Muhammad (PBUH) (Blessings and Peace be upon him) was born in Makkah, Arabia, on Monday, 12 Rabi' Al-Awwal (2 August C.E). His mother, Aminah was the daughter of Wahb bin Abd Al-Manaf of the Zahrah family. His father, Abdullah, was the son of Abd Al-Muttalib. His genealogy has been traced to the noble house of Isma'il, the son of Ibrahim (Abraham) (PBUH) (May Peace be upon him) in about the fortieth descent. Muhammad's father had died before his birth and his mother died when he was about six years old making him an orphan. In accordance with the tradition of noble families of Makkah, he was taken by a foster mother, Halimah, to her village where he lived for a few years. During these years he was taken to Makkah several times to visit his mother. After the death of his mother, he was placed under the custody of his grandfather, Abd Al-Muttalib. When the grandfather died, he was under the care of his uncle, Abu Talib. By this time he used to look after sheep around Makkah and used to accompany his uncle on trade journeys to Syria.
In his youth he believed firmly in the Oneness of Allah (God)(SWT). He lived a very simple life and hated vanity and pride. He was compassionate to the poor, widows and orphans and shared their sufferings by helping them. He avoided all vices, which were commonly practiced among young people such as gambling, drinking wine, vulgarity and others. He was well-known as As-Sadiq(the truthful) and Al-Amin (the trustworthy). He was always trusted as a mediator between two conflicting parties in his homeland, Makkah.
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"Etiquettes of Life in Islam" by Muhammad Yusuf Islahi
Behave well towards your father and mother and consider this good conduct as a propitious act which will earn God's grace in this world as well as in the next. Next to God, man owes the greatest obligation to his parents. The greatness and value of this obligation towards one's parents may be realised from the fact that the Holy Qur'an at several points mentions the rights of parents and the rights of God simultaneously at one place. Furthermore, the Holy Qur'an has ordained the duty of offering thanks to the parents along with thanksgiving to the Lord.
Hadrat 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud (God be pleased with him) relates "I submitted to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) which deed will win the highest favour of God?" The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) answered : "The prayer which is offered at the appointed hour. I submitted again: 'Next to this which other deed will win the greatest favour of God?' The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) affirmed : "Good conduct towards father and mother." I again submitted : 'And next to this?' The Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed: "Jihad [literally, earnest endeavour; in this context it means armed conflict or fighting] in the way of Allah." (Bukhari, Muslim)
Hadrat 'Abdullah (God be pleased with him) reports : "One day a person went to the presence of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and submitted : "I give my hand into your hand and swear allegiance for performing Hijrat and Jihad and I beseech a reward from God in return for this." The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) enquired: "Is one of your parents alive?" He submitted: "Yes, praise be to God, both my father and mother are alive." Thereupon the Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed : "Well then do you really want to receive a reward from God for performing Hijrat and Jihad?" The man replied : "Yes, indeed, I beseech reward from God in return for these acts." The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed : "Go then. Attend to your parents and serve them well". (Muslim)
Hadrat Abu Umama (God be pleased with him) relates: "A man enquired from the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you)! What are the rights of parents over their offspring?" The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) affirmed: "Your entry into Paradise or Hell depends on your good or bad conduct towards your parents." (Ibn Majah)
In other words, if you treat them well, you will be sent to Paradise and if you violate the rights that your parents have over you, you will be consigned to serve as fuel for Hell-Fire."
Be grateful to your parents. Thanksgiving and an acknowledgement of debt and gratitude are the first duties which a beneficiary owes to the benefactor. It is a fact that the parents are the palpable cause for our existence. Again, it is under their protection and upbringing that we grow up to an age of maturity. The extraordinary self- sacrifice, unparalleled devotion and deep affection with which they patronize us demand that our hearts should be filled with sentiments of reverence, indebtedness, love and an acknowledgement of their magnanimity and every fibre of our heart should pulsate with feelings of gratitude to them. It is for this reason that God has ordained offering of gratitude to parents along with thanksgiving to Him.
Always try to make your parents happy. Do not say anything in opposition to their will or temperament which may displease them, especially when they are advanced in age they acquire a peevish and irritable temperament. In old age parents start making unexpected demands and begin proffering impossible claims. In this case also tolerate their behaviour in good cheer and do not say anything in anger in response to their demands which may cause them pain and may injure their feelings.
As a matter of fact, the strength to tolerate unpleasant things is sapped daring old age and weakness increases the sense of self-importance in old people. Hence they react sensitively to even minor offensive matters. Keeping in view their delicate and sensitive nature, do not let your parents feel angry by any of your words or deeds.
Hadrat 'Abdullah b. Amr (God be pleased with him) relates that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) affirmed : "The pleasure of God is contained in the pleasure of the father even as His displeasure is contained in the displeasure of the father." (Tirmidhi, Ibn Hibban, Hakim)
In other words, anyone who wants to please God should seek the pleasure of his father, for if the father is angry, the favour of God cannot be earned. The one who makes his father angry provokes the wrath of God."
