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The Simple Message of GOD

This blog has been created with the sincere intention of conveying the simple message of 'Submission to GOD'.The Message that has been revealed to all the prophets starting from Prophet Adam(PBUH) and then continuing with many other including Moses(PBUH) and Jesus(PBUH) and finally ending with Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) .That message is..."There is no god but GOD", meaning that there is only ONE GOD with no partners.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Catholic's Request: Dispelling the lies about Islam

Dear Islamic Friend,

I am Roman Catholic and have a wonderful devout Islamic physician from Pakistan who has talked from time to time about Islam. I have a copy of the Qu'ran and intend to read it.

I know that our beliefs differ greatly, but I need some information as I am trying to refute an angry Christian who wants to be an Anglican priest and has made what I believe is false statements about Islam and spreading lies.

First, I believe that the God recognized by all Christian people is also known to the Muslims by the name Allah. Do Muslims and Christians believe in the same God? The angry Christian I am trying to inform says that "the god of the Muslims is angry and vengeful and not the same God Christians worship."

Second, I am told that Islam is a false religion by this person. As a Roman Catholic, I will not call any Faith false as I am taught to leave judgement to God.

And third, the angry Christian claims that "Either God revealed himself to man through the Bible and Jesus Christ, whereas the "god" of the Muslims (Allah) is the name Mohammed the Prophet created. I thought that Islam has its' roots in Judiaism, in that Ishmael went north and was credited with founding Islam. But I also hear that Mohammed founded Islam and do not know which is correct.

Please answer my questions and give me helpful information so that in the future I will have information to tell people who say false things about Islam. This happens quite often in a group I deal with. I do not like to hear someone tell me that if it is found out that my Islamic doctor is helping a Catholic that he will be killed by other Islamics. I am very angry that he was called a "wolf in sheep's clothing".

Again, I am a Roman Catholic Christian and I need some information to dispel the lies and ignorance of people who believe that all Islamic people are terrorists and killers. I know that there are extremists and radicals who give Islam a bad name, but my doctor and other Islamic doctors who have treated me are kind, caring and compassionate. I see Islam as a religion of peace.

The information you supply will be going out over the internet for many Christians to read. I want them to know the truth about Islam.

Sincerely,

Judy Hangsleben


P.S: You are welcome to post anything I have said in your blog and to mention that I am Roman Catholic and that I have told my Christian friends various Christian Churches that their intolerance, anger, and hatred are not the teachings of Jesus. Jesus accepted those who were not Jewish.



In the name of God, Most
Gracious, Most Merciful



Dear Ms. Judy Hangsleben:

First of all, thank you very much for trying to clear the misconceptions about Islam by seeking the right information. In order to foster peace and harmony between the people of all faiths, it is essential to increase our understanding of each other. As stated in the Holy Qur'an :
"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of GOD is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And
GOD has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).
" (Al-Qur'an 49:13)

First, I would like to give a breif overview of the few key concepts/keywords in Islam and then I would go over some of the major misconceptions that people have about issues related to islam and muslims.

Jump To: Islam, Allah, How do muslims define Allah(God), God of Wrath or God of Mercy?, The Source of Islam, Who is Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Status of Jesus(pbuh) and Mary(pbuh) in Islam, Other Biblical Figures Revered by Muslims, Jihad or Holy War in Islam, Does Islam Promote Violence ?, What else should I know about Islam ?, Conclusion


Islam :

The word 'Islam' literally means 'Submission to God'. In its simplest form Islam is neither a new religion nor is it exclusively for the Muslims. The essence of Islam is pure, pure, pure monotheism - that is "There is no god but GOD", meaning there is only ONE GOD with no partners. According to Islam, that same message has been conveyed to humanity throughout the history of mankind via God's messengers - all the prophets starting from Prophet Adam(PBUH) and then continuing with many other including Noah(PBUH), Abraham(PBUH), Moses(PBUH), Jesus(PBUH) and finally ending with Prophet Muhammad(PBUH).

Allah :

"Allah is simply the Arabic word for God. Allah for Muslims is the greatest and most inclusive of the Names of God, it is an Arabic word of rich meaning, denoting the one and only God and ascribing no partners to Him. It is exactly the same word which the Jews, in Hebrew, use for God (eloh), the word which Jesus Christ used in Aramaic when he prayed to Allah. Allah has an identical name in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; Allah is the same God worshiped by Muslims, Christians and Jews"[1]. It is not any other special deity or anything like that. Even Arab Christians use 'Allah' for 'GOD'.

How do muslims define Allah(God) :

God for Muslims is the ONE and ONLY GOD who created everything on the heaven and the earth, everything known and unknown to us. Who can be better than GOD to explain who He is ? Allah(GOD) says in the Holy Qur'an:

"And your God is one God; there is no God except Him, The Beneficent, The Merciful." (Al-Qur'an 2:163)

"There is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees all things." (Al-Qur'an 42:11)

"Allah! There is no god but He,-the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory)." (Al-Qur'an 2:255)

God of Wrath or God of Mercy ?

God’s Mercy surpasses His Wrath. As Murata and Chitick suggests in their book titled ‘The Vision of Islam’: One of the ways in which the Koran refers to the fact that the names of beauty and mercy represents God’s true nature more accurately than the names of majesty and wrath is in the statement that God’s mercy embraces all things. ‘I strike with My chastisement whom I will, but My mercy embraces all things.(7:156)’. The Koran never suggests that God is wrathful toward all things. He is wrathful only toward those creatures who refuse to accept His nearness to them[4]. Yet both are necessary, as they further state,
Without fear, people become bold and do whatever they want, not worrying about the consequences. Without hope they shrivel and die[4]. Finally, their analysis of the attributes of God point out that the ‘fear of God’ is essentially a component of the 'mercy of God', because the only logical way to act when you fear God is to go toward him, since there is nowhere to run. Likewise, hope and love for God encourage people to go toward him. Every relationship with God encourages seeking out nearness with him[4].

The Source of Islam :
"Allah has taught us about Islam via two mediums: the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Both the Qur'an and Sunnah were transmitted to us, humanity, via the Messenger of Allah: Prophet Muhammad bin Abdullah, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him (saas). The Messenger of Allah was nothing more and nothing less than a mortal messenger of the immortal Creator.

The Qur'an is a book containing the literal Word of Allah. It was transmitted from Allah to
angel Gabriel, and from the angel to the Messenger of Allah who delivered it to us. The Qur'an covers a wide variety of topics, including evidence to support its claim of being the Word of the Creator, stories of earlier generations, rules which humanity is asked to obey, and information about the Hereafter. The Qur'an has been preserved since it was revealed, and this is confirmed by its 1400 year history. The earliest copies and the latest copies are the same.

The Sunnah is the term used to describe how the Messenger of Allah (saas) lived his life. The Messenger's life is an example for all Muslims, or those who accept Islam, to follow. Whatever the Messenger (saas) did, said, or approved of is a source of Islam just as much as the Qur'an. The Messenger's role is not overemphasized: his life was dictated by what the Creator desired, and the Messenger did not add or subtract to Islam according to his own personal whim. His life was such that his wife called him 'a walking Qur'an'
"[2].

The notable difference between the Bible and the Qur'an is that The Qur'an doesn't even have Muhammad's(pbuh) words or his own account of events. Everything in it is directly from GOD uncontaminated by any human alteration. The Bible is more comparable to the Sunnah, which illustrates Muhammad's(pbuh) life and his sayings as reported by his companions. Also, the Holy Qur'an still exists in its original form in the original language. For more information on the way the Qur'an was preserved, please visit: http://www.iol.ie/~afifi/BICNews/Sabeel/sabeel3.htm

Who is Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) :

Muhammad (pbuh) is the man who came 1400 years ago and preached the message of Monotheism in Arabia. Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) lineage is as follows:

Abraham --> Ishmael --> Kedar --> ... --> Muhammad.

"While Muhammad (pbuh) was chosen to deliver the message, he is not considered the "founder" of Islam, since Muslims consider Islam to be the same divine guidance sent to all peoples before. Muslims believe all the prophets from Adam, Noah, Moses, Jesus etc. were all sent with divine guidance for their peoples”[1]. Every prophet was sent to his own people, but Muhammad(pbuh) was chosen to be the last and final messenger and he was sent to all of mankind. Muslims would give him the highest status and respect that any man might deserve. But muslims do not worship Muhammad (pbuh). And thus the term ‘Mohammedanism’ is a misnomer.

God mentions in the Holy Qur’an about Prophet Muhammad(pbuh):
Muhammad is no more than a messenger: many Were the messengers that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will you then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; but Allah (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) with gratitude.” (Al-Qur’an 3:144)

"We have not sent thee (O Muhammad) except as a universal (Messenger) to men giving them glad tidings and warning them (against sin) but most men understand not." (Al-Qur'an 34:28)

"Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Last of the Prophets, And Allah is Ever All-Aware of Everything." (Al-Qur'an 33:40)

Muslim and non-muslim historians alike realized Muhammad’s(pbuh) greatness, which is apparent from the writings of one non-muslim historian:
If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great man in modern history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislation, empires, peoples and dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then-inhabited world; and more than that he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and souls.... His forbearance in victory, his ambition which was entirely devoted to one idea and in no manner striving for an empire, his endless prayers, his mystic conversations with God, his death and his triumph after death-all these attest not to an imposture but to a firm conviction which gave him the power to restore a dogma. This dogma was twofold: the unity of God and the immateriality of God; the former telling what God is, the latter telling what God is not.

- Lamartine Histoire de la Turquie, Pans 1854, Vol. 11, pp. 276-77.

For more information and a great article written about Muhammad(pbuh) by a non-muslim author, please visit:
http://thesimplemessage.blogspot.com/2006/02/about-prophet-muhammadpbuh-by-non.html

Status of Jesus(pbuh) and Mary(pbuh) in Islam :

Muslims respect and revere Jesus, upon him be peace, and await his Second Coming. They consider him one of the greatest of God's messengers to mankind. A Muslim never refers to him simply as 'Jesus', but always adds the phrase 'upon him be peace' (abbreviated as (u) here). The Quran confirms his virgin birth (a chapter of the Quran is entitled 'Mary'), and Mary is considered the purest woman in all creation. The Quran describes the Annunciation as follows:
"Behold!" the Angel said, "God has chosen you, and purified you, and chosen you above the women of all nations. O Mary, God gives you good news of a word from Him whose name shall be the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near to God. He shall speak to the people from his cradle and in maturity, and shall be of the righteous." She said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?" He said: "Even so; God creates what He will. When He decrees a thing, He says to it, "Be!" and it is" (Quran 3:42-47)

Jesus (u) was born miraculously through the same power, which had brought Adam (u) into being without a father: "Truly, the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, and then said to him, 'Be!' and he was." (3:59) During his prophetic
mission Jesus (u) performed many miracles. The Quran tells us that he said: " I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breath into it and it becomes a bird by God's leave. And I heal the blind, and the lepers, and I raise the dead by God's leave." (3:49)
”[1].

