[Taken from Introduction to Islam by Muhammad Hamidullah (Centre Culturel Islamique, Paris, 1969), with some changes to make it more readable. The changes are marked by pairs of brackets like around this paragraph.]
IN the annals of men, individuals have not been lacking who conspicuously devoted their lives to the socio-religious reform of their connected peoples. We find them in every epoch and in all lands. In India, there lived those who transmitted to the world the Vedas, and there was also the great Gautama Buddha; China had its Confucius; the Avesta was produced in Iran. Babylonia gave to the world one of the greatest reformers, the Prophet Abraham (not to speak of such of his ancestors as Enoch and Noah about whom we have very scanty information). The Jewish people may rightly be proud of a long series of reformers: Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon, and Jesus among others.Read more...
Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:
وَلاَ تَكُونُواْ كَالَّذِينَ خَرَجُواْ مِن دِيَارِهِم بَطَرًا وَرِئَاء النَّاسِ وَيَصُدُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللّهِ وَاللّهُ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ مُحِيطٌ
(8:47) And be not like those who came forth from their homes exulting, with a desire to be seen of people, and hindering others from the way of Allah. Allah encompasses all that they do.
This alludes to the army of the disbelieving Qurayash, which, when it proceeded on a military expedition against the Muslims, was accompanied by singing and dancing minstrels. (See Ibn Sa'd. vol. 2, p. 13 ) Whenever the army halted, dancing and drinking parties were held. Also the army arrogantly vaunted its military power and numerical strength before the tribes and localities which fell on the way, and boasted of its invincibility. (See al-Waqidi, vol. 1, p. 39 ) This much is about the moral state of the Quraysh army. What was even worse was the object of their fighting. They were not fighting for any lofty ideal. What they aimed at was merely to defeat the forces of truth and justice, to suppress and obliterate the only group which sought to uphold the truth. They simply did not want any one to champion the cause of truth and justice.
This occasion was considered appropriate to warn the Muslims not to let themselves degenerate into a group like the Quraysh. God had favoured them with faith and devotion to the truth. And gratitude to God for this favour required that they should purify both their conduct and their reason for fighting.
This directive was not meant just for the time in which it was revealed. It is equally applicable today, and will remain applicable in all times to come. The forces of Unbelief today are no different from those in the time of the Prophet (peace he on him) for the moral state of the present-day armies is no better than of armies in the past. Arrangements for prostitution and drinking are as much a part of the present-day armies of unbelievers as ever before. The soldiers in these armies feel no shame in openly demanding the maximum amount of alcoholic drinks and as many call-girls as possible. Without any sense of shame the soldiers virtually ask their compatriots to make available to them their daughters and sisters for the gratification of their lust. That being the case how can one expect that the soldiers of today would not go about committing debauchery and polluting the life of the people in the lands which they happen to conquer?
Apart from moral corruption, the soldiers of the present-day armies are known for their arrogance and affrontery to the conquered peoples. Their gestures and conversation - both of ordinary soldiers and officers - bespeak of their arrogance. Arrogance is also reflected in the statements made by the statesmen of the militarily-strong and triumphant nations who in effect boastfully say to their people, in the words of the Quran: 'No one shall overcome you today' (al-Anfal 8: 48) and challenging the whole world in their vainglory: 'Who is greater than us in strength?' (Fusilat 41: 15).
These powers are evidently wicked, but the purposes for which they wage war are even more so. These powers are keen, out of sheer trickery, to assure the rest of the world that in waging war they are prompted only by the welfare of mankind. In actual fact, they might have either one motive for waging war or another, but it is absolutely certain that the motive is not the welfare of mankind. Their purpose is to establish their exclusive control and to exploit the resources created by God for all mankind. Their goal is to reduce other nations to the position of hewers of wood and drawers of water and to subject them to thraldom and servitude. Here Muslims are being told, in effect, that they should eschew the ways of non-Muslims and desist from devoting their lives, energy, and resources to the evil purposes for which non-Muslims engage in warfare. (Tafheemul Quran)
The Prophet (pbuh) asked people to be just and kind. As the supreme judge and arbiter, as the leader of men, as generalissimo [head commander and chief] of a rising power, as a reformer and apostle, he had always to deal with men and their affairs. He had often to deal with mutually inimical and warring tribes when showing justice to one carried the danger of antagonizing the other, and yet he never deviated from the path of justice. In administering justice, he made no distinction between believers and nonbelievers, friends and foes, high and low. From numerous instances reported in the traditions, a few are given below.