Another statement of Hadrat 'Abdullah (God be pleased with him) runs as follows: "A man left his parents weeping and came to the presence of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for the purpose of offering allegiance to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for Hijrah. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed to him: "Go back to your parents and return after making them happy as you came after leaving them crying." (Abu Dawud)
Do service to your parents with heart and soul. If God has afforded you the opportunity to serve your parents, it is in fact a favourable opportunity for you to earn entitlement to Paradise and to win the Pleasure of God. Good service to parents secures blessings and grace in both worlds and man obtains salvation from the calamities of this world and the next. Hadrat Anas (God be pleased 'with him) relates: "Any man who desires that his life should be prolonged and his subsistence may be increased ought to do good service to his parents and show kindness to them." (Al-Targhib-o-Tarhib)
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has observed : "Let that man be disgraced, and disgraced again and let him be disgraced even more." The people enquired : "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you) who is that man?" The Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) affirmed: "I refer to the man who finds his parents old in age - both of them or one of them - and yet did not earn entitlement to Paradise by rendering good service to them." (Muslim)
On one occasion, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave precedence to the obligation of looking after one's parents over one of the supreme forms of worship like Jihad. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) forbade a companion (God be pleased with him) to proceed on Jihad and urged him to look after his parents.
Hadrat 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr (God be pleased with him) relates that a person came to the presence of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah he upon him) with the intention of participating in the Jihad. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) enquired from him : "Are your father and mother alive?" He submitted : "Yes, they are alive". The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) thereupon observed: "Go and render good service to them. This is the Jihad". (Bukhari, Muslim)
Respect and adore your parents and do not show disrespect to them by a single word or action. The Holy Qur'an affirms:
"But speak to them a gracious word."
On one occasion Hadrat 'Abdullah b. 'Umar (God be pleased with him) enquired from Hadrat Ibn 'Abbas (God be pleased with him) : "Do you wish to ward off Hell and gain entry into Paradise?" Ibn 'Abbas (God be pleased with him) answered : "Yes, why not, I swear in the name of God I cherish this desire". Hadrat Ibn 'Umar (God be pleased with him) then asked : "Are your parents alive?" Ibn 'Abbas (God be pleased with him) replied : "Yes, my mother is alive," Ibn 'Umar (God be pleased with him) remarked: "If you talk to them in a polite manner and look after their needs and feed them well, you will certainly be admitted to Paradise provided you abstain from capital evils." (Al-Adab-ul Mufrad)
Hadrat Abu Huraira (God be pleased with him) once saw two men. He asked one of them : "What is your relationship with the other man?" The person replied: "He is my father." Hadrat Abu Huraira (God be pleased with him) thereupon advised him, "Look, never call him by his proper name, walk ahead of him nor sit before he takes his seat." (Al-Adab-ul Mufrad)
Be faithful and humble towards your parents.
"And lower unto them the wing of submission through mercy."
To offer humble obedience to parents implies to pay constant regard to their dignity. Do not assume a haughty attitude towards them, nor treat them with insolence.
Love your parents and consider this act as a privilege and a source of reward in the eternal world. Hadrat Ibn 'Abbas (God be pleased with him) relates that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed : "The pious offspring who casts a single look of affection at his parents receives a reward from God equal to the reward of an accepted Hajj." The people submitted: "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you) : If someone casts a hundred such glances of love and affection at his parents, what then?" The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed; "Yes, indeed, even if one does so a hundred times a day, he will get a hundred fold reward. God is far greater than you imagine and is completely free from petty narrow mindedness." (Muslim)
Obey your parents with full devotion. Even if they show some intransigence, obey their will cheerfully. Keeping in view the great favours which they have done to you, try to fulfil all their demands willingly which may be offensive to your own taste or temperament, provided, of course, they are not derogatory to the tenets of religion.
Hadrat Abu Sa'id (God be pleased with him) narrates that a person came to the presence of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) from Yemen. The Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) enquired from him, "Do you have any relations in Yemen?' He submitted: "Yes, my father and mother are there". The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then asked: "Did they give you permission to leave?" He submitted: "No, I did not take their permission". The Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) thereupon observed : "Go back then and ask the permission of your father and mother. If they agree, come back and join the Jihad, otherwise, attend on them and render good service to them." (Abu Dawud)
Realize the value of rendering obedience to parents from the fact that a man came from miles intending to join the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in Holy war for the glory of religion, yet the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) turned him back saying: "You can join the Holy War only if both your father and mother allow you to do so."
