Saturday, October 16, 2010

Prelude To The Great War in Islam.

Article first published as Prelude to the Great War in Islam on Blogcritics.

Previously we spoke about the Jews of Medina and how they fraternized with the Muslims, even to the extent of following some of their doctrines, in the hope of winning Muhammed (pbuh) over to their side— to help them against the Christians whom they hated for having expelled them from Palestine.

We spoke about how these Jews enjoyed countless privileges alongside the Muslims, especially the fulfillment of huge trade benefits that Muhammed's (pbuh) emergence on the political scene effected.

We looked at how many of the Jews accepted Islam and what turmoil this caused amongst the 'Jewish Council'— mainly because some of their respected clergy were abjuring the exclusivity of their own Faith.

We then saw what happened to Abdullah ibn Salam, a respected Rabbi, who had converted to Islam, and who had approached the Prophet (pbuh) for help.

We found that he was jeered at, mocked incessantly, and even physically abused by those who had previously held him in great esteem, when they learnt about his conversion to Islam— and, as the Council had decreed, blasphemed against Judaism.

This in itself may or may not have caused the Jews' mistrust of Muhammed (pbuh), as well as their disillusionment with Islam. But their ambitions of winning him over to their side to bolster their aspirations against the Christians was taking a serious knock and they gradually began to deny any legitimate claims he laid to prophet-hood.

So much so that we now saw many of the followers of Judaism consorting with the enemies of Islam—the tribesmen of Qureish in Medina; the Aws and Al Khazraj (those who were not Muslim); the Jews of Khaybar and many other tribes who could not wait to see the back of Muhammed (pbuh).
The situation was becoming so serious that many of the Jews who had accepted Islam previously had to be turned out of the mosques— some violently— because of their collusion with the 'mischief-makers', and they were then classified alongside those (the 'inbetweeners') who became known as the 'Munafiqun' (Hypocrites) that Al-Quran describes.

Medinah was fast becoming a threatening powder-keg of political upheaval.

One other point of note, though, was that many of the Muhajireen (Muslims who came from Mecca) were seriously starting to rethink their situation concerning their forced migration from the 'Holy City'.

These Arabs (as has been amply recorded) had left behind most of their possessions, their properties—houses and businesses—even, in some cases, wives and children! And it was high time to do something about it.

One can then imagine Muhammed's (pbuh) dilemma in keeping vigil on different fronts, all at the same time. On the one side there were the Jews and 'Hypocrites' who were going out of their way to stir up trouble between the various Arab tribes (those who were Muslim, of course) and, on the other, there were the Muhajireen who wanted to wage war on the Qureish in Mecca.

Muhammed (pbuh), albeit, an astute leader and statesman, was not at liberty to follow his own desires. Up until now his constitution had primarily been the 'Injunctions and Guidelines of Al-Quran'. And, according to one particular verse revealed in the 'Holy Book', Muhammed (pbuh) is actually cautioned against 'the act of aggression...'

However, on further consideration, The Quran also states that even though God does not love 'aggression, and, neither the Aggressor', to keep men away from the Commands of God, to deny Allah and to violate the sanctity of the 'Holy Mosque' by turning its people away from its precincts, is an even greater sin than fighting, even if it be during the 'Holy Months' of Islam.

We then found that Muhammed (pbuh) and his followers adopted a new line of thinking when confronted by those intent on destroying Islam. No more was there the 'turning of the other cheek'— and no more were there the compromises that were being struck in order to keep the peace. Muslims were now engaging the 'mischief-makers' head-on!

We find that coupled with the forceful removal of 'mischief-makers' from the mosques, Muhammed (pbuh) instructed strong men like his uncle, Hamza (the lion hunter), to lead raids on Qureish's caravans which, in those days, were packed to the brim with merchandise—moving through the desert towards destinations like Al Abwa and Buwa, on the outskirts of Medina

The Prophet (pbuh) himself, together with 200 men from the Muhajireen as well as Ansars, also led raids deep into enemy territory— and although they never engaged the enemy physically (at that time) this mere show of force drastically changed the perception the Qureish had of the Muslims.

Qureishi caravans travelling in near proximity to Medina were considerably beefed up with more camels and escorts. Seasoned warriors, armed to the hilt, kept careful watch over their precious cargo as it braved, not only the dangers of attackers, but the elements as well. Sandstorms and the murderous desert sun were known to decimate many an unsuspecting caravan.

All in all, Muhammed (pbuh) only sought to claim what was rightly theirs (the Muhajireen) as fair retribution for the belongings and properties they left behind in Mecca, or strike an agreement with Qureish to allow the Muslims (those who had families in the 'Holy City') free access into Mecca and to reclaim whatever belonged to them.

Qureish, on hearing this, did not only refuse outright, but spread malicious rumors about Muhammed's (pbuh) violation of the sanctity of the 'Holy Months' that all Meccans had to abide by, as well as his manifest evil in attacking their bread and butter.

And, as fate would have it, Abu Sufyan, the leader of Qureish at that time, was bringing a caravan through the desert that boasted an almighty amount of 2000 camels! The estimated value of merchandise it carried was 50,000 dinars! (1 dinar = 1 gold coin.)

So one can imagine, in today's terms, how much money that is!
Muhammed (pbuh) then gathered all his followers in Medina and prepared to attack the caravan while it was still near to the city. He knew that he would never get such an opportunity to strike at Qureish, where it would hurt them severely. He knew that the time was right for the first real confrontation of Islam!

Read more:



Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Jews of Medina|Islam The Straight Path|Islam Teachings|Quran Guidance

Article first published as The Jews of Medina on Blogcritics.

Thus far we have looked at the political turnaround Muhammed (pbuh) brought about in Medina, and we also looked at the mixed reactions the various communities displayed towards these changes.

We spoke about the Aws and Al-Khazraj- two tribes who aspired to the highest office of that city, and who were obviously not impressed by Muhammed (pbuh) deploying his new brand of politics amongst all the peoples of Medina – and not only the Muslims!

We spoke about the 'Unbelievers' from amongst these two tribes, those who had ceaselessly plotted to oust Muhammed (pbuh) from their City and whose primary function it was to create dissension amongst the 'Believers' - especially the Ansar (local Arabs from Medina) and the Muhajireen (immigrant Arabs from Mecca).

We spoke about the 'inbetweeners'- those who had reverted to Islam, but were not really Muslim; those who had backstabbed the Prophet (pbuh) at every turn, even going as far as building their own mosque.

We discussed the Jews, who, on the other hand, afforded the Prophet (pbuh) a genuine warm welcome - fraternizing with the Muslims, even following them in certain of their doctrines, believing and hoping that Muhammed (pbuh) had come to help them against the Christians whom they hated for having expelled them from Palestine.

But as we have said before, Muhammed (pbuh) knew that the peace that existed between the various tribes (of Arabs), as well as some of the other denominations (Muslims and non-Muslims), could not be left to chance and he instituted the 'Covenant of Medina'.

We discussed how this 'Accord' instructed them in ways contrary to what they believed and practiced - in their personal lives - and how it bonded Arab and non-Arab into a brotherhood that had never been thought possible at that time.

The Jews, as we have said previously, looked at Muhammed (pbuh) with great expectations. They enjoyed having the Prophet (pbuh) in their midst, engaging in healthy debates with their Rabbis, and even fasting with them during their 'Holy Days'.

These Jews, or most of them, apart from following the Muslims, enjoyed countless privileges under Muhammed (pbuh), who, in the meantime, was becoming increasingly powerful due to the unprecedented conversion of large numbers of people to the religion of Islam.

We find that the Prophet's (pbuh) unique brand of politics was bringing untold trade prospects to the city of Medina - and one can thus imagine what this must have done for the Jews, who, in turn, offered the least resistance to Muhammed's (pbuh) ministries and his universal 'Call to Islam'.

Perhaps this euphoria or state of perceived security (if you like) that the Jews enjoyed might have continued had some of their own hierarchy not abjured the exclusivity of their own faith.

We find that suddenly and unexpectedly huge numbers of Jewish scholars and 'holy men' entered into the fold of Islam; Priests and Rabbis seriously began to look at what Muhammed (pbuh) was offering - besides prosperity - and wondered if they were doing the right thing in allowing the Prophet (pbuh) so much freedom in making so many inroads into their lives. Even some Rabbis were starting to look favorably towards the 'Religion'.

One such Rabbi, Abdullah ibn Salam, approached the Prophet (pbuh) and announced that he and his family had embraced Islam. His entire household! he said.

He then proceeded to proclaim the 'Oneness of Allah' and the articles of faith that are customary to the 'Acceptance of the Religion', and the Prophet (pbuh) welcomed him and his whole family into the religion of Islam.

Abdullah ibn Salam then said, 'O, Messenger of Allah, I fear for the well-being of my family and myself, should the others find out about our conversion.' He stared hesitantly at the Prophet (pbuh) who looked at him reassuringly.

'What is it you would like me to do?' the Prophet (pbuh) enquired.

'I would like you to ask them what would they do if I, Abdullah ibn Salam, were to accept Islam.' And he looked down at his feet, feeling awkward and not knowing what to say further.

The Prophet (pbuh) then placed his hand on Abdullah's shoulder and said. 'O, Abdullah...It is only Allah who gives guidance, and if He has so willed that you shall become a Muslim then have no fear. Allah will protect you!'

But when Muhammed (pbuh) approached the 'Jewish Council' as Abdullah ibn Salam had requested, he was told in no uncertain terms: 'Abdullah ibn Salam is our master and the son of our Master. He is a learned scholar and Rabbi, and he shall never denounce his faith!'

Thus when Abdullah ibn Salam went back to his people and told them about his conversion, they attacked him and spread all sorts of malicious gossip about him and his family to all and sundry in the Jewish quarters of Medina.

This incident also triggered the Jews' mistrust of Muhammed (pbuh) and their denial of him as a prophet. It also opened the path to all those enemies of Islam to form a bond with the Jews and systematically begin to undermine Islam.

Read more:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Islam in Medina(Part Two)|Islam The Straight Path| Islam Teachings|Quran Guidance

Article first published as Islam in Medina (Part Two) on Blogcritics.

Previously we discussed Muhammed's (pbuh) implementation of a new political order in Medina, and his instructions to the Muhajireen (immigrant Arabs from Mecca) and the Ansar (local Arabs from Medina) to join in a pact of forming one brotherhood, and to align themselves to one another to effectively combat any connivance the 'Unbelievers' from the Aws and Al-Khazraj could devise against them.

We looked at how Muhammed (pbuh) endeavoured ceaselessly to bring cohesion amongst his followers and how the Aws and Al-Khazraj felt cheated at the emergence of the Prophet (pbuh) on the political scene— thwarting their ideals of claiming Medina for themselves to govern.

We spoke about the different tribes of Jews that existed in Medina, and their aspirations of winning the Prophet (pbuh) over to their side to fight against the Christians whom they hated for having expelled them from Palestine.

One can thus imagine the political powder-keg that must have existed at that time.