However, Islam does not support the view that Jesus is a Son of God, and considers it to be in contradiction with the monotheistic creed. The Holy Qur’an states regarding this matter: “They say: "(Allah) the Most Merciful has begotten a son!" Indeed you have put forth a thing most monstrous! At it the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin, that they should invoke a son for (Allah) the Most Merciful. For it is not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) the Most Merciful that He should beget a son: Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to (Allah) the Most Merciful as a servant.” (Al-Qur’an 19:88-93)

For more information and a great article on Jesus in Islam vs. Christianity, please visit:
http://thesimplemessage.blogspot.com/2005/04/jesus-pbuh-in-islam-and-christianity.html


Other Biblical Figures Revered by Muslims:
The Holy Qur’an says:
Say ye: We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam).” (Al-Qur’an 002:136)

The Messenger believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believeth in Allah, His angels, His books, and His messengers. "We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His messengers." And they say: "We hear, and we obey: (We seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys.” (Al-Qur’an 002:285)

For more information and a great article on John the Baptist in Islam, please visit:
http://thesimplemessage.blogspot.com/2005/04/john-baptist-prophet-of-islam.html


Jihad or Holy War in Islam :
One of the greatest misunderstandings regarding Islam is that the Creator has imposed `jihad' or ‘holy war’ on us against all non-muslims[2]. The literal meaning of the Arabic word Jihad is ‘struggle’. ‘Holy War’ is a highly misleading and often inaccurate translation of the word ‘Jihad’. Some verses in the Qur'an, do use Jihad as military struggle or war, whereas the other context for the word Jihad is ‘the inner struggle of the soul’ which we all fight to ward off temptations and evil desires.

Though military struggle or war is permitted in Islam, it has preconditions and very strict rules of combat which include prohibitions against harming innocent civilians, women, children, the infirm, the old, and against destroying crops, trees and livestock.

[22:39] Permission (to fight) is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed, and most surely Allah is well able to assist them ; This verse lays down the precondition for all war in Islam: there must exist certain oppressive conditions on the people. The Creator unequivocally orders us to fight oppression and persecution, even at the expense of bloodshed as the following verse shows (translation), [2:190-192] And fight in the cause of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits. And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah) until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the reward of the unbelievers. But if they desist, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. And fight with them until there is no persecution, and religion should be only for Allah, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors. [2].

Just like a mother would discipline her child with punishments because she loves her child very much and she would like to see her child to be in the best of manners, our creator knows that human beings do transgress their limits and they need to be constrained through punishments and deterrence. Otherwise, there would be pure chaos and lawlessness in the world. But again He loves patience and forbearance.

As the following verses state:
The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah: for (Allah) loves not those who do wrong. But indeed if any do help and defend themselves after a wrong (done) to them, against such there is no cause of blame. The blame is only against those who oppress men and insolently transgress beyond bounds through the land, defying right and justice: for such there will be a grievous penalty. And whoever is patient and forgiving, these most surely are actions due to courage.”(Al-Qur’an 42:40-43)

"If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in God for He is the One that heareth and knoweth all things." (Al-Qur'an 8:61)

Therefore, Islam necessitates War for the sake of Justice only. Even DR. Martin Luther King Jr. realized this when he said “Without justice, there can be no peace. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.

Does Islam Promote Violence ?

This is another one of the greatest misconceptions about Islam - no doubt resulting from the constant stereotyping and bashing the media gives Islam. When a gunman attacks a mosque in the name of Judaism, a Catholic IRA guerrilla sets off a bomb in an urban area, or Serbian Orthodox militiamen rape and kill innocent Muslim civilians, these acts are not used to stereotype an entire faith. Never are these acts attributed to the religion of the perpetrators. Yet how many times have we heard the words 'Islamic, Muslim fundamentalist. etc.' linked with violence.

Politics in so called "Muslim countries" may or may not have any Islamic basis. Often dictators and politicians will use the name of Islam for their own purposes. One should remember to go to the source of Islam and separate what the true religion of Islam says from what is portrayed in the media.
” [1]

However, it is noteworthy that most westerners don’t know the experience of being dominated by another political or economic power. They find it hard to appreciate the hurt much of the West’s involvement in the Middle East has caused Muslims or understand the frustration that fuels much of the violence the extremists commit. Western Christians often don’t understand poverty and oppression either - because their lives have been relatively free from injustice and want.”[3]. Hence, it makes it easier for the biased western media to create those stereotypes and prejudices about Islam and Muslims.

Also, it is necessary to make a distinction between Islam and Muslims. Only the Qur'an and Sunnah are guaranteed to be in accordance with what the Creator desires, whereas the Muslims may possibly deviate. Hence, if any Muslim kills an innocent person, that Muslim has committed a grave sin, and certainly the action cannot be claimed to have been done "in the name of Islam""[2].

Does majority of the Christians picket abortion clinics? Bomb abortion clinics? No. Most are levelheaded people, just like most Muslims. The Muslims you see on the news, do not represent the vast majority of the world’s 1.5 billion muslims who are normal, peace loving, and non-violent people. So the answer is ‘No, Islam does not promote violence’. On the contrary, Islam is a religion of Peace, Mercy and Forgiveness.

What else should I know about Islam ?

* Five pillars of the Islamic faith are – 1) Belief in One God, 2) Five times daily prayer, 3) Obligatory charity for the poor, 4) Fasting in the month of Ramadan and 5) Performing pilgrimage to Makkah atleast once in a lifetime for those who is physically and financially capable.

* There is no intermediary between the Creator of the Universe and His creatures. Everyone is responsible for their own deed and communicates to God directly through their own prayers (i.e. no priesthood in islam).

* Tolerance of other faiths: Judgement will be done by God in the hereafter not by people in this world. As God Almighty states in the Holy Qur’an: "Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things." (Al-Qur'an 2:256)

* Equality of the whole mankind before God: In God’s sight every human being is equal. This is why the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in a public address said that the Arabs are not superior to the non-Arabs, and one color is not superior to another. The Pilgrimage or Hajj is emblematic of this doctrine of equality when 5 million muslims from all over the world gather in Makkah every year for pilgrimage wearing the same simple white cloth. There is no distinction between the rich and the poor, or the white or the black, or anything for that matter. They are all there to worship and celebrate the praises of One God, our Most Gracious, Most Merciful Creator.

* There are many scientific indications mentioned in the Holy Qur’an that scientists are only discovering recently. You can go to the following site for details and examples. http://www.islam-guide.com/
(Read the section under the Scientific Miracles of the Holy Qur'an)

Conclusion :
Just as Jesus (pbuh) said "Think not that I have come to destroy the Law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17 KJV), Muhammad (pbuh) did not come to preach a new religion either. As God states in the Holy Qur’an : “This Qur’an is not such as can be produced by anyone other than God. It is a confirmation of earlier revelations and a detailed explanation of the Scripture, in which there is no doubt, from the Lord of the worlds.” (Al-Qur’an 10:37)

Michael H. Hart explains his decision to choose Muhammad to be the #1 in the list of the world's most influential persons -My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels.” [5]

Indeed, from the secular perspective, Muhammad (pbuh) was sent to establish justice and on the religious level, his mission was to confirm and restore the principles of Monotheism. The former is very clear from the following verses in the Holy Qur’an:
O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.” (Al-Qur’an 005:008)

And come not nigh to the orphan's property, except to improve it, until he attain the age of full strength; give measure and weight with (full) justice;- no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear;- whenever ye speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned; and fulfill the covenant of Allah: thus doth He command you, that ye may remember.”(Al-Qur’an 006:152)

And the latter is apparent from his teachings. Muhammad (pbuh) was so wary about any attempts to deify him or to give himself or anything other than Allah(GOD) any divine authority that when Muhammad(pbuh) died, one of his closest companions and administrative successor, Abu Bakr, echoed Muhammad’s (pbuh) teachings in one of the noblest speeches : ‘If there are any among you who worshipped Muhammad, he is dead. But if it is God you worshipped, He lives for ever’. Just as Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:

"All that is on earth will perish: But will abide (for ever) the Face of thy Lord,- full of Majesty, Bounty and Honour."
(Al-Qur’an 055:026-027)



*********************



References:

[1] http://www.jannah.org/articles/misc.html
[2] http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/notislam/misconceptions.html
[3] http://debate.org.uk/topics/isamasih/may97/miscon.htm
[4] The Vision of Islam – Sachiko Murata and William C. Chittick. Paragon House 1994.
[5] Michael H. Hart, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, New York: Hart Publishing Company Inc. 1978

*********************



Thank You.
Sincerely,

Kashif





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Monday, February 13, 2006

About Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) - By a non-muslim

Mohammed The Prophet

By Prof. K. S. Ramakrishna Rao, Head of the Department of Philosophy, Government College for Women University of Mysore, Mandya-571401 (Karnatika). Re-printed from "Islam and Modern age", Hydrabad, March 1978.



In the desert of Arabia was Mohammad born, according to Muslim historians, on April 20, 571. The name means highly praised. He is to me the greatest mind among all the sons of Arabia. He means so much more than all the poets and kings that preceded him in that impenetrable desert of red sand.

When he appeared Arabia was a desert -- a nothing. Out of nothing a new world was fashioned by the mighty spirit of Mohammad -- a new life, a new culture, a new civilization, a new kingdom which extended from Morocco to Indies and influenced the thought and life of three continents -- Asia, Africa and Europe.

When I thought of writing on Mohammad the prophet, I was a bit hesitant because it was to write about a religion I do not profess and it is a delicate matter to do so for there are many persons professing various religions and belonging to diverse school of thought and denominations even in same religion. Though it is sometimes, claimed that religion is entirely personal yet it can not be gain-said that it has a tendency to envelop the whole universe seen as well unseen. It somehow permeates something or other our hearts, our souls, our minds their
conscious as well as subconscious and unconscious levels too. The problem assumes overwhelming importance when there is a deep conviction that our past, present and future all hang by the soft delicate, tender silked cord. If we further happen to be highly sensitive, the center of gravity is very likely to be always in a state of extreme tension. Looked at from this point of view, the less said about other religion the better. Let our religions be deeply hidden and embedded in the resistance of our innermost hearts fortified by unbroken seals on our lips.

