The Islamic Faith Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

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2 The Islamic Faith Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow Foreword This is a difficult age of transition, full of the challenges that darkness and decadence bring about. Technology is used to mobilize resources against truth, but Internet and EBook publications are also a lovely tool by which to revitalize the Dīn and bring Muslims and other believers closer together worldwide. We thus decided, as part of an ongoing effort, to make use of that Divine gift, since we realize the formidable potential of an enlightened Sufi community based on the Islamic Faith. Amid engineered ignorance and misguidance all around them, the Muslims who have clung to mainstream Islam are full of desire for revival. We discern, however, a major stumbling block to living out Islam as opposed to discussing it: Muslims have been breaking up into more and more sectarian groupings, almost every mosque being another Islam so to speak, the political and spiritual heads of the generality of those groupings are largely after money and followers, though they have different valuable gems to contribute to the ummah, and adherence to such separate entities stops Muslims from getting together to put the Dīn into practice. We want to emphasize working with Muslims to implement practical steps and solutions for the reinvigoration of the Dīn. We are not concerned about setting up another organization or using Islam to gain some advantage, we are interested in live a spiritual life of the Sufi as we variously know them. We engage ourselves on the sure Path of Spirituality and Mysticism in the footsteps of Imam Al-Ghazali. Al-Ghazali (full name Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-ghazālī غزال ي محمد ب ن محمد حامد أب و,ال Latinised Algazelus or Algazel, c December 1111) he was a medieval Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic of Persian origin. (Refer to our two publications totally consecrated on the great Sufi. One of the great fruits of the Protestant Reformation has been the missionary movement that today has spread its influence to every corner of the globe. It has proved to be more successful in some areas than in others. Accordingly most of the Protestant missionary force today is involved in those fields that have proved to be more fertile and responsive than others. Only a very small proportion of missionaries is engaged in reaching Muslims for Christ. Yet the Muslim world remains Christianity's greatest challenge for there is no other religion that has succeeded in making such inroads into traditional Christian realms as Islam and no other faith of its magnitude which has resisted the influence of the Gospel as this one has. 2

3 Since the end of the Second World War there has been a phenomenon in the East that discerning Christians have identified as providential. Muslims have emigrated by hundreds of thousands from their traditional homelands into Western countries, the customary heritage of Christendom. The Church in the West has been presented with a unique opportunity to evangelise Islam right on its doorstep. A mini world of Islam has mushroomed so that there are today emigrants, migrant-workers, students and the like from just about every Muslim country in the world based in Europe, North America, and other predominantly Christian lands in the West. God has presented the evangelical Church with a new field of mission and one which can be discharged by all Christians, whether trained missionaries or not. Experience has shown that the growth of minority Muslim communities in Christian countries has opened the door for a more comprehensive form of ministry than has hitherto been possible in most Muslim lands. All over the Christian world there is a rising awareness and consciousness of Islam and the need to evangelise Muslims, especially those who are now our neighbours, fellow-citizens and close associates. It is the firm conviction of many that this is God's day for the salvation of the Muslims and the need to equip the Church for the task it is beginning to assume is being recognised by many. I have had the privilege of witnessing to many thousands of Muslims during the past twelve years. Although I am a professional man established in business, the presence of a few hundred thousand Muslims in South Africa has given me the opportunity to become involved in a sustained ministry of evangelism among them and in recent years I have become more than ever persuaded that the future of Muslim evangelism in the West lies in the hands of those Christians who live near enough to Muslims to have regular access to them and to befriend them. I am about to prepare the manuscript of my book The Christian Witness to the Muslim which will cover the whole field of a potential ministry of comprehensive friendship evangelism among Muslims, provide effective means of communicating the Gospel to them, and supply ways of answering their usual objections to the Christian faith. This book could have been ready for publication even now, were it not for my firm belief that all Christians seeking to become involved in any form of continuing evangelism among Muslims should have a sound, basic knowledge of the religion, heritage and customs of those they hope to reach. The result of this conviction has been the preparation instead of this volume Muhammad and the Religion of Islam. I have sought and endeavoured to inform those who contemplate Muslim evangelism of the history and development of Islam from the time of Muhammad himself down to the present day as well as survey the religion from an evangelical Christian perspective. This book will be 3

4 followed by the second, God-willing, before the end of I trust that they will, as companion volumes, reflect the fruits of many years of study and experience and provide in some measure the basic knowledge every Christian should have if he wishes to be effective in this field. It is being wisely said in these days that we need to "earn the right to be heard", that is, that we must be equipped with a sound knowledge of the religion, convictions, hopes and thought-patterns of those we desire to win to Jesus Christ. Nowhere is this more applicable than in the case of the Muslim. As my own personal knowledge of Islam has increased over the years I have found it easier to communicate with Muslims and to make the message of the Gospel meaningful to them. The average Muslim has not only his religious thinking but even his whole outlook on life conditioned by the mentality of Islam. One cannot speak to him as if he were just another human being. He has to be approached for what he is - a Muslim trained to think like a Muslim, and to have his ideas and beliefs fashioned in accordance with the basic Muslim world-view. It has also been my pleasant experience to find that many Muslims sincerely respect anyone who has taken the trouble to obtain an inside knowledge of their faith, even if he is, as I am, a Christian evangelist ministering under the conviction that he is called to reach Muslims for Christ. Such a Christian is far more likely to convey his message with an impact than those who know little or nothing of Islam. Indeed it is also my experience that many Muslims, confronted by Christians whose fervour to witness to them is matched only by their ignorance of Islam, are quickly comforted by the conclusion that the confidence of such men in Christianity is caused purely by their lack of knowledge of the surpassing beauties of Islam. The message is gently pushed aside as the product of "zeal which is not according to knowledge". A Christian who really knows Islam is able to present the Gospel against the Muslim's background and is far more likely to command a responsive ear. For this reason I was persuaded that the second book would be incomplete by itself and that it needed this book as a companion volume to assist Christians to approach Muslims in a truly comprehensive way. Although the book covers four hundred pages it is purely introductory. I have supplemented it with a number of quotes which I believe enrich the text, help to document it, and often express matters in a far more effective way than I could. It is also my purpose to acquaint Christians with many of the major works on Islam. Although a number of these will be inaccessible to most of my readers, I trust that many will be encouraged to obtain and read other books on Islam. I have also had the privilege of relying first-hand on English translations of many of the major works of Hadith literature. When I began working among Muslims in 1973 only the Sirat Rasulullah of Ibn Ishaq was freely available in 4

5 English. Since then a great number of works have been translated and I am indeed privileged to be able to quote directly from them in a work on the heritage of Islam. It is my sincere hope that the remaining three major works of Hadith mentioned in this book will also appear in English in the near future but we can in the meantime be grateful for the translation of the Sahihs of Bukhari and Muslim and the Sunan of Abu Dawud. While on the subject of books I should perhaps mention that the date of each respective book mentioned in the bibliography at the end of this book is only the date of the copy that I have consulted. It is not necessarily the date of publication of the original work which, where known to me, is quoted in brackets in each case. I must express my considerable debt to Hughes' masterpiece A Dictionary of Islam. I have constantly consulted it and believe that it is by far the best resource work available. Every Christian seeking to obtain a basic knowledge of Islam should earnestly endeavour to obtain a copy of this book. Although the present work is chiefly an assessment of Islam and accordingly does not deal comprehensively with the teaching of the Qur'an about Jesus, the Trinity, etc. (these will be covered in the second book), it is written purposefully from an evangelical Christian perspective. I have at all times sought to be as fair as I can be and have endeavoured to be strictly accurate, but do not claim to have written dispassionately or purely objectively. The writer is a Christian by firm, independent conviction, and accordingly writes as such. This book, therefore, is not only informative but also approaches and evaluates Islam in the light of the Christian faith and on many occasions does so critically and finds Islam wanting. Many will be inclined to conclude that this book is not only a description of Islam but also a refutation of it. I make no apology for this. I have a healthy respect for Muhammad, his book and his religion, but sincerely believe that he does not compare with Jesus Christ and that Christianity, in its Biblical form, is far superior to Islam. I have also considered it necessary to deal with the Muslim tendency to place both Muhammad and the Qur'an in a category of perfection. Muslim writers customarily gloss over the defects of both and it is only very rarely that one finds them subduing their sentiments in the cause of presenting a truly historical picture. This has become a universal vogue in the world of Islam and, without any desire to cause offence but with the purpose of obtaining a truer perspective, I have purposefully analysed many of these sentiments in the light of Islam's sources and historical heritage. It is also common to find Muslims charging Western writers on Islam with a prejudice against it, even when they write somewhat sympathetically. I am 5

6 persuaded that such complaints are often ill-founded. Many Western scholars, having taken pains to assess Islam as objectively and sincerely as they can, are nevertheless discounted and faulted purely because they will not make any concessions to popular Muslim sentiments. I do not expect Muslim readers to review this book favourably in the circumstances, but do sincerely trust that they will acknowledge that my conclusions and opinions have been based on records drawn from within the heritage of Islam (i.e. the Qur'an, major works of Hadith literature and other Islamic sources) and that they have always been factually stated and carefully documented. Lastly a brief word should be said about the transliteration of Arabic texts from the Qur'an and other works into English. As the Arabic script is principally phonetic I have sought to reproduce it as phonetically as I can so that the form here set forth conveys as closely as possible the pronunciation of the original. To give an example, whereas some writers are inclined to write the definite article, al, as it appears in the consonantal script, I have followed the usual pronunciation, especially where the word to which the article is attached begins with one of the so-called "sun-letters" (al-hurufush-shamsiyah), for example as- Siddiq (written in the script as al-siddiq). I have generally not indicated long vowels or the use of the three diphthong letters to elongate a vowel except in direct quotes from the Qur'an. All quotes from the Qur'an in English are from the translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali unless otherwise stated. Translations of particular verses quoted in the original language are usually my own, appearing always within the body of my own text. As is generally customary today, the feminine ta marbutah has been used in the transliteration of words employing this form by the addition of an "h" to the relevant word in each case. I have endeavoured to be as consistent as I can be in transliteration (employing an order coming into general use today), but where a widely accepted form of a word has taken root in writings on Islam, I have retained its traditional arrangement (e.g. muezzin for muadh-dhin, etc). Readers, I am sure, will recognise that there is great value in having some knowledge of Arabic and I urge those contemplating Arabic studies to pursue them. This EBook has been written primarily for evangelical Christians and parallel sects as Prophesy Churches with their Biblical interpretation fantasies to give them a sound, basic knowledge of Islam and its heritage, saving us from further misunderstanding and criticism. It is my fervent hope that it will inspire confidence in those seeking to witness to Muslims and equip them in some measure for the task. 6

7 An Outline of the Life of Prophet Mohammad A. The Prophet of the Arabs at Mecca. 1. Mecca at the time of Muhammad. In the sixth century after Christ, Mecca (pronounced Makkah in Arabic) was hardly known to the outside world but it was the commercial and religious centre of Arabia. Although the Arabs were a divided people, broken up into various tribes who were constantly at war with each other, the fairs at the city served to attract many of them and whatever unity existed among them was generated and expressed through these annual get-togethers. The focal point of attention was the Ka'aba (Arabic for "cube"), a shrine in the centre of the city containing over three hundred idols, chief of whom was the god Hubal (a probable derivation from the ancient high-god Ba'al, so often spoken of as the chief object of worship of the pagan nations around Israel in the Bible). The various tribes came to Mecca to worship their gods and take part in the various poetical contests that were arranged at the fairs. The composition of poetry was a favourite literary pastime of the Arabs and many shu'ara (poets, singular: sha'ir) competed at these contests. When Muhammad began to proclaim the Qur'an, a book with a very rhythmic style, the Meccans derided him as one of these poets or, worse still, as a kahin (soothsayer). Muhammad expressly repudiated the suggestion that he was either of these. Indeed the rhyme of the Qur'an is rarely symmetrical and parts of it are purely narratory. The Qur'an says of its own message which he brings: It is not the word of a poet... nor is it the word of a soothsayer. Surah 69.41,42. There was no central government of any kind in those days in Arabia. Each tribe looked to its own interests and inter-tribal intercourse was governed by certain unwritten laws - for example, four months in the year were set apart for religious pilgrimages to Mecca and other cities containing the shrines of major idols (such as that of the goddess al-lat at at-ta'if near Mecca) during which warfare was forbidden. Another such law was the right of retaliation by a tribe if one of its members was injured or killed by a member of another tribe. The offended tribe could accept a ransom or exercise an eye-for-eye retaliation against any member of the other tribe. Commercial trade with the local nomadic tribes and Syrian and other merchants beyond the Arabian peninsula was the lifeblood of the people of Mecca. The Ouraysh tribe controlled the city and, from the Banu Hashim, a sub-tribe Muhammad was born. Hashim was his great-grandfather and for the first two years after his birth, Muhammad was cared for by his grandfather Abdul Muttalib as his father, Abdallah, died before he was born. A strange tale is 7

8 recorded of a vow made by Abdul Muttalib which, had it been performed, would have given the Arabs a different course through history. He allegedly discovered the well of Zam-Zam next to the Ka'aba which the Muslims to this day believe is the one Hagar (Hajira) found while looking for water for her son Ishmael (Ismail). A dispute arose between Abdul Muttalib and the Quraysh over two golden gazelles and other treasures which he discovered and, supported by an only son, he vowed to Hubal that, if he was given ten sons, he would sacrifice one of them. One by one the ten sons were duly born to him and by the divination of arrows, Abdallah became the unfortunate victim. Nevertheless, as his father was about to perform his vow, he was persuaded to substitute a number of camels instead as an expiatory sacrifice on behalf of his son by his distraught tribesmen. (There is some doubt as to the truth of this story. In his Sirat Rasulullah, p. 66, Ibn Ishaq begins his narrative by saying God only knows the truth of it, his customary way of expressing his reservations about anything he recorded). 2. Muhammad's First Forty Years. Into this environment Muhammad was born in 570 AD of his mother Amina and for a few years was entrusted to the care of Halima, a woman from the Banu Sa'd, a sub-tribe of the nomadic Hawazin tribe, of whom we will hear more later. After the death of his grandfather, he was protected by his uncle Abu Talib who had an orphan on his hands when Amina died six years after Muhammad's birth. Little is known of his youth but Islamic history records that he journeyed with Abu Talib to Syria at the age of only twelve years and at this time he must have gained his first impressions of Judaism and Christianity, the monotheistic religions with their respective scriptures so different to the pagan idolatry of his own people. (The Qur'an constantly distinguishes Jews and Christians as Ah! at- Kitab - people of the scripture - from the pagan Arabs who are usually described as at-mushrikin - the polytheists). At the age of twenty-five he was commissioned to attend to the mercantile affairs of a wealthy widow in Mecca named Khadija who was fifteen years older than him. Once again Muhammad set out for Syria to trade, this time with Khadija's goods. It appears that he had a very good reputation in Mecca and was especially selected by this dignified woman in consequence. Muhammad duly justified her confidence in him and returned after successfully fulfilling his task of selling her goods and purchasing new items. Although she was a woman of noble birth and considerable charm, she resisted her suitors but was irresistibly attracted to Muhammad and sent a messenger to him with a proposal of marriage, expressing her impression of him in these words: 8

9 "O son of my uncle, I like you because of our relationship and your high reputation among your people, your trustworthiness and good character and truthfulness. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 82). Muhammad duly accepted her proposal and they were soon married. Despite the years between them, the marriage was evidently a happy one. She bore him two sons (who died in infancy) and four daughters: Zaynab, Ruqaiyah, Fatima and Umm Kulthum. Although he took many wives after her death, he stayed married to her alone for the remaining twenty-five years of her life. He is alleged to have said that, in her lifetime, she was the best among women and in later years Ayishah, his youngest and favourite wife, used to say: "I did not feel jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet as much as I did of Khadija, although she died before he married me, for I often heard him mentioning her, and Allah had told him to give her the good tidings that she would have a palace of Qasab (i.e. pipes of precious stones and pearls in Paradise)". (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 5, p. 103). One last incident in his life before his claim to prophethood should be mentioned. At the age of thirty-five a violent storm shattered the Ka'aba and the Quraysh decided to rebuild it. Apart from its idols, its most important feature was a black stone, probably a meteorite, built into its east corner. The stone is there to this day and is known as al-hajaru'l-aswad (literally, "the black stone"). It was held in high esteem by the pagan Arabs and, when the time came for its reinstatement in the restored shrine, the various branches of the Quraysh tribe so vied for the right to put it back into its proper place that bloodshed threatened. In the end they agreed that the next person to enter one of the gates would have the privilege of restoring it. The first person to enter through the gate of Banu Shaybah was the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him. When they saw him they said "This is al-amin (the Trusted). We agree to what we have decided". Then they informed him of the affair. Thereupon the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, took his mantle and spread it on the earth, then he put the black stone on it. He then said, "Let a person from every quarter of the Quraysh come... Let every one of you hold a corner of the cloth. Then all of them raised it and the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, put it in its place with his own hand. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al- Tabaqat al-kabir, Vol. 1, p. 166). One cannot help wondering to what extent this incident moulded the later conviction of Muhammad that he was chosen as a prophet of Allah. Nonetheless, in both this incident and the attitude of Khadija we can see that he was widely accepted as a thoroughly trustworthy person. Explaining the acceptance of Muhammad by all the Quraysh without dissent, one of his biographers tells us: 9

10 Quraysh used to call the Apostle of God before revelation came to him "the trustworthy one". (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 86). The award of this name al-amin to Muhammad in these early days testifies strongly to the subjective sincerity of his prophetic conviction in later years. For the next five years, however, we hear nothing more of him. 3. "Iqra" - The Call to Prophethood. Life only begins at forty, so they say, and of no man was this truer than Muhammad. At about this age he began retiring to a cave on Mount Hira just outside Mecca where he spent many days in quiet contemplation and meditation. On one of these days he returned hastily to Mecca to inform his wife Khadija that he had had a strange vision of an angelic being, with one foot on the other, calling out to him from the horizon. No matter which way he turned, there was the angel. He was much disturbed by the vision and expressed the fear that he might become a soothsayer like those that he despised. It seems clear that his first reaction was that he had been visited by an evil spirit, a Jinn (from which comes the word genie introduced into the English language chiefly through the story of Aladdin's lamp). The Quran recognises the existence of such beings of whom we will hear more later. The following hadith (literally "a saying", generally meaning a tradition from one of the companions of Muhammad about an incident in his life) tells us what happened on the mountain as he experienced this phenomenon he reported: There came to him the angel and said: Recite, to which he replied: I am not lettered. He took hold of me (the Apostle said) and pressed me, till I was hard pressed; thereafter he let me off and said: Recite. I said, I am not lettered. He then again took hold of me and pressed me for the second time till I was hard pressed and then let me off and said: Recite, to which I replied: I am not lettered. He took hold of me and pressed me for the third time, till I was hard pressed and then let me go and said: Recite in the name of your Lord Who created, created man from a clot of blood. Recite. And your most bountiful Lord is He Who taught the use of the pen, taught man what he knew not. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1, p. 97). The last two sentences today form the first four verses of the 96th Surah of the Qur'an. It is generally agreed by all the early biographers that this passage was the first revealed, though Bukhari states that Surah 74, verses 1 to 3, was the initial revelation: Narrated Yahya bin Abi Kathir: I asked Aba Salama bin Abdur-Rahman about the first Sura revealed of the Quran. He replied "O you, wrapped-up (i.e. Al-Muddaththir)". I said "They say it was, 'Read, in the name of your Lord Who created' (i.e. Surat Al-Alaq, the Clot)". On that, Abu Salama 10

11 said "I asked Jabir bin Abdullah about that, saying the same as you have said, whereupon he said "I will not tell you, except what Allah's Apostle had told us. Allah's Apostle said, 'I was in seclusion in the cave of Hira, and after I completed the limited period of my seclusion, I came down and heard a voice calling me. I looked to my right, but saw nothing. Then I looked up and saw something. So I went to Khadija and told her to wrap me up and pour cold water on me. So they wrapped me up and poured cold water on me'. Then was revealed 'O you, wrapped up! Arise and warn"'. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p ). The other biographers generally recognise this passage as one of the very earliest but the evidence favours the other as the first revealed. The first word used by the angel was Iq'ra! - Recite! From the same root letters the word Qur'an is derived, meaning the "Recitation". After Muhammad had reacted that he was unable to read, the angel then recited the whole verse: Iq'ra bismi rabbikallathii khalaq - "Recite, in the name of thy Lord who created". Muhammad was then led to understand that he was to repeat the words after the angel had first recited them. Khadija immediately comforted him, stating that Allah would never have allowed anything but a true revelation to come to him. When a cousin named Waraqah, who had renounced the idol-worship of his tribesmen, supported her, alleging that the al-namus al-akbar, the great angel, had obviously visited him, Muhammad was duly persuaded that he had been commissioned by Allah as a prophet. For some time, however, he remained in doubt: Then revelations stopped for a time so that the apostle of God was distressed and grieved. Then Gabriel brought him the Sura of the Morning, in which his Lord, who had so honoured him, swore that He had not forsaken him, and did not hate him. God said, 'By the morning and the night when it is still, thy Lord hath not forsaken thee nor hated thee'. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 111). The last sentence now forms Surah in the Qur'an. (The angel Gabriel, called Jibri in the Qur'an, Surah 2.98, was believed by Muhammad to be the angel who appeared to him and who over the years revealed the whole Qur'an to him). After this the revelations came frequently. (A critical analysis of Muhammad's prophetic experience follows in this book. For the moment it seems appropriate to outline the developing drama just as it is recorded in the traditions). He was told to call the people of Mecca to the worship of the one God Allah, to forsake idol worship, to prepare for the Day of Reckoning, to choose between heaven and hell, and to acknowledge him as a prophet. After his wife his cousin Ali, son of his protector Abu Talib, who was in his care, and his adopted son Zaid ibn Haritha became his first followers. The first 11

12 noteworthy person to do so from the Quraysh was Abu Bakr, of whom we will hear more. (He was Muhammad's successor, the first of the caliphs, after Muhammad's death). Muhammad duly began proclaiming his message to the Meccans and the first companion to follow in doing so was one Abdullah ibn Masud. Ibn Ishaq tells us that, whe1 the Quraysh heard him, they struck him in the face, but this only increased his resolve (Sirat Rasulullah, p. 142). This incident deserves mention in the light of what we will discover in another chapter about Ibn Masud's part in the collection of the Qur'an. 4. Persecution and Progress in Mecca. During the next ten years Muhammad's movement slowly took root in Mecca but much opposition followed. The Quraysh took exception to Muhammad's preaching. Was he to be their leader? Were their gods and goddesses to be dishonoured by him without a defiant response? Was Mecca to cease to be the centre of the pagan worship of Arabia? What would the effect be on their thriving commercial trade with the deputations who came to worship at the Ka'aba? The implications urged the Quraysh into a swift denunciation of Muhammad's preaching and the Meccans soon began persecuting those followers of Muhammad who were unprotected, one of whom was Bilal, an Abyssinian slave purchased and set free by Abu Bakr, who later became the regular muazzinof the early Muslims, the one who summons them to prayer. The Meccans did not object to the proclamation that Allah was the Supreme Being but rather to the denunciation of their idols. The Qur'an does not charge the Meccans with not believing in Allah at all but rather of associating partners with him or of giving him sons and daughters. This is very strongly denounced in the Qur'an as shirk - "associating" - an unforgivable sin, from the same root letters as Mushrikin (see p.13). Three goddesses, regarded as intercessors by the Quraysh, are repudiated by name in the Qur'an: Have ye seen Lat, and Uzza, and another, the third, Manat? What! For you the male sex and for Him the female? Behold, such would be indeed a division most unfair! Surah As the birth of a female was regarded as a dishonour by the Arabs, the Qur'an asks how the Quraysh could have sons and Allah only daughters! (The charge of attributing a son to Allah in the Qur'an is generally levelled against the Christians, though in Surah 9.30 the Jews are accused of making Uzazr, i.e. Ezra, a "son of Allah" - a strange charge not warranted by the records of Jewish history). 12

13 The great God Allah was already regarded as Lord of the Ka'aba by the Meccans and the shrine was known as al-baitullah - the house of Allah. Apart from the repudiation of idols it appears that the Quraysh had yet other reasons for opposing Muhammad's preaching: From some texts and traditions we should gather that the Meccan objection was not to the glorification of Allah but to the identification of their familiar deity with him whom the Jews called Rahman (the Merciful), a title applied to pagan deities also. (Margoliouth, Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, p. 143). The Quraysh apparently distinguished between Allah and ar-rahman of the Jews but the Qur'an identifies the two as the same Lord of all: Say: "Call upon Allah, or call upon Rahman: by whatever name ye call upon Him, (it is well): for to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names". Surah In some of the earliest Surahs we find the name ar-rahman being used more often for God instead of the more common name Allah (e.g. Surah 43 where "ar- Rahman" appears seven times and "Allah" on only three occasions). Chief among the persecutors were Abu Lahab, an uncle of Muhammad (one of Abdul Muttalib's ten sons) and Abu Jahl "that evil man" (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 145) who was later killed at Badr. Most of the direct opposition to Muhammad himself, protected from physical harm by Abu Talib, took the form of ridicule. Ibn Masud tells of an incident near the Ka'aba on one of those early days when Muhammad was praying with Abu Jahl and a number of his friends standing behind him: Abu Jahl said, referring to the she-camel that had been slaughtered the previous day: Who will rise to fetch the foetus of the she-camel of so and so, and place it between the shoulders of Muhammad when he goes down in prostration? The one most accursed among the people got up, brought the foetus and, when the Prophet (may peace be upon him) went down in prostration, placed it between his shoulders. Then they laughed at him and some of them leaned upon the others with laughter. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 3, p. 986). After his daughter Fatima had removed the foetus, Muhammad promptly invoked imprecations on them in the name of Allah and, at the battle of Badr to follow, his warriors duly despatched Abu Jahl and six of his associates. The Qur'an itself denounces Muhammad's other great enemy, Abu Lahab, by name in Surah 111 and consigns him and his wife (who used to place thorns in Muhammad's path) to the fires of hell. "Love your enemies" was neither believed nor practiced by Muhammad, the Arab claimant to prophethood. 13

14 Persecution became so severe that Muhammad allowed a number of his followers to flee to Abyssinia. Shortly after this, however, another of his uncles, Hamza (who was only two years older than him) became one of his followers. A courageous man, he later became known as "the Lion of God". Not long after his conversion Muhammad gained a most important addition to his small band of followers in the person of Umar ibn al-khattab who later became the second caliph. Umar had been a staunch opponent of Muhammad's preaching and physically assaulted his own sister Fatima when he found she too had been converted. Remorse overtook him when he saw her face bleeding and he asked to hear a recitation of the Qur'n. Overwhelmed, he immediately sought out Muhammad to swear his allegiance to him. The conversion of such men as Umar and Hamza strengthened the cause of Muhammad's companions and for a while public worship became possible. Persecution later revived, however, and a second migration to Abyssinia followed. This only increased the fury of the Quraysh and a ban was proclaimed against Abu Talib and the Banu Hashim until they should remove their protection of Muhammad and leave the rest of the Quraysh free to deal with him. The sub-tribe was shut up and besieged in Abu Talib'a quarter for three years (with the exception, naturally, of Abu Lahab) and during this period suffered greatly till the cries of the children could be heard. Many now began to feel that the boycott of their trite men had gone far enough and when it was discovered that ants had eaten the banning order placed in the Ka'aba with the exception of the words "In thy name, O Allah", the Quraysh agreed that the ban should be lifted. 5. Muhammad's Visit to at-ta'if. Not long after this Khadija and Abu Talib died. The loss of both his wife and protector was a severe blow and Muhammad had to reassess his position in Mecca. Despairing of any further success in the city, he left it for the first time to preach his message elsewhere and proceeded to at-ta'if, a city in a fertile valley to the south-east of Mecca, and home of the worship of the Arab goddess al-lat. Accompanied only by his adopted son Zaid, he was soon rejected by the inhabitants of the city and, as they were leaving, both were stoned and partially injured by the unrepentant idolaters. Taking refuge in an orchard, he was solaced and reassured himself of God's favour on his mission. From one point of view, this moment was probably the lowest point of his ministry and the future must have appeared bleak. At the same time we must be objective and sympathise deeply with his unrelenting determination to oppose the paganism of his day in the name of the one true God. From a Christian point of view he perhaps here more than at any other time, comes out with credit. 14

15 There is something lofty and heroic in this journey of Mahomet to Tayif; a solitary man, despised and rejected by his own people, going boldly forth in the name of God, like Jonah to Nineveh, and summoning an idolatrous city to repent and support his mission. It sheds a strong light on the intensity of his belief in the divine origin of his calling. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 109). 6. The Treaties of Aqabah and the Hijrah. Not long after his visit to at-ta'if, all began to change for the hitherto unsuccessful claimant to prophethood. At the next annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Muhammad met six men from Yathrib, a city just over two hundred miles north of Mecca, who commended his message and said they would return home and proclaim it. The following year they returned after some measure of success and twelve men of Yathrib met him at al-aqaba near Mecca and took an oath which became known as the first pledge of Aqaba and as the "Pledge of the Women" because they undertook to observe the ordinances laid down in the Qur'an on believing women who sought to take the oath of fealty (Surah 60.12). One of the twelve puts the oath in his own words: There were twelve of us and we pledged ourselves to the prophet after the manner of women and that was before war was enjoined, the undertaking being that we should associate nothing with God; we should not steal; we should not commit fornication; nor kill our offspring; we should not slander our neighbours; we should not disobey him in what was right; if we fulfilled this paradise would be ours; if we committed any of those sins it was for God to punish or forgive us as He pleased. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 199). Muhammad sent one of his companions, Musab, to teach them the Qur' an and the spread of the new faith was so swift in the city that seventy men accompanied Musab the following year to Mecca and took the second pledge of Aqaba after their leader, one al-bare, had made this declaration to Muhammad: We have listened to what you have said: Had there been some other idea in our mind we would have expressed it. We mean to fulfil (our promises) and want truth, and we are ready to sacrifice our lives for the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, Vol. 1, p. 257). They undertook to protect him with their own lives and accept him as leader in Yathrib. What brought about this sudden change in fortunes? There were basically two factors which weighed in favour of success here which had not been present at Mecca or at-ta'if. Firstly, the city was inhabited by two tribes, the Aus and Khazraj, who had been at war with each other and who now sought an independent leader to govern them. Secondly, there were many Jews in the 15

16 city and their monotheistic influence had had a purifying effect on these Arabs and prepared them for such an indigenous monotheistic religion as the Arab prophet of Mecca set before them. The seventy came from both tribes and confirmed that Yathrib was willing to accept him as leader and preparations were made for Muhammad and his followers to emigrate to the city. Soon many of them quietly left Mecca though the Quraysh had already become aware that something was afoot. As soon as the Quraysh realised fully what was happen) they became alarmed. A defiant prophet in their midst was one thing - an immortal enemy governing a hostile city elsewhere was another. Plans were soon afoot to kill Muhammad and one night, with only Muhammad himself, Abu Bakr and Ali left in the city, the Quraysh sought to execute their design against him. But, leaving Ali in his bed, he escaped with Abu Bakr to a cave on Mount Thaur south of Mecca and remained there two days. A legend, widely reported, explains how Allah sent a spider to protect them while the Quraysh sought them: A spider span a cobweb, some parts of which covered others. The Quraysh made a frantic search for the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him. They even came to the entrance of the cave, but someone among them said, Verily, spiders haunt this place from before the birth of Muhammad; and they returned. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, Vol. 1, p. 265). This incident is universally believed to be true by Muslims throughout the world to this day, but it is probable that this story is adapted from a Jewish fable like many others that are found in the Qur'an, as we shall see. It is observable that the Jews have a like tradition concerning David, when he fled from Saul into the cave and the Targum paraphrases these words of the second verse of Psalm lvii, which was composed on occasion of that deliverance: "I will pray before the most high God that performeth all things for me, in this manner; I will pray before the most high God who called a spider to weave a web for my sake in the mouth of the cave" (Sale, The Preliminary Discourse to the Qur an, p. 54) Another incident related of this sojourn in the cave and one of certain historical accuracy, again commends Muhammad and is one of those moments in his hard life at Mecca for which we are bound to give him credit. The Qur'an itself mentions it in these words: Allah did indeed help him when the Unbelievers drove him out: he had no more than one companion: - they two were in the Cave, and he said to his companion, "Have no fear for Allah is with us". Surah

17 Abu Bakr had become quite fearful when they realised the Quraysh were near and asked what the two of them could do against so many, but Muhammad comforted him by saying "We are not two but three - Allah is with us". Abu Bakr corded the poignant moment in these words: "I was in the company of the Prophet in the cave, and on seeing the traces of the pagans, I said, 'O Allah's Apostle! If one of them should lift up his foot, he will see us'. He said, 'What do you think of two, the third of whom is Allah?'". (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 148). The two finally escaped safely and Ali soon followed. Thus ended Muhammad's years in Mecca and this migration, known as the Hijrah, became the turning point in his mission. At Yathrib, renamed al-madina by Muhammad (literally "the city"), Islam was established as a religion and from the date of the Hijrah, 20th June 622 AD, the Muslim calendar significantly begins. Less than a hundred Meccan believers came to Medina and were given the honorary title Muhajirun, Emigrants, a word derived from the same root letters as hijrah (emigration). The Medinan converts who stood by him at al-aqaba were likewise entitled Ansar, Helpers. From now on the Muslim ummah (community) was a unit in itself. Tribal loyalties passed away and a new universal loyalty to Allah, his apostle and the believers (mu'minin) took over. Henceforth the followers of Muhammad were proud to be called Muslims (al- Muslimin - "the Muslims") and adherents of al-islam. Both words come from the same root letters - Islam means "submission" and a Muslim is one who submits himself to the way of Allah. B. The Founder of Islam at Medina 1. The Muslim Community at Medina. Muhammad and the early Muslims soon settled in Medina though some of the Meccan emigrants suffered fevers from the change of climate. (Mecca is a hot, dry city whereas Medina is set in a fertile valley with a more humid climate). He often praised the virtues of the city that had accepted him as its leader. He stated that Allah would punish those who harmed its inhabitants, that it has its own way of driving out evil people, and that Dajjal (the Islamic equivalent of the Antichrist) would not be able to enter it. An indication of the depth of Muhammad's love for the city come out clearly in other proclamations he made about it, such as this one: "I have declared sacred the territory between the two lava plains of Medina, so its trees should not be cut down, or its game killed"; and he also said "Medina is best for them if they knew. No one leaves it through 17

18 dislike of it without Allah putting in it someone better than he in place of him; and no one will stay there in spite of its hardships and distress without my being an intercessor or witness on behalf of him on the Day of Resurrection". (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2, p. 686). At the beginning of their stay in Medina, however, the early Muslims endured extreme poverty. Muhammad himself soon grew accustomed to the paucity of provisions and possessions and throughout his ten years as ruler of the city (and, in later years, of much of Arabia itself), he allowed himself on y the bare necessities of life. At Mecca he had married his second wife Sauda, shortly after Khadija's death and now in Medina, took Ayishah, daughter of Abu Bakr, as wife. Of all his wives, Ayishah was the only one who had never been married before. Muhammad was, in fact, betrothed to her when she was only twelve years of age. He had no apartment of his own but took turns in dwelling in the simple apartments he a built for his wives. His followers also adapted to the new environment and a spirit of brotherhood soon developed between the Ansar and the Muhajirun. Up to fifty of the emigrants were taken individually as brothers by the citizens of Medina and were entitled to inherit from them. Not all the citizens of Medina welcomed Muhammad. There were three Jewish tribes who caused him much trouble in and around the city, of whose fates more will be said later. Some of the Arabs also were unwilling to acknowledge his leadership but, as the city as a whole had taken him as leader, the disaffected parties generally gave a token outward acknowledgment of his leadership and acceptance of his religion and its practices. Behind the scenes, however, discontent was rarely quiet and Muhammad was constantly aware of the rumblings going on around him. Such outward conformity, cloaking an opposition ill-concealed, was more dangerous than open animosity. The class soon became peculiarly obnoxious to Mahomet; he established through his adherents a close and searching watch over both their words and actions; and in due time followed up his espionage by acts which struck dismay into the hearts of the disaffected. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 176). The leader of this group was one Abdullah ibn Ubayy. He had known nothing of the pledges of Aqabah and at the time had sought to placate the Meccans who were suspicious of the developing kinship between Muhammad and the citizens of Medina who had come to the fairs. Ibn Ubayy had in fact become one of the foremost men in the city and, were it not for the arrival of the Meccan fugitive, he might well have assumed the leadership of its inhabitants instead. 18

19 On more than one occasion in later years his followers plotted to replace Muhammad with their leader. At the Battle of Uhud to follow, Ibn Ubayy withdrew from the pending clash with his followers and, although he made an outward profession of Islam, Muhammad's companions constantly sought his demise. Muhammad himself forbade it, however, and at his rival's death even ventured to pray over his grave. Nonetheless Muhammad was quite apprehensive about this potentially dangerous group and, in the Qur'an, these professors of Islam who gave it no more than lip-service are denounced as munafiqun, "hypocrites", and are regarded as the worst of unbelievers. A Surah of the Qur'an, appropriately entitled Suratul-Munafiqun, devotes its first eight verses to a particularly vehement condemnation of these pseudo-muslims. A few of these verses speak for themselves: When the hypocrites come to thee, they say, "We bear witness that thou art indeed the Apostle of God. Yea, God knoweth that thou art indeed His apostle, and God beareth witness that the hypocrites are indeed liars. When thou lookest at them, their exteriors please thee and when they speak, thou listenest to their words. They are as (worthless as hollow) pieces of timber propped up, (unable to stand on their own). They think that every cry is against them. They are the enemies; so beware of them. The curse of God be on them' How are the deluded (away from the Truth). Surah 63.1,4. Muhammad built his first mosque at Quba just south of Medina but his own mosque, the masjidun-nabi (the prophet's mosque), soon became the dominant place of worship in the city. It survives to this day, but has been greatly enlarged many times and today also encloses Muhammad's tomb. When the Muslims first came to Medina they faced Jerusalem when praying. Not long afterwards, however, Muhammad changed this direction of prayer, the qiblah, to the Ka'aba in Mecca even though it was still an idolatrous temple. The rejection of his claim to prophethood by the Jews appears to have made him decide that Islam should be an exclusive faith separate from Judaism, and one with an Arab foundation. He had already identified himself as a prophet in the Bibilcal line, however, and to justify the change of direction from the bartulmuqaddas (the Holy House) in Jerusalem to the masjidul-haram (the Sacred Mosque) in Mecca, the Qur'an boldly declares that Abraham first built the Ka'aba with his son Ishmael as a house of worship dedicated to Allah alone! We covenanted with Abraham and Isma'il, that they should sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or use it as a retreat, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer)..and remember Abraham and Isma'il raised the 19

20 foundations of the House (with this prayer). "Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: for Thou art the All- Hearing, the All-Knowing". Surah 2.125,127. A little further on in the same Surah comes the justification of the about-face in respect of the qiblah as well. Now shall We turn thee to a Qibla that shall please thee. Turn then thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosque: wherever ye are, turn your faces in that direction. Surah Islam was taking root as an exclusively new faith. The time had come for a more forceful spread of its dominion and influence and a ready-made opportunity lay close at hand in the form of Meccan caravan traffic to and from Syria. 2. Raids on Caravans and the Battle of Badr. Medina lay right across the path of this caravan traffic and within a year of the hijrah, Muhammad sent out a number of raiding parties to intercept Meccan caravans but none of these was effective. The first raid to succeed took place in inopportune circumstances. During the second year of his rule in Medina Muhammad sent out Abdullah ibn Jahsh with seven others to Nakhlah, a site on the south Arabian trade route between Mecca and at-ta'if. Two of the party turned back but the remaining six attacked a small Meccan caravan and killed one of its company, took two others prisoner, while the last man returned safely to the city. There was nothing unusual about a raid of this nature. The nomadic Arabs have been caravan-raiders for centuries and inter-tribal raiding was a fairly common practice. This raid, however, was pursued in one of the four holy months (Rajab in this case) when the caravan crews were unarmed and fighting was prohibited throughout the peninsula. Worse still, the Muslim band had posed as pilgrims by shaving their heads an fell on an unsuspecting Meccan company completely deceive by their appearance. On their return to Medina the whole city was shocked and dismayed at this flagrant breach of Arab custom. Muhammad himself refused to accept the booty at first but then, very conveniently, a "revelation" justifying the raid came from above, one which is now part of the Qur'an: They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: "Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of God to prevent access to the path of God, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque and drive out its members". Surah Because the Meccans had not accepted Muhammad's message and prevented the Muslims from obtaining easy access to the Ka'aba, the Qur'an states that, 20

21 whereas fighting in a sacred month is indeed wrong, it is justified in the circumstances. Muhammad took one-fifth of the booty for investment in t e treasury and distribution to the needy, awarded the residue to the raiding band, and ransomed the two prisoners. From this moment the impressive image of a tolerant prophet patiently withstanding oppression degenerates into the censurable image of a ruler sanctioning robbery, murder and the like by his companions a against all opponents of Islam. In the past biographers of his life were accustomed to draw a clear distinction between the prophet of Mecca and ruler of Medina but a closer examination of the new trend shows that is was purely a logical development of Muhammad's purpose establish Islam in the traditional way. In the meantime a general agreement of opinion has grown in modern Western biographies of Muhammad that one must speak of an unbroken unity in Muhammad's personality (Weasels, A Modern Arabic Biography of Muhammad, p. 87). An analysis of the very next verse after the justification of the Nakhlah raid shows how consistent the outbreak of fighting in Islam was with the whole object of the hijrah: Those who believed and those who suffered exile and fought (and strove and struggled) in the path of God, - they have the hope of the Mercy of God: and God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Surah In the original Arabic the verse up to the words "path of God" reads Innallathiina aa-manuu wallathiina haajaruu wa jaahaduu fii sabiilillah. The link between the word "haajaruu wa jaahaduu" is very significant. From the same root letters come the nouns hijrah (emigration) and jihad (warfare). Those who "suffered exile" (haajaruu) are also those who "fought" (jaahaduu) in the path of God. The hijrah was not just a flight from Mecca. It was a preparation for jihad. It o e the mainspring of the establishment of an ummah (community) that was to spread its influence through warfare. Muhammad's objective was to create a theocratic Muslim state and community by fighting those who stood in its way and who chose to resist it. Where Islam is potentially universalized in Hijrah it is inherently politicized in Jihad. The move out of Mecca with the faith presages the move against Mecca for the faith. In that transition, not only is the Hijrah implemented in its prospective relevance, but Islam is defined in its essential character. (Cragg, The Event of the Qur'an, p. 134). Later the same year one of the most important events in the history of Islam occurred. Apart from the smaller caravans a large caravan set out annually from Mecca for Syria. Muhammad knew of its return and prepared to capture it. Its 21

22 leader Abu Sufyan, the most prominent man in Mecca and a descendant of Umayya, took steps to avoid the impending crisis and hastened home by the Red Sea. He got to Mecca safely but a messenger sent by him to the city saw to it that a large Meccan army of up to a thousand men was sent out to rescue the caravan. (In later years Abu Sufyan's son Mu'awiya took control of the caliphate and began the Umayyad dynasty which lasted nearly a hundred years. It was replaced by the Abbasid dynasty whose caliphs were descendants of Hashim, Umayya's great rival and great-grandfather of Muhammad). Muhammad's companions heard of the advent of the Meccan army but, encouraged by Muhammad's declaration that Allah had promised him either the caravan or the army, the band of three hundred and fifty men marched on to Badr near the Red Sea where, in a swift engagement, the Muslims succeeded in destroying most of the Meccan leadership including Muhammad's great enemy Abu Jahl. The Meccans fled before the Muslim offensive leaving forty-nine of their number slain on the battlefield. The Muslim losses were only fourteen. Nothing more than a skirmish, surely? Perhaps - but one of the most fateful battles ever fought in history and to this day held in awe by the Muslims as Islam's finest hour on the battlefield. No event in the history of Islam was of more importance than this battle: the Qur an rightly calls it the Day of Deliverance, the day before which the Moslems were weak, after which they were strong. Its value to Mohammed itself it is difficult to overrate; he possibly regarded it himself as a miracle, and when he declared it one, most of his neighbours accepted the statement without hesitation. (Margoliouth, Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, p. 269). Certainly the success was a tremendous tonic for the fledgling Muslim community and one which increased Muhammad's esteem in Medina. Islam was now firmly established and was... gaining ground. 3. The Battles of Uhud and the Ditch. The cry for revenge, however, soon rose from the citizens of Mecca and a year later an army three thousand strong under the leadership of Abu Sufyan marched on Medina. At the plain beneath the hill of Uhud to the north of Medina they halted and plundered the fields round about. Muhammad counselled his warriors to remain in the city as it was easier to defend close in than out in the plains where the Muslims would all be exposed to the Meccan army which was vastly superior in numbers. His longstanding opponent Abdullah ibn Ubayy also pleaded with the citizens of Medina to stay behind but many of the more youthful combatants sought to go out and take the fight to the Quraysh and, as the victory of Badr was still fresh in the minds of all, their enthusiasm won the day and a thousand men ventured out to battle. The next morning Ibn Ubayy, 22

23 displeased at the rejection of his advice, nonetheless treacherously deserted Muhammad with about three hundred men and returned to the city. The odds were four to one against the Muslims. Superior motivation, however, soon assisted the Muslims to once again seize the initiative and the Quraysh were forced to retreat. But the Muslims pressed their advantage too far. Archers guarding a rear flank broke their ranks against the orders of Muhammad and recklessly joined the fray thus leaving their flank exposed. Meanwhile Khalid ibn Walid a Qurayshite general who later led many successful Muslim conquests, swept his mounted force around one of the hills on the plain and surprised the Muslims from behind. Their discipline gone, they soon fell prey to the Meccan cavalry. The Quraysh wreaked havoc among them. Hamza, the "Lion of God" was slain and his body later mutilated. Even Muhammad was so badly injured that the rumour soon spread that he had been killed. His closest companions, however, shielded him carefully from any further danger. At the end of the day the Quraysh held sway but, for reasons which must remain a mystery, failed to press their advantage and withdrew from the field. The Muslims lost seventy-four men in the battle and the Quraysh twenty. Although the Muslims had not won the battle, the city of Medina remained unharmed. The outcome had serious implications, however, for Muhammad and his companions. This battle of Uhud has sometimes been presented, even in Muslim sources, as a serious defeat for Muhammad, but this - at least from the military point of view - it certainly was not. The serious aspect was the religious or spiritual one. The victory of Badr had been taken as a sign that God was supporting them, and indeed fighting for them. The loss of life at Uhud, therefore, seemed to be an indication that God had deserted them, or that they had been mistaken in the inferences they had drawn from Badr. (Watt, What is Islam?, p. 105). A revelation soon assisted Muhammad to quiet the misgivings of his companions. The Qur'an blames the warriors for disobeying orders and for seeking to share in the booty and states that God inflicted their reverses to teach them to obey orders and not to seek the rewards of this life. Behold! Ye were climbing up the high ground, without even casting a side glance at any one, and the Apostle in your rear was calling you back. There did God give you one distress after another by way of requital, to teach you not to grieve for (the booty) that had escaped you and for (the ill) that had befallen you. For God is well aware of all that ye do. Surah After the battle Muhammad had a Qurayshite prisoner, Abu Azzah, beheaded for taking up alms on behalf of the Meccans a second time after he had been 23

24 released at Badr (because he had five daughters to look after) on the condition that he refrained from joining in hostilities again. The prisoner pleaded with Muhammad to pardon him yet again but Muhammad answered him: Verily a believer is not stung twice from the same hole. You will not return to Makkah to declare, rubbing your cheeks, that you had befooled Muhammad twice. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, Vol. 2, p. 51). The following year the Quraysh returned with ten thousand men to vanquish Muhammad once and for all but he was informed in advance of the pending onslaught and had a trench dug on the northern flank of Medina which was exposed to open attack. The "Battle of the Ditch", as it is known, was no real battle at all. The Quraysh were thoroughly frustrated by the innovation and, despite a few individual contests, were unable to make any impression on the city. After a division between "the Confederates" (the Qurayshite army had many warriors from other tribes around Mecca in their contingent) and a severe storm one evening, they decided to withdraw. The Meccan cause against Muhammad was now exhausted. Despite their efforts to gather such a large army for a final showdown, Muhammad's growing strength remained unchallenged. The Quraysh, exasperated, gave up their designs on Medina and the initiative lost was soon seized by Muhammad. The tables were about to be turned. 4. Muhammad - the Universal Messenger of Allah. Let us pause in the narrative to consider the prestige and status of the prophet of the Arabs at this point when he finds himself able at last to take the offensive and begin preparations for a move on Mecca, already declared to be the Prophet. From being purely a warner, calling the Quraysh to turn away from idols to the worship of the one true God, the Qur'an now represents Muhammad as the last and greatest of all the prophets. He has become the vicegerent of God on earth and his image develops from that of a purely prophetic character to that of messianic proportions. The Qur'an has a number of supreme accolades for him. 1. He is regarded as a universal messenger sent by God, not just to his own people as all previous prophets had been allegedly sent, but to all mankind: We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not. Surah The Qur'an not only commands believers to send blessings upon him but claims that even God and all his angels do so in heaven above: 24

25 God and His Angels send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him and salute him with all respect. Surah He is given the illustrious title rahmatallil-alamin, a "mercy to the worlds", another indication of the now universal character of his ministry: We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures. Surah Another exclusive title he assumes is khataman-nablygin, the seal of the prophets". As the last and greatest of God's prophets, he cannot be superseded by another prophet: Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Apostle of God, and the Seal of the Prophets and God has full knowledge of all things. Surah Obedience to Muhammad and obedience to God are by this time synonymous. Any disobedience of any command of the prophet of Islam incurs God's wrath and acquiescence in his will incurs God's pleasure: Verily those who plight their fealty to thee do no less than plight their fealty to God; the hand of God is over their hands: Then anyone who violates his oath, does so to the harm of his own soul, and anyone who fulfils what he has covenanted with God, God will soon grant him a great reward. Surah The foundation was being laid not only for the final conquest of Mecca and Arabia but also for the conquest of the whole world till all be brought into subjection to Allah through obedience to his will as revealed through the prophet of Arabia, his universal and final messenger for all mankind. Islam was now an autonomous religion, separate from Judaism and Christianity and professedly superior to them. Its prophet had developed from being a lone human voice against Arab paganism into the voice of God calling all men everywhere to his religion, al-islam. As we shall see in the next chapter, however, the universal nature of Islam was nonetheless simultaneously restricted by the personal failings of its prophet and its claim to supersede all other faiths was compromised by a clear deterioration in the character of its founder during his years of power as leader in Medina. He now arrived at a point where he completely diverged from the celestial spirit of the Christian doctrines, and stamped his religion with the alloy of fallible mortality. His human nature was not capable of maintaining the sublime forbearance he had hitherto inculcated. (Irving, The Life of Mahomet, p. 103). 25

26 5. The Treaty of Hudaybiyah. While gaining ground nearer home by various raids, Muhammad continued to cherish a return to Mecca and the next year led one-and-a-half-thousand pilgrims to the city for the umra, the lesser pilgrimage. He chose one of the holy months in which war was forbidden, donned the white pilgrim garments traditionally worn for the venture, took the required number of camels for sacrifice, and bade his men carry only a small sword at their sides - the usual form of protection for pilgrim travellers. Although the group was fitted out purely for pilgrimage purposes, the Quraysh were soon alarmed and at al- Hudaybiyah, just outside Mecca where the Muslims stopped, the two parties met. A small deputation came out to discover Muhammad's intentions while the rest prepared the defence of the city. One of the leading Muslims who was later to become the third Caliph, Uthman, went back with a deputation into the city and when his return was delayed, the Muslims suspected he had been killed and prepared to defend themselves. Under a tree each one took a pledge to stand by Muhammad and Uthman, a pledge often remembered by Muhammad as one which evidenced the supreme loyalty of his companions. This devotion was not lost on the Meccan deputation who soon ensured that the Quraysh were suitably impressed by it. Uthman returned safely despite their fears and with him a leading Meccan, Suhail ibn Amr, who was given a mandate to negotiate a ten-year truce with Muhammad and advise him that he could not enter the city that year but could return the following year when the Quraysh would evacuate it for three days to allow Muhammad and his companions to perform the pilgrimage. Muhammad duly negotiated a treaty with Suhail, one which keenly upset many of his devoted followers. Umar objected to the whole proceedings on the principle that true Muslims had been called upon to fight and resist infidels and not to negotiate with them on equal terms: Umar b. Khattab came, approached the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) and said: Messenger of Allah, aren't we fighting for the truth and they for falsehood? He replied: By all means. He asked: Are not those killed from our side in Paradise and those killed from their side in the Fire? He replied: Yes. He said: Then why should we put a blot upon our religion and return, while Allah has not decided the issue between them and ourselves? He said: Son of Khattab, I am the Messenger of Allah. Allah will never ruin me. (The narrator said): Umar went away, but he could not contain himself with rage. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 3, p. 980). Indeed, far from concluding an equitable agreement, Muhammad appeared to have agreed to terms humiliating to the Muslims. It was stipulated that any 26

27 member of the Quraysh who became a Muslim and sought to go over to the Muslims was to be returned to Mecca. If any of the Muslims wished to return to Mecca of his own accord, however, he was free to do so and was not to be returned by the Quraysh. The reaction of the party to this unfavourable provision is plainly set out in the following hadith: When Suhail bin 'Amr agreed to the treaty (of Hudaibiya), one of the things he stipulated then, was that the Prophet should return to them (i.e. the pagans) anyone coming to him from their side, even if he was a Muslim; and would not interfere between them and that person. The Muslims did not like this condition and got disgusted with it. (Sahih al- Bukhari, Vol. 3, p. 547). Muhammad incurred the further wrath of his company when he acquiesced in the demands of Suhail that the treaty should not be headed with the usual Muslim invocation Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim (In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful), but rather in the words chosen by the Quraysh: Bi'ismika Allahumma (In thy Name, O Allah). The offence was compounded when Muhammad even agreed that he should be described simply as Muhammad ibn Abdullah (Muhammad son of Abdullah) and not Muhammadur- Rasulullah (Muhammad the Messenger of Allah). Another hadith tells us the whole story: Then the apostle summoned Ali and told him to write 'In the name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful'. Suhayl said "I do not recognise this; but write 'In thy name, O Allah"'. The apostle told him to write the latter and he did so. Then he said: "Write 'This is what Muhammad, the apostle of God has agreed with Suhayl b. Amr"'. Suhayl said, "If I witnessed that you were God's apostle I would not have fought you. Write your own name and the name of your father". The apostle said: "Write 'This is what Muhammad b. Abdullah has agreed with Suhayl b. Amr"' (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 504). Ali's displeasure was soon expressed in the same way that Umar had vented his grievances. Had Muhammad not commanded an unswerving loyalty from his followers, this could have been a moment of crisis for him. He said to Ali: Write down the terms settled between us. (So Ali wrote): In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful. This is what Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, has settled (with the Meccans). The polytheists said to him: If we knew that thou art the Messenger of Allah, we would follow you. But write Muhammad b. Abdullah. So he told Ali to strike out these words. Ali said: No, by Allah, I will not strike them out. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 3, p. 979). 27

28 Muhammad then duly struck out the words himself. But, as happened on so many similar occasions when the early Muslims were perplexed about some action or decision of their prophet, a timely revelation in the Qur'an soon settled the issue. The treaty was proclaimed as a victory, notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary. Verily we have granted thee a manifest victory. Surah 48.1 One of the most prominent Western biographers of Muhammad's life certainly saw it as such and the events which succeeded it do lend much support to this claim. But, in truth, a great step had been gained by Mahomet. His political status, as an equal and independent Power, was acknowledged by the treaty: the ten years' truce would afford opportunity and time for the new religion to expand, and to force its claims upon the convictions of the Coreish; while conquest, material as well as spiritual, might be pursued on every other side. The stipulation that no one under the protection of a guardian should leave the Coreish without his guardian's consent though unpopular at Medina, was in accordance with the principles of Arabian society; and the Prophet had sufficient confidence in the loyalty of his own people and the superior attractions of Islam, to fear no ill effect from the counter clause that none should be delivered up who might desert his standard. Above all, it was a great and manifest success that free permission was conceded to visit Mecca in the following year, and for three days occupy the city undisturbed. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 347). One of the early successes enjoyed by Muhammad as a result of the treaty was the allegiance of the tribe of Khuza'a. Free to exploit the conclusion of further alliances and concentrate on the elimination of threats from hostile tribes nearer home, he soon set about strengthening his position. The strong Jewish fortress of Khaibar north of Medina was besieged and brought into subjection as well. A year later a much stronger Muhammad returned to Mecca to duly perform the pilgrimage. The Quraysh left the city unattended for three days as agreed and watched with mixed feelings as Muhammad, clearly enjoying the total devotion of his supporters, honoured the holy places of Mecca and paid his respects to the Ka'aba. Consciously or otherwise, Meccan resistance to Islam was steadily being worn down. The inhabitants of the city, weary of warfare with Muhammad, one of their own kinsmen, now beheld his sustained devotion to their shrine and the city of his birth. Khalid ibn Walid, the great Meccan general who turned the tide for the Quraysh at Uhud, went over to the Muslim side with a few other leading men of Mecca. The final conquest of Mecca was now becoming a vivid possibility and one enhanced by the probable defection en masse of all of its inhabitants to Islam. 28

29 In the meantime Muhammad despatched an army of about three thousand men to Muta, a town on the borders of Syria. Here for the first time the Muslims met the strong Byzantine armies and, after putting up a brave but hopeless fight under Khalid's leadership against a force vastly superior in numbers, the Muslims withdrew. Some important men were lost in the battle, however, including Muhammad's adopted son and early convert Zaid ibn Haritha. The indecisive battle nevertheless prepared the way for the great onslaughts to follow after Muhammad's death under the caliphates of Abu Bakr an Umar respectively. At home his dominion remained ever on the increase and the major obstacle in his path - Mecca - was ready to be tackled. The final triumph of Islam in Arabia was fast approaching and the rolling tide of success was not to be turned back. Before considering it, however, let us examine a chapter in Muhammad's life at Medina hitherto overlooked - his relationships with the Jewish tribes in and around the city. C. The Conflict with the Jews. 1. Muhammad and the Jews of Medina. A constant thorn in the flesh to Muhammad at Medina were the three Jewish tribes quartered near the city - the Banu Qaynuqa, Banu Nadhir and Banu Quraydhah. On his arrival at Medina he negotiated treaties with these tribes and for a short while sought their allegiance through many overtures. We have already seen that Muhammad made Jerusalem his qiblah at this time and it is noteworthy that the Jewish fast of Ashura was also observed by the Muslims from the time that they first reached Medina. (To this day the tenth of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year, is a holy day and one on which many Muslims fast - compare Exodus 12.3 and see t e section on Muslim festivals and celebrations). The Qur'an also acknowledges the Jews as a people on whom God had bestowed peculiar favours in terms reminiscent of Paul's summary in Romans 9.4-5: We did aforetime grant to the Children of Israel the Book, the Power of Command, and Prophethood; We gave them, for sustenance, things good and pure; and We favoured them above the nations. Surah It seems that Muhammad had keenly desired to win their support but was so rudely rejected that they soon became his inveterate enemies. The Jews could hardly be expected to acknowledge an Ishmaelite prophet who proclaimed Jesus as their Messiah! They irked him keenly on two counts - satirical barbs and evidences against his claim to prophethood. The second concerns us more than the first. 29

30 Yet the Jews were a constant cause of trouble and anxiety. They plied him with questions of which the point was often difficult to turn aside. The very people to whose testimony he had so long appealed in the Coran proved now a stubborn and standing witness against him (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 179). Whereas the Meccans had simply ridiculed his message and generally resorted to sheer abuse of their kinsman, the Jews were able to trace many of these teachings to their own folklore and produce more damaging evidence against him. As Muhammad could not read their scriptures they were able to constantly provoke him with their knowledge and often frustrated him with subtle twists of phrases which he could not immediately detect but which entertained the Jewish bystanders. For example, Exodus 24.7 states that the Jews at Sinai answered Moses "All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient", but in the Qur'an we discover that the Jews, when commanded to hearken to God's Law on the Mount, allegedly answered "We hear and we disobey" (Surah 2.93). Muhammad later discovered that his informants had subtly misled him on this point and the Qur'an duly censures them for this particular deception: Of the Jews there are those who displace words from their (right) place and say: "We hear and we disobey". Surah 4.46 It was too late, however, to rectify the unfortunate error that they had succeeded in introducing into the text of the Qur'an. As Muir continues, "Mahomet evidently smarted at this period under the attacks of the Jews" (The Life of Mahomet, p. 179). Other authors comment in a similar vein: It was not that the Jews refused to recognise Muhammad as a prophet, nor even that they engaged in political intrigue against him, serious as such attitudes and actions were. Much more serious was the Jewish attack on the ideational basis of Muhammad's preaching. It had been claimed that the Qur'an was a message from God and thus inerrant; and it had also been claimed that there was a large measure of identity between the Qur'anic message and what was to be found in the previous scriptures. If the Jews, then, maintained that there were errors and false statements in the Qur'an (because it disagreed with their Bible) and that therefore it could not be a message from God, they were threatening to destroy the foundations of Muhammad's whole religious movement. (Watt, What is Islam?, p. 102). Yet, doubtless, the Prophet's ultimate determination to destroy the Jews was due to his secret recognition of their superior knowledge of matters on which he claimed (Margoliouth, Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, p. 233). The end result was as predictable as it was crucial to the success of Muhammad's ministry - the neutralisation of the Jews as an effective force in Medina. This took place chiefly through the deportation of two of the tribes and 30

31 the annihilation of the third, but at the same time Muhammad also sought to discredit them in other ways and "the portions of the Coran given forth at this period teem with invectives against the Israelites" (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p.180). Here are a few examples of this trend in the last Surah making up the revelation: The Jews say: "God's hand is tied up". Be their hands tied up and be they accursed for the (blasphemy) they utter... Amongst them we have placed enmity and hatred till the Day of Judgment. Every time they kindle the fire of war, God cloth extinguish it; But they (ever) strive to do mischief on the earth. And God loveth not those who do mischief. Surah 5.67 Thou seest many of them turning in friendship to the unbelievers. Evil indeed are (the works) which their souls have sent forward before them (with the result) that God's wrath is on them and in torment will they abide. Surah 5.83 The contemporary Muslim response to the state of Israel has its roots in passages like these which, allegedly being God's own judgments, control the attitudes of the Muslims throughout the world to their Jewish co-religionists. It is not surprising, therefore, to find the Jews constantly slandered in the Hadith as well. The traditionists blacken them in many passages. For example, Ibn Ishaq assesses the relationship between them and Muhammad in these words: About this time the Jewish rabbis showed hostility to the apostle in envy, hatred and malice, because God had chosen His apostle from the Arabs. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 239). Ibn Sa'd even contains a hadith to the effect that the Jews sought to kill Muhammad in his childhood when they discovered that he might become a prophet. His wet-nurse Halima saved him only by claiming to be his actual mother. (Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, Vol. 1, p. 125). The story is a pure fiction because it speaks of prophetic phenomena which his mother is supposed to have seen at his birth. Such stories are known to be later embellishments. (Muhammad himself always acknowledged that his mother died in idolatry). Nonetheless it is typical of the anti-jewish element constantly found in early Muslim records. To this day the prejudice is sustained and this comment on a recent biography of Muhammad by a fairly well-known Egyptian author, Abdur- Rahman Ash-Sharqawi, confirms this negative trend which is unfortunately prevalent in most Muslim writings dealing with Muhammad and the Jews: The most striking facet of Ash-Sharqawi's apology is certainly his description of the relationship of Muhammad to the Jews. It is his express purpose to dispel the image of Muhammad as an oppressor of the Jews and in its place to portray Muhammad as one who dealt with the Jews with exemplary patience. In order to reach this goal, he typifies the Jews 31

32 as rich bankers, capitalists, exploiters, financiers, usurers, speculators and manufacturers of weapons. They supposedly attempt constantly to undermine the new Islamic society by economic means. Even when they are exiled, they brood on revenge. Besides this characterization of them, ash- Sharqawi harps continually on their corrupting influence on morals. Ash-Sharqawi constantly finds enmity, hate, treachery, the breaking of treaties, the lust for power, an' feelings for revenge in the Jews. Ash- Sharqawi has established his defence of Muhammad by painting the Jews completely black, a presentation for which he does not give any historical evidence, much less "thousands". (Weasels, A Modern Arabic Biography of Muhammad, p. 23). Against this unfavourable background let us analyse the development of Muhammad's historical dealings with the three Jewish tribes of Medina. 2. The Exile of the Banu Qaynuqa and Banu Nadhir. Shortly after the Battle of Badr relations between Muhammad and the Jews of Medina began to deteriorate and, suspecting treachery from them as a result of alleged breaches of their covenants with him (Surah ), he began to move against them. A small altercation in one of the markets of Medina was the spark that set the process in motion. A Jew pinned the skirt of a kneeling Muslim woman to her upper dress so that when she stood up she was publicly embarrassed. Her companion slew the Jew in revenge and was promptly slain himself by the other Jews in the market. On hearing of it Muhammad sent his uncle Hamsa to the quarter of the Banu Qaynuqa from whom the offending Jew had come. The Jews answered that even though Muhammad had succeeded in routing the Quraysh, he would find them to be far more resolute. The quarter was besieged for fifteen days. Neither of the other two tribes nor their allies under Abdullah ibn Ubayy gave them any assistance or relief. As the siege wore on the tribe surrendered and was exiled from Medina, leaving their fields and many of their other possessions as spoils for the Muslim warriors. After the Battle of Uhud the Banu Nadhir were the next to go. Claiming that this tribe was plotting his death, Muhammad sent his men against them, this time under Ali's command. Mindful of the fate of their kinsmen, they immediately prepared to leave but promises of support from Ibn Ubayy and others encouraged them to withstand the siege. Once again no assistance was rendered. After fifteen days Muhammad commanded his companions to cut down the palm trees in their date groves. The Jews cried out to him: 32

33 "Muhammad, you have prohibited wanton destruction and blamed those guilty of it. Why then are you cutting down and burning our palm-trees?" (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 437). This charge was well-founded as Moses had, under the direct guidance of the will of God, forbidden such destruction of trees which bore food, even if they belonged to a city which waged war against God's people: "When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them; for you may eat of them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field men that they should be besieged by you?' Deuteronomy Muhammad was once again compelled to resort to a timely revelation to counter the Jews: Whether ye cut down (O ye Muslims!) the tender palm-trees, or ye left them standing on their roots, it was by leave of God, and in order that He might cover with shame the rebellious transgressors. Surah 59.5 Once again, as in the aftermath of the Nakhlah raid, a divine revelation was required to justify a clear breach of Arab custom, let alone a wilful disregard for the Law of God as revealed through the prophet Moses. In his commentary Yusuf Ali has this to say about the verse just quoted: The unnecessary cutting down of fruit trees or destruction of crops, or any wanton destruction whatever in war, is forbidden by the law and practice of Islam. But some destruction may be necessary for putting pressure on the enemy, and to that extent it is allowed. But as far as possible, consistently with that objective of military operations, such trees should not be cut down. Both these principles are in accordance with the Divine Will, and were followed by the Muslims in their expedition. (Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 1522). The reasoning is the same as that in Surah 2 regarding the Nakhlah raid. Although the action was forbidden by law, it suddenly became justified because of the animosity of Muhammad's opponents. It was allowed for "putting pressure" on the stubbornly resistant enemy. This is like saying that when a boxer cannot subdue his opponent, hitting below the belt suddenly becomes admissible to put a bit of "pressure" on him - how different the attitude of Moses who taught that laws were to be observed and ethics sustained no matter what the circumstances. Two wrongs do not make a right. The tribe, deserted by its allies, finally surrendered and was exiled. Most of its members went north to Khaibar while others joined their kinsmen in Syria. The Qur'an censures those who offered help but withdrew their support: 33

34 Hast thou not observed the Hypocrites say to their misbelieving brethren among the People of the Book? - "If ye are expelled, we too will go out with you, and we will never hearken to anyone in your affair; and if ye are attacked (in fight) we will help you". But God is witness that they are indeed liars. Surah The Destruction of the Banu Quraydhah. The Banu Quraydhah, quartered in a sector to the east of Medina, were the last to go but in an extreme way. During the siege of Medina by the Quraysh and the Confederates, a pact was made with them by the Banu Quraydhah which seriously exposed the eastern flank of the city. The Jews acted treasonably but, with the fate of the other two tribes fresh in the memory, their gamble was hardly surprising. Muhammad succeeded in creating distrust between the Quraysh and the Jews and, when the former withdrew, he promptly laid siege to the latter's quarter. Twenty-five days later the tribe surrendered and sought to be exiled like the other two before them. It was agreed, however, that one of the Aus tribe, traditionally the allies of the Jews, should decide their fate. Sa'd ibn Mu'adh, one of the few Muslims injured during the siege of Medina who was shortly to succumb to his wounds, was appointed their judge. (Some say the Jews themselves requested him). What followed is recorded in a matter of-fact way by an early biographer: The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, authorised Sa'd ibn Mu'adh to give a decision about them. He passed an order: He who is subjected to razors (i.e. the male) should be killed, women and children should be enslaved and property should be distributed. Thereupon the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said: You have decided in confirmation to the judgement of Allah, above the seven heavens. The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, returned on Thursday 7 Dhu al- Hijjah. Then he commanded them to be brought into al-madinah where ditches were dug in the market. The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, sat with his Companions and they were brought in small groups. Their heads were struck off. They were between six hundred and seven hundred in number. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, Vol. 2, p. 93). The ruthless execution of nearly a thousand men has been generally denounced by Western writers while Muslim writers have, as is to be expected, sought to justify the massacre. The following are typical examples of the spirit of Western criticism of the slaughter: 34

35 On this occasion he (Muhammad) again revealed that lack of honesty and moral courage which was an unattractive trait in his character. (Andrae, Mohammed: The Man and his Faith, p. 155). There followed the massacre of the Banu Quraizah which marks the darkest depth of Muslim policy, a depth which the palliatives suggested by modern Muslim historians quite fail to measure. (Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, p. 87). But the indiscriminate slaughter of eight hundred men, and the subjugation of the women and children of the whole tribe to slavery, cannot be recognised other than as an act of monstrous short, the butchery of the Coreitza casts an indelible blot upon the life of Mahomet. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 312). One shudders at the recital of this horrible transaction. (Stobart, Islam and its Founder, p. 165). Muslim writers invariably claim that such authors are prejudiced against Islam but the following quote comes from a Western author who wrote a fervent apology on behalf of Muhammad and whose book has been widely acclaimed and reprinted in the Muslim world: But, judged by any but an Oriental standard of morality, and by his own conspicuous magnanimity on other occasions, his act, in all its accessories, was one of cold-blooded revenge. (Bosworth Smith, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 138). In contrast let us examine a few quotes by Muslim writers in support of Muhammad's action to see the nature of the defence that they raise on his behalf: No one can dispute the justice of the sentence on the Quraiza. People may admire the courage of the Quraiza in not accepting Islam and thus saving their lives, but no one can complain of the justice of this sentence. (Sarwar, Muhammad the Holy Prophet, p. 247). It was the Divine Will that the judgment should be left to Sa'd, and it was the Divine Will that moved Sa'd to pronounce the judgment that he did, which was in accordance with Deuteronomy It was also the Divine Will that this terrible judgment, which the treachery and rebellion of Banu Quraidhah had earned, should not be pronounced by the Holy Prophet himself, but that he should be bound to carry it through to the full. (Zafrulla Khan, Muhammad: Seal of the Prophets, p. 186). A recent Muslim writer has questioned whether this whole story is historically genuine. "A detailed scrutiny indicates that the whole story of this massacre is of a very doubtful nature" (Ahmad, Muhammad and the Jews, p. 85). He argues that the narratives contain contradictions about it and that it was right out of 35

36 character with Muhammad's general magnanimity towards his defeated foes, if not always individually, at least in the main (as at the conquest of Mecca where almost the whole city was spared). There seems to be some support for the latter contention - more of his enemies were slain on that one day than in all the other battles Muhammad was engaged in during his lifetime. The contradictions between the narratives are, however, typical of those found in almost all the historical records of his life and do not affect the main story. About the primary matters, the broad outline of events, there is practically no doubt. The B. Qurayzah were besieged and eventually surrendered; their fate was decided bv Sa'd; nearly all the men were executed; Muhammad did not disapprove. About all that, there is, pace Caetani, no controversy. The Western scholar of sirah must therefore beware of paying so much attention to the debates to be traced in his sources that he forgets the solid core of undisputed fact. This solid core is probably more extensive than is usually recognized. (Watt, "The Condemnation of the Jews of Banu Qurayzah" The Muslim World, Vol. 42, p. 171.) Ahmad takes the words of Surah 33.26, "Some ye slew, and some ye made prisoners" as the foundation of his theory that, while some of the more serious offenders may have been proscribed, the bulk of the tribe was probably exiled like the others. At first sight it does seem strange that Muhammad should despatch the whole tribe while he had let the others go free, but there is concrete evidence that he had intended to execute the Banu Qaynuqa in the same way. According to Ibn Sa'd (Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, Vol. 2, p ), when the tribe surrendered, Muhammad ordered his companions to tie the men's hands behind their backs to prepare them for beheading. It was only the remonstrances of Abdullah ibn Ubayy, then still too influential to be refused that made him abandon their execution and order their banishment instead. What is most significant about Ahmad's assessment of the historical genuineness of the massacre is that, in querying it, he finds himself free from the need to justify Muhammad and accordingly treats it for what it really was - an unjustifiable atrocity. He says: No one could come out of such a holocaust to 900 killed in cold blood in one day - without damage to his personality. 'All and Zubayr's holocaust legacy of massive deadness would not have left them in peace. (Ahmad, Muhammad and the Jews, p. 86). To behold the slaughter of many men in battle is indeed one thing - to unemotionally witness the execution of a whole tribe is another entirely. Ahmad continues: 36

37 The very idea of such a massacre by persons who neither before nor after the killing showed any sign of a dehumanised personality is inadmissible from a psychological point of view. (Ahmad, Muhammad and the Jews, p. 87). Ahmad has challenged a story whose historical accuracy has hitherto never been questioned and, while the external evidences may weigh against him, he is to be commended for seeing the tragedy for what it truly was - in his own words, a "massacre" and a "holocaust". In their determination to exonerate Muhammad the Muslims have found themselves in an awkward situation. If they admit the story, they find themselves obliged to counter the suggestion that it had the nature of an atrocity. If, however, this is conceded, they strive to challenge the reliability of the narratives! Either way none dares admit that Muhammad was the leading figure, or at least a willing accomplice, in a "holocaust". Shortly before the conquest of Mecca Muhammad attacked the remaining Jewish fortress at Khaibar and, while not gaining an outright victory, nevertheless brought it into subjection. Here he was poisoned by a Jewish woman. Although she did not succeed in killing him, Muhammad complained to the day of his death of the effects of her act of revenge. Ibn Sa'd says she was put to death (Vol. 2, p. 249), but this is disputed by Bukhari who states that Muhammad refused to sanction her execution (Vol. 3, p. 475). Which of the two is true, "God only knows". By the end of his life Muhammad's relationship with the Jews had deteriorated to the point of irreconcilable hostility. We have not spoken of his relationships with the Christians, which seem to have been a bit more amicable though much less frequent, but his contacts with their armies during his latter days seems to have hardened his heart against them also. The later passages of the Qur'an breathe out denunciations of both groups in vehement language. This tradition tells its own story: It has been narrated by 'Umar b. al-khattab that he heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say: I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslims. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 3, p. 965). This same Umar, on becoming Caliph just two years after Muhammad's death, proceeded dutifully to put this injunction into effect and by the end of his reign all the Jews in the Hijaz had duly been expelled, never to return. 37

38 D. The Conquest of Mecca and the Final Triumph. 1. Muhammad's Triumph at Mecca. The Treaty of Hudaybiyah did not make Muhammad and the Quraysh allies. The conquest of Mecca was still the foremost of Muhammad's objectives and the Quraysh, who till now had always taken the fight to him at Medina, knew full well that the Hijrah was the catalyst for an ultimate onslaught on the city. They were under no misapprehensions about this. In the old Arab law, the Hijra did not merely signify rupture with his native town, but was equivalent to a sort of declaration of war against it. (Lammens, Islam: Beliefs and Institutions, p. 27) We have already seen how closely related the Hijrah was to the active policy of jihad which immediately followed it and it comes as no surprise to find the inevitable conquest being pursued two years after the truce. A small provocation by the Banu Bakr, a tribe allied to the Quraysh, on the Banu Khaza'ah, allied to Muhammad, was all he needed to declare the treaty broken. Abu Sufyan, aware that the balances were now tilted well in Muhammad's favour, went to Medina to restore the treaty but Muhammad refused to accommodate him and he returned to Mecca empty-handed. Assembling an army ten thousand strong, Muhammad immediately marched on Mecca. On the way he was met by his uncle al-abbas who now gave in his allegiance and declared himself a Muslim. Muhammad camped just outside the city and encouraged his army to light as many fires as possible so as to strike dismay into the hapless Meccans. Abu Sufyan then came out to investigate reports of the advance and met al-abbas on the way. He was escorted to Muhammad's tent where he was challenged by his now ascendant foe to become a Muslim. "Has the time not come", Muhammad said, "to declare that there is no god but Allah and that I am his messenger?" "Of the Lordship of Allah I have no doubt", he replied, "but I am as yet hesitant about your claim to be his emissary". Al-Abbas then promptly rebuked him, telling him this was no time for hesitancy, and that he was likely to lose his head if he persisted in his unbelief while standing helpless before Muhammad. The Qurayshite leader tactfully overcame his hesitancy and declared his allegiance. Somewhat to the disgust of the Muslims from Medina who were anticipating a fruitful battle and who murmured that Muhammad had become overawed by his love for his own city, he nonetheless boldly declared: "Who enters the house of Abu Sufyan will be safe, who lays down arms will be safe, who locks his door will be safe". (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 3, p. 977). 38

39 One cannot help wondering whether there was not some plan in this incident. Was the peaceful submission of Mecca dependent purely upon a chance meeting between Abu Sufyan and al-abbas and the timely conversion of these two men? As Muir has observed, "there are symptoms of a previous understanding between Mahomet and Abu Sofian" (The Life of Mahomet, p. 392). It is possible that Abu Sufyan had intimated his allegiance when visiting Medina. This personal deputation by the prime enemy of Muhammad would perhaps have been an unlikely venture by one still committed to his downfall. One writer says: Opinions differ as to whether Abu Sufyan came to Muhammad's tent by a pre-arranged plan or by accident. As the chief actors in this drama never disclosed their inner knowledge, the matter shall, for ever, remain a guess. The writer of this book agrees with those who say that Abu Sufyan had become a Muslim at heart when he came back unsuccessful from Medina on his mission to renew the treaty of Hudaibiya and that Abbas had arranged for this dramatic meeting between him and Muhammad. But God knows better. (Sarwar, Muhammad the Holy Prophet, p. 304). On the other hand there is evidence that Abu Sufyan was somewhat encouraged at the prospect of Muhammad's defeat by the Hawazin a few weeks later and his offspring were no champions of the faith. His son Mu'awiya, the first Umayyad caliph, though always professing the faith, set himself against many of Muhammad's kinsmen and companions and his grandson Yazid became the scourge of the Muslims and was responsible for the death of Hussain, one of Muhammad's own grandsons. Another Muslim writer describes the Meccan leader in far less favourable terms as "the notorious Abu Sufian, the son of Harb, the father of the well-known Mu'awiyah, the Judas Iscariot of Islam" (Ali, The Spirit of Islam, p. 105). Apart from some resistance in the southern quarter of the city stimulated by some of Muhammad's bitterest opponents among whom were Suhail and Abu Jahl's son Ikrima, Mecca capitulated peacefully. Muhammad advanced on the Ka'aba and had its idols and paintings immediately destroyed. As soon as the shrine was purified of these excesses, Bilal, his first muazzin, called the people to prayer. A general amnesty was declared and the people soon warmed to their kinsman who had spared them and confirmed the sanctity of their shrine. For once and for all, Mecca had been won to Islam. Although Muhammad's charitable attitude towards his own people can be contrasted with his recent destruction of the Banu Quraydhah he must be credited for his generosity at this moment in his life when those who had actively opposed him for so long were now at his mercy. 39

40 At the time of the taking of Mecca, the Messenger of Allah showed a superhuman gentleness in the face of unanimous feeling to the contrary in his victorious army (Zafrulla Khan, Muhammad: Seat of the Prophets, p. 277). The magnanimity with which Mahomet treated a people who had so long hated and rejected him is worthy of all admiration. It was indeed for his own interest to forgive the past, and cast into oblivion its slights and injuries. But this did not the less require a large and generous heart. And Mahomet had his reward, for the whole population of his native city at once gave in their adhesion, and espoused his cause with alacrity and apparent devotion. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 398). 2. The Proscription of a few Prominent Enemies. Not everyone benefited from the amnesty. A dozen leading opponents were proscribed though only a few were eventually executed. Two were apostates from Islam, one was a poetess who had particularly irked Muhammad with her satires, and the last was one of two Meccans who had assaulted Muhammad's daughter Zaynab as she fled Mecca for Medina. The others escaped either by hiding themselves or by seeking pardon. One case is of particular interest. One of these men was Abdullah ibn Abu al Sarh who once converted to Islam and wrote down the revelation for Muhammad, but who then apostatized, returned to Quraysh, and there spread tales about his falsification of the revelation. (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. 410). The alleged fabrication of the revelation centres on Surah In the Tafsir-i-Husaini, Vol. 2, p. 80 (quoted in Sell, The Historical Development of the Qur'an, p ) we are told that when the description of the creation of man in these verses was ended, this same Abdullah, recording the verses as Muhammad's amanuensis, exclaimed fatabaarakallahu-ahsanul-khaaliqlin - "Blessed be Allah, the best of Creators". Muhammad promptly told him to record his ejaculation in the passage as part of the revelation. Abdullah forsook Islam, claiming that if Muhammad was inspired, so was he! (The words are duly recorded at the end of Surah 23.14). It is hardly surprising that Muhammad sought his demise. The unfortunate renegade had one source of hope, however. He was the foster-brother of Uthman, later to become the third caliph. Uthman hid him at first and, when the atmosphere at Mecca had subsided after the conquest, brought him to Muhammad and pleaded for clemency. It was only after some time had lapsed, while all sat in tense silence, that Muhammad duly pardoned the offender. Throughout his course Muhammad was always very sensitive to anyone who challenged his claim to be receiving his revelations from above. (One of the two 40

