In some sense, every historian and philosopher of history since Hegel is his child. His system of thought, capable of elaboration in any direction has given rise to all sorts of interpretations, inanely idealistic as well as rigidly materialistic. The Hegelian legacy also looms in the writings of all the historical thinkers assigning a place to Islam in their scale of ascending civilizations. L. von Ranke, for instance, one of the giants of the critical study of universal history, looked at Islam essentially as the great antagonist of Christian Europe, in his monumental Weltgeschichte (1881-88) he also came to the conclusion that the fall of Constantinople had only been a Pyrrhic victory for Islam as the Muslims later were unable to bring Europe down on her knees. The well-known historian Jacob Burckhardt, though he differed with Ranke on many points, nevertheless was in agreement with the latter in having a low opinion of Islam. Not too infrequently, he uses epithets like ‘wretched’ and ‘bare’ but also feels grateful that Islam, by its victory over Byzantium, saved Europe from the Mongol peril. In the same vein must also be mentioned another historian of greater notoriety, Count Gobineau. His notion of historical development was unabashedly racist, and though in equanimity with the general quasi-scientific racialist outlook of his times, the notions of ‘Aryan’ superiority that he cherished, have brought such tragedy to Europe in the form of Nazism that any refutation of his historical claims appears quite super fluous today. The racist tendencies of European historiography found their culmination in Ernest Renan. The moving force of history, he claimed, was the spirit of that race. Islam and Christianity, he held, are not so much two different religions as two disparate expressions of two uneven races. Christianity owes it genius to the ‘Aryan’ race, Islam to the ‘Semitic’ one. From this distinction also followed some facile stereo-types of incredible longevity. The ‘Semites’, he asserted (and many an Orientalist scholar agreed with him later), have no capacity for rational thought and philosophy; they have no aptitude for plastic arts and their religiosity is arid and legalistic, devoid of all mytho-poetical apprehensions of the truth. Renan, as it is well- known, was refuted very forcefully by Jamal-ud-Din Afghani who was then living in Paris. However, the fact that he was an Iranian, i.e. a ‘non-Semite’, Renan construed, only vindicated his theory of the intellectual poverty of the Semites! History and philosophy with such thinkers are thus no more than handmaidens of the European claims to racial superiority. Clearly, the Hegelain rendezvous with historical destiny did not, as subsequent events were to show, rule out the execution of genocide! So much for the Geist of history!

The racist streak, unfortunately, is also visible in other wise very humanistic and universalist outlook on human history that also followed the Hegelian foot prints. The notions of historical materialism, those of the unity of the historical process as propounded by Marx and Engel, enshrine insights too about the ‘oriental mode of production’ which are essentially another form of refutation of Islam. Shortly before the outbreak of the Crimean war, Marx and Engels tried, in an exchange of letters, to explain the rise of Islam from their characteristically materialistic conception of history. Drawing upon Adam Smith and Mills, they made a topological distinction between western and oriental history. Islam, quite naturally in their opinion, falls into the latter category. Their argument, extrapolating evidence from the modes of production in the arid zones, rests on the insight that because of the climatic condition, agriculture in these regions could only be carried out by means of state-financed and controlled irrigation works. Hence, government in oriental societies tended to be too powerful, in fact ‘despotic’. Islam typifies that form of rule, they asserted. Though no clear answer emerges from their deliberations on the nature of state and rule in the arid zones, their perception highlights the problem in a new and vigorous fashion. The interaction of the nomadic and sedentary forms of desert life, which was earlier treated with great acumen by Ibn Khaldun, also gets the attention of the two thinkers but no definite conclusion is drawn by them. Later, this seminal theory about the oriental mode of production was given a monumental and overly elaborate expression by Karl Wittfogel. His exposition of the ‘hydraulic society’ as preserved in the infamous opus ‘Oriental Despotism’, however, is a triumph of banality. The original Marxian insight, besides, being made the instrument of fierce polemical attack on the ‘Asiatic’ Russian state, is also transformed by Wittfogel into a glib and trite scheme of a historical sociology. Islam, once again, recedes into the background of the intra-Marxist debate and serves no other purpose than of supplying the Marxist contenders with an epithet of abuse! The most devastating blow to this Marxist (or quasi-Marxist) theory of the ‘oriental mode of production’, it needs no emphasis, comes from the composition of the Muslim society itself. Islam is no longer restricted to the desert and semi-desert areas of the globe. In fact, the most densely populated Muslim areas (Indonesian archipelago, Malaysia, Bental etc) are tropical or sub-tropical lands, full of luscious greenery, the abundance of rain and no irrigation schemes to speak of!

Not all the verdicts of the western historians of Islam, it must also be stated for the sake of balance, have been averse and negative. The anti-clerical tradition, which has also been a vigorous strand of European intellectualism, found much to praise in Islam. The idea, fully accepted now, which claims the cultural superiority of Islamic East over Christian West in the ‘middle ages’, for instance, owes its germs to the labours of the historians of the Enlightenment. With his history of the crusades (Kulturgeschichte der Kreuzzuge, 1883), for instance, the Konigsberg historian Hans Prutz created a furore by asserting that only through contact with the Islamic world did the West learn to emancipate itself from the clutches of the Church. The experience of the Crusades, he further maintained, ‘contained the germs of the Reformation and Renaissance, of Humanism and the creation of nation-states’, hi a similar spirit, Gustav le Bon wrote an adulative account of the Muslim civilisations, hi his well-known La civilisation des Arabes (1884), which has been many translations in the Muslim world, he praised the originality and intellectual achievements of the Muslim people and frankly admitted that for 500 years, the universities of the West had lived off the intellectual labours of their Muslim neighbours. Despite the wide spread popularity which Le Bon’s work still enjoys in the Muslim world, it must again be emphasised that the favourable depiction of Islam in the historiography of the Enlightenment has little to do with the assessment of Islam by its own norms. Islam, here too, acts as a shadow of the European self, only now it assumes the apparition of an anti-clerical Shangri-La![208]

After the First World War, there reigned a mood of pessimism and gloom in the West. No one better epitomises this sense of doom prevailing in the post-war Europe than Oswald Spengler. His classic work, with a chilling premonitory title, Der Untergang des Abendlandes (The Decline of the West) achieved overnight fame and made its author the foremost celebrity of the intellectual circles of his time. Posterity has not been able to ignore him either. Though all his individual conclusions and propositions have now been fully refuted, Spengler’s work still retains the intellectual dignity of a paradigm, albeit a negative one.

Like Hegel, Spengler too draws his inspiration from the natural science of his day: only his model of history is supplied not by physics but by biology. Human history for him is a record of different cultures, each conceived as a living organism: individual, unique but subject to the same biological laws. Every culture, thus like a living being, experiences birth, maturity and the inevitable death and extinction. Every culture, Spengler further claimed, possesses a unique ‘soul’. Art forms the fundamental symbol of a culture; it is the shaper of its soul. Through a particular concept of spacewhich is conveyed by the symbolism of its architecture, a culture views the world in a characteristic fashion. Outsiders, however, find this ‘space feeling’ incomprehen­sible.

All the variety of human cultures and civilisations, Spengler believed, could be classified into three basic types: the Classical, the Magian and the Faustian. Islam, or the Arabian culture as Spengler prefers to call it, not only belongs to the Magian type; it is in fact its most successful and notable expression, in that sense, Islamic civilisation is not original but embodies that ‘Magian life-feeling’ (Lebensgefuhl) which is peculiar to nearly all the ‘religious’ cultures of the Near East such as Judaism, early Christianity, ancient Chaldean society, Zoroastrianism and so forth. Like Christian­ity, the ancient Chaldean society, Zoroastrianism and so forth. The most salient feature of the Magian world-view, furthermore, is an intensely dualistic moralism, a split between the spirit and the soul so to speak, and a strong sense of messianic expectations. The Magian personality also experiences the world as a cavern and projects this feeling in its sacred architecture. Christian and pagan basillicas, Hellenistic and Jewish temples, structures of Baal worship, Mithraeums, Mazdian fire-temples and mosques are all examples of this ‘cave-feeling’. The supreme achievement of the cavernous structure is of course the dome in which the Magian ‘feeling finds its purest expression’. (It is also typical of the Spenglerian historicity that he makes meaningless comparisons like his claim that ‘Pantheon’ (as rebuilt by the Roman emperor Hadrian) was the first mosque!)

Spengler has elicited a lot of vehement criticism. Marxists accuse him of being a ‘firm supporter of pure historicism’ and of abolishing the idea of development and replacing it with that of fate. Later historians have found so many faults with his data, which his whole edifice of theoretical contemplation quite simply collapses under these profes­sional assaults. In matters of detail, Spengler is almost invariably factually wrong. As for his postulation of the ‘Magian’ nature of Islam, Spengler elicited an immediate rebuttal from Muhammad Iqbal, who was in close touch with all the philosophic currents of his time. In his well-known The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (1932), Iqbal accused Spengler of not understanding at all ‘the nature of Islam and the culture activity it initiated’. Both dualism and messianism, which characterise the Magian world-view, Iqbal maintained, are relatively unimportant in Islam whose denial of ‘every other god but God’ and the doctrine of finality of Prophethood run counter to the mainstream of Magian thinking. If the characteristics posited by Spengler are accepted, Islam certainly is the least Magian of all the religions enumerated by Spengler. Christianity, and to a lesser extend Judaism, are far more ‘Magian’ than Islam.

Despite all these strictures and refutations, Spengler’s reputation endures. In Toynbee, Mumford, Sorokin, Suzuki and others, he has found many perceptive followers whose method of pursuing ‘cultural studies’ is uncompromisingly Spenglerian. ‘Statesman like Nixon and ‘political scientists’ like Kissinger have found studying Spengler rewarding for the under­standing of contemporary realities! Even Arab historians have made use of his insights into the nature of Arabian culture for self-analysis and criticism (Cf: Hichem Djait: L’Europe et l’lslam, 1978). Spengler is also undergoing re-evaluation on the Continent and his role as an outspoken critic of Nazism is being increasingly emphasised. Besides the re-issuing of The Decline of the West both in the US and in Britain, there have appeared recent translations of other Spenglerian works even in France!

The basis of the Spenglerian spell is no doubt due to the profundity of his contemplation. What he lacks in factual accuracy, he makes up for in perception and insight. His metaphor for the depiction of modern restless man, i.e. ‘Faustian’, is very apt and, because of this, has gained widespread acceptance. Spengler, however, is a European thinker and for all his perceptive insights into the nature of ‘Arabian culture’, he remains an outsider to Islam; its essential ethos, its life-affirming elan, its world-shattering faith forever remain out of his reach. Spengler’s insight into the nature of art as a mirror of a civilisation, however, should be further explored: it might be found fruitful in the study of Islamic art which remains something of an enigma for the traditional methodology of art history.[209]

Though decidedly less perceptive than his precursor, and according to some his mentor, Spengler, Arnold Toynbee is much better known in the English speaking world. His monumental A Study of History has come to be regarded as an intellectual tour de force and an intellectual feat for the understanding of the total history of mankind. A sympathetic critic, Lewis Mumford, for instance, has this to say of Toynbee’s magnum opus:’ Obviously a product of the same conditions that gave rise to Spengler’s and Adam’s studies, this interpretation goes much further both in its scholarly command of facts and in its circumspect examination of both theory and evidence. Toynbee’s differentiation of the civilisations is far more comprehensive than Spengler’s and his understanding of human development is not marred by Spengler’s Teutonic barbarisms and atavisms’. Such a judgement, however, smacks more of Anglo-Saxon smugness than of any scholarly insight, hi the opinion of this writer, compared to the towering genius of Spengler, Toynbee, despite all his erudition and industry, appears like a schoolboy!
hi Spengler’s thought, there reigns a propitious balance between the contrary perceptions of historicism and positivism; the claim to the incommunicable individuality of a culture is countered by that of the universal nature of its historical experience. Toynbee develops the second trend of Spenglerian thought and elaborates it ad absurdum. What emerges is not a perceptive pattern but a colourful mosaic (instead of three, there are twenty-one civilisations in Toynbee’s scheme) which is rich in detail but devoid of any overarching form – and hence of meaning. His random crisscrossing of enormous spans of time and geographical distancesrenders even the sacrosanct concept of history, ‘civilisation’, so abstract and academic as to border on the absurd. Toynbee’s deliberations on Islamic civilisation prove the point.

Within the basic unit of his historical schema, i.e. civilisation, Toynbee postulates the recurrent pattern of three institutions and processes. The elan for the genesis of civilisation, according to him, is always provided by ‘religious’ (in today’s parlance, ‘ideological’) impulses. These soon get institutionalised in the body of a ‘universal church’ which leads to the foundation of a ‘universal’ (i.e. cecumencial) state. Thee state ultimately flounders because of the migrating barbarians’ attack on the centres of its culture (Just how much of Ibn Khaldun looms here!) In the Islamic case, the universal church, of course, is the Islamic Ummah, the universal state, the Abbasid caliphate and the volkerwanderung which overran the caliphate, the Turkish and Mongol hordes of the Central Asiatic steppes, the Berbers of North Africa and the Arab nomads of the Peninsula. A deeper analysis of this ‘Islamic’ civilization reveals to the Cambridge professor of history that it is composed of two separate societies. He identifies them as ‘the Arabic’ and ‘the Iranic’! So far, Toynbee’s originality may be found containable!

To the more ‘fundamental question’ of the identification of the ‘parent’ society of which the Abbasid caliphate marked ‘the final stage’, Toynbee supplies a provocative – but as usual meaningless – answer: “The cataclysmic conquests of the primitive Muslim Arabia seem to respond antistrophically, in the rhythm of history, to the cataclysmic conquests of Alexander”. Islam, seen in this light, thus, is nothing but a response to Hellenism. On the religious plane, the response had to be, the Christian historian laments, a rejection of Christianity because to the Near Eastern mind it represented nothing else but a perversion of the indigenous monotheism by the alien polytheism of Hellenism. Politically, the Abbasid caliphate must, so he reckons, also be construed as the restoration of the last indigenous empire which was devastated by the foreign armies of Alexander, i.e. the Achaemanian. This ridiculous exercise in futility thus continues backwards in time until Toynbee is able to locate in the dim and distant horizons of the ‘Syriac’ society – almost 15 centuries earlier (!) – ‘which was the ultimate source of the Muslim empire’. How dogmatic can history get! Here is a historian’s counterpart to ‘the Jewish origin of Islam’: historic scholarship purely as a function of religious faith! Little wonder, even sympathetic observers have been forced to concede that ‘like all Christian critics, Toynbee has difficulty in finding bearings in Islamic theocracy’ (J.W. Fuck). One may further note that whilst Spengler’s ‘positivist’ insight into the ‘Arabian culture’ being the foremost expression of the religious ‘Magian’ world-view, in essence, corroborates the Islamic claim to being the ‘final religion’, to being the ultimate manifestation of Divine revelation, Toynbee’s ‘historicist’ ‘explanation’ about the ultimate ancestry of Islamic civilization is sheer nonsense. It cannot in any meaningful way be related to the Muslim historical experience which it seeks to understand. This also sums up the totality of the western historical assessment of Islam: it appears patently spurious and dogmatic to us Muslims.

Recently, some scholars – mostly Marxist in outlook – have rebelled against the stereotyping of Islamic history and religion. As long as ‘Islam’ is conceived as the great’ other’ of the ‘West’, as long as it serves no other function than of defining the West, albeit negatively, they maintain, we will not achieve any genuine and sympathetic insight into the nature of the societies that have Islam as their ‘religion’ or those whose history is part of the life-cycle of the Muslim community, hi fact, some of them have gone as far as to suppose that ‘Islam’ as a historical concept be totally abolished! Human society, they claim, is one. It is governed by the same laws of history and the adoption of the new religion in the now Muslim societies did not by itself change social structures or economic conditions. No matter what its intrinsic merits or its humanistic motive (The attack by this historicising polemic has demolished the methodology of Orientalism in our own times), it must be rejected forthwith. The claim of the immutability of’ historic laws’ is a tenet of the Marxist dogma which for a Muslim cannot subsume the historicity of the Ummah. Islamic faith cannot be interiorized to the extent that Muslim history becomes nothing but a quest for some metahistorical salvation. Neither can the dictates of the Islamic faith be sacrificed at the alter of some unproven and whimsical set of ‘historical laws’. It is so because history for us Muslims is not only a search for theoretical meaning but an arena of practical action as well. Our faith dictates that the process of history be subdued to the will of Allah.

This brief survey shows that it is always sobering, nay chastising, to have oneself scrutinised by alien, perforce hostile, glance. It is nasty and painful to look at oneself in the mirror of someone else. But it is sometimes necessary and always useful. Our trek also confirms that no glance, however inquisitive and sharp, can penetrate the armour of authenticity. Similarly, no mirror, however clear and bright, reveals the secrets of the inner soul. Outside visions may enhance but they can never supplant the convictions supplied by genuine self-analysis and introspection. It is therefore urgent that Muslim intellectualism renews its search for the method of reflection upon history. History is meaningful to us. To belong to the Ummah is to be partner to her historic mission. History, also, is the ground where the full realisation of our faith must take place. If that requires slaughtering the sacred cow of western historicism, so be it.[210]

The West has not only presented to the world a distorted history of Islam but it is also responsible for giving the world a wrong perception of the geography of the Muslim world and thus a wrong perception of the geohistoric of Islam and the world. The virulent anti-Muslim campaign currently raging in the western Media is the product of a mindset that has been brilliantly analysed by Dr. Thierry Hentsch in Imagining the Middle East. Dr. Thierry is a Professor of international relations at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal. This book is not about the Middle East per se but the west’s perception of what it considers to be the other (1). It traces the west’s attempts to deal with the Middle East, that ever-elusive region of the world whose resources, especially oil today (but other products in the past), the west so desperately covets yet whose people it detests. It examines howthe west’s perceptions of the Middle East were formed and how these have been used as a rationalization for ddermining policy and action. Whether it was the crusades of yester-years, the Gulf war of 1991 or the current anti-Muslim campaign in the media, all are the products of those perceptions. In a sense, this book is a mirror held to the west. Never content with accepting preconceived notions, Hentsch challenges the very terms that have been accepted so uncritically as part of our repertoire.

