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Back to index   Eternity: What is Islam?
Part Two

 
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Eternity: What is Islam?
Experts from the Masterpiece of Anwar Shaikh
Part Two
Anwar Shaikh


Fundamentals of Islam

Allah Obeys the Prophet

The Prophet declared that he is a servant to God but it is evident that it is God who follows the Prophet's inclinations:

Here are some examples:

"O believers, enter not the houses of
the Prophet, except permission is given you
for a meal, without watching for its time.
But when you are invited, then enter; and
when you have had the meal, leave,
neither lingering for idle talk;
That is annoying to the Prophet, and he
is ashamed before you; but God is not
ashamed before the truth. And when you
ask his wives for any thing, ask them
from behind a curtain; this is cleaner
for your hearts and theirs. It is not
for you to hurt God's Messenger, neither
to marry his wives after him, ever;
surely that would be, in God's sight
a monstrous thing" (The Confederates: 50).

These verses clearly pertain to Muhammad's personal life. He was quite capable of saying all these things to his followers directly, yet he chose to put these words in God's mouth!


True Nature of Islam

Change of Kibla

"We have seen you turning your face about
towards the heaven; now We will surely turn you.
Turn your face towards the Holy Mosque; and
wherever you are, turn faces towards it" (The Cow: 135).

What this verse records is known as the change of Kibla i.e. the direction which Moslems face to say prayers. It is quite clear that when the Prophet started looking towards the sky, God took the hint and with a view to satisfying His Messenger He changed the Kibla i.e. the direction of prayers from Jerusalem (Bait Ul Maqaddas) to Kaaba (The Holy Mosque). Obviously, Allah has no will of His own!

Jerusalem, the original Kibla

Originally, the Prophet had appointed Jerusalem as the Kibla to convince the Jews that Islam was a continuation of what had been revealed to Moses, Abraham and Noah. To win them over, the Koran repeatedly stated that the Children of Israel were an exalted race and God had raised them above the rest of mankind. When praise failed to secure conversion of the Jews, the Prophet decided to deprive them of this honour.

Moslem interpretation of Kibla

However, the Moslems insist that Jerusalem as the Kibla was meant to be a temporary affair; they faced it simply because the Kaaba was full of idols and the Moslems being the followers of Allah, could not adopt it as the Kibla until such time that all the idols had been removed from there. History does not support this claim: this change of Kibla took place in 624 A.D. when the Kaaba was still the holy shrine of the Quresh where they worshipped their idols, and it was not until 630 when the Prophet entered Mecca as a victor and removed statues from the Kaaba.

Another reason for the change of Kibla

In fact the change of Kibla from Jerusalem to Mecca was adopted by Muhammad to increase his influence amongst the Arabs. The Kaaba had been the holiest shrine of the Arabs for centuries. In 622, Muhammad migrated to Medina, the home of the Jewish tribes such as the Banu-Nadhir, the Banu-Kuraiza, the Banu-Kainuka. This occasion of flight (July 16, 622, the Hijra) was designated by the Caliph Omar as the official beginning of the Moslem era. The Prophet planned to visit the Kaaba as a pilgrimage. His Meccan followers who had left Mecca ten years earlier to be with the Prophet, and felt homesick, were delighted by this suggestion. This pilgrimage to the Holy Place also wrought a considerable change on the minds of the Meccans who were jolly pleased to realize that their shrine was to be designated as the most sacred center of Islam. Jerusalem as the Kibla, did not gratify the Jews, the stiffnecks, who would rather break than surrender, but it had a great effect on the Arabs who despite being tough, proved to be tender. Owing to its stupendous influence on the progress and history of Islam, it was surely the master stroke that proves the wisdom and farsightedness of Muhammad as a man.

Allah, the Factotum of Muhammad

In fact, Allah does everything not only to please Muhammad but He also acts as his factotum:

"O believer, advance not before God
and His Messenger; and fear God. God is
All-hearing, All-knowing".
"O believers, raise not your voice above
the Prophet's voice, and be not loud
in your speech to him, as you are loud
one to another, in case your works fail
while you are not aware.
Surely those who lower their voices in
the presence of God's Messenger, those
are they whose hearts God has tested for
godfearing; they shall have forgiveness
and a stupendous wage" (Apartments: 1).