41 prisoners executed at Badr had ventured in earlier years to produce passages emulating the Qur'anic text). He was clearly unwilling to spare Abdullah and patiently waited for one of his companions to strike his neck. They obviously did not read his mind and, when they rebuked him for not giving them some sign of his intention, he gave a strange answer. When Uthman had left he said to his companions who were sitting around him, "I kept silent so that one of you might get up and strike off his head!" One of the Ansar said, "Then why didn't you give me a sign, O Apostle of God?" He answered that a prophet does not kill by pointing. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 550). The ethics of the prophet of Islam are not always easy to evaluate. He obviously thought little of the destruction of those who irked him by undermining his claim to prophethood but deemed it highly offensive to achieve this by giving any sign of his intention! 3. From the Conquest to the Death of Muhammad. Shortly after the triumph at Mecca the surrounding Bedouin of the Hawazin tribe expressed their alarm at Muhammad's growing influence and launched a major offensive at the valley of Hunain against his army. After initial reverses the Muslim army won the day. Virtually all the booty was awarded to Meccan warriors who had become Muslims only a few weeks earlier, and that only because of the conquest of their city. When Allah gave to his Apostle the war booty on the day of Hunain, he distributed that booty amongst those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Islam), but did not give anything to the Ansar. So they seemed to have felt angry and sad as they did not get the same as other people had got. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 5, p. 432). Muhammad promptly asked his companions from Medina whether they would rather have him or camels and sheep. He duly placated them, promising to return with them to Medina after giving the booty as gifts to those whose hearts were but recently "reconciled to Islam". The Prophet confessed with naive frankness that these presents were meant to confirm the new converts in their faith; as we have often seen, he never troubled himself about the motives which produced conviction. (Margoliouth, Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, p. 407). One really wonders how true faith can be bred in a people firstly by force of conquest and secondly, very soon afterwards, by material inducements. Muhammad is alleged to have told his companions "I have made use of the pelf of this world to gain the love of the people that they may become Muslims" 41

42 (Sarwar, Muhammad the Holy Prophet, p. 321). There is nothing wrong in principle with the generous bestowal of a gift to gain the heart of a man (Luke 16.9), but it does seem to be a very questionable way of cementing faith in God - especially when most religions teach that the desire for possessions is irreconcilable with a true desire for spiritual riches. Jesus despised any form of ulterior or double-motive in those who flocked to him and, knowing what was in the hearts of all men, would not trust himself to those whose faith could only be obtained through the bestowal of one or other form of material benefit (John , 6.26). Another Muslim writer also has the prophet of Islam say: "O Ansar, are you angry because I have given away some goods to those whom I sought to win to Islam? Because I deemed their faith confirmable by material goods whereas I deemed yours to be based on solid conviction, to be candid beyond all dissuasion?" (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. 427). The Son of man, who constantly warned against an abundance of possessions and who told his disciples not to lay up treasures on earth, but rather to sell them and to give alms so as to provide themselves with treasures in heaven which do not pass away (Luke 12.33), would never have considered that the faith of his followers could be won in such a way. In the remaining days of Muhammad's life deputations from all over Arabia came to declare their allegiance to him and shortly before his death almost the whole Arabian Peninsula had adopted Islam. The last stronghold of idolatry to capitulate was at-ta'if. Home of the goddess al-lat, the city withstood a siege by Muhammad shortly after the battle of Hunain. Soon afterwards, however, one of its inhabitants who was a Muslim, Urwa ibn Mas'ud, sought to win his kinsmen to Islam, but they murdered him and in so doing invited on themselves a final and more thorough onslaught. A deputation to Medina, expressing a willingness to capitulate if a few years grace could be given to the city, was rejected out of hand. Muhammad insisted on the destruction of the idol and the immediate observance of the daily prayers. They were spared the ignominy of destroying their idol. Muhammad wisely ordered Abu Sufyan and al-mughira, two recent converts from Mecca who were friends of the tribe settled in the city, to raze the great image to the ground. It duly fell but not without being lamented by the women of the city. Taif was the last stronghold that held out against the authority of the Holy Prophet. It was also the only place where the fate of an idol excited the sympathy of the people. Everywhere else the idols were destroyed by the people themselves without a pang. (Zafrulla Khan, Muhammad: Seal of the Prophets, p. 246). 42

43 In 632 AD a short illness ended Muhammad's life. He was buried in the chamber of Ayishah, his favourite wife. After a short dispute concerning his successor, Abu Bakr, who had led the prayers during his illness, was elected caliph. During his short two-year reign he put down attempted revolts in the peninsula by Bedouin tribes seeking to throw off the yolk of Islam. Umar followed him and before his death Islam had spread to Iraq and Syria. Within a hundred years it had gone out as far as India in the east and Spain in the west. Today it is predominant in the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, and other parts of Asia. Its adherents number about eight hundred million throughout the world. 2. A Study of Muhammad's Personality A. An Assessment of His Personality. 1. The Loyalty and Confidence of his Companions. Since the inception of Islam the Muslim world has held to the unwavering conviction that Muhammad was the last and the greatest of the prophets. The Christian world, on the other hand, has expressed varied assessments of his character, ranging from one extreme to the other. In former times it was customary to hold that Muhammad was a conscious impostor, a devil-inspired false prophet whom the; infidel Turks; or, at best, "Mahometans", worshipped as their god. In more recent times the access the West has enjoyed to the early records of his life has produced a more objective response. Many consider that he was a sincere seeker after truth who introduced noble reforms into his society and is to be honoured according to the achievements and standards of his time. Some even concede that he was a true prophet, one whom God directed as he had inspired the other prophets from of old. The evangelical church, however, steadfastly rejects this view, if for no other reason than that he denied the deity and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. These two denials, which strike at the whole foundation of the Christian faith, do seem to rule out the possibility that any Christian evaluation of his prophetic claims can produce anything other than a negative response and conclusion. Nonetheless, aware of the prejudices of our forefathers, it behooves us to assess the Prophet of Islam sincerely. A purely objective estimate of his character may not be possible, our convictions being what they are, but it is incumbent upon us to be as fair as we can be. We can safely reject the view that Muhammad was a deliberate impostor. Throughout the twenty-three year period of his assumed ministry, he held to the unflinching conviction that he was called to be a prophet and that the revelations he was receiving were coming to him from above. 43

44 Mohammed never wavered in his belief in his own mission, nor, what is more extraordinary, in his belief as to its precise nature and well-defined limits. (Bosworth Smith, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 148). One of the best evidences of his subjective sincerity is the almost fanatical devotion of his companions to his mission. With only a few exceptions, those nearest to him, once converted, stood with him through triumph and defeat, trial and setback, poverty and persecution. It is strongly corroborative of Mahomet's sincerity that the earliest converts to Islam were not only of upright character, but his own bosom friends and people of his household; who, intimately acquainted with his private life, could not fail otherwise to have detected those discrepancies which ever more or less exist between the professions of the hypocritical deceiver abroad and his actions at home. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 54). The intense faith and conviction on the part of the immediate followers of Mohammed is the noblest testimony to his sincerity and his utter self-absorption in his appointed task. (Ali, The Spirit of Islam, p. 22). One of his earliest converts, Abu Bakr, was a leading man in Mecca and one whose devotion to Muhammad was as steadfast as it could be (as we have seen on the occasion of his concealment with Muhammad in the cave on Mount Thaur). Even when Muhammad proclaimed that he had been taken to Jerusalem and back in one night by the angel Gabriel, a claim which alienated some of his own followers, Abu Bakr's allegiance remained unshaken. (We will shortly hear more of this phenomenon). He was duly named as-siddiq by Muhammad, meaning "the Faithful", a title he seems to have fully deserved. A generally sincere and upright man, his unflinching loyalty to Muhammad is strong evidence of the latter's single-mindedness of purpose. Abu Bakr was a man of the purest character. His friendship for Mahomet, and unwavering belief in his mission, are a strong testimony to the sincerity of the prophet. (Stobart, Islam and its Founder, p. 209). I agree with Sprenger in considering 'the faith of Abu Bakr the greatest guarantee of the sincerity of Mohammed in the beginning of his career' - and, indeed, in a modified sense, throughout his life. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 56). Even before his claim to prophethood Muhammad was highly esteemed for his integrity and earned the title al-amin, 'the Trustworthy'. Judged relatively by the standards of his day, he appears to emerge without reproach; and there are many in the West today who refuse to challenge the worthiness of his personality further. Is the Christian compelled to assess him in the same spirit of relative 44

45 objectivity? Do we leave the judgment of history upon his character to a jury of his contemporary peers? 2. A Relative or an Absolute Standard of Judgment? We cannot judge the Prophet of Islam according to our moral standards, but only according to the standards which he himself recognized. (Andrae, Mohammed: The Man and his Faith, p. 188). It is so often said that Muhammad's character must be appraised purely in the context of his age and environment Seventh-century Arabia was a fairly primitive country and many things we would consider reprehensible, for example, raiding for booty, polygamy, etc., were regarded by the Arabs as perfectly normal and far from immoral or unethical. What right, therefore, do we have to judge Muhammad by any other standard than the relative values of his day? Had Muhammad claimed to be nothing more than a local reformer or a prophet with a message purely for his own time and people, such a charge might be wellfounded. But, by the end of his career, he had laid claim to being the greatest of all the prophets, God's universal messenger for all mankind a messenger with the final religion which was to supersede and eventually displace every other religion on earth. Muslim writers accordingly know no limits in describing the alleged perfection of his virtues and the traditions of his life are saturated with eulogies exalting his personality to that of the greatest among men. This quote is symbolic of the claims made by almost all Muslim biographers of their prophet's course: His life is the noblest record of a work nobly and faithfully performed... a life consecrated, from first to last, to the service of humanity. Is there another to be compared to his, with all its trials and temptations? Is there another which has stood the fire of the world and come out so unscathed? (Ali, The Spirit of Islam, p. 112, 17). When such claims are made, it cannot fairly be said that he is only to be judged by the standards of his day. Now Muslims claim that Muhammad is a model of conduct and character for all mankind. In so doing they invite world opinion to pass judgement upon him. (Watt, Muhammad at Medina, p. 333). The thesis that Muhammad was great by the standards of his day and race is dubious praise for one whom Tradition makes an exemplar for all time and all mankind. (Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, p. 187). 45

46 It is precisely at this point that the Christian attitude to Muhammad comes to the fore. "But, summoned up inevitably by his own special claim, silently there rises beside him... the figure of the Son of Man". (Gairdner, The Reproach of Islam, p. 75). Men like Gautama Buddha and Confucius may fairly escape a character analysis based on absolute standards but the Prophet of Islam, who elevated himself to at least equality with (if not superiority over) the founder of Christianity, is fairly exposed to a comparison with him at every turn. Jesus Christ was a man par excellence, one not only without error or sin, but the perfect man - a man endued with every worthy attribute to the full. He was one whose righteousness, love, holiness, honesty and purity were expressed to perfection. Muhammad invites comparison with him when he claims that he is his equal. Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: I am most akin to Jesus Christ among the whole of mankind, and all the Prophets are of different mothers but belong to one religion and no Prophet was raised between me and Jesus. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 4, p. 1260). We are therefore fully justified in assessing his character by the absolute standards so wondrously manifested in the person of our Saviour, even more so when we find Muhammad seeking to displace him at many points. Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: I shall be pre-eminent among the descendants of Adam on the Day of Resurrection and I will be the first intercessor and the first whose intercession will be accepted (by Allah). (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 4, p. 1230). How does Muhammad compare with Jesus? In the next section we shall briefly analyse the course of his ministry and compare it with that of Jesus Christ, and in the next two chapters will assess certain facets of his life and behaviour while at Medina. These two quotes fairly anticipate the obvious and, indeed, only possible conclusion that can be drawn: The genuineness and sincerity of Mohammed's piety, and the honesty of his belief in his religious call, are indisputable. Unfortunately it cannot be said that righteousness and straightforwardness are the most prominent traits of his character as a whole (Andrae, Mohammed: The Man and his Faith, p. 185). The domestic life of Muhammad, if the general standard of oriental rulers of his time be taken into account, is moderate in indulgence, though of course the standard of a prophet claiming to supersede Jesus Christ yields a very different result. (Stanton, The Teaching of the Qur'an, p. 27). 46

47 3. Jesus and Muhammad - The Cross and the Hijrah. It is not often realised how many similarities there are between the ministries of Jesus and Muhammad up to the point of Muhammad's departure from Mecca for Medina. As Jerusalem was the centre of Judaism at the time of Jesus. so Mecca was the focal-point of Arab paganism during Muhammad's life. In each city stood a cube-like structure to which the kinsmen of the founders of the world's two greatest religions came. In Jerusalem it was the Holy of Holies in the Temple precincts in Mecca it was the Ka'aba. Just as Jews came from all over to attend their feasts in Jerusalem (e.g. the Feast of the Passover, the Feast of the Tabernacles), so Arabs flocked to Mecca for the various fairs held around the city each year (e.g. the Fair of-ukadh, etc.). Jesus and Muhammad both rose from among their own people and yet both stood firmly against the religious practices of their kinsmen while acknowledging that the Lord of the holy sites in their chief cities respectively was the true Lord. Allah was the "Lord of the Ka'aba" but Muhammad opposed the idol-worship associated with the Arab shrine. Yahweh was indeed the true Lord of the Temple in Jerusalem but Jesus violently opposed the form of religion being practiced within its courtyards and walls. On at least two occasions he drove the moneychangers and those who sold sacrificial victims out of the Temple, accusing them of turning a place God had declared to be a "house of prayer" into a veritable "den of robbers" (Matthew 21.13). On the other occasion he accused them of making it a "house of trade" (John 2.16). In both cases the cities rose in defiance of these men who promised nothing less than hell-fire to their most distinguished inhabitants (Matthew 23.33, Surah ). Each came to a point of crisis. When Muhammad's covenant with the believers from the Aus and Khazraj was discovered by the Quraysh, they finally determined to make an end of him. Muhammad knew his life was no longer safe in Mecca - the point of decision had come. The Qur'an itself mentions the plot laid by the Meccans to kill him: Remember how the Unbelievers plotted against thee, to keep thee in bonds, or slay thee, or get thee out (of thy home). They plot and plan, and God too plans, but the best of planners is God. Surah 8.30 When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the chief priests among the Jews at Jerusalem finally took counsel together and made plans to kill him (John 11.53). Like Muhammad, he was faced with a moment of destiny - should he remain in Jerusalem and endanger his life or should he move out? The analogy extends further. An unexpected way of escape from a foreign source timeously opened before both men. Rejected by his own tribesmen, the Quraysh, Muhammad was given a welcome and a new haven of security by men 47

48 from other tribes to the north of his city. So Jesus too was suddenly presented with a new field of ministry and probable shelter as he entered Jerusalem for the last time, knowing the plans that were being laid against him. A number of Greeks came to him, willing to hear him (John ). Once again a foreign people from the north promised a welcome relief from the now extreme designs of the chief priests. Even the circumstances were identical - a feast in Jerusalem, a fair in Mecca. The coincidences are striking. Thus far the analogy goes but no further. Muhammad and Jesus took contrary decisions. The former took a pledge from each man from Medina to defend and protect his life, even if he should lose his own life in doing so. The latter renewed his pledge to give up his life so that many of his followers might live. When Jesus heard that the Greeks wanted to see him, he must have felt the same sense of relief that Muhammad felt in similar circumstances. But he knew his mission and the express purpose for which he had come into the world and immediately responded by saying: "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit... Now is my soul troubled and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour". John , 27. Jesus came not to set up an earthly kingdom but to re deem the world and prepare the way for many to become heirs of a heavenly kingdom. Muhammad left for Medina to establish the ummah of Islam (Surah 2.143), the community of true believers, a "kingdom of God" on earth. The Hijrah was, as we have seen, the pathway to jihad. Muhammad left Mecca only to take steps immediately to interrupt its trade and ultimately to conquer and subdue it. The sword was unsheathed to protect the fledgling Muslim community at Medina. As we have seen, convenient expedients were justified in the name of the establishment and progress of Islam. Rules, even God's own laws, could be bent whenever the Muslim ummah found itself in conflict with non-muslim opponents. After Muhammad's death Abu Bakr, through many conflicts, re-established Islam in the Arabian peninsula and his successor, Umar, soon sent out armed forces to subdue the lands around Arabia. Very significantly the Qur'anic injunction to begin fighting (Surah 2.216) followed immediately after the Hijrah. Muhammad employed the age-old method of establishing an earthly dominion - force of arms. At Badr he despatched many of his former enemies including the notorious Abu Jahl. The Qur'an itself proclaims vengeance on his other great enemy, his uncle Abu Lahab: 48

49 Perish the hands of Abu Lahab, perish he! Surah (Arberry). The later passages of the Qur'an give Muslims the right to take up arms against all-comers who threaten the Muslim ummah and to slay them wherever they be found (Surah ). The book even contains an open licence to make war on all who do not acknowledge Islam, including Christians, until they "feel themselves subdued" (Surah 9.29). Muhammad was a patient and tolerant preacher of monotheism and justice in Mecca but, after the Hijrah, became a ruler determined to sustain his power and the exclusive identity of his people, a theocratic community, by force of arms and by the subjugation of his enemies. For Mohammed the exodus to Medina meant a surprisingly rapid development of his position in power, which completely revolutionised conditions in Arabia, and before long was to have world-wide consequences; but in his own character it effected a decided downward move and a loss of the ideal. (Buhl, "The Character of Mohammed as a Prophet", The Muslim World, Vol. 1, p. 360). But when he was transferred into the atmosphere of Medinah, he offered very little resistance to the corrupting action of the new social position... The figure of Mohammed loses in beauty, but gains in power. (Caetani, "The Development of Mohammed's Personality", The Muslim World, Vol. 4, p. 364). Not only could Jesus have found shelter among the Greeks but he could also have mustered the support of all in Galilee to establish his ministry (John 6.15). When faced with the crucial decision, however, he took the opposite one to that taken by Muhammad. The Prophet of Islam chose the Hijrah, the spring of jihad for the subjugation and, where necessary, the destruction of his enemies. Jesus chose the cross, the symbol of his love and the means of salvation for all who were by nature the enemies of God (Romans 5.10). When Pilate asked him whether he had pretensions to set himself up as a ruler of his people ("Are you the king of the Jews?" John 18.33), he gave a very important and striking answer: "My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world". John "My servants would fight", he said, just as Muhammad's companions did to protect and establish his earthly ummah. But Jesus came to make the kingdom of heaven accessible to men on earth and to establish a spiritual people constituting one body over all the earth, not to be gathered into an earthly community to be protected from all other tribes and nations, but to be united in one spirit, secure and prepared for a kingdom ready to be revealed in the last time. How different his attitude to that of Muhammad! 49

50 Muhammad sought to conquer by force, Jesus by love. At times Muhammad wrought the destruction of his enemies. Jesus prayed that his might be forgiven and live: Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke As he hung on that cross, he was an apparent failure. It seemed his labours had been in vain. The Hijrah took Muhammad from the depths of disconsolation to the prime of success but the cross took Jesus to an early grave. The Muhammadan decision here is formative of all else in Islam. It was a decision for community, for resistance, for external victory, for pacification and rule. The decision for the cross - no less conscious, no less formative, no less inclusive - was the contrary decision. (Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, p. 93). But even as his earthly course came to its close, its eternal, immeasurable effects were being realised. A thief crucified with Jesus, one who had no other hope of salvation, turned to him humbly requesting him to "remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke 23.42). The answer reveals all the glorious implications of the choice Jesus made for the salvation of many rather than the establishment of his rule in an earthly form and his own personal protection: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise. Luke There are many Muslims who argue that their prophet's decision was justifiable and that his enemies deserved their fate. But how does his course at Medina compare with that one supreme manifestation of love and compassion at Calvary which knows no equal? Unfavourably, to say the least. On the other hand, we can comfortably meet the Muslims on their own ground by comparing the destinies of our respective founders. The crucifixion of Jesus stands with his resurrection. The only historical record of his death on the cross testifies unambiguously to his resurrection to life after three days and his ascension to heaven forty days later. Who really succeeded in his mission - Muhammad, who lies dead and buried in Medina, or Jesus, who reigns in life in heaven above? The Hijrah led Muhammad to Medina, the seat of his earthly ummah. The cross led Jesus to resurrection and glory in the kingdom of heaven - the realm of eternal life. Muhammad chose an earthly ummah and duly went the way of all flesh as his earthly body returned to dust in a city made of dust. Jesus preferred a heavenly kingdom and duly prepared the way for many as his heavenly body returned to heaven and a city which has eternal foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11.10). The image of Him whose kingdom was not of this world, who did not strive nor cry, whose servants were never to draw the sword in His defence, forces itself 50

51 upon the mind, in silent and reproachful antithesis to the mixed and sullied character of the Prophet-soldier Mohammed. (Bosworth Smith, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 201). 4. A Christian Evaluation of Muhammad's Character. The awesome objective of Jesus' ministry and the outstanding sacrifice he made to achieve it stand as high above the course of Muhammad's ministry as the heavens are high above the earth. In no less a degree does the profound character of the Saviour of the world tower over the personality of the Prophet of Islam. A Muslim writer states: Even if Muhammad had sent ten thousand missionaries over the length and breadth of Arabia he could not have received such homage unto God as he did by means of his successful wars. (Sarwar, Muhammad: The Holy Prophet, p. 323). This statement may be entirely consistent with the Muslim mentality of outward triumph and success but it is out of character with the marvellous standards and example set by the Son of man, who has achieved more enduring results through his true messengers who have spread the effects of his salvation by word of mouth rather than by the sword of war. (We exclude ventures such as the Crusades which were the very antithesis of all that Jesus preached and stood for. The propagation of Islam by "successful wars" is, however, fundamental to Islam as Sarwar duly shows). Believers were never commanded to spread the religion of Christ by means of a holy war (Jihad), but, on the contrary, they were called to endure every kind of wrong and contumely, and did willingly suffer many and great afflictions and persecutions for proclaiming the Gospel. Most of the Apostles drank the cup of martyrdom in the cause of religion, and their oft-repeated command to all believers was, that they should bear patiently all sufferings for Christ's sake. (Pfander, The Mizan ul Haqq; or Balance of Truth, p. 72). The fruits and successes of their labours will be known and made manifest at the only place where the value of a man s life can be truly tested - at the judgment seat of God on a Day yet to be revealed. Kenneth Cragg suggests that it may be true that "too much is made of Muhammad's circumstances and too little of his obligations to the absolutes of every age" (The Call of the Minaret, p. 92). The question is not whether he had a generally commendable character. A Christian evaluation of his character rightly begins by asking whether his manner was exemplary in every way and at all times as Jesus' truly was. In this respect, as will be seen all the more in the following two chapters, he fails to meet the mark. 51

52 The specific character of Islam and the transcending path of salvation brought to erring sinners by Jesus Christ can be distinguished in many instances, but the following tradition offers a typical example: Narrated Jabir: A man from the tribe of Aslam came to the Prophet and confessed that he had committed an illegal intercourse... the Prophet ordered that he be stoned to death. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 8, p. 531). The judgment was fair on legal grounds (Leviticus 20.10), but Muhammad's role can be compared with that assumed by Jesus when he was placed in a similar situation. When the Jewish doctors of the law produced a woman similarly selfcondemned for adultery, Jesus immediately made her detractors examine themselves to see whether they were indeed worthy to stand as God's prosecutors, judges and executioners over her. "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8.7), he replied. As they all went out, convicted of their own sinfulness, he graciously pardoned the repentant woman in these comforting words: "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said "No one, Lord". And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again". John He had come to bring salvation to all and his own death to follow shortly was the ransom by which she was delivered from her prescribed fate. Here the whole difference between Islam and Christianity is fully revealed - the law enforced compared to grace freely bestowed. The Hijrah did not release Muhammad from the law, but the cross of Christ opened the door for repentant men and woman to obtain the forgiveness of their sins and a place in the eternal kingdom of heaven. He certainly knew nothing of the real teaching of Jesus Christ. Had he known these things he would have seen how superior was the legal system he sought to supersede, how much higher the Christian morality he endeavoured to set aside. (Sell, The Historical Development of the Qur'an, p. 188). Even a fervent apologist for Muhammad was constrained to draw similar conclusions when comparing Muhammad with Jesus: The religion of Christ contains whole fields of morality and whole realms of thought which are all but outside the religion of Mohammed... the character of Jesus of Nazareth stands alone in its spotless purity and its unapproachable majesty. (Bosworth Smith, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p 293, 294). Perhaps the final judgment can be made to rest on the last statements made by Jesus and Muhammad respectively before they died. We have already seen how Jesus, at the last, sought the forgiveness and salvation of the Jews who had 52

53 hated, opposed and finally crucified him. How unfavourably Muhammad's last recorded utterance compares: 'Umar b. Abd al-aziz reported that the last statement made by the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) was: O Lord, perish the Jews and the Christians. They made churches of the graves of their Prophets. Beware, there should be no two faiths in Arabia. (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 371). "Perish the Jews and the Christians" - famous last words indeed! A Muslim valiantly says of his prophet "As to the Christians, he nearly killed himself for their sake. He loved them as no one has ever loved them before or after" (Sarwar, Muhammad: the Holy Prophet, p. 105). There is no substance in these words. They are out of place and the Prophet of Islam unworthy of their sentiments. They seem to be far more suited to the lowly man of Nazareth, except that he really was killed for their sake. Nevertheless the Muslim effort to apply to Muhammad praises due only to Jesus Christ perhaps indicates the awareness in Islam of the surpassing worth of the Christian Saviour - he who stands alone above all men of every age as the perfect example of love, righteousness, purity and truthfulness. B. His Treatment of His Personal Enemies. 1. Were Muhammad's Wars Purely Defensive? We have, in the last section, seen what a great difference there was between the Prince of Peace and the Prophet of Islam. A more detailed examination of his attitudes towards his enemies, especially his personal foes, reveals a flaw in his personality not readily explained away. It is here that we find a weak point in Muhammad's character and one which troubles Muslim apologists. To set forth this period in the Prophet's career objectively, without offending modern Muslim susceptibilities, is difficult in the extreme. (Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, p. 84). Before passing on to individual examples, let us consider the whole question of jihad from a general standpoint. It is invariably claimed by Muslim writers today that Muhammad's wars were purely defensive. "Islam seized the sword in selfdefence, and held it in self-defence, as it will ever do". (Ali, The Spirit of Islam, p. 218). In this way they endeavour to set aside the charge that Muhammad took the sword to his enemies, seeking their destruction and their possessions as booty and plunder. One writer goes so far as to say: Persia and Rome were thus the aggressors, and the Muslims, in sheer selfdefence, came into conflict with those mighty empires. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 463). 53

54 This is extremely hard to credit from an historical perspective. There is no evidence that the Persian or Byzantine empires had any designs on the Hijaz in Arabia during Muhammad's time, let alone the fledgling Muslim community at Medina. On the other hand, when Umar was caliph, the Muslims took the fight to Greek and Persian soil and conquered their territories. Muhammad, during his ministry, was at no time threatened by an invasion from the north. His chief concern was the Quraysh and, next to them, the hostile pagan Bedouin tribes of the Hijaz. But even in this context he is blandly portrayed as a harmless defender of the faith against relentless plots and threats from those around him. Such claims are, from an historical perspective, unjustifiable. Yet they are found in many works, of which the following statement is typical: People who accuse Muhammad of fighting the Quraish forget that the Quraish were the aggressors and that during all these years Muhammad had no option but to defend himself and his followers. (Sarwar, Muhammad: the Holy Prophet, p. 87). The claim that one is fighting purely in self-defence is one of the most elliptical ever made by men and nations throughout human history. Israel used it when conquering the Golan Heights, West Bank of the Jordan, and Sinai Desert in The conquest of these territories was, it was alleged, essential to protect the nation from the hostile Arab states round about. Hitler made a similar claim when invading Russia in 1941, alleging that he was protecting the Aryans from the Bolsheviks. Indeed the Quraysh could just as well have claimed that their expeditions to Medina were purely defensive exercises to protect their peaceful caravan trade which Muhammad was intent on disrupting. The Muslim claim that his wars were purely defensive appears to be more rhetorical than historical in substance. One writer even has the audacity to say of the Meccan caravan trade: "These caravans constituted a grave threat to the security of Medina". (Zafrulla Khan, Muhammad: Seal of the Prophets, p. 111). Some authors will go to great lengths to exonerate Muhammad and remove the stigma that the raiding parties have left on his character. These caravans were invariably lightly manned and armed. Even the large annual caravan from Mecca to Syria had to pass Medina by a special route each year to avoid capture and, when Abu Sufyan learnt that a raiding party was coming out of Medina to meet him on his return in 624 AD, he had to hasten on to protect the caravan and was compelled to call for a force from Mecca to escort him. The "grave threat" was, in truth, the other way around. 54

55 Within a hundred years the Muslim hordes, by force of arms, had conquered territories from Spain in the West to India in the East. Was this all purely defensive? What threat faced the small community of Muslims in Medina from the shores of Spain and frontiers of France? The thesis that Muhammad never took the sword for aggressive purposes appears very weak in the light of this famous verse from the Qur'an, known as the ayatus-saif, the "verse of the sword": But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and Iie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war). Surah 9.5 They were only to be spared if they repented and became Muslims, the verse continues. Another wishful claim, made in bold defiance of the facts of history, is that Muhammad "never killed a single prisoner of war" (All, The Religion of Islam, p. 483). We have already seen how Muhammad had Abu Azzah executed after the Battle of Uhud. Another was an-nadhr ibn al-harith who was ordered to be beheaded by Muhammad after the Battle of Badr for the capital offence of challenging Muhammad's revelations and composing surahs and stories like those in the Qur'an. (The Qur'an boldly invites all-comers to attempt to produce passages equal to its own in Surah but Muhammad was sorely tried whenever anyone ventured to do so). Yet another victim at Badr was Uqba ibn abi Muait. The Battle of Badr has been celebrated in Islam as its first true moment of glory and yet even here we find Muhammad and his companions bent on vengeance and the destruction of those who had persecuted them. A Muslim writer gives us a useful insight into the thoughts of the Muslims as they prepared for the first battle they were to fight for Islam: Before entering battle, they resolved to direct their attention to the leaders and nobles of the Quraysh. They planned to seek them and to kill them first, remembering the persecution and travails they had suffered at their hands in Makkah, especially the blocking of the road to God and to the holy mosque. (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. 229). Another unedifying spectacle that greets the reader is the reaction of Muhammad when he learnt of the death, on the same battlefield, of the man who had persecuted him so much during his days in Mecca: Among the leaders of Quraish who met their death was Abu Jahal, chief of the clan of Beni Makhzoom, the Apostle's bitterest enemy. Muhammad send 0a servant to search the field for his corpse. When he found it, he cut off his head and threw it down at the feet of the Apostle who cried 55

56 ecstatically, "The head of the enemy of God Praise God, for there is no other but He!" (Glubb, The Life and Times of Muhammad, p. 186). "Beloved, never avenge yourselves" is the advice of the Apostle Paul (Romans 12.19), following the teaching and example of his Master (Luke ). Not so the dictum of Muhammad, who constantly plotted revenge against his personal enemies and delighted in it when it was achieved. 2. The Assassination of Ka'b ibn Ashraf. Shortly after the Battle of Badr an incident occurred, widely reported in the Hadith, which Muir describes as another of those dastardly acts of cruelty which darken the pages of the Prophet's life" (The Life of Mahomet, p. 238). It was the clandestine killing of a Jew, Ka'b ibn Ashraf, who "was at Mahomet's instigation assassinated under circumstances of the blackest treachery" (Stobart, Islam and its Founder, p. 158). He had been one of those poets who had irritated Muhammad with his satirical verses. After Badr he mourned the leaders of the Quraysh and visited Mecca to stir up a reprisal raid against the Muslims. What ultimately transpired is described in unemotional language in the traditions: Narrated Jabir: The Prophet said, "Who is ready to kill Ka'b ibn Ashraf?". Muhammad bin Maslama replied, "Do you like me to kill him?" The Prophet replied in the affirmative. Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Then allow me to say what I like". The Prophet replied, "I do". (Sahih at- Bukhari, Vol. 4, p. 168). In another tradition Muhammad ibn Maslama's statement "allow me to say what I like" is interpreted to mean that he should be allowed to say a "false" thing to deceive Ka'b. (Sahih at-bukhari, Vol. 5, p. 248). An early biographer is quite unambiguous in his record of this commission: The apostle said "All that is incumbent upon you is that you should try". He said "O apostle of God, we shall have to tell lies". He answered "Say what you like, for you are free in the matter". (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 367). It is hardly any wonder that writers like Muir and Stobart speak so harshly of Muhammad's conduct in this matter. This was a direct order to effect the murder of one of his opponents coupled with a licence to resort to any manner of lies to achieve it. Muhammad's companion of the same name duly took advantage of the freedom given him to use deceitful means to dispose of the unsuspecting Jew: Muhammad b. Maslama came to Ka'b and talked to him, referred to the old friendship between them and said: This man (i.e. the Holy Prophet) has made up his mind to collect charity (from us) and this has put us to a 56

57 great hardship. When he heard this, Ka'b said: By God, you will be put to more trouble by him. Muhammad b. Maslama said: no doubt, now we have become his followers and we do not like to forsake him until we see what turn his affairs will take. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 3, p. 991). The subtle claim that Muhammad had burdened the Medinan Muslims (Ibn Maslama was of the Aus tribe) duly persuaded Ka'b that the men with him meant him no harm. His own foster brother Abu Natilah, also among the party, was even more convincing than his companion: He said: I am Abu Na'ilah, and I have come to you to inform you that the advent of this man (the Prophet) is a calamity for us. The Arabs are fighting with us and they are shooting from one bow (i.e. they are united against us). We want to keep away from him (the Prophet). (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabeqat al-kabir, Vol. 2, p. 36). Ibn Sa'd goes on to say that when these men, who claimed they had come to purchase food and dates from him, finally met Ka'b again during the evening, he talked freely with them and was "pleased with them and became intimate with them" (op. cit., p.37). Coming closer to him on the presence that they wished to smell his perfume, Ibn Maslama and the others immediately drew their swords and killed him. They returned to Muhammad uttering the takbir ("Allahu Akbar" - Allah is Most Great). When they reached the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him; he said: (Your) faces be lucky. They said: Yours too, O Apostle of Allah! They cast his head before him. He (the Prophet) praised Allah on his being slain. When it was morning, he said: Kill every Jew whom you come across. The Jews were frightened, so none of them came out, nor did they speak. They were afraid that they would be suddenly attacked as Ibn Ashraf was attacked in the night. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, Vol. 2, p. 37). This affair discredits Muhammad's claim to be a prophet. Who can read these sordid details without being nauseated in his spirit? Muslim biographers, as ia to be expected, have sought to exculpate their Prophet in this matter. One has very artfully rewritten history by giving no indication that Muhammad had any part in this murderous scene. Claiming that Ka'b had vexed the Muslims of Medina with false accusations against their womenfolk, he puts the responsibility for his assassination at the feet of the Muslims alone without any reference in his narrative to Muhammad's part in it: They were so incensed and irritated by him that, after unanimously agreeing to kill him, they authorized Abu Na'ilah to seek his company and win his confidence. Abu Na'ilah said to Katb, "The advent of Muhammad was a misfortune to all of us". (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. 244). 57

58 One can see how awkward Muhammad's role in this matter was for the Egyptian author. Finding no way to justify him, he expediently left him out of the affair altogether. It is tendentious of Haykal not to reveal that it was not the Muslims but Muhammad himself who took the initiative in having him killed, a fact about which there is no doubt in Ibn Hisham's account. "Who will rid me of the son of Ashraf?" (Weasels, A Modern Arabic Biography of Muhammad, p. 183). Other Muslim writers have produced a more imaginative defence of their Prophet's action. They have given it a forensic touch by claiming that, as ruler in Medina, Muhammad had a right to order the execution of those who were guilty of high treason. One writer alleges that "Christian controversialists" have "shut their eyes to the justice of the sentence, and the necessity of a swift and secret execution (Ali, The Spirit of Islam, p. 74). Mitigation of Muhammad's action is sought in legal terminology, viz. "sentence", "execution", etc. Another writer seeks to remove the sting in the course of this affair by the use of similar terms: When the Holy Prophet was convinced of these various offences of Kaab, he determined that Kaab had earned the ultimate penalty several times over... He, therefore, decided that Kaab would not be executed publicly, but silently without any fuss. (Zafrulla Khan, Muhammad: Seal of the Prophets, p. 138). Muhammad at this stage was anything but the undisputed ruler of Medina and the devious methods adopted to despatch the offending Jew, when exposed to public view as they so blandly are in the traditions, still leave the firm impression that this was an act of cold-blooded murder coupled with a host of lies, both of which had the sanction of the Prophet of Islam. It is not surprising to find such incidents leading to strange teachings in Muslim writings. One writer comments on the fate due to "traitors" in these words: And a traitor guilty of high treason is an outlaw and may be killed by anyone without any special authority. May God guide us all to the Truth and spread peace and unity amongst mankind! (Sarwar, Muhammad: the Holy Prophet, p. 195). These words almost defy comment! Well does the author appeal to God for guidance into the Truth - he is much in need of it. His licence to all and sundry to take the law into their own hands by lynching those whom they consider to be "traitors" (Ka'b never espoused Muhammad's cause) seems hardly consistent with his professed desire for peace among men. But his comment does give a truer picture of what really happened that night than the legal euphemisms of men like Syed Ameer Ali and Muhammad Zafrulla Khan. 58

59 3. The Murder of Abu Rafi. On many occasions Muhammad showed commendable magnanimity towards his enemies but every now and then we are faced with individual cases which seriously compromise his claim to be God's final messenger to mankind. Another Jew, Abu Rafi, one of the chiefs of the Banu Nadhir exiled after the Battle of Uhud, was also murdered at his instigation. Abu Rafi's true name was Sallam ibn abi al-huqaiq and he lived in one of the forts at Khaibar before Muhammad's conquest of the settlement. This tradition tells its own story: Narrated Al-Bara: Allah's Apostle sent Abdullah bin Atik and Abdullah bin Utba with a group of men to Abu Rafi (to kill him)... (Abdullah said) "I called, 'O Abu Rafi!' He replied 'Who is it?' I proceeded towards the voice and hit him. He cried loudly but my blow was futile. Then I came to him, pretending to help him, saying with a different tone of my voice, 'What is wrong with you, O Abu Rafi?' He said 'Are you not surprised? Woe on your mother! A man has come to me and hit me with a sword!' So again I aimed at him and hit him, but the blow proved futile again, and on that Abu Rafi cried loudly and his wife got up. I came again and changed my voice as if I were a helper, and found Abu Rafi lying straight on his back, so I drove the sword into his belly and bent on it till I heard the sound of a bone break". (Sahih al- Bukhari, Vol. 5, pp. 253, 254). The narrative is unsavoury, to say the least, and once again we have the usual ingredients - a calculated murder accomplished through deceit and presence. Ibn Ishaq informs us that when Abu Rafi's wife asked the group who they were they politely answered "Arabs in search of supplies" (Sirat Rasulullah, p. 483). It is no wonder that Islam does not, even to this day, reprobate every form of dishonesty. A Muslim writer unashamedly says: Falsehood is not always bad, to be sure; there are times when telling a lie is more profitable and better for the general welfare, and for the settlement of conciliation among people, than telling the truth. (Tabbarah, The Spirit of Islam, p. 255). How much more reliable are the absolute standards set out in the teaching of Jesus who warned that anyone given to even a little dishonesty in any given circumstance was dishonest through and through (Luke 16.10). Indeed in one statement made by Jesus we have a perfect analysis of the source of the motivation behind the murders of Ka'b and Abu Rafi and the lies accompanying them, and his words might just as well have been addressed to all those involved in their so-called "executions": 59

60 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8.44 Furthermore we are told in the Hadith that both these murders were accomplished secretly at night. The Bible gives sound reasons why such evil deeds are performed under the cover of darkness: Men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. John It is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret. Ephesians A Christian Perspective and Conclusion. It is often claimed by Muslims that their Prophet's actions were consistent with both the standards of his day in Arabia and with those of many of the prophets of Israel in pre-christian times (ea. David's scheme to kill Uriah the Hittite, etc.). Syed Ameer Ali says of the massacre of the Banu Quraydhah: "We simply look upon it as an act done in complete accordance with the laws of war as then understood by the nations of the world" (The Spirit of Islam, p. 81). This brings us back once again to relative standards - the only ones, it seems, by which Muhammad and his religion can be justified. The defence sometimes takes a different form - it is alleged that the Muslims acted according to the basic principles of human nature. Here is an example: It was not in their nature to suffer such injustices or to submit to such tyranny for long without thinking of avenging themselves. (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. 198). It is precisely at this point that Islam becomes something of an anachronism, an outdated form of religion which was, centuries earlier, replaced by one that was far better. When Jesus came into the world a new covenant was introduced, one far better than the one it replaced (Hebrews 8.6). One of the better essences of this new covenant is the universal pouring out of the Holy Spirit on all who truly belong to Jesus Christ so that they may no longer be bound to their ordinary natures but to the new nature within them which has Divine qualities (cf. 1 Corinthians, 2.12). As Hayka' says of Mohammad and his companions, it was "not in their nature" to suffer patiently, leaving vengeance to the Lord. But this very thing is in the nature of true Christians because they are born of the Holy Spirit and have divine power to become what God truly wants men to be. How 60

61 graciously these words of a follower of Jesus compare with the spirit of the followers of Muhammad: For one is approved if, mindful of God, he endures pain while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God's approval. For to this you have been called, for Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps. 1 Peter Jesus Christ brought a new morality into the world. He showed that earthly survival and security were not paramount objectives for men and nations but rather that men should seek to become like God in their characters. He died and rose again to make such things possible. He introduced a higher standard of righteousness, one much superior to that of Islam. For the Islam of Mohammed, coming after Christ, reverted to the lower types before him. The Prophet of Islam was in fact precisely the type of Messiah after which the Jews of Christ's day hankered, and which Jesus Christ Himself definitely rejected, from the Mount of Temptation and from the Mount of Calvary. (Gairdner, The Reproach of Islam, p. 63). When Muhammad found that the Jews and Christians were ultimately not going to acknowledge his claims, he became very antagonistic towards them. The Qur'an says of both these groups "God's curse be on them!" (Surah 9.30). The original words in Arabic, however, are qautalahumullaah which mean, quite literally, "Allah kill them". Jesus was also faced with a people who would not receive him. As he passed through Samaria on his way to Jerusalem, the Samaritans refused to accommodate him. Two of his disciples exclaimed "Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?" (Luke 9.54). This is the spirit of human nature, the spirit of vengeance, the spirit of Islam. But Jesus turned and rebuked them, saying: "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of, for the Son of man came not to destroy men's lives but to save them". Luke 9.55 The wondrous forbearing love of the Saviour of the world stands out, in all his teaching and actions, above the spirit of Islam. It was he who set the perfect example of love before the world when he prayed for the salvation of his enemies even as they crucified him, and bade his disciples do likewise: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you" (Luke ). Indeed when Jesus gave a parable to demonstrate what true love was just after he had been rejected by the Samaritans, he chose a Samaritan as the hero of his story (Luke 10.33). 61

62 The progress of Islam begins to stand out in unenviable contrast with that of early Christianity. Converts were gained to the faith of Jesus by witnessing the constancy with which its confessors suffered death; they were gained to Islam by the spectacle of the readiness with which its adherents inflicted death. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 242). On the night Jesus was betrayed he called his betrayer his friend (Matthew 26.50), healed one of the soldiers who came to arrest him (Luke 22.51), and prayed for a disciple who was to desert him (Luke 22.32). The next day, when all human vindictiveness was let loose against him, he commended Pilate (John 19.11), comforted a man who but a few hours earlier had reviled him (Luke 23.43, Matthew 27.44), and sought the forgiveness of his murderers (Luke 23.34). This was the spirit of the man Jesus Christ. The same spirit has been manifested in thousands of true Christians since his ascension to heaven. Encouraged by his example and fortified by the Holy Spirit, his followers have also loved their enemies and prayed for the forgiveness of their murderers (Acts 7.60). From the moment of his ascension to the moment of his return, his perfect standard is publicly portrayed before all men. The spirit of the Christian Gospel is the heart of true religion, one which summons human character to perfection, sets an incomparable example of it (Ephesians 5.2), and provides the Spirit by which such perfection is attainable. The prophets who came before Jesus Christ looked forward earnestly to the coming of their Redeemer, the Messiah, and when he came he introduced a religion and way of life vastly superior to that which went before. If the best thing that can be said for the spirit and attitudes of Muhammad and his companions is that they were no different to those who came before Jesus Christ, then this is one of the best reasons for not accepting the religion he introduced. It may compare favourably with Judaism but is considerably inferior to the spirit of true Christianity. Although Mohammed had many noble qualities and was prophetically gifted with the inspiration of monotheism, his moral character broke down under the stress of temptation. Is it not pathetic that such a vast number of the human race is looking to him as the sole interpreter of God and as their guide for life and death? (Trowbridge, "Mohammed's View of Religious War", The Muslim World, Vol. 3, p. 305). C. The Circumstances of His Marriages. 1. Muhammad and his Wives. For twenty-five years Muhammad was married to only one woman, his faithful and upright wife Khadija, but after her death he took a number of wives. The exact number is not certain but it is believed that he had thirteen wives in all, 62

63 nine of whom succeeded him. The polygamy he practiced, and which he allowed to Muslims in general, has often been looked upon as a further weakness in his character. A brief examination of his marriages after the death of Khadija will assist us to draw our own conclusions. Before the Hijrah Muhammad married Sauda bint Zam'ah, a widow with a son who had been among the emigrants to Abyssinia. She was over thirty years of age. At about the same time he was betrothed to Ayishah whom he married formally three years later in Medina. She was his favourite wife and a woman who played a large part in the early development of Islam. At Medina she was once left behind during a journey home and was brought back by one of Muhammad's companions, Safwan, who had emigrated from Mecca. A scandal spread in Medina as sinister accusations were levelled against the two but, after being estranged from her for a while, Muhammad received a revelation (Surah ) upholding her innocence and reproving those who had falsely accused her. They were subsequently beaten for their slanders. Ayishah features prominently in the Hadith. A great number of traditions are attributed to her and her opinion was widely sought in many matters as she was a woman of considerable intellect and knowledge. One of the early Muslims said of her: I have not seen anyone having more knowledge of the sunnah (practice) of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, than Ayishah, nor more intelligent in opinion if her opinion was sought, or having better knowledge of the verses as to what they were revealed about, or in calculating the fara'id (inheritance). (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab at-tabaqat al-kabir, Vol. 2, p. 481). After Ayishah Muhammad married the daughter of Umar, Hafsah, whose husband was killed at Badr. He then married Umm Salamah and Zaynab bint Khuzaymah in quick succession. Zaynab died, however, within three months of her marriage to Muhammad. His next marriage was to a young woman named Juwayriyah of the Banu Khuza'ah, defeated in an attack by Muhammad in the fifth year of the Hijrah. Her marriage became a ransom for the whole tribe who were released immediately. The young Ayishah, becoming patently jealous of the increasing number of wives being added to the household, commented: She was a most beautiful woman. She captivated every man who saw her. She came to the Apostle to ask his help in the matter. As soon as I saw her at the door of my room I took a dislike for her, for I knew that he would see her as I saw her. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 493). Ayishah wryly concluded: I do not know a woman who was a greater blessing to her people than she (op. cit.). After this Muhammad married Zaynab bint Jahsh 63

64 and a Coptic slave woman Mariyah. More will be heard of these two presently, but it is interesting to note here that, out of all his marriages at Medina, Mariyah alone bore him a child, a much-loved son named Ibrahim, who died after eighteen months. Following these two were the daughter of Abu Sufyan, Umm Habibah, who had also emigrated to Abyssinia, and a Jewess Safiyah, who lost her father Huyayy, her husband Kinanah, and both her brothers during Muhammad's assault on the fortress at Khaibar. His last marriage was to a widow named Maymunah. The only wife left out is another Jewess named Rayhanah as there is some doubt as to whether she ever married Muhammad. She was one of the women captured after the siege of the Banu Quraydhah, the Jewish tribe near Medina subsequently massacred for colluding with the Quraysh. A Muslim writer says "The story about Raihana becoming a wife of the Prophet is a fabrication, for, after this event, she disappears from history and we hear no more of her, whilst of others we have full and circumstantial accounts" (Ali, The Spirit of Islam, p. 82). The manner in which she was brought into Muhammad's entourage is given in this brief narrative: He invited her to be his wife; but she declined and chose to remain (as indeed, having refused marriage, she had no alternative) his slave or concubine. She also declined the summons to conversion, and continued in the Jewish faith, at which the Prophet was much concerned. It is said, however, that she afterwards embraced Islam. She did not many years survive her unhappy fate. (Muir, The Life of Mohamet, p. 309). Having just witnessed the butchery of her husband and all her male relatives, it is hardly surprising to find that "She had shown repugnance towards Islam when she was captured and clung to Judaism (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 466). There are many Muslims who defend Muhammad's polygamous marriages by saying that most of his wives were divorcees or widows. It should be remembered that the two Jewish women attached to him were only widows because Muhammad's followers had slaughtered their husbands just before they were brought into his camp. 2. Muhammad's Marriage to Zaynab bint Jahsh. None of Muhammad's marriages has evoked as much comment as that with Zaynab bint Jahsh. This woman was his cousin and had been the wife of his adopted son Zaid. Muhammad had arranged the marriage but it appears that it went sour after a while. A remark by Muhammad himself one day added to the deteriorating relationship. He had occasion to visit the house of Zaid, and upon seeing Zainab's unveiled face, had exclaimed, as a Moslem would say at the present day when admiring a 64

65 beautiful picture or statue, Praise be to God, the ruler of hearts! The words, uttered in natural admiration, were often repeated by Zainab to her husband to show how even the Prophet praised her beauty, and naturally added to his displeasure. (Ali, The Spirit of Islam, p. 235). Zaid then determined to divorce her but, upon approaching Muhammad, was told to keep her as his wife. Things did not improve, however, and Zaid duly divorced her. Shortly afterwards Muhammad himself took her in marriage, giving by far the biggest wedding-feast he had given for any of his wives. A scandal soon broke out because he had married the ex-wife of his own adopted son, something frowned upon by the Arabs as tantamount to incest. A revelation in the Qur'an soon justified the marriage: Behold! Thou didst say to one who had received the grace of God and thy favour: Retain thou (in wedlock) thy wife, and fear God. But thou didst hide in thy heart that which God was about to make manifest: thou didst fear the people, but it is more fitting that thou shouldst fear God. Then when Zaid had dissolved (his marriage) with her, with the necessary (formality), We joined her in marriage to thee: in order that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have dissolved with the necessary (formality their marriage) with them. And God's command must be fulfilled. Surah The biography of at-tabari suggests that Muhammad was visibly moved by Zaynab's beauty when he beheld her on this occasion and in many works this incident has led to a severe censure of Muhammad because it seems that he had caused the divorce between her and Zaid and had manipulated the situation so that he could marry her. This censure may well be unfounded. Zaynab was his own cousin and Muhammad had known her for many years and it is hard to believe that after all this time he was suddenly infatuated by an opportune view of her beauty. There seems to be much merit in the argument that Muhammad would have taken her in marriage himself at first rather than give her in marriage to Zayd (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. 295). There is therefore a strong presumption that in the case of Zaynab bint Jahsh, Muhammad was not carried away by passion... it is unlikely that he was swept off his feet by the physical attractiveness of Zaynab. (Watt, Muhammad at Medina, pp. 330, 331). Furthermore the marriage caused no rift between Muhammad and Zaid and he remained loyal to Muhammad until his death on the battlefield at Muta. "One of the greatest tests of the Prophet's purity is that Zaid never swerved from his devotion to his master" (Ali, The Spirit of Islam, p. 236). It is, however, hard to find a motive for the marriage if the attractiveness of this woman for 65

66 Muhammad is denied altogether and it must be presumed that he had a deep spirit of affection for her. In his favour we must also remember that he steadfastly encouraged Zaid to keep her as his wife even when Zaid expressed a desire to divorce her. On the balance of probabilities Muhammad must be acquitted of the charge that he caused the divorce and took advantage of it to satisfy his own whims and desires. As pointed out already, what shocked the Arabs was the fact that Muhammad had married within the customary prohibited degrees of relationship. One point is tolerably certain, and that is the reason for the criticism of Muhammad's action by his contemporaries. They were not moved in the slightest by what some Europeans have regarded as the sensual and voluptuous character of his behaviour... in their eyes it was incestuous. (Watt, Muhammad at Medina, p. 330). A Western writer says of the Arab scruple about the marriage of a man to his adopted son's ex-wife: This custom was such as Muhammed had every reason to abolish, and this he actually did (Roberts, The Social Laws of the Qur'an, p. 49). The Qur'an, in the verse quoted, states that God himself had ordained the marriage for the specific purpose of abolishing the Arab custom, but the writer just quoted views the matter as purely incidental to the predicament Muhammad found himself in through his marriage with Zaynab: It will thus be seen that the only reference made by the prophet to the matter of adoption is due entirely to self-interest; the desire to set himself right with his followers in the affair regarding Zainab. (Roberts, The Social Laws of the Qur'an, p. 51). It is possible that Zaynab was the real pursuer in this case as she boasted constantly to Zaid of Muhammad's expression of favour towards her. After the marriage she continued in much the same vein as she boasted to the other wives of the prophet that her marriage alone had been ratified in heaven (Stobart, Islam and its Founder, p. 162). She was obviously very keen to marry Muhammad and found much comfort in the verse quoted where God is alleged to have arranged her marriage: "We joined her in marriage to thee". Muhammad apparently spent much time with her and it is hardly surprising to find his youngest wives, Ayishah and Hafsah, beholding the relationship between them with some jealousy (Zaynab was much older than both of them). Narrated Aisha: Allah's Apostle used to drink honey in the house of Zainab, the daughter of Jahsh, and would stay there with her. So Hafsa and I agreed secretly that, if he come to either of us, she would say to him: It seems you have eaten Maghafir (a kind of bad-smelling resin), for I smell in you the smell of Maghafir. We did so and he replied No, but I was drinking honey in the house of 66

67 Zainab, the daughter of Jahsh, and I shall never take it again. I have taken an oath as to that, and you should not tell anybody about it. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 404). Muhammad loved perfumes and sweet-smelling spices but despised garlic and the like and this charge must have been keenly felt by him. One feels inclined to treat this tradition with some caution, however, as it may well have been invented, or more probably adjusted, to fit the permission given to Muhammad in Surah 66.2 to absolve himself from an oath taken to please his wives. As we shall see in the next part of this section, the verse has generally been taken to refer to a far more serious matter relating to another wife where the same consorts Ayishah and Hafsah again teamed up against him. It is not uncommon to find traditions in Bukhari's Sahih which are very similar in style to others in earlier Sirat literature but which neatly remove any details considered to be dishonouring to Muhammad. We will come across another in the section on Surah to follow but at this stage, insofar as this tradition contains the germ of an incident in Muhammad's life, it does illustrate the spirit in which his youngest wives reacted to his subsequent marriages. Muhammad's marriage with Zaynab nevertheless exposes him to censure when it is viewed from a Christian perspective. At the same time the Qur'an also exposes itself to critical review in its sanction of the whole affair. As we have seen, Surah states that, even while Zaid was still married to Zaynab, it was the will of Allah that Muhammad should be married to her and he is reproved for encouraging Zaid to remain married when God had something else in mind. At last Zaid divorced her. It was not Zaid who did so but it was the Will of God. God ordered Muhammad to marry her. (Sarwar, Muhammad: the Holy Prophet, p. 375). This contrasts most unfavourably with the express will of God as stated in the Bible: "For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel" (Malachi 2.16). It is most significant that this decree is upheld in the Hadith as well: Ibn Umar reported the Prophet (may peace be upon him) as saying: Of all the lawful acts the most detestable to Allah is divorce. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 2, p. 585). One is reminded of the discussion between Jesus and the Pharisees where the latter claimed that God had made divorce lawful. Jesus answered that, from the beginning, God had made one woman for the one man, adding "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder" (Mark 10.9). Muhammad married a woman divorced from her husband. Sarwar says that this was not just lawful in God's eyes but was his express will. This is extremely hard to believe of the all-holy God who hates divorce. On the contrary, 67

68 Muhammad's marriage with Zaynab takes on a very different perspective and becomes exceptionally censurable when examined in the light of what Jesus said about precisely such marriages: He who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. Luke Surah 33.37, far from revealing that God specifically wills certain divorces so that his prophets may marry the wives of other men, appears to be a thoroughly unwarranted relaxation of God's express laws, also set forth very firmly in these verses: A married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives... accordingly she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is still alive. Romans 7.2,3. Muhammad may not deserve the charge that he had a passionate desire for Zaynab and schemed his marriage with her, but his claim to prophethood does well appear to fall to the ground when this matter is considered in the light of the revealed law of God as found in the Christian Bible. Under that same light the Qur'an also appears to invalidate its claim to be the Word of God when it seeks to excuse the whole affair by alleging that it was all according to the predetermined will of God. 3. The Jealousy of Muhammad's Wives. At least nine of Muhammad's wives survived him. The Qur'an only allows Muslims up to four wives at a time (Surah 4.3), but Muhammad was entitled to as many as he chose until the Qur'an forbade him to take any more (Surah 33.52). As already mentioned, polygamy, as sanctioned and approved in the Qur'an, has been regarded in non-muslim circles as one of the weaknesses of Islam. Sensitive to any charge against the infallibility of the teaching of their religion and the practice of their prophet, Muslim writers invariably seek to justify polygamy. The Qur'anic verse allowing up to four wives adds the condition "If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (a captive) that your right hands possess" (Surah 4.3), and the argument usually put forward is that polygamy is perfectly in order provided the wives are given equal treatment. As Muhammad had many wives he is often strongly defended against the allegation that he could not have treated them equally. The surest way to discover the truth of the matter is not to ask whether he himself was persuaded that they were so treated, but to enquire from his wives whether they ever felt any jealousy for one another or whether any friction was caused by their very number in the household. One writer claims: 68

69 But did any one of them ever raise the least complaint about any action of the Prophet during or after his lifetime? No, never. Can there be any bigger testimony to the Prophet's justice, equality (Masawat), love and consideration? (Zain, The Prophet of Islam: The Ideal Husband, p. 42). A study of the evidences shows that this statement is based on the author's idealism rather than historical facts for there are many traditions recording that Muhammad's wives were jealous of one another and not always pleased with him either. Indeed on one occasion he kept aloof from them for a while and threatened to divorce them all. We have already seen that Ayishah and Hafsah expressed some displeasure to Muhammad over the length of time he spent with Zaynab bint Jahsh. Being the youngest of his wives, it is not surprising that they were usually at the heart of Muhammad's domestic problems. Indeed Umar, Hafsah's father, not only found that Muhammad's wives argued with him quite regularly but even suspected that his daughter envied Ayishah as well because Muhammad clearly regarded her as his favourite wife. He was prompted to enquire into the relationship between Hafsah and Muhammad by a sharp remark made by his own wife on one occasion to him: She said, How strange you are, O son of al-khattab! You don't want to be argued with whereas your daughter, Hafsa surely, argues with Allah's Apostle so much that he remains angry for a full dayl Umar then reported how he at once put on his outer garment and went to Hafsa and said to her O my daughter! Do you argue with A1lah's Apostle so that he remains angry the whole day? Hafsa answered By Allah, we argue with him. Umar said Know that I warn you of Allah's punishment and the anger of Allah's Apostle. O my daughter! Don't be betrayed by the one who is proud of her beauty because of the love of Allah's Apostle for her (i.e. Aisha). (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 406). It was Muhammad's custom to spend one day at a time with his wives in order but on one occasion the irrepressible Hafsah discovered him with Mariyah in her own apartment on the day properly reserved for her alone. A Muslim writer is refreshingly frank in his narrative of this incident: As she waited for them to come out, her jealousy broke all bounds. When, finally, Mariyah left the quarters and Hafsah entered, she said to the Prophet: "I have seen who was here. By God, that was an insult to me. You would not have dared to do that if I amounted to anything at all in your eyes". At the moment Muhammad realized that such deep-lying jealousy might even move Hafsah to broadcast what she had seen among the other wives. In an attempt to please her, Muhammad promised that he 69

70 would not go unto Mariyah if she would only refrain from broadcasting what she had seen. (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. 436). He goes on to say that Hafsah could not keep her promise as jealousy continued to affect her disposition and that she discussed the matter with Ayishah. The only thing he omits from the story is the statement made by all the commentators who record it that the promise made by Muhammad was actually in the form of an oath. They add that Muhammad was later freed from this oath by a Qur'anic revelation: O Prophet! Why holdest thou to be forbidden that which God has made lawful to thee? Thou seekest to please thy consorts. But rod is Oft- Forgiving, Most Merciful. God has already ordained for you (O men), the dissolution of your oaths (in some cases); and God is your Protector, and He is Full of Knowledge and Wisdom. Surah Bukhari and others say that this verse refers to the incident where Muhammad was told that the honey he had eaten with Zaynab smelt like a bitter herb. One must take seriously the fact that the story about Muhammad's vow to avoid Mariyah's company in future is not recorded in the major Hadith and Sirat literature but only in later commentaries and is therefore founded on weak historical authority. This has prompted a Muslim writer to say that the whole story of Mariyah's intimacy with Muhammad in Hafsah's apartment on her day is absolutely false and malicious and that it is repudiated by all the respectable commentators of the Qur an (Ali, The Spirit of Islam, p. 235). On the other hand this story has come down purely through Islamic sources and could hardly have been widely accepted within the Islamic heritage if it had been invented. Unfortunately the Qur'an is somewhat vague at this point, saying only that the sanction to dissolve the oath arose out of the disclosure by one of Muhammad's wives to another of a matter of confidence (Surah 66.3) told by him to the first. This could refer to either story and, although Bukhari confirms that the two wives spoken of were the provocative young consorts Hafsah and Ayishah (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 408), this also does not help as it was these two who were the participants in both cases. A Western writer, however, makes a very interesting observation: But the jealousy of Mary's Sisters showed itself in a more serious way, and led to an incident in the Prophet's life which the biographers pass over in decent silence; and I should gladly have followed their example if the Coran itself had not accredited the facts and stamped them with unavoidable notoriety. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 413). It is the Qur'an's treatment of the matter that makes it probable that the incident with Mariyah is really the one referred to. Firstly, if the oath spoken of was 70

71 purely that relating to honey, it is hard to believe that such an issue would have been made of it in the Qur'an. One recent Muslim commentator notes the seriousness of the matter when he says "The sacred words imply that the matter was of great importance as to the principle involved, but that the details were not of sufficient importance for permanent record" (Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 1569). The discreet omission of factual details in the Qur'anic passage, however, tends all the more to support the suggestion that a more sensitive matter was behind it. Secondly, Surah 66.3 adds that Muhammad confirmed a part of the allegation made by the spouse and repudiated a part. Again, details are significantly omitted, but it is probable that Muhammad confirmed that he had been with Mariyah in Hafsah's apartment but denied having intercourse with her. It is hard to see how the confirming and repudiating of parts of the charge can be made to fit the somewhat petty story about the honey Muhammad had eaten with Zaynab. Thirdly, the same verse states plainly that a matter purely between Muhammad and one of his wives was disclosed to another. This is inconsistent with the honey story as Ayishah and Hafsah were both well aware of the matter all along, having mutually conspired to mislead Muhammad. It does indeed seem that Surah was a convenient revelation to enable Muhammad to break his vow not to go to Mariyah again. A Christian commentator says "From the Christian standpoint, he appears to have been guilty of breaking a solemn vow, and that in order to gratify unholy passion" (Wherry, A Comprehensive Commentary on the Qur'an, Vol. 4, p. 158). The Bible gives a very solemn warning about the taking of oaths: When you make a vow to the Lord your God you shall not be slack to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin in you. But if you refrain from vowing it shall be no sin in you. You shall be careful to perform what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth. Deuteronomy If God sanctions the breaking of a vow by one of his apostles, how can we be sure that he will be faithful to his own promises? Vows and oaths are sacred things, but Surah seems to undermine the whole purpose and value of oaths. Shortly after this a timely revelation in the Qur'an gave Muhammad the right to abandon the fixed sequence he had followed with his wives up to this time: 71

72 Thou mayest defer (the turn of) any of them that thou pleases, and thou mayest receive any thou pleases: and there is no blame on thee if thou invite one whose (turn) thou hadst set aside. Surah Ayishah had openly complained of her jealousy towards those women (who are not named) who had "offered themselves to Allah's Messenger" (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2, p. 748) and who gradually increased the size of the household as Muhammad under Qur'anic authority (Surah 33.50), duly took them as his wives (presumably Ayishah had at least Zaynab bint Jahsh and Juwayriyah in mind). As her own days to exclusively enjoy Muhammad's company grew further apart, her frustration naturally increased and when Muhammad claimed divine sanction to follow any sequence he chose, his young wife Ayishah, with a tongue as sharp as her wit, exclaimed: I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires". (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 295). It appears that his decision worked in her favour for the renowned commentator Zamakshari, commenting on Surah , says of Muhammad that he used to put off five temporarily in order to take four to himself, the four being Ayishah, Hafsah, Umm Salamah and Zaynab bint Jahsh (Gatje, The Qur an and its Exegesis, p. 91). Despite this it is clear that Ayishah possessed no small degree of envy for the other wives she had to share her husband with. Her caustic reaction to Muhammad's marriage with Juwayriyah has already been noted and, when Mariyah at last gave Muhammad a son at Medina, Ayishah was anything but delighted. When Muhammad brought the infant Ibrahim to her and proudly boasted of the likeness between father and son, she coldly answered "I do not see it". William Muir wryly says that she "would gladly have put Mahomet out of conceit with the little Ibrahim" (The Life of Mahomet, p. 412). 4. Polygamy in Islam from a Christian Perspective. One cannot help feeling that Ayishah's expressions of jealousy are perhaps the best judgment that can be passed on the whole defence that polygamy is justified where all the wives are treated equally. She was the only virgin Muhammad married and, although most traditions say that Muhammad married Sauda before her, she openly claimed that she was the first betrothed to him after the death of Khadija. She said of Sauda (whom she held in high esteem): "She was the first woman whom he (Allah's Apostle) married after me". (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2, p. 748). If this was indeed so, then we need to appreciate the growing frustrations of a young virgin-bride seeing her husband taking other wives along with her in what 72

73 must have seemed to her like an interminable procession of new weddings, apartments and the like. The Christian Scriptures plainly teach that a husband is to regard his wife as his equal (Ephesians 5.33) and Jesus himself confirmed the divine decree that a man, married to his one wife, becomes one flesh with her (Matthew 19.5). When God saw that Adam needed a helpmeet he made but one woman for him, not four (or, worse still, nine). The point is that each man is not called upon to treat his wives equally with one another but to treat his one wife as his own equal. An equal relationship between a man and a woman cannot be shared with others. The woman is called to devote herself with unreserved loyalty to her one husband (Genesis 3.16). In the same manner the husband is called to an equal spirit of undivided love and devotion towards his one wife (Ephesians ). It surely goes without saying that the husband cannot love his wife with an equal devotion when he has to divide his affection among a host of consorts. Ayishah's frustrations and jealousies are the best proof that Muhammad could not treat his wives equally - if for no other reason that he did not regard her with the same total, undivided affection that she regarded him. She may have been his favourite wife but her grievances clearly were motivated, perhaps only subconsciously, by the fact that she was not his only wife. Paradoxically, the fact that Muhammad singled her out as his favourite wife is further proof that he did not treat his wives equally. There is more than enough evidence in Muhammad's own marital affairs to prove that polygamy cannot ultimately be reconciled with God's perfect purpose for human marriage. It is no wonder that the perfect revelation of his will through the Gospel of his Son simultaneously outlawed polygamy. Muhammad had enjoyed a twenty-five year marriage with Khadija which was, in all respects, unimpeachable. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for his many marriages at Medina and one can only sympathise with the young Ayishah who obviously regretted that she could not enjoy the same undivided devotion from her husband that she willingly offered to him. As said before, the Christian faith is the fullest revelation of God's perfect will for all men. Included in this revelation is a rejection of polygamy. As God made man to reflect his own glory, so he made one woman for the first man to reflect the glory of that man (1 Corinthians 11.7). Muhammad did well to preach and practice monotheism but he would have done equally well to preach and practice monogamy. To this day Muslim writers are on the defensive when seeking to justify polygamy. One says: All the Prophets of the Old Testament, married more wives than one, which is proof that polygamy is not inconsistent with the highest standard of spirituality. (Zafrulla Khan, Muhammad: Seal of the Prophets, p. 61). 73

74 This argument falls down for reasons already given. The highest standard of spirituality was not revealed through the prophets in old covenant times but through the revelation of the new covenant in all its perfections as introduced by one who likewise far excelled all the prophets of old, Jesus Christ himself. Another writer is not quite as subtle in his apologetic for Muhammad - he says of the Zaynab affair Muhammad's violation was not one of a cosmic law but one of a social law, which is permissible to every great man (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. 288). This is indeed a peculiar line of reasoning and one which exposes the writer's difficulty in justifying his Prophet's actions. Jesus was the greatest man who ever lived and his greatness did not give him the privilege of breaking God's laws but rather was proved in his perfect conformity to those laws in every aspect of his life. A more appropriate assessment of Muhammad's actions follows: The Qur'an teaches us that in one or two matters the moral law was relaxed by God for Muhammad's benefit as a special privilege because of his being God's apostle and the sanctity attaching to that high office! Could the divorce between Religion and Morality be more complete? (Tisdall, The Religion of the Crescent, p. 81). Far from the marriages of Muhammad being proof that he was the ideal husband (as Zain puts it), they rather are evidence of an inherent weakness in Islamic morality. Once more the thing that disquiets is that this is the man who stands forth as the ultimate ideal of humanity, and all the unedifying matters of Zainab, Miriam, Ayesha, Rihana, and the rest are dignified as the signs of God's special favour to His prophet. In manipulations of the marriage laws at which even sixteenthcentury Popes of Rome drew the line, Allah showed the most accomodating spirit in seventh-century Arabia. (Gairdner, The Reproach of Islam, p. 67). Although monogamy has become the norm in many Muslim societies today, this trend is not to Islam's credit but is rather a sign of the consciousness of God's real will for men and women and the best way in which a marriage can develop into a truly happy union. By taking to himself more than double the number of wives he allowed to his followers, Muhammad seems to have been something of a champion of polygamy rather than an advocate of monogamy and his tolerance of plural marriages, together with his schemes to rid himself of his personal enemies, negate his claim to be a true prophet of God. A Christian assessment of his character leaves him far short of the ideal - an ideal worked out to perfection in Jesus Christ - and the only conclusion to be drawn is that, despite his many qualities, he cannot be considered as the man God chose to be his best and final mess. 74

75 3. The Nature of Muhammad's Prophetic Experience A. An-Nabi Ul-Ummi: The Unlettered Prophet. 1. The Muslim Emphasis on Muhammad's Illiteracy. An assessment of the nature of Muhammad's prophetic experience is a far more complex task than that of his personality. Before analysing the subject generally it seems appropriate to introduce it with a brief study of an interesting description of his office in the Qur'an in these verses: Those who follow the Apostle, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures), - in the Law and the Gospel... so believe in God and his Apostle, the unlettered Prophet. Surah 7.157, 158. The title that concerns us is "the unlettered Prophet", which reads an-nabiyyalummi in the original Arabic. To better understand Muhammad's concept of his own assumed prophethood it is clear that we need to know what he meant by this expression, particularly as it has been fairly widely interpreted. There can be no dispute about the word nabi which in both Hebrew and Arabic simply means prophet, but it is the qualifying adjective ummi that has led to such varied interpretations. In most English translations it is rendered unlettered, perhaps wisely so, because this word can also yield various meanings. Muslim writers usually allege that the word really means illiterate and that it substantiates the claim that Muhammad could neither read nor write. In a note to his translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasulullah, Guillaume says "Practically all Arab writers claim that he meant that he could not read or write" (p. 252). The English convert to Islam M. M. Pickthall, in his translation of the Qur'an, directly interprets the title and his text speaks of the Prophet who can neither read nor write. Another translator, who attempts no English rendering of the word ummi in his work but leaves it in its original form, nevertheless says in a footnote meaning one who neither writes nor reads a writing (Muhammad Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 351). Much the same is said by Muhammad Asad: 'unlettered' (ummi), i.e., unable to read and write, which also appears in a footnote in his commentary (The Message of the Qur'an, p. 226). The reason for this fairly regular interpretation in Muslim writings is that Muhammad's alleged illiteracy is considered to be substantial evidence that the Qur'an must have been revealed to him from heaven. They ask how such an outstanding book could have been composed by one who could neither read nor write. It is not surprising therefore to find that they determinedly seek to interpret this somewhat ambiguous expression the unlettered Prophet" in the way that will best suit their purposes. Like Muhammad himself they are very touchy about any critical analysis of his prophetic claims and react very 75

76 unfavourably towards any non-muslim writers who suggest an alternative interpretation. Another Muslim translator, referring to Sale and Palmer who take the expression to imply illiteracy (Sale actually renders it "the illiterate Prophet" in his translation), describes them as "Christian writers not altogether blinded by their hatred of Islam" (Daryabadi, The Holy Qur'an, p. 158). One can see how sensitive this issue has become for them as a result of their cherished presuppositions. There is no reason therefore why Mohammedans should emphasize the illiteracy of the Prophet except to bolster up their theory of the Qur an as a miracle. (Zwemer, "The 'Illiterate' Prophet" - Could Mohammed Read and Write? The Muslim World, Vol. 11, p. 362). It is by no means certain that Muhammad was illiterate but it is probable that he was and the Qur'an does say of him that he neither recited nor transcribed a book beforehand, which does seem to give support to the Muslim claim. Nevertheless, far from proving that he could not have composed the Qur'an, it paradoxically tends to strengthen the suggestion that he did! The Qur'an has a number of garbled accounts of historical events, contains many anachronisms, and often fails to distinguish between fact and myth (details will follow in the chapters on the sources of the Qur'an). These are all typical of the kind of errors we would expect to find in the oracle of a man who, being illiterate, simply relied on what he heard from others and could not correct himself by careful study of the relevant written sources. In all fairness, however, it must be said that those who interpret ummi to mean illiterate appear to be forcing a meaning into the word which it does not readily yield. It is obviously important that we should know what Muhammad's conception of his prophetic role was and the best way to do this is to seek the best interpretation that can be gained from a study of the expression in its context rather than by reading a preconceived, preferent meaning into it. The word comes from the same root letters as ummah, a very common word in the Qur'an already considered, meaning a people, community or nation, and Arberry significantly translates the whole expression an-nabiyyal-ummi as "the Prophet of the common folk". The word ummah never simply means an illiterate community but it can well mean an uneducated community and it appears to carry this meaning on one or two occasions in the Qur'an, though in a special context as we shall see. At this stage, however, it seems that the interpretation of the word "unlettered" to mean "illiterate" stretches its meaning too far and that without reference to its context. 76

77 2. Did Muhammad Consider Himself a Gentile Prophet? A common interpretation of the expression an-nabiyyal-ummi by Western scholars is "the Gentile Prophet", meaning that Muhammad, acknowledging that the previous prophets were all Jews, made a special claim to be an exceptional, non-jewish prophet. Rabbi Abraham Geiger, however, has clearly shown that the word rendered unlettered in this verse really means "Gentile", as opposed to Jewish. (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 131). Another author says that ummi "is almost certainly intended to render the conception 'gentile' (roughly as held by the Jews)" (Watt, What is Islam? p. 76). Another writer says of the title an-nabiyyal-ummi in Surah 7.157: But the manner in which this expression is thrown into this verse and the next raises the conjecture, which with us amounts to an opinion, that this appellation came originally from the Jews, who used it in expressing their contempt for the Gentile prophet, the term Ummi meaning Gentile in the technical sense. (Wherry, A Comprehensive Commentary on the Qur'an, Vol. 2, p. 237). Yet another writer says much the same thing: Postulating that prophecy was the exclusive privilege of Israel, they refused to recognise the claims of the omni, 'gentile' prophet. (Lammens, Islam: Beliefs and Institutions, p. 28). This interpretation also does not really seem to give the meaning of the word ummi. This time it is placed against the background of the Judaeo-Christian dogma that all the true prophets were of Israel's line (cf. Romans 9.4-5). It is extremely doubtful whether Muhammad ever saw himself in this context. On the other hand he speaks in the Qur'an of prophets sent to various tribes beforehand, such as the prophet Hud sent to the people of 'Ad (Surah 7.65) and the prophet Salih sent to the people of Thamud (Surah 7.73). In both cases the Qur'an adds that each of these prophets was akhahum, that is, a brother of the community to whom he was sent. Furthermore on more than one occasion the Qur'an says that a messenger was sent to kulli ummah, that is, "to every community" at one time or another (Surah 10.47, 16.36). One must therefore reject the suggestion that Muhammad saw himself as a unique, non-jewish prophet. Another interesting and somewhat novel interpretation has been suggested by H. G. Reissner in an article in The Muslim World. He refers to the Talmudic distinction between true Jews, who followed Judaism wholeheartedly, and the Ben Israel who were the rural people of the nation and who were not overtly Jewish in their manners and customs. He goes on to compare this distinction to 77

78 the two expressions used in the Qur'an for the Israelite nation, namely Yahudu, meaning Jews, and Banu Israil meaning the people of Israel. He suggests that, as the Qur'an often speaks unfavourably of the Yahudu but constantly refers to God's favour on the Banu Israil, Muhammad was adopting the Talmudic categories and was relating them to his own negative experiences with the rich merchants of Mecca and the more positive responses he received from the general masses of the common people. He theorises: The ummiyyun in the Prophet's appraisal, consequently, seem to have assumed the character rather of non-mercantile and non-intellectual people, nearer to, and better capable of, a genuine understanding of the unadulterated message of the Lord... Muhammad looked upon himself as the ummi or "popular" prophet in a sense somewhat similar to, but, of course, much more comprehensive in comparison with modern occidental popular movements and fronts. The ummi prophet was to be the leader of the masses against privileged minorities of wealth and sophistication. (Reissner, "The Ummi Prophet and the Banu Israil of the Qur'an", The Muslim World, Vol. 39, p. 277, 278). The interpretation is very interesting and calls to mind a suggestion once made to me personally by a Muslim school-teacher that ummi meant "universal", meaning therefore that Muhammad was a universal prophet for all peoples. Both these interpretations are consistent with the meaning of the word ummah (a people) and rightly imply that Muhammad was, in a sense, a people's prophet. Nevertheless neither seems to be derived from a careful study of the context of the expression an-nabiyyal-ummi in the Qur'an (so likewise the meanings illiterate and Gentile). Reissner gets closer to the mark when he says: Two Medinese Surahs of the Qur'an bear out that the Prophet was fully aware of the cleavage between "those who have been given the Book and the ummiyyun (Sura 3.19)". (Reissner, "The Ummi Prophet and the Banu Israil of the Qur'an", The Muslim World, Vol. 39, p. 279). It is this very distinction between those who have a kitab, a scripture, and those who do not, the ummiyyun, which sets the context in which we must seek the real meaning of the expression and we are now in a position to discover what it really is. 3. The Prophet of the People without a Scripture. Throughout the Qur'an the Jews and Christians collectively are called Ahlal- Kitab, meaning "People of the Scripture", and a cursory study of the contrast drawn in the Qur'an between this group and the ummiyyun, the "unscriptured people", shows that the ummi prophet means the prophet of the people without a 78

79 scripture, that is, one raised from among them and to give them a book with sound religious education. Noldeke shows that the word ummi is everywhere used in the Qur an in apposition to Ahl ul-kitab, that is the Possessors of the Sacred Scriptures; therefore it cannot signify one who does not read and write; but (as we have seen from the Arabic authorities themselves) one who did not possess or who had no access to former revelations. (Zwemer, "The 'Illiterate' Prophet" - Could Mohammed Read and Write? The Muslim World, Vol. 11, p. 352). One verse in the Qur'an very comprehensively shows that this is precisely the image Muhammad had of himself as the an-nabiyyal-ummi: It is He who has sent amongst the Unlettered an apostle from among themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to sanctify them, and to instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom, - although they had been, before, in manifest error. Surah 62.2 The unlettered Prophet clearly means one drawn from a people, hitherto uneducated in divine counsels, to give them a scripture by which they may be purified of their ignorant ways and be instructed in divine wisdom. Indeed the times before the coming of Islam among the Arabs are often referred to as Jahiliyya, that is times of ignorance reminiscent of Paul's description of pre- Gospel times among the Gentiles (Acts 17.30). In the verse quoted above the Arabic word for the unlettered is once again al-ummiyyin and one Muslim commentator gets to the heart of the matter when he says of them in a comment: The Unlettered : as applied to a people, it refers to the Arabs, in comparison with the People of the Book. (Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 1545). The Qur'an constantly emphasises its Arabic state (Innaa anzalnaahu Qur'aanaan arabiyyan - We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an - Surah 12.3) and this strengthens the view that Muhammad constantly viewed himself as drawn from the hitherto ignorant Arab peoples to be their prophet and to make them a people of the scripture as well. The emphasis can be taken as sustaining, if not indeed requiring, the conclusion that the illiterate prophet of and 158 means in fact the unlettered prophet, in the sense of a prophet for those as yet without Scriptures. (Cragg, The Mind of the Qur'an, p. 17). Another Muslim writer likewise refers to the view that Muhammad, as the ummi prophet, saw himself as the prophet called out to raise his people to the level of those who had formerly received the Scriptures: 79

