99 Names – 99 Deities #2

– Communal harmony in present day India is under threat with a series of lynchings carried out by so called Hindu Cow vigilantes on innocent Muslims and Hindu Dalits. By the grace of the divine we can draw parallels between Islamic and Hindu thought in order to bring both communities closer together and end the violence. This will be the purpose of this blog series – 

For basic understanding of the title “99 names 99 deities” I will share this information snippet.

Hindus recognize one God, Brahman. Brahman is the ultimate reality and the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. The deities of the Hindu faith represent different expressions and manifestations of Brahman.

Similarly, Muslims recognize one God, Allah. Allah also is the ultimate reality and the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. Allah has 99 names which represent his different attributes and qualities.


2. Lakshmi and al-Wahhab

 

 

Introduction

Spiritual and Material Prosperity and wealth is something that all of us seek and wish to have in life. It is this aspect of the divine that we turn to when we feel that we are in need and wish to receive these two precious gifts.

Etymologi

Lakshmi is the Hindu Goddess of spiritual and material wealth. Her name is derived from the Sanskrit root words Laks and Laksa. Laks means :

“to perceive, observe, know, understand” and Laksa means “goal, aim, objective.”

Thus, Lakshmi represents the goal of life. Know your objective, understand your goal. These are the ideals that Lakshmi stands for.

Al-Wahhab is the most liberal bestower, the great giver, the giver of gifts. His name is derived from the Arabic root word “Waw-ha-ba” meaning :

“to give/grant/bestow, dedicate, offer as a present/gift.”

The arabic word Hiba means gift. Hiba and Wahhab are related words.

Textual Analysis

In Chapter 67 verse 19 of the Holy Qur’an, Allah says :

“Do they not observe the birds above them spreading their wings and folding them? None could hold them except the Compassionate (Allah), surely it is He Who watches over all things.”

The word Arabic word for observe comes from the root word “Ra-Alif-Ya” meaning :

“to see/think/hold, in opinion of, perceive, judge, consider, know.”

Seeing a bird is only half the story. Understanding that the bird is part of God’s creation and that it is God who is holding up the bird is the entire story. Thus, this seeing that the Qur’an talks about is a seeing that perceives not only the material world but also the spiritual world i.e seeing the bird and the force that is behind it, God.

This simple message that the Qur’an is conveying is exactly what Lakshmi symbolizes, that the goal of life is not only to have material wealth (having two physical eyes with which one can see the physical world) but to combine this material wealth with spiritual wealth (seeing the physical world with ones eyes but understanding that there lies a spiritual realm behind it.)

Symbolism

Lakshmi’s image is laden with deep symbolism. She is omnipresent and this is symbolized by her four arms which represent the four cardinal directions present in the universe. Her sari, colored red, denotes activity and action. The embroidered golden lining which graces her red sari symbolizes prosperity.
The message that is meant to be conveyed here is that Lakshmi is everywhere, never resting but always deep in the throes of activity and action, her activity and action being the giving of the gifts of wealth and prosperity to her devotees.

Similarly, the also omnipresent al-Wahhab is always busy with the task of bestowing gifts upon his devotees.

Ritual

It is believed that the one who recites this name of Allah (swt) 100 times after two rakaats (cycles) of Namaaz (prayer) will get all of his/her needs fulfilled.

Hindus wishing to obtain the blessings of Lakshmi chant her name 100 or a 1000 times during their ritual worship of the Goddess.

Invocation for communal harmony

We ask Lakshmi and al-Wahhab to bestow upon us the gift of peace within our communities and mutual understanding towards one another ❤

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