On the one side there were the Muslims who were now solely reliant on Muhammed (pbuh) for guidance and instruction; on the other hand there were the Jews, Christians, and Unbelievers, as well as those 'in-betweeners' who had reverted to Islam, but were not really Muslim. They were the ones who took pleasure in back-stabbing the Prophet (pbuh) at every turn! They were the ones who befriended those Jews and Christians who had it in for Muhammed (pbuh)— and together, they plotted with the 'Unbelievers' how to overthrow the Prophet (pbuh) and expel him from their city.

We learn about one incident where these hypocrites built their own mosque and endeavoured to cause a split between the Muslims. The Prophet (pbuh) summarily burnt down that mosque and effectively stopped any further attempts at such deviant ideologies.

One point of note, though, is that Muhammed (pbuh), unlike any other Prophet before him, was politically motivated enough to understand the social implications of leaving any emerging subversiveness unattended. He knew that his presence in Medina was causing dissension amongst the different tribes of Arabs inhabiting the city, and he speedily instituted a strategy whereby all concerned parties had to swear fealty to him and abide by this new constitution. He instituted the 'Covenant of Medina' which to this day is hailed as a 'master-strategy' of political expedience.

Muhammed (pbuh), as has been said before and recorded through all the annals of history, could neither read nor write; he could not even spell his own name! But he understood and appreciated the power of the pen.

He therefore had this particular 'Covenant' reduced to writing— by one of his trusted scribes—and all concerned parties then had to abide by this constitution of Islam. Many of the Jews of Medina were also a part of it.

Below follows a brief synopsis of this 'Pax Islamica'. It also outlines the role of the Muslims regarding the socio-political infrastructure of Medina, as well as the role of the Jews who aligned themselves with the followers of Muhammed (pbuh):

In the name of Allah; The Compassionate;
Most Merciful.
This is a Covenant given by Muhammed (pbuh)
to the Muslims of Qureish, Medina, and all
Those who followed them, joined them, And,
Fought with them.

It is a Covenant for those who believe in Allah
Almighty and in the Last Day. Those who shall not
cause division amongst the People and neither

It is hereby agreed that no Believer shall leave
his fellow-believer in destitution, without giving
him in kindness what he needs by way of ransom or
blood wit.

All Believers shall rise, as one man, against
anyone causing harm or mischief, or, creates
division amongst the Believers—even though he be
a son or close relative.

No Believer shall slay another Believer as
retribution for an Unbeliever. And, neither shall
he assist an Unbeliever against a Believer.

Any Jew who follows us is entitled to our assistance
and shall enjoy equal rights and partnership as
any one of us, without injustice, nor partisanship.

The Document goes on to explain what happens in times of war and peace; about those who fall in battle and those who are left behind; about those committing murder and the punishment for it; and about peace-agreements—and who could transact these agreement and under what circumstances.

It was quite a lengthy Covenant, but all in all it bounded the Muhajireen, Ansar, Jews, as well as a group of the other denominations, who had recently accepted Islam, to an inviolable treaty that stretched far and wide across Medina.

The Arabs, being known for their wild and volatile nature, slowly began to respect one another—to fraternise with one another, as had never been done before! They could be seen hugging each other through mutual understanding and genuine concern, helping one another without expecting anything in return. Even those Jews who had not signed the initial 'Accord', like the Jews from the Banu al Nathir, Banu Qurayzah, and Banu Qaynuqah, entered into similar 'pacts' with the Prophet (pbuh) as time went on. Crime and corruption were being given a telling blow and Medina began to glow from a tranquility that to this day bears testimony to that transformation that took place when Muhammed (pbuh) instituted the Covenant of Medina.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Islam in Medina|Islam The Straight Path|Islamic Teachings|Quran Guidance

Article first published as Islam in Medina on Blogcritics.

We have thus far looked at Muhammed's (pbuh) entry into Medina, and we have briefly touched on the special relationship the Prophet (pbuh) had with that city. We discussed the mixed emotions that each one— those who witnessed this momentous occasion— grappled with as they watched him alighting from his camel and working his way through the crowd.

Young girls continued singing his praises, moving rhythmically from side to side, some with awe and admiration on their faces, others calling out his name and trying to touch him.

They could see his lips moving; they could hear him mutter words like: 'O Allah! You are the Greatest! You are the Greatest! Only You are worthy of all Praise! You are Exalted! Most High!'

Muhammed (pbuh) let his she-camel roam ahead while he himself followed sedately, muttering the praises of God continuously. And the animal proudly swung its head from side to side, sniffing the air, not looking at the throng, almost sensing that its master was no ordinary man, blowing haughtily through its nostrils as if to tell everyone present that she had been entrusted with the special task of finding a suitable abode for this very special person.

The camel finally came to a halt in the courtyard of Sahl and Suhail, the two twins from the Ansars, and the Prophet (pbuh) announced to all those who listened to him that that was where he was going to build the first mosque in Islam, as well as a living quarters for himself.

There were those, of course, who felt that with the coming of Muhammed (pbuh) a new political system was going to be inevitable, such as the Aus and Al-Khazraj, two tribes from the 'Unbelievers' whose sole purpose was to cause division between the Muslims and Jews, and who regarded Medina as a sort of free-for-all, ready for a strong takeover by themselves.

The Jews, on the other hand, had some sort of secret hope concerning the arrival of Muhammed (pbuh). They harbored the ideal that Muhammed (pbuh)— like Jesus, whom they had relied on to help them against the Romans— would join their ranks and bolster their resistance against the Christians whom they bore a grudge against for having expelled them from Palestine.

But before we can explore any sort of relationship Muhammed (pbuh) had with either the Jews or Christians, or with the Unbelievers, for that matter, we have to look at the social structure of Medina, per se.

There were the local Arabs of Medina, called the Ansars, and then there were the newcomers from Mecca, called the Muhajireen, loosely translated as immigrants.

The Jews, for their part, formed a large part of the indigenous community. There were the Banu Qaynuqa, the Banu Qurayzah, and the Banu al-Nadir who lived in and around the City. And, to the North, were the Jews of Khaybar, who, as history tells us, stirred up a lot of problems for the Muslims.

Muhammed's (pbuh) first task was thus to strengthen whatever ties there existed between the Ansars and Muhajireen and establish some sort of council that could regulate the affairs of the Muslims in Medina. The dangers of previous enmities and prejudices were something not to be taken lightly and Muhammed (pbuh) knew that he had to strike the iron while it was still hot. Medina's new-found Islam could not be left to chance.

He thus called upon the Ansars and the Muhajireen to fraternize with one another, bind themselves in pairs, and form a brotherhood for the sake of God. He explained to them that like he and Ali ibn Abu Talib were brothers, Abu bakr and Kharijah ibn Zayd, Umar ibn Al Khattab and Itban ibn Malik al Khazraji, were brothers; so too he desired for each one of the Muhajireen to link himself to an Ansar and to perpetuate this brotherhood of Islam.

So effective proved this idea that as time progressed a genuine blood link developed amongst the Muslims, so that the enemies of Islam had their work cut out in trying to divide the Muslims over petty issues.
Medina then became known as Medina-tul-Rasool, or the City of the Prophet (pbuh).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Impact of Islam(part Two)|Islam The Straight Path|Islamic Teachings|Quran Guidance

Article first published as Impact of Islam (Part Two) on Blogcritics.

Previously, we discussed Muhammed's (pbuh) escape from Qureish(leading Arab tribe in Mecca), accompanied by his close friend, Abu Bakr and their guide, Abdullah bin Uraiqit.

We also discussed how the leaders of Qureish had offered a massive reward of 100 camels to anyone capturing Muhammed (pbuh) and whoever was with him, dead or alive, and how this had attracted fortune seekers and bounty hunters from all over the Arabian peninsula.

We spoke about Suraqah bin Malik, a warrior, and an absolute killer with a bow and arrow— someone who had relentlessly tracked down the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions, at a place somewhere near the Red Sea. We related what happened to Suraqa every time he had the Prophet (pbuh) in his sights and, prepared to strike. We discussed how Suraqah confessed to the Prophet (pbuh)— afterwards— about his evil intentions, and how on his return to Mecca he spread the rumor that the Prophet (pbuh) was nowhere to be found.

But the question that remains is, what was the impact of Islam on the people of Medina? How did they receive Muhammed (pbuh) and his 'Message of Islam'?

We find that after the episode with Suraqah bin Malik, Abdullah bin Uraiqit was taking no chances. No one could be trusted!

He led the Prophet (pbuh) and Abu Bakr away from the mainland, following a route that led them along the coast of the Red Sea as well as the treacherous Tihamat mountain ranges.

And what normally was a 200-mile journey that could be covered in a few days (by travelling inland, of course) now became an absolute nightmare!

For days they traveled through hot and inhospitable territory, resting only when they were certain that chances of discovery were minimal. At night when there was a full moon they made good ground, otherwise they lay under shimmering stars and distant galaxies.

Their rations were getting low; water was at a premium and Abdullah bin Uraiqit feared for the safety of the Prophet (pbuh).

But it was at times like these that Muhammed (pbuh) found his solace in his Almighty Allah. At times like these he would find his inner strength by looking at the mountains and the skies and everything around him— and praise the Almighty continuously, much to the wonderment of Abdullah bin Uraiqit who had only come to know the Prophet (pbuh) as of late.

He found himself continuously staring at Muhammed (pbuh) whenever he thought the Prophet (pbuh) was not looking. And he also had the strangest feeling that everything else, like the trees and the animals, even the birds, seemed to be focused on the presence of Muhammed (pbuh)!

After what seemed like an eternity, they reached the quarters of the Banu Sabin, a friendly tribe, situated not far from Medina.

Buraydah, the elder chieftain of the tribe, came to welcome them and the party of the Prophet (pbuh) had great difficulty in controlling their emotions. Their traumatic sojourn was nearly at an end.

They learnt from all the other tribesman that Qureish, albeit having given up the chase themselves, still kept dangling the reward of the 100 camels in front of anyone interested in capturing Muhammed (pbuh)— dead or alive. They (Qureish) were not giving up on their aims of destroying Islam.

However, to come back to our point of discussion- the impact that Islam had on Medina— one has to understand the ties the Prophet (pbuh) had to that city and its people.

First, his father, Abdullah, was buried in Medina, and, from his paternal side, Abdul Mutallib, his grandfather had close relatives there.

His mother, Amina, used to come for yearly visits to Medina, and Muhammed (pbuh) as a child used to accompany her. She died when the Prophet (pbuh) was six years old, at a place called Al Abwa, midway between Medina and Mecca.

Strangely enough, though, the people of Medina— the Arabs, that is— were a different breed to those of Mecca.

History records that when Qureish were at their most fervent in their persecution of the Muslims, Medina was the only city in the Arabian peninsula to give them a safe haven and succor.

One thinks back to the time when the Prophet (pbuh) advised the early Muslims to emigrate to Abyssinia, to escape the torture of Qureish, and, how the clansmen sent a delegation to the Negus(Christian king of that country) to extradite the Muslims and to punish them.