80 The imam Jafer-e-Saduk reckons it a special favor of heaven that the prophet was untaught by man, and says further that he was raised up among a people, who, although they had letters, had no divine books, and were therefore called ummy. (Majlisi, The Life and Religion of Muhammad, p. 87). Another verse which brings out very clearly the deliberate distinction in the Qur'an between the Ahlal Kitab,the scriptured people, and the ummiyyun, the unscriptured people, is this one (already referred to by Reissner above): And say to the People of the Book and to those who are unlearned: Do ye (also) submit yourselves? Surah 3.20 In the original the relevant words are uwtul kitaaba wal ummiyyin, clearly the "scriptured" and the "unscriptured". In another verse we read of ummiyyuuna laa yaalamuunal kitaab, unlettered people in that they know not the Scripture (Surah 2.78). It is quite clear from a contextual study of the Qur'anic usage of the word ummi in its relevant forms that it does not mean "illiterate" or "Gentile" but rather "unscriptured". Richard Bell confirms this conclusion: If the verse is carefully read, however, without a preconceived idea of its meaning, the most natural way to take it is of people without written scriptures. (Watt, Bell's Introduction to the Qur'an, p. 34). Although St. Clair-Tisdall, in the book already quoted, interprets ummi as Gentile, in another work he draws this same conclusion about the expression annabiyyal-ummi: Muslims generally render this by "the unlettered Prophet" and say he could not read or write. This, however, is hardly credible. A better rendering is "the Gentile Prophet", i. e., one who did not belong to "the People of the Book", and was unacquainted with the scriptures of the earlier prophets. (Tisdall, The Religion of the Crescent, p. 150). A well-known Orientalist seems to get right to the point when he says of the enigmatic little word ummi: The word is an adjective predicative of Muhammad's mission rather than descriptive of his person. "The unlettered Prophet" is "the Prophet for the (as yet) unscriptural". There were antecedent Scriptures and there were peoples whom these Scriptures had "made". Arabs were not among them... "The Prophet of the Scriptureless" (an Arab, for Arabs, in Arabic understood) seems, then, the sense, most adequate to what the Qur'an decisively is, of the phrase an-nabi al-ummi. (Cragg, The Event of the Qur'an, p. 59). 80

81 Muslims strongly claim that the title means that Muhammad was illiterate and presume that they are doing his prophetic claims a great service in doing so. As we have seen, this interpretation can be made to rebound very effectively on them. They seem to miss a similar impact clearly intended behind the correct interpretation of this expression. Muhammad's argument is really that the Qur'an must be a revelation because it comes through an ummi prophet, one who knew not any Scripture beforehand, and from a people who were ummiyyun, uninstructed in such matters. "When Muhammad is represented here as illiterate, what is being said is that he could not have acquired knowledge from earlier revealed books" (Gatje, The Qur'an and its Exegesis, p. 270). One is reminded of an incident in Jesus' life which seems to bring a very relevant focus on the argument implied in the title the Qur'an gives to Muhammad. When Jesus stood up at the Feast of the Tabernacles and taught with great wisdom, the learned Jews exclaimed: How is it that this man has learning when he has never studied? John 7.15 How did he "know his letters" when he was unlettered and had not been through the Jewish theological schools? In a similar way this seems to be the thrust behind Muhammad's claim that he, likewise, was an ummi prophet. The very context of the title in the Qur'an strengthens this theory all the more. In Surah Muhammad, claiming to be an ummi prophet, one hitherto unscriptural, yet charges that the scriptured folk will find him foretold in their own Scriptures, the Tawrat (the Law) and the Injil (the Gospel). Although not from a learned people - learned in the Scripture, that is - he is nonetheless mentioned in the Scriptures. In calling himself the ummi prophet at this very point, he obviously intends to give weight to his prophetic claims by implying that it is a marvel that a prophet should appear, delivering a Scripture with wisdom, learning and divine counsel, when he himself had never been so instructed, rising as he did from the very ummiyyun he was now leading into the knowledge of the great truths contained in all the revealed scriptures. We have now identified the concept Muhammad had of his prophetic office and are thus able to make a more balanced study of the subjective side of his prophetic experience. B. Muhammad's Concept of Revelation. 1. The Early Visions and Experiences. We have already examined the historical record of the manner in which the "revelation" came to Muhammad at first and now proceed to analyse the character of Muhammad's religious experience in greater detail. 81

82 While there is something sudden and dramatic about the first revelations, it is important to consider that Muhammad was not caught in his tracks, as it were, in the way that the Apostle Paul was confronted while journeying to Damascus to oppose the early Christian Church. For some time it had been his custom to retire to a cave on Mount Hira outside Mecca for solitary contemplation of the meaning of life and the pagan practices of his kinsmen. According to the Muslim tradition, the calling occurred suddenly; however it is known that Muhammad had occupied himself with religious questions for some time previously, either consciously or unconsciously. (Gatje, The Qur'an and its Exegesis, p. 5). Muhammad was now approaching his fortieth year. Always pensive he had of late become even more thoughtful and retiring. Contemplation and reflection engaged his mind, and the moral debasement of his people pressed heavily on him. His soul was perplexed with uncertainty as to what was the right path to follow. Thus burdened, he frequently retired to seek relief in meditation amongst the solitary valleys and rocks near Mecca. (Zafrulla Khan, Muhammad: Seal of the Prophets, p. 23). Right from the beginning one discovers much that is subjective in the development of his conviction that he was called to be the messenger of his Lord. It is probable that the incident at the Ka'aba a few years earlier, when he was singled out to replace the sacred black stone in the house of Allah, had a profound effect on him and initiated the belief that he was marked out as the man to lead his people into the true worship of God. (Incidentally, when Muhammad had all the stone idols in the Ka'aba destroyed after the city had capitulated to him many years later, the black stone was spared and retained its ancient sanctity). It is hard to doubt, however, that the initial visions he received were genuine and real in one form or another. The Qur'an describes these manifestations in striking language: For he appeared (in stately form) while he was in the highest part of the horizon; then he approached and came closer, and was at a distance of but two bow-lengths or (even) nearer; So did (God) convey the inspiration to His Servant - (Conveyed) what He (meant) to convey. The (Prophet's mind and) heart in no way falsified that which he saw. Will ye then dispute with him concerning what he saw? For indeed he saw him at a second descent, near the Lote-tree beyond which none may pass: near it is the Garden of Abode. Behold, the Lote-tree was shrouded (in mystery unspeakable!). (His) sight never swerved nor did it go wrongs! For truly did he see of the Signs of his Lord, the Greatest! Surah In another passage the Qur'an again states explicitly that Muhammad had a definite vision: "And without doubt he saw him in the clear horizon" (Surah 82

83 81.23). Another verse states clearly that the vision was given by Allah himself: "We granted the Vision which we showed thee" (Surah 17.60). The confident manner in which Muhammad claimed that he had had at least two definite visions strongly suggests that he really did see a strange being on the horizon. He described the second vision in these words: "Once while I was walking, all of a sudden I heard a voice from the sky. I looked up and saw to my surprise, the same Angel as had visited me in the cave of Hira. He was sitting on a chair between the sky and the earth. I got afraid of him and came back home and said, Wrap me! Wrap me!" (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 452). One of the early biographers of his life, Waqidi, was equally emphatic about these phenomena: "The first beginnings of Mahomet's inspiration were real visions. Every vision that he saw was clear as the morning dawn" (quoted in Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 49). What strengthens the suggestion that there was something very real, and not simply hallucinatory or, still less, fictitious, about these visions is not only the confident nature of Muhammad's claim but also the fact that he carefully confined these visions to just two which he had at the beginning of his course (being the occasions when Surahs and were revealed). If he had been a charlatan, he would probably have regularly embellished and increased his visionary claims as he went along. He describes the incidents in a way which clearly shows that the visions were strict exceptions. (Andrae, Mohammed: The Man and his Faith, p. 50). The main point of both visions is that Muhammad has actually seen the heavenly figure from whom the "inspiration" of his religious activity came, and the word nalaz, "descent" seems to imply that the figure had come down to earth. (Bell, "Muhammad's Visions", The Muslim World, Vol. 24, p. 150). Bell adds "The fact that he went back after all, and reasserted in Surah lxxxi that he had seen the messenger on the clear horizon, is I think an indication that something of the sort had really happened to him" (op. cit., p. 154). The second thing that tends to accredit these visions is Muhammad's initial reaction to them. Instead of boldly asserting that he had seen an angel of God, he was considerably disturbed for some time and questioned whether the early revelations were really coming from heaven. We can only gather with certainty that there was a time (corresponding with the deductions already drawn from the Coran itself) during which the mind of Mahomet hung in suspense, and doubted the reality of a heavenly vision. (M~ir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 50). 83

84 The best proof of the reality of Mohammed's belief in the reality of the revelation, and of the completeness of his sincerity, is that he fell at the first into a state of doubt concerning it. (Gairdner, The Reproach of Islam, p. 46). This openly-expressed doubt about the source of the revelations strengthens all the more the suggestion that Muhammad really did see these two visions which took him somewhat by surprise. Nevertheless it is very interesting to find that Muhammad initially believed that these manifestations were probably demonic. A Muslim writer sets out his immediate reaction to them: Naturally he was scared, and intimated to his wife, Khadija, the fear that he might even be possessed by an evil spirit... Stricken with panic, Muhammad arose and asked himself, "What did I see? Did possession of the devil which I feared all along come to pass?"... When he calmed down, he cast toward his wife the glance of a man in need of rescue and said, "O Khadijah, what has happened to me?" He told her of his experience and intimated to her his fear that his mind had finally betrayed him, and that he was becoming a seer or a man possessed. (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p ). He feared that he had become a kahin (soothsayer) or, worse still, that he was majnun (possessed of a jinn, the Qur'anic name for a demon. The words both come from the same root letters and do not just mean that a person is mad, as is sometimes suggested, but actually demon-possessed). That he was possessed by a Jinni - for him, with his beliefs, an evil spirit - was his first thought, and only gradually did he come to the conviction that this was divine inspiration, and not diabolical obsession. (MacDonald, The Religious Attitude and Life in Islam, p. 33). The Qur'an itself states that the Quraysh specifically charged that Muhammad was indeed majnun - "a man possessed" (Surah in Surah it is sha'irimmajnun, "a poet possessed") and that a jinn had seized him (Surah 34.8). On many occasions Muhammad is consoled in the Qur'an against such charges, for example: maa anta bini 'mati rabbika bimajnun - "Thou art not, by the grace of thy Lord, mad or possessed" (Surah 68.2, cf. also Surah 81.22), and is cleared of the charge that he is seized with a jinn (Surah 7.184). These constant declarations in the Qur'an that the revelations were not from diabolical sources yield the impression that Muhammad's fears in this respect were not confined just to the first two visions he had. From the assurances that he was not mad, nor prompted by jinn, it may perhaps be inferred that he sometimes wondered if this was the case. (Watt, Bell's Introduction to the Qur'an, p. 23). 84

85 It has been customary in some Christian circles to claim that it was Satan himself who appeared to Muhammad and that he "revealed" the whole Qur'an to him piecemeal over the last twenty-three years of his life. Muslims naturally find this explanation intolerably offensive and, in our view, it is too simplistic to be summarily accepted. Nevertheless, having conceded the reality of the visions, we are bound to ask what the real nature of the phenomenon was. Muslims dogmatically claim that it was the angel Gabriel who came to Muhammad, yet the Qur'an only once refers to Jibril as the medium of the revelation (Surah 2.97) while stating elsewhere that it came down with the Ruhul-Amin, the Faithful Spirit (Surah ). The identification of Gabriel as the Qur'anic messenger is significantly only made in a very late passage of the Qur'an after Muhammad had had many dealings with Jews and Christians. The very fact that Muhammad himself initially had feared that a demonic figure had appeared to him and that he compared his experiences with those of the poets in Arabia who were also believed to be possessed by jinn nonetheless gives considerable support to the suggestion that his visions were possibly occultic. It is also noteworthy that it took his wife Khadija and cousin Waraqa to persuade him otherwise. Muhammad's own uncertainty about the nature of his initial visions, and the fact that no later Qur'anic revelation was accompanied by such manifestations, strengthen the view that while the visions may have been real, they could well have been occultic rather than heavenly in character. No certain judgment of the nature of these visions can sincerely be made by anyone who does not accept the Muslim claim that the angel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad, and the question whether the Qur'an really had a divine origin can only be answered by a study of its contents and sources rather than the nature of Muhammad's prophetic experiences. Our conclusion, therefore, must be left until we treat this subject later in this book. 2. The Exoteric Character of the Revelations. Although the visions ceased, it is recorded that the revelations of Qur'anic passages were invariably attested by outward, physical phenomena. Ayishah reported: Verily, al-harith Ibn Hisham said: O Apostle of Allah! how does revelation dawn upon you? The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said: Sometimes it dawns upon me in the form of the ringing of a bell, and that is very hard on me; (ultimately) it ceases and I remember what is said. Sometimes the angel appears to me and speaks and I recollect what he says. Ayishah said: I witnessed the revelation dawning upon him on an extremely cold day; when it ceased, I noticed that his forehead was perspiring. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, Vol. 1, p. 228). 85

86 The other major traditions all say that the angel, when it appeared to Muhammad, did so in human form, though in the Qur'an we have already seen how strongly Muhammad claimed to have seen the angel only on the two specific occasions it mentions and the testimony of the Qur'an is more reliable than that of the Hadith. Another tradition says: Ubada b. Samit reported that when wahi descended upon Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him), he felt a burden on that account and the colour of his face underwent a change. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 4, p. 1248). In another work we read that one of Muhammad's companions witnessed one of these occasions and reported that "The Prophet's face was red and he kept on breathing heavily for a while and then he was relieved" (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 476). To Muslims these manifestations confirm the claim that Muhammad was receiving divine revelations, whereas many others have charged that he suffered from fits of epilepsy and that these were mistaken for prophetic phenomena. Muslim writers set out to refute this suggestion by various arguments. Under the heading "The Slander of Epilepsy", one says: To represent the phenomenon of Muhammad's revelations in these terms is, from the standpoint of scientific research, the gravest nonsense. The fit of epilepsy leaves the patient utterly without memory of what has taken place. In fact, the patient completely forgets that period of his life and can recollect nothing that has happened to him in the meantime because the processes of sensing and thinking come to a complete stop during the fit. (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. lxxii). It is indeed true that epilepsy, as a simple disease, reduces the faculties of its victim and he not only forgets what happened to him but, even during the fit, does not know what he is doing. Another writer says: The question may well be asked: Has epilepsy - this sad and debilitating disease - ever enabled its victim to become a prophet or a law-giver, or rise to a position of the highest esteem and power? (Khalifa, The Sublime Qur'an and Orientalism, p. 12). Another favourite argument is that the phenomenon only occurred when Muhammad was receiving the revelations: To begin with, this condition begins only when Muhammad's Prophetic career starts at about the age of forty, there being no trace of it in his earlier life. Secondly, tradition makes it clear that this condition recurred only with a revelatory experience and never occurred independently. (Rahman, Islam, p. 13). 86

87 Rahman's first point is not well-founded. Early biographers state that Muhammad had strange experiences while he was being cared for by his wetnurse, Halima. On one occasion he fell down in a kind of stroke and when he finally stood up his face was quite livid. Ibn Ishaq states that two men clothed in white had seized him and opened his chest. It was probably a fit of epilepsy; but Moslem legend has invested it with so many marvellous features as makes it difficult to discover the real facts. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 6). The myth around the story is that two angels took out his heart, cleansed it of impurity, and replaced it in his body! It is doubtful whether the Christian Apostle had such a thing in mind when he said "purify your hearts" (James 4.8). Other traditions say the cleansing and removing of Muhammad's heart happened just before the mi'raj. When the story is stripped of its fanciful features, one is left with a record of psychic experiences occurring during Muhammad's youth. When approaching his fifth year, he appears to have become subject to certain epileptic fits, which alarmed his foster-parents, as such attacks were attributed to the influence of evil spirits, and made them resolve to rid themselves of their charge. (Stobart, Islam and its Founder, p. 47). That the foster-parents feared that he was possessed of a demon is confirmed in Ibn Ishaq's narrative and the clear evidence that Muhammad was subject to such attacks even in his youth does imply that the later phenomena were not entirely unusual. Nevertheless the two main arguments that epilepsy adversely affects its victims and that Muhammad's experiences were always accompanied by revelations do seem to refute the suggestion that his later effects were caused by natural epileptic fits (presuming, of course, that they did always coincide with the revelations. The truth may well have been adjusted to suit the theory). It is not our purpose to pass judgment on these physical phenomena, but it should be pointed out that men can be subjected to a different type of seizure which very closely resembles epilepsy. During the life of Jesus a young boy was brought to him who was "an epileptic" (Matthew 17.15) and who suffered extreme forms of epilepsy (he would suddenly fall down, be convulsed. and be unable to speak). There is no doubt, however, that this epilepsy was not naturally but demonically induced as all three records of the incident (in Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9) state that Jesus exorcised the unclean spirit in the child and healed the boy. Without passing judgment on Muhammad, let it nevertheless be said that anyone subject to occultic influences could well find that seizures similar to epileptic fits would occur at appropriate times and, instead of causing a loss of memory, would have just the opposite effect and leave firmly induced impressions on the recipient's mind. Throughout the world missionaries have related cases of precisely this nature. To this day such 87

88 phenomena are not uncommon among oriental ecstatic s and mystics and they are widely reported. Once again, no judgment is offered of Muhammad's experiences, but the point here made again tends to support Muhammad's initial fears that he was possessed of a jinn. It should also be said that we do not believe that Muhammad was crudely demon-possessed in the form that some unfortunately are. It is nevertheless true that "even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11.15) and it is our opinion, though not our judgment, that the visions and physical experiences that Muhammad had may well have been induced by occultic forces to confirm his confidence that he had been divinely commissioned, whereas the religion and book he left as a legacy to millions of men and women have jointly become remarkable stumbling-blocks to the acceptance of the one true revelation of God for this age as found in the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 3. The Esoteric Nature of Muhammad's Experiences. Until recently Muslim writers and theologians had made no attempt to analyse the subjective side of Muhammad's prophetic experiences. The prophet was purely passive - indeed unconscious: the Book was in no sense his, neither its thought, nor language, nor style: all was of God, and the Prophet was merely a recording pen. (Gairdner, The Reproach of Islam, p. 158). Therefore it has always been presumed that the Qur'an was mechanically dictated to him and that he was merely the instrument of the revelation. Anyone wishing to know about Muhammad's personality should therefore look into the Hadith, the traditions of his life and teachings. Yet, while much of the Hadith sheds valuable light on Muhammad, much of it is unreliable in that it has either been marvellously embellished or quite simply invented. The Qur'an is the one sure, faithful record of Muhammad's life, however vague it may be at times about the details of the incidents it refers to. One cannot help feeling that the Muslim world, in denying that the text of the Qur'an has anything to do with Muhammad's own experience and the conscious development of his prophetic concept, is really missing so much of the true character of the man. The Biblical writing-prophets and apostles not only record divine truths but, in doing so, give expression to the manner in which these truths moulded and enlightened their own developing spiritual perceptiveness. In this way the realisation of the counsels of God in the human experience are best recorded for the tuition of the human race. If the Qur'an was purely a dictation, entirely independent of Muhammad's own personal consciousness, it cannot bridge the gap between the character of the divine nature on the one hand and the human spirit and experience on the other. Yet an open reading of the book leaves one 88

89 with the firm impression that it conveys as much of the growing prophetic consciousness of its mediator as of anything else. In place of a crystallised man who passes through life without suffering the least modification, Mohammed, as we conclude from the Qur an, passed through innumerable metamorphoses, developing almost from day to day in view of the stern exigencies of the struggle for existence and the unforeseen incidents of a highly agitated life. Mohammed passed through great moral transformations, and died, after a tempestuous career of more than a quarter of a century, a man profoundly different from the one who set out on the grand struggle. (Caetani, "The Development of Mohammed's Personality", The Muslim World, Vol. 4, p. 354). We see the warner of the Arabs rise to the status of the universal messenger of God for all mankind, one who first considered such matters as the Day of Judgment, the worship of the one true God, and the destiny of all men to heaven or hell as of supreme importance, later considering his own domestic affairs and personal problems to be of equal weight, giving them much prominence in the later passages of the Qur'an. His position can appropriately be described as an "altered state of consciousness". (Fry and King, Islam: A Survey of the Muslim Faith, p. 62). In no way do we suggest that he consciously and deliberately composed the Qur'an - he genuinely believed that the passages were being revealed to him, yet they clearly found expression in his consciousness rather than in his ears. Therefore, while distinguishing between the thoughts of his own mind and the Qur'anic revelations, Muhammad nevertheless did personally enter into the latter and allowed them to give shape to his own developing prophetic consciousness. The common Qur'anic word for revelation is wahy and the Qur'anic revelation itself is described in these words: It is no less than an inspiration sent down to him. Surah 53.4 This translation is not strictly correct. The common word for sending down in the Qur'an is nazzala in its various forms, but in this verse the words are In huwa illa wahyuyyuwha, meaning literally, "it is nothing but an inspiration inspired", a wahy, which is awha to Muhammad (the words are from the same root letters and are simply the forms of the noun and verb respectively). The word has interesting meanings when considered in its contexts in the Qur'an. Nor does the word awha, used in v.4, necessarily imply the communication of the words of the Qur'an. The later developed Muslim dogmatic takes wahy to be the highest form of inspiration, and to consist in the communication of the actual words of the revelation to the prophet by an angel intermediary. But as used in the Qur'an itself, the words wahy, awha by no means always or even generally 89

90 have that sense. Usually some such word as suggest, prompt, put into the heart of, is a better translation than reveal. (Bell, "Muhammad's Visions", The Muslim World, Vol. 24, p. 146). Bell continues by pointing out how the word is so used in the Qur'an. In Surah it is said "And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men's) habitations". The word for "taught" is again awha, meaning that the impulse so to build is "suggested" to the instinctive tendencies of the bee. It cannot be said that God revealed this mechanically to the bee by way of direct verbal revelation. So again: Even when the agent of wahy is Allah, and the recipient a messenger or prophet, what is communicated is not the words of a revelation, but, as in most of the instances already given, a practical line of conduct, something to do, not to say. It is "suggested" to Noah to build the ark, and he is to build it under Allah's eyes, and at His "suggestion" or "prompting", xi.39, xxiii.27. (Bell, "Muhammad's Visions", op. cit., p. 147). Bell duly concludes "We are justified therefore in concluding that, at any rate in the early portions of the Qur'an, wahy does not mean the verbal communication of the text of a revelation, but is a "suggestion", "prompting" or "inspiration" coming into a person's mind apparently from outside himself" (op. cit., p. 148). Another writer likewise says: The noun wahy and the verb awha occur frequently in the Qur'an in the contexts where the sense of 'reveal by direct communication' is inappropriate. (Watt, Muhammad at Mecca, p. 55). Only in recent times have some bolder Muslims ventured into the subjective side of Muhammad's experiences. While the following summary may not be symbolical of orthodox teaching, it appears to be a far truer assessment of Muhammad's own concept of the revelation: The Qur'an is thus pure Divine Word, but, of course, it is equally intimately related to the inmost personality of the Prophet Muhammad whose relationship to it cannot be mechanically conceived like that of a record. The Divine Word flowed through the Prophet's heart. (Rahman, Islam, p. 33). It therefore seems that, while Muslim dogmatics have always claimed that a mechanical dictation of the Qur'an was made to Muhammad, the truth is that the book is very much the product of the experience Muhammad himself had of his developing prophetic character and that the passages are codifications in his own words of the striking perceptions he experienced which he believed were being directly suggested to him from external sources, coupled as they were with his regular side-effects. 90

91 It is not our view that God was the author of the Qur'an but at the same time we do not believe that it was fraudulently composed by Muhammad consciously as its author. A study of its sources will confirm that this statement is true in one sense: "That Mohammed was really the author and chief contriver of the Qur an is beyond dispute" (Sale, The Preliminary Discourse to the Qur an, p. 68). Nevertheless it is not true to say that Muhammad deliberately forged the book as a revelation and, as a pious impostor, consciously attributed it to Allah. His subjective sincerity forbids such a conclusion. The chief question for us is whether or not Muhammad believed in the message himself. All his life he maintained that he had got his message from God, and I do not think that there can be any doubt that in the beginning of his activities at any rate he believed fully and firmly in his mission. (Hammershaimb, "The Religious and Political Development of Muhammad", The Muslim World, Vol. 39, p. 196). That Mohammed acted in good faith can hardly be disputed by anyone who knows the psychology of inspiration. That the message which he proclaimed did not come from himself, from his own ideas and opinions, is not only a tenet of his faith, but also an experience whose reality he never questioned. (Andrae, Mohammed: The Man and his Faith, p. 47). These matters can only be satisfactorily explained and understood on the assumption that Muhammad was sincere, that is, that he genuinely believed that what we now know as the Qur'an was not the product of his own mind, but came to him from God and was true. (Watt, Muhammad at Medina, p. 325). There is no concession to Islam in these statements. Watt rightly adds: "To say that Muhammad was sincere does not imply acceptance of the Qur'an as a genuine revelation from God; a man may without contradiction hold that Muhammad truly believed that he was receiving revelations from God but that he was mistaken in this belief" (op. cit.). Another writer puts the matter well when he says: If we say that such 'revelations' were believed by Mahomet sincerely to bear the divine sanction, it can only be in a modified and peculiar sense. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 504). We can conclude by saying that our Christian sense of honesty and fairness demands that we give credit where credit is due and that we allow Muhammad a considerable degree of personal sincerity in his subjective confidence that the Qur'an was a revelation from God himself. Nevertheless we find that the actual process of the revelation was equally subjective and characterised in good measure by Muhammad's own personal temperament. The final form it takes tells us as much about his own personality as it does about anything else and an 91

92 analysis of the development of the Qur'anic text will show ultimately just how much the finished product bears the mark of its human mediator rather than its alleged divine author. (A study of its origins and sources, which follows, will prove conclusively that Muhammad was the real author of the book, notwithstanding his sincerity). 4. The Development of the Qur'anic Revelation. Mohammed undoubtedly spoke the real truth when he stated that he had never dared to dream that such an honour would come to him. "Thou didst never expect that the Book would be given thee. Of thy Lord's mercy only hath it been sent down" (28,86)... Consequently, the revelation was for him an absolute miracle, an unexpected and inexplicable act of Allah's mercy. (Andrae, Mohammed: The Man and his Faith, p. 69). So persuaded was Muhammad that the "suggestions" he was constantly receiving were from God that he openly claimed that, although he could perform no signs and wonders as other prophets had done, the Qur'an itself was a miracle, a true mu'jizah. The word is only applied to the miracles of prophets and has the root meaning making weak, implying that such a sign weakens the opposition of the prophet's opponents and enemies. The miracles of others, such as saints, are called karamat. Nevertheless it should be noted that neither word appears in the Qur'an which always uses the word ayat, signs, for miracles (and also speaks of the bayyinat, evidences of Jesus, in Surah 5.113). It was the one miracle claimed by Mohammed - his "standing miracle" he called it; and a miracle indeed it is. (Bosworth Smith, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 343). The writer, a strong defender of Muhammad, merely echoes the conviction of the Muslims throughout the ages. A study of certain aspects of its development, however, shows not only how much the mind of Muhammad is impressed on the book, but equally how he, perhaps sub-consciously, moulded its form and content. Firstly, it happened occasionally that Muhammad's close companion Umar would venture to give him some advice on a subject and, very soon afterwards, the same advice suddenly became part of the revelation. Ibn Merdawiyya used to say: "Umar used to have an opinion on a certain subject and lo! a Qur'anic revelation came down in accordance with the same". (Klein, The Religion of Islam, p. 17). To this day within the Ka'aba precincts there is a spot called maqami-ibrahim, the station of Abraham, where every Muslim should pray at least once during the pilgrimage. It is said that Umar and Muhammad were walking around the 92

93 Ka'aba when Muhammad suddenly stopped and said, "this is the place where Abraham prayed after building the Ka'aba". Umar then suggested, "should we not take it ourselves as a place for prayer?" Muhammad answered that nothing like this had been revealed to him but, lo and behold, that very night this verse came to him: And take ye the Station of Abraham as a place of prayer. Surah One of the major authors of Hadith literature gives the following tradition with reference to this verse and other similar occasions where Umar's advices promptly became part of the developing revelation: Narrated Anas: "Umar said, 'I agreed with Allah in three things', or said, 'My Lord agreed with me in three things. I said, "O Allah's Apostle! Would that you took the station of Abraham as a place of prayer". I also said, "O Allah's Apostle! Good and bad persons visit you! Would that you ordered the Mothers of the believers to cover themselves with veils". So the Divine Verses of Al-Hijab (i.e. veiling of the women) were revealed. I came to know that the Prophet had blamed some of his wives so I entered upon them and said, "You should either stop (troubling the Prophet) or else Allah will give his Apostle better wives than you". When I came to one of his wives, she said to me, "O Umarl Does Allah's Apostle not have what he could advise his wives with, that you try to advise them?" Thereupon Allah revealed: "It may be, if he divorced you (all) his Lord will give him instead of you, wives better than you muslims (who submit to Allah)..." (66.5)'. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p ). One cannot help being struck by the words "My Lord agreed with me in three things". The striking feature of all these incidents is not only the fact that Allah gave the same advice to Muhammad that Umar had given, but also that he always gave it just after Umar in each case. The coincidences are found not only in the content of the revelations but also in the timing of their disclosure! It seems that Umar's advices struck Muhammad as particularly sound and, in his own subjective way, he allowed them to be formed in his mind in the form which all the other "revelations" were coming to him and correspondingly declared them to be such. There is yet another occasion recorded where the advice of Umar was once again promptly matched by a similar revelation containing very much the same advice that he had given: Omar records in perfectly good faith how when the Prophet went to say prayers over the dead Hypocrite Abdallah Ibn Ubayy, he remonstrated with the Prophet for paying such honours to his enemy; not without astonishment at his own boldness in thus criticising the conduct of the 93

94 messenger of God. But shortly after the Prophet produced a revelation "Pray not thou over any of them who dies at any time, neither stand thou upon his grave". To Omar the coincidence did not apparently suggest the remotest suspicion; to us the revelation appears to have been nothing more than a formal adoption of a suggestion of Omar, which the Prophet supposed to represent public opinion. (Margoliouth, Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, p. 218). These incidents all very strongly support the contention that the Qur'anic text is, in so many ways, an expression of the mind of Muhammad rather than the dictated words of Allah. Secondly, Muhammad's experiences and the concept he had of his own prophethood are remarkably paralleled in the case of Mani, the celebrated false prophet who at one time obtained so much influence in Persia (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 184). Explicitly, however, Mani had claimed that he was the last in the succession of messengers from God, so that in the Arabic sources it is recorded that his followers called him "the Seal of the Prophets". As such Mani had issued his own Scriptures and had set forth a "new law" for his community. This is what Muhammad does. (Jeffery, The Qur'an as Scripture, p. 79). Mani also believed that someone was crucified by the Jews in place of Jesus which is also the teaching of the Qur'an (Surah 4.157). Significantly he also claimed to be the Comforter promised by Jesus - a claim made universally by Muslims today on behalf of Muhammad in pursuance of the Qur'anic claim that Muhammad's advent was predicted by Jesus (Surah 7.157, 61.6). On the other hand, however, it is affirmed that Mani gave himself out as an apostle of Christ, of his very nature, as the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom Jesus had promised, and as Christ himself. (Andrae, Mohommed: The Man and his Faith, p. 104). Muhammad was not the first to appeal to these verses as a prophecy of himself. It is well known that Mani, or Manes, renowned in Persian fable as a wonderful painter, made the same claim to be the "person" referred to by Christ. Only Mani distinctly claimed to be the "Paraclete", probably (like Muhammad) in order to win over ill-informed Christians to his side. (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 191). Like Muhammad Mani also claimed that messengers had been sent to every nation. One cannot help again concluding that the claims of this man had reached Muhammad's ears and that they too were absorbed into his own unique thought-process as applying to himself and thus soon became a part of the revelation as well. 94

95 The yearly influx of pilgrims from distant parts made Mecca a receptacle for all kinds of floating knowledge, which he appears to have imbibed with eagerness and retained in a tenacious memory. (Irving, The Life of Mahomet, p. 23). The third aspect of the development of the Qur'anic revelation that strikes us is the manner in which very convenient passages were revealed to Muhammad at opportune times. We have already considered a number of these, namely the justification of his marriage with Zaynab and the freedom to absolve himself from an oath and to take whichever wife he chose at any time without following the strict order he had previously observed. The timely Qur'anic sanction of the Nakhlah raid during a month in which fighting was prohibited is another typical example. For whenever anything happened which perplexed and gravelled Mohammed, and which he could not otherwise get over, he had constant recourse to a new revelation, as an infallible expedient in all cases; and he found the success of this method answer his expectation. (Sale, The Preliminary Discourse to the Qur an, p. 68). His revelations, henceforth, are so opportune and fitted to particular emergencies, that we are led to doubt his sincerity, and that he is any longer under the same delusion concerning them. (Irving, The Life of Mahomet, p. 237). We must nevertheless allow for the fact that, while the Qur'an is believed to be the uncreated Word of Allah, Muhammad did obviously believe that it was "applicable to the changing circumstances of his own situation" (Jeffery, The Qur'an as Scripture, p. 80), and that, in a very special way, the revelations were not only intended to cover the spectrum of history and destiny to come but also the developing experience of his own prophethood. So the Qur'an has many passages where deliberate guidance is given for particular events in Muhammad's life and comments are made on battles, etc. which had just taken place. These particular passages became known as al-asbabun-nuzul, occasions of revelation, and no exception can be taken to the nature of the majority of these passages. (The prophets and apostles of old frequent! received divine guidance for immediate situations. The messages given in such specific cases were to be distinguished from more general revelations. In the New Testament, the Greek word rhema is usually used for the former and logos for the latter). On the other hand, as in the examples we have quoted, we cannot help but see how expediently Muhammad produced revelations to help him get over awkward situations whenever these arose. The tenet that appropriate revelations could come to deal with contemporary events in Muhammad's life is fair in principle, but it gave scope for the release of convenient passages justifying his actions when these could not be excused in any other way. 95

96 The doctrine offered the temptation to suit his revelations to the varying necessities of the hour. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 70). The study of Muhammad's prophetic experience and his concept of prophethood is a complex one, nonetheless it consistently produces the impression that much of the Qur'anic text is a reflection of his own personality. His image is so stamped on the whole unfolding development of the revelation that we must conclude that, while he believed the book was made known to him from above, it really is an expression of his own experiences and thoughts. One writer says: On one occasion after the death of Muhammad when his favourite wife Aishah was asked what he was like, she replied: 'His nature was as the Qur'an'. This must be taken to mean that from her intense and intimate experience of the Prophet she formed the impression that he was an incarnation of the revealed Book. (Lings, What is Sufism? p. 33). The marked relationship between Muhammad and the Qur'an tends rather to suggest that the book is the product of his own contemplations and an expression of the developing perceptions of his mind. The dogma that the Qur'an was dictated to Muhammad without his personality being involved in any way far too simplistically overlooks the obvious connection between the two. It does seem to be a valid assumption that the Qur'an is, in a very real way, Muhammad's own book and one which ultimately tells us more of his complex personality and convictions than any other record we have of his remarkable life and assumed prophetic course. At the same time it is noteworthy that the unique character of his concept of revelation is found in the style and nature of the Qur'an itself. To Muhammad, the prophet is merely an instrument to whom the revelation comes in a book form, and God himself is always the author of the book and every verse in it, even though these may finally be expressed in the prophet's own words after he had assimilated the thrust of the messages being suggested to him. This particular attitude led perforce to the precept that all the prophets had been called and inspired in the same way. In the Qur'an we find each of them recast in the Muhammadan mould - a book is revealed to them in which God is always the author. The Injil, the Gospel, is a book revealed to Jesus in which God is the author. So likewise the Tawrat to Moses and the Zabur to David. While Muhammad 'a prophetic consciousness may possess an unusual character when viewed in the light of the Biblical concept of revelation, the Qur'an deftly removes the contrast by superimposing his concept upon the whole course of prophetic history. The striking feature of the Biblical prophetic essence that we find lacking in the Qur'an is the principle that the prophets were not only commissioned to call men 96

97 to the good but also to pave the way for the coming Messiah, the Redeemer of the world, whose advent they regularly foretold. Here is the real heart of the difference between the two concepts - and one which unfortunately works to the detriment of Islam and its assessment of the prophetic office. C. Satan's Interjection and Its Implications. 1. A Compromise in Muhammad's Ministry. Widely reported in the early Sirat literature (see the section on Hadith for a discussion of the Sirat and Hadith literature) is a story of an unusual compromise made by Muhammad sometime after the first emigration to Abyssinia. One account of this compromise reads: The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, had seen his people departing from him. He was one day sitting alone when he expressed a desire: I wish, Allah had not revealed to me anything distasteful to them. Then the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, approached them (Quraysh) and got close to them, and they also came near to him. One day he was sitting in their assembly near the Katbah and he recited: "By the Star when it setteth" (Qur'an 53.1), till he reached "Have ye thought upon Al-Uzza and Manat, the third, the other?" (Qur'an ). Satan made him repeat these two phrases: These idols are high and their intercession is expected. The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, repeated them, and he went on reciting the whole surah and then fell in prostration, and the people also fell in prostration with him. Al-Walid Ibn al-mughirah, who was an old man and could not prostrate, took a handful of dust to his forehead and prostrated on it... They were pleased with what the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, had uttered. They said: We know that Allah gives life and causes death. He creates and gives us provisions, but our deities will intercede with Him, and in what you have assigned to them, we are with you. These words pricked the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him. He was sitting in his house and when it was evening, Gabriel, may peace be upon him, came to him and revised the surah. Then Gabriel said: Did I bring these two phrases? The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said: I ascribed to Allah what he had not said. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab at-tabaqat al- Kabir, Vol. 1, p. 237). There is no record of such a thing happening at any other time during Muhammad's life and yet it was recorded by all four of the early biographers, namely Ibn Ishaq, Tabari, Waqidi and Ibn Sa'd. Today the only surviving edition of Ibn Ishaq's work, the Sirat Rasulullah, which has come down in the form of a reclension by Ibn Hisham, does not include this incident. There is concrete evidence, however, that it was originally a part of the work and Tabari plainly 97

98 stated that he got his record from him via Salama. An analysis of this issue will follow but at this point it will be useful to repeat the original record in Tabari's work which has now been reinstated in Ibn Ishaq's Sirat by the English translator of his work, Alfred Guillaume. When the apostle saw that his people turned their backs on him and he was pained by their estrangement from what he brought them from God he longed that there should come to him from God a message that would reconcile his people to him. Because of his love for his people and his anxiety over them it would delight him if the obstacle that made his task so difficult could be removed; so that he meditated on the project and longed for it and it was dear to him. Then God sent down "By the Star when it sets your comrade errs not and is not deceived, he speaks not from his own desire", and when he reached His words "Have you thought of al-lat and al-uzza and Manat the third, the other", Satan, when he was meditating upon it, and desiring to bring it (se. reconciliation) to his people, put upon his tongue these are the exalted Gharaniq whose intercession is approved'.' When Quraysh heard that they were delighted and greatly pressed at the way in which he spoke of their gods and they listened to him; while the believers were holding that what their prophet brought them from their Lord was true, not suspecting a mistake or a vain desire or a slip. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 165). The Arabic word gharaniq refers to certain cranes which fly at a great height. The pagan Meccans, impressed by the splendour of these birds, therefore described their goddesses by an analogous reference to them. When Muhammad quoted the very words used by the Meccans to exalt their goddesses, they said to one another "Muhammad has spoken of our gods in excellent fashion" (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 166). Then, however, the narrative also records the visit by Gabriel to Muhammad that night in which he denied revealing these words to him while he was at the Ka'aba. Then Gabriel came to the apostle and said, "What have you done, Muhammad? You have read to these people something I did not bring you from God and you have said what he did not say to you". (Ibn Ishaq, op. cit., p. 166). In both of the works quoted it is stated that it was Satan who interjected while Muhammad was reciting Surah 53 and that he had "suggested" the Meccan expression of praise to the pagan goddesses to Muhammad. Accordingly "God annulled what Satan had suggested" (op. cit., p. 166), and the following denunciation of these idols was substituted for it: Have ye seen Lat and Uzza and another, the third (goddess), Manat? What! For you the male sex, and for Him, the female? Behold, such would be indeed a division most unfair! These are nothing but names which ye have devised. Surah

99 The story is quite striking, particularly as it is out of character with the one sustained cause of conflict between Muhammad and his people, namely his otherwise unwavering proclamation of the unity of God and the rejection of their goddesses and idols. Nonetheless, whereas the story is widely discounted in Islam for obvious reasons, it is generally credited in Western writings. Its wide circulation in the early biographies and the sudden return of those who fled to Abyssinia (Ibn Sa'd states that they returned purely because they heard of the prostration of the pagan Meccans with Muhammad - Kitab at-tabaqat al-kabir, Vol. 1, p. 238), appear to argue strongly for its authenticity. Pious Mussalmans of after days, scandalised at the lapse of their Prophet into so flagrant a concession, would reject the whole story. But the authorities are too strong to be thus summarily dismissed. It is hardly possible to conceive how the tale, if not in some shape or other founded in truth, could ever have been invented. The stubborn fact remains, and is by all admitted, that the first refugees did return about this time from Abyssinia; and that they returned in consequence of a rumour that Mecca was converted. To this fact the narrative affords the only intelligible clue. (Muir, The life of Mahomet, p. 80). It is important to keep in mind that this story is not a calumny from without, but a report embedded in Muslim Tradition itself. Its content requires us to hold that, being so apparently compromising, it could not have been fabricated. (Cragg, The Event of the Qur'an, p. 142). The story is not found in all its details in the later Hadith collections but it does appear to be confirmed in this brief tradition in Bukhari's Sahih, regarded universally by Muslims as the most authentic work of Hadith and as second only to the Qur'an in reliability: Narrated Ibn Abbas: The Prophet performed a prostration when he finished reciting Surat-an-Najm, and all the Muslims and pagans and Jinns and human beings prostrated along with him. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 363). "Surat-an-Najm" is the same Surah 53 which Muhammad was reciting according to the narratives we have quoted. What else could have prompted all present, both Muslims and pagans, to prostrate behind Muhammad but the concession made to the Meccan goddesses? One can understand the Muslims following any lead Muhammad gave (see the quote from Ibn Ishaq) but it is hard, if not impossible, to believe that the pagan Meccans would have joined Muhammad in worship at the end of the Surah if he had quoted it as it now stands with such a vehement denunciation of these same goddesses by name. The story does appear to have a compelling historical foundation. 99

100 2. Modern Muslim Reactions to the Story. The story itself reflects so poorly on Muhammad and strikes so deeply at the heart of Muslim sentiments about his integrity that it is not surprising to find that modern Muslim writers reject it vehemently. One gives a defence of his prophet in these words: In fact this chapter (No. liii) which describes Muhammad's Miraj which took place about the end of the tenth year of his mission had not been revealed when the first emigrant returned from Abyssinia. For the man who had declared that he would not give up his work for any kingdom on earth to have made any concession in the conception of Godhead is an unthinkable idea and against the whole tenor of the Qur'an. (Sarwar, Muhammad the Holy Prophet, p. 99). The second argument is, we do believe, a very considerable one for the narrative indeed clashes with the otherwise uninterrupted proclamation of the unity of God and denunciation of idols by Muhammad. This is, however, an argument that rests on principles of consistency rather than historical evidences or cogent proofs. The other argument is weak in that there is no concrete proof that the first part of Surah 53 refers to the mi'raj which followed the emigration to Abyssinia. As shown already, it almost certainly refers to one of Muhammad's initial visions, limited by the Qur'an itself to the two he had when his ministry began. Unfortunately one finds that virtually all Muslim arguments of a factual nature against this story are equally weak. Another writer credits the story but argues that one of the pagan Meccans near Muhammad made the exclamation in favour of the idols when Muhammad reached the words "Have ye seen Lat and Uzza and another, the third (goddess), Manat?" (Surah 53.19). He concludes: "This is the version given by Muslim historians and traditionists" (Ali, The Spirit of Islam, p. 34). This is a patently inaccurate statement. The quotes given from Ibn Sa'd and Ibn Ishaq clearly show that Muhammad himself spoke the words and both record how the lapse came as a result of his own desire to reconcile his message with the sentiments of his kinsmen. Another writer states: "Tabari, the most authoritative biographer of the Holy Prophet, makes no mention of the offending verses" (Zafrulla Khan, Muhammad: Seal of the Prophets, p. 45). This is an equally untrue claim as Tabari not only records the whole story but claims he obtained it from Ibn Ishaq through Salama. Contrast this statement: "Tabari, however, who mentions the Satanic verses, seems to suggest that Muhammad repented of the compromise the same day" (Glubb, The Life and Times of Muhammad, p. 128). Others allege that the "satanic verses" (the laudation of the three goddesses) do not fit in the Surah between verses 20 and 21 (so Khalifa, The Sublime Qur'an 100

101 and Orientalism, p. 103). Again the argument is ill-founded for the words are said to have been replaced by the denunciation verses which are now recorded in the Surah. We must therefore assume, as the historical kernel of the tradition, that Sura ff. once embodied a different wording, implying acceptance of the pagan conception of the gods, an implication which Mohammed subsequently felt to be incompatible with belief in the one God. (Andrae, Mohamned: The Man and his Faith, p. 21). The writer adds: "In style and rhythm the two Satanic lines fit admirably into the original Sura" (op. cit.). The evidences certainly seem to be well-founded and the arguments against them strained to the point of glaring factual inaccuracy. The rejection of the story is clearly motivated by the unpalatable nature of its contents rather than a consideration of its factual historicity. There are numerous other stories relating to Muhammad's life of no better historical foundation than this one which are nevertheless usually admitted. Indeed in many cases incidents with a much weaker claim to authenticity are accepted as genuine. A recent apologist for Muhammad has written a biography in which he makes it plain that he has relied chiefly on the earliest biographies for his facts, in particular Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Sa'd and Waqidi (Lings, Muhammad, p. 349), and has unquestioningly included many stories of no greater authority than the story of Muhammad's concession to the Meccan idolaters. This story, however, is omitted without any reference to it whatsoever. Clearly it is rejected, not because it has a poor historical foundation, but because it records a damaging lapse made by Muhammad during his ten year ministry at Mecca. But the question at issue cannot be whether or not the tradition is acceptable, but rather whether or not it is authentic. (Weasels, A Modern Arabic Biography of Muhammad, p. 75). Another argument favoured by Muslim writers is that "it is utterly inconsistent with the whole concept of Prophethood and indeed with the righteousness of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, that he could have been influenced by any Satanic incitement at any time" (Zafrulla Khan, Muhammad: Seal of the Prophets, p. 45). Another writer makes much the same point: "It contradicts the infallibility of every prophet in conveying the message of his Lord" (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. 107). This argument is, however, purely subjective and one based on the presupposition that Muhammad was a true prophet. The non-muslim cannot be persuaded by such a line of reasoning, particularly when an objective study of its historical sources tends to confirm the story. Working from the starting point of the authenticity of the narrative rather than Muhammad's supposed prophethood, one is inclined to conclude that the 101

102 incident in some measure discredits Muhammad's prophethood rather than the other way around. 3. Did Ibn Ishaq Record the Story of the Satanic Verses? We have already mentioned the omission of this story from Ibn Hisham's reciension of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasulullah. As this reclension is the only record of Ibn Ishaq's work that survives, Muslim writers immediately claim that Ibn Ishaq therefore never recorded it and seek to strengthen their claim by a quotation from another source: Ibn Ishaq, for his part, did not hesitate at all to declare it a fabrication by the zindiqs. (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. 107). In the year 150 after the Hijra, Ibn-Ishaq was quoted by Abu Habban in his treatise Al-Bahr Al-Mohit, to have exposed the whole story about the goddesses as an invention of al-zanadiqah, those who do not recognise Islam while still nominally attached to it or to any other religion. (Khalifa, The Sublime Qur'an and Orientalism, p. 102). It is hard to believe that the zindiqs, the "freethinkers", not only composed the story but also succeeded in ensuring that it would be so widely accepted by the earliest biographers. Our records of the incident are found purely within the Islamic heritage and not outside it. Furthermore the claim that Ibn Ishaq rejected the story is also based on a secondary source, and then only a work by an author of no real prominence. Indeed the omission of the story in the text today is also dependent on a secondary source. It is not Ibn Ishaq but rather Ibn Hisham who has omitted this tradition in his edition. Sometimes Haykal confuses the names of Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham, which leads in the present instance to an incorrect statement. (Weasels, A Modern Arabic Biography of Muhammad, p. 59). The arguments for and against the original inclusion of the story are all based on secondary sources - Tabari, Ibn Hisham, Abu Habban - but Tabari is an author of considerable prominence and a compelling one for the claim that it was indeed a part of Ibn Ishaq's work. The record of his reliance on Ibn Ishaq for the narrative suggests that Ibn Hisham may well have expunged it from the original text and prompts one writer to say: There is reason to suspect that Ibn Hisham was not quite so trustworthy as his great authority Ibn Ishac. Certainly there is one instance which throws suspicion upon him as a witness, disinclined at least to tell the whole truth. We find in Tabari a quotation from Ibn Ishac, in which is described the temporary lapse of Mahomet into idolatry; and the same incidents are also given by Wakidy from other original sources. But no notice whatever 102

103 of the fact appears in the biography of Ibn Hisham, though it is professedly based upon the work of Ibn Ishac. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. lxx). This suggestion is strengthened by the fact that Ibn Hisham's edition contains no unfavourable stories about Muhammad, and yet in his introduction he openly complained of "scurrilous attacks on the prophet" (Guillaume, introduction to Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasulullah, p.xxxi) in the original work. There are many evidences in other works, which quote from the Sirat, that Ibn Hisham's edition is incomplete and the story of the "satanic verses" was almost certainly one of those expunged from the text by him. Recently a Muslim publishing house in India has reprinted Hughes' great work, A Dictionary of Islam, and has introduced the reprint with these words in a "Publisher's Note": The Publisher has very meticulously gone through the pages and has expunged the remarks derogatory to Islamic faith, published in the original edition. (Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam, p. vi). This statement seems to sum up perfectly the similar action taken by Ibn Hisham against the original text of Ibn Ishaq's work. Not long ago new evidence came to light strengthening considerably the claim that the story of Muhammad's lapse was part of Ibn Ishaq's original work. There is, in the Qarawiyun mosque library at Fez in Morocco, a manuscript entitled Kitab al-maghazi (Book of the Campaigns) which, among other sources, contains a record of lectures given at one time by Ibn Ishaq on the life of Muhammad which includes the story of the concession made by Muhammad to the pagan Meccans. The narrative is very similar to that in Tabari's work except that the actual "satanic verses" are only referred to and not actually quoted in the text. The MS. agrees with Salama's report from Ibn Ishaq that the emigrants returned from Abyssinia because they heard of the conversion of Quraysh in consequence of the concession to polytheism, but strangely enough it does not quote the offending words. (Guillaume, New Light on the Life of Muhammad, p. 38). On a balance of probabilities it does seem that the story was included in Ibn Ishaq's original work as in the other early biographies. A point that also strengthens this conclusion is the fact of the return of the emigrant Muslims which is credited by Ibn Hisham to the Meccan conversions in his reclension of Ibn Ishaq's original Sirat: The apostle's companions who had gone to Abyssinia heard that the Meccans had accepted Islam and they set out for their homeland. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 167). 103

104 Unless the story of the concession to their pagan goddesses was part of the original text just at this point, this remaining statement is largely unintelligible. It is highly unlikely that the rumour of such a phenomenal turn of events, that is, the conversion of all the pagan Meccans, should have been left unexplained by Ibn Ishaq. It is far more likely that Ibn Hisham expunged the story of the satanic verses from the text but unwittingly left a reference to it in his reclension. As the saying goes, his slip is showing! There can be little doubt that Ibn Hisham cut out some of the text which came to him because he gives no reason for the sudden conversion of the people of Mecca and leaves it unexplained. (Guillaume, New Light on the Life of Muhammad, p. 38). Modern Muslim writers suggest that it was the conversion of Umar that prompted the return of the emigrants (ea. Sarwar, Muhammad: the Holy Prophet, p. 95), but this does not explain why they almost immediately set out for Abyssinia again. Haykal makes the same suggestion (The Life of Muhammad, p. 105) but, before he came across the story of Muhammad's lapse as it is recorded in William Muir's book, he had already composed his own book in the form of published articles and, having relied almost exclusively on Ibn Ishaq's work in the form of Ibn Hisham's reclension, he duly made the supposed conversion of the Quraysh the reason for the return. Only when he found out why this supposed conversion took place, and that the concession had been made by Muhammad and not by the Quraysh, did he alter his work and state that the return of the emigrants was caused by Umar's conversion. It does not argue for the objectivity of Haykal's investigation of this tradition that before he knew Muir's book he did indeed make the conversion of Quraysh the reason for the return of the emigrants to Mecca. (Weasels, A Modern Arabi_ Biography of Muhammad, p. 76). It is our considered opinion that the Muslims have made a sorry mess of their defence of Muhammad and their rejection of this story and it seems that they would have done better to have relied solely on the argument that it is out of character with Muhammad's sustained rejection of idolatry. 4. Support for the Story in the Qur'an. Had there been not the slightest allusion to this story in the Qur'an, one might yet be inclined to discount it, but there are two passages in the book which uncannily coincide respectively with the suggestion that Satan interjected during Muhammad's recitation of Surah 53 and that Muhammad was slowly becoming inclined to yield to his kinsmen in some measure to reconcile himself to them. 104

105 But the Qur'an itself seems to me to bear out the fact that the suggestion was made and afterwards withdrawn. (Bell, The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment, p. 56). Indeed the story is so strange that it must be true in its essentials. It is unthinkable that anyone should have invented such a story and persuaded the vast body of Muslims to accept it. Moreover there is a passage in the Qur'an which describes something of this kind. (Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, p. 61). The verse referred to by Watt is the one which seems to refer quite openly to the interjection made by Satan. It is: And We have sent before thee no messenger or prophet but as he recited (a portion of Our message) Satan cast forth (suggestions) in respect of the recital. Then Allah abolishes what Satan casts forth, and Allah continues His revelations; and Allah is Knowing, Wise. Surah (Daryabadi). The word for "revelations" in the original is ayat, often used for "signs" but also regularly used for verses of the Qur'an itself. The great Muslim commentator on the Qur'an, Zamakhshari, openly interpreted this verse as referring to the occasion when Satan substituted something in accordance with the wish which the Messenger of God had sheltered (Gatje, The Qur'an and its Exegesis, p. 54). This was hardly surprising as the narrative in Tabari's work, which he claimed was derived from Ibn Ishaq's Sirat, plainly states that the verse was revealed to Muhammad immediately after the lapse to relieve his grief. Zafrulla Khan, in one of his typically bold but completely inaccurate statements, says: "The Holy Quran excludes emphatically any idea of Satan being capable of influencing any righteous person, let alone a prophet or messenger" (Muhammad: Seal of the Prophets, p. 45). This claim is seriously undermined by Surah which makes the exact point that the writer is at pains to deny. Another somewhat more credible defence is offered by a Muslim commentator on this verse: Moreover, it is absolutely inconceivable that such an important incident as the Prophet's having accepted the intercession of idols should have been mentioned in the Qur'an eight years after it happened. The 53rd chapter, in which the change is said to have taken place, was revealed before the fifth year of the Prophet's call, while this chapter was revealed on the eve of the Prophet's departure from Makkah. (Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 658). The argument, however, does not take into account the well-established fact that most of the Surahs of the Qur'an are composite chapters of various passages dating from different periods, often made up of both Meccan and Medinan 105

106 verses. In an introduction to Surah 22 in his translation of the Qur'an, Richard Bell says: The surah has in fact become quite disjointed. Vv , addressed to the prophet personally, are quite out of connection. (Bell, The Qur'an Translated, Vol. 1, p. 316). He goes on to give possible occasions for the inclusion of the verses mentioned and allows for an earlier date than the main body of the Surah. It is therefore quite possible that Surah dates prior to the rest of the Surah and refers directly to the occasion of the "satanic verses". W. M. Watt, in another book, comments on the same verse: This passage is a justification for some previous alteration in the text of the Qur'an; one strand of tradition holds that it applies to verses originally proclaimed as following 53.19,20. (Watt, Companion to the Qur'an, p. 156). The strand referred to is the Ibn Ishaq/Tabari source aforementioned. We must surely conclude that Surah is a Qur'anic reference and clue to the story of the concession to the pagan Meccans when we consider that there is no other occasion suggested in the Islamic tradition literature for the revelation of this verse. Muslim commentators who reject the link identified in the Ibn Ishaq/Tabari strand nevertheless cannot suggest an alternative incident or event which can explain the statements made in the verse. The other verse which appears to allude to the occasion of the "satanic verses" is this one which helps us in some measure to see the inner workings of Muhammad's mind: And their purpose was to tempt thee away from that which We had revealed unto thee, to substitute in Our name something quite different: (In that case), behold! They would certainly have made thee (their) friend! And had We not given thee strength, thou wouldst nearly have inclined to them a little. Surah This verse also appears to refer to the same occasion, in particular the yearnings felt by Muhammad for a reconciliation with his kinsmen which led to the ejaculation in favour of their goddesses. Once again no reasonable alternative suggests itself. There is no other occasion in Muhammad's life referred to in the sources to which these enlightening verses can relate. Furthermore, as with Surah 22.52, we are not proposing a convenient link between the verses and the story. Ibn Sa'd plainly states that they were revealed in consequence of Muhammad's concession to the pagan goddesses and his subsequent reversion to his original position (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab at-tabaqat al-kabir, Vol. 1, p. 237). 106

107 5. The Implications of the Compromise. It is our opinion that this story is almost certainly genuine, not only because of its record in many early works, but perhaps even more because those records which seem to omit it, namely the Qur'an itself, the Sahih of Bukhari, and the present edited version of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat, contain elements obviously relative to it and otherwise unintelligible. Furthermore certain details in the story are strikingly factual, for example the note that one old man did not bow down but applied some of the dust of the ground to his forehead. This little incident is just the sort of thing an eye-witness would particularly observe, but it is hardly the sort of otherwise irrelevant evidence that a fabricator would think of or care to include. In the last chapter we analysed in some depth the subjective side of Muhammad's prophetic experience and concluded that the Qur'anic composition had much to do with the developing prophetic consciousness of his mind. This story has important implications in this respect. To Muhammad's positive credit there is a highly commendable consistency in his dogmatic monotheistic preaching but, as so often said before, the exception proves the rule. It is quite conceivable that in his early days he underwent a prolonged tension in his mind as he sought to reconcile himself to his people. The whole story gives an extremely interesting insight into Muhammad's soul. (Hammershaimb, "The Religious and Political Development of Muhammad", op. cit., p. 201). It may be assumed that the lapse was no sudden event. It was not a concession won by surprise, or an error of the tongue committed unawares, and immediately withdrawn. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 80). The honour paid to the interceding goddesses may well have seemed an innocuous but effective means of effecting the reconciliation. This is no mere speculation. In later days a similar means suggested itself. After his gory battles with his kinsmen near Medina, Muhammad did find a very successful way of reconciling himself to them and one which again required a concession on his part, but, on this occasion, it really did prove effective without a damaging lapse on his part. I refer to the pagan pilgrimage practices around Mecca which Muhammad adopted without amending their rituals in any material way. He simply retained the outward form while amending the inward purpose of the pilgrimage. The former attempt at a reconciliation proved disastrous, however, and he obviously realised fairly quickly that he had made a concession which betrayed the heart of his ministry. While the transferring of the blame to Satan may appear to have been an easy way out, it is probable that he identified his 107

108 inclination to pacify his kinsmen as one bearing all the elements of suggestion (the Qur'anic wahy) that the motivations of his heart towards the praise of Allah alone also bore. It was logical, therefore, to conclude, as in the words attributed to the angel I did not bring you this, that if the suggestion had not come from Allah, it must have come from Satan. We conclude, then, that the heart of the matter has to do with a semantic struggle to mean and convey. Tradition about an actual compromise has simply formalized or fossilized a point in that ongoing tension, while the idea of Satanic interjection has given the highly charged ambiguities of a real encounter a simplistic shape that conceals a more subtle travail. (Cragg, The Event of the Qur'an, p. 144). C. Al-Mi'raj: The Alleged Ascent to Heaven. 1. The Story of the Mi'raj in the Hadith. One of the most famous Islamic monuments in the world is the Dome of the Rock which stands on the site of the original Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. It is the third-holiest in the Muslim world after the Ka'aba in Mecca and Prophet's Mosque in Medina and commemorates the alleged occasion of Muhammad's ascent through the seven heavens to the very presence of Allah. It stands above the rock from which Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven. The narrative of this ascent is recorded in all the major works of Hadith in some detail, but there is only one verse in the Qur'an openly refer ring to the incident and in a limited context at that. The traditions basically report that Muhammad was asleep one night towards the end of his prophetic course in Mecca when he was wakened by the angel Gabriel who cleansed his heart before bidding him alight on a strange angelic beast named Buraq. Muhammad is alleged to have said: I was brought al-burg who is an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, who would place his hoof at a distance equal to the range of vision. I mounted it and came to the Temple (Bait-ul Maqdis in Jerusalem), then tethered it to the ring used by the prophets. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1, p. 101). Some traditions hold that the creature had a horse's body and angel's head and that it also had a peacock's tail. It is thus represented in most Islamic paintings of the event. The journey from Mecca to Jerusalem is known as al-isra, "the night journey". At Jerusalem Muhammad was tested in the following way by Gabriel (some traditions place this test during the ascent itself): Allah's Apostle was presented with two cups, one containing wine and the other milk on the night of his night journey at Jerusalem. He looked at it and took the milk. Gabriel said, "Thanks to Allah Who guided you to the 108

109 Fitra (i.e. Islam); if you had taken the wine, your followers would have gone astray". (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 196). After this began al-mi'raj, "the ascent". Muhammad passed the sea of kawthar, literally the sea of "abundance" (the word is found only once in the Qur'an in Surah 108.1), and then met various prophets, from Adam to Abraham, as well as a variety of angels as he passed through the seven heavens. After this Gabriel took him to the heavenly lote-tree on the boundary of the heavens before the throne of Allah. Then I was made to ascend to Sidrat-ul-Muntaha (i.e. the lote-tree of the utmost boundary). Behold! Its fruits were like the jars of Hajr (i.e. a place near Medina) and its leaves were as big as the ears of elephants. Gabriel said, "This is the lotetree of the utmost boundary". (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 5, p. 147). This famous tree, as-sidratul-muntaha, is also mentioned twice in the passage in Surah 53 describing the second vision Muhammad had of Gabriel (Surah 53.14,16) where he also saw the angel 'inda sidrah, "near the lote-tree". Gabriel and Buraq could go no further but Muhammad went on to the presence of Allah where he was commanded to order the Muslims to pray fifty times a day: Then Allah enjoined fifty prayers on my followers. When I returned with this order of Allah, I passed by Moses who asked me, "What has Allah enjoined on your followers?" I replied, "He has enjoined fifty prayers on them". Moses said "Go back to your Lord (and appeal for reduction) for your followers will not be able to bear it". (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 1, p. 213). Muhammad allegedly went back and forth between Allah and Moses till the prayers were reduced to five per day. Moses then told him to seek yet a further reduction but Muhammad stopped at this point and answered Moses: I replied that I had been back to my Lord and asked him to reduce the number until I was ashamed, and I would not do it again. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 187). Allah then said whoever observed the five times of prayer daily would receive the reward of fifty prayers. Muhammad then saw some of the delights of paradise as he returned to Gabriel and Buraq and then beheld the torments of the damned before going back to his bed in Mecca that same night. This, briefly, is the narrative of the ascent. 2. The Night Journey in the Qur'an. As said already, the Qur'an has only one direct reference to this whole episode and it is found in this verse: 109

110 Glory to (God) Who did take His Servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose precincts We did bless, - in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things). Surah 17.1 The "Sacred Mosque" (al-masjidul-haram) is interpreted to be the Ka'aba at Mecca and the "Farthest Mosque" (al-masjidul- aqsa) the Temple at Jerusalem (also referred to as al-baitul- muqaddas - the "holy house"). The great mosque which presently stands next to the Dome of the Rock is accordingly known today as the "al-aqsa" mosque. The verse is somewhat vague as it refers only to "signs" that Allah would show him. What is important, however, is the fact that the verse refers purely to the "journey by night" (asra), from Mecca to Jerusalem, and makes no mention of the ascent through the heavens (mi'raj) at all. Indeed the Qur'an nowhere directly refers to nor outlines the supposed ascent - a striking omission if it was a genuine experience. Some Muslim commentators have sought allusions to it elsewhere in the Qur'an but the passages quoted are too weak to be relied on with any certainty. Those who know how large a part the Miraj, or miraculous journey on the Borak, bears in popular conceptions of Mohammedanism will learn with surprise, if they have not gone much into the matter, that there is only one passage in the Qur an which can be tortured into an allusion to the journey to heaven. (Bosworth Smith, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 186). There are some who say that the vision referred to in Surah (see page 100) refers to the Mi'raj, but we have already seen that Muhammad recited this very Surah at the time of the first emigration to Abyssinia, and the passage must therefore refer to one of the very early visions as the Mi'raj is only said to have taken place some years later just before the Hijrah. Another hadith supports this conclusion by identifying this passage more clearly: Masruq reported: I said to Aisha: What about the words of Allah: Then he drew nigh and came down, so he was at a distance of two bows or closer still... ( )? She said: It implies Gabriel. He used to come to him in the shape of men; but he came at this time in his true form and blocked up the horizon of the sky. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1, p. 112). The occasion Ayishah records is plainly identified as one of those where Muhammad had a vision of the approaching angel in the sky rather than a manifestation of the angel during their ascent through the heavens. If the verse had referred to the Mi'raj, Ayishah would have surely mentioned the fact, but it patently refers to an independent occasion. 110

111 Furthermore the narratives in the Hadith expose a glaring anachronism. After proclaiming that he had been to Jerusalem Muhammad was allegedly asked to describe the Temple. He is said to have replied: I stood at al-hijr, visualised Bayt al-muqaddas and described its signs. Some of them said: How many doors are there in that mosque? I had not counted them so I began to look at it and counted them one by one and gave them information concerning them. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat al- Kabir, Vol. 1, p. 248). Another tradition states that when the Qurayah disbelieved him, Muhammad answered "Allah lifted me before Bait-ul-Maqdis and I began to narrate to them (the Quraish of Mecca) its signs while I was in fact looking at it" (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1, p. 109). There is a real problem here for the structure had been destroyed more than five hundred years earlier and the site at that time had become a rubbish-dump and was so discovered by Umar when he conquered Jerusalem some years later. It cannot be said that Muhammad saw a vision of the Temple as it had been before it was destroyed for the Quraysh were asking him to describe contemporary Jerusalem as he saw it that very night. How could he have counted the doors of a building that no longer existed? The whole story of the Mi'raj as found in the Hadith may well be a pure fiction, a conclusion that will be reinforced through a study of its sources shortly. Here let it be said that it is not at all certain that Muhammad ever claimed that he actually ascended to heaven. It is possible that he merely related a striking dream, which he took as a vision, in which he imagined his journey to Jerusalem. Al-Hasan reported: One of Abu Bakr's family told me that Aisha, the Prophet's wife, used to say: "The apostle's body remained where it was but God removed his spirit by night". (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 183). These words clearly teach that Muhammad never left his apartment the whole night. Furthermore the Qur'an plainly restricts the journey to the Isra as we have seen. It is probable that what was originally nothing more than a dream of a journey to Jerusalem has been transformed into an actual physical event which was followed by an ascent through the heavens to the throne of Allah himself. The suggestion that even the Isra was only a dream is strengthened by the fact that the anachronism appearing in the Hadith is also found in the Qur'an for the latter also states that Muhammad was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem in Surah 17.1 quoted above. Although the Qur'an does not refer to the baitul-muqaddas but only to the masjidul-aqsa, it is clear that the same shrine is intended as the Qur'an in the same way describes the baitullah, the Ka'aba in Mecca, as the masjidul-haram. Furthermore the context establishes this interpretation for, only 111

112 a few verses later, the Qur'an actually records the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem and here simply describes it as al-masjid (Surah the word today is only used of a Muslim mosque but in the Qur'an it is commonly used for any holy sanctuary). Although Muhammad obviously knew of the destruction of the second Temple, it seems he believed that it had been rebuilt like the first one. The fact that he first chose Jerusalem as his qiblah before turning to the masjidul-haram in Mecca adds considerable weight to this suggestion for he would hardly have chosen the former if he had known that no masjidul-aqsa stood on the site at that time, where the mosque of this name now stands, but only a compost heap. It seems appropriate to conclude that the experience Muhammad had was really only a dream which characterised his illusions about Jerusalem, and that the whole story of the Mi'raj is accordingly nothing more than a mythical fantasy imaginatively built upon it. 3. A Literal Event or a Mystical Experience? Orthodox Muslims hold that the Mi'raj was a literal, bodily ascent to heaven, but others have suggested that it was purely a mystical experience. The distinction goes back to the early days of Islam and is summarised in the following quote: The belief in the Ascension of the Prophet is general in Islam. Whilst the Asha'ri and the patristic sects believe that the Prophet was bodily carried up from earth to heaven, the Rationalists hold that it was a spiritual exaltation, that it represented the uplifting of the soul by stages until it was brought into absolute communion with the Universal Soul. (Ali, The Spirit of Islam, p. 447). To this day those who believe that Muhammad actually went up to heaven and back remain overwhelmingly in the majority and the event is commemorated once a year during the lailatul-mi'raj, "the night of the ascension", which falls on the 27th night of the Islamic month of Rajab. In more recent times, however, prominent Muslim authors have rejected the possibility of a physical ascent and have offered an assortment of alternative spiritual interpretations. Now, it is agreed by all that Muhammad's Ascension was a matter of seconds or minutes instead of being days, months or years, and the words used for it by all biographers is Miraj, the same as used by God for the ascension of the angels or spirits who have no bodies... The Miraj is nothing but Inspiration or Revelation raised in degrees. (Sarwar, Muhammad: the Holy Prophet, pp. 119, 122). Since "faith" is an abstract concept, it is obvious that the Prophet himself regarded this prelude to the Ascension (the cleansing of his heart) - and 112

113 therefore the Ascension itself and, ipso facto, the Night Journey to Jerusalem - as purely spiritual experiences. But whereas there is no cogent reason to believe in a "bodily" Night Journey and Ascension, there is, on the other hand, no reason to doubt the objective reality of this event. (Asad, The Message of the Qur'an, p. 997). Haykal has a novel view - he alleges that the discoveries of modern science, e.g. the reproduction of images on television and voices on radios, etc., proves that forces of nature can be transferred from one place to another, and so concludes: "In our modern age, science confirms the possibility of a spiritual Isra' and Mi'raj... Strong and powerful spirits such as Muhammad's are perfectly capable of being carried in one night from Makkah to Jerusalem and of being shown God's signs" (The Life of Muhammad, p. 146). Quite what is meant by the latter statement, only the author can know. Nevertheless his interpretation is typical of modern attempts to cast the ascension into a mystical mould, reminiscent of the rationalistic interpretations of the "free-thinking" age of early Islam when similar attempts to explain the Mi'raj in rationalistic terms were made. In fact Haykal returns to the standpoint of the Mu'tazila, who also rejected the realistic understanding and denied that the ascent into heaven had occurred in the body. (Weasels, A Modern Arabic Biography of Muhammad, p. 84). The fanciful nature of the traditional story of the Mi'raj has made more educated Muslims realise that the orthodox interpretation is perhaps more consistent with the marvellous tales of the Arabian Nights than the world of reality. Even the early biographer Ibn Ishaq had his doubts about the narrative. In his introduction to the Sirat Rasulullah, Guillaume states: "In his account of the night journey to Jerusalem and the ascent into heaven he allows us to see the working of his mind. The story is everywhere hedged with reservations and terms suggesting caution to the reader" (p. xix). A famous biographer perhaps gets to the heart of the matter by suggesting that, as Muhammad was already looking northwards towards Medina for the future of his ministry and had decided to adopt Jerusalem as the qiblah, the imaginations of his mind by day probably became the fantasies of a dream by night: "The musings of the day reappeared in the slumbers of the night" (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 117). At this stage we are bound to ask on what authority it may be suggested that the story of the Mi'raj, as recorded in all its details in the traditions, was purely a mythical adaptation of a simple dream. Did later scribes put it all together as a pious figment of their fertile imaginations? Not at all. Another modern Muslim author gives us a clear indication as to why much of it is an acute problem to recent scholars. 113

114 The doctrine of a locomotive mi'raj or 'Ascension' developed by the orthodox (chiefly on the pattern of the Ascension of Jesus) and backed by Hadith is no more than a historical fiction whose material comea from various aourcea. (Rahman, Islam, p. 14). Let us now, in closing, examine these sources on which early traditionists relied for their details of the story. 4. The Sources of the Alleged Ascent. Stories strikingly similar to the Mi'raj are found in various religious works predating the time of Muhammad and it is virtually certain that later scribes borrowed elements from these to create the story found in the Hadith. In these later narratives of the Mi'raj we find mythology unrestrained by any regard for reason or truth. We must now inquire what was the source from which the idea of this night journey of Muhammad was derived. (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 225). Stobart refers to Surah 17.1 as Muhammad's "simple account of what was probably only a dream prompted by his waking thoughts" and relieves him of responsibility for the fanciful narratives found in the Hadith: For the details of this revelation, with all its later embellishment of curious and extravagant fiction, drawn from the legends of the Haggidah, and the dreams of the Midrash and the Talmud, the prophet cannot, in fairness, be made responsible. (Stobart, Islam and its Founder, p. 141). Stobart refers to Jewish works where accounts similar to that of the Mi'raj are found, but perhaps the real origins of the Islamic account of Muhammad's ascent to heaven are those stories found in Zoroastrian works which are strikingly parallel to the Mi'raj. Tisdall states that "The story may have incorporated elements from many quarters, but it seems to have been in the main based upon the account of the ascension of Arta Viraf contained in a Pahlavi book called 'The Book of Arta Viraf"' (The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 226), where we find remarkable coincidences. Arta Viraf was a saintly priest who had a mi'raj of his own some four hundred years before the Hijrah: It is related that; when this young Arta Viraf was in a trance, his spirit ascended into the heavens under the guidance of an archangel named Sarosh, and passed from one storey to another, gradually ascending until he reached the presence of Ormazd himself. When Arta Viraf had thus beheld everything in the heavens and seen the happy state of their inhabitants, Ormazd commanded him to return to the earth as His messenger and to tell the Zoroastrians what he had seen. All his visions 114

115 are fully related in the book which bears his name. (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 227). There are numerous details in the narrative which correspond to those in the Hadith. Just as Gabriel guided Muhammad through the heavens, so Sarosh, one of the great Zoroastrian archangels, guided Arta Viraf. Likewise he came into the presence of Ormazd and visited paradise and hell as well. It is unnecessary to point out how great is the resemblance between all this and the Muhammadan legend of Muhammad's Mi'raj. (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 229). The Zoroastrians also teach that there is, in paradise, a marvellous tree called humaya in Pahlavi which corresponds closely to the sidrah, the lote-tree of Islam. Indeed the Zoroastrians even relate that their founder also passed through the heavens and visited hell. In the fabulous Zerdashtnama there is also an account of Zoroaster having ages before ascended to the heavens, after having received permission to visit hell, where he found Ahriman (the devil). (Tisdall, The Sources of Islam, p. 80). In his other book St. Clair-Tisdall comments that Ahriman, the Satan of Zoroastrianism, "closely corresponds with the Iblis of the Qur'an" (The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 230). It certainly seems that the whole account of the Mi'raj is a subtle adaptation done by Muslim divines sometime after the subjugation of Zoroastrian Persia during the Arab conquests in the early days of Islam. We may conclude that tradition has nonchalantly adorned the story of Muhammad's dream with marvellous records of an ascent through the heavens. It is highly probable that Muhammad himself declared no more than that which we find in the Qur'an - that he had a vision or a dream in which he was carried to Jerusalem and there saw various signs. The isra of the Qur'an has been transformed into the mi'raj of the Hadith. In a very subjective way the former may well have been a vision or, more probably, a strange dream, but the latter does truly seem to be no more than a pious fiction drawn from the fables of other religious records and works. 115

116 Qur'an and Hadith: The Sources of Islam The Qur'an: The Scripture of Islam A. The Composition and Character of The Qur'an 1. The Nature and Form of the Qur'an. The Qur'an is almost the length of the New Testament but its structure and form is very different to it. It consists of the revelations allegedly made to Muhammad in which God is himself at all times the speaker. We can only briefly introduce the book in these pages but will give some insight into its character and form. The Qur'an has 114 surahs, or chapters, of varying length and there is no chronological sequence of these chapters in the book. The order of the surahs, excepting the Suratul-Fatihah which we will shortly outline in some detail, is generally from longest to shortest. Paradoxically most of the earlier surahs are at the end of the book and the later surahs at the beginning. Each has a title, usually taken from a word or name either at the beginning of the surah or somewhere in its text. Some introduce the major themes of the surah, e.g. Suratu-Yusuf (Surah 12) which deals solely with the story of Joseph, and Suratu-Maryam (Surah 19) which devotes much of its content to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Every surah but one (Surah 9) begins with the heading Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim, meaning "In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful". These words are not only found repeatedly in the Qur'an but are a form of grace, are found as titles on letterheads, are engraved on buildings, and are commonly recited by Muslims in various situations. The expression is generally referred to in Muslim parlance as "The Bismillah". The Basmalah: "In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful", is, after the Shahadah, the most familiar epitome of Muslim devotion. It is used in the recognition of God in all the ventures and vicissitudes of life even more widely than the confession itself. (Cragg", The Call of the Minaret, p. 40). The Shahadah is the other famous testimony and creed of Islam which we will consider in a later chapter. Each surah is broken up into brief sections known as ruku'ah as Muslims deem it commendable to make a bow in reverence, a ruku, at the end of the recitation of each of these sections. They are designated in the Qur'an by the Arabic letter 'ain in the margin and are accompanied by the section number and number of verses in each case. A non-muslim who ventures to quote, for example, "the fortieth chapter of the Qur'an" might be surprised to be told that there are only thirty chapters in the Qur'an. This is because the book is also broken up into thirty sections of roughly 116

117 equal length, each of which is known as a juz (or, in Persian, a siparah). There is a specific reason for this. 'Juz' (pl. Ajza'). Persian Siparah. Thirty divisions of the Qur'an, which have been made to enable the devout Muslim to recite the whole of the Qur'an in the thirty days of Ramazan. Muhammadans usually quote their Qur'an by the Siparah or Juz' and not by the Surah. (Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam, p. 492). The division of each juz is not as obvious as that of each surah where the title of the surah is inserted in the text, often in distinctive script or decoration. In older, hand-written manuscripts of the Qur'an each juz is often identified by a special medallion alongside the text. At the head of some of the surahs, just after the Bismillah, are a few Arabic letters not forming a word. The purpose and significance of these letters, notwithstanding a host of suggestions, is unknown. At least six surahs begin with the letters alif, lam, mim. There are twenty-nine Surahs of the Qur'an which begin with certain letters of the alphabet. These letters, the learned say, have some profound meaning, known only to the Prophet himself, although it seems probable that they are simply marks recorded by the amanuensis. (Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam, p. 517). The very word al-qur'an means "the Recitation", and Muslims believe that the actual ritual of regularly reciting its text in the original Arabic merits much favour with Allah. There is no merit in reciting a translation. Muslims prize their book in its original Arabic tongue and no true Muslim will refer to anything other than the Arabic text as the Qur'an itself. The Qur'an openly calls its adherents to recite its verses: wa ratiliil qur'aana tartiilaa - "and recite the Qur'an in slow, measured rhythmic tones" (Surah 73.4). The revelation thus involves a recitation or something to be recited; and this indeed is the meaning of the probably originally Aramaic word Qur'an, which came to signify the revelation in its totality as well as single parts of it. (Gatje, The Qur'an and its Exegesis, p. 5). The recitation of the Qur'an, known as tilawah, is so seriously regarded that many Muslims go to great lengths to learn the correct pronunciation of the words, a pursuit now developed into a science known as 'ilmul-tajwid, the "knowledge of pronunciation" It seems even Muhammad himself was concerned to be scrupulous in this matter: Gabriel used to recite the Qur'an before our Prophet, may Allah bless him, once every year in Ramadan. In the year in which he breathed his last he recited it twice before him. Muhammad said: I hope our style of reading 117

118 conforms to the last recitation by Gabriel. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat al- Kabir, Vol. 2, p. 243). Before a recitation of the Qur'an a Muslim will recite the words a'uuthu billaahi minash-shaytaanir rajiim which mean "I take refuge in Allah from Satan the stoned". These words are taken almost directly from a verse in the Qur'an which encourages such action: When thou dost read the Qur'an, seek God's protection from Satan the Rejected One. Surah The word ar-rajim properly means "the stoned" as it is the description the Qur'an gives to the devil as a result of Abraham's supposed act of throwing atones at him when he sought to prevent Abraham sacrificing his son. The event is commemorated in a ceremony in the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca of which more will be said in a later chapter. A Muslim who learns the Qur'an by heart is called a hafiz (a "guardian" of the text) and professional reciters of the book are known simply as qurra ("reciters"). There are numerous hadith commending the recitation of the Qur'an, too many to be recorded here, but they serve to show how important this practice is in Islam. 2. The Qur'an's Description of Itself. The Qur'an has much to say about itself and a brief study of some of the verses relating to it will assist us to understand the conception Muhammad had of the book he believed was being revealed to him. Firstly it is taught that the original Qur'an is preserved on a tablet in heaven and that the text in use today is a copy of it: Nay, this is a Glorious Qur'an, (inscribed) in a Tablet Preserved! Surah Secondly it is believed by Muslims that the text was brought down by Gabriel one night (during the month of Ramadan just before Muhammad's call) to the first heaven from which the angel revealed its contents piecemeal to Muhammad, as occasion required, over the remaining twenty-three years of his life. This belief arises from Qur'anic verses alluding to the revelation: By the Book that makes things clear, We sent it down on a blessed night. Surah Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind. Surah

