Analysis: More than Bad Rulers and Corrupt Societies
Posted: 18 Safar 1424, 20 April 2003
In the past centuries the Muslim world was much more integrated than we realize. It was one social, cultural, religious and economic domain. Its language, system of education, currency, and laws were the same.
When British journalist Robert Fisk said that in the face of disaster Arabs act like mice, he was being polite. He could have said that the Muslims act like mice. The question is why?
It is easy and customary to blame the current Muslim rulers for this sorry situation. No doubt the Iraq invasion would not have been possible without their acquiescence and support. If they refused to open their lands, waterways, and airspace to the invasion, it could not have taken place. Neither would the slaughters in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosova, Kashmir, Chechnya, and Palestine have been possible if the Muslim rulers had their act together. But was it only because the Muslim rulers happened to be immoral, coward, and unscrupulous characters? Is the 1.2 billion strong Ummah suffering only because there are fifty-four corrupt persons who are ruling it?Read more...
Prophet's Moral Teachings by Ghazali
An Ideal Personality
by Hadhrat Imam Ghazali (RA)
Prophet's Moral Teachings
Islam had come to illuminate the lives of the people with the light of virtue and good manners, to create in them brightness of character, and to fill their laps with the pearls of good conduct. It made the stages that came in the process of achieving this great objective as an important part of the prophet hood. Similarly it declared all attempts to create disruption in these stages as an expulsion from the religion and equivalent tothrowing away the yoke of faith from one's neck.
The position of morality is not like that of the means of pleasures and luxuries, from which indifference may be possible. But morality is the name of the principles of life which the religion must adopt and must care for the respect of its standard-bearers.
Islam has enumerated all these virtues and principles and has encouraged its followers to make them parts of their lives, one after another.
If we collect all the sayings of the holy Prophet about the importance of good moral character, then a voluminous book will be prepared, about which many of the great reformers will be ignorant.
Before we enumerate these virtues and state their details, it will be proper if we quote some examples of how strongly and emphatically Islam has called upon the people to adopt good moral character.
Usama bin Shareek says: "We were sitting in the presence of the Messenger of Allah so quietly as if birds were perched on our heads. Nobody had the courage to open his mouth. In the meanwhile some people came and asked: "Amongst the slaves of God who is the dearest to Him." The Prophet replied: "One who has the best moral character." (Ibn Haban)
Another tradition has it: "They asked what is the best thing given to man ?" He replied: "Best moral character." (Tirmizi)
The Prophet was asked: "Which Muslim has the perfect faith ?" He answered: "He who has the best moral character." (Tibrani)
Abdullah bin' Amar has reported: "I have heard the Prophet as saying: 'Should I not tell you who amongst you is the most likeable person to me 1 And who will be the nearest to me on the Day of the Judgment 1' He repeated this question twice or thrice. The people requested him to tell them about such a person. He said 'He who amongst you has the best moral character.'"(Ahmed)
In another hadith, he has said: "On the Day of the Judgement there will be nothing weightier in the balance of a momin than the goodness of character.
Allah dislikes an obscene and a rude talker and the bearer of a good moral character reaches to the level of the observer of the prayer and fasting, on account of his character." (Imam Ahmed)
There would be nothing surprising if such teachings were to come from a philosopher who was busy in his campaign of moral-reform. But the great surprise is that these teachings come from a man who strived for establishing a great new faith, when all other religions turn their attention first only towards the performance of worship and such other religious rites.
The last Prophet gave a call for the performance of various Corms of worship and for the establishment of such a government that was involved in a long-drawn war with its large number of enemies. Inspite of the expansion of his religion and the immense increase in the various tasks of his followers, the Prophet informs them of the fact that on the Day of the Judgment there will be nothing weightier in their balance than their good moral character, then definitely this reality is not hidden from him that in Islam the value of morality is very high.
The fact is that if the religion is the name of good conduct between man and man, then on the other hand in its spiritual sense it is also the name of the best relationship between man and his God, and in both these aspects there is the same reality.
There are many religions which give this glad tiding that you may embrace any belief, your sins will be washed away and offering fixed prayers of any religion will cancel your mistakes.
