Gheebah (Backbiting)

Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:
 O you who have believed, avoid much suspicion, for some suspicions are sins. Do not spy, nor should any one backbite the other. Is there any among you who would like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?' Nay, you yourselves abhor it. Fear Allah, for Allah is Acceptor of repentance and All-Merciful. (49:12)


Gheebat (back-biting) has been defined thus: "It is saying on the back of a person something which would hurt him if he came to know of it. " This definition has been reported from the Holy Prophet himself. According to a tradition which Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i and others have related on the authority of Hadrat Abu Hurairah, the Holy Prophet defined Gheebat as follows:
"It is talking of your brother in a way irksome to him." It was asked: "What, if the defect being talked of is present in my brother ?" The Holy Prophet replied: "If it is present in him, it would be Gheebat; if it is not there, it would be slandering him."
In another tradition which Imam Malik has related in Mu'watta, on the authority of Hadrat Muttalib bin `Abdullah, "A person asked the Holy Prophet: What is Gheebat? The Holy Prophet replied: It is talking of your brother in a way irksome to him. He asked: Even if it is true, O Messenger of Allah? He replied: If what you said was false, it would then be a calumny."

These traditions make it plain that uttering a false accusation against a person in his absence is calumny and describing a real defect in him Gheebat; whether this is done in express words or by reference and allusion, in every case it is forbidden. Likewise, whether this is done in the lifetime of a person, or after his death, it is forbidden in both cases.

According to Abu Da'ud, when Ma`iz bin Malik Aslami had been stoned to death for committing adultery, the Holy Prophet on his way back heard a man saying to his companion: "Look at this man: Allah had concealed his secret, but he did not leave himself alone till he was killed like a dog!" A little further on the way there was the dead body of a donkey lying rotting. The Holy Prophet stopped, called the two men and said: "Come down and eat this dead donkey." They submitted: "Who will eat it, O Messenger of Allah?" The Holy Prophet said: "A little before this you were attacking the honor of your brother: that was much worse than eating this dead donkey."

The only exceptions to this prohibition are the cases in which there may be a genuine need of speaking in of a person on his back, or after his death, and this may not be fulfilled without resort to backbiting, and if it was not resorted to, a greater evil might result than backbiting itself. The Holy Prophet has described this exception as a principle, thus: "The worst excess is to attack the honour of a Muslim unjustly." (Abu Da'ud).
In this saying the condition of "unjustly" points out that doing so "with justice" is permissible. Then, in the practice of the Holy Prophet himself we find some precedents which show what is implied by "justice" and in what conditions and cases backbiting may be lawful to the extent as necessary.

Once a desert Arab came and offered his Prayer under the leadership of the Holy Prophet, and as soon as the Prayer was concluded, walked away saying: "O God, have mercy on me and on Muhammad, and make no one else a partner in this mercy beside the two of us." The Holy Prophet said to the Companions: `What do you say: who is more ignorant: this person or his camel? Didn't you hear what he said?" (Abu Da`ud). The Holy Prophet had to say this in his absence, for he had left soon after the Prayer was over. Since he had uttered a wrong thing in the presence of the Holy Prophet, his remaining quiet at it could cause the misunderstanding that saying such a thing might in some degree be lawful; therefore, it was necessary that he should contradict it.

Two of the Companions, Hadrat Mu`awiyah and Hadrat Abu Jahm, sent the proposal of marriage to a lady, Fatimah bint Qais. She came to the Holy Prophet and asked for his advice. He said: "Mu`awiyah is a poor man and Abu Jahm beats his wives much." (Bukhari, Muslim). In this case, as there was the question of the lady's future and she had consulted the Holy Prophet for his advice, he deemed it necessary to inform her of the two men's weaknesses.

One day when the Holy Prophet was present in the apartment of Hadrat 'A'ishah, a man came and sought permission to see him. The Holy Prophet remarked that he was a very bad man of his tribe. Then he went out and talked to him politely. When he came back into the house, Hadrat `A'ishah asked: "You have talked to him politely, whereas when you went out you said something different about him. " The Holy Prophet said, "On the day of Resurrection the worst abode in the sight of Allah will be of the person whom the people start avoiding because of his abusive language." (Bukhari, Muslim). A study of this incident will show that the Holy Prophet in spite of having a bad opinion about the person talked to him politely because that was the demand of his morals; but he had the apprehension lest the people of his house should consider the person to be his friend when they would see him treating him kindly, and then the person might use this impression to his own advantage later. Therefore, the Holy Prophet warned Hadrat `A'ishah telling her that he was a bad man of his tribe.

Once Hind bint 'Utbah, wife of Hadrat Abu Sufyan, came to the Holy Prophet and said: "Abu Sufyan is a miserly person: he does not provide enough for me and my children's needs. " (Bukhari, Muslim). Although this complaint from the wife in the absence of the husband was backbiting, the Holy Prophet pemitted it, for the oppressed has a right that he or she may take the complaint of injustice to a person who has the power to get it removed.