119 The Qur'an also emphasises its claim that God is its author and preserver. In one place it is said Ar-Rahmaanu-allamal-qur'aan - "The Compassionate has taught the Qur'an" (Surah ), and elsewhere the Qur'an vindicates itself again in these words: This is indeed a Qur'an most honourable, in a book well-guarded, which none ahall touch but those who are clean: a Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds. Surah These regular occasions in the Qur'an, where the book seeks to defend its divine origin, stand in striking contrast to the text of the Bible where God's Word is simply set forth as "Thus says the Lord" without any justification of the book or its declarations being deemed necessary. Other texts of this nature in the Qur'an are these: Or they may say, "He forged it". Say, "Bring ye then ten Suras forged, like unto it, and call (to your aid) whomsoever ye can, other than God! - If ye speak the truth! Surah Do they not consider the Qur'an (with care)? Had it been from other than God, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy. Surah 4.82 In two of the verses already quoted we find the Qur'an described with an adjective, something so common in the book, that it has led to the compilation of the "Names of the Qur'an", which also include other titles given to it. In Surah the title is Qur'aanum-Majiid, "a Glorious Qur'an", and in Surah it is Qur'aanun-Kariim, "a Qur'an most honourable". In Surah 36.2 it is al-qur'aanil- Hakiim, "the Qur'an full of wisdom". One finds today in most printed Qur'ans a title page with the words al-qur'anul-majid, "the Exalted Qur'an", or al- Qur'anul-Hakim, "the Wise Qur'an", etc. One such Qur'an is entitled "Qur'an Karim ws Furqan Adhim" (the Glorious Qur'an, the Exalted Criterion). In a glossary Kenneth Cragg explains the Qur'anic title al-furqan (Surah 25.1): Furqan. One of the names of the Qur'an, as the criterion or that by which truth is distinguished from falsehood and right vindicated against wrong. (Cragg", The Event of the Qur'an, p. 189). A striking anomaly is the absence of the title "The Holy Qur'an" not only from the book itself, but from compilations of its names, especially as this is the most common title used for the Qur'an in English by Muslims today. One writer seeks to explain away the anomaly in these words: Although some non-arabic speaking Muslims describe the Book as "The Holy Qur'an" the corresponding Arabic adjective muqaddas is actually never used for the simple reason that the holiness of the Book is too 119

120 deeply implied and understood to need mentioning. (Khalifa, The Sublime Qur'an and Orientalism, p. 5). As the Qur'an clearly delights in describing itself with whatever titles it considers appropriate, this is a strange line of reasoning to justify the omission of the title "Holy Qur'an". Or are the wisdom, exaltation and glory of the book not so obviously "deeply implied" that they need to be pointed out to the reader? A Western writer is certainly far more to the point in this matter when he says: The Qur'an is the scripture of Islam. It is called the Noble Qur'an, the Glorious Qur'an, the Mighty Qur'an, but never the Holy Qur'an, save by modern Western-educated Muslims who are imitating the title Holy Bible. (Jeffery, Islam: Muhammad and his Religion, p. 47). One cannot help feeling that there is much significance in the omission of this title in the Qur'an. The book has many virtues indeed, but one of its obvious deficiencies, in comparison with the Bible, is its attitude to holiness. The book nowhere approaches the realms of holiness and righteousness which are the foundation of the doctrine of God in the Bible, the "holy God who shows himself holy in righteousness" (Isaiah 5.16), and the corresponding denial of any potential for true holiness in man as he is by nature until made regenerate by the Holy Spirit. 3. Important Surahs of the Qur'an. The most important Surah of the Qur'an is the first one, the Suratul-Fatihah, the "Opening Chapter". It is quite unique because it is the only place in the book where the words are solely those of worshippers addressing God, or, as it has been put, it is "the only place where the Qur'an 'prays "' (Cragg", The Mind of the Qur'an, p. 83). A Muslim scholar, Abdul Jabir, comments in a very similar vein on the character of the Surah: "God has enunciated this chapter in the language of his servants, in order that they might thus address him" (quoted in Wherry, A Comprehensive Commentary on the Qur'an, Vol. 1, p. 288). The Surah reads: In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds; Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek. Show us the right way, the way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, Those whose (portion) is not wrath. and who go not astray. 120

121 Surah Muhammad himself regarded this Surah as the foremost of all the revelations he claimed to have received, saying "There has been revealed to me tonight a surah which is dearer to me than all the things of the world" (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 97). He thereafter recited "the Fatihah" as it is now commonly called. On a later occasion he said to a companion: Shall I not teach you the most important Surah in the Qur'an? He said it is "Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds". (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 490). This surah is recited during every one of the prescribed times of prayer and is regarded as the most important part of the worship ritual: "The principal part of the service is the recitation of the opening chapter of the Quran, called the Fatiha" (Zafrulla Khan, Islam: Its Meaning for Modern Man, p. 104). Muhammad is reported to have said: He who does not recite Fatihat al-kitab is not credited with having observed prayer. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1, p. 214). On another occasion he declared that, at the end of the recitation of this surah by the Imam, the worshipper should conclude by saying Amin, the Arabic equivalent of our "Amen". Muhammad claimed that all the angels say the amin at the end of the surah and that every Muslim who also recites the amin and duly coincides with them will have his sins forgiven (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 1, p. 416). Much the same was taught in the Christian Church in those times as well in respect of the Lord's Prayer. So attached has the amin become to the surah that a number of even the best Qur'anic manuscripts of earlier centuries include it as part of the actual text. The surah contains the first three of the ninety-nine names of Allah, the "Most Excellent Names" (al-asma'ul-husna) being ar-rahman, "the Compassionate", ar-rahim, "the Merciful", and al-malik, "the Sovereign". It also contains a common title for the whole religion of Islam, as-siratal- Mustaqim, "the straight path". Another verse from the Qur'an that has relevance here is: And We have bestowed on thee the Seven Oft-Repeated (Verses) and the Grand Qur'an. Surah Muhammad stated that this verse referred to the Fatihah and that the "seven oftrepeated" (saba'ul-mathani) were the seven verses of the surah and that "the Grand Qur'an" here (al-qur'anal-adhim) was also a title for the surah (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 37). Another title for the surah is Ummul-Qur'an, the "Mother of the Qur'an". Its importance to Islam can hardly be over-emphasised. 121

122 The next most important surah is found just before the end of the Qur'an and is entitled the Suratul-Ikhlas, the "Chapter of Purity", which has a heavy monotheistic emphasis and contains two further titles of Allah, as-samad, "the Eternal", and al-ahad, "the One". It reads: Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him. Surah It is reported that Muhammad said "By Him in Whose hand my life is, this Surah is equal to one-third of the Qur'an" (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 494). Not only is this chapter also held in great esteem but it has important implications for Christian contact with Muslims: The one hundred and twelfth chapter of the Qur an is held in particular veneration by Mohammedans. According to a tradition of the Prophet it is equal to one-third of the whole revelation; and on another occasion he asserted that the foundation of the heavens and the earth rested on this short surah. We call attention to it for three reasons: It is the chapter most frequently quoted against Christians and best known in every part of the world of Islam as a defiant summary of Mohammed's revelation; it is most often selected by calligraphers for the exercise of their artistic skill; and its interpretation in the doctrine of the Sufis gives new points of contact for the presentation of the Christian message. (Zwemer, "Surat al-ikhlas", The Muslim World, Vol. 26, p. 325). Abu Hurayrah once reported "I went with the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) and he heard a man reciting Surah Ikhlas and said: He is assured. I asked, Of what, Apostle of Allah? He answered: Of Paradise" (Muwatta Imam Malik. p. 99). Little more need be said to show how important this surah too is to the Muslims. The only surah of length that holds an almost equal importance for the Muslims is the 36th Surah named Suratu-Ya-Sin after the two letters ya and sin, appearing as typical unexplained letters heading the surah. This surah is found in Muslim prayer-books, very often as a separate booklet, and its recitation is highly esteemed. Tirmithi, one of the great collectors of Hadith, records that Muhammad said: "There is certainly a heart for everything and the heart of the Qur'an is Ya Sin. Whoso reads Ya Sin, Allah writes for him in exchange of its reading the rewards of the reading of the whole Qur'an ten times" (Karim's Mishkat-al-Masabih, Vol. 4, p. 684). Finally the last two verses of the second surah, the Suratul-Baqarah ("Chapter of the Heifer"), are also held in great esteem. It was narrated by Abu Masud that Muhammad said "If somebody recited the last two verses of Suratul Baqarah at 122

123 night, that will be sufficient for him" (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 491). These verses contain a declaration of the Islamic faith together with an exhortation to pray for forgiveness and relief from the burden of sin, promising that "on no soul cloth God place a burden greater than it can bear" (Surah 2.286), reminiscent of the words of Jesus in Revelation Muslim Reverence for the Qur'an. One cannot but admire the wonderful reverence shown by the Muslims towards their holy book. It is quite true to say that they hold it in awe. Old hand-written Qur'ans are masterpieces of calligraphy and decoration. The Fatihah and, usually, the first few verses of the Suratul-Baqarah, are enclosed within a finely decorated frontispiece in each Qur'an while surah headings are usually also finely decorated. No Muslim will place or read a Qur'an on the ground. Neat hand-wrought Qur'an stands are kept in mosques and often at homes for this purpose. In each home the Qur'an should obtain the highest place and it is therefore placed on a stand above all the other features in the home, carefully wrapped in a covering. Every Muslim should perform an ablution before touching it and should kiss it once it is opened. In Surah quoted earlier in this section the Qur'an is described as that "which none shall touch but those who are clean" and a hadith says: The book written by the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) for 'Amr b. Hazm contained this also that no man should touch the Holy Qur'an without ablution. (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 94). A word should be said about the diction of the Qur'an in closing. Its uneven rhyme, striking character, and forceful language almost mesmerise its readers when a qira'ah takes place (a cantation of the Qur'an, in a chant, as opposed to the normal tajwid, that is, correct recitation). A Muslim writer says: "The fact is that the harmonious intermingling of sound, sense and force of the language of the Qur'an is beyond human prowess" (Sarwar, Muhammad: the Holy Prophet, p. 390). Even Christian writers have been constrained to comment on its style and one writer says: The Qur'an is regarded by the Muhammadan world in general as the great outstanding miracle of Islam. We must admit that in some passages, especially those which describe the majesty and attributes of God, its sublime language is comparable only to that used by some of the Old Testament prophets. Muhammad, when challenged by his opponents to work a miracle, referred them to the Qur'an and challenged them in return to produce even one Sura like it. (Blair, The Sources of Islam, p.15). 123

124 Nonetheless the argument that the Qur'an is inimitable in its style, content and rhyme, is purely subjective in that it depends largely on the preconceived attitudes of its readers, just as it is said "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and is limited to the Arabic language alone. Another Christian writer brings the fancies of the Muslims to the ground with a sound observation: Among learned Franks it is considered indisputable that there are books in the Greek, Latin, English, German and other languages, more admirable in style than the Qur an... But if learned Mohammedans should say that the Qur an is more eloquent than any book in any language whatever, it behoves them, before making this assertion, to have acquired a thorough knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German, English, French, Hindu, Chinese, and all other languages of note; else they cannot sustain their position that the Qur an is more noble and elegant than any book in the languages of the world. (Pfander, The Mizan ul Haqq; or Balance of Truth, p. 86, 87); The challenge to "bring ten surahs like it" is, in our view, principally fictitious because the languages of the world are so diversified and varied and because no one can act as absolute judge of the relative merits of different poetical or literary works. Certainly those who are hardly educated in the great classics of literature throughout the ages can hardly make dogmatic assumptions about their holy book with any degree of sincere conviction. In the same way we can just as easily say that any ten chapters of the Biblical writings or Psalms are the equal of the Qur'an, if not superior to it - and who is to judge between us? B. The Meccan and Medinan Surahs. 1. The Style and Emphasis of the Meccan Surahs. One of the great difficulties confronting a reader of the Qur'an is the general lack of chronology in the sequence of its chapters. Compounding this difficulty is the fact that many of the surahs are composite chapters of passages dating from both Muhammad's years of preaching in Mecca and his years as leader of the Muslim community in Medina. Nevertheless, as pointed out already, the shorter, more striking surahs generally date from the Meccan period and the longer, somewhat cumbersome passages of the later surahs date from the Medinan period. The early Meccan surahs are all somewhat similar and concentrate on the issues which first impressed themselves upon Muhammad, namely the waywardness of his people, the judgment to come, and the destiny of all men to heaven or to hell. Here is a typical passage: O man! What has seduced thee from thy Lord Most Beneficent? Him Who created thee, fashioned thee in due proportion, and gave thee a just 124

125 bias; In whatever Form He wills, does He put them together. Nay! But ye do reject Right and Judgment! But verily over you (are appointed angels) to protect you, kind and honourable, writing down (your deeds): They know and understand all that ye do. As for the Righteous, they will be in Bliss; and the Wicked, they will be in the Fire, which they will enter on the Day of Judgment, and they will not be able to keep away therefrom. And what will explain to thee what the Day of Judgment is? Again, what will explain to thee what the Day of Judgment is? (It will be) the Day when no soul shall have power (to do) aught for another: For the Command, that Day, will be (wholly) with God. Surah Throughout these early passages Muhammad stands forth purely as one sent to call his people to the good and to admonish them against the punishments awaiting evildoers. Innamaa anta munthir - "Verily you are but a warner" (Surah 79.45), is the address found in various forms in these passages (so also Surahs 74.2, 87.9). Muhammad is several times reminded, in the Meccan period, that his only task is al-balagh, communication. (Cragg, The Event of the Qur'an, p. 146). The great dispute between pagan Arab idolatry and the exclusive unity of God only comes to the fore in the later Meccan surahs. In the same way Allah, the name for God, also only begins to appear with regularity in these later Meccan surahs as well, the more impersonal ar-rabb (the Lord) being generally preferred in the very earliest surahs. But in Mohammed's first preaching, the announcement of the Day of Judgment is much more prominent than the unity of God, and it was against his revelations concerning Doomsday that his opponents directed their satire during the first twelve years. (Hurgronje, Mohammedanism, p. 34). The generally prophetic character of the Meccan surahs, as opposed to the legalistic form of most of the Medinan surahs, at the same time marks the earlier surahs with far more grandeur and humility before God than those to come later. One moving early surah addressed to Muhammad commends itself assuredly to any sincere reader of the Qur'an: By the Glorious Morning Light, and by the Night when it is still, Thy Guardian-Lord hath not forsaken thee, nor is He displeased. And verily the hereafter will be better for thee than the present. And soon will thy Guardian- Lord give thee (that wherewith) thou shalt be well-pleased. Did He not find thee an orphan and give thee shelter (and care)? And He found thee wandering, and He gave thee guidance. And He found thee in need, and made thee independent. Therefore, treat not the orphan with 125

126 harshness, nor repulse the petitioner (unheard); but the Bounty of thy Lord - Rehearse and proclaim! Surah Just as we found a sharp distinction in the biographical section at the beginning of this book between the sincere warner of Mecca and the somewhat opportunistic ruler of Medina, so it does not surprise us to find a similar contrast between the Meccan and Medinan surahs. One cannot help wondering what our final assessment of Muhammad would have been if he had been killed just before the migration to Medina. Certainly his years in Mecca, characterised by the fine spirit of the contemporary Qur'anic passages, leave a generally positive impression on the student of his life's course. The beginning of the Moslem propaganda was the free, honest and sincere expansion of a religious mind moved by a profound conviction of the Supreme Truth, and by a sincere desire on the Prophet's part to raise first himself, then his most intimate friends and relations, finally all his fellow Arabs from the barbaric error of idolatry in which they lay supine. (Caetani, "The Development of Mohammed's Personality", The Muslim World, Vol. 4, p. 363). 2. The Character of the Medinan Surahs. One of the easiest ways of distinguishing between the two periods is the manner of address in the Medinan surahs. Whereas the Meccan passages usually speak to Muhammad himself or to men generally, the Medinan passages are often addressed to Muhammad's followers with the introduction Yaa ayyuhallathiina aa'manuu - "O ye who believe!" What follows is often of a legislative nature and it is true to say that the laws of Islam (the shari'ah) are found principally in the passages dating from Muhammad's migration to Medina. Whereas the Meccan surahs are prophetic in character and striking in style, these later surahs are generally legalistic and are more leisurely in style. Those parts of the Qur'an belonging to the Medinan years are predominantly legal and political. Their concern is with campaigns, confiscations, customs, and behavior, rather than with patriarchs and preaching. (Cragg", The Call of the Minaret, p.82). The Medinan surahs deal with the abolition of usury (Surah 2.278), the laws of inheritance ( ), the prohibited degrees of relationship (4.23), the property of orphans (4.6-10), the prohibitions on wine and gambling ( ), and the like. The following is but the first quarter of a long verse dealing with the need to reduce all contracts to writing and to have them witnessed: O ye who believel When ye deal with each other, in transactions involving future obligations in a fixed period of time, reduce them to writing. Let a scribe write down faithfully as between the parties: let not the scribe 126

127 refuse to write: as God has taught him, so let him write. Let him who incurs the liability dictate, but let him fear his Lord God and not diminish aught of what he owes. Surah The whole verse, one of the longest in the Qur'an, makes tedious reading and contrasts with the sharp, pithy exclamations of the earliest surahs. "The slovenliness, the trailing sentences, the mechanical rhymes of the later portions of the Qur'an, have often been remarked on" (Bell, The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment, p. 96). Another writer makes a similar comment on the generally uninspiring character of the Medinan surahs: The sentences are long and unwieldly so that the hearer has to listen carefully or he will miss the rhyme altogether; the language has become prose with rhyming words at intervals. The subject matter is laws, comments on public events, statements of policy, rebukes to those who did not see eye to eye with the prophet, Jews especially, and references to his domestic troubles. Here imagination is weak and stock phrases are dragged in to conceal the poverty of ideas though occasionally the earlier enthusiasm bursts out. (Tritton, Islam, p. 16). One of the most significant distinctions between the two periods is the amount of attention which the Qur'an pays to Muhammad himself in the later surahs. Although the Meccan surahs are often directly addressed to him, he is very rarely the subject of the revelations, but in the Medinan surahs he comes regularly to the fore. Passages dealing with the Day of Judgment and the destiny of mankind give way to new revelations concerned much with the immediate concerns of his private life. He is given special permission to exceed the limit placed on Muslims not to take more than four wives at a time (Surah ), believers are commanded to salute him (33.56), and are even given strict details regarding etiquette to be observed when approaching his apartments: O ye who believe! Enter not the Prophet's houses, until leave is given you, for a meal, (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation: but when ye are invited, enter; and when ye have taken your meal, disperse, without seeking familiar talk. Such (behaviour) annoys the Prophet: he is ashamed to dismiss you, but God is not ashamed (to tell you) the truth. Surah These passages contrast sharply with the humble tone of an earlier surah where he is rebuked for alighting a blind man who came to him to enquire about his message while he was courting wealthy pagan Arab merchants: (The Prophet) frowned and turned away, because there came to him the blind man (interrupting). But what could tell thee but that perchance he might grow (in spiritual understanding)? Or that he might receive 127

128 admonition, and the teaching might profit him? As to one who regards himself as self-sufficient, to him cost thou attend; though it is no blame to thee if he grow not (in spiritual understanding). But as to him who came to thee striving earnestly, and with fear (in his heart), of him west thou unmindful. Surah In the biographical section of this book we have already seen how, during the Medinan period, Muhammad began to regard himself as God's supreme apostle and final messenger to all mankind while considering himself purely a warner to the Arabs at the start of his course. The exalted image he obtains in the later passages and the attention paid to his personal affairs characterise much of the Medinan surahs: There springs into the front line the person of Mohammed with an almost shameless prominence. (Caetani, "The Development of Muhammad's Personality", The Muslim World, Vol. 4, p. 361). At the same time the stories of the Biblical prophets are remoulded into a fairly regular form very similar to his own prophetic course and experience. Many of these stories consist of dialogues between a prophet and his kinsmen in which the former preaches monotheism and right-living to the latter who have strayed from the path (So Noah, Surah ; Abraham, Surah ; etc.). Indeed the conversations are even couched in precisely the same language used by Muhammad in debate with his own Meccan kinsmen. Hud, the prophet of the 'Ad people, is said to have discoursed with his countrymen in this manner (only relevant statements are here included for the sake of brevity): "O my people! Worship God! Ye have no other god but Him"... the leaders of the unbelievers among his people said "Ah! We see that thou art an imbecile"... He said "O my people! I am no imbecile, but (I am) an apostle from the Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds!... Do ye wonder that there hath come to you a message from your Lord through a man of your own people, to warn you?"... They said: "Comest thou to us, that we may worship God alone, and give up the cult of our fathers? Bring us what thou threatenest us with, if so be that thou tellest the truth!" He said... "Dispute ye with me over names which ye have devised - ye and your fathers - without authority from God? Then wait: I am amongst you, also waiting". Surah This passage almost perfectly symbolises Muhammad's own struggle with the pagan Meccans. He too concentrated on proclaiming the unity of God, was rejected as one possessed, and likewise defended his claims. (Hud, as in all the Qur'anic stories of the prophets it records, is made to describe Allah in typically Qur'anic terms, e.g., rabbil-'alamin - "The Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds"). Again there is the emphasis on the prophet being called from his own people 128

129 who, however, preferred the cult-worship of their ancestors. Muhammad likewise threatened his people with destruction and was challenged to bring it about (Surah 8.32) and, like the supposed prophet Hud, reviled their idols as asma' summaytumuu haa antum wa aabaa 'ukum - "names which you have devised - you and your fathers" (Surah 7.71, 53.23). Another writer says of Muhammad's tendency to remould the stories of the former prophets to fit his own experiences: What, however, is of more interest to our present study is that the stories of the previous prophets, in whose succession he claims to stand, come to be accommodated to that same pattern. Vague and indefinite figures in the early Meccan passages, their stories gradually take form and, as they appear in his later preaching, they tend more and more to fall into a stylized pattern, viz. the pattern which he has as the background of his thought of his own mission. (Jeffery, The Qur'an as Scripture, p. 47). It has rightly been said that much of the Qur'an is a collection of stories of prophets and events culled from Jewish and other sources upon which the personality of Muhammad has indelibly been impressed. Nowhere is this truer than in the case of the very altercations recorded in the book between earlier prophets and their people, for in these cases even the personalities of those prophets have given way to that of Muhammad himself. (Hud is not a Biblical prophet but the passage quoted is perhaps the most striking example of a parallel between a Qur'anic narrative of a former prophet's experiences and Muhammad's own lot). One cannot help concluding that, far from being a book of divine origin, the Qur'an is really little more than the impress of Muhammad's thoughts and perceptions upon the material he imbibed. From a careful perusal of the suras of this second period, it may safely be said that there is nothing in them which an Arab, acquainted with the general outline of the Jewish history and legend, and of the traditions of his own country, and possessed of some poetic fire and fancy, might not have written, and that the hypothesis of a divine origin is in no way required to account for them. (Stobart, Islam and its Founder, p. 107). 3. A Summary of the Contrast between the Two Periods. In conclusion it seems appropriate to quote a few authors who make their own comments upon the contrast between the Meccan and Medinan passages. Believing that the Qur'an is eternal and that it was mechanically dictated to Muhammad, Muslim writers are generally disinclined to admit the contrast. They fear to allow any idea of a development in the Qur'anic text as this seems to imply that it had much to do with Muhammad's growing prophetic consciousness. One writer, however, who has the courage to openly admit this 129

130 development (as we have seen - p. 109), accordingly has no difficulty identifying the distinction between the two periods: A voice is crying from the very depths of life and impinging forcefully on the Prophet's mind in order to make itself explicit at the level of consciousness. This tone gradually gives way, especially in the Medina period, to a more fluent and easy style as the legal content increases for the detailed organization and direction of the nascent community-state. (Rahman, lslam, p. 30). He goes on to say: "It is interesting that all these descriptions of experiences and visions belong to the Meccan period; in the Medina era we have a progressive unfolding of the religio-moral ideal, and the foundation for the social order for the newly instituted community but hardly any allusions to inner experiences" (Rahman, Islam, p. 128). Another writer also alludes to the developing character of Muhammad's prophetic consciousness in the contrast between the Meccan and Medinan surahs: Yet the revelations which he received, in Mecca so passionate and overwhelming, seemed in Medina to become increasingly, though perhaps unconsciously, the result of reason and thought. (Glubb, The Life and Times of Muhammad, p. 231). It is not our opinion, however, that the phenomenon is purely one of a logical development. The Medinan passages do not compare in style, diction or content with the elevated spirit of the Meccan passages and this retrogression, rather than true "development", is symbolic of the similar deterioration we find in the character of the persevering prophet of Mecca who became the autocratic and, at times, ruthless ruler of Medina. Other writers comment in a similar way on the less inspiring nature of the Medinan passages: In the earlier chapters these verses are short, just as the style is living and fiery; in the later chapters they are of lumbering length, prosaic and slow, and the rhyme comes in with often a most absurd effect. (MacDonald, The Religious Attitude and Life in Islam, p. 31). Yet the style of the Qur an shows the change for the worse. As its sincerity, in the deepest sense of the word, seems to diminish, its subject-matter gets more and more mundane and prosaic; and with that the fire, the terseness, the rhymed beauty of the style gradually fades away into prolixity, tameness, obscurity, wearying repetitiousness. (Gairdner, The Reproach of Islam, p. 48). The style of the Coran, though varying greatly in force and vigour, has for the most part lost the stamp of vivid imagination and poetic fire which marks the earlier Surahs. It becomes, as a rule, tame and ordinary both in thought and 130

131 language. Occasionally, indeed, we still find traces of the former spirit. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. 328). To do justice to the book, however, the passages mentioned by Muir as those manifesting the "former spirit" should be mentioned. The first is: God! There is no god but He, the Living, the Self-subsisting, the Eternal. No slumber can seize him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) Before or After or Behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His Throne cloth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. For He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory). Surah This is the famous ayatul-kursi, the "Verse of the Throne", named after the throne of God described in it. The other striking passage from the Medinan period is a rare verse, of obvious beauty, which tends to move into the mystical realm in its description of God's glory and has accordingly been highly esteemed by the Sufis, the mystics of Islam, of whom we will hear more later: God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within it a Lamp: the Lamp enclosed in a Glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star: lit from a blessed tree, an Olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose Oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! God cloth guide whom He will to His Light: God cloth set forth Parables for men: and God cloth know all things. Surah These two passages are rightly highly esteemed by the Muslims and are typical of the constant endeavour in the Qur'an to glorify God in suitable terms. Nevertheless they do appear to be more easily related to the earlier surahs of the Meccan period than the otherwise legislative spirit of most of the Medinan passages. It is in the Meccan surahs that we find "quite a number of verses expounding this theme of God's goodness and power. Indeed, quantitatively this is by far the most prominent aspect of the message of the early passages" (Watt, Muhammad at Mecca, p. 63). The Muslim world, nonetheless, rarely approaches the Qur'an with a desire to analyse its teaching, sources or development in a critical way, and prefers simply to dogmatically claim that it is the true and final revelation of God. Let us, then, press on to a brief examination of some of its teachings, its collection, and its sources, to see whether this claim can truly withstand the acid test of a critical analysis. 131

132 C. Significant Qur'anic Doctrines and Teachings 1. The Qur'anic Doctrine of Abrogation. The Qur'an is unique among sacred scriptures in teaching a doctrine of abrogation according to which later pronouncements of the Prophet abrogate, i.e., declare null and void, his earlier pronouncements. The importance of knowing which verses abrogate others has given rise to the Qur'anic science known as Nasikh wa Mansukh, i.e., the "Abrogators and the Abrogated". (Jeffery, Islam: Muhammad and his Religion, p. 66). There are a number of passages in the Qur'an which teach that Allah cancels certain revelations and teachings he has given and substitutes them with new revelations. The most prominent verse in the Qur'an which sets forth this doctrine is this one: None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that God hath power over all things? Surah In the early days of Islam it was widely accepted that this meant that some of the earlier parts of the Qur'an were superseded by later revelations. For example, in some passages wine is regarded as having good and bad effects (Surah ) and at first the Muslims in Medina were bidden not to come to their daily prayers in a state of intoxication (Surah 4.43). Later, however, the drinking of wine was prohibited altogether (Surah ). Accordingly the consumption of all alcoholic beverages was henceforth forbidden in Islam. In some cases it was taught that even the sunnah (the example of Muhammad's life as recorded in the Hadith) could abrogate the teachings of the Qur'an. The Qur'an teaches that the penalty for adultery is a hundred stripes (Surah 24.2) but it is recorded in all the works of Hadith that it was Muhammad's practice to stone adulterers to death. To this day the sunnah prevails over the Qur'an in Arabia where those guilty of adultery are put to death. (On the other hand the second caliph, Umar, once stated that the Qur'an itself originally taught that adulterers were to be stoned - we will return to this subject in the next section). The great commentators Baidawi and Zamakshari both taught that Surah meant that the full revelation of God's will could be deferred and that he could make certain allowances in earlier revelations which were to be disallowed in later revelations. Baydawi's comment on the latter verse is illuminating on the significance of the principle of "abrogation" for Islam. "The verse", he says, "is proof that abrogation and the deferring of revelation - since the original revelation is qualified by "if" - and any commands that the latter may include, are valid. The 132

133 reason for it is that laws are formulated and verses revealed as they are required, to suit the good of mankind.... This varies with the time and the individual; as, for example, the necessities of life, which may be beneficial at one time and harmful at another". (Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, p. 163). The author adds in a footnote that at an earlier point in the same passage Baidawi also said "Abrogation of a verse indicates that it has ceased to be a pious act to recite it, or that any law based upon it has ceased to be valid, or both" (op. cit.). This great Muslim commentator clearly believed that, if a verse was abrogated, both its recitation and its contents were of no effect. The other great commentator, Zamakshari, taught precisely the same thing. In his tafsir (commentary) on Surah he says: To abrogate a verse means that God removes (azala) it by putting another in its place. To cause a verse to be abrogated means that God gives the command that it be abrogated; that is, he commands Gabriel to set forth the verse as abrogated by announcing its cancellation. (Gatje, The Qur'an and its Exegesis, p. 58). He even goes on to say that such verses even disappeared by Gabriel's express command from the Qur'anic text. There remain clear cases, however, where the Qur'an records both the mansukh verse (the one cancelled) and the naskh verse (the new one that cancels it). Thus the command appropriate at Mecca, to spend a large part of the night in devotions was abrogated at Medina where the Muslims, especially Muhammad himself, had responsible work to do during the day; but the abrogated verses were allowed to remain in the Qur'an. (Watt, What is Islam?, p. 228). The earlier passage exhorts Muhammad to spend about half of each night in prayer and recitation (Surah 73.1,4), but in a later verse in the same surah (73.20), where it acknowledged that Muhammad and his companions spend at least a third and, at times, up to two-thirds of the night in prayer, Allah himself relaxes the commandment. He allows for the ability of the Muslims to determine precisely the hours of the night, that some are in ill-health or on various journeys, and commands them instead simply to read as much "as may be easy" for them. Another verse in the Qur'an which teaches the doctrine of abrogation is this one: By degrees shall We teach thee to declare (the Message) so thou shalt not forget, except as God wills. For he knoweth what is manifest and what is hidden. Surah One highly respected Muslim commentator of the Qur'an of more recent times allows that Surah does indeed teach clear doctrine of abrogation: 133

134 What is the meaning here? If we take it in a general sense, it means that God's Message from age to age is always the same, but that its form may differ according to the needs and exigencies of the time. That form was as different as given to Moses and then to Jesus and then to Muhammad. Some commentators apply it also to the Ayat of the Qur'an. There is nothing derogatory in this if we believe in progressive revelation (Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 46). On the other hand he says of the later verses (Surah ): "There can be no question of this having any reference to the abrogation of any verses of the Qur'an" (p. 1724). He alleges that it is simply one of God's mercies that we should innocuously forget former events and revelations "lest our minds become confused"! The great early commentators, however, settled the interpretation of these verses upon the teaching of the other verse (Surah 2.106) and their conclusion was that Allah had expressly caused Muhammad to forget the abrogated passages and had deleted them from the developing text of the Qur'an. What was eventually settled as the joint exegesis of Q 87 and Q 2 (the interpretation of each of these verses operating upon that of the other) was that there were indeed verses once revealed to Muhammad as part of the 'total Qur'an revelation' which, however, have been omitted from the collected texts of the Qur'an, the mushaf. That had by no means occurred from Muhammad's having merely forgotten them. Q 87 refers to God's will and Q 2 uses the root nsy in the causative. God had caused Muhammad to forget in conformity with the mysterious divine intention as to the final contents of the Book of God. (Burton, The Collection of the Qur'an, p. 48) Whether all the abrogated verses were deleted from the Qur'an or whether some remain in the text was never determined, and still is by many fugaha (jurists) of Islam, is that the Qur'an teaches quite clearly that some of its earlier revelations can be superseded and replaced by later revelations. This doctrine has become unpalatable to many modern Muslims, however, as it tends to undermine their conviction that nothing in the Qur'an has ever been changed, neither in its text, nor in its teachings. There are yet other verses, nonetheless, supporting this doctrine of abrogation: When We substitute one revelation for another, - and God knows best what He reveals (in stages), - they say, "Thou art but a forger": but most of them understand not. Surah God doth blot out or confirm what He pleaseth: with Him is the Mother of the Book. Surah

135 All these verses, however, are interpreted by modern Muslims to mean that the Qur'an abrogates the previous revelations, especially the Tawrat of Moses and the Injil of Jesus. One such commentator says: That certain verses of the Qur'an are abrogated by others is now an exploded theory. The two passages on which it was supposed to rest, refer, really. to the abrogation, not of the passages of the Qur'an, but of the previous revelations whose place the Holy Book had taken. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 30). Another apologist says of Surah 2.106: "If one law, namely the biblical law, is cancelled, then a better one is given to Muhammad" (Khalifa, The Sublime Qur'an and Orientalism p. 95). Surah may well refer to the cancelling of previous books as the verse just preceding it talks of apostles sent before Muhammad and closes with the statement that each kitaba (scripture) revealed to them was only likulli ajal - "for each period" (Surah 13.38). Surah , however, speaks purely in the context of the Qur'an itself and the following verses are a defence of the book against its detractors. Furthermore it is not said in this verse that God cancels a kitab by replacing it with another, but rather that he substitutes an ayah, a word generally meaning "sign" but, in the context of scriptural revelation, referring solely to a verse of a book and not the book itself. This verse, therefore, clearly teaches that Allah substitutes one verse of the Qur'an for another, and it was this claim that made the Quraysh allege that Muhammad was "but a forger", for it appeared to be a very expedient way of explaining the anomaly of earlier verses being "substituted" or "forgotten". Yusuf Ali translates the next verse as "Say, the Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord in Truth" (Surah ) which tends to imply that the whole Qur'an is the revelation spoken of in the previous verse which replaces other, earlier revelations, such as the Tawrat and Injil. The translator has not been entirely accurate in this interpretation, however, for there is no word for "revelation" in the original text in Surah Usually he puts explanatory clauses in parentheses, but here simply inserts the word as though it is a direct translation from the original, which it is not. The text actually reads: Qul nazzalahuu ruuhul qudusi mirrabbika bil haqq and, literally interpreted, it simply means "Say, it is sent down by the Holy Spirit from thy Lord in Truth". The word ayah does not appear in the original verse. If a noun had to be supplied, it would more properly be al-kitab or al-qur'an. In Surah the word for "revelations" is once again ayat, invariably used of actual verses of the Qur'an and not of the whole book or other scriptures. The Qur'anic word to expressly describe an earlier revelation in a scriptural form is always kitab and not ayah. The latter word is often used of God's signs and communications (Jesus himself is called an ayah - Surah 19.21), but it is never 135

136 used specifically of a previous scripture. Furthermore, if the Qur'an teaches that it is former scriptures that God causes to be forgotten, then Surah and Surah must be interpreted to mean that Allah had caused Muhammad to forget these rather than earlier verses he had received. "But as Muhammad had never learnt the law of Moses, he cannot be said to have forgotten it" (Sell, The Historical Development of the Qur'an, p. 37). It is surely more reasonable to conclude that the Qur'an is referring to actual revelations made to Muhammad himself which had later been substituted or "forgotten". One understands the attempts by modern Muslim writers to explain away the obvious meaning of these verses. They certainly do tend to imply that Muhammad found he was forgetting some of his earlier recitations and, as his mission developed, became aware of the need to replace or amend earlier teachings. There appears to be some substance in the conclusion of the Quraysh that Muhammad himself was artfully adapting his Qur'an to suit the needs of the moment as he went along. 2. The Stories of the Biblical and other Prophets. The Qur'an is hardly a book of history. Not only does its composition cover nothing more than a twenty-three year period early in the seventh century AD, but the book itself contains no chronology of the historical events it alludes to or otherwise records. It is remarkable that there is no definite date given to any event in the Qur an. And there is also a marked absence of place-names. Only from tradition do we know anything of when or where the various chapters were revealed. (Zwemer, The Cross above the Crescent, p. 217). Not only are no details given in the Qur'an of any sequence in the contemporary events of Muhammad's life but the book also makes virtually no reference to current events outside the Hijaz (the area of Arabia near the Red Sea where most of the action in Muhammad's ministry took place). There is one notable exception - Surah 30 begins with a mention of a recent defeat of the Byzantines by the Sassanids of Persia, "the only instance in the Qur'an of a world-historical allusion outside Arabia" (Stanton, The Teaching of the Qur'an, p. 24). Yet even here the Byzantines are called Ar-Rum - "The Romans" (Surah 30.2), an apparent misnomer for the predominantly Greek armies of Byzantium (now Istanbul). It is probable, however, that the ruling European forces in the Middle East and North Africa were collectively called Romans after many centuries of rule by the Roman Empire in these regions. It is the stories of the Biblical prophets that particularly lack any manner of logical sequence in the Qur'an. In some places there are lists of prophets which are hardly given in any sort of order. In the following verse the early patriarchs 136

137 are given in the correct sequence (though Ishmael is discounted as a prophet in the Bible), but the names of the prophets thereafter are completely mixed up: We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: We sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms. Surah One cannot help presuming that Muhammad had a fairly sound knowledge of the history of the patriarchs from Noah to the sons of Jacob but was somewhat at sea regarding the sequence of the prophets that followed. Indeed the later prophets, from Isaiah to Malachi, with the exception of Jonah, are conspicuous purely by their absence in the Qur'an. While the patriarchs are vigorously Quranic figures, the great prophets of the Bible from the eighth century BC onwards, are entirely absent. (Cragg, The Event of the Qur'an, p. 173). There is nothing of the teaching of the writing prophets of the Old Testament, and practically nothing of the teaching of the New Testament. (Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, p. 54). On the other hand there are numerous stories in the Qur'an relating to the earlier prophets and New Testament figureheads which are borrowed from Jewish Talmudic sources and Christian apocryphal writings respectively. Examples of these are found in the sections on Qur'anic origins and sources to follow. It seems that Muhammad's knowledge of the Bible was limited to information from secondary sources, though this knowledge did improve as time went on. The needs of his profession do not appear to have made him actually a student - yet there is no question that as the Qur an grew in bulk, its knowledge of biblical stories became somewhat more accurate: and though this greater degree of accuracy may have been at times due to the Prophet's memory, it is more likely that he took such opportunities as offered of acquiring more information. (Margoliouth, Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, p. 106). An example of the growing accuracy of the Qur'anic records of the events in the lives of the Biblical prophets proves the point. In Surah one finds a brief record of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and of a typical conversation between the prophet Lot and his unbelieving people. Lot was delivered with his family "except an old woman who lingered behind" (Surah , as also ). The story is roughly repeated in Surah , except that in this case, as in all the other later records of this event, the woman is now positively identified as his wife (Surah 27.57). There is as yet no hint of the involvement of the angels who came as God's messengers in human form to 137

138 destroy the cities but, in later passages, they finally appear while the narratives of the whole episode are simultaneously embellished with further information. In Surah there is a brief record of the visit of the angels and their mission. Furthermore Abraham is now linked to the story of the destruction of these cities (typically not mentioned by name in the Qur'an) in that the angels visit him first to announce their purpose (v.58-60) as in the Bible (Genesis ). When they come to Lot, however, they disclose their true identities immediately as well as their design and call on him to leave by night with his household (v.63-66). Only after this do the townsmen come to Lot to demand his guests and, as in the Bible (Genesis 19.8), Lot offers them his daughters (v.71). The record is very similar to the Biblical account except that in the Bible the angels only make their true identities known after the altercation with the tribesmen (Genesis 19.11) and only then command him to prepare to leave with his family as they make their mission known to him (Genesis ). The Qur'anic error in placing these disclosures before the visit of the townsmen leads to a somewhat irrational situation: In S. 15 apparently no sequence of the events is presented, since it is told that the conversation of Lot with the people follows after the notification of the angelic rank of the visitors. This is not logical, for in that case Lot need not have been afraid of being importuned by the people and there would have been no need of "offering" his daughters. (Baljon, Modern Muslim Qur an Interpretation, p. 38). In Surah Muhammad finally gets it right. Once again the angels come to Abraham and this time the Qur'an mentions the prayer he offered to deliver the cities. Furthermore the disclosure of the identities of the angelic guests and their purpose to deliver Lot and his family and destroy the cities is now rightly placed after the altercation with the townsmen (v.81-82). Now the fears of Lot about the security of his guests when the townsmen arrive makes sense. He is said to have "felt himself powerless" (v.77) to protect them and openly expresses his regret that he could not summon powerful support on their behalf (v.80). Only at this point do they disclose their true identities as angelic messengers and only now is he called to leave with his family by night. All this is consistent with the Biblical narrative but is contradictory of the account in Surah 15 where the disclosures are said to have been made before the townsmen confronted Lot. All these features strongly support the statement made by Margoliouth that, as the Qur'an developed, so its record of the events relating to the Biblical prophets became significantly more accurate. This conclusion can hardly be resisted in the circumstances: Again, in the first four of the passages just quoted nothing suggests any awareness of the connexion between Abraham and Lot, and indeed some 138

139 matters suggest ignorance of it; on the other hand, in the last three passages there is explicit mention of the connexion with Abraham. If there were only one or two instances of this sort of thing they could easily be explained away; but there are a great many; and the Western critic therefore finds it difficult to resist the conclusion that Muhammad's knowledge of these stories was growing and that therefore he was getting information from a person or persons familiar with them. (Watt, Muhammad at Mecca, p. 159). That Muhammad derived much of his knowledge of the prophets from those around him is backed up further by the fact that many of the names it gives to these prophets are not in their original form but rather in the form we find in the Greek texts of the New Testament, which is most significant because Arabic is a Semitic language in many respects closely related to Hebrew while it is considerably different to Greek. The prophets Jonah and Elijah are called Yunus and Ilyas respectively in the Qur'an, and the New Testament Greek forms of their names are likewise Yunas and Elias. The names of these prophets, therefore, as well as others (ea. Ishaq for Isaac) in the Qur'an, are given in neither their proper Hebrew nor Arabic forms but in the corresponding Greek form. But the point is most important, especially as the Quran claims to be an Arabic Quran and a revelation to the Arabs in plain unequivocal language. (Guillaume, Islam, p. 62). It seems fair to conclude that, in all these instances, the Qur'an records nothing more than information which Muhammad received respecting the Biblical prophets, not through a divine revelation from heaven, but purely through communications between himself and the Jews and other knowledgeable folk he chanced to meet. 3. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in the Qur'an. One of the most significant features of the Qur'an is the attention it pays to Mary, the mother of Jesus. She is the only woman mentioned by name in the book and features so prominently that the 19th Surah is named after her, namely Suratu-Maryam. Yet, despite the eminent position she holds in the Qur'an, much of its teaching about her is derived from apocryphal sources and no small amount of confusion about her true role is found in the book. There are several references in the Quran to the legends contained in the apocryphal gospels, suggesting that the Prophet's knowledge of Christianity may have been derived from some such sources. The most commonly quoted examples of this nature are, firstly, the statement that Mary was brought up in the Temple in Jerusalem, where she was fed by angels. This tradition was to be 139

140 found in the "Protevangelium of James the Less", an apocryphal work, and also in certain apocryphal gospels produced in Egypt. (Glubb, The Life and Times of Muhammad, p. 295). In the story referred to we find that the mother of Mary, a "woman of Imran" (Surah 3.35), dedicated her child while it was still in the womb to the Temple service but was surprised to find that it was a female when it was born (v.36). Nevertheless the Qur'an states that God accepted her dedication and that she was committed to the care of Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, and remained constantly in her mihrab (v.37). The word today refers to the niche in all mosques giving the direction of Mecca but in this case refers to her "chamber" in the Temple. (The mihrab in the great mosque at Cordoba in Spain is in the form of a small chamber). That it was actually intended to be in the Temple itself is strengthened by the statement that Zachariah alone had access to her (v.37) for only the Levitical priests could venture into the inner parts of the Temple and the High Priest alone into the Holy of Holies, and that but once a year. Although Mary's mother is not named, some of the works of Hadith say that her name was Hannah and most Qur'anic commentators thus describe her. Both ancient and modern commentaries on the Qur'an accept that this was her real name. One of the more recent commentaries says: By tradition Mary's mother was called Hannah (in Latin, Anna, and in English, Anne), and her father was called Imran. (Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 131). Another commentator says of the "wife of Imran" that she is "Mary's mother, Jesus' grandmother, known as Hannah or Anne" (Daryabadi, The Holy Qur'an, p. 52A). It is further said in this passage in the Qur'an that Zachariah was astonished to find that, although Mary was always shut up in her chamber, she was always supplied with food. When he asked where it came from, she answered huwa min 'indillah - "it is from the realm of God" (Surah 3.37). It is needless to add, surely, that all this has no equivalent in the Biblical record of the life of our Lord's mother. Where then does it all come from? In the quote from Glubb's biography we are given one of its origins - the heretical "Protevangelium of James the Less". We have here a relevant quote from this apocryphal work: Anna said, as the Lord my God liveth, if a child, either male or female, be born unto me, I will offer it as a gift to the Lord my God, and it will be in his service all the days of its life... And she gave the breast to the child and called its name Mary... And Mary remained like a dove in the Temple of the Lord, and received food at an angel's hand. (Tisdall, The Sources of Islam, p. 53). 140

141 It is quite clear where this strange story originated. One finds many things salt about Jesus in the Qur'an derived from similar apocryphal works which circulated in and around Arabia at Muhammad's time (e.g. a claim that he spoke from the cradle, Surah , which is derived from the "Arabic Gospel of the Infancy", so-called because the surviving manuscripts of this work are significantly all in Arabic!). Tisdall adds that this story of Mary's confinement and sustenance in the Temple is also found in other writings: The legend of Mary's being brought up in the Temple is found in many other apocryphal works besides the one we have here quoted. For example, in the Coptic "History of the Virgin" we read:- 'She was nourished in the Temple like the doves, and food was brought to her from the heavens by the angels of God. And she was wont to do service in the Temple; the angels of God used to minister unto her. But they used often to bring her fruits also from the Tree of Life, that she might eat of them with joy'. (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 159). One can hardly blame Muhammad for the composition of this strange story but, by including it in the Qur'an, he has made his book teach strange things about the mother of Jesus. In fact the whole story is a marvellous confusion of various passages in the Bible. Mary is clearly confused with Elijah, for a start, for he was the prophet confined to solitude who was fed by ravens who brought him food from above (1 Kings 17.6). Nevertheless it is the name given to Mary's mother, namely Hannah, that really gives us the clue as to where the composers of the story obtained their material. It is striking to find that Hannah, Mary's supposed mother, prayed for a child and promised to dedicate it to the service and worship of the House of God. Even Sunday-school children will guess that Mary has, in this case, been confused with Samuel, for it was his mother, the true Hannah. who thus prayed for a child no less than a thousand years earlier and promised to devote him to the service of God: And she vowed a vow and said, "O Lord of Hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thy maidservant, and remember me, and not forget thy maidservant, but wilt give to thy maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head". 1 Samuel 1.11 When Samuel was born he was duly dedicated to the House of the Lord (1 Samuel 1.28) and it was he who anointed David King over Israel. One can clearly see where the confusion arose, but how did it come about? We have to go back to the time of Mary to find out. In Luke's Gospel we find this most enlightening passage: 141

142 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke One can clearly see now how the anachronism came about. Once again we have a woman whose original Hebrew name was Hannah and yet we find that it is this woman who remained in the Temple night and day, significantly worshipping and fasting for a good many years. Mary has clearly been confused, not only with Elijah and Samuel, but with Anna the prophetess as well! It is clear that the two respective Hannahs - the mother of Samuel and the daughter of Phanuel - have been confused with one another and the story in Surah 3 in the Qur'an is therefore clearly a peculiar blending of the two totally different stories in the Bible about these two women. What makes this connection even more certain is a perusal of the praises given to God by Hannah and Mary respectively after they had been blessed with the conception of their holy sons through the power of God when such conceptions were most unlikely. Part of Hannah's prayer reads: "My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy like the Lord, there is none besides thee; there is no rock like our God.... The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger". 1 Samuel 2.1-2, 4-5. Now compare her prayer with these words extracted from the famous Magnificat, the oracle of praise which Mary uttered when Jesus was conceived in her womb: 142

143 "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,... For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away". Luke , The two oracles are remarkably similar and the perceiving reader will immediately see that Hannah was a type of Mary just as her son Samuel was a type of Jesus Christ and foreshadowed his coming. On the other hand, some less perceptive minds strangely confused the stories of Hannah and Mary, compounded the confusion by further mixing up the stories of the two Hannahs in the Old and New Testaments respectively, and then added a bit of flavour from the story of Elijah to the final concoction to produce the bewildering narrative found in the apocryphal writings which has even more startingly found its way into the text of the Qur'an as a story true to history and authenticated by divine revelation! As if all this were not enough, we even find Mary confused with Miriam, the sister of Aaron, in the Qur'an as well! In the Surah named after Mary we find that, when the child Jesus was born, her neighbours said to her: "O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought! O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!" Surah Some Muslims have alleged that Mary really had a brother named Aaron, but this is pure speculation and inconsistent with the fact that the only one named in the Qur'an, called Harun, is specifically called the brother of Moses (Surah 20.30). It is hard to resist the conclusion that Muhammad confounded the 143

144 mother of Jesus with Miriam, the true sister of Aaron, the first high-priest of Israel. Having heard a Mary mentioned in the story of Moses and another in the story of Jesus, it did not occur to him to distinguish between them. (Margoliouth, Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, p. 61). As compared with men of book-learning, Mahomet was undoubtedly illinformed; otherwise he could not have confused Miriam the sister of Moses with Miriam the mother of Jesus, as he is said to have done. (Irving, The Life of Mahomet, p. xii). The title "sister of Aaron" is given to Miriam in Exod. xv.20, and it must be from this passage that Muhammad borrowed the expression. The reason of the mistake which identifies the Mother of our Saviour with a woman who lived about one thousand five hundred and seventy years before His birth is evidently the fact that in Arabic both names, Mary and Miriam, are one and the same in form, Maryam. (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 150). In this case Muhammad's error cannot be attributed to an apocryphal writing as in the case of Hannah and Samuel. This time the confusion is entirely his own. Indeed, during his own lifetime, he was confronted by Christians with this anachronism and the answer he gave is very interesting: Mughira b. Shu'ba reported: When I came to Najran, they (the Christians of Najran) asked me: You read "O sister of Harun" (i.e. Hadrat Maryam) in the Qur'an, whereas Moses was born much before Jesus. When I came back to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) I asked him about that, whereupon he said: The people (of the old age) used to give names (to their persons) after the names of Apostles and pious persons who had gone before them. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 3, p. 1169). Accordingly most Muslim efforts to explain away the anomaly follow this line of reasoning. It is extremely hard to credit, however, as there is no other instance in the Qur'an where anyone else is so called. Muslim writers often claim that Christians find an anachronism here purely because they are ignorant of Arabic, yet one struggles to find another example of such a figure of speech in the Qur'an. One writer refers to the non-biblical prophets Hud and Salih who are called brothers of their people (Surah and respectively) and says of those who allege that Muhammad confounded the mother of Jesus with the sister of Aaron: Clearly they were unaware that the word akha is often used in the Qur'an not to mean "blood-brother" but "related to", i.e. of the same nation or tribe. (Khalifa, The Sublime Qur'an and Orientalism, p. 72). 144

145 Actually the word is only used in this context in a few passages which duplicate each other where the two prophets spoken of are so described. This is how "often" the word appears in this context in the Qur'an. In every other case it is always a blood-brother who is referred to (in fact the word is used most commonly for Aaron who is invariably described as the brother of Moses as we have seen. In the light of the subject now at hand, namely the title "sister of Aaron", this is very significant as it is hard to believe that Aaron would so often be called the brother of Moses in the direct sense if this other clause "sister of Aaron" was intended to be taken indirectly). Furthermore the prophets spoken of were not named after other figureheads but simply as brothers of their people generally - a very different use of the expression "brother" from the title "sister of Aaron". Khalifa's defence is hardly convincing. It seems that he is hoping that all his readers are indeed as ignorant of Arabic as he supposes those Christians to be whom he sets out to refute, for he implies that the Qur'an regularly uses the word akha (brother) in the sense of "related to" which is simply not the case. Furthermore it is important to point out, on the other hand, that the Qur'an nowhere speaks of a "sister" who is "related to her people". The only word used in the Qur'an for "a sister" is ukhtun and it appears in Surah 4.12 where it obviously refers to an immediate blood-sister as the verse deals with immediate degrees of inheritance from one who has left no ascendants or descendants. Sisters are also spoken of in Surah 4.23 and and blood-sisters are once again clearly intended. In Surah Mary's companions address her Yaa ukhta Haaruuna - "O sister of Aaron"! A proper exegesis of the word "sister" here consistent with the use of the word elsewhere in the Qur'an can only yield the meaning "a blood-sister of Aaron". There is no warrant whatsoever for the interpretation "one who is related to Aaron". Even if it was intended to carry this meaning we would still be faced with extreme difficulties for it leads to untenable suppositions. Another Muslim writer comments on the use of the expression in Surah 19.28: Since Mary belonged to the priestly caste, and hence descended from Aaron, the brother of Moses, she was called a "sister of Aaron" (in the same way as her cousin Elisabeth, the wife of Zachariah, is spoken of in Luke i.5 as one "of the daughters of Aaron"). (Asad, The Message of the Qur'an, p. 460). It is true that people descended from famous forefathers in the Bible are often described as such, e.g. the names given to Jesus "the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matthew 1.1), but they are always actually descended from them as Elizabeth was from Aaron. Only the tribe of Levi could act as priests and both Aaron and Zachariah, together with his wife Elizabeth, were actually descended from Levi. 145

146 Mary, on the other hand, was descended from Judah through the line of David (Luke 1.32). She was not related to Aaron in any specific way at all, other than as an Israelite, like him, descended from Abraham. She was not even of his tribe. Whatever "relationship" existed was purely national and ethnic - the remotest there could be. It is true Elizabeth is called her "kinswoman" in Luke 1.36 but, if there had been any intermarrying between their ancestors in any way, it must have been on Elizabeth's side. One of her ancestors must have married into the tribe of Judah (which is hardly surprising as, after the exiles to Assyria and Babylon, this tribe constituted the overwhelming remnant of Israel that finally returned to the promised land). On the other hand it is expressly stated in the Bible that Jesus is an eternal high-priest after the order of Melchisedec and he, therefore, could not have been descended in any way from Levi through Aaron. Accordingly his mother Mary likewise could not have had any Levitical blood in her and so was in no way descended from or related to Aaron: Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. Hebrews (my italics). This passage makes it quite plain that Jesus had no lineal connection with Aaron whatsoever. Furthermore, whereas it was common to call people the sons or daughters of illustrious ancestors, they were never described as their brothers or sisters. This holds true for both the Bible and the Qur'an. The attempts by Muslim commentators to explain away the strange confusion between the true sister of Aaron and the mother of Jesus are simply unconvincing. This impression does indeed seem to be very appropriate: The Commentators have in vain endeavoured to explain this marvellous confusion of time and space. (Tisdall, The Sources of Islam, p. 49). The evidence in favour of the claim that Muhammad erred at this point is, on the contrary, entirely persuasive. As pointed out already, the original name of Mary was the same as that of the actual sister of Aaron, Miriam in Hebrew and Maryam in Arabic. If there had been no real sister of Aaron by that name, the 146

147 title given to Mary would still have seemed inappropriate. But, as there really was a Miriam, sister of Aaron, the anachronism so obviously presents itself. What strengthens this conclusion is the fact that Miriam is distinctly called the "sister of Aaron" in the Bible: Then Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand. Exodus We have seen that ukhta Harun in the Qur'an must mean the blood-sister of Aaron and this is precisely what Miriam was. Muhammad has clearly confused Maryam, the mother of Jesus, with this woman. Furthermore the evidence is strongly substantiated by the name given to Mary's father in the Qur'an. In the Bible we read that Jochebed "bore to Amran, Aaron and Moses and Miriam their sister" (Numbers 26.59). So the father of Aaron and Miriam was a man called Amran - and yet this is the very name given to the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the Qur'an' He is called Imran, the Arabic form of Amran (as Ibrahim is the Arabic form of Abraham). Mary, accordingly, is expressly called Maryamabnata 'Imraan - "Mary, daughter of Imran" - in the Qur'an (Surah 66.12). So she is not only called the sister of Aaron but also the daughter of Imran. We therefore have a double-proof of the fact that she has been confused with Miriam, the true sister of Aaron and daughter of Amran. Lastly, it may well be asked, why is Mary called the "sister of Aaron" in the Qur'an if she is not confused with Miriam? We have shown that she was in no way descended from him and no more closely related to him than to any other patriarch or figurehead of Israel. Accordingly, what relevance is there in the appellation? Why was she called after Aaron rather than Moses, Elijah, Joseph, Solomon, or some other prophet? Not only can one find no relevance in the title, the passage quoted above from the Book of Hebrews also makes it plain that it is, on the contrary, ill-conceived and quite inappropriate. Despite the laborious attempts at explanation by Muslim commentators, it can scarcely be denied that a gross anachronism has here slipped into the Qur an. (Frieling, Christianity and Islam, p. 63). Let it be said in conclusion that, whereas the Qur'an is a truly remarkable book and one of many virtues, it hardly justifies its claim to be the Word of God. 147

148 The Collection and Sources of The Qur'an A. Evidences for The Collection of The Qur'an. 1. Modern Muslim Attitudes to the Text of the Qur'an. It is universally believed throughout The Muslim World that the Qur'an in circulation today is precisely that which Allah revealed to Muhammad, that nothing whatsoever has been changed, that no passage has been omitted from the text, that no man added to it, and that, down to the last letter, it has been preserved intact by the power of God. This hypothesis is then summarily adduced as proof that the book must be the Word of God, one which the Qur'an itself sets forth: Innaa nahnu nazzalnaath-thikraa wa innaa lahuu lahaafidhuun - "Indeed We sent down the Admonition, and will verily guard it" (Surah 15.9). Muslim writers boldly allege: All the great religions of the world have their sacred books but it is the proud claim of Islam that the Qur'an is the only sacred book to have survived absolutely unchanged since it was first revealed and written down fourteen hundred years ago. (Khalifa, The Sublime Qur'an and Orientalism, p. 3). The purity of the Qur'anic text is and will forever remain the greatest miracle of all history. (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. xcvi). It is a truly miraculous fact that the text of the Quran has been preserved absolutely pure and entire, down to the last vowel point. (Zafrulla Khan, Islam: Its Meaning for Modern Man, p. 89). It is true that the Qur'an has been exceptionally well preserved and its text is very much that which was first compiled at the inception of Islam. Even Christian scholars have been quick to admit this fact: There is probably in the world no other work which has remained twelve centuries with so pure a text. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. xxi). Nonetheless a study of the early collection of the book will show that the popular sentiments of the Muslims, as expressed in the quotes above, are not entirely supported by the evidences at hand. One cannot help immediately detecting, in these quotes, certain claims that suggest that the wish is father to the thought. Zafrulla Khan goes so far as to allege that even the vowel points of the Qur'an are totally unchanged to this day, and yet the history of the Qur'an text shows that diacritical points distinguishing the Arabic consonants and the relative vowel points were only introduced at least two hundred years after Muhammad's death. The earliest Qur'ans, in kufic and other scripts, all had only seventeen consonants (whereas the Arabic letters distinguished by diacritical 148

149 points, etc., today number twenty- nine) and none were accompanied by vowel points. Likewise scrupulous human preservation of the text can hardly be termed a divine miracle. No more does the preservation of the text in the memories of the qurra (Qur'an "readers") justify this claim. No amount of human effort, no matter how remarkably punctilious or scrupulous it may be, can be adduced as proof of a divine miracle. As we analyse the history of the text of the Qur'an we will find that, like the Bible, it has suffered from variant readings and other vagaries, notwithstanding the fact that it has been carefully preserved as a whole. This statement anticipates the only conclusion that can be drawn from an analysis of the evidences: It may be assumed that the Qur'an in its present form contains the greatest part of the revelations which actually occurred; on the other hand, one cannot support the claim that it includes all of the revelations. (Gatje, The Qur'an and its Exegesis, p. 23). Before proceeding, it is useful to point out at this stage that the Muslim attitude to the Qur'an does not derive from an exhaustive study of the historical evidences available but rather from preferred presuppositions. The Qur'an has never been subjected to the form of textual criticism so intensively applied to the Bible in recent times. Muslims mistake this as a sign that the Qur'an does not suffer from the minor textual defects found in the Biblical texts. Once one ventures upon such an analysis, however, one finds that the results are invariably the same, as we shall see. Is there any serious textual criticism of the Islamic Scripture? How far have Muslims gone in taking the Qur'an in proper terms of historical analysis? Are they not impossibly fundamentalist in their attitudes? When will the break come? (Cragg, The Mind of the Qur'an, p. 183). When the early Muslims began to have contact with Christian communities they discovered that the teachings of the Bible contradicted those of the Qur'an in many ways and that they were fundamentally Jewish and Christian rather than supportive of Islam as the Qur'an claims. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention and the Muslims immediately felt bound to allege that the Biblical texts must have been corrupted, and so it is to this day. The claims for the purity of the Qur'an text, allowing not the slightest "corruption", were a natural corollary to this allegation and are made, consciously or otherwise, for this very purpose to the present day. An objective study of the sources, however, will show that "the textual history of the Qur'an is very similar to that of the Bible" (Guillaume, Islam, p. 58), and that the Muslim efforts to push the transmission of the texts of the two books to opposite extremes is the product purely of wishful thinking. 149

150 2. The Qur'an at the End of Muhammad's Life. Muhammad's death was quite unexpected, so much so that Umar threatened to despatch to the same fate those who dared to allege that it had occurred. What was the state of the Qur'an itself at this untimely juncture? The records in the Hadith are somewhat confusing but all agree on one point - the collection of the Qur'an text into its final form only took place after Muhammad's death. To begin with, it is quite certain that when the Prophet died there was no collected, collated, arranged body of material of his revelations. What we have is what could be gathered together somewhat later by the leaders of the community when they began to feel the need of a collection of the Prophet's proclamations, and by that time much of it was lost, and other portions could only be recorded in fragmentary form. (Jeffery, The Qur'an as Scripture, p. 91). This is the general opinion of most Western scholars who have made a study of the compilation of the Qur'an. Jeffery was the scholar par excellence in this field among English-speaking students of the subject and in another work he again makes the same point: Nothing is more certain than that when the Prophet died there was no collected, arranged, collated body of revelations. (Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur'an, p. 5). As pointed out already, the early traditions are not always clear, but we do believe that a very sound conclusion can be drawn from them and one consistent with the evidences. Nonetheless one does find some scholars seeking to discount the traditions and thereby establish favoured hypotheses. One such scholar is John Burton who, in a recent work, has sought to prove that the Qur'an text that has been handed down was in fact quite simply that which Muhammad himself actually defined, collected and arranged towards the end of his life. He is constrained to admit, however, that his thesis is ex vacuo as far as the evidences are concerned and indeed somewhat contrary to them. He duly allows that the traditions, while conflicting at times, are nevertheless unanimous in teaching that the Qur'an was not collected in its present form before Muhammad's death: The Muslim reports are not in fact in disagreement) they are in perfect agreement, for common to all of them is the constant and unvarying allegation that, whoever may have been the first to collect the Qur'an texts, it was certainly not the Prophet to whom they had been revealed. (Burton, The Collection of the Qur'an, p. 160). It is widely stated in the works of Hadith that the first attempt to collect the Qur'an was only made during Abu Bakr's short reign as caliph after Muhammad's death. A widespread revolt followed his demise in Arabia and, in 150

151 one of Abu Bakr's major campaigns to quell it, at the Battle of Yamama, many of the qurra were killed. This event allegedly prompted him to endeavour to preserve the Qur'an in a written, collected form. One of the narratives reads: Narrated Zaid bin Thabit: Abu Bakr as-siddiq sent for me when the people of Yamama had been killed... Then Abu Bakr said (to me): 'You are a wise young man and we do not have any suspicion about you, and you used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah's Apostle. So you should search for (the fragmentary scripts of) the Qur'an and collect it (in one book)'. By Allah! If they had ordered me to shift one of the mountains, it would not have been heavier for me than this ordering me to collect the Qur'an. Then I said to Abu Bakr, 'How will you do something which Allah's Apostle did not do?' Abu Bakr replied, 'By Allah, it is a good project'. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 477). Zaid is then said to have responded to the appeal and set about collecting the text of the book. One thing is clear from the narrative - the collection of the Qur'an is said to have been one thing expressly which Allah's Apostle did not do. On the other hand it is taught elsewhere in the Hadith that at least four companions had collected the whole Qur'an during Muhammad's lifetime, one of whom was the same Zaid: Narrated Qatada: I asked Anas bin Malik, "Who collected the Qur'an at the time of the Prophet?" He replied, "Four, all of whom were from the Ansar: Ubai bin Ka'b, Mu'adh bin Jabal, Zaid bin Thabit and Abu Zaid". (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 488). Another early collector of Hadith adds that there was a fifth but that there was some dispute as to his identity. He is said to have been one Tamim al-dari (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, Vol. 2, p. 457). One detects immediately a degree of uncertainty about the early collection of the Qur'an text. What should we do then with the other two traditions of Bukhari which are in harmony with Ibn Sa'd in assigning the collection of the Kur'an to the lifetime of the Prophet? (Mingana, "The Transmission of the Qur an", The Muslim World, Vol. 7, p. 228). The other tradition from Bukhari, attested by all other major works of Hadith, makes it plain, however, that the actual collection of the Qur'an was only undertaken after Muhammad's death. This tradition, as pointed out already, was very widely attested. Zaid clearly knew the Qur'an well but the suggestion that he knew it perfectly, and in its entirety, is contradicted by this statement attributed to him: So I started looking for the Qur'an and collecting it from (what was written on) palm-leaf stalks, thin white stones and also from the men who 151

152 knew it by heart, till I found the last Verse of Surat at-tauba (Repentance) with Abi Khuzaima al-ansari, and I did not find it with anybody other than him. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 478). It was quite obviously a widespread search that Zaid conducted and the statement that one passage (Surah ) was found with only one man shows that no one knew the whole book by heart. He could not find another supposed hafiz who knew it. It is then stated that the completed text was kept by Abu Bakr and, after his death, by his successor Umar and, upon his demise, by his daughter Hafsah. Let it be said, in passing, that the sources relied on by Zaid - date palms, white stones, etc. - were hardly conducive to the compilation of a perfect text from which nothing was lacking. What evidence is there that he did, in fact, remarkably compose a perfect copy from such brittle resources? Indeed, if anyone had known the whole book by heart, all his efforts would have been unnecessary. Any one of the qurra could simply have dictated it to him. The steps he took, however, strongly imply that the texts of the Qur'an were loosely scattered in various places and that those he consulted generally knew and remembered different texts. Furthermore the mushaf (the written codex) that he finally compiled was, let it be noted, assembled not by the decree or direction of the Almighty but purely at his own personal discretion, no matter how careful he almost certainly was to arrange an authentic copy. 3. The Uthmanic Collection of the Qur'an. The traditions would have us believe that the first official collection of the Qur'an was therefore made by the caliph Abu Bakr and yet we find that, instead of being copied and promulgated as the standard text of the Qur'an, it was strangely preserved, if not concealed, in the private possession of the first two caliphs and thereafter under the bed, so tradition tells us, of Hafsah, very much a recluse after the death of Muhammad. Thus, if the death of so many Moslems at al-yamamah endangered the preservation of the text, why did Abu Bakr, after making his copy, practically conceal it, entrusting it to the guardianship of a woman? (Caetani, "Uthman and the Recension of the Qur an", The Muslim World, Vol. 5, p. 381). We shall return to this question to give a probable answer shortly. In the meantime, however, it is of great interest to us to find that during the reign of the third caliph Uthman this copy was brought to the fore as word was brought from the out-lying provinces that the Muslims in these areas were reciting the Qur'an in different ways. The sequel is set out in the following tradition: 152

153 Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sha'm and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur'an, so he said to Uthman, 'O Chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Qur' en) as Jews and the Christians did before'. So Uthman sent a message to Hafsa, saying, 'Send us the manuscripts of the Qur'an so that we may compile the Qur'anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you'. Hafsa sent it to Uthman. Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, Abdullah bin az-zubair, Sa'id bin al-as, and Abdur-Rahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, 'In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the - Qur'an, then write it in the dialect of Quraish as the Qur'an was revealed in their tongue'. They did so, and when they had written many copies, Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur'anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 479). This tradition informs us quite clearly that other manuscripts of the Qur'an, some in sections, others complete, had been written out and that they were in use elsewhere in the conquered territories. Uthman's order that they should be burnt indicates that there were serious textual differences between them and the manuscript in Hafsah's possession. The traditional account of what led to the next step in the fixing of the form of the Qur'an implies that serious differences of reading existed in the copies of the Qur'an current in the various districts. (Watt, Bell's Introduction to the Qur'an, p. 42). It is practically certain that none of the other texts was identical to that compiled by Zaid for Abu Bakr, as not one was allowed to be spared destruction. Uthman's drastic action implies that the differences between these texts were serious textual variants and that they affected not just the manner of the recitation of the Qur'an but its actual form and content. Therefore the Qur'an text that has been handed down through the centuries is not that to which the companions of Muhammad gave their unqualified assent but purely one form of it, uncorroborated in every point by the others in circulation, which was finally established as the standard text to the exclusion of the others. Attempts have been made to avoid this conclusion by claiming that all Uthman did was to remove dialectal peculiarities that had crept into the pronunciation of the Qur'an as it was recited, and have a standardized type of text written out in the pure dialect of the Quraish. This matter of Quraish dialect is indeed mentioned in the traditions referring to this Recension, but to pretend that it was merely a matter of dialectal variations is to run counter to the whole purport of 153

154 the accounts. The vast majority of dialectal variations would not have been represented in the written form at all, and so would not have necessitated a new text. (Jeffery, The Qur'an as Scripture, p. 96). Rather, his aim was to select from amid a welter of rival Qur'an texts, each claiming to be the uniquely authentic record of what had been revealed to Muhammad, a single text to be officially promulgated as the textus receptus of the Muslims. No deviation from this text would be henceforward tolerated, or indeed possible, for it is also reported that Uthman required the destruction of all other recorded Qur'an texts. (Burton, The Collection of the Qur'an, p. 138). Indeed even the commission by Uthman to Zaid and the other three redactors indicates that Hafsah's copy of the Qur'an had hardly been regarded as an infallible text per se. The direction given that the text should be standardised in the Quraysh dialect shows that the four men were given some liberty to revise Hafsah's manuscript where they considered this necessary to bring it into line with its original language. Indeed the reason for this is most informative: "This was because Zaid was a Madinite while his colleagues were Quraish" (Ali, The Religion of lslam, p. 26). It is to be presumed that, as Zaid was the sole compiler of Hafsah's text, there were Medinese dialectal variants in his work which needed to be corrected by the other three. Furthermore the Hadith go on to inform us that even after this recension by the four scribes, Zaid recalled a verse which was lost: Zaid bin Thabit added, 'A Verse from Surat Ahzab was missed by me when we copied the Qur'an and I used to hear Allah's Apostle reciting it. So we searched for it and found it with Khuzaima bin Thabit al-ansari'. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 479). The verse was Surah Accordingly even this copy can hardly be regarded as a perfect collection of the Qur'an to the last word or letter, nothing added or missing from it. It is truly said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and, whereas the Qur'an may have been remarkably transcribed, even perhaps to the point of inerrancy, from the time of Uthman, the weak link is the first one and it is found just at this point where the evidences show that the argument for the textual perfection of the Qur'an cannot be taken back from the time of Uthman to Muhammad himself. Uthman's commission decided what was to be included and what excluded; it fixed the number and order of the surahs, and the 'outline' of the consonantal text (that is, its shape when the dots distinguishing letters are omitted). (Watt, Bell's Introduction to the Qur'an, p. 44). 154

155 Among the other texts destroyed were two by the wellknown and highly respected qurra Abdullah bin Mas'ud and Ubayy bin Katb, the latter in fact being known as sayyidul-qurra - the "Master of the Readers". It is said of his text: We have no knowledge of when his Codex was made, but we do know that before the appearance of the Uthmanic standard text his Codex had already come into vogue in Syria... His Codex is definitely stated to have been among those destroyed by Uthman. (Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur'an, p. 114, 115). We will have more to say about the other famous companion of Muhammad shortly. Nonetheless, even though their codices were actually destroyed, records were kept of the readings in them which differed from those in the text standardised by Uthman. Uthman's text was intended to standardize the consonantal text, yet for long after Uthman's time there is evidence that variant traditions as to the consonantal text survived among the learned, and we can gather a great mass of material as to the readings in the text of Ubai or Ibn Mas'ud. (Jeffery, "Progress in the Study of the Qur'an Text,'' The MusIim World, Vol. 25, p. 8). Accordingly we must conclude that the text which was finally imposed on The Muslim World by Uthman was not one which his predecessors Abu Bakr and Umar had established as the standard text of the Qur'an but rather merely one among a whole selection of codices compiled by different qurra and other companions of Muhammad. This explains the unusual solitude which surrounds the preservation of Zaid's text from the time of its compilation under Abu Bakr to its public exposure during Uthman's reign. It is not that Zaid's text was perfect and the others imperfect - Zaid's text was simply one among many which was singled out to be the preferred text. Modern criticism is willing to accept the fact that Abu Bakr had a collection of revelation material made for him and, may be, committed the making of it to Zaid b. Thabit. It is not willing to accept, however, the claim that this was an official recension of the text. (Jeffery, The Qur'an as Scripture, p. 93). That Abu Bakr was one of those who collected revelation material was doubtless true. He may possibly have inherited material that the Prophet had stored away in preparation for the Kitab. That he ever made an official recension as the orthodox theory demands is exceedingly doubtful. His collection would have been a purely private affair, just as quite a number of other Companions of the Prophet had made personal collections as private affairs. (Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur'an, p. 6). It needs to be repeated that these were actual varying written collections of the Qur'an. The suggestions by modern Muslim writers that the only differences in 155

156 those days in the recitation of the Qur'an were found purely in the pronunciation of vowel points cannot be seriously sustained. It is only written texts that can be consigned to the flames, not niceties of pronunciation of vowel points that do not appear in the written text. It must be presumed that there were actual consonantal and, indeed, clausal variants in their texts. The mass of variant readings that has survived to us from the Codices of Ubai and Ibn Mas'ud, shows that they were real textual variants and not mere dialectal peculiarities. (Jeffery, The Qur'an as Scripture, p. 97). Why, then, did Uthman not order a general revision of the whole Qur'an by calling in the prominent Qurra for a broadly- based convention to compile as authentic a text as possible? Why did he summarily impose Zaid's text on the whole Muslim world, the recension of only one man uncorroborated by others, as the standard text of the Qur'an? A study of the circumstances of the time answers this question. Uthman was a most unpopular caliph, accused by some of Muhammad's more prominent and influential companions of catering for his own household, the descendants of Umayya, who had generally opposed Islam until given no choice but to throw in their lot with Muhammad after the conquest of Mecca. Uthman was placing many of these in high positions - an act destined to rupture Islam after his death. It was through this action that irreligious men like Mu'awiya and Yazid, descendants of Muhammad's archenemy Abu Sufyan, subsequently obtained control of the caliphate. This danger was noticed by the more loyal and religious followers of Muhammad, especially the Qurra who had much influence in the empire, "a class of men who had acquired, thanks to their being continually with the Prophet, a fairly complete knowledge of the Qur anic revelations and of all the customs and rules of life, culled from the reformer" (Caetani, "Uthman and the Recension of the Qur an", The Muslim World, Vol. 5, p. 386). As the Qur'an remained the final authority in all matters of life and conduct in Islam, these men were a severe threat to Uthman's untidy reign and their authority as experts in the text and teaching of the Qur'an gave them much influence over the centres beyond Uthman's immediate control in Medina. Indeed the manuscripts compiled by these men soon became the standard texts in these cent res. The most important fact that Tradition has preserved in connection with these early Codices, however, is the fact that certain of them came to attain the position of metropolitan Codices. Thus we read that the people of Kufa came to regard the Codex of Ibn Mas'ud as in a sense their Recension of the Qur'an, the people of Baara the Codex of Abu Musa, the people of Damascus the Codex of one Miqdad b. al-aswad, and the Syrians other than the folk of Damascus, the Codex of Ubai. (Jeffery, The Qur'an as Scripture, p. 94). 156

157 Now when we come to the accounts of Uthman's recension, it quickly becomes clear that his work was no mere matter of removing dialectal peculiarities in reading, but was a necessary stroke of policy to establish a standard text for the whole empire. Apparently there were wide divergences between the collections that had been digested into Codices in the great Metropolitan centres of Madina, Mecca, Baara, Kufa and Damascus, and for political reasons if for no other it was imperative to have one standard Codex accepted all over the empire. (Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur'an, p. 8). The purpose, therefore, of Uthman's decree was not just to standardise a text of the Qur'an for the whole Muslim world but to remove with one stroke the growing influence of the qurra and to nullify the threat that they posed. Quite clearly the caliph sought to undermine their authority in religious matters by destroying their Qur'anic esteem. It is very significant that the Qurra were violently opposed to Uthman because of this act, and there is evidence that for quite a while the Muslims in Kufa were divided into two factions, those who accepted the Uthmanic text, and those who stood by Ibn Mas'ud, who had refused to give up his Codex to be burnt. (Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur'an, p. 8). We are not therefore surprised to find that this highhanded political blow aroused the anger of the Qurra and other more religious factions even more against the caliph and that they succeeded in murdering him not long afterward. We may well believe that the measure taken by the third caliph, of issuing an official edition and ordering all unofficial copies to be burned, was a political necessity. That this act brought about an insurrection wherein he was murdered is the most probable explanation of the first civil war of Islam. (Margoliouth, "Textual Variations of the Qur an", The Muslim World, Vol. 15, p. 336). It is most probable that this was the real reason for Uthman's action and one which contributed to his assassination. The standardising of the Qur'an text was purely incidental to his efforts to establish control over the Muslim empire and to neutralise the potential of a revolution headed by those whose influence was assured through their knowledge of the Qur'an. Uthman ordered the compilation of a single official text of the Qur an, and the violent suppression, the destruction by fire of all other copies existing in the provinces. Such an act called for considerable political courage, for it was an open challenge to the whole class of the Readers and an effectual attempt to put an end to the monopoly of the sacred text that they claimed. (Caetani, "Uthman and the Recension of the Qur an", The Muslim World, Vol. 5. p. 389). It does not suit Islamic tradition to admit as much and it was certainly to its advantage to have a standard text universally accepted in the world of Islam. 157

158 Later contacts with the Christian world made this eventuality all the more suitable to the Muslim cause. A single Qur'an text proved to be a healthy foundation for an attack on the supposed variations and differences in the Christian scriptures. The evidence of the manner in which that text became universalised, however, was seen to be its own Achilles Heel and therefore it became very convenient to remould it into the form in which we now have it, where the codex of Abu Bakr is not seen as a private copy in the possession of the caliph but rather as one publicly declared to be an official recension. These considerations explain the anxiety of traditionists to invent a previous compilation of the sacred text during the reign of the unimpeachable Abu Bakr, the perfect and saintly Caliph, for in this way Uthman appears only as the copier of the text left by Abu Bakr. (Caetani, "Uthman and the Recension of the Qur an", The Muslim World, Vol. 5, p. 390). Uthman's action then is not seen for what it really was - a stroke of policy against the influential Qurra through the enforcement of the text of the Qur'an in his possession to the exclusion of rival texts - but rather as a pious reestablishment of the authority of a text long before publicly drafted as the standard text of the Qur'an. If nothing else, Abu Bakr's prompt action to privately conceal and store the manuscript compiled by Zaid undermines this theory and very strongly supports the contention that it was merely a personal copy, a codex no more important or accurate than all the others simultaneously being compiled. 4. The Codex of Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud. A special degree of attention should be given to the codex of the Qur'an compiled by Abdullah ibn Mas'ud of whom we have heard already. The Hadith which refer to his exceptional knowledge of the Qur'an are well worth recording here as they undergird the conclusions already drawn about Uthman's text. Ibn Mas'ud was a very early convert to Islam and the first to proclaim Muhammad's message openly in Mecca. When his codex was ordered to be destroyed in favour of Zaid's text, he said: There is no Sura revealed in Allah's Book but I know at what place it was revealed; and there is no Verse revealed in Allah's Book but I know about whom it was revealed. And if I know that there is somebody who knows Allah's Book better than I, and he is at a place that camels can reach, I would go to him. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 488). He had been one of Muhammad's closest companions and had obtained quite a reputation as a reader of the Qur'an. At Kufa his text was widely recognised as authoritative and authentic as we have already seen. 158