The Prophet was Human

Of course, it is only fair that the led should respect their leaders by controlling their manners and tone of voice. But is it for God to tell such ordinary and commonsense things to intelligent people? It is a myth that the pre-Islam Arabs were barbarians: their literature and traditions of honour openly defy this view. No, it is Muhammad who speaks as God in the disguise of revelation.

Slavery

Muhammad was human and was influenced by the culture, and social traditions of his time exactly the same way as all greater and lesser mortals have been throughout history. Take slavery, for instance. He took it for a natural institution. Despite all the torture, disgrace and humiliation associated with it, he did nothing to abolish it. Of course, it is true that he was kind to slaves, and thought of freeing slaves as a virtue, but Christianity had expressed a similar attitude towards slavery long before him. The Code of Justinian (528) had abolished the old class distinction and the freed men were given all the privileges of free men. It went even so far as to put the chastity of a slave woman on par with that of a free woman by treating the rape of the former punishable by death whereas Islam authorized the master to have sexual intercourse with his slave girls.

Slavery and God

If revelation carries a grain of truth, then the foremost duty of any divine Messenger is to condemn and abolish slavery. Why? Because liberty is the greatest Virtue for being the stepping stone to humanity from the lower form of existence. If you don't believe me, think of yourself as a slave and imagine yourself being chained, starved and whipped; visualize your wives and daughters being raped and your children being sold away to strangers. Is there anything more atrocious and horrible than this state of affairs, called ``slavery"? The value of liberty emerges when we realize that this is the only cure for the venom of servitude. I am not prepared to adore the God who is all out to humiliate mankind Relationship between God and man is moral and not that of a master and slave How would God feel if He were subjected to similar pain and humiliation as man is? A true God cannot be callous, unjust and uncaring. Therefore, the major purpose of His prophets will be to eliminate slavery outrightly.

Islam and Womanhood

Another example is the plight of women. They have always been held as an object of sexual pleasure, a toy for man, the source of mischief, impurity and hypocrisy. Treating them with inferiority has become the mark of male superiority. Of course, the Prophet did say that paradise lay at the feet of one's mother but it proved to be only of theoretical reverence because in addition to being mother, a woman is also a person, a daughter, a sister and a wife. Apart from motherhood, women suffered more under Islam than any other major faith or doctrine. The Prophet imported the Persian custom of veiling or purdah into the Moslem society (Light: 30), and by confining their role to the household behind curtains under the watchful eyes of the male members, turned them into virtual house-prisoners. To gauge the condition of women one has only to look at the Koranic laws:

1. "Your women are a tillage for you; so come unto your tillage as you wish" (The Cow: 220).

2. Men are superior to women (The Cow: 225).

3. Man can divorce woman at will but she can't (The Cow: 225, The Confederates: 45, Divorce: 1).

4. A man can have four wives and an unlimited number of concubines but a woman must have only one husband.

5. One man is equal to two women as a witness (The Cow: 280).

6. Likewise, a brother is entitled to twice the inheritance of his sister (Woman:l0).

7. Man is free to administer a dose of violence to his wives when he thinks they are not obedient: ". . . chastise; banish them to their couches and beat them. If they then obey you, look not for any way against them" (Women: 35).

Islam, and Sex outside Marriage

There is evidence in the Koran winch forbids sex outside marriage:

"Marry the spouseless among you, and your
slaves and handmaidens that are righteous;
. . . and let those who find not the means to
marry be abstinent till God enriches them
of His bounty. Those your right hand owns
but seek emancipation contract with
them accordingly . . . And force not
your slave girls to prostitution, if they
desire to live in chastity" (Light: 30).

However, this law has been contradicted by other verses:

" . . Marry such women
as seem to you, two, three, four;
but if you fear you will not be equitable,
then only one, or what your right hand owns" (Women: 1).
"O Prophet, we have made lawful for you
your wives whom you have given their wages
and what your right hand owns . . ." (The Confederates: 45).

