Shaktima, Uma and Parvathi in manifestations.
Such traditions cannot be a result of divine guidance. How Allah may order to slaughter the innocent boys and girls in His Name. The only justification can be sought for this type of inhuman ritual is that it is a clear misguide by the devil. This act defies the true nature of divine revelation and a simple human mind; it is totally rejected by ordinary logic and wisdom. Such fables could not be found in Islam, the last and final revelations from Almighty Allah Who guaranteed its preservation and maintenance until the Day of Judgment.
1- http://hinduism.iskcon.org/practice/307.htm (Last accessed on 20-8-2013)
2- http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Worship#Types_of_Worship (Last accessed on 16-8-2013)
3- http://www.asia.si.edu/pujaonline/puja/where.html (Last accessed on 23-8-2013)
4- http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/worship/worship.shtml (Last accessed on 23-8-2013)
5- http://site4daie.blogspot.com/2008/02/lingam-yoni.html(Last accessed on 18-8-2013)
6-http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/13/who-is-on-the-suspect-list-in-the-benghazi-attack/ (Last accessed on 23-8-2013)