159 When Uthman sent to Kufa the official copy of his standard text with orders that all other texts should be burned, Ibn Mas'ud refused to give up his copy, being indignant that the text established by a young upstart like Zaid b. Thabit should be given preference to his, since he had been a Muslim while Zaid was still in the loins of an unbeliever. (Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur'an, p. 20). Ibn Mas'ud certainly had a head-start over Zaid who only became a Muslim after the Hijrah. In his book The Sublime Qur'an and Orientalism, Mohammad Khalifa states that this Zaid ibn Thabit was "among the first to believe in Islam" and that he was appointed as one of Muhammad's scribes (p. 36). It seems the author is confusing him with Zaid ibn Harithah who was Muhammad's adopted son (the husband of Zaynab who married Muhammad after her divorce from him) and who was indeed one of the first to believe his message. The compiler of Abu Bakr's codex, however, came from Medina and only followed Islam some years later. Furthermore it is expressly stated in many works of Hadith that Ibn Mas'ud was one of the foremost authorities on the Qur'an text, if not its most prominent scholar and champion: Narrated Masruq: Abdullah bin Mas'ud was mentioned before Abdullah bin Amr who said, "That is a man I still love, as I heard the Prophet saying, 'Learn the Qur'an from four: from Abdullah bin Mas'ud - he started with him - Salim, the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifa, Mu'adh bin Jabal, and Ubai bin Ka'b"'. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 5, p. 96). The same tradition in the Sahih Muslim also makes special mention of the fact that Muhammad deliberately named Ibn Mas'ud first, implying that he was the foremost authority on the Qur'an (Vol. 4, p. 1312). Zaid is not even mentioned in the list. Yet another tradition says that Ibn Mas'ud delivered a sermon in Kufa when Uthman's order concerning the uniform reading of the Qur'an was issued. He declared: The people have been guilty of deceit in the reading of the Qur'an. I like it better to read according to the recitation of him (Prophet) whom I love more than that of Zayd Ibn Thabit. By Him besides Whom there is no god! I learnt more than seventy surahs from the lips of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, while Zayd Ibn Thabit was a youth, having two locks and playing with the youth. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat al- Kabir, Vol. 2, p. 444). The transmitter of the tradition, Shaqiq ibn Salamah, added: "Subsequently I sat in the circles of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, and others but none contradicted his statement" (op. cit.). Another tradition from the same source says that when Abu Zabyan, an early convert to Islam, was asked which of the two readings of the Qur'an he preferred, that is, the reading 159

160 of Zaid or that of Ibn Mas'ud, he replied the latter, adding that whenever Gabriel revealed or recited the Qur'an to Muhammad during Ramadan each year, Ibn Mas'ud was the first to learn of it (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, Vol. 2, p. 441). It therefore appears from the aforegoing traditions that Ibn Mas'ud was widely regarded as a far greater authority on the text of the Qur'an than Zaid and, as Muhammad specifically singled him out as the first person to whom anyone should go who wished to learn it, his codex had far better grounds for being regarded as the best text available. It ia little wonder that he sought to disobey the caliph's order and preserve his copy. Indeed the record of the textual variants between his text and that of Zaid is very substantial. One or two will be mentioned shortly. All this proves quite conclusively that Zaid's codex can hardly be regarded as a perfect reproduction, to the last letter and with nothing omitted, of the Qur'an as it was handed down by Muhammad to his companions. Such a conviction may appeal to the popular sentiments of the Muslims but it is seriously undermined by the wealth of evidences left to us in the Hadith - the other great historical heritage of Islam. Some Muslim writers seek to avoid the implications by alleging that the textual variants in the collections of Ibn Mas'ud and others were purely marginal glosses and notes (so Khalifa, The Sublime Qur'an and Orientalism, p. 49), just as they claim that such variants were confined to vowel points and did not affect the text of the Qur'an itself. The records thus far considered show quite plainly that the reason given by Uthman for his order against the other written manuscripts of the Qur'an text was that they contained serious textual variants and differed from his text and from one another. Little more need be said to show that such arguments of Muslim apologists today are hardly founded on an objective analysis of the evidences at hand but rather upon the desire to uphold their preferred claim that the Qur'an has not been altered in any way. If it should be alleged, as it sometimes is, that the evidences considered are based purely on the Hadith and are therefore unreliable, it must be said that there is no alternative chain of evidence anywhere in the history of Islam to tell us how the Qur'an came to be written in the form in which we now have it. There is no other source to consult. Those who claim that its present form is its own testimony must tell us who transcribed it from Muhammad, what evidence they have to prove conclusively that it is complete and always accurate, and on what authority they make these claims. In fact the Qur'an is a most unsuitable testimony to its own supposed textual perfection. It is a terribly disjointed book. Its surahs are not arranged in any sort of chronological order and the various passages in these surahs deal with all sorts of issues, more often than not having no connection with one another. A 160

161 compact narrative like the Book of Esther in the Bible might well be its own testimony in this respect but the Qur'an, a collection of fragmentary texts and passages compiled into an inharmonious whole without respect to sequence or theme, is not the kind of book that can testify to its own textual accuracy. The records in the Hadith, on the other hand, are an historical heritage, indeed the historical heritage, in Islam, informing us how the Qur'an was reduced to its present form. One cannot prefer bold, wishful claims in favour of the Qur'an's supposed perfection, unsupported by any facts or evidences, against a factual and historical record widely reported in different works to the contrary. Such evidences cannot be dismissed in favour of pure speculation. 5. The Case of the "Stoning verses". Widely reported in the Hadith is a tradition which makes Umar report that the punishment for adultery, according to the Kitab Allah, the "Book of Allah", was death by stoning, notwithstanding the verse found in the Qur'an today which prescribes a different penalty: The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Surah 24.2 The tradition referred to is found in all the recognised works of Hadith and reads as follows in one of them: God sent Muhammad and sent down the Scripture to him Part of what he sent down was the passage on stoning; we read it, we were taught it, and we heeded it. The apostle stoned and we stoned them after him. I fear that in time to come men will say that they find no mention of stoning in God's book and thereby go astray in neglecting an ordinance which God has sent down. Verily stoning in the book of God is a penalty laid on married men and women who commit adultery. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 684). Not only did Umar make this disclosure but he also gave a fairly sensitive prologue to it to explain what he was going to say and why he was doing so. The preamble reads as follows in another record of the tradition: Umar sat on the pulpit and when the call makers for the prayer had finished their call, Umar stood up, and having glorified and praised Allah as He deserved, he said "Now then, I am going to tell you something which (Allah) has written for me to say. I do not know; perhaps it portends my death, so whoever understands and remembers it, must narrate it to the others wherever his mount takes him, but if somebody is afraid that he does not understand it, then it is unlawful for him to tell lies about me". (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 8, p. 539). 161

162 In Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasulullah Umar is recorded as saying that if anyone could not receive (that is, assent to) what he was to say, he was not entitled to deny that he had said it. It is quite clear that he was very serious about what he wished to convey and anticipated a mixed reaction. It appears that the "stoning verse" (the ayatur-rajam) was, by the time he made his disclosure, not only omitted from the Qur'an but was generally unknown to the younger section of the Muslim community. He obviously expected that there would be an adverse reaction to his statement, especially as the verse he promoted was at variance with the penalty prescribed in Surah 24.2: There is concrete evidence that there was much substance in his claim, notwithstanding the fact that the verse was not known widely. Firstly, had it come from an obscure source, it might well have been discounted, but coming from one of the closest and most prominent of Muhammad 'a companions, it can hardly be summarily ignored or gainsaid. Secondly, there are many traditions which record that Muhammad did indeed pass the stoning penalty on adulterers. Here is an example: Ibn Shihab reported that a man in the time of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) acknowledged having committed adultery and confessed it four times. The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) then ordered and he was stoned. (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 350). In the record of Umar's speech from the pulpit in this same work of Hadith, a part of the actual verse is recorded and Umar is said to have recited it to the congregation assembled in the mosque in Medina. It reads: ash-shaykhu washshaykhatu ithaa zanayaa faarjumuu humaa - "the adult men and women who commit adultery, stone them" (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 352). Some Muslims say it is hard to find a place in the Qur'an where these words can be interposed, yet other works state that they belonged to a much larger passage now missing from the Qur'an. Abu Ubaid's Kitab Fada'il al-qur'an contains a folio on verses missing from the Qur'an, which includes the "stoning verse", and gives it in its complete form: Ubai b. Ka'b said to me, "O Zirr, how many verses did you count (or how many verses did you read) in Surat al-ahzab?" "Seventy-two or seventythree", I answered. Said he, "Yet it used to be equal to Surat al-baqara (ii), and we used to read in it the Verse of Stoning". Said I, "And what is the Verse of Stoning?" He said, "If a grown man and woman commit adultery, stone them without hesitation, as a warning from Allah, for Allah is mighty, wise". (Jeffery, "Abu Ubaid on Verses Missing from the Qur'an", The Muslim World, Vol. 28, p. 62). The same folio has another tradition in which Umar is said to have declared: 162

163 "Some people say, 'What is this about the stoning? there is nothing in Allah's book except scourging', whereas the Apostle stoned and we stoned with him. By Allah, were it not that people might say that Umar had added something to Allah's book, I would have written it in just as it was revealed,' (op. cit., p. 63). This supports the suggestions that Umar's apprehensions about his disclosure stemmed partly from the fact that it was contrary to the teaching of the Qur'an as it now stands in Surah The same tradition recorded about the lengthy passage missing from Surah 33 (Suratul-Ahaab) is also recorded in the as-sunanul-kubra of Ahmad ibn al-husain al- Baihaqi and is quoted on page 80 of Burton's The Collection of the Qur'an. The writer adds that "this version of the stoning verse is a fair imitation of the Qur'an style" (op. cit.). It is also useful to point out that in another tradition regarding the punishment for stoning two men brought a case to Muhammad and expressly requested him to decide it "in accordance with the Book of Allah". The one man's bachelor son had committed adultery with the other's wife. Muhammad then said "I will take a decision for you both in accordance with the Book of Allah" (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 351). The boy was to be whipped a hundred times and exiled for a year, the woman was duly stoned after admitting the adultery. The tradition makes it clear that the sentences were expressly in terms of the revealed "Book of Allah" (i.e. the Qur'an) and harmonises the apparently contradictory penalties by prescribing flogging for the unmarried and stoning for the married. This interpretation of Muhammad's sunnah holds in many schools of Islamic jurisprudence to this day. There are some Muslims who try to find proof of stoning for adulterers in the Qur'an as it stands today, and they usually refer to a verse which states that women guilty of lewdness should be confined to their houses till death overtakes them (Surah 4.15). It takes a fertile imagination to make these somewhat vague words teach expressly that those guilty of adultery are to be stoned! In any event, if the command was retained in the Qur'an, Umar would hardly have spoken as he did, saying that it was only his fear that he would be reviled for adding to the Qur'an that restrained him from summarily inserting the missing verse. Furthermore, Umar claimed that the verse not only prescribed the supreme penalty but that it was to be expressly by stoning. That verse is now missing from the Qur'an and that is why Umar raised the issue. A better assessment of the situation is found in this quote: Thus the Qur'an not only speaks of flogging, and not death, as punishment for adultery, but it positively excludes death or stoning to death. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 617). 163

164 This same author, however, has an ingenious solution to the problem of the missing verses. He alleges that when Umar spoke of the Kitab Allah he was not referring to the Qur'an but to the Jewish Torah and adds: "In all likelihood Umar only spoke of rajm as the punishment for adultery in the Mosaic law and he was misunderstood" (p. 620). On top of this he has the audacity to conclude: "That the present Torah does not give stoning as the punishment for adultery is clear proof that the text has been altered" (p. 618)! Such an elliptical line of reasoning almost defies comment. On the other hand it is hardly likely that Umar would have spoken of the Torah, not by its common name, but as Kitab Allah, when he must have known that his hearers would automatically presume that he was speaking of the Qur'an. Likewise his insistence that the verse was one of those revealed to Muhammad makes it extremely unlikely that he was contemplating writing it into the Torah! It is also most improbable that he would have handled the matter as delicately and sensitively as he did had he been referring to any other book than the Qur'an itself, the sacred scripture of Islam. The widespread stoning of adulterers in Muhammad's time does tend to imply that the verse disclosed by Umar was originally a part of the Qur'an text. If so, it is just one of those passages that is now excluded from the Qur'an (more will be mentioned shortly), proving that the Qur'an text, as we have it today, is somewhat incomplete. 6. Variant Readings in the Qur'an. A selection of the more prominent variant readings that were known to exist will serve to illustrate, in closing, what has thusfar been said. Although the early Qur'an manuscripts of Ibn Mas'ud and others were destroyed, a record was kept of the differences that existed between the various texts that had been compiled. In the fourth Islamic century there were three books written on this question of the Old Codices which had some influence on later studies. These were the works already mentioned of Ibn al-anbari, Ibn Ashta and Ibn Abi Dawud. In each case the book was entitled Kitab al-masahif, and in each case the work, while dealing with the Uthmanic text, its collection, orthography, and the general Massoretic details with regard to it, dealt also with what was known of the Old Codices which it had replaced. (Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur'an, p. 10). In the book quoted Arthur Jeffery lists, on page 17, the thirty-one different books and records consulted which list the various different readings between the texts. Jeffery's own list in his book is a composition of the many hundreds of variant readings recorded in these works. In many cases there is agreement between a number of the codices on readings that differ with the Uthmanic text in each case. 164

165 No copies exist of any of the early codices, but the list of variant readings from the two just mentioned (i.e. Ibn Mas'ud and Ubayy) is extensive. (Watt, Bell's Introduction to the Qur'an, p. 45). To start with, Surah begins allathiina yaakuluunar-ribaa laa yaquumuuna - "those who devour usury will not stand. Ibn Mas'ud's text had the same introduction, but after the last word there was added the expression yawmal qiyaamati, that is, on the "Day of Judgment" (Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur'an, p. 31). Talha's codex also recorded this variant as part of the original text (op. cit., p. 343). In the same surah we find that, whereas verse nine begins Yukhaadi'uunallaaha - "they would deceive Allah", Ibn Mas'ud's text read Yakhda'uunallaaha - "they do deceive Allah". The compiler comments that the Uthmanic form "may be regarded as an attempt to soften the idea of deceiving Allah which is suggested by the alternative reading" (Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur'an, p. 16). In many cases one finds that the variants in the extra-uthmanic texts tend to improve or elaborate on the Uthmanic form (e.g. the gloss in Surah 2.275), whereas on other occasions, as here, the reverse is true. In the case of Surah 2.9 it appears that the Uthmanic form is an adaptation of the original which was probably regarded as too harsh and theologically questionable. Still on the same surah, Ibn Mas'ud had an interesting variant reading in the first verse. It reads in the authorised Uthmanic text Thaalikal kitaabu laa rayba fiih - "This is the Scripture of which there is no doubt" (Surah 2.1). Ibn Mas'ud's text began Tanziilul kitaabu, making the whole verse read "It is the Scripture sent down, of which there is no doubt". The word used for sending down, tanzil, is commonly used in conjunction with the Qur'an itself elsewhere in its text (e.g. Surah where al-qur'aanul-hakiim, "the Wise Qur'an", is described as being tanziilal-'azitsir-rahiim - "sent down by the Mighty, the Merciful"). Surah 5.92, in the accepted text, contains the clause fasiyaamu thalaathati ayyaam - "fast for three days". Many of the other codices supplementing the Uthmanic text but agreeing with one another, add the expression mutataabi'aat, meaning that the expiation for an unfulfilled oath was a fast on three successive days. Among those who had this reading were the famous Ibn Mas'ud and Ubayy ibn Ka-'b. It was also included in the texts of Ibn Abbas, Satid ibn Jubair and other less prominent Qurra. Tabari (ob. 310 A.H.) quotes authorities for the assertion that Ubayy b. Ka'b and Abdallah b. Mas'ud added the word successive, making the penance much more severe. He adds that as the word is "not found in our copies", we cannot build anything upon it; the analogy of compensation for failure to fast in Ramadan (ii. 181) indicates that the days need not be successive, still it would be safer to make them so. Shafi'i (ob. 204 A.H.) seems to leave it to the individual Moslem 165

166 to choose the reading which he prefers. It is a conceivable view that the word successive might have been added or omitted by the Prophet himself. (Margoliouth, "Textual Variations of the Qur an", The Muslim World, Vol. 15, p. 335). A very famous variant reading occurs in Surah 3.19 which reads in the authorised text Innaddiina 'indallaahil Islaam - "the religion before God is Islam", i.e., the Submission. Ibn Mas'ud's text is said to have had the word al- Hanifiyyah - "the True Way" in place of Islaam (Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur'an, p. 32). This may well be an earlier title for Muhammad's religion, especially as there were a group of monotheistic "hanifs", as they were called, in Mecca during his early days. Significantly both titles are applied to Abraham in the same surah. He is called haniifaam-muslimaan, being, "true in faith, submissive" (Surah 3.67). Later Muslim scholars always take the word in this sense, sometimes also using hanif as equivalent of 'Muslim', and the hanifiyya as equivalent of 'Islam'. (Watt, Bell's Introduction to the Qur'an, p. 16). Another writer also concludes that the variant reading in Ibn Mas'ud's text suggests "that at one time Haniflyya was used to denote the doctrine preached by Mohammed and was only later replaced by Islam" (Gibb, Mohammedanism, p. 26). Yet another writer says of the word al-hanifiyyah: This word was read instead of 'Islam' by Ibn Mas'ud in Qur'an 3. 19/17, and was presumably the original reading. It also occurs in sayings of Muhammad to the effect that the religion he took to Medina was the Hanifiyah... The variant in the codex of Ibn Mas'ud, too, is a reminder that early Medinan passages of the Qur'an may have been revised to bring them into line with the later nomenclature. (Watt, Muhammad at Medina, p. 304). These readings we have considered are only a fraction of the number recorded in the works cited by Arthur Jeffery but they do serve to show to what extent the earliest codices of the Qur'an differed from one another. The codex of Abu Bakr which Uthman finally authorised at the expense of all the others was, so it appears, just one among many, varying with all of them to one degree or another. There may be one standard text of the Qur'an today, but the evidence weighs heavily against the assertion that this text, merely a reproduction of just one of the early codices, is coincidentally a perfect replica of the original Qur'an, to the very last letter, as it was delivered by Muhammad to his companions. In closing it will be useful to mention a few further passages affecting the text of the Qur'an spoken of in the major works of Hadith. Surah urges the Muslims to observe their prayers carefully, and emphasises salaatil wusta - the 166

167 "middle prayer". Ayishah is reported to have told Abu Yunus, her freedman, to add in the words wa salaatil 'asr - "and the afternoon prayer" - to the text of the Qur'an as "she had heard it so from the Apostle of Allah" (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 64; so also Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 1, p. 108). It is also widely reported that the Qur'an originally contained a law forbidding marriage between two people who had been breast-fed by the same woman. A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that it had been revealed in the Holy Qur'an that ten clear sucklings make the marriage unlawful, then it was abrogated (and substituted) by five sucklings and Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) died and it was before that time (found) in the Holy Qur'an (and recited by the Muslims). (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2, p. 740). Ayishah clearly stated that the verses, one abrogating the other, were part of the Qur'an text. Today neither is found in it. In another similar tradition we read that Abu Musa al-ashari told the Qurra of Baara, an early Muslim centre in the province of Iraq: We used to recite a surah which resembled in length and severity to (Surah) Bara'at. I have, however, forgotten it with the exception of this which I remember out of it: "If there were two valleys full of riches, for the son of Adam, he would long for a third valley, and nothing would fill the stomach of the son of Adam but dust". (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2, p. 501). In these few pages we have merely considered a selection of evidences regarding the collection of the Qur'an and its early textual history. Nevertheless the material reviewed shows quite conclusively that there is no substance in the claim that the Bible has been corrupted while the Qur'an has been preserved totally free of textual error. This is a pious sentiment and nothing more than an expedient fallacy of the Muslims. Indeed it is fair to say that the history of the Biblical text compares most favourably with that of the Qur'an. What is good for the goose here is equally good for the gander. There are a number of variant readings in the Bible and the authority of one or two short passages is uncertain, but we have seen in these pages that precisely the same legacy is found in the history of the Qur'an text. No one can summarily dismiss the evidences - they are too widespread and well-grounded in authoritative works to be casually ignored in favour of cherished presuppositions. Furthermore there is yet another consideration: It is fair to note, in this whole connection, how different any way are the textual issues in the Qur'an from those of the Biblical literature. It is confined to twenty-three years and one locale and one solitary spokesman and personality. The period between its utterance and its canon is relatively brief. (Cragg, The Mind of the Qur'an, p. 185). 167

168 As the text of the Bible covers a period of nearly two thousand years and a host of different authors, and dates centuries before the Qur'an, it is quite remarkable to find that the variant readings in its text are no more prevalent or extensive than similar readings and passages affecting the Qur'an. If such variant readings are not found in the early manuscripts of the Qur'an surviving to this day, it is not because they never existed. The Christian Church has, in the interests of truth, carefully preserved the variant readings that are found in the early Biblical texts, but the Muslims at the time of Uthman deemed it more expedient to destroy the variant readings found in the Qur'an in the interests of standardising one harmonious text for posterity (even though the contents remain assembled together in an inharmonious whole). Here alone lies the difference between the textual history of the two books - and it is not one which works to the advantage of the Qur'an. B. Jewish Influences in The Qur'an. 1.Muhammad's Debt to Judaism. We have already seen that many of the narratives in the Qur'an and Hadith have extra-islamic origins. In this section we shall briefly examine the substantial presence of Jewish historical and mythical material in the Qur'an. Indeed there is so much of it that whole books have been written on the subject and it is striking to find how heavily Muhammad relied on his Jewish contacts for the passages and teachings he ultimately set forth as part of the divine revelation. So much, indeed, was Muhammad indebted to the Jews for a great portion of his teaching on this and other subjects that the Qur'an has been described as a compendium of Talmudic Judaism. (Blair, The Sources of Islam, p. 55). One finds many of the Old Testament stories of the prophets reproduced in the Qur'an, sometimes in a precis form where the Qur'anic record is a faithful, though often vague, summary of the original Biblical narrative (e.g. the story of Jonah in Surah ). On other occasions the Qur'anic narratives contain elements of Biblical truths confounded with folklore and fables extracted from the Talmud and in some cases (such as the story of Abraham and the idols which we shall presently consider) the sources are entirely Midrashic/Haggadic and are accordingly purely fictitious. This accounts for the seeming discrepancies between the stories of :he Bible and the Qur anic version of the same narratives. However, in relating the Qur anic version of the biblical story to the Aggadic source as indicated in our study, the discrepancies almost entirely disappear. For, astonishingly enough, the biblical narratives are reproduced in the Qur an in true Aggadic cloak. (Katsh, Judaism in Islam, p. xvii). 168

169 Virtually all the Qur'anic records which are reliant on Jewish sources can be traced either to the Bible or to Talmudic records such as the Midrash, Mishnah, etc. There are, however, a few occasions where one finds narratives obviously reliant on Jewish historical sources which are today unknown to us (for example the story of the sacrifice of Abraham's son which has elements not found in the preserved works of Judaism as it is recorded in Surah ). It seems indeed that Muhammad was reliant on Jewish materials but we must ask how he came by them in the course of his mission. Whether Muhammad was illiterate or not cannot be truly established - what is certain, however, is that he could read neither the scriptures of the Jews nor their folklore as contained in the Midrash and other Talmudic records. If he had been able to do so he would hardly have confused the two as often as he did. (Our earlier study of the expression an-nabiyyul-ummi also confirms this impression). There were, as we have seen, a host of Jewish communities settled in Medina and other parts of the Hijaz from which he almost certainly obtained his knowledge through direct conversation or from other secondary sources. For it is important to know that Mohammed was acquainted with Jewish teachings not by reading the Bible, Talmud and Midrash, but through serious conversations with the Jews. (Rosenthal, Judaism and Islam, p. 8). The many errors that occur in the Qur'an show that Muhammad received his information orally, and probably from men who had no great amount of booklearning themselves. (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 133). The possibility of borrowing from Judaism lay for Muhammad, partly in the knowledge which might be imparted to him by word of mouth through intercourse with the Jews, and partially in personal knowledge of their Scriptures; while allowing him the first source of information, we must deny him the second. (Geiger, Judaism and Islam, p. 17). The somewhat disjointed nature of many of the Jewish narratives in the Qur'an, such as the story of Lot already considered in an earlier section, strongly supports the suggestion that much of the information that Muhammad was receiving was coming to him piecemeal. Not being able to distinguish between the assortment of materials reaching him, he allowed them indiscriminately to be formulated in his thoughts until they assumed the form of all the other "revelations" coming to him and were then duly proclaimed as such. The impression the Qur an makes on the reader is that its Jewish fibre has been spun from hearsay and scraps of information gathered from conversation with different persons. (Guillaume, "The Influence of Judaism on Islam", The Legacy of Israel, p. 134). 169

170 The way that such things came to him seems to have been very much like this: He got a scrap of history; he got an allusion; he got a telling phrase; he got a hint of a character. He carried that away, and then with that as a centre and with his broad idea of the story - generally a very inaccurate idea - as material, he built up for himself again what he had heard. (MacDonald, Aspects of Islam, p. 214). Let us proceed to briefly examine a few of these stories in the Qur'an where Biblical truth has been marvellously confused with Talmudic folklore. 2. The Story of Abraham and the Idols. The Qur'an has a story about Abraham which is not found in the Bible. He is said to have challenged his father and his people about their error in worshipping the idols they had made. When they resisted his approaches, he waited until they had gone and then broke all the idols except the biggest one. Afterwards he was summoned to answer for his deed. The sequel is set out in this passage of the Qur'an: They said, "Art thou the one that did this with our gods, O Abraham?" He said: "Nay, this was done by - this is their biggest one! Ask them, if they can speak intelligently!" So they turned to themselves and said, "Surely ye are the ones in the wrong!" Then they were confounded with shame: (they said), "Thou knowest full well that these (idols) do not speak!" (Abraham) said, "Do ye then worship, besides God, things than can neither be of any good to you nor do you harm? Fie upon you, and upon the things that you worship besides God! Have ye no sense?" They said, "Burn him and protect your gods, if ye do (anything at all)1" Surah After they had thrown him into a fire, Allah is said to have spoken to it, saying: "O Fire! Be thou cool, and (a means of) safety for Abraham" (Surah 21.69) and so he was delivered unharmed from the flames. A somewhat briefer record of the whole story is found in Surah and there are many other passages in the Qur'an referring to it. Although it has no parallel in the Bible, it is a remarkable reproduction of a story found in the Midrash Rabbah, an old Jewish book containing much folklore embellishing Biblical material. The narrative in this work is quoted in full in one of St. Clair Tisdall's books and a relevant part of it reads: Terah was a maker of idols. Once he went out somewhere, and seated Abraham as salesman in place of himself... Once a woman came, carrying in her hand a plate of wheaten flour. She said to him, "Here! Set this before them" He arose, took a staff in his hand, and broke them all in pieces; then he gave the staff into the hand of the one that was biggest among them. When his father came, he said to him, "Who has done this unto them?" He (Abraham) said to him, "What is hidden from thee? A 170

171 woman came, bringing with her a plate of wheaten flour, and said to me, 'Here! Set this before them'. I set it before them. This one said, 'I shall eat first', and that one said, 'I shall eat first'. This one, which is the biggest among them, arose, took a staff, and broke them" He (the father) said to him, "Why cost thou tell me a fable? Do these understand?" He (Abraham) said to him, "And do not shine ears hear what thy lip speaketh?" (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 74). It takes very little imagination to see that this fable is practically identical in both the Qur'an and the book of Jewish commentary. Comparing, now, this Jewish story with what we saw of it in the Coran, little difference will be found; and what there is no doubt arose from Mahomet hearing of it by the ear from the Jews. (Tisdall, The Sources of Islam, p. 22). In reply it is sufficient to state that only ignorant Jews now place any reliance upon such fables, since they do not rest upon anything worthy of the name of tradition. The only reliable traditions of the Jews which relate to the time of Abraham are to be found in the Pentateuch, and it is hardly necessary to say that this childish tale is not found there. (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 78). We have deliberately chosen this story, as well as the one about the slaying of Abel by Cain which follows, because there is clear evidence to show, not only that the Qur'anic narratives have parallels in Jewish folklore, but also how the fable came about. We are able to trace the Qur'anic passages to sources which reveal how they came to be composed in the first place. The whole story of Abraham and the idols i^ founded upon a mistranslation of a Biblical verse. A Jewish scribe, Jonathan Ben Uzziel, in his Targum misquotes Genesis 15.7 which reads "I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldees". The word Ur is a Babylonian word for the city from which Abraham came out and is again mentioned by name in Genesis So also Jerusalem's original name was Ur-Shalim, the "City of Peace". The scribe, however, took the word to be Or, a Hebrew word meaning "fire", and interpreted the verse to mean "I am the Lord who brought you from the fire of the Chaldees" and comments accordingly on Genesis 15.7: Now this happened at the time when Nimrod cast Abraham into the oven of fire, because he would not worship the idols, that leave was withheld from the fire to hurt him. (Tisdall, The Sources of Islam, p. 23). It is most unlikely that this scribe invented the whole story. It is probable that he is merely repeating a tradition that had been current in Jewish folklore for some time. We can see quite clearly how it came about, nonetheless. 171

172 But it is somewhat difficult to understand how a Prophet like Mahomet could have given credence to such a fable, and entered it in a revelation held to have come down from heaven. (Tisdall, The Sources of Islam, p. 24). Muslim writers most significantly generally avoid the issue of the sources of the Qur'an in their writings. Even an apologist like Khalifa, who alludes to this subject in his book The Sublime Qur'an and OrientaIism (p. 13), nevertheless leaves the evidences entirely uncontested. This is hardly surprising as they are quite clear and prove conclusively that much of the Qur'an is derived from Jewish fables. That Muhammad was in error in many instances about Jewish history is proved all the more by the name he gives to Abraham's father in the Qur'an. His true Jewish name was Terah but in the Qur'an he is called Azar (Surah 6.74) - "evidently el-azar, derived from the Eliezer of Genesis 15.2" (Torrey, The Jewish Foundation of Islam, p. 68). The verse tells us that Abraham had prayed for a eon lest his slave, Eliezer, be his heir. Muhammad clearly confounded the name of Abraham's father with that of his servant! Another writer refers to an article by one S. Fraenkel in a European journal and says that "he argues convincingly that the Qur'anic form is due to a confusion on Muhammad's part of the details of the Abraham story as it came to him, so that instead of his father Terah he has given the name of Abraham's faithful servant Eliezer" (Jeffery, The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an, p. 55). The anachronism does appear to be fairly obvious. It cannot be suggested that the Jews had taken a true story from the original Torah and turned it into folklore. The Qur'an accuses them of declaring their traditional writings to be scripture revealed from God (Surah 2.79) - it nowhere charges them with turning their Holy Scripture into folklore. What we would like to know, however, is how that same folklore came to be Holy Scripture in the Qur'an - especially when, as in a case such as this, its origin can be traced to a misconception about the meaning of a word in the true Torah! 3. The Story of Cain and Abel in the Qur'an. The Qur'anic account of the murder of Abel by his unrighteous brother Cain is a typical mixture of elements from the Bible, Midrash and Mishnah. In fact the brief narrative in Surah gives us a fine example of the manner in which Jewish material was reaching Muhammad. It begins with a record of the sacrifices offered by the two sons of Adam, states that one was accepted and the other rejected, and duly sets out the sequel in which Cain, in his jealousy, slew Abel. Thus far the record agrees with the story of the incident in Genesis 4 except that the Qur'an gives no indication why only one of the sacrifices was accepted. The distinction between the two was probably not known to 172

173 Muhammad. Alternatively he could not perceive the significance of Abel's sacrifice of a lamb - a symbol of atonement and self-abasement - as opposed to Cain's offering of cakes he had made which symbolised a spirit of unwarranted self-righteousness before God. Thereafter, however, the story in the Qur'an has a sequel not found in the Biblical narrative. When Cain had killed Abel he did not know what to do with his body, but God is said to have intervened in a strange way. Then God sent a raven, who scratched the ground, to show him how to hide the shame of his brother. Surah 5.34 Once again one finds a striking parallel between the Qur'an and a Jewish book of myths and fables. The Pirke Rabbi Eliezer, a typical rabbinical writing from the Midrash, contains this story: Adam and his companion sat weeping and mourning for him (Abel) and did not know what to do with him as burial was unknown to them. Then came a raven, whose companion was dead, took its body, scratched in the earth, and hid it before their eyes; then said Adam, I shall do as this raven has done, and at once he took Abel's corpse, dug in the earth and hid it. (Geiger, Judaism and Islam, p.80). The similarity between this story and the verse quoted from the Qur'an is as obvious as the case of Abraham and the idols already considered. A slight difference between Kuran and Midrash is that in the latter the sorrowing and perplexed parents saw the raven's act; in the former, Cain the murderer witnessed it. But the sequel is extraordinary. (Guillaume, "The Influence of Judaism on Islam" The Legacy of Israel, p. 140). One cannot help drawing the conclusion that Muhammad had derived this story from his contacts with the Jews of the Hijaz and that the slight differences between the Jewish narrative and the form it obtains in the Qur'an are typical of those one would expect to find in the record of a man relying exclusively on hearsay and secondary sources because he could not read the books from which the Jews were quoting. "The story of the world's first murderer affords a most informing example of the influence of a Jew behind the scenes" (Guillaume, op. cit., p. 139). In the next verse in the Qur'an we find a quote from the Mishnah, a phenomenon proving all the more that the revelations were hardly coming from above but were a strange assortment of passages culled from Biblical, Midrashic and Mishnaic sources compiled by a man who could not distinguish between them. The verse begins: 173

174 On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Surah 5.35 At first sight this verse seems to have no connection with the preceding narrative. Why the life or death of one should be as the salvation or destruction of all mankind is not at all clear. When we turn to another Jewish record, however, we find the link between the story and what follows. Once again we find that it derives from a strange interpretation of a Biblical verse. We read: We find it said in the case of Cain who murdered his brother, 'The voice of thy brother's bloods crieth' (Genesis 4.10). It is not said here blood in the singular, but bloods in the plural, that is, his own blood and the blood of his seed. Man was created single in order to show that to him who kills a single individual it shall be reckoned that he has slain the whole race, but to him who preserves the life of a single individual it is counted that he hath preserved the whole race. (Mishnah Sanhedrin, 4.5) Once again, as in the case of the misunderstanding about the statement in Genesis 15.7 which led to the story of Abraham being brought out of "the fire" of the Chaldees, we find that the passage in the Mishnah, repeated in the Qur'an, is derived from an interpretation of a Biblical verse. Because the word for blood is in the plural in Genesis 4.10, an ingenious rabbi invented the supposition that all Abel's offspring had been killed with him which signified that any murder or life-saving act had universal implications. Clearly Muhammad had no knowledge of the source of the theory set out in the Mishnah but, hearing it related, simply set out the rabbi's suppositions as the eternal decree of God himself! Now if we look at the thirty-fifth verse of the text above quoted, it will be found almost exactly the same as these last words of this old Jewish commentary. But we see that only part is given in the Coran, and the other part omitted. And this omitted part is the connecting link between the two passages in the Coran, without which they are unintelligible. (Tisdall, The Sources of Islam, p. 16). The former part of the passage as it stands in the Mishnah is omitted in the Qur'an, possibly because it was not fully understood by Muhammad or his informant. But when it is supplied, the connexion between verse thirty-five and the preceding verses becomes clear. (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 66). This brief passage in the Qur'an, when analysed in the light of parallel passages in the Bible and the Talmud, shows quite clearly to what extent Muhammad's revelations were really nothing more than a repetition of information coming to 174

175 his ears, some of it Biblical and true to history, the rest predominantly mythical and fictitious. In conclusion it needs to be pointed out once again that the parallels between the Qur'anic narratives and Jewish folklore cannot give support to the fancy that the Jewish records contain remnants of genuine historical events. As in the case of the story of Abraham and the idols, we have been able to trace the coincidental passages to an original source - once again a rabbi's imaginative suppositions about a verse in the Bible. 4. The Qur'anic Account of the Golden Calf. Muhammad's limited knowledge of Jewish history led him into much confusion in his thoughts, evidence of which appears again in this passage which records a statement supposedly made by God to Moses at the time of the idolatry of the Israelites in the wilderness: "We have tested thy people in thy absence: the Samiri has led them astray". Surah A little further down (v.88) we read that "the Samiri" had brought out of the fire before the people the image of a calf which they promptly worshipped when it seemed to low like a real calf! In the same Midrashic work Pirke Rabbi Eliezer we read: There came forth this calf lowing, and the Israelites saw it. Rabbi Jehuda says that Samael entered into it and lowed in order to mislead Israel. (Geiger, Judaism and Islam, p. 132). Samael, according to Jewish tradition, is the Angel of Death. Quite clearly the Qur'anic narrative is again founded on a Jewish tradition, but one must ask why Muhammad does not mention the angel but speaks rather of one of the people, the "Samiri"? The use of the article in the ascription as-samiri shows clearly that this was not a man's personal name. Muslim commentators seem to be unwittingly hitting the mark when they interpret it, as they generally do, to mean the "Samaritan". The obvious problem is that the Samaritans, as a people, only arose some centuries after the exodus of the Israelites! But since the city of Samaria vas not built, or at least called by that name, until several hundred years after Moses' death. the anachronism is at least amusing, and would be startling in any other book than the Qur'an, in which far more stupendous ones frequently occur. (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 113). How then did Muhammad come to confuse the Samaritans with the story of the golden calf worshipped by the Israelites at the beginning of the exodus? One writer says "As the city of Samaria did not arise till some four hundred years after Moses, it is difficult to imagine how it came to be entered in this story" 175

176 (Tisdall, The Sources of Islam, p. 38). Actually the difficulty can be resolved quite easily. Another writer suggests the likely origin of this anachronism: There can be no doubt that the Muslim authorities are right in saying that it means "The Samaritan". The calf worship of the Samaritans may have had something to do with the Qur'anic story. (Jeffery, The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an, p. 158). When Israel seceded from Judah during the reign of Rehoboam, the king they chose, Jeroboam, set up two golden calves in Samaria so as to turn the Israelites away from going up to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings ). During a later period God spoke against this practice of theirs through one of his prophets: I have spurned your calf, O Samaria. My anger burns against them. How long will it be till they are pure in Israel? A workman made it, it is not God. The calf of Samaria shall be broken to pieces. Hosea It is highly probable that the Jews, who revelled in making the Samaritans a scapegoat for their problems, had deliberately confused this passage with the story of the golden calf in the wilderness and had blamed them for the latter sin as well. Alternatively Muhammad had heard the passage from the Book of Hosea and had himself confused the two occasions, not knowing that the Samaritans only became a nation after the people of Israel had settled in Samaria. Either way one is still forced to conclude that this is yet another proof that the Qur'an is not a divine revelation but rather a composition of the stories Muhammad obtained from various sources during his mission. These examples of borrowed elements from Judaism in the Qur'an are merely a selection of a great number that could be given. One is dismayed, however, to find that Muhammad often does what the Jewish composers of folklore were inclined to do at times. Stories are extracted from the Bible which are embellished with marvellous fables but the moral of the story is invariably lost in the process: We have seen how the Qur'anic account of the sacrifices of Cain and Abel misses the whole ethic behind the acceptance of the one and rejection of the other. So likewise the Qur'an follows Jewish tradition in adding fabulous details to the story of the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon but misses the whole thrust of the purpose of her journey - "she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon" (Luke 11.31). Of the queen's interest in the wisdom of Solomon, which plays such a part in the Biblical narrative, and still more in the Jewish midrash, not a word is said here. This feature must have been known to Mohammed, but it did not suit his purpose. (Torrey, The Jewish Foundation of Islam, p. 115). 176

177 It seems fair to conclude that much of the Qur'an conveys the imaginative fables of the Jewish rabbis of pre-islamic times rather than the revealed will and purposes of God. Let us now press on to a very brief selection of similar teachings from non-jewish sources. C. Other Qur'anic Origins and Sources 1. The Story of the "Seven Sleepers". In a previous chapter we saw that, apart from the prevalence of Jewish materials in the Qur'an, Muhammad also made use of apocryphal Christian works as well. In this chapter we shall consider a further example of this kind and will then close with a story which appears to be a combination of various New Testament elements. The Qur'an contains a strange tale in Surah to the effect that a few youths, true believers in God, took refuge in a cave where they fell asleep for a number of years. They accordingly became known as ashabal-kahf - "Companions of the Cave" (Surah 18.9) - and when they awoke, they were amazed to find that they had slept for so long. The story has many parallels in apocryphal Christian works, such as the Acta Sanctorum by the Syriac writer Jacob of Sarug compiled before his death in 521 AD. "The oldest mention of the legend in the east we find made by Dionysius of Tell Mahra in a Syrian work of the fifth century AD; in the west by Theodosius in his book on the Holy Land" (Gibb and Kramers, Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam, p. 45). The story has become known as that of the "Seven Sleepers" because it is generally agreed that there were seven of them, though some say eight. The cave was allegedly in Ephesus and the story in these works states that they were Christians fleeing from persecution during the reign of Decius the Emperor who died in 251 AD. It is said that after they had hidden in the cave it was sealed, but that during the reign of Theodosius the Second nearly two hundred years later, the cave was opened and the refugees duly awoke and, when one went through the city, he was astonished to find Christianity triumphant. Then they all met the Emperor at the cave, told him God had presented them as a witness, and duly expired. If this story was in any way founded on Biblical narratives like the myths in the Midrash, it could only be from Matthew No Christian ever dreamt that the tale was true; but such as the nurse tells her children of "the cat and the mouse", etc. But the Prophet has entered it with all gravity in the Coran for the instruction of his followers. (Tisdall, The Sources of Islam, p. 48). 177

178 The story in the Qur'an is clearly yet another of those pre-islamic fables that found its way into the Qur'an alongside true Biblical narratives. This conclusion is strengthened by the fact that the Qur'anic story is extremely limited and uncertain at times. There is no mention of the time or place when it occurred, nor does the Qur'an reveal that the men involved were Christians. Muhammad also did not know their number-- the Qur'an says that some say three, others five, and yet others seven, without giving its own decision on the matter (Surah 18.22) - and he likewise did not know how long it was, saying three hundred years with perhaps an additional nine (Surah 18.25). From the whole style of the passage we perceive that Muhammad had no written document and no reliable informant at hand who could give him exact particulars of the affair.... It is clear that to an oral form of the story he was indebted for the particulars given in the Qur'an, and not to Divine revelation, as he claimed to be. (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 146). The ambiguity about the number of sleepers and the years they slumbered, coupled with the omission of vital details in the story, shows that the passage in Surah 28 did not come from al-'alim, "the All-Knowing" Lord of the Universe, but was simply Muhammad's own version of it according to the limited knowledge he possessed. 2. The Table Sent Down from Heaven. There is one story in the Qur'an which appears to have been compiled either by Muhammad himself through a misunderstanding of various New Testament narratives, or by Christians of pre-islamic times whose record of the story has not been preserved. The story begins: Behold! The Disciples said: "O Jesus the son of Mary' Can thy Lord send down to us a Table set (with viands) from heaven?" Said Jesus: "Fear God, if ye have faith". Surah After Jesus had allegedly prayed that such a table might be sent down, God duly furnished one fully prepared from heaven but warned those who sat at it that no further unbelief would be tolerated (Surah ). A very interesting feature in this passage is the word for table - ma'idah - which is derived from a similar Ethiopian word used by the Abyssinian Christians for the "Lord's Table", that is, the communion sacrament of the Christian Church. It is used only in verses 115 and 117 of this passage and appears nowhere else in the Qur'an. How did this strange story come about? One writer says: "Its origin is no doubt to be found in the Supper which Jesus partook of with his disciples the night before his death" (Tisdall, The Sources of Islam, p. 60). Others suggest another possible source. One says that it is "a confused echo either of the Eucharist or the feeding of the 5000 or an amalgam of both" (Stanton, The Teaching of the 178

179 Qur'an, p. 44) and another comments: "It has been demonstrated several times that the passage v is a confusion of the Gospel story of the feeding of the multitude with that of the Lord supper" (Jeffery, The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an, p. 178). There is yet another New Testament story from which elements may have been borrowed, namely Peter's vision: But what doubtless led to the idea that the Table descended from heaven was the passage in the Acts of the Apostles (x. 9-16). (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 178). It may well be that all these passages influenced the fabrication of the story in one way or another but in our view it is probably only a perversion of the story of the Last Supper and the suggestion in the Qur'an that the table came from heaven does not have its origin in the story of Peter's vision in Acts but rather these words of the Israelites during the exodus which are remarkably similar to those attributed to Jesus' disciples in Surah 5.115: They spoke against God, saying, "Can God spread a table in the wilderness?" Psalm As we have already seen that the mother of Jesus was confused with Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron in the Qur'an, it is not surprising to find Jesus himself here confounded with Moses to whom the words were originally spoken. Clearly Muhammad obtained much of his material for the Qur'an from Christian sources even though these were obviously secondary and unreliable. Right from the start of his prophetic mission he had discourses with Christians. Even his first wife Khadija had a Christian cousin and we read of him: "Waraqa had been converted to Christianity in the Pre-Islamlc Period and used to write Arabic and write of the Gospel in Arabic as much as Allah wished him to write" (Sahih al- Bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 452). It is far more probable that much of what he wrote was not the New Testament but mythical records retained in apocryphal Christian works circulating throughout Arabia. Muhammad shows only too often that his materials were identical to those floating around the Arabian Peninsula at his time a coincidence which implies that the Qur'an is not a revelation from God who is omniscient but the composition of a man who was restricted to the limited sources of information available to him. And this implication can lead to only one possible conclusion: Now, if we can trace the teaching of the Coran, or any part of it, to an earthly Source, or to human systems existing previous to the Prophet's age, then Islam at once falls to the ground. (Tisdall, The Sources of Islam, p. 2). 179

180 As said already, Muslim writers generally avoid the issue of the sources of the Qur'an in their writings, apparently because the evidences are incontrovertible. One writer laments their attitude and says of the extra-islamic sources of the Qur'an: All this information and more is quite generally available for those who desire to investigate the sources of the Qur an. Serious students know that they are serving the highest religious duty when they acknowledge facts that can be verified. Whenever a previous belief or a doctrine they have accepted conflicts with the facts they have learned, they then make their belief conform to the truth. (Calverley, "Sources of the Qur an", The Muslim World, Vol. 22, p. 67). In this case, however, such an acknowledgement of the true facts by the Muslims must result in a denial of their belief in Islam altogether for if the divine origin of the Qur'an is disproved, the whole carpet is pulled out from under Islam. We credit Muhammad with a degree of sincerity by allowing that he did not deliberately or consciously play the part of a forger and that he was subjectively convinced that the manner in which he reproduced his materials took the form of a divine revelation, but an objective study of the mythical Jewish and apocryphal Christian sources of the Qur'an shows convincingly that however sincere he was, he was just so much sincerely wrong. D. English Translations of The Qur'an 1. The Translations of Alexander Ross and George Sale. In 1649 Alexander Ross published the first English version of the Qur'an under the title The AlCoran of Mahomet. It was not a direct translation from the original Arabic but was done from a French version published a few years earlier. Unfortunately Ross had no knowledge of Arabic and his proficiency in French left much to be desired so that the translation itself is extremely defective and at times misses the sense of the original altogether. Nevertheless it served to introduce the Scripture of Islam to the English-speaking world and for nearly a hundred years was the only translation available. This version today serves chiefly to reveal the attitudes pervading in England in those days towards Islam. Ross introduces his translation with a preface "to the Christian Reader" and in it he says of the Qur'an: Thou shalt find it of so rude, and incongruous a composure so faced with contradictions, blasphemies, obscene speeches, and ridiculous fables, that some modest, and more rational Mahometans have thus excused it... Such as it is, I present to thee, having taken the pains only to translate it out of French, not doubting, though it hath been a poyson, that hath 180

181 infected a very great, but most unsound part of the universe, it may prove an Antidote, to confirm in thee the health of Christianity. (Ross, The AlCoran of Mahomet, p. A2, A3). The book ends with a brief biography of Muhammad and closes with a "Caveat" to consider "what use may be made of, or if there be any danger in reading the Alcoran" in which he is at some pains to defend the very fact of an English translation of the holy book of "the Turks" as against the presupposed criticism of those who might think that it was a way of allowing into England the "dismall night of Mahometane darkness" (op. cit., p. Ef3). Describing the Qur'an elsewhere as a "gallimaufry of errors", he goes on in his caveat to say: If you will take a brief view of the Alcoran, you shall finde it a hodgepodge made up of these four ingredients: 1. Of Contradictions. 2. Of Blasphemie. 3. Of ridiculous Fables. 4. Of Lyes. (Ross, op. cit., p. Ff2). It was only in 1734 that the first genuine translation of the Qur'an into English appeared, though once again the author relied heavily on another work. George Sale published his translation under the simple title The Qur an with a subtitle commonly called the Alcoran of Mohammed". As states on the title page, his translation was indeed a direct rendering from the original Arabic, but his interpretation was considerably influenced by a Latin version done by one Marracci. As Ross had done before him, Sale supplemented his translation with additional material. He prefixed his work with a fairly lengthy introduction to Islam entitled The Preliminary Discourse, printed about sixty years ago independently of the translation as a separate book, but usually found included in the earlier editions of his translation. He also complemented his work with "Explanatory Notes taken from the most approved commentators". In 1898 his translation was reprinted in four volumes which contained a greatly enlarged supplement of notes by E.M. Wherry entitled A Comprehensive Commentary on the Qur'an. Unlike the publication by Ross, Sale's translation and Preliminary Discourse were remarkably precise and have stood the test of time. Incidentally, our examination of these extracts from Sale's translation and the comparison of them with the Latin translation of Marracci have shown what a very careful and accurate piece of work was done more than two hundred years ago, at a time when students of the Arabic language had practically none of the equipment in the way of dictionaries and grammars which are available in the languages of Europe today. (Shellabear, "Is Sale's Qur an Reliable?", The Muslim World, Vol. 21, p. 142). Nevertheless Sale's Qur an has been vilified by Muslim writers. Some have objected, for example, to his constant interpretation of passages speaking of 181

182 struggling and fighting in the way of God as meaning physical warfare, an interpretation out of favour with many modern Muslim commentators who seek to soften such passages by suggesting that only spiritual warfare in the soul is meant. This is by no means clear from the texts usually cited, however, and such interpretations only serve to expose the sentiments of those who desire to eliminate a theme considered unacceptable today but one which was regarded as perfectly consistent with true religion at the time of Muhammad. Sale usually put such interpretations in italics in his text, or commented on them in his footnotes, and they were invariably not his own preferred suppositions but simply the interpretations of the earliest commentators, in particular the highlyrespected al-baidawi, as they were recorded in Marracci's original Latin edition. One writer says of Sale's translation and interpretations: Sale's translation is extremely paraphrastic, but the fact that the additional matter in italics is, in nearly every case, added from the commentary of El-Beidhawi, makes it the more valuable to the reader. (Zwemer, "Translations of the Qur an", The Muslim World, Vol. 5, p. 251). It seems that the real reason for the widespread Muslim antagonism to Sale's translation and notes is that they were the first serious assessment of the Qur'an by a Christian author and one which did not attempt to gloss over teachings and dogmas in the book which tend to reflect somewhat poorly on its claim to be of divine origin. Such a thing as a critical or objective analysis of the teaching, sources and ethics of the Qur'an is unknown in the Muslim world to this day. Indeed any Muslim writer with the courage to produce such a study would soon be vehemently denounced as a renegade. It was chiefly because Sale was willing to publish a discourse and translation that set the heritage of Islam in an objective perspective that his translation has been disapproved of by Muslim writers. 2. The First Muslim Translations of the Qur'an. It was not until 1905 that the first Muslim translation of the Qur'an into English appeared and it was only in 1920 that a widely-accepted version was finally published. This was The Holy Qur'an published by Maulvi Muhammad Ali of the moderate Lahore branch of the Ahmadiyya Movement. The translation was published as an interlinear English/Arabic text and was supplemented with copious footnotes explaining the text. It was also introduced with a fairly lengthy preface (90 pages) discussing the teachings and collection of the Qur'an. Although this translation is a fairly accurate rendering of the original Arabic, it often exposes the subjective convictions of its author in passages that appear to be a preferred interpretation rather than an objective translation of the original. The Ahmadiyya Movement denies the general Muslim belief that Jesus was raised alive to heaven without being put on the cross while another was made to 182

183 look like him and was crucified in his place, and teaches instead that he came down alive from the cross and died many years later in Srinagar in India. The Qur'an has only one verse which refers to the crucifixion and, after denying that the Jews ever crucified Jesus or killed him, it says wa laakin shubbiha lahum (Surah 4.157). This means "But so it was made to appear to them", that is, that it was made to appear to the Jews they had crucified Jesus. Ali avoids this by interpreting the phrase to mean "but (the matter) was made dubious to them". He comments on the whole verse in a footnote: The word does not negative Jesus' being nailed to the cross, but it negatives his having expired on the cross as a result of being nailed to it... The story that someone else was made to resemble Jesus is not borne out by the words of the Qur'an. (Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 241, 242). A translation entitled The Meaning of the Glorious Qur an by an English convert to Islam, M. M. Pickthall, was published in 1930 and it was followed in 1934 by another done by one Abdullah Yusuf Ali entitled The Holy Qur'an. These two translations have become the most popular editions in English in the Muslim world though both have serious defects. Yusuf Ali's translation has become the most widely approved translation of the Qur'an among the Muslims and for this reason it is the translation used throughout this book (except where indicated otherwise). This work truly deserves popularity for, although the author was a Shi'ite Muslim, it is a work that breathes out freshness and rarely shows sectarian bias such as is found in many other Muslim translations. Its principal shortcoming (which the reader will probably have noticed already) is that the translation does not flow easily at times and too much use is made of capital letters. The author is at times also too liberal in hls rendering of basic Arabic expressions, eg. "Cherisher and Sustainer" for Rabb (Surah 1.2), a word meaning simply "Lord". Yusuf Ali has based his work on Muhammad Ali's model. He so supplemented his translation with explanatory notes numbered in sequence but, in this case, the notes are usually homiletic and display his purpose to edify his readers with a spiritual understanding of the text. A Western author comments on the book as a whole: The author is evidently a sincerely religious man, who has endeavoured to apply his religion to the problems of life as he has found them, and tells us where he has found help and inspiration for better and fuller living. The whole spirit of his work is admirable, and makes it a real document of religious worth. As it is a work laid before scholarship it will necessarily have to submit critical examination, but the critic is the first to pay homage to the evident sincerity of the author. (Jeffery, "Yusuf Ali's Translation of the Qur'an, The Muslim World, Vol. 30, p. 55). 183

184 He adds a succinct observation, however: "His counselling is wise and on a high ethical plane - much higher, some will suspect, than that of the text on which he is commenting" (op. cit., p. 58). Nevertheless, like Muhammad Ali before him, much of his commentary is apologetic and at times polemical and Christian readers will find much to question, especially his use of the Bible in his notes where one cannot help agreeing that "he has not escaped a certain ingenuousness in his use of it" (Jeffery, op. cit., p. 61). That Yusuf Ali's translation has stood the test of time and is preferred to this day above other versions in the Muslim world is perhaps the best testimony to its general reliability. It is our view, however, that it suffers from many defects, some of which have been pointed out in this book, and cannot be regarded as a classic. 3. A Selection of Later English Translations. During the latter part of the 19th century two further well-known translations were published in England. The first was The Qur an by J.M. Rodwell published in 1861 which was the first attempt by any translator to put the surahs into some sort of chronological order. Ultimately this effort has detracted from the value of the books those familiar with the transmitted form of the text or brought up on the Arabic original will have difficulty locating specific passages. This problem is compounded by the author's decision only to number the tenth consecutive verse of each surah. The translation also suffers from inaccuracies in the use of tenses and particles - but scores in its choice of words to convey the meaning of the original Arabic. It is this writer's opinion that Rodwell's translation is one of the best to come from an English author. Apart from its minor grammatical defects it is a fine work and a pleasure to read. The second translation was done in 1880 by E.H. Palmer and was entitled The Qur'an, translated. This version concentrates on rendering as closely as possible the sharp, almost nervous tone of the original Arabic into English. It was the first attempt to produce the spirit of Muhammad's orations in their original lively form in a translation. Palmer's version thus became an important contribution to this field. Although Rodwell's version approaches nearer to the Arabic, Palmer states that in this also "there is too much assumption of the literary style". In his own translation he has attempted to render into English the rude, fierce eloquence of the Bedouin Arabs and has succeeded, I believe, almost to the same degree as Doughty in his "Arabia Deserta". Where rugged or commonplace expressions occur in the Arabic, they are rendered into similar English; sometimes the literal 184

185 rendering may even shock the reader as it did those who first heard the message. (Zwemer, "Translations of the Qur an", The Muslim World, Vol. 5, p. 251). In this century only two translations of note by English authors have appeared. The first was by Richard Bell entitled The Qur'an Translated. It appeared in 1937 and has met, like so many others, with a mixed reception. This translation also makes an attempt at giving some sort of chronological order to the text but, unlike Rodwell's version, wisely retains the original sequence of the surahs. As pointed out already in this book, most of the surahs, especially the longer ones, are composite chapters of passages from different periods of Muhammad's ministry. Bell alone has endeavoured to break the surahs up into their constituent parts. He supplemented his work with notes as well but they usually take the form of brief interpretations of specific clauses rather than commentaries on the text such as we find in most Muslim translations. The usual criticism of his work is that the divisions he proposes cannot be proved and in many cases are disputable The author himself was not unaware of this likelihood and comments in his translation: The reconstructions of passages will, no doubt, seem arbitrary, thus presented without the arguments which support them. In some cases the author would be the first to admit uncertainty, but he hopes that examination will disclose a sufficient number of certain results to justify the methods which he has adopted, and that he will be given credit in other cases for having made an honest effort to understand the passage as it stands before resorting to hazardous reconstructions. (Bell, The Qur'an Translated, Vol. 1, p. viii). His work is nevertheless an extremely important contribution to this field and serves as a most useful model of the probable divisions of the original revelations. The translation itself concentrates on textual accuracy and is therefore a valuable reference work. The other renowned translation of recent date is that by A.J. Arberry entitled The Qur an Interpreted. The chief feature of this work is the endeavour of its author to make the Qur'an do in English what the original Arabic does so strikingly - and that is to impress its spirit and rhythm on the ear of the hearer. We have already seen that the Qur'an is to be recited as well as read and throughout the centuries the sonorous character of its text has had an almost mesmerising effect on many of those who hear it carefully recited in Arabic. It is this effect that Arberry has attempted to capture in his translation and with a considerable degree of success. Its only drawback is that, like Rodwell's version, the individual division of verses is not brought out and only the fifth consecutive verse of each surah is numbered. Nevertheless it is almost certainly the best translation of the Qur'an into English available and is recommended to all who 185

186 seek a version which combines textual accuracy with the spirit and thrust of the original. 4. More Recent Muslim Translations of the Qur'an. Quite a number of new translations have appeared from the Muslim world in recent years. In 1956 N.J. Dawood's The Qur an appeared, significantly first published in England. Like Rodwell's, the surahs are not placed in their original order but in a supposed chronological form and the verses are not individually numbered. The work has a pleasing literary style but lacks the sharpness of the original. Two further translations appeared in One was the version of Maulaaa Abdul Majid Daryabadi entitled The Holy Qur'an published in two volumes in Pakistan. He followed Muhammad Ali and Yusuf Ali in adding a substantial commentary to the interlinear English/Arabic text but his work is an interesting contribution in that it is chiefly comparative and quotes extensively from the Bible. The translation itself has become a favourite with many orthodox Indian Muslims and is preferred by them to its two predecessors. Whereas the former works were somewhat interpretive, Daryabadi's is a strict translation of the Arabic original. A one - volume publication without his commentary has this note: This English Version is a Translation of the Arabic Text not its Paraphrase or Adoptation. (Preface). This translation, however, suffers from serious English grammatical weaknesses. One can give the author a degree of the benefit of the doubt by presuming that in many cases a pleasing style has been sacrificed in the interests of an accurate rendering of the text, but it makes heavy reading for those whose home language is English. This work will remain in the shadows of Yusuf Ali's popular version but the preference of some of the orthodox school for Daryabadi's edition gives it a place of importance in this field of study. The other version published in 1971 was a work simply entitled The Qur'an by a follower of the Ahmadiyya Movement Pakistan's well-known Sir Zafrulla Khan. It begins with a typical introduction of some length. The English text has a literary style common to so many translations which simultaneously lose much of the character of the original. Only Arberry has succeeded in combining both. Zafrulla Khan's work is, on the whole, a very free interpretation of the text and suffers from a sectarian bias. One can compare his translation of Surah with that of Muhammad Ali already quoted. It says of the Jews' claim that they crucified Jesus: "they slew him not, nor did they compass his death upon the cross, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified to death" (Zafrulla Khan, The Qur'an, p. 96). This is hardly an objective translation or simple 186

187 rendering of the original passage and is typical of the author's penchant for reading the preferred dogmas of his sect into the text of the Qur'an. In 1980 a translation by a Jewish convert to Islam, Muhammad Asad, appeared as a complete work entitled The Message of the Qur'an. The author is one of the modern school of Islamic scholars who rationalise much of the teaching of the Qur'an and endeavour to present its teaching in the spirit of 20th century modernism and scepticism about the actual physical reality of alleged supernatural events in history. There has been a strong negative reaction to this translation in much of the Muslim world as it denies miracles cherished by the orthodox, such as the physical ascensions of Jesus and Muhammad to heaven. In traditional Muslim style the translation is produced in an interlinear form with extensive notations. Once again the author's convictions affect his translation which so often conveys a preferred interpretation rather than an objective exposition of the original text. He holds to the school that teaches that Jesus was not raised to heaven and so translates Surah 4.158: "God exalted him to himself" rather than "God raised him to himself" found in most translations. He adds a footnote which has caused much opposition to his work from orthodox elements: Nowhere in the Qur'an is there any warrant for the popular belief that God has "taken up" Jesus bodily, in his lifetime, into heaven. (Asad, The Message of the Qur'an, p. 135). In 1979 another translation The Qur an by Mufassir Mohammad Ahmad was published in London. It carries the strange claim that it is "the first Tafsir in English", presumably meaning that it is the first commentary in English. The work has no notes but the author's interpretation is liberally written into the text itself which reads something like the Amplified Version of the Bible. Many years ago a student of Islam made an interesting observation in a lecture delivered to students of the Hartford Theological Seminary: Just as in the case of the Old Testament there is no translation at present in existence that can be called even approximately adequate, so in the case of the Qur'an there is no translation that you can trust. That work is still to be done... Whichever view you take, the translation of the Qur'an is still to come. (Macdonald, Aspects of Islam, p. 88). The claim about the Old Testament may no longer be true but it is this writer's conviction that the translation of the Qur'an is yet to be published, even today. There is none that can be called a classic, though the translations of Rodwell and Arberry are excellent individual efforts. It is perhaps this very fact of individuality that explains why there is no translation of the Qur'an to compare with translations of the Bible such as the Revised Standard Version or New 187

188 American Standard Version. These were done by committees of scholars and the result has been a remarkably consistent and accurate rendering of the original. Every well-known translation of the Qur'an has been the work of an individual and, to one degree or another in every case, the value of the final product is tempered by the presence of the author's own personal convictions and interpretations. Perhaps in time a select body of Western and Muslim scholars will get together to produce a standard translation of the Qur'an. As long as Muslim suspicions about Western scholars of Islam persist, however, the desired eventuality remains unlikely. The Hadith: The Traditions of Islam A. An Introduction to The Subject of Hadith 1. Divisions between the Various Types of Traditions. The heritage of Islam, particularly its jurisprudence, has four sources - two founded on historical records going back to the time of Muhammad and two on the development of the science of interpretation in the early centuries of Islam The Qur'an has always been regarded as the primary legal source of Islam but, when it was found necessary to look elsewhere for guidance, the early jurists of Islam turned to the Hadith. Only when both of these failed to provide the authority sought did they resort to ijtihad (interpretation) until they reached ijma (consensus). In the very early days of Islam Muslim authorities tended to rely on their own opinions to establish their interpretation of what a prescribed law should be for any given situation not founded on the Qur'an, a practice known as ra'y. The great jurist ash-shafi'i, however, preferred to rely solely on traditions from the prophet and thereafter on the method known as qiyas (analogy) where interpretations were to be derived from comparisons with relative subjects dealt with in the Qur'an or the traditions. Once Shafi'i's school of law was fully established together with the other great schools founded by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abu Hanifa and Malik, the "door" of ijtihad was closed and it was considered that ijma had been reached on all necessary points of law (though the schools differ in many matters to this day but mostly on minor points of interpretation). Accordingly Islamic jurisprudence has for centuries known no real development and is based fundamentally on the four sources mentioned. In this chapter we are concerned solely with the Hadith the record of Muhammad's actions, decrees and sayings. These are mostly juristic in content and emphasis, though much material in the larger works of Hadith is purely historical. 188

189 It is not known when the practice of reducing the traditions of Muhammad's life to writing began. Muslim writers generally claim that all the genuine Hadith (the word means "a message or a new "communication") were written down by Muhammad s companions either during his lifetime or shortly thereafter, but Western scholars doubt whether any were so recorded and circulated before the Ummayad dynasty was overthrown by the Abbasids more than a century after Muhammad's death. It was during the reign of the Abbasids that the practice of collecting Hadith really took root and many early Hadith scholars travelled all over the Muslim world to trace the traditions of Muhammad's sayings and decrees. Unfortunately wholesale fabrication of Hadith during the early days made it difficult for genuine scholars to distinguish the true from the false, but eventually six major collections were recognised as authoritative works of Hadith containing, for the most part, true records. The divisions of Hadith took many forms. Where traditions were reported by a large number of companions, they became known as mutawatir, that is, "continuous", meaning that they were successively reported by many authorities. The Mutawatir are the traditions which have been transmitted throughout the first three generations of the Muslims by such a large number of transmitters as cannot be reasonably expected to agree on a falsehood. (Siddiqi, Hadith Literature, p. 193). Such traditions are "very few in number and hardly ever touch on legal matters" (Juynboll, The Authenticity of the Tradition Literature, p. 11 ). The second coming of Jesus is attested by seventy traditions from different sources and it is a typical non-juristic hadith unanimously recognised. The next form of Hadith are known as mashur. Mashur. - A tradition which in every age has been considered genuine by some learned Doctor. This is the term generally used for traditions which were at first recorded by a few individuals but afterwards became generally known. (Hughes, Notes on Muhammadanism, p. 33). Lastly, traditions transmitted by only one or two transmitters are known as ahad, that is, "isolated", from the Arabic root for "one". These divisions are broken up into many other detailed sub-divisions but all rely either on the number of authorities for the tradition or on the nature of their origin. The latter, for example, are divided into musnad, traditions traced back to Muhammad himself, mauquf, those only going back to his companions, and maqtu, those derived from his Successors. A tradition from a Successor directly traced to Muhammad is known as mursal. Naturally those going back to Muhammad himself are considered more genuine. 189

190 Another form of dividing the Hadith into degrees of reliability is that which analyses defects in the reporters of traditions or in the textual content of the traditions themselves. Each tradition begins with a list of its chain of reporters, known as its isnad, its "support", and concludes with its content, its matn. There are three classes in this case as well. These three classes are: (i) the Sahih or Genuine; (ii) the Hasan or the Fair; and (iii) the Da'if or the Weak. (Siddiqi, Hadith Literature, p. 192). Once again there are a number of sub-divisions. The sahih and hasan traditions are graded as maqbul (acceptable) while the da'if are treated with reserve. Hadith known to be fabricated are known as mardud (rejected). 2. The Early Sirat Literature and the Musnads. The early records of traditions can also be divided into different categories. We begin with the Sirat literature, as it is known, which consists of early biographies of Muhammad's life compiled between a hundred and two hundred years after his death. These contain many of the traditions found in the later major works of Hadith but are not true collections as such. They are purely biographical works in which the material is set out in a chronological form. The three major works of Sirat literature are Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasulullah (the "Life of the Messenger of Allah", the earliest and most famous biography), Waqidi's Kitab al-maghazi ("Book of the Campaigns"), and Ibn Sa'd's Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir ("Book of the Major Classes"). It has become fashionable in Muslim circles today to regard these works as inferior to the later Hadith collections. One writer says: No Muslim scholar has ever attached the same value to the biographical reports as to traditions narrated in the above-mentioned collections (i.e., Sahih al-bukhari etc.). On the other hand, all Muslim critics recognize that the biographers never made much effort to sift truth from error. (All, The Religion of Islam, p. 66). The chief reason for this attitude is really that the Sirat works contain records of Muhammad's life which are today regarded as unpalatable, for example, Muhammad's concession to idolatry which was recorded by all three major biographers. It is probable, however, that these works, in their own robust manner, contain a truer picture of Muhammad's life than the later collections which, in comparison, often betray evidences of refinement to improve the image of Islam's founder. (We have already cited two traditions from Bukhari, i.e. those relating to Muhammad's wife Zaynab bint Jahsh and the occasion where all the Meccans bowed with Muhammad after he had recited Surah 53, which are clearly revised editions of the original records which reflected rather poorly on him). 190

191 Ibn Sa'd was attached to Waqidi himself for some time and became known as Katib al-waqidi, the "secretary of Waqidi". His biography, like Ibn Ishaq's, has always been held in high esteem, notwithstanding the negative attitude of many Muslim writers. An author with a more positive approach says: As Prof. Sachau says, Ibn Sa'd has shown in his work impartiality and honesty, thoroughness and minuteness, and objectivity and originality. His impartiality and honesty have been generally acknowledged... Be it as it may, the Tabaqat of Ibn Sa'd is one of the earliest extant works on Asma al-rijal, containing biographical notices of most of the important narrators of the most important period in the history of traditions. It is a rich mine of many-sided, valuable information about the early history of Islam. (Siddiqi, Hadith Literature, p. 177, 178). Another early form of tradition literature consists of the Musnad works which can be regarded as the first attempts at a genuine collection of the Hadith. The name applied to these compositions indicates their character. The characteristic of the Musnad, the earliest type of collection, was that hadith, quite irrespective of their contents and subject-matter, were arranged under the name of the Companion on whose authority they were supported (musnad). (Guillaume, The Traditions of Islam, p. 23). The later works were usually arranged into sections where the Hadith were recorded and categorised under topical headings. These earlier works, however, were compiled according to their isnads. All traditions going back to any particular companion were simply listed under his name, irrespective of the subject-matter. The most famous Musnad was that of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, founder of one of the four major schools of law in Islam. It is an exhaustive work with a vast number of traditions. The compiler could not always sift the true from the false, however, and the collection's chief value today is to serve as a catalogue of the traditions circulating throughout the Muslim world at the time of the rise of the Abbasids. A much larger work, containing 28,000 to 29,000 traditions is attributed to Ahmad b. Hanbal ( / ), one of the four doctors to whom the schools of cannon law are traced back. The work was compiled from his lectures and enlarged by his son. While it contains very many obviously far-fetched traditions, it has commonly been considered an important work. (Robson, "Tradition, the Second Foundation of Islam", The Muslim World, Vol. 41, p. 31). Like the early biographies, one cannot help feeling that there may be many traditions in this work which give a truer perspective of Muhammad's life, 191

192 despite the presence of other fabricated hadith, than the more highly-acclaimed later collections of Hadith. During the period of the Ummayad dynasty many traditions were fabricated to favour the caliphs from the descendants of Umayya, but when the descendants of Abbas, Muhammad's uncle, overthrew the dynasty, it soon became fashionable and, indeed, expedient to quash these traditions and compose fresh ones favouring the Abbasid dynasty instead. Ibn Hanbal was an exception to this rule. The Musnad is marked by a fearless indifference to the susceptibilities of the Abbasids. Whereas the two great works of Bukhari and Muslim may be searched in vain for any generous recognition of the merits of the Ummayads, Ahmad, who forsooth had little to thank their successors for, preserves many of the traditions extolling the glories of the Banu Ummaya which must at one time have been current in Syria. (Guillaume, The Traditions of Islam, p. 24). As a result Ibn Hanbal suffered greatly under the Abbasid caliphs al-ma'mun and his brother and successor al-mu'tasim. He was treated in a most cruel way, not only for his fearlessness in recording unpalatable hadith, but for many other reasons as well. But from the Mo'tazili creed no divergence was tolerated; to it every Muslim must conform. Two dogmas were especially dear to the Caliph, namely, that the Kor'an was not eternal, and that by the disembodied eye in the future life, the Deity could not be seen. The severest pains and penalties, even to the death, awaited those who dared to differ. Bagdad was much disquieted by the intolerant rigour of the Caliph and his doctors; the famous Ibn Hanbal was again arrested, and being firm in the faith, was pitilessly scourged, and cast scarred and senseless into prison. (Muir, The Caliphate: Its Rise, Decline and Fall, p. 512). 3. The Distinction between the Hadith and the Sunnah. One often comes across the terms Hadith and Sunnah in the context of the record and example of Muhammad's teachings, conduct and behaviour. At face value one can distinguish between the two and say that the Hadith are the written records, transmitted by a chain of authorities, of the sayings and actions of Muhammad, whereas the Sunnah is the actual form of behaviour or code of conduct of the prophet which has become the prescribed norm for the universal Muslim community. Moslem tradition is, however, a term which in Arabic is expressed not by one but by two words, hadith and sunna. The former denotes a communication or a tale, in our case the oral or scribal translation of the sayings or actions mentioned; the latter means "use" and "tradition", in our case the exemplar way in which Mohammed used to act and to speak. So hadith is the external, sunna 192

193 the internal side of tradition; hadith is the form, sunna the matter. (Wensinck, "The Importance of Tradition for the Study of Islam", The Muslim World, Vol. 11, p. 239). Another writer sums it up very succinctly: "Tradition, as a matter of record, is called Hadith; as a matter of obligation it is called Sunnah" (Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, p. 98). In the early days of Islam, however, there was a far greater distinction between the two. During the reigns of the four immediate successors of Muhammad known as the "rightly-guided caliphs" Islam spread rapidly. For a long time there were no prescribed laws for the whole Muslim community and where a general code of legal maxims took root, these became the Sunnah, the "example" or, more properly, the norm for the community. In those days there was no need for the laws of Islam to be based directly on any prescribed, recorded practice of Muhammad. The terms sunna and hadith must be kept distinct from one another... The difference which has to be kept in mind is this: hadith means, as has been shown, an oral communication derived from the Prophet, whereas sunna, in the usage prevailing in the old Muslim community, refers to a religious or legal point, without regard to whether or not there exists an oral tradition for it. (Goldziher, Muslim Studies, Vol. 2, p. 24). It was only during the days of the great Muslim jurist ash-shafi'i, and as a result of his influence and leadership in this field, that the Hadith became the standard of all Muslim jurisprudence and the only true Sunnah, therefore, was the Sunnah of the Prophet as it was recorded in the transmitted traditions. Shafi'i decreed that no legal precept was binding unless it was founded on a tradition. If there was no tradition, the correct maxim was to be determined by the process of analogy (qiyas) with other traditions which contained material relative to or comparative with the matter at hand. For Shafi'i, the sunna is established only by traditions going back to the Prophet, not by practice or consensus (Tr. III, 148, p. 249). Apart from a few traces of the old idea of sunna in his earlier writings, Shafi'i recognizes the 'sunna of the Prophet' only in so far as it is expressed in traditions going back to him. This is the idea of sunna which we find in the classical theory of Muhammadan law, and Shafi'i must be considered as its originator there. (Schacht, The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence, p. 77). As Schacht goes on to point out, while the terms Sunnah and Hadith are not really synonymous, Shafi'i's practice of making the Sunnah dependent exclusively on the traditions led him, and with him the Muslim world to this day, "to identify both terms more or less completely" (Schacht, op. cit., p. 77). 193

194 Some modern Muslim scholars would like to dispose of the Hadith altogether as an unreliable, outdated and inflexible rule of conduct, in favour of the Qur'an alone which, being the alleged Word of God, must contain all that is necessary for life and conduct and be relevant to every age. Yet it was precisely the limitation of the Qur'an in this respect that led to the rise of the Hadith as the major source of Muslim law and practice. The fact that the Sunnah of Muhammad has become so completely identified with the Hadith makes it impossible that the Hadith can be dismissed without the whole foundation of Islam being simultaneously fractured. Modern Islam yearns for creativity and in the interests of the new progress certain groups have arisen which, if their utterances are taken at their face value, wish to reject all Hadith and rely on the Qur'an. But in these groups there is hardly any awareness of the issues that are at stake... But now the only tradition is the verbal one, since the living Sunna, in so far as it is there, now derives its validity from the Hadith through which lies the only avenue of our contact with the Prophet and fundamentally also with the Qur'an as it was delivered to and understood by the Community. For, if the Hadith as a whole is cast away, the basis for the historicity of the Qur'an is removed with one stroke. (Rahman, Islam, p. 66). The author goes on to comment: "For the Qur'an did not come in a vacuum. Hence the well-known paradox that even the thoroughgoing sceptics about the Hadith cannot resist supporting their views by it whenever it suits them" (Rahman, op. cit., p. 67). The Hadith, whether genuine or not, have become the real foundation of the ethics, laws and practices of Islam. There is no Sunnah now but that which is derived from the recorded traditions. While the Qur'an remains the Scripture of Islam, the Hadith have become the major source of its jurisprudence. 4. The Isnad - The Early Test of Authenticity. We have already mentioned the two major features of each tradition, its isnad and matn. Although one would think that the sensibility, historical veracity or material probability of the contents of each tradition would have been critically analysed to determine whether it was likely to be authentic or not, this has not been the case. The collectors of Hadith made very little effort to examine the internal evidences and generally confined themselves to an external test, that is, the reliability of the silsilat al-asanid, the "chain of supporting points", of each tradition. Thus the genuineness of each Hadith was determined by the identities of the personalities who were alleged to be its transmitters. For the verification of a tradition depended not primarily on the substance or man but on the isnad or chain of attestation. The question was not so much: 194

195 Could the Prophet have said this? Is it reasonable and in character? but rather: Who said that he said this? (Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, p. 99). Thus the isnad became the pivotal point on which the authority of all traditions was to be tested. The test to be applied was purely whether the chain for each tradition was founded on a sequence of approved transmitters. If the isnad to which an impossible sentence full of inner and outer contradictions is appended withstands the scrutiny of this formal criticism, if the continuity of the entirely trustworthy authors cited in them is complete and if the possibility of their personal communication is established, the tradition is accepted as worthy of credit. Nobody is allowed to say: 'because the matn contains a logical or historical absurdity I doubt the correctness of the isnad'. (Goldziher, Muslim Studies, Vol. 2, p. 140). Generally speaking one can say that isnad criticism was the only method, practiced by the traditionists, for sifting the genuine traditions from the spurious. The matn was almost never questioned; only if the content of a tradition with a sound isnad was in flagrant contradiction to the Qur'an, it was rejected; if the content could in any way be interpreted so that it harmonized with the Qur'an and other traditions, it was left uncriticized. In all cases harmonization (gam) was preferred to abrogation or rejection. (Juynboll, The Authenticity of the Tradition Literature, p. 139). To give an example of a typical isnad, a tradition regarded as sound might begin with the following chain of transmitters: "Affan ibn Muslim informed us that Hammad ibn Urwah related on the authority of Urwah that he received from Ayishah that the Apostle of Allah said..." and thereafter the content, the matn, would follow. It does seem, however, that the science of isnad-verification may only have developed sometime after the collection of Hadith had begun for one of the earliest records of Hadith does not contain complete isnads for each tradition. Malik, in his Muwatta, does not always trouble to give a complete isnad, which would suggest that by his time the method had not hardened into a strict system. (Robson, "Tradition, the Second Foundation of Islam", The Muslim World, Vol. 41, p. 27). Just as the Hadith has become the ultimate arbiter of the Sunnah, so the isnadsystem has become the foundation on which the veracity of the traditions has been tested. While neither may be fool proof or even generally reliable, they have become the major source of Islamic law and practice. 195

196 B. The Major Works of Hadith Literature 1. The Six Accredited Collections and the Muwatta. After numerous collections of Hadith had been made during the third century of Islam six works became recognised as authoritative. Two of them are believed to be completely authentic, namely the Sahih al-bukhari and the Sahih Muslim. The other four are also highly esteemed but it is allowed by the Muslims that some of the Hadith in them are suspect and may not be genuine. We shall outline these works in more detail shortly but a general reference to them will serve to show what status they enjoy in this field today. The following outline summarises the general Muslim attitude towards these six major works: It does not mean that all the ahadith recorded in these six books are authentic, it means that majority of them are authentic, with exception of the Sahih of Bukhari and that of Muslim in which all are. (Azami, Studies in Hadith Methodology and Literature, p. 105). The importance of these six major collections for the heritage of Islam can hardly be overestimated. They have become highly regarded throughout the Muslim world and are second only to the Qur'an itself as sources of authority for the laws and customs of Islam. The veneration of Muslims extends, in addition to the two Sahihs, also to the above-mentioned four Sunan books. Under the name al-kutub al-sitta, 'the six books', they comprise the canonical hadith literature and as such form the main sources for traditional law. (Goldziber, Muslim Studies, Vol.2, p.237). There is another work, however, which should be mentioned in this context and that is the Muwatta of Imam Malik. It is a group of traditions of chiefly legal import put together by the founder of one of the four major schools of law in Islam. Because it is chiefly a corpus juris rather than a corpus traditionum, a collection of legal traditions rather than a general historical work, a veritable Hadith al-akham (body of juristic hadith assembled as a foundation for the fiqh, the jurisprudence of Islam), it has not been as highly regarded as the two Sahihs. Its contents are also largely repeated in them and it has therefore been overlooked and is not included with the six major works. The Muwatta may be treated as a good collection of Ahadith in the sense of the legal traditions. Some Muslim authorities like 'Izz al-din Ibn al-athir, Ibn 'Abd al-barr and 'Abd al-haq of Delhi include it instead of the Sunan of Ibn Maja in the six canonical collections. Of course the majority of them do not count it as one of the six books because almost all the important traditions contained in it are included in the Sahihs of Bukhari and Muslim. (Siddiqi, Hadith Literature, p.13). 196