But there is another aspect of this problem. Man lives in society. Our lives are bound with the lives of others willingly or unwillingly, directly or indirectly. We eat the food grown in the same soil, drink water, from the same the same spring and breathe the same air. Even while staunchly holding our own views, it would be helpful, if we try to adjust ourselves to our surroundings, if we also know to some extent, how the mind our neighbor moves and what the
main springs of his actions are. From this angle of vision it is highly desirable that one should try to know all religions of the world, in the proper sprit, to promote mutual understanding and better appreciation of our neighborhood, immediate and remote.

Further, our thoughts are not scattered as appear to be on the surface. They have got themselves crystallized around a few nuclei in the form of great world religions and living faiths that guide and motivate the lives of millions that inhabit this earth of ours. It is our duty, in one sense if we have the ideal of ever becoming a citizen of the world before us, to make a little attempt to know the great religions and system of philosophy that have ruled mankind.

In spite of these preliminary remarks, the ground in these field of religion, where there is often a conflict between intellect and emotion is so slippery that one is constantly reminded of fools that rush in where angels fear to tread. It is also not so complex from another point of view. The subject of my writing is about the tenets of a religion which is historic and its prophet who is also a historic personality. Even a hostile critic like Sir William Muir speaking about the holy Quran says that. "There is probably in the world no other book which has remained twelve centuries with so pure text." I may also add Prophet Mohammad is also a historic personality, every event of whose life has been most carefully recorded and even the minutest details preserved intact for the posterity. His life and works are not wrapped in mystery.

My work today is further lightened because those days are fast disappearing when Islam was highly misrepresented by some of its critics for reasons political and otherwise. Prof. Bevan writes in Cambridge Medieval History, "Those account of Mohammad and Islam which were published in Europe before the beginning of 19th century are now to be regarded as literary curiosities." My problem is to write this monograph is easier because we are now generally not fed on this kind of history and much time need be spent on pointing out our misrepresentation of Islam.

The theory of Islam and Sword for instance is not heard now frequently in any quarter worth the name. The principle of Islam that there is no compulsion in religion is well known. Gibbon, a historian of world repute says, "A pernicious tenet has been imputed to Mohammadans, the duty of extirpating all the religions by sword." This charge based on ignorance and bigotry, says the eminent historian, is refuted by Quran, by history of Musalman conquerors and by their public and legal toleration of Christian worship. The great success of Mohammad's life had been effected by sheer moral force, without a stroke of sword.

But in pure self-defense, after repeated efforts of conciliation had utterly failed, circumstances dragged him into the battlefield. But the prophet of Islam changed the whole strategy of the battlefield. The total number of casualties in all the wars that took place during his lifetime when the whole Arabian Peninsula came under his banner, does not exceed a few hundreds in all. But even on the battlefield he taught the Arab barbarians to pray, to pray not individually, but in congregation to God the Almighty. During the dust and storm of warfare whenever the time for prayer came, and it comes five times a every day, the congregation prayer had not to be postponed even on the battlefield. A party had to be engaged in bowing their heads before God while other was engaged with the enemy. After finishing the prayers, the two parties had to exchange their positions. To the Arabs, who would fight for forty years on the slight provocation that a camel belonging to the guest of one tribe had strayed into the grazing land belonging to other tribe and both sides had fought till they lost 70,000 lives in all; threatening the extinction of both the tribes to such furious Arabs, the Prophet of Islam taught self-control and discipline to the extent of praying even on the battlefield. In an aged of barbarism, the Battlefield itself was humanized and strict instructions were issued not to cheat, not to break trust, not to mutilate, not to kill a child or woman or an old man, not to hew down date palm nor burn it, not to cut a fruit tree, not to molest any person engaged in worship. His own treatment with his bitterest enemies is the noblest example for his followers. At the conquest of Mecca, he stood at the zenith of his power. The city which had refused to listen to his mission, which had tortured him and his followers, which had driven him and his people into exile and which had unrelentingly persecuted and boycotted him even when he had taken refuge in a place more than 200 miles away, that city now lay at his feet. By the laws of war he could have justly avenged all the cruelties inflicted on him and his people. But what treatment did he accord to them? Mohammad's heart flowed with affection and he declared, "This day, there is no REPROOF against you and you are all free." "This day" he proclaimed, "I trample under my feet all distinctions between man and man, all hatred between man and man."

This was one of the chief objects why he permitted war in self defense, that is to unite human beings. And when once this object was achieved, even his worst enemies were pardoned. Even those who killed his beloved uncle, Hamazah, angled his body, ripped it open, even chewed a piece of his liver.

The principles of universal brotherhood and doctrine of the equality of mankind which he proclaimed represents one very great contribution of Mohammad to the social uplift of humanity. All great religions have preached the same doctrine but the prophet of Islam had put this theory into actual practice and its value will be fully recognized, perhaps centuries hence, when international consciousness being awakened, racial prejudices may disappear and greater brotherhood of humanity come into existence.

Miss. Sarojini Naidu speaking about this aspect of Islam says, "It was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy; for in the mosque, when the minaret is sounded and the worshipers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and the king kneel side by side and proclaim, God alone is great." The great poetess of India continues, "I have been struck over and over again by this indivisible unity of Islam that makes a man instinctively a brother. When you meet an Egyptian, an Algerian and Indian and a Turk in London, it matters not that Egypt is the motherland of one and India is the motherland of another."

Mahatma Gandhi, in his inimitable style, says "Some one has said that Europeans in South Africa dread the advent Islam -- Islam that civilized Spain, Islam that took the torch light to Morocco and preached to the world the Gospel of brotherhood. The Europeans of South Africa dread the Advent of Islam. They may claim equality with the white races. They may well dread it, if brotherhood is a sin. If it is equality of colored races then their dread is well founded."

Every year, during the Haj, the world witnesses the wonderful spectacle of this international Exhibition of Islam in leveling all distinctions of race, color and rank. Not only the Europeans, the African, the Arabian, the Persian, the Indians, the Chinese all meet together in Medina as members of one divine family, but they are clad in one dress every person in two simple pieces of white seamless cloth, one piece round the loin the other piece over the shoulders, bare head without pomp or ceremony, repeating "Here am I O God; at thy command; thou art one and alone; Here am I." Thus there remains nothing to differentiate the high from the low and every pilgrim carries home the impression of the international significance of Islam.

In the opinion of Prof. Hurgronje "the league of nations founded by prophet of Islam put the principle of international unity of human brotherhood on such Universal foundations as to show candle to other nations." In the words of same Professor "the fact is that no nation of the world can show a parallel to what Islam has done the realization of the idea of the League of Nations."

The prophet of Islam brought the reign of democracy in its best form. The Caliph Caliph Ali and the son in-law of the prophet, the Caliph Mansur, Abbas, the son of Caliph Mamun and many other caliphs and kings had to appear before the judge as ordinary men in Islamic courts. Even today we all know how the black Negroes were treated by the civilized white races. Consider the state of BILAL, a Negro Slave, in the days of the prophet of Islam nearly 14 centuries ago. The office of calling Muslims to prayer was considered to be of status in
the early days of Islam and it was offered to this Negro slave. After the conquest of Mecca, the Prophet ordered him to call for prayer and the Negro slave, with his black color and his thick lips, stood over the roof of the holy mosque at Mecca called the Ka'ba the most historic and the holiest mosque in the Islamic world, when some proud Arabs painfully cried loud, "Oh, this black Negro Slave, woe be to him. He stands on the roof of holy Ka'ba to call for prayer." At that moment, the prophet announced to the world, this verse of the holy QURAN for the first time.

"O mankind, surely we have created you, families
and tribes, so you may know one another.
Surely, the most honorable of you
with God is MOST RIGHTEOUS AMONG you.
Surely, God is Knowing, Aware."

And these words of the holy Quran created such a mighty transformation that the Caliph of Islam, the purest of Arabs by birth, offered their daughter in marriage to this Negro Slave, and whenever, the second Caliph of Islam, known to history as Umar the great, the commander of faithful, saw this Negro slave, he immediately stood in reverence and welcomed him by "Here come our master; Here come our lord." What a tremendous change was brought by Quran in the Arabs, the proudest people at that time on the earth. This is the reason why Goethe, the greatest of German poets, speaking about the Holy Quran declared that, "This book will go on exercising through all ages a most potent influence." This is also the reason why George Bernard Shaw says, "If any religion has a chance or ruling over England, say, Europe, within the next 100 years, it is Islam".

It is this same democratic spirit of Islam that emancipated women from the bondage of man. Sir Charles Edward Archibald Hamilton says "Islam teaches the inherent sinlessness of man. It teaches that man and woman and woman have come from the same essence, posses the same soul and have been equipped with equal capabilities for intellectual, spiritual and moral attainments."

The Arabs had a very strong tradition that one who can smite with the spear and can wield the sword would inherit. But Islam came as the defender of the weaker sex and entitled women to share the inheritance of their parents. It gave women, centuries ago right of owning property, yet it was only 12 centuries later , in 1881, that England, supposed to be the cradle of democracy adopted this institution of Islam and the act was called "the married woman act", but centuries earlier, the Prophet of Islam had proclaimed that "Woman are twin halves of men. The rights of women are sacred. See that women maintained rights granted to them."

Islam is not directly concerned with political and economic systems, but indirectly and in so far as political and economic affairs influence man's conduct, it does lay down some very important principles to govern economic life. According to Prof. Massignon, it maintains the balance between exaggerated opposites and has always in view the building of character which is the basis of civilization. This is secured by its law of inheritance, by an organized system of charity known as Zakat, and by regarding as illegal all anti-social practices in the economic field like monopoly, usury, securing of predetermined unearned income and increments, cornering markets, creating monopolies, creating an artificial scarcity of any commodity in order to force the prices to rise. Gambling is illegal. Contribution to schools, to places of worship, hospitals, digging of wells, opening of orphanages are highest acts of virtue. Orphanages have sprung for the first time, it is said, under the teaching of the prophet of Islam. The world owes its orphanages to this prophet born an orphan. "Good all this" says Carlyle about Mohammad. "The natural voice of humanity, of pity and equity, dwelling in the heart of this wild son of nature, speaks."

A historian once said a great man should be judged by three tests: Was he found to be of true metel by his contemporaries ? Was he great enough to raise above the standards of his age ? Did he leave anything as permanent legacy to the world at large ? This list may be further extended but all these three tests of greatness are eminently satisfied to the highest degree in case of prophet Mohammad. Some illustrations of the last two have already been mentioned.

The first is: Was the Prophet of Islam found to be of true metel by his contemporaries?

