By Prof. K. S. Ramakrishna Rao, Head of the Department of Philosophy,
Government College for Women University of Mysore, Mandya-571401 (Karnatika).
Re-printed from "Islam and Modern age", Hydrabad, March 1978.
In the desert of Arabia was Mohammad born, according to Muslim historians, on April 20, 571. The name means highly praised. He is to me the greatest mind among all the sons of Arabia. He means so much more than all the poets and kings that preceded him in that impenetrable desert of red sand.
When he appeared Arabia was a desert -- a nothing. Out of nothing a new world was fashioned by the mighty spirit of Mohammad -- a new life, a new culture, a new civilization, a new kingdom which extended from Morocco to Indies and influenced the thought and life of three continents -- Asia, Africa and Europe.
When I thought of writing on Mohammad the prophet, I was a bit hesitant because it was to write about a religion I do not profess and it is a delicate matter to do so for there are many persons professing various religions and belonging to diverse school of thought and denominations even in same religion. Though it is sometimes, claimed that religion is entirely personal yet it can not be gain-said that it has a tendency to envelop the whole universe seen as well unseen. It somehow permeates something or other our hearts, our souls, our minds their conscious as well as subconscious and unconscious levels too. The problem assumes overwhelming importance when there is a deep conviction that our past, present and future all hang by the soft delicate, tender silked cord. If we further happen to be highly sensitive, the center of gravity is very likely to be always in a state of extreme tension. Looked at from this point of view, the less said about other religion the better. Let our religions be deeply hidden and embedded in the resistance of our innermost hearts fortified by unbroken seals on our lips.Read more...
Islam and Civilization
By Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi
Scope and Significance
Islam and civilisation is a realistic and living issue which relates not only to the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the teachings of Islam, but also to the reality of life itself, the present and future of mankind and the historic role played by Muslims in the development of culture and the building up of a flourishing civilisation. This is a subject important enough to receive the attention of an academic body instead of by just a single individual. In its depth and scope, it can compare with any discipline of thought pertaining to the life of man. It covers an immense area in time and space, from the first century of the Islamic era to this day and from one corner of the world to the other. In its immanence, it encompasses everything from creed to morals and behaviour, individual as well as social, and is linked with diverse phenomena, whether if be law, political, international relations, arts, letters, poetics, architecture, cultural refinement, etc. Each of these aspects of human life are indeed many-sided and, hence, an academic body composed of scholars of different disciplines is required to study them so that each may undertake objective research and present his detailed findings courageously, without fear or favour. Each of these scholars, specialist in his own field, can discuss the issues in greater detail as, for example, one can study the creed and religious thought of Islam, another sociology and culture, a third Islamic law, a fourth the equality and dignity of man, a fifth the position of women, and so on. Detailed discussions on each such subject can indeed cover an encyclopaedia instead of being dealt with by an individual like me who has little time to spare for literary pursuits. But as the saying goes, the thing which cannot be owned completely should not be given up altogether. I have, in working on this subject, kept in mind the Qur’nic verse which says: And if no torrent falls on it, then even a gentle rain (Al Baqarah: 265).Read more...
