All praise is due to Allah, we praise Him and we seek his help and ask His
forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our selves and from
the evil results of our actions. I testify that Allah alone is worthy of worship
and that Muhammad is His slave and final Messenger. May Allah's salawat (peace
and blessings) be upon the last and final messenger Muhammad, his family and
his followers. Ameen!
To begin: The best discourse is the book of Allah, and the best way is the
way of Muhammad, and the worst of the matters in the religion are those newly
introduced innovations, for every innovation in the religion is misguidance,
and every misguidance is going astray and every going astray is in the Hellfire.
I have embarked on my commentary on the The Economist magazine's survey "Islam
and the West" (large insert in the August 6, 1994 issue) after some considerable
deliberation, and find myself confronted with a considerable task, and indeed
Allah is the best of helpers. Brian Beedham is able to rely on what Noam Chomskey
calls "manufactured consent". While dictatorships use force in order to achieve
consent from the people and prevent opposition, "democracies" manufacture
consent through the media by using it to providing a particular world view
which conforms to the interests, by and large, of the ruling elite. He is
able to get away with a short, condensed, article because he doesn't need
to prove much of what he is saying, he only has to repeat the prefabricated
conventional platitudes. For example, when he talks the Algerian Muslims as
"a singularly intransigent bunch of Islamic rebels, fundamentalists of the
most bloody minded sort" he doesn't have to prove it, because the establishment
has already ensured that people believe this is the case. In fact the statement
in not at all true. The Algerian fundamentalists proved willing to go to elections
and seek a peaceful way re-establish the Islamic Shari'ah. Recent events,
such as the meeting of the opposition groups, including the "rebel fundamentalists",
in Rome, calling for talks and a return to free elections - which was even
supported by the French government and was rejected by the Algerian government
- shows that it is the Algerian government that has proved bloody minded.
In spite of such obvious discrepancies Mr. Beedham is able to get away with
it because consent has already been manufactured that the fundamentalists
are rebellious and bloody minded.
Similarly he never feels he has to prove that democracy is an advantage, it
is taken almost completely for granted, knowing his audience is already "captive"
so as to speak. In the age of the "sound-bite" (or perhaps in this case "word-bite"),
opposing the conventional wisdom is not easy, for what the likes of Mr. Beedham
can say in a sentence opposing it would take a book. Even then it would be
of doubtful effectiveness, for opposing the norms of society is perhaps one
of the hardest paths to take for an instinctively societal creature like ourselves.
Thus I shall be writing a series of letters, and not just one, thus enabling
me to break down the commentary into more manageable pieces. I shall also
refer certain topics to appendices, which may include video and audio tapes.
Islam: An Idea!
Of course no Muslim could accept Islam merely as an idea. As the survey itself
mentions, Islam is based on the "word of God, revealed syllable by syllable
to Muhammad fourteen hundred years ago" (p.4 c.2). Thus it is no mere idea,
rather it is the idea, the ideology, the truth, exclusive of all others. As
the Quran states:
"Indeed the religion before Allah is Islam"
[Noble Quran 3:19]
"Whoever wishes for a way of life other that Islam, never will it be accepted from them and in the hereafter they will be amongst the losers".
[Noble Quran 3:85]
The religion has been completed and perfected, and has no need for alteration
"This day we have completed your religion for you and perfected our favor upon you and chosen for your way of life Islam".
[Noble Quran 5:3]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: "There is not one thing that shall
bring you closer to the Paradise and away from the Fire without me having
informed you of it, and there is not one thing that will take you away from
paradise and towards the fire except that I have warned you about it." It
is indeed true that Islam does not allow its followers to draw a distinction
between the "inner" and "outer" aspects of life, between belief and actions,
religion and politics, because in reality such distinctions are totally fallacious.
Man's beliefs are the foundations and prime motivators for actions, for what
is held to be true on the inside must manifest itself outwardly. Indeed the
very first task given to Muhammad (peace be upon him) was to correct the false
beliefs. It was not that the pagan Arabs did not believe in Allah, or God
the Creator. In fact the Quran tells Muhammad (peace be upon him):
"If you ask them who sends down rain from the sky, and gives life therewith to the earth after its death? They would certainly say 'Allah!' Say: 'All the praise and thanks be to Allah!' Nay! Most of them have no sense".
[Noble Quran 29:63]
"Say: 'Who provides for you from the sky and from the earth? Or who owns hearing and sight? And who brings out the living from the dead and the dead from the living? And who disposes the affairs?' They will say: 'Allah.' Say: 'Will you not then be afraid of Allah's Punishment (for setting up rivals in worship with Allah)?'".
[Noble Quran 10:31]
Indeed the pagan Arabs used to worship Allah, pray to Him and sacrifice to
Him in times of need and distress, as did the Jews and Christians, and they
even claimed to love Him, but Allah rejected all of this from them and referred
to them as senseless, and astray, and as disbelievers. So this is the reality
concerning most of the men and jinn, that they claim to believe in Allah,
and worship Allah, but what they believe about Him is incorrect, and the way
they worship Him is incorrect...
"Most of them do not believe in Allah except while joining partners with Him"
[Noble Quran 12:106]
And its manifestations are many and the evil consequences numerous.
All of this has one common cause, or origin, and that is thinking and speaking
about Allah without knowledge, and thus ascribing to Him that which should
not be ascribed to Him, such as sons, or daughters, or human qualities and
weaknesses, or claiming that some of the creation possess His powers and abilities,
or by claiming that He, the Majestic, is pleased by some action that in fact
angers Him, or that He is angered by some action that in fact pleases Him.
So thus the idol worshippers call upon that which can neither benefit nor
harm them, and the Christians call upon Jesus, and the Jews believe their
racial origins guarantee His good pleasure, and those who believe that power,
wealth and the such are means of success; all have put their faith and trust
in something vain. This in itself is a great evil, for they have only wasted
their time and effort, yet this is least of the evil consequences. As for
that which is most severe... those who have fallen into associating partners
with Allah have earned His anger and wrath, and upon them shall fall humiliation
in this life and a most terrible fate in the next:
"Surely Allah will not forgive as-shirk (the association of partners with Him), but He forgives sins less than that of whomever He wishes".
[Noble Quran 4:48]
So "as-shirk", or ascribing partners to Allah (in whatever form it may take)
is the unforgivable sin, because it is in reality the source of all evil,
the greatest injustice, the worst oppression and wrongdoing. For if one is
unafraid of speaking about Allah without knowledge, and this is a knowledge
unattainable except through Him, for He is the best knower of Himself and
His will, and that which pleases and displeases Him, then about what and about
whom will one be afraid of speaking about ignorantly? For truly, as is obvious
to anyone witnessing the destructive forces of nature, and untold misfortunes
and miseries over which Allah alone has ultimate power and control, both in
this life and the next, Allah is the most terrifying and most worthy of being
feared. And also anyone witnessing the miraculous order, and precision, and
symbiosis within the earth and universe, must realize the unparalleled knowledge
and wisdom of its Creator. So if one is heedless of transgressing the laws
of Allah, and thinks them of little or no importance, or worse considers them
bad, evil, and outdated, then what of the laws conceived in the limited minds
of men? If one is ungrateful to his Lord, the provider of all, then of what
little consequence to such a one is ingratitude to the creation? If one denies
the rights and dues of Allah, which are the most worthy of being fulfilled,
then what rights and dues will such one be fearful of denying then? Thus imagine
the case of a worker in a company run by yourself, who believes you are the
lavatory cleaner, and the lavatory cleaner is the director! Would there not
be evil results? Would you tolerate such a person? If so, for how long? Now
envisage this fool teaching this to others, and insisting on it, so that the
majority of the company came to believe it, ignoring your orders and prohibitions,
and inventing them for themselves, and making their guide the lavatory cleaner
who is moreover deaf and dumb!
The true causes of the evils that beset mankind are disbelief, sinfulness
and ingratitude to Allah:
"And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much".
[Noble Quran 42:30]
"Evil has appeared on the land and sea, because of what your hands have earned. That Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return".
[Noble Quran 30:41]
As the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him):
"There is none who has a greater sense of ghira (a feeling of great fury and anger when one's honor and prestige is injured or challenged) than Allah, and so He has forbidden shameful deeds and sins. And there is none who likes to be praised more than Allah does"
[Reported in Sahih Al Bukhari]
Allah is more infuriated by the disobedience of His slave than a man of honor
is finding his wife fornicating with another man. So how is His fury with
those who insult Him by ascribing rivals, and partners with Him, while He
is glorious above such things! And the evil consequences are not limited to
"Verily, those who disbelieved, and die while they are disbelievers, the whole earth full of gold will not be accepted from anyone of them even if they offered it as a ransom. For them is a painful torment and they will have no helpers".
[Noble Quran 3:91]
he Prophet (peace be upon him) explained:
"On the day of judgement a disbeliever will be asked: 'Suppose you had as
much gold as to fill the earth, would you offer it to ransom yourself from
the hell-fire?' He will reply: 'Yes!' Then it will be said to him: 'You were
asked for something easier than that, that you should join none in worship
with Allah, and submit yourself to Him, but you refused'".
[Reported in Sahih al-Bukhari]
Indeed the message of all the prophets is one and the same:
"Verily, We have sent to every nation a messenger saying: 'Worship Allah and avoid false objects of worship'".
[Noble Quran 16:36]
and indeed this is the very purpose for which Allah created mankind:
"I did not create the jinn and mankind except for My worship".
[Noble Quran 51:56]
So "as-shirk" (i.e. ascribing partners to Allah) is in contradiction to that
reason for which Allah has created us, and the purpose for which we exist,
which is to choose to single out Allah for worship, avoiding all false deities,
and to worship Him completely, with sacrifice, supplication, submission, subjugation,
obedience and compliance, and with love, fear, hope, trust and reliance upon
Him, seeking only His pleasure and not the admiration of His creatures, and
to do all of that according to that which was revealed to His last and final
Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him), and not according to whims and desires
and mere conjecture.
Furthermore, and of immediate relevance to the discussion, are those qualities,
unique to Allah, that single Him out, such as "al-Hakim", the Judge; "al-Hakim",
the Wise; "al-'Alim", the All Knowing and "as-Shariy", the Legislator. Not
only is Allah the Creator and Controller and Sustainer, but also the sole
possessor of the wisdom and knowledge to legislate for mankind and to determine
what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong, what is lawful
and what is prohibited, and thus what laws we should judge by, what social,
economic and political system we should utilize...
