The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) enjoined upon Muslims to treat the poor kindly and to help them with alms, Zakat, and in other ways. He said: "He is not a perfect Muslim who eats his fill and lets his neighbor go hungry."
He asked, "Do you love your Creator? Then love your fellow beings first."
Monopoly is unlawful in Islam and he preached that "It is difficult for a man laden with riches to climb the steep path that leads to bliss."
He did not prohibit or discourage the acquisition of wealth but insisted that it be lawfully acquired by honest means and that a portion of it would go to the poor. He advised his followers
"To give the laborer his wages before his perspiration dried up."
He did not encourage beggary either and stated that
"Allah is gracious to him who earns his living by his own labour, and that if a man begs to increase his property, Allah will diminish it and whoever has food for the day, it is prohibited for him to beg."
To his wife he said, "O A'isha, love the poor and let them come to you and Allah will draw you near to Himself." [Sahih Bukhari]
One or two instances of the Prophet's (s.a.a.w.) concern for the poor may be given here. A Madinan, Ibad Bin Sharjil, was once starving. He entered an orchard and picked some fruit. The owner of the orchard gave him a sound beating and stripped off his clothes. The poor man appealed to the Prophet (s.a.a.w.) who remonstrated the owner thus:
"This man was ignorant, you should have dispelled his ignorance; he was hungry, you should have fed him."
His clothes were restored to the Madinan and, in addition, some grain was given to him [Abu Dawood]
A debtor, Jabir Bin Abdullah, was being harassed by his creditor as he could not clear his debt owing to the failure of his date crop. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) went with Jabir to the house of the creditor and pleaded with him to give Jabir some more time but the creditor was not prepared to oblige. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) then went to the oasis and having seen for himself that the crop was really poor, he again approached the creditor with no better result. He then rested for some time and approached the creditor for a third time but the latter was adamant. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) went again to the orchard and asked Jabir to pluck the dates. As Allah would have it, the collection not only sufficed to clear the dues but left something to spare. [Sahih Bukhari]
His love for the poor was so deep that he used to pray: "O Allah, keep me poor in my life and at my death and raise me at resurrection among those who are poor." [Nasai]
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for permission to reproduce this excerpt from
"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 Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Biographies of the Prophet usually treat their subject as if he were a person endowed with great magical powers, one who by mysterious means brought the whole of Arabia under his wing. These books read like fairy tales; even events, which have no miraculous content, have been given a fanciful, miraculous interpretation. Take the case of Suhaib Ibn Senan’s migration from Mecca to Medina. When some Quraysh youths blocked his path, Suhaib pleaded with them: “If I let you have all my property, will you let me go?” They said that they would. Suhaib had a few ounces of silver with him. He gave it all to them and carried on to Medina. According to a tradition in Baihaqi, Suhaib said that when the Prophet saw him in Medina he told Suhaib that his trading, that is, his handing over of his property to the Quraysh, had been very profitable. Suhaib, according to the tradition, was astounded, for no one had arrived in Medina before him who could have brought the news. “It must have been Gabriel who told you,” he said to the Prophet.Read more...
The last book of the Canonical Jewish Code of the Bible bears the name of "Malachai," which looks to be more a sur- name than a proper noun. The correct pronunciation of the name is Malakh, which means "my angel" or "my mes- senger." The Hebrew word, "mal'akh," like the Arabic "malak," like the Greek term "anghelos" from which the English name "angel" is derived, signifies "a messenger," one commissioned with a message or news to deliver to some- body.
Who this Malakhi is, in what period of the Jewish his- tory he lived and prophesied, is not known either from the book itself or from any other portion of the Old Testament. It begins with the words: "The 'missa' of the Word of Yahweh the El of Israel by the hand of Malakhi," which may be translated: "The discourse of the Word of Yahweh God of Israel, by the hand of Malakhi." It contains four short chapters.
The oracle is addressed, not to a king and his courtiers, but to a people already settled in Jerusalem with the Temple and its services. The sacrifices and oblations are of the meanest and worst kind; the sheep and cattle offered at the altars are not of the best quality; they are blind, lame, and lean animals. The tithes are not regularly paid, and if at all paid are of the inferior material. The priests, too, natu- rally, cannot devote their time and energy to perform their sacred duty. For they cannot chew the beefsteaks and roasted mutton-chops of the lean old, crippled sacrifices. They cannot live on the scanty tithes or insufficient stipends. Yahweh, as usual with this incorrigible people, now threatens, now holds out promises, and at times complain.