But Islam does not believe in this. According to it, these benefits will be available only when the axis and centre of belief is a conscious step towards virtue and payment of the compulsory dues, and when the proposed worship can become the real source of washing away the sins and generating the real perfection. In other words evil can be removed by those virtues which man makes his own and by which he is able to reach high and lofty standards.
The holy Prophet has very forcefully emphasised these valuable principles so that the Ummah may understand it very clearly that the value of morality may not go down in its eyes and the importance of mere forms and shapes may not increase.
Hazrat Anas has reported: "Allah's Messenger has said: 'A slave achieves, by means of the goodness of his character, great position and high honour in the Hereafter, though he may be weak in matters of worship; but on account of his wickedness of character he is thrown in the lowest recesses of the Hell." (Tibrani).
Hazrat Ayesha narrates: "I have heard the Prophet as saying: 'Momin, by goodness of his character, achieves the high position of the one who observes fast and offers prayers." ( Abu Dawood).
Ibn Umar is reported to have narrated: "I have heard the Prophet as saying: 'A Muslim who observes moderation in matter of worship, on account of the goodness of his character and decency achieves the position of that man who observes fast and recites Allah's verses during prayers in the night." (Ahmed)
Abu Huraira has quoted the Prophet as saying: "A Momin's nobility is his religiousness, his tolerance is his intelligence, and his lineage is his goodness of character." (Hakim)
Abu Zar has narrated: "Successful is the man who had purified his heart for faith, kept his heart on the right lines, his tongue was truthful, his self was content, and his nature was on the right path."(Ibn Haban)
The Prophet's Excellent Example
Mere teachings and commands of Do's and Don'ts do not form the foundation of good moral character in a society, because only these things are not sufficient for developing these good qualities in the human nature; a teacher may merely order to do such and such things and not to do such and such things, and the society becomes a moralist society. The teachings of good conduct which is fruitful requires long training and constant watchfulness.
The training cannot be on the right lines if the example before the society is not such that commands full confidence, because a person having a bad moral character cannot leave a good impression on his surroundings.
The best training can be expected only from such a man whose personality, by the force of its morality, would create a scene of admiration in the beholders. They would sing praises of his nobility and feel the irresistible urge to benefit from the example of his life. The world would spontaneously feell the urge to follow his footsteps.
For nourishing and developing more and more excellent good character among his followers it is necessary that the leader must possess higher and nobler character and attributes than his followers.
The holy Prophet himself was the best example of the good moral character, to emulate which he was giving a call to his followers. Before advising them to adopt a moral life by giving sermons and counsels, he was sowing the seeds of morality among his followers by actually living that kind of life.
Abdullah Ibn Amar says: "The Messenger of Allah (p. b. u. h.) was neither ill-mannered nor rude. He used to say that the better people among you are those who are best in their moral character." (Bukhari)
Anas says: "I served the holy Prophet for ten years. He never said 'Uf (expressing dissatisfaction), nor did he ever ask me why I did this or did not do that(Muslim)
It is also reported by him: "My mother used to hold the Prophet's hand and used to take him wherever she wanted. If any person used to come before him and shake his hand, the Prophet never used to draw away his hand from the other person's hands till the latter drew away his hands, and he never used to turn away his face from that person till the latter himself turned away his face. And in the meetings he was never seen squatting in such a way that his knees were protruding further than his fellow-squatters." (Tirmizi)
Hazrat Ayesha says: " If there were two alternatives, the holy Prophet used to adopt the easiest alternative, provided there was no sin in it. If that work were sinful, then he used to run away farthest from it. The prophet did not take any personal revenge from any body. Yes, if Allah's command were to be disobeyed, then his wrath was to be stirred. Allah's Messenger did not beat anybody with his own hands, neither his wife nor a servant. Yes, he used to fight in the wars in the cause of Allah." (Muslim)
Anas has narrated: "I was walking with the Prophet. He had wrapped a thick chadar round his body. One Arab pulled the chadar so forcefully that a part of his shoulder could be seen by me, and I was perturbed by this forceful pulling of the chadar. The Arab then said: '0 Muhammed! Give me some of my share from the property which Allah has given you.' The Prophet turned towards him and laughed, and gave orders for a donation being given to him." (Bukhari)
