Tuesday February 18, 2020
Home Uncategorized Handling the ...

Handling the disposal of religious texts

Scriptural religions based on text have different rules for when and how those texts can be discarded

0
//
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Guidelines on how religious books should be handled once they are worn out vary by religion and sect

A perfect Quran should not be destroyed. Jews may bury Torah scrolls in graves or a special storage room. Roman Catholics can bury Bibles while Evangelical Protestants do not have specific guidelines.

The three major Abrahamic faiths have different rules for when and how their religious texts can be discarded. Here are some of the traditions:
  • Islam: A Quran may be discarded if there is an error in the text or if the volume is worn out. In that case, religious scholars say there are two preferred ways of doing it – wrapping it in cloth and burying it, or washing away the text with water.
  • Roman Catholicism: Catholics can bury a Bible when it needs to be disposed of, though there have been instances in the Middle Ages of incineration done in the form of a burnt offering.
  • Protestantism: Protestants do not have special prescriptions about disposing of religious texts, since they view the inspired message and not the physical text as divine.
  • Judaism: In Judaism, any text that contains God’s name should be buried when it is no longer usable, or placed in a dedicated room known as a “Geniza“. Jewish cemeteries often have special graves for sacred texts. Some American rabbis recently ruled that recycling is also appropriate.

Scriptural religions, based on texts are believed to be the word of God – have different rules for when and how those texts can be discarded. But what they have in common is a reverence shown for such texts, with practices such as kissing it or never placing another book on top of it.

In Afghanistan, a deadly violence broke out after U.S. military servicemen disposed off several copies of the Quran by burning them.

Also Read: Dharma Shastras: Ancient texts that surpass modern notions of liberty and social harmony
Rizwan Jaka of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society near Washington says he accepts U.S. explanations that the burning was inadvertent. He notes that the Quran itself teaches Muslims to “repel bad with good.”

Sarah Thomson, spokeswoman for the Islamic Society of North America , says the proper way of responding to the desecration of Qurans is by donating new ones or teaching how to respect the religious text.

The only reason a Quran may be destroyed is if there are errors like misspellings, missing pages or inaccurate translations in a language other than Arabic, she says.

“You wouldn’t destroy them because they are old,” she says.

In those cases, Thomson says the consensus among Muslim religious scholars is that the proper methods for disposal are wrapping it in clean cloth and burying it, or immersion in water.

However, some scholars say if those methods are not possible, a Quran may be burned if done in a respectful way, preferably at a mosque.

Afghans jointly read Islam's holy book "Quran" during a celebration to mark the anniversary Image: VOA
Afghans jointly read Islam’s holy book “Quran” during a celebration to mark the anniversary
Image: VOA

Many Jewish cemeteries have special graves for Torah scrolls and other documents as anything that contains God’s name should be buried when it is no longer usable. It can also be placed in a dedicated room known as a geniza. In 1896, a geniza was found in Cairo, Egypt, with hundreds of thousands of Jewish texts dating back to before the ninth century including marriage contracts and legal and financial documents.

Rabbi Paul Drazen of the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism says that several years ago the movement’s rabbis ruled that recycling is also an appropriate means of disposal.

Drazen says the burning of Torahs has an emotional component in Judaism. “Throughout generations Jewish texts were burned as part of the torture of individuals and it also preceded the Holocaust,” he says.

Muslims and Jews have ways of showing respect for holy texts. Muslims will wash themselves before reading from a Quran, while Jews read with a silver pointer so as not to touch the parchment of a Torah scroll.

Hindu texts can be disposed off in water- by burning them or by burial. However, Arumuga Swami, managing editor of Hinduism Today says, often “the issue doesn’t come up” because a whole category of Hindu scriptures, the Vedas is memorized.

Christian guidelines vary according to denomination. For Roman Catholics, “the bottom line is that Bibles should be buried out of reverence for the sacred text,” says Monsignor Kevin Irwin, who teaches liturgical studies at the Catholic University of America.

On the other hand, Evangelical Protestants don’t have specific guidelines. This is largely because it is the inspired message rather than the physical artifact that is considered divine, according to Greg Wills of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“Paper and ink is perishable but the word of God lives forever,” says Wills. (VOA News)

Next Story

Bollywood Films That Focus on Patriotism and Nationalism

From patriotism to nationalism, all that bollywood has focused on

0
Bollywood patriotism
During the 1940s, the freedom struggle reached its peak and, as an alternate way to build up on patriotism and promote the freedom movement, films were used as a medium to promote these fervour. Pixabay

BY VINOD MIRANI

When the bollywood film industry started in India, the best and the safest theme to draw audience was to make mythological films or films with a religious story to tell. Dada Saheb Phalke, the founder of the film industry in India, made his first film, “Raja Harishchandra”. The first Indian talkie film, “Alam Ara”, also dealt with a religious theme.