This discourse, or oracle, seems to have been delivered by the Prophet Malakhi in about the beginning of the fourth century before the Christian era, when the people of Israel were also tired of Yahweh; and used to say: "The Table of the Lord (Yahweh) is an abomination, and His meal is con- temptible" (Mal. i. 12). "He who doeth evils is good in the eyes of Yahweh, and He is pleased with them; or, where is the God of the judgment?" (Mal. ii. 17).
The Book of Malakhi, notwithstanding its being of a post captivitatem date, is, however, written in a seemly good Hebrew style. To say that this "misa," or discourse, has come down to us intact and unadulterated is to confess ignor- ance of the language. There are several mutilated sentences, so that it is almost impossible to understand the exact sense they intend to convey.
The subject of our discussion in this article is the famous prediction couched in Mal. iii. 1. The prophecy runs thus: -
"Behold, I send My Messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me; and suddenly shall come to his temple the Adon whom ye are seeking, and the Messenger of the Covenant whom ye desire. Behold, he cometh, says the Lord of Hosts" (Mal. iii. 1).
This is a well-known Messianic prophecy. All Christian Saints, Fathers, Popes, Patriarchs, Priests, monks, nuns, and even the Sunday-school children, will tell us that the first messenger mentioned in the text is St. John the Baptist, and the second messenger, whom their vernacular versions have rendered "Angel of the Covenant," is Jesus Christ!
A definite determination of the subject of this prophecy is of extreme importance, because the Christian Churches have ever since believed that two distinct persons are indi- cated therein; and the author of this erroneous belief is a singularly remarkable blunder of St. Matthew's. One of the characteristic features of the First Gospel - Matthew - is to show and prove the fulfillment of some particular state- ment or prediction in the Old Testament concerning nearly every event in the life of Jesus Christ. He is very careless to guard himself against contradictions, and less scrupulous in his quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures. He is cer- tainly not well versed in the literature of his own language. I had occasion to refer in the preceding article of this series to one of his blunders concerning the ass upon which Jesus mounted. This is a most serious point directly touch- ing the authenticity and the validity of the Gospels. Is it possible that the Apostle Matthew should himself be ignorant of the true character of the prophecy of Malakh, and ignor- antly ascribe to his master a misquotation which would natu- rally put to question his very quality of a divinely inspired Prophet? Then, what should we think of the author of the Second Gospel - of St. Mark - who ascribes the passage in Malakh-l to Isaiah? (Mark i. 2). Jesus is reported by Matthew (xi. 1-15), and this too is followed or copied by Luke (vii. 18-28), to have declared to the multitude that John the Baptist was "more than a Prophet," that it was he "about whom it was written: Behold, I am sending My Angel before thy face, and he shall prepare thy way before thee;" and that "none among those born by women was greater than John, but the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." The corruption of the text of Malakh is plain and deliberately made. The original text tells us that Yahweh Sabaoth, i.e. God of Hosts, is the speaker and the believers are the people addressed, as can be readily seen in the words "whom ye are seeking ... whom ye desire." God says: "Behold, I send My Messenger, and he shall prepare the way before My face." But the Gospels have interpolated the text by effacing the personal pronoun of the first person singular, and inserted "before thee" (or "thy face," as in Hebrew) twice. It is generally believed that Matthew wrote his Gospel in the then vernacular Hebrew or Aramaic in order to prove to the Jews that God, addressing Jesus Christ, said: "Behold, I send My messenger (Angel) [such is the version in Matthew xi. 10] before thee, and he shall prepare thy way before thee;" and wishes to show that this angel or messenger was John the Baptist. Then a contrast between the Prophets John and Jesus is left to Prophet Jesus, who describes John as above every prophet and greater than the sons of all human mothers, but the least in the Kingdom of Heaven - of which Jesus is meant to be the King - is greater than John.
I do not believe for a second that Jesus or any of his disciples could have made use of such language with the object of perverting the Word of God, but some fanatical monk or an ignorant bishop has forged this text and put into the mouth of Jesus the words which no prophet would speak.
The traditional idea that the Messenger commissioned to prepare or repair the way before the "Adon" and the "Messenger of the Covenant" is a worshiper and subordinate of the latter, and therefore to conclude that two distinct persons are predicted is a creation of the ignorance concerning the importance of the mission and the magnitude of the work assigned to that messenger. He is not to be supposed as a pioneer or even an engineer appointed to construct roads and bridges for the passing of a royal procession. Let us there- fore pore over this subject more deeply and in a courageous, impartial, and dispassionate manner.