Hazrat Ayesha has reported that Allah's Messenger has said: "Allah is soft-hearted. He likes soft heartedness. And the reward which He gives for soft-heartedness does not give for hardness, nay, such a reward He does not give for any thing." (Muslim)
In another tradition it is stated: "Softness in whichever thing it may be, will make that thing beautiful. And from whichever thing softness is taken out, it will become ugly." Jarir narrates that the Prophet has said: "The reward which Allah gives for soft-heartedness He does not give it for folly; and when Allah makes any slave His favourite, He gives him softness. Those families that are devoid of softness become deprived of every virtue." (Tibrani)
Abdullah bin Harith has reported that he did not see anybody smiling more than the Messenger of Allah. (Tirmizi)
Hazrat Ayesha was asked what did Prophet do at home? She replied:" He used to be in the service of his home people; and when the time of prayer came he used to perform ablutions and go out for prayer." (Muslim)
Anas has narrated: "Allah's Messenger had the best manners of all the persons. I had an adopted brother, whose name was Abu Umair. He had a sick sparrow, who was called 'Nagheer'. Allah's Messenger used to be playful with him and ask him : '0 Abu Umair! what has happened to your Nagheer'. " (Bukhari)
Of the habits and traits of the Prophet one trait was very well known that he was extremely philanthropic. He was never miserly in anything. He was very brave and courageous. He never turned away from Truth. He was justice, loving. In his own decision he never committed any excesses or injustice. In his whole life he was truthful and an honest trustee.
The same Quran, the same Criterion, the same Yasin, the same Taha
Allah has commanded all the Muslims to follow the excellent habits and the best traits of the Prophet and to take guidance from the holy life of the holy Messenger.
"Surely there is in the person of Allah's .messenger an excellent example for you-for every person who has hope in Allah and the Hereafter and remember, Allah, reciting His name many times." (Ahzab: 21) Qazi A'yaz says that the Prophet was the most excellent-mannered, most philanthropic and the bravest of all. One night cause). They saw that the Prophet was coming from that direction. He had rushed before all others to find out what was the trouble. He was riding the horse of Abu Talha, without a saddle, and a sword was hanging from his neck, and he was comforting the people not to be afraid saying there was nothing to worry.
Hazrat Ali says that in the battles when fighting started, we used to worry much about the Prophet, because nobody was nearer to the enemy in the fighting than the Prophet.
Jabir bin Abdullah says that whenever anything was requested of him, he never said: No.
Hazrat Khadija had told him when he was first blessed with the Divine Revelation: "You carry the loads of the weak people, you earn for the poor, and help a person if any trouble comes to him in following the Truth."
Once he received seventy thousand dirhams. They were placed before him on the mat. He distributed them standing. He did not refuse a single beggar till he finished the entire amount.
A man approached him and requested for something. He said: "At present I do not have anything, buy something in my name, and when we will get some money we will pay for it."
Hazrat Umar stated: "Allah has not made it compulsory for you to do a thing on which you have no power or control." This saddened the Prophet.
One Ansari said: "O Messenger of Allah! Spend and be not afraid of the straitened circumstances imposed by Allah."
The Prophet smiled and his face shone resplendently. He said: "I have been commanded to do this only."
The holy Prophet used to love his companions. He did not hate them. He respected every respectable man from any other nation, and he used to appoint him as a responsible officer over them. He used to be in search of his companions and gave them their shares. No companion thought that any other person was more respectable in the Prophet's eye than the companion himself.
Any person who adopted his companionship or anybody who came to him for his need, he used to advise him to be patient, till he was satisfied. If anybody asked anything from him, he gave it to him or else talked to him so lovingly that he came back satisfied. The river of his kindness was flowing for every body. For his companions he was a guardian, and in matters of Truth all were equal in his eyes.
He was good-looking, decent, humble and soft hearted. He was not a narrow-minded and a hard person. Quarrelling was not his habit. He never spoke obscene words. To condemn others or to praise some one excessively was beyond the pale of his character. He expressed indifference towards unnecessary things, but he was never given to pessimism.
