4.01 - Introduction: The All-Importance of the Ten Commandments
The passenger of an airplane flying from Delhi to Srinagar in Kashmir would soon see the magnificent panorama of the snow-covered Himalayan mountains rising out of the haze of the northern Indian plains. The towering mountains are separated by deep, narrow valleys. Some of the mountain peaks are covered by clouds. The giants of 8,000 metres and more tower over the lower 5,000 metre peaks.
After landing in Srinagar, the visitor is met by an exciting and bewildering mixture of religions and cultures. Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Muslims and atheists live together here. Temples, churches, mosques and billboards compete for the attention of the masses. Five different nations meet in this small corner of the world - India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia and China - and anyone travelling through the Kashmiri towns and villages and speaking to their residents would feel the air crackling with tension. In reality, a bloody civil war has devastated this beautiful valley since 1991.
The customs and laws of the world's great religions and the political goals of the world's governments present a range as spectacular as the Himalayan mountains. But the numerous writings, liturgies and religious laws give way to a few that tower over the others as the highest peaks of the Himalayans tower over the lesser mountains.
One of these towering peaks in human history is the Ten Commandments. The one true God spoke to the shepherd Moses, revealed His will to him and wrote His unique commandments on stone tablets. The Jews remember this patriarch with great respect, through whom God made His covenant with them on Mount Sinai. His writings are read in their synagogues until today, 3,300 years later.
Christians also see the Ten Commandments as an unchangeable basis for their faith. Jesus assured His disciples that not a “tittle or a jot“ of the Mosaic law would disappear as long as heaven and earth exist, until all of the law is fulfilled (Matthew 5:18).
The Muslims call Moses “Kalimu Allah“, God's spokesman. They consider him to be a messenger of Allah as well as a political leader, who possessed not only religious but also political authority. For them, he remains one of the greatest men in history.
The Ten Commandments which Moses passed on to mankind had a special place in Old Testament times and they are a foundation for men until today. Whoever studies these laws, keeps and now teaches them, will become wise. A people that have ignored or forgotten these commandments will become corrupt; they will decay and be lost. Anyone who wants to avoid this fate must study the ten commandments earnestly.
Meditating on the Ten Commandments becomes important in Kashmir because the ancient world religions are confronted by modern ideologies there, and everyday life forces one to turn back to God's law in the Old Testament. This book has come out of conversations and discussions with young men at “the top of the world“. Young men of differing religious backgrounds searched for the truth and for a guide-line for their lives, and investigated the relevance of the Ten Commandments for today. Anyone who thinks and meditates along with them will receive timeless insights from which he will benefit in his everyday life.