RELIGION is described and is known as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe.
There are many different religions in the world that have their own different devotional and ritualistic observances, including beliefs. But they all have a moral code dealing with the manner in which human beings conduct themselves in the eyes of God.
And although they have different ways of worshiping, some point in the same direction, concurring with the common belief that God is one.
For the past two weeks, The Fiji Times has provided our readers with an exclusive look into the Islamic ritual of Shaik Rifa'i Ratib, which prompts devotees to cut their bodies with special knives.
Today, as the final part of a three-part series, we bring you an exclusive interview with an Australia-based Fijian who is part of the Rifa'i Sufi Order and is a Sufi Master.
He talks about the prophets in the Bible and concurs with a certain belief of Christians around the world — the second coming of Jesus Christ.
IT is a revelation that may shock many people, especially non-Christians.
But he did not hesitate in saying what he has learnt from his religious, especially Islamic, studies around the world.
A member of the Rifa'i Sufi Order and a Sufi Master, Shaykh Muhammad Noor Ul Hassan Al Hijazi of Al Mustapha Institute in Brisbane, Australia, has learnt a lot, religiously.
The 36-year-old Lautoka-born Islamic scholar attained his Bachelor's degree in Islamic Theology in the UK and studied under many teachers and spiritual teachers in Syria.
He has been to Sri Lanka, Kerala, in South India, Malaysia, Canada and New Zealand, where the Rifa'i Sufi Order practises. He is a part of the Rifa'i Sufi Order and is a Sufi Master.
During his recent visit to Fiji, The Fiji Times had an exclusive interview with Mr Hassan, who elaborated on the Islamic ritual of Shaik Rifa'i Ratib and other things.
Being an Islamic scholar, he did not hesitate to reveal something many non-Christians would not believe, saying it was the truth.
While elaborating on the Islamic ritual of ratib, Mr Hassan said not everyone would be able to perform or participate in the ratib.
"God has blessed people with different qualities. God has blessed many people in many different ways. Jesus was blessed, Moses was blessed and Abraham was blessed," he said.
"As a Muslim, we believe and respect all prophets. We believe in Prophet Issa (Jesus), Moses and Abraham.
"If one does not believe in these prophets, then they are not Muslims. If they don't believe in these prophets, then they are rejecting Allah. Prophet Muhammad was the last prophet.
"We do believe that Jesus will come back. And he will propagate the teachings of Prophet Muhammad when he comes back."
Mr Hassan said the Holy Koran affirms all the prophets who were on Earth before Prophet Muhammad. He said this was also quoted in the sura al baqarah of the Holy Koran.
"Each one of us believes in Jesus. How can one reject Adam when he was the first one to come down to Earth?" he asked.
The sura addresses a wide variety of topics, including substantial amounts of law, and re-tells the biblical stories of Adam, Abraham and Moses.
Condemnation of alcoholic beverages and gambling is also first found in the chapter and it also refers to Christianity.
Mr Hassan said Jesus was so blessed that he was able to bring the dead back to life, as stated in the Holy Bible, and perform other miracles.
The sura also mentions Allah bringing back to life dead animals and a bird.
During the course of his Islamic studies, Mr Hassan also studied other religions including Christianity.
When asked if he had read and studied the Holy Bible too, he replied with a smile, "I have, just a bit, to some extent".
He said considering the teachings, every religion on Earth should live in peace and should not go against each other.
Mr Hassan said the situation in Syria was normal when he studied there but it was quite volatile now. He said there was a need for peace in the world.
Some Muslims contacted to comment on Mr Hassan's Islamic belief in the biblical prophets and that Jesus will return to Earth said they were surprised with the revelation.
Hafiz Rahiman of Vuda in Lautoka said it was the first time he has heard of it and that too from an Islamic scholar.
"But I guess Mr Hassan has studied the various religions and whatever he's saying is from his knowledge as a religious scholar and from experience," he said.
Mr Hassan said people should not take things the way they want it but they should take it as it is.
The Islamic scholar has received wide publicity in overseas media, especially in India, saying that about 13 newspaper articles had been written about him.
"There are variations on how the ratib is read and practised in the countries that I have been to but generally, they all point in one direction," he said.
Mr Hassan said a person who takes part in the Rifa'i Sufi Order has to follow the Islamic Sharia and be a practising Muslim. He said it was solely the purification of soul and nothing else.
"If your soul is already clean and pure, then you are in constant remembrance of Allah, not only on that particular day but every day," he said.
Similar to the annual South Indian firewalking ceremony, the ratib is also held annually in the country, mostly early in the year and especially in the Western Division.
While the Islamic ritual of ratib has already been practised at various places in the west, South Indians are now getting ready for their annual firewalking ceremony.
It is at this time of the year when the annual firewalking ceremony is held at various South Indian temples in the country.
Like the devotees who participate in the firewalking ceremony, those who take part in the ratib also have to be clean, pious and God-fearing — things that Mr Hassan says have to be in a person continuously.
* NEXT WEEK: Taking a look at some unsolved
murders in the country.