Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Sunday Guardian | 25 Oct 2020

Baptism is the first sacrament of the Catholic Church. When a baby is still in infancy, he or she is taken to a priest, sprinkled in “holy water” and baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” The child thus becomes a full-fledged member of the Church. This sacrament is derived from an ancient Jewish and Christian custom, according to which the baby was dipped into a special sort of yellow dye. To be dyed in this color was in their view a sign of godliness and entitled one to salvation. The Quran tells us that outward dye serves no useful purpose. One must make an effort to dye one’s inner soul. We take on God’s dye. And who has better dye than God. (The Quran 2: 138)

Religion, then, does not consist of dyeing oneself physically; it is to dye oneself spiritually. Religion which consists of taking on external dye is confined to the limbs of one’s body; it consists of mechanical repetition of devotions; it involves one in polemical discussions on superficial topics; it entitles one to demonstrate and protest against others; raises one to the rostrum and puts one’s name into the newspapers; in short, it makes one into a public figure. One can cover oneself in a coating of “yellow dye”, but one’s real color remains the same.

True religion creates an upheaval within one’s soul; it strikes a light in one’s mind and heart; it dyes one’s inner being in God’s dye. If one can perform weird spells, or practice some devotions, one can be a holy figure according to the first category of religion, but true religion is manifest in the whole of one’s being – from one’s inner senses to one’s tongue, hands and feet. False religion remains apart from one’s inner being, whereas true religion mingles with it. The two cannot be separated from one another.