The Middle East, Far East, etc, are ethnocentric, nay Eurocentric, terms.[211] The reference point is Europe; all regions are defined in relation to their position with it. To the ethnocentric- dare one say eccentric? – Europeans, their continent is the centre of the universe. With the rise of Pan Americana, Washington or New York may have replaced European capitals but the terms remain unchanged. Hentsch points out that these areas have not always been the same as we define them today. Geographically, they have been shifting; the more important point being his concept of the ‘frontier’ between the two worlds. Aware of the shifting frontiers, Hentsch opts for the term, the MeditenMiemCttmt’, to defme the geograpMcalareatto Arabworld plus Turkey and are gicnwMchdso embraces North Aihca.’But even this is not so clear-cutasitrnay sound as the case of the Balkans illustrates. Do they belong to the west or the Qrient? ‘Heasks provocatively, to which he then replies: The frcntier is not mere fy place; it is also moment When does our co-Uective imagination draw the irnaginaiy boundary line between the West and the Orient? ‘He discusses such questions in chapter one. Hentsch then proceeds to examine the west’s encounter wiihlslarn and comes up with the fascinating admission -rare among western writers -thatthe crusades were fought by those who had the least contact with Islam or Muslims. Pope Urban Us struggle for supremacy against the holy Romano-Germanic Empire and not the myth of deliverance of the Holy Land was at the root of the conflict. This had the added advantage of channelling the war like energies of European knights outwardly rather than engulfing Europe in an internal power struggle. Equally revealing is his mention of the fact that the majority of those who joined the crusades, north western Europeans, had never had any contact with the Muslims. Those who had – the Italians, Spaniards, etc – saw no reason to fight them; nor indeed did the people of Jerusalem see any need to be liberated’ from the Seljuks who were then in control of Palestine, the Arabs having lost it. Yet the Pope mobilized the European hordes by harping on the Saracen (Arab) raids on the southern and western shores of the Mediterranean! It was the Catholic Church’s venomous campaign against Islam, seeing it as a challenge to its own authority, which provided grist to the anti-Islamic mill which continues to this day. In the sixteenth century, the Mediterranean became a theatre ofmilitary conflict between Turks and the Spaniards and from then onwards, the Orient took on a political identity. To this politico-military conflict was added the intellectual [European] notion of the ‘oriental despot’, completing the picture of the otherness and, therefore, something to be despised. By the nineteenth century the imagined Orient had become entirely the antithesis of’modernity’ of the west’s conception, helped along, no doubt, by the colonial mentality. Professor Hentsch asks whether any reconciliation with ‘the other (1) is possible. He cautions against easy solutions but points out that Islam that had been branded as ‘outdated’ has suddenly become, in the west’s perception, again a threat. He argues that the west must also abandon the habit of appropriating in cases where it cannot entirely subdue. He points to the romantic notion of some western writers about Saladin [Salahuddin] being part European! The same mentality is at work in denying the Muslims’ contribution to science and other fields of human endeavour upon which the west has so heavily drawn. He arrives at the conclusion that today, we knowthat ethnocentrism is not simply a flaw which, given a bit of mental gymnastics, can be set aside at the threshold of scientific activity. It is the very prism of our perception; it is our view of the world, a lens whose necessity we would be better off to admit, instead of imagining it can be discarded.’ With this understanding, Hentsch argues that self-knowledge becomes a precondition for approaching the other’. This, however, will not be achieved if the west insists that its knowledge is all-inclusive, i.e., ‘universal’. This is a trap which the west must avoid, he cautions, for it leads to the absurd belief that western values are also universal.[212]

A further penetrating study has been made by M. W. Davies, Ashis Nandi and Ziauddin Saudar in their book, Barbaric Others, (reviewed inlmpact International, Oct/Nov 1993), in which they analyse in detail “the great lie of racism, of global apartheid, of Eurocentric myth, which infests the world today, contending that Western racism forms the very ground of Western selfhood. The year 1492, in which Columbus set sail for the Americas, marks a watershed in history, as it signalled the beginning of an age where the only mark of a man’s ‘civilisation’ or ‘barbarity’ was his colour. “Like so much else in the history of Western self-image, the Eurocentric identity is an intelligent, knowledgeably fashioned work of ignorance….the two pillars of Western civilisation, classicism and Christianity, shared a triumphalist self-image.”

The origin of this self-image is found in the crusading ethos in opposition to Islam, which “legitimised the West’s genocidal heterophobia.” in the Europeanmind, the western ‘way of life’, Christianity and the white race are inextricably connected. Unfortunately, Western man “after 500 years of marauding vandalism and colonialism, has arranged through 200 years of education and modernisation to clone himself within the savage world”, i.e. the ‘third world’ is spending a great deal of energy on imitating him. This provides a rationale for resistance and defiance, but the best antidote for Western tribalism must be quest for the moral unity of mankind, which may be found in Islam.

Another Western scholar, Alan Ireland, at a seminar on ‘The Role of Religion in Society’, at Massey University, New Zealand, (reviewed in Crescent InternationalNov 1993), expresses his disappointment with the general Western attitude to the history of Islam as follows. Many historians have found that the West established its sense of identity by contrasting itself with the ‘other (1) during the period of the Crusades. That ‘other’ was the civilisation of Islam, in many ways more advanced than that of medieval Europe, but regarded as evil and described by Pope Urban II in 1095 as ‘absolutely alien to God’.

Because the Muslims opposed Christian advance, the Westerners saw them as the reverse of Christianity in every respect- for example, Christians were compassionate, while Muslims were seen as cruel. Westerners emerged from the Crusades with an even stronger sense of their own superiority, which found full expression during the colonial period, and was confirmed by the newtheory of’evolution’, which posited ‘the survival of the fittest’. This thesis is amply confirmed by a look at Western literature, in which the Prophet Muhammad (pbh) is described as an agent of Satan and confined to Hell, and Orientals described as vicious voluptuaries. More recently, a book on current affairs, by J.H. Curie in 1926, describes Muslims as ‘intellectually weak’ and people who ‘enjoy killing’. William Miller, in his book, A Christian’s response to Islam, (1976), says that Islam is Satan’s most brilliant and effective invention for leading men astray’, and John Laffin in his 1988 book, Holy War: Islam fights, says that Holy War has no scruple and that treaties with infidels can be legitimately broken. This is complete nonsense- it is not Islamic to use one standard for ‘brothers’ and one for ‘others’.

Thus a comparison with a stereo typical W with a stereo typical ‘them’ is still being used as a device to allow the West to take the moral high ground. For example, the contemptuous references to “Muslim fundamentalists’, with no attempt to define the term, is used willy-nilly by the media to refer to any Muslim of whom they disapprove. The word ‘jihad’ is used in the same way, when in fact it has a very broad and complex meaning and does not refer only to war.

The West wants Islam to be defined in Western terms, to fit into the Western scheme of things, to embrace secularism and abandon its comprehensive philosophy. The West is so convinced of its own rightness that it expects Muslims to apologise if they do not measure up to the standards it has set for them. The West’s approach to Islam and the near East is based on delusions, so that they blame uprisings such as the revolution in Iran and the resistance in Palestine on ‘findamentalists’, rather than on the oppressive regimes which they sought to overthrow. Thus we have the myth of the Israeli ‘war of independence’, which was actually a war of conquest by a people who legally owned only 6 to 7% of the land of Palestine.

The perennial attempt to denigrate Islam not only reduces it to a fanatical cult, but also contributes to the climate of intolerance and encourages even more violence. Those who have created the caricatures of Muslims are at least partly responsible for the victimisation of Muslims in Europe today. This vitriolic anti-Islamic attitude is not in the interests of anyone, and promotes a false picture of religion in the world today.




The Concept of Enjoining Right and Forbidding Wrong (Da’wah) in Islam is a complex and multi-dimensional one. It involves almost all fundamental principles of Islam such as the actual belief in the Unity of God (Tawhid), the concept of Prophethood, (al-Risala) the nature and mission of prophethood, the concept of enjoining right and discouraging wrong (al-Amr bil ma’roof), the actual concept of good and bad, the concept of education and even the concept of Martyrdom, in a word, the entire Islam revolves round the concept of Da’wah and preaching. It is based on the doctrine of Tawhid because Tawhid in Islam is of many dimensions. Allah is the only source of knowledge, goodness and salvation, as well as the source of creation and power. He alone knows what is good and bad for men and Man is only responsible to find and fulfil what Allah has desired for him. The entire humanity, including the messengers of Allah, are responsible to establish righteousness, justice and the kingdom of Allah on Earth. The responsibility of the prophets is to spread the words of Allah on Earth and to implement them by their words, deeds and intentions and thus be the supreme Paradigm (Uswa) and the entire humanity is responsible for following the exact pattern and models set by the prophets and to stick to their true balanced nature (Adi) and Moderation and to encourage those who change their true natural course to come back to the right course (Al-Amr bil ma’roof) and become fully submitted to Allah (Muslims) and thus become Models (Shahid) of goodness and the vicegerent of Allah (Khalifat al-Allah). As Da’wah involves all these, we have to explain the main issues which are closely related to the concept of Da’wah in Islam, briefly, to be able to appreciate it better.


The first word revealed to Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H) is, “Read, recite.”[213]

(1) The Prophet is asked to read the words of Allah himself and also read them to others. The term used in Islamic literature for preaching is Da’wah which
literally means asking. It has been used in the Qur’an in this sense very often, usually for asking Allah to fulfil our requests and for forgiveness.[214]

(2) Nevertheless, it has been used in the Qur’an for asking and inviting people to the right course and towards the cause of Allah or preaching righteousness.[215]

(3) This is, perhaps, because Islam would like to place the concept of preaching on the basis of appealing to man’s innate desire to be guided to righteousness and thus asking and inviting men peacefully to answer their desire for righteousness, as if they should be simply reminded to return to their natural and original good
selves and thus rejecting the use of force for this purpose. This is because all religions, including Islam, are based on faith and a voluntary submission to Allah.

Thus the terms “Read, Recite” and “Preaching” (Da’wah) are closely associ atedand share the most important principle of guiding and leading humanity to ‘righteousness and the truth, which is appealing peacefully to people to have faith (Haqq) which corresponds to Man’s instinct and nature. Not only this point and principle is deduced logically from the spirit of Islam, it has been explicitly expressed by many Qur’anic verses too.[216]

The preaching of Islam, the truth and the enjoining of good by the preachers (Da’i) primarily require the following principles:-

(i) That those who undertake the task of preaching the truth should believe that the source of truth and the whole truth does exist.

(ii) That the knowledge of the truth and the goodness by revelation or reasoning is essential.

(iii) That faith and complete submission to the truth is required

(iv) That the truth should be preached and people should be encouraged to do good and stop wrong.

(v) That preaching the truth and right should be by words, deeds and intention
(vi) That the truth should be implemented by teaching by peaceful acts, and, if required, by removing the barriers by force.


And thus we have made you a balanced community so that you could be a noble paradigm (Uswa Hasana: Quran 33:21) and perfect guide (Shuhada) to the entire humanity in the same way that the messenger of God (Muhammad) has been a perfect guide and paradigm to you (Qur’an 2:143).

A religion should be a comprehensive way of both action and thought; practice and belief for the entire humanity, for one cannot be taken seriously without the other. A religion thus cannot be reduced to one or the other, cannot be amputated to parts and sections of ideals and realities. A religion cannot be nationalized so that it suits a certain nation, a certain section of the humanity, and likewise it cannot be racialized to serve the interests of a certain race, because humanity should be taken into account in its entirety — as an inseparable entity. A religion likewise cannot be monopolised or privatized to become the enterprise of a certain group of people like clergy or professional religious leaders.

Therefore, Islam as a religion is taken by the Muslims to be a comprehensive system of ideals and realities for the entire humanity throughout the ages, not only being the code of life and thought but also the approach for understanding this code: not only the rules, regulations and laws of life (Shari’ah) but also the method and means for extracting the Divine Law (Shari’ah), not only the contents of the book of life but also the index, not only the goal but also the means. This is because the means, the method and the approach must suit the goal, the contents and the law. The inseparability of the end and means of the system and approach in Islam is based on the fact that Islam does not recognize the separation of practice and thought and approach (Shari’ah) and end (Haqiqua).

However, the inseparability of ideals and realities, practice and thought, religion and politics and likewise ends and means in Islam does not mean that Islam does not recognize the priority of end, of beliefs and ideology. Islam is first and foremost an ideological system on which is based the entire Shari’ah covering all aspects of life of the individuals and allhumanity. Because it is first and foremost an ideological system, the method for its preaching must be a peaceful one, for no ideology can be imposed. Islamic preaching approach and means should, therefore, be peaceful, voluntary, universal, appealing, sincere, factual, truthful, practical, leading, guiding, comprehensive, educational, constructive and free from prejudice, animosity, hatred, slander and all traces of racism…The oral preaching of Islam should always be accompanied with good intention, honesty and action. Since ideology has priority over practice, there is a hierarchy regarding Islamic creed. The most crucial Islamic ideological principle is the doctrine of inclusive monotheism (Tawhid) on which the entire Islamic ideology rests and without which Islam does not have any meaning, in fact, Islam is a doctrinal religion. The unity of God should include unity of God’s essence, His attributes and unity of His action and creation. The doctrines of Muhammad’s mission and Message as the last in the line of revelation and then the belief in the resurrection come after the doctrine of monotheism. After the creed comes the open testimony (shahada) and the vocal confessions of faith (kalima) and then follows the practical parts of Islam which are daily prayer (salat), obligatory tax (zakat), fasting (siyam), pilgrimage to Makka (Hajj), defence of the Muslim commu­nity (Jihad), enjoining good and forbidding evil (Amr bil ma’roof wa nahi anil munkar) which should lead to the very end Haqiqua (union with Allah).

Thus Islam in a sense is like a tree, the root of which is its ideology from which grows the rest of Islam, trunk of which is open testimony (Shahadatain), the branches (Foroo) of which are the practical parts of Islam and the fruit of which are the Muslims. Islam should be preached by those who believe in it, testify it openly and practise it wholly.

The main points expressed by the Quranic verses dealinng with the subject could be as follows:-

(1) The responsibility of enjoining right is placed on the entire Umma or Islamic community.

(2) The Umma is responsible because it is a balanced Umma.

(3) Balance and moderation are the main course and standard of righteousness.

(4) The proper approach to enjoining righteousness is to be a perfect and full paradigm.

(5) The concept of prophethood in Islam is based on the fact that the prophets are responsible to establish themselves as the perfect example and paradigm of
righteousness to lead and guide humanity.

(6) The approach to Da’wah and enjoining righteousness is a balanced approach too.


Lead and preach people to the course of your Allah with wisdom and sincere advice and talk to them in the best possible manner. (Quran 16: 125)

Islam is an all inclusive religion covering all aspects of life: both physical and spiritual. Islam is first and foremost a belief system on which the entire edifice of action and practice is based. As such it requires human faith and inner conviction. It is thus logical to conclude from these two principles of Islamic epistemology that Islam is means and goal, approach and purpose, which must lead the believers (Muslims) to faith and conviction. There is a difference between merely accepting Islam as the religion of convenience (hypocrisy and hypocrites: Munafiq) [Qur’an 63:1] or accepting it without faith (Muslims), and accepting it with full faith and conviction (Mumin).

Islam asks mankind to searchfor faith which certainly mustbe obtained through free and voluntary inner struggle for the truth. Faith cannot be imposed upon people.

Although a religion may officially be established as the religion of a land or a nation, a religion with no faith is like a body with no soul. That is why Islam has totally rejected coercion in religion and has consequently established its own approach towards spreading the Truth, the word of Allah. The approach and method is termed in Islamic literature as Da’wah meaning preaching, spreading, and inviting, asking, leading, encouraging and enjoining good and forbidding evil. The term Da’wah and its various derivatives have been used in the Qu’ran frequently. The principles, rules and regulations of Da’wah have also been described in the Qu’ran.

The most significant point about the term Da’wah and Daa’i (a Muslim who invites people to the Truth) is that it involves free dialogue, discussion and opens invitation and excludes the use of force and coercion. In Islam ends do not justify the means. The spread of Islam thus does not justify the use of non-Islamic or anti-Islamic means and approach. To summarise, the basic principles of Da’wah are:
(1) It is not enough for the Muslims to come to the truth. They are expected to lead others to the Truth too. Truth is not the monopoly of certain sections of humanity.

(2) Islam regards the preaching of Truth (Da’wah il-al Haqq) as the responsibility of the entire Muslim community. It is a communal and social responsibility of
the entire Muslim community. It is a communal and social responsibility and thus not a purely professional duty of the Ulama. The leadership in Islam derives its
authority from the doctrine of Da’wah and is not the other way round.

(3) The doctrine of Da’wah is linked with the doctrine of Amr bil ma’roof wa nahi anil munkar (enjoining the good and forbidding the evil). The two are identical in the sense that Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Muslims have never been asked by Allah to invite people to Islam itself but to the Truth, to enjoin good and
forbid evil, which, in fact, Islam is, and thus lead people to accept Islam as the embodiment of the Truth.

The main points expressed by the verse quoted are as follows:-

(1) Da’wah and enjoining righteousness should be basically and primarily by peaceful means; by rational means.

(2) It should lead to faith and sincere submission to the truth.

(3) It could involve dialogue and this should be based on a full understanding of the other side of the argument.


“Read in the name of Allah your Lord who created. He created man from a clot. Read and your Lord is most honourable, He who taught (to write) with pen, taught man what he knew not.”[217] We know that the doctrine of Tawhid is the core and the basis of Islam. It is the key, the motif, the purpose, the approach, the means and the end. It is both a divine and a human principle. It is the framework for belief and conduct of the individual and society and should regulate the entire sphere of man’s thoughts about God, universe, creation, man and everything. The doctrine of Tawhid is thus a multi­dimensional doctrine and has many aspects and levels. It is also of various kinds, i.e. divine monotheism (Tawhid Dhat: absolute unity of God), ritual monotheism (Tawhid Ibadi; to worship only Allah), monotheism in the field of divine attributes (Tawhid Sifat: the unity of All His attributes and the unity of God and His attribute), political monotheism (His absolute overall sovereignty), ontological monotheism (He is the cause and source of existence and creation), Legal monotheism (He is the only Law maker and legislator) and many more aspects and kind including educational monotheism (Tawhid al-Tarbivi) or the belief that He is the only source of truth, guidance and knowledge. He made scientific laws, the laws regulating the universe, the creation, nature, and existence. He is the source of knowledge of man (Ma’Rifa) to Himself, because man as the lower and the created is not able to know the higher and the Creator (Allah), so much so that our faith in Him (Iman) rests on our knowledge about Him and the strength of man’s faith in Him depends on the quantity and the quality of knowledge He provides man about himself.[218] The Islamic term for education is (Al-Ta’lim wa al-Tarbiya). The root verb of Tarbiya is Rabb. One of the names of Allah is also Rabb and Rabb is one of the ninety-nine attributes and names of Allah. In fact, this name has been used in the Qur’an more often than any other name of Allah, other than that of Allah (Rabb).

