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.