Iman: The Articles Of Faith
“It is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, and to believe in divine destiny, both the good and the evil thereof.” (Saying of the Prophet, pbuh)
Iman is the state in which the heart accepts the Truth and lives by it. It is to believe in its six ‘pillars’ such that, the lips and tongue make the profession of the truth, and the limbs execute what is required of them by the truth. It is important to recognise that the first of the Prophet Muhammad’s titles – his ‘titles of Glory’ – is not ‘Messenger’ or ‘Prophet’ but ‘slave’ ( abd ). For man must be a slave to the truth before he can be its messenger, and the slave is, by definition, one who submits body and soul to his master, claiming no rights, asking no questions and owning nothing that he can call his own. It is for the master, if he will, to raise him to a higher status.
A great deal of misunderstanding has surrounded these images of submission. Partly from prejudice, but partly also from the genuine difficulty that one culture has in grasping the deepest motivations of another, the West has often pictured the Muslim as cringing before a tyrant Lord and submitting as a beast submits to its incomprehensible fate. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Muslim fears God because he is a realist; he knows that there are things to be feared and that all things – the bitter and the sweet – have but one Creator. He submits because he believes that there exists a divine pattern or scheme of things which is both intelligent and beautiful, and he wishes to find his place in this pattern and conform to it; he knows that he cannot do so without instructions – which must be followed meticulously in view of their sacred origin. He does not simply resign himself to the Divine Will; he seeks it eagerly and, when he finds it, delights in it.
The Articles of Faith
“Say: ‘He Allah, is One! Allah, the eternally Besought! He has not begotten, nor been begotten, and equal to Him there is none.” Quran, Sincerity 112:1-4
In order to have Iman the Muslim has to believe in:
1. Allah, the One and Only God
Allah, the Arabic word for the One True God, is unique in that it can have no plural or gender connotation. A Muslim believes in one, unique, incomparable God, Who has no son, nor partner, and that none has the right to be worshipped but Him alone. God alone is the Almighty, the Most Merciful, the Creator, the Sovereign, and the Sustainer of the universe and what lies beyond it. He is the Eternal. He manages all affairs. He stands in need of none of His creation, yet all creation are in need of Him. He alone is Independent. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing, and the All-Knowing. To Him alone belongs Perfection and His alone are the most Magnificent names and the perfect attributes. His knowledge encompasses all things.
2. His Angels
Muslims believe in the existence of angels created by Allah. They are created of light, created incapable of rebellion against God’s will, for their purpose is to carry it out. This is why Islam sees man as potentially superior to the angels, for he may freely choose to serve God and to believe in His prophets, whereas the angels, who are at all times in the presence of God, cannot fail to obey Him and to sing His praises at all times. By the same token, man can be lower than the angels, and lower even than the animals, should they refuse to worship his Creator and thank Him for the gift of life and the blessings showered upon him in this world and, we are given to hope, the next. We are told of eight in particular: Gabriel, the Angel of Revelation; Mikael, who brings God’s prosperity and bounty to man; Israfil, responsible for blowing the Last Trump signifying the impending Day of Judgement; Azreal, the Angel of Death, who takes man’s soul when his lifespan ends; Malek, the Angel supervising Hell; and Radwan, who is respnsible for Paradise. The two angels we shall encounter shortly after death. These are Munkar and Nakir, who question the newly dead regarding their lives and beliefs.
“Say: [O Muslims]: ‘We believe in Allah and that which is sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes; what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the Prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have surrendered ourselves.'” Quran The Cow, 2:136
3. His revealed books
A Muslim believes in all scriptures and revelations of God as they were revealed in their in original form. Messengers were sent to people of all ages and all walks of life. All scriptures sought to invite man back to the belief and worship of the One True God and thus to recognise the Primordial covenant. Essentially the message of all the prophets was the same, reaffirming the oneness of God.
The Quran is the last scripture of guidance revealed to man and sent down for all humanity. For the Muslim, God’s Book is much more than a source of liturgical and social rules; indeed, such topics occupy less than one tenth of the Quranic text; and it is more even than a revelatory declaration of man’s origin and his fate, an exposition of the truths of man’s spiritual nature and of judgement. The Quran is-oft recited, at the most profound possible level, because it is of God. Its text reveals God’s will for His creation, but it is also a revelation of Himself. It is uncreated, timeless, a dimension of God’s pre-existent attribute of speech, communication: it is the Logos, which is the interface between the Absolute and the contingent realms. Unlike all other scriptures sent before, it is Divinely protected against corruption and is thus the only authentic and complete book of Allah which has remained unchanged since its was revelation to the Prophet (pbuh) through the angel Gabriel. It was revealed over a period of 23 years. It contains 114 Surahs (chapters) and over 6000 verses.
4. His Messengers
A Muslim believes in all the Messengers and Prophets of God without any discrimination. All messengers were mortals, human beings, honoured with conveying the Divine revelations to mankind. The Holy Quran mentions the names of 25 messengers and prophets but according to tradition some 124,000 prophets are believed to be sent. These include Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.
“When the sun is darkened, and when the stars fall, and when the mountains are moved… and when the records of men’s deeds are laid open, and when the sky is torn away, and when the hell is set blazing, and when the Garden is brought near, then every soul shall know what it has brought.” Quran, The Darkening 81: 1-3,10-14
5. The Day of Judgement
A Muslim believes in the Day of the Judgement. This world as we know it will come to an end, and man will rise to stand for their final and fair judgement. On that day, the whole of humanity will be resurrected and await reckoning. Every action is being accounted for and kept in an accurate record by the angels and on that Day the consequences of those actions will be brought to light. They are brought up on the Day of Judgement. The people with good records will be generously rewarded and warmly welcomed to Allah’s Heaven. People with bad records will be fairly punished and cast into Hell. The real nature of Heaven and Hell are known to Allah only, but they are described by Allah in man’s familiar terms in the Quran.
If some good deeds are seen not to get full appreciation and credit in this life, they will receive full compensation and be widely acknowledged on the Day of Judgement. If some people who commit sins, neglect Allah and indulge in immoral activities, seem superficially successful and prosperous in this life, absolute justice will be done to them on the Day of Judgement. The time of the Day of Judgement is only known to Allah and Allah alone.
“No soul dies without the permission of Allah, and at a term appointed. He who desires the reward of this world We shall give it to him; and he who desires the reward of the Hereafter We shall give it to him. We will surely reward the thankful.” Quran, The Family of Imran 3:145
6. Destiny, its good and evil
A Muslim believes in al-Qadar which is predestination, believing that God has knowledge of all that has and will happen, all that has taken place and is yet to take place, and that whatever He wills, shall take place and whatever He wills not, shall not. Destiny is a title for Divine Knowledge. God’s Knowledge comprehends everything within and beyond time and space. This is not to say, however, that humans do not have freewill. For all humans have the power of choice and ultimately Allah is aware of the course of action each shall follow. Man is given a free will, according to which he acts in his life. He will be held responsible on the day of judgement for whatever option, whether good or bad, that he adopted. It is a prescribed way of Allah that He makes the path of doing good easier for a person if the person opts for this path. Similarly if the man chooses the path of evil, Allah makes following this path easier for him.
Quran (The Final Revelation)
Introduction to Qur’an
The Qur’an is the final Message from Allah to humanity. It was transmitted to us in a chain starting from the Almighty Himself through the angel Jibreel (Gabriel) to the Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him). This message was given to the Prophet (peace be upon him) in parts over a period spanning approximately 23 years, from when the Prophet was 40 till the time of his demise (610 CE to 633 CE). The language of The Message is Arabic, from which it has been translated into many other languages.
The Qur’an is the Divine book for the Muslims and its authority is unchallengeable. For the basis of Islam, it constitutes the foundation, as it is the direct word of Allah, the remaining building of which is the Sunnah (the example) of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which although from the Prophet, is what Allah has preferred for the Muslims.
The unchallengeable authority of the Qur�an is due to it being unchanged and remaining its original form, which is unique in all the divine books.
See for yourselves the beauty of the Qur�an by reading it, listening to it and pondering over its meaning.
It must be emphasized that the translations presented will always have a degree of interpretation added to them. These interpretations more often than not are correct, but at times can confuse those who wish to read the literal meaning.
Organisation Of The Qur`an
By M. Amir Ali
Location of revelation and contents:
Qur’an is organized with respect to the location of revelation of verses, whether in Makkah or Madinah. The part of the Qur’an that was revealed in Makkah, almost two-third, carries the title, Makki and remainder carries the title Madani. Makki part emphasizes belief of Tawheed (Islamic monotheism), Risalah (guidance of mankind through Allah’s selected prophets and messengers) and Aakhira (destruction of this world and the life hereafter that includes physical and spiritual resurrection of humankind, the day of judgment and the life of paradise or hell) whereas the Madani part emphasizes Ibadat (servitude to Allah) andMu’amilat (all aspects of relationship with other beings). Many scholars look at the content of verses and can speculate whether it was revealed in Makkah or Madinah. For example, qital (one aspect of jihad) was ordained in Madinah whereas in the Makki period emphasis was on keeping the hands tied in face of adversity and persecution. Similarly, orders of Zakat (wealth cleansing tax), Hudood (legally defined crimes and their punishment) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) were revealed in Madinah.
Structure of the Qur’an:
Qur’an has words, ayahs (verses) and Surahs (chapters). Scholars have taken the time to count the number of letters and words but it is not relevant to our study. Those who are interested can find information about letters and words in the books about the Qur’an.
The Qur’an is divided into Ayahs or signs, commonly translated as verses. An ayah may consist of a full sentence more than one sentence or part of a sentence. What makes an ayah is revealed knowledge not a decision of the Prophet Muhammad or any scholar. The sequence of appearance of ayat is also revealed knowledge. Ayahs may be Makki or Madani but in the opinion of some scholars, some ayah may consist of a part Madani and another part Makki; an example is the last verse of Surah Muzammil. The Qur’an has approximately 6,300 ayat. Due to various conventions used there is a slight discrepancy in counting the total number of ayat. For example, according to one convention Surah Al-Fatiha has seven ayahs that includes Bismillah and another convention the seven ayat excludes Bismillah. One convention includes 113 Bismillah as part of chapters and the other convention excludes it.
A group of ayat has been declared to make up a Surah. Surahs vary in length, shortest ones have only three ayahs and the longest one has 286. There are 114 Surahs in the Qur’an numbered from 1 to 114. Surah means something divided or walled from both sides. All Surahs begin with Bismillah except Surah No. 9 called At-Taubah or the Repentance. All Surahs have been divided into Makki and Madani but a Makki Surah may contain a few verses revealed in Madinah and vice versa. There are some differences of opinion among the scholars of the Qur’an regarding the place of revelation of a few verses and their inclusion into a given Surah. All Surahs have been given names but not titles. A title is a brief, one word or two words description of the contents but name is not a description. For example, the name John or Yahya does not describe anything about this person but Dr. Yahya has a title Doctor describing his education. Similarly, names of Surahs like Al-Baqarah (the Cow) or Al-Ankaboot (the Spider) are not titles of those Surahs but only names. If they were titles, the Surah would be about the cow and spider, respectively. However, in some rare cases a name of a Surah may also be its title, such as Surah Yusuf.
Referring to the Qur’anic words and ayat:
The most scientific method is the one given to us by the Prophet Muhammad, that is Surah and verse. Since all Surahs and ayat within them are numbered, the most scientific method is to provide the Surah and ayah number. For example Ayat al-Kursi is 2:255, that is Surah 2 (Al-Baqarah) and ayah 255. Some scholars prefer the reference Al-Baqarah 255 or Al-Baqarah (2): 255.
The organization of ayat and Surah and their order is revealed by Allah to His Prophet.
Scholars after the Prophet have done additional division of the Qur’an for the convenience of recitation of the whole Qur’an in a set period like one week, one month or two months and so on.
The Qur’an is divided into seven approximately equal parts for the convenience of reciting the whole Qur’an in one week. Each of the seven parts is called Manzil or station or the plural is Manazil or stations. There is some indication that Prophet Muhammad may have suggested such a division but there is no definite proof of it. A Manzil (singular of Manazil) consists of a number of whole Surahs as given below. If we take Surah 1 as preface of the Qur’an and exclude it from the seven Manazil, the division of Manazil follows:
Manzil No. 1. Surahs 2, 3 and 4.
Manzil No. 2. Surahs 5 to 9.
Manzil No. 3. Surahs 10 to 16.
Manzil No. 4. Surahs 17 to 25.
Manzil No. 5. Surahs 26 to 36.
Manzil No. 6. Surahs 37 to 49.
Manzil No. 7. Surahs 50 to 114.
In South Asia, Juz is also called Para. The Qur’an was equally divided into thirty parts, perhaps based on the number of pages disregarding content or Surah. This was done for the convenience of reciting the whole Qur’an in thirty days or one month. Each Juz is also divided into four quarters or four ruba. The Qur’an copies printed anywhere in the world have Juz and quarter markings as ruba’ (first quarter), nusf (one-half) and al-thulatha (three-quarter). This gives 120 quarter-parts of the Qur’an giving the flexibility of reciting the whole Qur’an in equal parts in 30, 60 or 120 days. This type of partitioning of the Qur’an is used very much in South Asia whereas the Arab world does not make much use of it. Even referring to Qur’anic verses South Asians would talk in terms of Para number as they carry numbers from 1 to 30 for each Juz. This kind of referring to the Qur’an verses is very unscientific because it does not provide precise location of the verse. If someone says that a verse is in 15th Para , it is not precise enough to find it easily.
According to this system each Juz is further divided into two Hizbs and each Hizb is further divided into four quarters. It means that a Juz has two Hizbs and eight Hizb-quarters or each Juz-quarter has two Hizb-quarters. The whole Qur’an is divided into 240 Hizb-quarters. This allows a person to recite the Qur’an in small groups of verses and complete the recitation in one-month to eight-month period. In addition, Hizb partitioning of the Qur’an allows a Muqri (Qur’an reciter) to recite one Hizb in each Raka’ah of Salat at-Traweeh and finish one Juz every night in eight Raka’hs thereby completing the whole Qur’an in 30 nights of Ramadan. Partitioning of the Qur’an in Hizb is not found in the copies printed in South Asia .
Ruku’ (bowing or section):
Some Muslims prefer to do 20 raka’ah every night for Salat At-Taraweeh during the month of Ramadan, that is, recite a section and go to ruku’ (bowing). They had to find markers to recite a portion of the Qur’an in each Raka’ah while completing a topic. In South Asia the tradition is to complete recitation of the whole Qur’an in 27 nights. This required partitioning of the Qur’an in 27 x 20 = 540 sections excepting the Surah al-Fatiha. When such partitioning was done they ended up with 556 (+1 for Surat al-Fatiha) sections. Evidently, they did not go back to redo the partitioning to come with 540 sections. The Qur’an copies printed in South Asia have Ruku’ or Section markings showing number of the ruku’ within the Surah, within the Juz and ayah number within the ruku’. Traditionally, South Asian Muslims may give reference of a ayahs from the Qur’an by referring to the ruku’ number and Juz number but such system is unscientific and it is not universally acceptable. Qur’an copies printed in the Arab world do not include ruku’ markings.
Groups of Surahs:
Some Qur’an scholars talk in terms of groups of Surah or complementary couples of Surahs. These complementary groups or couples are based on the themes and like contents. For example, there is a group of Musabbihat, five Surahs that begin with glorification of Allah ( Sabbah lillahi or Yusabbihu lillahi ). There are many other groups of Surahs that have been suggested. Also, there are twins or complementary couples, such as Surahs 2 and 3 make a couple, Surahs 91 and 92 is another couple. According to such scholars most of the Qur’an consists of complementary couples.
Al-Qur`an, The Miracle of Miracles
Al-Qur’an Say: If the whole of mankind and jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support.
What is a miracle?
I think it is necessary that we have a clear picture of what we mean by a miracle. Here are some definitions:-
“An event that appears so inexplicable by the laws of nature, that it is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God.” “A person, thing or event that excites admiring awe.” “An act beyond human power, an impossibility.”
It is logical that greater the impossibility, greater the miracle. For example, should a person expire before our very eyes and is certified dead by a qualiified medical man, yet later on a mystic or a saint commands the corpse to ‘arise!’, and to everybody’s astonishment the person gets up and walks away , we would label that as a miracle. But if the resurrection of the dead took place after the corpse had been in the mortuary for three days, then we would acclaim this as a greater miracle. And if the dead was made to arise from the grave, decades or centuries after the body had decomposed and rotted away, then in that case we would label it the greatest miracle of them all!
A Common Trait:
It has been a common trait of mankind since time immemorial that whenever a guide from God appeared to redirect their steps into the will and plan of God; they demanded supernatural proofs from these men of God, instead of accepting message on its merit.
For example, when Jesus Christ (pbuh) began to preach to his people – “the children of Israel” – to mend their ways and to refrain from mere legalistic formalism and imbibe the true spirit of the laws and commandments of god, his ‘people’ demanded miracles from him to prove his bona fides ( his authenicity , his genuineness), as recorded in the christian scriptures:
Then certain of the scribes and the phairsees answered, saying master, we would have a sign ( miracle ) from thee. But he answered and said unto them, “an evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign (miracle) and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas ( matthew 12:38-39 holy bible)
Though on the face of it, Jesus (pbuh) refuses to pamper the jews here, in actual fact, he did perform many miracles as we learn from the gospel narratives.
