– Duke Jeyaraj
Shah Rukh Khan wrote the following words in a recent, widely-talked about essay published by the Outlook magazine group: “For I believe, our religion is an extremely personal choice, not a public proclamation of who we are. It’s as person as the spectacles of my father who passed away some 20 years ago. Spectacles that I hold onto as my most prized and personal possession of his memories, teachings and of being a proud Pathan. I have never compared those with my friends, who have similar possessions of their parents or grandparents. I have never said my father’s spectacles are better than your mother’s saree. So why should we have this comparison in the matter of religion, which is as personal and prized a belief as the memories of your elders.”
Shah Rukh compares the religion he followed to his father’s spectacles, here. This comparison he makes needs to be read by wearing “the spectacles of reason.” In other words, we must put our thinking caps and analyze what Shah Rukh has stated about religion here! What Shah Rukh seems to say in the aforementioned essay is simple: the main reason he has stayed put in his religion without converting to another, is that, it was handed over to him by his forefathers. When the claims of Jesus Christ’s uniqueness in a world of many religions are presented to folks, they generally voice the very same point that Shah Rukh so eloquently talks about here, using different vocabulary to defend their conviction that it is not necessary to convert to Christ, turning aside from the faith of their forefathers. How should one respond to this?
Come to think of it – there are many things, which many of us follow which weren’t given to us by our fathers or forefathers, in the first place! There are number of things we have to ban in our lives if we use the not-so-sensible logic that goes, “We will not embrace anything that our fathers or forefathers did not embrace!” Cricket came to us from England – not from our forefathers. Yet, we play that game! The mobile phone was invented and used first by Martin Cooper of Motorola in the country of the United States, in the year 1973. None of our great-grand fathers ever used it. But we use it, nevertheless! An American college student invented Facebook. But it’s part and parcel of our daily existence, isn’t it, even though it never crossed our ancestor’s mind? Shah Rukh Khan has openly talked about his addiction to the smoking habit in several forums. But even smoking is not something that came from an Indian grand-father or great-father. To tell the truth, tobacco came from North America. Yet, many Indians, like Shah Rukh smoke! The I-10 Hyundai Car that Shah Rukh promoted via ads is a car made by a Korean company! We could go on and on in this debate! When we embrace some stuff that never came from our ancestors (say cricket, mobile phones, Facebook, etc) and why do we hesitate to embrace religious faith our ancestors, perhaps, never followed, if that religious faith was indeed true and unique? Why this double-standard? Why this hypocrisy?
Let us get to the bottom of what I am trying to say through all of this: if we are honest, we would admit that we do indeed practice things that our forefathers never practiced; if we are truthful, we would surely admit that we accept things that our fathers never accepted. So, the question we must ask when we choosing our religious persuasion is not, “How can I embrace a religion which my father or grandfather never embraced?” Instead, we must ask the question, “Is the religion that I blindly follow because my father follows(ed) it, true?”
And Jesus, the only God-in-flesh, claimed to be “the” truth and that there was no other way to God the Father, except through Him (see John 14:16 in The Bible). In other words, Jesus indicated through this claim, that any claim of anyone else contradicting this His claim, was fully false. And Jesus gave proof of this claim through his pure life (even his worst enemies could not find a single fault with him) and powerful life (he worked outstanding miracles which even his enemies acknowledged). What’s more, he died on a cruel Cross, as a substitute for the sins of people of all religions, races and time, the Bible teaches (see Hebrews 9:12 in The Bible). Whoever we may be, whatever religion we may belong to, we must all repent from our sins, wrong beliefs concerning God, and put our total faith on Jesus who is going to judge all of the world on the final day, to experience salvation, true life, real joy and lasting peace – the Bible teaches (Acts 17:29-31). And there is simply no other way!