Jesus went into the wilderness beyond Jordan with his disciples, and when the midday prayer was done he sat down near to a palm-tree, and under the shadow of the palm-tree his disciples sat down. Then Jesus said: 'So secret is predestination, O brethren, that I say to you, truly, only to one man shall it be clearly known. He it is whom the nations look for, to whom the secrets of God are so clear that, when he comes into the world, blessed shall they be that shall listen to his words, because God shall overshadow them with his mercy even as this palm-tree overshadows us. Yes, even as this tree protects us from the burning heat of the sun, even so the mercy of God will protect from Satan them that believe in that man.'
The disciples answered, "O Master, who shall that man be of whom you speak, who shall come into the world?" Jesus answered with joy of heart: 'He is Muhammad;, Messenger of God, and when he comes into the world, even as the rain makes the earth to bear fruit when for a long time it has not rained, even so shall he be occasion of good works among men, through the abundant mercy which he shall bring. For he is a white cloud full of the mercy of God, which mercy God shall sprinkle upon the faithful like rain.'
Reference: The Gospel of Barnabas, Chapter 163
The Ship and the Lifeboats
Although the pen and the sword are arrayed against it, Islam is spreading. But there are also problems within the Muslim reawakening.
Posted: 14 Zul-Hijjah 1423, 16 February 2003
We are living at a time when the daily news about the world, especially about the Muslim world is quite depressing. In Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq, and many other places Muslim life, property, and honor have been declared fair game by those who wield worldly power. It is not just armies waging this war. A whole gamut of institutions, from sophisticated research centers to slick media, is dedicated to the campaign to sow doubts, to spreads confusion, and to denigrate Islam. In hot spot after hot spot around the world, the sword is busy prosecuting a war on Islam. The pen is busy in both conducting a war on Islam and in trying to foment a war within Islam. While the unprecedented and unexpected momentum gained by the anti-war movement in the middle of February has given some hope that the mad rush to slaughter may be deflected, overall picture remains grim.
And yet these are also the times when people all over the world are coming to Islam in unprecedented numbers. At a time when Muslims have lost control of the sword and the pen, Islam is finding new followers everywhere everyday. (It is quite revealing that even as Islam continues to spread despite the sword, some people should continue to insist that it spread by the sword. As Qur'an repeatedly reminds us, the opponents of Islam are a very closed-minded lot).
Within the Muslim world also there are signs of awakening. Muslims are coming back to Islam after having toyed with one false ideology after another. Colonialism had hit them hard. It subjugated them physically, politically, economically, culturally, and mentally. An education system that they embraced as a ticket out of their miseries during that period of oppression compounded their problems by producing self-doubt and self-hate. It produced generations of perfect strangers within the house of Islam, who were then --- for this 'achievement' --- given leadership roles in all areas of Muslim societies. They hated their languages, their culture, and their religion. It is such people who rule the Muslim world today.
Yet, the scene is changing. More women are choosing hijab and are becoming more assertive about it as a symbol of their Islamic identity. There is a greater interest in Islamic knowledge. Qur'an lectures are attracting crowds that were not seen in the past. The nature of the questions people ask about Islam is also changing. There are more 'how to' and 'what to' questions than 'why' questions coming from the secular educated groups. The last Biswa Ijtima (annual gathering of Tablighi Jamaat in Bangladesh) attracted some two million attendees. What is more, they came from widely varying segments of society. A parallel growth can be seen in Islamic activism. Politics, media, relief and charity, education, and community service are all attracting new workers and new organizations. There is a new enthusiasm, new energy, and new awareness.
Our renewed interest in our religion is great but it is good to remember that Islamic revival will not take place through the blind leading the blind.
But there are also problems within this awakening. The period of colonialism was a big crash in which our ship was destroyed. In the immediate aftermath, survival was the main goal, and people came with whatever lifeboats they could. Now is the time to pick up the pieces and build the ship again. The problem is we have been living in the lifeboats for so long, we are confusing them with the ship. The schools for secular education were one such lifeboat. They imparted some skills necessary for survival in a changed world, although they impoverished Muslim education and society tremendously in so many ways. But today so many well-meaning people who get excited about spreading education in the Muslim world think of nothing more than establishing more of these same schools. Campaigns for 'democracy', whatever it means, were another such lifeboat, aimed at returning control of Muslim affairs to them thereby seeking liberation. Today, democracy or no democracy, nowhere do Muslims have any control over their affairs, but this lifeboat has become a ship and Khilafah, the Islamic system of governance, remains a strange entity. Islamic organizations were such a lifeboat, aimed at gathering like minded people so they could focus their resources and energies on some of the important things. Yet each of them is considered to be the ship by its occupants and captains, thereby creating new lines of cleavage within the Ummah.