The holy bible is full of supernatural events accredited to the prophets from their lord. In reality all those ‘signs’ and ‘wonders’ and ‘miracles’ were acts of God, but since those miracles were worked through his human agents, we describe them as the miracles of prophets (i.e. Moses or Jesus (pbuh) by those hands they were performed).
Some six hundred years after the birth of Jesus(pbuh), Muhammad (pbuh) the messenger of God was born in Makkah in arabia. When he proclaimed his mission at the age of forty, his fellow countrymen, the mushriks of makkah made an identical request for miracles, as had the jews, from their promised Messiah. Text book style, it was as if the arabs had taken a leaf from the christian records. History has a habit of repeating itself!
And they say: why are not signs sent down to him from his lord? (holy Qu’ran 29:50)
SIGNS! WHAT SIGNS!!
“Miracles ? Cries he, what miracles would you have? Are not you yourselves there? God made you ‘shaped you out of a little clay.’ Ye were small once; a few years ago ye were not at all. Ye have beauty, strength, thoughts, ‘ye have compassion on one another.’ Old age comes-on you, and grey hairs; your strength fades into feebleness: ye sink down, and again are not. ‘Ye have compassion on one another’: This struck me much: Allah might have made you having no compassion on one another, how had it been then! this is a great direct though, a glance at first-hand into the very fact of things….” “(On heroes hero-worship and the heroic in history,”)by Thomas Carlyle.
“This Struck Me Much”
This, that “ye have compassion on one another”, impressed thomas carlyle most from his perusal of an English translation. I persume, there verse that motivated this sentiment is:
1. And among his signs is this, that he created for you mates from amonng yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them. and he has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are signs for those who reflect. (emphasis added) Translation by A Yusuf ALi (Qu’ran 30:21)
2. And one of his signs it is, that he hath created wives for you of your own species that ye may dwell with them, and hath put love and tenderness between you. herein truly are signs for those who reflect (emphasis added) Translation by Rev. J.M. Rodwell(M.A.)
3. By another sign he gave you wives from among yourselves, that ye might live in joy with them, and planted love and kindness into your hearts. surely there are signs in this for thinking men(emphasis added) Translation by N.J. Dawood.
The first example is from the translation by Yusuf Ali, a muslim. The second is by a christian priest the rev. Rodwell and the last example is by an iraqi Jew, N.J. Dawood.
Unfortunately Thomas Carlyle had no access to any one of these because none of them had seen the light of day in his time. The only one available to him in 1840 was as he said on page 85 of his book under referance – “We also can read the Koran; our translation of it, by sale, is known to be a very fair one.”
Taint Is In The Motive:
Carlyle is very charitable to his fellow countryman. The motives of george sale, who pioneered an English translation of the Holy Quran, were suspect. He makes no secret of his antagonism to the holy book of Islam. In his preface to his translation in 1734 he made it known that it was his avowed intention to expose the man Mohammad and his forgery. He records: “who can apprehend any danger from so manifest a forgery?… The protestants alone are able to attack the koran with success; and for them, I trust, providence has reserved the glory of its overthrow.” George Sale, And he set to work with his prejudiced translation. You will be able to judge how ‘fair’ and scholarly george sale was from the very verse which ‘struck’ (carlyle) ‘much!’ Compare it with the three example already given by a muslim, a christian and a jew: And of his signs another is, that he had created you , out of yourselves, wives that ye may cohabit with them, and hath put love and compassion between you .
I dont think that george sale was a ‘a male chauvinist pig’ of his day to describe our mates, wives or spouses as sexual objects. He was only keeping to his promise, which carlyle overlooked. The arabic word which he (sale) perverted is ‘li-tas-kunoo’ which means to find peace, consolation, composure or tranquility; and not ‘cohabit’ meaning ‘to live together in a sexual relationship when not legally married’ (the reader’s digest universal dictionary.)
Every word of the Quranic text is meticulously chosen, chiselled and placed by the All-Wise himself. They carry God’s ‘fingerprint’, and are signs of God. And yet, the spirtually jaundiced….
Ask For A Sign:
What signs?? They mean some special kinds of signs or miracles such as their own foolish minds dictate. Everything is possible for God, but God is not going to humour the follies of men or listen to their false demands. He has sent his messenger to explain his signs clearly, and to warn them of the consequences of rejection. Is that not enough? The trend of their demand is generally as follows:
In specific terms they asked that he – Muhammad (pbuh) – ‘Put a ladder up to heaven an bring down a book from God in their very sight’ – “Then we would believe,” they said. Or “ye see the mountain yonder, turn it into gold’ – “then we would believe.” or ‘make streams to gush out in the desert’ – “then we would believe.”
Now listen to the soft, sweet reasoning of Muhammad(pbuh) against the unreasonable and sceptical demands of the mushriks – “Do I say to you, verily I am an angel? Do I say to you, verily in my hands are the treasures of God? Only, what is revealed to me do I follow.” Listen further to the most dignified reply he is commanded by his Lord to give the unbelievers.
Say (O Muhammad): ‘The signs (miracles) are indeed with Allah: And most certainly I am only a clear warner.!’
In the following ayah the holy prophet is made to point to the holy Qur’an itself as an answer to their hypocritical demand for some special kind of ‘sign’ of ‘miracle’ for which their foolish pagan mentality craved. For indeed all miracles are ‘signs’; and it is their disbelief, their scepticism, their lack of faith which motivates their request for a sign. They are asked to – ‘look at the Qur’an’ and again, ‘look at the Qur’an!’
It is not enough for them that we have sent down to thee (O Muhammad) the book(al-Qur’an) which is rehearsed to them? Verily, in it (this perspicuous book) is a mercy and reminder to those who believe. (Qur’an 29:51).
As a proof of the divine authorship and the miraculous nature of the Qur’an, two arguments are advanced by the almighty Himself:
1. ‘that we’ (God Almighty) have revealed to you (O muhammed!) ‘the book to you’ who art absolutely an unlearned person. An ‘ummi’ prophet. One who cannot read or write. One who cannot sign his own name. Let thomas carlyle testify regarding the educational qualifications of Muhammad –
‘one other circumstance we must not forget: that he had no school learnin; of the thing we call school-learning none at all.’
Moreoever the divine author(God Almighty) himself testifies to the veracity of Muhammed’s(pbuh) claim that he could never have composed the contents of the holy Qur’an; he could not have been its author:
And thou (O Muhammad) was not (able) to recite a book before this (book came), nor art thou (able) to transcribe it with thy right hand:
In that case, indeed, would the talkers of vanities have doubted (Qur’an 29:48).
The author of the Qur’an is reasoning with us, that had Muhammad(pbuh) been a learned man, and had he been able to read or write, then in that case the babblers in the market places might have had some justification to doubt his claim that the holy qur’an is God’s word. In the event of Muhammed(pbuh) being a literate person, the accusation of his enemies that he had probably copied his book (Qur’an) from the writings of the jews and christians, or that perhaps he had been studying aristotle and plato, or that he must have browsed through the ‘Torat,’ the ‘Zabur’ and the ‘Injeel’ and had rehashed it all in a beautiful language, might have carried some weight. Then, ‘the talkers of vanities’ might have had a poiint. But even this flimsy pretence has been denied to the unbeliever and the cynic: a point hardly big enough to hang a fly upon!
2. ‘The book’? Yes, the ‘book’ itself, carries its own evidence proving its divine authorship. Study the book from any angel. Scrutinize it. Why not take up the author’s challenge if your doubts are genuine? Do they not consider the qur’an(with care) had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.
It is inconceivable that any human author would remain consistent in this teachings and his preachings for a period of over two decades. From the age of forty, when Muhammad (pbuh) recieved his first call from heaven to the age sixty-three when he breathed his last, for twenty-three years the holy prophet practised and preached Islam. In those twenty-three years, he passed through the most conflicting vicissitudes of life. Any man, during the course of such a mission, would be forced by circumstances to make ‘honourable’ compromises, and cannot help contradicting himself. No man can ever write the same always, as the message of the holy qur’an is: consistent with itself, throughout! Or is it that the unbelievers objections are merely argumentive, refractory, against their own better light and judgement.? Furthermore, the holy qur’an contains or mentions many matters relating to the nature of the universe which were unknown to man before but which subsequently through evolution and discoveries of Science have fully confirmed – a field where an untutored mind would have most certainly lost in wild and contradictory speculations!
Again and again when miracles are demanded from the prophet of God by the cynical and frivolous few, he is made to point to the qur’an – message from high – as ‘the miracle.’ The miracle or miracles! And men of wisdom, people with literary and spiritual insight, who were honest enough to themselves, recognised and accepted al-qur’an as an a genuine miracle.
Says the holy Qur’an: Nay here are signs self-evident in the hearts of those endowed with knowledge: And none but the unjust reject our signs. (qur’an 29:49).
The Amazing Qur’an
By Dr. Gary Miller
Calling the Qur’an amazing is not something done only by Muslims, who have an appreciation for the book and who are pleased with it; it has been labeled amazing by non-Muslims as well. In fact, even people who hate Islam very much have still called it amazing…
One thing which surprises non-Muslims who are examining the book very closely is that the Qur’an does not appear to them to be what they expected. What they assume is that they have an old book which came fourteen centuries ago from the Arabian desert ; and they expect that the book should look something like that – an old book from the desert. And then they find out that it does not resemble what they expected at all. Additionally, one of the first things that some people assume is that because it is an old book which comes from the desert, it should talk about the desert. Well the Qur’an does talk about the desert – some of its imagery describes the desert; but it also talks about the sea – what it’s like to be in a storm on the sea.
Some years ago, the story came to us in Toronto about a man who was in the merchant marine and made his living on the sea. A Muslim gave him a translation of the Qur’an to read. The merchant marine knew nothing about the history of Islam but was interested in reading the Qur’an. When he finished reading it, he brought it back to the Muslim and asked, “This Muhammad, was he a sailor?” He was impressed at how accurately the Qur’an describes a storm on a sea. When he was told, “No as a matter of fact, Muhammad lived in the desert,” that was enough for him. He embraced Islam on the spot.
He was so impressed with the Qur’an’s description because he had been in a storm on the sea, and he knew that whoever had written that description had also been in a storm on the sea. The description of “a wave, over it a wave, over it clouds” (Surah Nur, 24:40) was not what someone imagining a storm on a sea to be like would have written; rather, it was written by someone who knew what a storm on the sea was like. This is one example of how the Qur’an is not tied to certain place and time. Certainly, the scientific ideas expressed in it also do not seem to originate from the desert fourteen centuries ago.
The Smallest Thing:
Many centuries before the onset of Muhammad’s prophethood, there was a well-known theory of atomism advanced by the Greek philosopher, Democritus. He and the people who came after him assumed that matter consists of tiny, indestructible, indivisible particles called atoms. The Arabs too, used to deal in the same concept; in fact, the Arabic word dharrah commonly referred to the smallest particle known to man. Now, modern science has discovered that this smallest unit of matter (i.e., the atom, which has all of the same properties as its element) can be split into its component parts. This is a new idea, a development of the last century; yet; interestingly enough, this information had already been documented in the Qur’an (Surah Saba’, 34:3) which states:
“He [i.e., Allah] is aware of an atom’s weight in the heavens and on the earth and even anything smaller than that…”
Undoubtedly, fourteen centuries ago that statement would have looked unusual, even to an Arab. For him, the dharrah was the smallest thing there was. Indeed, this is proof, that the Qur’an is not outdated.
Another example of what one might expect to find in an “old book” that touches upon the subject of health or medicine is outdated remedies or cures. Various historical sources state that the Prophet (s) gave some advice about health and hygiene, yet most of these pieces of advice are not contained in the Qur’an. At first glance, to the non-Muslims this appears to be a negligent omission. They cannot understand why Allah would not “include” such helpful information in the Qur’an. Some Muslims attempt to explain this absence with the following argument: “Although the Prophet’s advice was sound and applicable to the time in which he lived, Allah, in His infinite wisdom, knew that there would come later medical and scientific advances which would make the Prophet’s advice appear outdated. When later discoveries occurred, people might say that such information contradicted that which the Prophet (s) had given. Thus, since Allah would never allow any opportunity for the non-Muslims to claim that the Qur’an contradicts itself or the teachings of the Prophet (s), He only included in the Qur’an information and examples which could stand the test of time.” However, when one examines the true realities of the Qur’an in terms of its existence as a divine revelation, the entire matter is quickly brought into its proper perspective, and the error in such argumentation becomes clear and understandable.
It must be understood that the Qur’an is a divine revelation, and as such, all information in it is of divine origin. Allah revealed the Qur’an from Himself. It is the words of Allah, which existed before creation, and thus nothing can be added, subtracted or altered. In essence, the Qur’an existed and was complete before the creation of Prophet Muhammad (s), so it could not possibly contain any of the Prophet’s own words or advice. An inclusion of such information would clearly contradict the purpose for which the Qur’an exists, compromise its authority and render it inauthentic as a divine revelation.
Consequently, there was no “home remedies” in the Qur’an which one could claim to be outdated; nor does it contain any man’s view about what is beneficial to health, what food is best to eat, or what will cure this or that disease. In fact, the Qur’an only mentions one item dealing with medical treatment, and it is not in dispute by anyone. It states that in honey there is healing. And certainly, I do not think that there is anyone who will argue with that!
Prophet Muhammad (s) and the Qur’an:
If one assumes that the Qur’an is the product of a man’s mind, then one would expect it to reflect some of what was going on in the mind of the man who “composed” it. In fact, certain encyclopedias and various books claim that the Qur’an was the product of hallucinations that Muhammad underwent. If these claims are true – if it indeed originated from some psychological problems in Muhammad’s mind – then evidence of this would be apparent in the Qur’an. Is there such evidence? In order to determine whether or not there is, one must first identify what things would have been going on in his mind at that time and then search for these thoughts and reflections in the Qur’an.
It is common knowledge that Muhammad (s) had a very difficult life. All of his daughters died before him except one, and he had a wife of several years who was very dear and important to him, who not only proceeded him in death but died at a very critical period of his life. As a matter of fact, she must have been quite a woman because when the first revelation came to him, he ran home to her, afraid. Certainly, even today one would have a hard time trying to find an Arab who would tell you, “I was so afraid that I ran home to my wife.” They just aren’t that way. Yet Muhammad (s) felt comfortable enough with his wife to be able to do that. That’s how influential and strong woman she was. Although these examples are only a few of the subjects that would have been on Muhammad’s mind, they are sufficient in intensity to prove my point.
The Qur’an does not mention any of these things – not the death of his children, not the death of his beloved companion and wife, not his fear of the initial revelations, which he so beautifully shared with his wife – nothing; yet these topics must have hurt him, bothered him, and caused him pain and grief during periods of his life. Indeed, if the Qur’an was a product of his psychological reflections, then these subjects, as well as others, would be prevalent or at least mentioned throughout.
Scientific Approach to the Qur’an:
A truly scientific approach to the Qur’an is possible because the Qur’an offers something that is not offered by other religious scriptures, in particular, and other religions, in general. It is what scientists demand. Today there are many people who have ideas and theories about how the universe works. These people are all over the place, but the scientific community does not even bother to listen to them. This is because within the last century the scientific community has demanded a test of falsification . They say, “If you have theory, do not bother us with it unless you bring with that theory a way for us to prove whether you are wrong or not.”
Such a test was exactly why the scientific community listened to Einstein towards the beginning of the century. He came with a new theory and said, “I believe the universe works like this; and here are three ways to prove whether I am wrong!” So the scientific community subjected his theory to the tests, and within six years it passed all three. Of course, this does not prove that he was great, but it proves that he deserved to be listened to because he said, “This is my idea; and if you want to try to prove me wrong, do this or try that.”
This is exactly what the Qur’an has – falsification tests . Some are old (in that they have already been proven true), and some still exist today. Basically it states, “If this book is not what it claims to be, then all you have to do is this or this or this to prove that it is false.” Of course, in 1400 years no one has been able to do “This or this or this,” and thus it is still considered true and authentic.
I suggest to you that the next time you get into dispute with someone about Islam and he claims that he has the truth and that you are in darkness, you leave all other arguments at first and make this suggestion. Ask him, “Is there any falsification test in your religion? Is there anything in your religion that would prove you are wrong if I could prove to you that it exists – anything ?” Well, I can promise right now that people will not have anything – no test, no proof, nothing! This is because they do not carry around the idea that they should not only present what they believe but should also offer others a chance to prove they’re wrong. However, Islam does that.
A perfect example of how Islam provides man with a chance to verify it authenticity and “prove it wrong” occurs in the 4th chapter. And quiet honestly, I was very surprised when I first discovered this challenge. It states (Surah An-Nisa, 4:82):
“Do they not consider the Qur’an? Had it been from any other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.”
This is a clear challenge to the non-Muslim. Basically, it invites him to find a mistake. As a matter of fact, the seriousness and difficulty of the challenge aside, the actual presentation of such a challenge in the first place is not even in human nature and is inconsistent with man’s personality. One doesn’t take an exam in school and after finishing the exam, write a note to the instructor at the end saying, “This exam is perfect. There are no mistakes in it. Find one if you can!” One just doesn’t do that. The teacher would not sleep until he found a mistake! And yet this is the way the Qur’an approaches people.