We learnt what happened there: how the Negus refused to turn the
Muslims over to Qureish, even though he was told that the Muslims did not accept any other religion except Islam, and that they did not recognize Jesus as the son of God.

But Medina was different. Many Muslims had emigrated to that city as well. Besides, Medina, compared to Abyssinia, was but a stone's throw from Mecca. So why didn't Qureish try to extradite the Muslims there?

Be that as it may, we find that even before the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions set foot in Medina, there was such a hive of excitement in that city that those who were not Muslim— like the Jews, Christians, Coptic, and whoever— couldn't understand the fever that was gripping Medina.

There seemed to be merriment everywhere. Young and old came to meet the Prophet (pbuh)— Muslims and non-Muslims; Arabs and non-Arabs. Everyone wanted to see what Muhammed (pbuh) looked like. Everyone wanted to meet Muhammed (pbuh), the man whom they had heard so much about, the man who had turned Mecca upside down with his preachings of the 'New Religion'. The only man who had managed to shake the mighty Qureish and their belief system to its very core.

They jostled with each other, pushing and shoving— almost trampling one another— as they tried to catch a glimpse of Muhammed (pbuh) when he entered the city gates.

Young girls, their faces lighting up as they watched him alighting from his camel, sang his praises: 'O Messenger of Allah! Blessings upon you! O Beloved of Allah! Blessings upon you!'

History records that so great was the impact of Islam on Medina at that moment, that all who witnessed the entry of Muhammed (pbuh) instinctively knew that a great revolution in the history of the world was coming.

Read more:

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Impact of Islam|Islam The Straight Path|Islam Teachings|Quran Guidance

Article first published as Impact of Islam on Blogcritics.

We previously discussed the Prophet Muhammed's (pbuh) 'Flight to Medina' also known as the 'Hijra' or 'The Prophet's Emigration' and we also touched on the massive manhunt Qureish(the leading tribe of Mecca) launched in order to capture Muhammed (pbuh) dead or alive and, consequently, bring an end to Islam.

But what impact did Islam have on the people of Medina particularly? How did they receive Muhammed (pbuh) and that which he brought to the world?

Before we look at that aspect of Islam, let us continue where we left off earlier, i.e. with the trackers of Qureish following the trail of Muhammed (pbuh) and his companion, Abu Bakr, and the subsequent discovery of the cave where the two were hiding.

We discussed previously how Abu Bakr became convinced that it was the end of both him and the Prophet (pbuh) since there was only one way into the cave, and the baying of the mob outside had sounded very ominous indeed. The Prophet (pbuh) had told him not to worry—that Allah was with them, and that the Almighty would not allow any harm to come to them.

We spoke about how the leaders of Qureish— when they arrived at the cave, which was situated on Mount Tuhr— refrained from entering the hideout, especially since a spider had spun its web across the mouth, and a bird's egg was entangled in the center of the web as well! The Prophet (pbuh) and his Companion didn't know about this.

Qureish had felt that no human being or even an animal could have entered the cave without disturbing the web or the egg, and so it was senseless wasting time searching inside, while the two were probably making their getaway. They (Qureish) then left in 'hot pursuit' of the fugitives, whom they knew couldn't have been too far ahead since the two had no means of transport, either by camel or horseback.

History records that a reward of one hundred camels was offered for the capture of Muhammed (pbuh) and Abu Bakr, his friend, dead or alive. Thus one can imagine what this must have meant to the ordinary citizens of not only Mecca, but all the outlying areas as well. One hundred camels! Here was the one chance, perhaps the only chance, of becoming rich and powerful overnight, and to say good-bye to the life of abject poverty and strife that so many of these Arabs were subjected to.

For three days, the Prophet (pbuh) and Abu Bakr remained inside the cave, and as per prior arrangement, Abu Bakr's son Abdullah came to visit and brought them food. He also brought them three camels.

After the three days, the two then prepared for the journey to Medina, which was known as Yathrib at the time, led by a guide by the name of Abdullah bin Uraiqit, who knew the back roads very well. He was also a trusted friend of Abu Bakr.

The hunt for the Prophet (pbuh) had by now somewhat abated.

Nonetheless, caution remained the watchword—opportunists and bounty-hunters were roaming the hills, and, as has been recorded, one such bounty hunter, a warrior by the name of Suraqah bin Malik, acting upon a rumor that the Prophet (pbuh) and his party had been seen in the vicinity of the Red Sea, came upon the three as they made their way through lesser-known territory towards Yathrib.

Suraqah was an absolute killer with a bow and arrow. And no one escaped his aim!

It is said that the Prophet (pbuh) and his friends had their backs to the killer when Suraqah bin Malik prepared to strike. He was a good distance away from them, but he was an expert— he could already see the hundred camels grazing on his ground. Muhammed (pbuh) was as good as dead.

Suraqah pulled back the arrow and his horse's knees buckled.

He swore, and took aim once again. Muhammed (pbuh) was lucky! He grimaced

The horse stumbled a second time just as Suraqah prepared to let fly. He cursed vilely.

What was going on? he thought to himself as he calmed the animal. There were no potholes or rocks that he could see lying in his path.

He took aim a third time and suddenly the horse reared so violently that Suraqah was unceremoniously dumped to the ground.

History records that after Suraqah bin Malik regained his composure and managed to get himself back on his horse again, he hastened after the Prophet (pbuh) and his party and called out to them to wait for him.

Suraqah had never been so shaken in all his life.

And when he caught up with them, he told the Prophet (pbuh) what his intentions had been and that he was convinced that the Prophet (pbuh) had the protection of his god.

Suraqah returned to Mecca and told everyone that Muhammed (pbuh) was nowhere to be found. Thus Qureish called off the search and Muhammed (pbuh) and his party could continue to Medina in safety.

Read more:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Turning-point in Islam|Islam The Straight Path|Islam Teachings|Quran Guidance

Article first published as Turning Point in Islam, Part Two on Blogcritics.

We have thus far discussed many of the trials and tribulations the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) endured in his quest of spreading the 'Message of Islam' to the world, and, we have looked at the various aspects of animosity and hatred Qureish (leading Arab Tribe in Mecca at the time) displayed towards Muhammed (pbuh) as his mission progressed. We have seen how the clansmen finally decided on a plan of getting rid of Muhammed (pbuh)—and at the same time ridding the (Arab) world of Islam—especially since his beloved wife, Khadija, his pillar of strength, and his uncle Abu Talib, his protector against Qureish, had both passed away.

But where did this all lead to, we ask? Why did the Prophet (pbuh) persist in ministering to a people who were so steeped in their ignominy and degradation, and who saw him not only as a detriment to their lifestyle and beliefs but as a serious threat to their actual existence?

What happened when Muhammed (pbuh) entered Medina?

However, before we can discuss the actual 'Turning Point' in the Prophet's (pbuh) mission, it becomes necessary to look at that tenth year of prophet-hood, the year he lost both his beloved Khadija and his uncle Abu Talib, and also the year that Allah Almighty summoned 'The Messenger' to his 'Domain' (as is recorded in the Holy Quran) to hand down the Injunction of the Five Daily Prayers (which is to this day prescribed for every sane Muslim anywhere in the world). It is necessary for us to try and access the Prophet's (pbuh) progress in his mission at that particular juncture—necessary, in a sense, to understand what it was that drove him so relentlessly.

We find that now that his confidante (Khadija) and Abu Talib, the Prophet's (pbuh) last line of defense against the wiles of Qureish, were gone, the clansmen had a free hand in persecuting and even killing the Muslims.

We find that because of the aggression and absolute malice of Qureish against Muhammed (pbuh) and his followers, not many people could be persuaded to enter the fold of Islam after that. Not many people had the conviction of standing against Qureish-—at peril of their lives! and see where their new-found beliefs were going to take them. Even some of those who had joined previously were having serious doubts about their commitment to the religion and one by one they turned on their heels. But as we have discussed before, people like Abu Bakr Al Sediq, the Prophet's (pbuh) true friend, Umar ibn Al Hattab, Hamza, the Prophet's uncle, Ali, his cousin, and quite a few others were not allowing Qureish to intimidate them; they continued performing their Five Daily Prayers in open defiance of Qureish's persecution, hence Qureish's murderous plan of getting rid of Muhammed (pbuh).

To try and fathom the Prophet's (pbuh) passion and commitment in spreading the Message of Islam one can but only marvel at his resolve in withstanding all the obstacles that dogged him ceaselessly and continuing his ministries against all odds. One cannot do otherwise but to wonder how it was possible that he could pick himself up after every blow and setback and continue on regardless—like the time when he went to a place called Ta'if, some 50 miles east0south-east of Mecca, to talk to the people there.

As we have said previously, in Mecca it was becoming increasingly difficult—if not impossible—for the Prophet (pbuh) to get people to accept Islam; here, in Ta'if, he felt, the populace might give him a fair hearing, since the Banu Thakif, a powerful tribe, held sway in Ta'if, and more importantly, Qureish had no say over them. After a month's stay in that place, though, Muhammed (pbuh) found himself exactly where he was before he came to Ta'if. He could get no one to listen to him at all! In fact, not only did they refuse to give him a hearing, they rounded up all the street urchins, placed them on both sides of the streets, and as Muhammed (pbuh) exited the city they pelted him with stones.

It has been recorded that so severe was their pelting that blood flowed freely from the Prophet's (pbuh) wounds and into his sandals, causing them to stick stubbornly to his feet!
It has also been recorded that Allah Almighty sent the Archangel Gabriel to Muhammed (pbuh) to inform him that Allah was a Witness to all that was happening to him, and, if he (Muhammed) (pbuh) so wished, Allah would command the Angel of the mountains to topple the mountains of Ta'if onto those who did this to him and destroy them like Allah had destroyed Pharaoh and his army when they went after the Prophet Moses and his people. Allah would annihilate them like He annihilated the wrongdoers during the time of Lot and the time of Noah.

But Muhammed (pbuh) refused, saying that even if those of his generation rejected Allah and Islam, their children and those that came after them might accept what he brought them and his mission would not have been in vain. Today, Ta'if is one of the foremost Islamic cities in the Arabian Peninsula.

Nonetheless, Qureish soon got word of Muhammed's (pbuh) mission to Ta'if and their joy knew no bounds when they heard what had happened to him there. But as if that were not enough, they refused to let him re-enter Mecca on his own; he could only do so in the custody of a Qureishite who was not a Muslim. Like a parole officer!

Muhammed (pbuh) endured all this humiliation and embarrassment, and not once did he give in to Qureish and their evil. He believed that Allah Almighty was his Protector and that no matter how his enemies conspired against him, nothing could happen to him that was not supposed to happen to him.

History tells us that during his 'Flight to Medina' (Hijra), the Prophet (pbuh) and Abu Bakr, his companion, who was with him at the time, took refuge inside a cave just outside of Mecca.
And, as we have discussed before, Qureish had mounted a manhunt that was unequaled at that time or any other time, for that matter.