While the religious/mythological films held sway as it had a captive audience that was familiar with the stories told on screen, the narrative soon shifted to family socials. That again was a subject everybody identified with in the joint family era.

During the 1940s, the freedom struggle reached its peak and, as an alternate way to build up on patriotism and promote the freedom movement, films were used as a medium to promote these fervour.

The censoring of bollywood films was rather strict, and the patriotically fired up filmmakers had to take recourse to surrogate promotion of patriotism. Patriotism was the flavour, all pervading and all over India. And, we had some great films promoting patriotism.

This mood lived on till, say, the end of the 1950s. It waned gradually all over except on the streets of the cities. Every August 14 and January 25 — on the eve of Independence Day and Republic Day, respectively — patriotism blurted out of microphones on the streets of every city and town.

Bollywood patriotism
Swades is a well known film for its theme based on patriotism. Wikimedia Commons

As the films gave up on patriotism, so did the street celebrators. Patriotism took a break from films and, hence, also from public life. This was till it was revived momentarily following the 1965 war with Pakistan, and the ensuing Indian victory that revived patriotism in films, but only briefly.

Since the wars of 1948 and 1962, India had, for the first time, outcomes that were emphatically in the nation’s favour. Taking cue from the slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’, coined by the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, Manoj Kumar scripted a perfect film, “Upkar”.

Dara Singh, the wrestler-actor, and some others were also inspired to follow patriotism as the theme. But, patriotism in India and, hence, in Hindi films, seems to be a seasonal trend.

After the 1962 India-China war, the feeling was that of delusion. India was humiliated and the limited patriotism that followed was that of self-pity. So, what we had in the aftermath was the depiction of how a badly ill-equipped India lost in the war in the film “Haqeeqat” and the song “Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon” rendered live by Lata Mangeshkar. None of the two were inspiring for the masses.

Today, people even feel that the song should not be played anymore because it has a depressing narrative about a losing nation.

“Haqeeqat” failed despite entertainment exemptions from various state governments. Its music lived, not the film. Another attempt by the director with “Hindustan Ki Kasam” also did not work.

Patriotism resurfaced one again post the Kargil operation. Producer-director J.P. Dutta, who has this bend towards war films (his brother was an Air Force pilot who died in action), directed “LOC: Kargil”, immediately after India regained the peak.

The film was screened for the leading financiers and diamond merchants of Mumbai along with other trade leaders a few days before its theatrical release. It was unanimously declared a boring dud. May be, their observations were on the merit of the film, but they failed to read the national mood. The film emerged as a hit.

As mentioned earlier, patriotism is a seasonal trend in India. Because, after its first run, when “LOC” was released in cinemas as a gap filler (when a cinema hall has no new film listed, an old hit is repeated as a gap filler), it could not even recover the theatre rental. Dutta followed up with some more patriotic films, but to no avail.

Over a period of time, a lot many patriotic films have been made like “Jeevan Sangram”, “Saat Hindustani”, “Shaheed”, “Vijeta”, “Border”, “LOC: Kargil”, “Swades”, and “Mangal Pandey”.

Bollywood patriotism
Mission Mangal is an event-based film that revolves around patriotism and nationalism. Wikimedia Commons

People were not quite aroused and remained indifferent to most of these films. The one hit was “Shaheed” after which the man behind this film, Manoj Kumar, established himself as the best filmmaker of patriotic films as he followed it up with movies like “Upkar”, “Purab Aur Paschim” and “Kranti”, after which his expertise stopped working.

Things have changed. Patriotism has now broadened its scope and is described as nationalism. And, this seems to be in tune with the people’s state of mind. We have had a line-up of films in recent years that promote nationalism and many of them met with a favourable response. There are films that are event based. These are: “A Wednesday!”, “Airlift”, “Uri: The Surgical Strike”, ” Mission Mangal”, “Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran”, “Raazi”, “Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi”, “The Ghazi Attack” and, this year’s biggest hit so far, “Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior”.

In fact, one of last year’s biggest hits also happens to be one such film, “Uri: The Surgical Strike”. Another way to inspire nationalism is through films that make the nation proud. These are films like “Dangal”, “Gold”, “Dhoni: The Untold Story”, “D Day”, “Rang De Basanti”, “Padmaavat”, “Mary Kom”, “Kesari”, “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, “Ek Tha Tiger”, “Super 30” with many more in the offing.

Also Read- Growing Sustainable Business Models

As they say, reel life is a reflection of real life. Post-Independence, all kinds of films were made, and romance and family socials with music worked well till early 1960s. During the mid ’70s, the trend was of anti-establishment films. This was followed by a period of uncertainty when nobody knew what will work. Only making romantic musicals was considered safe.

But the decade that just got over has rekindled the spirit of nationalism. It is all about how the nation is made to feel. (IANS)