"What right hand owns" has been understood as a slave. In the context of sex, it has been invariably interpreted and practiced as a slave woman. Extending sexual relationship to women who are not one's wives, flaunts the sanctity of marriage. Yet Allah prescribes the sentence of death for adultery but not for those who can afford to own slave girls. The Moslem Caliphs, Sultans and Kings set up vast harems containing not scores but hundreds of pretty and delicate women. The Emperor Jehangir of India is reported to have had six thousand women in his seraglio. The royal bedchambers were administered by specially castrated men known as "eunuchs" who mastered the arts of lechery, grooming and stimulating and accelerating the appetites and pleasures of their masters, immune to the grip of Allah for having the riches and power to keep concubines. No matter what they did to these helpless girls, could not count as a sin. These harems were obviously a reflection of the Paradise on earth.

Concubinage

However, it was not the Prophet who invented the institution of concubinage. Abraham had a concubine, and so did Jacob. May be it had originated in Persia where the stern monarchs needed soft and saccharine sexual dolls to reduce the rigours of the ruling rituals which they usually performed well.

Duality of Muhammad and Allah

Nobody can blame the Prophet for the institution of concubinage, which he accepted as a going tradition. It demonstrates that he was a mortal and thus subject to the cultural influences of his time. Though it clearly shows that he was human, the matter is not quite as straightforward as it looks because the Koran depicts him both as a man and God. The Moslems claim that they believe in one God; in fact, they believe in the Duality of Muhammad and Allah as the Christians believe in the Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. However, this duality is totally different from what Zoroastrianism, Manicheism and Neoplatonism preached. It holds that Muhammad as Messenger, and God are one, and Muhammad being the dominant component of duality, is the ultimate object of worship. This belief is less an article of theory and more of practice.

The Prophet as a Man

I am sure that Moslems all over the world will accuse me of misrepresenting slam Honesty demands that before getting excited, they must deliberate on the following quotations sincerely. Let me quote the Prophet's human side first:

1. The Prophet is God's Servant:
"And if you are in doubt regarding that we have
sent down on Our servant . . ." (The Cow: 20).

2. The Prophet neither knows the Unseen nor is he an angel:
"I do not say to you, 'I possess the treasures of God'
I know not the Unseen. I say not to you, 'I am an angel',
I only follow what is revealed to me" (Cattle: 50).

3. The Prophet's function is only to warn people; he is not even given the responsibility to guide them:
"You are only a warner; and God is a Guardian
over everything" (Hood: 15).
"You are not responsible for guiding them;
but God guides whomsoever He will" (The Cow: 270).

4. The Prophet has no power to perform miracles; he is just a man:
"The unbelievers say, 'Why has a sign not been
sent down upon him from his Lord? You are only
a warner . . ." (Thunder: 5).
Despite people's fervent demand, the Prophet failed to show a miracle and declared:
". . . say 'Glory be to my Lord! Am I aught but a mortal,
a messenger?"' (The Night Journey: 95).

5. The Prophet obeys God's commandments and nobody has a share in the Divinity:
"Say, I have only been commanded
to serve God, and not to associate
aught with Him. To Him I call, and
to Him I turn" (Thunder: 35).
"Therefore call you, and go straight as you have been commanded . . ." (Counsel: 10).

6. God's commandments to obey, and pray to Him are equally binding on the Prophet as on any other believer:
"Proclaim your Lord's praise,
and be of those that bow,
and serve your Lord, until
the certain comes to you" (El-Hijr: 95).

7. The Prophet is equally subject to Allah's reward and punishment:
a. "If He will, He will have mercy on you
or, if He will, He will chastise you" (The Night Journey: 55).
b. "Set not up with God
another God, or you
wilt be cast into
Gehenna (Hell), reproached
and condemned" (The Night Journey: 40)

8. The Prophet is a mortal and subject to Resurrection:
"You art mortal; and they are mortal;
then on the Day of Resurrection before your Lord
you shall dispute" (The Companies: 475).

9. The Prophet is neither aware of the Unseen nor does he know what will become of him:
". . . and I know not what
shall be done with me or with you.
I only follow what is revealed to me;
I am only a clear warner" (The Sand-Dunes: 5).