They (Qureish), together with an army of men that included all the tribes of Mecca, young and old, plus a bevy of trackers who left no 'stone unturned' as they hunted for him, pursued the Prophet (pbuh) and his companion, Abu Bakr all through the night. No one was allowed to sleep; no one could turn back. A huge reward was offered for the capture of the two, dead or alive. Qureish wanted them!

And so the next day, just after the break of dawn, the trackers came to a halt outside the cave Muhammed (pbuh) and Abu Bakr were in. The trail had led them here and there was nowhere else the two could have gone to. They had them!

Meanwhile, inside the cave, Muhammed (pbuh) and Abu Bakr could hear the commotion outside. The trackers were talking animatedly as they waited for the leaders of the tribes to arrive.
Abu Bakr felt his heart pounding so fiercely that his breathing started to rasp. 'O Prophet of Allah (pbuh)...' he began, wiping sweat from his bow. 'I am afraid this is the end..!'

But the Prophet (pbuh) held up his hand and looked at his friend. 'No, Abu Bakr...' he whispered reassuringly. 'It is not the end! Allah will not forsake us. Do not fear!'

And as history records, the leaders all came to gather outside the cave, staring agitatedly at the trackers, who themselves couldn't understand what was going on.
The trail had led them here—there was no question about that—but a spider's web barred the entrance to the cave, and a bird's egg was entangled in it.

'How could anyone enter here without breaking this web?' one of the leaders demanded gruffly. The trackers had no answer.

'Come! We are wasting time!' another ordered. 'We cannot let them get away!'
This event and the consequent passage into the City of Medina heralded the turning-point in Islam.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Turning-point in Islam|Islam The Straight Path|Islamic Teachings|Quran Guidance

Article first published as Turning Point In Islam on Blogcritics.

We have previously discussed the 'Miracles of Islam' and in that article we very briefly touched on the advent of the 'Hijrah,' the Flight to Medina by the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), that incidentally also marks the start of the Muslim Calender.

We also spoke about Qureish's (leading Arab tribe in Mecca, at that time) plan of getting rid of Muhammed (pbuh) once and for all, by appointing the seven young men of all the seven tribes of Mecca to strike as one and kill the Prophet (pbuh).

We discussed how Allah revealed to Muhammed (pbuh) Qureish's evil intentions and how the Prophet (pbuh) got his cousin Ali(son of Abu Talib) to sleep in his bed, knowing that Qureish would not harm Ali, and how the Prophet (pbuh) slipped past the seven young men during the night and disappeared into the desert, accompanied by his close friend, Abu Bakr.

One point of note, though, is Qureish's newfound boldness in going over to such drastic action of actually killing Muhammed (pbuh)!

We learnt previously how the clansmen seemed satisfied with persecuting and terrorizing the Prophet's (pbuh) followers, and how they relished abusing Muhammed (pbuh) personally, by casting thorn bushes in his path where he walked, or emptying filth over his person while he performed his 'Five Daily Prayers' at the 'Kaabah' (black-clothed building in the center of Mecca)!

It is recorded that Abu Jahl, a relative of the Prophet (pbuh), took immense pleasure in pouring the entrails, as well as the faeces, of a dead goat over the Prophet (pbuh) while he went into prostration—especially since this caused the Prophet (pbuh) great distress and stopped him from continuing his prayers.

Strangely enough though, Qureish, on their part, did try to come to some sort of arrangement with the Prophet (pbuh) when they ultimately realized that Islam was not just another fly-by-night entity, dreamt up by some ambitious trier— especially when people like Hamza and Umar and some other notables embraced the Religion.

They first sent someone by the name of Utbah bin Rabiah to the Prophet (pbuh) to find out what it was he wanted, hence his passion in spreading the 'Message of Islam'.

And the words of Utbah bin Rabiah have been recorded, who said, 'O Muhammed (pbuh) why do you persist in spreading the Religion of Islam? Can you not see the enmity and hatred you are causing between the people of Mecca? Can you not see the division you are causing between brothers and sister, even your own family! What is it you want, Muhammed (pbuh)?'

The Prophet (pbuh) did not answer immediately and Utbah continued. 'I swear that if it is power that you want you can have it. The clansmen of Qureish are prepared to make you king of Arabia if you so want to. They have instructed me to tell you that!'

And still the Prophet (pbuh) did not answer.

'Or perhaps a woman..?' Utbah enquired slyly. 'Perhaps a lady of very high standing and exquisite beauty..?'

Muhammed (pbuh) suddenly started reading a verse from the Holy Quran and Utbah looked at him strangely. 'Why are you doing this?'

The Prophet (pbuh) continued reading and Utbah fell silent as he listened to the words. He couldn't exactly fathom what was happening to him, but whatever it was, it was so beautiful that he sat open-mouthed as the Prophet (pbuh) ended off.

'By God! I swear to you, O Muhammed (pbuh)...' Utbah bin Rabiah exclaimed, jumping up when the Prophet (pbuh) finished. 'On the lives of my family...You shall not be harmed...I swear to you! You shall not be harmed by any one of us!' And he left.

Naturally, Qureish were not impressed when they heard Utbah bin Rabiah telling them that what he had heard was not the rantings of a mad man or the fancies of a power-hungry fortune seeker, but rather the 'Divine Injunctions' of a 'Much Higher Being', and that Muhammed (pbuh) was truly a messenger of this 'Being'!

Qureish then sent a delegation to Abu Talib, the Prophet's (pbuh) uncle, imploring him to stop his nephew from preaching Islam, and to stop vilifying their deities as well.

Abu Talib summoned his nephew and started off by telling the Prophet (pbuh) that he, Abu Talib, was an old man and that the last thing he wanted was for any harm to come to Muhammed (pbuh). Qureish, he had lamented, were desperate in their intentions of halting the Prophet's (pbuh) mission, but they had repeated their offer that they had initially sent Utbah bin Rabiah with, and they were serious in making Muhammed (pbuh) king of Arabia, if that's what he desired.

The Prophet's (pbuh) answer to all this was: 'If they should put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left I shall not turn my back on Allah!'

But during the 10th year of prophet-hood (the year the Prophet (pbuh) ascended into the 'Seventh Heaven' to receive the Revelation about the 'Five Daily Prayers') Muhammed (pbuh) suffered a major blow in his life. First: He lost Khadija, his beloved wife, his soul-mate who had stuck with him through all the trials and tribulations; the one who had consoled him when he had stood at the edge of the precipice of despair so many times! and who happened to be one of the 'First Muslims'.

Not long after that (some reporters say a few days, others a few weeks), Abu Talib, his beloved uncle, passed away.

One can only imagine what this must have done to Qureish's morale. Here, finally, was the answer to all their prayers! Abu Talib, perhaps the only person who stood in their way of eradicating Muhammed (pbuh), was gone!

As we have explained previously, there were many tribes in Mecca that came under the umbrella of the leading tribe of Qureish. And in some way or another they were all related or connected, either by blood lineage or intermarriage. Banu Hashim, the tribe which the Prophet (pbuh) belonged to, was a very strong tribe with great influence. In fact, they were the tribe who were the custodians of the 'Kaabah' and one could only enter the holy sanctity of the black-stoned building with their permission. They held the key to the 'Kaabah'.

Abu Talib, being the leader of the Banu Hashim, held great sway in Mecca. Nobody questioned his authority. But what none of the clansmen could understand was why he backed up the Prophet (pbuh) since he didn't accept Islam himself.

Nonetheless, now that he was gone, Qureish could put their heinous plans into action, and we find that after the seven young men of all the seven tribes of Mecca reported their failure at killing the Prophet (pbuh)—as we have explained before—the clansmen summoned all their able-bodied men and mounted a manhunt that was unequaled in that time, or any other time, for that matter.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Miracles of Islam|Islam The Straight Path|Islam Teachings|Quran Guidance

Article first published as Miracles of Islam on Blogcritics.

What do we understand about the 'Miracles of Islam', or the 'Miracles' performed by some of the Prophets such as Jesus who could 'Raise the Dead' and Moses who opened the Red Sea to let his People through?

However, before we explore those Phenomena let us look at what we have discussed thus far.

We spoke previously about the terrible persecution and torture the Muslims had to endure at the hands of Qureish (the leading tribe in Mecca) and the Prophet's (pbuh) dilemma in trying to find a way of securing a measure of safety for his followers.

We learnt of how some of the Muslims migrated to Abyssinia(modern-day Ethiopia—on the instructions of the Prophet (pbuh)] and found asylum under the rule of the Negus (Christian King of that country) even though Qureish tried their utmost to get the Muslims out and back to Mecca.

We discussed how, despite the continuous efforts of Qureish to stop the spread of Islam, notable people like Hamza and Umar embraced Islam, much to the dismay of the clansmen, who decided on a final plan of eradicating Islam by killing the Prophet (pbuh).

We also discussed how the seven young men of the seven different tribes, all tasked to strike as one, failed to see the Prophet (pbuh) slipping past them during the wee hours of the night and disappear into the desert, heralding the start of the famous 'Hijra' (Flight to Medina) that marks the Muslim calendar.

But to come back to our point of exploring the 'Miracles of Islam' or the 'Special Powers' given to Jesus and Moses, one again needs to ask the question: Why was there a necessity for a religion like Islam? And, what was the purpose of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) on this earth?

One thing that has played a major factor in all our discourses this far is the condition of Arabia and the Arabs, in particular, at that time, i.e before the birth of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), and during the early days of Islam.

We find that Arabia, and especially its capital city, Mecca, was a cauldron of all kinds of evil imaginable (as we have explained so many times before). The Arabs indulged in pastimes such as drunken orgies, gambling, wife-swapping, wife-sharing—with friends, or anyone they fancied, battering their womenfolk, killing their female offspring for fear that they might bring bad luck to the household! Idol-worshipping, human trafficking, and even human sacrifices were the order of the day. Just to mention a few!

And it was against the backdrop of this near-impossible scenario of human failing and degradation that Muhammed (pbuh) was deployed to administer the 'Message' of the 'One God' and to change the mind-set of a People steeped to the hilt in their ignominy and fiercely resistant to change.

According to Al-Quran, Almighty Allah says that He does not 'Destroy' any nation without sending them a 'Warner' first.

And, we immediately think of Jesus and the money-changers and how he used a whip to get them out of the Temple when they refused to listen!

We also think of Moses and how desperately he tried to get the Mighty Pharaoh to let his People go.

In all these instances one thing remains abundantly clear: All the Prophets who were sent to their People with a 'Message' and a 'Mission' were given 'Special Powers' or 'Miracles' to perform, in order to convince their People that they were Messengers of God.

Muhammed (pbuh) did not perform any of these kinds of miracles, but the mere fact that he could not read nor write (history proves this) and the way the Quran was revealed to him, i.e. through the medium of the Archangel Gabriel, in the Cave of Hira on Mount Nur (Mountain of Light)—and the way he compiled the Quran over a period of 23 years—mainly by memorizing it—as it was revealed to him, and getting Zaid bin Thabit, his freed slave, to record it in writing, bears testimony to the fact that the Quran in itself is a 'Miracle'!

Today we find that there are thousands—if not millions—of men and women, all over the world, who have memorized the entire Quran...all 6666 verses of it! And still more and more people do so every day.