Historical records show that all the contemporaries of Mohammad both friends foes, acknowledged the sterling qualities, the spotless honesty, the noble virtues, the absolute sincerity and every trustworthiness of the apostle of Islam in all walks of life and in every sphere of human activity. Even the Jews and those who did not believe in his message, adopted him as the arbiter in their personal disputes by virtue of his perfect impartiality. Even those who did not believe in his message were forced to say "O Mohammad, we do not call you a liar, but we deny him who has given you a book and inspired you with a message." They thought he was one possessed. They tried violence to cure him. But the best of them saw that a new light had dawned on him and they hastened him to seek the enlightenment. It is a notable feature in the history of prophet of Islam that his nearest relation, his beloved cousin and his bosom friends, who know him most intimately, were not thoroughly imbued with the truth of his mission and were convinced of the genuineness of his divine inspiration. If these men and women, noble, intelligent, educated and intimately acquainted with
his private life had perceived the slightest signs of deception, fraud, earthliness, or lack of faith in him, Mohammad's moral hope of regeneration, spiritual awakening, and social reform would all have been foredoomed to a failure and whole edifice would have crumbled to pieces in a moment. On the contrary, we find that devotion of his followers was such that he was voluntarily acknowledged as dictator of their lives. They braved for him persecutions and danger; they trusted, obeyed and honored him even in the most excruciating torture and severest mental agony caused by excommunication even unto death. Would this have been so, had they noticed the slightest backsliding in their master?

Read the history of the early converts to Islam, and every heart would melt at the sight of the brutal treatment of innocent Muslim men and women.

Sumayya, an innocent women, is cruelly torn into pieces with spears. An example is made of "Yassir whose legs are tied to two camels and the beast were are driven in opposite directions", Khabbab bin Arth is made lie down on the bed of burning coal with the brutal legs of their merciless tyrant on his breast so that he may not move and this makes even the fat beneath his skin melt. "Khabban bin Adi is put to death in a cruel manner by mutilation and cutting off his flesh piece-meal." In the midst of his tortures, being asked weather he did not wish Mohammad in his place while he was in his house with his family, the sufferer cried out that he was gladly prepared to sacrifice himself his family and children and why was it that these sons and daughters of Islam not only surrendered to their prophet their allegiance but also made a gift of their hearts and souls to their master? Is not the intense faith and conviction on part of immediate followers of Mohammad, the noblest testimony to his sincerity and to his utter self-absorption in his appointed task?

And these men were not of low station or inferior mental caliber. Around him in quite early days, gathered what was best and noblest in Mecca, its flower and cream, men of position, rank, wealth and culture, and from his own kith and kin, those who knew all about his life. All the first four Caliphs, with their towering personalities, were converts of this period.

The Encyclopedia Brittanica says that "Mohammad is the most successful of all Prophets and religious personalities".

But the success was not the result of mere accident. It was not a hit of fortune. It was a recognition of fact that he was found to be true metal by his contemporaries. It was the result of his admirable and all compelling personality.

The personality of Mohammad! It is most difficult to get into the truth of it. Only a glimpse of it I can catch. What a dramatic succession of picturesque scenes. There is Mohammad the Prophet, there is Mohammad the General; Mohammad the King; Mohammad the Warrior; Mohammad the Businessman; Mohammad the reacher; Mohammad the Philosopher; Mohammad the Statesman; Mohammad the Orator; Mohammad the reformer; Mohammad the Refuge of orphans; Mohammad the Protector of slaves; Mohammad the Emancipator of women; Mohammad the Law-giver; Mohammad the Judge; Mohammad the Saint.

And in all these magnificent roles, in all these departments of human activities, he is like, a hero..

Orphanhood is extreme of helplessness and his life upon this earth began with it; Kingship is the height of the material power and it ended with it. From an orphan boy to a persecuted refugee and then to an overlord, spiritual as well as temporal, of a whole nation and Arbiter of its destinies, with all its trials and temptations, with all its vicissitudes and changes, its lights and shades, its up and downs, its terror and splendor, he has stood the fire of the world and came out unscathed to serve as a model in every face of life. His achievements are not limited to one aspect of life, but cover the whole field of human conditions.

If for instance, greatness consist in the purification of a nation, steeped in barbarism and immersed in absolute moral darkness, that dynamic personality who has transformed, refined and uplifted an entire nation, sunk low as the Arabs were, and made them the torch-bearer of civilization and learning, has every claim to greatness. If greatness lies in unifying the discordant elements of society by ties of brotherhood and charity, the prophet of the desert has got every title to this distinction. If greatness consists in reforming those warped in degrading and blind superstition and pernicious practices of every kind, the prophet of Islam has wiped out superstitions and irrational fear from the hearts of millions. If it lies in displaying high morals, Mohammad has been admitted by friend and foe as Al Amin, or the faithful. If a conqueror is a great man, here is a person who rose from helpless orphan and an humble creature to be the
ruler of Arabia, the equal to Chosroes and Caesars, one who founded great empire that has survived all these 14 centuries. If the devotion that a leader commands is the criterion of greatness, the prophet's name even today exerts a magic charm over millions of souls, spread all over the world.

He had not studied philosophy in the school of Athens of Rome, Persia, India, or China. Yet, He could proclaim the highest truths of eternal value to mankind. Illiterate himself, he could yet speak with an eloquence and fervor which moved men to tears, to tears of ecstasy. Born an orphan blessed with no worldly goods, he was loved by all. He had studied at no military academy; yet he could organize his forces against tremendous odds and gained victories through the moral forces which he marshaled. Gifted men with genius for preaching are rare. Descartes included the perfect preacher among the rarest kind in the world. Hitler in his Mein Kamp has expressed a similar view. He says "A great theorist is seldom a great leader. An Agitator is more likely to posses these qualities. He will always be a great leader. For leadership means ability to move masses of men. The talents to produce ideas has nothing in common with capacity for leadership." "But", he says, "The Union of theorists, organizer and leader in one man, is the rarest phenomenon on this earth; Therein consists greatness."

In the person of the Prophet of Islam the world has seen this rarest phenomenon walking on the earth, walking in flesh and blood.

And more wonderful still is what the reverend Bosworth Smith remarks, "Head of the state as well as the Church, he was Caesar and Pope in one; but, he was pope without the pope's claims, and Caesar without the legions of Caesar, without an standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue. If ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by a right divine It was Mohammad, for he had all the power without instruments and without its upport. He cared not for dressing of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life."

After the fall of Mecca, more than one million square miles of land lay at his feet, Lord of Arabia, he mended his own shoes and coarse woolen garments, milked the goats, swept the hearth, kindled the fire and attended the other menial offices of the family. The entire town of Medina where he lived grew wealthy in the later days of his life. Everywhere there was gold and silver in plenty and yet in those days of prosperity many weeks would elapse without a fire being kindled in the hearth of the king of Arabia, His food being dates and water. His family would go hungry many nights successively because they could not get anything to eat in the evening. He slept on no soften bed but on a palm mat, after a long busy day to spend most of his night in prayer, often bursting with tears before his creator to grant him strength to discharge his duties. As the reports go, his voice would get choked with weeping and it would appear as if a
cooking pot was on fire and boiling had commenced. On the very day of his death his only assets were few coins a part of which went to satisfy a debt and rest was given to a needy person who came to his house for charity. The clothes in which he breathed his last had many patches. The house from where light had spread to the world was in darkness because there was no oil in the lamp.

Circumstances changed, but the prophet of God did not. In victory or in defeat, in power or in adversity, in affluence or in indigence, he is the same man, disclosed the same character. Like all the ways and laws of God, Prophets of God are unchangeable.

An honest man, as the saying goes, is the noblest work of God, Mohammad was more than honest. He was human to the marrow of his bones. Human sympathy, human love was the music of his soul. To serve man, to elevate man, to purify man, to educate man, in a word to humanize man-this was the object of his mission, the be-all and end all of his life. In thought, in word, in action he had the good of humanity as his sole inspiration, his sole guiding principle.

He was most unostentatious and selfless to the core. What were the titles he assumed? Only true servant of God and His Messenger. Servant first, and then a messenger. A Messenger and prophet like many other prophets in every part of the world, some known to you, many not known you. If one does not believe in any of these truths one ceases to be a Muslim. It is an article of faith.

"Looking at the circumstances of the time and unbounded reverence of his followers" says a western writer "the most miraculous thing about Mohammad is, that he never claimed the power of working miracles." Miracles were performed but not to propagate his faith and were attributed entirely to God and his inscrutable ways. He would plainly say that he was a man like others. He had no treasures of earth or heaven. Nor did he claim to know the secrets of that lie
in womb of future. All this was in an age when miracles were supposed to be ordinary occurrences, at the back and call of the commonest saint, when the whole atmosphere was surcharged with supernaturalism in Arabia and outside Arabia.

He turned the attention of his followers towards the study of nature and its laws, to understand them and appreciate the Glory of God. The Quran says,

"God did not create the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in play. He did not create them all but with the truth. But most men do not know."

The world is not illusion, nor without purpose. It has been created with the truth. The number of verses inviting close observation of nature are several times more than those that relate to prayer, fasting, pilgrimage etc. all put together. The Muslim under its influence began to observe nature closely and this give birth to the scientific spirit of the observation and experiment which was unknown to the Greeks. While the Muslim Botanist Ibn Baitar wrote on Botany after collecting plants from all parts of the world, described by Myer in his Gesch. der Botanikaa-s, a monument of industry, while Al Byruni traveled for forty years to collect mineralogical specimens, and Muslim Astronomers made some observations extending even over twelve years. Aristotle wrote on Physics without performing a single experiment, wrote on natural history, carelessly stating without taking the trouble to ascertain the most verifiable fact that men have more teeth than animal. Galen, the greatest authority on classical anatomy informed that the lower jaw consists of two bones, a statement which is accepted unchallenged for centuries till Abdul Lateef takes the trouble to examine a human skeleton. After enumerating several such instances, Robert Priffault concludes in his well known book The making of humanity, "The debt of our science to the Arabs does not consist in starting discovers or revolutionary theories. Science owes a great more to Arabs culture; it owes is existence." The same writer says "The Greeks systematized, generalized and theorized but patient ways of investigation, the accumulation of positive knowledge, the minute methods of science, detailed and prolonged observation, experimental inquiry, were altogether alien to Greek temperament. What we call science arose in Europe as result of new methods of investigation, of the method of experiment, observation, measurement, of the development of Mathematics in form unknown to the Greeks. That spirit and these methods, concludes the same author, were introduced into the European world by Arabs."