10. God confirms Muhammad's humanity loud and clear:
"Know you therefore that
there is no god but God,
and ask forgiveness for your sins, and
for the believers, men and women" (Muhammad: 20).
Purpose of Revelation

After this description of Muhammad's humanity, it seems impossible that a man can claim to be God, and even surpass Him in the exercise of Divinity. This is the magic, and purpose of revelation which enables an ordinary mortal to declare himself as God's Messenger or Messiah and issue all the commands in His name. Since nobody can see God or approach Him without the agency of the Messenger (or Messiah), it is the Messenger himself who begins to rank as God and is treated as such by his followers. Look at the following quotations from the Koran and see the truth for yourself:

Basic Islamic Belief

1. The basic Islamic belief is Shahadah:

"There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger".
It is surely the quality of the message, and not the messenger that counts. Therefore' it makes no difference whether one believes in the messenger or not if the message itself is sound, sincere and salubrious. But this does not apply to Muhammed as a Messenger:
"Upon the day the unbelievers,
those who disobeyed the Messenger,
will wish that the earth might be leveled with them" (Women: 45).

Muhammad and Godhead

Obedience to Muhammad is a must if you do not want to suffer the perils of the Day of Judgement. Just belief in God alone will not save you. Muhammad obviously has a share in Divinity. Otherwise disbelief in Muhammad could not be fatal.

2. Obedience to Muhammad is as compulsory as it is to God.

a. "Say, Obey God, and the Messenger" (The House of Imran: 25).

b. "Obey God and the Messenger; haply so
you will find mercy" (The House of Imran: 125).

". . . Who's obeys God
and His Messenger, He will admit him
to gardens . . ." (Women: 15).

"O believers, betray not God and the
Messenger . . ." (The Spoils: 25).

Muhammad and God are coextensive

3. Having asserted that Allah is nearer to man than his jugular vein, the Koran declares:

"The Prophet is nearer to the believers than their
selves . . ." (The Confederates: 5).

Now, God and Muhammed have become coextensive!

Muhammad as Mercy for Mankind

4. As the Bible called Jesus the Grace for Mankind to give him divine status
the Koran pronounced Muhammed as the Mercy or Blessing for all beings:

"We have not sent you, except as a mercy
unto all beings" (The Prophets: 100).

Muhammad and God as Co-sovereigns

5. Now Allah and Muhammad become co-sovereigns and command together:

"It is not for any believer, man or
woman, when God and His Messenger
have decreed a matter, to have the choice
in the affair. Whosoever disobeys
God and His Messenger has gone astray
into clear error" (The Confederates: 35).

Muhammad as Model

6. God tells believers that Muhammad is the model of action for them and they must follow him in all details:

"You have a good example in God's Messenger
for whosoever hopes for God and the Last Day . . ." (The Confederates: 20).

Muhammad and the Unseen

7. Now we find God sharing the knowledge of the Unseen with Muhammad though previously it was exclusive to Himself:

"Knower He of the Unseen, and
He discloses not His Unseen to anyone,
except only to such a messenger as
He is well-pleased with" (The Jinn: 25).

Muhammad and Divine Authority

8. After elevating himself as the model of conduct and having gained parity with God in the right to command, and to be obeyed, now he exercises the divine authority in conjunction with Allah:

"A release, from God and His Messenger,
unto the idolaters with whom you made covenant.
A declaration from God and His Messenger,
Unto mankind on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage:
God is quit, and His Messenger, of the idolaters" (Repentance: 1).

Muhammad and Intercession

9. To begin with, the Prophet had no intercessory powers whatever:

"Ask pardon for them, or ask not pardon for them;
if you ask pardon for them seventy times, God will not pardon them" (Repentance: 80).
"Do you know what is the Day of Judgement?
That is the day when no one shall be able to
benefit anyone else; the command shall belong unto God" (The Splitting: 15).

Now the situation changes; the Prophet's claim to divinity rises as his political power grows:
"truly this is the word of a noble Messenger
having power, with the Lord of the Throne secure,
obeyed, moreover trusty" (The Darkening: 15-20).