Thus in Islam, Allah is really the Educator (Rabb). Rabb also means the creator, the sustainer, the nourisher, the provider. This is because Tarbiya is of two kinds: The ontological (al-Tarbiyat Al-Takvini) and the educational (al-Tarbiyut at-Tashiri). To the first applies Allah’s authority as the creator, the nourisher and the provider and to the second one applies Allah’s authority as the Guide, as the source of knowledge, reason and intelligence. The educational Tarbiya is based on the first. This is because Allah as the Creator of the universe, nature and man knows the only Truth and what is best for man and thus leads and guides man to it. In this way Islam re-establishes harmony and peace between man and universe and nature, religion and science (for they are the truth and thus compatible and for this the highest act of worship is acquisition of knowledge) and between man and himself for man is at the same time an ontological and an educational entity and subject. The real harmony and peace between man as an ontological entity and man as an educational subject is to place the second one on the first one. Man as an ontological entity came into existence by Allah and as an educational entity in obtaining his perfect existence (Mujoodo al-Kamil) from Allah. Allah guides and leads him to perfection and thus he becomes the perfect man (al-insan al-Kamil). It is in this way that He brings man’s potentialities into actualization and he becomes the vicegerent (Khalifa) of Allah on earth and as such, he must become integrated to reflect Allah Himself. Man, thus can obtain divinity, purity and union with Allah. Man as an ontological entity is created by Allah and as an educational entity he obtains his perfection in creation from Allah, provided man is willing to prepare and condition himself for the guidance and teaching of Allah and his messengers and provided he chooses (for he is given freedom of choice) to become the total theophany (Tajalli) of the names, attributes and qualities of Divinity and reflects in his thoughts, beliefs and practices and becomes a perfect man (Matakhalliq be Allah). This is because man was taught the Names and qualities by Allah as soon as he was created by Him[219] and has been guided by His messengers towards His guidance. Thus Allah is knowledge, the source of knowledge and thus the Teacher (Mu’allim) as well as the source of guidance and thus the guide (Murabbi). The messengers and prophets simply instructed man for Allah because man is better suited to be instructed by man and the instruction is Shari’ah. Man is thus the temple of divine spirit, the total theophany, the knowledgeable, the guidable, the educationable, the developing, and the improving the purifiable.
The importance of education in Islam is so great that many Muslim and some of the Muslim schools and orders regard Islam as a whole as an educational system and religion. The role of education in Islam is so crucial that the practical aspect of Monotheism (Tawhid) is taken only as an educational aspect, for the belief and faith in Allah and his attributes and His Unity is to educate man to become the manifestation of His attribute on earth in this life. Education of man has been established by Qur’an as the purpose of prophetic mission.[220] This is why some have replaced educational Tawhid (al-Tawhid al-Tarbivi) with the term practical Tawhid for the purpose of education is reality and that is practice. Islamic education is thus a continuous, positive, practical, monotheistic – both physical and spiritual, objective process to bring man’s potentials to actuality to enable him to have peace in himself and to make out of him a perfect existence (al-insan al-Kamil) so that he achieves unity with Allah, unity in attributes but not in being.


Islam as an all inclusive systematic religion is an interrelated set of ideals and realities covering the entire area of human notion and action, beliefs and practiceSj thought, word and deed. Islamic principles and concepts cannot be fully and properly appreciated unless they are analysed and realised within the framework of Islam as a whole.[221]

(1) The term used in Verse 143 Chapter 10 (Qur’ an) for model of guidance is Shahid for the prophet and the Muslim community. The term Shahid means both model and martyr.[222]

The concept of Martyrdom (Shahada) in Islam can only be understood in the light of Islamic concept of Holy struggle (Jihad) and the concept of Jihad may only be appreciated if the concept of the doctrine of enjoining right and forbidding evil (Amr bil ma’roof wa nahi anil munkar) is properly appreciated and good and bad is understood;

(2) Right and wrong can only be understood if the independent divine source of righteousness, truth and goodness (Tawhid) and how the Message of the divine
source of righteousness and truth has been honestly and properly conveyed to humanity (prophethood: Risalat) are understood and the divine message may not
be fully appreciated unless the incarnation of this divine message or the Model of Guidance and the Supreme Paradigm (Imam) is fully recognized).

We can thus see how the concept of Martyrdom in Islam is linked with the entire religion of Islam. This whole process can be somehow understood if the term “Islam” is appreciated. This is because being a derivative of the Arabic Root Salama which means surrender and peace; Islam is a wholesome and peaceful submission to the Will of Allah.[223]

(3) This means to be prepared to die (Martyrdom) in the course of this submission. Thus the concept of Martyrdom like all other Islamic Concepts can be fully and wholly appreciated only in the light of the Islamic doctrine of Tawhid or absolute Unity of Allah and full submission to His Will and Command. It cannot be fully
appreciated in isolation. In this sense the concept of Shahada is no exemption. All Islamic concepts are interrelated and should be appreciated within the
framework of the doctrine of Tawhid.[224]

The concept of Shahada in Islam has been misunderstood by both the Muslims and non-Muslims. As stated, Shahada is closely associated with the concept of Jihad. Most of the non-Muslim scholars — intentionally or unintentionally — have defined Jihad as “The Holy War” and thus understood neither Jihad nor Shahada.[225] The Muslims, mostly taking into consideration the Martyrs of the early days of Islamic history define Martyrdom in terms of fatalistic death of those dear to Allah and do not see the close link between continuous struggle in the course of Allah (Jihad) and Martyrdom.[226]

Martyrdom is not the monopoly of Islam (though it is the monopoly of spiritual religious and divine systems) and cannot be claimed by followers of Martyrdom. An
Islamic concept should be explained within the framework of Islam and not in the light of non-Islamic concepts, whether by Muslims or non-Muslims, such as guilt and suffering. The Muslims are not allowed to explain Islamic Principles without taking due consideration of the entire conceptual system of Islam. Shahada thus cannot be explained purely in terms of intercession and mediation. That is to say those early martyrs of Islam volunteered for death to be able to intercede and mediate for the sinners on the Day of Judgement. The Islamic concept of intercession and mediation (Shafa’a) should be appreciated within the framework of the principle of causality and not solely spiritual mediation.[227]

The concept of martyrdom (Shahada) and holy struggle in the course of Allah (Jihad) are interrelated. Both words have been frequently used in the Qur’an.[228] Both words have literal meanings different from their terminological meanings though these terminological meanings are originally based on their meaning.[229] Both have been used in the Qur’ an in their literal meanings. They developed their terminological meanings later on, though the term Shahada has been used in the Qur’an for those martyred.[230] The Islamic concepts of both Shahada and Jihad have been misunderstood, particu­larly by non-Muslims, mainly by orientalists.

The word Shahada derived from the Arabic verbal root Shahada, which means to see, to witness[231] and Shahid is the person who sees and witnesses and he is therefore the witness as if the martyred witnesses and sees the truth physically and thus stands by it firmly so much so that not only does he testify it verbally (Shahada; to testify hence the testimony of the truth is called Shahada, Shahadatain) but he is prepared to struggle and fight (Jihad) and give up his life for the truth and thus become a Martyr (Shahid). In this way and by his struggle and sacrifice for the sake of the truth, he becomes a Model, a paradigm and an example (Shahid) for the others worthy of copying and worthy to be followed.[232] In this process the key word is the truth, Haqq, the recognition of the truth (to witness it), the declaration of the truth (to testify it), the struggle and fight for the truth (jihad) and to be prepared to die for the sake of the truth and thus set a model for the seekers of the truth. The goal, motive and the whole aim is the establishment of the truth. Jihad is the means for establishing the truth and may lead to Shahada (martyrdom) but does not necessarily lead to being killed for it. We may, therefore, conclude that there is neither jihad nor martyrdom outside the realm of the truth that martyrdom applies only when it is preceded by jihad, that jihad is an inclusive struggle for the cause of the truth, in which a Mujahid dies the death of a martyr even though he does not fall in the battlefield. He dies as a martyr even though he is not killed, on the condition that he stands loyal to the divine truth and stands ready to fight for the truth and defend the truth at all costs, even at the cost of his life. He is a Mujahid while he lives and a martyr if he dies or is killed for it.

We have explained that a Martyr establishes himself as a paradigm and a model. Shahid as martyred and Shahid as model are derived from the same verbal root Shahada — to witness and to testily. In this sense the concept of shahada (martyrdom) is closely associated with the concept of prophethood in Islam.

In Islam man needs guidance to the truth. The true guidance is from the whole truth (God). But since it is man who is to be guided, the guide should naturally be a man. Islam is the message from the source of the truth given to the messenger as the guidelines for guiding and leading humanity to the truth. Guiding humanity requires leading humanity. The true faith is united with righteous living in Islam and there is the unity of belief and practice in Islam. A comprehensive guidance therefore involves leading in thoughts, words and behaviour. The guide should, therefore, practise what he preaches[233] and should himself be the supreme incarnation of the message he spreads. He should be a paradigm, a model himself and a model maker too.[234] Muhammad was thus the messenger who brought the comprehensive universal message of Allah and he was the incarnation of the divine message.[235] (The Model: Shahid, the Paradigm: Uswa). The key word in the concept of prophethood in Islam is human guidance. This involves the recognition of what humanity should be guided to, what guidance is, how it should be done and the realisation of the guidances and standard pattern (traditions: Sunna) for the Muslim community, the members of which are supposed to become Models (Shahada) for the entire human community.[236] The prophets including Muhammad were thus models and model makers and their disciples and companions were models. Thus those who carry out this responsibility are both Mujahid and Shahid (living martyrs) at the same time.

The position of the prophets as the paradigms and model makers in Islam gives the Islamic concept of prophethood a unique characteristic. Their main responsibility is thus leading and guiding humanity to the truth by being the true living embodiment of the Message of God and not the incarnation of God.[237] They do not intercede and mediate between the source of the truth and humanity spiritually in the sense that they came to be crucified to pay for the sins committed by humanity, hi Islam everybody is responsible for his/her own action.[238] Nothing and nobody can intercede between the sinner and God. The concept of intercession (Shifa’a) in Islam should be appreciated within the framework of the principle of causality (illiat). That is to say that the prophets by guiding and leading the people to the truth cause their salvation (Sa’adat). Salvation must be earned and deserved and the prophets and the messengers of Allah provide us with the opportunity to earn and deserve salvation.[239] It is not the crucifixion and the cross that causes salvation, but it is the realisation of the truth which causes it. Man is thus originally sinless, good and peaceful and the role of the prophets is a positive one; that of guidance and being paradigm and not a negative one. Martyrs are the supra models of the Divine Message (Islam and Muslim) too and in this way they share a special responsibility with the prophet.

Because the responsibility of the prophets is partly to provide the living example of the Divine Message, their message should be practical so that the rest of humanity, like them, is able to copy and follow them. What Jesus did according to Christian doctrine, was a unique action by a unique being (Son of God), not possible and necessary for humanity to copy. But what Muhammad did was to convey the practical guidelines to prove their practicability for the rest of humanity. This is why the prophets are called paradigm and witnesses (Shahid) at the same time in the Qur’an[240] a term used for martyrs later on in the early day of Islamic History.[241] Muhammad, therefore, like other messengers of Allah, is the incarnation of Islam, full surrender to God, the universal religion of the entire creation including Man. He was the model of what he taught and a paradigm for humanity. Islam rejects the incarnation of Man of the essence of the actual Divinity but fully encourages the embodiment of God’s guidance, will and command, to become the living example of God’s full code of thought and life (Religion: Deen) for man. The prophets are the living examples of the divine message and by being so are also full examples of the divine message and thus the incarnation of the Divine will. There are a few Islamic traditions that introduce the blood of the martyrs as the blood of God (Thar Allah).

If the community is to be led and guided, the leaders themselves should be the leading examples of the faith in what they try to lead the community to believe in. The code of leadership involves three elements:-

(a) Those who lead (Imams);

(b) Those who are to be led; (Mamoom);

(c) The actual leadership, guidance and the code of leadership.

The community cannot be led unless those who lead believe in what they preach and practise what they preach others to practise. In short, Imams should themselves be the living examples and models (Shahid) for those they try to lead. Prophethood and messengership involves two major responsibilities, namely:-

(1) Receiving and proclaiming the divine message and;

(2) Setting the model and being the living example of the divine message, Imamate involves only the latter responsibility.

This is why every messenger of God is also the Imam but the Imam is not the messenger of Allah. In fact, the office of Imamate is responsible to provide the model for the office of messengership and this is how he leads. We can, therefore, understand that prophethood and messengership is based on the doctrine of Imamate (leading the people) and is more directly involved with the idea of setting the model, providing the example and producing the paradigm (Shahid). The entire concept of prophethood and the life story of Muhammad should be appreciated in this context and within the concept of Imamate which is leading humanity to salvation by guiding them to the full implementation of Allah’s code for the salvation of humanity, being the supreme example in word and deed of that divine code.


“Say, we believe in Allah and (in) that which has been revealed to Ibrahim and Ismail and Isaac and Yaqoub and the Tribe and (in) that which was given to Musa and Jesus and that which was given to the prophets from their Lord. We do not make any distinction (and discrimination) between any of them and to Him we submit”.[242] Man, in Islam, is created by Allah out of His Love, from matter and the Spirit of Allah who taught him all the names and made him capable to know himself and, through knowing himself, he is made able to know Allah, and made superior to everything, even the Angels and thus made the Vicegerent of Allah (Khalifa) and thus made as a mini universe (Al-Alam Al-Saghir), made in a way to be served by the universe so that he serves and worships Allah. Man within the framework of Islamic monotheism (Tawhid) as the key, the approach, the motif and the aims, is potentially a divine being of the material (microcosm) part of him serves his spirit and rums him into the perfect man (al-Insan Al-Kamil), so that he is able to fulfil the purpose for which he is created: the reflection of Allah, his service and worship.[243] This is why Islam suggests that man’s natural and innate quality (Fitra) is Islam or the full, deep, broad, complete and perfect submissions of man particularly, and the entire universe generally, to the whole truth (Haqq: Allah) which is in full unity with goodness, (Khair Mahz) which, in turn, corresponds fully to absolute existence (Wojood) and the necessary existence (wajib al-wojood). Man, thus, in spite of his worldly needs and attachment is potentially able to ascent and return to his origin (Allah). The approach and process suggested by Islam for man to reach this state is faith (Iman) and piety (Taqva) which is in turn a combination of contemplation and action, belief and practice and ideal and reality which are all covered by Shari’ah. There is thus, no short cut to the truth (Haqq) for there is only one straight line between the two points (Man and Allah) which is the straight path (Serat-al-Mustaqeem)[244] or Shari’ah. This is because the only way to know and serve Allah is the way He Himself has told us to know Him and serve Him for man as a creature of Allah is not able to fully and truly appreciate his creator. This is not to say that he should not employ his human potentials, faculty and intelligence but, on the contrary, he has been asked to do so and this is a stage in the straight path.

This is because an Islamic dictum states, “Man’s intelligence is his inner prophet as the prophets are his outer intelligence”. But the authority of man’s intelligence should be in line with the prophets and not against them. We know that only the higher and the creator (Allah) can know the lower and not the other way round. The only way the lower can know the higher is the way suggested by the higher and here lies the role of the message of the Higher through his messengers to the lower. The question of prophethood thus takes and important position in Islamic ideology. Of course, it is suggested that Allah’s love, mercy, grace and bounty for Man is also another base for the doctrine of prophethood for He cannot leave man in the state of ignorance (Jahl) and error (Zalala). But these explanations for the doctrine of prophethood do not contradict each other. They explain different aspects of the doctrine at different levels and they complement each other. But the most striking feature of Islamic prophethood is that the messenger of God does not have to be the son of God. Man, as introduced by Islam, has the potential to fulfil his responsibility, hi fact, the message of God to man should be brought by Man. Another very important feature of the doctrine of prophethood in Islam is that it is invested with the entire humanity from the first day man (Adam) was created. In fact, Islam suggests that Adam himself was the first prophet. The line of prophethood started with Adam and continued. There were about 124,000 prophets all together, the major of whom were: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and the last one of them was Muhammad. Thus at the same time that Islam does not make the state of prophethood the monopoly of the son of God, it does not make it the monopoly of a race, a tribe or a people. The history of man, according to Islam, is the history of the struggle between the messengers of Allah in different periods and different peoples with the agents of Satan. This is why the Muslim believe in:

(a) General prophethood (Nabuwati Amma) and

(b) Special prophethood (Nabuwati Khasa) or the prophethood of the last of the prophets, Muhammad.
The reason why the line of prophethood stopped with Muhammad is that both man and the message of Allah to man had reached the state of wholeness, perfection and completion.[245] Thus, prophethood in Islam is a continuous mission of man from Allah. Thus, there is only one prophethood though there were thousands of prophets. The unity of the prophethood, message and religion is in line with the unity of the source of message (Allah) and with the unity of man for whom and by whom the message is given. This is why Islam again suggests:

(a) The unity of Allah,

(b) The unity of his Religion which has always been Islam.[246]

(c) The unity of Man.

Some of the objectives of the Mission of the Messengers of Allah according to the Qur’an are:

(1) To guide man to Allah.

(2) To deliver man from the worship of anything other than God.

(3) To establish justice.

(4) To lead man to salvation, felicity and full happiness.

(5) To stop corruption and wrong.

(6) To establish the Kingdom of Allah on earth.

(7) To fight the oppressors, the selfish,

(8) To teach people and teach the books of Allah.

(9) To purify man.

(10) To warn people and encourage them

(11) To preach.[247]

(12) To prepare mankind to reach its Ml potential.