From these precedents of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, the jurists and traditionists have deduced this principle: 'Gheebat (backbiting) is permissible only in case it is needed for a real and genuine (genuine from the Shari'ah point of view) necessity and the necessity may not be satisfied without having resort to it". Then on the basis of the same principle the scholars have declared that Gheebat is permissible in the following cases:

(1) Complaining by an oppressed person against the oppressor before every such person who he thinks can do something to save him from the injustice.

(2) To make mention of the evils of a person (or persons) with the intention of reform before those who can do expected to help remove the evils.

(3) To state the facts of a case before a legal expert for the purpose of seeking a religious or legal ruling regarding an unlawful act committed by a person.

(4) To warn the people of the mischiefs of a person (or persons) so that they may ward off the evil, e g. it is not only permissible but obligatory to mention the weaknesses of the reporters, witnesses and writers, for without it, it is not possible to safeguard the Shariah against the propagation of false reports, the courts against injustices and the common people or the students against errors and misunderstandings. Or, for instance, if a person wants to have the relationship of marriage with somebody, or wishes to rent a house in the neighborhood of somebody, or wants to give something into the custody of somebody, and consults another person, it is obligatory for him to apprise him of all aspects so that he is not deceived because of ignorance.

(5) To raise voice against and criticise the evils of the people who may be spreading sin and immorality and error, or corrupting the people's faith and persecuting them.

(6) To use nicknames for the people who may have become well known by those names, but this should be done for the purpose of their recognition and not with a view to condemn them. (For details, see Fat-h al-Bari, vol. X, p. 362; Sharah Muslim by An-Nawawi; Riyad us-Salihin; al-Jassas, Ahkam al-Qur an; Ruh al-Maani commentary on verse wa a yaghtab ba 'dukum ba 'dan).
 
Apart from these exceptions it is absolutely forbidden to speak ill of a person behind his back. If what is spoken is true, it is Gheebat; if it is false, it is calumny; and if it is meant to make two persons quarrel, it is slander. The Shari'ah has declared all these as forbidden. In the Islamic society it is incumbent on every Muslim to refute a false charge made against a person in his presence and not to listen to it quietly, and to tell those who are speaking ill of somebody, without a genuine religious need, to fear God and desist from the sin. The Holy Prophet has said: If a person does not support and help a Muslim when he is being disgraced and his honour being attacked, Allah also does not support and help him when he stands in need of His help; and if a person helps and supports a Muslim when his honour is being attacked and he is being disgraced, Allah Almighty also helps him when he wants that AIlah should help him. (Abu Da'ud).

As for the backbiter, as soon as he realizes that he is committing this sin, or has committed it, his first duty is to offer repentance before Allah and restrain himself from this forbidden act. His second duty is that he should compensate for it as far as possible. If he has backbitten a dead person, he should ask Allah's forgiveness for the person as often as he can. If he has backbitten a living person, and what he said was also false, he should refute it before the people before whom he had made the calumny. And if what he said was true, he should never speak ill of him in future, and should ask pardon of the person whom he had backbitten. A section of the scholars has expressed the opinion that pardon should be asked only in case the other person has come to know of it; otherwise one should only offer repentance, for if the person concerned is unaware and the backbiter in order to ask pardon goes and tells him that he had backbitten him, he would certainly feel hurt.


In the verse, Allah by likening backbiting to eating a dead brother's flesh has given the idea of its being an abomination. Eating the dead flesh is by itself abhorrent; and when the flesh is not of an animal, but of a man, and that too of one's own dead brother, abomination would be added to abomination. Then, by presenting the simile in the interrogative tone it has been made all the more impressive, so that every person may ask his own conscience and decide whether he would like to eat the flesh of his dead brother. If he would not, and he abhors it by nature, how he would like that he should attack the honour of his brother-in-faith in his absence, when he cannot defend himself and when he is wholly unaware that he is being disgraced. This shows that the basic reason of forbidding backbiting is not that the person being backbitten is being hurt but speaking ill of a person in his absence is by itself unlawful and forbidden whether he is aware of it, or not, and whether he feels hurt by it or not. Obviously, eating the flesh of a dead man is not forbidden because it hurts the dead man; the dead person is wholly unaware that somebody is eating of his body, but because this act by itself is an abomination. Likewise, if the person who is backbitten also does not come to know of it through any means, he will remain unaware throughout his life that somebody had attacked his honour at a particular time before some particular people and on that account he had stood disgraced in the eyes of those people. Because of this unawareness he will not feel at all hurt by this backbiting, but his honour would in any case be sullied. Therefore, this act in its nature is not any different from eating the flesh of a dead brother.

(Tafheemul Quran)

Valentine Day, Birthdays, and Other Daze

{slide=Beautiful or Ugly} 

What commercial and cultural propaganda presents as beautiful is rooted in ugly paganism but most blind followers do not know.

