Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Interfaith Dialogue

In ancient times, the whole system of life was riddled with superstitious beliefs. Many strange, unfounded ideas were gener­ally in vogue. Nicolson, in his Astronomy (1978) has recorded an interesting historical curiosity: “When an eclipse occurred, the Chinese thought that the Sun was swallowed by a huge dragon. The whole population joined in making as much noise as possible to scare it away. They always succeeded!”

It is now known that the eclipse of the sun or the moon can be predicted, its causes are known, and it is also known that the period of time for the eclipse is fixed. There is no question of its beginning or ending at a different time because of human intervention. But, in their ignorance, the ancient Chinese thought that the great noise they made caused it to disappear!

This kind of superstition has largely come to an end in modern times. But other kinds of myths are still extant and are accorded a similar degree of acceptance. The occurrence of events, which are caused by external circumstances, is attributed to human effort. For instance, the modern age has seen a revival of religions all over the world. This phenomenon has definite universal causes and scores of books on the subject have been published. A noteworthy article on this topic appeared in the American magazine Span (December 1984), entitled, ‘A Return to Religion.’ But there are people in this world who believe that this revival is attributable solely to their own religious leaders and proclaim this fact to the skies. These leaders are then regarded as the heroes, if not the creators, of the modern age.

Such mythical beliefs have the bedrock of modern ‘religion’. When one set of myth disappears, man’s fertile mind invents another. Thus, myths and mythmaking will survive as long as man himself.