Another 'Miracle' of Islam is the 'Miraj'—the Ascension into Heaven by Muhammed (pbuh) accompanied by the Archangel Gabriel. It was a night journey that started from Mecca to Jerusalem and ended in the 'Precincts of Allah's Domain'—past the 'Seventh Heaven'.

Allah Almighty, Himself, explains this in the Quran when He says: "It was He (Allah) Who has taken His Slave (Muhammed pbuh) from the Holy Mosque in Mecca (Haram) to the Farthest Mosque (Aqsa) in Jerusalem—So that He May Convey to him (Muhammed pbuh) what He meant to Convey."

And Allah Almighty also states in the Quran that Muhammed (pbuh) was 'Two Bow Lengths' away from the 'Countenance' of His Lord and not once did his gaze waiver..."

Thus one can only imagine what happened when Muhammed (pbuh) returned from his 'Nocturnal Sojourn'- that same night- and tried to convince his Followers that he had transcended the 'Seven Heavens', that he had actually been in the 'Presence of the Almighty', and, that he brought them 'A Message From The One Allah, that Salaah ('Five Daily Prayers') were now compulsory upon them— as is (up till this day) compulsory on every sane Muslim male and female all over the world, and, that no one was exempted from it, except in a case of a woman who was busy menstruating.

Qureish couldn't believe their good fortune when they heard of this. They finally had something they could use— constructively— to prove that Muhammed (pbuh) had lost his mind, and that he was a sooth-sayer and a fraud. They worked on those Followers who had newly converted to Islam and those who were 'still busy making up their minds' about the Religion. They got a few to turn their backs on Islam, but overall, those Muslims like Abu Bakr, Hamza, Ali, Bilal, etc.—those who were not afraid of Qureish and their evil— those who believed firmly that Muhammed (pbuh) was 'The True Messenger of Allah' stood firm and even performed their 'Five Daily Prayers' openly in the precincts of the Kaabah!

Qureish was totally beside themselves with hatred and frustration at this turn of events; every way they turned Islam was there- in their faces! Every day more and more people turned Muslim, and could be seen performing the 'Five Daily Prayers', heedless of Qureish's animosity and threats.
Qureish couldn't believe that one man could cause such an upheaval and get away with it—hence their ultimate plan of having the Prophet (pbuh) murdered by the seven young men of the seven tribes.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Message of Islam(Part Two)|Islam The Straight Path|Islamic Teachings|Quran

Article first published as Message of Islam (Part Two) on Blogcritics.

Previously we asked the question: What was the True Message of Islam and what was the purpose of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh)—on this earth—regarding that Message?

We also asked: What was the need for a religion like Islam, and was there, or can anyone offer, a clear-cut answer to any of these questions?

We looked at how the Prophet (pbuh) sent some of his followers(about 80 of them, women and children included) to a place called Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia) to escape the hideous torture meted out to them by those hostile to the "Message of Islam."

We discussed how Qureish (the leading tribe in Mecca) tried to get the Muslims expelled from Abyssinia by dispatching a delegation to that country and telling the Negus (Christian King of Abyssinia) how Islam recognized no other religion except Islam and that Muslims did not accept the Prophet Jesus as the "Son of God."

We spoke about how the Negus, after listening to both sides, i.e. the delegation of Qureish, and a spokesperson for the Muslims explaining what Islam really stood for and what the Quran said about the Prophet Jesus as well as all the other Prophets such as Noah, Abraham, Lot, and Moses (to name but a few), offered his deliberation by letting the Muslims stay under his protection! And the delegation of Qureish had to return to Arabia, empty-handed, smarting profusely from the telling-off the Negus had given them.

Thus, we explored a vital part of the "Message of Islam."

But one can only imagine what suffering the Muslims (those who stayed behind in Mecca) must have endured at the hands of Qureish after the incident in Abyssinia.

History tells us that not only were Qureish satisfied with torturing the ordinary citizens of Mecca—in the streets—but they were now seriously conspiring on how to get rid of the Prophet (pbuh) once and for all in a last-ditch effort to eradicate Islam.

To crown it all, conversions to Islam was now taking place on a regular basis despite the hostilities and torture. People like Hamza (nicknamed Hamza the lion hunter) came into the fold of Islam without any coercion; Umar, the son of Hattab, was on his way to kill the Prophet (pbuh) when he embraced Islam.

The clansmen of Qureish were beside themselves with such turnabouts—not only was Hamza a well-known and well-respected member of the Qureish tribe, but he was as his name suggested: a genuine hunter and killer of mountain lions, and someone who took pride in his prowess of doing it alone, with only a hunting knife and unbelievable courage. Some called it foolishness, but no one argued with Hamza. Nobody was that foolish!

Umar, on the other hand, was something else. He was known more for his temper than his character. It is said that he was such a violent person that once, in an argument with someone, he cut off the man's arm with his sword, and unceremoniously beat the hapless soul to death with his own arm!

Be that as it may, Umar was on his way to kill Muhammed (pbuh) when he met an acquaintance who enquired about his doings.

Umar replied that he was on his way to kill the madman who was causing so much dissent in Mecca, the man who had the audacity to proclaim himself the Messenger of God, and cause so many families to split up. He, Umar, was going to make sure that Muhammed (pbuh) never repeated any more of his stupid rantings to anyone ever again!

The man looked at him strangely and said that he would be well-advised to first consult with his own sister and her husband before he went over to such drastic action. Apparently both of them had accepted Islam.

Umar immediately altered his course and proceeded to his sister's house, working himself up at what he had heard and how preposterous it sounded to him.
His own sister! How could she? he fumed. How dared she! He was suddenly possessed by an ice-cold rage as he barged into the house, intent on having this out with her and her husband. He would do whatever was necessary!

It so happened that his sister was busy teaching a youngster about the verses of Al-Quran, and she was reading it out loud.

"What gibberish is this?" Umar enquired, lunging forward to grab the parchment that it was written on. His sister hastily hid it away.

"Give it to me!" Umar demanded and when she refused, he hit her with brutal force on her mouth.
The force of the blow flung her to the floor and blood spurted from her lips. She stared at him wordless.

What went through Umar's mind at that moment was anybody's guess, but looking at his sister and seeing the damage he had done to her brought something else out of him. "Can I please see what it is you are reading?" he enquired in a completely different voice, and his sister once more refused.

"I cannot let you touch the verses of the Holy Quran," she remonstrated, keeping the parchment behind her back. "You are unclean! Go and purify yourself first and then I shall let you see it." And, strangely enough, Umar, the short-tempered and violent man, complied by washing himself and returning without any argument. He accepted Islam at the house of the Prophet (pbuh) and Qureish suffered a severe blow.

It is said that after the conversion of Hamza and Umar, the Muslims in Mecca grew bold in the practice and proclamation of their faith. Even those Muslims who had migrated to Abyssinia returned and joined their families.

Umar, in particular, was very vociferous in proclaiming his conversion to Islam. He was always ready to decapitate anyone who challenged him and the clansmen of Qureish watched him with caution.

However, Qureish were not going to be deterred by one man or a few for that matter. Muhammed (pbuh) was proving to be way beyond their control, and if left unchecked he was sure to bring their culture (idol-worshipping and what went with that) to its knees. Something drastic had to be done. Muhammed (pbuh) had to be taken out!

And so we find that during the 12th year of prophet-hood the clansmen decided on a plan to get rid of Muhammed (pbuh) and fortify themselves against any attacks or retribution from the Banu Hashim (the tribe Muhammed (pbuh) belonged to) or anyone else sympathetic to his course.

There were seven tribes that Qureish could rely on and from each tribe a young man was selected to help kill the Prophet (pbuh).

The plan was simple. Every youngster had to thrust his spear into Muhammed (pbuh), while he was sleeping, and in so doing the blame would not only fall on one person, or more importantly, one tribe, but practically all the tribes of Arabia. Nobody would dare take on the might of the seven tribes, Qureish felt sure. Muhammed (pbuh) was as good as dead!

But on the night of the planned murder, Muhammed (pbuh) was anything but asleep in his bed.
It is said that long before that night the revelation came about what was afoot, and the Prophet (pbuh) planned accordingly.

He was told to let his cousin Ali sleep in his bed, and not to worry about his safety. Ali would not be harmed!

It is also said that on that night, while the young men waited in the shadows to commit their dastardly deed, Muhammed (pbuh) slipped past them unnoticed.

Historians and biographers are at pains to explain how not one of the youngsters spotted Muhammed (pbuh) leaving the house. Suffice to say it is well recorded that when they went in and found Ali in the bed, all hell broke loose!

Qureish then mounted a manhunt that was unequaled in those times or any other times for that matter. They sent a force of young and old, soldiers and civilians—every able-bodied person was gathered to hunt Muhammed (pbuh) down. A huge reward was offered to anyone who captured Muhammed, dead or alive—they simply couldn't let Muhammed (pbuh) and whoever was with him get away. They had to get him before it was too late!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Message of Islam|Islam The Straight Path|Islam Teachings|Quran Guidance

Article first published as Message of Islam on Blogcritics.

What was the 'Message of Islam'? i.e. The True Message of Islam? What was the purpose of the Prophet Muhammed(pbuh)on this earth regarding that 'Message'? And why was there a necessity for a religion like Islam?

Is there a clear cut answer to all these questions?

However to try and answer some, or all of the above, one cannot do otherwise but to trace back and look at what we have discussed so far.

We have spoken of how Islam began i.e. the Prophet's(pbuh)meditation in the 'Cave of Hira' on the 'Mountain of Light'; his inner turmoil at trying to understand why he was not like the majority of the Arabs of Mecca who believed in idols and ill-treated their women-folk- even to the extent of burying their female off-spring, alive! And how he encountered the Archangel Gabriel who had commanded him to "Read!"

We have discussed(at length!)how the Archangel had persisted that he "Read!" and, when he couldn't, how the Angel had embraced him and the "First Revelation of Al-Quran" was manifested.

Then there were the trials of Islam and how the Prophet(pbuh)endured endless ridicule and scorn at the hands of not only the clansmen of Mecca, but his own family as he went on his mission of preaching Islam.

We spoke of how the Prophet's(pbuh)uncle, Abu Lahab, went around telling people that Muhammed(pbuh) was a mad man and that nobody should listen to his rantings of the One true God, Allah, and that he, Muhammed(pbuh) was the Messenger of Allah! Even Bilal, a black, Abyssinian slave, was placed in the hot, desert sun with a huge stone on his chest for embracing the religion of Islam and proclaiming the sovereignity of God.

History taught us that when the clansmen of Qureish(ruling clan of Mecca)had had enough of Muhammed(pbuh)and his rebellious ways (as they put it)they banished the Prophet(pbuh)and forty of his followers to a valley, outside Mecca, where they were forbidden to have any contact with anyone, or re-enter Mecca for any reason whatsoever. There in that valley the Muslims were cut off from the rest of society- no trade, no food- nothing! Just their companionship and their infallible belief in the One Allah, which was being tested to its ultimate limit!