"Indeed, the ruling is Allah's"
[Noble Quran 12:40]
Allah admonished the Jews and Christians, and called them disbelievers, for
"... taking their priests and rabbis as lords besides Allah"
[Noble Quran 9:31]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) went on to explain that the priest and rabbis
"made lawful that which Allah had made unlawful, and made unlawful that which
Allah had made lawful and the people accepted it...So that was their (i.e.
the people's) worship of them." Thus to ascribe legislative power to people
is a clear and obvious form of disbelief, and "shirk", or setting up rivals
to Allah, and is the unforgivable sin, and a contradiction of the purpose
of creation. If Allah blamed the people from the Jews and Christians for accepting
from those among them who were learned in the Scripture and Divine legislation
changes and alterations, and the making the forbidden allowed and visa versa,
as we see them doing until this day, then how about those who accept such
actions from every Tom, Dick and Harry, who have no scripture, and no wisdom
and only pure speculation, whims and desires, as is the case of Democracy?!?
So the The Economist magazine's survey admits that Islam makes no distinction
between outward and inner, private and public life, yet goes on to suggest
Muslims should abandon this, and adopt the ways of the worst error: disobedience
to and rebellion against Allah, and commit the unforgivable sin of ascribing
partners to Him. Truly Allah speaks the truth when He says:
"Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with thee unless thou follow their form of religion"
[Noble Quran 2:120]
and we seek refuge with Allah from that, for surely we would be of the losers.
To Clash or Not To Clash?
Will there be a confrontation between Islam and the West? Mr. Huntington's
clash of civilizations claims "yes", but the survey is "not convinced". It
is true that the world of Islam and the West have more in common with each
other than they do with the Confucian and Hindu ones, but in reality both
Mr. Huntington's and Mr. Beedham's comparisons are unhelpful in understanding
the reality of the matter. What Mr. Beedham's admits are important differences
(Westerners not believing that God dictated the Quran and Muslim's not believing
the Jesus is the son of God) are in fact irreconcilable differences, at least
from the Muslim stand point...
"And they say the Compassionate (i.e. Allah) has taken to Himself a son. Certainly you utter a disastrous thing, whereby the heavens are almost torn asunder, and the earth split open and the mountains crumbles to ruin, that you ascribe to the Compassionate a son! When it is not befitting the majesty of the Compassionate that He should choose a son. There is none in the heavens or the earth but comes to the Compassionate as a slave"
[Noble Quran 19:88-93]
Islam does not regard Christians who claim that Jesus is God, or the Son of
God, as "monotheists" any more than Hindus who claim that Krishna is a "manifestation
of God" or Buddhists who claim that Buddha is God. All of this is disbelief
and polytheism. It is this that is the basis of conflict. It is a conflict
not only sanctioned, but ordered in the Quran:
"Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor the last day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth among the people of the Book , until they pay the jizya (i.e. protection tax) with willing submission and feel themselves subdued"
[Noble Quran 9:29]
This is not a confrontation of civilizations, nor is it a clash of cultures.
Islam does not oppose the West, or anyone else, because of revenge over past
hostilities, out of a desire to restore injured pride or because of the desire
to amass their wealth and lands. The fight is for one purpose only and that
is to establish the religion of Islam in its totality, as the Prophet (peace
be upon him) explained when a man came to him and asked: "One of us fights
for booty, another for his tribe and another to be known as brave, which one
is fighting jihad?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: "None of them.
Only the one who fights to make Allah's Word the highest is fighting jihad."
It is clear to any believer acquainted with Allah's Book (i.e. the Quran)
and His Prophet's Sunnah that jihad (i.e. struggling to the utmost of ones
ability) is an intrinsic part of faith, and a duty among the duties in Islam.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, as reported by Tariq bin Shihab: "He
who amongst you sees something evil should change it with his hand; and if
he is unable he should change it with his tongue; and if he is unable to do
that he should at least hate it in his heart, and that is the weakest form
of faith" (Reported in Sahih Muslim, No. 79).
Jihad has three characteristics. The first form is jihad of the heart, or
jihad of the self. This is the internal struggle to acquire the correct creed,
and to remove from one's self all doubts and misconceptions concerning this
creed, and also the commands and prohibitions enjoined on the believer. It
further more encompasses the purifying of the soul from base desires and acquiring
noble qualities. The second level is the jihad of the tongue. This is the
struggle against evil, and wrong beliefs and actions through preaching and
writing books and the like. This form of jihad is characterized by its use
against the deviants from among the Muslims, but also extends to the unbelievers.
The final form of jihad is that of the hand, or sword, where one expends life
and property. It is characterized by its use against unbelievers, but can
also be used against deviant groups under the authority of the Muslim ruler.
This jihad of the hand, often termed "Holy War", is further compartmentalized
into three stages. The first is that of it being forbidden, as it was in the
early days of Muhammad's prophethood. If the Muslims are weak, and fighting
is liable to cause only harm and no benefit, then they should desist. Such
is the case of those dwelling in non-Muslim lands. The second stage is that
of self-defense, or restricting the fight to
"those who fight you"
[Noble Quran 2:190]
and releasing the lands of the Muslims from the control of their enemies.
This is the condition of the Muslims today. The final stage is that of fighting
in order to open the path for establishing Allah's rule in the lands of the
unbelievers, as was done by the Prophet's companions and the Muslim rulers
"And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah when there are weak and oppressed, old men, women and children whose cry is 'Oh Lord save us from those who oppress, and send to one who will aid and send to us one who will help!'"
[Noble Quran 4:75]
Thus one the Prophet's companions, Rab'ia ibn Amer, went to meet Rostrum,
the famous Persian general, at his request and the general offered camels,
and women and asked them to return to the desert. Rab'ia refused, and Rostrum
asked him why then were they fighting. Rab'ia replied: "We have come to take
mankind from the darkness to the light and from the worship of the false gods
to the worship of Allah, from the narrowness of this world the wide expanse
of this world and the next, and from the injustices of man made religions
to the justice of Islam."
So this Jihad is the peak of the matter and fulfilling it is part of fulfilling
the covenant with Allah, and abandoning it is the cause of humiliation and
defeat for the Muslims. As Allah said:
"If you march not forth, He will punish you with a painful torment and will replace you by another people and you cannot harm Him at all, and Allah is able to do all things"
[Noble Quran 9:39]
and the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him):
"When you deal in "al-ainiya" (i.e. become complacent and satisfied with a
domestic life) and hang on to the cows tails, and abandon jihad, then Allah
will permit your humiliation at the hands of your enemies and will not lift
it from you until you return to your religion."
So today we find Muslims leading a life as if they had no prophet, nor belief
in any Divine Message or Divine Revelation, nor expectation of any reckoning,
nor is fear of the hereafter. They resemble the pre-Islamic nations, against
whom they used to fight in the past. So they have turned on their heels as
apostates from Islam and have imitated the ignorant nations in their civilization,
in their social affairs, in their political systems, in their character and
in the pleasures of their lives. So Allah hated them and forsook them, as
He promised He would. He had warned them of this clearly in His Book, and
on the tongue of His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him): "Soon the nations
will gather to take from you the same way you invite others to share from
a feast!" A person asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): "Is that because
we are small in our numbers?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) answered: "No!
You will be many, like the foam on the sea, but you will be rubbish, like
the rubbish carried down by the flood water. And certainly Allah will remove
from the breasts of your enemies the fear of you and into your breasts He
will cast enervation." A person asked: "What is enervation?" The Prophet
(peace be upon him) replied: "It is love of life and fear of death." This has
come true exactly, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) predicted, and if there
is a "Revival of Islam", then that is because anyone with ears and eyes can
see how the Muslims are humiliated - their lands a feast for their enemies,
ruled by laws and ways nothing to do with that which Allah has revealed. The
solution to these problems has been given by the Prophet (peace be upon him)
himself one thousand four hundred years ago: "Return to your religion", enjoin
what Allah has enjoined and forbid what He has forbidden, prefer the next
life to this, and for the Muslims to once again struggle with their lives
and properties to bring themselves and others out of the oppression of man
made ways of life to the justice of that which has been revealed by the All-knowing
So the matter of conflict between Islam and the West is not at all as the
survey suggests, i.e. factors such as geography, past enmities, culture clash
and so on; nor is the Islamic Revival some search for identity, coupled with
some sort of inferiority complex. To the believer the conflict is one of truth
against falsehood, justice against oppression, the way to Paradise against
the way to Hellfire, the perfection of Allah's revealed way against the misguidance
of human ignorance. Furthermore, all of this should make it clear that there
is indeed an "insuperable reason why Muslims and Westerners cannot live peaceably
with each other" (p.5 c. 2). Mr. Beedham's survey, for all its optimism, has
made an oft-repeated mistake. He has judged the Muslims by his own standards,
believing they want, as do the West, to reach some sort of compromise. The
truth is that Islam teaches its followers to seek death on the battle field,
that dying whilst fighting jihad is one of the surest ways to paradise and
Allah's good pleasure. It is as Khalid bin Walid, whom the Prophet (peace
be upon him) called the 'Sword of Allah' and hero of every good Muslim child,
said in response to a Roman letter inviting him to surrender: "We have with
us people who love death as you love wine." It was Ronald Reagan who quite
rightly pointed out that: "How do you expect to defeat a people who believe
that when you kill them they go to a paradise filled with beautiful virgins
and rivers of wine?" Whether the believer sees the result in his or her life
time is irrelevant, for their duty is to carry on the jihad, and so be saved
from Allah's wrath in this life and the next.
The conflict will be there as long as there are those who stubbornly resist
submission to their Lord and Creator. If all of this seems intransigent and
fundamentalist that's because IT IS. With Islam you are dealing with absolutes.
This conflict, however, may not necessarily be a violent one, in the sense
of war, causing loss of life, limb and property. Islam does not necessarily
demand a change through violence if the end can be effectively achieved through
other means. So perhaps there is cause for the surveys optimism, but the solution
can only lie in a very different direction from what it suggests! Allah has
promised in His Book that if the Muslims fail to keep their covenant, and
fight against the foolish disbelief, then He will destroy them and
"replace them with a people who will love Him, and He will love them, and they will be hard against the forces of disbelief and kind to the believers, and unafraid of those who find fault"
[Noble Quran 5:54]
And Allah speaks the truth, and His promise comes true, and this has proven
so in the past, as when the Muslims left their religion, fought amongst each
other, and reveled in the delights of worldly life... then the calamity
of the Tartars fell upon them, destroying utterly the Muslim lands, and its
capital Baghdad. Yet from these same conquerors, Allah made them the defenders
and upholders of Islam, and from them to the Turks, who in their turn lapsed,
and so Allah destroyed them at the hands of the Europeans. Thus is situation
in which Muslims find themselves today. It is quite possible that history
will repeat itself, and that Islam will be given its strength again through
those who had formally tried to destroy it.
