Islamic Civilization and the Western Orientalists

Taken from "The Life of Muhammad"  by Muhammad Husayn Haykal,

translated by Dr. Ismail Ragi A. al Faruqi

Irving and Islamic Determinism

Washington Irving, one of the greatest writers the United States of America produced in the nineteenth century, is a real credit to his people. He has written a biography of the Arab Prophet in which the material is presented in an eloquent and captivating manner. Although his treatment is well taken at times, it is prejudiced at others. His book ends with a conclusion in which he presents the principles of Islam and what he has taken to be the historical sources of those principles. After mentioning iman in God, in His angels, Books, prophets, and the Day of Judgment, Washington Irving wrote:

"The sixth and last article of the Islam faith is PREDESTINATION, and on this Mahomet evidently reposed his chief dependence for the success of his military enterprises. He inculcated that every event had been predetermined by God, and written down in the eternal tablet previous to the creation of the world. That the destiny of every individual and the hour of his death were irrevocably fixed, and could neither be varied nor evaded by any effort of human sagacity or foresight. Under this persuasion the Moslems engaged in battle without risk; and, as death in battle was equivalent to martyrdom, and entitled them to an immediate admission into paradise, they had in either alternative, death or victory, a certainty of gain.



 Can dress be so important that its violations may put a man or a woman into hellfire? Let us read.

Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ قَدْ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَارِي سَوْءَاتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا وَلِبَاسُ التَّقْوَىَ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ ذَلِكَ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللّهِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ

(7:26) 0 Children of Adam!  Indeed We have sent down to you a garment which covers your shame and provides protection and adornment. But the finest of all is the garment of piety. That is one of the signs of Allah so that they may take heed.
By referring to an important aspect of Adam and Eve's story, the attention of the people of Arabia of those days was drawn to the evil influence of Satan upon their lives. Under Satan's influence they had begun to see dress merely as a shield of protection against the inclemencies of the weather and as a means of adornment. The basic purpose of dress to cover the private parts of the body - had receded into the background. People had no inhibition about the immodest exposure of the private parts of their body in public. To publicly take a bath absolutely naked, to attend to the call of nature on thoroughfares, were the order of the day. To crown it all, in the course of Pilgrimage they used to circumambulate around the Ka'bah in stark nakedness. Women even surpassed men in immodesty. In their view, the performance of religious rites in complete nudity was an act of religious merit.
Immodesty, however, was not an exclusive characteristic of the people of Arabia. Many nations indulged in it in the past, and many nations continue to indulge in it even now. Hence the message embodied in these verses is not directed just to the people of Arabia. It is rather directed to all men. Mankind, which is the progeny of Adam, is warned against this particular aspect of Satanic influence on their lives. When men show indifference to God's Guidance and turn away from the Message of the Prophets, they virtually place themselves at the mercy of Satan. For it is Satan who makes them abandon way's that are consistent with true human nature and who leads them to immodesty in the same way he did with Adam and Eve. Were man to reflect on this, it would become quite evident that when he is deprived of the guidance of the Prophets, he cannot even appreciate, let alone fulfil, the primary requirements of his true nature.
يَا بَنِي آدَمَ لاَ يَفْتِنَنَّكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ كَمَا أَخْرَجَ أَبَوَيْكُم مِّنَ الْجَنَّةِ يَنزِعُ عَنْهُمَا لِبَاسَهُمَا لِيُرِيَهُمَا سَوْءَاتِهِمَا

إِنَّهُ يَرَاكُمْ هُوَ وَقَبِيلُهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لاَ تَرَوْنَهُمْ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا الشَّيَاطِينَ أَوْلِيَاء لِلَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ
(7:27) Children of Adam! Let not Satan deceive you in the manner he deceived your parents out of Paradise, pulling off from them their clothing to reveal to them their shame. He and his host surely see you from whence you do not see them. We have made satans the guardians of those who do not believe.
These verses bring into focus several important points.
First, that the need to cover oneself is not an artificial urge in man; rather it is an important dictate of human nature. Unlike animals, God did not provide man with the protective covering that He provided to animals. God rather endowed man with the natural instincts of modesty and bashfulness. Moreover, the private parts of the body are not only, related to sex, but also constitute 'sawat' that is, something the exposure of which is felt to be shameful. Also, God did not provide man with a natural covering in response to man's modesty and bashfulness, but has inspired in him (see verse 26) the urge to cover himself. This is in order that man might use his reason to understand the requirements of his nature, use the resources made available by God, and provide himself a dress.