And, as the weeks turned into months and months into years- Qureish grew confident that the Muslims weren't going to last for very long- some even partying late into the night, offering extra rations of food to their idols, for the imminent demise of Islam!

We learnt of how the parchment- on which the injunction of the ban had been written- got eaten by white ants(even though it had been closely guarded) and the ban was lifted- after two years!

It was during the 5th year of Prophet-hood that Muhammed(pbuh)decided to send some of his followers- about 80 of them- to Abyssinia(today known as Ethiopia )because conditions in Mecca were becoming very alarming indeed.

In the streets of the City, women and children were being flogged openly for proclaiming their belief in the One God of Muhammed(pbuh)- children were separated from their mothers while the latter were taken into the desert to be defiled and tortured.

One woman was tied at a stake while a red hot poker was driven through her body- and all the while she kept mumbling the sovereignity of Allah- over and over, as her life blood oozed from her. Qureish was beside themselves with exasperation.

When Qureish learnt about the Muslims' sojourn to Abysinnia, they quickly dispatched a deputation to that country and tried to get the Muslims back.

The Negus(Christian king)of Abyssinia found it strange that the Muslims, with whose religion he wasn't very familiar with could revere the Prophet Jesus and all the other Prophets that the Bible spoke about- this after the deputation of Qureish had been laying it on thick that Islam did not recognize any other religion except Islam and that it did not except Jesus as the 'Son of God'.

One of the Muslims explained to the Negus what Islam really stood for- that it did away with oppression; that it gave women the right to decide for themselves- to be recognized as worthy human beings and not to be treated like animals by their husbands; that all men were equal in the sight of God. And, after listening to what was being explained, the King granted the Muslims permission to stay as long as they wanted to and the deputation of Qureish had to leave empty handed.

Thus a vital part of the "Message of Islam" unfolded.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Trials Of Islam

(Article first published as Trials of Islam (Part Two) on Blogcritics)

In discussing the trials of Islam one has to keep in mind the conditions
of Arabia: its hot and dusty climate; its people (the Arabs, who lived a somewhat senseless life at that time); its business center, which was Mecca, and which not only invited traders to its bosom but offered 360 idols to the Arabs as well as worshippers of other denominations; the Kaabah (black-clothed building) which till today still serves as a centre for Muslim pilgrims all over the world. These, plus the fact that Muhammed (pbuh) was an Arab himself, all played a vital role in the spread of Islam.

We have mentioned previously that the Arabs were not a very sociable kind of people. We spoke of the way they believed that woman had no standing in the community and as such could be used and abused at will by their husbands. We learnt from history that these Arabs also believed that a female baby brought bad luck to the family and as such had to be buried alive to reverse the evil that had befallen them!

One can then imagine the mammoth task that awaited Muhammed (pbuh) in his quest to bring the Message of the One God to these people. One can but feel sympathy for him as he wrestled with his own inner turmoil in trying to understand what was happening to him (i.e. encountering the Archangel Gabriel in the cave on the 'Mountain of Light' and being told to read) and not to yield to the jeers and ridicule that was being heaped upon him regularly by not only the inhabitants of Mecca, but his own family!

In the beginning we find that the first converts to Islam were the Prophet's wife, Khadija; his cousin Ali, son of Abu Talib, his uncle; Zaid bin Thabit, a freed slave, who stayed with the Prophet (pbuh); and Abu Bakr, Muhammed's (pbuh) close friend.

Initially, the Qureish tribe, being the Prophet's (pbuh) fiercest criticisers, were not overly concerned about the Prophet's (pbuh) ministries. In fact, they found it rather amusing that the early converts were people of not very high standing in the community. Apart from Muhammed's (pbuh) wife Khadija and Abu Bakr, his close friend, who also happened to be quite wealthy, the other converts who followed were either slaves or beggars, not to mention Ali, his cousin, who was only ten years old at that time!

We think of Bilal, a black, Abbyssinian slave, who became Muslim and preached Islam to all that he came in contact with. We think of the beggar woman who stopped begging and devoted her life in prayer to Allah. The Qureishites, being the masters of many a slave, would find great merriment in taunting these converts to Islam. They would demand that these slaves bring proof of the god that they believed in; proof tantamount to that of the idols, whom they called the 'Sons and Daughters of Allah'.

However, Islam did not stop there. Muhammed (pbuh) began to preach the religion openly in Mecca then! No more were there the secret gatherings at his or one of his followers' houses. No more were there the hidden or veiled meanings to his ministries. Islam was out! Islam was on the move!

Qureish was not taking this for a joke anymore. They began by seriously addressing those under their command and those in their employ. They even ferreted out those from amongst their own families who had converted to Islam and laid down their law: either you stopped your foolishness of believing in the One God of Muhammed (pbuh) and come back to us or bear the brunt of our wrath!

History tells us that Bilal was placed in the hot desert sun with a huge rock on his chest for refusing to denounce Allah, the One God. A woman, one of the members of the Qureish tribes' mother, was speared to death by her own son for declining to forsake her belief in Allah! And strangely enough, through all these trials, Islam marched on!

Then there was Abu Lahab, the Prophet's (pbuh) uncle, whose favorite pastime it was to proclaim Muhammed (pbuh) a madman to everyone he met on the streets and even brought his wife along to place thorn bushes in the path of Muhammed (pbuh).

Islam now stood at a count of 40 men and women altogether. Qureish then decided that to nip this madness in the bud once and for all, they would banish Muhammed and his followers to a valley where no one would be allowed to have any contact with them, nor to trade or have any kind of dealings with them— like the modern-day sanctions, only worse, because the Muslims couldn't come into the city to buy foodstuffs or emergency supplies.

For two years this trial continued, until it was discovered that the parchment the injunction had been written on had been destroyed by white ants, even though it had been closely guarded, and the ban was lifted.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Message of Islam[Islam The Straight Path[Islamic Teachings[Quran.

(Article first published as Trials of Islam on Blogcritics).
We have previously discussed the mysterious way in which Islam started and the Prophet Muhammed's(pbuh) role in its manifestation. We have also discussed Arabia with its diverse communities of Jews, Christians, Zoarastrians, Coptics, as well as Pagans, whose habit it was to perform the circumambulation around the Kaabah (black-clothed building in the center of Mecca) naked!

Then there was the Prophet's(pbuh) dilemma and distress at the way the Arabs were conducting their lives- abusing their women-folk, among other things, even burying their female babies alive for fear of bringing bad luck to the household! This was something he spoke out against fiercely! Something that brought him in serious disrepute with the clansmen of Mecca.

We discussed the Prophet's seclusion in the Cave of Hira on the Mountain of light- his pondering over his existence amongst all this senselessness and the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel- delivering the Divine Commands from Allah to him, and how this affected him personally.

All through our previous discourses one questioned had remained prevalent and poignant; the question of how he became so successful in bringing over the Message of Islam- the Message of the One God, not only to the Arabs, but to the whole world! How was it possible that he could manage to convince a people whose habit it was to believe in idols and base their lives upon appeasing these stone objects (even offering human sacrifices to them)! The Prophet(pbuh) was not schooled in any way. He couldn't even spell his own name!

Strange enough though, some of these Arabs, especially the affluent ones, knew that the idols could do nothing for them, but because Mecca was an important trading center, and people came from far and wide- not only to do business, but to worship their idols as well, it played an important part in the Meccans' aversion to Muhammed's(pbuh) preachings. There were 360 idols in and around the holy Kaabah!

History tells us (as we have mentioned before) that there were many individuals and intellectuals through the ages, who tried to get people to believe in them and their ideals by bribing the ordinary masses with promises of money, comforts, or whatever it was they had at their disposal. Some were so powerful that they even managed to get their followers to believe that they were God themselves! (Think of Pharoah and his arrogance for one). And when these things failed, they resorted to wars and persecutions that caused indescribable pain and suffering that to this day still lives on in the minds of those whose forefathers were subjected to this terrible inhumanity!

Muhammed(pbuh) was not learned in any way, as history tells us. There is no record whatsoever that he attended any formal institution where education was offered. In fact, Allah Almighty, Himself, alludes to this fact in the Holy Quran: Muhammed(pbuh) being the "Unlettered Prophet." So how did he manage to speak to his people and get them to listen to him, and (most importantly) get them to accept what he told them?

But let us look at how he started his mission; let us look at that particular day when he summoned his cousin, Ali, son of Abu Talib, (the Prophet's(pbuh) uncle) to deliver a message to the tribe of Qureish (one of the most influential tribes in Arabia). They were to meet the Prophet(pbuh) at the foot of a hill that was just outside Mecca.

On that day, not only the tribesman of Qureish came but many of the other tribes, such as the tribe of Banu Hashim, of which the Prophet(pbuh) himself was a member, and people from the Banu Qurayzah. Everybody was curious to know what Muhammed(pbuh) wanted to say.

The Prophet(pbuh) was already on top of the hill when the crowd came. It was hot and some were shuffling around, wiping sweat from their brows as a murmur arose from them. Some were wondering aloud what this was all about. Muhammed(pbuh) surveyed them silently.

"O People..." The Prophet began at length and let his eyes roam over the crowd. He saw Abu Lahab, his uncle, standing in the front and he said out loud. "If I were to tell you that an army is marching towards you behind this hill, would you believe me?"

They all stared at him confused and he repeated the question- louder! "If I were to tell you that an army is coming behind this hill to attack you, would you believe me?"

This time they didn't hesitate. "Yes!" They answered in unison, smiling at one another, even though they couldn't understand where this was all leading to.

Muhammed(pbuh) looked at them. "Why?" And there was a strange look on his face.

"Because you are Al-Ameen!" Someone shouted loudly.(Al-Ameen means 'The Trustworthy').

"You wouldn't dare lie to us!" Another one joked. They all laughed.

The Prophet(pbuh) held up his hands. "Then I tell you now that there is only One God, Allah. And I am the Messenger of God!

For a second time they stared at him confused, but this time there was no mistaking what he had said. An uneasy silence followed.

Abu Lahab, the Prophet's(pbuh) uncle, stepped forward. "Are we to believe this mad man?" He turned towards the others. "Are we to accept that this...this..." He lifted his hands in the air. "That this is the Messenger of Allah?" He gave a loud burst of laughter. The others all joined in, feeling somewhat relieved.

"Hey, Muhammed..." Someone called out from the crowd. "Who told you that you are the Messenger of Allah? Surely, Allah wouldn't choose someone like you? You cannot even read nor write!" There was great merriment now.

"And besides," another one guffawed, "If you are truly the Messenger of Allah, then a lowly person like myself would only bring great peril to myself and my household by speaking to a Messenger of God! But if you are not, then why should I speak to you?"

This seemed to make a lot of sense to the others and one by one they turned away.

Abu Lahab, on the other hand was not finished with his nephew yet. "Be off with you!" He shouted and pelted the Prophet(pbuh) with stones. "I've always thought that there was something seriously wrong with. Now I know I'm right!"