Hadrat Ibn 'Abbas (God be pleased with him) reports that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed: "The man who wakes up in the morning having previously discharged all the duties and obligations laid upon him by God concerning his parents, he will find the two gates of Paradise open for him on waking up in the morning; and in case there is only one parent, the person will find one door of Paradise open for him. And in contrast if a man wakes up in the morning having previously disregarded any obligations or duties laid upon him by God concerning his parents, then he will find two gates of Hell open for him on waking up in the morning; and in case one of the parents is alive, then the man will find one gate of Hell open for him." The man submitted: "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you), if the parents are treating him wrongly, what then?" The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) affirmed: "Yes, even if they are treating him wrongly; yes, indeed, even if they are treating him wrongly." (Mishkat)
Consider your own goods as the property of your parents and spend your capital on them with an open hand. The Holy Qur'an affirms:
They ask thee, what they shall spend. Say what ye spend for good mast go to parents."
On one occasion a man came to the presence of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and complained that his father took whatever goods he wanted from him. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) sent for that man's father. An old, infirm man came walking with the help of a stick. When the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) interrogated him on the point, the old man submitted: "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you)! There was a time when I was strong and he was weak and helpless. I had money and he was empty-handed. I never forbade him then to lay his hands on anything that I possessed. Today, he is strong and healthy and I am old and infirm. He has money and I am empty-handed. He now denies me access to his goods." Upon hearing this tale of the old man, the Benefactor of the humanity (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) burst into tears and addressing the son of the old man observed: "You and your goods are the property of your father."
Even if your father and mother are non-Muslims, treat them well. Continue to pay them respect and devotion and serve them faithfully. However, in case they command you to become a polytheist or indulge in a sinful act, refuse to obey them and sternly repulse their demand.
"And if your (parents) pressure you to associate someone with Me of which you
have no knowledge, obey them not, yet continue to treat them well in the world."
Hadrat Asma' (God be pleased with her) states: "In the sacred lifetime of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), my mother visited me on one occasion. She was a polytheist at that time. I submitted to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): "My mother has come to pay me a visit and she is an unbeliever in Islam. How should I treat her?" The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed: "Yes, you should continue to show kindness to your mother." (Bukhari)
Offer prayers begging grace for your parents, Bring to mind their fervent appeals to the Lord and beg His mercy for them with a zealous and sincere heart. God ordains:
In other words, say: "O Creator, with mercy, devotion, affection and love, my Lord, they reared me in childhood and sacrificed their own pleasure and ease for my sake but, they, in their infirmity and helplessness of old age, are more deserving of kindness, and love than I ever was. God! I can pay them no recompense. Do patronize them and show them mercy in their miserable state".
Observe special care in looking after your mother. By nature, the mother is weak and more sensitive and needs your better treatment and devotion. Moreover, her favours and sacrifices are comparatively far greater than the father. Hence religion has conceded preferential rights to the mother and has enjoined upon the believers to treat their mothers with special consideration. The Holy Qur'an affirms:
"And We have commanded unto man kindness towards parents.
His mother beareth him with suffering,
bringeth him forth with suffering,
bearing of him and weaning of him is thirty months." (46:15)
While enjoining upon the believers to show good behaviour towards both father and mother, the Holy Qur'an has drawn a poignant picture of constant suffering of pain and hardships by the mother and has excellently pointed out in a psychological manner the fact that the devoted mother deserves comparatively more of your service and kind behaviour than your father. The same fact has been elucidated in greater detail by the Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
Hadrat Abu Huraira (God be pleased. with him) reports: "A man came to the presence of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and submitted "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you!' Who deserves the noblest treatment from me?' The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed: "Your mother." He again submitted: "And next?' The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed : "Your mother." When the man submitted for the fourth time: "And who next?" The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed: "Your father." (Al-Adabul Mufrad)
Hadrat Jahma (God be pleased with him) paid a call on the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and submitted: "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you)! I wish to join you in the Jihad and have come to solicit your guidance in this matter. I seek your command." The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) enquired from him : "Is your mother alive?" Jahma (God be pleased with him) submitted: "Yea, she is alive." Thereupon the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said "Return to her then and devote yourself to her service, for Paradise lies under her feet." (Ibn Majah, Nasa'i)
Hadrat Uwais (may God show him mercy) was a contemporary of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), but be could never attain the privilege of calling on the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). He had an old mother to whose service he devoted himself day and night. He cherished a great desire to see the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and it was but natural for every Muslim to have a burning desire to catch a glimpse of the Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Hadrat Uwais (God be merciful to him) indeed wanted to pay a call, yet the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) forbade him to come. Similarly, Hadrat Uwais (mercy of God be on him) cherished an ambition to discharge the obligation of Hajj, yet as long as his mother remained alive, Hadrat Uwais (God be merciful to him) never set out for the Hajj alone, he fulfilled the desire to perform Hajj only after his mother's demise.
Treat your foster mother well. Do service to her and show her respect and adoration. Hadrat Abu Tafail (God be pleased with him) states: ''I once witnessed the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) distributing meat at a place called 'Ja'rana'. Presently, a lady arrived and approached near the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) spread out his sheet for her and the lady sat on it. I enquired from the people, "Who is this lady?" The people told me: "This lady is the foster mother of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). (Abu Dawud)
Remember your parents after they have passed away. Observe the following etiquette to render good service to your deceased parents:
i. Offer prayers continuously invoking mercy of God upon your dead father and mother.
