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...
The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) enjoined upon Muslims to treat the poor kindly and to help them with alms, Zakat, and in other ways. He said: "He is not a perfect Muslim who eats his fill and lets his neighbor go hungry."
He asked, "Do you love your Creator? Then love your fellow beings first."
Monopoly is unlawful in Islam and he preached that "It is difficult for a man laden with riches to climb the steep path that leads to bliss."
He did not prohibit or discourage the acquisition of wealth but insisted that it be lawfully acquired by honest means and that a portion of it would go to the poor. He advised his followers
"To give the laborer his wages before his perspiration dried up."
He did not encourage beggary either and stated that
"Allah is gracious to him who earns his living by his own labour, and that if a man begs to increase his property, Allah will diminish it and whoever has food for the day, it is prohibited for him to beg."
To his wife he said, "O A'isha, love the poor and let them come to you and Allah will draw you near to Himself." [Sahih Bukhari]
One or two instances of the Prophet's (s.a.a.w.) concern for the poor may be given here. A Madinan, Ibad Bin Sharjil, was once starving. He entered an orchard and picked some fruit. The owner of the orchard gave him a sound beating and stripped off his clothes. The poor man appealed to the Prophet (s.a.a.w.) who remonstrated the owner thus:
"This man was ignorant, you should have dispelled his ignorance; he was hungry, you should have fed him."
His clothes were restored to the Madinan and, in addition, some grain was given to him [Abu Dawood]
A debtor, Jabir Bin Abdullah, was being harassed by his creditor as he could not clear his debt owing to the failure of his date crop. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) went with Jabir to the house of the creditor and pleaded with him to give Jabir some more time but the creditor was not prepared to oblige. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) then went to the oasis and having seen for himself that the crop was really poor, he again approached the creditor with no better result. He then rested for some time and approached the creditor for a third time but the latter was adamant. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) went again to the orchard and asked Jabir to pluck the dates. As Allah would have it, the collection not only sufficed to clear the dues but left something to spare. [Sahih Bukhari]
His love for the poor was so deep that he used to pray: "O Allah, keep me poor in my life and at my death and raise me at resurrection among those who are poor." [Nasai]
1668. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: Some people asked the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) about soothsayers. He (PBUH) said, "They are of no account.'' Upon this they said to him, "O Messenger of Allah! But they sometimes make true predictions.'' Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "That is a word pertaining to truth which a jinn snatches (from the angels) and whispers into the ears of his friend (the soothsayers) who will then mix more than a hundred lies with it.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
The narration in Al-Bukhari is: "The angels descend in the clouds and mention matters which has been decreed in heaven; Satan steals a hearing (listens to it stealthily) and communicates it to the soothsayers who tell along with it a hundred lies.''
Commentary: Kahin (soothsayer), Munajjim (astrologer) and Arraf (foreteller) have similar characteristics but with a slight difference. All of them make predictions about the future. Kahin would overhear some jinn and disclose the secret to people which would sometimes prove true, because the jinn's source of information was Satan who sometimes stole away some information from the angels. But after the annunciation of the Prophet (PBUH) it was made impossible for jinns and satans to overhear anything in the skies. Moreover, Kahin and others of his ilk would make predictions on the basis of certain signs and circumstantial evidence which could go wrong or right. This is so even to this day. Astrological prediction is also a form of foretelling but this is often wrong. Al-`Irafah, or what is known to be as divination is also an indication of some future occurrence on the basis of certain causes and events. All the three occult arts supplement each other and also take the help of similar other things. In other words, these are all different forms of soothsaying. Geomancy also tries to tell about the invisible future. At-Tarq is the art of taking omen by striking birds with gravel on their wings or by throwing barley, etc., before them. In the latter formula, if a bird flies towards the right side, it would be a good omen; and if it goes towards the left it will be a bad one. All such things are unlawful and have been strictly forbidden by Islam. If anything predicted by these means comes by chance true, it does not furnish any justification for their validity.
1669. Narrated Safiyyah, daughter of Abu `Ubaid, on the authority of some of the wives of the Prophet (PBUH) who said, "He who goes to one who claims to tell about matters of the Unseen and believes in him, his Salat (prayers) will not be accepted for forty days.''
Commentary: We learn from this Hadith that visiting soothsayers and astrologers for the purpose of knowing from them what lies hidden in future is such a great offense that he who does it, loses all merits of his forty days Salat. Some people try to detect the culprits involved in a theft case through the so-called fortunetellers or seek their advice in matters relating to business, marriage etc. All such things are unlawful because Allah Alone knows the invisible world.