1. In the first place, we must well understand that the Messenger is a man, a creature of human body and soul, and that he is not an Angel or a superhuman being. In the second place, we should open our eyes of wisdom and judg- ment to see that he is not dispatched to prepare the way before another Messenger called "Adon" and the "Messenger of the Promise," but he is commissioned to establish a straight, safe, and good Religion. He is commissioned to remove all the obstacles in the way between God and His creatures; and to fill up all the gaps and chasms in this grand path, so that it may be smooth, easy to walk on, well lighted, and protected from all danger. The Hebrew phrase, "u pinna derekh," means to say that the Messenger "will put straight and clear the worship or the religion." The verb "darakh" of the same root as the Arabic "daraka," means "to walk, reach, and comprehend;" and the substantive "derekh" signifies, "road, way, step," and metaphorically "worship and religion." It is used in this spiritual sense all through the Psalms and the Prophets. Surely this high Messenger of God was not coming to repair or reform a way, a religion for the benefit of a handful of Jews, but to establish a universal and an unchangeable religion for all men. Though the Jewish religion inculcates the existence of one true God, still their conception of Him as a national Deity of Israel, their priesthood, sacrificial rites and cere- monies, and then the non-existence of any positive articles of belief in the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the dead, the last judgment, the eternal life in heaven or hell, and many other deficient points, make it absolutely unfit and insufficient for the peoples of diverse languages, races, di- mates, temperaments, and habits. As regards Christianity, it, with its meaningless seven sacraments, its beliefs in original sin, the incarnation of a god - unknown to all previous reli- gious and mythological literature - and in a trinity of indivi- dual gods, and finally because it does not possess a single line in scripto from its supposed founder, Jesus Christ, has done no good to mankind. On the contrary, it has caused divi- sions and sects, all inbued with bitter feelings of hatred and rancor against each other.
The Messenger, then, was commissioned with the abro- gating of both those religions and the establishing of the ancient religion of Prophets Abraham and Ishmael and the other Prophets, with new precepts for all men. It was to be the shortest road to "reach" God; the simplest religion to worship Him, and the safest Faith to remain ever pure and unadul- terated with superstition and stupid dogmas. The Messenger was commissioned to prepare a road, a religion that will conduct au who wish to believe in and love the One God without having need of the leadership of hundreds of self- appointed guides and pretenders. And above all, the Mes- senger was to come suddenly to his temple, whether it be the one in Jerusalem or the one in Mecca; he was to root out all idolatry in those countries, not only by the destruc- tion of idols and images, but also inculcating in their former worshipers the faith in one true Allah. And the accom- plishment of this stupendous task, namely, to construct a new Path, a universal religion, that teaches that between God and man no absolute mediator, no priest, saint or sacrament, is at all permissible, has only been done by a Prophet whose name is Muhammad al-Mustapha!
2. John the Baptist was not the Messenger foretold by Malakhi The accounts given about him by the four Evange- lists are very contradictory, but the one thing that they together agree on is that he prepared no way at all; for he was not accredited with a sacred scripture: he neither founded a religion nor reformed the old one. He is reported to have left his parents and home while still a youth; he lived in the desert on honey and the locust; and spent there his life until he was about thirty years old, when he showed himself to the multitudes on the banks of the River Jordan, where he used to baptize the penitent sinners who confessed their sins to him. While Matthew knows nothing of his re- lationship with Jesus, or does not care to report it, Luke, who wrote his Gospel, not from a revelation, but from the works of the disciples of the Master, records the homage rendered by John to Jesus when both in the wombs of their mothers (Luke i. 39-46). He baptizes Jesus in the waters of the River Jordan like everybody else, and is reported to have said that he (John) was "not worthy to bow down to untie the laces of the shoes" (Mark i. 7) of Jesus, and ac- cording to the Fourth Gospel he (John) exclaimed that Jesus was "the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world" (John i. 29). That he knew Jesus and recognized him to be the Christ is quite evident. Yet when he was imprisoned he sends his disciples to Jesus, asking him: "Art thou he who is to come, or should we anticipate another one?" (Matt. xi. 3, etc.). The Baptist was martyred in the prison because he reprimanded an infidel Edomite, King Herod the Tetrarch, for having married the wife of his own brother. Thus ends, according to the narrative of the Evangelists, the life of a very chaste and holy prophet.
It is strange that the Jews did not receive John as a prophet. It is also stranger still to find that the Gospel of Barnabas does not mention the Baptist; and what is more, it puts the words said to have been uttered by John concern- ing Christ into the mouth of the latter about Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah. The Qur'an mentions the miraculous birth of John under the name of "Yahya," but does not refer to his mission of baptism.