The Holy Qur'an enjoins upon the pious to say this prayer: O our Lord! Grant forgiveness to me and my parents and pardon all the faithful on the day of Reckoning.
Hadrat Abu Huraira (God be pleased with him) states: "When the deceased is elevated to high degrees of favour, he inquires in astonishment : "How so?" He is informed by God, "Your offspring have been offering prayers begging mercy for you (and God has accepted those petitions of mercy)."
Hadrat Abu Huraira (God be pleased with him) also states: "The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed : The opportunity to do something ends with one's death, yet there are three things which continue to afford benefit to him after death - a recurring charitable act; knowledge which he has imparted to others from which people derive benefit and thirdly, pious offspring who continue to offer prayers invoking mercy of God upon him.
ii. Fulfil all the contracts and promises made by your parents and carry out their will. Your parents must have made many agreements with some people, they might have made a covenant with God; they might have taken a vow; they might have promised to deliver goods to someone; they might have owed a debt to somebody but were unable to discharge it before death overtook them; they might have made a will at the time of their death. Fulfil all these obligations to the extent of your means.
Hadrat 'Abdullah b. 'Abbas (God be pleased with him) narrates: "Hadrat Sa'd b. 'Ubada (God be pleased with him) submitted to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you)! My mother had taken a vow, but she expired before discharging it. Can I carry out the vow on her behalf?" The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) affirmed: "Why not! You must carry out the vow taken by her."
iii. Show good conduct to the friends of your father and the female companions of your mother. Treat them with respect. Seek their advice just as you seek the advice of your elders and pay due regard to their opinions and advice. On one occasion, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed : "There is no superior deed of piety than that man should do good service to the companions and friends of his father."
Once Hadrat Abu Darda (God be pleased with him) fell ill and his condition continued to aggravate till they lost all hope of his life. Hadrat Yusuf b. 'Abdullah (God be pleased with him) made a long journey and came to enquire after his health. On seeing him, Hadrat Abu Darda asked in astonishment: "How are you here?" Yusuf b. 'Abdullah (God be pleased with him) replied : "I have come here only to enquire after your health, for you were on terms of deep friendship with my late father."
Hadrat Abu Barda (God be pleased with him) relates: "When I arrived in Medina, 'Abdullah b. 'Umar (God be pleased with him) paid me a visit and said : "Abu Barda (God be pleased with you), do you know why I have come to see you?" I replied : "No, I have no idea why you have come here." Thereupon Hadrat 'Abdullah b. "Umar (God be pleased with him) said: "I have heard the Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as affirming: "The man who wishes to render good service to his father, who is in the grave, ought to show good treatment to his father's companions and friends." Having related this saying of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 'Abdullah b. 'Umar (God be pleased with him) remarked: "Brother, my father "Umar and your father (God be pleased with him) were on terms of deep friendship. I wish to commemorate this friendship and fulfil its duties." (Ibn Hibban)
iv. Show constant good treatment to the relations of your parents and entertain full respect and pay due regard to the sanctity of these connections. An indifferent and irresponsible conduct towards these relations is tantamount to treating your own parents with indifference and negligence. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed: "Do not observe indifference towards your forefathers. To show carelessness in your conduct towards your parents is to display ingratitude to God."
If, God forbid, you have been guilty of negligence in treating your parents well or discharging your full obligations towards them during their lifetime, do not despair of God's mercy. Offer prayers constantly invoking blessings of God upon your deceased parents. It is possible God may forgive your sin of negligence and admit you among the ranks of the pious people.
Hadrat Anas (God be pleased with him) relates: The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) affirmed: "If a person does not observe filial devotion to his parents during their lifetime, and both parents or one of them passes away, the person ought to offer prayers for his deceased parents and beg His Mercy and beseech Him to grant salvation to them till God in His Mercy ordains their admission to the rolls of the pious people."
Reference url: http://muslim-canada.org/parents.html
"By the grace of Allah, you are gentle towards the people; if you had been stern and ill-tempered, they would have dispersed from round about you" [Qur'an 3:159]
About himself the Prophet (pbuh) said:
"Allah has sent me as an apostle so that I may demonstrate perfection of character, refinement of manners and loftiness of deportment." [Muwatta; Musnad; Mishkat]
Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَاكُمْ ثُمَّ صَوَّرْنَاكُمْ ثُمَّ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلآئِكَةِ اسْجُدُواْ لآدَمَ فَسَجَدُواْ إِلاَّ إِبْلِيسَ لَمْ يَكُن مِّنَ السَّاجِدِينَ
قَالَ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلاَّ تَسْجُدَ إِذْ أَمَرْتُكَ قَالَ أَنَاْ خَيْرٌ مِّنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِي مِن نَّارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِن طِينٍ
قَالَ فَاهْبِطْ مِنْهَا فَمَا يَكُونُ لَكَ أَن تَتَكَبَّرَ فِيهَا فَاخْرُجْ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الصَّاغِرِينَ
The Holy Qur'an presents to us the true Jesus Christ as "the Son of Mary;" and the Holy Gospels, too, present him to us as "the Son of Mary;" but that Gospel which was written on the white tablets of the heart of Jesus and delivered to his disciples and followers orally, alas was soon adulterated with a mass of myth and legend. "The Son of Mary" becomes "the Son of Joseph," having brothers and sisters (1). Then he becomes "the Son of David;" (2) "the Son of Man;" (3) "the Son of God;" (4) "the Son" only;(5) "the Christ;" and "the Lamb" (7).