Ask Those Who Have Knowledge:
Another interesting attitude that exists in the Qur’an repeatedly deals with its advice to the reader. The Qur’an informs the reader about different facts and then gives the advice: “If you want to know more about this or that, or if you doubt what is said, then you should ask those who have knowledge.” This too is a surprising attitude. It is not usual to have a book that comes from someone without training in geography, botany, biology, etc., who discusses these subjects and then advises the reader to ask men of knowledge if he doubts anything. Yet in every age there have been Muslims who have followed the advice of the Qur’an and made surprising discoveries. If one looks to the works of Muslim scientists of many centuries ago, one will find them full of quotations from the Qur’an. These works state that they did research in such a place, looking for something. And they affirm that the reason they looked in such and such a place was that the Qur’an pointed them in that direction.
For example, the Qur’an mentions man’s origin and then tells the reader, “Research it!” It gives the reader a hint where to look and then states that one should find out more about it. This is the kind of thing that Muslims today largely seem to overlook – but not always, as illustrated in the following example.
A few years ago, a group of men in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia collected all of the verses in the Qur’an which discuss embryology – the growth of the human being in the womb. They said, “Here is what the Qur’an says. Is it the truth?” In essence, they took the advice of the Qur’an: “Ask the men who know.” They chose, as it happened, a non-Muslim who is a professor of embryology at the University of Toronto. His name is Keith Moore, and he is the author of textbooks on embryology – a world expert on the subject. They invited him to Riyadh and said, “This is what the Qur’an says about your subject. Is it true? What can you tell us?”
While he was in Riyadh, they gave him all the help that he needed in translation and all of the cooperation for which he asked. And he was so surprised at what he found that he changed his textbooks. In fact, in the second edition of one of his books, called Before We Are Born… in the section about the history of embryology, he included some material that was not in the first edition because of what he found in the Qur’an was ahead of its time and that those who believe in the Qur’an know what other people do not know.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Keith Moore for a television presentation, and we talked a great deal about this – it was illustrated by slides and so on. He mentioned that some of the things that the Qur’an states about the growth of the human being were not known until thirty years ago. In fact, he said that one item in particular – the Qur’an’s description of the human being as a “leech-like clot” ( ‘alaqah ) at one stage (Surahs al-Hajj 22:5; al-Mu’minun 23:14; and Ghafir 40:67) – was new to him; but when he checked on it, he found that it was true, and so he added it to his book. He said, “I never thought of that before,” and he went to the zoology department and asked for a picture of a leech. When he found that it looked just like the human embryo, he decided to include both pictures in one of his textbooks.
Although the aforementioned example of man researching information contained in the Qur’an deals with a non-Muslim, it is still valid because he is one of those who is knowledgeable in the subject being researched. Had some layman claimed that what the Qur’an says about embryology is true, then one would not necessarily have to accept his word. However, because of the high position, respect, and esteem man gives scholars, one naturally assumes that if they research a subject and arrive at a conclusion based on that research, then the conclusion is valid.
Dr. Moore also wrote a book on clinical embryology , and when he presented this information in Toronto, it caused quite a stir throughout Canada. It was on the front pages of some of the newspapers across Canada, and some of the headlines were quite funny. For instance, one headline read: “SURPRISING THING FOUND IN ANCIENT PRAYER BOOK!” It seems obvious from this example that people do not clearly understand what it is all about. As a matter of fact, one newspaper reporter asked Professor Moore, “Don’t you think that maybe the Arabs might have known about these things – the description of the embryo, its appearance and how it changes and grows? Maybe they were not scientists, maybe they did some crude dissections on their own – carved up people and examined these things.” The professor immediately pointed out to him that he [i.e., the reporter] had missed a very important point – all of the slides of the embryo that had been shown and that had been projected in the film had come from pictures taken through a microscope. He said, “It does not matter if someone had tried to discover embryology fourteen centuries ago. They could not have seen it!”
All of the descriptions in the Qur’an of the appearance of the embryo are of the item when it is still too small to see with the eye; therefore, one needs a microscope to see it. Since such a device had only been around for little more than two hundred years, Dr. Moore taunted, “Maybe fourteen centuries ago someone secretly had a microscope and did this research, making no mistakes anywhere. Then he somehow taught Muhammad (s) and convinced him to put this information in his book. Then he destroyed his equipment and kept it a secret forever. Do you believe that? You really should not unless you bring some proof because it is such a ridiculous theory.” In fact, when he was asked, “How do you explain this information in the Qur’an?” Dr. Moore’s reply was, “It could only have been divinely revealed!”
One of Professor Moore’s colleagues, Marshall Johnson, deals extensively with geology at the University of Toronto. He became very interested in the fact that the Qur’an’s statements about embryology are accurate, and so he asked Muslims to collect everything contained in the Qur’an which deals with his speciality. Again people were very surprised at the findings. Since there are a vast number subjects discussed in the Qur’an, it would certainly require a large amount of time to exhaust each subject. It suffices for the purpose of this discussion to state that the Qur’an makes very clear and concise statements about various subjects while simultaneously advising the reader to verify the authenticity of these statements with research by scholars in those subjects. And as illustrated by the previous examples of embryology and geology, the Qur’an has clearly emerged authentic.
You Did Not Know This Before!
Undoubtedly, there is an attitude in the Qur’an which is not found anywhere else. It is interesting how when the Qur’an provides information, it often tells the reader, “You did not know this before.” Indeed, there is no scripture that exists which makes that claim. All of the other ancient writings and scriptures that people have do give a lot of information, but they always state where the information came from.
For example, when the Bible discusses ancient history, it states that this king lived here, this one fought in a certain battle, another one had so may sons, etc. Yet it always stipulates that if you want more information, then you should read the book of so and so because that is where the information came from. In contrast to this concept, the Qur’an provides the reader with information and states that this information is something new. Of course, there always exists the advice to research the information provided and verify its authenticity. It is interesting that such a concept was never challenged by non-Muslims fourteen centuries ago. Indeed, the Makkans who hated the Muslims, and time and time again they heard such revelations claiming to bring new information; yet, they never spoke up and said, “This is not new. We know where Muhammad got this information. We learned this at school.” They could never challenge its authenticity because it really was new!
In concurrence with the advice given in the Qur’an to research information (even if it is new), when ‘Umar was caliph, he chose a group of men and sent them to find the wall of Dhul-Qarnayn. Before the Qur’anic revelation, the Arabs had never heard of such a wall, but because the Qur’an described it, they were able to discover it. As a matter of fact, it is now located in what is called Durbend in the Soviet Union.
Proof of Authenticity: An Approach:
It must be stressed here that the Qur’an is accurate about many, many things, but accuracy does not necessarily mean that a book is a divine revelation. In fact, accuracy is only one of the criteria for divine revelations. For instance, the telephone book is accurate, but that does not mean that it is divinely revealed. The real problem lies in that one must establish some proof of the source the Qur’an’s information. The emphasis is in the other direction, in that the burden of proof is on the reader. One cannot simply deny the Qur’an’s authenticity without sufficient proof. If, indeed, one finds a mistake, then he has the right to disqualify it. This is exactly what the Qur’an encourages.
Once a man came up to me after a lecture I delivered in South Africa. He was very angry about what I had said, and so he claimed, “I am going to go home tonight and find a mistake in the Qur’an.” Of course, I said, “Congratulations. That is the most intelligent thing that you have said.” Certainly, this is the approach Muslims need to take with those who doubt the Qur’an’s authenticity, because the Qur’an itself offers the same challenge. And inevitably, after accepting it’s challenge and discovering that it is true, these people will come to believe it because they could not disqualify it. In essence, the Qur’an earns their respect because they themselves have had to verify its authenticity.
An essential fact that cannot be reiterated enough concerning the authenticity of the Qur’an is that one’s inability to explain a phenomenon himself does not require his acceptance of the phenomenon’s existence or another person’s explanation of it. Specifically, just because one cannot explain something does not mean that one has to accept someone else’s explanation. However, the person’s refusal of other explanations reverts the burden of proof back on himself to find a feasible answer. This general theory applies to numerous concepts in life, but fits most wonderfully with the Qur’anic challenge, for it creates a difficulty for one who says, “I do not believe it.” At the onset of refusal one immediately has an obligation to find an explanation himself if he feels others’ answers are inadequate.
In fact, in one particular Qur’anic verse which I have always seen mistranslated into English, Allah mentions a man who heard the truth explained to him. It states that he was derelict in his duty because after he heard the information, he left without checking the verity of what he had heard. In other words, one is guilty if he hears something and does not research it and check to see whether it is true. One is supposed to process all information and decide what is garbage to be thrown out and what is worthwhile information to be kept and benefitted from immediately or even at a later date.
One cannot just let it rattle around in his head. It must be put in the proper categories and approached from that point of view. For example, if the information is still speculatory, then one must discern whether it’s closer to being true or false. But if all the facts have been presented, then one must decide absolutely between these two options. And even if one is not positive about the authenticity of the information, he is still required to process all the information and make the admission that he just does not know for sure. Although this last point appears to be futile, in actuality, it is beneficial to the arrival at a positive conclusion at a later time in that it forces the person to at least recognize, research and review the facts.
This familiarity with the information will give the person “the edge” when future discoveries are made and additional information is presented. The important thing is that one deals with the facts and does not simply discard them out of empathy and disinterest.
Exhausting the Alternatives:
The real certainty about the truthfulness of the Qur’an is evident in the confidence which is prevalent throughout it; and this confidence comes from a different approach – ” Exhausting the alternatives .” In essence, the Qur’an states, “This book is a divine revelation; if you do not believe that, then what is it?” In other words, the reader is challenged to come up with some other explanation. Here is a book made of paper and ink. Where did it come from? It says it is a divine revelation; if it is not, then what is its source? The interesting fact is that no one has yet come up with an explanation that works. In fact, all alternatives have bee exhausted. As has been well established by non-Muslims, these alternatives basically are reduced to two mutually exclusive schools of thought, insisting on one or the other.
On one hand, there exists a large group of people who have researched the Qur’an for hundreds of years and who claim, “One thing we know for sure – that man, Muhammad (s), thought he was a prophet. He was crazy!” They are convinced that Muhammad (s) was fooled somehow. Then on the other hand, there is a group which alleges, “Because of this evidence, one thing we know for sure is that that man, Muhammad (s) was a liar!” Ironically, these two groups never seem to get together without contradicting.
In fact, many references to Islam usually claim both theories. They start out by stating that Muhammad (s) was crazy and then end by saying he was a liar. They never seem to realize that he could not have been both! For example, if one is deluded and really thinks that he is a prophet, then he does not sit up late at night planning, “How will I fool the people tomorrow so that they think I am a prophet?” He truly believes that he is a prophet, and he trusts that the answer will be given to him by revelation.
The Critic’s Trail:
As a matter of fact, a great deal of the Qur’an came in answer to questions. Someone would ask Muhammad (s) a question, and the revelation would come with the answer to it. Certainly, if one is crazy and believes that an angel put words in his ear, then when someone asks him a question, he thinks that the angel will give him the answer. Because he is crazy, he really thinks that. He does not tell someone to wait a short while and then run to his friends and ask them, “Does anyone know the answer?” This type of behavior is characteristic of one who does not believe that he is a prophet. What the non-Muslims refuse to accept is that you cannot have it both ways. One can be deluded, or he can be a liar. He can br either one or neither one, but he certainly cannot be both! The emphasis is on the fact that they are unquestionably mutually exclusive personality traits.
The following scenario is a good example of the kind of circle that non-Muslims go around in constantly. If you ask one of them, “What is the origin of the Qur’an?” He tells you that it originated from the mind of a man who was crazy. Then you ask him, “If it came from his head, then where did he get the information contained in it? Certainly the Qur’an mentions many things with which the Arabs were not familiar.” So in order to explain the fact which you bring him, he changes his position and says, “Well, maybe he was not crazy. Maybe some foreigner brought him the information. So he lied and told people that he was a prophet.” At this point then you have to ask him, “If Muhammad was a liar, then where did he get his confidence? Why did he behave as though he really thought he was a prophet?” Finally backed into a corner, like a cat he quickly lashes out with the first response that comes to his mind. Forgetting that he has already exhausted that possibility, he claims, “Well, maybe he wasn’t a liar. He was probably crazy and really thought that he was a prophet.” And thus he begins the futile cycle again.
As has already been mentioned, there is much information contained in the Qur’an whose source cannot be attributed to anyone other than Allah. For example, who told Muhammad (s) about the wall of Dhul-Qarnayn – a place hundreds of miles to the north? Who told him about embryology? When people assemble facts such as these, if they are not willing to attribute their existence to a divine source, they automatically resort to the assumption someone brought Muhammad (s) the information and that he used it to fool the people. However, this theory can easily be disproved with one simple question: “If Muhammad (s) was a liar, where did he get his confidence? Why did he tell some people out right to their face what others could never say?” Such confidence depends completely upon being convinced that one has a true divine revelation.
A Revelation – Abu Lahab:
Prophet Muhammad (s) had an uncle by the name of Abu Lahab. This man hated Islam to such an extent that he used to follow the Prophet around in order to discredit him. If Abu Lahab saw the Prophet (s) speaking to a stranger, he would wait until they parted and the would go to the stranger and ask him, “What did he tell you? Did he say, ‘Black’? Well, it’s white. Did he say ‘morning’? Well, it’s night.” He faithfully said the exact opposite of whatever he heard Muhammad (s) and the Muslims say. However, about ten years before Abu Lahab died, a little chapter in the Qur’an (Surah al-Lahab, 111) was revealed about him. It distinctly stated that he would go to the fire (i.e., Hell). In other words, it affirmed that he would never become a Muslim and would therefore be condemned forever. For ten years all Abu Lahab had to do was say, “I heard that it has been revealed to Muhammad that I will never change – that I will never become a Muslim and will enter the Hellfire. Well, I want to become Muslim now. How do you like that? What do you think of your divine revelation now?” But he never did that. And yet, that is exactly the kind of behavior one would have expected from him since he always sought to contradict Islam.
Ten years! And in all that time he never accepted Islam or even became sympathetic to the Islamic cause.
How could Muhammad (s) possibly have known for sure that Abu Lahab would fulfil the Qur’anic revelation if he (i.e., Muhammad) was not truly the messenger of Allah? How could he possibly have been so confident as to give someone 10 years to discredit his claim of prophethood? The only answer is that he was Allah’s messenger; for in order to put forth such a risky challenge, one has to be entirely convinced that he has a divine revelation.
Another example of the confidence which Muhammad (s) had in his own prophethood and consequently in the divine protection of himself and his message is when he left Makkah and hid in a cave with Abu Bakr (ra) during their emigration to Madeenah. The two clearly saw people coming to kill them, and Abu Bakr was afraid. Certainly, if Muhammad (s) was a liar, a forger and one who was trying to fool the people into believing that he was a prophet, one would have expected him to say in such a circumstance to his friend, “Hey, Abu Bakr, see if you can find a back way out of this cave.” Or “Squat down in that corner over there and keep quiet.” Yet, in fact, what he said to Abu Bakr clearly illustrated his confidence. He told him, “Relax! Allah is with us, and Allah will save us!” Now, if one knows that he is fooling the people, where does one get this kind of attitude? In fact, such a frame of mind is not characteristic of a liar or a forger at all.
So, as has been previously mentioned, the non-Muslims go around and around in a circle, searching for a way out – some way to explain the findings in the Qur’an without attributing them to their proper source. On one hand, they tell you on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, “The man was a liar,” and on the other hand, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday they tell you, “He was crazy.” What they refuse to accept is that one cannot have it both ways; yet they need both theories, both excuses to explain the information in the Qur’an.
An Encounter with a Minister:
About seven years ago, I had a minister over to my home. In the particular room which we were sitting there was a Qur’an on the table, face down, and so the minister was not aware of which book it was. In the midst of a discussion, I pointed to the Qur’an and said, “I have confidence in that book.” Looking at the Qur’an but not knowing which book it was, he replied, “Well, I tell you, if that book is not the Bible, it was written by a man!” In response to his statement, I said, “Let me tell you something about what is in that book.” And in just three to four minutes, I related to him a few things contained in the Qur’an. After just those three or four minutes, he completely changed his position and declared, “You are right. A man did not write that book . The Devil wrote it!” Indeed, possessing such an attitude is very unfortunate – for many reasons. For one thing, it is a very quick and cheap excuse. It is an instant exit out of an uncomfortable situation.
As a matter of fact, there is a famous story in the Bible that mentions how one day some of the Jews were witnesses when Jesus (pbuh) raised a man from the dead. The man had been dead for four days, and when Jesus arrived, he simply said, “Get up!” and the man arose and walked away. At such a sight, some of the Jews who were watching said disbelievingly, “This is the Devil. The Devil helped him!” Now this story is rehearsed very often in churches all over the world, and people cry big tears over it, saying, “Oh, if I had been there, I would not have been as stupid as the Jews!” Yet, ironically, these people do exactly what the Jews did when in just three minutes you show them only a small part of the Qur’an and all they can say is, “Oh, the Devil did it. The devil wrote that book!” Because they are truly backed into a corner and have no other viable answer, they resort to the quickest and cheapest excuse available.
