After discussing Buddhism in one meeting some weeks ago, this week, my students -- especially grade 4 -- were discussing Hinduism. The same as the material of Buddhism, I downloaded the material of Hinduism from this link.
This is very interesting to directly compare Hinduism and Buddhism because they seem to have the same root.
- Both of them were first spread in India.
- Both of them believe in the life cycle -- birth, death, rebirth.
For adults, I believe what was said by that particular student of mine was not something new. But when that idea was said by a 4th grader, I am of opinion that it is great. After writing on the whiteboard how long ago four religions were founded
- Hinduism dates back over 4000 years
- Buddhism was founded by Siddhata Gotama 2500 years ago
- Christianity was founded by Jesus around 2000 years ago (although some students also agreed with me when I said that in fact Jesus was Jewish)
- Islam was founded by Mohammad around 1400 years ago
After saying this, one female student looked into my face with weird facial expression, while mumbling, "Jesus is indeed the son of God."
For Muslim people, they are taught that Jesus -- or Isa -- is 'just' a prophet, not the son of God. Furthermore, for non Muslim people, they believe that Mohammad is just a common person, not a messenger or prophet of God. Perhaps he just happens to be a good man so that when he says that he gets messages directly from God, people believe in him.
That particular female student then raised her hand, "What is your religion, Miss?"
I said that it was not important for me to say what my religion was because I wanted to position myself 'outside the box of any religion' so that I could give 'balanced' opinion and I would not take side to any religion.
Around two weeks ago when discussing 'Christianity' in the classroom, (I took the material from here) I explained that in fact not only Judaism and Christianity have the same content in their holy books. Some materials in Alquran -- the holy book of Muslim -- are also similar with the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. People who are critical to the Bible said that the author of this book is not creative because he just copied some material from the Torah. But the worst copycat of all is the author of Alquran, because he copied and combined (some parts of) both the Torah and the Bible. And to make it a bit different from the previous two 'holy' books. the author of Alquran added some more material.
I remember one female student looked at me with disbelief look, then said, "Miss, isn't it wrong to copy other religion's holy book?" -- I know her parents are Christian.
I didn't answer her question, but continued explaining. Nevertheless, for people who believe in Alquran, they believe that Alquran is the most perfect holy book because it has perfected the 'not perfect' parts of the previous two holy books. They are taught to believe that Islam as the last religion is the most perfect of all.
One student then commented, "But I don't believe in it, Miss."
I said it was okay for them not to believe in it. I explained that as one knowledge. I said, "Believe in your own religion as what your parents teach you. The most important thing is we respect other people's belief. Let us respect each other."
At that time. one particular student I mentioned in this post who said that he didn't want to be Muslim because he was afraid to be punished after death looked so 'relieved'. He no longer feels afraid to be a Muslim.
"Wise people say that those who sow will reap. If you do good, you will get good things. If you do bad, you will get bad things. No matter your religion is. The three Abrahamic Faiths teach that there are heaven and hell. If you are a bad person, you will go to hell after death. If you are a good person, you will go to heaven after death. If you are Buddhist or Hindu, you will be reborn and perhaps you will have a worse kind of life if in this life you are a bad person."
L Gayam 17.05 22/02/12