------------ Footnotes: 1. Matt. xiii 55,56; Mark vi 3; iii 31; Luke ii 48; viii 19-21; John ii 12; vii 3, 5; Acts i 14; I Cor. ix. 5; Gal. i 19; Jude i 2. Matt xxii 42, Mark xii 35, Luke xx 41, Matt. xx 30; ix 27; xxi 9; Acts xiii 22, 23; Apoc. v 5; Rom. xv 12; Heb. vii 14, etc. 3. About eighty-three times in the discourses of Jesus this appellation is repeated. 4. Matt. xiv 32, xvi 16; John xi 27; Acts ix 20; I John iv 15; v 5; Heb. i 2, 5, etc. 5. John v 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, etc.; and in the Baptismal formula, Matt. xxviii. 19; John i. 34, etc. 6. Matt. xvi. 16, and frequently in the Epistles. 7. John i. 29, 36; and often in the Revelation. ----------- end of footnotes
Many years ago, one day I visited the Exeter Hall in London; I was a Catholic priest then; nolens volens I was conducted to the Hall where a young medical gentleman began to preach to a meeting of the Young Men's Christian Association. "I repeat what I have often said," exclaimed the doctor, "Jesus Christ must be either what he claims to be in the Gospel or he must be the greatest impostor the world has ever seen!" I have never forgotten this dogmatizing statement. What he wanted to say was that Jesus was either the Son of God or the greatest impostor. If you accept the first hypothesis you are a Christian, a Trinitarian; if the second, then you are an unbelieving Jew. But we who accept neither of these two propositions are naturally Muslims. We Muslims cannot accept either of the two titles given to Jesus Christ in the sense which the Churches and their unreliable Scriptures pretend to ascribe to those appellations. Not alone is he "the Son of God," and not alone "the Son of Man," for if it be permitted to call God "Father," then not only Jesus, but every prophet and righteous believer, is particularly a "son of God." In the same way, if Jesus were really the son of Joseph the Carpenter, and had four brothers and several married sisters as the Gospels pretend, then why alone should he assume this strange appellation of "the Son of Man" which is common to any human being?
It would seem that these Christian priests and pastors, theologians and apologists have a peculiar logic of their own for reasoning and a special propensity for mysteries and absurdities. Their logic knows no medium, no distinction of the terms, and no definite idea of the titles and appellations they use. They have an enviable taste for irreconcilable and contradictory statements which they alone can swallow like boiled eggs. They can believe, without the least hesitation, that Mary was both virgin and wife, that Joseph was both spouse and husband, that James, Jossi, Simon, and Judah were both cousins of Jesus and his brothers, that Jesus is perfect God and perfect man, and that "the Son of God," "the Son of Man," "the Lamb," and "the Son of David" are all one and the same person! They feed themselves on heterogeneous and opposed doctrines which these terms represent with as greedy an appetite as they feel for bacon and eggs at breakfast. They never stop to think and ponder on the object they worship; they adore the crucifix and the Almighty as if they were kissing the bloody dagger of the assassin of their brother in the presence of his father!
I do not think there is even one Christian in ten millions who really has a precise idea or a definite knowledge about the origin and the true signification of the term "the Son of Man." All Churches and their commentators without exception will tell you that "the Son of God" assumed the appellation of "the Son of Man" or "the Barnasha" out of humility and meekness, never knowing that the Jewish Apocalyptical Scriptures, in which Jesus and his disciples heart and soul believed, foretold not a "Son of Man" who would be meek, humble, having nowhere to lay his head, and be delivered into the hands of the evildoers and killed, but a strong man with tremendous power and strength to destroy and disperse the birds of prey and the ferocious beasts that were tearing and devouring his sheep and lambs! The Jews who heard Jesus speaking of "the Son of Man" full well understood to whom he was alluding. Jesus did not invent the name "Barnasha," but borrowed it from the Apocalyptical Jewish Scriptures: the Book of Enoch, the Sibylline Books, the Assumption of Moses, the Book of Daniel, etc. Let us examine the origin of this title "the Barnasha" or "the Son of Man."