The Source of the Qur’an:
Another example of people’s use of this weak stance can be found in the Makkans’ explanation of the source of Muhammad’s message. They used to say, “The devils bring Muhammad that Qur’an!” But just as with every suggestion made, the Qur’an gives the answer. One verse (Surah Al-Qalam 68: 51-52) in particular states:
“And they say, ‘Surely he is possessed [by jinn],’ but it [i.e., the Qur’an] is not except a reminder to the worlds.”
Thus it gives an argument in reply to such a theory. In fact, there are many arguments in the Qur’an in reply to the suggestion that devils brought Muhammad (s) his message. For example, in the 26th chapter Allah (SWT) clearly affirms:
“No evil ones have brought it [i.e., this revelation] down. It would neither be fitting for them, nor would they be able. Indeed they have been removed far from hearing.” (Surah ash-Shu’ara 26:210-212)
And in another place (Surah an-Nahl 16:98) in the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) instructs us:
“So when you recite the Qur’an seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan, the rejected.”
Now is this how Satan writes a book? He tells one, “Before you read my book, ask God to save you from me?” This is very, very tricky. Indeed, a man could write something like this, but would Satan do this? Many people clearly illustrate that they cannot come to one conclusion on this subject. On one hand, they claim that Satan would not do such a thing and that even if he could, God would not allow him to; yet, on the other hand, they also believe that Satan is only that much less than God. In essence they allege that the Devil can probably do whatever God can do. And as a result, when they look at the Qur’an, even as surprised as they are as to how amazing it is, they still insist, “The Devil did this!”
Thanks be to Allah (SWT), Muslims do not have that attitude. Although Satan may have some abilities, they are a long way separated from the abilities of Allah. And no Muslim is a Muslim unless he believes that. It is common knowledge even among non-Muslims that the Devil can easily make mistakes, and it would be expected that he would contradict himself if and when he wrote a book. For indeed, the Qur’an states (Surah an-Nisa 4:82):
“Do they not consider the Qur’an? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.”
In conjunction with the excuses that non-Muslims advance in futile attempts to justify unexplainable verses in the Qur’an, there is another attack often rendered which seems to be a combination of the theories that Muhammad (s) was crazy and a liar. Basically, these people propose that Muhammad was insane, and as a result of his delusion, he lied to and misled people. There is a name for this in psychology. It is referred to as mythomania . It means simply that one tells lies and then believes them. This is what the non-Muslims say Muhammad (s) suffered from. But the only problem with this proposal is that one suffering from mythomania absolutely cannot deal with any facts, and yet the whole Qur’an is based entirely upon facts. Everything contained in it can be researched and established as true. Since facts are such a problem for a mythomaniac , when a psychologist tries to treat one suffering from that condition, he continually confronts him with facts.
For example, if one is mentally ill and claims, “I am the king of England,” a psychologist does not say to him “No you aren’t. You are crazy!” He just does not do that. Rather, he confronts him with facts and says, “O.K., you say you are the king of England. So tell me where the queen is today. And where is your prime minister? And where are your guards?” Now, when the man has trouble trying to deal with these questions, he tries to make excuses, saying “Uh… the queen… she has gone to her mother’s. Uh… the prime minister… well he died.” And eventually he is cured because he cannot deal with the facts. If the psychologist continues confronting him with enough facts, finally he faces the reality and says, “I guess I am not the king of England.”
The Qur’an approaches everyone who reads it in very much the same way a psychologist treats his mythomania patient. There is a verse in the Qur’an (Surah Yunus 10:57) which states:
“O mankind, there has come to you an admonition [i.e., the Qur’an] from your Lord and a healing for what is in the hearts – and guidance and mercy for the believers.”
At first glance, this statement appears vague, but the meaning of this verse is clear when one views it in light of the aforementioned example. Basically, one is healed of his delusions by reading the Qur’an. In essence, it is therapy. It literally cures deluded people by confronting them with facts. A prevalent attitude throughout the Qur’an is one which says, “O mankind, you say such and such about this; but what about such and such? How can you say this when you know that ?” And so forth. It forces one to consider what is relevant and what matters while simultaneously healing one of the delusions that facts presented to mankind by Allah can easily be explained away with flimsy theories and excuses.
New Catholic Encyclopedia:
It is this very sort of thing – confronting people with facts – that had captured the attention of many non-Muslims. In fact, there exists a very interesting reference concerning this subject in the New Catholic Encyclopedia . In an article under the subject of the Qur’an, the Catholic Church states:
“Over the centuries, many theories have been offered as to the origin of the Qur’an… Today no sensible man accepts any of these theories!!”
Now here is the age-old Catholic Church, which has been around for so many centuries, denying these futile attempts to explain away the Qur’an.
Indeed, the Qur’an is a problem for the Catholic Church. It states that it is revelation, so they study it. Certainly, they would love to find proof that it is not, but they cannot. They cannot find a viable explanation. But at least they are honest in their research and do not accept the first unsubstantiated interpretation which comes along. The Church states that in fourteen centuries it has not yet been presented a sensible explanation. At least it admits that the Qur’an is not an easy subject to dismiss. Certainly, other people are much less honest. They quickly say, “Oh, the Qur’an came from here. The Qur’an came from there.” And they do not even examine the credibility of what they are stating most of the time.
Of course, such a statement by the Catholic Church leaves the everyday Christian in some difficulty. It just may be that he has his own ideas as to the origin of the Qur’an, but as a single member of the Church, he cannot really act upon his own theory. Such an action would be contrary to the obedience, allegiance and loyalty which the Church demands. By virtue of his membership, he must accept what the Catholic Church declares without question and establish its teachings as part of his everyday routine. So, in essence, if the Catholic Church as a whole is saying, “Do not listen to these unconfirmed reports about the Qur’an,” then what can be said about the Islamic point of view? If even non-Muslims are admitting that there is something to the Qur’an – something that has to be acknowledged – then why are people so stubborn and defensive and hostile when Muslims advance the very same theory? This is certainly something for those with a mind to contemplate – something to ponder for those of understanding!
Testimony of an Intellectual:
Recently, the leading intellectual in the Catholic Church – a man by the name of Hans – studied the Qur’an and gave his opinion of what he had read. This man has been around for some time, and he is highly respected in the Catholic Church, and after careful scrutiny, he reported his findings, concluding, “God has spoken to man through the man, Muhammad.” Again this is a conclusion arrived at by a non-Muslim source – the very leading intellectual of the Catholic Church himself!
I do not think that the Pope agrees with him, but nonetheless, the opinion of such a noted, reputed public figure must carry some weight in defense of the Muslim position. He must be applauded for facing the reality that the Qur’an is not something which can be easily pushed aside and that, in fact God is the source of these words.
As is evident from the aforementioned information, all of the possibilities have been exhausted, so the chance of finding another possibility of dismissing the Qur’an is nonexistent.
Burden of Proof on the Critic:
If the book is not a revelation, then it is a deception; and if it is a deception, one must ask, “What is its origin? And where does it deceive us?” Indeed, the true answers to these questions shed light on the Qur’an’s authenticity and silence the bitter unsubstantiated claims of the unbelievers.
Certainly, if people are going to insist that the Qur’an is a deception, then they must bring forth evidence to support such a claim. The burden of proof is on them, not us! One is never supposed to advance a theory without sufficient corroborating facts; so I say to them, “Show me one deception! Show me where the Qur’an deceives me! Show me, otherwise don’t say that it is a deception!”
Origin of the Universe and Life:
An interesting characteristic of the Qur’an is how it deals with surprising phenomena which relate not only to the past but to modern times as well. In essence, the Qur’an is not and old problem. It is still a problem even today – a problem to the non-Muslims that is. For everyday, every week, every year brings more and more evidence that the Qur’an is a force to be contended with – that its authenticity is no longer to be challenged! For example, one verse in the Qur’an (Surah al-Anbiya 21:30) reads:
“Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, then We clove them asunder, and made from water every living thing? Will they not then believe?”
Ironically, this very information is exactly what they awarded the 1973 Noble Prize for – to a couple of unbelievers.
The Qur’an reveals the origin of the universe – how it began from one piece – and mankind continues to verify this revelation, even up to now. Additionally, the fact that all life originated from water would not have been an easy thing to convince people of fourteen centuries ago. Indeed, if 1400 years ago you had stood in the desert and told someone, “All of this, you see (pointing to yourself), is made up of mostly water,” no one would have believed you. Proof of that was not available until the invention of the microscope. They had to wait to find out that cytoplasm , the basic substance of the cell, is made-up of 80% water. Nonetheless, the evidence did come, and once again the Qur’an stood the test of time.
More on Falsification Test:
In reference to the falsification tests mentioned earlier, it is interesting to note that they, too, relate to both the past and the present . Some of them were used as illustrations of Allah’s omnipotence and knowledge, while others continue to stand as challenges to the present day. An example of the former is the statement made in the Qur’an about Abu Lahab. It clearly illustrates that Allah, the Knower of the Unseen, knew that Abu Lahab would never change his ways and accept Islam. Thus Allah dictated that he would be condemned to the Hellfire forever. Such a chapter was both an illustration of Allah’s divine wisdom and a warning to those who were like Abu Lahab.
People of the Book:
An interesting example of the latter type of falsification tests contained in the Qur’an is the verse which mentions the relationship between the Muslims and the Jews. The verse is careful not to narrow its scope to the relationship between individual members of each religion, but rather, it summarizes the relationship between the two groups of people as a whole. In essence, the Qur’an states that the Christians will always treat the Muslims better than the Jews will treat the Muslims. Indeed, the full impact of such a statement can only be felt after careful consideration of the real meaning of such a verse. It is true that many Christians and many Jews have become Muslims, but as a whole, the Jewish community is to be viewed as an avid enemy of Islam. Additionally, very few people realize what such an open declaration in the Qur’an invites. In essence, it is an easy chance for the Jews to prove that the Qur’an is false – that it is not a divine revelation. All they have to do is organize themselves, treat the Muslims nicely for a few years and then say, “Now what does your holy book say about who are your best friends in the world – the Jews or the Christians? Look what we Jews have done for you!” That is all they have to do to disprove the Qur’an’s authenticity, yet they have not done it in 1400 years. But, as always, the offer still stands open!
A Mathematical Approach:
All of the examples so far given concerning the various angles from which one can approach the Qur’an have undoubtedly been subjective in nature; however, there does exist another angle, among others, which is objective and whose basis is mathematical .
It is surprising how authentic the Qur’an becomes when one assembles what might be referred to as a list of good guesses. Mathematically, it can be explained using guessing and prediction examples. For instance, if a person has two choices (i.e., one is right, and one is wrong), and he closes his eyes and makes a choice, then half of the time (i.e., one time out of two) he will be right. Basically, he has a one in two chance, for he could pick the wrong choice, or he could pick the right choice.
Now if the same person has two situations like that (i.e., he could be right or wrong about situation number one, and he could be right or wrong about situation number two), and he closes his eyes and guesses, then he will only be right one-fourth of the time (i.e., one time out of four). He now has a one in four chance because now there are three ways for him to be wrong and only one way for him to be right. In simple terms, he could make the wrong choice in situation number one and then make the wrong choice in situation number two; or he could make the wrong choice in situation number one and then make the right choice in situation number two; or he could make the right choice in situation number one and then make the wrong choice in situation number two; or he could make the right choice in situation number one and then make the right choice in situation number two.
Of course, the (only instance in which he could be totally right is the last scenario where he could guess correctly in both situations. The odds of his guessing completely correctly have become greater because the number of situations for him to guess in have increased; and the mathematical equation representing such a scenario is � x � (i.e., one time out of two for the first situation multiplied by one time out of two for the second situation).
Continuing on with the example, if the same person now has three situations in which to make blind guesses, then he will only be right one-eighth of the time (i.e., one time out of eight or � x � x � ). Again, the odds of choosing the correct choice in all three situations have decreased his chances of being completely correct to only one time in eight. It must be understood that as the number of situations increase, the chances of being right decrease, for the two phenomena are inversely proportional.
Now applying this example to the situations in the Qur’an, if one draws up a list of all of the subjects about which the Qur’an has made correct statements, it becomes very clear that it is highly unlikely that they were all just correct blind guesses. Indeed, the subjects discussed in the Qur’an are numerous, and thus the odds of someone just making lucky guesses about all of them become practically nil. If there are a million ways for the Qur’an to be wrong, yet each time it is right, then it is unlikely that someone was guessing.
The following three examples of subjects about which the Qur’an has made correct statements collectively illustrate how the Qur’an continues to beat the odds.
The Female Bee:
In the 16th chapter (Surah an-Nahl 16:68-69) the Qur’an mentions that the female bee leaves its home to gather food. Now, a person might guess on that, saying, “The bee that you see flying around – it could be male, or it could be female. I think I will guess female.” Certainly, he has a one in two chance of being right. So it happens that the Qur’an is right. But it also happens that that was not what most people believed at the time when the Qur’an was revealed. Can you tell the difference between a male and a female bee? Well, it takes a specialist to do that, but it has been discovered that the male bee never leaves his home to gather food. However, in Shakespeare’s play, Henry the Fourth , some of the characters discuss bees and mention that the bees are soldiers and have a king. That is what people thought in Shakespeare’s time – that the bees that one sees flying around are male bees and that they go home and answer to a king. However, that is not true at all. The fact is that they are females, and they answer to a queen. Yet it took modern scientific investigations in the last 300 years to discover that this is the case.
So, back to the list of good guesses, concerning the topic of bees, the Qur’an had a 50/50 chance of being right, and the odds were one in two.
In addition to the subject of bees, the Qur’an also discusses the sun and the manner in which it travels through space. Again, a person can guess on that subject. When the sun moves through space, there are two options: it can travel just as a stone would travel if one threw it, or it can move of its own accord. The Qur’an states the latter – that it moves as a result of its own motion (Surah al-Anbiya 21:33). To do such, the Qur’an uses a form of the word sabaha to describe the sun’s movement through space. In order to properly provide the reader with a comprehensive understanding of the implications of this Arabic verb, the following example is given.
If a man is in water and the verb sabaha is applied in reference to his movement, it can be understood that he is swimming, moving of his own accord and not as a result of a direct force applied to him. Thus when this verb is used in reference to the sun’s movement through space, it in no way implies that the sun is flying uncontrollably through space as a result of being hurled or the like. It simply means that the sun is turning and rotating as it travels. Now, this is what the Qur’an affirms, but was it an easy thing to discover? Can any common man tell that the sun is turning? Only in modern times was the equipment made available to project the image of the sun onto a tabletop so that one could look at it without being blinded. And through this process it was discovered that not only are there spots on the sun but that these spots move once every 25 days. This movement is referred to as the rotation of the sun around its axis and conclusively proves that, as the Qur’an stated 1400 years ago, the sun does, indeed, turn as it travels through space.
And returning once again to the subject of good guesses, the odds of guessing correctly about both subjects – the sex of bees and the movement of the sun – are one in four!
Seeing as back fourteen centuries ago people probably did not understand much about time zones , the Qur’an’s statements about this subject are considerably surprising. The concept that one family is having breakfast as the sun comes up while another family is enjoying the brisk night air is truly something to be marveled at, even in modern time. Indeed, fourteen centuries ago, a man could not travel more than thirty miles in one day, and thus it took him literally months to travel from India to Morocco, for example. And probably, when he was having supper in Morocco, he thought to himself, “Back home in India they are having supper right now.” This is because he did not realize that, in the process of traveling, he moved across a time zone. Yet, because it is the words of Allah, the All-Knowing, the Qur’an recognizes and acknowledges such a phenomenon.
In an interesting verse it states that when history comes to an end and the Day of Judgement arrives, it will all occur in an instant; and this very instant will catch some people in the daytime and some people at night. This clearly illustrates Allah’s divine wisdom and His previous knowledge of the existence of time zones, even though such a discovery was non-existent back fourteen centuries ago. Certainly, this phenomenon is not something which is obvious to one’s eyes or a result of one’s experience, and this fact, in itself, suffices as proof of the Qur’an’s authenticity.
Returning one final time to the subject of good guesses for the purpose of the present example, the odds that someone guessed correctly about all three of the aforementioned subjects – the sex of bees, the movement of the sun and the existence of time zones – are one in eight!
Certainly, one could continue on and on with this example, drawing up longer and longer list of good guesses; and of course, the odds would become higher and higher with each increase of subjects about which one could guess. But what no one can deny is the following: the odds that Muhammad (s), an illiterate, guessed correctly about thousands and thousands of subjects, never once making a mistake, are so high that any theory of his authorship of the Qur’an must be completely dismissed – even by the most hostile enemies of Islam!
Indeed, the Qur’an expects this kind of challenge. Undoubtedly, if one said to someone upon entering a foreign land, “I know your father. I have met him,” probably the man from that land would doubt the newcomer’s word, saying, “You have just come here. How could you know my father?” As a result, he would question him, “Tell me, is my father tall, short, dark, fair? What is he like?” Of course, if the visitor continued answering all of the questions correctly, the skeptic would have no choice but to say, “I guess you do know my father. I don’t know how you know him, but I guess you do!”