By Khalid Baig

{/slide} 

{slide=Valentine's Day}

Consider Valentine's Day, a day that after dying out a well deserved death in most of Europe (but surviving in Britain and United States) has suddenly started to emerge across a good swath of Muslim countries. Who was Valentine? Why is this day observed? Legends abound, as they do in all such cases, but this much is clear: Valentine's Day began as a pagan ritual started by Romans in the 4th century BCE to honor the god Lupercus. The main attraction of this ritual was a lottery held to distribute young women to young men for "entertainment and pleasure"--until the next year's lottery. Among other equally despicable practices associated with this day was the lashing of young women by two young men, clad only in a bit of goatskin and wielding goatskin thongs, who had been smeared with blood of sacrificial goats and dogs. A lash of the "sacred" thongs by these "holy men" was believed to make them better able to bear children.

As usual, Christianity tried, without success, to stop the evil celebration of Lupercalia. It first replaced the lottery of the names of women with a lottery of the names of the saints. The idea was that during the following year the young men would emulate the life of the saint whose name they had drawn. (The idea that you can preserve the appearance of a popular evil and yet somehow turn it to serve the purpose of virtue, has survived. Look at all those people who are still trying, helplessly, to use the formats of popular television entertainments to promote good. They might learn something from this bit of history. It failed miserably) Christianity ended up doing in Rome, and elsewhere, as the Romans did.

The only success it had was in changing the name from Lupercalia to St. Valentine's Day. It was done in CE 496 by Pope Gelasius, in honor of some Saint Valentine. There are as many as 50 different Valentines in Christian legends. Two of them are more famous, although their lives and characters are also shrouded in mystery. According to one legend, and the one more in line with the true nature of this celebration, St. Valentine was a "lovers'" saint, who had himself fallen in love with his jailer's daughter.

Due to serious troubles that accompanied such lottery, French government banned the practice in 1776. In Italy, Austria, Hungry, and Germany also the ritual vanished over the years. Earlier, it had been banned in England during the 17th century when the Puritans were strong. However in 1660 Charles II revived it. From there it also reached the New World, where enterprising Yankees spotted a good means of making money. Esther A. Howland, who produced one of the first commercial American Valentine's Day cards called--- what else--- valentines, in the 1840s, sold $5,000 worth--when $5,000 was a lot of money--the first year. The valentine industry has been booming ever since.

{/slide}

{slide=Halloween and Christmas} 

It is the same story with Halloween, which has otherwise normal human beings dressing like ghosts and goblins in a reenactment of an ancient pagan ritual of demon worship. Five star hotels in Muslim countries arrange Halloween parties so the rich can celebrate the superstitions of a distant period of ignorance that at one time even included the shameful practice of human sacrifice. The pagan name for that event was Samhain (pronounced sow-en). Just as in case of Valentine's Day, Christianity changed its name, but not the pagan moorings.

Christmas is another story. Today Muslim shopkeepers sell and shoppers buy Christmas symbols in Islamabad or Dubai or Cairo. To engage in a known religious celebration of another religion is bad enough. What is worse is the fact that here is another pagan celebration (Saturnalia) that has been changed in name ---and in little else--- by Christianity.

Dress

 Can dress be so important that its violations may put a man or a woman into hellfire? Let us read.

Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ قَدْ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَارِي سَوْءَاتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا وَلِبَاسُ التَّقْوَىَ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ ذَلِكَ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللّهِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ

(7:26) 0 Children of Adam!  Indeed We have sent down to you a garment which covers your shame and provides protection and adornment. But the finest of all is the garment of piety. That is one of the signs of Allah so that they may take heed.
By referring to an important aspect of Adam and Eve's story, the attention of the people of Arabia of those days was drawn to the evil influence of Satan upon their lives. Under Satan's influence they had begun to see dress merely as a shield of protection against the inclemencies of the weather and as a means of adornment. The basic purpose of dress to cover the private parts of the body - had receded into the background. People had no inhibition about the immodest exposure of the private parts of their body in public. To publicly take a bath absolutely naked, to attend to the call of nature on thoroughfares, were the order of the day. To crown it all, in the course of Pilgrimage they used to circumambulate around the Ka'bah in stark nakedness. Women even surpassed men in immodesty. In their view, the performance of religious rites in complete nudity was an act of religious merit.
Immodesty, however, was not an exclusive characteristic of the people of Arabia. Many nations indulged in it in the past, and many nations continue to indulge in it even now. Hence the message embodied in these verses is not directed just to the people of Arabia. It is rather directed to all men. Mankind, which is the progeny of Adam, is warned against this particular aspect of Satanic influence on their lives. When men show indifference to God's Guidance and turn away from the Message of the Prophets, they virtually place themselves at the mercy of Satan. For it is Satan who makes them abandon way's that are consistent with true human nature and who leads them to immodesty in the same way he did with Adam and Eve. Were man to reflect on this, it would become quite evident that when he is deprived of the guidance of the Prophets, he cannot even appreciate, let alone fulfil, the primary requirements of his true nature.
يَا بَنِي آدَمَ لاَ يَفْتِنَنَّكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ كَمَا أَخْرَجَ أَبَوَيْكُم مِّنَ الْجَنَّةِ يَنزِعُ عَنْهُمَا لِبَاسَهُمَا لِيُرِيَهُمَا سَوْءَاتِهِمَا