The basic Moslem belief in the intercessory powers of the Prophet is founded on these verses. They believe that, on the Day of Judgement, Muhammad will share the Throne of Justice with God. He will sit on the right hand side of Allah and the Prophet's recommendations will be binding on Him!

God and Angels worship Muhammad

10. The gradually changing situation is now reversed:

"God and His angels pray peace to the Prophet.
O believers, do you also bless him, and
pray him peace" (The Confederates: 55).

Moslems worship Muhammad

Praying peace (salaam) and reciting darood (repetitive recitation of Muhammad's name) are forms of salutation and devotion reserved for Muhammad. They are an integral part of the Islamic form of worship known as Namaz or Salaat. Thus not only Allah and angels but also Muslims directly or indirectly worship the Prophet. The Moslems of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh hold special sessions to praise Muhammad and recite hymnal songs to adore him. If this is not Prophet-worship, then what is it? This is the Duality that I have referred to. How can Moslems call themselves monotheists?

In fact, Muhammad encouraged Prophet-worship during his life-time. He declared that Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Jesus, all had the powers to work miracles but when his contemporaries asked him to show them a miracle so that they could believe him without hesitation, he could not do so. The Koran testifies to this fact repeatedly. Yet he claimed to be the last and the most superior prophet and encouraged his followers to believe in his supernatural powers. History has recorded that whenever he had a haircut, his disciples swarmed over one another, to gather his cut hair and nails as divine souvenirs; they even collected his spittle and the water in which he had washed his hands. It is because they believed in their miraculous virtues of healing and salvation! Again, to imprint his divinity on the subconscious mind of every new-born baby, he prescribed recitation of his name as God's prophet in its ears almost immediately at birth. The process of learning known as imprinting is said to have been discovered in 1935 by Lorenz but the Prophet knew it fourteen centuries ago! Imprinting, in a way, is a form of brainwashing. If at birth duckling and goslings are led to believe that man is their father, they follow him as his offsprings! Since faith is like a castle that one builds around one's self for severing connection with the inclemencies of the real world, the stronger its foundation, the securer one feels. The fortress of faith draws its strength from the tales of miracles that a Messiah or Messenger is reputed to have performed; the more incredible miracles a prophet is said to have shown, the greater his divinity and the higher the chances of salvation for believers!

The Hadith, the Jews and the political opportunists

Originally, Islam was a simple, practical faith, free from theoretical complexities. Its purity was adulterated by the Jewish hypocrites who fabricated countless sayings and ascribed them to the Prophet. They did it to avenge the humiliation of defeat. Their "contributions" helped to build up the body of the Hadith or traditions associated with the Prophet. This began to count as the Oral Law of Islam, and has the same relationship with the Koran as the Mishna and Gemara have with the Old Testament. The political opportunists of the Umayyad and Abbasid parties concocted further additions to attain their secular goals. History has recorded that Ibn Abi Al-Awja, who confessed to fabricating 4,000 traditions was executed at Kufa in 772 for this blasphemy. Of course, it is hard to challenge the piety of Al-Bukhari who first compiled the Muhammadan traditions in 870 but he did so 238 years after the death of the Prophet. Hadith means the spoken words of the Prophet. Despite the greatest care in the world, the spoken words are likely to lose their originality, purpose and meanings over such a long time.

Revelation is the most effective tool of dominance-urge because it raises an ordinary mortal to the status of God and secures for him the rights of total Obedience and worship. Since God cannot be seen or contacted, the revelationist becomes the Divine Manifestation and God Himself recedes into oblivion. It is not surprising that the Moslems believe that Muhammad like Allah has ninety nine sacred names and ninety nine numinous attributes; Allah and angels pray peace to Muhammad whose intercessionary powers control Allah's sense of justice. This is the reason that Islam has come to be founded on the love of Muhammad, and not surrender to Allah who ranks as a euphemism for the Prophet. Was Muhammad God? The Moslems who know something about the Koran do not think so. In fact, to them, it is Shirk, the greatest sin. But they are a small minority. The misunderstanding lies at the folk-level which constitutes 95°10 of the Moslems.