The situation is the same with the Qur’an. It states that it originates from the One who created everything. So everyone has the right to say, “Convince me! If the author of this book really originated life and everything in the heavens and on the earth, then He should know about this, about that, and so on.” And inevitably, after researching the Qur’an, everyone will discover the same truths. Additionally, we all know something for sure: we do not all have to be experts to verify what the Qur’an affirms. One’s iman (faith) grows as one continues to check and confirm the truths contained in the Qur’an. And one is supposed to do so all of his life.
May God (Allah) guide everyone close to the truth.
An engineer at the University of Toronto who was interested in psychology and who had read something on it, conducted research and wrote a thesis on Efficiency of Group Discussions. The purpose of his research was to find out how much people accomplish when they get together to talk in groups of two, three, ten, etc. The graph of his findings goes up and down at places, but it reaches the highest point at the variable of two. The findings: people accomplish most when they talk in groups of two. Of course, this discovery was entirely beyond his expectations, but it is very old advice given in the Qur’an (Surah Saba 34:46): “Say, ‘I exhort you to one thing – that you stand for Allah, [assessing the truth] by twos and singly, and then reflect…'”
Addendum 2: ‘Iram
Additionally, the 89th chapter of the Qur’an (Surah al-Fajr 89:7) mentions a certain city by the name of ‘Iram (a city of pillars), which was not known in ancient history and which was non-existent as far as historians were concerned. However, the December 1978 edition of National Geographic introduced interesting information which mentioned that in 1973, the city of Elba was excavated in Syria. The city was discovered to be 43 centuries old, but that is not the most amazing part. Researchers found in the library of Elba a record of all of the cities with which Elba had done business. Believe it or not, there on the list was the name of the city of ‘Iram. The people of Elba had done business with the people of ‘Iram!
In conclusion I ask you to consider with care the following (Surah 29:50-51): “And they say, ‘Why are not signs sent down to him from his Lord?’ Say, ‘Indeed, the signs are with Allah, and I am but a clear warner.’ But it is sufficient for them that We have sent down to you the Book [i.e., Qur’an] which is rehearsed to them? Verily, in that is mercy and a reminder to people who believe.”
The Beginning of the Revelation
In the Cave of Hira:
When Prophet Muhammad (P) was nearly forty, he had been wont to pass long hours in retirement meditating and speculating over all aspects of creation around him. This meditative temperament helped to widen the mental gap between him and his compatriots. He used to provide himself with Sawiq (barley porridge) and water and then directly head for the hills and ravines in the neighbourhood of Makkah. One of these in particular was his favourite resort � a cave named Hira’, in the Mount An-Nour. It was only two miles from Makkah, a small cave 4 yards long and 1.75 yard wide. He would always go there and invite wayfarers to share him his modest provision. He used to devote most of his time, and Ramadan in particular, to worship and meditation on the universe around him. His heart was restless about the moral evils and idolatry that were rampant among his people; he was as yet helpless because no definite course, or specific approach had been available for him to follow and rectify the ill practices around him. This solitude attended with this sort of contemplative approach must be understood in its Divine perspective. It was a preliminary stage to the period of grave responsibilities that he was to shoulder very soon.
Privacy and detachment from the impurities of life were two indispensable prerequisites for the Prophet’s soul to come into close communion with the Unseen Power that lies behind all aspects of existence in this infinite universe. It was a rich period of privacy which lasted for three years and ushered in a new era, of indissoluble contact with that Power.
Gabriel brings down the Revelation:
When he was forty, the age of complete perfection at which Prophets were always ordered to disclose their Message, signs of his Prophethood started to appear and twinkle on the horizons of life; they were the true visions he used to experience for six months. The period of Prophethood was 23 years; so the period of these six months of true visions constituted an integral part of the forty-six parts of Prophethood. In Ramadan, in his third year of solitude in the cave of Hira’, All�h’s Will desired His mercy to flow on earth and Muhammad (P) was honoured with Prophethood, and the light of Revelation burst upon him with some verses of the Noble Qur’an.
As for the exact date, careful investigation into circumstantial evidence and relevant clues point directly to Monday, 21st. Ramadan at night, i.e. August, 10, 610 A.D. with Prophet Muhammad (P) exactly 40 years, 6 months and 12 days of age, i.e. 39 Gregorian years, 3 months and 22 days.
�Aishah, the veracious, gave the following narration of that most significant event that brought the Divine light which would dispel the darkness of disbelief and ignorance. It led life down a new course and brought about the most serious amendment to the line of the history of mankind:
Forerunners of the Revelation assumed the form of true visions that would strikingly come true all the time. After that, solitude became dear to him and he would go to the cave, Hira’, to engage in Tahannuth (devotion) there for a certain number of nights before returning to his family, and then he would return for provisions for a similar stay. At length, unexpectedly, the Truth (the angel) came to him and said, “Recite.” “I cannot recite,” he (Muhammad (P) ) said. The Prophet (P) described: “Then he took me and squeezed me vehemently and then let me go and repeated the order �Recite.’ �I cannot recite’ said I, and once again he squeezed me and let me till I was exhausted. Then he said: �Recite.’ I said �I cannot recite.’ He squeezed me for a third time and then let me go and said:
“Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists), has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! and your Lord is the Most Generous.'” [96:1-3]
The Prophet (P) repeated these verses. He was trembling with fear. At this stage, he came back to his wife Khadijah, and said, “Cover me, … cover me.” They covered him until he restored security. He apprised Khadijah of the incident of the cave and added that he was horrified. His wife tried to soothe him and reassured him saying, “All�h will never disgrace you. You unite uterine relations; you bear the burden of the weak; you help the poor and the needy, you entertain the guests and endure hardships in the path of truthfulness.”
She set out with the Prophet (P) to her cousin Waraqa bin Nawfal bin Asad bin �Abd Al-�Uzza, who had embraced Christianity in the pre-Islamic period, and used to write the Bible in Hebrew. He was a blind old man. Khadijah said: “My cousin! Listen to your nephew!” Waraqa said: “O my nephew! What did you see?” The Messenger of All�h (P) told him what had happened to him. Waraqa replied: “This is � Namus’ i.e. (the angel who is entrusted with Divine Secrets) that All�h sent to Moses. I wish I were younger. I wish I could live up to the time when your people would turn you out.” Muhammad (P) asked: “Will they drive me out?” Waraqa answered in the affirmative and said: “Anyone who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should be alive till that day, then I would support you strongly.” A few days later Waraqa died and the revelation also subsided.
At-Tabari and Ibn Hisham reported that the Messenger of All�h (P) left the cave of Hira’ after being surprised by the Revelation, but later on, returned to the cave and continued his solitude. Afterwards, he came back to Makkah. At-Tabari reported on this incident, saying:
After mentioning the coming of the Revelation, the Messenger of All�h (P) said: “I have never abhorred anyone more than a poet or a mad man. I can not stand looking at either of them. I will never tell anyone of Quraish of my Revelation. I will climb a mountain and throw myself down and die. That will relieve me. I went to do that but halfway up the mountain, I heard a voice from the sky saying �O Muhammad! You are the Messenger of All�h (P) and I am Gabriel.’ I looked upwards and saw Gabriel in the form of a man putting his legs on the horizon. He said: �O Muhammad You are the Messenger of All�h (P) and I am Gabriel.’ I stopped and looked at him. His sight distracted my attention from what I had intended to do. I stood in my place transfixed. I tried to shift my eyes away from him. He was in every direction I looked at. I stopped in my place without any movement until Khadijah sent someone to look for me. He went down to Makkah and came back while I was standing in the same place. Gabriel then left, and I went back home. I found Khadijah at home, so I sat very close to her. She asked: �Father of Al-Qasim! Where have you been? I sent someone to look for you. He went to Makkah and returned to me.’ I told her of what I had seen. She replied: �It is a propitious sign, O my husband. Pull yourself together, I swear by All�h that you are a Messenger for this nation.’ Then she stood up and went to Waraqa and informed him. Waraqa said: �I swear by All�h that he has received the same Namus , i.e. angel that was sent to Moses. He is the Prophet of this nation. Tell him to be patient.’ She came back to him and told him of Waraqa’s words. When the Messenger of All�h (P) finished his solitary stay and went down to Makkah, he went to Waraqa, who told him: �You are the Prophet of this nation. I swear by All�h that you have received the same angel that was sent to Moses.'”
The Greatest Prophets Muhammed [Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam]
“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” [ Qur’an 48:29]
IN the annals of men, individuals have not been lacking who conspicuously devoted their lives to the socio-religious reform of their connected peoples. We find them in every epoch and in all lands. In India, there lived those who transmitted to the world the Vedas, and there was also the great Gautama Buddha; China had its Confucius; the Avesta was produced in Iran. Babylonia gave to the world one of the greatest reformers, the Prophet Abraham (not to speak of such of his ancestors as Enoch and Noah about whom we have very scanty information). The Jewish people may rightly be proud of a long series of reformers: Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon, and Jesus among others.
2. Two points are to note: Firstly these reformers claimed in general to be the bearers each of a Divine mission, and they left behind them sacred books incorporating codes of life for the guidance of their peoples. Secondly there followed fratricidal wars, and massacres and genocides became the order of the day, causing more or less a complete loss of these Divine messages. As to the books of Abraham, we know them only by the name; and as for the books of Moses, records tell us how they were repeatedly destroyed and only partly restored.
Concept of God:
3. If one should judge from the relics of the past already brought to light of the homo sapiens , one finds that man has always been conscious of the existence of a Supreme Being, the Master and Creator of all. Methods and approaches may have differed, but the people of every epoch have left proofs of their attempts to obey God. Communication with the Omnipresent yet invisible God has also been recognised as possible in connection with a small fraction of men with noble and exalted spirits. Whether this communication assumed the nature of an incarnation of the Divinity or simply resolved itself into a medium of reception of Divine messages (through inspiration or revelation), the purpose in each case was the guidance of the people. It was but natural that the interpretations and explanations of certain systems should have proved more vital and convincing than others.
3/a. Every system of metaphysical thought develops its own terminology. In the course of time terms acquire a significance hardly contained in the word and translations fall short of their purpose. Yet there is no other method to make people of one group understand the thoughts of another. Non-Muslim readers in particular are requested to bear in mind this aspect which is a real yet unavoidable handicap.
4. By the end of the 6th century, after the birth of Jesus Christ, men had already made great progress in diverse walks of life. At that time there were some religions which openly proclaimed that they were reserved for definite races and groups of men only, of course they bore no remedy for the ills of humanity at large. There were also a few which claimed universality, but declared that the salvation of man lay in the renunciation of the world. These were the religions for the elite, and catered for an extremely limited number of men. We need not speak of regions where there existed no religion at all, where atheism and materialism reigned supreme, where the thought was solely of occupying one self with one’s own pleasures, without any regard or consideration for the rights of others.
5. A perusal of the map of the major hemisphere (from the point of view of the proportion of land to sea), shows the Arabian Peninsula lying at the confluence of the three great continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. At the time in question. this extensive Arabian subcontinent composed mostly of desert areas was inhabited by people of settled habitations as well as nomads. Often it was found that members of the same tribe were divided into these two groups, and that they preserved a relationship although following different modes of life. The means of subsistence in Arabia were meagre. The desert had its handicaps, and trade caravans were features of greater importance than either agriculture or industry. This entailed much travel, and men had to proceed beyond the peninsula to Syria, Egypt, Abyssinia, Iraq, Sind, India and other lands.
6. We do not know much about the Libyanites of Central Arabia, but Yemen was rightly called Arabia Felix . Having once been the seat of the flourishing civilizations of Sheba and Ma’in even before the foundation of the city of Rome had been laid, and having later snatched from the Byzantians and Persians several provinces, greater Yemen which had passed through the hey-day of its existence, was however at this time broken up into innumerable principalities, and even occupied in part by foreign invaders. The Sassanians of Iran, who had penetrated into Yemen had already obtained possession of Eastern Arabia. There was politico-social chaos at the capital (Mada’in = Ctesiphon), and this found reflection in all her territories. Northern Arabia had succumbed to Byzantine influences, and was faced with its own particular problems. Only Central Arabia remained immune from the demoralising effects of foreign occupation.
7. In this limited area of Central Arabia, the existence of the triangle of Mecca-Ta’if-Madinah seemed something providential. Mecca, desertic, deprived of water and the amenities of agriculture in physical features represented Africa and the burning Sahara. Scarcely fifty miles from there, Ta’if presented a picture of Europe and its frost. Madinah in the North was not less fertile than even the most temperate of Asiatic countries like Syria. If climate has any influence on human character, this triangle standing in the middle of the major hemisphere was, more than any other region of the earth, a miniature reproduction of the entire world. And here was born a descendant of the Babylonian Abraham, and the Egyptian Hagar, Muhammad the Prophet of Islam, a Meccan by origin and yet with stock related, both to Madinah and Ta’if.
8. From the point of view of religion, Arabia was idolatrous; only a few individuals had embraced religions like Christianity, Mazdaism, etc. The Meccans did possess the notion of the One God, but they believed also that idols had the power to intercede with Him. Curiously enough, they did not believe in the Resurrection and Afterlife. They had preserved the rite of the pilgrimage to the House of the One God, the Ka’bah, an institution set up under divine inspiration by their ancestor Abraham, yet the two thousand years that separated them from Abraham had caused to degenerate this pilgrimage into the spectacle of a commercial fair and an occasion of senseless idolatry which far from producing any good, only served to ruin their individual behaviour, both social and spiritual.
9. In spite of the comparative poverty in natural resources, Mecca was the most developed of the three points of the triangle. Of the three, Mecca alone had a city-state, governed by a council of ten hereditary chiefs who enjoyed a clear division of power. (There was a minister of foreign relations, a minister guardian of the temple, a minister of oracles, a minister guardian of offerings to the temple, one to determine the torts and the damages payable, another in charge of the municipal council or parliament to enforce the decisions of the ministries. There were also ministers in charge of military affairs like custodianship of the flag, leadership of the cavalry etc.). As well reputed caravan-leaders, the Meccans were able to obtain permission from neighbouring empires like Iran, Byzantium and Abyssinia – and to enter into agreements with the tribes that lined the routes traversed by the caravans – to visit their countries and transact import and export business. They also provided escorts to foreigners when they passed through their country as well as the territory of allied tribes, in Arabia (cf. Ibn Habib, Muhabbar ). Although not interested much in the preservation of ideas and records in writing, they passionately cultivated arts and letters like poetry, oratory discourses and folk tales. Women were generally well treated, they enjoyed the privilege of possessing property in their own right, they gave their consent to marriage contracts, in which they could even add the condition of reserving their right to divorce their husbands. They could remarry when widowed or divorced. Burying girls alive did exist in certain classes, but that was rare.
Birth of the Prophet:
10. It was in the midst of such conditions and environments that Muhammad was born in 569 after Christ. His father, ‘Abdullah had died some weeks earlier, and it was his grandfather who took him in charge. According to the prevailing custom, the child was entrusted to a Bedouin foster-mother, with whom he passed several years in the desert. All biographers state that the infant prophet sucked only one breast of his foster-mother, leaving the other for the sustenance of his foster-brother. When the child was brought back home, his mother, Aminah, took him to his maternal uncles at Madinah to visit the tomb of ‘Abdullah. During the return journey, he lost his mother who died a sudden death. At Mecca, another bereavement awaited him, in the death of his affectionate grandfather. Subjected to such privations, he was at the age of eight, consigned at last to the care of his uncle, Abu-Talib, a man who was generous of nature but always short of resources and hardly able to provide for his family.
11. Young Muhammad had therefore to start immediately to earn his livelihood; he served as a shepherd boy to some neighbours. At the age of ten he accompanied his uncle to Syria when he was leading a caravan there. No other travels of Abu-Talib are mentioned, but there are references to his having set up a shop in Mecca. (Ibn Qutaibah, Ma’arif ). It is possible that Muhammad helped him in this enterprise also.
12. By the time he was twenty-five, Muhammad had become well known in the city for the integrity of his disposition and the honesty of his character. A rich widow, Khadijah, took him in her employ and consigned to him her goods to be taken for sale to Syria. Delighted with the unusual profits she obtained as also by the personal charms of her agent, she offered him her hand. According to divergent reports, she was either 28 or 40 years of age at that time, (medical reasons prefer the age of 28 since she gave birth to five more children). The union proved happy. Later, we see him sometimes in the fair of Hubashah (Yemen), and at least once in the country of the ‘Abd al-Qais (Bahrain-Oman), as mentioned by Ibn Hanbal. There is every reason to believe that this refers to the great fair of Daba (Oman), where, according to Ibn al-Kalbi (cf. Ibn Habib, Muhabbar ), the traders of China, of Hind and Sind (India, Pakistan), of Persia, of the East and the West assembled every year, travelling both by land and sea. There is also mention of a commercial partner of Muhammad at Mecca. This person, Sa’ib by name reports: “We relayed each other; if Muhammad led the caravan, he did not enter his house on his return to Mecca without clearing accounts with me; and if I led the caravan, he would on my return enquire about my welfare and speak nothing about his own capital entrusted to me.”