إِنَّهُ يَرَاكُمْ هُوَ وَقَبِيلُهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لاَ تَرَوْنَهُمْ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا الشَّيَاطِينَ أَوْلِيَاء لِلَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ
(7:27) Children of Adam! Let not Satan deceive you in the manner he deceived your parents out of Paradise, pulling off from them their clothing to reveal to them their shame. He and his host surely see you from whence you do not see them. We have made satans the guardians of those who do not believe.
These verses bring into focus several important points.
First, that the need to cover oneself is not an artificial urge in man; rather it is an important dictate of human nature. Unlike animals, God did not provide man with the protective covering that He provided to animals. God rather endowed man with the natural instincts of modesty and bashfulness. Moreover, the private parts of the body are not only, related to sex, but also constitute 'sawat' that is, something the exposure of which is felt to be shameful. Also, God did not provide man with a natural covering in response to man's modesty and bashfulness, but has inspired in him (see verse 26) the urge to cover himself. This is in order that man might use his reason to understand the requirements of his nature, use the resources made available by God, and provide himself a dress.

Second, man instinctively knows that the moral purpose behind the use of dress takes precedence over the physical purpose. Hence the idea that man should resort to dress in order to cover his private parts precedes the mention of dress as a means of providing protection and adornment to the human body. In this connection man is altogether different from animals, With regard to the latter, the natural covering that has been granted serves to protect them from the inclemencies of weather and also to beautify their bodies. However, that natural covering is altogether unrelated to the purpose of concealing their sexual organs. The exposure of those organs is not a matter of shame for them and hence their nature is altogether devoid of the urge to cover them. However, as men fell prey to Satanic influences, they developed a false and unhealthy notion about the function of dress. They were led to believe that the function of dress for human beings is no different from that for animals, viz., to protect them from the inclemencies of weather and to make them look attractive. As for concealing the private parts of the body, the importance of that function has been belittled. For men have been misled into believing that their private parts are, in fact, like other organs of their body. As in the case of animals, there is little need for human beings to conceal their sex organs.

Third, the Qur'an emphasizes that it is not enough for the dress to cover the private parts and to provide protection and adornment to the human body. Man's dress ought to be the dress of piety. This means that a man's dress ought to conceal his private parts. It should also render a man reasonably presentable - the dress being neither too shabby and cheap nor overly expensive and extravagant relative to his financial standing. Nor should dress smack of pride or hauteur, or reflect that pathological mental state in which men prefer characteristically feminine dresses and vice versa: or that the people belonging to one nation mimic people of other nations so as to resemble them, thereby becoming a living emblem of collective humiliation and abasement. The Qur'anic ideal can only be achieved by those who truly believe in the Prophets and sincerely try to follow God's Guidance. For as soon as man decides to reject God's Guidance, Satan assumes his patronage and by one means or another manages to lead him into error after error.

Fourth, the question of dress constitutes one of the numerous signs of God which is visible virtually throughout the world. When the facts mentioned above are carefully considered it will be quite clear as to why dress is an important sign of God. (Tafheemul Quran)
Read more...

Surely the guilty shall not prosper!

 

إِنَّهُ لاَ يُفْلِحُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ 

 