(13) To enjoin good and forbid evil.

(14) To free man.

(15) To establish peace.[248]

(16) To remind man of his nature and origin.[249]

(17) To bring man back to full life.[250]

(18) To establish righteousness.

(19) To establish balance and moderation.

(20) To enable man to achieve fullness, perfection and completion.

(21) To establish harmony between different tendencies of Man and harmony between man and the entire universe.

(22) To establish the principle of beneficence.

(23) To establish morality.

(24) To establish cleanliness.[251] We may thus conclude that:

(a) Allah is the source of guidance.

(b) The Prophets are the means of guidance.

(c) The guidance should be practised and thus the message should be given to Man (prophets) to practice it and set the example.

(d) The prophets have to be men to lead humanity.

(e) Prophethood is responsibility.

(f) The task of the prophets is to establish the Kingdom of Allah by all means.

(g) Islam is the way to the truth.


“And thus we have made you a balanced community (moderate, medium, just and middle-of-the-road society) so that you may be witness (es) (paradigm, model, and guide) for humanity (in the same way) that the apostle may be a witness (es) (paradigm, model, and guide) for humanity (in the same way) to you”. (Q. 2/143).

One of the main features of an Islamic community is that it should be a balanced, just, moderate and middle-of-the-road society. There are two sides to balance; extreme right and extreme left. Extremism, one way or another, never leads to stability and peace. It always ends up to the other extreme side as reaction and counter-reaction goes on. Moderation in all fields is an essence, spirit and the basis of physical, mental individual and social peace and stability. This principle is true of ideals and realities of life. Idealism and moral extremism is equal to abstractism which does not really correspond to concrete daily life and its requirements. Idealism only and always leads to a sense and feeling of failure, guilt anxiety and contradiction. Extreme realism does not lead either to inclusive happiness, peace, mental stability and success. Only moderation and balance between the two can guarantee the overall salvation and comprehensive happiness. Man and life are combina­tions of ideals and realities. According to the Islamic traditions, God’s living creatures have been created in three distinct categories, as far as ideals and realities are concerned:

(a) Angels, as pure ideals,were created by God from pure intelligence with no real, concrete material elements and needs;
(b) Animals were created as pure material and real solid and concrete matter with no intellectual and spiritual element and with no intelligent aspirations and needs;

(c) Humanity as a combination of both ideals and realities created from both matter and spirit, physical and mental elements and thus facing both material and
spiritual needs and ideal and real requirements. It is thus no use in trying to do the impossible and regard and treat human beings and humanity with extreme idealism or realism.

The key word here is balance (justice). There is no use treating one side of the extreme at the expense of the other, for a human being is neither an angel nor an animal. Man is man. He is neither a pure intellectual spiritual entity nor a purely material element. This is so obvious that it may sound like a tautology. Treating a human being as only a spiritual or only a material being is, in fact, tearing him into two parts. This leads either to reducing him to the status of an animal or else reducing his ability to deal with the real fundamental problems of life.

The collective human society from this point of view is like an individual human being, for the society is made up of individuals. The human society thus has its ideals and realities and the collective human life, like the life of every individual, has both ideal and real requirements, needs and problems which should be met and solved. Extremism on one side or another not only does not solve the problem of the other side of the extreme concerned but it complicates the problems of the extreme side which we are involved with. In fact, extreme spiritualism and idealism of a certain religion of Western nations has led the West and thus the world to the present problem of Western materialism in various shapes and forms, as the contemporary materialism of the Western world is leading various sections of the Western society to frenzied forms and shapes of extreme spiritualism. If humanity turns to and sticks with moderation, balance of ideals and realities, just and moderate ways of thought and action and the middle-of-the-road (straight path: Al-Sirat al-Mustaqeem) then there is hope of salvation and final and inclusive happiness.

Islam presents itself as the religion of balance and thus the Muslim community is the balanced society. It is related to Prophet Muhammad that he said: “The Christian society looks at life and man with one eye (too high moral idealism) while the Jewish society looks at life and man with the other eye only (too high material realism) but the Muslim community should look at life and man with both eyes”. The Islamic society is the society of Muhammad. There is the city of Muhammad (Madinato al-Nabi). Thus although Islam is not Muhammadanism (the name used by non-Muslims in anology to Christianity…) Muslims follow the way of Muhammad (Sirato al-Nabi). While there is no Muhammadanism there is a Muhammad life pattern (paradigm: uswa) and model that the Muslim community should copy and follow and thus they become the model and pattern for the entire humanity. The kingdom of Allah in Islam is the society of Islam established on this earth by the Muslims and believers as well as His kingdom in heaven. The Muslim individuals and community use the realities of nature and creation, of life and the world as a means to uphold his ideals and to earn ideal salvation as the goal. And all this is possible only through the process of enjoining right and discouraging wrong and preaching them and hence preaching and spreading Islam.





As thereligious factor enjoyspriorityitis appropriate to give abrief account of the Islamic creed first

The word Islam is a noun formed from the infinitive of a verb meaning “to accept”, “to submit”, “to commit oneself andmeans”submissionor surrender” to God[252] (The Quran 3:17; 3:79; 5:5; 6:125; 39:23; 61:71). Another word derived from the same root is “Muslim” or “Moslem”, which is used as a technical term to designate “those who submit” (The Quran 22:77; 33:35; 49:14).[253] Of the words Islam and Muslims Charles J. Adams says: “By its very form (as a verbal noun) it conveys a feeling of action an ongoingness.not of something thatis static and finished, once andfor all, but of an inwards state which is always repeated and renewed…” One who thoughtfully declares “I am a Muslim” has done muchmore than affirmhis membership in a community.. .He is saying “I am one who commits himselfto God”.[254] R. RubenLevystatesthat “to Allah, the all-powerful and omniscient, everyone who is in the heavens or on the earth resigns himself willy-nilly (Koran 3:83) and such resignation – for which the Arabic term is Islam – is the essence of the prophet’s doctrine. Everyone who ‘so resigns’ himself is a Muslim”.[255]

We may thus completely reject the term used by non-Muslims. “Muhammadanism”. “To understand Islam as its adherents do, it is well to purge the word ‘Muhammadan’ from one’ s vocabulary. The Muslim looks uponhis faith as the religion established not by Muhammad but by God himself. To refer to it by the name of its prophet and messenger, who only announced it but did not invent it, smacks of blasphemy”.[256]”Muhammad never claimed for himselfto be more than a man who had received revelation from God”.[257] Calling Islam Muhammadanism by non-Muslims is based on analogy and on comp aring Islam with Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, etc., which are all named after persons or founders of the religions concerned.

“The word Islam means ‘surrender’. The Muslim is the one who is ‘surrendered to the Will of God’. But historians frequently misinterpret this term as though it means a quietistic and fatalistic acceptance of whatever happens is the Will of God. Its truer and original meaning is an acceptance of His pleasure, a dynamic readiness to give oneself to carrying out what ought to happen”.[258] “Islam means ‘submission to God’. Socially, this submission unites men and makes them equal. Thus Moslems – the word is the Arabic participle of ‘Islam’, and means ‘surrendered to God’ – regard themselves as members of a great fraternity”.[259] “Islam means ‘submitting oneself to God’, which naturally includes the idea of renouncing any other object of worship. The idea of peace is associated with the root (cf. Salam); so it is often said that Islam means ‘peace’: but it is difficult to justify linguistically, however much one may experience peace through submission to God”.[260] “The term Islam began as meaning an active acceptance of (willingness to accept, dedica­tion to) God’s ‘amr’ (commands); it came to mean a passive acceptance of resignation to, His mashiah (Will)” as well.[261] The Muslim believes “that is good which God wants” not “what is painful is what God wants”.[262] We may add with “Insha Allah”. This expression is not, as some Westerners have falsely claimed, a supine, faint fatalism which accepts whatever comes without lifting a finger to shape the course of events. It is, on the contrary, an active enlistment in God’s service, to serve with the obedience that a willing slave both owes and gives to a beneficent Master who owns his heart and soul. (Western Civilization [Guild, G.B. 1977] p. 142)

In short, the religion took the title of ‘Islam’ because Allah decreed it in the Quran. “Lo the religion with Allah is al-Islam (the surrender to His Will and guidance)”.[263]

“He who professes adherence to the faith is a Muslim (submitter). He has named you Muslims”.[264]

The reference to Muslim as “Mohamaddan” is the result of a false analogy with “Christian: a worshipper of Christ”. Muslims do not worship Muhammad as Christians worship Christ. Indeed, in Islamic doctrine the worship of anyone other than God is “shirk” or “association in worship”, and constitutes a major unpardonable sin, “Kabirah”.[265] While Jesus is regarded by Christians as God incarnate, Muhammad is regarded by Muslims as Islam incarnate for he believed and practised what he asked others to do.

Islam “submission to God” requires exclusive service (Ibada) and obedi­ence (Ita’at). Service and obedience are realizable only through knowledge (Ilm) of God, of His Will and action.[266] God has stated “I am the Knowing…I love every Knowledgable one”. The prophet regarded any day as lost in which he did not increase that knowledge that would draw him closer to his Lord.[267]

Islam is the only religion the name of which is not derived from a person, as Christianity is related to Jesus Christ, Judaism and Mosiac religion is related to Judia and Moses and so on. This is because Islam means “submission to God. Authentic Islamic sources regard “submission to God” the true religion of mankind (Hanif) and regard the previous prophets, such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus as Muslims, for they all submittedto God, i. e. Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, buthe was aMuslim. This is mainly because Islamregards itself as the natural religion. It regards itself as the result of perfecting and correcting the process of the heavenly religions (al-Adyan al- S amaviyya) for it believes in one God, in one man, and hence the unity of God, the unity of religion and the unity of mankind. Religion, accordingto Islam, hasbeen a continuing process andhad to reach the stage and state of perfection. This is why Muhammad is regarded as the last prophet and Islam as the last religion. For mankind had to reach its perfection, in the same way that anewly-bornbaby has to be looked after, taken care of and watched until he becomes an adult and left to himself to look after himself. Accordingly, Allah continued sending prophets, establishing new religions, abrogating some until mankind reached its full age of intellect, and reached the age of puberty. From the very start of his call, the prophet (Muhammad) was convinced that this message was a continuation of, indeed, a revival of the earlier prophets. In an early Meccan Sura the Quran speaks of the recorded revelations of Abraham and Moses (LXXXVII, 19). This attitude is, however, on apurely theoretical and ideal religious plane and has no reference to the actual doctrine and practice of the “People ofthe Book” (Ahl al-Kitab) and the two must be distinguished. Muslims believe and the Quran states that many religious leader of Judaism and Christianity wrongly appropriated people’s spiritualpossessions and misled them (Quran, IX,14).

However, Muslims and the Quran accepted Jesus and Moses as God’s prophets but they uncompromisingly rejected the divinity of Jesus from the beginning. However, although Islam confirms Judaism and Christianity, it also claims to correct the Jewish and Christianity, religions and scriptures.

The whole of Islamic theology is based on two principles: a) Tawhid, which means existence and unity of God; b) Risalat, which means Muhammad’s divine mission as the messenger of God. Contrary to other religions, for instance Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism, the second principle is derived from and based on the first one, because the prophets (Nabis) are the Messengers of God. He is the Creator, the only master, He gives life and death, He is the light of the Universe. He is the only deity worthy of worship, obedience and adoration. Nothing, and no one, but He can be worshipped and obeyed. This means that the real objective of Islam is the emancipation of man from slavery to man; nation from bondage to nation; humanity from the yoke of humanity; and to turn the whole of mankind into one free brotherhood consisting of the servants of the one God without any kind of prejudice. The Islamic conception of freedom requires that mankind should be subject to none but Allah who is their Creator and Master. He alone is the rightful and legal sovereign. None save He can rule over mankind; and no creature has the right to flout the authority of his maker. There are three main kinds of idols which usurp the authority of Allah in the life of man: a) Man’s desires; b) traditions of one forbears; c) personalities and groups holding worldly power. These and all other kinds of idols and idolatries are rejected by the principle of Tawhid (Unity of God). The Quran is uncompromising on Tawhid.[268] One should exclusively become the servant of Allah (A’bdo Allah) and not the servant of anything else. Man has carved out so many deities in the secular sphere-nation, colour, race, economic class, political concepts, etc. Islam aims at breaking all these shackles, and at restoring dignity and freedom to the masses by making them subject to none but Allah.[269]

This theological doctrine has many implications -intellectual, social, political, etc. It has therefore, appealed to many different groups of peoples in different times. The doctrine was so fundamental and basic in Islam that even Muhammad. God’s last messenger, is Only His servant, though the dearest one because of his piety and knowledge. This is why Islam does not admit any intermediary – clergy, place, time or anything else – between God and His servants. Although it may seem strange to people used to a sacerdotal regime, professional priesthood, mediation and interces­sion, Islam entirely rejects all these. A child is born innocent. He therefore does not need anybody to baptize him. Everybody is equally and directly close to God, who does not require anybody else to confess his sins to or anything of the kind. Nothing can share deity with God. hi a word, there is no intermediary between God and His servants in any sense of the term. The authority of the religious leaders in Islam, including the messenger of God, is based entirely on their piety (Taqva) and their knowledge of the truth (Sharia: Haqiqa). This is why they have always been referred to as Ulama (scholars), Foqaha (jurists) and not as clergymen or like terms.[270]

To summarize what is said so far, Islam etymologic ally means surrender and obedience. The Holy Quran calls the religion which invites men towards this end “Islam”, for its general purpose is the surrender of man to the laws governing the Universe and mankind alike. Through this surrender man worships only One God and obeys only His commands.[271] As the Holy Quran informs us, the first person who called this religion “Islam” and its followers “Muslims” was the prophet Abraham.[272] In this context religion is identified as “a program for life based on firm belief. Religion can never be separated from life. It is not simply a matter of ceremonial acts.[273] This can be understood very easily from the Quran[274] and traditions.[275]

As Islamic doctrine of “Tawhid” (God and His Unity) has been a major factor in the spread of Islam, it is appropriate here to state Islam’s conception of God.

God is one; He has no partner; Singular, without any like Him; Uniform, having no contrary; Separate, having no equal; Primeval, having no first; Eternal, having no beginning; Everlasting, having no end; Ever-existing, without termination; Perpetual and Constant, with neither interruption nor cessation; Ever qualified with the attributes of supreme greatness; nor is He determined by lapse of ages or times; He is both the Alpha and the Omega, the Manifest and the Hidden. He is real.[276]

He is omnipresent, too exalted to be contained in any one place and too holy to be determined by time, for He existed before He created time and place, and He is now as He always existed. There is nothing like Him in essence nor is there of His essence in any other besides Him. His holiness makes Him impervious to change and He is beyond contingencies. But He abides through all generations with His glorious attributes, free from all imperfections.[277]

God is not a formed body; nor a measurable substance; neither does He resemble bodies, either in their being measurable or devisable. Neither is He a substance, nor do substances exist in Him, neither is He an accidental form, nor do accidentals exist in Him.[278] Allah in His essence is one, as He is in His attributes and acts. He knows, sees and hears everything. He is the Creator and Master of the Universes. His knowledge is perfect, His Will is beyond Challenge and His power is irresistible. While everything needs Him He is free from needs. Allah is not identifiable with man in any way.[279]

Thus, as the result of Islamic absolute monotheism, the ultimate happiness of humanity is perfect unity with God through strict submission to His Will (Islam) and through worship of the only sole whole Truth (Haqq).

Mortal sins are those which pervert the true worship of God alone. They are:

1. Kufr, which means “disbelief as well as “ingratitude”;

2. Shirk or “association”, which means giving God a partner of any sort, so that we no longer trust Him alone. Christian translators of the Quran often call this
“polytheism” or “idolatry”, hoping thereby to divert criticism from themselves, although the Trinity can be considered a variation on the theme, as can the dualism
of the ancient Persians, or the cruder forms of paganism;

3. Tughyan or “arrogation”, which is the sin of refusing to trust in God implicitly and acting in a tyrannous or bullying manner.[280]

“In a systematic summary of the contents of the Quran the doctrine of the absolute oneness of God would undoubtedly come out as its principle text. ‘There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger’ – so runs the Islamic Creed, and it is, indeed an apt synopsis of the teaching of the Quran. God is one, and has no one by His side. Polytheism is fiercely attacked, and the Christian doctrine of the Trinity by no means spared”.[281] “The Trinitarian and Christological controversy over grace, are meaning­less in a doctrine that assumes the radical unity of God and has no place for anything like the sacrament”.[282] “All reflection (in Islam) was concentrated around two theological questions: Negation of Multiplicity in God and negation of all power other than that of God”.[283]

On the other hand, the Christian idea of making Jesus Christ, for instance, central to the Christian faith is more than idolatry. Judaism has its Moses; Christianity, its Jesus; Buddhism, its Gautama and so on.[284] But in Islam nothing and no one shares divinity with God. Muhammad is a man with the message. He is the messenger of God. Islam is a God-centred faith.[285] The realities and powers beyond man’s ordinary experience are sharply focused in monotheism. No Islamic theology can begin anywhere except at the cross-road between polytheism and theism where the edifice of heathenism is beshattered and idolatry (in various forms) is made an anathema in the name of a pure monotheism.[286]

A Muslim is not unlike the ancient Israelite who took a sack of Palestinian earth with him wherever he went so that, before he spread his tent, he could always put down the earth and worship the God of Israel, Yehweh, on Israel soil in a foreign land. A Muslim takes his prayer-mat and his copy of the Quran and feels that Allah is present with him for He is everywhere.[287] Moorish states that, “We are used to calling other Societies ‘pagan’ and ‘heathen’ that it must come as something of a shock to some in our society that Muslims regard Christians as idolaters and polytheists”.[288] The Quran states that “The Jews say Ezra is a Son of God, while the Christians call Christ Son of God. Such are their assertions, by which they imitate the infidels of old. Allah confounded them! How perverse they are! They worship their rabbis and their monks and the messiah the Son of Mary as gods beside Allah; though they were ordered to serve one God only. There is no God but Him”.[289] The concept of the Godhead of Jesus, or his sonship of God, and of Mary as the mother of God, however interpreted, and the doctrine of trinity, however explained, will prove objectionable to Muslims[290] for they are incomparable and incompatible with the strict and uncompromising Islamic monotheism.


