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.
American economist Robert Samuelson recently made an interesting observation about the American society in his Newsweek column: "America's glories and evils are tightly fused together." Quoting sociologist Seymour Lipset, he asserts that America's economic vitality and progress come from the same source as do crime, family breakdown, inequality, and vulgarity. Freedom and individualism have fired economic advance, yet have also inhibited social control. But why the qualities that bring the best in a nation also should bring the worst in it? Is humanity doomed by having its vices and virtues so intricately mixed?
Samuelson does not probe the issue. Instead he seems to be happily resigned to it. "We are burdened as well as blessed by our beliefs," he says. Economics, we may be reminded, is the dismal science.
Actually the world is not doomed by design. Samuelson comes very close to the truth but he confuses approaches or tools with attributes. A tool that works great in one area is also being used in another for which it was never designed. The problem lies with the user who keeps on insisting on its use in the second area citing its success in the first. To put matters simply, it's the free use of reason and intellect that is behind most of America's (and West's in general) phenomenal scientific and material progress. It's the use of the same tool in moral, and religious life that has caused its equally phenomenal moral degeneration!
Every tool has a designated area of application. Outside, it will fail to work. A 4 bit computer is good for some elementary math involving whole numbers. It may multiply 2 by 20 and give the correct answer instantly. But burdened with complex calculations involving several decimal digits, it will give the WRONG answers. A weighing scale meant for gold will not work for iron and vice versa. Their resolution and capacity are inappropriate for those applications.
Same with the tools we use for learning about the world. Our senses and intellect are wonderful things. Science and technology are all about their use. Certainly it was free inquiry driven by reason that led to so many of the discoveries of science. It happened at an accelerated pace during the past four centuries and the results are everywhere around us to be seen.
But a tool that is so great in one area may be totally useless, even dangerous, in another. Pure Reason, uninformed by Divine Guidance, is a defective tool for deciding purpose of life or suggesting its values. What is Right and what is Wrong? These questions require knowledge beyond what we can acquire by using our senses and reasoned analysis. As a direct result, everyone's reasoning is different. That is why philosophers have never been able to agree upon what should be the goal of life. Happiness? Survival? Pleasure? Love? Self-fulfillment? You name it. In addition, it is impossible for us to separate our reasoning in these matters from our feelings. Pure or uninformed reason becomes just a tool to justify what we desire.
Today West's problem is that it has accepted the wrong tool for developing its moral compass. Probably the majority of its people abhor homosexuality. They may know that it is an abomination and evil. Yet today same-sex marriages are getting legal sanction in the West. And they are helpless in trying to stop its advances. Why? Because they cannot argue that it is wrong based on pure reason. It is easier to make a case against smoking in public places, then against the worst forms of immorality. Such is the result when pure reason becomes the accepted arbiter of right and wrong.
There is nothing modern about this either. Several centuries ago, Obaidullah Hasan Qirwani, a leader of the renegade batani cult declared it foolish for a brother to marry his beautiful sister to a total stranger, while trying to be content with a less qualified wife -- another stranger. She would be much more suited to be wife of her own brother, with whom she may be a lot more compatible, he argued. His argument is, no doubt, sickening. But is there a counter argument based on pure reason?
Certainly mankind needs a superior tool for determining the values and purpose of life. A source of guidance that is based on certain knowledge, not conjecture. One that can inform our desires rather than being subservient to them. This is what Prophets, Alayhim assalam, came with. They claimed to have access to the higher source of knowledge, the Divine Revelation. Those who accepted them used reason and observation to verify their authenticity and character. But they accepted Divine Revelation as a SUPERIOR source of knowledge! That is why a son can tell his father:
"O my father! To me has come knowledge that had not reached you. So follow me. I will guide you to a Way that is even and straight." (Maryam, 19:43).
All this is obvious, except in implications. We accept this is Right and that is Wrong because the Revelation TOLD us, not because it PROVED it to us. What is wrong with riba? Gambling? Pork? Alcohol? Revelation told us that they were wrong. Why is hijab necessary? Allah and His Prophet, Salla-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, ordered that. What are the rights of men and women? Those given to them by Allah and His Prophet, Salla-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. The attribute of the Muslims is that they "listened and followed" (Al-Baqarah, 2:285). It is not that they listened and questioned, and argued, and investigated and then if they felt like it, they followed. That is also THE message of Prophet Ibrahim, alayhi assalm's, sacrifice, a defining event for Islam. For the Qur'an describes the moment when the father and son were ready for the ultimate sacrifice by saying: "When they surrendered" (Al-Saffat, 37:103). Literally it can also be translated: "When they accepted Islam." For pure reason could have raised a million questions about the command for that sacrifice.
Normally it is difficult for us to say "I don't know." It is even more difficult for nations to admit a weakness in their celebrated tools of inquiry. That is the dilemma of the modern world, which sees so much wrong with itself but cannot bring itself to admitting the problem with its basic approach. But a Muslim is the person who has both the wisdom and the courage to surrender before the higher source of knowledge and guidance. For him Revelation informs his reason and his reason controls his emotions. Such is the person who is blessed, but not burdened, by his beliefs.
Reference url: http://www.albalagh.net/food_for_thought/reason.shtml
Principles of Success—
In the light of Seerah
By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
It is a well-known fact that the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) was the supremely successful man in the entire human history. But he was not just a hero, as Thomas Carlyle has called him. According to the Qur’an, he was a good example for all mankind. He has shown us the way of achieving supreme success in this world.
By studying the life of the Prophet we can derive those important principles which were followed by the Prophet. In short, the Prophet of Islam was a positive thinker in the full sense of the word. All his activities were result-oriented. He completely refrained from all such steps as may prove counter-productive.
First Principle: To begin from the possible
This principle is well explained in a saying of Aishah. She said: "Whenever the Prophet had to choose between two options, he always opted for the easier choice." (Al-Bukhari)To choose the easiest option means to begin from the possible, and one who begins from the possible will surely reach his goal.
Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:
قُل لاَّ يَسْتَوِي الْخَبِيثُ وَالطَّيِّبُ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكَ كَثْرَةُ الْخَبِيثِ فَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ يَا أُوْلِي الأَلْبَابِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
(5:100) (O Messenger!) Say to them: "The bad things and the good things are not equal, even though the abundance of the bad things might make you pleased with them. Men of understanding, beware of disobeying Allah; then maybe you will attain true success.'
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.