It is the same practical character of the teaching of Prophet Mohammad that gave birth to the scientific spirit, that has also sanctified the daily labors and the so called mundane affairs. The Quran says that God has created man to worship him but the word worship has a connotation of its own. Gods worship is not confined to prayer alone, but every act that is done with the purpose of winning approval of God and is for the benefit of the humanity comes under its purview. Islam sanctifies life and all its pursuits provided they are performed with honesty, justice and pure intents. It obliterates the age-long distinction between the sacred and profane. The Quran says if you eat clean things and thank God for it, it is an act of worship. It is saying of the prophet of Islam that Morsel of food that one places in the mouth of his wife is an act of virtue to be rewarded by God. Another tradition of the Prophet says "He who is satisfying the desire of his heart will be rewarded by God provided the methods adopted are
permissible."
A person was listening to him exclaimed 'O Prophet of God, he is answering the calls of passions, is only satisfying the craving of his heart. Forthwith came the reply, "Had he adopted an awful method for the satisfaction of his urge, he would have been punished; then why should he not be rewarded for following the right course."

This new conception of religion that it should also devote itself to the betterment of this life rather than concern itself exclusively with super mundane affairs, has led to a new orientation of moral values. Its abiding influence on the common relations of mankind in the affairs of every day life, its deep power over the masses, its regulation of their conception of rights and duty, its suitability and adaptability to the ignorant savage and the wise philosopher are characteristic features of the teaching of the Prophet of Islam.

But it should be most carefully born in mind this stress on good actions is not the sacrifice correctness of faith. While there are various school of thought, one praising faith at the expense of deeds, another exhausting various acts to the detriment of correct belief, Islam is based on correct faith and righteous actions. Means are important as the end and ends are as important as the means. It is an organic Unity. Together they live and thrive. Separate them and both decay and die. In Islam faith can not be divorced from the action. Right knowledge should be transferred into right action to produce the right results. How often the words came in Quran -- Those who believe and do good thing, they alone shall enter paradise. Again and again, not less than fifty times these words are repeated as if too much stress can not be laid on them. Contemplation is encouraged but mere contemplation is not the goal. Those who believe and do
nothing can not exist in Islam. These who believe and do wrong are inconceivable. Divine law is the law of effort and not of ideals. It chalks out for the men the path of eternal progress from knowledge to action and from action to satisfaction.

But what is the correct faith from which right action spontaneously proceeds resulting in complete satisfaction. Here the central doctrine of Islam is the Unity of God. There is no God but God is the pivot from which hangs the whole teaching and practice of Islam. He is unique not only as regards his divine being but also as regards his divine attributes.

As regards the attributes of God, Islam adopts here as in other things too, the law of golden mean. It avoids on the one hand, the view of God which divests the divine being of every attribute and rejects, on the other, the view which likens him to things material. The Quran says, On the one hand, there is nothing which is like him, on the other , it affirms that he is Seeing, Hearing, Knowing. He is the King who is without a stain of fault or deficiency, the mighty ship of His power floats upon the ocean of justice and equity. He is the Beneficent, the
Merciful. He is the Guardian over all. Islam does not stop with this positive statement. It adds further which is its most special characteristic, the negative aspects of problem. There is also no one else who is guardian over everything. He is the meander of every breakage, and no one else is the meander of any breakage. He is the restorer of every loss and no one else is the restorer of any loss what-so-over. There is no God but one God, above any need, the maker of bodies, creator of souls, the Lord of the day of judgment, and in short, in the words of Quran, to him belong all excellent qualities.

Regarding the position of man in relation to the Universe, the Quran says:

"God has made subservient to you whatever is on the earth or in universe. You are destined to rule over the Universe."

But in relation to God, the Quran says:

"O man God has bestowed on you excellent faculties and has created life and death to put you to test in order to see whose actions are good and who has deviated from the right path."

In spite of free will which he enjoys, to some extent, every man is born under certain circumstances and continues to live under certain circumstances beyond his control. With regard to this God says, according to Islam, it is my will to create any man under condition that seem best to me. cosmic plans finite mortals can not fully comprehend. But I will certainly test you in prosperity as well in adversity, in health as well as in sickness, in heights as well as in depths. My ways of testing differ from man to man, from hour to hour. In adversity do not despair and do resort to unlawful means. It is but a passing phase. In prosperity do not forget God. God-gifts are given only as trusts. You are always on trial, every moment on test. In this sphere of life there is not to reason why, there is but to do and die. If you live in accordance with God; and if you die, die in the path of God. You may call it fatalism. but this type of fatalism is a condition of vigorous increasing effort, keeping you ever on the alert. Do not consider this temporal life on earth as the end of human existence. There is a life after death and it is eternal. Life after death is only a connection link, a door that opens up hidden reality of life. Every action in life however insignificant, produces a lasting effect. It is correctly recorded somehow. Some of the ways of God are known to you, but many of his ways are hidden from you. What is hidden in you and from you in this world will be unrolled and laid open before you in the next. the virtuous will enjoy the blessing of God which the eye has not seen, nor has the ear heard, nor has it entered into the hearts of men to conceive of they will march onward reaching higher and higher stages of evolution. Those who have wasted opportunity in this life shall under the inevitable law, which makes every man taste of what he has done, be subjugated to a course of treatment of the spiritual diseases which they have brought about with their own hands. Beware, it is terrible ordeal. Bodily pain is torture, you can bear somehow. Spiritual pain is hell, you will
find it almost unbearable. Fight in this life itself the tendencies of the spirit prone to evil, tempting to lead you into iniquities ways. Reach the next stage when the self-accusing sprit in your conscience is awakened and the soul is anxious to attain moral excellence and revolt against disobedience. This will lead you to the final stage of the soul at rest, contented with God, finding its happiness and delight in him alone. The soul no more stumbles. The stage of struggle passes away. Truth is victorious and falsehood lays down its arms. All complexes will then be resolved. Your house will not be divided against itself. Your personality will get integrated round the central core of submission to the will of God and complete surrender to his divine purpose. All hidden energies will then be released. The soul then will have peace. God will then address you:

"O thou soul that art at rest, and restest fully contented with thy Lord return to thy Lord. He pleased with thee and thou pleased with him; So enter among my servants and enter into my paradise."

This is the final goal for man; to become, on the, one hand, the master of the universe and on the other, to see that his soul finds rest in his Lord, that not only his Lord will be pleased with him but that he is also pleased with his Lord. Contentment, complete contentment, satisfaction, complete satisfaction, peace, complete peace. The love of God is his food at this stage and he drinks deep at the fountain of life. Sorrow and defeat do not overwhelm him and success does not find him in vain and exulting.

The western nations are only trying to become the master of the Universe. But their souls have not found peace and rest.

Thomas Carlyle, struck by this philosophy of life writes "and then also Islam-that we must submit to God; that our whole strength lies in resigned submission to Him, whatsoever he does to us, the thing he sends to us, even if death and worse than death, shall be good, shall be best; we resign ourselves to God." The same author continues "If this be Islam, says Goethe, do we not all live in Islam?" Carlyle himself answers this question of Goethe and says "Yes, all of us that have any moral life, we all live so. This is yet the highest wisdom that heaven has revealed to our earth."


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Monday, May 02, 2005

Your Suggestions or Comments

Your suggestions and comments on this blog are welcome. Please feel free to reply to this post with your comments or suggestions. The purpose of this blog is to exchange information to promote understanding of one another.

As stated in the Holy Qur'an :

"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)." (Al-Qur'an 49:13)


I would appreciate your inputs regarding how to improve the content or look and feel of this site.

Peace.


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Friday, April 22, 2005

The Signs of GOD

THE SIGNS OF GOD : THE CONCEPT OF AYAT IN THE HOLY QURAN

-ZIAUL HUQ QUTUBUDDIN

I. INTRODUCTION :

"In the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day, there are surely signs for men of understanding. Those who remember Allah standing and sitting and (lying) on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: Our Lord, Thou hast not created this in vain! Glory is to Thee! Save us from the Chastisement of the Fire." (3:190-191).

The ultimate destiny of man is to return to his Creator, Allah, and the Lord of the worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful, to whom man belongs. The destiny of man in this world is to complete this short sojourn called al-hayat al-dunya, the life of this world, with constant remembrance of his Lord and Creator and in complete and full submission to His will. Out of the vast ocean of His Mercy and Grace, Allah, the Beneficent and Merciful (Al-Rahman and al-Raheem) has sent for the human kind, and shows man, innumerable of His signs in the created universe and in man himself so that man is enabled, through deciphering the Signs of God, to fulfill his destiny and achieve the true purpose of his creation.


II. DICTIONARY MEANING OF AYAT :

PENRICE: To betake one's self for rest or shelter, have recourse to.

Ayat : A sign, miracle, a name given to the verses of the Quran, each of which is held to be a miracle.

Plural - Ayat : Signs.

LANE'S LEXICON (Vol 1, Page 135) : He put, or set a sign, token or mark, by which a person or thing is known. Its synonym is 'Alamah.

(I) It properly signifies any apparent thing inseparable from a thing not equally apparent, so that when one perceives the former he knows that he perceives the other, which he cannot perceive by itself, when the two things are of one predicament: and this is apparent in the object of sense and in that of the intellect (Raghib).

(II) A sign as meaning an indication, an evidence, or a proof.

(III) A sign as meaning a miracle and a wonder, for Ayat Allah means the wonders of God-an example or a warning.

(IV) A message or communication sent from one person or party to another. Its synonym is ‘Risalah’.

(V) The body or corporeal form or figure or substance of man which one sees from a distance (as being a kind of sign) or a person or individual.

Hence, a verse of the Quran, as being a collection of the words of the Book of God, or a connected form of words of the Quran continued to its

breaking off, so called because it is a sign of the breaking off.

III. SIGNIFICANCE OF AYAT :

1) In eternity, Allah took a covenant concerning themselves from the descendants of the children of Adam, i.e. all the humanity, born or unborn, without any limit of time, and made them testify that Allah is their Lord. This was done lest they should say on the Day of Judgment that they were not aware of this: " And when the Lord brought forth from the children of Adam, from their loins, their descendants, and made them bear witness about themselves: Am I not your Lord? They said: yes; We bear witness. Lest you should say on the day of resurrection: We were unaware of this.” (7:172)

2) This event of confirmation and acceptance of Allah's Lordship was not allowed to be retained in full in every person’s consciousness after his or her birth in this world because that would defeat the purpose of test for which human beings were endowed with life and sent to this world. "Blessed is He in whose hand is the Kingdom, and He is possessor of power over all things. Who created death and life that He might try you-which of you is best in deeds. And He is the Mighty, the Forgiving." (67:1-2).

3) So, it seems, out of his All-Comprehending Mercy and Grace, Allah, the Beneficent and Merciful, provided the means through which human beings may remember the original covenant and realize, and re-confirm consciously that Allah is the Lord and He is the Truth and Reality which every person is seeking:

"Supremely exalted then is Allah, the King, the Truth."(20:114).

"That is because Allah, he is the Reality."(22:6)

4) The means employed by Allah for this purpose was the ayat, which He sends to all human beings and shows them everywhere so that they may consciously live according to their commitment of "Yes", which they said and confirmed in eternity.