Hazrat Ayesha says that there was none who possessed a better moral character than the Prophet. Whenever his friends or his home people called him, he readily responded.
Jarir bin Abdullah says: "Since the time I became a Muslim, the Prophet did not prevent me from entering (the house); whenever he looked at me, he smiled."
He used to exchange repartees with his companions, mix up with them freely, and tried to be nearer to them. He played with their children and took them in his lap.
Invitation from free men, male or female slaves, or poor persons were acceptable to him. He visited the ailing and invalid persons in the far-flung areas of Medina. He accepted the excuses of the really helpless people.
Anas says that if any person who whispered anything into his ears, he never removed his ear from his mouth unless the whisperer himself withdrew his mouth. Whenever anybody held his hand, he never tried to withdraw his hand unless the other man withdrew his. He always used to be the first to salute anyone who met him or to be first to shake hands with his companions. He never stretched his legs in the midst of his companions so that they may not be inconvenienced.
Whoever came to him was duly respected by him. Many times he used to spread his cloth for the visitor, and used to place the cushion which was in his use behind the visitor's back. If the visitor were reluctant to lit on the cloth, he used to insist.
He gave new family names to his companions. In their honour, he used to call them by beautiful names. He never used to interrupt anybody's talk till the speaker either stopped or stood up.
Anas narrates that if anybody brought a present to the Prophet he used to ask him to take it to a particular house Hazrat Ayesha says: "I was not jealous of any woman, nor did I feel any ill will towards Khadija, as I used to hear of her repeatedly from the Prophet. If any goat were slaughtered, he used to send it to her friends' house as a present. Once her sister asked for permission to come in. He was very pleased to see her.
A woman came to him and spoke endearingly of Khadija and asked questions about her lovingly. When she went away, he said: "This woman used to come during Khadija's time. Good relationship is a sign of faith".
He treated his relatives kindly, but he did not give them preference over better persons.
Abu Qatawa has reported that when a delegation of Najashi came to the Prophet, he rose for serving them. His companions told him that they were sufficient to serve them. He replied:
"They had honoured our companions, therefore I personally want to serve them."
Abu Usama has narrated that once the Messenger of Allah went among his companions leaning on a cane and his companions stood up. The Prophet said: "Do not stand up. Do not adopt the system of these Non Arabs who stand up to pay respect to one another."
He said:"I am a slave of Allah; I eat as other people eat, and I sit as other people sit." When he rode a mule, he allowed some one else to ride behind him. He used to visit poor invalids. He allowed the beggars to sit in his meetings. He mixed up freely with his companions. Where the meeting was over, he used to sit there.
The Prophet once performed Hajj on a cheap Kajawa on the back of a camel on which an old, torn chadar was spread, whose cost could be at the most four dirhams. He said: "O Allah I This is my Hajj in which there is neither hypocrisy nor show."
When Makkah was conquered and the Muslim soldiers entered the city, the Prophet was riding a camel and his head was bowed down in humility, so much 80 that it appeared that his head was touching a part of the kajawa.
He was of a quiet nature. He never talked without necessity. And if anybody talked with a wry face, he used to be indifferent to him and ignored him.
His smile was his laughter. His talk was straight and direct, in which there was no excess. His companions, in his honour and in following him, considered it sufficient to smile in his presence.
His meetings manifested a spirit of tolerance, trusteeship, honesty, virtue and righteousness. Voices were not raised there and no back-biting was allowed therein.
Whenever he opened his mouth to speak, his companions used to keep silent, as if birds were perched on their heads.
When he walked, it was with a balanced gait. There was neither fright nor haste in his gait, nor was there laziness.
Ibn Abi Hala says: "His silence was on account of tolerance, far-sightedness, estimation and thinking and contemplating."
Hazrat Ayesha says that he talked in such a way that if anybody wanted to count the words, he could do so.
The Messenger of Allah liked fragrance and used perfumes many times.
The world was presented to him with all her allurements and amusements. Victories were won by his armies, but he was indifferent to luxuries and pleasures. He died in such a condition that his armour was pledged to a Jew.http://archive.islamkashmir.org/radiant-reality/nov-2006.htm#10.%20An%20Ideal%20Personality
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.