In "Voices of Faith," religious leaders answer readers' questions.
Above all, please Allah
Syed E. Hasan, Ph.D., Midland Islamic Council: For a follower of the faith of Islam the answer is very simple and straightforward: Dedicate one's life to please Allah. This may seem to be too simplistic, but in reality it embodies one of the core values of Islam because one meaning of the word Islam is "submission to the will of God," and the best way to achieve it is by doing things that Allah has asked us to do and staying away from those that he has prohibited.
This cardinal rule has been oft-repeated in the Qur'an as in 3:114, 9:112, 23:96, 3:104 and more. Here is a translation of Verse 104 from Chapter 3 of the Qur'an: "Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain great happiness."
To make it easy for its followers, the Qur'an and Hadith have explained what actions are prohibited and constitute major sins. These include: ascribing partner to Allah; consuming alcohol, drugs or other intoxicants; eating pork or other prohibited food; indulging in games of chance; adultery; and monetary transaction involving interest. There are other prohibited actions, such as suicide, sorcery, incest, etc.
Disobeying these prohibitions is considered sinful because not only do they destroy a person's life, they also adversely affect the moral fabric of a society, inflicting irreparable economic and moral harm.
Love all humans as you love yourself
Kris Krishna, an engineer and a member of the Hindu community: I suppose this would depend upon the person's faith. There is no one best thing; several best things can be done by a person of faith to improve the world.
As a Hindu, the person of faith should, first, respect, nay, accept all other faiths as different paths to salvation or realization of God. He should practice the core principle of Hinduism, which is ahimsa or nonviolence, believe in the universality of all religions, believe in dharma or virtuous living and the law of karma.
Above all, he should recognize that God is in every living being and therefore love everyone as himself. If this belief is practiced by every one, there should be no reason for any conflict or wars killing thousands of people. Dharma also includes helping the needy . In fact, one of the meanings of the Sanskrit word dharma is charity.
Ahimsa is nonviolence of any kind and includes, for vegetarians, nonviolence to animals for their food. Universality of all religions means that the different faiths of this world all seek the ultimate goal with God by using different means. Dharma means speaking the truth, honesty, being faithful to one's spouse and family, respect for elders and wise men, having an occupation that does not harm others.
If only one of these recommendations is to be selected, I would say the teaching that says, "Love all human beings as you love yourself" would summarize it. Because that is the essence of Hinduism.