5) Though the Holy Quran makes it amply manifest, still one of our major efforts should be to "try to decipher some of the signs, or ayat, which through their infinite variety point to the One Truth.... All the miracles that the seeing eye perceives in the created universe point to the necessity of God's existence; they are His signs, ayat, which He placed into the world." (Deciphering the Signs of God by Annemarie Schimmel).

6) "We will soon show them Our signs in the horizons and in themselves, until it becomes manifest to them that it is the Truth. "(41:53). "For the Muslim, everything could serve as an ayah, a sign from God, and the Quran repeats this truth over and over again, warning those who do not believe in God's signs or who belie them. The creatures are signs; the change between day and night is a sign, as is the loving encounter of husband and wife; and miracles are signs (cf. Sarah 30:20-25): they all prove that there is a living God who is the originator of everything. These signs are not only in the 'horizons', that is, in the created universe, but also in the human souls, that is, in the human capacity to understand and admire; in love and human inquisitiveness; in whatever one may feel, think, and experience. The world is, as it were, an immense book in which those who have eyes to see and ears to hear can recognize God's signs and thus be guided by their contemplation to the Creator Himself.

"These signs are necessary, for the human heart longs to catch a glimpse of the Divine-even though God is beyond all forms and imagination-and yet one hopes to 'touch' the Numinous in some way or another: does one not respectfully kiss the copy of the Quran in which God's word is written down?

Everything can become an ayah, a sign, not only the verses of the Quran, which are called by this very name. To be sure, (God) can be found through them, He who reveals His will through His word; who has talked through the prophets; and whose guidance leads humankind on the right path to salvation.

Everything created praises the Creator with its own lisanal-hal, the silent eloquence-for this is the purpose for which they were created. Thus, the entire universe could be seen, as it were, in a religious light: that is why every human act, even a seemingly profane one, is yet judged from religious viewpoints and regulated according to the divinely revealed Law." (Deciphering the Signs of God by Annemarie Schimmel).

7) The concept of Ayat Allah, or the signs of God, is extremely significant also inasmuch as it provides not only the Islamic basis and methodology of Science, rather, the basis of Islamization of knowledge itself. Bereft of this fundamental concept and orientation, the science developed in the western world rid itself of God and religion and is now groping in the dark to find light so as to avoid self destruction and the destruction of the world and the whole human civilization.

8) Allah shows His signs so that we may recognize them (27:93) and through them know Allah and obey His commands. Those who believe in these signs surrender themselves to Allah (43:68-69)

IV. USAGE IN THE HOLY QURAN :

As-

(1) Message or Communication :

(i) "These are the messages of Allah- We recite them to thee with truth; and surely thou art of the messengers." (2:252); (ii) 2:39; (iii) 2:106; (iv) 6:39, (v) 6:130; (vi) 7:35; (vii) 23:105.

(2) Verses of the Quran :

(i) "He it is Who has revealed the Book to thee; some of its verses are decisive-they are the basis of the Book-and others are allegorical. "(3:7). (ii) "Alif Lam Ra. These are the verses of the Book, full of wisdom. "(10:1).

(3) Miracle, Evidence, Proof :

(i) "And certainly we gave Moses nine clear signs; so ask the Children of Israel. When he came to them, Pharaoh said to him: Surely I deem thee, O Moses, to be one bewitched. "(17:101). (ii) "And their prophet said to them: Surely the sign of his kingdom is that there shall come to you the Ark of the Covenant, with (an assurance) therein of security from your Lord and the relics left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron, carried by angels. Surely there is a sign in this for you if you are believers."(2:248). (iii) "And to Thamud (We sent) their brother Salih. He said: O my people, serve Allah, you have no god other than Him. Clear proof has indeed come to you from your Lord. This is Allah's she-camel-a sign for you-so leave her alone to pasture in Allah's earth, and do her no harm, lest painful chastisement overtake you. "(7:73). (iv) 6:37, (v) 6:109, (vi) 6:124, (vii) 54:1-2

(4) Sign, token or mark, by which a thing is known :

A. Signs of God's Power : (i) "Or like him who passed by a town, and it had fallen in upon its roofs. He said: When will Allah give it life after its death? So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him. He said: How long hast thou tarried? He said: I have tarried a day, or part of a day. He said: Nay, thou hast tarried a hundred years; but look at thy food and drink-years have not passed over it! And look at thy ass! And that We may make thee a sign to men. And look at the bones, how We set them together then clothe them with flesh. So when it became clear to him, he said: I know that Allah is possessor of power over all things." (2:259). (ii) 2:73; (iii) 3:41; (iv) 5:114; (v) 19:21; (vi) 25:37; (vii) 36:33.

B. Natural Phenomena : (i) "In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, and the ships that run in the sea with that which profits men, the water that Allah sends down from the sky, then gives life therewith to the earth after its death and spreads in it all (kinds of) animals, and the changing of the winds and the clouds made subservient between heaven and earth, there are surely signs for a people who understand. "(2:164). (ii) "And of His signs is this, that He created you from dust, then lo! you are mortals (who) scatter. And of His signs is this, that He created mates for you from yourselves that you might find quiet of mind in them, and He put between you love and compassion. Surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect. And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors. Surely there are signs in this for the learned. And of His signs is your sleep by night and by day and your seeking of His bounty. Surely there are signs in this for a people who would hear. And of His signs is this that He shows you the lightning for fear and for hope, and sends down water from the cloud, then gives life therewith to the earth after its death. Surely there are signs in this for a people who understand. And of His signs is this that the heaven and the earth subsist by His command. Then when he calls you-from the earth-lo! you come forth. And His is whosoever is in the heavens and the earth. All are obedient to Him. And He it is, Who originates the creation, then reproduces it, and it is very easy to Him. And His is the most exalted state in the heavens and the earth; and He is the Mighty, the Wise. "(30:20-27). (iii) 10:5-6; (iv) 12:105; (v) 17:12; (vi) 30:46; (vii) 36:37; (viii) 40:13; (ix) 41:37; (x) 41:39; (xi) 42:32.

C. Place : (i) "Certainly the first house appointed for men is the one at Bakkah, blessed and a guidance for the nations. In it are clear signs : (It is) the place of Abraham: and whoever enters it is safe; and pilgrimage to the House is a duty which men owe to Allah-whoever can find a way to it. And whoever disbelieves, surely Allah is above need of the worlds." (3:96-97).

D. People : (i) "And she who guarded her chastity, so we breathed into her of Our Inspiration, and made her and her son a sign for the nations." (21:91); (ii) 10:92; (iii) 18:9; (iv) 25:37

E. Events, History : (i) "Indeed there was a sign for you in the two hosts (which) met together in encounter-one party fighting in the way of Allah and the other disbelieving, whom they saw twice as many as themselves with the sight of the eye. And Allah strengthens with His aid whom He pleases. There is a lesson in this for those who have eyes. "(3:13); (ii) 12:7

F. Ships : (i) "And a sign to them is that we bear their offspring in the laden ship. "(36:41); (ii) 31:31; (iii) 29:15

G. Man's Creation : (i) "And in your creation and in the animals He spreads abroad are signs for a people who are sure. "(45:4); (ii) 30:20

H. Animals : (i) "And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and what He has spread forth in both of them of living beings. And He is all-powerful to gather them together, when He will. "(42:29); (ii) "And when the word comes to pass against them, We shall bring forth for them a creature from the earth that will speak to them, because people did not believe in Our message. "(27:82). (iii) 20:54

I. Earth : (i) "And of His signs is this, that thou seest the earth still, but when we send down water thereon, it stirs and swells. He who gives it life is surely the Giver of life to the dead. Surely He is possessor of power over all things. "(41:39); (ii) 51:20

J. Hearts of the learned : (i) "And thou didst not recite before it any book, nor didst thou transcribe one with thy right hand, for then could the liars have doubted. Nay, it is clear signs in the hearts of those who are granted knowledge. And none deny Our signs except the iniquitous. "(29:48-49).

K. The Unseen : (i) "Certainly he saw of the greatest signs of his Lord. "(53:18); (ii) "Glory to Him who carried His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Remote Mosque, whose precincts We blessed, that We might show him of Our signs! Surely He is the Hearing, the Seeing. "(17:1).

L. Human Relationships : Love, Mercy : (i) "And of His signs is this, that He created mates for you from yourselves that you might find quiet of mind in them, and He put between you love and compassion. Surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect. "(30:21).

M. Diversity of Color and Language : (i) "And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the Diversity of your tongues and colors. Surely there are signs in this for the learned. "(30:22).

N. Other Things :

1. Trees : 14:24; 53:14

2. Bee, Gnat Spider, Dog, Camel, Hoopoe : 16:68-69; 2:26; 29:41-43; 18:17-18; 88:17; 27:20-26

3. Rains : 24:43-44; 39:21

4. Breeze, Winds : 34:12; 69:6

5. Thunder, Storm, Lightning : 30:24

6. Oceans : 16:14

7. Water : 56:68-70; 39:21

8. Mountains : 16:15; 59:21

9. Stones : Hajr-e-Aswad, the Black Stone.

V. SIGNS ARE FOR :

A. Believers : (i) 2:248, (ii) 3:49; (iii) 16:79; (iv) 29:44; (v) 30:37; (vi) 39:52; (vii) 45:3

B. Those who fear the punishment of Al-Akhirah : (i) 11:103, (ii) 51:37

C. People who reflect : (i)10:24; (ii) 13:3; (iii)16:11; (iv) 16:69; (v)30:21; (vi) 39:42

D. People who are mindful : (i) 6:126; (ii) 16:13

E. People who listen : (i) 10:67; (ii)16:65; (iii) 30:23

F. People who ponder : (i) 2:164; (ii) 3:118; (iii) 13:4; (iv) 16:12; (v) 16:67; (vi) 29:35; (vii) 30:24; (viii) 30:28; (ix) 45:5