Another religious aspect which attracted the followers of other religions to Islam was its simplicity. While various Christian sects were arguing about the most irrelevant and trivial points of Christian doctrines and trying hard to solve or define the question of “Trinity” and make it appeal to the hearts of the people, many Christians grew tired and bored with the arguments and preferred to accept the plain monotheism of Islam. They preferred the prophethood of a human being (Muhammad) to the divinity and Godhead of Jesus, or Monophysite, or Unitarianism.[291] Islam replaced complexity of religious doctrines with simplicity, trinity with unity, divinity of man with manliness and humanity, superstition with plain facts, empty theological discussions with concrete observation and fundamental analysis. The rationality of Islamic teachings especially theology very possibly attracted many thinkers of other religions. The short comings of other religions compared to Islam has been acknowledged by non-Muslim scholars as a factor for the spread of Islam. This could even be seen in some church movements.[292]

The simplicity of Islam as a factor helping its spread has been acknowledged by some of the most fanatic proponents of Islam. After explaining the doctrines and articles of Islam and its precepts, Andrew Miller states: “Such simple religious principles would do violence to none, but deceive many”.[293] “The old system of idolatry sank before the outward simplicity of Muhammad’s New Creed. Arabia delivered from idols embraced the religion of Islam”.[294] “The persecuting heathen, such as Khosroes, the infidel the defiant King of Persia, and the merely nominal professors of Christi­ anity, were alike chastised of God by the successors of Muhammad”.[295] “Islam has adapted itself to different regions and varying types of background.

It is held together by the very simplicity of its Creed, proclaimed everyday from countless minarets and repeated endlessly by every pious Muslim – the affirmation that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah”.[296]

A faith must fulfil the needs of both intellectuals and ordinary people. Intellectuals need food for thought and ordinary people need simplicity. These two aspects are well considered in Islam. Islamic rationalism, intellectualism, mysticism and ideals appeal to intellectuals; its simplicity appeals to the ordinary masses. “Islam does not have a complicated Creed. It is a very simple religion when compared with the Christian religion. The Muslim says ‘There is no God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet’. From this simple statement Muslim belief goes on”.[297] “The simplicity of Muslim faith made it popular with Africans. Also Islam was much readier than Christianity to fit into the African way of life”.[298] Christianity could not offer them anything but confusion and contradictions.

The simplicity of Islam is reflected not only in its Creed but also in Muslim prayers. The simplicity of Islam can also work as a deterrent to superstition. The grave danger of superstition is recognized by Muslims who forbid any image or representation of a person in their places of worship. Islamic buildings are decorated with very lovely “Arabesques”, calligraphical designs and shapes of verses from the Quran, “The Word of God”, which is a food for thought and not a pretty statue or picture.[299] The simplicity of Islam for ordinary people has not deprived it from its intellectualism. The complexity of Christianity, for instance, is based mainly on trying to justify its Trinity in monotheistic terms and so becomes more complicated, not more intellectual. Islam, on the contrary, does not need any justification, for it is the straight simple path. It is simple and at the same time rational.

“Unlike Judaism and Christianity, Islam is not founded on an event but upon the Being of Allah. Islam stresses contemplation of the divine being. The freedom of man’s will depends on his ability to perceive God”.[300] Muhammad is simply a man but also the messenger of Allah. Belief in Muhammad was not the same thing as the Christian belief in Jesus. According to an old tradition, he said: “Praise me not as Isa (Jesus) is praised”. He always stressed the human nature of Moses and Jesus. His own sense of mission is reflected in Surah 46:8 “I am not an innovator among the apostles, nor do I know what will be done with me or with you if I follow aught but what I am inspired with; nor am I but plain Warner”.[301] Thus, it is not difficult to understand that Islam can be both simple and rational at the same time. “Islam reduced the relationship between God and man to an extremely simple formula. Islam does not recognize the need for penitence in the Judaeo – Christian sense”.[302]

Islam is simple in doctrine and practice. “The simple community worship in the Mosque, without pictures and without music, engenders the characteristic sense of Muhanunadan brotherhood”.[303]

“It is easy enough to understand some, at least, of the factors which make Islam such a powerful attraction to Pagans, whether in some parts of Africa or elsewhere. They are impressed by the manifest superiority of the Muslim’s concept of True God…”[304]

Islam does not mix divinity with humanity, which leads to confusion, contradiction and complexity. “Islam is the meeting between God as such and man as such. God as such: that is to say God envisaged, not as He manifested Himself in a particular way at a particular time, but independently of History: in as much as He is what He is: also as by His nature He creates and reveals. Man as such: that is to say man, a theomorphic being endowed with an intelligence capable of conceiving of the Absolute and with a will capable of choosing what leads to the Absolute. To say God is also to say ‘being, creating, revealing’, in other words it is to say ‘Reality Manifestation, reintegration’: to say Man is to say ‘theomorphist transcendent intelligence’ and ‘free will’. These are, in the author’s meaning, the premises of the Islamic perspective”.[305] “The doctrine of Islam hangs on two statements: First ‘There is no divinity (or reality or absolute) outside the only Divinity (or Reality or Absolute) (la ilaha illa’llah)’ and second ‘Muhammad (The “glorified” the perfect) is the Envoy (the mouthpiece, the messenger, the manifestation, the symbol of the Divinity) (Muhammadon Rasulu’llah)'”.[306]

It is this certainty, clarity and simplicity that has helped the spread of Islam. In contrast, it is the complexity and vagueness of Christian theology that leads even Christians who cannot find rational justification, explanation and solution to Chris­tian theological problems, to fall in to the arms of Islam. At the Pan-Anglican Congress (London 1903) it was made terribly clear at what odds the church is fighting in West Africa; with what ease the Christian and non-Christian Africans became attracted by tens of thousands to Islam.[307] Since the church authorities cannot admit the attraction of Islam they resort to excuses decrying the African mentality as unable to understand the “pure mastership of Jesus Christ”.[308] Muslims had offered a new religion whose Creed had the attraction of simplicity and rationality,[309] on the pure Divinity of God and the pure humanity of man. Islamic theology was hampered by no wrangling Creed; no barrier to man’s relations with God or with his fellow man. The fact that Islam was spread in the life-time of Muhammad, and that his mission was accomplished then, is a living testimony to Islam’s distinctive superiority and to his distinctive superiority over the prophets, sages and philosophers of other times and countries.[310]

To see how the simplicity of Islam and its theology has helped its spread, analysis of the causes of its spread would seem appropriate. Islam defines for the African, for instance, in precise terms the concept of divine, which the Negro has more or less confused in his thinking. He looked upon God as Creator, but he also regarded Him as the Chief of a Pantheon consisting of secondary deities. Islam cannot tolerate such a conception, so the neophyte is taught strict monotheism, and not to associate partners with the Deity. He learns to appreciate a simpler and more forthright religion than he has previously experienced. In Islam he is an equal associate among those who do not attribute status levels to God or man. The adherence of the Negroes to Islam poses no special difficulty. Conversion is abetted by reduction of ritualistic formalities to a minimum. This is indeed one of the chief factors in Islam’s rapid penetration of Black Africa.[311] Again, it is interesting to observe that the animism of Berber and Black in Africa comprises certain traits which can adjust to Islam. In Negro cosmology the world is in the process of continual creation and man is in harmony with his new world of creation. Islamic theology conceives of this in similar tones. The world is the Creation of God; man is also the creation of God; God’s creation is perfect. Departures from this norm, both in African animism and Islam, are due to the evil deeds of man.[312] This is simple and uncontradictory.

On the other hand Islam can present itself as a Unitarian force to the African while Christianity projects the image of a divided and disconcerting and conflicting ideals. The simplicity – loving African is confronted with the Catholic version on the one hand and numerous Protestants versions of Christianity on the other, much too complex for him to comprehend, let alone digest. The paradox lies in the fact that Muslims do not project any more uniform image of Islam than Christians of Christianity, yet the appeal of Islam remains stronger.[313]

Greenburg has justly remarked: “Inspite of the local variations that exist in Muhammadan culture, its unity, especially that of its basic religious practices expressed in written form, is so great that, although Islam was presented to the Hausa through such diverse media as the Negroes of Mali and Songhai, the white Touaregs of the Sahara, and Arab traders from various regions of North Africa and the Near East, it is still possible to speak of the effect of Islam on the Hausa people as a single coherent process.[314] Not so many years ago, the native population of Papua pleaded that no more Christian missionaries be sent to their country; not because they were opposed to Christianity per se…it was because they were becoming inextricably confused by the great variety of presentations of Christianity.[315]

Into three phases we may condense the description and explanation of Muhammadan missionary advance in Africa: native agents, simple methods, zeal.” states a Christian churchman. [316]The simplicity of Islamic theology has made Islam the religion without conflicts and contradictions which, in turn, have made it a rational religion. In fact it is not easy to separate the simplicity of Islamic teachings especially theology from its rationality.

It was mainly the religious and theological quality of Islam which allured people to it. In many cases the followers of other religions were trying to find excuses to adopt Islam -such as relief from Capitation Tax.[317] Some people regarded Muslims as the arms of God sent to save people.[318] Some Christian scholars believe that the lack of interest among Christian population towards their religion caused them to be tempted by Islam.[319]

Many church leaders, some famous and of high position, changed their religion to Islam for a variety of reasons.[320] Even Crusaders, whose official purpose for going to the Holy Land (Palestine) was to strengthen Christianity, willingly accepted Islam in large groups. Some drifted from the Christian army to join the Muslim forces.[321] Not only did the Crusaders face defeat, physical and military; they also lost spirit and faith. Some people accepted Islam to escapepolitical oppression and religious depression, and to enjoy intellectual freedom amongst Muslims.

Returning to our point of departure, we would like to add that as Islam is a religion, its fundamental values are those of religion and spiritualism. We may thus explain this point further. The success of Islam can be basically measured against its spiritual appeal to the masses and intellectuals. In contrast, the lack of religious appeal in other religions is mainly responsible for the conversion of intellectuals, especially the religious leaders of the religions concerned. This is probably the main reason why many of the Christian church leaders turned away from Christianity even before the rise of Islam.

The Archbishop of Seville (A.D. 636), a Greek named Theodisclus was accused of heresy for maintaining that Jesus was not one God in unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit, but rather Son of God only by adoption. He was accordingly condemned by an ecclesiastical synod, deprived of his archbishopric and priesthood. He went over to the Arabs and embraced Islam amongst them.[322] Frequent mention is made of apostasy among clergy, even among the highest dignitaries of the church, one such was the Metropolitan of Rhodes.[323]

It has been stated that some church leaders appreciated the religious values of Islam so much that under Muslim influence they introduced the doctrine that Jesus was only the Son of God by adoption.[324] The close intercourse with Muslims made this new doctrine spread quickly over a great part of Spain. Felix, bishop of Argel, who propagated this doctrine vigorously, was accused of heresy and brought before a council for trial, but never gave up the doctrine and did not stop spreading it.[325]

Some movements within Christianity and the church were more in harmony with Islam than with orthodoxy, such as Calvinist and Protestant movements.[326] Some Christian sects and communities had moved from Christianity so much towards Islam already that it was not difficult for them to reject it completely: the Bogamiles, for instance, rejected the worship of the Virgin Mary, the institution of Baptism, priesthood. They abominated the Cross, Pictures, Images and Relics of the Saints. Their belief about Christ was similar to that of the Muslims.[327]

Many modern thinkers believe that the world rejected early modern Christianity and has replaced it with a secularized late modern Western civilization,[328] mainly because if Christian theology is true, God is a Monster,[329] and because of Christian intolerance, irrationality, confusion, contradiction, authoritarianism and other short comings which do not agree with logic, science and human conscience and intelligence.

Arnold Toynbee regards Islam as “The most rational of all living Judaic higher religions” and regards it as “a match for Judaism itself in the severity of its monotheism and its clearness of its apprehension of the transcendent aspect of God”.[330]


It has been pointed out before that at the same time that the Islamic Creed is simple; it is also rational and intellectual. Islam’s rationality has attracted intellectuals from its early days: Ibn Khallakan states: “Milas, an intellectual Zoroastrian of high status, arranged a dialectal discussion in which Abu al-Hodail defeated a group of highly learned Zoroastrian leaders. As a result, Milas embraced Islam and Abu al-Hodail wrote a book giving account of this discussion which is named Milas, after Milas”.[331]Abu al-Hodail was so well qualified in explaining Islam to the intellectuals that about three thousand people embraced Islam because of him.[332] A French writer remarked: “Islam, which lays no claim to miraculous power on the part of its founder, is the truly rationalistic religion”.[333] Another writer states: “Islam is a religion whose Creed had the attraction of simplicity and rationality at the time”.[334]

There is no contradiction between the simplicity of Islamic theology and its rationality. The Islamic Creed concerning the nature of the Divine, for instance, are both simple and intellectual. Islam’s Creed is simple in its straightforward demand of the Muslim that he believes in the totally sovereign, omnipotent, omnipresent Allah portrayed in the Quran: and thus easily digested by converts. They are intellectual in that they raise many intellectual questions which have intrigued theologians, philosophers and intellectuals throughout the centuries. The ordinary man has left these complexities, and the common converts can leave them too, to the intellectuals. Intellectual Muslims and converts have produced some of the great works of theological speculation which have been produced by man.[335] Moreover, this double quality of Islamic theology has enabled it to raise and improve the level of thought of common people. The common man can move upward with rationalism and intellectualism of Islamic theology which in turn shows its creativity.

Islamic theology combines simplicity and rationality. Islam remains adaptable on the one hand to the needs of highly cultured peoples (e.g. Indians, Chinese, Persians, Medieval Spaniards and the Hellenized Middle East) which so greatly shaped its development outside the confine of Arabia, while on the other it is capable of proselytizing in pagan Africa without the shock and dislocation often caused by Occidental Christianity.[336] It possesses the practicality of theological simplicity and the ideological creativity of rationalism. “Islam is a thoroughly practical religion, which does not make it necessary to explain away too high demands (such as those of Matt. v.33-4) by artificial interpretations,” states Noldeke.[337] Islamic practicality certainly has helped its spread in the course of its history in the same way that the simplicity of its theology has done. The simplicity of Islamic theology has not only made Islam practical and uncontradictory, but it has replaced formalism, ceremonialism and symbolism with simplicity and informality. There ample evidence to prove this, but a simple analogy of Islamic prayers with Christian religious ceremonies suffices. While in Christian ritual ceremonies, symbolism, image worshipping, saint – and self-worshipping in various forms, predominate, Islamic prayers provide reverence and dignity. Gibb explains this point as follows: “It is even difficult to put into words, but it may be roughly defined by saying that reverence requires, in addition to awe, two things: a sense of the goodness of God, and a sense of personal relationship to God”.[338]We do not need to explain how in Christianity these two have been lost in its formalism, symbolism and intercessionism. We also do not need to explain how in Islam these qualities have helped its spread, and can continue to spread.

Islamic rationalistic theology has influenced the theology of other religions so much that even those who have not openly accepted Islam have unconsciously accepted its theology, e.g. Thomas Paine in his great work “The Age of Reason” states: “I believe in one God, and no more”. He then discredits the Doctrines of the Trinity, and the Godhead of Jesus Christ, and says: “It is not difficult to account for the credit that was given to the story of Jesus Christ being the Son of God. He was born when heathen mythology has still some fashion and repute in the world; and that mythology had prepared the people for the belief of such a story. Almost all the extraordinary men that lived under heathen mythology were reputed to be the Sons of God’. It is curious to observe how the theory of what is called the Christian Church sprang out of the tale of heathen mythology. A direct incorporation took place in the first instance, by making the reputed founder to be celestially begotten. The Trinity of God that then followed was no other than a reduction of the former plurality, which was about twenty or thirty thousands”.[339] He goes on to discredit almost all Christian doctrines in a way that agrees with Islam. Of the Old and New Testaments he states: “Jesus Christ wrote no account of himself…not a line of what is called the New Testament is of his own writing. The history of him is altogether the work of other people; and as to the account given of his resurrection and ascension, it was necessary to counter-part to the story of his birth”. He shows the contradictions and contrasts in the Bible and states clearly that the present Bible is not a revelation of God but the work of men written a few centuries after the history and events it is supposed to represent. He finally concludes that: “Thus the ancient and the Christian mythologists differ very little from each other. But the latter have contrived to carry the matter much further”.[340]

It is not our intention to explain in detail how the irrational Christian mythology has frightened away many intellectuals. But what is said by Thomas Paine and many others is clearly reflected in many so-called heretic Christian sects, for example Quakerism. Ibn Hazm says: “The Arians, the Macedonians and the Bulgannians accept that Jesus is only a prophet”.[341] And in another place, “we and the Jewish sect of the Isawis and the Arians, the Bilgannians and the Macedonians from among Christians say that Christ was a creature and a man whom Allah created”.[342]

Paine frankly states: “As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species of Atheism, a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to believe in a man rather than in God. It is a compound made up chiefly of ‘Manism’ with but little Deism, and near to Atheism as twilight is to darkness. It introduces between man and his maker an opaque body which it calls redeemer; as the moon introduces her opaque self between the earth and the sun and it produces by his means a religious or an irreligious eclipse of light. It has put the whole orbit of reason into shade”.[343] He even believes that “of all the systems of religion that ever were invented there is none more repugnant to reason, and more contradictionary in itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince and too inconsistent for practice, it renders heart torbid, or produces only atheists and fanatics”.[344]

“One cannot refrain from wondering, also, if the inability of Christianity to meet the problems of mankind does not stem in large measure from the clash in theological interpretation which has accompanied so much of Christian history both past and present”.[345] A large number of both Catholics and Protestants seek and find in Christianity aspects of belief and practice which are repugnant to the more educated adherents of the same religious faith.[346] On the other hand, the rational quality of Islam has made it so unique that according to V. Grunebaume “only under Islam does the introvert find a place in society; onjy in Islam is the thinker felt to be closer to God than the doer”.[347]

The rationality of Islam and its theology provoked Christian theologians to seek a rational solution for Christian doctrines and thus made them adopt an apologetic approach, and imitate Islamic rationalism, e.g. “The tragedy of Abelard was that of a sincere seeker for a new apologetic to fit the new science and logic which was filtering in from Muslim sources”.[348] The attempt of Peter Abelard to create a rational apologetic even for matters of faith like the Incarnation and the Trinity; and Hugh of St. Victor and Peter the Venerable and many more were indeed due to the pressure which Islamic rationalism laid upon Christianity. “Apologetic was the excuse for appealing to reason as well as for the long-felt need of a system of doctrine, as in Abelard’s “Teologia Christiana” (pat. Lat 178, 1217 B.C and 1284 CD.)”.[349] The compassion of Peter the Venerable (as well as many more) for Abelard seems to us to be partly dedicated by his own consciousness of the need for an apologetic which could be used for the propagation of the mission to which his energies were so devoted.[350] It is not, therefore, unreasonable to suggest that the establishment of a scholastic approach and adoption of Averroism (Ibn Rushd’s philosophy) was indeed dictated by the need to rationalize Christianity so that it could meet the challenge of Islamic rationalism.