The whole issue of whether the West will accept Islam or not has been a topic
of debate amongst Muslim scholars and thinkers. It seems unlikely that there
will be any sort of military conquest of the Western world, at least in the
foreseeable future, but conquest is not always through arms. Indonesia and
Malaysia never saw invading Muslims armies. Islam "conquered" these lands
with a different weapon altogether . The weapon was Islam itself. The real
threat from the growth of "fundamentalism" to those in the Western, and other,
parts of the world who would like to see Islam far removed from influencing
the way they run their countries, is not of invading hoards of Muslim militants,
but rather the effect of a practical example of Islam in operation in the
form of a true Islamic state. Also the probability of these same "fundamentalist"
states utilizing their resources to inform the world of the reality of what
Islam is, as opposed to the lies and distortions it has been fed until now!
How likely, then, is it for this true Islamic state to materialize, and how
do people following a religion one thousand four hundred years old possibly
expect it to work in the twentieth century?
The Strange Case of the Fundamentalists
The Muslim world is at present a patchwork of competing nation sates, ruled
by political, social and judicial systems that can by no means be termed "Islamic".
Indeed in many of these countries there are laws in direct opposition to what
has been revealed by Allah to His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him).
It seems the only Islamic quality about some of these nations is that they
happen to have Muslims in them. A large portion of the Muslim World has, for
the last two hundred years, been under the occupation, or "protectorate",
of one or another of the European powers, who gradually dispensed with the
Shari'ah (Islamic Law) and supplemented it with various Western systems.
After gaining so called "independence" these alien political and judicial
systems remained, or were replaced by other Western influenced hybrids. The
"Nationalism" of Attaturk in Turkey, the "Ba'athism" of Iraq and Syria, the
"Pan-Arab Nationalistic Socialism" of Egypt's Jamal Abdel-Nasr, and its various
offshoots such as Qaddafi's "Islamic Socialism". All of these movements freely
used "Islamic" slogans when, and if, it suited their aims. The simple multitudes
were caught up in the fervor of the new found "freedom", and in order to maintain
it they were told they must "modernize". To the so-called "intellectual elite"
this meant abandoning everything from the past, and taking on board everything
that was new. Thus the "Modernist" movement arose, lead by the likes of Muhammad
Abdu, that explained away every miracle of the Prophet (peace be upon him)
and even many of the basic acts of worship. For the first time riba (dealing
usury/interest) was legalized and the adoption of Western dress and lifestyles
was encouraged. They tried to make all of this acceptable by bypassing the
traditional methods of Islamic scholarship for personal itjihad (i.e. juristic
reasoning) and interpretation of the texts.
For others, Islam itself was merely an enemy to progress, especially in the
Soviet Union where veils were burnt, mosques demolished and scholars exiled
to Siberia - or executed. Street walls were painted with the words: "There
is no God and Lenin is His Prophet". In many places throughout the Muslim
World mosques, became empty, and women walked in mini-skirts on the street.
Then things started to change. In the face of Western and Communist power,
medicine and technological wizardry, of men on the moon and aircraft that
could circle the globe in days, of weapons of mass destruction that combined
were able to destroy the world seventeen times over, the computer chip and
nations that seemed to have reached unrivaled material prosperity and personal
freedom, there was a gradual, yet unavoidably noticeable return to Islam.
Not, mind you, only by the uneducated, impoverished peasants, but the educated,
prosperous, middle classes. Furthermore, this was not merely a return to the
mosque five times a day, and the veil for the woman, but a call for Islam
in its TOTALITY - to be re-implemented once again. For indeed the reality
that Islam makes no distinction between the private and public, between the
religious and political, had been apparent to Muslim scholars long before
the The Economist's survey deemed to point it out. Indeed it was obvious that
the situation within the Muslim countries, with their hybrid socio-judicial-political
systems, was in contradiction to the very essence of Islam itself! So various
movements started to seek to bring the Muslims back to the correct state of
affairs. This of course met with some considerable opposition from the various
governments supporting such systems. This opposition was, and still is, often
brutal in the extreme. These governments received either direct, or tacit
approval from their Western and Communist overseers, who in reality were more
aware of the potential threat of such a Muslim revival to the status quo,
and their own virtual world economic and political domination which they had
striven so hard to achieve. The last thing they wanted to see were the Muslims
back on their feet. Yet the revival continues...
Perhaps the reason why the rise in Islamic fundamentalism has been so phenomenal
is because the point the fundamentalists are making is so, well, FUNDAMENTAL!
After all, once a Muslim has become aware that believing in the validity of
laws and ways other than those ordained by Allah is to commit the unforgivable
sin of "shirk", then, as the Quran states:
"It is not for a believing man or woman, once Allah and His Messenger have decided on a matter to have any choice therein"
[Noble Quran 33:36]
"and their response is none else than we hear and we obey"
[Noble Quran 24:51]
Indeed, that is exactly what makes a Muslim what he or she is: someone who
submits him or herself to Will of Almighty God. Of course the incompetence,
corruption and brutality of the governments, the inevitable failure of their
ideologies, and their frequent national and international humiliation has
made the task of the fundamentalist easier. Yet it is naive to presume that
this alone has given impetus to the rise in fundamentalism. Surely, if anything,
the poor and desperate condition of the Muslim masses should drive them more
earnestly to "modernization", "Westernization" and "Democracy", of which their
countries have hardly been shinning examples! Indeed, even the most common
peasant sees daily a barrage of images on the television screen (that has
become as essential as a bed in even the most humble households) portraying
the materialistic success of the Western World!
The true reasons for this persistent rise in Islamic awareness are not at
all those to which Western analysts constantly refer. The reason for their
inability to understand this phenomenon is part due to their submergence in
the purely material. Science and the "Theory of Evolution" has given them,
so they believe, proof that man is at most no more that an advanced animal,
a progressive monkey, and man's basic needs are little different, fundamentally,
to those of our supposed ancestors: food, drink, sleep, safety from predators
and sex. Satisfy these, and man should be content. The Muslim World still
has, by and large, kept more in touch with the reality of the human condition:
that happiness is not at all merely a material thing, but in fact something
more profound, and that understanding this is as important, perhaps more important,
to the well being of the human condition, than mere material gratification.
The evil results of this materialistic attitude are all too apparent in the
rotting social conditions of Western society. Its effects have also become
apparent in the Muslim lands themselves.
The second reason that the Islamic revival has proved so popular is that it
is obvious to many of the Muslims, especially the more literate and educated,
that the West itself does not really believe in "democracy", or indeed any
of those ideals, such as "Freedom of Speech", "Human Rights" and so on, which
it claims to cherish so dearly - except when it suits their self-interest.
Both of these points of view are not confined to the Muslim fundamentalists.
Indeed a growing number of Westerners are beginning to voice similar sentiments.
In fact, past defeats, the need to prove oneself, incompetent and corrupt
governments is hardly an explanation for the phenomenal rise of Islam among
Westerners. Recent estimates have, on average, put the numbers at three converts
to Islam every day in England alone. The rise is even higher in the U.S.,
and all this in spite of the incessant distortions and fabrications against
Islam by politicians and the media. Indeed in those very countries were Islam
is growing most visibly (Egypt and Algeria), the government, radio, T.V. and
press are all firmly controlled by the Secularists. In spite of all of this,
millions and millions are dying (sometimes literally) to go back to a book
fourteen hundred years old. How can this be? Surely "science" and "reason"
has dealt a death blow to the Quran and Islam, the same way it has the Bible
and Christianity? It seems not, and there are good reasons why!
This brings us on to the third reason, and in fact the most important of all,
why there is a phenomenal growth in fundamentalism, and that is Islam itself.
As the The Economist article said: "... there is good reason why the culture
of the Muslim world is regarded by many people as the West's only real ideological
competitor at the end of the twentieth century. Unlike the Confucians-and
even more unlike Latin Americans, Slavs and Japanese - Islam claims to be
based upon a transcendental certainty. The certainty is the Word of God, revealed
syllable by syllable to Muhammad"... "As a means of binding a civilization
together, there is no substitute for such a certainty. More-over, and this
is not happening anywhere else - new recruits are flocking to join this claim
to certainty" (p. 4, c. 2).
Why is it then that the survey does not, before its call for Muslims to practically
abandon their religion and commit the unforgivable sin of "Shirk" - by replacing
the laws of Allah with the laws of men - simply illustrate the Quran is not
the Word of God, or at least some good parts of it, so that a few adjustments
hear and there would only be in tune with what has happened before. After
all, this has already been thoroughly accomplished with the Bible. Recently
some of world's top Biblical scholars delegated a good seventy percent of
the words of Jesus as never having been said by him, and priests with impunity
state that sections of the Bible, such as God's destruction of homosexuals
in Sodom and Gomorrah, are not from God. Indeed science and modern Biblical
scholarship has cast so much doubt upon the authenticity of the Biblical text
as a whole that a derogatory term was coined for those who persisted in the
untenable position that it was the "Word of God": Fundamentalists! Indeed
the Christian fundamentalists claim about the Bible what the Muslims claim
concerning the Quran. Why could the Christian claim not prove an equally powerful
force, and a similar ideological competitor? The reason is that merely making
a claim is no basis for anything. The claim needs to be proven, and the weight
of evidence gives the claim force. It is very hard for the Christian to maintain
the claim that the Bible is the Word of God, because the evidence belies it.
The illusion of "Gospel" truth was maintained in the Middle Ages because it
was only available to very few, and they were priests! Others were forbidden
by Papal Decree from reading it, sometimes on pain of death. With the spread
of literacy and the dawn of the "Age of Enlightenment", the Bible reached
the hands of the people. Its internal contradictions and scientific discrepancies
became apparent and thus it gradually became discredited.
The Modern World's claim to certainty is "science" which, it claims, has been
the cause for advancement in medicine and technology. Its results are proof
of its worth, and the results have been achieved under the wing of "democracy".
Thus the two are intertwined. One of the other arguments in favor of "democracy"
is the lack of major conflict between those democratic nations for the past
fifty years, and another is the material prosperity it seems to have provided.