1. "The Son of Man" is the Last Prophet, who established "the Kingdom of Peace" and saved the people of God from servitude and persecutions under the idolatrous powers of satan. The title "Barnasha" is a symbolical expression to distinguish the Savior from the people of God who are represented as the "sheep," and the other idolatrous nations of the earth under various species of the birds of prey, ferocious beasts, and unclean animals. The Prophet Hezekiel is almost always addressed by God as "Ben Adam," that is "the Son of Man" (or of Adam) in the sense of a Shepherd of the Sheep of Israel. This Prophet has also some Apocalyptical portions in his book. In his first vision with which he begins his prophetic book he sees besides the sapphire throne of the Eternal the appearance of "the Son of Man." (l) This "Son of Man" who is repeatedly mentioned as always in the presence of God and above the Cherubim is not Hezekiel (or Ezekiel) him- self (2). He is the prophetical "Barnasha," the Last Prophet, who was appointed to save the people of God from the hands of the unbelievers here upon this earth, and not elsewhere!
------------- Footnotes: 1. Ezek. i. 26. 2. Ezek. x. 2. ------------- end of footnotes
(a) "The Son of Man" according to the Apocalypse of Enoch (or Henoh).
There is no doubt that Jesus Christ was very familiar with the Revelation of Enoch, believed to be written by the seventh patriarch from Adam. For Judah, "the brother of James" and the "servant of Jesus Christ," that is the brother of Jesus, believes that Enoch was the real author of the work bearing his name (l). There are some dispersed frag- ments of this wonderful Apocalypse preserved in the quotations of the Early Christian writers. The book was lost long before Photius. It was only about the beginning of last century that this important work was found in the Canon of the Scriptures belonging to the Abyssinian Church, and translated from the Ethiopic into the German language by Dr. Dillmann, with notes and explanations (2). The book is divided into five parts or books, and the whole contains one hundred and ten chapters of unequal length. The author describes the fall of the angels, their illicit commerce with the daughters of men, giving birth to a race of giants who invent all sorts of artifices and noxious knowledge. Then vice and evil increase to such a pitch that the Almighty punishes them all with the Deluge. He also relates his two journeys to the heavens and across the earth, being guided by good angels, and the mysteries and wonders he saw therein. In the second part, which is a description of the Kingdom of Peace, "the Son of Man" catches the kings in the midst of their voluptuous life and precipitates them into hell (3). But this second book does not belong to one author, and assuredly it is much corrupted by Christian hands. The third book (or part) contains some curious and developed astronomical and physical notions. The fourth part presents an Apocalyptical view of the human race from the beginning to the Islamic days, which the author styles the "Messianic" times, in two symbolical parables or rather allegories. A white bull comes out of the earth; then a white heifer joins him they give birth to two calves: one black, the other red; the black bull beats and chases away the red one; then he meets a heifer and they give birth to several calves of black color, until the mother cow leaves the black bull in the search the red one; and, as she does not find him, bawls and shrieks aloud, when a red bull appears, and they begin to propagate their species. Of course, this transparent parable symbolizes Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Sheth, etc., down to Jacob whose offspring is represented by a "flock of sheep" - as the Chosen People of Israel; but the offspring of his brother Esau, i.e. the Edomites, is described as a swarm of boars. In this second parable the flock of sheep is frequently harassed, attacked, dispersed, and butchered by the beasts and birds of prey until we come to the so-called Messianic times, when the flock of sheep is again attacked fiercely by ravens and other carnivorous animals; but a gallant "Ram" resists with great courage and valor. It is then that "the Son of Man," who is the real master or owner of the flock, comes forth to deliver his flock.
------------- Footnote: (1). Judah i. 14. In the Gospels he is mentioned as one of the four brothers of Jesus, Matt. xiii. 55, 56, etc. (2). It has also been translated into English by an Irish Bishop Laurence. (3). Enoch xlvi. 4 - 8. ------------
A non-Muslim scholar can never explain the vision of a Sophee - or a Seer. He will - as all of them do - bring down the vision to the Maccabees and the King Antiochus Epiphanes in the middle of the second century B.C., when the Deliverer comes with a tremendous truncheon or scepter and strikes right and left upon the birds and the beasts, making a great slaughter among them; the earth, opening its mouth, swallows them in; and the rest take to flight. Then swords are distributed among the sheep, and a white bull leads them on in perfect peace and security.
As to the fifth book, it contains religious and moral exhortations. The whole work in its present shape exhibits indications which show that it was composed as late as 110 B.C., in the original Aramaic dialect, by a Palestinian Jew. At least such is the opinion of the French Encyclopedia.
The Qur'an only mentions Enoch under his surname "Idris" - the Arabic form of the Aramaic "Drisha" being of the same category of simple nouns as "Iblis" and "Blisa" (l) "Idris" and "Drisha" signify a man of great learning, a scholar and an erudite, from "darash" (Arabic "darisa"). The Qur'anic text says: "And mention in the Book Idris; he too was a man of truth and a Prophet, whom We exalted." Ch.19:56-57 Qur'an.