The spread of Islam is also thought to be due to the vividness with which the first article of the Islamic Creed (Unity of God) was preached in an age when men, even Christian men, were fast forgetting the significance of it.[351]

As Frederick Denison Maurice said in his Boyle lecture: “The sense of a Divine Almighty Will to which all human wills were to be bowed had evaporated amidst the worship of images, moral corruption, philosophical theories and religious controver­sies. Notions about God occupied men, but God was not in all their thoughts. At this very crisis the old truth, the foundation truth of all truths, was reasserted by Islam with extraordinary vividness that there is a living and eternal God, who lives and rules and whom men must confess and obey”.[352]

Islam believes in a living, knowing, willing and acting God. “Christendom indeed cannot possibly dispense with this conception. Nay, must relearn that conception whenever it becomes merely formal in her, even if her teacher be Islam”, proclaims one of the most fanatical Christian writers.[353]

Frederick Denison Maurice also points out how irresistible Muslims were when possessed with this conception.[354]

A very biased Christian writer admits: “Another praiseworthy result of Islam, when it is held as a really living faith, is the dignity with which it invests the believer, who, though a slave, has the slave’s right of access to his Lord. The calm dignity of a Muslim at prayer is ever a striking, and even a moving sight. This too is a reminder to the Christians to practice as well as to profess, a faith in a living God”.[355] “It is the truth of the living personal God, and the humanity of man which has attracted the 200,000,000 (quoted statistics) of human worshippers who profess Muhammadism today”.[356]


One of the main attractions of Islamic theology is the strong emphasis on monotheism and creativity. Islamic monotheism and creativity have certainly helped its spread. Creative faith can rejoice Islam’s determined monotheism. Christianity almost desperately needs Islam’s help at this point. Creative faith can also be glad of the universalism of Islam. In this respect Islam can also help Judaism. The stark and stern universalism of Islam’s monotheism is surely a basis for a worldwide religion. Creative faith can also take delight in the personal stress in Islam. Reality at the heart is purposive, and the purpose embraces all of nature and history. This aspect of its faith Islam can offer to the Oriental Religions, where the stress on the personal has not often been clear and persuasive. Creative faith can also take deep satisfaction in the way Islam is rooted in worship, particularly in prayers, and the way it pervades all of life.[357]

With such strong basis for rejoicing in Islam, creative faith can go on to suggest that Islam relates itself fulhilingly to the normal tenets of all religions.[358]


The Muslims’ notion of God’s oneness must be and is reflected in their own striving towards a co-ordination and unification of Nature and Man, of the Cosmos and Man, and of the various aspects of human life. The position of Islam in this respect (complete harmony of body and spirit, nature and man, and unification of the various aspects of man’s life) is unmistakable. It is reflected in its ideals and its realities. It teaches man, first: that the permanent worship of God in all the manifold actions of human life is the very meaning of this life; secondly: that the achievement of this purpose remains impossible so long as we divide our life in two parts, the spiritual and the material. They must be bound together, in our consciousness and our action, into one harmonious entity. The unity of God in Islam has influenced Islam’s entire ideals and realities. If the object of our life as a whole is to be the worship of God, we necessarily must regard this life, in the totality of all its aspects, as one complex moral responsibility. Thus all our actions, even the seemingly trivial ones, must be performed as acts of worship; that is, performed consciously as constituting a part of God’s universal plan. Such a state of things, for the man of average capability, is a distant ideal; but is it not the purpose of religion to bring ideals into real existence? This is again, I think, the reason for the particular form of the Islamic prayer in which spiritual concentration and certain bodily movements are co-ordinated with each other. Worship of God in the wide sense constitutes, according to Islam, the meaning of human life.


Science and technology in Islam were not directed towards destroying nature and man’s efficiency. They are directed towards discovering the rule of the universe, existence and nature devised by the Divine for creating and running the world, universe, life and existence.

Nature is not transcendent and constitutes an autonomous realm. There is no divinity either in its materials or in its forces. It is totally real, totally a creature, totally belonging to the realm of actual, the objective. It contains no mystery. None of its phenomena may claim to be secret, none beyond man’s searching eye or hand. It is utterly profane and nothing in it is or can be sacred. It is a subject of inquiry and investigation. It is open to all and everybody. Mankind and science advance only when nature is desacredalised; and they are at least their lowest and most backward ebb when nature is still looked upon as carrying, embodying, or objectifying the holy.[359] There is only one transcendent, God, nothing else is sacred and beyond human search and reach. Yet nature and science may be and should be employed for noble and sacred purposes. The balance lies here. Nature and all its parts are regarded as creatures and profane as against the only Creator and the transcendent. Man is also a part of nature and cannot be transcendent, but may fulfil the objectives set for him by the Transcend­ent.[360] Although nature is not sacred it is a trust which must be treated justly, moderately and with care.

The harmony and balance in Islam between science, religion and nature has been explained in various ways; by Islamic doctrine, theology and texts. A contemporary scholar has explored this field and has made valuable research dealing with the question of the position of science in the Bible, and the Quran.[361]

The purpose of education in the West is the production of citizens, hi Islam it is the emergence of the complete man. In Islam, the aim or final purpose of knowing is God. hi humanism the aim is the affirmation of man. This leads to the problem of the West. hi Islam the end knowledge is God; knowledge is not just for the secular purpose. Knowledge is one whole. The Universe is a book that reveals the Author. Knowledge, if it be true, confirms and affirms God. Thus, knowledge includes faith.[362]

There is no compartmentalism between secular and spiritual aspects of life in Islam. Life in its totality is taken into consideration. The unhappy situation in the West is caused by this compartmentalisation hence the conflict between religion on one side and science, knowledge and nature on the other side.

Islam can offer the west a solution to this conflict: The wholeness of life and unity of outlook which has largely been lost in the fragmentation of Western thoughts and living.

The believing Muslim is quite clear that modern knowledge does not threaten faith in God. Rather, every new discovery reveals more of the wonder of God’s creation. There are verses in the Quran which can be interpreted as foreshadowing later scientific discoveries. What is far more important, it blesses and commands the use and growth of knowledge. Islamic civilization was the torchbearer of scientific knowledge for centuries.

To meet the spiritual crisis of modern man, however, will take a deeper travail, “in the hope of finding once again a sacred foundation for science itself’.[363] To do this calls for an interplay on the level far removed from the quick reactions and hurtful thrusts of controversy. It demands a radical change in thought patterns, assumptions that have their roots deep in the history of the past. This applies specially to assumption in the scientific field, in which the West has allowed a scientific revolution to develop outside the range of Christian thought. Some later religious thinkers in the world of Christianity have put aside the question of nature and considered man’s salvation with total disregard of the rest of God’s creation. The Muslim has always lived at the level of wonder viz-a-viz the world of nature.[364] But Western science developed “totally divorced from the one experiment that was central for the men of old, namely experiment with oneself through a spiritual discipline.[365] Islam regards itself as the natural religion, for it suggests that Islam is the original religion of man. It began with the first man, who was also the right prophet. The same message was preached by all the prophets of God. If the aim of human organizations is the achievement of happiness, then Islam will be found as having provided for content­ment with passivity, for reliance on Allah without destroying human initiative or undervaluing human action. A happy civilization is a great civilization. Power, wealth and skill can be instruments of happiness and can also be tools of misery. Only a balance between physical power, wealth on one side and spiritual needs on the other can lead humanity to a comprehensive happiness. Islam restrains physical and material power by ethical values and tries to distribute wealth justly by religious law and circumscribed by moral standards.[366]


Any future world religion must take into careful consideration the following question: The balance between individual and society, the balance between secular and spiritual, the balance between religion and science, the balance between religion and nature, the balance between nationalism and humanitarianism, the balance between physical and spiritual needs.

The balance in Islam between the two extreme ends is sought in creating harmony between them. As regards the balance between physical and spiritual needs, Islam is based on a realistic moral code which does not make unnatural demands on the spiritual or physical capabilities of the practitioner. The Christian ambivalence on the matter of sexual relations for instance, is not a dilemma to the Muslims, while the rules concerning good conduct, even in specific cases such as the giving of Alms, are laid down clearly and simply, which is not the case in Christian dogma.[367] The conflict and confusion between theory and practice, between nature and religion, between physical and spiritual needs in Christianity and Hinduism for example has put them at a disadvantageous position compared to Islam. This is why despite the strict views on chastity advocated by the apologists the lay Christians and Christendom continued to hold pagan attitudes about love and marriage. Indeed, the persistence of profligacy was undoubtedly the reason why the more fervent leaders of the early Church, indignant at the foul charges levelled against them by their adversaries, went so far as to prove their continence by castrating themselves. The great Origen himself was one such, while other holy men willingly underwent the same mutilation, despite the disapproval of states. As late as A.D. 489, we hear of a church dignitory called Acacus who, having been accused by the bishops of fornication, demanded that his detractors have visual proof of his innocence. This also produced a double moral standard in Christianity: one for the church and its authorities, another for the populace and laymen.
No such questioning or doubt about the lightness of sexual relations troubled the Muslims, so that we may assume that the African of the eighth century, for instance, fervent Christian though he might have been, was glad to have the sin of venery off his conscience.[368] This does not mean that physical indulgence attracted the simple people to Islam. It simply means that they could no longer bear the conflict and the contradiction between physical-natural and spiritual-religious needs. As for the pagan Africa, for instance, nearly all observers agree that polygamy is not a manifestation of sexual indulgence, but a necessity in societies where women have no right and no protection other than matrimony. Islam’s rationalisation of polygamy was a practical solution of a complex and moral problem. The Muslim laws regarding marriage and polygamy give women the protection they receive from no other quarter, whence all African travellers, with the exception of missionaries agree that women’s lives would be intolerable in the rural communities were it not for polygamy. Polygamy ensures that each woman has a period of respite before and after pregnancy. The arguments in favour of the system can go farther than this, for socially the institution ensures the advantages of marriage and motherhood to practically all women, irrespective of their physical attractiveness; and morally it eliminates the basic causes of prostitution.[369] It is only now that sociologists are prepared to admit that polygamy is designed to ensure the welfare and security of the family. The Christian argument concerning the rejection of polygamy is unconvincing to the Africans, since it appears to be contradicted by other evidence of Christian doctrine, specially that based on the Old Testament in which the examples of Abraham, Soloman and the Hebrew patriarchs appear to justify the custom of concubinage in addition to multiple marriages and also contradicted by the sexually permissive Christian Society in which all kinds of sexual perversion are practised and common.

The question of marriage and celibacy brings to mind one of the largest issues which divides the mindsets of medieval Islam and Christendom. Abdul Hamim Murad, in his article, ‘Experiencing the Joy of Islam’, compares the Christian attitude to the Muslim one. Medieval Christianity taught that marriage was a ‘regrettable concession to human nature’ and celibacy was the ideal, whereas the Prophet of Islam taught that the lawful sexual act was something to be enjoyed and a spiritual blessing. This led to Western attacks on Islam and its so-called encouragement of a ‘sensual lifestyle’.

The Qur’anic world-view does not see human nature as essentially ‘fallen’, but able to seek God’s mercy through prayer and a good life, the Universe is a creative interplay of opposites and this includes male and female. Society grows unbalanced when fundamental identities are lost. The modern obsession with sex is not just a reaction against a repressive past. It is a search for the joy of sex through frustrated extravagance. Outside a spiritual context this is not possible to achieve. The gift of the libido should not be suppressed but protected within the framework of marriage, in which the essential link between flesh and spirit is expressed. As the Holy Qur’an says, “And it is of God’s signs that He created for you spouses from among yourselves that you may find peace in them; and he has placed between you love and mercy.”

A logical consequence of this is a further difference between Islam and all other known religious systems. Islam, as a teaching, undertakes to define not only the metaphysical relation between man and his Creator but also – and with scarcely less insistence – the earthly relation between the individual and his social surroundings. God Himself is a Unity not only in essence but also in purpose; and, therefore, His Creation is a Unity, possibly in essence, but certainly in purpose.[370]

The creativity and harmony of Islamic theology is also reflected in the Islamic doctrine of individual responsibility; compared to Christianity Islam alone declares the responsibility of individuals. “In Islam, we know nothing of original sin and basic sinfulness of mankind as a whole. Islam regards this as incongruent with the idea of God’s justice; and as there is no collective hereditary sin, there is also no universal redemption of mankind in the teaching of Islam. Redemption and damnation are individual. Every Muslim is his own redeemer; he bears all possibilities of spiritual success and failure within his heart”.[371] “Every individual Muslim has to regard himself as personally responsible for all happenings around him and to strive for the establishment of right and abolition of wrong at every time and in every direction”.[372] He, therefore, does not have to pay up for a sin committed by others and consequently no one can pay by his life for a sin committed by him. In Christianity God is worshipped because of fear and man’s sense of guilt, while in Islam He is worshipped out of love and because He alone deserves to be worshipped.

This is the moral justification of the healthy activism of Islam, an explanation for early Islamic conquests.

Contrary to other religions, specially Christianity, it is mainly Islamic theology, particularly the Islamic concept of God, that has attracted many intellectuals, filled them with the feeling of superiority and confidence; and made them into a proselyt­izing force for Islam; e.g. “Praise be to God” exclaims the converted Christian, Ali al-Tabari. “Praise be to God for the religion of Islam. Whosoever embraces it shall be successful; who so maintains it shall be rightly guided; who so upholds it shall be saved; and whosoever impugns it shall perish.. .It is by it that the Creator has been made known. It is for it that nations are craving and souls have longed…It is by it that hope is fulfilled sooner or later, because it is the living light and the crossing to the eternal abode of perfect happiness in which there is no grief nor illusion…”[373]

The combination of these aspects of Islamic ideology attracted intellectuals to Islam, hi fact in many cases the intellectual new converts made up the bulk of the Islamic proselytizing force. The contribution of thousands of intellectuals and their incorpo­rating by way of conversion of thousands of scholars who had lived under the old empires to the spread of Islam is very obvious.

Robert Emest Hume lists the elements of strength in Islam as follows:[374]

Itstheoryofonesupremedeityversusidolatiy. Itsconfidenceinareallysovereignworldruler. Its teaching that Godis also merciful and compassionate. Its principle ofutter devotionto the will of God. Its theory of an inescapable judgement-day. It insistence upon a continuous life of prayer. Its world-wide outlook. A certain powerful example in its enthusiastic founder. A certain strongmissionary activism. A certain strongunity among believers, despite its sects.

On the other hand Christian thinkers admit the contradictions[375] and some openly state: “I write as a Christian about the contradictions of Christianity. I do this with bewilderment and distress which often comes near to despair”.[376]

It seems appropriate here to explain briefly the conception of God in other religions. This may help us to understand other religions as well as Islam. However, Islam drew its followers from other religions too.

The Zoroastrians, the Dualists, divided God into two deities:

a) God the Creator, the benevolent, the useful, the kind, the merciful, etc., or Aho’ormazda;

b) God the destroyer, the vicious, the harmful, the darkness, the ignorance, etc., Ahirman.

In a word, the good God and the bad God. Dualism did not concern only God, but it dealt with everything into two groups: good and bad. This leads to absolute Dualism. The good God was represented and symbolized by light, and hence fire and sun worshipping, and the bad God was represented and symbolized by darkness.

The Hindus divided God into three deities:

a) God the creator or Brahma;

b) God the Destroyer or Shiva;

c) God the preserver or Vishnu.

This leads to moulding God into various shapes, forms, images, things, persons and it leads eventually to idolatry. This inspite of the fact that Hinduism was originally a monotheistic religion and atthe beginning it believed in only one God: Barahma. Buttheunique God took the shape of men, heroes, animals and persons of Ram Chandy, Krishna and other deities. Their mathematical method of explainingpolytheism and changing it into monotheism and pantheismisverysimilartothatofChristianway of explaining Trinity and changingitinto Unity.

The Christians likewise divided God into three deities: God the father, God the son, God the holy ghost. The Hindus have as much the right to claim that they are monotheists as the Christians have.

The Chaldeans and the Babylonians believed Marduk to be the favourite son of God who used to intercede on behalf of those who asked his forgiveness and help after committing sins. Their belief about Marduk was also very similar, or can be even identified with what is said and believed about Jesus Christ by Christians.

The Israelites believed in God of Israel and thought that they alone were His favourite chosen people and that they were worthy of worshipping Him. They gradually discarded the teaching of Moses and their respect for Ezra brought them to idolatry and belief in a Semitic and racial God and changed Judaism into the racial religion of a closed race. This finally produced Zionism.

The Mythologists, including Ancient GreekMythologists, identified God with various forces ofnature anddividedGodintonumerousnaturalforces andlaws. Theyplacedman against deity and therefore against nature for they identified gods with natural forces. Heathen Mythology dividedgodsintoabouttwentyorthirtythousand. TheancientMythologiststellusthattherace of giants made war against Jupiter. They put separate gods (naturalforces) against each other.

Christian theology has been influenced by Heathen and Ancient Greek Mythology also, as it has been under the influence of Hinduism, Chaldeans, Babylonian, Greek and Jewish theology. We can see many traces of Mythology in Christianity; person and self-worshipping, Godhead of man, dividing God into many deities, human sacrifice to please gods – the form of crucifixion of Jesus Christ, placing man against god and nature, and so on.