Indeed, it was in the The Economist where I recall reading that "the Western
nations have, more than any other civilization, succeeded in satisfying the
material needs of man". All powerful arguments. Thus there is a claim, and
evidence provided to support it. ( We shall, insha'Allah, examine the validity
of these claims later.) However things do not stop there. From the claim and
subsequent supporting evidence, the ideology should then be implemented, otherwise
the author of the survey would not be so audacious as to suggest that anyone
(let alone the World of Islam) should adopt his ideas, merely because of his
say so! He believes the weight of evidence in support of the "Modern Way of
Life" is sufficient to give his suggestions force. Part of what makes "democracy"
what it is, is the spirit of compromise and pragmatics: quite rational in
the light of human ignorance and fallibility. The problem is that the The
Economist survey somehow expects Islam to operate within a similar frame work.
Islam, however, is built upon the certainty that it is revealed by Almighty
God. This has consequences, the most important being that Allah is not ignorant
and fallible like the human being, rather He is All-Knowing and completely
perfect, and therefore when it comes to His Word there can be no question
of compromise, nor a philosophy of pragmatism except were specifically allowed.
The survey tries to get round this obstacle by putting it all down to a matter
of interpretation, but in fact Allah had already pre-empted this supposed
loop hole when He revealed Islam fourteen hundred years previously by appointing
someone to explain the verses of the Book:
"We have revealed to you (O Muhammad) the Reminder (i.e. the Quran) and we have made you the one to explain it".
[Noble Quran 16:44]
So the explanation of the Quranic text is given exclusively to Muhammad (peace
be upon him) and things were not left there. The Quran also explains: "Whoever
contends with the Messenger and chooses a path other than the path of the
believers, then Allah will leave them in the path they have chosen and land
them in Hell what an evil refuge!" What is this path of the believers? The
Prophet (peace be upon him) explained: "That to which I and my companions
are upon". The Prophet (peace be upon him) furthermore told the Muslims to
cling to his way and the way of the rightly-guided successors. These successors
have transmitted the knowledge and the way from generation-to-generation until
this day, just as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said they would: "There
will always be a group among this Ummah (nation of believers), firm upon the
truth, unharmed in their faith by those that oppose them". It is exactly this
type of comprehensiveness that makes Islam so frustrating to its critics and
so convincing to its adherents, and this comprehensiveness extends through
all the various aspects of Islam and its disciplines. The claim of Islam to
be based on the certainty that it is from the All-Knowing Creator is no mere
claim, but it is rather a claim backed by powerful evidence. Powerful enough
for its adherents to prefer it over that offered by the Modern Word!
No Doubt About It!
So what is this evidence that Islam claims to present that is so convincing?
The first issue is authenticity. Purity of text is quite vital to the whole
spirit of "fund". This is because once a text has shown to have been corrupted
and altered in order to make it comply with doctrinal or political expediencies,
and if there is no reliable means to distinguish the corrupt from the pure,
then there is not one passage of that text that cannot be called into question.
This is not so easy with a pure and preserved text. This is well understood
by the Christian fundamentalists. If it is not the "Word of God", then what
real value does it posses as guidance, except as a collection of wisdom? Few
serious scholars, even from Islam's opponents, have tried to dispute the Quran's
historical authenticity. Indeed it would be a pointless exercise, since anyone
who cares to take a trip to Tashkent (in the former Soviet Union) will find
there a complete copy of the Quran written by one of the Prophet's scribes,
Zayed ibn Thabit, upon the order of the first Caliph Abu Bakr within two years
of the Prophet's death. The manuscript in Tashkent is a copy of that first
manuscript, also written by the hand of the same Zayed, but some twelve years
later under the order of 'Uthman bin Affan, the third Caliph, with the consensus
of over fifty companions of the Prophet who also had written portions of the
Quran, and also others who had memorized it in toto. This "Uthmanic" Quran,
as it later came to known, was accepted without exception by the surviving
companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as being one and the same that
was revealed by Allah to his Final Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him).
One can take any copy of any Quran, from any mosque anywhere in the word and
compare it with the mushaf of Zayed, and find it exactly the same - word for
word. It is even recited in the same accent in which the Prophet (peace be
upon him) recited it. Furthermore Arabic, the language of the Quran, is a
living language, and the Book has always been in the hands of the people -
not merely the domain of a few priests.
Thus anyone reading the Quran can be certain beyond reasonable doubt that
they are reading the same words revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon him) over
one thousand four hundred years ago.
"Verily! It is We Who have sent down the Quran and surely, We will guard it".
[Noble Quran 15:9]
The reality of the fruition of this statement is a clear sign to mankind,
and one of the manifest miracles of the Quran. Moreover this preservation
is not limited to only the Quran, but also its explanation, the Sunnah, i.e.
the actions, sayings and tacit approvals of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
These were meticulously memorized and written down by his wives and companions,
and passed down until they were collected in the more famous books of hadith
some two to three hundred years after the Hijrah.. The body of hadith literature
has not enjoyed, quite unjustly, the same general acceptance of authenticity
as the Quran. This is simply because the means by which the hadith became
preserved was a longer and more complicated affair than that of the Quran,
and therefore became a relatively easier target of attack by Islam's enemies.
Some Orientalists have even claimed that Hadith authenticity rates the same
as the Biblical texts. This is, however a very superficial comparison, even
if there are some apparent similarities. For example the major books of hadith
such Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim and the Sunan of Abu Dawud, did not
appear until just over two hundred years the Hijrah. Those who compiled the
books were not themselves eye-witnesses. Many hadith within the entire body
of hadith literature are clearly fabricated and of dubious authenticity,
and, as a whole, contain contradictions.
These statements are true in general, but a more detailed study of the history
of the preservation of the hadith makes it immediately clear that the reality
is quite different. Firstly, as we mentioned concerning the Quran, the language
of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is preserved. Secondly the major hadith
books we mentioned were not so much new works as compilations of earlier,
smaller ones. There was also a good deal of oral transmission, but the collectors
of Prophetic sayings were extremely weary of ensuring that any given narration
attributed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) could be effectively proven
as such. The method by which this was accomplished was through the 'isnad',
or chain of narrators. From the earliest days of Islam after the death of
the Prophet (peace be upon him), various groups arose deviating from the teachings
of Islam that had been given to the Prophet's Companions. These sects began
to invent sayings which they attributed to the Prophet (peace be upon him).
So in response the Companions of the Prophet began to demand that anyone transmitting
a narration must name which companion they had received it from, and thus
the truth of narrator ascertained. The students of the Companions continued
this policy, and further safe guards were added as not only the Companions
name was needed, but also the next narrator in the chain of transmission.
Conditions were laid down for these narrators to be accepted. The scholars
differed over some of the conditions, some being stricter than others, but
three basic requirements were agreed by all. First the transmitter must be
a pious Muslim, secondly they must be known not to forget, thirdly they must
not be liars. The next generation of hadith transmitters began to write the
names of all those who attended their lectures. No one was allowed to narrate
a hadith on that lecturer's authority unless he attended the lecture in which
that hadith was narrated and its meaning explained. From this developed the
books of "Rijal" in which was listed the character, quality of memory, place
of habitation, travels, teachers and students, and opinion of other scholars,
concerning all the narrators of the hadith. Thus every available method was
used to ensure that when the scholars of the sciences of hadith declared
a narration of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as being authentic it was,
beyond any reasonable doubt said by him. This methodology is not only used
for the Prophetic traditions, but also the sayings of the Companions and the
early scholars. Indeed any true scholar must be able to produce the isnad
of his teachers back to the Prophet himself!
Along with this textual and contextual authenticity, the Quran itself lays
down claims to prove its veracity as God's revealed Words. Of course, "proof"
is a big word, especially when it comes to God or religion, especially for
the "Western mind", programmed by two thousand years of Christianity, which
seems to think that religion is supposed to be "mysterious" and "incomprehensible".
The idea that God and revelation are not only compatible with reason, but
also can be proven, is often met with incredulity. After all, what's the point?
If you can prove it where does faith come in? This is because the Christian
world has been taught that "faith" means believing the unbelievable without
any proof. This is manifest in that nonsense called the Trinity, and all the
theological contortions surrounding it. Christians are expected to believe
that black is white and yet still black, or in their terms, that the Invisible,
Self-Sufficient, Un-Changing, Omnipotent and Omniscient Creator became a visible,
needy, mortal, fallible creature who was killed on a cross, and this man was
still the Invisible, Self-Sufficient, Un-Changing, Omnipotent and Omniscient
Creator - completely God and completely man. Of course anyone with a mind
will understand that one by necessity precludes the other. Something completely
God cannot possibly be, or contain the qualities of, a man, for this would
immediately exclude such a being from being truly God. Furthermore, any man
that had the qualities of God would no longer be a man. In an attempt to "explain
the unexplainable" the Doctrine of the Trinity was invented: One God made
of three entities, each one completely God, (and therefore completely the
same, yet somehow different) not making three Gods but only One! Moreover
the Christian has been asked to believe that mankind's salvation lies in believing
God killed Himself (or His son, or an innocent man, or all three at the same
time) as a ransom for a burden of sin - that He placed on all human beings
for the sin of Adam and Eve eating from the forbidden tree! The inevitable
refuge of the Christian when assaulted with a barrage questions over this
muddle is that its all "a mystery", and if you want to be saved from Hell
you should stop asking so many questions and accept it as an act of faith.
Yet it seems rather absurd that the Just Creator would punish anyone for refusing
to believe things which are unacceptable and incomprehensible to the very
faculties of reason and common sense that He has provided for the human to
make their decisions, without providing some h2 proof that they should
The Quran, however, chastises mankind for not using their common sense and
reasoning powers, and states that their failure to do so is itself a cause
of their destruction:
"And for those who disbelieve in their Lord is the torment of Hell, and worst indeed is that destination. When they are cast therein, they will hear the terrible drawing in of its breath as it blazes forth. It almost bursts with fury. Every time a group is cast therein, its keeper will ask: 'Did no warner come to you?' They will say: 'Yes indeed; a warner did come to us, but we belied him and said: 'Allah never sent down anything, you are only in great error.' And they will say: 'Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we would not have been among the dwellers of the Fire!'"
[Noble Quran 67:6-10]
Indeed there is nothing in the theology of Islam that cannot be understood
by sound reasoning. In fact it is possible for anyone, anywhere to reach an
understanding of the essence of Islam without ever having heard of Muhammad
or the Quran. This is because the Creator's existence can be readily understood
by anyone observing the patterns and intricate mechanisms of the world and
universe around us, and that ultimate power and control rests with this Being,
and thus is alone truly worthy of worship, and that to worship this Creator
one can only rely on Divine guidance. To attempt to do this is "Islam", which
means "sincerity and submission to Allah". This very universality and simplicity
is one of the h2 arguments in favor of Islam's Divine origin. For the
Muslim, faith is not a blind leap in the dark against proof and reason, but
rather a step taken as a consequence of contemplation, experience, instinct
and evidence. Ultimately it does mean a complete acceptance of a single truth,
but this is no more blind than the faith of a scientist in a particular theory,
or a doctor in form of treatment that has proven itself valid clinically and
operationally. It might be compared to the situation in a court, with a jury.