197 Furthermore this great jurist of Islam, the Imam Malik did not adopt the same dogmatic approach that his colleague Shafi'i took towards the Sunnah, declaring that the only true sunnah was found in the Hadith and not in the ijma of Muslim scholars, no matter how unanimous it might be, when it could not produce relevant traditions to support it. A Western writer comment's on Malik's Muwatta: Its intention is not to sift and collect the 'healthy' elements of traditions circulating in the Islamic world but to illustrate the law, ritual and religious practice by the ijma recognised in Medinian Islam, by the sunna current in Medina, and to create a theoretical corrective, from the point of view of ijma and sunna, for things still in a state of flux. Inasmuch as the book has anything in common with a collection of traditions it lies in the sunna rather than the hadith. (Goldziher, Muslim Studies, Vol.2, p.198). He adds: "Consideration of the Medinian ijma was so much the predominating point of view for Malik that he does not even hesitate to give it preference when it is in conflict to traditions incorporated as correct in his corpus" (p.199). For Malik the value of the tradition literature lay not in supplying a foundation for the laws of Islam but rather in illustrating the application of the legal maxims obtained through the ijma of the scholars of Islam. To Shafi'i each tradition was a ratio decidendi, the root and foundation on which any question of law was to be based or decided. To Malik the illustrative use of each tradition counted more than anything else. For him each tradition took the form of an obiter dictum, a passing reference which could help to elucidate a legal principle rather than become the authority on which such principles were to be based. Nonetheless, as his Muwatta is one of the earliest collections of traditions and as most of them were approved by Bukhari and Muslim, his work has an important place in the field of Hadith literature studies even to this day. 2. The Sahihs of Bukhari and Muslim Of all the works of Hadith the Sahih al-bukhari and Sahih Muslim are regarded as the most authentic and authoritative. Indeed the very word sahih means "accredited". Of these two the collection of Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Ismail al-bukhari has pride of place as the most highly regarded work of Hadith literature. He devoted more than one-fourth of his life to the actual compilation of his work, and at the end produced his epoch-making book which is accepted by most of the traditionists as the most authentic work in Hadith literature, and which is considered by the Muslims in general as an authority next only to the Qur'an. (Siddiqi, Hadith Literature, p.89). 197

198 Bukhari's complete collection was only recently translated into English for the first time by one Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan of the Islamic University at Medina. His most welcome contribution has increased the English-speaking student's access to the historical records of Islam. The whole collection has been published in an interlinear Arabic-English form in nine volumes. Although Bukhari's work is chiefly a general compilation of all known traditions of Muhammad's life considered to be authentic (it contains 7275 individual hadith, many of which are duplications, selected out of 600,000 allegedly known to him), he also concentrated in many cases on the juristic side of the tradition literature, except that in his case he grouped the traditions under various headings dealing with specific points of Islamic law. In his time the schools of law had been generally established and his objective was to catalogue the traditions he regarded as authentic in relation to their respective topics of jurisprudence. The final work significantly has many headings unsupported by any hadith. He either could not obtain the relevant hadith for these points or, more likely, he sought to demonstrate that there were no known traditions relating to them which he considered authentic. He clearly chose his headings first and thereafter grouped the various traditions under them. It was therefore justly said... the fiqh of Bukhari is in his paragraph headings. This tendency of the book also explains the fact that B. occasionally gives paragraph headings without being able to provide an appropriate hadith. (Goldziher, Muslim Studies, Vol.2, p.217). The other great collector, Muslim ibn al-hajjaj, also sought not so much to complement the issues at stake in the fiqh, the Islamic jurisprudence, but rather to produce a collection of sound traditions, an authentic record, on which future studies of Hadith could be based. We may therefore deduce that Muslim was not primarily concerned with the practical application of his collection in a particular direction but intended, as he says in his preface, to purify the existing hadith material of all dross: the unreliable and untrustworthy elements which had attached themselves to this material in the course of time. (Goldziher, Muslim Studies, Vol.2, p.227). Like Bukhari he sought chiefly to provide a reference work for authoritative decisions of Muhammad rather than a direct statutory foundation. The legal emphasis and objective of these works nevertheless resulted in each one being considered one of the Musannaf, the collections in which the traditions were grouped under specific topical headings (as opposed to the Musnad works which concentrated on grouping them under their isnads going back to their earliest transmitters). Muslim records most of the hadith found in Bukhari's collection but, whereas the former placed parallel versions of the same tradition under various headings relating to various points of law, Muslim put them all together 198

199 under their own topical headings. The former made the traditions fit his subjecttitles, the latter made his subject-headings fit the subject-matter of the traditions. The principal difference is the absence of the paragraph headings characteristic of Bukhari. Muslim's work is arranged according to Fiqh, but he does not follow his plan so scrupulously: thus, while Bukhari often arranges the same tradition with a different isnad under different paragraphs when it is suitable to support more than one point of law and custom, Muslim places the parallel versions together. (Guillaume, The Traditions of Islam, p.31). While Bukhari's compilation is considered the more reliable of the two, Muslim's arrangement of his material has been recognised as superior, and rightly so. While Bukhari made the traditions in his collection testify to his own schedule of various points of law, Muslim left them to speak for themselves. His work has also recently been translated for the first time into English in a fourvolume edition. 3. The Sunan Works of Abu Dawud and Others. The remaining four works are called sunan (the word has the meaning "path" or "way") because they concentrate on the example of Muhammad's actions and decrees insofar as these provide the ultimate foundation of all Islamic law. The work recognised as the best of these collections is the Sunan of Abu Dawud which contains many of the hadith in the two Sahihs but which also includes traditions not found there. He likewise was a scrupulous collector and although some of his traditions are regarded as weak and suspect, he was aware of the problem and was careful to distinguish between sound and weak hadith in his work. Abu Dawud did his best to deal faithfully with the material at his disposal. Unlike al-bukhari and Muslim, he includes material which is not very reliable, or even considered actually unsound, but he does not fall to draw attention to it. (Robson, "The Material of Tradition", The Muslim World, Vol.41, p.168). His work has also very recently been published in English (so, incidentally, has the Muwatta of Imam Malik. One can only commend and sincerely appreciate the efforts of Muslim scholars to make the great works of Hadith accessible to the English-speaking world at this time. Hopefully the remaining three Sunan works, which can very easily be published in a few volumes like the other three, will also soon be available in English). Two collections very similar to Abu Dawud's are the Sunan works of at-tirmithi and an-nasai. The former is called a Jami ("collection") because it covers not only legal traditions but also, like Bukhari and Muslim, historical and other hadith as well. Nevertheless Tirmithi confined himself to traditions on which the 199

200 principles of Islamic law had already been based and did not venture to record such as might lead to new interpretations. His collection is therefore primarily a reference work as well. The Sunan of an-nasai is more comprehensive than the former two insofar as he deals with the legal material available to him. Unlike Tirmithi he did not limit himself to recording individual hadith as a resource work for issues concerning the jurists of his day but sought to catalogue all the variant editions of each hadith known to him as Muslim had done before him. His work accordingly has a place of its own in the heritage of the tradition literature. Al-Nasai's main object was only to establish the texts of traditions and the differences between their various versions - almost all of which he quotes in extenso, instead of only referring to them as Abu Da'ud and al-tirmidhi had done. (Siddiqi, Hadith Literature, p.113). The last work, the Sunan of Ibn Maja, is regarded as the weakest of all the six major works of Hadith literature and some traditionists prefer the Sunan of ad- Darimi to it. Nonetheless, although a great many authorities have openly declared some of the traditions found in this collection to be forged, it has established itself among the approved works. The other scholars, such as Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi also recorded weak ahadith, but they mostly noted them in their book, but Ibn Maja, even when he recorded a false hadith, went on silently. Therefore a lot of discussion has gone on among scholars about this book to the effect that some other books deserve to be mentioned in Six Principle works instead of that by Ibn Maja. (Azami, Studies in Hadith Methodology and Literature, p. 106). Doubts were maintained longest about Ibn Maja because of the many weak (da'if) traditions which he incorporated into his corpus traditionum. (Goldziher, Muslim Studies, Vol.2, p.240). In the eighth century after Muhammad's death a fine combination of the major hadith found in all six works, the two Sahihs and the four Sunans, was put together by one Shaikh Wali ud-din and entitled Mishkat ul-masabih, the "niche of lights. Various editions of this collection have appeared in English and it serves as a most useful guide to practically all the truly relevant hadith preserved in the kutub as-sitta the "six books", though most of the traditions recorded in it are purely juristic. It therefore serves as the Islamic equivalent of the Rabbinical Mishnah in Talmudic Judaism. 200

201 C. The Authenticity of The Traditions 1. Criticism of the Hadith Literature in the West Up to this stage our study of the Hadith and comments made pertaining to the authenticity of the traditions have followed the general Muslim attitude. Western scholars have, however taken a far more sceptical approach to the subject in the last century. The whole body of Hadith literature has been called into question and it has been suggested that none of the traditions surviving can be accepted as genuine at face value. Conclusions of some of the more prominent writers to this effect read as follows: In fine, we may from all that has been said, conclude that tradition cannot be received with too much caution, or exposed to too rigorous a criticism; and that no important statement should be accepted as securely proved by tradition alone, unless there be some farther ground of probability, analogy, or collateral evidence in its favour. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. lx). Every legal tradition from the Prophet, until the contrary is proved, must be taken not as an authentic or essentially authentic, even if slightly obscured, statement valid for his time or the time of the Companions, but as the fictitious expression of a legal doctrine formulated at a later date. (Schacht, The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence, p. 149). There seems to be little doubt that practically the whole body of tradition was spurious. (Robson, "Tradition: Investigation and Classification", The Muslim World, Vol 1.41, p. 101). Extensive studies into the legal character of most of the traditions have led Western scholars to the opinion that, as the laws of the widespread Muslim community developed, so traditions were forged to provide an authority for them allegedly stretching back to the time of Muhammad himself. After all, if the law was based on the decree of the founder of Islam, it could hardly be queried or rejected. For some writers the fabrication of the whole tradition literature has become such a fait accompli that every tradition is automatically treated as the product, and not the source, of the early development of Islamic law. Efforts are therefore made to place the origin of each hadith within the growing framework of Islamic law in those early days. Traditions from Companions are as little genuine as traditions from the Prophet, and must be subjected to the same scrutiny in order to ascertain their place in the development of legal doctrine. (Schacht, The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence, p. 150). 201

202 Even Muslim scholars of Hadith freely admit that wholesale fabrication took place but argue that the major works of Hadith literature contain, on the whole, genuine traditions only and that the forgeries have largely been eliminated. Consensus has, at any rate, been reached on the following points: that many traditions were fabricated to uphold the Ummayad and Abbasid dynasties respectively, that early schools of law created traditions to support their specific points of view, and that opposing schools fabricated similar hadith to counter these. So widespread was hadith fabrication that a tradition was even invented to the effect that Muhammad anticipated the forgery of sayings attributed to him and declared that whoever alleged that he had said anything other than what he did say would be cast into hell. This must surely rank as one of the most remarkable of pious frauds! Others produced a less exclusive but nonetheless equally preemptive assessment of the practice of hadith fabrication to follow after Muhammad's death in the following saying which has been attributed to him: "After my death sayings attributed to me will multiply just as a large number of sayings are attributed to the prophets who were before me. What is told you as a saying of mine you must compare with the Quran. What is in agreement therewith is from me whether I have actually said it or not". (Guillaume, The Traditions of Islam, p. 53). In the West, however, the prevailing distrust of the authenticity of the whole body of tradition literature has led to the general conclusion that the Hadith represent what Islam became during its development and not what it was during the formative period of Muhammad's life and the early Caliphate. The result is that the sum of tradition represents the history of the first two centuries of Islam. (Tritton, Islam, p. 32). In the first place it has become ever more evident that the thousands of traditions about Mohammed, which, together with the Qur an, form the foundation upon which the doctrine and life of the community are based, are for the most part the conventional expression of all the opinions which prevailed among his followers during the first three centuries after the Hijrah. (Hurgronje, Mohammedanism, p. 20) As we investigate the sources of the traditions, we find that we know less about Mohammed; but we learn more about the history of Islam. (Margoliouth, "On Moslem Tradition" The Muslim World, Vol. 2, p. 121). During the middle of the last century Sir William Muir first expressed the form of scepticism which has become the norm in Western studies of the Hadith to this day and his brief study was followed up with a thorough criticism by the great Hungarian scholar Ignaz Goldziher. The latter's thesis has become the 202

203 foundation upon which all succeeding studies have been based and is found in the second volume of his Muhammedanische Studien first published in 1889 (the work quoted in this book is an English translation of his book). His most prominent successor says of his study that he "has not only voiced his 'sceptical reserve' with regard to the traditions contained even in the classical collections, but shown positively that the great majority of traditions from the Prophet are documents not of the time to which they claim to belong, but of the successive stages of development of doctrines during the first centuries of Islam" (Schacht, The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence, p. 4). Even though Islamic orthodoxy has accepted almost without question the formulation of the Hadith literature in the early days (i.e. that the six major works are generally authentic, especially the two Sahihs, and that the other early collections contain many genuine traditions), Muslim scholars tended to appreciate the Western interest in this subject in the beginning. The pessimistic conclusions of the major scholars has, however, naturally made them unwilling in recent times to sustain this appreciation and, while the works of these scholars have been treated on the whole with respect, their Muslim counterparts have fallen back on the exact conclusions, based almost exclusively on the isnadsystem, reached during the days of Bukhari and Muslim. Islam, rightly or wrongly, is strongly resistant to critical analyses of its heritage and finds its security in the unanimity of opinion maintained over successive centuries of its history. It fears that such an approach to its received records of Muhammad's life might lead to an undermining of its whole legacy. Islamic orthodoxy has rigidly kept to the tenets concerning tradition once they were formulated. On the other hand, Western scholars who did research into the hadith came to entirely different conclusions, as was seen above. Their ideas about the hadith are objectionable to orthodox Muslim scholars, so that they tend no longer to recognize the achievements of Orientalists in other fields, which formerly they appreciated. (Juynboll, The Authenticity of the Tradition Literature, p. 9). 2. Modern Muslim Attitudes to the Hadith Literature. Among the orthodox the unquestioned authenticity of the two Sahihs, the general reliability of the four Sunan works, and the value of the Sirat literature and other Hadith works, remains unchallenged to this day. In some circles, however, there are more broadly-minded Muslim scholars who are willing to approach this subject from a more objective, analytical point of view and even the hitherto almost sacred works of Hadith have been tested and, at times, found wanting. One such scholar says: 203

204 Despite the great care and precision of the Hadith scholars, much of what they regarded as true was later proved to be spurious. In his commentary on the collection of Muslim, al Nawawi wrote: "A number of scholars discovered many hadiths in the collections of Muslim and Bukhari which do not fulfill the conditions of verification assumed by these men". (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. lxxxii). It seems probable that the truth is somewhere between the two extreme opinions thus far considered. It is highly unlikely that the whole body of Hadith literature may be forged as is often advocated in Western writings. Can one sincerely believe that the early Muslims exercised extreme care in faithfully preserving the Qur'an, the book given to them by Muhammad, but that they at the same time neglected the record of his other sayings and cared nothing for a universal forgery of utterances in their place? Is it likely that the whole heritage of their prophet's life, words and deeds, was lost and that a forged picture filled the vacuum? Surely much of the record that survives must contain elements of the truth. Can we honestly attribute to Islam what the Muslims vainly attribute to Christianity - that the religion of its founder has been so developed that it is no longer a faithful reproduction of its original state? On the other hand only traditional Muslim orthodoxy can sustain the claim that the six major works are totally authentic. No genuinely objective study can support this fancy. Western studies have shown that numerous hadith in these collections could not have been derived from Muhammad's embryonic Muslim community at Medina but only from a strongly developed jurisprudence dating many generations after his death. Many other traditions, such as those marvellously embellishing the story of Muhammad's night-journey vision, transforming it into an ascent through the heavens to the throne of Allah, have been proved to be dependent on Zoroastrian and other works discovered by the Muslims only after their campaigns many years after Muhammad's death. One of the best modern scholars of Islam perhaps advocates the most appropriate approach to this subject when he says of the Hadith literature: "A healthy caution rather than outright scepticism is likely to lead to reliable and constructive results" (Rahman, Islam, p. 49). Many Western scholars have also recognised that much of the tradition literature must be genuine: But Tradition must contain a core of information coming from Companions, however difficult it is now to decide what may be genuine and what may not. (Robson, "Tradition: The Second Foundation of Islam", The Muslim World, Vol. 41, p. 25). This is not, of course, to assert that the hadith literature is destitute of any historical foundation: such a conclusion would be unwarranted. But the 204

205 undoubted historical facts do demand that each individual hadith should be judged on its merits. (Guillaume, The Traditions of Islam, p. 29). The test suggested in this last quote is perhaps the best that can be applied. No general opinion of the considerably varied nature of the traditions can be offered with any certainty. Each hadith must be analysed in the light of its content, likely origins, teaching, consistency, and legal context. While we may openly question whether the isnad-system can validly serve as an infallible proof of the reliability of the traditions, it does not seem justifiable to place a question-mark over the whole heritage of Hadith literature as Western scholars have done. One needs to examine each tradition carefully to determine whether it is likely to be genuine and an example of how such a test can effectively be applied follows in the next section. 3. Selected Means of Testing the Hadith Literature. There are, as has been indicated already, a number of ways of testing the various traditions and many of them yield evidences which show that they were compiled generations after Muhammad's death. In this section we shall consider a few examples. During the reign of the Ummayad caliph Yazid, grandson of Muhammad's archenemy Abu Sufyan, Abdallah ibn az-zubair, a close companion of Muhammad's grandson Husain, revolted against the caliph and made himself ruler of Mecca and then Medina. By the time Abd al-malik became caliph in Damascus about fifty years after the death of Muhammad, Ibn az-zubair had such control over Arabia that the Ummayad caliph was not able to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca. Accordingly he built the Dome of the Rock between 685 and 691 AD in Jerusalem over the site of Muhammad's alleged ascent to heaven as an alternative place of pilgrimage. (The building is designed in an octagonal form and the interior has a clear circle around the rock for circumambulation by pilgrims in imitation of the rituals around the Ka'aba). A year later, however, Abd al-malik sent an army under al-hajjaj, the scourge of the Iraqi Muslims, to besiege Mecca and overthrow Ibn az-zubair which duly ended the revolt. (The usurper was killed in the fighting). In the light of such historical developments one reads the following tradition with much interest: Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported it directly from Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) that he said: Do not undertake journey but to three mosques: this mosque of mine, the Mosque of Al-Haram and the Mosque of Aqsa (Bait al-maqdis). (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2, p. 699). The mosques referred to are those in Medina, Mecca and Jerusalem in that order. It is extremely doubtful whether Muhammad made this statement as no Muslim ever made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem during his lifetime and it was only 205

206 during the caliphate of Umar that Jerusalem was conquered. No mosque stood in the city until Umar built a small edifice which has grown into what the Masjidul-Aqsa is today. During Muhammad's lifetime only the Ka'aba was a place of special importance to the Muslims. His own crude structure in Medina likewise held no fascinations as such for Muslim pilgrims and it was only after his death, when he was buried within its precincts, that it became a sanctuary for pilgrims to the Hijaz. In another tradition, however, we read: Abu Hurairah reported: The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) said that one prayer said in my mosque is better than a thousand prayers said in other mosques except the Masjid al-harem (Mecca). (Muwatta Imam Malik, p.93). It is also hard to believe that this tradition is genuine for much the same reason, yet one cannot help noticing a distinction between them. In this latter hadith no mention is made of the mosque in Jerusalem - only those in Mecca and Medina are elevated above all others. It is probable that the first tradition was invented by supporters of the Ummayads at about the same time that the Dome of the Rock was built to give it equal status with the mosques of Mecca and Medina. The second tradition, however, was probably invented by the dissenters in Medina to counter it. A similar tradition bears out this probability all the more: Abu Sa'id Khudri reported: The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Between my house and my pulpit is a garden from out of the gardens of Paradise and my pulpit is above my Fountain. (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 93). A portion of the great mosque in Medina, with a few bushes and trees, has always been sealed off accordingly as a visible part of the "gardens of Paradise". The point of significance in this tradition, however, is the mention of Muhammad's pulpit as part of the hallowed garden. During the reign of Mu'awiya, Abu Sufyan's son, an attempt was made to take this pulpit to Damascus. In the 50th year of Hijra, Mu'awiya entertained the project of removing the pulpit and staff of the Prophet from Medina to Damascus, now the capital of Islam... Mu'awiya was dissuaded from his design by the consideration urged upon him, that where the Prophet had placed his pulpit and his staff, there they should remain. (Muir, The Caliphate: Its Rise, Decline and Fall, p. 298). The tradition was almost certainly invented post event by the inhabitants of Medina to prevent any further efforts to remove the pulpit from their city. One cannot help seeing the marks of fabrication in these traditions, anticipating as they do later developments in Islam. One writer says of the tradition making Jerusalem as much a place of pilgrimage for Muslims as Mecca and Medina: 206

207 Abdul-Malik hit upon the expedient of enjoining a pilgrimage to the mosque he built in Jerusalem instead of the orthodox journey to Mecca and Medina. All that was necessary was to declare that a circumambulation of the holy place at Jerusalem possessed the same validity as that enjoined at Mecca, and to procure for his assertion a confirmatory hadith with an isnad going back to the prophet himself. (Guillaume, The Traditions of Islam, p. 47). An Egyptian Muslim scholar, on the other hand, has questioned whether this tradition really was fabricated to support Abd al-malik's objectives in the light of the fact that it does not speak specifically of his structure al- qubbatassakhrah, the Dome of the Rock, but rather masjidul-aqsa: And suppose Zuhri did invent this tradition, Sibai continues, why did he not put qubbat as-sakhra instead of the Aqsa mosque? Mentioning the second only creates confusion in a situation in which the attention is especially drawn to the first. (Juynboll, The Authenticity of the Tradition Literature, p. 111 ). Traditions, however, were never fabricated in such a way that they blatantly promoted the objects of their inventors for the forgery would then be all too apparent. The purpose was always veiled within the tradition which had to be interpreted to give the meaning in view. Furthermore as the Qur'an itself speaks of Muhammad's journey from Mecca to Jerusalem as being from masjidulharam to masjidul-aqsa (Surah 17.1), it is to be expected that the creator of the relevant hadith would seek to strengthen the influence of his tradition by using the same terms as are found in the Qur'an. Of course no masjidul-aqsa whatsoever existed at the time of Muhammad, but we have seen that he himself was led to believe otherwise and it is not surprising therefore to find later traditions claiming that he advocated pilgrimages to the site. These are just a few examples of traditions that can be shown by analysis to be forged sometime after Muhammad's death. Whole books could be written on the subject, but these items will have to suffice as illustrations of the point. 4. The Reported Traditions of Abu Hurairah. One can hardly consider the question of the authenticity of the Hadith literature without reference to Muhammad's companion Abu Hurairah for, on the one hand, he is the greatest reporter of traditions, having handed down well over five thousand - more than double the number recorded by any other companion. On the other hand, he has been exposed to criticism throughout the ages, especially within the Islamic heritage. In this case the accusation has generally been that Abu Hurairah himself has been the forger of the hadith attributed to him, as 207

208 opposed to the usual conviction that the traditions were composed many years later and fathered on various companions. Abu Hurairah only became a Muslim about three years before Muhammad's death and the early Muslims wondered how someone who had known Muhammad for such a short time could learn so many hadith from him. One tradition attributed to him does tend to reflect poorly on his reliability. It is reported by the other great traditionists Abdullah ibn Umar that dogs were to be destroyed unless they were kept for one of two purposes. Narrated Abdullah bin Umar: Allah's Apostle said, "If someone keeps a dog neither for guarding livestock, nor for hunting, his good deeds will decrease (in reward) by two Qirats a day". (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 7, p. 284). Dogs, therefore, were only to be kept for watching herds or for hunting. Abu Hurairah's tradition reads as follows: Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who kept a dog except one meant for watching the herd, or for hunting or for watching the fields, he lost two qirat of reward every day. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 3, p. 827). In this hadith we find that dogs who look after fields were to be spared in addition to those serving the other two purposes mentioned by Ibn Umar. The tradition has an interesting addendum: "Zuhri said: The words of Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) were conveyed to Ibn Umar who said: May Allah have mercy on Abu Huraira; he owned a field" (Sahih Muslim, op. cit.). Quite clearly Ibn Umar believed that Abu Hurairah had forged the permission to preserve dogs who looked after fields to protect his own vested interests. As a Western writer says, "A better illustration of the underlying motive of some hadith can hardly be found" (Guillaume, The Traditions of Islam, p.78). The orthodox scholars of Islam, who regard the six major works as authentic, naturally do not wish to query the genuineness of Abu Hurairah's traditions, making up, as they do such a large part of the tradition literature. One writer, aware of the weaknesses attributed to him, assesses his contribution as follows: He is believed by the Muslims to have been too pious and conscientious a Muslim to put into the mouth of Muhammad any words which had not actually fallen from his lips, or to ascribe to him anything that he had not done. But he does not appear to have been endowed by nature with power of minute observation or a critical faculty strong enough to take cognizance of all the circumstances in which the Prophet uttered certain words or acted in a particular way. (Siddiqi, Hadith Literature, p. 29). 208

209 One of the most significant features of his traditions is the emphasis on the esoteric side of Muhammad's experiences. While most of the hadith are principally juristic, many relate to the subjective side of religious experience and of these Abu Hurairah is invariably the original transmitter. When the Prophet was no more, and his sayings became precious, Abu Hurairah won himself fame and importance by being ready with an inexhaustible stock of them... Wherever a saying ascribed to Mohammed is mystical or sublime, wherever it is worthy of a mediaeval saint or ascetic, Abu Hurairah is most likely to be the authority for it. (Margoliouth, Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, p. 352). The same writer draws a poignant conclusion: "The transformation of Mohammed in men's minds from the character of statesman and warrior to that of saint and philanthropist is due in the main to the inventions of Abu Hurairah, the first Traditionalist" (Margoliouth, op.cit., p.353). If such traditions had been fairly widespread among the earliest transmitters, one would be inclined to treat them more seriously but, coming as they do chiefly from one source, one cannot help being somewhat sceptical. Furthermore it is very significant that the author of most of the traditions should be regarded as the least reliable authority as this has serious omens for the tradition literature as a whole. If it is possible to expose just one Companion as unreliable, the firmly constructed apparatus of tradition criticism begins to shake. It certainly topples over when this Companion happens to be the one who, of all the Companions, has transmitted the greatest number of sayings on the authority of the Prophet. (Juynboll, The Authenticity of the Tradition Literature, p. 13). In some of the other collections of Hadith of far less authority it is recorded that the caliph Umar threatened to exile Abu Hurairah if he did not refrain from transmitting hadith, deliberately accusing him of telling lies in Muhammad's name. Whether these traditions are true or not cannot be established. One thing is clear, however, and that is that the criticism of Abu Hurairah's traditions does tend to reflect negatively on the authenticity of the Hadith literature as a whole. In conclusion it may be said that there is no certain way of testing which traditions are genuine and which are not, but from the examples given in this chapter it is quite apparent that many, even in the main works regarded as authentic by the Muslims, prove to be spurious upon critical examination. On the other hand a large proportion must be true and one is inclined to treat hadith that are principally historical in character as probably genuine to one degree or another. A question-mark must, however, hang over those that are more consistent with the developed fiqh of Islam, those that glorify Muhammad beyond the image presented in the Qur'an, and those that show evidences of being drawn from the records of other religions. 209

210 The Principal Duties of Islam A. Fundamental Muslim Tenets And Beliefs 1. Iman - The Faith of the Muslim In every religion one finds a distinction between what he adherent believes and what he does. This division of faith and practice is especially noted in Islam, the former being termed the iman of a Muslim and the latter his din. The wellknown "Five Pillars of Islam" belong principally to the practice of the religion. The faith of the Muslim has basically six articles. Five of them are named in this verse: It is righteousness to believe in God, and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers. Surah In the original Arabic the exhortation is aamana, "to believe" (from which the noun iman comes), in Allah, the one true God; in the yawmil-akhir, the Last Day; in the malaa'-ikah, the angels, the heavenly messengers; in the kitaab, the Scripture, that is, the holy books revealed by God; and in the nabiyyin, the prophets, the earthly messengers. Added to this is belief in qadar (or taqdir), the divine "measure", that is, in effect, God's sovereign control over all things and the irreversible destiny of the whole creation according to his express decrees. A Muslim is required to believe in these articles of faith. Denial of any of them leads to kufr the opposite of iman, namely deliberate unbelief. All these six articles constitute the basic iman o the Muslim and a fine definition of iman in Islam is found in this quote: The word iman, generally translated as faith or belief, is derived from amana (ordinarily rendered as he believed) which means, when used intransitively, he came into peace or security; and, when used transitively, he granted (him) peace or security. Hence the believer is called al-mu'min, meaning one who has come into peace or security because he has accepted the principles which bring about peace of mind or security from fear; and God is called al-mu'min meaning the Granter of security (59.23). (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p.101). It is not enough just to believe in God or even in tawhid, the unity of God. The true Muslim must be able to identify his belief in God and therefore is required to acknowledge his express communications to mankind through his angels and prophets as well as the Scriptures he has revealed. An emphasis also falls on God's sovereign determination of the human course and experience and, just as Islam and Muslim come from the same root letters and mean "Submission' and "One who submits" respectively, so the true believer resigns himself to the Divine Will and does not deviate from its nature and decrees. It is not surprising 210

211 therefore to find in the six articles of faith three that relate exclusively to this principle, namely God's undivided unity, the control he exercises over all things, and the Day of Reckoning to come. At the same time one finds that such convictions of faith are to be exercised against the forces arrayed in opposition to the Divine Will. An important verse in the Qur'an to this effect is: Therefore, whoever disbelieves in the devil and believes in Allah, he has indeed laid hold on the firmest handle. Surah (Ali). A Muslim therefore not only believes (yu'min - another derivative of iman) in Allah but also disbelieves (yakfur) in Taghut (originally the name of one of the Meccan idols but in the Qur'an used apparently as a name for the devil himself). Kufr in the Qur'an does not mean a lack of faith in the truth but implies a deliberate disbelief and we therefore find that those who willingly reject God's messages are called Kafirun, "disbelievers" or, even more appropriately, blasphemers. So a true believer believes in God, his revelations, and his decrees, but disbelieves in the devil and his works. Despite these positive elements, the word iman does not carry quite the same meaning as "faith" in Christianity. It is related purely to the concept of Islam itself, namely a submission or simple resignation to God's will. The act of trusting or confiding in God, the essence of Christian faith is not conveyed in the basic meaning of iman. A more detailed analysis of the distinction between these concepts and the effects they have on Christianity and Islam respectively will be found in the chapter on Abraham's faith in the companion volume to this book. 2. The Islamic Concept of God. The heart of the doctrine of God in Islam is tawhid, the "unity" of Allah. Yet this doctrine, from a Christian point of view, proposes a bare unity, one which seems to restrict the character of the divine being to a solitary personality in many ways detached from all that he has created. The Qur'an sets him forth as entirely distinct from all that he has created and later Islamic orthodoxy followed this theme even more ardently, believing that the further God could be removed from his creation, the greater he was. Accordingly it is not surprising to find that, of all God's attributes, it is his power that most impresses the Muslims. The essence of Allah is power which overrides all His mere attributes and enables Him to exercise them or not as He pleases. (Stanton, The Teaching of the Qur'an, p.32). Of all the Qur'anic terms, perhaps the most basic, comprehensive and revelatory at once of divine nature of the universe is the term amr which we have translated 211

212 above as order, orderliness or command. To everything that is created is ipso facto communicated its amr which is its own law of being but which is also a law by which it is integrated into a system. This amr, that is order or command of God, is ceaseless. (Rahman, Islam, p.34) This awesome power that is vested in the Almighty finds expression in many forms. "God doeth what He willeth" (Surah 14.27) - no one can question his actions or decrees. He sets on a right path only those whom he pleases to guide (Surah 2.272). The theme of God's sovereign power to direct the affairs of men, determine the future, act as he chooses, and create what he wills, is one of the commonest Qur'anic themes. Throughout the book there pervades an atmosphere of divine control and foreknowledge respecting all things that happen. This verse seems to sum it all up: For to God belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He createth what he pleaseth. For God hath power over all things. Surah 5.19 The last sentence occurs frequently in the Qur' an and one often finds it inscribed on plaques in Muslim homes. It reads in Arabic: Wallaahu 'alaa kulli shay'in qadiir - a phrase regularly on Muslim lips. No Christian doubts the awesome power and control that God has over everything but the Islamic emphasis on this attribute paradoxically tends to detract from his glory in many ways. One of the side-effects of the determination to distinguish the character of God from his creation is that Muslims actually learn less of what he is really like and tend to think of him in negative terms. The following quote from the creed of the great early Muslim theologian an-nasafi well illustrates the point: The Originator of the world is God Most High, the One, the Eternal, the Decreeing, the Knowing, the Hearing, the Seeing, the Willing. He is not an attribute, nor a body, nor an essence, nor a thing formed, nor a thing bounded, nor a thing numbered, nor a thing divided, nor a thing compounded, nor a thing limited: He is not described by quiddity, Mahiyah, nor by modality, Kaifiyyah, and He does not exist in place or time. There is nothing that resembles him and nothing that is beyond His Knowledge and Power. (Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, p.60). While he goes on to speak of God's attributes in positive terms this section does show why it has been suggested that Islam thrives on telling one what God is not rather than what he is. Al-Ashari, the famous Muslim theologian who deserted from the "free-thinking" Mutazilites and who was largely responsible for the demise of this rationalistic group in Islamic history, likewise gave a very negative description of Allah's nature in his Makalat al-islamipin, part of which reads as follows: 212

213 He is no body, nor object, nor volume... no place encompasses Him, no time passes by Him. He cannot be described by any description which can be applied to creatures... Nothing of what occurs to any mind or can be conceived by phantasy resembles Him... Eyes do not see Him, sight does not reach Him... no harm can touch Him, neither joy nor pleasure can reach Him, nor is He moved by hurt or pain. (Wensinck, The Muslim Creed, p.73). In fact, of the forty-eight statements made about God in the whole creed, no less than forty-three are couched purely in negative terms. As the author of the book says, "This description of the Godhead... is chiefly negative" (op. cit., p. 74). One might well ask, just what can we truly know about (,od if there is nothing in all that we see, heal or know that can assist us to comprehend his nature? A Muslim writer has this to say: Islam is monotheistic par excellence; the unity of God it teaches is the most categorical, the clearest, the simplest, and therefore the strongest. (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. xli). The Christian analyst cannot help wondering whether Islam's "simple" concept of bare unitarianism, so often defined in negative terms, does not in fact weaken itself in that while it emphasises God's power, it does away with the complexity of his divine love and holiness as revealed in the Triune God of the Bible. The proclamation that the second person of the Divine Trinity humbled himself by taking human form that he might establish a greater relationship between God and his creation, and was thereafter "crucified in weakness" that he might reconcile men to God and give them access in one Spirit to the Father, does well appear to be the antithesis of the Islamic dogma that the further Allah can be removed and distinguished from his creation, the more he is glorified. In as far as Moslems are monotheists and in as far as Allah has many of the attributes of Jehovah we cannot put him with the false gods. But neither can there be any doubt that Mohammed's conception of God is inadequate, incomplete, barren and grievously distorted. It is vastly inferior to the Christian idea of the Godhead and also inferior to the Old Testament idea of God.... Instead of arriving at his theology through the mind of Christ, as revealed in the gospels and developed through the Holy Spirit's teaching in the epistles, Mohammed went back to natural theology. He not use, or would not use, the channel of knowledge opened by the Incarnation. (Zwemer, The Moslem Doctrine of God, p. 107, 109). It is true that the Qur'an teaches that wherever men gather together in conversation, Allah is one among them (Surah 58.7) and that he is nearer to man than his jugular vein (Surah 50.16). The Qur'an likewise speaks often of the wajhullah - the Face of Allah" - which true believers seek and desire (Surah 213

214 6.52) and which no one can escape (Surah 2.115). Nevertheless there is no suggestion that men can enter into a relationship with God such as is found in the Biblical relationship between the Eternal Father and his children. The sheikhs of theology at al-azhar today are still content with the definitions of al-ghazzali. But the very contemplation of so barren a deity "pours an ice-floe over the tide of human trusts and causes us to feel that we are orphans in a homeless universe". Because Allah is sufficient in and of himself, because he is the Altogether Other and cannot be compared to anyone or anything, he is wholly aloof from his creatures. As Kraemer remarks, "One of the favourite expressions about God (among Moslems) which testifies to an intense religious feeling is, He whom everyone needs and who does not stand in need of anybody or anything. Fellowship does not exist between God and man. God is too exalted for that". (Zwemer, "The Allah of Islam and the God Revealed in Jesus Christ", The Muslim World, Vol. 36, p.315). The Muslim cannot know God personally - the best he can endeavour to do is to walk in the sabilillah - the "Way of Allah" (another common Qur'anic phrase). Above all the Islamic concept of God's power as an absolute quality in itself which cannot be revealed in any form that might relate him to his creation deprives Islam of the awesome consciousness of God's glory revealed in the revelation of himself in the man Christ Jesus. The Bible speaks of "Christ, the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1.24) - indeed a form of God's power truly unknown to Islam. While it fears that his power will be limited if it in any way relates him to his creation, it ironically limits that power in its own way by refusing to recognise that there are other ways in which God can reveal his glory than by standing aloof from his creation as an eternal potentate. 3. God's Love in Islam and Christianity. The prominence given to God's autocratic powers in Islam results in a jealously preserved distinction between him and his creation as we have seen. Any suggestion that God is willing to reach down and meet man where he is and in grace express his willingness to enter a relationship with him seems, to the Muslim mind, to imply a strange deference on God's part, a sign of weakness more than anything else. Accordingly Islam neither understands nor accepts the Christian confidence in God's personal grace and love towards wayward sinners, summed up in the expression "God is love" (1 John 4.8). Although the Qur'an speaks of love between God and man, this love is really confined to devotion to duty on the part of man and a corresponding approval on God's part. There is no room for sentiment, sympathy or heartfelt affection in the Qur'anic deity. 214

215 The love of man for God is mentioned but is interpreted as 'veneration'. Orthodoxy with its insistence on the transcendence of God cannot use the idea of love; that was left to the mystics. (Tritton, Islam, p. 17) To Mohammed the religious motive for a type of conduct that is pleasing to Allah is primarily gratitude. The Prophet's sense of God's transcendence is so strong that he speaks but rarely of love toward God (76.8, 3.29). (Andrae, Mohammad: The Man and His Faith, p. 72) It would not be fair to say that the Qur'an portrays Allah as a soulless despot simply acting according to his own whims and fancies. The Muslim is promised that he is "full of kindness to those who serve him" (Surah 3.30) and the next two verses speak openly of his love for those who love him: Say: "If ye do love God, follow me: God will love you and forgive you your sins: For God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful". Say, "Obey God and His Apostle": But if they turn back, God loveth not those who reject faith. (Surah 3:31-32) Nonetheless there is nothing in the Qur'an that approaches the Biblical "We love, because he first loved us" (1 John 4.19). According to the Qur'an God only loves (that is, approves) those who obey him - he does not love those who turn their backs on him. It is only in the Bible that we find the grandest of all divine attributes - God's self-giving love to reconcile those who hitherto were his enemies: "But God shows his love for us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ dies for us" (Romans 5.8). The Qur'anic word for love is hubbun as found in its various forms in the text. At best it corresponds to the Greek filia - a natural disposition towards that which is found appealing. The word is nowhere used in a context corresponding to the common New Testament word for God's love, agape, implying a love which expresses itself in selfless compassion and affection not necessarily considering the worthiness of its object. The gift of God's Son as a sacrifice for the redemption of evil, godless men whom God in love and pity chose to save is the ultimate expression of this kind of love. The Muslim concept of God's love, as appears from Surah 3.31 quoted above, is chiefly expressed in the bestowal of rewards as a favour towards duty performed. This, however, is not identical with the New Testament conception of love as an attribute of God; it rather signifies the affection with which the master responds to the loyalty of a faithful servant. (Stanton, The Teaching of the Qur'an, p. 35) The love of God which is spoken of in the Qur'an is not what is meant in the Bible by the expression 'the love of God'. In the first place, it does not express an attribute of God Himself, but a relation which He assumes towards men conditioned by their attitude to Him... The expression 'the love of God' is thus 215

216 seen to mean the approbation of God. That which God approves he 'loves'. (Gardner, The Qur'anic Doctrine of God, p. 45, 46). The latter author says of the Qur'anic word for love: "Of disinterested and unselfish love there is no trace at all in the use of the word in the Qur'an" (op. cit., p. 47). As a result there is also no scope for the development of a positive, experimental relationship of mutual love between God and man. To Islam such a thing seems to detract from God's foremost attribute, his power over and above all his creation. To Christianity there is nothing that so glorifies God as the gracious, condescending love he has shown in reconciling believers to himself through the gift of his Son and in communing with them through the Holy Spirit whom he has poured into their hearts. The Love of God in a Christian sense means either God's love to us or our love to him. Both ideas are strange to Islam. An inter-communion of such tender regard between God and the creature is seldom or never spoken of in the Qur an. (Zwemer, The Moslem Doctrine of God, p. 100). As a German theologian has put it, "The God of Mohammed is in the wind, and the earthquake, and in the fire, but not in the still small voice of love" (quoted in Zwemer, op. cit., p. 101). Muslims boldly claim that Islam has the "simplest" and "purest" monotheism. On the contrary there is nothing to compare with the Christian concept of God - a loving Father who has given the greatest display of his love that could ever have been given in the gift of his Son and who has entered into a deliberate fellowship with men through the gift of his Spirit. The trinitarian monotheism of Christianity reveals a God of outstanding grace, love and glory. In comparison the "simple" monotheism of Islam fades into a bare and somewhat deficient unitarianism. 4. Angels and Demons in the Theology of Islam. There are many similarities between the Biblical and Qur'anic concepts of the existence and character of angels and demons. The Qur'anic word for angels is mala'ikah and for demons jinn. The former were created from nur (light), the latter from nar (fire). Whereas all demons in the Bible are evil spirits, the jinn of the Qur'an consist of believing spirits as well as evil spirits (a party of them is said to have embraced Islam after Muhammad had preached to them just after his abortive visit to at-ta'if - Surah 72.1). There are four archangels according to Islam, namely Jibril, the angel of revelation (the Biblical angel Gabriel), Mikal (the Biblical Michael), Israfil, who will sound the trumpet at the last day, and Azra'il, the angel of death described in the Qur'an as malakul-mawt, the "angel of death" (Surah 32.11). The first two are mentioned by name in Surah 2.98 whereas the names of the last two are only 216

217 found in later works. The Qur'an mentions a number of other angels, either by name or according to their functions. In the Kuran are further mentioned Harut and Marut, Malik the angel of the fire and his companions the zabaniya; "Those who are near to Allah"; also writing and recording angels, messengers and guardians of the fire. (Wensinck, The Muslim Creed, p. 199). Islamic tradition states that another angel, Ridwan, guards Paradise and that the dead are visited by two further angels of hideous appearance, Munkar and Nakir who question the deceased about his beliefs, his prophet and his religion. If the dead man answers satisfactorily (i.e. that Muhammad is his prophet and that Islam is his religion), the angels depart from him, otherwise they torment him to the Last Day. The Qur'an follows the Bible in teaching that there is one great demon who was responsible for the fall of Adam and Eve and the expulsion of the human race from the Garden of Eden (Jannatul-'Adn, said to have been in Paradise and a name for heaven itself in the Qur'an - Surah 9.72). As in the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve (Adam and Hawwa) were created perfect but were tempted to sin by the Evil One. The devil is called in the Qur'an indifferently by the Hebrew derivative Shaitan (Shatan) or the Greek Iblis (diabolos). The name Shaitan is generally used with the epithet rajim = stoned or accursed, sometimes marid or rebellious. He is one of the jinn, but he also appears as an angel cast down from Paradise for his refusal to worship Adam. (Stanton, The Teaching of the Qur'an, p. 39). The Qur'an repeats, in its own words, the story of Adam's fall but alleges that Iblis was rejected because he refused to bow down with the other angels after God had created man and had commanded them to bow in obeisance before him: Then We bade the angels bow down to Adam, and they bowed down; not so Iblis; He refused to be of those who bow down. Surah 7.11 The Bible plainly teaches that Satan was once the highest of angels but fell through his pride in seeking to exalt himself and make himself like the Most High (Isaiah , Luke 10.18). Although the Qur'an gives a different reason for his abasement, it confirms that he was cast down and became the most evil of all God's creatures (Surah 7.13). Nevertheless one finds that Muslim writers generally deny that Iblis had ever been an angel. There is a popular misconception, into which many writers of repute have fallen, that Iblis or the Devil is one of the angels. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 157). 217

218 A misconception held by several Orientalists is that Satan was originally an angel before being cast out of Heaven for not paying homage to Adam. The Qur'anic statement about this problem is crystal clear (18.50). Iblis was of the Jinn, although the injunction of homage was issued to him as it was to the angels. (Khalifa, The Sublime Qur'an and Orientalism, p.216). As the Qur'an states that he was minal-jinn, "from the Jinn" (Surah 18.50) and that he was created min-nar, "from fire" (Surah 7.12), Muslim commentators reject the Biblical concept that he was at first a genuine angel. On the other hand, in more than one passage it is expressly said that it was only lil-mala'ikah, "to the angels", that the command came to bow to Adam and that they all did so illa-iblis, "except Iblis" (Surah 2.34). It appears that there may have been some confusion in Muhammad's mind regarding the original character of Satan. He clearly taught that he was one of the jinn and made of fire, and yet included him among the number of his original state. 5. Was Muhammad able to Perform Miracles? Another feature of the six articles of faith of iman that should be considered is the teaching of the Qur'an regarding the miracles of the prophets, in particular the inability of Muhammad to emulate the ayat of the former prophets. The Qur'an is quite unambiguous in teaching that Muhammad was not endowed with the power to perform miracles: And the Unbelievers say: "Why is not a Sign sent down to him from his Lord?" But thou art truly a warner, and to every people a guide. Surah 13.7 In Surah the Quraysh question why Muhammad has not been able to perform signs on earth or "cause the sky to fall in pieces". He is bidden to reply: Hal kuntu illa basharaar-rasuulaa - "Am I anything except a man, an apostle?" (Surah 17.93) Even though the Qur'an is quite clear about this matter, one finds numerous traditions ascribing miracles to Muhammad. The reason for this later development in his biography contrary to the teaching of the Qur'an is not hard to find: Controversy with Christians on the rival merits of Jesus and Muhammad may fairly be regarded as the origin of the pretended miracles, flatly contradicting the plain statement of the great Arabian and those of many of his immediate followers that he was not sent with power to work miracles. (Guillaume, The Traditions of Islam, p. 138). A wealth of stories about Muhammad's power to make water flow from between his fingers and other fanciful elements abounds in the Hadith literature and in this case there can be no doubt that such hadith, even if found in the works of 218

219 Bukhari or Muslim, are forgeries and that for a very good reason - "With respect to all such stories, it is sufficient to say that they are opposed to the clear declarations and pervading sense of the Coran" (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. liii). Significantly, however, one finds that such miracles are not as common in the earliest works, e.g. Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasulullah. Nonetheless some writes, including the great commentator al-baidawi, believe that the Qur'an records a miracle in one passage which has duly been attributed to Muhammad as a work which he himself performed: The Hour has drawn nigh: the moon is split. Yet if they see a sign they turn away, and they say "A continuous sorcery". Surah (Arberry). Apart from all the other miracles attributed to Muhammad in the Hadith, the splitting of the moon referred to in this verse is also recorded as a sign which he performed: Narrated Anas that the Meccan people requested Allah's Apostle to show them a miracle, and so he showed them the splitting of the moon. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 4, p. 533). It is highly probable, however, that this tradition was invented to make the Qur'an support the teaching of the Hadith that Muhammad could perform miracles. Nevertheless we have seen that the Qur'an expressly denies that he had such powers and declares that he was nothing more than a warner and that the Qur'an itself was his sole miracle. Many modern writers interpret the splitting of the moon referred to in Surah 54 as a sign of the end times, even though it is mentioned in the past tense in the text. Maulana Daryabadi, in his one-volume translation of the Qur'an, says: "The past tense has been used here as so often in the Qur'an, for the future" (The Holy Qur'an, p. 1454). The great Egyptian Muslim scholar Muhammad Rashid Rida also rejected the splitting of the moon as a sign performed by Muhammad: The splitting of the moon is such an unusual phenomenon, Rida stated, that it is incomprehensible why we have not been flooded with reports about it. The suggestion that it occurred at night when everybody was asleep he rejected, arguing that it is improbable that the Prophet would be abandoned by his Companions at a crucial moment such as this when the pagan Meccans challenged him. To this Rida added that no report of the Quraishites reacting to the miracle has come down to us. (Juynboll, The Authenticity of the Tradition Literature, p. 146). Another writer makes the same point: "If Mohammed had really split the moon asunder, he would most certainly have referred the Koreish and the Jews to this miracle, when they demanded that he should show them one, and so have convinced them. But the fact is, that whenever he was thus pressed, he excused 219

220 himself by acknowledging that he was not able to work a miracle" (Pfander, The Mizan ul Haqq; or Balance of Truth, p. 107). It is probable that the rending asunder of the moon is simply one of many signs of the Last Hour mentioned in the Qur'an. But the most natural explanation of the passage is, that the expression refers to one of the signs of the Resurrection. (Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam, p.356). In another passage in the Qur'an it is said that the moon will be "buried in darkness" (Surah reminiscent of Matthew "the moon will not give its light") and that the sun and moon will be joined together (Surah so also Luke 21.25: "there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars"). As the Qur'an disclaims Muhammad's power to work miracles and as a very logical explanation of Surah can thus be given, there does not seem to be any validity in the Muslim claim that Muhammad himself split the moon in half (and presumably put it together again!). It is refreshing to find that a number of modern Muslim writers deny that Muhammad had the power to work miracles: There is no mention in the whole Qur'an of any miracle intended to support the prophethood of Muhammad except the Qur'an, notwithstanding its acknowledgment of many of the miracles performed with God's permission by the prophets preceding Muhammad and the description of the many other favours which God has bestowed upon him. (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. lxxxvii). Disclaiming every power of wonder-working, the Prophet of Islam ever rests the truth of his divine commission entirely upon his Teachings. He never resorts to the miraculous to assert his influence or to enforce his warnings. (Ali, The Spirit of Islam, p. 32). Both these writers suggest that it was not necessary for Muhammad to produce miracles to substantiate his claims. The Qur'an itself was a sufficient proof of his sincerity. It is interesting to find in these works the suggestion that Muhammad's inability to perform signs and wonders was not a defect in his prophetic character but a testimony to his greatness which did not need evidences of this kind. It is interesting to observe that while in the past Muhammad's inability to perform miracles was felt as a lack and caused later tradition to ascribe miracles him; in the present it is exactly this fact that he did no miracles which is viewed positively. (Weasels, A Modern Arabic Biography of Muhammad, p. 86). One wonders, however, about the appropriateness of Ali's suggestion that Muhammad did not have to "resort to" miracles, a theme maintained by Haykal: 220

221 "he never resorted to miracles as previous prophets had done, in order to prove the veracity of his revelation" (The Life of Muhammad, p. lxxvii). These words seem to imply that the former prophets exhibited a weakness in character not shown by Muhammad in that they "resorted" to external proofs of their mission. It appears that the truth is that they possessed a power which he did not enjoy and that even if he had wished to "resort to" working miracles, he would have been unable to do so. If Muhammad is to be commended in any way for not venturing to perform miracles, perhaps his sincerity in disclaiming the power to do so is the best commendation that can be given to him: "to my mind the most miraculous thing about Mohammed is, that he never claimed the power of working miracles" (Bosworth Smith, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p.344). 6. The Doctrine of Sin and Forgiveness in Islam. There are many similarities between the Qur'anic and Biblical concepts of sin and divine forgiveness. Islam recognises that evil deeds are an affront to the Creator of all men and merit his punishment, and yet teaches that God will exercise forgiveness and remit the sins of the faithful. Wallaahu Ghafuurur- Rahiim (Surah 5.77) expresses a common Qur'anic dictum - "Allah is the Forgiving, the Merciful". Nevertheless there are major differences between the relative concepts of sin and forgiveness in the two books. Islam knows nothing of original sin - the basic disposition and tendency in all men to sin arising from the sin of the one man Adam in which the whole human race was implicated. It also knows nothing of an atonement for sin and therefore has no instrument by which a Muslim can be totally assured of the forgiveness of all his sins this side of the grave. Every Muslim hopes dearly in the forgiveness of God but most of them acknowledge that they will have to make some payment for their sins, whether through torments in the grave before the Day of Judgment, or for some period thereafter. Their hope is that God will ultimately forgive them. In considering the forgiveness of sins according to Islam, four points at least call for study: the kinds of sins, the intention of the sinner, his repentance for sins, and the intercession of someone on his behalf. (Elder, "The Development of the Muslim Doctrine of Sins and Their Forgiveness", The Muslim World, V.1.29, p.179). Regarding the "kinds of sins" in Islam it has become the norm to distinguish between great sins which merit certain punishment (and possible exclusion from Paradise) and lesser sins which can easily be forgiven to believers if they repent of them immediately. 221

222 The Muhammadan doctors divide sins into two classes very much as the Roman Catholic divines do. The usual Roman designation being that of mortal and venial sin, whiist Muhammadans use the expressions Kabira and Saghira, "Great" and "Little". (Hughes, Notes on Muhammadanism, p.95). The greatest of all sins is shirk, "associating" partners with Allah. All idolaters are guilty of this sin and the charge is regularly laid at the feet of Christians as well. This sin is unforgivable and, if not repented of, will assuredly lead the sinner to hell. Other major sins are usury adultery, cowardice before infidels in battle, disobedience to parents and false notions about God's forgiveness (either a casual presumption of it or a despairing of his mercy). The intercession of Muhammad for his community on the Last Day is one of the greatest of all the hopes of the individual Muslim. He is alleged to have said that he will intercede for all Muslims and that even though some may be severely punished for their sins, no Muslim will remain in hell forever. Others believe that his intercession will avail to keep all Muslims out of hell and that no Muslim will be touched by the fire. The Qur'an tends to indicate that Muhammad had other ideas about the possibility of intercession on the Day of Judgment: Then guard yourselves against a day when one soul shall not avail another, nor shall intercession be accepted for her, nor shall compensation be taken from her, nor shall anyone be helped (from outside). Surah 2.48 Another verse in the same Surah states that no bargaining, friendship or intercession will avail on that Day (Surah 2.254). Intercession is the heart of the Christian hope yet it is an intercession of a different kind. It is not that of the advocate who pleads for mercy for his client, it is that of one who has already paid the penalty. Islam sees no need of an atonement because it does not recognise the Christian teaching that sin is a state of mind and heart, a disposition of rebellion against God which estranges the creature from the Creator and sets him at enmity with his Lord. Islam allows that the wicked are possessed of a proud insolence and opposition to God but it does not perceive that the sins of all men, whether great or small, stem from a universal rebellion against God's holy law. Furthermore it stops short of declaring, as Christianity does, that God has a naturally holy and righteous character and that men who sin against him are shown to be expressly devoid of this holiness and are accordingly thoroughly unholy and unrighteous. It is a familiar notion that Islam is optimistic and sanguine in its estimate of human nature - that it is far less radical and incisive than Christianity. Man's sin is weakness and forgetfulness, rather than defiance and rebellion. (Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, p.21). 222

223 Sins, according to Islam, are evil deeds committed in defiance of what God prohibits which can be cancelled out by good deeds done in submission to his requirements. Evil deeds are only such because God declares them to be so, not because they are naturally evil in the face of his holy character as Christianity teaches. As a result there is no true conviction of sin in Islam. In any case, with regard to the Qur'an and its teaching, all we can say is that we see nothing in the book to justify us in believing that Muhammad himself had any deep conviction of sin or demanded that believers should experience it. His teaching is rather that sin, though a great offence against God, is not something which puts - man where he needs redemption. God does not redeem man, he simply forgives him when he repents, for God is easy and merciful to men whenever they turn towards Him. (Gardner, The Qur'anic Doctrine of Sin, p.41). There is no cry from the depth of the heart in a Muslim motivated by the influence of Islam, that compares with Paul's "Wretched man that I am. Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7.24). Until the Muslim recognises that all sin affects the human personality and separates man from his all-holy Creator, he will see no need of redemption through the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. 7. The Last Day and the Life Hereafter. The Qur' an follows the Bible in teaching that a Day of Judgment is coming and that the destiny of all men is to heaven or hell. There are numerous titles in the book for this great Day, the most common being Yawmal-Qiyamah, the "Day of Resurrection", as-sa'ah, "the Hour", Yawmal-Akbir, the "Last Day", and Yawmid-Din, the "Day of Reckoning". The earliest surahs are full of warnings about the awesome fate awaiting those who go astray which will be determined on that Day. A common expression in Surah 77 is Wayluy-yawma'ithil-lilmukath-thibiin - "Ah woe, that Day, to the Rejecters of the Truth". It has become common in "enlightened" Christian and Muslim circles to regard the doctrine of everlasting bliss for the righteous and everlasting torment for the wicked as a legacy of those years when the minds of men were not as refined as they are supposed to be today. There can be little doubt however, that both the Bible and the Qur'an teach that the human race will be divided on that Day and that each man's destiny will be determined forever. In his parable about the separation of the nations to the left and the right, the former to eternal punishment and the latter to eternal life (Matthew ), Jesus left no room for a purgatory, no possibility of a fire escape in hell. The Qur'an likewise makes the same point in saying: Nay, those who seek gain in Evil, and are girt around by their sins, - They are the Companions of the Fire: Therein shall they abide (for ever). But 223

224 those who have faith and work righteousness, they are the Companions of the Garden: therein shall they abide (for ever). Surah In the historical creed known as Wasiyat Abi Hanifa, in one of the articles, which has a parallel in another similar creed entitled Fiqh Akbar II, we find the eternal character of heaven and hell unambiguously taught: We confess that the inhabitants of Paradise will dwell therein forever, and that the inhabitants of hell will dwell therein forever. (Wensinck, The Muslim Creed, p.l30). The Qur'an constantly proclaims that the righteous and the wicked will remain in their places of destiny. There is no strand of teaching in the book that allows for the possibility that those sent to hell will eventually be allowed into Paradise and be declared worthy of its blessings. In all Mohammed's warnings and descriptions about the doom of the unbelievers, there is anything but a note of respite or compromise... Therefore, we are quite ready to conclude that the idea of an intermediate state, or a judgment and punishment, other than at the last great day - which was to be final and complete - never entered Mohammed's mind. (Galloway, "The Resurrection and Judgment in the Qur an", The Muslim World, Vol. 12, p.354). Another writer draws the same conclusion about the systematic teaching of the Qur'an on this point: "The result of the Judgment is either everlasting bliss or everlasting torment. There is no intermediate condition" (Watt, Bell's Introduction to the Qur'an, p. 160). Some Muslim writers today, on he other hand, seem to regard the Qur'anic hell as some kind of spiritual hospital, a reformatory for sinners prior to their admission to Paradise. One says that "Hell is intended to raise up man by purifying him from the dross of evil, just as fire purifies gold of dross" (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p.256) and yet another that "Hell means a state of soul whose faculties are defective or diseased and whose reactions, consequently, are painful in contrast with the pleasant and agreeable reactions of a healthy soul" (Zafrulla Khan, Islam: Its Meaning for Modern Man, p.193). There is no suggestion here that hell is, in fact, a place of punishment, an awful place of eternal damnation. It is not surprising to find that the latter writer also denies the possibility of a literal, physical resurrection of the body at the Last Hour: "Life after death cannot and does not mean that the dead will be reassembled and reconstituted upon the earth" (Zafrulla Khan, op. cit., p.185). This appears to be in direct contrast to the Qur'anic teaching which says: "Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones? Nay, we are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers" (Surah ). A contrast has often been drawn between the Christian and Qur'anic concepts of Paradise and Hell. The Qur'anic title for heaven is jannat (usually followed by a 224

225 descriptive epithet - for example, Jannatul-Firdaus, "Garden of Paradise") and for hell jahannam (apparently derived from the Greek form of Gehenna), The descriptions of Paradise are often somewhat sensuous in the Qur'an and tend to create the image that heaven is a realm of bliss where the believer's comfort is derived from his circumstances rather than the peace and joy of his soul. He is promised gardens under which rivers flow, the attendance of young servants who never grow old and who constantly serve unintoxicating wine, a selection of beautiful, dark-eyed virgin consorts (huris), and an abundance of carpets, cushions and other forms of wealth and comfort. Muslim rulers like Shah Jehan and others came close to creating such harems on earth and yet were frowned upon for their gross self-indulgence! The doctrines in the Qur an respecting the resurrection and final judgment were in some respects similar to those of the Christian religion, but were mixed up with wild notions derived from other sources; while the joys of the Moslem heaven, though partly spiritual, were clogged and debased by the sensualities of earth, and infinitely below the ineffable purity and spiritual blessedness of the heaven promised by our Saviour. (Irving, The Life of Mahomet, p.49). The Christian paradise, although at times described in the Bible in allegorical language, is principally spiritual. There is no distinction between male and female there for the just will be transformed into the image of the angels (Luke ) and their joy and peace will be based fundamentally on their communion with their Lord and enjoyment of his favour and righteousness. Jesus withheld speaking of "my joy" (John 15.11) and "my peace" (John 14.27) until the last night when he was with his disciples and was all-too-conscious of the horrors that awaited him in the next twenty-four hours. He did so in order that his disciples might know that such joy and peace were not dependent on favourable circumstances but could be sustained through any form of adversity On the other hand the Qur'anic peace and joy appear to be dependent more on what a man will have around him to comfort him rather than on what he will be within himself. Muhammad perhaps understood that happiness is possible only when one's circumstances and surroundings are consonant with one's disposition. And because he believed that Man's disposition, his nature as a man created by the hand of God, required sensual gratifications, the "Prophet" depicted the happiness of the Just as consisting, in the next life, of the enjoyment of savoury viands, delicious liquids, the company of celestial damsels, and other sensual pleasures. (Tisdall, The Religion of the Crescent, p.84). The Qur'an does not teach that man has a fallen nature and needs to be redeemed. It regards his present nature as the original one. Hence the lower lusts and passions of the flesh are regarded as natural desires hardly in need of 225

226 renunciation. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that, while the Qur'an does speak of the approval of Allah as the supreme triumph (Surah 9.72) and of the faces of believers beaming brightly as they behold the glory of their Lord (Surah ), its paradise in no small measure accommodates the lower desires of man's nature which it teaches will remain part of his constitution in the age to come. The Christian, however, is exhorted: Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians While the Qur'anic paradise is principally a realm of comfort, the Biblical paradise is chiefly one of righteousness. It is indeed untrue to say that the former is purely sensual but, on the other hand, it is equally untrue to declare that the Qur'anic Jannat makes no allowances for the sensuous tendencies at work in human flesh. It teaches that there will still be male and female in heaven and in so doing it keeps the level of its paradise relative to the present order of things and hardly rises to the level of the Biblical kingdom of heaven which flesh and blood cannot inherit. 8. Qadar - The Doctrine of Predestination in Islam. The Qur'an openly declares that God has control over all things and that nothing can happen outside of his will or that can frustrate his purpose. There is a "measure - a qadar - for everything predetermined according to the foreknowledge and express will of God. (The word most commonly used by Muslims for this control over all things is taqdir though the word qadar, from the same roots, is that used in the Qur'an and Hadith). Innaa kullli shay'in khalaqnaahu biqadar - "Verily we have created all things according to a fixed measure" (Surah 54.49) - is the Qur'anic dictum. Other verses expressing this theme are: God leads astray whomsoever He will, and he guides whomsoever he will. Surah 14.4 (Arberry) No soul can believe, except by the Will of God, and He will place Doubt (or obscurity) on those who will not understand. Surah The Qur'anic doctrine of God's sovereign control over all things has been extended in the Hadith to cover everything that a man does, whether good or bad. A famous hadith to this effect reads: 226

227 Umar b. al-khattab reported: I heard that the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) was questioned and he replied: The Lord created Adam, then moved His right hand on his back and brought out issues and said: We have created them for Heaven: these will do actions befitting heavenly persons. Then He moved His left hand on his back and brought out issues and said: We have created them for Hell and these will do actions befitting Hell. (Muwatta Imam Malik, p.37 4). Another similar hadith which declares that every action of man is foreordained so that he will do neither good nor evil except as God especially decrees, is this one: Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: There was an argument between Adam and Moses. Moses said: Are you that Adam whose lapse caused you to get out of Paradise? Adam said to him: Are you that Moses whom Allah selected for His Messengership, for His conversation, and you blame me for an affair which had been ordained for me before I was created? This is how Adam came the better of Moses. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 4, p.1396). During the early centuries of Islam this subject was much discussed and developed to the point where a degree of fatalism began to take over the simple theology of the masses. Of this doctrine Muhammad makes great use in his Quran and all those who have had any practical acquaintance with the lives of Muhammadans, know well to what extent it influences the daily life of every Muslim. It is not only urged as a source of consolation in every trial, but as a palliation of every crime. "It was written in my taqdir," (fate) is an excuse familiar to every European who has had much intercourse with Muslim servants or soldiers. (Hughes, Notes on Muhammadanism, p.59). Ahmad ibn Hazm, a member of the Zahiri sect in Islam (an orthodox group of fundamental literalists) perhaps expressed the most extreme view of those who held dearly to the doctrine of God's absolute control over everything. He held that Nothing is good, but Allah has made it so, and nothing is evil but by His doing. Nothing in the world, indeed, is good or bad in its own essence, but what God has called good is good, and the doer of it is virtuous; and similarly what God has called evil is evil and the doer of it is a sinner. All depends upon God's decree, for an act that may at one time be good may be bad at another time" (Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, p.206). Christian writers have regularly taught that the Islamic doctrine of predestination is purely absolutist and fatalistic and have accordingly compared it unfavourably with the corresponding Biblical doctrine which upholds God s control over all 227

228 things but balances this with a freedom on the part of man to do good or evil as he chooses, holding him responsible for his actions. Although the terms used in describing predestination by Moslems and Christians (especially Calvinists) have much similarity the result of their reasoning is far apart as the East from the West. (Zwemer, The Moslem Doctrine of God, p. 93). This may to some extent be true of the developed form of the doctrine as it appears in the Hadith and Islamic theology but it is this writer's opinion that the charge cannot fairly be brought against the Qur'an. There is no verse in the book dealing with God's qadar and control that is not matched by similar verses in the Bible. Surah 14.4 quoted above has an exact parallel in Romans 9.18 and Surah is matched by John The Bible also teaches that God has predestined some for eternal life (Romans ) and that only those who are ordained to eternal life will believe (Acts ). The Qur'an follows the Bible in also allowing that man has a degree of freedom to choose his own path and will accordingly be held responsible for his actions. There is a fine balance in both books between God's authority and Man's responsibility. The Bible teaches that God hardened Pharaoh s heart but also states that he hardened his own heart (Exodus 8.15). So likewise the Qur'an says: He causes many to stray and many he leads into the right path, but he causes not to stray, except those who forsake (the path). Surah 2.26 The Qur'an constantly teaches that those who seek God's favour will be guided aright and that those who expressly choose to reject his way will be duly led astray. The Qur'an does speak of God setting seals on some hearts, but it says expressly that seals are set on the hearts of the reprobate, the hardened sinners who pay no heed to the call of the Prophet. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p.276). Indeed one cannot help being impressed with the depth of Muhammad's conviction that God rules over everything and yet that his control is expressed primarily in setting a proportion and measure for everything while leaving men free to choose or reject faith. One of the great works of God that i~ beyond human comprehension is his absolute control over everything, his predestination of some to eternal life, and the fixed order he has set forth which no one can frustrate or hinder; and yet at the same time the freedom he allows to men to believe in him or not to do so and the responsibility he lays on them to account for their actions. There is not much distinction between the Biblical and Qur'anic teaching on this subject and, while the Qur'an may at times not even remotely approach the Bible in the depth of its teaching and wisdom, it draws very near to it in this respect. 228

229 Significantly the Qur'an does not add belief in qadar to its articles of faith in Surah This was only done by later theologians who developed the Islamic doctrine of predestination. It does appear, however, that this was not a development in the true sense of the word but rather a retrogression, for the fatalistic spirit of much of the teaching of the Hadith on this point contrasts unfavourably with the more balanced Qur'anic assessment of God's control and measure for all things which nonetheless allows for man's own freedom to choose the path of faith or unbelief. B. Sinlessness of The Prophets: The Isma Doctrine 1.The Development of the Isma Doctrine. Throughout the Muslim world today it is generally believed that all of the prophets enjoyed an isma, a protection against sin, and that they were accordingly sinless. It is one of the anomalies of Islam that this Doctrine has been established and maintained against the plain teaching of the Qur'an and Hadith to the contrary. The orthodox belief is that the prophets do not commit sin, and are sinless (ma'sum), but this dogma contradicts various statements of the Qur'an and of Muhammad as recorded in the Traditions. (Klein, The Religion of Islam, p. 109) We shall shortly see that both the major sources of Islam teach that all the prophets, excepting Jesus, had sins of which they needed to repent and seek forgiveness. In the early centuries of Islam, however, a doctrine founded on popular sentiment and theological presuppositions arose and developed away from the teaching of the Qur'an and Hadith. It was first formulated in the creed known as the Fiqh Akbar II and it is there stated: All the Prophets are exempt from sins, both light and grave, from unbelief and sordid deeds. Yet stumbling and mistakes may happen on their part. (Wensinck, The Muslim Creed, p. 192). It was not possible to defy the written sources of Islam entirely, however, and so the records of the sins of the prophets in the Qur'an and Hadith became watered down into "mistakes". Similar euphemisms, such as "acts of forgetfulness", are constantly used by Muslim writers today to account for these misdemeanours which the Scripture and traditions of Islam record. As a rule, blameworthy behaviour of prophets is smoothed over by means of all possible acumen. (Baljon, Modern Muslim Qur an Interpretation, p. 71). There are basically two reasons for the rise of this doctrine in Islam. Firstly, the early Muslims soon discovered that the Bible taught plainly that Jesus was the 229

230 only sinless man that ever lived and, confronted with this evidence, deemed it necessary to invent the fiction that all the prophets - especially Muhammad - were sinless as well. A superiority of Jesus over Muhammad could not be tolerated and, just as miracles were attributed to the figurehead of Islam to give him a status at least equal to that of Jesus, so he was also held to be sinless for the same purpose. Secondly, the doctrine of revelation in Islam holds that the scriptures were dictated directly to the prophets by the intermediary angel (Gabriel) and it was therefore believed that the prophets must have possessed an impeccable character for, if they could not keep themselves from error in their personal lives, how could they be trusted to communicate God's revelations without error? This latter presupposition led perforce to the conclusion that the prophets must have been sinless. The purpose of at-nubuwwa (the prophets) could be defeated if the people to whom they are sent thought it permissible for the prophets to commit sins and tell falsehoods, because then they would also think the same about their teachings and their commands and interdictions (Sachedina, Islamic Messianism, p. 135). Muslim orthodoxy, therefore, drew the logically correct conclusion that the prophets must be regarded as immune from serious errors (the doctrine of isma). (Rahman, Islam, p. 32). It was a conclusion, nevertheless, which was drawn from the preconceived notion that God could not ensure the perfect transmission of his revelations unless he simultaneously preserved his messengers from all possible errors of conduct and character. It was not one which arose from an objective analysis of the teaching of the Qur'an and Hadith. (According to the Bible all the prophets were sinners but the scriptures inerrantly inspired by the Holy Spirit, were written and preserved without corruption. The isma doctrine in Islam is weakened by the claim that the Qur'an has been preserved over the centuries without error. If God could entrust the perfect preservation of his revelations to sinful men, why could he not entrust the transmission of the same revelations to them as well. The doctrine is not only unsound in the light of qur'anic teaching but can also hardly be regarded as a "logically correct conclusion"). Either way it cannot be traced back to the teaching of Muhammad himself. But in the Qur'an Muhammad remains a fallible and sinful creature. The conception of him as the ideal man and prototype of humanity belongs to a later development. (Stanton, The Teaching of the Qur'an, p. 51). The acceptance of this doctrine, contradictory to the original spirit of the Quran, had moreover a dogmatic motive. It was considered indispensable to raise the text of the Quran above all suspicion of corruption, which suspicion would not 230

231 be excluded if the organ of the Revelation were fallible. (Hurgronje, Mohammedanism, p. 68). It is important to note, before proceeding, that the "sinlessness" of the prophets in Islam implies only a protection from errors of judgment in action and character. It is to be distinguished from the Biblical doctrine which holds that true sinlessness not only means a freedom from wrong doing but an actual state of heart, soul and mind that reflects all the goodness of God's holiness, love and righteousness. Those who have "sinned" are also those who have "fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23) an not attained to his righteousness. The impeccability of Muhammad has a different basis than the sinlessness of Jesus. Muhammad's impeccability is asserted for the purpose of establishing the validity of his revelation. Jesus' sinlessness is the corollary of the affirmation of his divinity and also of the Christian conception of the true nature of man. Prophetic protection, or, "impeccability ('ismah), is a postulate of the reason in respect of revelation rather than a definition of the quality of Muhammad's person. (Thomson, "Muhammad: His Life and Person", The Muslim World, Vol. 34, p. 115). The only sinlessness known to Christianity is sinless perfection and it decrees that all who do not possess the righteousness of God are automatically counted as sinners. On the contrary Islam knows only a human nature which by instinct is prone to error. It knows nothing of the fallen nature which needs to be redeemed and made regenerate. Its concept of sinlessness is therefore confined purely to a preservation from deliberate error and wrongdoing - it does not require a corresponding positive possession of the image of the holy character of God in the soul. Thus it allows for the so-called "mistakes" and "acts of forgetfulness". This distinction should be borne in mind as we proceed to analyse Islamic doctrine. 2. Sins of the Prophets in the Qur'an and Hadith. Not only does the Bible teach that all men, excepting Jesus Christ, have sinned, but it also unreservedly sets forth the grave misdeeds of many of the prophets and records the confessions they have made of their sinfulness. After his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah, David cried out to God, "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in thy sight" (Psalm 51.4). Another prophet, beholding God's glory, declared "I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42.6). Yet another confessed: "I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him" (Micah 7.9). It is very significant to find that the Qur'an also makes many of the prophets cry out for the forgiveness of their sins. After killing the Egyptian Moses is said to have prayed: "O my Lord! I have indeed wronged my soul! Do Thou then 231

232 forgive me!" (Surah 28.16). So likewise Abraham said of the Lord of the Worlds that he was the One "who, I hope, will forgive me my faults on the Day of Judgment" (Surah 26.82). Despite these seemingly plain confessions of sin, one Muslim writer says: It is one thing to commit a mistake and quite a different thing to go against the Divine commandments, and no sensible critic could twist such words into a confession of sin. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 199) The word used for "faults" in Surah 26.82, translated by Ali as "mistake", is khati'ati, one of the Qur'anic words for sin (khat'a). Ali, in typical Muslim style, softens its meaning by saying "This word too has a wide significance and covers all unintended actions and mistakes and errors of judgment. Its mention, therefore, in connection with a prophet, does not imply sinfulness" (The Religion of Islam, p. 198). This interpretation is hardly consistent with the usage of the word in the Qur'an for it appears in another passage which reads: Because of their sins they were drowned (in the flood), and were made to enter the Fire (of Punishment). Surah The word for "sins" in this verse is khati'atihin, from the same word used in Surah In this case it is said that the people of Noah's time were drowned in the flood and cast into the fire for such sins. The word is therefore here used for sins which were so grave and so serious that they were led to the destruction of those who committed them and their immediate consignment to hell. Ali's suggestion that the word is only used for "mistakes and errors of judgment" is hardly borne out by its use in a context in the Qur'an where a grossly defiant rebellion against God's laws is under review. One has here a typical proof of the tendency of some Muslim writers to water down the plain meaning of Qur'anic words to absolve the prophets or moral blameworthiness. It is surely significant that when the Qur'an speaks of Abraham's prayer for forgiveness of his sins it chooses the same word that it elsewhere uses to describe some of the worst sins ever committed against God. A sincere comparison of these contexts must lead to the conclusion that the Qur'an acknowledges that the prophets at times sinned directly against God's laws and commandments. (It is interesting to note that while Ali speaks of Abraham's "mistakes" in Surah 26.82, he translates the same word as "wrongs" in the case of Noah's people in Surah a clear evidence of an inconsistent Qur'anic exegesis arising from cherished presuppositions contrary to its teachings). The Qur'an follows the Bible in relating the occasion of Adam's disobedience in approaching the forbidden tree (Surah 2.35) and declares that the result of his action was that he was driven from the Garden (Surah 2.36). Significantly the command in this verse is in the plural and both Pickthall and Yusuf Ali, in footnotes, take this to mean that the whole of mankind was dismissed with 232

233 Adam and Eve. This supports the Biblical teaching that sin came into the world through one man Adam and that all men were implicated in his transgression (Romans 5.12). Nonetheless, not only is the doctrine of Original Sin denied in Islam but, because Adam is considered to be a prophet, many Muslim writers even go so far as to boldly claim that he committed no sin at all and merely slipped through a forgetfulness of God's command! There was no intention on the part of Adam to disobey the Divine commandment; it was simply forgetfulness that brought about the disobedience. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 201). On the other hand the Qur'an teaches quite plainly that it was not a mere forgetfulness that led to Adam's disobedience but that he fell to the temptings of Satan (Surah ) and that after God had warned him that Satan was an adversary who would seek to get him out of the Garden. (Surah ) Satan allegedly said to him: "O Adam! Shall I lead thee to the Tree of Eternity and to a kingdom that never decays?" Surah Even though this was the very tree forbidden to him Adam chose to believe Satan and disobey God. If this is not sin, what is? In another passage we find even further evidence that Adam's transgression can hardly be excused as an act of forgetfulness. We read that Satan said to Adam and Eve: "Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest ye should become angels or such beings as live forever". Surah 7.20 Not only did God warn them against eating of the tree but we discover that Satan even reminded them of his warning while tempting them to sin. How can one possibly sustain the argument that Adam merely forgot his Lord's command? Satan's reminder aside, it is surely too hard to believe that Adam could have forgotten the one and only thing prohibited to him especially when the order came directly from God himself. Furthermore, if this was only a minor "mistake", why was the penalty so severe - the permanent banishment of the couple and the whole human race with them from the Garden? Again, if Adam did not really commit a sin and was a sinless prophet, then who introduced sin into the world and what was its consequence? It is refreshing to find that not all Muslim writers endeavour to whitewash Adam's transgression and sweep it under the carpet of their presuppositions. One says of Adam and his wife: When they were asked about their present shameless condition they confessed that they were beguiled and outwitted; turned rebellious for a moment; forgot His kind grace and commandment and broke the covenant. In other words, they had sinned. There was no sin in the state of nature. Sin came from the knowledge of it, from the fateful fruit of the tree of knowledge. When Adam hid 233

234 behind the tree and hesitated to come before God in the nude, sin had been born. (Raze, Introducing the Prophets, p.5). The Qur'an also teaches that Noah and Jonah were transgressors and that they too prayed for the forgiveness of all their sins (Surah 11.47, 21.87). These words, said in another context, appear to be a fitting conclusion to our study of the Qur'anic teaching regarding the sins of the prophets: This much is true at least: The Qur'an is nearer to Christianity than the system of Islam as it has developed through the centuries. (Guillaume, Islam, p. 160). In the Sunan works of Tirmithi, Ibn Maja and ad-darimi it is recorded that Muhammad once said: "Every son of Adam is a sinner, and the best of sinners are those who repent constantly" (quoted in Karim's Mishkatul-Masabih, Vol. 3, p. 360). This statement clearly shows that Muhammad himself did not believe in the sinlessness of the prophets. 3. The Command to Muhammad to Ask for Forgiveness. Not only does the Qur'an teach that many of the former prophets prayed for the forgiveness of their sins but it expressly states that Muhammad himself needed forgiveness for his transgressions: Know, therefore, that there is no god but God, and ask forgiveness for thy fault, and for the men and women who believe. Surah Verily We have granted thee a manifest victory: that God may forgive thee thy faults of the past and those to follow; fulfil His favour to thee; and guide thee on the Straight Way. Surah Once again Muslim commentators find it hard to reconcile such teachings with the doctrine of the isma of the prophets and their attempts to explain away these verses are hardly successful. The words in Surah which Yusuf Ali translates as "and ask forgiveness for thy fault" wastaghfir li-thanbik. In Surah the same words are Zulaykah (the Muslim name for Potiphar's wife) is commanded by her husband to repent of her desire to seduce Joseph. In this case Yusuf Ali translates the expression as "ask forgiveness for thy sin". There can be no doubt that this is the obvious meaning of the text, but the translator substitutes fault for "sin" in Surah purely because it is Muhammad's own misdemeanours that are spoken of in this verse. The object is to water down the meaning of the word thanb in this case to natural human weaknesses not considered to be actual sins or transgressions. What was a "sin" in Zulaykah's case conveniently becomes a "fault" in Muhammad's case even though the same word is used in both cases - another example of an inconsistent Qur'anic exegesis caused by the isma doctrine. 234

235 Muhammad Ali says of the word thanb as used in Surah 48.2 that "there is no imputation of sin but only of human short-comings" (The Religion of Islam, p. 199), yet another typical attempt to dilute the meaning of the word so as to sustain the doctrine of Muhammad's sinlessness. Even this same writer, however, is obliged to concede that the general meaning of the word is "sin" (op. cit., p. 197). The great commentator Baidawi, however, openly explained the words "thy faults of the past and those to follow" to mean "everything blameworthy that has proceeded from you" (Gatje, The Qur'an and its Exegesis, p. 81). A Western writer is also more to the point when he says: The doctrine is in flat contradiction of sura 48:2 where it is said 'that God may forgive thee thy early and later sins'. And, we may add, to the whole spirit and tenor of Muhammad's words. (Guillaume, Islam, p. 119). Not only have Muslim writers had to resort to unfortunate twists of exegesis to explain away the word for "sin" in the verses quoted but they have also had to do the same with the word istaghfir which, throughout the Qur'an, means simply to "ask forgiveness". Once again Muhammad Ali concedes that the word "is generally taken as meaning asking for forgiveness of sins" (op. cit., p.196) but, in Muhammad's case, he claims that it means to ask "protection" from sin and says: Prophet Muhammad is said by these critics of Islam to be a sinner because he is commanded to seek Divine protection (istaghfir) for his dhanb (40.55). Now to seek protection against sin does not mean that sin has been committed - he who seeks Divine protection rather guards himself against the commission of sin; and, moreover, the word used here is dhanb which means any human shortcoming. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 199). Throughout the Qur'an Allah is called al-ghafur which is always interpreted to mean "the Forgiving". A different word is used to describe him as "the Protector", however, namely al-muhaymin (Surah 59.23). Likewise in one passage in the Qur'an the angels pray to God for the forgiveness of the faithful and their protection from the Fire, using two different words for forgiveness and protection respectively: Forgive, then, those who turn in Repentance, and follow Thy Path; and preserve them from the Penalty of the Blazing Fire! Surah 40.7 The word for "forgive" here is faghfir, the usual word from the same roots as istaghfir, whereas the word translated as "preserve" (that is, protect) is waqihim. The Qur'an clearly draws a distinction between forgiveness and protection and uses two different words accordingly. No objective interpretation of the use of the word istaghfir in the Qur'an in its various forms can yield the meaning "protection". This meaning has been casually read into the word by those who 235

