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)
By Prof. K. S. Ramakrishna Rao, Head of the Department of Philosophy,
Government College for Women University of Mysore, Mandya-571401 (Karnatika).
Re-printed from "Islam and Modern age", Hydrabad, March 1978.
In the desert of Arabia was Mohammad born, according to Muslim historians, on April 20, 571. The name means highly praised. He is to me the greatest mind among all the sons of Arabia. He means so much more than all the poets and kings that preceded him in that impenetrable desert of red sand.
When he appeared Arabia was a desert -- a nothing. Out of nothing a new world was fashioned by the mighty spirit of Mohammad -- a new life, a new culture, a new civilization, a new kingdom which extended from Morocco to Indies and influenced the thought and life of three continents -- Asia, Africa and Europe.
When I thought of writing on Mohammad the prophet, I was a bit hesitant because it was to write about a religion I do not profess and it is a delicate matter to do so for there are many persons professing various religions and belonging to diverse school of thought and denominations even in same religion. Though it is sometimes, claimed that religion is entirely personal yet it can not be gain-said that it has a tendency to envelop the whole universe seen as well unseen. It somehow permeates something or other our hearts, our souls, our minds their conscious as well as subconscious and unconscious levels too. The problem assumes overwhelming importance when there is a deep conviction that our past, present and future all hang by the soft delicate, tender silked cord. If we further happen to be highly sensitive, the center of gravity is very likely to be always in a state of extreme tension. Looked at from this point of view, the less said about other religion the better. Let our religions be deeply hidden and embedded in the resistance of our innermost hearts fortified by unbroken seals on our lips.Read more...
Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:
إِنَّهُ لاَ يُفْلِحُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ
The Qur'anic term falah (prosperity, success) used in the above verse (last part of verse 10:17) has been understood by some to signify such things as longevity, worldly prosperity and other worldly attainments. Under this false impression, they tend to believe that if a claimant to prophethood attains material prosperity and longevity or if his message is spread around, then he ought to be considered a genuine Prophet because he has indeed attained 'prosperity'. Had he been an impostor, it is argued, he would soon have been assassinated, or would have starved to death, and, in any case, his message would not have spread around. Such an absurd line of argument can only be pursued by those who are altogether ignorant of the concept of falah (prosperity) as envisaged in the Qur'an, who are unaware of God's law of respite regarding evil-doers, and who are altogether unappreciative of the special meaning in which the term has been employed in the present context.
In order to fully understand what is meant by saying that 'the guilty shall not prosper', a number of things ought to be borne in mind. In the first place, the Qur'anic statement that "the guilty shall not prosper' is not made with a view to providing a yardstick that might be applied by people so as to determine the truth or falsity of the claimants of prophethood. The verse does not seek to stress that all those who 'prosper' after claiming to be a Prophet are truly Prophets, and that those who do not prosper after making such a claim are not so. The point of emphasis here is altogether different. Here the Prophet (peace be on him) is being made to say that since he knows fully that those guilty of inventing lies against Allah could not prosper, he would not dare make any claim to prophethood if such a claim was false.
On the other hand, the Prophet (peace be on him) also knew that the unbelievers were guilty of rejecting the true signs of God and of declaring a true Prophet of God to be an impostor. In view of that monstrous guilt, it was quite apparent to the Prophet (peace be on him) that they would not prosper.
Moreover, the Qur'anic term falah (prosperity, success) has not been used in the limited sense of worldly success. Rather, it denotes that enduring success which admits of no failure regardless of whether one is able to achieve success in the present phase of one's existence or not. it is quite possible that someone who calls people to falsehood might enjoy life and nourish in a worldly sense, and he might even be able to attain a substantial following for his message. But this is not true prosperity or success; rather it constitutes total loss and failure. Contrarily, it is also possible that someone who calls people to the truth might be exposed to much persecution and be overwhelmed by pain and suffering. It is possible that even before he is able to create any significant following, he is continually subjected to persecution and torture. In the Qur'anic view, such an apparently tragic end constitutes the very zenith of such a person's success rather than his failure.
Moreover, it should be remembered that it has been amply elucidated in the Qur'an that God does not punish evil-doers instantly: that He rather grants them a fair opportunity to mend their ways. Not only that, if the evil-doers misuse the respite granted by God to perpetrate further wrongs, they are sometimes granted an even further respite. In fact, at times a variety of worldly favours are bestowed upon such evil-doers in order that the potential for wickedness inherent in them might be fully exposed by their actions, proving that they do indeed deserve a very severe punishment. Hence, if an impostor continues to enjoy periods of respite and if worldly favours are lavished upon him this should not in any way give rise to the notion that he is on the right path.
In the same way as God grants respite to other evil-doers. He also grants respite to impostors. There are no grounds whatsoever for believing that the respite granted to other evil-doers would not be granted to those impostors who lay false claim to prophethood. We may well call to mind that Satan himself has been granted a respite until Doomsday, It has never been indicated that although Satan is granted a free hand to misguide human beings, as soon as he throws up an impostor claiming prophethood such a venture is instantly nipped in the bud.
In order to refute the view expressed above it is possible that someone may refer to the following verse of the Qur'an: Now if he [i.e. Muhammad] would have made up, ascribed some sayings to Us, We would indeed have seized him by the right hand, and then indeed would have cut his life-vein (al-Haqqah 69: 44-6).