|Factors inspiring patience and perserverance|
It is natural for sensible and mild-tempered people to meditate deeply on the factors that inspired those early Muslims that miraculous constancy and perseverance. It is normal to wonder how those people managed to tolerate unspeakable persecutions, and stand fast in the face of tyrannical tortures. With respect to these questions, we deem it wise just to touch on those underlying reasons:
“Then, as for the foam, it passes away as scum upon the banks, while that which is for the good of mankind remains in the earth.” [13:17]
So Allâh said:
“… It is not you that they deny, but it is the Verses (the Qur’ân) of Allâh that the Zâlimûn (polytheists and wrong-doers) deny.” [6:33]
One day, the disbelievers of Quraish leveled to him a cynical remark three times. He remained silent but for the third one he remarked, “O Quraish! Slaughter is in store for you.” They were taken aback and ulterior fear filled their hearts to such an extent that the most hostile among them began to make up for their insult by the best friendly terms they could afford. When they slung the entrails of a camel on him while prostrating himself in prayer, he invoked Allâh’s wrath on them, and they immediately were caught in an inexpressible state of worry and were almost convinced that they would be destroyed. Ubai bin Khalaf used always to threaten he would kill Muhammad (Peace be upon him). One day the Prophet (Peace be upon him) retorted that he would kill him by Allâh’s Will. When Ubai received a scratch in his neck, on the day of Uhud, he, under the sense of horror, remembered the Prophet’s words and remarked, “I am convinced he would be able to kill me even if he spat on me. ” Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh said to Omaiyah bin Khalaf in Makkah, “I heard the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) one day say that the Muslims would surely kill you.” Omaiyah was extremely panicked and swore he would never step out of Makkah. Even when Abu Jahl obliged him to march with them to fight the Prophet (Peace be upon him) on the day of Badr, he bought the best and swift camels in Makkah in order that they hasten his escape. Even his wife warned him against going out reminding him of Sa‘d’s words, his reply was “By Allâh, I have no intention of going out with Quraish, I will disengage from them after a short distance.”
That was the clear sense of horror and terror haunting his enemies wherever they were. His friends and companions, on the other hand, held him dearest to them, and he occupied the innermost cells of their hearts. They were always ready to defend him and secure his well-being even at the risk of their lives. One day, Abu Bakr bin Abi Quhafa was severely beaten by ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘a, a terrible polytheist. His whole body was almost bleeding and he was on the verge of death, yet when his people took him back home extremely indignant at his misfortune, he swore he would never eat or drink anything until they had told him about the well-being of his noble Companion, Muhammad (Peace be upon him). That was the spirit of selflessness and sacrifice that characterized the behaviour of those early Companions.
“… Who give that (their charity) which they give (and also do other good deeds) with their hearts full of fear (whether their alms and charities, etc., have been accepted or not), because they are sure to return to their Lord.” [23:60]
They had already known that life with all its amenities and pains was worthless when compared with the Hereafter. Such deep convictions brought about in them a sense of indifference to all troubles and hardships that attended their life.
“Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, ‘When (will come) the Help of Allâh?’ Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allâh is near!” [2:214]
“Alif-Lam-Mim. Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe’, and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allâh will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allâh knows all that before putting them to test).” [29: 1-3]
Mere lip profession of Faith is not enough. It must be tried and tested in the real turmoil of life. The test will be applied in all kinds of circumstances, in individual life and in relation to the environment around us to see whether we can strive constantly and put the Lord above self. Much pain, sorrow and self-sacrifice may be necessary, not because they are good in themselves, but because they will purify us, like fire applied to a goldsmith’s crucible to burn out the dross.
These verses also constituted an irrefutable answer to the false allegations of the disbelievers, and a clear ultimatum that smacked of the horrible consequethat would ensue in case they persisted in their disbelief. On the other hand, the Noble Qur’ân was leading the Muslims to a new world and enlightening them as to its features, the beauty of Lordship, the perfection of Godship, the impact of kindness and mercy and the manifestations of the yearned for Allâh’s pleasure. They implicitly connoted meaningful messages carrying glad tidings of definitely approaching Divine Mercy leading to eternal bliss in a blissful Garden (Paradise). They, at the same time, envisaged the end of the tyrants and disbelievers who would be brought to Divine Justice and then dragged through the Fire where they would taste the touch of Hell.