It was not a new thing at the time to believe a man to have been celestially begotten; the intercourse of gods with women was then a matter of familiar opinion. Their Jupiter, according to their account, cohabited with hundreds. It is curious to observe how the theory of what is called Christianity sprung out of the tale of the heathen mythology. A direct incorporation took place in the first instance by making the reputed founder to be celestially begotten. The trinity of gods that then followed was no other than a reduction of the former plurality, which was about twenty or thirty thousand. The status of Mary succeeded the status of Diana of Ephesus. The deification of heroes changed into canonization of saints. The mythologists had gods of everything. The Christian Mythologists had saints for everything. The church became as crowded with the one as the Pantheon has been with the other and Rome was the place of both. The Christian theory is little else than the idolatry of ancient Mythologists; and it yet remains to reason and philosophy to abolish the amphibious fraud. As to the account given of Jesus’s resurrection and ascension, it was also the necessary counterpart to the story of bis birth.

The ancient Mythologists tell us that the race of giants made war against Jupiter and that one of them threw a hundred rocks against him at one throw and that Jupiter defeated him with thunder; and confined him afterwards under Mount Etna; and that every time the giants turns himself Mount Etna belches fire. It is here easy to see that the circumstances of the mountain – that of its being a volcano – suggests the idea of the fable; and the fable is made to fit the wind itself up with the circumstance.

The Christian Mythologists tell us that Satan made war against the Almighty, who defeated him and confined him afterwards – not under a mountain, but in a pit. It is here easy to see that the first fable suggests the idea of the second; for the fable of Jupiter and the giants was told many hundreds of years before that of Satan. Thus the ancient and the Christian mythologists differ very little from each other except that Christian Mythologists have combined heathen Mythology with Jewish tradition.

The Christian Mythologists, after having confined Satan in a pit, were obliged to let him out again so that he could persuade Eve to eat an apple – and the eating of the apple damns all mankind – and hence crucifixion and the doctrine of redemption and the rest.

After giving Satan the triumph over the whole creation; damned all mankind by the eating of the apple by Eve, these Christian Mythologists bring the two ends of their fable together. They present this virtuous amiable man, Jesus Christ, to be at once both and God and man and also the son of God -celestially begotten on purpose to be sacrificed, crucified so that the innocent creation could be redeemed, because they say that Eve, in her longing, had eaten an apple.

After dividing God into three main deities (trinity), they provided Satan with a power equally as great as the three deities together, if not greater, than they attribute to the Almighty. They have that power increased afterwards to infinity. Before his fall they represent him only as an angel of limited existence, as they represent the rest. After his fall he became, by their account omnipresent.

Not content with this deification of Satan, they present him as stratagem, in shape of an animal of the creation, with all the power and wisdom of the Almighty. They represent him as having compelled the Almighty to the direct necessity either of surrendering the whole of the creation to the government and sovereignty of this Satan, or of capitulating for redemption by coming down upon earth and exhibiting Himself upon the cross in the shape of a man.

Had the inventors of this story told it a contrary way – that is, had they represented the Almighty as compelling Satan to exhibit himself on a cross in the shape of a snake, as punishment for his new transgression – the story would have been less absurd, less contradictory. But instead of this they make the transgressor triumph and the Almighty fail.

The Christian Mythologists tell us that Christ died for the sins of the world and that he came just to be crucified and die. We do not intend to go into the question, pun or quibble concerning the word death, for the declaratory sentence which, they say, was passed upon Adam in case he ate the apple was not that “thou shall be crucified” but “thou shall surely die”. However, St. Paul, if he wrote the books that bear his name, has helped this quibble on by making another quibble upon the word “Adam”. He makes there to be two Adams: the one who sins in fact and suffers by proxy; the other who sins by proxy and suffers in fact.

The authentic sources show that Jesus never claimed to be more than a human being but Christians mixed Christianity with paganism and changed him into the son of God and was assigned with specific work; Redemption. God the father is god of revenge, the God the son is god of redemption. Likewise, the doctrine of trinity has its effect on other Christian doctrines and beliefs, i.e. the Christian belief about Man and Universe and so on, e. g. since there is only one son for the God there is one Universe which is the one we live in. Probably this is why the church fought vigorously with Galileo and Copernicus, for they were proving the plurality of the Universes and that the earth is round and that it is not the centre of the Universe. For if the doctrine of Godhead of Jesus was to be accepted the ptolemy has to be correct. The theory of Ptolemy suited Christianity as the earth has to be the centre of the Universe where God sent his only son in the form of Jesus. Thus any scientific theory challenging this had to be wrong and discredited.

Christianity reduces the Almighty into a meek and small God. First of all because He decided to take revenge on mankind by sending His son to be crucified because Eve had eaten an apple. Secondly, Christianity has to reduce the world of creation into man’s world (the earth) and rejects the plurality of the Universes with all its immensity, vastness and greatness. This is because Christianity believes that God forsook the whole creation and care of all the rest of the creation and had come to die in this world because one man and woman had eaten an apple. If Christianity had to justify this belief it had to reject the roundness of earth, the plurality of the world. On the other hand are we to suppose that every world in the boundless creation had an Eve, anapple, a serpent and a redeemer? hi this case, the person who is irrelevantly called the son of God, and sometimes God himself, would have nothing else to do than to travel from world to world in an endless succession of deaths. Or else there should be millions of sons of God for there are millions of worlds equally created by the same God.

Finally, a brief analogy between Islam and Christianity would help to explain the Islamic Creed.

Both Christianity and Islam claim to be revealed religions, Jesus declared that the Gospel or Message he was delivering was not his own but God’s: “I have not spoken myself, but the Father which sent me, He gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12:49). Likewise it is claimed in the Quran that the Quran is the revelation which came to the Prophet Muhammad was from the Lord of the world: “And lo, it is a revelation of the Lord of the worlds, which the True Spirit hath brought down upon thy heart (0 Muhammad) that thou mayest be one of the warners” (26:192-94). It follows that the truth of either religion depends on the accuracy with which the inspired words of its founder have been recorded and on the textual purity of its Scripture. Let us, therefore, examine the Christian and the Islamic Scripture from this point of view. How far have the revelations of God to Jesus and Muhammad (peace be on them!) been preserved faithfully and accurately in the Gospel and the Quran respectively?


There are four Gospels in the New Testament included in the Bible. They give four different accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus. In considering how far these Gospels faithfully present the inspired message or Gospel of Jesus we must bear the following facts in mind:

(1) that no written copy was made of the inspired sayings of Jesus during his earthly life;

(2) that the earliest records that were made after his departure from this world have all been irretrievably lost;

(3) that in the Gospels, which were written between A.D. 70 and 150 on the basis of some of the lost documents, the material contained in them was handled with
great freedom; the Gospel writers did not hesitate to change whatever did not suit their purpose or the purpose of their sects and those they wrote for;

(4) that none of the Gospel writers had known Jesus or heard him speaking (though it is claimed that Matthew and Mark knew him);

(5) that the Gospels were written in Greek, whereas the language spoken by Jesus was Aramaic (though it is suggested that too may have been written in Aramaic);

(6) that they were written to propagate the viewpoints of the various sects, and that they were chosen from many other Gospels which represented different view

(7) that at least for a century after they were written they had no canonical authority and could be and were actually altered by the copyists to bring them in line with
the views of their sects;

(8) that the Gospels as they exist today contain contradictions.

These facts as disclosed by distinguished Western scholars go to show that the Gospels of Jesus, by which we mean the Message which Jesus had received from God, has not reached us in its original form. The four Gospels included in the Bible cannot be relied upon to give us the true knowledge of what Jesus had said and taught.

On the other hand, there is no such doubt about the Holy Quran. It contains nothing but the revelations received by the Holy Prophet Muhammad. As soon as he received a revelation from God he used to communicate it to his disciples and to ask them not only to commit to memory, but to also write it down. Thus the complete Quran was written down and also preserved in the hearts of hundreds of persons in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet. The practice of learning the whole of the Quran by heart has continued unbroken to our day. The result is that no scholar, Eastern or Western, Muslim or non-Muslim, has ever cast any doubts on the purity of the text of the Holy Quran.

“indeed, we have sent down the Message (the Quran) and assuredly we are the guards for it” (15:9).

“No falsehood can approach it from before or behind it. It is sent down by One Full of Wisdom and Worthy of all Praise” (41:42).

(c) PROPHET JESUS (Peace be upon him!)

Nothing brings out the contrast between Islam and Christianity so much so as a

comparison between the Islamic attitude towards Jesus and the Christian attitude towards Muhammad. While Muslims believe in Jesus as a great Prophet of God and love and revere him, the Christians not only reject the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him!) but are never tired of speaking ill of him in the most disparaging manner possible.


The Christian missionaries are fond of making invidious comparisons between the characters of Jesus and Muhammad (peace be on them!) but a moment’s thought will show that Jesus of the Gospels and Muhammad offer no comparison at all. For, while the Prophet Muhammad is a thoroughly historical character, every detail of whose life is preserved for us in critically tested books of Hadeeth and history, the life and character of Jesus are shrouded in mystery and entangled in the cobwebs of myth and legend.

There are doubts about the date, place and manner of his birth; there is nothing known about the first thirty years of his life; there are differences on the question of his death. The Gospels tell us of a little more than two years of his life, and that too in a manner that can hardly pass the test of historical criticism.


Although, on the basis of the Quran, Muslims regard the character of Jesus and Muhammad as equally godly, pure, noble, and inspiring, yet Jesus did not have the opportunity to become a perfect model for men in all walks of life, as the Prophet Muhammad did. Jesus never married, and so he could not become an ideal husband and father. He did not triumph over his enemies as he had no chance of showing how a man of God should behave towards his enemies who have spared no pain to annihilate him and his followers. He did not have his oppressors at his mercy, and so he had no occasion to show real forbearance, mercy and forgiveness. Jesus did not rise to power to become a model of a benevolent and just ruler, and judge.

We must turn to the Prophet Muhammad, and not Jesus, if we want to see the picture of an ideally happy and pious married life and of a wise, just and benevolent ruler whom nothing could corrupt or divert from working for the intellectual, moral and material amelioration of his people.


Christianity, as understood and believed by the Christians of various sects, is based on three creeds: the Athanasian, the Nicene, and the Apostles’. The main doctrines of Christianity are (1) the Trinity, (2) the Divinity and Divine – sonship of Jesus, (3) original sin, and (4) Atonement.

Islamic theology has no place for any of these dogmas. It preaches the Oneness of God as against the Trinity. It considers the Christian deification of Jesus to be a reversion to paganism. According to the Holy Quran, Jesus was not an incarnation of God, but a Prophet of God, and, like all the other prophets (including Muhammad), he was every bit a human being. Islam also rejects the Divine-son-ship of Jesus. He may be called a son of God in the sense in which all righteous human beings may be called the children of God, but not in any literal or unique sense. In like manner, Islam rejects the dogmas of Original Sin and Vicarious Atonement as being opposed both to reason and to revealed religion.

The doctrine of the Trinity finds its classic formulation in the Athanasian Creed, wherein it is stated:

“There is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one, the glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal…The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three gods, but one God…For, like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every person by himself to be God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the Catholic religion to say there be three Gods or three Lords”.

This is obviously self-contradictory. For, if there are three distinct and separate persons, and each is by himself God and Lord, then there must be three Gods, and not one God. Strangely enough, Jesus himself never even mentioned the Trinity. He knew and said nothing at all about there being three persons in Godhead. This doctrine was coined by the Christians about three centuries after the departure of Jesus from this world. It was developed as a consequence of the deification of two creatures – the Prophet Jesus and the Holy Spirit (i.e. the angel which brings God’s revelations to His Prophets) – and their association with God as partners in His Godhead.

Islam preaches the pure unity of God. It says that God has no partners in His Godhead. He is the Self-Sufficient One, on Whom all depend and Who depends not on any one. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all – the All-good, the All-mighty, the All-knowing, the All-loving, the All-merciful, the All-holy, the eternal, the Infinite. He neither begets, nor is begotten. He is unique.

The second Christian dogma – Divinity of Jesus – is thus defined in the Nicene Creed:

“I believe in…one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son God. Begotten of His Father before all ages. God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God. Begotten, not made; being of one substance with the Father”.

This dogma also finds no support in the sayings and teachings of Jesus. The truth is that Jesus strongly disclaimed divinity. He said:

“Why callest thou me good? There is none good but One, that is, God” (Mark, 10:18). He spoke of God as “My Father and your F ather, my God and your God” (John, 20:17). These words of Jesus clearly show that he stood in the same relation to God as any other man; he was a creature of God.

Jesus did not claim to be the Son of God in any exclusive sense. In the Bible this expression is used for many earlier prophets of the Hebrew race. It meant nothing more than nearness to God. Jesus himself said that every man who had love and mercy in his heart was God’s son.

Like the Trinity, the doctrine of the Divinity and Divine son-ship of Jesus was also invented and developed long after the departure of Jesus from this world. In fact, one can clearly trace the various stages through which Jesus was gradually deified.

Reason, however, refuses to accept a man who was born of a women, suffered from human wants, ignorance and limitations, and gradually grew in stature, power and wisdom, like any other man, as God. To put human limitations upon God and to believe in His incarnation in a human body is to deny the perfection and infinitude of God.

Christian theology lays great emphasis on the doctrines of Original Sin and Atone­ment. It is claimed that by disobeying God’s order not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, Adam committed a mortal sin. The sin of Adam is inherited by all the children of Adam: all human beings are born sinful. Now it is only by the shedding of blood that sin can be wiped out. As St. Paul puts it, “without the shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). So, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came down from Heaven, gave his blood to atone for the sins of men. The Bible says, “For as much as ye know that he were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…but with the previous blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Peter, 1:18-19). No one can be saved unless he accepts Jesus as his redeemer.

Like the other Christian beliefs, the doctrine of original Sin also finds no support in the recorded sayings of Jesus or of the prophets who had come before Jesus. They taught that ever}’ man was accountable for his own actions; the children will not be punished for the sins of the father. That Jesus regarded the children as innocent and pure, and not as born in sin, is clear from several of his sayings.

Islam condemns the dogma of Original Sin and regards children as pure and sinless at birth. Sin, it says, is not inherited, but is something that man takes upon himself by doing what he should not do and not doing what he should do. It would be highly unreasonable and unjust to condemn the entire human race for the sin committed thousands of years ago by the first parents of mankind.

No less irrational than the doctrine of Original Sin is that of Vicarious Atonement. It is not only a denial of the mercy of God but also of Justice of God. For, to demand blood in order to forgive the sins of men is to show complete lack of mercy, and to punish a man for the sins of others is the height of injustice. It is difficult to see how the suffering and death of one man can wipe out the sins of others. What is needed to wash away sin is not blood, but repentance and good deeds. The Quran says, “To God does not reach the flesh or the blood, but unto Him is acceptable righteousness on your part” (22:37). Just as the sin of the father cannot make the children and the children’s children sinful, so the suffering and death of one man cannot make another man pure and sinless. By one’s actions does one become sinful, and by one’s own actions does one become righteous and deserving of God’s love. “Whoever goeth right,” says the Quran, “it is he that gaineth right, and who only for the good of his own soul shall ever erreth, erreth only to its loss. No laden soul can bear another’s load” (17:15). Salvation is for all those who believe in God and do good deeds: “Nay, but whosoever surrendereth his purpose to God while doing good, his reward is with his Lord; and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve” (2:112).


The Christianity of Jesus was not meant to be a universal religion. Although after him his religion was propagated to the gentiles as well as the Jews and is now one of the World Religions, yet so far as Jesus himself was concerned he had made it clear that he had been sent only for the Israelites: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24).

He confessed that what he had brought from God was not the full revelation of truth

or complete guidance for all mankind and all times. However, he promised that after him another Prophet would come who would guide mankind in “all truth”: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John, 16:12-13).

That Prophet, the Spirit of truth, the Comforter, whose advent had been foretold by Jesus, was the Prophet Muhammad. God revealed to him that he had been sent “as a mercy to all the worlds” (Al-Quran, 21:107), and that the religion revealed to him was the completed and perfect revelation of God’s faith and guidance to mankind.[377]

Sulayman Shahid Mufassir, in his article, ‘Muhammad in the Bible’, shows that the Islamic interpretation of the Gospel is much more logical than the Christian one. When he embraced Islam, he realised that “in general the Christian interpretation presents a puzzle with major parts missing, and those parts can be supplied only by Islam. The Christian sees the Bible as an end in itself, whereas in reality it is but an indicator pointing the way to something else which was yet to come. Until the event occurred, the Bible was an incomplete, unfulfilled Book and many of its profound prophecies could not be grasped completely. Christian theologians and scholars, eager to impress their following, often erred in assigning premature “fulfilments ” to these foregleams. When the prophecies actually came true, these erroneous conjectures had assured the status of dogma, blinding Christians to the fruition of their own beliefs.”

As an example of the above, Mufassir cites the Christian interpretation of John 14:16 and 17 and 16:7-14. In the original Greek text (if assumed to be correct), Jesus points to the coming of another prophet after him-“I will pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter (Greek Paracletos), that he may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth.”(John 14:1, 16,17). This Messenger would possess a heavenly Revelation teaching God’s word. He would also honour Jesus and confirm his words. There is every likelihood that Jesus, speaking in Aramaic, used the similar Greek word, Periclyte (praised one), but that “John”, in the second century, used Paraclete in error. Even if we accept the latter term, the Christian translation of ‘Comforter’ is not accurate. The word actually means ‘advocate/counsellor’. Also the ‘paraclete’ is given the title, ‘Spirit of Truth’, which in Greek refers to an inspired and trustworthy person, as well a ‘spirit’.

The Greek term, ‘aleethees’ (trustworthy), corresponds with ‘Al-Amin’, one of the titles of Muhammad (pbh).