1670. Qabisah bin Al-Mukhariq (May Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, "The practice of `Iyafah, the interpretation of omens from the flight of birds, the practice of divination by drawing lines on the ground and taking evil omens are all practices of Al-Jibt (the idol, the diviner, or sorcerer).''
Commentary: Iyafah is an occult practice in which the practitioner rapidly draws lines on the soft ground in the presence of his client in such a manner that the lines cannot be counted then he effaces the lines in pairs. If at the end of the exercise two lines are left on the ground, it is taken as a good omen; if it is a single line, it is a bad omen. Some people have also described certain other forms of this occult formula. In any case, it was one of the formulas practised by the soothsayers of the Period of Ignorance. This practice, like others of this kind, was prohibited and Muslims were made to understand that such things could neither benefit nor harm anyone, and were mere tricks and frauds; and any reliance on them was absolute superstition and heresy. How sad it is that a large number of Muslims of the present age have faith in such occult practices and believe in superstitions. May Allah grant us guidance and save us from such evils. Al-Jibt covers a wide meanings. It means anything worshipped other than the true God (Allah), i.e., all false deities, be they an idol, Satan, graves, stars, angels, saints, Jesus the son of Mary, etc.
1671. Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "He who acquires a branch of the knowledge of astrology, learns a branch of magic (of which he acquires more as long as) he continues to do so.''
Commentary: In this Hadith, astrology has been regarded a part of magic. In Islam the learning of magic has been held equivalent to infidelity. Thus, it is evident that in Islam, astrology and soothsaying are highly dangerous, and learning them is a great sin. Astrology here stands for that pseudo-science on the basis of which future events are predicted with reference to the movements of stars. There is another science called astronomy by means of which timings of sunrise and sunset are calculated. This branch of science, however, is a genuine science because it is based on experiment and observation.
1672. Mu`awiyah bin Al-Hakam (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I said: "O Messenger of Allah, I have recently emerged from ignorance and Allah has favoured me with Islam. There are still some men among us who visit the soothsayers to consult them (on matters relating to the future).'' He (PBUH) replied, "Do not visit them.'' I said: "There are some men who are guided by omens.'' He replied, "These are the ideas which come up in their minds but you should not be influenced by them (i.e., these things) should not prevent them from pursuing their works.'' I said: "There are some men who practise divination by drawing lines on the ground.'' The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) replied, "There was a Prophet who drew lines, the line which agrees with the line drawn by that Prophet would be correct.''
1. This Hadith has already appeared earlier [Hadith No 701]. "These are the ideas which come up in their minds'' means that sometimes something appears and one's mind at once takes it as a bad omen. This is something instinctive and natural and one is not accountable for it. But if one acts in accordance with that omen then what he does is wrong and is, therefore, forbidden. For this reason, the Prophet (PBUH) said, "(i.e., these things) should not prevent them from pursuing their works.''
2. The drawing of a line mentioned in this Hadith is different from the drawing of lines in `Iyafah mentioned earlier. Moreover, that was an act of a Prophet which was done by him in the light of Wahy sent to him by Allah and, therefore, was certainly correct. But now, nobody possesses that knowledge and cannot, therefore, be adopted. The statement of the Prophet (PBUH) that: "The line which agrees with the line drawn by that Prophet would be correct'' was by way of elucidation. It does not mean that that act can also be done by anyone today, for how can it be done without knowing its principles. How did that Prophet of Allah draw that line? What were its principles? Since that knowledge has passed away with that Prophet, it is now no longer valid, nor would it be fruitful.
Who was the Prophet who did it? Some people say it was Prophet Daniyal (Daniel), while other think it was Prophet Idris. Allah Alone knows the truth.
1673. Abu Mas`ud Al-Badri (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) prohibited the price of a dog, the earning of an prostitute, and the money given to a soothsayer.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
1. "Prohibition of the price of dog'' signifies that the sale and purchase of dogs is forbidden. This a general order which applies to dog of every kind, whether it is for hunting or protection of farms (which is permissible) or is a tamed one. The reason being that dog is an absolutely unclean animal no matter what breed it is. Some `Ulama' are of the opinion that the sale and purchase of such dog which one intends to keep for lawful needs such as hunting and protecting farms is permissible. So far as reasoning is concerned, the views of the majority of `Ulama' are quite strong because we find absolute prohibition of dogs in this Hadith.
The earning of a vile woman has been called `Dower' in the Hadith because of its evident form, otherwise it is unlawful and nobody accepts its justification. Similar is the case of soothsayers, astrologers, fortunetellers and all those who fool people by telling them about future and thus swindle money from them. Their income is also unlawful.
2. It is also unlawful to make any payment to such swindlers because when it is not lawful for them to make money in this manner, how can we consider the money given to them lawful?