236 cannot accept that the Qur'an commands Muhammad to ask for the forgiveness of his sins. In Surah 5.77 it is said that Christians should turn to God and yastaghfir'unah - "seek his forgiveness" - for their grievous blasphemy (kufr) in saying that there are three gods of whom Allah is one. Once again what is taken in one case to mean an asking for forgiveness for one of the worst of sins (shirk - associating partners with God) has been watered down in Muhammad's case to seeking "protection" from innocent shortcomings, even though the same word again is used. Some Muslim writers have another way of getting around the problem. They say Muhammad was only commanded to ask for forgiveness in a representative capacity, that is, not for any sins of his own but only for his people's errors. This too is contradicted by Surah where Muhammad himself is distinguished from the mu'miniina wal mu'minaat, "men and women who believe", and is commanded firstly to ask for forgiveness of his own sins and then for those of his followers. Even Muslim writers who seek to interpret the words wastaghfir lithanbik to mean asking protection from mistakes and "shortcomings" must surely admit that this is not the natural and most obvious explanation of the words, viz. "ask forgiveness of your sin", and also that their interpretation is not really an alternative one but rather an expedient calculated to dampen and soften the real meaning of the expression so as to maintain their doctrine of the isma of the prophets. One thing, however, is quite clear - this doctrine is not derived from the teaching of the Qur'an but rather from popular sentiment. It need scarcely be stated that theology had long since articulated popular feeling in recognizing the Prophet's immunity from error and sin. (Grunebaum, Muhammadan Festivals, p. 70). The Hadith, however, openly support the teaching of the Qur'an that Muhammad needed to ask for the forgiveness of his sins and record a prayer of Muhammad, part of which reads as follows: So please forgive the sins which I have done in the past or I will do in the future, and also those (sins) which I did in secret or in public, and that which You know better than I. None has the right to be worshiped but you. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 9, p. 403). It seems fair to conclude that the earliest sources of Islam do not teach that the prophets were sinless and, on the contrary, record that many of them, including Muhammad himself, sought for the forgiveness of their sins. 236

237 4. The Sinlessness of Jesus Christ in Christianity and Islam. The Bible teaches quite plainly that one man, Jesus Christ, was without sin (Hebrews 4.15, 2 Corinthians 5.21, 1 Peter 2.25, 1 John 3.5). It is most significant to find that the Qur'an gives much support to this doctrine, for, while it records the prayers of other prophets for forgiveness and even commands Muhammad himself to pray for forgiveness of his sins, it expressly declares that Jesus Christ was sinless. We read that, when the angel appeared to Mary at the time of the Annunciation, he said: "I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son". Surah The word for "holy" in this verse is zakiyya, a word with the root meaning "purity". This form of the word principally means "blamelessness" and it is used in this context in the only other verse in the Qur'an where it appears. The Qur'an has a story about Moses in which he undertook a journey with an unnamed companion whose purpose was to guide him into deeper knowledge and understanding. (In the traditions he is named al-khidhr - "the Green One" - a figure who is said by the Sufis to have appeared at various times to their masters). At length they met a young man and the companion slew him. Moses retorted: "Hast thou slain an innocent person who had slain none?" Surah The companion simply told him to be patient to which Moses replied that he did not deserve his company if he ever questioned him in such a way again. The word for "innocent" is once again zakiyyah. In this verse it plainly implies one who was blameless of any crime deserving death. In the case of Jesus, however, the word is used by the angel to describe his whole character and it therefore clearly means one altogether blameless, that is, sinless. Thus the Qur'an does have an isma doctrine, but it is applied to no other prophet in the book than Jesus Christ. It is a remarkable fact that Jesus alone is proclaimed in the Qur'an as the sinless prophet of Islam There is no passage in the Qur'an which attributes sin to Jesus, and no shadow of a suggestion that He had, like Muhammad, to ask forgiveness for himself. (Blair, The Sources of Islam, p. 58). The Qur an, while mentioning the sins of Adam, David, Solomon and other prophets, leaves no doubt as regards the purity of the character of Jesus. (Zwemer, The Moslem Christ, p. 124). This teaching is backed up by a remarkable tradition in one of the major works of Hadith literature: 237

238 The Prophet said, 'No child is born but that, Satan touches it when it is born whereupon it starts crying loudly because of being touched by Satan, except Mary and her son'. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 54). Later Islamic theology, however, could not tolerate the suggestion that Jesus alone was sinless, even though both the Qur'an and Hadith clearly teach this, and so formulated the isma doctrine in defiance of their teaching. Just as the Church of Rome has sought to make Mary the equal of her Son by claiming that she too was sinless and eventually raised to heaven, so Islam has sought to raise Muhammad to the same status by teaching that he was also sinless and was at one time taken to heaven in the mi'raj. Neither of these teachings, however, has a Quranic foundation and both were apparently invented to prevent the Saviour of the Christian faith from standing head and shoulders above the Prophet of Islam in his very own religion. An unconscious tendency prevailed to draw a picture of Muhammed that should not be inferior to the Christian picture of Jesus. (Goldziher, Muslim Studies, Vol. 2, p. 346) The isma doctrine clearly arose on the one hand from theological suppositions and on the other from a determination to raise Muhammad to the level of Jesus Christ. Our study, however, shows that, apart from having no Qur'anic basis, it is actually contrary to its teaching. C. The Five Pillars of Islam 1.The Kalimah - The Confession of Faith. As we have seen, Islam is divided into iman, the belief of a Muslim, and din, the practice of his religion. Just as there are six articles of faith, so there are five compulsory works, generally known as the "Five Pillars of Islam". Muhammad is alleged to have defined these pillars according to the following tradition: Narrated Ibn Umar: Allah's Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles): To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's apostle. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity). To perform Hajj (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca). To observe fast during the month of Ramadan. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 1, p. 17). 238

239 It is somewhat surprising to find the first pillar among the works of Islam as it is really a testimony of faith, but the recital of this creed has become one of the deliberate acts of piety in Islam, indeed its foremost duty, and anyone wishing to become a Muslim need only recite the creed, known as the Kalimah (the "Word"), or the Shahadah (the "Testimony" of Faith), with an express intention to personally profess what he is reciting (this intention is known as the Muslim's niyyah) to be admitted to the faith. The whole of the religion of Islam is briefly summed up in the two short sentences, La ilaha ill-allah, i.e. there is no god but Allah, or, nothing deserves to be made an object of love and worship except Allah, and Muhammad-un Rasulullah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. It is simply by bearing witness to the truth of these two simple propositions that a man enters the fold of Islam. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 110). The actual testimony is a single creed - La ilaha illullah Muhammadur- Rasulullah - and whereas the whole confession does not appear in this exact form in the Qur'an, its two constituent parts appear in Surahs 9.31 and respectively. It can truly be said that this brief declaration is the equivalent of the Apostle's Creed in Islam. It is written above the mihrab in many mosques or above their entrances, on letterheads, pendants and posters, and indeed can be found inscribed almost everywhere in the Muslim world. As one writer has aptly said, "On these two phrases hang all the laws and morals of Islam" (Zwemer, The Moslem Doctrine of God, p. 15). As soon as a child is born into a Muslim family these words are whispered into his ears and every effort is made to get a dying Muslim to repeat the testimony. This is hardly surprising as Muhammad is said to have claimed that whoever actually professed this testimony would never be touched by the Fire of Hell, though he was apparently unwilling to publish this abroad lest his followers relied on it alone for their salvation. On a journey Muhammad conversed with his companion Mu'adh as follows: He (the Holy Prophet) observed: If anyone testifies (sincerely from his heart) that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His bondsman and His messenger, Allah immured him from Hell. He (Mu'adh) said: Messenger of Allah, should I not then inform people of it, so that they may be of good cheer? He replied: Then they would trust in it alone. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1, p. 25). Another tradition states that on the Judgment Day, even though ninety-nine scrolls listing a Muslim's sins should be produced, each scroll stretching as far as the eye can see, yet even a fragment the size of an ant bearing the Kalimah, recited during his lifetime, would outweigh the scrolls and guarantee his admission to Paradise (Jeffery, Islam: Muhammad and his Religion, p. 157) - justification by faith of a very different kind to that which Christians profess! 239

240 Nevertheless all these traditions and practices show how prominent the Kalimah is in the exercise of the Muslim's faith. 2. Salaah - The Prescribed Ritual of Prayer. Five times a day a Muslim is bound to perform the Salaah, the fixed ritual of the Islamic prayer-worship. He should properly go to the nearest mosque to offer his prayers together with the whole congregation. Each of the five periods is preceded by the adhaan (or azaan as it is more commonly called). The muezzin (more correctly mu'adh-dhin) calls out on each occasion: Allaabu Akbar (four times - "Allah is Most Great"). Ash'hadu an laa ilaaha illallaah (twice - "I bear witness that there is no god but Allah"). Ash'hadu anna Muhammadar-rasulullaah (twice - "I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah"). Haya 'alas-salaah (twice - "Come to prayer"). Ilaya 'alal falaah (twice - "Come to the good;'). Allaaku Akbar (twice - "Allah is Most Great"). Laa ilaaha illallaah (once - "There is no god but Allah"). After the call to the good during the Fajr prayer (just before dawn), the crier calls out twice: "Prayer is better than sleep". Then follows the actual performance of prayer itself in which anything between two or four rituals (each one known as a rak'ah - a "bowing") are performed. The worshipper begins with the qiyam, the standing posture. He raises his hands to his ears and then folds them, right over left, upon his breast. Following this is the ruku in which he bows down and places his hands on his knees, thereafter returning to the standing position. Then comes the sajdah, the prostration of the whole body on the ground. This is performed twice with a brief sitting in between. He then comes back to the sitting position, the qa'dah and passes the greeting as-salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah - "peace on you and the mercy of Allah". It is known as the taslim and it is said that the worshipper is greeting his fellow Muslims (though some say he is greeting two angels who sit on his shoulders recording his good and bad deeds). In between these postures various expressions and passages of the Qur'an (especially the Suratul-Fatihah) are recited. These include the takbir ("Allah is Most Great"), the tahmid from the Fatihah ("Praise be to Allah"), the tahlil ( There is no god but Allah") and the tasbih ("May Allah be Glorified ). There are variations of these, for example subhaana rabbiyyal Adhiim - "Glorified be the 240

241 Lord, the Most High. This fixed ritual of prayer is so rigid in Islam that there may be no departure from it and the pious Muslim will slavishly follow it day after day. It is far removed from the spirit of true Christian worship. Prayer is reduced to a gymnastic exercise and a mechanical act; any one who has lived with Moslems needs no proof for this statement. (Zwemer, The Moslem Doctrine of God, p. 100). Muslims say that the whole process is a necessary discipline to bring the remembrance of God constantly before the minds of those who otherwise would soon forget him. One such Muslim writer thus comments: The truth is that the grand idea of holding communion with God or realizing the Divine within man, which is so essential to the moral elevation of man, could not have been kept alive unless there was an outward form to which all people should try to conform. In the first place, no idea can live unless there is an institution to keep it alive. Secondly, the masses in any community, even though it may be educated, can be awakened to the recognition of a truth only through some outward form, which reminds them of the underlying idea. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 299). How different this is to Christian worship which stipulates no fixed form, purely because the believer, born of the Holy Spirit, has the constant witness of the Spirit of God within him to call to mind the presence of God. Many writers have seen fit to draw this distinction between the slavish ritual of the Islamic Salaah, where many non-arabic-speaking Muslims perform their prayers not even understanding the meaning of what they are saying in Arabic, and the freedom of worship in Christianity which is in spirit and in truth. One writer says of the Salaah: It will be seen that this ritual is, in reality, almost solely a service of praise. Indeed, to use the word prayer to describe it gives most Englishspeaking people a wrong impression. The whole service does not contain a single petition, unless the phrase, "Guide us in the straight path", from the Fatiha be considered as such. (Glubb, The Life and Times of Muhammad, p. 134). Another writer comments: "The dominant feeling connected with the five daily prayers is probably that of a prescribed religious duty being duly performed" (MacDonald, Aspects of Islam, p. 345), and yet another says: In the whole Qur'an and in all the Traditions I do not know of a single passage which teaches that prayer to be efficacious must be in spirit and in truth. (Tisdall, The Religion of the Crescent, p. 80). 241

242 Before going into the mosque the worshipper must perform an ablution, known as wudhu (or, in certain circumstances, a washing of the whole body known as ghusl), the ritual of which is set out in the Qur'an: When ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows) rub your heads (with water), and (wash) your feet to the ankles. If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body. Surah 5.6 Later in the same verse it is said that the worshipper may use sand or earth, a ritual known as tayammum, where water is not available. Once again the performance is purely an external act of ritual purity, an ablution which is solely a regulation for the body "which cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper" (Hebrews 9.9). Christian writers have been constrained to comment negatively on this aspect of Islamic worship as well: If, however, we carefully compare all the passages of the Qur'an which speak of purification and purity, it becomes evident to every unprejudiced reader that in none of them is there any reference to inward moral or spiritual purity of the heart, but that what is required in them is the outward, bodily cleansing by means of ablutions and washings. (Klein, The Religion of Islam, p. 132). For by washing the body the impurity of the heart cannot be cleansed, and so it is evident that this corporeal purification was a type of the spiritual cleansing wrought by the Gospel... Thus it will be evident to every man of spiritual discernment, that although one whose spirit is untainted by the impurities of the flesh may pay every attention to personal cleanliness, yet such cleanliness of the body has nothing to do with his salvation. (Pfander, The Mizan ul Haqq; or Balance of Truth, p. 6). On the other hand, in all fairness it must be pointed out that the Qur'an itself warns against the dangers of ritual exercises becoming an end in themselves. It says: It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers. Surah The great emphasis placed on the outward form in Islam however, not only tends to lull dull worshippers into a sense of complacency and reliance on the rituals themselves, but also implies that the true knowledge of God and witness of the Holy Spirit is absent in Islam for, when these are present, there is no need for a strict outward form, a regulation to compel the devotion of men who otherwise would probably go astray. 242

243 In addition to the five daily prayers there are the tahajjud prayers, a late-night ritual practiced by Muhammad but not commanded by him, as well as tarawih prayers after the last prayer, salautal-isha, during the month of Ramadan. Furthermore on Fridays the great congregational prayer dust after midday, the Juma prayer, replaces the midday prayer. In all of these the ritualistic performance of raka'at continues but, apart from these prescribed prayers, Muslims also have a more extemporaneous form of prayer, the dua. This takes the form either of set Arabic phrases or of personal devotions which may also be in Arabic or in the worshipper's language. 3. The Origins of the Five Daily Prayers. The growth of Islam as a religion of established rituals and practices did not stop at the death of Muhammad. On the contrary much development was still required before the rough edges could be smoothed out into the fixed, carefully defined system that we find today. Nowhere is this process more obvious than in the defining of the forms of prayer and their times of observance. The five-times-a-day Salaah is perhaps the fulcrum around which all else rotates in ritualistic Islam. The times are fajr, the morning prayer just before dawn; zuhr, the prayer just after midday; 'asr, the afternoon prayer; maghrib, the prayer just after sunset; and 'isha, the evening prayer. All Muslim jurists hold that the observance of these prayers is fardh, that is, compulsory. Nevertheless, while the forms of ablution are defined in the Qur'an, neither the five times of prayer nor the procedure of each rak'ah is prescribed in the book. The Qur'an does mention both the salaatal-fajr and salaatal-ishaa in Surah by name but in this case it is improbable that these were actual titles of prescribed prayer - times. It is far more likely that the expressions simply mean the "morning prayer" and the "evening prayer" respectively. This interpretation is supported by the form of the only other prayer mentioned as such in the Qur'an, namely salaatal-wusta in Surah 2.238, which means simply the "middle prayer". Even though the Qur'an only mentions three times of prayer, Muslim writers endeavour to make the Qur'an prescribe the five fixed periods of prayer and resort to ingenious and none-too-successful methods to achieve their objective. The Qur'an does indeed urge believers to set up regular prayers at stated times (Surah 4.103), but it is quite loose in its treatment of the daily prayers. Apart from the three times it actually specifies it has a variety of exhortations regarding prayers, for example: Celebrate (constantly) the praises of thy Lord, before the rising of the sun, and before its setting; Yea, celebrate them for part of the hours of the night, and at the sides of the day: that thou mayest have (spiritual) joy. Surah

244 And establish regular prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night. Surah It is hard to define the exhortations in these two passages, let alone make them fit the five-times-a-day ritual outlined above. Muslim commentators who seek to realise this end come up with a variety of interpretations. It is agreed that "before the rising of the sun" in Surah refers to the morning prayer, but the exhortation to pray "before its setting" is interpreted by Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Ali as the asr prayer, to which Daryabadi adds the zuhr prayer. "Part of the hours of the night" is extended by these commentators to specifically mean the maghrib and isha prayers, though Muhammad Ali adds the late-night tahajjud prayer as well. "At the sides of the day", a vague expression, is nevertheless specifically taken to mean the fajr and isha prayers by Daryabadi, zuhr by Yusuf Ali, while Muhammad Ali adds a voluntary dua to the zuhr prayer. These inconsistencies show how hard it is to read the five daily prayers into the somewhat loose Qur'anic terms found in these verses. Surah is also interpreted in various ways by Muslim commentators. In his major work on Islam, however, Muhammad Ali openly states: The Qur'an does not explicitly state that prayer should be said at such and such times, but it does give indications of the times of prayer. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 334). Another writer is even more to the point and seems to have a far more balanced and objective approach to the Qur'an than those who would make it yield later developments: The fact, however, that the prayers were fundamentally three is evidenced by the fact that the Prophet is reported to have combined these four prayers into two, even without there being any reason. It was in the post Prophetic period that the number of prayers was inexorably fixed without any alternative at five, and the fact of the fundamental three prayers was submerged under the rising tide of the Hadith which was put into circulation to support the idea that prayers were five. (Rahman, Islam, p. 36). It is indeed only in the Hadith that we find the five times specifically fixed. It is said that when Muhammad came into the presence of Allah during the Mi'raj, he was commanded to pray fifty times a day. On relating this to Moses, the latter urged him to get it reduced by ten, which Allah duly allowed. The narrative continues (Muhammad speaking): Again I passed by Moses and he said the same again; and so it went on until only five prayers for the whole day and night were left. Moses again gave me the same advice. I replied that I had been back to my Lord and 244

245 asked him to reduce the number until I was ashamed, and would not do it again. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p. 186). God is then said to have stated that those who observed the five prayers would have the value of fifty counted to them. In another work of Hadith it is said that Gabriel specifically came to Muhammad one day and performed the fajr, zuhr, asr, maghrib and isha prayers with Muhammad and told him he was ordered to demonstrate them to him so that he would know when and how to perform the prescribed prayers (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 1, p. 297). We have already seen, however, that the whole story of the Mi'raj is a myth founded primarily on Zoroastrian sources and the possible genuineness of the five fixed times of prayer is hardly enhanced by the claim in the Hadith that their authority derives from this speculative tale. More than one author has suggested that the five periods themselves are of Zoroastrian origin: In the Qur an itself only three daily prayers are known, and it is no doubt due to influence from the Persian side that their number in the oldest Islam is increased to five. (Buhl, "The Character of Mohammed as a Prophet", The Muslim World, Vol. 1, p. 356). A reference to the Avesta will show that the Zoroastrians are instructed to observe prayer five times a day.... the day is divided into five periods, during which the gains, or prayers, which belong to each period should be recited. (Blair, The Sources of Islam, p. 127). We may conclude that the definition of five daily prayers in Islam is a typical example of the way in which the religion of Muhammad, still growing towards maturity at the time of his death, was rounded off in later years. 4. Zakaah and Saum - Alms and Fasting. The Qur'an constantly enjoins on believers the duty of paying Zakaah, a prescribed almsgiving. The book often links the duty of charity with the observance of Salaah (e.g. Surah 9.5) and refers to it as an act of piety to purify the believer (the word comes from the same roots as zakiyya considered in the previous section) and as an act of gratitude to God. There is no duty to which more frequent reference is made in the Qoran than that of almsgiving. In almost every Sura is this duty urged upon the believers; and in some Suras, indeed, the prophet returns again and again to this subject. (Roberts, The Social Laws of the Quran, p. 70). The fixed tithe in Islam has been established as two-and-a-half per cent but, whereas the Old Testament tithe of ten per cent was calculated simply in terms of a man's income, zakaah is determined chiefly as a surcharge or a man's wealth 245

246 and possessions. The other form of charity in Islam, of a less obligatory nature, is known as sadaqah, a voluntary offering indicating the sincerity of a man's disposition towards generosity (Surah 2.264). The word has the same roots as the title given to Abu Bakr, namely as-siddiq - "the Trustworthy". There are two important words in Arabic that have to do with almsgiving. The more common of these is zakat, from a root that means "to grow" or "to be pure"; it seems to imply that the giving of alms is a means of purifying one's soul - perhaps from the guilt that inevitably accompanies the accumulation of property. the other term is sadaqat, from a root that means "true" or "sincere"; the reference is to whatever is sanctified to God's service. (Fry and King, Islam: A Survey of the Muslim Faith, p. 78). Apart from the regular prescribed alms, there is also a special charity known as zakatal-fitr, being a donation made at the end of the fast month of Ramadan on the occasion of the festival Eid-ul-Fitr. This tithe is also known as sadaqatal-fitr as it is not necessarily an obligatory charity. With regard to 'zakat al-fitr', alms to be distributed at the end of Ramadan, the Shafi'ites consider it as 'fard', a rigorous duty, the Hanifites as 'wajib', less strictly obligatory, and the Malikites as 'sunna', custom. (Lammens, Islam: Beliefs and Institutions, p. 89). Zakaah can be used for distribution to the poor, assistance towards those who have recently embraced Islam, the freeing of slaves, and fii sabiiiillaah - "in the Way of A1lah" (a common Qur'anic phrase). Fasting is also prescribed as an obligatory duty of Islam and the Muslim is obliged to fast from sunrise to sunset during the thirty days of the month of Ramadan. The command to fast is found in the Qur'an: Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting. But if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. Surah The believer must declare his niyyah before dawn each day and must abstain from all foods, liquids and other pleasures during the day. He should partake of a proper breakfast, a sehri, before the morning prayer. At sunset he should also break his fast as soon as he can. The fast-month ends with the sighting of the new moon heralding the month of Shawwal and the Eid festival. Abd Allah b. Abbas reported that the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him), referring to Ramadan, declared: Do not begin to fast until you have seen the 246

247 crescent and do not leave the fast until you see it, and if there are clouds, complete thirty days. (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 116). Throughout the Muslim world this fast, although commanded only once in the Qur'an, is rigidly observed, even by those who are otherwise lax in religious observances. In some Muslim lands it is a criminal offence to fail to keep it. In conclusion it may be said that Salaah and the Ramadan fast have a greater effect on the Muslim's religious consciousness than all the other prescribed duties of Islam. D. The Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca. 1.The Ceremonies of the Muslim Pilgrimage The fifth pillar of Islam is the obligatory pilgrimage which every Muslim, who is able to afford it, must make at least once in his lifetime. In the Qur'an much is said about the Hajj (literally a "setting out towards" a place, in this case Mecca) and it is made obligatory in these verses: Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to God, - those who can afford the journey. Surah 3.97 And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men: they will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every kind of camel lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways. Surah In the Hadith the pilgrimage is also made incumbent on every Muslim "Ibn 'Abbas reported the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) as saying: Islam does not allow for failure to perform the Hajj" (Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 2, p.454). The Hajj can only properly be performed on the eighth, ninth and tenth days of Thul-Hijjah, the last month of the Muslim year. The actual pilgrimage begins just outside Mecca where there are various mawaqit ("stations" - singular, miqat) where the pilgrims must change into two strips of white cloth known as the ihram (the word means "prohibiting", indicating that the pilgrim is now on sacred service and is prohibited from various activities). This obligation applies to men only - women need merely be modestly and appropriately attired: At this point the pilgrim must recite a declaration that he about to embark on the Hajj, known as the talbiyah ("standing for orders"). He follows the words attributed to Muhammad: I respond to Your call, O Allah, I respond to Your call, and I am obedient to Your orders. You have no partner, I respond to Your call. All the praises and blessings are for You, All the sovereignty is for You, and You have no partners with You. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 2, p.361). 247

248 The first part reads in Arabic Labbaika Allahumma, Labbaik - Here I come, O Allah, here I come". He then enters Mecca and performs the tawaf, a sevenfold "circling" of the Ka'aba, always going anticlockwise around it This ritual is known as tawaful-qudum (the tawaf of "arrival") and begins at the famous black stone built into the east corner of the Ka'aba, of which more will be said shortly. After this comes the sa'y, a "running" between Safa and Marwa, two small hills now enclosed within the Great Mosque precincts. This ritual commemorates Hagar's search for water for Ishmael which supposedly took place between these hills. The well she is supposed to have found is the Zam Zam Well just to the east of the Ka'aba within the mosque precincts as well This running must also take place between the hills seven times The Qur'an has an interesting verse relating to this rite: Behold! Safa and Marwa are among the Symbols of God. So if those who visit the House in the Season or at other times should compass them round, it is no sin in them. Surah The last sentence implies that there were Muslims who had believed that this practice was wrong. In the Hadith we are told that some of the Ansar, prior to their conversion to Islam, worshipped the idol Manat and, unlike the other pagans prior to Islam, would not run between Safa and Marwa. These men long after accepting Islam, were apparently still unwilliing to perform the ceremony until this verse recommended it (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 171). It is hard to believe that there is any truth in this story. If the scruple was purely a sectarian bias in favour of the idol Manat, why would they maintain it long after their conversion to Islam, especially when the ceremony was practiced by the other Muslims? There is a more probable reason for the unwillingness of some of the Muslims to perform the sa'y until it was sanctioned in the Qur'an: Jalaluddin says this passage was revealed because the followers of Muhammad made a scruple of going round these mountains as the idolaters did. But the true reason of his allowing this relic of ancient superstition seems to be the difficulty he found in preventing it... The Tafsir-i-Raufi and Tafsir Fatah al aziz relate that in former times two pillars were erected on these two hills to commemorate the judgment of God upon two notable sinners, Asaf, a man, and Naila, a woman, who had committed adultery in the holy Kasbah. When the people fell into idolatry they worshipped these as images of God. (Wherry, A Comprehensive Commentary on the Qur'an, Vol. 1, p.347). Another writer tells it slightly differently: "Asaf and Nayelah, the former the image of a man, the latter of a woman, were also two idols brought with Hobal from Syria, and placed the one on Mount Safa, and the other on Mount Merwa" (Sale, Preliminary Discourse to the Qur an, p. 22). It is far more likely that 248

249 Muhammad simply retained the custom of running between the two hills as part of his overall adoption of the pagan Arab pilgrimage into the rituals of Islam. As said earlier in this book, he destroyed the idols in Mecca but retained the ceremonies of the pilgrimage. While it may have been a magnanimous gesture to the inhabitants of the city, it seems to have disturbed his older and more steadfast companions from Medina until the Qur'an assured them there was no sin in the practice. The story in the Hadith appears to be purely an attempt to explain away an awkward expression in the Qur'an ("The implication in the last part of the verse is that a pagan practice is being retained, but that its retention is approved" Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, p. 161). Nonetheless it does openly admit that the practice of running between Safa and Marwa was one of the ceremonies of the idol- worshipping Arabs prior to Islam. After this the pilgrims return to the Ka'aba to perform tawaf again and on the following day go to perform the wuquf (the standing ) at Mount Arafat, a plain ten miles east of Mecca. Here the pilgrims stand in prayer during the day and listen to the pilgrimage sermon read on a small mound on the plain known as Jabalir-Rahmah (the "Mountain of Mercy") where Muhammad himself preached to his companions during his farewell pilgrimage. At the end of the day the Muslims hasten back on the road to Mecca to "celebrate the praises of God at the mash'aril-haraam" (Surah 2.198), the "Sacred Monument" of Muzdalifah, where they spend the night. The next day, the Yawman-Nahr (the "Day of Sacrifices"), they continue back towards Mecca and at Mina perform ramial-jimar, the stoning ceremony, of which more will be said shortly. The pilgrimage officially closes at this point and is followed by the Eidul-Adha festival at Mina where animals are sacrificed (a pre-islamic pagan custom at the end of the pilgrimage now said to be commemorative of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, believed by the Muslims to be Ishmael), and a final circumambulation of the Ka'aba known as tawaful-wada (the tawaf of "departure"). A faithful Muslim will then make a respectful visit (a ziyarah) to Medina where Muhammad is buried in the Prophet's Mosque alongside his successors Abu Bakr and Umar. 2. Al-Hajarul-Aswad - The Black Stone. In our study of the early period of Muhammad's life we noted an incident which occurred some five years prior to the beginning of his mission, namely the occasion when he was requested to place the Black Stone (al-hajarul-aswad) in the Ka'aba. When all the idols of the building were destroyed at the conquest of Mecca, this stone was preserved and every pilgrim to Mecca endeavours to kiss 249

250 it in emulation of his prophet's practice. Why do they do this? One Muslim writer says of this rite: Moslems do not worship the Black Stone, but only show special reverence and veneration for its dignity and they kiss it only after the example of the Prophet and to keep their Covenant with God to obey His Will and avoid His disobedience. (Tabbarah, The Spirit of Islam, p. 173). It is believed that the stone was sent down from heaven and that it was originally crystal-clear. "Moslems agree that it was originally white, and became black by reason of men's sins. It appeared to me a common aerolite covered with a thick slaggy coating, glossy and pitch-like, worn and polished" (Burton, Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to AI-Madinah and Meccah, Vol. 2, p.300). The Qur'an teaches that the Ka'aba was originally built by Abraham and Ishmael (Surah 2.125) and it is said that the stone, once embedded in the shrine, became black as it took the sins of those who kissed it. One writer says: There is not the least indication to show where this stone came from and when it was placed there, but as it was there before the advent of Islam and was even kissed, it must have been there at least from the time of Abraham, as the main features of the hajj are traceable to that patriarch. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p.440). There is no evidence of an historical nature in pre-islamic records to back up the suggestion in the Qur'an that the Ka'aba was built by Abraham or that he practiced its pilgrimage rites. Historically the shrine and its ceremonies can only be traced to the pagan worship of the pre-islamic Arabs. One can only express extreme scepticism at the hypothesis that the stone "must have been there" in Abraham's time. As the Arab idols were generally made of stone - some fashioned into various forms, others unshapen - is it not probable that the Black Stone itself was an idol worshipped by the pagan Arabs? As the custom of kissing it has been retained in Islam the suggestion naturally appals Muslims. The Black Stone was never regarded as an idol by the pre-islamic Arabs, nor was it ever worshipped by them like the idols of the Ka'bah... It, no doubt, contained idols, yet it was the idols that were worshipped, not the Ka'bah; and the same is true of the Black Stone. It was kissed but never taken for a god, though the Arabs worshipped even unhewn stones, trees and heaps of sand. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p.440, 441). Why, then, did the pagan Arabs make a special point of kissing it as Ali himself admits? What significance did it have for them if it was not an idol? It is, perhaps, too remarkable to believe that it was not worshipped as an idol. After 250

251 all, stone gods were the very thing the Arabs reverenced, whether shapen into some form or not. Another Muslim writer says: Is it not unfortunate that so many Orientalists have misinterpreted the Muslim's veneration of the Ka'bah, the Black Stone and the pilgrimage rites as a whole, imagining them as some kind of idol worship, or dismissing the rites as silly, ridiculous or merely the relics of idolatrous superstition? Another faulty assumption is that the rites of pilgrimage were remnants of a pre-islamic cult included by the Prophet in an attempt to reconcile the idolatrous Meccans with the faith. (Khalifa, The Sublime Qur'an and Orientalism, p. 140). One understands the Muslim determination to absolve Islam of a relic of idolworship in its pilgrimage rites but it does seem most improbable that this stone, one of the sacred stones built into the Ka'aba by the pre-islamic Arabs, just somehow happened to be exempted from the adoration and worship afforded to the others. This seems even more improbable when we remember that it was over this stone that they argued even before Muhammad's mission when rebuilding the Ka'aba, finally requesting Muhammad himself to replace it. This clearly shows that they regarded it more highly than all the other idols in the shrine and it is most unlikely that it escaped the worship paid to them. It seems far more probable that it was a "fetish pure and simple" (Gairdner, The Reproach of Islam, p.156) and that it was, if anything, the chief idol in the shrine, a stone worshipped like all the others. At least one Muslim writer has admitted as much: In fact, the Arabs venerated these stones so much that not only did they worship the black stone in the Ka'bah, but they would take one of the stones of the Ka'bah as a holy object in their travels, praying to it and asking it to bless every move they made. (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. 30) As the Arabs worshipped all the stone idols of the Ka'aba it seems historically more probably that this worship has a legacy in the reverence paid today to the Black Stone rather than the Arab worship of stones arose out of the sanctity of the Black Stone which somehow escaped this worship and adoration. The most singular feature in this worship was the adoration paid to unshapen stones. Mussalman hold that this practice arose out of the Kaaba rites... The tendency to stone-worship was undoubtedly prevalent throughout Arabia; but it is more probable that it gave rise to the superstition of the Kaaba with its Black stone, than took its rise therefrom. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. xci) Another writer is probably close to the mark when he says that the Black Stone was "the great fetish, the principal though not the only divinity of the Quraish 251

252 clan" (Lammens, Islam: Beliefs and Institutions, p. 17). In any event, there appears to be no point in kissing the stone and Muslims will be hard-pressed to find a really sound reason for the perpetuation of a practice more suited to primitive pagan idolatry than the true spirit of monotheistic worship. The kiss which the pious Muhammadan pilgrim bestows on it is a survival of the old practice, which was a form of worship in Arabia as in many other lands. (Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, p. 43). Even one of Muhammad's closest companions, the second caliph Umar, had his own doubts about the wisdom of this ceremony and had some interesting things to say to the Stone. It is recorded in many works of Hadith literature and reads: Urwah b. Zubair reported that Umar b. al-khattab, when he was doing the tawaf of the House, said: Thou art but a stone. Thou canst do neither good nor harm and if I had not seen the Apostle of Allah (may peace be on him) kissing thee, I would never have kissed thee. Then he kissed it. (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 168) Umar's description of the stone as that which can "neither do good nor harm" is very similar to the description of pagan idols in the Qur'an ("unable to help you, and indeed to help themselves" - Surah 7.197). We have already given the most likely reason for Muhammad's retention of this rite in Islam - the occasion when he was honoured with the task of placing it in the Ka'aba, an event which almost certainly influenced his later convictions that he had been singled out to lead his people. This incident probably led him to believe that, as he had been chosen to replace the stone, it was to be identified with his prophetic call and had a special significance apart from the place it had in the regular pagan idolatry. The tradition that the stone originally came down from heaven seems to account for its origin and eminence. Burton believed it to be an aerolite and it is highly probable that it was quite simply a meteorite which, because it had fallen out of the sky, was treated with awe by the primitive Arabs. One is reminded of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus which was highly esteemed because it contained, "the sacred stone that fell from the sky" (Acts 19.35). The Black Stone, in all probability, was simply a meteorite reverenced as a god in the same way by the Arabs. Its retention in Islam, especially the primitive custom of kissing it, speaks volumes for the pagan character of the Hajj Pilgrimage as a whole. 3. The Stoning of the Demons at Mina. The ramial-jimar ceremony at Mina, like many other ceremonies in the Hajj, places a great emphasis on stones - further evidence of pagan Arab practices survivng to this day for the pre-islamic idol-worshippers worshipped not only stones but had a stone-throwing ceremony in their rites. 252

253 The custom of stone throwing has of old maintained itself outside the Muna Valley, where Islam has legalised the throwing on to three stone heaps. (Hurgronje, Mekka in the Latter Part of the 19th Century, p.96). At the small village of Mina each pilgrim must, on the third day of the Hajj, cast seven small pebbles at a stone pillar known as Jamratul-Aqabah as a sign of his rejection of the ways and influence of the devil. For this reason the pillar has become known as ash-shaytanul-kabir ("the Great Satan"). It used to be a simple pillar at ground level but, the crowds to Mecca being what they are these days, it is now a huge pillar with platforms at different levels to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who endeavour to pelt it. Each pilgrim must collect sixty-three small stones while at Muzdalifah for, when the final tawaf is completed, he must return to Mina to once again stone the pillar as well as two others nearby, known as Jamratul-Awla and Jamratul-Wusta respectively (though some gather only forty-nine stones and others seventy. The number must be a multiple of seven as seven pebbles are to be cast at each pillar in turn). Like many other rites in the Hajj, this one too has been dislocated from its pre- Islamic pagan status and is now said to be an act of piety which follows the example of Abraham who supposedly thrice stoned Satan as he tried to stop him sacrificing his son (believed by the Muslims to have taken place in the valley where Mina is situated) It is said that, when Abraham or Ibrahim returned from the pilgrimage to Arafat, and arrived at Wady Muna, the devil Eblys presented himself before him at the entrance of the valley, to obstruct his passage; when the angel Gabriel, who accompanied the Patriarch, advised him to throw stones at him, which he did, and after pelting him seven times, Eblys retired. When Abraham reached the middle of the valley, he again appeared before him, and, for the last time, at its western extremity, and was both times repulsed by the same number of stones. (Burckhardt, Travels in Arabia, p. 275). It is no mean feat to succeed in striking the pillars with the pebbles as each pilgrim has only a random chance of even getting near them. Over a million pilgrims today all seek to stone the great pillar, have their hair cut (a sign that the rites are officially completed), perform the Eid sacrifice, and visit Mecca once more all in a single day. Even in days when the pilgrims to Mecca were only a fraction of what they are today European travellers who succeeded in performing the Hajj had some awesome tales to tell about this rite. One relates his experience as follows: As the ceremony of "Ramy", of Lapidation, must be performed on the first day by all pilgrims between sunrise and sunset, and as the fiend was malicious enough to appear in a rugged Pass, the crowd makes the place dangerous... The narrow space was crowded with pilgrims, all 253

254 struggling like drowning men to approach as near as possible to the Devil; it would have been easy to run over the heads of the mass... Scarcely had my donkey entered the crowd than he was overthrown by a dromedary, and I found myself under the stamping and roaring beast's stomach. Avoiding being trampled on by a judicious use of the knife, I lost no time in escaping from a place so ignobly dangerous. Some Moslem travellers assert, in proof of the sanctity of the spot, that no Moslem is ever killed here: Meccans assured me that accidents are by no means rare. (Burton, Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah, Vol. 2, p.204). Another traveller to Mecca in later years just before the Great War (Burton went to Mecca in 1853) also tells of the hazards and mixed fortunes of those who were able to get close enough to the pillar to hit it: The first two "devils" are in the main street of Mina, the third a little way down on the right of the road going to Mecca. They consist of stone pillars, and stand in a sort of basin like the basin of a fountain. All of them, by the time we got there, were surrounded by a surging crowd topped by waving arms and obscured in a perfect haze of stones. It was long before we could get within shot at all, and in the end we had to discharge our missiles at long range with the result that most of mine, I am afraid, fell short. There is no necessity to hit the target, but if you go short or over it you are bound to hit somebody in the crowd. Enthusiasts who get too close frequently have a very bad time; a man standing close to me had his cheek laid open, and Masaudi got a cut on the ear. (Wavell, A Modern Pilgrim in Mecca, p.161). Muslim guidebooks state that it does not really matter whether the stones strike the pillars or not. As long as they fall somewhere nearby, the rite is properly executed. One can well imagine what a heap of pebbles lies about the pillars at the end of the ceremony. Tradition has it that the angels descend and remove the stones, casting them about Muzdalifah in preparation for the same rites a year later! 4. The Pagan Origins of the Hajj Rites. Throughout this section we have had occasion to point to the pagan origin of the Hajj ceremonies. It is surely significant that, as they are practiced to this day, these ceremonies are precisely the same as those practiced by the pagan Arabs. Are we to seriously entertain the suggestion that although they worshipped idols and stone images, the Arabs had somehow maintained the pilgrimage rites precisely as Abraham himself had practiced them some millennia earlier? Or is it not far more likely that Muhammad expediently retained the pagan customs, subtly giving them an Abrahamic emphasis? It seems hard to resist the 254

255 conclusion that this "curious set of ceremonies of pagan Arab origin which Mohammed has incorporated into his religion" (Hurgronje, Mohammedanism, p. 160) is nothing more in Islam than "an extraneous chunk of heathenism" (Bell, The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment, p.74). The rites of the Kaaba were retained, but stripped of all idolatrous tendency, they still hang, a strange unmeaning shroud, around the living theism of Islam. (Muir, The Life of Mahomet, p. xciii). Muslim scholars have also been constrained to admit that Muhammad adopted the pagan Arab pilgrimage en bloc into Islam, seeking to justify it on the historical fiction that Abraham was its originator and that later generations perverted its monotheistic origin and emphasis. The Ka'bah was then the holy of holies of paganism and securely protected against any attack against its authorities or sanctity. (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. 43). It is true that in the hajj many pre-islamic practices were retained, but as has been shown above, the origin of these practices is traceable to Abraham, and every one of them carries with it a spiritual significance. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 448). We cannot accept, however, the claim that the ceremonies as practiced today were first performed by Abraham. It is historically illogical to assume that they survived unchanged through centuries of pagan Arab custom while idol-worship became the order of the day. The most probable reasons for Muhammad's acceptance of the Hajj ceremonies have already been given in this book - the honour bestowed on him before his mission when he was appointed to replace the Black Stone in the Ka'aba and his constant search for a means whereby he might reconcile himself to his pagan countrymen. It is highly significant that Meccan opposition to Muhammad's cause collapsed immediately after he and his followers had performed the pilgrimage - the exact rites performed by the pagan Arabs, excluding the worship of their idols - a year after the Treaty of Hudaybiyah had allowed them to do so. This last was a magnificent stroke of policy, besides satisfying his own insuppressible hankering after Mecca and its fetish, for it bound the Meccans, and the Mecca-visiting Arabs to the new regime and faith as nothing else could have done. (Gairdner, The Reproach of Islam, p.71). Perhaps the greatest irony of this whole ceremony is that its origin should be attributed to Abraham, a man who, according to the Qur'an, detested idols made of stone and destroyed them (Surah ). For the whole emphasis of the pilgrimage falls on stones. The Muslims circumambulate the Ka'aba, an empty shrine made of stones, kiss the Black Stone built into it, and pray at the maqam- 255

256 i-ibrahim in front of which stands a small shrine containing another stone (the qadam-i-ibrahim) on which Abraham allegedly stood while building the Ka'aba (it is supposed to bear his footprint). Arafat is a plain on which the Mount of Mercy stands - covered with stones and a stone monolith commemorating Muhammad's farewell sermon. At Mina the pilgrims throw small stones at larger stone pillars. Surely it is almost ridiculous to believe that the great patriarch - the exemplar of true faith in those very early days - was the author of ceremonies whose rites were vested in stones, the very things from which the pagan idols were made. It is, therefore, in these absurd rites of the Hajj that Islam finds its severest condemnation, and the falsity of Muhammad's pretended revelations is amply demonstrated. The Hajj was Muhammad's compromise with Arabian Paganism. (Blair, The Sources of Islam, p. 162). One often sees posters of the Ka'aba in Mecca joined with Muhammad's mosque in Medina, Islam's two holiest shrines, in Muslim homes. A colleague of mine once coined a very apt description of the focal point of these sites, namely the Black Stone and Muhammad's tomb respectively - a dead stone and stone-dead! We say that a thing is "stone-dead" because stones are the most lifeless objects on earth, unable even to support life like the soil. The emphasis that falls on them in the Hajj exposes the lifeless character of the pilgrimage as a whole. They contrast sharply with the rivers of life, coming from the living Christ and flowing through the indwelling Spirit in the soul of a true Christian who does not need to make a journey to one of the moat desolate places on earth to supposedly draw near to the living God. The Social Laws and Customs of Islam A. Muslim Festivals and Celebrations 1. The Festivals of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. There are two great festivals in Islam, 'Idul-Fitr, which falls on the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month of the Islamic year, and 'Idul-Adha, which falls on the tenth day of Thul-Hijjah and coincides with the Yauman-Nahr, "Day of the Sacrifices" in the Hajj Pilgrimage as we have seen. The first festival, Eid-ul-Fitr (the "Festival of the Breaking of the Fast"), occurs as soon as the new moon is sighted at the end of the month of fasting, namely Ramadan. On this festival the people, having previously distributed the alms which are called the Sadaqatu'l-Fitr, assemble in the vast assembly outside the city in the 256

257 Igdah, and, being led by the Imam, recite two rak'ahs of prayer. After prayers the Imam ascends the mimbar, or pulpit, and delivers the khutbah, or oration. (Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam, p. 194). The igdah is a large place especially set aside for the large congregations who will attend the special Eid prayer early in the morning and can be an open field or flat piece of ground. It is only used as such on festival days for congregational prayers, the proper place always being the mosque on other occasions. We have already mentioned the Sadaqatul-Fitr charity in another chapter but some idea of its importance and practice is found in this quote: On the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month, comes the Ramazan ki'id, or Ramazan celebration, when everyone who fasts before going to the place of prayer (igdah) should make the customary fast offering (roza ki fitrat), which consists in distributing among a few Faqirs some 5 lb. of wheat or other grain, dates and fruit. For until a man has distributed these gifts or the equivalent in money, the Almighty will keep his fasting suspended between Heaven and Earth. (Herklots, Islam in India, p. 113). The Eid prayer is not only said at an unusual place but is also conducted without the usual azaan, the call to prayer. This practice of omitting the azaan was allegedly practised by Muhammad himself and is founded on this hadith: Jabir bin Abdullah said, "The Prophet went out on the Day of 'Id-ul-Fitr and offered the prayer before delivering the Khutba". Ata told me that during the early days of Ibn-Az-Zubair, Ibn Abbas had sent a message to him telling him that the Adhan for the 'Id Prayer was never pronounced (in the lifetime of Allah's Apostle) and the Khutba used to be delivered after the prayer. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 2, p. 41). The festival is intended to be a festive and joyous occasion. Special foods and delicacies are prepared for the day and are distributed to neighbours and friends. Despite its importance it is considered inferior to the Eid-ul-Adha and is known as the "little feast". Eid-ul-Adha (the "Feast of Sacrifice") is the great festival of Islam. It is also known as Baqri-Eid (the "Cow Festival") because its most important feature is the sacrifice of an animal (cow, goat, sheep, or other appropriate beast) in commemoration of the ram sacrificed by Abraham in place of his son. In Muhammad's time a camel was usually the animal sacrificed. The command to perform sacrifices is given in Surah and although no specific day is fixed in the Qur'an the sacrificing of animals was already practiced on the last day of 257

258 the pilgrimage by the pre-islamic Arabs and the institution was duly retained. A special prayer, similar to the Eid-ul-Fitr prayer, is also offered on this day before the animals are sacrificed. Narrated Al-Bara: I heard the Prophet delivering a Khutba saying, "The first thing to be done on this day (the first day of 'Id-ul-Adha) is to pray; and after returning from the prayer we slaughter our sacrifices (in the name of Allah), and whoever does so, he acted according to our Sunna (traditions) " (Sahih al- Bukhari, Vol. 2, p. 37). Every Muslim home is obliged to offer a sacrifice on this day. The meat may be eaten by the family but a distribution of a generous share to the poor should also be made. As the two Eids are festive occasions, it is unlawful to fast on these days. Fasting on Eid-ul-Adha would, in fact, defeat the whole object of the festival for food is to be eaten on this day with a cheerful heart in remembrance of God's bounty and provision for mankind. Umar once said: The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) prohibited fasting on these two days. As regards Id al-adha, you eat the meat of your sacrificial animals. As for Id al-fitr, you break (i.e. end) your fast. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 2, p. 663). The name commonly given to the Eid sacrifice, qurbani, seems to have similar origins to the Jewish "Corban", meaning something set apart for God (Mark 7.11), and is probably derived from the Jewish word. Both Eids can last for two or three days but the prescribed rituals and prayers must be performed on the first day of each festival. 2. The Three Special Nights in the Islamic Year. Islam has three holy nights each year, the most important being Laylatul-Qadr (the "Night of Power") which is traditionally believed to be the 27th night of Ramadan. It is the night on which the Qur'an was allegedly brought down to the first heaven before being revealed to Muhammad and it is also the night on which special blessings are believed to be sent down on true worshippers from heaven: We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power: And what will explain to thee what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand Months. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by God's permission on every errand: Peace!... This until the rise of Morn! Surah There was much uncertainty about the actual night in the early days of Islam, however, and it was only known to be one of the last ten nights of Ramadan. Muhammad reportedly said: 258

259 I had discovered the night of Qadr, but I have been made to forget. I think that I saw that I was performing sajdah on the morning of the Night of Qadr in mud and water. Seek it, therefore, in the last ten days at odd nights. (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 128). Other traditions say it falls on one of the last seven nights of the month. The night is also called laylatim-mubaarakah in Surah "a blessed night". This is one night of the year when every Muslim will seek to attend the evening prayer and the usual tarawih prayers of Ramadan. The second great holy night of Islam is Laylatul-Bara'ah, the "Night of Record", which falls on the fifteenth night of Shabaan, the month before Ramadan. Once again every effort will be made to attend the mosque. On this night, Muhammad said, God registers annually all the actions of mankind which they are to perform during the year, and that all the children of men, who are to be born and to die in the year, are recorded. Muhammad enjoined his followers to keep awake the whole night, to repeat one hundred rikat prayers, and to fast the next day, but there are generally great rejoicings instead of a fast, and large sums of money are spent in fireworks. (Hughes, Notes on Muhammadanism, p. 116). The night is also commonly known as Shabi-Baraat and it is said that there is a tree in heaven which sheds a number of leaves on this night, each one containing the name of someone destined to die in the coming year. The mercy of Allah, nevertheless, also descends on this night and sinners who repent are likely to obtain forgiveness in it. There appears to be a possibility that the night's significance may have Jewish origins. In Jewish legend the world was created on New Year's day. No cosmological significance attaches to the First of Muharram, the official opening of the Muslim year. But the night of the Fifteenth of Sha'ban, lailat al-bara'a (behind which hitherto unexplained term the Hebrew beria, "creation", may be concealed) has preserved associations characteristic of a New Year's festival. (Von Grunebaum, Muhammadan Festivals, p. 53). The third holy night is Laylatul-Mi'raj, the "Night of Ascension", commemorating Muhammad's ascent to heaven. It is traditionally celebrated on the night preceding the 27th of Rajab, when the mosques and the minarets are lighted and there is much devotional reading of popular accounts of the Mi'raj. (Jeffery, Islam: Muhammad and his Religion, p. 226). This night, like the others, is also one in which much reading of the Qur' an and reciting of prayers takes place, but little need be said of it as we have already 259

260 discussed the supposed ascension in an earlier chapter and have there made reference to this night of observance. These three nights are the most important nights in the Islamic faith and are universally observed by the Muslims. 3. The Other Minor Holy Days in the Islamic Year. There are really only two other days in the Muslim year that are regarded as especially important. One is the tenth of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year. During Muhammad's life this day became a day of fasting in imitation of the Jewish fast of Ashura (cf. Exodus ). This practice was soon abandoned, however, and Muhammad is reported as saying that fasting on this day is not obligatory (Muwatta Imam Malik, p.123). After the massacre of Muhammad's grandson Husain and his band of followers at Karbala on this same day many years later, the whole of the first ten days of Muharram became a time of mourning for Shi'ite Muslims and today the day itself is observed in both Sunni and Shi'ite Islam as a remembrance of the tragedy at Karbala. More will be said of this event in the section on Shi'ite Islam. The other holy day is Maulidun-Nabi, the birthday of Muhammad, which falls on the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal. This festival of great feasting and many peculiar practices of un-islamic origin is often frowned upon by the more orthodox Muslims and took some time to become widely observed. The feast of the birth of the Prophet (milad, maulud in the Maghrib) is celebrated throughout the whole Muslim world on the 10th of rabi I; it seems to date only from the 10th century and to have become official only in the 12th. (Gaudefroy-Demombynes, Muslim Institutions, p. 168). One of the intellectual ancestors of Wahhabism, Ibn Taimiyya (d.1328), in a fatwa (legal opinion) tersely condemns the introduction of new festivals such as that celebrated "during one of the nights of the First Rabi, alleged to be the night of the birth of the Prophet". The participation of women was criticized with especial vigour by his contemporary, Ibn al-hajj (d.1336), and it still gives occasional offence to the more strict-minded and orthodox. (Von Grunebaum, Muhammadan Festivals, p. 76). Many Muslims openly concede that the practice of observing Muhammad's birthday is an innovation in Islam, something invariably disapproved of by conservative elements, but they excuse it as a "praiseworthy" innovation, a bid'atun-hasanah. It has also become customary to hold celebrations honouring various "saints" in Islam on this day as well, a custom considered even more reprehensible by orthodox Muslims. It seems likely that the Christian festival of 260

261 Christmas gave rise to this equivalent in Islam. Ironically neither the actual date on which Jesus was born nor the birthday of Muhammad is known and the dates recorded are purely speculative. Even the Muslim world is not entirely unanimous in its determination of the date of the Maulidun-Nabi but it is now generally held to be the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal, coinciding conveniently with the date of Muhammad's death. An Egyptian newspaper nonetheless honours Muhammad's birthday in these words: And if the times teach us to look about us, verily we look back to this ancient day, the twelfth Rabia'a al Awwal, in a spirit of reverence and humble submission, and if there is anything in the world that should cause the throne of God to tremble, certainly it would tremble at the remembrance of this great day, the day on which the prophet was born. (Es-Siyasa, "Mohammed's Birthday", The Muslim World, Vol. 14, p. 155). There are many other days in popular Islam that have become widely observed in the Muslim world, especially the Urs of any particular saint (usually his birthday when various unorthodox celebrations take place), but the two Eids and the three holy nights are the great festivals of Islam and are the only ones universally observed by all Muslims without dispute as to the worthiness of the occasion. B. Social and Family Laws in Islam 1. Laws Pertaining to Marriage in Islam Marriage in Islam is not considered as a sacrament but rather as a civil contract between a man and his wife. The Qur'an describes it as a mithaq, a "covenant" (Surah 4.21). The Muslim marriage (nikah) is performed through a ceremony at which a local judge, a qadi, officiates. In many cases only the husband is present at the ceremony with a representative of the bride's family and, in the presence of two relevant witnesses, the parties express their consent to the marriage. The qadi then makes a formal announcement that the marriage contract is concluded. After this the husband is joined to his bride at the wedding reception (walimah) where a feast takes place. In modern times, especially in Muslim communities that are Westernised, the prospective husband may personally choose a bride of his own choice and negotiations between the two families will be conducted to arrange the marriage. The woman has the right to refuse. In other Muslim lands, however, even to this day, marriages are arranged without the husband and wife even meeting before the ceremony is concluded. A marriage broker, usually an old woman who has access to the women's quarters, is often employed to find out what marriageable girls are available. The 261

262 first steps are taken by the man's family; it is the custom to get a friend to approach the father of the girl; if it is felt that the families are well matched socially, negotiations can begin in earnest. (Tritton, Islam, p. 131). Once again customs differ in the various parts of the Muslim world. The husband is also obliged to give his wife a dowry, a mahr, at the time of the marriage (Surah 4.4). No amount is fixed - the parties agree independently on its extent. If there should later be a divorce between the parties the man may not reclaim this dowry. But if ye decide to take one wife in place of another, even if ye had given the latter a whole treasure for dower, take not the least bit of it back: Would ye take it by slander and a manifest wrong? Surah 4.20 According to the Qur'an Muslims are free to marry fellow -Muslims but they are forbidden to marry women from idolatrous communities unless they embrace Islam (Surah 2.221). They are, however, expressly allowed to marry upright women from the uwtul- Kitab, the "people of the Book", meaning Jews and Christians and followers of any other religion recognised as adherents of a faith with a revealed scripture (Surah 5.6). Thus it will be seen that while there is a clear prohibition to marry idolaters or idolatresses, there is express permission to marry women who profess a revealed religion (Ahl al-kitab). And, as the Qur'an states that revelation was granted to all nations of the world and that it was only the Arab idolaters who had not been warned, the conclusion is evident that it was only with the Arab idolaters that marriage relations were prohibited, and that it was lawful for a Muslim to marry a woman belonging to any other nation of the world that follows a revealed religion. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 506). There is a hadith, however, which scorns the idea that a Muslim should take a Christian woman to wife where she does not abandon her Christian faith: Narrated Nafi: Whenever Ibn Umar was asked about marrying a Christian lady or a Jewess, he would say. "Allah has made it unlawful for the believers to marry ladies who ascribe partners in worship to Allah, and I do not know of a greater thing, as regards to ascribing partners in worship, etc., to Allah, than that a lady should say that Jesus is her Lord although he is just one of Allah's slaves". (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 7, p. 155). In any event Muslim women are not allowed to marry adherents of another religion This concession is allowed to Muslim men only. If a Christian woman becomes a Muslim while her husband retains his Christian faith, she is entitled 262

263 to divorce him. This is one of the few cases where a woman in Islam has the right to initiate a divorce. The Qur'an follows the Bible in also forbidding marriages between persons within very close degrees of family relationships (Surah 4.23). It also makes the husband the head of the family and requires the wife to submit to him and care for the common household: Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has given the one more (strength) than the other and because they support them from their means. Surah Mut'ah - the Law of Temporary Marriage. One of the things first allowed in Islam that causes embarrassment to Muslim apologists today is temporary marriage known as mut'ah. Indeed in Shi'ite Islam this institution has remained through the centuries though it has long been forbidden in Sunni Islam. Marriages for a limited period were sanctioned by "the Prophet", but this law is said to have been abrogated, although it is allowed by the Shiahs even in the present day. These temporary marriages are called Muta'h, and are undoubtedly the greatest blot in Muhammad s moral legislation. (Hughes, Notes on Muhammadanism, p. 119). An ancient custom allowed the man, when resident away from home, to contract a temporary marriage called enjoyment" (muta'); the Qur'an seems to authorise such an arrangement, and Muhammad makes it legal for his warriors. But it would appear that Umar called it debauchery. The Shi'ites maintained its legality (Gaudefroy-Demombynes, Muslim Institutions, p. 133). The traditions relating to this subject generally state that the Qur'anic sanction for temporary marriage is found in this exhortation: "O ye who believel Make not unlawful the good things which God hath made lawful for you, but commit no excess: for God loveth not those given to excess (Sura 5.90). This verse has no direct reference to mut'ah and its liberties could refer to anything permitted by God. The Hadith, however, quite clearly teach that Muhammad initially allowed temporary marriages: Salama b. al-akwa and Jabir b. Abdullah reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) came to us and permitted us to contract temporary marriages. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2, p. 706). Another tradition, apparently contradicting this one, states equally plainly that Muhammad disallowed such temporary unions: "Rabi b. Sabra reported on the authority of his father that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) prohibited 263

264 the contracting of temporary marriage (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2, p. 707). These traditions can be reconciled quite easily through the presumption that such marriages were allowed at one time during Muhammad's life but were later abolished by him. This seems the most likely explanation and we find that other traditions in fact teach this very thing: Sabra al-juhanni reported on the authority of his father that while he was with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) he said: O people, I had permitted you to contract temporary marriage with women, but Allah has forbidden it (now) until the Day of Resurrection. So he who has any (woman with this type of marriage contract) he should let her off, and do not take back anything you have given to them (as dower). (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2, p. 707). Ali b. Ali Talib reported: The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) forbade mut'ah (temporary marriage) on the day of the Battle of Khaibar and also prohibited the eating of flesh of asses. (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 240). It seems, therefore, that mut'ah was indeed allowed during the early days of Islam. The mention of Umar's declaration on mut'ah in the quote from Gaudefroy-Demombynes' book should also be considered. There is a tradition to the effect that a woman came to Umar during his caliphate and stated that a certain Rabiah had contracted a mut'ah with a foreign woman born in Arabia and that this woman was now pregnant Umar exclaimed: "This is temporary marriage. If I had forbidden it previously, I would have ordered stoning" (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 240). This tradition has led some writers to believe that such marriages were freely allowed until Umar forbade them but this seems unlikely. In any event the other hadith teach that Muhammad did allow such marriages until he prohibited them at the time of the Battle of Khaybar near the end of his life. 3. The Law and Practice of Divorce in Islam. We have already seen, in an earlier chapter in this book that Abu Dawud recorded a tradition to the effect that of all the things made lawful to men by Allah, divorce displeased him most. Divorce, though allowed, is considered blameable (mubah) and, if possible, to be avoided. (Klein, The Religion of Islam, p. 191). The Qur'an has two sections which deal exclusively with the subject of divorce. Although the book does make divorce openly permissible, it hedges in its sanction of the practice with many safeguards. In the Suratul-Talaq (the Arabic word for divorce being talaq), it is said: 264

265 O Prophet! When ye do divorce women, divorce them at their prescribed periods, and count (accurately) their prescribed periods: and fear God your Lord: and turn them not out of their houses, nor shall they (themselves) leave, except in case they are guilty of some open lewdness, those are limits set by God: and any who transgresses the limits of God, does verily wrong his (own) soul: Thou knowest not if perchance God will bring about thereafter some new situation. Surah 65.1 Divorce is thus not primarily sinful in Islam as it is in Christianity (Matthew ), yet it has considerable restrictions. There has to be an 'iddah, a "prescribed period" of three monthly courses (Surah 2.228), before the divorce becomes final. The husband, after declaring to his wife on three occasions that he intends to divorce her (anti talaq - "you are dismissed"), must wait three months thereafter before he can finally separate from her, and the wife likewise must remain in the home during this period to see whether she is pregnant and to see whether a reconciliation can be made. Divorce is a process beginning with the cessation of marital relations and ending with the actual divorce when the 'idda has run its course. This is to be carefully reckoned and divorce is not actually to take place until it has expired. Meanwhile no overt steps are to be taken. The woman is not to leave her husband's house, nor is he to send her away unless in the interval she has been guilty of some public scandal. Thus outwardly the spouses are to continue living together as before, in the hope that before the end of the waiting period some reconciliation may take place, or as the Qur'an expresses it, Allah may cause something to happen. (Bell, "Muhammad and Divorce in the Qur'an, The Muslim World, Vol. 29, p. 62). The Qur'an also urges husbands to be very considerate when divorcing their wives. They are to set them free on equitable terms (Surah 2.231), are not to take them back purely to spite or injure them, and are not to prevent them from being married to a former husband (Surah 2.232). Despite these detailed exhortations, the Qur'an does not stipulate that there need be any specific grounds for a divorce. There is no suggestion that desertion or adultery must first take place, or that the husband must have some valid cause before divorcing his wife. The Qur'an's silence on this point has led some scholars to conclude that the husband may divorce his wife at will. Since no justification for divorcing his wife is demanded from the husband by the Qur an, he is permitted to divorce her at his own will or caprice. But no such privilege is accorded to the wife, an inequality which has had the consequence of gravely lowering the status of women in Islam. (Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, p. 121). 265

266 Muslim scholars are quick to rise to such challenges and one well-known writer states: The impression that a Muslim husband may put away his wife at a mere caprice, is a grave distortion of the Islamic institution of divorce. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 551). The writer goes on to give a list of occasions where the wife has the right to divorce her husband, namely, where her husband is completely missing and cannot be found, by returning her dowry, and where she is a convert to Islam with a non-muslim husband. An objective study of the Qur'anic teaching on divorce yields the impression that, while no particular ground for divorce is necessary, it is not to be taken lightly and to be avoided wherever possible. Nevertheless the general rule in Islam is that divorce is the husband's right. Hanafi law is particularly dogmatic at this point: And in this matter of dissolution of marriage the accepted Hanafi rules are more rigid and retrogressive than those of any other school, for they virtually deny the wife any right of divorce whatever, judicial or otherwise, while they not only leave the power of the husband unilaterally to repudiate his wife completely unfettered, as do all the Sunni schools, but go further than any other in regarding as valid, binding and even final various expressions of divorce never really intended to have that effect. Thus the wife can never divorce her husband or divorce herself from him unless he has expressly given her this right (tafwid al-talaq), while even the offer to redeem herself for a financial consideration is absolutely dependent on his consent: nor has she any right to the judicial dissolution of her marriage, however long she has been deserted or severely she has been maltreated, or even if she finds herself unwittingly married to one afflicted with some loathsome and infectious disease. (Anderson, "Recent Developments in Shari 'a Law V", The Muslim World, Vol. 41, p. 271). Certainly the one section in the Qur'an giving the standard teaching on divorce (Surah ) speaks only of husbands divorcing their wives and addresses its exhortations to men only. The Qur'an has one law regarding divorce that is truly hard to commend or understand. It is found in these words: So if a husband divorces his wife (irrevocably), he cannot, after that, remarry her until after she has married another husband and he has divorced her. Surah In the previous verse it is said that "divorce is only permissible twice" (Surah 2.229) and Islamic jurists have concluded that a man is entitled to divorce his wife twice and duly remarry her but, after divorcing her a third time, may not 266

267 remarry her until she has married another man and has become divorced from him. The object of this teaching is clearly to inhibit men from divorcing their wives frivolously or abusing divorce as a means of causing their wives constant insecurity. In the end, however, it seems to fail in its purpose by obliging the wife to enter into a second union before the first may be resumed. The Hadith, true to the letter of the law, make this teaching more absurd than ever: Narrated Aisha: A man divorced his wife thrice (by expressing his decision to divorce her thrice), then she married another man who also divorced her. The Prophet was asked if she could legally marry the first husband (or not). The Prophet replied, "No, she cannot marry the first husband unless the second husband consummates his marriage with her, just as the first husband had done". (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 7, p. 136). In passing it is interesting to note that this tradition is interpreted to mean, not that three separate divorces must first take place, but that on the required threefold declaration of divorce the first time, the husband may not take his wife back before she marries again. A Western scholar interprets this subject in the same way: "An absolute divorce, or Talaq i Mutlaq, consists of the mere repetition of the words 'Thou art divorced' three times. A woman so divorced cannot be restored to her husband until she has been married to another and again divorced" (Hughes, Notes on Muhammadanism, p. 122). Either way one cannot help being taken aback by the rigid stipulation that the second marriage must first be consummated. Here indeed the letter of the law has made no allowances for the reflections, misgivings or regrets of the parties ant appears to force on the woman what Jesus regarded adultery (Matthew 5.32), even though she is willing to return to her true husband without violating the intimate relationship she has enjoyed with him. The same tradition in the Sahih al- Bukhari is also found in the other great work of Hadith and here it is said that Muhammad's answer was "No, until the second one has tasted her sweetness as the first one had tastes" (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2, p. 730), even though the second husband had already divorced her. This seems to be a gross injustice calculated to punish the first husband for being double-minded once too often about his relationship. In some Muslim communities, especially in North Africa divorce is quite common and a normal event in society. Elsewhere, particularly where monogamy has become the norm, it is a rare occurrence. 4. Hudud - the Penal Laws of Islam. In recent years there have been many reports of Muslim countries applying the Shari ah in their legal systems. This means in principle that the law of the Qur'an has become the law of the la d. In practice this means that prescribed 267

268 Qur'anic punishments, such as flogging for adultery and amputation for theft, have again become enforceable. One reads often of such punishments being meted out in countries like Sudan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the like. In Mauritania a thief is entitled to have his arm anaesthetised before the amputation but in countries like Saudi Arabia no such mercy is shown to him. While such practices seem truly barbaric to the rest of the world, conservative Muslims, in their fanatical zeal to uphold original Islam, do all they can to enforce them. In the process Islam is discredited. One writer speaks of recent developments in Pakistan: Theft (sarqa) is now punishable by the amputation of the hand, adultery (zina), committed by Muslims, by stoning consumption of liquor by Muslims with eighty lashes and so on. The hudud punishments have been enforced in their primitive form under pressure from the ulama who refused to accept any changes whatever to bring them into line with modern conditions. (Nazir Ali, Islam: A Christian Perspective, p. 126). The Qur'an teaches quite plainly that adulterers are to be lashed a hundred times (Surah 24.2) and in pursuance of the sunnah (as we have seen) the provision is made to apply to unmarried committing adultery with married men or women while the later are stoned to death. In Saudi Arabia the penalty for adultery is usually beheading. Regarding the penalty for theft, the Qur'an openly sanctions amputation: As to the thief, male or female, cut off his or her of example, from God, or ends: a punishment by way of example, from God, for their crime: And God is Exalted in Power. Surah 5.41 In the Hadith this penalty is restricted and is only applicable where something of value has been stolen: Aisha reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The hand of a thief should not be cut off but for a quarter of a dinar and upwards. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 3, p. 907). Other traditions say that a hand is not to be cut off where plants or fruit are stolen, where slaves steal their master's property (because the slave and all that he has remains the master's property), or where the value of the property stolen is less than a quarter of a dinar. In any event the punishment seems to be unduly harsh and more suited to primitive customs and times. At least one tradition in the Hadith aggravates the barbaric nature of this penalty in that it humiliates the victim even further: "A thief was brought to the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) and his hand was cut off. Thereafter he commanded for it, and it was hung on his neck" (Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 3, p. 1230). For some time he had 268

269 to walk around with it - a truly revolting penalty. Over two hundred years ago a Western scholar observed: Theft is ordered to be punished by cutting off the offending part, the hand, which, at first sight, seems just enough; but the law of Justinian, forbidding a thief to be maimed, is more reasonable; because, stealing being generally the effect of indigence, to cut off a limb would be to deprive him of livelihood in an honest manner. (Sale, The Preliminary Discourse to the Qur an, p. 150). It is therefore alarming to see these hudud ("limits") once again becoming effective in Muslim. One can only hope that the saner sentiments of twentiethcentury civilization will prevail in years to come over the retrogressive mentality of those quarters in Islam that would turn back the clock to unhealthier times. 5. Foods and Drinks Forbidden in Islam. Most people will know that Muslims, like Jews, make distinctions between foods that are lawful and those that are prohibited. In Islam they are called respectively halaal (that which is "loosed", that is, free from restrictions) and haraam (that is, "set apart". The word can be used in a positive or negative sense, denoting that which is holy and consecrated, or that which is forbidden). There are many similarities between the Jewish and Muslim faiths in the matter of foods forbidden. The Qur'an sets these out in the following verse from which it will be seen that the prohibitions are not absolute and can be relaxed in extreme cases: He hath only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of God. But if one is forced by necessity, without wilful disobedience, not transgressing due limits, - then he is guiltless. For God is Oft- forgiving, Most Merciful. Surah All breeds of fish and other aquatic game are lawful to Muslims (Surah 5.99). The foods forbidden to Muslims in the verse quoted were not only forbidden to Jews but it appears that even the early Christians, notwithstanding eeter's liberating vision (Acts ), had similar scruples. It is curious that this list, apart from the mention of pork, should be so like that in Acts xv.18; and one wonders whether this represents a common level of observance among monotheists in the Arabian peninsula, both Jews of Arab descent and Christians. (Watt, Muhammad at Medina, p. 200). 269

270 Even meats which are lawful to Muslims only become so if they have been slaughtered with the name of God pronounced over them (Surah 5.5). The tasmiyah must be invoked over the animal (that is, the bismillah, "in the name of Allah", must be recited). Nonetheless the Qur'an declares that the foods of the uwtul-kitab, the "people of the Book" (that is, Jews and Christians), are lawful to the Muslims and it is permissible for Muslims to sit at table in Jewish and Christian homes and vice versa. It is unlikely that there would be much division between Jews and Muslims in matters relating to lawful and prohibited foods. The above quotations show us that the prophet was well acquainted with the Jewish dietary laws. And according to Muhammed these laws were imposed upon the Jews on account of their iniquity. Still he did not find it possible, even if he desired, to abolish all distinctions, and to declare that every kind of food was equally clean and lawful to eat... For, in most cases, he declares to be unlawful those things which are also prohibited by the Jewish code, as, for instance, that which had died of itself, blood, swine's flesh, etc. (Roberts, The Social Laws of the Qoran, p. 113). The tasmiyah is also used as a form of grace before a meal. A pious Muslim should also give praise to God after he has taken his fill of food. It is recommended that hands should be washed before the taking of food and after finishing it, and that when one begins a meal, he should do so with the pronouncement of bismillah, and that when he finishes it, he should give thanks to God or say al-hamdu li-llah. (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 601). The scruple about washing hands as a form of ablution before a meal would not be sanctioned by Christians, however, as it is one of those typical rituals in Islam that is but a "shadow of the good things to come" (Hebrews 10.1) and one that invariably lends itself to petty self-righteousness and a judgmental spirit (Matthew 15.2). All intoxicating drinks are forbidden to Muslims The Qur'an at first allowed that there was some good in wine, stating simply that it lent itself more to sin than to benefit (Surah 2.219). In another verse believers were bidden not to come to prayer in an intoxicated state (Surah 4.43) but later on wine was disapproved of altogether (Surah ). The social laws of Islam have a universal, binding effect on the Muslim world and condition the way of life of every individual Muslim. While many of them are commendable, many others appear to be worthy of considerable censure. 270

271 C. Cultic Trends in Popular Islam 1. The Veneration of Saints and Pirs in Islam One of the great phenomena in Islam is the widespread veneration of saints and tomb-worship that for many Muslims is their religion, orthodox Islam having very much a secondary place. Conservative Muslims frown upon the plethora of rites, superstitions and practices that are found in popular Islam but for centuries it has held its own alongside orthodox Islam and is likely to sustain its influence in future. Saints' tombs are a characteristic feature of the landscape in most Muslim countries, where, whether associated with mosques or isolated, they are popular centres of visitation. The orthodox divines have spoken frequently and vigorously against this practice of visitation, but the consensus of the community has almost everywhere proved stronger than the condemnation of the theologians and the common folk still visit the tombs of saints to pray, to leave ex-votos, to seek blessing (baraka) and the intercession of the holy persons buried there. (Jeffery, Islam: Muhammad and his Religion, p. 226). Within a few centuries of Muhammad's death a deeply mystical worship-form took root within Islam. Persia and India's two great religions, Zoroastrianism and Hinduism, were mystical in essence and converts to Islam found it impossible to conform solely to the rites and outward forms of their new religion. The dry legalism of Arabian Islam soon found itself challenged by a very different form of religious expression and Sufism, Islam's mystical arm, quickly rooted itself within the Islamic realm. In its early days it was strongly ascetic and its adherents were a selection mainly of individual purists seeking to unite themselves spiritually to the Divine Being. In later centuries, however, as Sufism became more attractive to the masses, so it degenerated into a public mass-movement where "saints" (generally called pirs in Indian Islam), both dead and living, were sought out for miracles, powers and various blessings. To this day the Muslims in much of the Islamic world follow not so much Muhammad, the Qur'an and Islam, but the cult-worship of the local saint, being more concerned about obtaining his barakah ("blessing" in the form of power and miracles) than the favour of Allah. Whatever his origin, the saint has, for an essential attribute, the baraka, the sacred emanation. Through it he brings to those who worship him, prosperity, happiness, all the good things of this world; he can bestow his gifts, passing beyond the individual, upon a whole district, and even beyond the confines of this world, through his powers of intercession with Allah. (Gaudefroy- Demombynes, Muslim Institutions, p. 56). 271

272 The power of a saint is called baraka, blessing, and this is imagined as almost intangible. By kissing the saint's hand or tomb, this power passes to the worshipper who will be helped by it. (Tritton, Islam, p. 143). The cult-worship has many forms indicating Sufi origins and inclinations. Each pir has his own order and way of life (tariqah) and his followers, once inducted, must follow this way implicitly. It is only through total obedience to the pir that the murid, the disciple, will be able to obtain the power of the pir and come to the knowledge of God. Accordingly a person seeks to attach himself or herself to a spiritual guide of one of the darwesh orders called a pir, or murshid, who initiates him as a murid, or disciple, into the secrets of divine worship, to the intent that by following the special tariqa laid down for the order he may proceed by definite stages until he is blessed with divine knowledge and final absorption in the Divine Love itself. (Titus, "Mysticism and Saint Worship in India", The Muslim World, Vol. 12, p. 130). Although there are many to this day who endeavour to become genuine Sufis, the masses have simply attached themselves to pir and tomb-worship, seeking not to be admitted to a spiritual way of life, but rather to obtain whatever blessings and assistance they can through superstitions, cultic influences and animistic practices. This has led to faith in amulets and talismans, occultic experiences and other forms contrary to the spirit, not only of legalistic Islam, but also of Sufism itself. It seems appropriate, therefore, to distinguish between Sufism and popular, cultic Islam, and in this section we will consider the latter as a separate movement of the masses. All over the Muslim world one finds domed shrines and other elaborate structures covering the tomb of a departed saint. In India such a shrine is known as a mazaar. Believing that the saint's powers can still be acquired after his death and that his spirit frequents his tomb, Muslim devotees, both men and women, flock to these shrines and express their petitions in various ways. A Christian missionary speaks of his experiences at one of these tombs: Inside I found many men praying towards the saint's mazar. The room was filled with the heavy smoke of incense. Pilgrims were taking slips of paper, writing out their petitions on them, and then leaving the rolled-up paper either on the tomb or along the side on a railing. Well-dressed men were lost in mystical contemplation as they stood near the remains of a saint who they are convinced lives on today in spirit and in power. (Parshall, Bridges to Islam, p. 93). Some of these shrines are of great antiquity and it is not even known who is buried there. In other cases mazaars rise over the supposed tombs of departed 272

273 saints and as long as reports of signs and wonders flow in, no one bothers to question further whether the saints are actually buried there or not. A wellknown European scholar has given an interesting insight into the creation of the shrine of a supposed saint known as Abu Turab in Egypt: This place used to be covered by sandy hills. Once, when it was intended to build a house there, the ruins of a mosque were found. In Arab manner the people called the ruin 'Father of the sand' (abu turab). In due course this was taken a personal name and thus sheikh Abu Turab and his grave came into being. (Goldziher, Muslim Studies, Vol. 2, p. 320). There can be little doubt that Muhammad would be displeased if he could see what passes for Islam in much of the Muslim world today. In the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal there is a tradition to the effect that he warned against the veneration of his tomb (Wensinck, A Handbook of Early Muhammadan Tradition, p. 168) and in the Qur'an he expresses his distaste for those who take their ahbarahum (religious leaders) and ruhbanahum (monks and ascetics) as their lords apart from Allah (Surah 9.31). The veneration of saints and universal tomb-worship have become a subtle substitute for idolatry in Islam and have accordingly been severely condemned by scholarly Muslims. One says: The miraculous powers of the living and dead saints - of course the dead more than the living - have ruled the masses and even a large number of the 'Ulama. Tomb-worship and the ills accruing from this have rendered the Muslim masses almost incapable of understanding the Islamic teaching... Instead of this moral-social order it taught people certain techniques of auto-suggestion and hypnotism and an excessive indulgence in an altogether emotionalized religion which can only be described as a mass spiritual hysteria. It is this phenomenon - the total effect of superstitionism, miracle-mongering, tomb-worship, mass-hysteria and, of course, charlatanism - that we have described above as the moral and spiritual debris from which Muslim society has to be reclaimed for Islam. (Rahman, Islam, p. 246). Each saint has a festival, known as an Urs, which occurs on his birthday or, if he is deceased, on the anniversary of his death. On this occasion celebrations of various kinds take place and offerings are brought to his tomb. Naturally it is expected that greater blessings will flow to the masses of his devotees at this time: At all the important tombs there is held an annual 'Urs, which is the celebration of the anniversary of the saint's death. 'Urs, which literally means wedding, is the term used, because the occasion is the anniversary of the wisal or union of the spirit of the saint with Allah, which occurs at death. This takes the form of a holiday celebration, and is a great event, 273

274 lasting from one to several days. (Titus, "Mysticism and Saint Worship in India", The Muslim World, Vol. 12, p. 136). Usually the saint has an annual festival. In Egypt this is called mawlid, birthday, and is very popular; there may be a procession, prayers in the mosque, and a fair; all tastes are catered for and all enjoy themselves. (Tritton, Islam, p. 144). In India and Pakistan the Urs of a departed saint is widely advertised and devotees will travel great distances to participate in the festivities. 2. The Supposed Miraculous Powers of the Saints. To the ordinary tomb-worshipper, the chief object of his devotion is the miracleworking power of the saint (generally known as a wali, meaning a kinsman or one closely-related, in this case to Allah). Throughout the animistic world there is a fear of the unknown ant a feeling that the departed, who now know it all, can give succour and strength. In Africa this takes the form of the worship of ancestral spirits, in Islam of departed saints. Popular belief has kept, through the centuries, the certainty that illness is a result of the wiles of Satan, of the jinns, of wizards and witches, and that one must cure oneself by the use of magical counter-measures. (Gaudefroy-Demombynes, Muslim Institutions, p. 170). Accordingly even those who live this side of the grave, if they can show that they have power over the occult, will soon be regarded as saints and their help will be sought in cases where men or women are troubled by evil spirits. In short, to command the attention of the demons and the Jinn is no easy matter. At the present day if anyone is able to secure their obedience he is regarded as a Wali or Saint, and a worker of miracles. (Herklots, Islam in India, p. 230). Muslims nevertheless are very careful to distinguish between the miracles of the prophets and those of the saints as pointed out in an earlier chapter. Each prophet performs a mu'jizah and his miracles are known as his ayat, his "signs", whereas the miracles of the saints are known as karamat and the word hujjah is usually used to describe the saint's "proof" of his powers. Indeed in South Africa, whereas the shrines of Indian Muslim saints are known as mazaars (there are three in Durban and one in Cape Town), the shrines of Malay saints, all of which are found in the Cape Peninsula (one is on Robben Island), are known as kramats, signifying the supposed miracle-working power of the man who is buried within the shrine. There are many other superstitions in the Muslim world relating to miraculous powers and effects. It is believed that the Qur'an itself has talismanic powers and more will be said of this shortly. At present, however, it will be useful to 274