The Qur'anic term falah (prosperity, success) used in the above verse (last part of verse 10:17) has been understood by some to signify such things as longevity, worldly prosperity and other worldly attainments. Under this false impression, they tend to believe that if a claimant to prophethood attains material prosperity and longevity or if his message is spread around, then he ought to be considered a genuine Prophet because he has indeed attained 'prosperity'. Had he been an impostor, it is argued, he would soon have been assassinated, or would have starved to death, and, in any case, his message would not have spread around. Such an absurd line of argument can only be pursued by those who are altogether ignorant of the concept of falah (prosperity) as envisaged in the Qur'an, who are unaware of God's law of respite regarding evil-doers, and who are altogether unappreciative of the special meaning in which the term has been employed in the present context.
In order to fully understand what is meant by saying that 'the guilty shall not prosper', a number of things ought to be borne in mind. In the first place, the Qur'anic statement that "the guilty shall not prosper' is not made with a view to providing a yardstick that might be applied by people so as to determine the truth or falsity of the claimants of prophethood. The verse does not seek to stress that all those who 'prosper' after claiming to be a Prophet are truly Prophets, and that those who do not prosper after making such a claim are not so. The point of emphasis here is altogether different. Here the Prophet (peace be on him) is being made to say that since he knows fully that those guilty of inventing lies against Allah could not prosper, he would not dare make any claim to prophethood if such a claim was false.
On the other hand, the Prophet (peace be on him) also knew that the unbelievers were guilty of rejecting the true signs of God and of declaring a true Prophet of God to be an impostor. In view of that monstrous guilt, it was quite apparent to the Prophet (peace be on him) that they would not prosper.
Moreover, the Qur'anic term falah (prosperity, success) has not been used in the limited sense of worldly success. Rather, it denotes that enduring success which admits of no failure regardless of whether one is able to achieve success in the present phase of one's existence or not. it is quite possible that someone who calls people to falsehood might enjoy life and nourish in a worldly sense, and he might even be able to attain a substantial following for his message. But this is not true prosperity or success; rather it constitutes total loss and failure. Contrarily, it is also possible that someone who calls people to the truth might be exposed to much persecution and be overwhelmed by pain and suffering. It is possible that even before he is able to create any significant following, he is continually subjected to persecution and torture. In the Qur'anic view, such an apparently tragic end constitutes the very zenith of such a person's success rather than his failure.
Moreover, it should be remembered that it has been amply elucidated in the Qur'an that God does not punish evil-doers instantly: that He rather grants them a fair opportunity to mend their ways. Not only that, if the evil-doers misuse the respite granted by God to perpetrate further wrongs, they are sometimes granted an even further respite. In fact, at times a variety of worldly favours are bestowed upon such evil-doers in order that the potential for wickedness inherent in them might be fully exposed by their actions, proving that they do indeed deserve a very severe punishment. Hence, if an impostor continues to enjoy periods of respite and if worldly favours are lavished upon him this should not in any way give rise to the notion that he is on the right path.
In the same way as God grants respite to other evil-doers. He also grants respite to impostors. There are no grounds whatsoever for believing that the respite granted to other evil-doers would not be granted to those impostors who lay false claim to prophethood. We may well call to mind that Satan himself has been granted a respite until Doomsday, It has never been indicated that although Satan is granted a free hand to misguide human beings, as soon as he throws up an impostor claiming prophethood such a venture is instantly nipped in the bud.
In order to refute the view expressed above it is possible that someone may refer to the following verse of the Qur'an: Now if he [i.e. Muhammad] would have made up, ascribed some sayings to Us, We would indeed have seized him by the right hand, and then indeed would have cut his life-vein (al-Haqqah 69: 44-6).
Even a little reflection makes it obvious that the verse in question does not contradict the view we have expressed above. For, what the present verse says relates to a principle which God follows in dealing with true Prophets. Were any such Prophet to falsely claim something to be a revelation from God, he would instantly be seized by God's wrath. To argue to the contrary that all those who are not seized by God's wrath are necessarily genuine Prophets is simply a logical fallacy devoid of any justification. For the threat of instant Divine wrath embodied in this verse is applicable only to true Prophets, and not to impostors who, like other evil-doers, are granted a respite.
This can be well understood if we bear in mind the disciplinary rules laid down by different governments for their officials. It is obvious that those rules are not enforced in respect of ordinary citizens. Were the latter to lay any false claim to being a government official, he would be subjected to the normal rules of the criminal code relating to the conviction of those who are guilty of fraud rather than to the disciplinary rules meant for government officials. Under this analogy, an impostor who claims to be a Prophet, would be dealt with by God along with other evil-doers who commit evil, and who, as we know, are not necessarily punished immediately.
In any case, as we have pointed out earlier, the verses quoted above were not revealed so as to provide the criterion to judge the truth of anyone who lays claim to prophethood. This verse should not be considered to mean that if a celestial hand stretches forth to cut off the life-vein of a claimant to prophethood, such a person is an impostor; and if that does not happen, he is a genuine Prophet. Such a weird criterion would have been needed only if no other means were available to judge the genuineness of a claimant to prophethood. But as things stand, a Prophet is known by his character, by his work, and by the contents of his message. (Tafheemul Quran)

Prophet Muhammad Is The "Shiloh"

User Rating:  / 3
PoorBest 

Prophet Muhammad Is The "Shiloh"

Prophet Jacob, the grandson of Prophet Abraham, is lying sick in bed; he is in his one hundred and forty-seventh year, and the end is approaching rapidly. He summons his twelve sons and their families to his bedroom; and he blesses each son and foretells the future of his tribe. It is generally known as the "Testament of Jacob," and is written in an elegant Hebrew style with a poetic touch. It contains a few words which are unique and never occur again in the Bible. The Testament recalls the varied events in the life of a man who has had many ups and downs. He is reported to have taken advantage of his brother's hunger and bought his right of birth for a dish of pottage, and deceived his blind old father and obtained the blessing which by birthright belonged to Esau. He served seven years to marry Rachel, but was deceived by her father, being married to her elder sister Liah; so he had to serve another term of seven years for the former. The massacre of all the male population by his (Jacob's) two sons Simon and Livi for the pollution of his (Jacob's) daughter Dina by Schechim, the prince of that town, had greatly grieved him. The shameful conduct of his first-born, Reubin, in defiling his father's bed by lying with his concubine was never forgotten nor forgiven by him. But the greatest grief that befell him after the loss of his beloved wife Rachel was the disappearance for many years of his favorite son Joseph. His descent into Egypt and his meeting with Joseph caused him great joy and the recovery of his lost sight. Jacob was a Prophet, and surnamed by God "Israel," the name which was adopted by the twelve tribes that descended from him.