Muhammad was human, and there is a lot of evidence for it:

1. First of all, the Koran portrays him as human. He was born like any other human; he lived and died like other humans:

a. He ate and drank, he walked, talked and slept; he fell ill and needed medication, and answered the call of nature like other humans.

b. He possessed sexual urge which is the characteristic of all humans. The fact that he had over twelve wives, shows his natural passion for women.

2. Again, his wives did not think of him as God. In fact, some of them treated him harshly, the Koran itself mentions the "vile speech" of his wives towards him, and history has particularly noted the impolite attitude of Hafsa, the daughter of Omar the Great.

3. Using marriage as a weapon of political power, is an old way of the secular princes. The Prophet was no exception to it. Abu Bakr and Omar were his fathersin-law and Uthman and Ali were his sons-in-law. It is these four men who firmly established Islam which had lost ground after the death of the Prophet. Among his wives, we even find a daughter of Abu Sufyan, the arch enemy of Islam.

4. The Prophet made taxation, which is a form of plunder, as the tool of dominance. Its ultimate purpose was to reduce all non-Moslems to the status of tributaries. To achieve this end he propounded the doctrine of Jehad or Holy War and declared Booty i.e. the loot, as God's Blessing for motivating his followers to kill. Robbing the peaceful commercial caravans of the Quresh of Mecca, which led to battles establishing Muhammad's political hegemony, is the natural sequence of this doctrine. Is it really Godly to kill for the joy of robbing and turning people into widows, orphans and cripples? Is it divine to call loot and murder "holy"? What kind of God can sanction carnage just because people don't believe in Him? If belief in God was so vital, He would have created mankind differently. Does God really need wars to establish His suzerainty? It cannot be the act of God who is Almighty in His own right. (For further details see the chapter: Taxation).

5. The prophet was not only born as human but he also lived and died as human During his life-time, he was subject to the human mechanism of fear and favour:

a. His uncle Abu Talib had acted as his protector until he died in 619. Sense of insecurity persuaded him in 620 to leave Mecca for Taif, a small town some sixty miles to the east. As people of Taif turned hostile, he returned to Mecca out of fear. For about a year, he was afraid for his life when in 622 some seventy three citizens of Medina came to see Muhammad and invited him to make Medina his home. He felt relieved, and asked them if they would protect him against his enemies with the same zeal as they would defend their own families. They vowed to do so and asked what reward they would receive if they got killed in shielding the Prophet. "Paradise", he answered.

Fear of death, obviously, haunted him as painfully as it enervates other human beings. It is strange that even the reward of paradise, which he offered to his followers, did not tempt him to part with life happily. Nor did Allah care to protect him against the infidels of Mecca. As hostility increased, he fled to Medina in September, 622.

b. His death also points to his humanity. A few years prior to his death, he thought that the people of Khaiber had served him poisonous meat. He started having unusual fevers and spells. Aisha, his youngest wife is reported to have said that the Prophet would get out of home quietly at midnight to visit a graveyard; there he would "ask forgiveness of the dead, pray aloud for them, and congratulate them on being dead". His long agony came to an end on June 7, 632 when he passed away at the age of sixty-three.

Since the Prophet could not tell that the meat he was being served contained poison, he obviously, had no knowledge of the Unseen, contrary to the popular Moslem belief. He suffered the normal course of misery as a victim of poison and Allah did nothing to alleviate his pain. This negates the tall tales of the special love bond, which is supposed to exist between Allah and Muhammad. Nobody can ever willingly see his truly loved ones in a prolonged agony. How could Allah?

The truth is that Muhammad was a human. But what kind of man was he? This is the real issue. So far, I have discussed him in relation to revelation, now I may assess him as a man, and the reader ought to be prepared to accept some contradictions which stem from the difference between divinity and humanity:

Assessment of Muhammad

Unfortunately, in the West, as a result of the prolonged crusades and ecclesiastical propaganda, Muhammad's name has been corrupted to Mahound, meaning devil, and the Koran has been described as the word of Satan.