Here we could adduce some of the verses of this category pregnant with glad tidings referring to the final victory that would crown the perseverance and patience of the Muslims:
“And, verily, Our Word has gone forth of old for Our slaves, — the Messengers, that they verily would be made triumphant. And that Our hosts, they verily would be the victors. So turn away [O Muhammad (Peace be upon him) ] from them for a while, and watch them and they shall see (the punishment)! Do they seek to hasten on Our torment? Then, when it descends into their courtyard (i.e. near to them), evil will be the morning for those who had been warned.” [37:171-177]
In the same context, Allâh told His Prophet (Peace be upon him):
“Their multitude will be put to flight, and they will show their backs.” [54:45]
He also said:
“They will be a defeated host like the confederates of the old times.” [38:11]
The Muslims who migrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) had the following:
“And as for those who emigrated for the cause of Allâh, after suffering oppression, We will certainly give them goodly residence in this world, but indeed the reward of the Hereafter will be greater, if they but knew.” [16:41]
In the context of the story of Joseph, there was:
“Verily, in Joseph and his brethren there were Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) for those who ask.” [12:7]
i.e., the Makkans will receive the same fate that befell Joseph’s brothers, viz, failure and surrender. In another instance, Allâh speaks about the Messengers:
“And those who disbelieved, said to their Messengers: ‘Surely, we shall drive you out of our land, or you shall return to our religion!’ So their Lord inspired them: ‘Truly, We shall destroy the Zâlimûn (polytheists, disbelievers and wrong-doers). And indeed, We shall make you dwell in the land after them. This is for him who fears standing before Me (on the Day of Resurrection or fears My punishment) and also fears My threat.” [14:13,14]
During the war between the Persians and the Romans, the disbelievers had a sincere wish that victory be the former’s lot, because both parties professed polytheism, whereas the Muslims prayed for a Roman victory because both groups believed in Allâh, His Messengers, Books, the Revelation and the Hereafter.
The war resulted in the overthrow of Rome by Persia. They were pro-Persian, as we have said, and in their hearts they hoped that the nascent movement of Islam, which at that time was, from a worldly point of view, very weak and helpless, would collapse under their persecution. But they misread the true signs of the times. They were told that they would soon be disillusioned in both their calculations, and it actually so happened when Heraclius carried his campaign into the heart of Persia and the Makkan Quraish were beaten off at Badr:
“And on that Day, the believers (i.e. Muslims) will rejoice (at the victory given by Allâh to the Romans against the Persians) with the help of Allâh.” [30:4,5]
During the season of ‘Ukaz forum, and other such occasions, the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) himself would communicate not only glad tidings pertinent to the Garden (Paradise) but also news of promising prospects for the true believers in the Call of Islam. He would openly tell them that they would surely prosper, rule the whole of Arabia and subdue Persia if they professed the most serious pillar of Islam, i.e. the Oneness of Allâh.
Khabbab bin Al-Aratt once urged the Messenger to call upon Allâh to shield him against the adversities he was suffering at the hand of the polytheists. The Prophet’s face reddened and he remarked that the true believer must not precipitate things, it was incumbent upon a believer to undergo all the odds of life as much as he could, fearing nobody except Allâh until the religion was established, which would surely happen. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) in this regard, referred to the perseverance that the Muslims had to show and the hardships they had to undergo in order to establish the land of Islam where peace and security would prevail all over it.
Glad tidings of better prospects for Islam and the Muslims were not confined to Muhammad’s followers, in fact they were being disclosed time and again to both believers and disbelievers. Whenever the two parties met, the latter would jeer at the former and mockingly say “Here are the sovereigns of earth who will defeat Chosroes and Caesar.” But the believers, in anticipation of that shining and Godly-orientated future, would always persevere and tolerate all sorts of persecution and humiliation regarding them as summer clouds that would soon clear away.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him), on his part, would always maintain and sustain his followers’ souls with the light of belief, sanctify them through inculcating the Qur’ânic wisdom in their hearts and cultivate their minds deeply with the spirit of Islam that would elevate them to a state of noble spirituality, pure heartedness and an absolute degree of freedom from the yoke of materialism, a high morale powerful enough to resist worldly lusts and consequently lead them from darkness to light. He would constantly teach them to be tolerant, forgiving and overpowering over their selves in order to get well established in their religion, disdain lust, and devote themselves to attaining the Pleasure of Allâh, yearning for the Garden (Paradise), enthusiasm in sciences relating to their faith, calling themselves to account, subordinating fleeing whims, holding under firm control all rage-provoking incidents and finally observing sobriety, patience and gravity.