The policy of usurpation of the birthright runs through the records of the Book of Genesis, and Jacob is represented as a hero of this violation of the rights of other persons. He is reported to give the birthright of his grandson Manashi to his younger brother Ephraim, in spite of the remonstrances of their father Joseph (chap. xlviii.). He deprives his firstborn son of his birthright and accords the blessing to Judah, his fourth son, because the former had lain with Bilha, Jacobs's "concubine," who is the mother of his two sons Dan and Nephthali; and deprives the latter because he was no better than the other, inasmuch as he committed adultery with his own daughter-in-law Thamar, who bore a son who became an ancestor of David and of Jesus Christ (chap. xxv. 22, chap. xxxviii.)!

It is indeed incredible that the author, or at least the final editor, of this book was "inspired by the Holy Spirit," as the Jews and Christians allege. Jacob is reported to have married two sisters simultaneously, an action condemned by God's law (Lev. xviii. 18). In fact, with the exception of Joseph and Benjamin, his other sons are described as rough shepherds, liars (to their father and to Joseph), murderers, adulterers, which means it was a family not becoming a Prophet at all. Of course, the Muslims cannot accept any calumny against a Prophet or a righteous man unless it be expressly recorded or mentioned in the Qur'an. We do not believe the sin attributed to Judah to be true (cf. chap. xxxviii), otherwise the blessing accorded to him by Jacob would be a contradiction; and it is this very blessing that we propose to study and discuss in this article.

Jacob could not have blessed his son Judah if the latter was really the father of his own daughter-in-law's son, Peres, for both adulterers would be condemned to death by the Law of God, Who had given him the gift of prophecy (Lev. xx 12). However, the story of Jacob and that of his not very exemplary family is to be found in the Book of Genesis (chaps. xxv. - 1).

The famous prophecy, which may be considered as the nucleus of this testament, is contained in the tenth verse of the forty-ninth chapter of Genesis as follows: -

"The Sceptre shall not depart from Judah, And the Lawgiver from between his feet, Until the coming of Shiloh, And to him belongeth the obedience of peoples."

This is the literal translation of the Hebrew text as much as I can understand it. There are two words in the text which are unique and occur nowhere else in the Old Testament. The first of these words is "Shiloh," and the other "yiqha" or "yiqhath (by construction or contraction).

Shiloh is formed of four letters, shin, yod, lamed and hi. There is a "Shiloh," the proper name of a town in Ephraim, (1 Sam. i. etc.), but there is no yod in it. This name cannot be identical with, or refer to, the town where the Ark of the Covenant or the Tabernacle was; for until then no sceptre or lawgiver had appeared in the tribe of Judah. The word certainly refers to a person, and not to a place.

As far as I can remember, all the versions of the Old Testament have preserved this original Shiloh without giving it a rendering. It is only the Syriac Pshitta (in Arabic called al-Bessita) that has translated it into "He to whom it belongs." It is easy to see how the translator has understood the word as composed of "sh" abridged form of asher= "he, that," and loh (the Arabic lehu) = "is his. ' Consequently, according to the Pshitta, the clause will be read in the following manner: "Until he to whom it belongeth come, And," etc. The personal pronoun "it" may refer to the sceptre and the lawgiver separately or collectively, or perhaps to the "obedience" in the fourth clause of the verse, the language being poetic. According to this important version the sense of the prediction would appear to be plainly this:-

"The royal and prophetic character shall not pass away from Judah until he to whom it belongs come, for his is the homage of people."

But apparently this word is derived from the verb shalah and therefore meaning "peaceful, tranquil, quiet and trust-worthy."

It is most likely that some old transcriber or copyist currente calamo and with a slip of pen has detached the left side of the final letter het, and then it has been transformed into hi, for the two letters are exceedingly alike being onlvery slightly different on the left side. If such an error has been transmitted in the Hebrew manuscript - either intentionally or not - then the word is derived from shalah, ' to send, delegate," the past participle of which would be shaluh - that is, "one who is sent, messenger."

But there appears no reasonable cause for a deliberate change of het for hi, since the yod is preserved in the present shape of Shiloh, which has no vaw that would be necessary for the past participle Shaluh. Besides, I think the Septuagint has retained the Shiloh as it is. The only possible change, therefore, would be of the final letter het into hi. If such be the case, then the word would take the form of Shiluah and correspond exactly to the "Messenger of Yah," the very title given to Muhammad alone "Rasul Allah," i.e. "the Messenger of God." I know that the term "shiluah" is also the technical word for the "letter of divorce," and this because the divorced wife is "sent" away.