Muhammad's Virtues

This is a shameful and odious attitude towards the Prophet. He was sincere, upright and honest. In terms of humanity, he was an aggregate of virtues to be found rarely in one person: he was at once a thinker and trader, a general and jurist, a preacher and philanthropist, a sage and soldier, an administrator and advisor, a loving friend and father. Having been born posthumously, he had boundless compassion for orphans and widows and his laws demonstrate this fact beyond a shadow of doubt. His socialist tendencies of common care were fairly balanced with people's unlimited right to legitimate ownership. Though merciful, his judgement reflected natural justice and made no discrimination between friends and foes. The radiant smile that he possessed, never failed to win him friends. Despite being practically the ruler of Arabia, he lived at subsistence level; his food was simple, his dress was modest and though all his wives had separate huts, he didn't even have a hut of his own.

He was a truly great friend in peace and a forgiving foe in war. During all those battles, he fought with courage, tenacity and determination; even his enemies cannot trace any atrocities towards him. The Prophet set a model of forgiveness which was observed by his followers: the Meccans, who had persecuted him, were forgiven almost to the last man when he returned as a victor, and Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, bade his soldiers not to molest women, children, the old and the sick belonging to the enemy.

Universality of Message

His humanitarian spirit lay in the fact that his message was directed at the whole of mankind and not just the Arabs. Whereas Yahwe is the God of Israel, Allah is the God of the world and has no preference for the Arabs. Not only all those who believed in the Prophet formed Umma or one nation, each having equal rights and obligations, but he also advocated a subtle commonwealth with "the people of the book", that is, Jews and Christians. A proof of this fact is to be found in the society that Muhammad created in Medina.

He offered to the Jews, who still practiced their own faith and traded with the Quresh of Mecca, a concordat which guaranteed them equal rights with his followers if they were willing to attach themselves with the Islamic commonwealth. There was no threat of conversion or second rate citizenship lurking behind this offer.

Prophet's Real Strength

Though the Moslems keep harping on the divine powers of the Prophet, his real strength lay in his practical abilities: his velour and tenacity won him all the important battles; his resolve was immortal, his courage defied all perils, his will to honour agreements was well-respected and his word was considered his bond even by his enemies. The Prophet's true and most significant achievement however, lay in transferring his values of honour and integrity not only to his descendants but also his followers. Take his grandson Hussein, for instance.

Hussein Ibn All

He stood up for what he thought to be his legitimate rights. Having lost almost his entire family to the enemy at Karbala, he still did not beg for mercy or sought to escape He acted in the true tradition of his grandfather; he raised his javelin, galloped his white stallion (Duldul) and charged into the enemy line reciting the Koran with the dignity and honour of a true Mujahid (Crusader). Fancy one man standing up to a host of several thousand. Yet his courage and determination did not fail him. Neither he cursed his foes nor he shrieked with pain. He kept praising Allah as he received stab-wounds from back and front and left and right. This man, Hussein Ibn All, showed no sign of helplessness until the last drop of blood gushed out of his perforated body. No wonder, the Iranian used to admiring velour, became Shi'ite to acknowledge the virtue of Hussein. In fact, one does not have to be a Shi'ite to adore Hussein; there are plenty who admire him as a great human specimen.

These virtues of action that the Prophet inspired, were not restricted to the members of his own family; they touched the hearts of his followers with an equal zeal; veracity of Abu Bakr, greatness of Omar, generosity of Uthman and piety of All, need no introduction. Greatness of character was the real legacy of the Prophet which enabled his followers to defeat the Byzantine and Persian empires within twenty years of his death and dominate the earth for about 1,000 years. Thus, the Prophet laid the foundation of a new culture, which in many ways, was more advanced than the existing civilization, for being founded on piety, honour and fairness. Yet it was the personal triumph of Muhammad, and Allah had no part in it.

The Prophet was a reformer. I have no doubt that he used the device of revelation to achieve a righteous goal, but this device is more suitable for promoting a human as God rather than serving as the fountain of righteousness. This is the reason that Moslems all over the world adore the Prophet but pay lip-reverence to his teachings despite the fact that he laid a great emphasis on the piety of deeds and presented his followers with a code of practice.

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