And so the trials of Islam began.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

After the harrowing experience with the Archangel Gabriel, in the Cave of Hira, and Waraqah bin Nawfal's shocking revelations, Muhammed(pbuh)found himself at the mercy of his own inner turmoil. He wasn't sure if what he had seen had been an illusion or whether it was just because he had been spending so much time alone in the Cave. Why was everything such a mystery? And why was this happening to him? Was he busy losing his mind?

Khadija, his wife, kept on reassuring him that he was not going insane and on occasions consulted with her cousin, Waraqah bin Nawfal, who told her that Muhammed(pbuh) just had to be patient, that the same God who had spoken to Moses, would also speak to him and that he was the true Prophet of Islam. God's way was a mystery, he had said, not always easy to understand.

But Muhammed(pbuh)took little solace in these assurances. He continued visiting the Cave of Hira on Jabal Nur(Mountain of Light), hoping to see Gabriel again- hoping to find an answer to this terrible nightmare that was refusing to let go of him. Night after night, week after week, he persevered, till the weeks turned into months and the months into years, and, when nearly three years had passed we find him, one day, climbing past the Cave of Hira.

"By Allah!" he mutters to himself as he pulls himself onto a ledge. "I shall not abhor anyone more than a madman and a poet! I shall end my life and be free from the accusing eyes of those who respected and loved me. I shall finally be free from my torment!" He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes. He prepares to jump.

"O Muhammed!" A loud booming voice suddenly calls out and stops him in his tracks. "You are the Messenger of God and I am Gabriel!"

Muhammed(pbuh) looks up and sees the same 'Figure' he had seen in the Cave of Hira,staring down at him from the heavens- only this time he was unbelievably big!

Muhammed(pbuh) blinks and looks the other way. Again he hears that unimaginable voice. "O Muhammed! You are the Messenger of Allah and I am Gabriel!"

The Prophet(pbuh) shifts his gaze from one side to the other, but wherever he looks the Archangel is there!

He breaks down and cries bitterly- his body heaving as despairing thoughts of insanity wracks through his mind. Why oh why was this happening to him? Couldn't he just end it there and then?

To understand Muhammed(pbuh)diffidence and dilemma though, one has to backtrack and look at the set up of the different Arab tribes frequenting the Kaabah(Black-clothed building in the centre of the Harram- prayer area in Mecca). There were the idol worshippers, the Pagan Arabs, who performed the circumambulation around the Kaabah-naked! and the Hunafa who were known to be believers in the natural world as opposed to those believing in the 'Supernatural'.

These Hunafa(meaning those who turn away from idolatry), and, of which Muhammed{pbuh)became a member of, did not form a community. They, however, believed in the One God that Abraham and Ishmael believed in and they were looking at ways and means of reviving the monotheism of the 'True Belief'. They still called the Kaabah, 'The House of Allah' and Soothsayers, mad men, sorcerers and even poets(at that time)did not form part of their fraternity- mainly because these believed in dabbling in the 'Unnatural' and 'Spirits'- mostly evil!

So it stands to reason that Muhammed(pbuh), being taxed with the almost 'inhuman' task of telling, not only the Arabs, but the whole world! that there was only One God Allah, and that he, Muhammed(pbuh)was the Messenger of Allah, was way beyond his imagination!

Strange enough, it was after this appearance of the Archangel Gabriel in the sky that things started happening very fast. It was then that Muhammed(pbuh) was commanded to 'Arise' and Call to the People and bring them unto the True Belief. After three traumatic years!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mystery of Islam(Part Two)|Islam-The Straight Path|Islamic Teachings|Quran Guidance

We have previously discussed the mysterious way in which Islam started and the Prophet Muhammed's (pbuh) role in its manifestation. We have also very briefly touched on the Prophet's (pbuh) personal life,i.e. his marriage to Khadija and the type of person he was. But to continue the story one needs to understand the conditions of Arabia, particularly Mecca, at that time. We need to delve into the living conditions as well as the mindset of the Arabs, those living in and around the precincts of the Kaabah and look at the way they conducted their lives. (The Kaabah is the famous black-clothed building, standing in the middle of the Harram - Prayer area in Mecca - purported to have been built by Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael).

These Arabs, we find, have very strange beliefs indeed! Beliefs that could only have been perpetrated in a land where there was no law! They thought nothing of chasing their wives away if these ones disobeyed them, or refused to share her favours with a friend who came to visit and stayed over at the husband's request. A son whose father-in-law passed away would inherit his mother-in-law to use as he deemed fit. Female babies were buried alive for fear of bringing bad luck to the household!
There were 360 idols in and around the Kaabah — one for each day. The Arabs believed these were the sons and daughters of Allah and had to be deified as such, especially Al-Lat and Al-Uzza, whom they paid special reverence to.

So one can imagine the dilemma Muhammed (pbuh) must have found himself in as his purpose on earth intensified. One can but only marvel at Allah's Mysterious Plan in introducing Islam to the world, through the medium of the Prophet (pbuh) who, we learn through history, had no schooling at all! No education whatsoever! Allah Almighty, Himself, alludes to this fact in the Holy Quran.
Muhammed (pbuh) had no knowledge of politics, or law, or governance for that matter. He couldn't even spell his own name. So why was he so successful then? What made him succeed where others miserably failed? Was this also part of the mystery?

But let us take up the story where we have left off in the previous chapter. Let us follow Muhammed (pbuh) as he makes his way down the mountain of 'Light', sobbing involuntarily as the full impact of what he had just experienced overpowers him.He stumbles over a loose rock and nearly loses his balance. He grips his chest as the sobs issue forth uncontrollably and he sits down in the pathway staring through his tears at the ground. How he wished Khadija could have been here with him now. She would have known what to do.
The moon had by now nearly completed its sojourn through the heavens and Muhammed (pbuh) knew it was nearing daybreak. He struggles up from the ground and staggers on, his chest burning.
He reached his house just as the first rays of dawn painted the eastern sky. There was a donkey cart moving down the street and he starts to hammer on the door. He hears Khadija calling out from inside and he breathes a sigh of relief.
"Who is it?"
Muhammed (pbuh) didn't answer immediately and he hears her calling out again. "Who is there?"
"It's me, Muhammed."
"Muhammed?" (pbuh) She seemed puzzled but opened the door. "Muhammed!" (pbuh) Her mouth opened wide, and all sleep disappeared from her eyes. "Muhammed! (pbuh) Muhammed! (pbuh)"
Muhammed (pbuh) nearly fell into her arms.
"Oh my word! Muhammed! (pbuh) What happened to you?"
Muhammed (pbuh) didn't answer. He started to shiver intensely. Khadija took him to their bedroom. "Come! Come lie down! You must rest!" And she helped him onto the bed.
"Dear! Dear! Dear! Who did this to you?"
Muhammed (pbuh) kept on shivering as Khadija placed a blanket over him. He still couldn't speak. Khadija wondered if he wasn't coming down with a fever perhaps. His face looked so red and he was sweating profusely!
"Let me get you another blanket." She stared at him anxiously. "You are burning up, Muhammed! (pbuh) Dear, oh Dear! Did someone rob you?" She placed the blanket on top of the other one. "I've told you so many to be careful at night, but you don't listen! Did you see his face?"
"No!" said Muhammed in a croaking voice and placed his hand on her arm. "I'm not sick, Khadija. It's just that I've seen something very mysterious and very frightening, indeed!"
"What?" She sat down on the bed next to him. "What did you see?"
He told her and he cried as he relived once again the unbelievable events of the night, especially the immensely powerful grip of the Archangel Gabriel when he had commanded him to read. He was sure the 'figure' had said his name was Gabriel!

"And he knew your name?" Khadija listened open-mouthed, stroking his hand. "Did you see his face?"
"No!" Muhammed (pbuh) said almost abruptly. "I couldn't see his face. But he called me by my name as if he knew me a long time!"
Khadija didn't comment. She was thinking of her cousin Waraqah bin Nawfal and she knew what she was going to do. Waraqah was well-versed in the scriptures and he had always told her, on numerous occasions, that there was something strange about Muhammed (pbuh). Muhammed (pbuh), to him, seemed to be of another world.
The sun was coming out by now and Khadija left the house, leaving their daughter, Fatima, by the Prophet's (pbuh) side. She hastened towards the other side of town where she knew Waraqah never left his house before noon. Waraqah spent most of his life studying the Scriptures.
Muhammed (pbuh) loved Fatima a lot. She was the only surviving child he had with Khadija (the other two had died in infancy) and she resembled him in many ways. Fatima was very fair with raven-black hair. And now as he smiled at her, he was glad that he had her as his daughter.
The Prophet (pbuh) tried to sleep, but he kept on hearing the booming voice of the Archangel Gabriel and he began to read to himself the verses that the Angel had forced him to read. He repeated these verses over and over till he eventually fell asleep. There was a troubled look on his face.
Khadija returned later that day with the news that Muhammed (pbuh) was the Prophet of Islam. Waraqah had been adamant that according to the Scriptures there would come a Prophet, after the Prophet Jesus and his name shall be Achmat- Achmat, Muhammed, Mustapha (pbuh)!

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Mystery of Islam

What do we know about Islam and its origins? What does Al-Quran teach us about Islam's beginnings, and what it came to offer the world at large? What do we understand about the Prophet Muhammed(pbuh)and what sort of person he was? We know that the Prophet(pbuh) was the medium through which Islam was propagated to the world. But how? How did he receive the revelation and how did he go about in spreading the Universal Message of Islam? And why also, did he say that Islam started in a mystery and shall end in a mystery?

Through the ages there were many who tried to start new religions and stamp their authority down on history. Many tried to coerce people into believing in them,and, their doctrines by bribing the masses with whatever they had at their disposal, and also, by means of wars that caused the destruction of countless societies. Some even brutally usurped the lands from indigenous peoples, calling them savages, and went on to convert these 'savages' with horrifying consequences. History has enough, perhaps more than enough data on the modus operandi of these 'Giants Among Men' and how they came to their respective ends.

But why was Muhammed(pbuh) so successful? What made him succeed where others miserably failed? Why did he manage to influence, not only Arabia and the Arabs, but Egypt, Persia(which is today known as Iran) as well as Syria, The Byzantyne Empire(Rome) and even as far afield as Spain and Russia?

Let us look into that cave on Jabal Nur(Mountain of Light), in Mecca, where Muhammed(pbuh)spent countless nights meditating about his existence. It was on one such night, the 17 Ramadan (the Islamic Lunar Month) that it all began.

We see that this cave (called the Cave of Hira)is not very big. In fact, those who has visited Mecca and has seen this recess will testify that it can scarcely accommodate more than two people. So what was Muhammed(pbuh) doing alone in that cave at night? What was he doing away from his comfortable home and his lovely wife, Khadija who had made him in charge of all her affairs and businesses? Didn't he realize that Mecca, at that particular period was not a very safe place to move around alone at night? History tells us that, Arabia with all its many tribes and diverse population of Jews, Christians, Coptics, as well as Zorastrians and Pagans, not to mention the Bedouins, who prided themselves on their prowess of hijacking any sort of caravan travelling unsuspectingly through the desert, made Arabia a very hostile place indeed.