An Order of Chivalry:
13. Foreign traders often brought their goods to Mecca for sale. One day a certain Yemenite (of the tribe of Zubaid) improvised a satirical poem against some Meccans who had refused to pay him the price of what he had sold, and others who had not supported his claim or had failed to come to his help when he was victimised. Zuhair, uncle and chief of the tribe of the Prophet, felt great remorse on hearing this just satire. He called for a meeting of certain chieftains in the city, and organized an order of chivalry, called Hilf al-fudul , with the aim and object of aiding the oppressed in Mecca, irrespective of their being dwellers of the city or aliens. Young Muhammad became an enthusiastic member of the organisation. Later in life he used to say: “I have participated in it, and I am not prepared to give up that privilege even against a herd of camels; if somebody should appeal to me even today, by virtue of that pledge, I shall hurry to his help.”
Beginning of Religious Consciousness:
14. Not much is known about the religious practices of Muhammad until he was thirty-five years old, except that he had never worshipped idols. This is substantiated by all his biographers. It may be stated that there were a few others in Mecca, who had likewise revolted against the senseless practice of paganism, although conserving their fidelity to the Ka’bah as the house dedicated to the One God by its builder Abraham.
15. About the year 605 of the Christian era, the draperies on the outer wall of the Ka’bah took fire. The building was affected and could not bear the brunt of the torrential rains that followed. The reconstruction of the Ka’bah was thereupon undertaken. Each citizen contributed according to his means; and only the gifts of honest gains were accepted. Everybody participated in the work of construction, and Muhammad’s shoulders were injured in the course of transporting stones. To identify the place whence the ritual of circumambulation began, there had been set a black stone in the wall of the Ka’bah. dating probably from the time of Abraham himself. There was rivalry among the citizens for obtaining the honour of transposing this stone in its place. When there was danger of blood being shed, somebody suggested leaving the matter to Providence, and accepting the arbitration of him who should happen to arrive there first. It chanced that Muhammad just then turned up there for work as usual. He was popularly known by the appellation of al-Amin (the honest), and everyone accepted his arbitration without hesitation. Muhammad placed a sheet of cloth on the ground, put the stone on it and asked the chiefs of all the tribes in the city to lift together the cloth. Then he himself placed the stone in its proper place, in one of the angles of the building, and everybody was satisfied.
16. It is from this moment that we find Muhammad becoming more and more absorbed in spiritual meditations. Like his grandfather, he used to retire during the whole month of Ramadan to a cave in Jabal-an-Nur (mountain of light). The cave is called `Ghar-i-Hira’ or the cave of research. There he prayed, meditated, and shared his meagre provisions with the travellers who happened to pass by.
17. He was forty years old, and it was the fifth consecutive year since his annual retreats, when one night towards the end of the month of Ramadan, an angel came to visit him, and announced that God had chosen him as His messenger to all mankind. The angel taught him the mode of ablutions, the way of worshipping God and the conduct of prayer. He communicated to him the following Divine message:
With the name of God, the Most Merciful, the All-Merciful. Read: with the name of thy Lord Who created, Created man from what clings, Read: and thy Lord is the Most Bounteous, Who taught by the pen, Taught man what he knew not. (Quran 96:1-5)
18. Deeply affected, he returned home and related to his wife what had happened, expressing his fears that it might have been something diabolic or the action of evil spirits. She consoled him, saying that he had always been a man of charity and generosity, helping the poor, the orphans, the widows and the needy, and assured him that God would protect him against all evil.
19. Then came a pause in revelation, extending over three years. The Prophet must have felt at first a shock, then a calm, an ardent desire, and after a period of waiting, a growing impatience or nostalgia. The news of the first vision had spread and at the pause the sceptics in the city had begun to mock at him and cut bitter jokes. They went so far as to say that God had forsaken him.
20. During the three years of waiting. the Prophet had given himself up more and more to prayers and to spiritual practices. The revelations were then resumed and God assured him that He had not at all forsaken him: on the contrary it was He Who had guided him to the right path: therefore he should take care of the orphans and the destitute, and proclaim the bounty of God on him (cf. Q. 93:3-11). This was in reality an order to preach. Another revelation directed him to warn people against evil practices, to exhort them to worship none but the One God, and to abandon everything that would displease God (Q. 74:2-7). Yet another revelation commanded him to warn his own near relatives (Q. 26:214); and: “Proclaim openly that which thou art commanded, and withdraw from the Associators (idolaters). Lo! we defend thee from the scoffers” (15:94-5). According to Ibn Ishaq, the first revelation (n. 17) had come to the Prophet during his sleep, evidently to reduce the shock. Later revelations came in full wakefulness.
21. The Prophet began by preaching his mission secretly first among his intimate friends, then among the members of his own tribe and thereafter publicly in the city and suburbs. He insisted on the belief in One Transcendent God, in Resurrection and the Last Judgement. He invited men to charity and beneficence. He took necessary steps to preserve through writing the revelations he was receiving, and ordered his adherents also to learn them by heart. This continued all through his life, since the Quran was not revealed all at once, but in fragments as occasions arose.
22. The number of his adherents increased gradually, but with the denunciation of paganism, the opposition also grew intenser on the part of those who were firmly attached to their ancestral beliefs. This opposition degenerated in the course of time into physical torture of the Prophet and of those who had embraced his religion. These were stretched on burning sands, cauterized with red hot iron and imprisoned with chains on their feet. Some of them died of the effects of torture, but none would renounce his religion. In despair, the Prophet Muhammad advised his companions to quit their native town and take refuge abroad, in Abyssinia, “where governs a just ruler, in whose realm nobody is oppressed” (Ibn Hisham). Dozens of Muslims profited by his advice, though not all. These secret flights led to further persecution of those who remained behind.
23. The Prophet Muhammad [was instructed to call this] religion “Islam,” i.e. submission to the will of God. Its distinctive features are two:
A harmonius equilibrium between the temporal and the spiritual (the body and the soul), permitting a full enjoyment of all the good that God has created, (Quran 7:32), enjoining at the same time on everybody duties towards God, such as worship, fasting, charity, etc. Islam was to be the religion of the masses and not merely of the elect. A universality of the call – all the believers becoming brothers and equals without any distinction of class or race or tongue. The only superiority which it recognizes is a personal one, based on the greater fear of God and greater piety (Quran 49:13).
24. When a large number of the Meccan Muslims migrated to Abyssinia, the leaders of paganism sent an ultimatum to the tribe of the Prophet, demanding that he should be excommunicated and outlawed and delivered to the pagans for being put to death. Every member of the tribe, Muslim and non-Muslim rejected the demand. (cf. Ibn Hisham). Thereupon the city decided on a complete boycott of the tribe: Nobody was to talk to them or have commercial or matrimonial relations with them. The group of Arab tribes called Ahabish, inhabiting the suburbs, who were allies of the Meccans, also joined in the boycott, causing stark misery among the innocent victims consisting of children, men and women, the old and the sick and the feeble. Some of them succumbed yet nobody would hand over the Prophet to his persecutors. An uncle of the Prophet, Abu Lahab, however left his tribesmen and participated in the boycott along with the pagans. After three dire years, during which the victims were obliged to devour even crushed hides, four or five non-Muslims, more humane than the rest and belonging to different clans proclaimed publicly their denunciation of the unjust boycott. At the same time, the document promulgating the pact of boycott which had been hung in the temple, was found, as Muhammad had predicted, eaten by white ants, that spared nothing but the words God and Muhammad. The boycott was lifted, yet owing to the privations that were undergone the wife and Abu Talib, the chief of the tribe and uncle of the Prophet died soon after. Another uncle of the Prophet, Abu-Lahab, who was an inveterate enemy of Islam, now succeeded to the headship of the tribe. (cf. lbn Hisham, Sirah ).
25. It was at thIs time that the Prophet Muhammad was granted the mi’raj (ascension): He saw in a vision that he was received on heaven by God, and was witness of the marvels of the celestial regions. Returning, he brought for his community, as a Divine gift, the [ritual prayer of Islam, the salaat], which constitutes a sort of communion between man and God. It may be recalled that in the last part of Muslim service of worship, the faithful employ as a symbol of their being in the very presence of God, not concrete objects as others do at the time of communion, but the very words of greeting exchanged between the Prophet Muhammad and God on the occasion of the former’s mi’raj : “The blessed and pure greetings for God! – Peace be with thee, O Prophet, as well as the mercy and blessing of God! – Peace be with us and with all the [righteous] servants of God!” The Christian term “communion” implies participation in the Divinity. Finding it pretentious, Muslims use the term “ascension” towards God and reception in His presence, God remaining God and man remaining man and no confusion between the twain.
26. The news of this celestial meeting led to an increase in the hostility of the pagans of Mecca; and the Prophet was obliged to quit his native town in search of an asylum elsewhere. He went to his maternal uncles in Ta’if, but returned immediately to Mecca, as the wicked people of that town chased the Prophet out of their city by pelting stones on him and wounding him.
Migration to Madinah:
27. The annual pilgrimage of the Ka’bah brought to Mecca people from all parts of Arabia. The Prophet Muhammad tried to persuade one tribe after another to afford him shelter and allow him to carry on his mission of reform. The contingents of fifteen tribes, whom he approached in succession, refused to do so more or less brutally, but he did not despair. Finally he met half a dozen inhabitants of Madinah who being neighbour of the Jews and the Christians, had some notion of prophets and Divine messages. They knew also that these “people of the Books” were awaiting the arrival of a prophet – a last comforter. So these Madinans decided not to lose the opportunity of obtaining an advance over others, and forthwith embraced Islam, promising further to provide additional adherents and necessary help from Madinah. The following year a dozen new Madinans took the oath of allegiance to him and requested him to provide with a missionary teacher. The work of the missionary, Mus’ab, proved very successful and he led a contingent of seventy-three new converts to Mecca, at the time of the pilgrimage. These invited the Prophet and his Meccan companions to migrate to their town, and promised to shelter the Prophet and to treat him and his companions as their own kith and kin. Secretly and in small groups, the greater part of the Muslims emigrated to Madinah. Upon this the pagans of Mecca not only confiscated the property of the evacuees, but devised a plot to assassinate the Prophet. It became now impossible for him to remain at home. It is worthy of mention, that in spite of their hostility to his mission, the pagans had unbounded confidence in his probity, so much so that many of them used to deposit their savings with him. The Prophet Muhammad now entrusted all these deposits to ‘Ali, a cousin of his, with instructions to return in due course to the rightful owners. He then left the town secretly in the company of his faithful friend, Abu-Bakr. After several adventures, they succeeded in reaching Madinah in safety. This happened in 622, whence starts the Hijrah calendar.
Reorganization of the Community:
28. For the better rehabilitation of the displaced immigrants, the Prophet created a fraternization between them and an equal number of well-to-do Madinans. The families of each pair of the contractual brothers worked together to earn their livelihood, and aided one another in the business of life.
29. Further he thought that the development of the man as a whole would be better achieved if he co-ordinated religion and politics as two constituent parts of one whole. To this end he invited the representatives of the Muslims as well as the non-Muslim inhabitants of the region: Arabs, Jews, Christians and others, and suggested the establishment of a City-State in Madinah. With their assent, he endowed the city with a written constitution – the first of its kind in the world – in which he defined the duties and rights both of the citizens and the head of the State – the Prophet Muhammad was unanimously hailed as such – and abolished the customary private justice. The administration of justice became henceforward the concern of the central organisation of the community of the citizens. The document laid down principles of defence and foreign policy: it organized a system of social insurance, called ma’aqil, in cases of too heavy obligations. It recognized that the Prophet Muhammad would have the final word in all differences, and that there was no limit to his power of legislation. It recognized also explicitly liberty of religion, particularly for the Jews, to whom the constitutional act afforded equality with Muslims in all that concerned life in this world (cf. infra n. 303).
30. Muhammad journeyed several times with a view to win the neighbouring tribes and to conclude with them treaties of alliance and mutual help. With their help, he decided to bring to bear economic pressure on the Meccan pagans, who had confiscated the property of the Muslim evacuees and also caused innumerable damage. Obstruction in the way of the Meccan caravans and their passage through the Madinan region exasperated the pagans, and a bloody struggle ensued.
31. In the concern for the material interests of the community, the spiritual aspect was never neglected. Hardly a year had passed after the migration to Madinah, when the most rigorous of spiritual disciplines, the fasting for the whole month of Ramadan every year, was imposed on every adult Muslim, man and woman.
Struggle Against Intolerance and Unbelief:
32. Not content with the expulsion of the Muslim compatriots, the Meccans sent an ultimatum to the Madinans, demanding the surrender or at least the expulsion of Muhammad and his companions but evidently all such efforts proved in vain. A few months later, in the year 2 H., they sent a powerful army against the Prophet, who opposed them at Badr; and the pagans thrice as numerous as the Muslims, were routed. After a year of preparation, the Meccans again invaded Madinah to avenge the defeat of Badr. They were now four times as numerous as the Muslims. After a bloody encounter at Uhud, the enemy retired, the issue being indecisive. The mercenaries in the Meccan army did not want to take too much risk, or endanger their safety.
33. In thc meanwhile the Jewish citizens of Madinah began to foment trouble. About the time of the victory of Badr, one of their leaders, Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf, proceeded to Mecca to give assurance of his alliance with the pagans, and to incite them to a war of revenge. After the battle of Uhud, the tribe of the same chieftain plotted to assassinate the Prophet by throwing on him a mill-stone from above a tower, when he had gone to visit their locality. In spite of all this, the only demand the Prophet made of the men of this tribe was to quit the Madinan region, taking with them all their properties, after selling their immovables and recovering their debts from the Muslims. The clemency thus extended had an effect contrary to what was hoped. The exiled not only contacted the Meccans, but also the tribes of the North, South and East of Madinah, mobilized military aid, and planned from Khaibar an invasion of Madinah, with forces four times more numerous than those employed at Uhud. The Muslims prepared for a siege, and dug a ditch to defend themselves against this hardest of all trials. Although the defection of the Jews still remaining inside Madinah at a later stage upset all strategy, yet with a sagacious diplomacy, the Prophet succeeded in breaking up the alliance, and the different enemy groups retired one after the other.
34. Alcoholic drinks, gambling and games of chance were at this time declared forbidden for the Muslims.
35. The Prophet tried once more to reconcile the Meccans and proceeded to Mecca. The barring of the route of their Northern caravans had ruined their economy. The Prophet promised them transit security, extradition of their fugitives and the fulfillment of every condition they desired, agreeing even to return to Madinah without accomplishing the pilgrimage of the Ka’bah. Thereupon the two contracting parties promised at Hudaibiyah in the suburbs of Mecca, not only the maintenance of peace, but also the observance of neutrality in their conflicts with third parties.
36. Profiting by the peace, the Prophet launched an intensive programme for the propagation of his religion. He addressed missionary letters to the foreign rulers of Byzantium, Iran, Abyssinia and other lands. The Byzantine autocrat priest – Dughatur of the Arabs – embraced Islam, but for this, was lynched by the Christian mob; the prefect of Ma’an (Palestine) suffered the same fate, and was decapitated and crucified by order of the emperor. A Muslim ambassador was assassinated in Syria-Palestine; and instead of punishing the culprit, the emperor Heraclius rushed with his armies to protect him against the punitive expedition sent by the Prophet (battle of Mu’tah).
37. The pagans of Mecca hoping to profit by the Muslim difficulties, violated the terms of their treaty. Upon this, the Prophet himself led an army, ten thousand strong, and surprised Mecca which he occupied in a bloodless manner. As a benevolent conqueror, he caused the vanquished people to assemble, reminded them of their ill deeds, their religious persecution, unjust confiscation of the evacuee property, ceaseless invasions and senseless hostilities for twenty years continuously. He asked them: “Now what do you expect of me?” When everybody lowered his head with shame, the Prophet proclaimed: “May God pardon you; go in peace; there shall be no responsibility on you today; you are free!” He even renounced the claim for the Muslim property confiscated by the pagans. This produced a great psychological change of hearts instantaneously. When a Meccan chief advanced with a fulsome heart towards the Prophet, after hearing this general amnesty, in order to declare his acceptance of Islam, the Prophet told him: “And in my turn, I appoint you the governor of Mecca!” Without leaving a single soldier in the conquered city, the Prophet retired to Madinah. The Islamization of Mecca, which was accomplished in a few hours, was complete.
38. Immediately after the occupation of Mecca, the city of Ta’if mobilized to fight against the Prophet. With some difficulty the enemy was dispersed in the valley of Hunain, but the Muslims preferred to raise the siege of nearby Ta’if and use pacific means to break the resistance of this region. Less than a year later, a delegation from Ta’if came to Madinah offering submission. But it requested exemption from prayer, taxes and military service, and the continuance of the liberty to adultery and fornication and alcoholic drinks. It demanded even the conservation of the temple of the idol al-Lat at Ta’if. But Islam was not a materialist immoral movement; and soon the delegation itself felt ashamed of its demands regarding prayer, adultery and wine. The Prophet consented to concede exemption from payment of taxes and rendering of military service; and added: You need not demolish the temple with your own hands: we shall send agents from here to do the job, and if there should be any consequences, which you are afraid of on account of your superstitions, it will be they who would suffer. This act of the Prophet shows what concessions could be given to new converts. The conversion of the Ta’ifites was so whole hearted that in a short while, they themselves renounced the contracted exemptions, and we find the Prophet nominating a tax collector in their locality as in other Islamic regions.