Ideally what is supposed to happen is that the jury is presented with a series
of evidences concerning a case. When the weight of evidence is so conclusive
the jury makes its decision. It is not sufficient for it to say: "Well, we
found the evidence really convincing!" In the end it must make a decision,
"Guilty!" or "Not guilty!", based on the facts. Similarly in Islam, the Creator
presents the human being with a series of conclusive evidences, upon the basis
of which the human should declare their faith, and act accordingly.
The Weight of Evidence
Allah laid down a challenge in the Quran to mankind in general and to the
Arabs in particular:
"And if you are in doubt concerning that which we have sent down to our slave (Muhammad) then produce a chapter like it, and call your supporters and helpers besides Allah, if you are truthful!"
[Noble Quran 2:23]
The Arabs in the time of Muhammad (peace be upon him) had no civilization
to speak of - no magnificent roads or public buildings, nor scientific or
medical institutions. In fact, they lived a most primitive and barbarous existence.
There was one thing in which they excelled - that was their language. They
were extremely found of poetry, and prided themselves in their poetic abilities.
They praised each other, admonished - and even argued - in poetry. There was
even an annual market in Uhaz just for poetry - the finest of which was hung
on the door of the Ka'abah. The age of Muhammad was a time when the Arabs
were at the peak of their linguistic abilities. Indeed, one of the finest
poems ever written in Arabic was that of Labaid ibn Rabiyah, whose poem, when
recited at Uhaz, caused the Arabs to prostrate before him in admiration. When
this same Labaid began to hear the verses of Quran, he embraced Islam, and
gave up poetry altogether. When he was once asked to recite some poetry he
said: "What! After the Quran?" Indeed, many of the Arabs entered into Islam
just from hearing the Quran, because for them it was a conclusive proof of
its Divine origin. They knew that no man could produce such eloquence. The
challenge of the Quran for man to produce its like is not, as some suppose,
merely like the uniqueness of Shakespeare, Shelly, Keats or Homer. The Quran
differentiated itself in its very structure. Poetry in Arabic falls into sixteen
different "Bihar" (rhythmic forms), and other than that they have the speech
of soothsayers, rhyming prose, and normal speech. The Quran's form did not
fit into any of these categories. It was this that made the Quran inimitable,
and left the pagan Arabs at a loss as to how they might combat it. Alqama
bin Abdulmanaf confirmed this when he addressed their leaders, the Quraish:
"Oh Quraish, a new calamity has befallen you. When Muhammad was a young man,
he was the most liked among you, the most truthful in speech and the most
trustworthy, until, when you saw grey hairs on his temple, he brought you
his message. You said that he was a sorcerer, but he is not, for we have seen
such people and their spitting and their knots. You said that he was a diviner,
but we have seen such people and their behavior, and we have heard their
rhymes You said a soothsayer, but he is not a soothsayer, for we have heard
their rhymes; and you said a poet, but he is not a poet, for we have heard
all kinds of poetry. You said he was possessed, but he is not for we have
seen the possessed, and he shows no signs of their gasping and whispering
and delirium. Oh men of Quraysh, look to your affairs, for by Allah a serious
thing has befallen you."
The Quraish decided that the only convincing propaganda they could make against
the Prophet (peace be upon him) was that the magic of his speech turned a
man away from his father, wife, brother and family. So Abu Lahab would wait
on the road ways into Mecca in the Hajj season, and warn the people from listening
to Muhammad's speech. Tufail ibn Amr, chief of the Daws tribe and a distinguished
poet, was one such man accosted by the Meccans, as he himself mentioned: "I
approached Mecca. As soon as the Quraish leaders saw me, they came up to me
and gave me a most hearty welcome and accommodated me in a grand house. Their
leaders and notables then gathered and said: 'O Tufayl, you have come to our
town. this man who claims that he is a Prophet has ruined our authority and
shattered our community. We are afraid that he would succeed in undermining
you and your authority among your people just as he has done with us. Don't
speak to the man. On no account listen to anything he has to say. He has the
speech of a wizard, causing division between father and son, between brother
and brother and between husband and wife.' They went on telling me the most
fantastic stories and scared me by recounting tales of his incredible deeds.
I made up my mind then not to approach this man, or speak to him or listen
to anything he had to say. The following morning I went to the place of worship
to make tawaf around the Ka'abah as an act of worship to the idols that we
made pilgrimage to and glorified. I inserted cotton in my ears out of fear
that something of the speech of Muhammad would reach my hearing. As soon as
I entered the place of worship, I saw him standing near the Ka'abah. He was
praying in a fashion which was different from our prayer. His whole manner
of worship was different. The scene captivated me. His worship made me tremble
and I felt drawn to him, despite myself, until I was quite close to him. Notwithstanding
the precaution I had taken, God willed that some of what he was saying should
reach my hearing and I said to myself: 'What are you doing, Tufayl? You are
a perceptive poet. You can distinguish between the good and the bad in the
poetry. What prevents you from listening from what the man is saying? If what
comes from him is good, accept it, and if it is bad, reject it.' I remained
there until the Prophet left for his home. I followed him as he entered his
house, and I entered also and said: 'O Muhammed, your people have said certain
things to me about you. By God, they kept on frightening me away from your
message so that I even blocked my ears to keep out your words. Despite this,
God caused me to hear something of it and I found it good. So tell me more
about your mission.' The Prophet (peace be upon him) did and recited to me
Surah al-Falaq. I swear by God, I had never heard such beautiful words before.
Neither was a more noble or just mission ever described to me. Thereupon,
I stretched out my hand to him in allegiance and testified that there is none
worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammed is the Messenger of Allah.
This is how I entered Islam. Even the leaders of Quraish were unable to resist
hearing the Quran."
The Sirah (i.e. Prophetic biography) of Ibn Ishaq reports one incident when
Abu Sufyan, Abu Jahl and Al-Akhnas snuck out of their houses at night to listen
to the Prophet reciting the Quran - hiding in their places until dawn. On
the way home, they met and reproached one another, saying: "Don't do it again,
for if one of the weak minded fools see you, you will arouse suspicion in
their minds." This happened three nights in a row, until they took from each
other a solemn oath not to do it again. Utba bin Rabi'a, a chief of Quraish,
during one of their meetings in which they discussed possible means to stop
Muhammed's preaching, suggested to make some proposals to Muhammed and "give
him whatever he wants, so he will leave us in peace." Their leaders agreed,
so Utba went and sat by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: "Oh my nephew,
you are one of us as you know, of the noblest of the tribe and hold a worthy
position in ancestry. You have come to your people with an important matter,
dividing their community thereby and ridiculing their customs, and you have
insulted their gods and their religion, and declared that their forefathers
were unbelievers, so listen to me and I will make some suggestions, and perhaps
you will be able to accept one of them." The Prophet agreed, and he went on:
"If what you want is money, we will make you our chief so that no one can
decide anything apart from you; if you want sovereignty, we will make you
king, and if this ghost which comes to you, which you see, is such that you
cannot get rid of him, we will find a physician for you, and exhaust our means
in getting you cured, for often a familiar spirit gets possession of a man
until he can be cured of it." The Prophet (peace be upon him) listened patiently,
and then said: "Now listen to me". The Prophet (peace be upon him) then recited
from the beginning of Surah Fussilat (41) until the verse of prostration,
were the Prophet prostrated, and all the while Utba listened attentively,
sitting on his hands, and leaning on them. The Prophet (peace be upon him)
then said: "You have heard what you have heard, Abu'l Walid; the rest remains
with you.' When Utba returned to his companions they noticed that his expression
completely altered, and they asked him what had happened. He said that he
had heard words that he had never heard before, which were neither poetry,
nor witchcraft. "Take my advice and do as I do, leave this man entirely alone
for, by God, the words which I have heard will be blazed abroad. If the other
Arabs kill him, others will have rid you of him; if he gets the better of
the Arabs, his sovereignty will be your sovereignty, his power your power,
and you will be prosperous through him.' They said: 'He has bewitched you
with his tongue". To which he answered: "You have my opinion, you must do
what you think fit'.
Such was the power of the Quran that Umar ibn Al-Khattab, who was on his way
to kill the Prophet, discovered his sister and her husband reciting the Quran.
Upon reading twenty verses, instead went to the Prophet (peace be upon him)
and embraced Islam. So how is it possible for an un-lettered and un-learned
man, not versed in poetry, to be able to produce a work of unrivalled eloquence
and perfect rhetoric, so that even the assembled experts and masters of all
the forms poetry and the Arabic language were unable to produce the like of
its smallest chapter? Indeed they chose rather to fight the Prophet (peace
be upon him). Thus the flower of their nobility were killed, and their trade
and reputation destroyed. How could they choose this rather than counter the
verses of Quran? It is as at-Tabari wrote in the introduction to his Tafsir
(commentary on the Quran): "There can be no doubt that the highest and most
resplendent degree of eloquence is that which expresses its self with the
greatest clarity, making the intention of the speaker evident and facilitating
the hearer's understanding. But when it rises beyond this level of eloquence,
and transcends what man is capable of, so that none of the servants of God
is able to match it, it becomes a proof and a sign for the Messengers of the
One, the All-powerful. It is then the counterpart of raising the dead and
curing of lepers and the blind, themselves proofs and signs for the Messengers
because they transcend the realm of the highest attainment of man's medicine
and therapy...". Continuing on, at-Tabari says: "...it is obvious that
there is no discourse more eloquent, no wisdom more profound, no speech more
sublime, no form of expression more noble, than this clear discourse and speech
with which a single man challenged a people at a time when they were acknowledged
masters of the art of oratory and rhetoric, poetry and prose, rhymed prose
and soothsaying. He reduced their fancy to folly and demonstrated the inadequacy
of their logic. He dissociated himself from their religion and summoned all
of them to follow him, accept his mission, testify to its truth, and affirm
that he was the Messenger sent to them by their Lord. He let them know that
the demonstration of the truth of what he said, the proof of the genuineness
of his prophethood, was the bayan (the clear discourse), the hikma (the wisdom),
the furqan (the criterion between truth and falsehood), which he conveyed
to them in a language like their language, in a speech whose meanings conformed
to the meanings of their speech. Then he told them that they were incapable
of bringing anything comparable to even a part of what he brought, and that
they lacked the power to do this. They all confessed their inability, voluntarily
acknowledging the truth of what he had brought, and bore witness to their
own insufficiency... ".