Sakhar, a chief of a tribe, had helped Muhammad (pbuh) greatly in the siege of Taif, for which he was naturally obliged to him. Soon after, two charges were brought against Sakhar: one by Mughira of illegal confinement of his (Mughira's) aunt and the other by Banu Salim of forcible occupation of his spring by Sakhar. In both cases, he decided against Sakhar and made him undo the wrong. [Abu Dawud]
Abdullah Bin Sahal, a companion, was deputized to collect rent from Jews of Khaibar. His cousin Mahisa accompanied him but, on reaching Khaibar, they had separated. Abdullah was waylaid and done to death. Mahisa reported this tragedy to the Prophet (pbuh) but as there were no eye-witnesses to identify the guilty, he did not say anything to the Jews and paid the blood-money out of the state revenues. [Sahih Bukhari]
A woman of the Makhzoom family with good connections was found guilty of theft. For the prestige of the Quraish, some prominent people including Asmaa Bin Zaid interceded to save her from punishment. The Prophet (pbuh) refused to condone the crime and expressed displeasure saying,
"Many a community ruined itself in the past as they only punished the poor and ignored the offences of the exalted. By Allah, if Muhammad's (My) daughter Fatima would have committed theft, her hand would have been severed."[Sahih Bukhari]
The Jews, in spite of their hostility to the Prophet (pbuh), were so impressed by his impartiality and sense of justice that they used to bring their cases to him, and he decided them according to Jewish law. [Abu Dawud]
Once, while he was distributing the spoils of war, people flocked around him and one man almost fell upon him. He pushed the men with a stick causing a slight abrasion. He was so sorry about this that he told the man that he could have his revenge, but the man said, "O messenger of Allah, I forgive you." [Abu Dawud]
In his fatal illness, the Prophet (pbuh) proclaimed in a concourse assembled at his house that if he owed anything to anyone the person concerned could claim it; if he had ever hurt anyone's person, honour or property, he could have his price while he was yet in this world. A hush fell on the crowd. One man came forward to claim a few dirhams which were paid at once. [Ibn Hisham]
by Athar Husain
An excerpt from the book entitled "The Message of Mohammad," by Athar Husain.
Muhammad (PBUH) (Blessings and Peace be upon him) was born in Makkah, Arabia, on Monday, 12 Rabi' Al-Awwal (2 August C.E). His mother, Aminah was the daughter of Wahb bin Abd Al-Manaf of the Zahrah family. His father, Abdullah, was the son of Abd Al-Muttalib. His genealogy has been traced to the noble house of Isma'il, the son of Ibrahim (Abraham) (PBUH) (May Peace be upon him) in about the fortieth descent. Muhammad's father had died before his birth and his mother died when he was about six years old making him an orphan. In accordance with the tradition of noble families of Makkah, he was taken by a foster mother, Halimah, to her village where he lived for a few years. During these years he was taken to Makkah several times to visit his mother. After the death of his mother, he was placed under the custody of his grandfather, Abd Al-Muttalib. When the grandfather died, he was under the care of his uncle, Abu Talib. By this time he used to look after sheep around Makkah and used to accompany his uncle on trade journeys to Syria.
In his youth he believed firmly in the Oneness of Allah (God)(SWT). He lived a very simple life and hated vanity and pride. He was compassionate to the poor, widows and orphans and shared their sufferings by helping them. He avoided all vices, which were commonly practiced among young people such as gambling, drinking wine, vulgarity and others. He was well-known as As-Sadiq(the truthful) and Al-Amin (the trustworthy). He was always trusted as a mediator between two conflicting parties in his homeland, Makkah.
The One and Only.
Fourteen hundred years ago, the polytheists and Jews in Arabia asked Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) questions about God. Some of these questions were:
Tell us of your Lord's ancestery.
O Muhammad, tell us attributes of your Lord, who has sent you as prophet.
What is your Lord made of?
Is He made of gold, silver, iron or what?
Does He belong to a race of Gods?
Does He have parents or children?
Who will inherit the earth after Him?
The answer came in the following verse of the Holy Quran:
قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ
Say: "He is Allah, the One and Only.” (The Holy Quran, Surah Al-Ikhlas, Ayah 1, 112:1)
Let us first analyze the sentence, “ Huwa-Allahu Ahad”, هُوَ ٱللَّهُ أَحَدٌ lexically.
In this sentence, Huwa is the subject (mubtada) and Allahu its predicate (its khabar), and Ahad-un its second predicate (second khabar). According to this parsing the sentence means: "He (about Whom you are questioning me) is Allah, the One and Only.” Another meaning according to the language rules can be, "He is AIIah, the One."
Here, the first thing to understand is the unusual use of AHAD in the sentence.
Generally, the word is either used in the possessive cases (mudhaf, mudhaf elaih) like yaum ul-ahad (first day of the week), fab’atho ahada kum (send one of your men) or to indicate total negative (nafi ‘aam) as Ma jaa a-ni ahad-un (No one has come to me), or in common questions like Hal `indika ahad-un (Is there anyone with you?), or in conditional clauses like In ja'a-ka ahad-un (If someone comes to you), or in counting as ahad, ithnan, ahad ashar (one, two, eleven). Apart from these uses, there is no precedent in the pre-Qur'anic Arabic that the mere word ahad might have been used as an adjective for a person or thing. After the revelation of the Holy Qur'an, this word has been used only for the Being of Allah, and for no one else. This extraordinary use by itself shows that being single, unique and matchless is a fundamental attribute of Allah; no one else in the world is qualified with this quality: He is One, He has no equal.
Then, keeping in view the questions that the polytheists and the followers of earlier scriptures asked the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) about his Lord, let us see how they were answered with ahad-un after Huwa-Allah.
First, it means: "He alone is the Sustainer: no one else has any share or part in providence. And since He alone can be the Ilah (Deity) Who is Master and Sustainer, therefore, no one else is His associate in Divinity either."
Secondly, it also means "He alone is the Creator of the universe: no one else is His associate in this work of creation. He alone is the Master of the universe, the Disposer and Administrator of its system, the Sustainer , of His creatures, Helper and Rescuer in times of hardship; no one else has any share or plan whatever in the works of Godhead, which as the polytheists of Makkah acknowledged, are works of Allah.
Thirdly since they had also asked the questions: of what is your Lord made? what is His ancestry? What is his gender? From whom has He inherited the world and who will inherit it after Him? -all these questions have been answered with one word ahad for AIIah. It means:
Compiled by Dr. Ishaq Zahid
Aug. 5, 2007