Second, man instinctively knows that the moral purpose behind the use of dress takes precedence over the physical purpose. Hence the idea that man should resort to dress in order to cover his private parts precedes the mention of dress as a means of providing protection and adornment to the human body. In this connection man is altogether different from animals, With regard to the latter, the natural covering that has been granted serves to protect them from the inclemencies of weather and also to beautify their bodies. However, that natural covering is altogether unrelated to the purpose of concealing their sexual organs. The exposure of those organs is not a matter of shame for them and hence their nature is altogether devoid of the urge to cover them. However, as men fell prey to Satanic influences, they developed a false and unhealthy notion about the function of dress. They were led to believe that the function of dress for human beings is no different from that for animals, viz., to protect them from the inclemencies of weather and to make them look attractive. As for concealing the private parts of the body, the importance of that function has been belittled. For men have been misled into believing that their private parts are, in fact, like other organs of their body. As in the case of animals, there is little need for human beings to conceal their sex organs.

Third, the Qur'an emphasizes that it is not enough for the dress to cover the private parts and to provide protection and adornment to the human body. Man's dress ought to be the dress of piety. This means that a man's dress ought to conceal his private parts. It should also render a man reasonably presentable - the dress being neither too shabby and cheap nor overly expensive and extravagant relative to his financial standing. Nor should dress smack of pride or hauteur, or reflect that pathological mental state in which men prefer characteristically feminine dresses and vice versa: or that the people belonging to one nation mimic people of other nations so as to resemble them, thereby becoming a living emblem of collective humiliation and abasement. The Qur'anic ideal can only be achieved by those who truly believe in the Prophets and sincerely try to follow God's Guidance. For as soon as man decides to reject God's Guidance, Satan assumes his patronage and by one means or another manages to lead him into error after error.

Fourth, the question of dress constitutes one of the numerous signs of God which is visible virtually throughout the world. When the facts mentioned above are carefully considered it will be quite clear as to why dress is an important sign of God. (Tafheemul Quran)

Chapter 260: Condemnation and Prohibition of Falsehood

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Chapter 260
Condemnation and Prohibition of Falsehood

Allah, the Exalted, says:

"And follow not (O man, i.e., say not or do not or witness not) that of which you have no knowledge.'' (17:36)

"Not a word does he (or she) utter, but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it).'' (50:18)


1542. Ibn Mas`ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Truth leads to piety and piety leads to Jannah. A man persists in speaking the truth till he is recorded with Allah as a truthful man. Falsehood leads to transgression and transgression leads to the Hell-fire. A man continues to speak falsehood till he is recorded with Allah as a great liar.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

1. Whatever attitude one adopts becomes his special trait and then he becomes known by it. Therefore, one should always adopt virtues and good conduct so that he may attain a high esteem with Allah and be also remembered well by people.

2. Truth is the way to salvation while falsehood is the way to destruction.


1543. `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As (May Allah be pleased with them) said: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Whosoever possesses these four characteristics, is a sheer hypocrite; and anyone who possesses one of them, possesses a characteristic of hypocrisy till he gives it up. (These are:) When he talks, he tells a lie; when he makes a covenant, he acts treacherously; and when he quarrels, he utters foul language.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary:  Nowadays we do not find hypocrisy of Belief among Muslims generally, but practical hypocrisy is very common. The reason is that their majority has most of the signs of hypocrisy which this Hadith makes clear. See Hadith No. 690.


1544. Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) said: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "He who narrates a dream which he has not seen will be put to trouble to join into a knot two barley seeds which he will not be able to do; and he who seeks to listen to the talk of a people (secretly) will have molten lead poured into his ears on the Day of Resurrection; and he who makes a picture (of people or other creatures with a soul, such as animals and insects) will be (severely punished), and he will be asked to infuse spirit therein, which he will not be able to do.''