------------- Footnote: (1). "Iblis," the Arabic form of the Aramaic "Blisa," an epithet given to the devil which means the "Bruised One." ------------- end of footnote
The Muslim commentators, Al-Baydhawi and Jalalu 'd-Din, seem to know that Enoch had studied astronomy, physics, arithmetic, that he was the first who wrote with the pen, and that "Idris" signifies a man of much knowledge, thus showing that the Apocalypse of Enoch had not been lost in their time.
After the close of the Canon of the Hebrew Scriptures in the fourth century or so B.C. by the "Members of the Great Synagogue," established by Ezra and Nehemiah, all other sacred or religious literature besides those included within the Canon was called Apocrypha and excluded from the Hebrew Bible by an assembly of the learned and pious Jews, the last of whom was the famous "Simeon the Just," who died in 310 B.C. Now among these Apocryphal books are included the Apocalypses of Enoch, Barukh, Moses, Ezra, and the Sibyline books, written at different epochs between the time of the Maccabees and after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. It seems to be quite a la mode with the Jewish Sages to compose Apocalyptical and religious literature under the name of some celebrated personage of antiquity. The Apocalypse at the end of the New Testament which bears the name of John the Divine is no exception to this old Judeo Christian habitude. If "Judah the brother of the Lord" could believe that "Henoh the Seventh from Adam" was really the author of the one hundred and ten chapters bearing that name, there is no wonder that Justin the Martyr, Papias, and Eusebius would believe in the authorship of Matthew and John.
However, my aim is not to criticize the authorship of, or to extend the comments upon these enigmatic and mysterious revelations which were compiled under the most painful and grievous circumstances in the history of the Jewish nation; but to give an account of the origin of this surname "the Son of Man" and to shed some light upon its true signification. The Book of Enoch too, like the Apocalypse of the Churches and like the Gospels, speaks of the coming of "the Son of Man" to deliver the people of God from their enemies and confuses this vision with the Last Judgment.
(b) The Sibylline Revelation, which was composed after the last collapse of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, states that "the Son of Man" will appear and destroy the Roman Empire and deliver the Believers in One God. This book was written at least fourscore years after Jesus Christ.
(c) We have already given an exposition of "the Son of Man" when we discussed the vision of Daniel, (l) where he is presented to the Almighty and invested with power to destroy the Roman Beast. So the visions, in the
"Assumption of Moses," in the Book of Baruch (or Barukh), more or less similar in their views and expectations to those described in the above-mentioned "Revelations," all unanimously describe the Deliverer of the people of God as "Barnasha" or "the Son of Man," to distinguish him from the "Monster;" for the former is created in the image of God and the latter transformed into the image of Satan.
------------ Footnotes: 1. Dan. vii. See the article, "Muhammad in the Old Testament," in the Islamic Review for November, 1938. ------------
2. The Apocalyptic "Son of Man" could not be Jesus Christ.
This surname, "Son of Man," is absolutely inapplicable to the son of Mary. All the pretensions of the so-called "Gospels" which make the "Lamb" of Nazareth to "catch the kings in the midst of their voluptuous life and hurl them down into the Hell;" (1) lack every bit of authenticity, and the distance separating him from "the Son of Man" marching with the legions of angels upon the clouds towards the Throne of the Eternal is more than that of our globe from the planet of Jupiter. He may be a "son of man" and a "messiah," as every Jewish king, prophet, and high! priest was, but he was not "the Son of Man" nor "the Messiah" whom the Hebrew prophets and apocalyptists foretold. And the Jews were perfectly right to refuse him that title and office. They were certainly wrong to deny him his prophethood, and criminal to have shed his innocent blood - as they and the Christians believe. "The Assembly of the Great Synagogue," after the death of Simeon the just in 310 B.C., was replaced by the "Sanhedrin," whose president had the surname of "Nassi" or Prince. It is astonishing that the "Nassi" who passed the judgment against Jesus, saying: "It is more profitable that one man should die rather than the whole nation should be
destroyed," (2) was a prophet (3)! If he were a prophet, how was it that he did not recognize the prophetic mission or the Messianic character of "the Messiah"?
------------- Footnotes: (1). Enoch xlvi. 4 - 8. (2). John xi. 50. (3). Idem, 51. ------------- end of footnotes
Here are, then the principal reasons why Jesus was not "the Son of Man" nor the Apocalyptic Messiah:
(a) A messenger of God is not commissioned to pro- phesy about himself as a personage of some future epoch, or to foretell his own reincarnation and thus present him- self as the hero in some great future drama of the world. Jacob prophesied about "the Prophet of Allah," (1) Moses about a prophet who would come after him with the Law, and Israel was exhorted to "obey him; (2) Haggai foretold Ahmad (3); Malachi predicted the coming of the "Messenger of the Covenant" and of Elijah; (4) but none of the prophets ever did prophesy about his own second coming into the world. What is extremely abnormal in the case of Jesus is that he is made to pretend his identity with "the Son of Man," yet he is unable to do in the least degree the work that the foretold "Son of Man" was expected to accomplish! To declare to the Jews under the grip of Pilate that he was "the Son of Man," and then to pay tribute to Caesar; and to confess that "the Son of Man had nowhere to lay his head;" and then to postpone the deliverance of the people from the Roman yoke to an indefinite future, was practically to trifle with his nation; and those who put all these incoherences as sayings in the mouth of Jesus only make idiots of themselves.