If we examine analytically the claim of anyone to Prophethood then there are
three possibilities concerning such a claim. The first possibility is that
the individual is a liar. The second possibility is that the individual sincerely
believes he or she is receiving revelation, but is only suffering some form
of delusion, and the third is that the individual really is receiving revelation,
and is speaking the truth. It is interesting to mention some of the arguments
raised by the Christian and secularist Orientalists against Muhammad (peace
be upon him) because taken as a whole they offer a conclusive proof in his
favor. One school of thought has suggested, in essence, that Muhammad was
a liar and a fabricator; that he learnt from various rabbis and Christian
priests, and during his various retreats to the Mountain of Light, composed
the Quran. Some have tried to soften these accusations by claiming that he
was motivated by a sincere desire to reform his people, and so invented Islam
to achieve this. Others accuse him of more worldly interests and cite the
large number of wives as a proof of this. This approach has been rejected
altogether by the second school, who upon observing the evidence of Muhammad's
character which places him far above lying and deceit, and the reality of
his life style which was a paragon of simplicity and even poverty. Having
found no substantiating proof that he had any rabbi's or priests as teachers,
and the complete acceptance of his claim by his close family and wives, to
whom any duplicity would inevitably have been exposed, have claimed that he
was totally sincere in his claim to prophethood, and that he truly believed
that he was a prophet receiving revelation. They, also unable to accept the
possibility that Muhammad truly was a Prophet, attempt various psycho-analytical
explanations, such as the Quran being a voice of the subconscious, or the
revelation being bought on by trances induced by epileptic fits. The basic
claim being that Muhammad was deluded. We will not attempt to refute these
accusations in detail here. The cursory examination of the opposing positions
will suffice. What makes this a conclusive proof in Muhammad's favor is that
he could not be a calculating liar and be deluded at the same time. A man
who sincerely believes that he is a Prophet, does not sit down thinking and
planning what he will say the next day, because he believes that God is going
to reveal it to him! Yet the opponents of Islam need both to explain the phenomena
of Muhammad. He needs to be a cunning and calculating deceiver in order to
explain the information and linguistic inimitability of the Quran, yet he
needs to be deluded in order to explain his obvious sincerity. If one takes
these two bodies of information together the only way to reconcile them is
the third possibility, that he was indeed what he claimed to be - the Messenger
Indeed, the Quraish found it very hard to produce a convincing argument against
Muhammad (peace be upon him). They knew that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was
unable to produce the likes of the Quran, either in its eloquence, or in the
knowledge it contained. They were also familiar with his character and personality,
and admitted that he had been the best, most trusted and well liked amongst
them. Even Abu Lahb, the Prophet's persistent enemy, said: "We don't call
you a liar, Muhammad, we just don't believe in what you have brought." In
reality, Abu Lahab's motivation for refusing to accept Muhammad was tribal
rivalry. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) first received revelation to
call his people openly to Islam, he went to the top of Mount Safa' and called
all the tribes of Mecca, until they had all gathered or sent a representative.
He said to them: "Oh my people, if I was to tell you there was a band of horsemen
about to attack from behind this hill, would you believe me?" They all replied:
"Yes! Why should we not believe you, we never heard anything but truth from
you!" So the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "I have come to warn you of
a terrible chastisement from your Lord." So Muhammad's people testified to
his truthfulness, and that they had never heard lies from him. And as Heraculus,
the Byzantine Roman Emperor, said, when questioning Abu Sufyan about the
Prophet (peace be upon him): "If he does not lie about men, then he would not
lie about Allah!"
To be continued, insha'Allah...
A Thoughtful Inquiry
Furthermore the Prophet displayed numerous qualities which Heraculus, the
Byzantine Roman Emperor, recognized as indicating that Muhammad was indeed
the Prophet who they (the Christians) had been expecting as the following
"Abdullah ibn Abbas reported that Abu Sufyan bin Harb informed me that Heraculus
had sent a messenger to him while he had been accompanying a caravan from
Quraish. They were merchants doing business in Sham (i.e. Syria, Palestine,
Lebanon and Jordan), and at the time when Allah's messenger had a truce with
Abu Sufyan and the idolatrous Quraish. So Abu Sufyan and his companions went
to Heraculus at Ilya (Jerusalem). Heraclius called them in the court and he
had all his dignitaries around him. He called for his translator who, translating
Heraculus's question, said to them: "Who amongst you is closely related to
that man who claims to be a Prophet?" Abu Sufyan replied, "I am the nearest
relative to him." Heraclius said, "Bring him close to me and make his companions
stand behind him." Heraclius told his translator to tell Abu Sufyan's companions
that he wanted to put some questions to me regarding that man and that if
I told a lie they should contradict me. Abu Sufyan added, "By Allah, had I
not been afraid of my companions labeling me a liar, I would not have spoken
the truth about the Prophet." The first question he asked me about him was:
"What is his family status amongst you?" I replied, "He belongs to a noble
family amongst us." Heraclius further asked, "Has anybody else amongst you
ever claimed the same before him?" I replied, "No!" He said, "Was anybody
amongst his ancestors a king?" I replied "No!" Heraclius asked, "Do the nobles
or the poor follow him?" I replied, "It is the poor who follow him." He said,
"Are his followers increasing or decreasing?" I replied, "They are increasing."
He then asked, "Does anybody amongst those who embrace his religion become
displeased and renounce the religion afterwards?" I replied, "No!" Heraclius
said, "Have you ever accused him of telling lies before his claim?" I replied,
"No!" Heraclius said, "Does he break his promises?" I replied, "No. We are
at truce with him, but we do not know what he will do in it." I could not
find opportunity to say anything against him except that Heraclius asked,
"Have you ever had a war with him?" I replied, "Yes." Then he said, "What
was the outcome of the battles?" I replied, "Sometimes he was victorious and
sometimes we." Heraclius said, "What does he order you to do?" I said, "He
tells us to worship Allah, and Allah alone, and not to worship anything along
with Him, and to renounce all that our ancestors had said. He orders us to
pray, to speak the truth, to be chaste and to keep good relations with our
kith and kin." Heraclius asked the translator to convey to me the following,
"I asked you about his family and your reply was that he belonged to a very
noble family. In fact all the Prophets come from noble families amongst their
respective peoples. I questioned you whether anybody else amongst you claimed
such a thing, your reply was in the negative. If the answer had been in the
affirmative, I would have suspected that this man was following the previous
mans statement. Then I asked you whether anyone of his ancestors was a king.
Your reply was in the negative, and if it had been in the affirmative, I would
have thought that this man wanted to take back his kingdom. I further asked
whether he was ever accused of telling lies before he said what he said, and
your reply was in the negative. So I wondered how a person who does not tell
a lie about others could ever tell a lie about Allah. I then asked you whether
the rich people or the poor followed him. You replied that it was the poor
who followed him. And in fact all the Prophets have been followed by this
very class of people. Then I asked you whether his followers were increasing
or decreasing. You replied that they were increasing, and in fact this is
the way of true faith, until it is complete in all respects. I further asked
you if there was anybody, who after embracing his religion, became displeased
and discarded his religion. Your reply was in the negative, and in fact this
is the sign of true faith, when its delight enters the hearts and mixes with
them completely. I asked whether he had ever betrayed. You replied in the
negative and likewise the Prophets never betray. Then I asked you what he
ordered you to do. You replied that he ordered you to worship Allah and Allah
alone and not to worship any thing along with Him and forbade you to worship
idols and ordered you to pray, to speak the truth and not to commit illegal
fornication. If what you said is true, he will very soon occupy this place
underneath my feet and I knew it from the scriptures that he was going to
appear, but I did not know that he would be from you, and if I could reach
him definitely, I would go immediately to meet him and if I were with him,
I would certainly wash his feet."
Heraclius then asked for the letter addressed by the Allah's Messenger which
was delivered by Dihya to the Governor of Bura, who forwarded it to Heraclius
to read. The contents of the letter were as follows:
"In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. From Muhammad, the slave
of Allah and his Messenger to Heraclius the ruler of Byzantines. Peace be
upon him who follows the right path. Furthermore I invite you to Islam, and
if you become a Muslim you will be safe, and Allah will double your reward,
and if you reject this invitation you will be committing a sin by misguiding
your peasants: "O People of the Scripture! Come to a word common to you and
us that we worship none but Allah and that we associate nothing in worship
with Him, and that none of us shall take others as Lords beside Allah. Then,
if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are Muslims (i.e. those who surrendered
to will of Allah)."
Abu Sufyan then added, "When Heraclius had finished his speech and had read
the letter there was a great hue and cry in the royal court. So we were turned
out of the court. I told my companions that the issue of Ibn Abi-Kabsha (a
derogatory nick name for the Prophet) has become so prominent that even the
King of the Byzantines is afraid of him. then I started to become sure that
he would be the conqueror in the near future until I embraced Islam." The
sub-narrator adds: "Ibn An-Natur was the governor of Jerusalem and Heraclius
was visiting Jerusalem, he got up in the morning in a sad mood. Some of his
priests asked him why he was in that mood? Heraclius was a foreteller and
an astrologer . He replied, "At night when I looked at the stars, I saw that
the leader of those who practice circumcision had appeared. Who are they who
practice circumcision?" The people replied, "Except the Jews nobody practices
circumcision, so you should not be afraid of them. Just issue orders to kill
every Jew present in the country." While they were discussing it, a messenger
sent by the king of Ghassan to convey the news of Allah's Messenger to Heraclius
was brought in. Having heard the news, he ordered the people to go and see
whether the messenger of Ghassan was circumcised. The people, after seeing
him, told Heraclius that he was circumcised. Heraclius then asked him about
the Arabs. The messenger replied, "Arabs also practice circumcision." After
hearing that Heraclius remarked that sovereignty of the Arabs had appeared.
Heraclius then left for Homs and stayed there until he received the reply
of his letter from his friend who agreed with him in his opinion about the
emergence of the Prophet and the fact that he was a Prophet. On that Heraclius
invited all the heads of the Byzantines to assemble in his palace at Homs.
When they assembled, he ordered that all the doors of his palace be closed.
Then he came out and said, "O Byzantines! If success is your desire and if
you seek right guidance and want your Empire to remain then give a pledge
of allegiance to this Prophet!" On hearing this, the people ran towards the
gates of the palace like onagers but found the doors closed. Heraclius realized
their hatred towards Islam and when he lost hope of their embracing Islam,
he ordered that they should be brought back in audience. He said: "What I
just said was to test the strength of your conviction and I have seen it."