But be that as it may, we find Muhammed(pbuh) sitting alone, in the cave, on a blanket of ox skin that Khadija had aquired for him on one of her shopping outings and we try to piece together the events of what took place on that auspices night.

He was sitting with his eyes closed, facing the entrance, as he gently breathed in the night air that was somewhat cold compared to the usually warm breeze of Mecca. It was well after dark and the mountain was bathed in a mysterious glow from a full moon that was traversing the heavens in a slow, majestic motion.

The little makeshift lamp next to him was throwing eerie shadows on the uneven walls and his back felt a little sore from the position he was sitting in. He wondered what Khadija was doing, and what she had meant when she had asked him, earlier that day, whether he was going to the cave again, and, if he was coming home that night.

Muhammed(pbuh) sighed and nodded to himself. Shame! Khadija was truly a remarkable person, he acknowledged. She was unlike any other woman he had ever encountered!

He shifted his position on the floor and sighed once again. Yes! She was not the usual, hen-pecking, nagging and ever-complaining female he had come to know in Mecca. Not that he had had relationships with other women, but from his business dealings with them he was glad Khadija was not like them.

He thought of the time she had proposed to him and he smiled. Who would have suspected that Khadija, being fifteen years his senior, and a very wealthy woman at that, could go over to such action.(He had been 25 and she 40). Nevertheless, he had not looked back once during his fifteen years of marriage to her. People had always admired his exceptionally good looks and some women had even made suggestions to him. But he was not interested. In fact, he couldn't bring himself to strike up a relationship with any strange women for that matter, be it serious or platonic. He didn't know why! Even as a youngster, when he had been invited to come and party with his peers, he had never participated. And when asked why he never attended, he would simply say that he had fallen asleep.

Khadija trusted him. She knew that if he said that he had to do something, she could be rest assured that he he would not do the opposite. She had also long since learnt that Muhammed(pbuh) was no ordinary man. If he gave his word he never broke it. If he accepted anything in trust he would not abuse that trust. People came to know him as reliable and he was given the name of Al-Ameen(The Trustworthy). No one she knew in Mecca spoke out against the evils of women abuse and the burying alive of the female offspring(For fear of bringing bad luck to the household!), as he did. No one questioned the power of the idols and what they could do for the community. Especially al-Lat and Al-Uzza, whom he fiercely criticized. Sometimes she feared for his safety.

He stood up and stretched his arms above his head. He felt stiff and he thought to himself that he would spend a few more minutes meditating and then turn in for the night. The Arabs and their senseless lives played a lot on his mind tonight.

Suddenly there was a mighty blue flash. Muhammed(pbuh) froze.

A figure appeared out of nowhere, and Muhammed(pbuh) was so shocked that he could only stare dumbfound at the 'Figure'. To this day everyone knows who the 'Figure' was, but not what he looked like.

It was the Archangel Gabriel!

Muhammed's(pbuh)mouth opened but no words came out. He could only stare.

"O, Muhammed! Read!

Muhammed(pbuh) kept on staring dumbfounded.

"O,Muhammed!" The figure said in a loud booming voice a second time,"Read! And still Muhammed(pbuh) couldn't say or do anything.

It was then that Gabriel folded his arms around Muhammed(pbuh)in such an overwhelming embrace that a sudden burst of words escaped Muhammed's(pbuh) lips: "Read! In the Name of Your Lord Who Creates! Read!And Your Lord is He who has taught man the use of the pen!

And so unfolded the greatest mystery of the world; the greatest mystery of all time;the mystery of Islam!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Satanism and Islam|Islam-the Straight Path|Quran Guidance

What does Islam say about Satanism and its operations? What does Al-Quran teach us about Satan himself? Allah Almighty tells in the Quran that Satan is the 'Rejected One', because he refused to prostrate before Adam when ordered to do so by Allah. However, it is also reported that before Satan was banished from Heaven, he asked Allah to allow him to mislead the Children of Adam(Mankind),and, he was granted his request. But, he was told that he would only mislead those who disobeyed the Almighty. Beyond that he would never be able to seduce those who steadfastly believed in Allah and feared Him and only Him!

But let me tell you about the night of 20 September and the horrifying events I experienced that Sunday evening last year, when I saw, first hand, what happened to a purported Satan worshipper!

It started from the moment I had parked my car in the driveway of my house and even now as I think about it I can still feel that dreadful icy hand clamping my throat reminiscing about those awful happenings.

The time was 8.30.

I had switched off the lights of the vehicle and was about to get out when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone rushing towards me from the shadows.

I froze. My heart thudding against my ribs as an alarming pain spread across my chest. "I'm going to be Hijacked!" It flashed across my mind and I was paralyzed.

"Muallim!" A voice suddenly called out and I saw it was Farzana, one of my students at the Madressa(Islamic religious institution) where I taught. She was dressed in jeans and a black top and she had a scarf on her head. Her face looked white.

"Muallim!"(meaning teacher in Arabic).

"Allahu Akbar!" (God is Great!),I exclaimed and I had trouble swallowing the saliva in my mouth.

"What the hell..!" More in shock than anything else.

"What are you doing here?"

She looked at me and I saw her mouth twitching.

"I'm sorry if I've startled you, Muallim, but you must come quickly. It is Nadia. I think she is dying!"

"What?" For a moment I could only stare at her, as I tried to gather my scattered wits. "What are you talking about?"

"Nadia, Muallim. She is very sick! You must come quickly. Please!"

I frowned. "Nadia? Who is she? I don't know a Nadia..."

"Yes! You Do, Muallim! She was Shehaam's friend!

"Shehaam?" Shehaam was my sixteen year old daughter.

"Yes! Her mother told me to come and fetch you!"

"Her Mother!" This was getting more weird by the minute. "But why me? Why doesn't her mother get a doctor for her?"

Farzana didn't answer, but I could see she was under a lot of stress.

"Okay. Get in there." I said, opening the passenger-side door for her. Fatima, my wife, had gone to spend the day at her mother's place, with the children, while I had attended a Madressa meeting. I therefore promised myself I would just go and see what was going on and be back before Fatima and the kids returned. I was tired and I wanted to get into bed. "I can't stay for long. Okay? I have other things to do as well."

"Thank you, Muallim!" She uttered and the relief on her face was almost painful to see. "She is very sick!"

I didn't comment as I reversed the car out of the driveway. But I couldn't help feeling a shiver run down my spine as I thought about Nadia and that one time I had gone to fetch Shehaam from that house where Nadia had taken her to and the altercation I had had with a thin, snake-like woman who had told me that a child had the right to choose her own religion. I shall not say what I told her- it is unprintable! But what I had seen there that night had had my neck hairs raising and had me swear to myself that I would not allow any child that I knew to fall into the clutches of those who practice Satanism!

Sadly though, Nadia, being a very self-willed person paid scant interest to my admonitions. Even when I approached her mother, I was told, in no uncertain terms, that Nadia was still young and she would realize the folly of her ways once she was more matured. That was more than a year ago.

And now, as I stopped in front of their house, I could still see the dead goat, covered in blood and the head with eyes wide open, as if accusing those who had killed it, lying in the middle of the floor of that snake woman's place. One could only guess what they were doing with the blood of that dead goat.

Farzana got out and didn't wait for me as she made her way to the front door. All the lights were on and there were two cars parked in front of the lawn. I could see movement behind the curtains.

"Muallim is here," Farzana called out as she opened the door. Nadia's mother stood there crying.

I greeted.

"What happened?" I enquired, thinking how very different our last encounter had been when she had practically thrown me out of her house. "Where's Nadia?"

She didn't say anything, just led me into the house where I saw two women sitting in the kitchen. Nadia was in a room at the back. There were people with her.

I entered and the first thing that hit me like a brick in the face was the terrible smell that pervaded the room. It was a smell of rotting flesh mixed with the pungent odour of incense. It was the same smell I had experienced at that snake woman's place!

I went further into the room and saw a man sitting by Nadia's side on a stool. He had a stethoscope around his neck. Nadia was staring angrily at him.

I frowned. There was no one else. I couldn't understand it. I had heard many voices."

"Get out! You Bastard!" And I jumped back. Nadia was speaking to the doctor in a voice that you sometimes heard in horror films, but not in real life. Her eyes were completely white and spittle drooled from the corners of her mouth. "Leave me alone! You..!"

I shall not elaborate on her vocabulary, but it was of the very foulest nature. She cursed in different tones, sometimes like that of a male with an extremely deep voice and sometimes in a screeching tone that had my nerves jangling involuntarily. The doctor seemed to be at his wits end as he tried to calm her down.

I went to her. She didn't recognize me.

"Who are you? Did you also come to f... me?" There was a huge bulge on her stomach.

I didn't pay her any mind. The doctor stared at me. "Nadia..." I said, laying my hand on her arm. "listen to me!"

"F...You!" She screamed. "F...You!" And she tried to claw my face. I moved my head to one side and pressed her down with both hands.
"Say: He is Allah The One.
Allah The Irresistible. The Absolute Power!
He was not born...And neither does He give birth.
And none can be compared unto him!

I read these verses from the Quran, three times and blew over her. Her body convulsed and the doctor had to help me keep her down.

She was immensely strong and I was suddenly afraid that if we couldn't control her there would be no telling what she could do, not only to herself but to all those who came into contact with her. I read again:
"Allah...There is no other God but Him
The Mighty. The All Powerful!
No slumber, nor sleep can overpower Him
To Him Belongs whatever is in the Heavens and the Earth..."

I read these verses in Arabic and blew over her every time I had finished. I had never read so loud- these verses- at any occasion that I could ever remember!

She suddenly went limp.

"Nadia!" The doctor whispered and bent down to her.

She suddenly jumped up and grabbed his hair. I hit her across the face so hard that her head snapped back. She released the man's hair.

"O,Allah!" I said softly, urgently, as I watched her bending double onto the bed. "Forgive this child. Please forgive her! O Most Merciful of all those who show Mercy. Please forgive her! Please forgive her! Please!"

I took a glass of water that stood on a bedside table and sprinkled it over her as I spoke to Allah. "Help her. O, Lord! Please help her! Only You can help her. O, Allah. Please have Mercy on her. Please! I beg of You! Please! "And Nadia suddenly started to vomited till there was nothing left in her stomach. She vomited and vomited, her thin body swaying from side to side, her eyes closed as she started to whimper pathetically.

I rubbed her head and saw that she was starting to bleed between her legs. The doctor saw it too and examined her.

He frowned at me. "If I'm not mistaken, I'd say she's miscarrying!"

"What?" I frowned back at him astonished. "Are you sure?"

"Yes! It's definitely not her period!"

I found out afterwards that Nadia had been impregnated by someone of her cult, posing as Satan himself. She was to bear him a child and together, as per the 'Scriptures' they were to rule the Earth.

What nonsense! One might be tempted to say. What rubbish! But what I saw there that night was not nonsense, nor rubbish. That child was genuinely 'possessed' and, if I hadn't managed to get her under control, who knows what could have happened?