1. "Hulm'' means a bad dream but here it has been used in the sense of a dream, irrespective of its being good or bad. This Hadith has a severe warning for inventing a dream. Such persons are in the habit of inventing dreams who have either a lust for fame or want to impress people with their piety.

2. Listening to the talk of others secretly is also condemned.

3. The making of paintings of people or other creatures with a soul entails severe punishment.


1545. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) as saying: "The worst of lies is to pretend to have seen something which he has not seen.''

Commentary: This Hadith strongly condemns falsehood, whether it relates to a dream or to the real world. It is a great sin in both cases.


1546. Sumurah bin Jundub (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) very often used to ask his Companions, "Do any one of you has seen a dream?'' So dreams would be narrated to him by those whom Allah willed to relate. One day he (PBUH) said, "Last night I had a vision in which two men (angels) came to me and woke me up and said to me, `Proceed!' I set out with them and we came across a man lying down, and behold, another man was standing over his head, holding a big rock. Behold, he was throwing the rock at the man's head, smashing it. When he struck him, the stone rolled away and he went after it to get it, and no sooner had he returned to this man, his head was healed and restored to its former condition. The thrower (of the rock) then did the same as he had done before. I said to my two companions, `Subhan-Allah! Who are these?' They said: `Proceed, proceed.' So we proceeded and came to a man lying in a prone position and another man standing over his head with an iron hook, and behold, he would put the hook in one side of the man's mouth and tear off that side of his face to the back (of the neck), and similarly tear his nose from front to back, and his eyes from front to back. Then he turned to the other side of the man's face and did just as he has done with the first side. He had hardly completed that (second) side when the first returned to its normal state. I said to my two companions, `Subhan-Allah! Who are these?' They said, `Proceed, proceed.' So we proceeded and came across something like a Tannur (a kind of baking oven, a pit usually clay-lined for baking bread).'' I (the narrator) think the Prophet (PBUH) said, "In that oven there was much noise and voices.'' The Prophet (PBUH) added, "We looked into it and found naked men and women, and behold, a flame of fire was reaching to them from underneath, and when it reached them they cried loudly. I asked, `Who are these?' They said to me, `Proceed, proceed.' And so we proceeded and came across a river.'' I (the narrator) think he said, "-- red like blood.'' The Prophet (PBUH) added, "And behold, in the river there was a man swimming, and on the bank there was a man who had collected many stones. Behold, while the other man was swimming, he went near him. The former opened his mouth and the latter (on the bank) threw a stone into his mouth whereupon he went swimming again. Then again he (the former) returned to him (the latter), and every time the former returned, he opened his mouth, and the latter threw a stone into his mouth, (and so on) the performance was repeated. I asked my two companions, `Who are these?' They replied, `Proceed, proceed.' And we proceeded till we came to a man with a repulsive appearance, the most repulsive appearance you ever saw a man having! Beside him there was a fire, and he was kindling it and running around it. I asked my two companions, `Who is this (man).' They said to me, `Proceed, proceed!' So we proceeded till we reached a garden of deep green dense vegetation, having all sorts of spring colours. In the midst of the garden there was a very tall man, and I could hardly see his head because of his great height, and around him there were children in such a large number as I have never seen! I said to my two companions, `Who is this?' They replied, `Proceed, proceed.' So we proceeded till we came to a majestic, huge garden, greater and better than any garden I have ever seen! My two companions said to me, `Ascend up' and I ascended up.'' The Prophet (PBUH) added, "So we ascended till we reached a city built of gold and silver bricks, and we went to its gate and asked (the gatekeeper) to open the gate, and it was opened; and we entered the city and found in it men with one side of their bodies as handsome as the most handsome person you have ever seen, and the other side as ugly as the ugliest person you have ever seen! My two companions ordered those men to throw themselves into the river. Behold, there was a river flowing across (the city), and its water was like milk in whiteness. Those men went and threw themselves in it and then returned to us after the ugliness (of their bodies) had disappeared, and they came in the best shape.'' The Prophet (PBUH) further added, "My two companions said to me: `This place is the `Adn Jannah, and that is your place.' I raised up my sight, and behold, there I saw a palace like a white cloud! My two companions said to me, `That palace is your place,' I said to them, `May Allah bless you both! Let me enter it.' They replied, `As for now, you will not enter it, but you shall enter it (one day).' I said to them, `I have seen many wonders tonight. What does all that mean which I have seen?' They replied, `We will inform you: As for the first man you came upon, whose head was being smashed with the rock, he is the symbol of the one who studies the Qur'an and then neither recites it nor acts on its orders, and sleeps, neglecting the enjoined prayers. As for the man you came upon, whose sides of mouth, nostrils and eyes were torn off from front to back, he is the symbol of the man who goes out of his house in the morning and tells lies that are spread all over the world. And those naked men and women whom you saw in a construction resembling an oven, they are the adulterers and the adulteresses. And the man who was given a stone to swallow is the eater of Ar-Riba (usury), and the bad-looking man whom you saw near the fire, kindling it and going around it, is Malik, the gatekeeper of Hell, and the tall man you saw in the garden is (Prophet) Abraham, and the children around him are those who died upon Al-Fitrah (the Islamic Faith of Monotheism).''' The narrator added: Some Muslims asked the Prophet (PBUH) , "O Messenger of Allah! What about the children of Al-Mushrikun (i.e., polytheists, pagans, idolaters, and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah and in His Messenger Muhammad (PBUH))?'' The Prophet (PBUH) replied, "And also the children of Al-Mushrikun.'' The Prophet (PBUH) added: "My two companions added, `The men you saw half handsome and half ugly were these people who had mixed an act that was good with another that was bad, but Allah forgave them'.''