39. In all these “wars,” extending over a period of ten years, the non-Muslims lost on the battlefield only about 250 persons killed, and the Muslim losses were even less. With these few incisions, the whole continent of Arabia. with its million and more of square miles, was cured of the abscess of anarchy and immorality. During these ten years of disinterested struggle, all thc peoples of the Arabian Peninsula and the southern regions of Iraq and Palestine had voluntarily embraced Islam. Some Christian, Jewish and Parsi groups remained attached to their creeds, and they were granted liberty of conscience as well as judicial and juridical autonomy.
40. In the year 10 H., when the Prophet went to Mecca for Hajj (pilgrimage), he met 140,000 Muslims there, who had come from different parts of Arabia to fulfil their religious obligation. He addressed to them his celebrated sermon, in which he gave a resume of his teachings: “Belief in One God without images or symbols, equality of all the Believers without distinction of race or class, the superiority of individuals being based solely on piety; sanctity of life, property and honour; abolition of interest, and of vendettas and private justice; better treatment of women; obligatory inheritance and distribution of the property of deceased persons among near relatives of both sexes, and removal of the possibility of the cumulation of wealth in the hands of the few.” The Quran and the conduct of the Prophet were to serve as the bases of law and a healthy criterion in every aspect of human life.
41. On his return to Madinah, he fell ill; and a few weeks later, when he breathed his last, he had the satisfaction that he had well accomplished the task which he had undertaken – to preach to the world the Divine message.
42. He bequeathed to posterity, a religion of pure monotheism; he created a well-disciplined State out of the existent chaos and gave peace in place of the war of everybody against everybody else; he established a harmonious equilibrium between the spiritual and the temporal, between the mosque and the citadel; he left a new system of law, which dispensed impartial justice, in which even the head of the State was as much a subject to it as any commoner, and in which religious tolerance was so great that non-Muslim inhabitants of Muslim countries equally enjoyed complete juridical, judicial and cultural autonomy. In the matter of the revenues of the State, the Quran fixed the principles of budgeting, and paid more thought to the poor than to anybody else. The revenues were declared to be in no wise the private property of the head of the State. Above all, the Prophet Muhammad set a noble example and fully practised all that he taught to others.
Hadith (teachings of the Prophet P.B.U.H)
Introduction to Hadith
Hadith is a body of literature that comprises the sayings, teachings, behaviour etc. of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Muslims try to emulate the character of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in their daily lives and use the hadith as a key source to that end. The Qur’an together with hadith constitute the two most authoritative sources for moral, ethical and spiritual guidance.
The Muslims are agreed that the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the second of the two revealed fundamental sources of Islam, after the Glorious Qur’an. The authentic Sunnah is contained within the vast body of Hadith literature.
A hadith (pl. ahadith) is composed of two parts: the matn (text) and the isnad (chain of reporters). A text may seem to be logical and reasonable but it needs an authentic isnad with reliable reporters to be acceptable; ‘Abdullah b. al-Mubarak (d. 181 AH), one of the illustrious teachers of Imam al-Bukhari, said, “The isnad is part of the religion: had it not been for the isnad, whoever wished to would have said whatever he liked.”
During the lifetime of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and after his death, his Companions (Sahabah) used to refer to him directly, when quoting his sayings. The Successors (Tabi’un) followed suit; some of them used to quote the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) through the Companions while others would omit the intermediate authority – such a hadith was later known as mursal. It was found that the missing link between the Successor and the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) might be one person, i.e. a Companion, or two people, the extra person being an older Successor who heard the hadith from the Companion. This is an example of how the need for the verification of each isnad arose; Imam Malik (d. 179) said, “The first one to utilise the isnad was Ibn Shihab al- Zuhri” (d. 124).
Sahabah of Rasulullah [Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam]
The companions (Radiallaahu Anhum) of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) are the criterion of the Truth. It was from the Sahabahs that the world learned what the Deen of Islam was. It is from the Sahabahs that we have been able to establish the true Shariah. It is from the Sahabahs that we obtained the Sunnah of our Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam).
The Sahaabah constitute the pivots of Deen of Islam. They are the upholders and defenders of Deen of Allah. History cannot show us any other group which has sacrificed so much blood for the glory of Allah’s Name than the Sahaabahs – may the pleasure of Allah be with them perpetually!
Hadhrat Shah Waliullah (Rahmatullaahi Alayh) has recorded in his book, “Izaala-tul-Khifaa”, approximately one hundred verses of the Qur’aan Majeed which put the seal on the sanctity and the elevated position of the Sahabahs. The Qur’aan Majeed raises the Sahabahs to such a lofty status that to compare them (Sahabahs) with non-Sahabahs would be a grievous error.
Said the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)
“Fear Allah! Fear Allah with regard to my Sahabahs. Do not make them a target after me. Whosoever loves the Sahabah loves them because of my love. And, whosoever dislikes them because he dislikes me. He who harms them has harmed me. And, he who harms me has caused hurt to Allah. And, he who causes hurt to Allah, Allah will soon grab hold of him.”
Imam Abu Hanifa [Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala]
AL-IMAM AL-AZAM ABU HANIFAH (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala):
The book Qamoos al-alam states: Al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa’s name was Numan. His father’s name was Thabit. His grandfather’s name was Numan, too. He was the first of the four great imams of the Ahl as-Sunnah Wal Jama’ah. ‘Imam’ means ‘profoundly learned scholar.’ He was one of the main pillars of the brilliant religion of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). He was a descendant of a Persian notable. His grandfather had embraced Islam. He was born in Kufa in 80 (698 A.D.). He was born early enough to see Anas ibn Malik, ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Awfa, Sahl ibn Sad as-Sa’idi and Abu al-Fadl Amir ibn Wasila, four Sahaabis (Radi-Allahu ta’ala anhum). He learned ‘ilm al-fiqh from Hammad ibn Abi Sulaiman. He enjoyed the companionship of many notables of the Tabi’een, and of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala). He memorized innumerable Ahadith. He was brought up so as to become a great judge, but he became an imam al-madhhab. He had a superior, and amazingly keen intellect. In ‘ilm al-fiqh, he attained an unequalled grade in a short time. His name and fame became worldwide.
Yazid ibn ‘Amr, Governor of Iraq during the time of Marana ibn Muhammad, the fourteenth and last Umayyad Halifax, who was a grandson of Marwaan ibn Hakam (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) and was killed five years after assuming the caliphate in Egypt in 132 (750 A.D.), proposed to Abu Hanifa (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) to become a judge for the law-court of Kufa. But, since he had as much zuhd, taqwa and wara’ as he had knowledge and intellect, he refused it. He was afraid of not being able to safeguard human rights because of human weaknesses. With a command from Yazid, he was given a whipping, hundred and ten blows to the head. His blessed face and head swelled. The next day, Yazid took the Imam out and oppressed him by repeating his offer. The Imam said, “Let me consult,” and obtained permission to leave. He went to the blessed city of Mecca and stayed there for five or six years.
The ‘Abbasid Khalifah Abu Ja’far Mansoor (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) commanded him to be the chief of the Supreme Court of Appeal in 150 A.H. [767 A.D.]. He refused it and was put into jail. He was subjected to whipping, ten blows more every following day. When the number of whipping reached one hundred, he attained martyrdom. Abu Sad Muhammad ibn Mansoor al-Harizmi (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala), one of the viziers of Malikshah (447-485 A.H., the third Saljuqi Sultan and the son of Sultan Alparslan), had a wonderful dome built over his grave. Afterwards, Ottoman emperors embellished and had his tomb restored several times.
Abu Hanifa (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) was the first who compiled and classified ‘ilm al-fiqh, and he gathered information for each branch of knowledge. He wrote the books Fara’id and Shuroot. There are innumerable books describing his extensive knowledge on fiqh; his extraordinary ability in qiyaas; and his dumbfounding superiority in zuhd, taqwa, mildness and righteousness. He had many disciples, some of whom became among the great mujtahideen. The Hanafi Madhhab spread far and wide during the time of the Ottoman Empire. It almost became the official Madhhab of the State. Today, more than half of the Muslims on the earth and most of the Ahl as-Sunnah perform their ‘ibaadah according to the Hanafi Madhhab. Citation from the book Qamoos-ul alam ends here. The book Mir’at al-ka’inat states: The ancestors of al-Imam al-azam (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) come from the province of Faaris, Iran. His father, Habit, had met Imam ‘Ali (Radi-Allahu ‘anhu) in Kufa and Hadrat ‘Ali had pronounced a benediction over him and his descendants. Al-Imam al-azam was one of the greatest among the Tabi’een and saw Anas ibn Malik (Radi-Allahu ‘anhu) and three or seven more of the as-Sahaabat ul-kiram. He learned Hadith ash-Sharif from them.
A hadith ash-Sharif, which al-Imam al-Harizmi reported from Abu Hurairah (Radi-Allahu ‘anhu) through isnaad muttasil (an uninterrupted chain of reporters), states: “Among my Ummah, there will come a man called Abu Hanifa. On the Day of Resurrection, he will be the light of my Ummah.” Another hadith ash-Sharif states: “A man named Numan ibn Habit and called Abu Hanifa will appear and will revive Allah ta’ala’s Religion and my Sunnah.” And another one states: “In every century, a number of my Ummah will attain to high grades. Abu Hanifa will be the highest of his time.” These three Ahadith are written in the book Mawdua’at al-‘Uloom and in Durr-al-mukhtaar. This hadith ash-Sharif is also well known: “Among my Ummah, a man called Abu Hanifa will appear. There is a beauty spot between his two shoulder blades. Allahu ta’ala will revive His Religion through his hand.”
Preface to Durr al-mukhtaar writes: “A hadith ash-Sharif states: As Adam (‘alaihi ‘s-salaam) was proud of me so I am proud of a man of my Ummah named Numan and called Abu Hanifa. He is the light of my Ummah.’ ” Another hadith ash-Sharif states: “Prophets (‘alaihimu ‘s-salaam) are proud of me. And I am proud of Abu Hanifa. He who loves him will have loved me. He who feels hostility towards him will have felt hostility towards me.” These Ahadith are also written in the book Al-muqaddimah by the profound scholar Hadrat Abu ‘l-Laith as-Samarqandi and in Taqadduma, which is a commentary to the former. In the preface to the fiqh book Al-muqaddimah by al-Ghaznawi Ahadith praising him are quoted.
In Diya’ al-ma’nawi, a commentary on it, Qadi Abi ‘l-Baqa said, ‘Abul-Faraj ‘Abdur-Rahman ibn al-Jawzi, based on the words of al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi, said that these Ahadith were made’. Yet this remark of his is bigotry, for these Ahadith were reported by several chains of transmitters. Ibn ‘Abidin, in his commentary on Durr al-mukhtaar, proved that these Ahadith were not made’ and quoted the following hadith ash-Sharif from the book Al-khairaat al-hisaan by Ibn Hajar al-Makki: “The ornament of the world will be taken away in the year 150.” He went on, “The great fiqh scholar Shams al-aimmah ‘Abdul-Ghaffaar al-Kardari (d. 562/1166 A.D.) said, “It is obvious that this hadith ash-Sharif refers to al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa, since he passed away in 150.” A hadith ash-Sharif given by al-Bukhaari and Muslim says, “If imaan went to the planet Venus, a man of Faaris (Persian) descent would bring it back.” Imam as-Suyuti, a Shafi’i alim, remarked, “It has been communicated unanimously that this hadith ash-Sharif refers to al-Imam al-azam.” Numan Alusi writes in the book Ghaliyya that this hadith ash-Sharif refers to Abu Hanifa and that his grandfather descended from a Faaris family. ‘Allamah Yusuf, a Hanbali scholar, quoted in his work Tanwir as-sahifa from Hafiz ‘Allamah Yusuf ibn ‘Abdul-Barr (b. 368/978 and d. 463/1071 in Shaatiba), Qadi of Lisbon, Portugal, ‘Do not slander Abu Hanifa and do not believe those who slander him! I swear by Allahu ta’ala that I know not a person superior to him, having more wara’, or being more learned than he. “Do not believe what al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi said! He was antipathetic towards the ‘ulama’. He slandered Abu Hanifa, Imam Ahmad and their disciples.
The ‘ulama’ of Islam refuted al-Khateeb and censured him. Ibn al-Jawzi’s grandson, ‘Allamah Yusuf Shams ad-din al-Baghdadi, wrote in his forty-volume book Mirat az-zaman that he was astonished to know that his grandfather had followed al-Khateeb. Imam al-Ghazaali (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala), in his Ihya’, praises al-Imam al-azam with such words as ”abid’, ‘zahid’ and ‘al-‘arif billah’. If the Sahaabat ul-Kiraam and the ‘ulama’ of Islam had different points of view from one another, it was not because they did not approve of each other’s words or because they were unsociable to one another or because they disliked one another; mujtahideen (rahmat-Allahi ta’ala ‘alaihim ajmain) disagreed with one another concerning ijtihaad for Allah ta’ala’s sake and to help the religion.”1]
An alim dreamt of Rasulullah (sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and asked him, ‘What would you say about Abu Hanifa’s knowledge?’ He answered, ‘Everybody needs his knowledge.’ Another alim asked in his dream, ‘O Rasul-Allah! What would you say about the knowledge Numan ibn Habit has, who lives in Kufa?’ He answered, “Learn from him and do as he says. He is a very good person.” Imam ‘Ali (Radi-Allahu ‘anhu) said, “Let me inform you of a person called Abu Hanifa, who will live in Kufa. His heart will be full of knowledge and hikmah (wisdom). Towards the end of the world, many people will perish because of not appreciating him, just as the Shiites will perish because of not having appreciated Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (Radi-Allahu ‘anhuma).”
Imam Muhammad al-Baaqir ibn Zain al-‘Abidin ‘Ali ibn Hussain (rahmat-Allahi ‘alaihim, b. 57 A.H. in Medina and d. 113, buried in the shrine of Hadrat ‘Abbas [Radi-Allahu ‘anhu] in Medina) looked at Abu Hanifa and said, “When those who destroy the religion of my ancestors increase in number, you will revive it. You will be the savior of those who fear and the shelter of those who are confused! You will lead the heretics to the right way! Allahu ta’ala will help you!” When he was young, al-Imam al-azam (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) studied ‘ilm al-kalaam and ma’rifah and became very skillful. Then after serving Imam Hammad for twenty-eight years, he attained maturity. When Hammad passed away, he took his place as a mujtahid and Mufti.
His knowledge and superiority became known far and wide. His virtue, intelligence, sagacity, zuhd, taqwa, trustworthiness, readiness of wit, devotion to Islam, righteousness and his perfection in every respect as a human being were above those of all others of his time. All the mujtahideen and those who succeeded him and noble people -even Christians- praised him. Al-Imam ash-Shafi’i (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) said, “All men of fiqh are Abu Hanifa’s children.” He said once, “I get blessings (tabarruk) from Abu Hanifa’s soul. I visit his tomb every day. When I am in difficulty, I go to his tomb and perform two rak’ah of salaat. I invoke Allahu ta’ala, and He gives me what I wish.” Al-Imam ash-Shafi’i was a disciple of Imam Muhammad.2 He remarked, “Allahu ta’ala bestowed knowledge upon me through two persons. I learned the Hadith ash-Sharif from Sufyaan ibn ‘Uyaynah and fiqh from Muhammad ash-Shaibaani.”
He said once, “In the field of religious knowledge and in worldly affairs, there is one person to whom I am grateful. He is Imam Muhammad.” And again, al-Imam ash-Shafi’i said, “With what I learned from Imam Muhammad I have written a pack-animal-load of books. I would not have acquired anything of knowledge had he not been my teacher. All men of knowledge are the children of the ‘ulama’ of Iraq, who were the disciples of the ‘ulama’ of Kufa. And they were the disciples of Abu Hanifa.” Al-Imam al-azam acquired knowledge from four thousand people. The ‘ulama’ of every century wrote many books describing the greatness of al-Imam al-azam. In the Hanafi Madhhab, five hundred thousand religious problems were solved and all of them were answered. [Editor’s note: It is to be noted that that number is close to doubled in the present-day era.]
Al-Hafiz al-kabir Abu Bakr Ahmad al-Harizmi wrote in his book Musnad, “Saif al-aimmah reports that when al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa derived a matter from Qur’an al-karim and Hadith ash-Sharif, he would propound it to his masters. He would not give the answer to the inquirer unless all of them confirmed it.” One thousand of his disciples attended all his classes when he taught in the mosque of Kufa city. Forty of them were mujtahideen. When he found the answer for a matter he would propound it to his disciples. They would study it together and, when they were all in agreement that it was consistent with Qur’an al-karim and Hadith ash-Sharif and with the words of the Sahaabat al-kiraam, he would be delighted and say, “Al-hamdu lillah wallahu Akbar,” and all those who were present would repeat his words. Then he would tell them to write it down.”