The description of his sermon is given in the third chapter of Matthew. He seems to have announced the approach of the Kingdom of Heaven and the advent of a Great Messenger and Prophet of God who would baptize the believers, not with water, "but with fire and with the holy spirit."
Now, if John the Baptist were the Messenger appointed by God to prepare the way before Jesus Christ, and if he was his herald and subordinate, there is no sense and wisdom whatever in John to go about baptizing the crowds in the waters of a river or a pond and to occupy himself with half a dozen disciples. He ought to have immediately followed and adhered to Jesus when he had seen and known him! He did nothing of the kind! Of course, a Muslim always speaks of a prophet with utmost respect and reverence, and I am not expected to comment further, as an Ernest Renan or an indifferent critic would do! But to say that a prophet whom they describe as a dervish (Sufi) of the wilderness clad in the skins of animals, and a dervish who comes forth and sees his "Adon" and the "Angel of the Covenant," and then does not follow and cleave to him, is ridiculous and incredible. To think and believe that a prophet is sent by God to pre- pare the way, to purify and clear the religion for the coming of his superior, and then describing him as living all his life in the desert among the animals, is to tell us that he was constructing chaussees, causeways or railways, not for men, but for beasts and genii.
3. Nor was John the Baptist the Prophet Elijah or Elias, as Christ is made to have said. The Prophet Malakhi, in his fourth chapter (verses 5, 6), speaks of the coming of Elijah, which fact is foretold to take place some time before the day of the Resurrection and not before the Appearance of the Messenger in question. Even if Christ had said that John was Elijah, the people did not know him. What Jesus meant to say was that the two were similar in their ascetical life, their zeal for God, their courage in scolding and admonishing the kings and the hypocrite leaders of the religion.
I cannot go on discussing this untenable claim of the Churches concerning John being the Messenger "to prepare the way." But I must add that this Baptist did not abrogate one iota of the Law of Moses, nor add to it a tittle. And as to baptism, it is the old Jewish ma'muditha or ablution. Washing or ablution could not be considered a "religion" or "way" whose place has been taken by the famous and my- sterious Church institution of the sacrament of Baptism!
4. If I say that Jesus Christ is not intended in the prophecy of Malakhi, it would seem that I was advancing an argumentum in absurdum, because nobody will contradict or make an objection to my statement. The Churches have al- ways believed that the "Messenger of the way" is John the Baptist, and not Jesus. The Jews, however, accept neither of the two. But as the person foretold in the prophecy is one and the same, and not two, I most conscientiously declare that Prophet Jesus is not, and could not be, that person. If Jesus was a god, as he is now believed to be, then he could not be employed to prepare the way before the face of Yahweh Sabaoth! If Prophet Jesus were the Yahweh Sabaoth who made this prophecy, then who was the other Yehweh Sabaoth before whose face the way was to be prepared? If he were a simple man, made of flesh and blood, and worshiper of the Lord of Hosts, then the claim falls to the ground. For Jesus as a simple human being and prophet could not be the founder of the trinitarian Churches. Whichever form of the Christian religion we may take, whether it be the Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Salvationist, Quaker, or any of the multitudinous sects and communities, none of them can be the "way," the "religion" indicated by Malakhi; and Prophet Jesus is not its founder or preparer. So long as we deny the absolute Oneness of God, we are in error, and Jesus cannot be our friend nor can he help us.
5. The person indicated in the prophecy has three qualifications, namely, the Messenger of Religion, the Lord Commander, and the Messenger of the Convent. He is also described and distinguished by three conditions, namely "he is suddenly coming to his Mosque or Temple, he is looked for and sought by men, and is greatly desired and coveted."
Who can, then, be this glorious man, this Great Bene- factor of humanity, and this valiant Commander who rendered noble services in the cause of Allah and His religion other than Prophet Muhammad? - upon whom may rest God's peace and blessing.
He brought to the world an unrivalled Sacred Book, Al-Qur'an, a most reasonable, simple, and beneficial religion of Islam, and has been the means of guidance and conversion of millions and millions of the heathen nations in all parts of the globe, and has transformed them all into one universal and united Brotherhood, which constitutes the true and formal "Kingdom of Allah" upon the earth announced by Prophets Jesus and John the Baptist. It is futile and childish to com- pare either Jesus or John with the great Messenger of Allah, when we know perfectly well that neither of these two did ever attempt to convert a single pagan nor succeeded in persuading the Jews to recognize his mission.