Another narration of Al-Bukhari is: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "One night two men came to me and took me to a blessed land.'' (The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) told of the same incident as above) and said, "After a while of walking we came upon a pit like an oven, narrow at the top and wide at the bottom with fire raging in it. When the flames rose up (the people in it) also rose up till they were about to come out; and when the fire subsided they, too, would go down with it. In it were naked men and women.'' (The remainder of the Hadith is the same as the above Hadith except that at the end of it, the Messenger of Allah said: "We came upon a river of blood in the middle of which there was a man standing, and at the bank of the river there was a man with plenty of stones before him...'' In this narration we also find: "They made me climb the tree and they made me enter an abode so beautiful the like of which I have never seen before. There (I saw) old men and youth.'' In this narration we also find: "`The first house you entered was the abode of the believers in general, and the other house was the abode of the martyrs. I am Jibril (Gabriel), and this is Mika'il. Raise your head.' I looked up and saw something like clouds. They said to me, `That is your abode.' I said, `Shall I enter it?' They said, `You have not completed your term of life yet. When you do, you will certainly enter it.'''

Commentary:  This Hadith has the following points:

1. Manifestation through dream of punishment of various evils, i.e., forgetting the Qur'an after having memorized it, not practising the teachings of the Qur'an, violating the precepts of the Qur'an after attaining their knowledge, slackness in offering obligatory Salat, lying, immoral acts, usury, etc. Strict warnings have been issued against all these evils, and the punishment to which they are liable have been mentioned in this Hadith. May Allah save us from them.

2. This Hadith also mentions the unique status of Prophet (PBUH) and the distinguished place of martyrs.

3. We also learn from this Hadith that Allah has made Hell for punishment and Jannah for reward. Muhammad (PBUH), the Last Prophet of Allah, was made to witness many scenes which demonstrated the retribution and reward of deeds done by people in their earthly life.

Short Quotes

You will find with Allah

وَأَقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ وَآتُواْ الزَّكَاةَ وَمَا تُقَدِّمُواْ لأَنفُسِكُم مِّنْ خَيْرٍ تَجِدُوهُ عِندَ اللّهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

(2:110) And establish the Salat and pay the Zakat. you will find with Allah whatever good you send forward for your future; Allah is watching everything you do.