The people prostrated before him and became pleased with him, and this was
the end of Heraculus's story (in connection with his faith.)
Another Inquiring Mind
Heraclius was not the only ruler to recognize the Prophethood of Muhammad.
Negus, the ruler of, Abyssinia, similarly recognized the message of Islam
and the words of Quran as being of divine origin when he questioned the Muslims
who had emigrated to escape the tortures and oppression of the pagan Quraish.
The Prophet's claim is given added weight by numerous Christian and Jewish
scholars, both in Muhammad's time, and afterwards who recognized him as the
final messenger foretold in their scriptures. The case of Heraculus has already
been mentioned. Bahira, the monk whom some Orientalists have vainly tried
to suggest was the teacher of Muhammad, recognized the signs of Prophethood
on him whilst Muhammad was a boy accompanying his uncle Abu Talib's caravan
to Syria, as did Waraqa, one of the few Christians in Mecca, who had translated
some parts of the Christian scriptures into Arabic, who was the cousin of
Muhammad's wife Khadijah. Indeed, after the Prophet had received the first
revelation, he went to this same Waraqa, who said "Surely, by Him in whose
hand is Waraqa's soul, thou art the Prophet of these people. There has come
unto you the greatest angel, who came unto Moses. You will be called a liar,
and they will use you despitefully, and cast you out and fight against you."
Al Jurud ibn Ak Ala, a Christian scholar and ruler of his people came to visit
the Prophet and said: "By Allah you have come with the truth, and have spoken
truly, as a Prophet I have found your description in the Gospel, and the son
of the Virgin has announced your coming." Al Jurud then accepted Islam along
with his people. Also Muqauqas, the King of the Copts, in his response to
the letter sent to him by the Prophet inviting him to Islam wrote: "I have
read your message and have understood what you have mentioned in it, and what
you are calling to. I have known that a Prophet would be sent and thought
that he would appear in Sham, and I have honored your messenger."
The story of one the Prophet's companions, Salman the Persian, further illustrates
"I was a Persian man from the peoples of Isfahan from a town known as Jayi.
My father was the town chief. To him, I was the most beloved of the creature
Allah. His love of me reached the point whereby he trusted me to supervise
the fire he lit, which was not allowed to be let to die down. My father owned
land, and one day while he was busy he told me to go and inspect the land
and to bring from it some things he wanted. On my way I came across a Christian
church. I heard the voices of the prayers of the people inside. I did not
know what goes on with the lives of other people because my father had kept
me confined to his house. So when I came across those people and I heard their
voices I went inside watching what they were doing. When I saw them I liked
their prayers and became interested in their religion. I said to myself: "By
Allah, this religion of theirs is better than that of ours." By Allah I did
not leave them until sunset, and never inspected my father's land. I asked:
"Where is the origin of this religion?" They said: "In As-Sham (i.e. Greater
Syria)." I returned to my father who had become worried and sent after me.
Upon my arrival he said: "O son! Where have you been? Didn't I trust you with
an assignment?" I said: "I came across some people praying in their church
and I liked what they were on from their religion. By Allah I stayed with
them until sunset." My father said: "O Son! There is no good in that religion.
The religion of your fathers is better." I said: "No, by Allah, it is better
than our religion." He threatened me and chained me by my foot and kept me
confined to the house. I sent to the Christians requesting to let me know
of the arrival of any Christian trade caravan coming from as-Sham. A trade
caravan arrived and they informed me about it. I told them to keep me informed
about the people of the caravan, and when they were about to finish their
business and return to their country. I took off the chains from my foot and
joined the caravan until we reached as-Sham. Upon my arrival I asked: "Who
is the best amongst the people of this religion of yours?" They said: "The
Bishop in the Church." I went to him and said: "I like this religion and I
love to be with you, serving you in your Church, to learn from you and to
pray with you." The Bishop agreed. After a while I learnt that this Bishop
ordered and motivated his people to pay charity only to keep it for himself.
He did not give it to the poor. He heaped up seven jars with gold and silver!
I hated him so much because of what I saw him doing. The Bishop died. The
Christians gathered to bury him. I told them that he was a bad man who ordered
you to release your money for charities only to keep if for himself and that
he did not give anything of it to the poor. They said: "How do you know this?"
I said: "I can show his treasure." They said: "Show us!" I showed them the
place and when they saw it they said: "By Allah we will never bury him!" They
took his dead body and crucified and stoned it. They replaced their bishop.
I never saw a man from those who do not pray the five prescribed prayers better
than him; nor a man detached from this worldly life and attached to the hereafter
more than him; nor a committed person who works day and night better than
him. I loved him more than anything else I loved before. I stayed with him
for sometime before his death. When his death approached I told him: "O teacher,
I stayed with you and loved you more than anything else I loved before. Now
you are approached by the decree of Allah, so who would you recommend for
me and what would you like to order me?" The Bishop said: "By Allah! People
are in a total loss, they altered and changed what they were on. I do not
know of anyone who is still holding to what I am on except a man in Al-Moosil,
so join him." When the man died, I moved to Al-Moosil and met the recommended
person. I told him that my former master at the time of his death recommended
that I join you. He also told me that you are holding to the same as he was.
The man of Al-Moosil told me to stay with him; I stayed with him and found
that he was the best man holding onto the matter of his friend. Soon he died.
When death approached him I asked him to recommend some other person who is
on the same religion. The man said: "By Allah! I don't know of anyone who
is on the same matter of ours except a man in Nasiyibin, so join him." Following
his death I moved to the man of Nasiyibin and stayed with him for a while.
The same story repeated itself. Death approached and before he died, I came
to the man and asked for his advice as to whom and where to go. The man recommended
that I join another man on the same religion in Am'muriyiyah, which I did,
and earned some cows and one sheep. When death approached the man of Am'muriyiyah,
I repeated my request. The answer was different. The man said: "O son! I do
not know of anyone who is on the same religion as we are. However, the time
of emergence of a Prophet will shade you. This Prophet is on the same religion
of Abraham. He comes from Arabia and migrates to a place located between landscapes
of black stones. Palm trees are spread between these scapes. He has certain
well known signs. He eats food given as a gift and he does not eat from charity.
The seal of Prophethood is between his shoulders. If you could move to that
land, then do so." After he died I stayed in Am'muriyiyah until one day
some merchants from the tribe of Kalb passed by me. I told them, "Take me
to Arabia and I will give you my cows and the only sheep I have." They agreed.
When we reached Wadi Al-Qura (close to Madinah) they sold me as a slave to
a Jew and I saw the palm trees, and I hoped that this would be the same place
described by my friend. A man who was a first cousin to my master came visiting
one day and bought me. He took me with him to Madinah. By Allah! When I saw
it I knew it was the place my friend had described. Then Allah sent His Messenger.
He stayed in Mecca as long as he did. I did not hear anything about him because
I was very much busy with the work of slavery. He the migrated to Madinah.
I was on a palm tree doing some work for my master. A first cousin of his
came and stood in front of him and said: "Woe to Bani Qilah, they are gathered
in Quba around a man whom came today from Mecca claiming that he was a Prophet!"
When I herd that I shivered thinking that I was about to fall down on my master.
I came down and I said: "What did you say, what did you say?" My master became
angry and punched me with a powerful punch and said: "What kind of business
do you have in this matter? Go back to your work!" I said: "Nothing! I just
wanted to be sure of what he was saying." On that evening I went to see the
Messenger of Allah while he was in Quba. I took with me something I had saved.
I went in and said: "I was told you are a righteous man and that your company
are strangers in need, and I want to offer you something I saved as charity.
I found that you deserve it more than anyone else." I offered it to him; he
said to his companions: "Eat!" and he kept his hand off. I said to myself:
"This is one of the signs!" The next time I visited the Prophet in Madinah
I said: "I see you don't eat from the charity, here is a gift that I wanted
to honor you with." The Prophet ate from it and ordered his companions to
do the same which they did. I said to myself: "Now they are two." On the third
encounter I went to funeral of one of the Prophet's companions. I greeted
him with the Salaam, then I moved towards his back attempting to see the seal
that was described to me by my friend. When he saw me he knew I was trying
to confirm something described to me. He took the garment off his back and
I looked at the seal. I recognized it. I came down on it kissing it and crying.
The Messenger of Allah told me to move around and talk to him, and I told
him my story."
Among the People of the Book...
Great numbers of Christians embraced Islam during and soon after the Islamic
conquests after the prophet's death. They were never compelled, rather it
was a recognition of what they were already expecting. Anselm Tormida, a
priest and Christian scholar was one such person whose history is worth relating.
He wrote a famous book The Gift to the Intelligent for Refuting the Arguments
of the Christians. In the introduction to this work he relates his history:
"Let it be known to all of you that my origin is from the city of Majorca,
which is a great city on the sea, between two mountains and divided by a small
valley. It is a commercial city, with two wonderful harbors. Big merchant
ships come and anchor in the harbor with different goods. The city is on
the island which has the same name - Majorca, and most of its land is populated
with fig and olive trees. My father was a well respected man in the city.
I was his only son. When I was six, he sent me to a priest who taught me to
read the Gospel and logic, which I finished in six years. After that I left
Majorca and traveled to the city of Larda, in the region of Castillion, which
was the centre of learning for Christians in that region. A thousand to a
thousand and a half Christian students gathered there. All were under the
administration of the priest who taught them. I studied the Gospel and its
language for another four years. After that I left for Bologne in the region
of Anbardia. Bologne is a very large city, it being the centre of learning
for all the people of that region. Every year, more than two thousand students
gather together from different places. They cover themselves with rough cloth
which they call the "Hue of God". All of them, whether the son of a workman
or the son of a ruler wear this wrap, in order to make the students distinct
from others. Only the priest teaches controls and directs them. I lived in
the church with an aged priest. He was greatly respected by the people because
of his knowledge and religiousness and asceticism, which distinguished him
from the other Christian priests. Questions and requests for advice came from
everywhere, from Kings and rulers, along with presents and gifts. They hoped
that he would accept their presents and grant them his blessings. This priest
taught me the principles of Christianity and its rulings. I became very close
to him by serving and assisting him with his duties until I became one of
his most trusted assistants, so that he trusted me with the keys of his domicile
in the church and of the food and the drink stores. He kept for himself only
the key of a small room were he used to sleep. I think, and Allah knows best,
that he kept his treasure chest in there. I was a student and servant for
a period of ten years, then he fell ill and failed to attend the meetings
of his fellow priests. During his absence the priests discussed some religious
matters, until they came to what was said by the Almighty Allah through his
prophet Jesus in the Gospel: "After him will come a Prophet called Paraclete".