It is written in the book Radd al-Wahhabi 3: [THE FOLLOWING IS A VERY IMPORTANT PIECE OF INFORMATION!!!] “Being a mujtahid requires first being specialized in the Arabic language and in the various linguistic sciences such as awda’, sahih, marwi, mutawaatir; ways of radd; made’ vocabulary; fasih, radi and mazmun forms; mufrad, shadh, nadir, mustamal, muhmal, mu’rab, marifa, ishtiqaq, haqiqa, majaz, mushtarak, izdad, mutlaq, muqayyad, ibdal and qalb. Next you must be specialized in sarf, nahw, ma’ani, bayan, badi’, balaghat, ‘ilm al-usul al-fiqh, ‘ilm al-usul al-hadith, ‘ilm al-usul at-tafsir, and have memorized the words of the imams of jarh and tadil. Being a faqih requires, in addition to these, knowing the proof for every matter and studying the meaning, the murad and tawil of the proof.
Being a muhaddith, that is, a scholar of hadith, requires only memorizing the Ahadith as one heard them; it is not compulsory to know the meanings, murads, tawils, or to understand the proofs for the rules of Islam. If a faqih and a muhaddith disagree with each other about a hadith ash-Sharif, e.g. if the former says that it is sahih and the latter says that it is daif, the faqih’s word will be valid. Therefore, al-Imam al-azam’s word or decision is more valuable than all the others because he was the first mujtahid and the highest faqih due to his having heard many Ahadith directly from the Sahaabat al-kiraam without any intervention. A hadith ash-Sharif that was said to be sahih by this exalted imam was said to be sahih by all Islamic scholars. A muhaddith cannot be in the grade of a faqih. And he can never reach the grade of an imam al-madhhab.”
‘Abdulhaq ad-Dahlawi, a scholar of hadith, wrote in his book Sirat-i mustaqim, “Some Ahadith which al-Imam ash-Shafi’i took as documents were not taken as documents by al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa. Seeing this, the la-madhhabi used it as an opportunity for traducing al-Imam al-azam and claimed that Abu Hanifa had not followed the hadith ash-Sharif. However, Hadrat al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa found and took other Ahadith which were more sahih and dependable in documenting the matter.”
A hadith ash-Sharif states: “The most beneficial ones of my Ummah are those who live in my time. The next most beneficial ones are those who succeed them. And the next most beneficial ones are those who will come after them.” This hadith ash-Sharif shows that the Tabi�een were more beneficial than Taba’ at-Tabi�een. The Islamic ‘ulama’ all agree that al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa saw some of the as-Sahaabat al-kiraam, heard Ahadith from them, and, therefore, was one of the Tabi�een. For example, al-Imam al-azam heard the hadith, “A person who builds a mosque for Allahu ta’ala’s sake will be given a villa in Paradise,” from ‘Abdullah ibn Awfa, who was a Sahaabi.
Jalaal ad-din as-Suyuti, a Shafi’i scholar, wrote in his book Tabyid as-sahifa that al-Imam ‘Abdulkarim, one of the Shafi’I scholars, wrote a complete book describing the Sahaabis whom al-Imam al-azam had seen. It is written in Durr al-mukhtaar that al-Imam al-azam saw seven Sahaabis. Among the four aimmat al-madhahib, only al-Imam al-azam was honored with being one of the Tabi�een. It is a rule in ‘ilm al-usool that the view of those who admit something is preferred to the view of those who refuse it. It is obvious that al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa, being one of the Tabi�een, is the highest of the aimmat al-madhahib. The la-madhhabis’ denying al-Imam al-azam’s superiority or their trying to vilify this exalted Imam by saying that he was weak in the knowledge of hadith, is similar to their denying the superiority of Hadrat Abu Bakr and Hadrat ‘Umar (Radi-Allahu ‘anhuma).
This perverse negation of theirs is not a sort of illness that can be cured by preaching or advice. May Allahu ta’ala cure them! The Muslims’ Khalifah ‘Umar (Radi-Allahu ‘anhu) said during his khutbah: “O Muslims! As I tell you now, Rasulullah (sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) told us during his khutbah: “The most beneficial people are my Sahaabah. The most beneficial after them are their successors. And the next most beneficial are those who will come after them. There will be liars among those who will come after these.’ ” The four Madhhabs which Muslims have been following and imitating today are the Madhhabs of those beneficial people whose beneficence was corroborated by Rasulullah (sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). The Islamic ‘ulama’ declare in consensus that it is not permissible to adopt a Madhhab other than these four Madhhabs.
Ibn Nujaim al-Misri (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala), author of the book Bahr ar-ra’iq, wrote in his work Ashbah, “Hadrat al-Imam ash-Shafi’i said that a person who wanted to be a specialist in the knowledge of fiqh should read Abu Hanifa’s books.” Abdullah Ibn Mubaarak said, “I have not seen another specialist as learned as Abu Hanifa in the knowledge of fiqh. The great alim Mis’ar used to kneel in front of Abu Hanifa and learn what he did not know by asking him. I have studied under a thousand ‘ulama’. Yet, had I not seen Abu Hanifa, I would have slipped into the bog of Greek philosophy.” Abu Yusuf said, “I have not seen another person as profoundly learned as Abu Hanifa in the knowledge of hadith. There is not another alim who can expound Ahadith as competently as he did.” The great alim and mujtahid Sufyaan ath-Thawri said, “In comparison with Abu Hanifa, we were like sparrows with a falcon. Abu Hanifa is the leader of the ‘ulama’.” ‘Ali ibn Asim said, “If Abu Hanifa’s knowledge were to be measured with the total knowledge of all the ‘ulama’ contemporary with him, Abu Hanifa’s knowledge would prove to be greater.”
Yazid ibn Harun said, “I studied under a thousand ‘ulama’. Among them I did not see anyone who had as much wara’ as Abu Hanifa did or who was as wise as Abu Hanifa (Rihimahu Allahu Ta’ala).” Muhammad ibn Yusuf ash-Shafi’i, one of the Damascene ‘ulama’, praises al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa much, explains his superiority in detail, and says that he is the leader of all mujtahideen in his book Uqud al-jaman fi manaqibi’n-Numan. Al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa said, “We esteem and love Rasulullah’s (‘alaihi ‘s-salam) Ahadith above all. We search for the words of the Sahaabat al-kiraam, choose and adopt them. As for the words of the Tabi�een, they are like our words. Translation from the book Radd-i Wahhabi ends here. This book was printed in India and in Istanbul, in 1264 (1848 A.D.) and in 1401 (1981 A.D.), respectively.
In the book Sayf-ul-muqallidin ala a’nak-il-munkirin, Mawlana Muhammad ‘Abdul-Jalil wrote in Persian: “The la-madhhabi say that Abu Hanifa was weak in the knowledge of hadith. This assertion of theirs shows that they are ignorant or jealous. Al-Imam az-Zahabi and Ibn Hajar al-Makki say that al-Imam al-azam wasan alim of hadith. He learned Ahadith from four thousand ‘ulama’. Three hundred of them were among the Tabi�een and were ‘ulama’ of hadith. Al-Imam ash-Sharaani says in the first volume of al-Mizaan, ‘I have studied three of al-Imam al-azam’s Musnads. All of them transmit information from the well-known ‘ulama’ of the Tabi�een.’ Hostility which the la-madhhabi people bear against the Salaf as-saliheen and their jealousy towards the mujtahid imams, particularly towards their leader al-Imam al-Muslimeen Abu Hanifa, must have obstructed their perception and conscience to the extent that they deny the beauty and superiority of these Islamic ‘ulama’.
They are intolerant of the fact that pious people have what they do not have. It is for this reason that they deny the superiority of the imams of Islam and thus venture into the shirk (polytheism) of jealousy. It is written in the book Hada’iq: “When al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa memorized Ahadith he wrote them down. He kept the hadith books he wrote in wooden boxes, some of which he always kept at hand wherever he went. His quoting only a few Ahadith does not show that the number of Ahadith he memorized was small. Only bigoted enemies of Islam may say so. This bigotry of theirs proves al-Imam al-azam’s perfection; an inept person’s slandering the learned indicates the former’s perfection.” Founding a great Madhhab and answering hundreds of thousands of questions by documenting them with ayahs and Ahadith could not have been done by a person who was not deeply specialized in the sciences of tafsir and hadith. In fact, bringing forth a new, unique Madhhab without a model or an example is an excellent proof for al-Imam al-azam’s expertise in the sciences of tafsir and hadith. Because he worked with extraordinary energy and brought forth this Madhhab, he did not have time to quote the Ahadith or to cite their transmitters one by one; this cannot be grounds for denigrating that exalted imam by jealously casting aspersions on him by saying that he was weak in the knowledge of hadith. It is a known fact that riwayah (transmitting) without dirayah (ability, intelligence) has no value. For example, Ibn Abdul-Barr said, “If riwayah without dirayah were valuable, a dustman’s quoting a hadith would be superior to Luqman’s intelligence.”
Ibn Hajar al-Makki was one of the ‘ulama’ in the Shafi’i Madhhab, but he wrote in his book Qala’id: “The great alim of hadith A’mash asked al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa many questions. Al-Imam al-azam answered each of his questions by quoting Ahadith. After seeing al-Imam al-azam’s profound knowledge in hadith, A’mash said, ‘O, you, the ‘ulama’ of fiqh! You are like specialized doctors, and we the ‘ulama’ of hadith are like pharmacists. We cite Ahadith and their transmitters, but you are the ones who understand their meanings.’ ” It is written in the book ‘Uqud al-jawahiri ‘l-munifa: “While ‘Ubaidullah ibn ‘Amr was in the company of the great alim of hadith A’mash, someone came up and asked a question. As A’mash thought about the answer, al-Imam al-azam joined in. A’mash repeated the question to the Imam and requested an answer. Al-Imam al-azam immediately answered it in detail.
Admiring the answer, A’mash said, “O Imam! From which hadith do you derive this?’ Al-Imam al-azam quoted the hadith ash-Sharif from which he derived the answer and added, ‘I heard this from you.’ ” Al-Imam al-Bukhaari knew three hundred thousand Ahadith by heart. He wrote only twelve thousand of them in his books because he feared very much the threat in the hadith ash-Sharif, “If a person quotes, in the name of hadith, what I have not uttered, he will be tormented very bitterly in Hell.” Having much wara’ and taqwa, al-Imam al-azam imposed very heavy conditions for the transmitting of Ahadith. He would quote only those Ahadith fulfilling these conditions. Some ‘ulama’ of hadith transmitted numerous Ahadith because their branch was wider and their conditions were lighter. The ‘ulama’ of hadith never belittled one another on account of differing conditions. Had this not been so, Imam Muslim would have said something to offend al-Imam al-Bukhaari (rahmat-Allahi ta’ala ‘alaihima). Al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa’s transmitting only a few Ahadith because of his circumspection and taqwa is only a good reason for praising and lauding him.”4
The book Mirat al-ka’inat goes on: “Al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) performed morning prayer in a mosque and answered his disciples’ questions until noon every day. After noon prayer, he taught his disciples again until night prayer. Then he would go home and, after resting for a while, return to the mosque and worship until morning prayer. Mis’ar ibn Kadam al-Kufi, one of the Salaf as-saliheen, who passed away in 115 (733 A.D.), and many other great people reported this fact. He earned his living in a halaal way by trading. He sent goods to other places and with his earnings he met the needs of his disciples. He spent much for his household and gave an equal amount as alms to the poor. Moreover, every Friday he distributed twenty gold coins to the poor for his parents’ souls. He did not stretch his legs towards his teacher Hammad’s (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) house, though he lived at a distance of seven streets away. Once he found out that one of his partners had sold a large amount of goods incompatibly with Islam. He distributed all the ninety thousand aqchas earned to the poor, not taking one penny of it. After brigands had raided the villages of Kufa and had stolen sheep, he, thinking that these stolen sheep might be slaughtered and sold in the town, did not eat mutton for seven years, for he knew that a sheep lived seven years at the longest. He abstained from the haraam to that degree. He observed Islam in his every action.
For forty years al-Imam al-azam (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) performed the morning prayer with the ablution he had made for the night prayer [that is, he did not sleep after the night prayer.] He performed hajj fifty-five times. During the last one, he went into the Ka’bah, performed a prayer of two rak�ah and recited the whole Qur’an al-karim during the prayer. Then, weeping, he invoked, “O my Allahu ta’ala! I have not been able to worship Thee in a manner worthy of Thee. Yet I have understood very well that Thou cannot be comprehended through intelligence. For this understanding of mine, please forgive the defects in my service! At that moment a voice was heard, “O Abu Hanifa! You have acknowledged me very well and have served me beautifully. I have forgiven you and those who will be in your Madhhab and follow you until the end of the world.” He read Qur’an al-karim from the beginning to the end once every day and once every night.
Al-Imam al-azam had so much taqwa that for thirty years he fasted every day [except the five days of a year on which it is haraam to fast]. He often read the whole Qur’an al-karim in one rak’ah or two. And sometimes, during salaat or outside it, he read an ayah describing Heaven and Hell over and over again and sobbed and lamented.5 those who heard him pitied him. Among the Ummah of Muhammad (‘alaihi ‘s-salam), reciting the whole Qur’an al-karim in a single rak�ah of salaat fell to the lot of only ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, Tamim ad-Daari, Sad ibn Jubair and al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa. He did not accept any presents from anyone. He wore clothes like those of the poor. Yet at times, in order to exhibit the blessings of Allahu ta’ala, he wore very valuable clothes. He performed hajj fifty-five times and stayed in Mecca for several years. Only at the place where his soul was taken, he had read the whole Qur’an al-karim seven thousand times. He said, “I laughed once in my life, and I regret it.”
He talked little and thought much. He discussed some religious matters with his disciples. One night, while leaving the mosque immediately after performing the night prayer in jama’ah, he began to talk with his disciple Zufar on some subject. One of his feet was inside the mosque and the other was outside. The conversation continued until the morning adhan. Then, without taking the other step out, he went back in for the morning prayer. Because Hazrat ‘Ali (Radi-Allahu ‘anhu) had said, “It is permissible to have a personal allowance of up to four thousand dirhams,” he distributed to the poor what was more than four thousand dirhams of his earnings. The Khalifah Mansoor revered the Imam very much. He presented him ten thousand aqchas and a jariyah. The Imam did not accept them. At that time one aqcha was worth one dirham of silver. In 145 A.H., Ibrahim ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Hasan ibn ‘Ali was recruiting men in order to help his brother Muhammad (rahmat-Allahi ta’ala ‘alaihim ajmain), who had proclaimed himself the Khalifah in al-Madinat al-munawwarah. When he came to Kufa, it was rumored that Abu Hanifa was helping him. Mansoor heard this and had the Imam taken from Kufa to Baghdad. He told him to tell everybody that Mansoor was rightfully the Khalifah. He offered him the presidency of the Supreme Court of Appeal as recompense. He imposed on him very much. The Imam did not accept it. Mansoor imprisoned him and had him thrashed with a stick thirty strokes. His blessed feet bled. Mansoor repented and sent him thirty thousand aqchas, only to be refused again. He was imprisoned again and thrashed ten strokes more every day.
According to some report, on the eleventh day, for fear that the people might rebel, he was forced to lie down on his back and poisonous sherbet (a sweet fruit drink) was poured into his mouth. As he was about to die, he prostrated (sajdah). Some fifty thousand people performed janazah salaat for him. Because of the enormous crowd, it was performed with difficulty and finished not before the late afternoon prayer. For twenty days many people came to his tomb and performed janazah salaat for him near his tomb. He had seven hundred and thirty disciples. Each of them was famed for his virtue and pious deeds. Many of them became Qadis or Muftis. His son Hammad (Rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) was one of his notable disciples. Passages from the book Mirat-ul-kainat ends here. They have been leaders guiding the ahl-i din, rahmat-Allahi ‘alaihim ajmain.
There were some disagreements between al-Imam al-azam and his disciples on the information that was to be deduced through ijtihaad. The following hadith ash-Sharif declares that these disagreements were useful: “Disagreement (on the ‘amal, practices) among my Ummah is [Allahu ta’ala’s] compassion.” He feared Allahu ta’ala very much and was very careful in following Qur’an al-karim. He said to his disciples, “If you come across a document (sanad) inconsistent with my words on a subject, ignore my words and follow that document.” All his disciples swore, “Even our words inconsistent with his words surely depend on a proof (dalil, sanad) we had heard from him.”
Hanafi Muftis have to issue fatwas agreeable with what al-Imam al-azam said. If they cannot find his word, they should follow Imam Abu Yusuf. After him, Imam Muhammad should be followed. If the words of Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad are on one side and those of al-Imam al-azam on the other, a Mufti may issue a fatwa according to either side. When there is darura (a pressing difficulty), he may issue a fatwa suitable with the words of the mujtahid who showed the easiest way. He cannot issue a fatwa that does not depend on the words of any of the mujtahideen; such an issue cannot be called a fatwa.
FOOTNOTES 1. It is explained in the second fascicle of Endless Bliss that a made’ hadith does not mean ‘false, made-up hadith’ in ‘ilm al-usool al-hadith. 2. Al-Imam al-azam Abu Hanifa’s two leading disciples were al-Imam Muhammad bin Mubaarak al-Shaybaani and Al-Imam Abu Yusuf al-Ansaari (rahmat-Allahi ta’ala ‘alaihim). 3. First published in India in 1264 (1848 A.D.); reprinted in Persian in Istanbul in 1401 (1981 A.D.). 4. Saif al-muqallidin ‘ala a’naqi ‘l-munkirin. 5. Crying out of love for Allah ta’ala in salaat does not break the salaat in the Hanafi Madhhab