G. People who know : (i) 6:98; (ii) 7:32 (iii) 9:11; (iv) 10:5; (v) 27:52; (vi) 30:22

H. Every Servant Turning (To Allah) : (i) 34:9

I. Men of under-standing : (i) 3:190

J. People who understand : (i) 6:99

K. People who give thanks : (i) 7:58

L. People who are God-conscious : (i) 10:6

M. Every stead-fast, grateful one : (i)14:5; (ii) 34:19; (iii) 42:33

N. Those who take a lesson : (i) 15:75

O. Men of under-standing : (i) 20:54; (ii)20:128

P. In the hearts of those who are granted knowledge : (i) 29:49

Q. People who are sure : (i) 45:4; (ii) 51:20

R. Those who inquire : (i) 12:7

S. Mankind : (i) 2:187

VI. SIGNS ARE SENT, SHOWN, MADE CLEAR AND REPEATED SO THAT :

A. You may understand : (i) 2:73; (ii) 2:242

B. You may be guided : (i)3:103

C. You may give thanks : (i) 5:89

D. You may be certain : (i) 13:2

E. You may reflect : (i) 2:219; (ii)2:266

F. They may be mindful : (i) 2:221

G. They may be God-conscious : (i) 2:187

H. They may understand : (i) 6:65

I. They may return : (i) 7:174; (ii) 46:27

VII. DENIAL OF, AND DISBELIEF IN, THE SIGNS :

(1) Severe chastisement for those who Disbelieve. : (i) 3:4; (ii) 8:52

(2) Rejecters of Signs, destroyed; they are companions of Fire. : (i)2:39; (ii) 3:10

(3) Those headless of Signs : (i)7:146; (ii) 10:92

(4) Those who strive in opposing signs. : (i) 34:5

(5) Those who deny signs : (i) 7:51; (ii) 41:15; (iii) 41:28

(6) Those who make mockery of signs. Not to take Allah's signs for mockery. : (i) 18:56 (ii) 2:231

(7) Most of the people do not believe in signs. : (i) 26:8; (ii) 26:67; (iii) 26:103

(8) Signs do not profit those who disbelieve. : (i) 10:101

(9) The works of disbeliever's in signs are vain and get no weight on the day of Judgment. : (i) 18:105

(10) Those who forget signs will be forgotten on the day of Judgment :(i) 20:126

(11) Those who disbelieve in the signs are losers. : (i) 39:63

(12) Disbeliever's dispute about signs : (i) 40:4; (ii) 42:35

(13) Those who make the signs of Allah a jest. : (i) 45:35

(14) Those who reject signs are deaf and dumb and in darkness. : (i) 6:39

(15) Those who treat signs with pride and reject. : (i) 7:40; (ii) 7:146

(16) Those who distort the truth in the signs. : (i) 41:40

(17) Not to ask for hastening the signs. : (i) 21:37

(18) Which of the signs will man deny? : (i) 40:81

(19) If the disbeliever's saw every one of the signs, they will not believe in them. : (i) 6:25

(20) Signs are repeated but disbeliever's turn aside from Allah's Signs. : (i) 6:46

(21) Turn away from those who are engaged in vain discourses about Allah's Signs. : (i) 6:68

(22) Do not follow the vain desires of those who reject Allah's Signs. : (i) 6:150

(23) Those who turn away from Allah's Signs do great wrong and injustice. : (i) 6:157

(24) Those who take a miserable price for Allah's Signs. : (i) 9:9

(25) People who devise plans against Allah's Signs. : (i) 10:21

(26) Those who rejected signs drowned. : (i) 10:73

(27) Disbelievers call the signs manifest sorcery : (i) 27:13

(28) Disbeliever's reject the signs and hold them up in ridicule; their end will be evil. : (i) 30:10

(29) Disbeliever's turn away from the signs of their Lord. : (i) 36:46

(30) When disbeliever's see a sign, they mock at it and call it sorcery. : (i) 37:14-15

(31) In what exposition will the disbeliever's believe after Allah and His signs? : (i) 45:6

(32) Disbeliever's dispute and mock at the signs. : (i) 46:26

(33) When the signs are rehearsed to the disbeliever's they say these are tales of the ancients. : (i) 68:15

(34) Those who reject the signs are people of the left hand. : (i) 90:19

VIII. SIGNS OF GOD AND THE MODERN WESTERN SECULAR WORLD :

(1) Corruption and abandonment of the revealed sources of knowledge and the proper methodology and purpose of study of man and nature led the western world to develop and evolve science as we now find it and the modern secular liberal point of view which was its inevitable consequence. According to this point of view there is no design or purpose in creation. The creation of the universe, the existence of life and the creation of man-all are as a result of blind chance. According to the proponents of this philosophy, there is no Creator, and even if some of them believe in God, the Creator, their concept of God is extremely limited inasmuch as they consider that He has nothing to do with the creation after the initial act of Creation.

(2) According to the Holy Quran and the point of view of Islam, Allah, the Creator of the Universe, is the All-Powerful, Living and Eternal God Who is ever-Active. The universe, life and man were created for a purpose. He has a design and purpose in creation and this can be discerned through a study of the Signs of God.

(3) In a brilliant analysis of the genesis, development and culmination of western science and the modern secular western philosophy of life, Bryan Appleyard states in his book "Understanding the Present": "Science itself has no morality or faith and can tell us nothing about the meaning, purpose and significance of our own lives... Hard scientific truth denies us a place in the world, an ultimate significance and a sense of the worth of our own actions; it subverts values by insisting upon the contingency of all that we do and are. " He emphasizes the urgency and the need for "an understanding of the appalling spiritual damage that science has done and how much more it can still do ... Science, quietly and inexplicitly, is taking us into abandoning ourselves, our true selves.... it has gone too far .... it is potentially out of control, ... it now threatens to throw our civilization out of balance. That is why now is the time to resist."

(4) The Holy Quran tells us that Allah is the Real, the Truth, the Lord and the Creator. The entire universe was created for a purpose and with a design. It has a meaning. Man was created to worship God, to know His message, to understand His signs and to live in this world in accordance with His commandments. Man has been honored and accorded a central place in the creation as the vicegerent of God but he has the potential to fall into "the lowest of the low" if he does not properly understand and decipher the signs of God for leading life of full commitment (Iman) to One True God and righteous conduct.

(5) Following the Greco-Roman tradition and failing to decipher the Signs of God in nature and in man himself in the proper manner, science in the western world evolved as it did with enormous and dangerous consequences for the entire human race and civilization. "One clear message that science has wished to pass on to us ever since Galileo applied his eye to the telescope:" says Appleyard," that we are nothing but trivial accidents, and that each man must hope and believe what he can in the grim certainty that nobody and nothing will ever be able to tell him whether he is right or wrong".

In this view of life, "modern man could only see a great vacancy ... a world in which meaning cannot be found. Just as the material benefits of science and technology were invading our lives in force, transforming our economics and our health, the terrible vacuum beneath their achievements was suddenly being made dramatically apparent to us all ... Only the most willfully insensitive could be unaware that something had gone badly wrong with the nineteenth century's dream of material progress. For we have not only inherited that century's legacy of the cold shock of a meaningless universe we have also to cope with the discovery of a range of potential evils unknown to the world before the advent of science and technology." This was, we may say, a direct result of the severance of knowledge and value which "had been a common place of philosophy for two centuries.".



(6) In arriving at the conclusion that the western liberal scientific society is unstable, inadequate and in deterioration and that the western scientific understanding as a basis of human life is radically inadequate, Appleyard writes:

'One of the greatest benefits that science confers upon those who understand its spirit', wrote Bertrand Russell, 'is that it enables them to live without the delusive support of subjective certainly. That is why science cannot favor persecution'.

This remark embodies the liberal creed in its most abject form -- expressed in the trappings of high philosophy ... It demands that we disregard everything that is truly our selves-everything that is utterly real to us, that outside the reach of science ... It never occurs to Russell to consider that it is the terrible things that should be eliminated rather than the 'subjective certainty'."

(7) Appleyard concludes: "In answer to the question: What more is there to worry about? My first answer was that it is inhuman not to worry about our spiritual impoverishment. My second answer is that liberal society is unstable and in deterioration. The scientific understanding as a basis for human life is radically inadequate, yet it continues to triumph. As a result human life itself will become inadequate. That is what there is to worry about.".

(8) The Holy Quran urges man to think, to understand and to decipher the Signs of God so that man may realize his potential and fulfill the destiny for which he was sent to this world as a vicegerent of God. Man is told that whatever there is in the earth has been created for him. He has been asked to acquire knowledge, to make use of everything but in complete submission to the will of God, the Creator of man and the universe so that there is a perfect balance and harmony in the universe and in his own self.


Published in the Muslim World League Journal, Vol 24, No.8
SHA'BAN 1417 - DEC 1996, Makkah Al-Mukarramah
A Journal of Rabitat Al Alam Al Islami

- By

Mr. Ziaul H. Qutubuddin

References:

1. Deciphering the Signs of God: A Phenomenological Approach to Islam. By Annemarie Schimmel. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 1994.

2. Understanding the Present: Science and the Soul of Man by Bryan Appleyard. Pan Book Ltd., London, 1993.


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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Jesus (PBUH) in Islam and Christianity

The Islamic and Christian views of Jesus: a comparison

The person of Jesus or Isa in Arabic (alaihi was-salaam - peace be
upon him) is of great significance in both Islam and Christianity.
However, there are differences in terms of beliefs about the nature
and life occurrences of this noble Messenger.

Source of information about Jesus in Islam

Most of the Islamic information about Jesus is actually found in the
Quran.

The Quran was revealed by God to Prophet Muhammad (peace and
blessings be upon him), and memorized and written down in his
lifetime. Today, anyone who calls him or herself a Muslim believes
in the complete authenticity of the Quran as the original revealed
guidance from God.

Source of information about Jesus in Christianity

Christians take their information about Jesus from the Bible, which
includes the Old and New Testaments.

These contain four biblical narratives covering the life and death
of Jesus. They have been written, according to tradition,
respectively by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are placed at the
beginning of the New Testament and comprise close to half of it.

Encyclopedia Britannica notes that none of the sources of his life
and work can be traced to Jesus himself; he did not leave a single
known written word. Also, there are no contemporary accounts written
of his life and death. What can be established about the historical
Jesus depends almost without exception on Christian traditions,
especially on the material used in the composition of the Gospels of
Mark, Matthew, and Luke, which reflect the outlook of the later
church and its faith in Jesus.

Below are the views of Islam and Christianity based on primary
source texts and core beliefs.

ISLAM

1. Do Muslims believe he was a Messenger of One God? YES

Belief in all of the Prophets and Messengers of God is a fundamental
article of faith in Islam. Thus, believing in Prophets Adam, Jesus,
Moses, and Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon them) is a
requirement for anyone who calls him or herself a Muslim. A person
claiming to be a Muslim who, for instance, denies the Messengership
of Jesus, is not considered a Muslim.

The Quran says in reference to the status of Jesus as a Messenger:

"The Messiah (Jesus), son of Mary, was no more than a Messenger
before whom many Messengers have passed away; and his mother adhered
wholly to truthfulness, and they both ate food (as other mortals
do). See how We make Our signs clear to them; and see where they are
turning away!" (Quran 5:75).

2. Do Muslims believe he was born of a Virgin Mother? YES

Like Christians, Muslims believe Mary, Maria in Spanish, or Maryam
as she is called in Arabic, was a chaste, virgin woman, who
miraculously gave birth to Jesus.