There is another issue. Most of our new activism thrives on sincerity, concern and drive but not on knowledge or guidance. There are Islamic relief organizations providing much needed support for the destitute millions. But many do not show a sensitivity to check whether their fund raising methods are Islamic; whether they are distributing the zakat according to Shariah; whether their operation meets the Islamic guidelines. There are organizations focused on media and political activism --- certainly very important fields --- that sometime say things that the media or political establishment they are talking to would like to hear, even if they are totally wrong and un-Islamic. They seem to be doing as much damage as good through ignorance and carelessness.
The same observation can be made about our efforts at spreading Islamic knowledge. It is embarrassing how many of those giving lectures, issuing 'fatwas' (not necessarily calling them so but issuing legal opinions nonetheless), and conducting Qur'an lessons have no qualifications for the job. Yet they find a ready audience among those who confuse eloquence with scholarship.
Our renewed interest in our religion is great but it is good to remember that Islamic revival will not take place through the blind leading the blind. All Islamic work --- whether Dawah, or Jihad, or relief work or political or media activism --- requires guidance from the Shariah, which in turn requires knowledge and understanding. Recognizing the need for such guidance from true scholars is the first step in getting it. The questions we need to ask may not have ready-made answers but that does not justify not asking them or accepting answers from unqualified sources. There is a very good example in the work done in the field of Islamic finance during the last decades. It was the collaboration of religious scholars with experts in economics and finance that produced the body of knowledge today that did not exist before. A similar effort is needed in other fields. Muslim journalists working with scholars can help evolve an Islamic protocol for Journalism. Muslim activists working with scholars can help evolve Islamic protocol for media and political activism. Relief organizations can establish Shariah advisory boards to ensure their operations are within the bounds of Shariah.
Bringing our own house in order is the only response we can and must have to the threats, challenges, and fears we face today.
During the centuries of the crusades, all sorts of slanders were invented against Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). But with the birth of the modern age, marked with religious tolerance and freedom of thought, there has been a great change in the approach of Western authors in their delineation of his life and character. The views of some non-Muslim scholars regarding Prophet Muhammad, given at the end, justify this opinion.
But the West has still to go a step forward to discover the greatest reality about Muhammad and that is his being the true and the last Prophet of God for the whole humanity. In spite of all its objectivity and enlightenment there has been no sincere and objective attempt by the West to understand the Prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh). It is so strange that very glowing tributes are paid to him for his integrity and achievement but his claim of being the Prophet of God has been rejected explicitly or implicitly. It is here that a searching of the heart is required, and a review of the so-called objectivity is needed. The following glaring facts from the life of Muhammad (pbuh) have been furnished to facilitate an unbiased, logical and objective decision regarding his Prophethood.Read more...
Allah Subhanoho wa-T'ala Says to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) in The Holy Quran:
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِين
"And We have not sent you except as a mercy to mankind." (The Prophets 21:107)Read more...
When his wet-nurse, Halima al-Sa‘dia, first saw him, she laid her hand on him and he smiled. "When he smiled," she said, "a light appeared from his mouth that rose to the sky."[32. Bayhaqi, Abu Nu'aym, ibn Ishaq and Abu Ya'la.]
Some of the hadiths we have quoted here have strong chains of transmission, others have weaker ones. However, we must remember that even the chain considered weakest by Muslim traditionists, is quite acceptable as historical proof to any professional historian on this planet, being far stronger and better authenticated than other ancient sources he works with. It is also well known that weak traditions strengthen each other so as to become acceptable. This is why those we have quoted here have been accepted by leading scholars such as Ibn Kathir, Suyutiī, Qadi ‘Iyad, Bayhaqi, and others.
Commenting on the verse of Qur’an,"There has come to you a light from Allah and a clear Book,"[33. Qur'an (5:15)] the well-known scholar al-Alusi says that the light in question is no other than the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him. He quotes the Follower, Qatada, as an authoritative source for this opinion, as well as other well known scholars, pointing out that this is the most logical interpretation of the construction of the verse, Then he also quotes those whose opinion differs from his in that they believe that both the light and the Book refer to the Qur’an. This he does because real Muslim scholars, as opposed to pretenders and impostors, always quote, along with their own opinions, the contrary opinions of other reputable scholars, so weighing both in the most objective manner. Qadi ‘Iyad, the famous author of al-Shifa’, is of the same opinion as al-Alusi, an opinion, an opinion shared by other famous commentators such as Tabari and Qurtubi.