I can guess of no other interpretation of this singular name besides the three versions I have mentioned.

Of course, it goes without saying that both the Jews and Christians believe this blessing to be one of the foremost Messianic prophecies. That Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth, is the Christ or Messiah no Muslim can deny, for the Qur'an does acknowledge that title. That every Israelite King and High Priest was anointed with the holy oil composed of olive oil and various spices we know from the Hebrew Scriptures (Lev. xxx. 23-33 ) . Even the Zardushti Koresh King of Persia is called God's Christ: "Thus says the Lord to His Christ Cyrus," etc. (Isa. xlv. 1-7).

It would be superfluous here to mention that although neither Cyrus nor Jesus were anointed by the sacred anointment, yet they are called Messiahs.

As to Jesus, even if his prophetic mission were recognized by the Jews, his Messianic office could never be accepted by them. For none of the marks or characteristics of the Messiah they expect are to be found in the man whom they attempted to crucify. The Jews expect a Messiah with the sword and temporal power, a conqueror who would restore and extend the kingdom of David, and a Messiah who would gather together the dispersed Israel unto the land of Canaan, and subdue many nations under his yoke; but they could never acclaim as such a preacher upon the Mount of Olives, or one born in a manger.

To show that this very ancient prophecy has been practically and literally fulfilled in Prophet Muhammad the following arguments can be advanced. By the allegorical expressions "the Sceptre" and "Law-giver" it is unanimously admitted by the commentators to mean the royal authority and the prophecy respectively. Without stopping long to examine the root and derivation of the second singular word "yiqha," we may adopt either of its two significations, "obedience" or "expectation."

Let us follow the first interpretation of Shiloh as given in the Pshitta version: "he to whom it belongs." This practically means "the owner of the sceptre and the law," or "he who possesses the sovereign and legislative authority, and his is the obedience of nations." Who, then, can this mighty Prince and great Legislator be? Certainly not Moses, for he was the first organizer of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and before him there never appeared a king or prophet in the tribe of Judah. Decidedly not David, because he was the first king and prophet descended from Judah. And evidently not Jesus Christ, because he himself repudiated the idea that the Messiah whom Israel was expecting was a son of David (Matt. xxii. 44, 45; Mark xii. 35-37; Luke xx. 41-44). He has left no written law, and never dreamt of assuming the royal sceptre; in fact, he advised the Jews to be loyal to Caesar and pay him tribute, and on one occasion the crowds attempted to make him a king, but he escaped and hid himself. His Gospel was written on the tablet of his heart, and he delivered his message of "good news," not in scripto, but orally. In this prophecy there is no question of the salvation from original sin by the blood of a crucified person, nor of a reign of a god-man over human hearts. Besides, Jesus did not abrogate the Law of Moses, but he distinctly declared that he had come to fulfill it; nor was he the last Prophet; for after him St. Paul speaks of many "prophets" in the Church.

Prophet Muhammad came with military power and the Qur'an to replace the old Jewish worn-out sceptre and the impracticable and old-fashioned law of sacrifices and of a corrupt priesthood. He proclaimed the purest religion of the one true God, and laid down the best practical precepts and rules for morals and conduct of men. He established the religion of Islam which has united into one real brotherhood many nations and peoples who associate no being with the Almighty. All Muslim peoples obey the Prophet of Allah, love and reverence him as the establisher of their religion, but never worship him or give him divine honor and attributes. He crushed and put an end to the last vestiges of the Jewish principality of Qureihda and Khaibar, having destroyed all their castles and fortifications.

The second interpretation of the tetragram "Shilh," pronounced Shiloh, is equally important and in favor of Prophet Muhammad. As it was shown above, the word signifies "tranquil, peaceful, trustworthy, quiet" and so forth. The Aramaic form of the word is Shilya, from the same root Shala or shla. This verb is not used in Arabic.

It is a well-known fact in the history of the Prophet of Arabia that, previous to his call to the Messengership, he was extremely quiet, peaceful, trustworthy, and of a contemplative and attractive character; that he was surnamed by the people of Mecca "Muhammad al-Emm." When the Meccans gave this title "Emm" or "Amm" to Muhammad they had not the remotest idea of "Shiloh," yet the ignorance of the idolatrous Arabs was made use of by God to confound the unbelieving Jews, who had scriptures and knew their contents. The Arabic verb amana, like the Hebrew aman, to be "firm, constant, secure," and therefore "to be tranquil, faithful and trustworthy," shows that "amin" is precisely the equivalent of Shiloh, and conveys all the significations contained in it.