"Relate in the Book the story of Mary, when she withdrew from her
family, to a place in the East. She screened herself from them; then
We sent to her Our spirit (angel Gabriel) and he appeared before her
as a man in all respects. She said: I seek refuge from you in God
Most Gracious (come not near) if you do fear God. He said: Nay, I am
only a Messenger from your Lord, to announce to you the gift of a
pure son. She said: How shall I have a son, when no man has ever
touched me, and I am not unchaste? He said: So it will be, your Lord
says: `That is easy for Me; and We wish to appoint him as a sign
unto men and a Mercy from Us': It was a matter so decreed" (Quran
19:16-21).

3. Do Muslims believe Jesus had a miraculous birth? YES

The Quran says:

"She (Mary) said: `O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has
touched me.' He (God) said: `So (it will be) for God creates what He
wills. When He has decreed something, He says to it only: `Be!'- and
it is" (3:47).

It should also be noted about his birth that:

"Verily, the likeness of Jesus in God's Sight is the likeness of
Adam. He (God) created him from dust, then (He) said to him: `Be!'-
and he was" (Quran 3:59).

4. Do Muslims believe Jesus spoke in the cradle? YES

"Then she (Mary) pointed to him. They said: `How can we talk to one
who is a child in the cradle?' He (Jesus) said: `Verily! I am a
slave of God, He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet; "
(19:29-30).

5. Do Muslims believe he performed miracles? YES

Muslims, like Christians believe Jesus performed miracles. But these
were performed by the will and permission of God, Who has power and
control over all things.

"Then will God say: `O Jesus the son of Mary! recount My favor to
you and to your mother. Behold! I strengthened you with the Holy
Spirit (the angel Gabriel) so that you did speak to the people in
childhood and in maturity. Behold! I taught you the Book and Wisdom,
the Law and the Gospel. And behold: you make out of clay, as it
were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and you breathe into it,
and it becomes a bird by My leave, and you heal those born blind,
and the lepers by My leave. And behold! you bring forth the dead by
My leave. And behold! I did restrain the children of Israel from
(violence to you) when you did show them the Clear Signs, and the
unbelievers among them said: `This is nothing but evident magic'
(5:110).

6. Do Muslims believe in the Trinity? NO

Muslims believe in the Absolute Oneness of God, Who is a Supreme
Being free of human limitations, needs and wants. He has no partners
in His Divinity. He is the Creator of everything and is completely
separate from His creation.

God says in the Quran regarding the Trinity:

"People of the Book (Jews and Christians)! Do not exceed the limits
in your religion, and attribute to God nothing except the truth. The
Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God, and His
command that He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So
believe in God and in His Messengers, and do not say: `God is a
Trinity.' Give up this assertion; it would be better for you. God is
indeed just One God. Far be it from His glory that He should have a
son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth. God
is sufficient for a guardian" (Quran 4:171).

7. Do Muslims believe that Jesus was the son of God? NO

"Say: "God is Unique! God, the Source [of everything]. He has not
fathered anyone nor was He fathered, and there is nothing comparable
to Him!" (Quran 112:1-4).

The Quran also states:

"Such was Jesus, the son of Mary; it is a statement of truth, about
which they vainly dispute. It is not befitting to the majesty of
God, that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines
a matter, He only says to it, `Be' and it is" (Quran 19:34-35).

8. Do Muslims believe Jesus was killed on the cross then
resurrected? NO

"And because of their saying, `We killed Messiah Jesus, son of Mary,
the Messenger of God'- but they killed him not, nor crucified him,
but the resemblance of Jesus was put over another man (and they
killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts.
They have no knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For
surely they killed him not (Jesus, son of Mary). But God raised him
(Jesus) up unto Himself. And God is ever All-Powerful, All-Wise"
(Quran 4:157-158).

CHRISTIANITY

1. Do Christians believe Jesus was a human being and Messenger of
God? YES & NO

With the exception of Unitarian Christians, who like all the early
followers of Jesus, still do not believe in the Trinity, most
Christians now believe in the Divinity of Jesus, which is connected
to the belief in Trinity. They say he is the second member of the
Triune God, the Son of the first part of the Triune God, and at the
same time "fully" God in every respect.

2. Do Christians believe he was born of a Virgin Mother? YES

A chaste and pious human woman who gave birth to Jesus Christ, the
second member of the Trinity, the Son of God, and at the same
time "fully" God Almighty in every respect.

Christians believe however, that while she was a virgin, she was
married to a man named Joseph (Bible: Matthew:1:18). According to
Matthew 1:25, Joseph "kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a
Son; and he called His name Jesus".

3. Do Christians believe he had a miraculous birth? YES

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary
had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was
found to be with child by the Holy Spirit" (Bible: Matthew 1:18)

4. Do Christians believe he performed miracles? YES

"And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants
to speak thy word with all boldness, while thou stretches out thy
hand to heal, and sign and wonders are performed through the name of
thy holy servant Jesus (Bible: Acts 4:30).

Christians believe that Jesus performed these miracles because he
was the Son of God as well as the incarnation of God.

5. Do Christians believe in the Trinity? YES

With the exception of the Unitarian Christians, who do not believe
in the Divinity of Christ, the Trinity, according to the Catholic
encyclopedia, is the term used for the central doctrine of the
Christian religion. The belief is that in the unity of the Godhead
there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
These three Persons or beings are distinct from each another, while
being similar in character: uncreated and omnipotent.

The First Vatican Council has explained the meaning to be attributed
to the term mystery in theology. It lays down that a mystery is a
truth which we are not merely incapable of discovering apart from
Divine Revelation, but which, even when revealed, remains "hidden by
the veil of faith and enveloped, so to speak, by a kind of darkness"
(Const., "De fide. cath.", iv). The First Vatican Council further
defined that the Christian Faith contains mysteries strictly so
called (can. 4). All theologians admit that the doctrine of the
Trinity is of the number of these. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes
that of all revealed truths, this is the most impenetrable to
reason.

6. Do Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God? YES

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever
believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God
sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the
world might be saved through Him (Bible: John 3:16).

However, it is interesting to note that the term "son of God" is
used in other parts of the Bible to refer to Adam (Bible: Luke
3:38), Israel (Bible: Exodus 4:22) and David (Bible: Psalms 2:7) as
well. The creatures of God are usually referred to in the Bible as
children of God.

The role of Paul of Tarsus in shaping this belief and the belief in
Trinity

The notion of Jesus as son of God is something that was established
under the influence of Paul of Tarsus (originally named Saul), who
had been an enemy of Jesus, but later changed course and joined the
disciples after the departure of Jesus.

Later, however, he initiated a number of changes into early
Christian teachings, in contradiction, for instance, to disciples
like Barnabas, who believed in the Oneness of God and who had
actually lived and met with Jesus.

Paul is considered by a number of Christian scholars to be the
father of Christianity due to his additions of the following ideas:

that Jesus is the son of God,

the concept of Atonement,

the renunciation of the Law of the Torah.

Paul did these things in hopes of winning over the Gentiles (non-
Jewish people). His letters are another of the primary sources of
information on Jesus according to the Christian tradition.

The original followers of Prophet Jesus opposed these blatant
misrepresentations of the message of Jesus. They struggled to reject
the notion of the Divinity of Jesus for close to 200 years.

One person who was an original follower of Jesus was Barnabas. He
was a Jew born in Cyrus and a successful preacher of the teachings
of Jesus. Because of his closeness to Jesus, he was an important
member of the small group of disciples in Jerusalem who had had
gathered together following the disappearance of Jesus.

The question of Jesus's nature, origin and relationship with God was
not raised amongst Barnabas and the small group of disciples. Jesus
was considered a man miraculously endowed by God. Nothing in the
words of Jesus or the events in his life led them to modify this
view.

The Gospel of Barnabas was accepted as a Canonical Gospel in the
Churches of Alexandria till 325 CE Iranaeus (130-200) wrote in
support of pure monotheism and opposed Paul for injecting into
Christianity doctrines of the pagan Roman religion and Platonic
philosophy. He quoted extensively from the Gospel of Barnabas in
support of his views. This indicates that the Gospel of Barnabas was
in circulation in the first and second centuries of Christianity.

In 325 (CE), a council of Christian leaders met at Nicaea and made
Paul's beliefs officially part of Christian doctrine. It also
ordered that all original Gospels in Hebrew script which
contradicted Paul's beliefs should be destroyed. An edict was issued
that anyone in possession of these Gospels would be put to death.

The Gospel of Barnabas has miraculously survived though.

7. Do Christians believe he was killed on the cross? YES

This is a core Christian belief and it relates to the concept of
atonement. According to this belief, Jesus died to save mankind from
sin. However, this is not stated explicitly in the four gospels
which form the primary source texts of Christianity. It is found,
however, in Romans 6:8,9.

Christians believe Jesus was spat on, cut, humiliated, kicked,
striped and finally hung up on the cross to endure a slow and
painful death.

According, to Christian belief, the original sin of Adam and Eve of
eating from the forbidden tree was so great that God could not
forgive it by simply willing it, rather it was necessary to erase it
with the blood of a sinless, innocent Jesus.

Resurrection

The four Gospels and the Epistles of St. Paul are the main sources
of Christianity which discuss the Resurrection of Jesus after his
crucifixion. According to St. Matthew, Jesus appeared to the holy
women, and again on a mountain in Galilee. Mark's Gospel tells a
different story: Jesus was seen by Mary Magdalene, by the two
disciples at Emmaus, and the Eleven before his Ascension into heaven.

Luke's Gospel says Jesus walked with the disciples to Emmaus,
appeared to Peter and to the assembled disciples in Jerusalem. In
John's Gospel, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the ten Apostles
on Easter Sunday, to the Eleven a week later, and to seven disciples
at the Sea of Tiberias.

Another account of the resurrection by St. Paul is found in Bible:
Corinthians 15: 3-8.

According to Christian belief, Resurrection is a manifestation of
God's justice, Who exalted Christ to a life of glory, as Christ had
humbled himself unto death (Phil., 2: 8-9). This event also
completes the mystery of Christian salvation and redemption. The
death of Jesus frees believers from sin, and with his resurrection,
he restores to them the most important privileges lost by sin
(Bible: Romans 4:25).

More importantly, the belief in the resurrection of Jesus indicates
Christian acknowledgment of Christ as the immortal God, the cause of
believers' own resurrection (Bible: I Corinthians 4: 21; Phil., 3:20-
21), as well as the model and the support of a new life of grace
(Bible: Romans 4: 4-6; 9-11).

Taken from Sound Vision Foundation, Inc.


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