"You know: All religions are same. No matter you follow whichever religion; it is ok"
"See! One can reach a destination in several ways, by taking different routes. Similalry to reach one God, we can follow any religion-be it hinduism, islam, christianity, sikhsim etc"
"You follow your religion and be a good hindu/muslim/christian "
These are few oft repeated statements by most of people in context with religion. Many of us have above mentioned belief and we preach the same. But just ask yoursefl one question - what i am saying is correct or wrong? Whenever we make a statement we MUST strive to finds its truthfulness.
Let us analyse this issue in a simple way. When asked to a Hindu - "How many Gods are there?" - Reply is - "One". Similarly if one ask to a christian -"How many Gods are there?", Answer is "One". In the same fashion a muslim too will say that there is only one God.
So if Hindu/muslim/christian all believe that there is ONLY ONE GOD then how come we will have so MANY RELIGIONS of God????? Is not this surprising?? We say, we believe, we preach that God is one - yet we say that there are so many religions of God. So smething is wrong in our understanding. Please note that by religion we refer to way of life as per God's commandments.
The right perspective:
Now let me put an alternative idea. How can we reconcile between One God and multiple religions? Are there so many religions of God? Has God made so many religions? can we follow any religion and attain salvation? Let us end this suspense.
Almighty GOD is one and only one. Almighty God is unique in attributes. There is nothing like him. We can call him by his different attributes. He is THE CREATOR, THE SUSTAINER, MOST MERCIFUL, MOST COMPASSIONATE etc.
For the guidance of mankind Almighty God reveals his words to his chosen person. The chosen person is called messenger or prophet. Almighty God does not come down to earth, rather his messenegers / prophets spread his teachings. There were several messengers/ prophets of God. These messengers/prophets were normal human being like me and you. But they were very devout to God. The first person on earth - prophet Adam was the first prophet. After him there were so many prophets, viz: Prophet Noah, Prophet Solomon, Prophet David, prophet Zakaria, prophet Yahya(John the baptist), prophet Yunus(Jonah), Prophet Yusuf(Joseph), prophet Ayub(Job), prophet Moses, prophet Jesus and Prophet Muhammad. These messengers were the Prophets of God. They all brought the same fundamental teachings from God. The important point is: None of them brought any new religion, none of them were founder of any religion, none of them started a new religion. The religion of God was established by God himself. And always there was only ONE religion of God. Prophet Muhammad was the last and final messenger of God. The teachings propogated by prophet Muhammad had the capacity to reach throughout the globe,we got scientific advancement so that teachings of God could reach everywhere after advent of Prophet Muhammad.
Ok, but why so many religions....:
As i mentioned earlier, these messegers brought same fundamental teachings of GOD. Almighty God would communicate with Prophets in some highly advance level and reveal his words to them. These revelations were true word of God. The duty of messengers was to propogate the words of God. In this series there were several revelation from God. Holy Vedas are considered to be the earliest revelation. Torah, zabur and injeel - were revealed to Prophet Moses, Prophet david and Prophet Jesus respetively. Today in their present form - Torah,zabur and injeel - are called Bible. Similalry Holy Quran is the last revelation of Allmighty God. Quran was revealed to last messenger - Prophet Muhammad. Quran was revealed 1400 years back to Prophet Muhammad.
Holy Vedas: They are considered to be earliest revelation. Its so old that its time of revelation is not certain. Majority of indian community, who call themself Hindus-associate themself with vedas.Within Hinduism there are different sect who give different time period for revelation / existense of vedas. According to Swami dayanand sarswati - founder of AryaSamaj - Vedas are considered to be into existense for more than 1,96,00,000 years while another sect - Brahmakumaris claim that vedas are there into existense for less than 5000years. Morever we dont know the circumstanses / context of revelation of various verses of vedas and reason is obvious - because they are extremely old. So in short we can not ascertain 100% authenticity of holy vedas. Though originally they were words of God, but as of today, after passage of thousands and lakh of year they can't be said to be in their original form, and thus can't be called 100% word of God. Long time after vedas came into existense there were several kinds of books that were written by scholars of hinduism, viz: upnishad, puran, ramayan, mahabharat, manusmirti. Todays hinduism is derived more from these scriptures which came into existense after vedas. And the followers of the teachings and culture given by these books are called hindus and thus we find it to be a different religion.
Holy Bible: Prophet Moses was given the revelation Torah (book of laws) by Almighty God. He preached and practised laws given by Almighty God. He was follower of religion of God. Afterwards Prophet David was given revelation of God called Zabur. Similarly Prophet Jesus was given Injeel (Gospel). These all revelation were from same Almighty God. Here again, these revelations could not be preserved with its 100% purity. We dont have original torah, zabur and injeel. The current bible contains 66 books in protestant bible and 73 books in catholic bible.We have so many versions of bible, viz: Kings james version(written in 1611), Roman catholic bible, Revised standard version (written in 1952), re revised standard version (written in 1971), international standard version. Different versions differ in number of verses, some words were added while some deleted in different versions. The latest bible is based on oldest available manuscripts that are dated to be 200-300 years after the departure of Prophet Jesus. So we can't say that present bible is 100% words of God, as we dont have original torah(that was revealed in hebrew) or original injeel (that was revealed in aramaic).Those people who associate themself with bible call themself christains. Present christianity is mixture of some teachings of bible and teachings of the church. Thus we see evolution of a religion.
Holy Quran: In the desert of arabia in 560 AD was born a man called Muhammad. He was bestowed with prophethood and first revelation came to him when he was 40 years old. After that in span of 23 years revelation of Quran was completed. prophet Muhammad died in 623 and before his death Quran was complete. Afterwards it was compiled in form of book.Quran is the only holy book that claim that it is part of faith to believe in previous messengers and previous revelations (revelations that were revaled from Almighty God). Also Quran procalims time and again that it is word of God and religion of God is only one and has been same. Prophet muhammad never claimed that he has brought any new religion. Quran confirms that prophet Muhammad was a prophet just like other prophets and also Quran claims that it has been revelaed for the guidance of whole mankind, now no messenger will come afterwards, whosoever believes and follows Quran will be successful in the life hereafter. Important point to note is that unlike to previous revelations Quran is 100% preserved. There are many people who have memorized the whole Quran since the time of prophet Muhammad. Since it was revelaed only 1400 years back which comes under modern history-minute details related to it are preserved and well authenticated. We know the background and context of revlelation of its verses, we know the life history of Prophet Muhammad. Those who follow teachings of Quran call themselves Muslim. Thus we find a religion out of several religions around globe.
Conclusion: Since all revelations came from same God, but except Quran none is there in its 100% pure form today. Quran provides complete code of life, it deals with social/spiritual/ economical/ political aspects of life. Life hsitory and teachings of prophet Muhammad are preserved. Quran is guidance for whole mankind and its free from any error. So the religion of God has been always one and same. When Vedas were revealed then those people who followed it were following religion of God. Simialrly people who followed torah, zabur and injeel were following religion of God. And those people who follow Quran are following religion of God. But today if anyone wants to follow religion of God then he/she must turn to 100% word of God today i.e Quran. By following vedas and bible today we may not be following 100% the religion of God. For example- many people do idol worship which is against God's religion, many people believe Prophet Jesus to be God which is against God's religion. Since the teachings of God got mixed with teachings of man and so religion of God no more remained so. All these doubts can be eliminated if we all follow the last revelation of God i.e Quran and by doing this we will have ONLY ONE RELIGION OF GOD.