Prophet Muhammad, before he was called by God to preach the religion of Islam and to abolish the idolatry which he successfully accomplished, was the most quiet and truthful man in Mecca; he was neither a warrior nor a legislator; but it was after he assumed the prophetical mission that he became the most eloquent speaker and the best valiant Arab. He fought with the infidels sword in hand, not for his own personal interest, but for the glory of Allah and for the cause of His religion - Al-Islam. He was shown by God the keys of the treasures of the earth, but he did not accept them, and when he died he was practically a poor man. No other worshiper of God, whether a king or a prophet, has rendered such an admirably great and precious service to God and to man as Prophet Muhammad has done: to God in eradicating the idolatry from a large part of the globe, and to man by having given the most perfect religion and the best laws for his guidance and security. He seized the sceptre and the law from the Jews; fortified the former and perfected the latter. If Prophet Muhammad were permitted to reappear to-day in Mecca or Medina, he would be met by the Muslims with the same affection and "obedience" as he saw there during his earthly life. And he would see with a deep sense of pleasure that the Holy Book he had delivered is the same without the least alteration in it, and that it is chanted and recited exactly as he and his companions did. He would be glad to congratulate them on their fidelity to the religion and to the Oneness of Allah; and to the fact that they have not made of him a god or son of a god.

As to the third interpretation of the name "Shiloh" I remarked that it might possibly be a corruption of "Shaluah," and in that case it would indisputably correspond to the Arabic title of the Prophet so often repeated in the Qur'an, namely, "Rasul" which means exactly the same as Shaluah does, i.e. "a Messenger." "Shaluah Elohim" of the Hebrews is precisely the "Rasul Allah" which phrase is chanted five times a day by the Crier to the Prayers from the minaret of all mosques in the world.

In the Qur'an several prophets, particularly those to whom a sacred scripture has been delivered, are mentioned as Rasul; but nowhere in the Old Testament do we come across Shiloh or Shaluah except in the Testament of Jacob.

Now from whatever point of view we try to study and examine this prophecy of Jacob, we are forced, by the reason of its actual fulfillment in Prophet Muhammad, to admit that the Jews are vainly expecting the coming of another Shiloh, and that the Christians are obstinately persisting in their error in believing that it was Jesus who was intended by Shiloh.

Then there are other observations which deserve our serious consideration. In the first place it is very plain that the sceptre and the legislator would remain in the tribe of Judah so long as the Shiloh does not appear on the scene. According to the Jewish claim, Shiloh has not come yet. It would follow, therefore, that both the Royal Sceptre and the Prophetical Succession were still in existence and belonged to that tribe. But both these institutions have been extinct for over thirteen centuries.

In the second place it is to be observed that the tribe of Judah also has disappeared together with its royal authority and its sister - the prophetical succession. It is an indispensable condition for the maintenance of a tribal existence and identity to show that the tribe as a whole lives either in its own fatherland or elsewhere collectively and speaks its own language. But with the Jews the case is just the reverse. To prove yourself to be an Israelite, you need hardly trouble yourself about it; for anybody will recognize you, but you can never prove yourself to belong to one of the twelve tribes. You are dispersed and have lost your very language.

The Jews are forced to accept one or the other of the two alternatives, namely, either to admit that Shiloh has come already, but that their forefathers did not recognize him, or to accept the fact that there exists no longer a tribe of Judah from which Shiloh will have to descend.

As a third observation it is to be remarked that the text clearly implies, and much against the Judeo-Christian belief, that Shiloh is to be a total stranger to the tribe of Judah, and even to all the other tribes. This is so evident that a few minutes of reflection are sufficient to convince one. The prediction clearly indicates that when Shiloh comes the sceptre and the lawgiver will pass away from Judah; this can only be realized if Shiloh be a stranger to Judah. If Shiloh is a descendant of Judah, how could those two elements cease to exist in that tribe? It could not be a descendant of any of the other tribes either, for the sceptre and the lawgiver were for all Israel, and not for one tribe only. This observation explodes the Christian claim as well. For Jesus is a descendant of Judah through Mary.

I very often wonder at these itinerant and erring Jews. For over twenty-five centuries they have been learning a hundred languages of the peoples whom they have been serving. Since both the Ishmaelites and the Israelites are the offspring of Abraham, what does it matter to them whether Shiloh comes from Judah or Zebulun, from Esau or Isachar, from Ishmael or Isaac, as long as he is a descendant of their father Abraham? Obey the Law of Prophet Muhammad, becomes Muslims, and then it will be that you can go and live in your old fatherland in peace and security.

Short Quotes

There is not a leaf ...

Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:

 وَعِندَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لاَ يَعْلَمُهَا إِلاَّ هُوَ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِن وَرَقَةٍ إِلاَّ يَعْلَمُهَا وَلاَ حَبَّةٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الأَرْضِ وَلاَ رَطْبٍ وَلاَ يَابِسٍ إِلاَّ فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ

(6:59) He has the keys to the realm that lies beyond the reach of human perception; none knows them but He. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea; there is not a leaf which falls that He does not know about and there is not a grain in the darkness of the earth or anything green or dry which has not been recorded in a Clear Book.