The Christian interpretation jumped to the conclusion that the ‘Spirit of Truth’ was the same as the ‘Holy Spirit’. In fact, the Holy Spirit (Angel of Revelation), was already present, as shown in Matthew (3:16, 17; 12: 27-33) when Jesus spoke of someone to come in future. Also the “paraclete” would “abide with you forever”, which indiates that he would be the last prophet. La another book attributed to John (IJohn 2:1), he refers to Jesus as the Paraclete, showing that the ‘paraclete’ was a human being, a person not a spirit. ‘Paraclete’ is almost synonymous ,with ‘Prophet’, as it emphasises the teaching and counselling aspects. Another possibility is that in the course of textual transmission, words could have been ommitted, especially as letters were all run together. It is quite likely that both ‘paraclete’ and ‘periclyte’ were used. Finally, no one else but Prophet Muhammad (pbh) has come as a prophet giving recognition to the the mission of Jesus as teacher of a comprehensive Revelation from God.
A former Churchman has explained this point as follows:” Abraham had already been told of the coming of one of his descendants in whom all the families of the earth would be blessed and Jacob similarly had foretold (Gen 49) the coming of Shiloh. Jesus made mention of Noah and Abraham as Divine Prophets and Revelators in the succession of those Who had guided mankind towards the Kingdom: but their teachings have apparently been lost and are not given in the sacred text. Other prophets also made the same prophecies (Ezekiel xi 19-20; Joel ii 28; Jeremiah xxxi 33; Isaiah xi 9 and Hab. ii 14; Zecharaiah xiv 9)

Jesus’ function was more intimate, more constructive, more creative. He was actually the Herald of the Kingdom, which, he said, was “at hand”. But he did not reveal it fully: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot hear them now.” The Kingdom in his Revelation becomes a living, glowing reality, both within the believer’s heart and shortly to be fulfilled in the world. Jesus reveals its King as none had done before him, and testifies of him as “he shall testify of me.”

As Jesus had prophesied, the false prophets contrived to change the essential meaning of the Gospel so that it became quite different form that which the Bible recorded or Jesus taught. (Matt, vii 15-23) it has long been generally believed that Jesus Christ was a unique Incarnation of God such as had never appeared in religious history and would never appear again. This tenet made the acceptance of any later Prophet impossible to a Christian. Yet, there is nothing in Christ’s own statements to support this view, and it was not generally held during his lifetime.

Jesus emphatically claimed to reveal God, Whom he called Father, but continually differentiated Himself from the Father in many such references as: “Him that sent me”, “My father is greater than I”(John xiv 28) . He made this abundantly clear and even stated specifically that the Father had knowledge which was not possessed by the Son. “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark xiii 32)

He referred to himself as the Son and as a Prophet (Matt xiv 57; Luke xiii 33), and was so regarded, (Matt xxi 11, Luke vii 16) and related his mission to those of Moses and Abraham before him, and to others to come after him, specifically “He, the Spirit of Truth,” who would reveal the things which Jesus did not. (John xvi 12-33). As if to make such a mistaken reference to himself impossible, he disclaimed being the Mighty God when he called himself ‘Son of God’, disclaimed being the Father, and bearing the government upon his shoulder when he said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John xviii 36).

In spite of Christ’s promise of further revelation of Truth, through the Comforter, through his own return, through the Spirit of Truth, the Christian Church regards his revelation as final, and itself as the sole trustee of true religion. There is no room for the Supreme Redeemer of the Bible to bring in great changes for the establishment of the Kingdom of God. In fact, this Kingdom is often described as a world-wide Church. It might seem natural to expect that the Dispensation of the Herald of the Kingdom would be followed in sequence by that of the King whose Herald He was. But this was not to be. It had been already so announced in the Book of Genesis. God foretold to Abraham that the Prophetic succession was to run through him and be fulfilled not only in Isaac but in Ishmael. (Gen. xii 1-2 andxvii 20) ” And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold I have blessed him… and will multiply him exceedingly: twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.” Later, he is described as living in the wilderness of Paran. He became the progenitor of the people of Arabia and the twelve Princes he begot are interpreted as the twelve Imams who followed Muhammad. Moses confirmed this promise when he prophesied (Deut.xviii 15) to the Israelites that “the Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me.” This refers especially to Muhammad as he uses the word ‘brethren’, alluding to Isaac’s brother, Ishmael. If he had meant Jesus, he would have used the word, ‘seed’

He connects Mount Paran explicitly with the Prophetic line when , in his final blessing before his death, He describes the Prophets who will follow him: “The Lord came from Sinai (himself) and rose up from Seir(Jesus); he shined forth from Mount Paran (Muhammad). Also the Qur’an mentions that Muhammad’s coming was prophesied in the Bible(Sura 26 verses 192-199) and states that Abraham prayed for his coming (Sura 2 verses 118-144) and that he was foretold by Moses and described in the Law and the Evangel.


It is stated that Christianity appeared as a revolt against corrupt Judaism and Islam appeared as a revolt against corrupt Christianity, hence Islam’s supremacy.

Muslims themselves hold Christianity more guilty than Judaism in this respect (unfaithfulness to their originality). For, while the Jews were sometimes seduced to idolatry, their prophets always brought them back to the worship of the one God. But Christianity, in adopting Trinity and Godhead of Jesus and thus worshipping him is charged with identifying a heavenly messenger with God Himself.[378] This idea certainly represents the beliefs of many Jews and Christians who have abandoned their religion in favour of Islam.

It may be assumed that the corruption of Christians and Christianity was partly responsible for the idea that a new prophet was foretold by the Bible. A prophet who would bring them back to decency and to the worship of One God. Muhammad was in a sense expected to come; St. Thomas of Aquinas claimed that the Bible foretold Muhammad.(128) But since it was not easy for the Christian world to admit its own corruption and the acceptance of Muhammad, Christians claimed that Muhammad corrupted all evidences of the Old and New Testaments.[379] In this way they found an excuse for rejecting what was foretold in their own sacred books.

However, it is quite rational to conclude from many historical facts that the spread of Islam in many cases and areas was mainly due to the shortcomings of the competing religion in comparison to Islam. The spread of Islam in many cases was facilitated by the competing religion concerned. This is not only true of Christianity helping the spread of Islam, but applies to other religions too.

A very important factor in favour of conversion to Islam was the deplorable state of Buddhism and Hinduism.[380] The spread of Islam in Indonesia, a country converted late, mainly by penetrating through the lower classes, was facilitated by the previous religions and previous religious teachings, those of Shivaism and of Mahayana Buddhism.[381] Indeed, one can tentatively suggest that historical facts show that the ground for the spread of Islam was almost always prepared positively or negatively directly or indirectly by the previous religious and the previous religious teachings in the areas into which Islam penetrated. The case of the spread of Islam in the areas under the Byzantine and Persian Empires, in the Indian Sub-Continent and the Far East as elsewhere clearly explains this point.

The religious corruption of Christians made the coming of the prophet appear as God’s blessing for humanity or His wrath against corrupt Christianity: “When Heraclius saw the routing of the Greek and news reached him at Antioch of what the Arabs had done to the Persians, he was seized with wrath and indignation and was utterly discouraged. He wrote to Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia and Armenia, ordering them not to fight the Arabs any longer and no more to oppose the will of God. He told them that the Great God had sent this misfortune upon men, who should not oppose the will of God when He had promised to Ishmael the Son of Abraham that there would issue from his loins many Kings”.[382]

The corruption of Christianity made it fail in its mission. This is why it is suggested that since Christianity failed, Islam appeared to fulfil the mission for which true Christianity was assigned. If Christianity did not make way in the Eastern World, if the few Christian Churches which did exist among the half Roman or Hellenic inhabitants of Syria and of Africa had sunk to the condition in which we know they were when Islam swept them away, what reason have we, either a priori or a posteriori, for supposing that the Christianity of any later time would have been more success­ful?[383] Hence Islam’s appearance and success. Christianity had been tried for six centuries by the time Islam spread, and had failed. It had been known for three hundred years in Arabia and for six hundred years in the areas unto which Islam immediately spread and had not been able to succeed and to overthrow, or even weaken the idolatry of the inhabitants.[384]


[208] Ibid p.44

[209] Ibid p.45

[210] Courtesy oflnquiry, January 1985

[211] Hentsch, Thierry, Imagining The Middle East
[212] Ibid

[213] Quran 96:1-5

[214] Quran40:60, 7:55

[215] Quran 16:125

[216] Quran 40:41

[217] Quran 96:1-5

[218] Quran2:142, 213, 6:88, 10:35

[219] Quran 2:31

[220] Quran2:15,3:38, 2:129,3:164,62:2

[221] AEzzati, The Spread ofIslam -p.55

[222] Ibid – Introduction

[223] Quran 3:17, 5:5, 6:125,39:23, 61:71

[224] AEzzati, TheSpreadofIslam -p.39-42

[225] Morrish,5./.C.-p.l91

[226] Forthis see N. Selihi, ShahidJakid(?eisim)

[227] Tabataba’i, Al-Mizan – Commentary on the verses dealing with Shafa’a

[228] SeeallthevereesusmgthederivativesofShahadaandJahadae.g.2:218,Anfal:76, Tuba: 115: 2:115:2:143,13:43

[229] Ibid 29:52, 3:18

[230] Quran-Nisa:72

[231] Farhang Jamil, Mufradat Raghis see Shahada used in the Quran

[232] Quran 2:142

[233] Quran 2:285

[234] Quran2:142,Ahzab:21

[235] Quran 2:285

[236] Quran 2:142

[237] Quran6:48,14:10-12,16:43-44, 17:94-95,16:89

[238] Quran Anam: 164, Muddassir 38:2:286

[239] See TabstabaH Al-Mizan – commentary oniheterm Shafa’a used intiie Quran

[240] Quran 2:142, Ahzab:45

[241] QuranNisa:72

[242] Quran 2:136

[243] Quran2:30,36, 15:28-29,21:9,51:56,52:35,66:12,76:1

[244] Quran 1:5

[245] Quran 3:5

[246] Quran3:19

[247] Quran33:39, 57:25, 21:73,16:90, 7:62, 16:39, 26:124-127, 21:74

[248] Quran21:107-108, 33:45-46,34:28

[249] Quran 10:19, 11:88

[250] Quran 21:48

[251] Quran 8:24

[252] JohnB. Noss, Man ‘sReligiom (5thEd.), p.507

[253] R.E. Hume, The World’s Religion, Ch. Islam

[254] Quoted by the previous source; B. Smith, M.M., p. 161

[255] R. Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, p. 1

[256] John Cogley, Religion in a Secular Age, p.60

[257] A. Toynbee, H.A.R., p. 129

[258] W. Cantwell Smith, Islam in Modern History, p. 16, N. 10; Stephen Neill, Christian Faith and Other Faiths, p.40 (1960)

[259] H. J. Schoops, TheReligions of Mankind, p.253

[260] A Dictionary of ‘Comparative Religion (ed. S.G.F. Brandon, Ch. Islam)

[261] The World of Islam, p.51 (ed. J. Kritzek, 1960)

[262] F. Schoun, Understandinglslam, p.21

[263] The Quran, 3:19

[264] The Quran, 22:78

[265] C.E.Farah,/.s/am,p.lO4

[266] V. Grunebaume, Islam, p.lll

[267] Ghazali, Fathihat al-Ulum, p.3 (Cairo, 1328)

[268] The Quran and commentaries

[269] Al-Islam, vol.3(1974Washington,D.C.,U.S.A.)

[270] See the letter of Sheikh al-Islam of Istanbul, published in The Independence (N. Y., Feb. 9, 1888)

[271] The Quran, IV, 125, iii,64; ii,208
[272] Ibid II, 128.XXII.76 (quoted from M.H. Tabatabai, Shi ‘iteIslam English Trans., p.33)

[273] M.H. Tabatabai, Shi ‘iteIslam, p.33

[274] The Quran, 38, 87-88; 21, 107; 36, 69-70; 25, 1; 34, 7; 61, 9

[275] See Muhammad’s letters to Emperor Heraclius, the King of Persia, the Governor ofYamanand Egypt and to the King of Abyssinia.

[276] A.A. Calwash, TheReligion cfIslam (2nd ed., 1945). vol. 1, p.139

[277] C.E.Farah,/,y/amp.lO7

[278] Ibid

[279] Ibid, p. 108

[280] T.B. Irving, Islam, pp 103-4 (Ed. K. Ahmad, 1975) (T.B. Irving, a Canadian convert to Islam and a scholar of international standard, Ph.D. and a professor atthe university of Tennessee, U.S.A)

[281] H. Ringgrem and A. V. Strom, Religions of Mankind (English Trans, published by Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh, 1967, p. 184)

[282] EmileBrehir, TheMiddleAges andRenaissance, p.89 (EnglishTrans, by W.Baskin,published by University of Chicago, 1965)

[283] Ibid, p.90

[284] N.F.S. Ferre, Reason in Religion (lstEd), p.157

[285] Ibid,p.315

[286] E.J. Jurji, The Great Religions oftheModern World, p. 183

[287] Morrish,B./.C,p.l5

[288] Ibid

[289] The Quran, Sura 9, 30

[290] Morrish,B./.C.,p.225

[291] Caeiam, Anna!’ dell’ Islam, vol 11, pp. 1045-6

[292] Masudi, Tarikh, vol 11, p.387; Arnold, p.I, pp. 105-6; Abu Salih, p. 103

[293] Andrew Miller, Church History, p.282 (Pickering andlnglisLtd)

[294] Ibid,p.284

[295] Ibid,p.285

[296] S.Neill,C.F.O.F.,p.44

[297] Anothony Denney, WorldFaith andModern Problems, p .69

[298] Ibid, p.29

[299] Anihony Denny, W.F.M.P.,p.25

[300] H. J. Schoops, The Religion ofMankind, p.234

[301] Ibid,p.233
[302] Ibid

[303] Ibid,pp.235-6

[304] The World’s Religions, Ed. N. Anderson, p.126 (1975)

[305] Fritjhof Schoun, Understanding 1slam, Ch. 1

[306] Ibid

[307] W.H.T. Gairdner, The Reproach of Islam, p.I 19 (1910)

[308] Ibid

[309] T.Umg, A History of Religion, p.226

[310] Francis Buhl, op. cit

[311] C.E.Farah,/^aOT,p.27O

[312] Ibid

[313] Ibid,p.272

[314] Op. cit, p.I 1

[315] Morrish,B.I.C.,p.37

[316] Atterbury, Islam in Africa, p.81

[317] A.VomKremer(l)vol. I,p.l72

[318] Finlay,vol.III,pp.538-9

[319] Assemani, torn, iii, ParsPrima, pp.130-1

[320] Amr. b. Mattai,AL4.S., ppN.C. p.72; Arnold, P.I, p.85-6 Barlraeur(l), vol. iiip.194; Muri b. Sulayman, p.10 Barlraeur(l), vol. ii, pp.248-9

[321] Arnold, P.I; Chapter on Conversion to Islam

[322] Ibid,p.l36

[323] Hammer, vol. VI,p.94; Spon. vol. 11, p.57 (Arnold, p.I,p.187); delaMotraye,l. Voyage enEurope,ol. 1 pp.305-8

[324] Enhueber,6,p.3531

[325] Helfrich,p.88; Arnold, p.I, p.141

[326] Arnold, P.I, p. 1655

[327] Kosmos, quoted by Evans, p.61

[328] A. Toynbee, H.A.R., Chap. 12 and 15

[329] Ibid, Chap. 13

[330] Ibid

[331] Ibn Khallakan, WqfayatalAycm, vol 1, p.480 (quoted by H.I. Hassan, Tarikh al-hlam, p.350)

[332] H.I. Hassan, Tarikh al-hlam, p.350

[333] Quoted by Farquhat, Modern Religious Movements, p.93

[334] T. Lmg,AHistory ofReligion, p.289

[335] P.H. Ashby, The Conflict of Religions, p. 106 (N.Y., 1955)

[336] Religions in the Middle East, vol. 2, p.3

[337] T. Noldeke, Sketches from Eastern History, p.64

[338] H.Gibb,S.C.I.,p.l90

[339] Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

[340] Ibid,p.8

[341] IbnHazm, Fisal, vol. 1, p. 112

[342] Ibid, vol. ii, p. 11

[343] Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, p.28

[344] Ibid,p.l65

[345] A. Ashby, The Conflict of Religions, pp. 14-15 (N.Y., 1955)

[346] Ibid, p. 16

[347] V. Grunebaume, Unity and Variety in Islam, p.22

[348] J.W. Sweetaan, I.C.T., Part2, vol 1, p.71

[349] Ibid, p.70

[350] Ibid,p.71

[351] C.G. Dale, Christianity andMuhammadanism, p.22

[352] Lecture 1, p.23, Religions of the World (7th Ed, 1925) and their Relations to Christianity

[353] W.H.T. Gairdner, The Reproach of Islam, p.139

[354] Ibid

[355] Ibid, p. 138


[357] N.F.S. Feire,ReasoninReligion,pp. 318-9

[358] Ibid, 319

[359] See Ismail Ragi al-Faruqi, The Great Asian Religions, p.311

[360] Ibid

[361] Dr Maurice Bucaille, TheBible, The Quran and Science. Dr Bucaille is an eminent scientist ofFrance.

[362] Charis Wady, The Muslim Mind, p. 143

[363] H. Nasr, The Encounter of Man andNature, Allen & Unwin 1968, p. 15

[364] H. Nasr, Science and Civilization (Harvard, 1968)p.l25

[365] H. Nasr, The Encounter of Man andNature, p.94

[366] Zaki Badawi, The Reformers of Egypt, Introduction (1 st Ed. the Muslim Institute, London)

[367] l.WaUaid,LostWorldofAfrica,p.l25 (lstEd)

[368] Ibid, p. 125

[369] J. Wallard, Lost Worlds of Africa, p. 126

[370] Assad, Muhammad, Islam (Ed. K.Ahmad, 1975). pp.48-50. Muhammad Asad, an Austrian convert to Islam and a scholar of international repute, published work: Islam at the Crossroads; Sahih Bukhari, English translation and commentary, The Road to Mecca; The Message of the Quran

[371] Ibid,p.53
[372] Ibid, p. 54

[373] Ali al-Tabari, Kitab ad-daulu wa-d-Din, p.5, trans, p.I

[374] R.E. Hume, The World’s Living Religions (published by T. and T. Claric, Edinburgh, 1959)

[375] David E. Jenkins, The Contradiction of Christianity, 1976

[376] Ibid, p. 5

[377] Yaqin International, October7, 1976 (Pakistan)127 John Cogley, Religion in a Secular Age, p.161

[378] W.M.Watt,/./.M£.,p.74

[379] Ibid

[380] Religion in the Middle East, vol. 2, p. 122

[381] Unity and Variety inMuslim Civilization (ed. V. Grunebaume, p. 11, USA, 1955)

[382] Patrologia Orientalis, vol. VIII, p.471 (ICT)

[383] Smith, M.M.,p.279

[384] Ibid, p.277; also see M. Watt, U.S., p.282











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