They argued a great deal about this Prophet and as to who he was among the
Prophets. Everyone gave his opinion according to his knowledge and understanding;
and they ended without achieving any benefit in that issue. I went to my priest,
and as usual he asked about what was discussed in the meeting that day. I
mentioned to him the different opinions of priests about the name Paraclete,
and how they finished the meeting without clarifying its meaning. He asked
me: "What was your answer?" I gave my opinion which was taken from interpretation
of a well known exegesis. He said that I was nearly correct like some priests,
and the other priests were wrong. "But the truth is different from all of
that. This is because the interpretation of that noble name is known only
to a small number of well versed scholars. And we posses only a little knowledge."
I fell down and kissed his feet, saying: "Sir, you know that I traveled and
came to you from a far distant country, I have served you now for more than
ten years; and have attained knowledge beyond estimation, so please favor
me and tell me the truth about this name." The priest then wept and said:
"My son, by God, you are very much dear to me for serving me and devoting
yourself to my care. Know the truth about this name, and there is a great
benefit, but there is also a great danger. And I fear that when you know this
truth, and the Christians discover that, you will be killed immediately."
I said: "By God, by the Gospel and He who was sent with it, I shall never
speak any word about what you will tell me, I shall keep it in my heart."
He said: "My son, when you came here from your country, I asked you if it
is near to the Muslims, and whether they made raids against you and if you
made raids against them. This was to test your hatred for Islam. Know, my
son, that Paraclete is the name of their Prophet Muhammad, to whom was revealed
the fourth book as mentioned by Daniel. His way is the clear way which is
mentioned in the Gospel." I said: "Then sir, what do you say about the religion
of these Christians?" He said: "My son, if these Christians remained on the
original religion of Jesus, then they would have been on God's religion, because
the religion of Jesus and all the other Prophets is the true religion of God.
But they changed it and became unbelievers." I asked him: "Then, sir, what
is the salvation from this?" He said "Oh my son, embracing Islam." I asked
him: "Will the one who embraces Islam be saved?" He answered: "Yes, in this
world and the next." I said: "The prudent chooses for himself; if you know,
sir the merit of Islam, then what keeps you from it?" He answered: "My son,
the Almighty Allah did not expose me to the truth of Islam and the Prophet
of Islam until after I have become old and my body weakened. Yes, there is
no excuse for us in this, on the contrary, the proof of Allah has been established
against us. If God had guided me to this when I was your age I would have
left everything and adopted the religion of truth. Love of this world is the
essence of every sin, and look how I am esteemed, glorified and honored by
the Christians, and how I am living in affluence and comfort! In my case,
if I show a slight inclination towards Islam they would kill me immediately.
Suppose that I was saved from them and succeeded in escaping to the Muslims,
they would say, do not count your Islam as a favor upon us, rather you have
benefited yourself only by entering the religion of truth, the religion that
will save you from the punishment of Allah! So I would live among them as
a poor old man of more than ninety years, without knowing their language,
and would die among them starving. I am, and all praise is due to Allah, on
the religion of Christ and on that which he came with, and Allah knows that
from me." So I asked him: "Do you advise me to go to the country of the Muslims
and adopt their religion?" He said to me: "If you are wise and hope to save
yourself, then race to that which will achieve this life and the hereafter.
But my son, none is present with us concerning this matter, it is between
you and me only. Exert yourself and keep it a secret. If it is disclosed and
the people know about it they will kill you immediately. I will be of no benefit
to you against them. Neither will it be of any use to you if you tell them
what you heard from me concerning Islam, or that I encouraged you to be a
Muslim, for I shall deny it. They trust my testimony against yours. So do
not tell a word, whatever happens." I promised him not to do so. He was satisfied
and content with my promise. I began to prepare for my journey and bid him
farewell. He prayed for me and gave me fifty golden dinars. Then I took a
ship to my city Majorca where I stayed with my parents for six months. Then
I traveled to Sicily and remained there five months, waiting for a ship bound
for the land of the Muslims. Finally a ship arrived bound for Tunis. We departed
before sunset and reached the port of Tunis at noon on the second day. When
I got off the ship, Christian scholars who heard of my arrival came to greet
me and I stayed with them for four months in ease and comfort. After that
I asked them if there was a translator. The Sultan in those days was Abu al-Abbas
Ahmed. They said there was a virtuous man, the Sultan's physician, who was
one of his closest advisors. His name was Yusuf al-Tabib. I was greatly pleased
to here this, and asked where he lived. They took me there to meet him separately.
I told him about my story and the reason of my coming there; which was to
embrace Islam. He was immensely pleased because this matter would be completed
by his help. We rode to the Sultan's Palace. He met the Sultan and told him
about my story and asked his permission for me to meet him. The Sultan accepted,
and I presented myself before him. The first question the Sultan asked was
about my age. I told him that I was thirty-five years old. He then asked about
my learning and the sciences which I had studied. After I told him he said.
"Your arrival is the arrival of goodness. Be a Muslim with Allah's blessings."
I then said to the doctor, "Tell the honorable Sultan that it always happens
that when anyone changes his religion his people defame him and speak evil
of him. So, I wish if he kindly sends to bring the Christian priests and merchants
of this city to ask them about me and hear what they have to say. Then by
Allah's will, I shall accept Islam." He said to me through the translator,
"You have asked what Abdullah bin Salaam asked from the Prophet when he-Abdullah
came to announce his Islam." He then sent for the priests and some Christian
merchants and let me sit in an adjoining room unseen by them. "What do you
say about this new priest who arrived by ship?", he asked. They said: "He
is a great scholar in our religion. Our bishops say he is the most learned
and no one is superior to him in our religious knowledge." After hearing what
the Christian said, the Sultan sent for me, and I presented myself before
them. I declared the two testimonies that there is no one worthy of worship
except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, and when the Christians heard
this they crossed themselves and said: "Nothing incited him to do that except
his desire to marry, as priests in our religion can not marry". Then they
left in distress and grief. The Sultan appointed for me a quarter of a dinar
every day from the treasury and let me marry the daughter of Al-Hajj Muhammed
al-Saffar. When I decided to consummate the marriage, he gave me a hundred
golden dinars and an excellent suit of clothes. I then consummated the marriage
and Allah blessed me with a child to whom I gave the name Muhammed as a blessing
from the name of the Prophet."
There was also a community of Jews who lived in Madinah who had emigrated
there to wait for the expected prophet. Indeed they use to threaten the pagan
Arabs of Madinah with his arrival, saying that the Prophet will destroy them
as Allah destroyed Aad and Thaumud. It was one of the factors that caused
these same Arabs to hasten to join the Prophet when they herd of him. One
learned Jew, Ibnul Hayyaban, had left Syria seven years before the advent
of the Prophet and as he was dying had told his people: "O Jews, what do you
think made me leave the land of bread and wine to come to a land of hardship
and hunger?" When they replied that they could not think why, he said that
h had come to this country expecting to see the emergence of a prophet whose
time was at hand. This was the town where he would migrate and he was hoping
that he would be sent so that he could follow him. A good number of the Jewish
rabbis embraced Islam, including Abdullah ibn Salaam who, when he went to
the Prophet to announce his Islam, said: "Oh Prophet of Allah! My people are
very tricky, so summon them and ask them what they think of me." So the Prophet
did so, asking them: "What do you think of 'Abdullah ibn Salaam?" So they
said: "By Allah he is the best of us, and most noble and learned amongst us!"
So the Prophet asked, "What would you say if he embraced Islam?" They replied,
"We seek refuge with Allah! He would never do that!" So the Prophet asked
again, "What would you say if he did?" Again they said, "We seek refuge with
Allah from that!" Then Abdullah came from behind the covering and said: "I
testify that there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad
is His Messenger!" So his people immediately started to revile him saying:
"He is the worst of us, and the most base born and most ignorant." Abdullah
ibn Salaam once commented on the verse: "And they (the people of the Book)
know this (that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah) like they know their own
sons." "By Allah, Allah speaks the truth, for we only rely on our women concerning
our sons, where as Allah has spoken of you in His Book (meaning the Torah.)."
He also testified that when he heard about the Prophet he already knew his
name, time and place of arrival.
There are numerous incidents where Jews tested and questioned the Prophet,
some accepting him and others not. The wife of the Prophet, Safiyah bint Hauyay,
said about her father and uncle,(who were Jews): "When the Messenger of Allah
arrived at Quba, my father Huyay ibn Akhtab and my uncle Abu Yaser went to
him after morning prayer while it was still dark and they did not return until
sunset. They returned tired and demoralized, and were walking slowly. I went
near them but they did not even turn towards me due to their sadness. Then
I hear my uncle say to my father, 'Is he the one?' He replied: 'Yes, by Allah'.
My uncle said: 'Do you know him and confirm him?' He said: 'Yes'. My uncle
said: 'How do you feel about him?' He said: 'By Allah! Hatred and enmity as
long as I live.'"
Prophecies, Predictions and Past Events
I myself was influenced by my knowledge of the Bible to accept the Prophethood
of Muhammad, and have had two Jewish rabbis admitting to me in Speaker's Corner
that Muhammad was the Prophet spoken of in their books. It has long been recognized
that a sure sign of the truth of a claim to Prophethood is the ability of
that individual to accurately and consistently predict future events. This
is especially true of Christians who often demand "what did Muhammad prophecy?".
This is because the Bible lays down this as a means to distinguish a true
Prophet from a false. Everybody is able to predict the future sometimes,
some are able to get it right a lot of the time, but only someone who is receiving
information from the One who has complete knowledge of the future can get
it right every time. There are many predictions both in the Quran and the
authenticated sayings of the Prophet Muhammed that have been fulfilled.
The Quran says:
"Ye shall enter the Sacred Mosque, if Allah wills, secure, heads shaved, hair curt short, and without fear"
[Noble Quran 48:27]
This passage was revealed after the Prophet had been stopped by the Quraish
from making 'Umrah (the Minor Pilgrimage) and a treaty was made between the
Muslims and pagans at Hudaybia, six years after the Prophet's emigration from
Mecca. From this position of weakness, in merely two years the verse was fulfilled,
Mecca was captured, and the Muslims performed the pilgrimage, shaving their
heads, and some cutting their hair.
The Quran says:
"Allah has promised to those of you who believe, and do good deeds, that He will surely grant them in the land inheritance of power as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their religion which He has chosen for them. And that He will change their state after fear to one of security and peace. They will worship Me alone and not associate aught with Me."
[Noble Quran 24:55]
"Say to those who deny faith, soon you will be vanquished."
[Noble Quran 3:12]