Even a little reflection makes it obvious that the verse in question does not contradict the view we have expressed above. For, what the present verse says relates to a principle which God follows in dealing with true Prophets. Were any such Prophet to falsely claim something to be a revelation from God, he would instantly be seized by God's wrath. To argue to the contrary that all those who are not seized by God's wrath are necessarily genuine Prophets is simply a logical fallacy devoid of any justification. For the threat of instant Divine wrath embodied in this verse is applicable only to true Prophets, and not to impostors who, like other evil-doers, are granted a respite.
This can be well understood if we bear in mind the disciplinary rules laid down by different governments for their officials. It is obvious that those rules are not enforced in respect of ordinary citizens. Were the latter to lay any false claim to being a government official, he would be subjected to the normal rules of the criminal code relating to the conviction of those who are guilty of fraud rather than to the disciplinary rules meant for government officials. Under this analogy, an impostor who claims to be a Prophet, would be dealt with by God along with other evil-doers who commit evil, and who, as we know, are not necessarily punished immediately.
In any case, as we have pointed out earlier, the verses quoted above were not revealed so as to provide the criterion to judge the truth of anyone who lays claim to prophethood. This verse should not be considered to mean that if a celestial hand stretches forth to cut off the life-vein of a claimant to prophethood, such a person is an impostor; and if that does not happen, he is a genuine Prophet. Such a weird criterion would have been needed only if no other means were available to judge the genuineness of a claimant to prophethood. But as things stand, a Prophet is known by his character, by his work, and by the contents of his message. (Tafheemul Quran)
"Those who believe, and those who are Jews, Christians, Sabeans, all those who believe in God and in the Day of Judgment and do the good works, all of them have their merit with their Lord. They have no reason to fear nor will they grieve." [Qur'an, 2:62]
Has the world known any tolerance wider than this? Whoever believes in God, in the Day of Judgment, and in doing good works will have his merits with his Lord. No difference separates the believer from those whom the Islamic call has not reached, whether Jews, Christians, or Sabeans. [Commenting on this verse, al Tabari wrote in his exegesis: "'Those who believe' refers to the people who believed in the Prophet of God.' 'The Jews' refers to those who gave themselves this name as a derivation from their statement, 'We have returned to You,' that is, 'we have repented.' 'The Christians,' are the followers of Jesus. They were called by this name-nasara-in derivation from the name, Nazareth, the village of Jesus in Palestine. According to another view, the derivation was one of Jesus' statements, 'And who are my helpers-ansar in God?' 'The Sabeans' are, according to one view, those who worship the angels. According to another view, the Sabeans were a people who believed that there is no God but God but had neither scripture nor prophet. Their religion may be characterized by no other statement except that there is no God but God. According to a third view, the Sabeans were a people without religion." Al Tabari explained the verse as follows: "Those who believe in God and in the reality of resurrection after death, in the Day of Judgment, who do the good works in obedience to God-such men have their merit with their Lord; that is, they have the merit earned by their good works. As for the statements 'they have no reason to fear' and 'neither shall they grieve,' the meaning which God-May He be adored-intended is that those people have no reason to fear any of the terrors of the Day of Judgment, nor will they grieve for all the good things of the world which they left behind when they come to know all the bliss which God has reserved for them in Paradise." Following these comments, al Tabari mentioned that this verse was revealed in reference to those Christians who guided Salman al Farisi and converted him to their religion, announcing to him that an Arab prophet would come forth and asking Salman to verify the identity of such prophet with given signs and to follow him if he could find him. After Salman converted to Islam, he told the Prophet about those Christians, and the Prophet replied: "0 Salman, those people belong to Hell." Salman was grieved, and on this account, God revealed the verse: "Those who believe, the Christians, etc." According to another view. God had revoked this verse with another verse, namely, "Whoever seeks another religion besides Islam, it will not be accepted of him" (Qur'an 3:85). However, al Tabari adds: "What we have mentioned at the beginning is the closer to the commonsense meaning of the revelation because God-May He be praised-could not have restricted merit for the good works and faith to some of His creatures rather than to others. The predicate of the verse therefore belongs to every subject mentioned therein, including the Muslims." A confirmation of this view of al Tabari is that it may be said in regard to the verse, "Whoever seeks another religion besides Islam, it will not be accepted of him." It applies to those .Muslims who seek another religion besides Islam, after they have been born into Islam or come to believe in it. As to those who are born in another religion, and those whom the Islamic call has not reached without falsification, their case will be like that of those who have gone before the advent of Muhammad and his prophethood, and who have not come to know of his message as it is and without falsification. (See further Ibn Jarir al Tabari, Kitab al Tafasir, Vol. 1, pp. 253-57.)]
God-may He be adored-further says: "Of the people of the Book, some believe in God, in what has been revealed to you, and what has been revealed to them. These revere God and fear Him and do not exchange the revelations of God for a mean price. To them belongs their reward with their Lord. God is quick to take account." [Qur'an 3:199] How far is all this from our world dominated as it is by western civilization? How far is the tolerance of Islam from the national and religious fanaticisms of the West and all the wars and catastrophes which it has contributed to human history!