------------- Footnotes: (1) Gen. xlix. 10. (2) Deut. xviii. 15 (3). Hag. ii. 7. (4) Mal. iii. 1, iv. 5. ------------- end of footnotes
(b) Jesus knew better than everybody else in Israel who "the Son of Man" was and what was his mission. He was to dethrone the profligate kings and to cast them into the Hell-fire. The "Revelation of Baruch" and that of Ezra - the Fourth Book of Esdras in the Vulgate - speak of the appearance of "the Son of Man" who will establish the powerful Kingdom of Peace upon the ruins of the Roman Empire. All these Apocryphal Revelations show the state of the Jewish mind about the coming of the last great Deliverer whom they surname "the Son of Man" and "the Messiah." Jesus could not be unaware of and un- familiar with this literature and this ardent expectation of his people. He could not assume either of those two titles to himself in the sense which the Sanhedrin - that Supreme Tribunal of Jerusalem - and Judaism attached to them; for he was not "the Son of Man" and "the Messiah," because he had no political program and no social scheme, and because he was himself the precursor of "the Son of Man', and of "the Messiah" - the Adon, the Conquering Prophet, the Anointed and crowned Sultan of the Prophets.
(c) A critical examination of the surname "Son of Man" put three and eighty times in the mouth of the master will and must result in the only conclusion that he never appropriated it to himself; and in fact he often uses that title in the third person. A few examples will suffice to convince us that Jesus applied that surname to someone else who was to appear in the future.
(i) A Scribe, that is a learned man, says: "I will follow thee wheresoever thou goest." Jesus answers: "The foxes have their holes; the birds of heaven their own nests; but the Son of Man has no place where to lay his head." (1) In the verse following he refuses one of his followers per- mission to go and bury his father! You will find not a single saint, father, or commentator to have troubled his head or the faculty of reasoning in order to discover the very simple sense embodied in the refusal of Jesus to allow that learned Scribe to follow him. If he had place for thirteen heads he could certainly provide a place for the fourteenth too. Besides, he could have registered him among the seventy adherents he had (2). The Scribe in question was not an ignorant fisherman like the sons of Zebedee and of Jonah; he was a scholar and a practiced lawyer. There is no reason to suspect his sincerity; he was led to believe that Jesus was the predicted Messiah, the Son of Man, who at any moment might summon his heavenly legions and mount upon the throne of his ancestor David. Jesus perceived the erroneous notion of the Scribe, and plainly let him understand that he who had not two square yards of ground on earth to lay his head could naturally not be "the Son of Man"! He was not harsh to the Scribe; he benevolently saved him from wasting his time in the pursuit of a futile hope!
------------- Footnote: (1). Matt. viii. 20 (2). Luke x. 1 ------------- end of footnote
(ii) Jesus Christ is reported to have declared that the Son of Man "will separate the sheep from the goats." (1) The "sheep" symbolize the believing Israelites who will enter into the Kingdom but the "goats" signify the unbelieving Jews who had joined with the enemies of the true religion and were consequently doomed to perdition. This was practically what the Apocalypse of Enoch had predicted about the Son of Man. Jesus simply confirmed the revelation of Enoch and gave it a Divine character. He himself was sent to exhort the sheep of Israel (2) to remain faith- ful to God and await patiently the advent of the Son of Man who was coming to save them for ever from their enemies; but he himself was not the Son of Man, and had nothing to do with the political world, nor with the "sheep" and "goats" which both alike rejected and despised him, except a very small number who loved and believed in him.
------------- Footnotes: (1). Matt. xxv. 31 - 34. (2). Matt. xv. 24 ------------- end of footnotes
(iii) The Son of Man is said to be "the Lord of the Sabbath day," that is, he had the power to abrogate the law which made it a holy day of rest from labor and work. Jesus was a strict observer of the Sabbath, on which day he used to attend the services in the Temple or in the Synagogue. He expressly commands his followers to pray that the national collapse at the destruction of Jerusalem should not happen on a Sabbath day. How could, then, Jesus claim to be the Son of Man, the Lord of the Sabbath day, while he was obliged to observe and keep it like every Jew? How could he venture to claim that proud title and then predict the destruction of the Temple and of the Capital City?
These and many other examples show that Jesus could never appropriate the surname of "Barnasha" to himself, but he ascribed it to the Last Powerful Prophet, who really saved the "sheep," i.e. the believing Jews; and either destroyed or dispersed the unbelievers among them; abolished the day of Sabbath; established the Kingdom of Peace; and promised that this religion and kingdom will last to the day of the Last Judgment.
We shall in our next essay turn our attention to find all the marks and qualities of the Apocalyptic "Son of Man" which are literally and completely found in the last Prophet of Allah, upon whom be peace and the blessing of God!