275 mention one or two ways in which it is believed that its text can be made to work miracles. A verse from the Qur'an will be written in ink or sandalwood paste on a plate or on the inside of a basin. The container will then be filled with water, which dissolves the writing. The water is poured into a glass and given to the patient to drink. Another method is to write the words of the Qur'an on a piece of paper and wash them off into a glass of water. This is then given to the sick person to drink. (Parshall, Bridges to Islam, p. 75). The shrine of the saint has arisen in Islam alongside the mosque as a symbol of popular worship. While many of the practices found at these shrines are an abomination to orthodox Islam, one cannot help feeling that the shrines themselves testify to the inability of the legalistic religion of the mosque to satisfy the inner longings and yearnings of the heart. 3. Major Superstitions in the World of Islam. Talismans, amulets and charms of every description are used throughout the Muslim world and we will only be able to speak of some of the more prominent symbols. A very common amulet in Islam is the ta'wiz, a black cord or other substance worn on the body which has a Qur'an text usually inscribed on a piece of metal sown completely into it at one point. Ta'wiz. Lit. "To flee for refuge". An amulet or charm. A gold or silver case, inclosing quotations from the Qur'an or Hadis, and worn upon the neck, arm, breast or waist. (Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam, p. 630). It is not unlike the Jewish phylactery worn around the forehead but has a somewhat different significance. The Muslim wears it to ward off evil spirits and as a healing charm against illnesses and diseases. In India a ta'wiz is often given to someone just after a spirit has been exorcised: Then they take the patient home, wash his face, hands, and feet, and either on this or on the following day an amulet (ta'wiz), of a special kind used for this purpose, is tied on his neck or arm in order that the demon may not seize him again. (Herklots, Islam in India, p. 239). A similar talisman, also sometimes sown into a ta'wiz, is the magic square. These squares have a selection of numbers placed within them which generally add up to a figure considered to be of special importance and one possessing occultic powers. Perhaps the most celebrated amulet in the world of Islam is that called Al Buduh, a magic square supposed to have been revealed to Al Ghazali and now 275

276 known by his name. It has become the starting-point for a whole science of talismanic symbols. Some of the Moslem authorities say that Adam invented the square. It is so called from the four Arabic letters that are the key to the combination. To the popular mind this word buduh has become a sort of guardian angel, invoking both good and bad fortune. The square is used against stomach pains, to render one's self invisible, to protect from the evil eye, and to open locks; but the most common use is to insure the safe arrival of letters and packages. (Zwemer, The Influence of Animism on Islam, p. 196). These squares have been widely used in India for centuries and, as usual, are believed to have wonder-working powers and effects. Magic squares of these varieties are used as love charms, to create enmity, to cause men to be silent regarding another, to prevent dreaming, and to cast out devils In northern India they are used to cure various diseases; to cause butter to increase in the churn, or milk in a woman or a cow, to remove cattle disease, to make fruit-trees give their fruit, to make a husband obey his wife. (Herklots, Islam in India, p. 254). It is believed that such charms give a person power over others and the ability to ensure that they react in ways planned by the possessor of the square. Many a young man has sought to win the affection of a woman he is infatuated with through this means! The Khoumsa, the five-fingered hand, is also a common amulet in the Muslim world and is widely known as "Fatima's Hand". It is often hung around the necks of animals to keep them from disease. Chiefly, however, it is used as a form of magical power and, like the square, is believed to possess sinister powers to influence for good or evil. Usually the hand is made of silver though other substances may be used. In Egypt the hand is generally used as an amulet against the evil eye. It is made of silver or gold in jewellery, or made of tin in natural size, and is then suspended over the door of a house. The top of a Moslem banner is often of this shape. It is used on the harness of horses, mules, etc., and on every cart used in Alexandria we see either a brass hand or one painted in various colours. (Zwemer, The Influence of Animism on Islam, p. 85). Some say that the five fingers represent Muhammad, his daughter Fatima, her husband Ali, and their sons Hassan and Husain. In South Africa this amulet appears during the annual Ta'ziah procession commemorating the martyrdom of Husain and his followers at Karbala. Some of the ta'ziahs, floats of the tombs of the martyrs, have stars and crescents above the domes but others have cardboard symbols of the outstretched hand covered in silver foil. In other parts of the 276

277 Islamic world this symbol is regularly painted on houses. It serves a multitude of purposes. The hand is often painted upon the drum used in the bori (devil) dances in Tunis. It is also held up, fingers outstretched and pointing towards the evil-wisher, and this in Egypt, North Africa and Nigeria has now become a gesture of abuse. In Egypt the outstretched hand pointed at someone is used to invoke a curse. They say yukhammisuna, or "He throws his five at us", i.e., he curses. (Zwemer, "Animism in Islam", The Muslim World, Vol. 7, p. 253). Human hair is also believed to possess strange powers in cultic Islam. Many Muslims, after having their hair cut, will be careful to remove all the hairs on the floor, take them home in a packet, and carefully conceal them. They fear that an enemy, if in possession of his hairs, will be able to use them against him in the same way that voodoo dolls are used to injure those they represent. It is remarkable that in Arabia, Egypt and North Africa everywhere this custom of stowing away clippings of hair and nails is still common among Moslems and is sanctioned by the practice of the Prophet... In North Africa a man will not have his hair shaved in the presence of anyone who owes him a grudge. After his hair has been cut, he will look around, and if there is no enemy about he will mix his cuttings with those of other men, and leave them, but if he fears someone there he will collect the cuttings, and take them secretly to some place and bury them. (Zwemer, The Influence of Animism on Islam, p. 70, 71). The reason for these scruples about hairs, which also apply to nail-clippings and the like, is that it is believed that the soul occupies every part of the body and anyone in the possession of such hairs or clippings can therefore influence the soul of the man he despises. These beliefs have, on the other hand, led to a wide pursuit after the hairs of Muhammad himself, a practice said to go back to his own lifetime. Because it is believed that his hairs actually contain part of his soul and therefore guarantee his presence and blessing, they are more sought after than any other relics from his life. I have seen one such hair said to be from Muhammad's own beard on public display in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul. The relic most eagerly sought after is hair from the head or beard of Muhammed. Imitating the examples handed down from early times pious men have always been fond of wearing such relics as amulets or have asked for them to be put into their graves. (Goldziher, Muslim Studies, Vol. 2, p. 329). But the relic which is the object of the most energetic search is the hair of the Prophet's head or beard. The hair was worn as an amulet, and men on their deathbed directed by will that the precious possession should go down with them and mingle with the earth. (Goldziher, "The Cult of Saints in Islam", The Muslim World, Vol. 1, p. 306). 277

278 Lastly mention should be made of a common sacrifice known as the Aqiqah which Muslims perform at the birth of a child. This sacrifice is not mentioned in the Qur'an but the Hadith teach that it was practiced during the time of Muhammad and that he allowed the practice without sanctioning it (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 225). The ceremony is set out as follows in this account: On the seventh day after the birth it is commendable to name the child, cut its hair, and offer a sacrifice, two sheep or goats for a boy, one for a girl. If not made at this time, the sacrifice can be made later, even by the child itself when grown-up. The flesh should be given to the poor. The weight of the hair in silver or gold should be distributed in alms. (Tritton, Islam, p. 135). None of the hairs of the child are cut until the seventh day when the ceremony duly takes place. It appears to have no obvious Islamic significance and is probably derived from the Jewish practice of redeeming the first-born in any Israelite family with a sacrifice (Exodus ). One writer has pointed out that in Tirmithi's collection of traditions there is indeed a hadith which specifically links the Muslim Aqiqah to the Jewish ceremony: If in addition to all the resemblances to the Jewish practice already noted further testimony were necessary, it would be sufficient to refer to the statement made in the commentary of Al Buchari as the key to this true Sunna of the Prophet: "For the female child one ewe - and this abrogates the saying of those who disapprove a sacrifice for a girl - as did the Jews, who only made 'aqiqa for boys." (On the authority of 'Araki in Tirmidhi - Fath-ul-Bari V. 390). (Zwemer, The Influence of Animism on Islam, p. 102). It will be useful at this stage to see what cultic influences there were during Muhammad's own life so as to determine whether all these strange practices found their way into Islam from animistic sources or whether some are not in fact actually Islamic in origin. 4. Cultic Influences in the Life of Muhammad. There is a strange story found in the commentary of Al-Baidawi which tells of an occasion when Muhammad fell under a Jewish spell and the way in which he was delivered from it. The story, very briefly, is as follows: The Jews bribed the sorcerer Labid and his daughters to bewitch Muhammad. They got some hairs from his beard, tied eleven knots with them on a palm branch, and threw it into a well which they covered with a large atone. This caused the Prophet to lose his appetite, to pine away, and to neglect his wives. Gabriel told him the secret, the well was emptied and 278

279 the knots untied, whereupon the spell was broken and the Prophet was relieved. (Herklots, Islam in India, p. 273). It is said that on this occasion the angel Gabriel revealed the last two surahs of the Qur'an to Muhammad and told him to recite these short chapters to ward off such evil designs. The Surahs read: Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn, from the mischief of created things; from the mischief of Darkness as it overspreads; from the mischief of those who practice Secret Arts: and from the mischief of the envious one as he practices envy. Surah Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind, the Ring (or Ruler) of Mankind, the Got (or Judge) of Mankind, from the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper), (The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind, among Jinns and among Men. Surah In these two surahs we find a connection between the cultic practices in the Muslim world and the practice of Muhammad himself. There is no other passage in the Qur'an quite like these two and they stand alone at the end of the book as a strange appendix. Their very nature, however, has made them very popular among the masses and they are constantly used against magical practices, spells and other evil influences. These surahs are placed last of all in the Qur an. They are called "the two takings of refuge"", and are recited continually for protection against all manner of evil. (Lings, Muhammad, p. 262). Another writer refers to the incident in Muhammad's life in which the Jew Lubaid had cast a spell on him and makes reference to these two surahs which were supposedly revealed at this time: Commentators on the Qur an relate that the reason for the revelation of the chapter quoted above was that a Jew named Lobeid, had, with the assistance of his daughters, bewitched Mohammed by tying eleven knots in a cord which they hid in a well. The Prophet falling ill in consequence, this chapter and that following it were revealed; and the angel Gabriel acquainted him with the use he was to make of them, and told him where the cord was hidden. The Khalif Ali fetched the cord, and the Prophet repeated over it these two chapters; at every verse a knot was loosed till on finishing the last words, he was entirely freed from the charm. (Zwemer, The Influence of Animism on Islam, p. 171) We find therefore that even during Muhammad's own lifetime there were practices in Islam of cultic origin and it is most significant to find the remedy written into the Qur'an text. The practice of chanting selected passages as a form 279

280 of refuge from the forces of evil was allegedly resorted to even by Gabriel himself on one occasion when Muhammad fell ill. One of the early Sirat works contains this tradition which was allegedly handed down by Muhammad's wife Ayishah: When the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, felt unwell, Gabriel enchanted on him saying: In the name of Allah, Who will cure you from every illness and will ward off the evil of every envier who envies and blemish of every evil eye. (Ibn Sa'd, Kitab al-tabaqat ai-kabir Vol. 2, p. 266). Muhammad is said to have recommended another prayer of refuge in cases where people fell seriously ill. It is recorded in this tradition: 'Uthman b. Abi al-as said that he went to the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) and reported that he was suffering from such acute pain as brought him near death The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Pass your right hand seven times upon the seat of pain and say: A'uwthu bi'izzatillaahi wa qudratihii min sharri maa ajid (I seek refuge in the honour and power of Allah from the evil that has come upon me). 'Uthman said: I recited accordingly and my pain vanished and that I asked my household and others always to do so. (Muwatta lmam Malik, p. 397). Another hadith on the same page states that whenever Muhammad fell ill he would recite the last three surahs of the Qur'an and blow his breath upon himself. These cultic practices perhaps became the precedents for the widespread trust in chanting s, amulets and talismans in Islam as forms of protection against the powers of darkness. Certainly they are an encouragement to the Muslim masses to persist with their superstitious heritage, for if Muhammad himself did not disdain to use such means to ward off evil, why should they not do likewise? A Western writer comments on the character of the first of the two final surahs of the Qur'an: We may gather from this prayer some knowledge of the superstitious fears, and that dread of the Unseen, which formed so curious a feature in the complex character of Mahomet. (Stobart, Islam and its Founder, p. 166). On the contrary another writer says: "There is no convincing evidence that any belief in magical practices was retained in the Qur'an or by Muhammad himself. Islam certainly retained rites that had been magical in origin, but the Qur'an does not show signs of belief in their magical efficacy" (Watt, Muhammad at Medina, p. 312). The last two surahs of the Qur'an do, however, suggest that Muhammad believed strongly in the power of chanting appropriate passages to ward off the 280

281 effects of magical rites and these surahs have become widely used throughout the Muslim world to this day for this very purpose. Muhammad was obviously not enslaved to such cultic forms in his own life and he seems to have had little to do with them. He would probably be dismayed to see the extent to which such cultic influences and practices have taken root in the lives of the masses in many Muslim lands today. On the other hand he did not entirely reject such practices as a means of resisting evil forces and in both the Qur'an and the Hadith we find some evidence of occasions when he resorted to them himself. 5. The Qur'an as a Talismanic Source. Not only are the last two surahs of the Qur'an recited by Muslims as a protection against evil but other passages have become means of keeping the feared, unknown powers of the occult at bay. The thirty-sixth surah, known simply as Ya Sin (to which we have referred earlier in this book) is believed to possess magical powers. The directions for using the verses of this sura alone cover all the experiences of life, from an easy birth to a painless and peaceful death, and the journey on to bliss in heaven. They provide cures for all of Man's illnesses, such as fevers, swellings, aches, blindness and insanity. If one is suffering from toothache, verse 78 to the end of the sura is written on paper and hung over the ear on the side of the aching tooth and it will cure the pain. There are verses which protect one's property, his household and his person, from jinn, div, and the evil-eye. (Donaldson, "The Qur an as Magic" The Muslim World, Vol. 27, p. 258). Every missionary knows that the Qur an itself has the power of a fetish in popular Islam... At funerals they always read the chapter "Y.S."; and then, in fear of jinn and spirits, the chapter of the Jinn. One has only to read this last chapter with the commentaries on it to see how large a place the doctrine occupies in popular Islam. (Zwemer, The Influence of Animism on Islam, p. 22). We have already seen that appropriate Qur'anic verses sealed in a ta'wiz are believed to help the bearer and to protect him from illness and evil influences. Trust in talismans and amulets with verses of the Qur'an inscribed on them is widespread in the Muslim world. The book itself is now a charm allegedly possessing wide cultic powers and for many this serves as its chief purpose in life. To the endless subject of talismans I can make no more than an allusion. All in the East carry them, from donkey- boys - and their donkeys - to theologians, and they vary in complexity from a dirty, rolled up scrap of paper with some sacred 281

282 names or Qur'an verses scrawled on it, to elaborately engraved gems. (MacDonald, Aspects of Islam, p. 342). A common cultic practice relating to the Qur'an in the Muslim world is known as istikharah (meaning "asking favours of someone). It is said that Muhammad taught that anyone desiring to know in any particular matter whether it is good or bad before God, or whether what he is about to undertake is good for his faith and life or injurious to it, he should perform two raka'at and recite a prayer for guidance, asking Allah to make the way easy if it is according to his will, or to put it away from the supplicant if it is not. This very simple and commendable injunction has, however, been perverted to superstitious uses" (Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam, p. 221). Today it has become customary to seek such guidance by simply counting through the beads of a rosary or by randomly opening the Qur'an and blindly placing a finger on any given text or passage. To use the rosary in this way the following things must be observed. The rosary must be grasped within the palms of both hands, which are then rubbed together; then the Fatiha is solemnly repeated, after which the user breathes upon the rosary with his breath in order to put the magic- power of the chapter into the beads. Then he seizes a particular bead and counts toward the 'pointer bead using the words, God, Mohammed, Abu Jahal; when the count terminates with the name of God it means that his request is favorably received, if it terminates with Abu Jahal it is bad, and if with Mohammed the reply is doubtful. (Zwemer, The Influence of Animism on Islam, p. 32). This practice of istikharah, when applied directly to the Qur'an, is known as "cutting the Qur'an" and the enquirer will seek out a-suitable mullah to perform the practice for him. After a few ritual prayers and the repetition of these words from the Qur'an: "With Him are the keys of the Unseen, the treasures that none knoweth but He. He knoweth whatever there is on the earth and in the sea" (Surah 6.59), the mullah will then give a salutation to Muhammad and his household ("Prayer and peace be unto him and his people and his family ) and will thereafter proceed as follows: He will close his eyes, turn his face upwards, and utter the name Allah, while he draws his fingers from the back of the book up among its pages. He then opens where the fingers enter and reads the first sentence or part of a sentence on the page. From the character of the words, he gives his inquirer an answer as to the outcome of the matter he is contemplating. (Donaldson, "The Qur an as Magic", The Muslim World, Vol. 27, p. 256). Not only are the verses of the Qur'an believed to possess certain powers but the book itself is regarded with awe It is believed to be very dangerous to put it on the ground and it is usually read on small stands and when not in use is placed on the highest shelf in the home properly wrapped up Muslims even believe that 282

283 it is very unwise to leave a Qur'an lying open by itself without reading it as the devil is then supposed to come along and read it. Far from delivering the masses from superstitious and animistic thinking, the Qur'an itself has in many ways become a victim of their cultic tendencies. 6. The Fear of Demons and the Evil-Eye. Throughout the Muslim world there is a pervading fear of the occult world and of the power of sorcerers. The existence of demons is universally admitted by Muslims and they are always referred to as the jinn, the Qur'anic name for those strange beings made of fire. According to the Qur'an jinn are very similar to men and can believe or disbelieve God's revelations. A company of jinn is said to have been converted after listening to the Qur'an being recited by Muhammad during his journey to at-ta'if (Surah ). The experience of demonpossession and the widespread influence of the powers of darkness has led the masses today to generally identify the jinn as evil spirits and a fear of demons and their power exists all over the world of Islam. In Egypt as in Morocco the belief in jinn includes such things as setting aside dishes of food at dusk to propitiate them. Others keep loaves of bread under their mattresses with a similar idea; while meal and oil are thrown into the corner of new houses for the jinn. (Zwemer, The Influence of Animism on Islam, p. 136). It is lamentable to witness how powerful an ascendancy superstition sways over the minds of Asiatics generally The very wisest, most learned, most religious, even, are more or less tinctured with this weakness) and, I may add, that I have hardly met with one person entirely free from the opinion that witchcraft and evil agency are in the hands of some, and often permitted to be exercised on their neighbours. (Meer Hassan Ali, Observations on the Mussalman of India, Vol. 2, p. 357). Demon-possession is a common experience where superstitions and cultic practices abound. The Islamic world also has its exorcists and selective rites are conducted by them in each individual case to secure a deliverance. When persons suffer from demon possession the symptoms are: some are struck dumb, others shake their heads, some go mad and walk about naked, they feel no inclination to do their usual business, but lie down and become inactive. In such cases, if it be required to make the demoniacs speak, or to cast the devil out, various devices are employed which will now be described. (Herklots, Islam in India, p. 235). These devices include the use of magic circles, specific incantations, breathing on flowers which are then thrown at the victim, and in some cases the demoniac 283

284 himself is severely beaten to drive out the demon. It is common to endeavour to get the demon to reveal and name himself as it is believed that it then becomes easier to communicate with him and so dislodge him. The following experiences make interesting reading: When the demon departs he runs with such speed and makes such a noise that people flee from him in terror. The demoniac frequently runs away with stones so large that two or three men could hardly lift them (Herklots, Islam in India, p. 238). One cannot help noticing how similar these manifestations are to those found in the Gospel records of exorcisms performed by Jesus Christ. Although Muslims are inclined to identify these spirits with the jinn of the Qur'an, it appears that they are more easily recognisable as demons pure and simple such as we find mentioned in the Bible. A famous exorcism ceremony in Islam is the zar. The exorcist must be of the same sex as the victim and begins the ceremony with music as it is believed that music has the power to expel demons. A group gathers around the victim and a sacrifice of a fowl or sheep follows while the singing and music continues together with recitations of the Fatihah. The ceremony ends when the victim, seated in the middle of the group, falls to the ground in a trance. Incense is also believed to possess exorcist powers and is burnt in the room where the ceremony takes place. In every land therefore, with variations due to local circumstances, the Zar must always be propitiated by three - incense, the Zar-dance with music and last, but not least, the sacrifice - all three of these are Pagan and repulsive to orthodox Islam and yet continue under its shadow. (Zwemer, The Influence of Animism in Islam, p. 240). There is also a general belief in the power of magic-workers and others to cause demon-possession. Particularly feared is Isabatul-'Ain, the "Evil-Bye", a searching, penetrating glance either from one of the jinn or from another human being which is capable of captivating its victim and enslaving him to the power of demons. There is a particular fear of the power of the evil-eye over children. The mother's chief anxiety is to protect it from the evil eye: it is with a view to protecting it from the glance of an evil jinn that many well-to-do families keep the child dirty and ill clad. (Gaudefroy-Demombynes, Muslim Institutions, p. 160). Muhammad himself is said to have feared a Jewish woman who had the power of the evil-eye and in a few traditions we find him openly acknowledging its influence. One reads: 284

285 Hunaid b. Qais Makki reported that two sons of Ja'far b. Abu Talib came to the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him), who, looking at them, asked their nurse as to why they were so thin. She replied: Apostle of Allah, they are easily affected by the evil eye and we did not exorcise for we did not know whether you would allow it. The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Do chant prayer for them. If anything advances in front of fate, it is the eye. (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 395). In another tradition we find Muhammad recommending chanting of appropriate verses as a remedy for the evil-eye. It is one among many in the collection in which it appears dealing with ways of curing this problem and again confirms Muhammad's convictions about the evil-eye: Aisha reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) commanded me that I should make use of incantation for curing the influence of an evil eye. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 3, p. 1196). Another tradition on the same page says that Muhammad saw a small girl in the house of Umm Salama with black stains on her face and told her that it was due to the influence of the evil-eye and that it could only be cured with the help of incantations. The widespread superstitions in popular Islam, the universal reliance on charms, talismans and amulets, the regular exorcism ceremonies and the like, all testify to the universal influence and power of the forces of the occult over the Muslim masses. The need not only for the preaching of the Gospel among Muslims but also for a ministry of deliverance and healing through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ is altogether obvious. D. The Consequences of Apostasy from Islam 1. The Penalty for Apostasy in Islamic Law and History. Any Muslim contemplating conversion from Islam to Christianity will know that the step will not be without reaction from his own community. At best he can expect to be ostracised by his people and disowned by his family. At worst he could become a martyr for the faith in a very short time. The catalogue of tortures endured because of faith in God, given in the eleventh chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews, could be paralleled in the lives of those who have suffered for Christ because they were apostates from Islam. Everyone who makes the choice faces the possibilities of loneliness, disinheritance, persecution and even death. (Zwemer, The Law of Apostasy in Islam, p. 73). From early times it has been taught that the penalty for the apostasy of any individual from Islam is death. There does not seem to be any Qur'anic authority 285

286 for this extreme form of punishment, one which allows a Muslim no degree of freedom to discover the true revelation of God independently for himself. The Hadith, however, openly state that Muhammad demanded the death sentence for those who turn their backs on Islam, whether for another faith or not. Zaid b. Aslam reported that the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) declared that the man who leaves the fold of Islam should be executed (Muwatta Imam Malik, p. 317). Narrated Ikrima: Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event reached Ibn Abbas who said, "If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah's Apostle forbade it, saying, 'Do not punish anyone with Allah's punishment (fire)'. I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah's Apostle, 'Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him'". (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol. 9, p. 45). Abu Musa said: Mu'adh came to me when I was in the Yemen. A man who was a Jew embraced Islam and then retreated from Islam. When Mu'adh came, he said: I will not come down from my mount until he is killed. He was then killed. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 3, p. 1213). There are evidences in Islamic history showing that this penalty has often been enforced, occasionally by public authority but usually by relatives and others taking the law of Islam into their own hands. Many of the jurists of Islam have held that the murtadd (apostate) should be given three days or three public opportunities to return to Islam and is only to be put to death if he refuses to do so. It is in agreement with the character of the Islamic state that apostasy by one who has been a believer should be regarded amongst the most heinous of crimes. The legists demand that the apostate be given three chances to repent, and he is not to be killed unless he has definitely refused. (Levy, The Social Structure of Islam, p. 351). The Qur'an, on the other hand, not only does not seem to authorise the death penalty for apostasy but also makes statements that appear to have the contrary effect. One verse has the following to say about those who forsake Islam: And if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be Companions of the Fire and will abide therein. Surah A Muslim writer comments: "The verse clearly envisages the natural death of the renegade after apostasy... the implication of the verse is unmistakable that the Qur'anic Scheme visualises an apostate dying a natural death and there is no hint here that he can be killed for his defection (Rahman, Punishment of 286

287 Apostasy in Islam, p. 32) Another verse in the Qur'an dealing with apostasy is this one: Anyone who, after accepting Faith in God, utters Unbelief, except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in faith - but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from God, and theirs will be a dreadful penalty. Surah That the penalty spoken of here is not one to be put into effect this side of the grave is clear from verse 109 where it is simply said that such men will perish in the Hereafter. No other consequence is mentioned. Yet another verse in the Qur'an implying that there is to be no death penalty for apostasy is Surah which speaks of those who believe, then reject faith, then return to the faith, only to once again commit apostasy. It concludes that God will neither forgive them nor guide them aright. The very possibility of a sustained doublemindedness and a repeated turning from Islam implies that the ultimate penalty is not applicable to one who commits an initial act of apostasy. The verse visualises repeated apostasies and reversions to the faith, without mention of any punishment for any of these defections on this earth. The act of apostasy must, therefore, be a sin and not a crime. If he had to be killed for his very first defection, he could not possibly have a history of conversions (Rahman, Punishment of Apostasy in Islam, p. 39). If Muhammad did command the death penalty for renegades from Islam it could only have been towards the end of his life when it became expedient for many Arabian communities to profess Islam. It took very little for these groups to revert to paganism at the first opportunity and the early Muslims suffered casualties at the hands of at least one tribe near Medina who initially professed Islam and thereafter forsook it and attacked the Muslims. Shortly after Muhammad's death a widespread defection from Islam took place and his successor Abu Bakr, faced with an imminent crisis threatening the very survival of Islam, had to resort to a number of campaigns to re-enforce Muslim rule in Arabia. It is possible that the traditions we have quoted are based on commands of Muhammad, not to put to death every individual who forsakes Islam, but rather to destroy those who, once having professed Islam turn away from it and in doing so gather together with the purpose of annihilating the Muslims. The only passage in the Qur'an which speaks of killing those who turn their backs after believing in Islam occurs in this very context: But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks; except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace) or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. Surah

288 It is significant that this passage is found in one of the last surahs to be revealed and it supports the suggestion t at the death penalty for apostasy applies only to those who become active rebels against Islam, taking up arms against it. The position that emerges, after a survey of the relevant verses of the Qur'an, may be summed up by saying that not only is there no punishment for apostasy provided in the Book but that the Word of God clearly envisages the natural death of the apostate. He will be punished only in the Hereafter. (Rahman, Punishment of Apostasy in Islam, p. 54). 2. Implications and Effects of the Law of Apostasy. There are some Muslim writers who say that the death penalty is an appropriate consequence for apostasy as the public image of Islam is allegedly shamed and weakened by such defections. "An act like this is a kind of mockery and a practice which misleads the pious" (Tabbarah, The Spirit of Islam, p. 390). As a Christian missionary once put it to Samuel Zwemer, "Yet there is always the deep-rooted idea in every one brought up in Islam that to leave Islam for another religion is an awful and unpardonable sin" (Zwemer, The Law of Apostasy in Islam, p. 26). It is, in any event, hard to see how the execution of converts from Islam restores its image. The former Chief Justice of Pakistan, however, has a far more balanced attitude in this case: Islam must stand on the excellence of its own teachings and needs no protective shield against exchange of views at the intellectual level... The argument based on supposed indignity offered to Islam by a renegade should be set against the consideration that it would be much more undignified for the true Faith to retain adherents by coercion. (Rahman, Punishment of Apostasy in Islam, p. 126, 135). A Christian writer has also expressed similar misgivings about a religion that has to confirm and retain the allegiance of its adherents through forceful means and the threat of dire, immediate consequences for those who dare to express their disillusionment with it: The Muslim concept of toleration has been, from the beginning, that of freedom to remain what you were born or freedom to become a Muslim. It has never yet meant freedom of movement of conscience, or freedom to become... Islam ought to concede such freedom irrespective of any possible consequences as to its members. If it is to be a self-respecting faith it must possess its adherents in the sole strength of their freely willed conviction. (Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, p. 336, 337). Freedom of religion is Islam has, all too often, only meant the freedom to become a Muslim. No one is free to leave Islam of his own free will and choice. 288

289 Even though a swift martyrdom may be less likely today than it was in earlier times, the convert, especially in solidly Muslim lands, still faces a harrowing future. Zwemer quotes from a letter written by an Egyptian convert from Islam to Christianity, one which reflects the experiences of many Christians in Muslim lands: "I am again a prisoner, unable to go out at all or even to step on the balcony, because they are so excited and watching me night and day, desiring to quench their thirst with my blood, the blood of the helpless young Christian. My brothers, according to their law, often assured me that if they murdered me they would be martyrs for doing so". (Zwemer, The Law of Apostasy in Islam, p. 22). 3. The Ahmadiyya Attitude to the Law of Apostasy. In the next chapter we will briefly outline the development and tenets of the Ahmadiyya Movement, a sect which has arisen within Islam which is denounced by the orthodox and one which, for reasons which will be given, hardly endears itself to Christianity. One must give credit where it is due, however, and the one redeeming feature of those who follow this sect is their attitude to this subject. They teach quite openly that there are to be no earthly reprisals against those who forsake Islam and base their attitude on the Qur'anic dictum Laa ikraaha fiid-diin. Qattabayyanar-rushdu minal ghayy - "There is no compulsion in religion. The right way stands out clearly from the way of error" (Surah 2.256). They claim accordingly that Islam adopts a very tolerant attitude in matters relating to the subjective faith of each individual, not seeking to compel the allegiance of those who, as we would say, have not "seen the light". One says: Islam stands emphatically for freedom of conscience. Everyone must make his choice, and accept or reject in absolute freedom whatever he chooses to believe in or to deny. (Zafrulla Khan, Islam: Its Meaning for Modern Man, p. 166). This refreshing attitude, while running contrary to the Hadith and the laws of orthodox Islam as taught and practiced by the fuqaha of Islam over the centuries, is nevertheless sound from a rational point of view and one not opposed to the teaching of the Qur'an. This approach is found in all the Ahmadiyya works and another writer from this sect says: Therefore so far as the Qur'an is concerned, there is not only no mention of a death-sentence for apostates but such a sentence is negatived by the verses speaking of apostasy as well as by that magna charta of religious 289

290 freedom, the 256th verse of the second chapter, la ikraha fi-l-din, "There is no compulsion in religion". (Ali, The Religion of Islam, p. 489). The Movement's lead has been followed by some of the more enlightened modern Muslim writers. Rahman's book quoted in this section is a typical example of this spirit now developing even within orthodox Islam itself, but there is a long way to go. Hopefully there will be more such writers who will have the sense to distinguish between individuals who, out of freedom of conscience and personal conviction, choose to leave Islam for another religion (invariably Christianity) and whole communities who desert Islam with the treasonable intention of taking up arms against it. There surely must be a distinction between genuine religious conviction and widespread political revolution. Even though many of the teachings of the Ahmadiyya Movement are obnoxious and distasteful to Christians, its lead in this matter should be appreciated. Another Ahmadiyya writer has this to say (in a paragraph from an article written on apostasy in Islam): We Muslims do believe in freedom of conscience, and we do denounce the action of a Muslim Government even under which capital punishment is meted against apostasy. The book which says, "All Muslims, Jews, Christians and Sabians who believe in God and the last day, and do good works, shall have their reward with their Lord" (Qur'an 11.59) - such cannot allow its followers to look with hatred towards Christians and Jews, no matter if they be so by birth or are renegades from Islam. (Kamal-ud-Din, quoted in "Modern Islam and the Penalty of Apostasy", The Muslim World, Vol. 12, p. 409). In the meantime, however, every convert from Islam will continue to be faced with ostracism, rejection, various forms of persecution, and possible martyrdom. As this section has shown, such a reactionary approach toward those who leave its fold hardly commends or credits Islam. Muslim Movements And Schisms A. Sufism in Theory and Practice 1. Sufism - Islam's Great Mystical Movement. Islam at the beginning was primarily a legalistic religion and placed before its adherents little more than a code of ethics combined with a set of rituals. The faithful observance of these was deemed sufficient to satisfy every man's religious quest and ensure him a place in heaven. There was no demand for spiritual regeneration through a rebirth experience and the indwelling of the 290

291 Holy Spirit as in the Christian faith, nor for a highly spiritual form of devotion through which the worshipper could draw near to God in a personal way and discover the knowledge of his grace and favour. During the Ummayad period, after Islam had made direct contact with Eastern Christianity and other oriental religions, a deeply mystical movement arose within its realm, in many ways, perhaps, indebted to the influence of these faiths for its motivation and principles, but nonetheless an independent theosophy developing purely within the framework of the Islamic society and heritage. The movement is known as Sufism (tasawwuf) and its followers are known as Sufis (pronounced "Soofies"). The word Sufi almost certainly comes from the Arabic suf, meaning "wool", and implies that the Sufi is a wearer of a woollen garment. In pre-islamic times ascetics often dressed in wool as a symbol of their particular course of life and the early Muslims who practiced austerity were duly nicknamed "Sufis". Later on the name was adopted by those who sought to obtain knowledge of God through various stages of spiritual self-denial as asceticism in Islam gave way to mysticism. Sufism is principally a quest for a living knowledge of the Supreme Being. To the orthodox Muslim Allah is the Lord of the Worlds, unique in his essence and attributes, ruling over all the universe and quite unlike anything in his creation. To the Sufi, on the other hand, "God is the One Real Being which underlies all phenomena" (Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p.80). He is everything and there is nothing but Him. Man's purpose is to lose his natural sense of a separate identity from his Creator and to be absorbed instead into his knowledge until there remains no distinction of consciousness between him and God. Through a series of stages (maqamat) and subjective experiences (ahwal) this process of absorption develops until complete annihilation (fana) takes place and the worshipper becomes al-insanulkamil, the "perfect man". The Sufi concept of a God who is "all in all" differs radically from the orthodox conviction that the further he is placed from his creation, the more he is glorified. Historically it is a marvel that Sufism grew out of the bedrock of Islam but its development will not surprise Christians who believe that man was made in the image of God and that his highest glory is to be conformed to the divine image and be partaker of the divine nature through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The mystical quest in Islam was perhaps to be expected for, as it has been put, there is a "God-shaped vacuum" in every human heart that no religion based purely on ethics and formal rites can ultimately fill. To become a Sufi a Muslim must attach himself to a tariqah, one of the Sufi orders, and submit himself to a pir or master as we have seen. Only when this master adorns the disciple with a khirqah, a robe inducting him into the order, 291

292 does he become a recognised Sufi, and only then can he embark on a valid pilgrimage through the various stages towards his goal of union with God. Accordingly, whenever an unknown dervish comes into a convent or wishes to join a company of Sufis, they ask him "Who was the Pir that taught thee?" and "From whose hand didst thou receive the khirqa?" Sufis recognise no relationship but these two, which they regard as all-important. They do not allow anyone to associate with them, unless he can show to their satisfaction that he is lineally connected in both these ways with a fully accredited Pir. (Nicholson, Studies in Islamic Mysticism, p.23). The covenant by which the disciple is initiated into the particular order he enters is known as a bay'ah and it attaches him to his master and the silsilah (chain) from which the master himself derives his power (barakah) and authority (similar to the "apostolic authority" conferred on Roman Catholic priests through a progressive laying on of hands said to go back to Simon Peter himself). The initial Sufi experience is not, as it is for true Christians, a rebirth experience in which the man, once born of the flesh, is now born of the Spirit, has a totally new relationship to God and knowledge of him, and can through his unity with God in the Spirit develop the relationship. Rather the Sufi really seeks only "to become aware of what one has always been from eternity (azal) without one's having realised it until the necessary transformation has come about" (Nasr, Living Sufism, p.7). The major Sufi orders are the Suhrawardiyya (founded by one as-suhrawardi), the Qadiriyya (attributed to Sufism's most famous personality, Abdul Qadir al- Jilani), the Chishtiyya (its master Mu'iniddin Chishti who is buried at Ajmer in India), the Shadhiliyya, the Mawlawiyya (a Turkish order founded by Jalaluddin Rumi who is buried in Konya in Turkey), and the Naqshabandiyya (which is prominent in Iran and other parts of Asia). 2. A Brief Analysis of Sufi Stages and Experiences. The goal of the Sufi is to reach a personal knowledge of his Creator until knower and known are one and there is no awareness of any distinction of personality between them. Like all orthodox Muslims Sufis reject the concept of incarnation (hulul) and do not believe that God can become man. They also resist pantheistic tendencies, carefully distinguishing between God and his servants, while nevertheless teaching that man's aim must be to attain to such a high state of consciousness of God that his personality may no longer be distinguished from God's essence and character. Man does not have this knowledge by nature, however, and each prospective Sufi must prepare for a 292

293 course which will take him through many stages and experiences before he completes his journey. Of course the Sufis never tire of emphasizing that the end of Sufism is not to possess such and such a virtue or state as such but to reach God beyond all states and virtues. But to reach the Transcendent beyond the virtues, man must first possess the virtues; to reach the station of annihilation and subsistence in God, man must have already passed through the other stages and stations. (Nasr, Living Sufism, p.58). The Sufi who sets out to seek God calls himself a 'traveller' (salik), he advances by slow 'stages' (maqamat) along a path (tariqat) to the goal of union with Reality (fana fi'l-haqq).... The Sufi's 'path' is not finished until he has traversed all the 'stages', making himself perfect in every one of them before advancing to the next, and has also experienced whatever 'states' it pleases God to bestow upon him. (Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p.28, 29). The early mysticism of Islam sought only a path of self-purification, a character renewal, until the personality was conformed to the divine image. Later it was believe that such growth must be accompanied by deliberate ecstatic experiences, confirming the progress of the soul. The decline Sufism in later centuries can perhaps be attributed to the interest of the masses purely in the experimental side of Islamic mysticism and the desire for emotional excesses. The early mystics of Islam, however, devoted themselves primarily to the first of the three stages, that is, Purgation. To the mystics, at-tariq (the Pathway) was a method of self-purification acquired through the cleansing of the senses and through bodily discipline. Gradually the Sufis began to develop the second stage, the is, Illumination. Al-Muhasibi (A.D ), who pioneered with his disciples in the pathways of Purgation, was one of the first to declare that as purification brings freedom from the attachments of this world the Sufi might expect to arrive at the stage of Illumination and thence proceed to the unitive life in God. (Jurji, "Illumination - A Sufi Doctrine", The Muslim World, Vol.27, p.129). Pure Sufism, however, sincerely seeks the fullness of the knowledge of God. Nevertheless it has been universally believed for centuries that such a search must accompanied by external manifestations. The goal will be obtained when the worshipper sees God alone in all that he contemplates and at the same time feels a total and ecstatic sense of his presence. The whole of Sufism rests on the belief that when the individual self is lost, the Universal Self is found, or, in religious language, that ecstasy affords the only means by which the soul can directly communicate and become united with God. (Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p.59). 293

294 He then can be the Perfect Man, one "who has fully realised his essential oneness with the Divine Being in whose likeness he is made" (Nicholson, Studies in Islamic Mysticism, p.78). On the path towards this goal, therefore, he must no only go through the progressive stages of self-annihilation but must also have trance-like experiences in which his normal consciousness is to be lost in ecstatic contemplation of the Divine Being alone. These experiences are the ahwal (singular hal) mentioned earlier and authenticate the developing discovery of the ultimate light and truth. In the Sufism of the orders this ecstasy or trance-like 'state' is called a hal, though in Sufism proper a hal more strictly refers to the succession of illuminations, through experiencing which the Sufi progresses a further 'stage' (maqtam) towards the goal of spiritual perfection. (Trimingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam, p.200). Such experiences are, to the Sufis, not to be regarded as hypnotic phenomena to which the human spirit is susceptible in appropriate circumstances but rather gifts from God confirming the Sufi's striving for his presence. Each stage reached by the disciple is the result of his own effort, each experience is a token of the divine favour upon the endeavour - "the hal is a spiritual mood depending not upon the mystic but upon God" (Arberry, Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, p.75). A Christian must surely be affected by the whole nature of Sufism. True Christianity is by nature mystical and anyone born of the Holy Spirit will not only seek to become conformed to the image of his Lord but will also surely experience many proofs of the Spirit's presence in his soul. Indeed it is a New Testament principle that where such a relationship between man and God truly exists, the formal restraints of legal ethics and rituals have no binding effect as the believer has the motivation towards truth and right-living within him. It is hardly surprising that Sufis have often sought to break away from the dull strictures of formal Islamic law and have, in orthodox eyes, often shown scant respect for it. And so for all the actions of life: no outward law regulates the Sufi in regard to them, whether the one way or the other; only the Golden Mean and the General Happiness. (Gairdner, "The Way of a Mohammedan Mystic", The Muslim World, Vol.2, p.255). A prominent Sufi in Islamic history, Sari as-saqati, who lived in Baghdad at the same time as Islam's arch-conservative theologian, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and was strongly opposed by him, made a profound distinction between the legal 294

295 formalism of the Muslim masses and the spiritual quest and path of the Sufi elite: "The way of the multitude is this", said Sari, "that you observe prayer five times daily behind the imam, and that you give alms - if it be in money, half a dinar out of every twenty. The way of the elect is this, that you thrust the world behind you altogether and do not concern yourself with any of its trappings; if you are offered it, you will not accept it. These are the two ways". (Arberry, Muslim Saints and Mystics, p.169). There is a remarkable similarity here between the old and new covenants, the former legalistic, the latter based on "grace and truth" which came through Jesus Christ (John 1.17). Islam can hardly be regarded as a stepping-stone to Christianity but Sufism definitely is, and it is this writer's conviction that genuine Sufism is Islam's only endeavour to raise itself towards the glory of the Christian revelation. The difference between the two is this - the Sufi seeks in himself to attain to the knowledge of God through a series of spiritual stages; the Christian acknowledges that his natural tendency towards sin and separation from God prevent him from ever attaining such a goal, and he submits rather to God's redeeming grace in Jesus Christ and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit within him to enable him to know God fully and become like him. 3. The Different Stages in the Sufi Quest. It is not easy to define the various stages of the Sufi path, especially as there is no universal consensus as to the exact identity of each stage or even of the order in which they are reached. It is generally agreed that the goal is al-haqiqah, "the True Reality", also known as fana, self-annihilation" or absorption in God. Very prominent in the Sufi stages is ma'rifah, "knowledge" of God, or the gnosis of his essence and presence. In some cases it is set forth as one of the stages towards the goal, in others it is identified with the haqiqah as the object of the quest. These two, together with the initial tariqah, "the path", constitute the three great stages of Sufism. A Sufi must attain to these after graduating from the basic laws of Islam which are set forth, Sufis believe, as a principal code for the unenlightened Muslim masses. The foundation of the shari'ah, the law, and the three ascending Stages of Sufism towards the goal of complete union with God through a loss of self-consciousness are defined as follows: Nasut is the natural human state in which one lives following the rules of the shari'a; Malakut is the nature of angels, to reach which one treads the tariqa, the path of purification; whilst 295

296 Jabarut is the nature of power, to attain which one follows the way of enlightenment, ma'rifa, until one swoons into Fana, absorption into Deity, the State of Reality (Haqiqa), often called in the order literature `Alam al-ghaib, 'the (uncreated) world of the mystery'. (Trimingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam, p.160). Famous Sufis have individually been responsible for identifying and emphasising different stages making up this threefold gradient and we shall mention some of them and their respective contributions later in this section. In time these became integrated into the catalogue of stages in the Sufi quest and we shall speak briefly of some of them. One of the initial stages is said to be an attitude of indifference towards good or bad fortune. The Sufi believes that adversity, causing discomfort, depression or discourage is brought about through God's deliberate "contraction" (qabdh) and that prosperity, joyful circumstances and the like, come from his "expansion" (bast). He humbly resigns himself to both, seeking not to be affected by his circumstances but to fix his devotion purely on his Lord and Master. Qur'anic sanction is found for these contrasting acts of God and the Sufi's willingness to abide in them. The Sufi has submitted himself to God, who says "God contracts and expands" (Qur an II:245). Thus, whether he gives contraction or expansion, the Sufi only desires what is desired by his Beloved. (Nurbakhsh, Sufism, p.27). One is reminded of Paul's words in Philippians Another typical stage is that of "gathering" (jam) in which the Sufi begins to turn away from the state of separation from God (tafriqah - "dispersion"), the distinction being between God himself and the world of everything but God. There are many different stages, too many to cover in detail here, but perhaps some attention should be given to the ultimate stage - fana - for all the intermediate stages are different forms of disassociation from all that is "under the sun", to use a Biblical expression (from Ecclesiastes), in the cause of being absorbed into the consciousness of the Supreme Being. (Alternatively, the Sufi seeks to shake off the identity of his nafs, his individual soul with all its ungodly tendencies, similar to the concept of "the flesh" as it is set forth in opposition to the way of the Spirit in the New Testament, especially the eighth chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Romans). Fana is the ultimate goal - a dissolution of the Sufi's consciousness of his own identity through a total absorption in the knowledge of God. "As a technical term in Sufism, the word annihilation signifies the annihilation of the attributes of human nature and their transformation into Divine Attributes. In the state of annihilation, the Sufi is completely immersed in the contemplation of the 296

297 Attributes of God and oblivious to his own self" (Nurbakhsh, Sufism, p.86). It should again be emphasised that this does not lead to a pantheistic theosophy, for Sufis, true to the Muslim faith, are always careful to distinguish between God and his servants. The union comes in the realm of consciousness and spiritual perspective. The distinction is well set forth in this comment: "The mystic does not become one with God, he becomes conscious of his oneness with Him" (Tritton, Islam, p.101). It is true to say that the Sufi should never be able to proclaim that he has reached this stage for his complete absorption in God and self-annihilation, his fana fittawhid, fil Haqq ("Union with the Unity, the Reality"), will surely make him lose all consciousness of his own identity and personal state. The highest stage of fana is reached when even the consciousness of having attained fana disappears. This is what the Sufis call 'the passing-away of passing-away (fana al-fana). The mystic is now wrapped in contemplation of the divine essence. (Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p.60). Let us briefly look at one of the ways in which Sufis seek to induce a state of ecstasy. Though a means is employed to create this state, they insist that the experience itself is from God. 4. Dhikr - The Remembrance of Allah. The commonest means of inducing a state of ecstasy is the dhikr ceremony. A group of Sufis will gather together and begin a series of chanting s, either of the ninety-nine names of Allah, or just simply of the name of Allah himself, until the devotees collapse in a state of trance. The famous "whirling dervishes" obtain their name and fame from this very ceremony. Today it has become customary for numerous adherents of Sufism, who know nothing of true Sufism or a deep spiritual quest coupled with acts of self-discipline to attain to a higher state of spirituality, to seek purely the supposed state of "ecstasy" that can be obtained through regular concentration on and recitation of the name and attributes of Allah. After an experience of nearly thirteen years of close contact with Egyptian Moslems, I have no hesitation in saying that, as to the bulk of the population of Egypt, their real religion is Sufism, as represented by the dhikr. They know practically nothing of the philosophic Mysticism of their books, but through tradition they know something of the spiritual achievement of their saints; and in the dhikr they attempt to realize the ultimate experience of the Sufi saint by a physically induced ecstasy, ignoring the fact that these saints only reached their experiences by a long and painful road. (Swan, "The Dhikr", The Muslim World, Vol. 2, p.381). 297

298 The Qur'an commends the remembrance of Allah in these words: Wa aqimissalaah... wa lathikrullaahi akbar - "and establish prayer... and the remembrance of Allah, which is greater" (Surah 29.45). Orthodox Muslims take this verse simply to mean that prayer without a consciousness of Allah has a very limited value. Sufis interpret it to mean that the practice of dhikr through repetitions of Allah's name and attributes is greater than the formal acts of the prescribed salaah, the basic Islamic form of worship. According to some this means the mentioning, or the remembering of God constitutes the quintessence of prayer; according to others it indicates the excellence of invocation as compared with prayer. (Burckhardt, An Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, p.101). A dhikr ceremony is something to behold, though Christian observers can be excused if they become bored after a while with a monotonous repetition of religious clichés, e.g. la ilaha illullah - "there is no God but Allah", which supposedly bring the devotee into the realm of God and a conscious awareness of his presence simply because they result in a trance-like state. In all religions there are those who seek, through various means, to enter into such trances and these means are all very similar to one another. The end result seems to be a self-induced, hypnotic state rather thhan a God-ordained experience. 5. How Sufism Relates to the Quran and Hadith. If Sufism is a later development within Islam, how does it reconcile itself with original Islam, the religion of Muhammad as set forth in the Qur'an and Hadith? The Sufi answer is that this original Islam has the germs of Sufism and that both the Qur'an and Hadith contain numerous passages indicating the deeper nature of true Islam, that which later blossomed out into its great mystical movement. Expressions such as these in the Qur'an are produced by Sufis as proof that Islam is, at heart, a spiritual religion: "To God belong the East and the West: whithersoever ye turn, there is the Presence of God. For God is All-Pervading, All-Knowing" (Surah 2.115); and "We are nearer to him (man) than his jugular vein" (Surah 50.16). Although Muhammad himself could hardly be described as a mystic, let alone a Sufi, there are verses in the Qur'an which do at least support the Sufi contention, prompting one scholar to say: "however un-favorable to mysticism the Qur an as a whole may be, I cannot assent to the view that it supplies no basis for a mystical interpretation of Islam" (Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p.22). As the Qur'an is believed to be the uncreated Word of God it is little wonder Sufis seek to authenticate their movement with reference to its teaching and it is not surprising that they make much of these verses. "For these mystical texts are the chief encouragement and justification of the Sufi in his 298

299 belief that he also may commune with God" (Arberry, Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, p.17). Another verse cherished by the Sufis is this one: "To God we belong, and to Him is our return" (Surah 2.156) as it seems to synchronise with their whole philosophy that man's objective and duty on earth is to strive spiritually until he comes back to the knowledge of his Creator. The "return" must therefore be one in which the soul can be re-united with its Maker through a thorough spiritual devotion. The Sufis claim that the whole of Sufism is summed up in this verse, and it is often chanted at their gatherings and sometimes repeated a certain number of times on a rosary; and in fact, although every believer is necessarily 'for God' in some degree or other, the mystic may be said to be 'for God' in a way which the rest of the community is not. (Lings, What is Sufism?, p.28). The Hadith contain certain "hadith qudsi" (divine sayings of Allah), allegedly reported from Muhammad himself which contain mystical elements even closer to the heart of Sufism than the verses quoted from the Qur'an. A famous saying of this kind is: My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks my protection (Refuge), I will protect him. (Sahih al-bukhari, Vol.8, p.336). One writer comments that "the whole of Sufism - its aspirations, its practice, and in a sense also even its doctrine - is summed up in this Holy Tradition, which is quoted by the Sufis perhaps more often than any other text apart from the Qur'an" (Lings, What is Sufism?, p.74). Another similar saying is: I was a hidden treasure and I desired to be known; therefore I created the creation in order that I might be known (quoted in Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p.80; but: fabricated?). These traditions are, for the Sufis, their motivation for earnestly desiring to know God and their belief that he does indeed desire that his servants should thus seek him. One writer says of the last saying: This is called the "self-revealing" (tajalla) of Allah and is only really intelligible through the mystical contemplation, which sees all things in God, as it sees God in all things. (MacDonald, The Religious Attitude and Life in Islam, p.170). There is, of course, the possibility that the hadith quoted are symptomatic of later development in mystical Islam, just as many legislative traditions betray evidences of an advanced juristic process in Islam as we have seen. Accordingly 299

300 they may well have been invented. Nevertheless, for the Sufis, they authenticate Islamic mysticism, enabling them to trace it back to statements allegedly reported on the authority of Muhammad himself. 6. Some Famous Sufis in Muslim History. There are a number of Sufis who stand out in the history of Islamic mysticism, all of whom have made their contribution in one way or another to the development of Sufism. One of the most famous of the early Sufis was Junayd, the head of a large body of disciples, who died in Baghdad in 910 AD. He "was the greatest exponent of the 'sober' school of Sufism and elaborated a theosophical doctrine which determined the whole course of orthodox mysticism in Islam" (Arberry, Muslim Saints and Mystics, p.199). Junayd, being one of the early Sufi masters, was not given to excesses in his mystic devotions and sought chiefly through a process of self-denial to discover the way to God. The following saying, which seems to be far more Christian than Muslim in origin and emphasis, is attributed to him: "Sufism is that God makes thee die to thyself and become resurrected in Him" (quoted in Nasr, Living Sufism, p.57). It was this very principle of dying to self that later became the foundation of the Sufi concept of fana, being lost in the consciousness of God, and Junayd was one of the first to use this expression. At the other extreme we find the famous Persian Sufi master Bayazid al- Bistami, "first of the 'intoxicated' Sufis who, transported upon the wings of mystical fervour, found God within his own soul and scandalised the orthotox by ejaculating, 'Glory to Me! How great is My Majesty'" (Arberry, Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, p.54). Sobriety was not at the heart of this man's mystic experiences. He not only established the concept of being so united to God that the identities of the Creator and creature become one but also gave the ecstatic character of this experience its impetus. As was to be expected, he was highly unpopular with the orthodox Muslims of his day. He is credited with many bold and daring statements, of which the one quoted above is an example. Here is another: For instance, one day Bayazid was in his cell. Someone came and said, "Is Bayazid in the house?" He answered, "Is there anyone in the house but God? 300 (Nurbakhsh, Sufism, p.53). He also greatly emphasised the ultimate state of fana but gave it a far more experimental character. He is accordingly regarded as the founder of the "drunken" school of Sufism, a description implying that a true falling away of

301 the separate consciousness of the believer in his Lord would be manifested through a state of spiritual intoxication. From Bayazid's example grew the interest in Sufism in outward manifestations of the inward experience. Some Muslims say that a true Muslim on pilgrimage will see the Ka'aba the first time, the Ka'aba and the Lord of the House the second, and only his Lord on the third. Bayazid went further: "The first time I entered the Holy House," stated Abu Yazid, "I saw the Holy House. The second time I entered it, I saw the Lord of the House. The third time I saw neither the House nor the Lord of the House" (Arberry, Muslim Saints and Mystics, p.121). This experience illustrates the whole meaning of the fana state - a lost consciousness even of God himself as the Sufi pilgrim becomes one with him. Another symbolising this same concept is: One day someone came to Bayazid's door and knocked. The shaykh said, "Who are you seeking?" The man replied "Bayazid". Bayazid then answered, "Poor Bayazid! I have been seeking him for thirty years but have found no sign or trace of him". (Nurbakhsh, Sufism, p.97). Another famous mystic from the golden age of Sufism was Abu Sa'id ibn Abul- Khayr, a prominent member of the group of early masters who emphasised the doctrine of losing one's human consciousness and subsisting in the knowledge of God alone. These men all believed that by renouncing earthly pleasures, by mystical hours of devotion, and by seeking out the higher virtues of the soul, one could walk the road towards this goal. Self-love had to be replaced by a disinterested love for God alone. Abu Sa'id followed in the footsteps of Bayazid, making many bold statements calculated to antagonise the orthodox. On one occasion he told one of the fuqaha, the Muslim jurists, that he could read his thoughts (many anecdotes have been recorded of his alleged power to discern the thoughts of men). The jurist had thought to himself that he could not find Abu Sa'id's teaching in the sevensevenths of the Qur'an (that is, the whole Qur an). Abu Sa'id replied that his doctrine was contained in the "eighth-seventh" of the book, meaning a special revelation given by God to his favourite servants. This concept of an independent revelation given to a Muslim after the revelation of the Qur' an is diametrically opposed to the Muslim doctrine of the finality of prophethood. Here Abu Sa'id sets aside the partial, finite, and temporal revelation on which Islam is built, and appeals to the universal infinite, and everlasting revelation which the Sufis find in their hearts. As a rule, even the boldest Mohammedan mystics shrink from uttering such a challenge. (Nicholson, Studies in Islamic Mysticism, p.60). 301

302 Among the great mystics of Islam was a woman, Rabi'a al-adawiyya, who lived in Basra (in Iraq) in the very early days of Sufism. Her chief contribution to the growing mysticism of Islam was her insistence that God should be loved, not out of fear of wrath or for the prospect of reward, but purely for himself. One of her sayings was: "O God! If I worship Thee in fear of Hell, burn me in Hell; and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise; but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake, withhold not Thine Everlasting Beauty!" (Arberry, Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, p.42). She was once seen carrying a burning torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. When asked why, she replied: "I am going to set fire to Paradise and quench the fires of Hell so that men may worship God for his own glory alone". Of Rabi'a her biographer wrote that she was "on fire with love to God", and she was one of the first among the Sufis to teach the doctrine of disinterested love to God. She was asked if she hated Satan, and answered "No", and when asked if she loved the Prophet, she said, "My love to God has so possessed me that no place remains for hating aught, or loving any save Him". (Smith, "Rabi'a, The Woman Saint', The Muslim World, Vol.20, p.341). The most tragic figure in Sufi history is al-hallaj, one of the "intoxicated" mystics who was also inclined to complete indiscretion in making bold statements which outraged the orthodox. He openly claimed ana'l Haqq - "I am the Truth", and for refusing to recant was brutally dismembered and crucified. (It is striking to find that he suffered the same fate as Jesus Christ who made exactly the same claim, albeit more worthily). Later Sufi mystics considered him a true martyr even though many at the time disowned him. They charged him with teaching hulul, i.e. incarnation, in that he suggeated that God himself joined in union with man in all his essence rather than that man attained to a state of identifying with God in his attributes and personality. The later Sufis, however, endeavoured to interpret al-hallaj's doctrine as distinct from the concept of hulul and "they have also done their best to clear Hallaj from the suspicion of having taught it (Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p.151). The general line taken was that he was right in his teaching, but that he ought not to have published abroad the secrets of Sufism, a proceeding for which he deserve to be put to death. It must be remembered that later Sufis left out many of the distinctive features of Hallaj's doctrine. They discarded the term Hulul, and they replaced his view of the union of the human soul with God by a doctrine of monism, in which all created things including the souls of men, are merely mirrors reflecting one or other of the attributes of God. (Thompson. "Al- Hallaj, Saint and Martyr", The Muslim World, Vol.19, p.401). 302

303 Although Abdul Qadir al-jilani is held to be the founder of the Qadariyya, the greatest school in Sufism, and is so venerated that he "has very nearly displaced Muhammad himself in the eyes of the Sufi-worshipping public" (Rahman, Islam, p.153), the extent of his devotion to Sufism cannot be ascertained fully. He was a dedicated follower of the legalistic school of Ibn Hanbal and many myths surround his life. Nevertheless he is universally regarded to this day as the greatest of the early Sufi masters. After the heyday of Sufism in the early centuries of Islam the movement began to lose credibility and it took the great Islamic scholar Abu Hamid al-ghazzali to give it a more sober image and respectability among the general public. Al- Ghazzali was a renowned orthodox theologian and, after a period of cynical agnosticism and depression, he declared himself a champion of Sufism, claiming to have found peace and purpose at last through a personal experience of refuge in God alone. His mysticism was chiefly of a less emotional kind than his predecessors, concentrating on intellectual insight and understanding, and it is therefore not surprising that "he is not regarded as being a practising Sufi by the ecstatics and gnostics" (Trimingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam, p.52). Yet it was he who reconciled Sufism with orthodox Islam and a fine example of the way he did this is found in his definition of the four stages of the knowledge of tawhid, the "unity" of God, in his greatest work: The first stage is like the outer cover of a cocoanut, the second stage is the inner cover of a cocoanut, the third is the kernel of a cocoanut, and the fourth stage the oil of the kernel. The first stage of Tauhid is to utter by tongue "There is no deity but God". The second stage is to confirm it by heart. The third stage is like kernel which can be seen by inner light or by way of Kashf. The fourth stage is like oil in kernel. He sees nothing but God. (Imam Ghazali s Ihya Ulum-id-Din, Vol.4, p.238). Here the orthodox dogma is almost imperceptibly fused with the whole foundation of Sufism. Al-Ghazzali's chief contribution to Sufism was to remove its stigma in the eyes of the orthodox by tempering its character and bringing it more into line with fundamental Islam. The influence of al-ghazali in Islam is incalculable. He not only reconstituted orthodox Islam, making Sufism an integral part of it, but also was a great reformer of Sufism, purifying it of un-islamic elements and putting it at the service of orthodox religion. (Rahman, Islam, p.140). Not only did he save Sufism from extinction by softening its dramatic character but at least one writer considers that he also delivered orthodox Islam from the dead-weight of formalism: "Had not mysticism in the course of time acquired a place in official Islam, chiefly through the influence of al-ghazali, the Muslim 303

304 religion would have become a lifeless form" (Wensinck, The Muslim Creed, p.58). Sufism is a remarkable phenomenon in Islam and Christian readers must, after reading this section, have recognised how similar it is to Christianity in so many of its facets and objectives. In many ways its spiritual character is far more consistent with Christianity than orthodox Islam. The Christian witness to Islam has here its greatest potential for making its message heard and understood. B. The Sources and Tenets of Shi'ite Islam 1. Shi'ism - Its Character and History. Islam is divided into two great sects - the Sunnis and the Shi'ites. The former follow the sunnah, the "example" of Muhammad, and constitute the vast majority of the Muslims in the world. The Shi'ah (the "Party") are found mainly in Iran and its surrounding regions as well as in parts of Africa. The Sunnis believe that Muhammad's companions Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali (in that order) were, by democratic election, the four "rightly-guided" caliphs, that is, immediate successors of Muhammad. The Shi'ah believe that Muhammad's nephew, Ali was specifically designated as his successor and that divine guidance descended on them to guide the growing Muslim community and lead it in the path of Allah. The real disagreement is the meaning of the word mawla used by the Prophet. The Shi'a unequivocally take the word in the meaning of leader, master, and patron, and therefore the explicitly nominated successor of the Prophet. The Sunnis, on the other hand, interpret the word mawla in the meaning of a friend, or the nearest kin and confidant. (Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, p.21). From this division regarding the lawful succession of the prophet of Islam come all the other points of separation between the Sunnis and the Shi'ah. Wherever Islam has been spoken of in this book it is always Sunni Islam that has been under consideration as the overwhelming majority of the Muslims are Sunnis. In this section we shall consider Shi'ite Islam as a separate movement within the Muslim world. A typical definition of this movement follows: Shi'ah, which means literally partisan or follower, refers to those who consider the succession to the Prophet - may God s peace and benediction be upon him - to be the special right of the family of the Prophet and who in the field of the Islamic sciences and culture follow the school of the Household of the Prophet. (Nasr, Shi'ite Islam, p.33). It is hard to tell exactly when Shi'ism began or when it can positively be distinguished as a separate sect; One has to go right back to the death of 304

305 Muhammad, perhaps, to find the events that eventually gave rise to this movement which ultimately established itself as a distinct branch of Islam. Although Muhammad's nephew Ali had been one of the first to believe in his message and was a great champion of Muhammad's cause during his lifetime, he became a recluse after his death when Abu Bakr was nominated as Muhammad's successor by Umar and was duly accepted by the community of Muslims at Medina. There is evidence that Ali was unwilling to accept Abu Bakr's nomination ("he did not recognize Abu Bakr and refused to pay him homage for six months - Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'ite Islam, p.59), but on the whole it does appear that he tacitly approved of the caliphates of Abu Bakr and Umar. It was only after he was rejected in favour of the unloved Uthman that Ali became active again. When Uthman was assassinated Ali was finally appointed Caliph, but his predecessor had already placed many of his clan, the Ummayads, in leading positions in the growing Muslim empire and at least one of them, Mu'awiyah, the governor of Syria at Damascus and son of Muhammad's long-standing enemy Abu Sufyan, considered himself powerful enough to challenge Ali for the control of the whole Muslim world. Ali found himself faced early in his caliphate with an insurrection led by a number of Muhammad's companions including his wife Ayishah (who had proved to be Ali's inveterate foe even during Muhammad's lifetime) which was ostensibly started to avenge the blood of Uthman. Ali had failed to bring the former caliph's murderers to justice and both Ayishah and Mu'awiyah used this as a cause against him and sought to displace him. Ayishah joined a force against him led by Muhammad's companions Talha and Zubayr which was defeated by the caliph at the "Battle of the Camel (al-jamal)", but a further battle fought at a place called Siffin in Syria, although it was a huge confrontation, ended inconclusively without victory for either Ali or Mu'awiyah. The former agreed to submit his cause to arbitration, however, and when this went against him many of his followers deserted him. The remainder, however, formed the nucleus from which the Shi'ah were to rise. The conflict at the battle of Al-Jamal brought about a serious split in the Muslim Community.... Those who supported `Ali at the battle of Al-Jamal and later at Siffin were first called the "people of Iraq" (ahl al-`iraq) as well as the "party of `Ali" (shi'at `Ali or al-`alawiya). Their opponents were called shi'at `Uthman or more commonly al-`uthmaniyya. (Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, p.95). Ali himself was later assassinated and although Mu'awiyah was almost certainly not involved in the deed, he took the opportunity to establish himself as Caliph, 305

306 a position that was to be held by his clan, the Ummayads, for nearly a hundred years. Those who were isolated in the process formed the kernel of the group of Muslims that was eventually to create the establishment of a distinctly separate movement in Islam, namely the Shi'ah. 2. Ali and the Doctrine of the Twelve Imams. The Shi'ah believe that Muhammad's nephew Ali (really his cousin, but much younger than him), who married his daughter Fatima, was his appointed successor and the first of the imams. They cite at least four occasions where Ali was especially singled out by Muhammad to act as his viceroy, namely as the standard-bearer at the battles of Badr, Khaybar and Taluk, and as his representative at his last pilgrimage. On this latter occasion Muhammad appointed Ali to declare the provisions of Surah 9 t the multitude, in particular the command that the pagan Arabs would be barred from performing the Hajj until they embraced Islam (Surah 9.28). Ali has become, for the Shi'ah, the great pontiff of Islam, the first of their twelve great divinely-inspired leaders. The entire spiritual edifice of the Shi'a was built on the walaya (love and devotion) of `Ali, who became the first Shi`a imam. As a matter of fact, the walaya of `Ali became the sole criterion for judging true faith. (Sachedina, Islamic Messianism, p.6). Although the title Amirul-Mu'minin ("Commander of the Faithful") has been applied by the Sunnis to all the caliphs of Islam who have represented the Muslim world down the centuries, the Shi'ah apply this title to Ali alone. Although they regard the three campaigns mentioned earlier and the appointment of Ali as Muhammad's envoy at the last pilgrimage before his death as important evidences in favour of their assertion that Ali was the real successor of the Prophet of Islam, they rely ultimately on another incident, which is said to have also occurred during the last pilgrimage, to justify their assertions with conviction. It centres on an action Muhammad allegedly took at a place called Ghadir Khumm on their way back to Medina: According to Shi'ite beliefs, on returning home from the last pilgrimage to Mecca on the way to Medina at a site called Ghadir Khumm the Prophet chose Ali as his successor before the vast crowd that was accompanying him. The Shi'ites celebrate this event to this day as a major religious feast marking the day when the right of Ali to succession was universally acclaimed. (Nasr, Shi'ite Islam, p.68). Muhammad is said to have appointed Ali to the walayati-ummah, the "general governorship" of the Muslim community, and to have designated him their new wali, that is, their guardian. Sunni Muslims naturally deny that this story has historical validity and do not believe that Muhammad ever actually appointed a 306

307 successor. They do, however, point to a last illness of their prophet at Medina, when he designated Abu Bakr to lead the prayers in his place, as a sign that this man was the one really intended to be the first caliph of Islam. (Abu Bakr was duly appointed as such on the death of Muhammad a few days later and was acknowledged by the Muslims as their rightful leader). A typical perspective of the Shi'ah view of the events said to have taken place at Ghadir, however, is found in this quote from a Shi'ite author: On the historical occasion of the halt at Ghadir when the Prophet was returning from his last pilgrimage to Mecca the Master in view of his approaching end took advantage of the large following to announce formally that Ali was the leader of those whose leader was the Prophet and delivered the well-known passage in the Quran to the effect that that day the religion had been completed, clearly indicating that the Prophet had by the will of God appointed Ali to be after him the leader of the world. (Hussain, "Shiah Islam", The Muslim World, Vol.31, p.185). Unlike the Sunnis who believed that the caliph should be elected by the democratic choice of the Muslim community (Ali was duly so-elected on the death of Uthman), the Shi'ah held that the election of the leader of the Muslims (an imam rather than a khalifah) belongs to Allah alone, vests in Ali and his offspoing, and that these imams are infallible men endowed with perfect divine illumination and guidance to lead the Muslim community. The great Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun defined the appointment and character of the imam as follows: The expression, "the Shi'ahs", signifies companions or followers and its reference in legal and theological terminology, ancient and modern, is to the partisans of `Ali and his sons. They are agreed in the assertion that the Imamate is not an ordinary matter, to be left to be determined by an assembly of the people, but the Imamate is a pillar of the faith, in fact the very foundation of Islam. It is not regarded as permissible to think that the prophet could have been unmindful of it, or that he would have left it to the people to determine. It was necessary rather for him to appoint the Imam for the people, that the Imam himself should be without sin great or small, and that `Ali was indeed the one whom Mohammed designated. (Donaldson, "The Shiah Doctrine of the Imamate", The Muslim World, Vol.21, p.14). The Imam does not receive prophetic revelations, that is, he does not enjoy wahy (revelation), but is endowed with lutf (illumination) so that he can correctly interpret the revelations already given and guide the community. The Imam, like the Prophet, is blessed with special grace (lutf) from God, which renders him immune to sin (ma'sum) before God makes him His witness 307

308 (shahid) to the people and His proof (hujja) for them. (Sachedina, Islamic Messianism, p.20). The Shi'ite concept of the divinely-inspired Imam developed to the point where it was believed that each Imam, in turn, was God's vicegerent on earth, one endowed with a full knowledge not only of true religion but also of the true interpretation of the Qur'an. The second fundamental principle embodied in the doctrine of the Imamate as elaborated and emphasized by Ja'far was that of 'Ilm. This means that an Imam is a divinely inspired possessor of a special sum of knowledge of religion, which can only be passed on before his death to the following Imam. In this way the Imam of the time becomes the exclusively authoritative source of knowledge in religious matters, and thus without his guidance no one can keep to the right path. This special knowledge includes both the external (zahir) and the esoteric (batin) meanings of the Qur'an. (Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, p.291). After Ali the immediate Imams, in order were his sons (and thus Muhammad's grandsons) Hassan and Husain, and thereafter, in order of descent from Husain, Ali (generally known Zaynal-Abidin), Muhammad al-baqir and Ja'far as-sadiq. The last of these six leaders became the real generator of Shi'ism in the form in which it has developed during the centuries. Before him it was believed that the Imam should be both the spiritual and secular leader of the Muslim community and that he should rise in rebellion and endeavour to become the ruler of the Muslim world. The Ummayad and Abbasid caliphs naturally saw these men as serious pretenders to their thrones and sought to put them to death. Husain was killed during an insurrection against the rule of Yazid, Mu'awiyah's son (we shall say more of his death shortly), and his immediate successors were both assassinated. It was Ja'far as-sadiq who finally taught that church and state in Islam could be separated and that the Shi'ites could submit to their Imam as spiritual leader alone, thus solving the constant problem for the Shi'ites of submitting to an Imam who did not enjoy control over the Muslim community. All these questions were solved in accordance with Ja'far's explanation that it is not necessary for a rightful Imam to combine the temporal power in his person or even claim the political authority - the caliphate - if the circumstances did not allow him to do so. (Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, p.282). Nonetheless the Abbasid caliphs remained very suspicious of the Shi'ah Imams and Ja'far himself, as well as the following five Imams (Musa Kazim, ar-rida, Muhammad Taki, Ali Naki and Hassan al-askari), are all said to have been poisoned and thus assassinated as well. Only the twelfth Imam, Muhammad, is said to have escaped and gone into a prolonged occultation. The Shi'ah believe 308

309 that he guides the world to this day and will again manifest himself in good time when circumstances will enable him to gain control of the Muslim world. With him the twelve Imams, the Ithna Ashariyya, cease. Although there have been many divisions within Shi'ite Islam (the most famous being the Zaydites, who gave their allegiance to Zayd instead of his half-brother Muhammad al-baqir, and the Ismailis, who believe that there were only seven Imams up to Musa Kazim's older son Ismail), the a foregoing account of the Imamate, its development as well as its doctrines, represents the mainspring of Shi'ite thought and belief. 3. The Martyrdom of Husain and the Ta'ziah. It has often been said that the ultimate figurehead of Shi'ism is not Muhammad but his grandson Husain. This is especially true in respect of the effect of Husain's death on the growing Shi'ite branch of Islam. It was also this event that gave Shi'ism its impetus. After the death of Ali his son Hassan proclaimed himself Caliph but later agreed to abdicate in favour of the Ummayad ruler Mu'awiyah on the condition that the caliphate returned to him on Mu'awiyah's death. Hassan predeceased Mu'awiyah, however, and the latter named his son Yazid, an irreligious young man, as his successor. Husain, the younger of the twins, was thereafter persuaded by the Muslims at Kufa in Iraq to stage an insurrection and he left Medina with a band of followers to join the nucleus of what was later to become the Shi'ite community at Kufa. The small band of just over seventy men, however, was intercepted at Karbala and mercilessly put to the sword on the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year. The battle of Karbala is considered by Shi'i piety to be as important in the religious history of Muslims as the battle of Badr; its martyrs are as well favored by God as those of Badr. (Ayoub, Redemptive Suffering in Islam, p.124). Although the death of Husain appears to have been the natural result of an illadvised political rebellion, Shi'ite Muslims have transformed it into an agonising martyrdom, claiming that Husain knew only too well what was to befall him but sought, through his sufferings, to set an example for his followers so that they too might become purified by enduring all manner of persecution for their faith. "The fall of Husain, a quite mediocre person, excites the Shi'as to the point of delirium". (Lammens, Islam: Beliefs and Institutions, p.144). One of the Shi'ah says: In the case of Husayn, a careful study and analysis of the events of Karbala as a whole reveals the fact that from the very beginning Husayn was planning for a complete revolution in the religious consciousness of the Muslims. All of his actions show that he was aware of the fact that a 309

310 victory achieved through military strength and might is always temporal, because another stronger power can in course of time bring it down in ruins. But a victory achieved through suffering and sacrifice is everlasting and leaves permanent imprints on man's consciousness. (Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, p.202). Redemption through suffering has thus become one of the major tenets of Shi'ite Islam, although it is not redemption through the vicarious atonement wrought through the sufferings of another, as in Christianity. Each of the Shi'ah must redeem himself through his willingness to undergo various deprivations and sufferings in emulation of Husain who made the supreme sacrifice. The sufferings of the other Imams, whether before or after Husain, are only seen as typical of the sufferings of this one man who is at the heart of the Shi'ite worship and piety. Even the sufferings of Muhammad himself are said to be only symbolic of the sufferings of Husain. Their suffering and sorrows are in turn intensely concentrated in the sufferings of one man, 'the wronged martyr', Imam Husayn, son of Ali Ibn Abi Talib. Indeed, all sufferings before are but a prelude to his, the final act in a long drama of tribulation. He is the seal of the martyrs and their chief. All suffering and martyrdom after him are only modes of participation in his martyrdom. (Ayoub, Redemptive Suffering in Islam, p.27). Although the Shi'ite concept of redemption through pious suffering differs in many ways from the Christian doctrine of salvation through the sufferings of Jesus Christ (the Shi'ite Muslims must imitate Husain to be redeemed, the Christian is redeemed by union with Christ in his sufferings and death), the very concept draws Shi'ite Islam towards the Gospel. This applies in particular to the Ta'ziah ("consolation") celebrations on the 10th of Muharram. The celebration culminates in the Muharram rites when the tragedy of Husain is re-enacted with intense emotion. Here, more than anywhere in Sunni Islam, the Shi'ah Muslim comes to grips with the mystery of suffering and grapples with areas of meaning the average Sunni ignores. (Cragg", The Call of the Minaret, p.132). The Ta'ziah celebrations are mainly twofold in expression; the one being the ta'ziah majlis, a "passion-play" reenacting the tragedy at Karbala, and the other being a procession of floats commemorating the tombs of the "martyrs" who died with Husain. The latter ceremony has been widely adopted by Sunni Muslims in the countries of central Asia as well. (It is also practiced by Sunni Muslims in Durban, South Africa, and remains a popular ceremony, though it is frowned upon by orthodox Muslims). For the Shi'ah, however, the Muharram celebrations are perhaps the most important in their annual religious observances. 310

311 Furthermore a visit to the tomb of Husain at Karbala (such a visit is known as a ziyarah) is as important to the Shi'ah - if not superior to - a pilgrimage to Mecca. If Abdul Qadir al-jilani has displaced Muhammad in the eyes of the "Sufiworshipping public" as Rahman has put it, Husain has likewise become the most prominent figure in the worship and convictions of the Shi'ite Muslims. 4. Some of the Tenets of Shi'ite Islam. Apart from the major difference regarding the authority of the Caliphate/Imamate, the Shi'ah also have a number of tenets distinguishing them from the Sunnis. Like the Mu'tazilah of old (of whom we will hear more in the last section), the Shi'ah believe in a created Qur'an "and not uncreated and eternal as taught by the Asha'ira and officially accepted by Sunni Islam" (Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, p.312). So far as human liberty is concerned, the Shi'ites, in general, came near to Mu'tazilism, and declared their belief in a created Qur'an. (Gaudefroy- Demombynes, Muslim Institutions, p.40). The Shi'ah appear to be closer to the Qur'an in teaching, however, that only three periods of prayer should be observed each day. They do not deny the need for seventeen raka'at every day but, whereas the Sunnis spread these over five periods in pursuance of the hadith we have already mentioned, the Shi'ah perform them during their morning, afternoon and evening prayers. The only singular quality of Shi'ite practice in this respect is that instead of performing the five prayers completely separately, usually Shi'ites say the noon and afternoon prayers together, as well as the evening and the night prayers. (Nasr, Shi'ite Islam, p.231). The Shi'ah also believe that many passages of the Qur'an have a hidden meaning not readily apparent to the reader. Only the twelve Imams, they say, had a perfect knowledge of the book and its esoteric (ta'wil) interpretation. Shi'ite exegesis also differs from traditional Sunnite exegesis in that it favours allegorical interpretation and finds in certain circumstances a many-faceted meaning for Qur'anic passages, with deeper and deeper significance. (Gätje, The Qur 'an and its Exegesis, p.39). A modern Shi'ah writer puts this in his own words: "The whole of the Quran possesses the sense of ta'wil, of esoteric meaning, which cannot be comprehended directly through human thought alone. Only the prophets and the pure among the saints of God who are free from the dross of human imperfection can contemplate these meanings while living on the present plane of existence" (Nasr, Shi'ite Islam, p.99). One cannot help feeling that this doctrine is an expedient developed to accommodate the Shi'ite tendency to read 311

312 its tenets and beliefs in the Qur'an and to justify the many occasions where texts with a plain meaning are forced to yield obscure meanings not at all suggested by the original sense, and that purely to suit Shi'ite fancies. One writer in consequence defines the Shi'ah as "unsurpassed in Islam as falsifiers of history" (Hurgronje, Mohammedanism, p.17). Another peculiar Shi'ite concept is that of "dissimulation" (taqiyah), that is, the hiding of one's faith in times of risk and danger. This practice was apparently first advocated by some of the Imams who had "declared it to be an incumbent act on their followers, so as not to press for the establishment of the 'Alid rule and the overthrow of the illegitimate caliphate" (Sachedina, Islamic Messianism, p.29). To the Shi'ah this was regarded as nothing more than an inoffensive and prudent concealment of one's allegiance, but Sunni writers have understandably attacked it as hypocritical and cowardly. One finds that Shi'ah writers today strive to exonerate their religion from such charges. Two examples of such efforts follow: Some have criticized Shi'ism by saying that to employ the practice of taqiyah in religion is opposed to the virtues of courage and bravery. The least amount of thought about this accusation will bring to light its invalidity, for taqiyah must be practiced in a situation where man faces a danger which he cannot resist and against which he cannot fight. (Nasr, Shi'ite Islam, p.224). We may conclude from all these traditions that the real meaning of tagiya is not telling a lie or falsehood, as it is often understood, but the protection of the true religion and its followers from enemies through concealment in circumstances where there is fear of being killed or captured or insulted. (Jafri, The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam, p.300). It is hard to avoid the conclusion that these are weak arguments employed purely as a token defence of an obviously vulnerable doctrine. Indeed the distinctive tenets of Shi'ism very often compare most unfavourably with Sunni Islam and there can be little doubt that Shi'ism is ultimately a defection from the original Islam of Muhammad, his companions, and the doctors of Sunni law. 5. The Occultation of the Twelfth Imam. The great hope of the Shi'ah is the return of Muhammad ibn al-askari, the celebrated twelfth Imam who allegedly went into hiding and will remain concealed until the world is ripe for a revolution to install Shi'ite Islam as the major world religion and power. It is said that Muhammad, the twelfth Imam, was sent into hiding for no less than sixty-eight years (from 874 to 941 AD) in what was known as the ghaybatul-sughra (the "Lesser Occultation") and that he was finally translated out of his natural physical existence into a complete 312

313 concealment in which he will remain until he returns, known as the ghaybatulkubra (the "Greater Occultation"). A typical way in which the Shi'ah read "esoteric" (ta'wil) meanings into the Qur'an is their interpretation of the words "that which is left you by God is best for you" (Surah 11.86), which ostensibly apply to God's laws, to mean the hidden Imam who remains until the end of the world! This meaning seems to be wishful in the extreme as there is no evidence elsewhere in the Qur'an or in the Hadith to back up the return of the twelfth Imam. There is no reference to any such person in the Qur'an, nor is there in the earliest strata of Tradition, nor in the earliest creeds. (Jeffery, Islam: Muhammad and his Religion, p.145). Nonetheless the Shi'ah universally declare their belief in the reappearance (zuhur) and return of al-qa'imul-mahdi ("the one who will rise, the guided one") who, they believe will bring about peace, justice and security. Under such a rule the loyal shi'a of the twelve Imams will find their exalted position, and under the just government of al-qa'im they will be able to share the blessings of a world free from "oppression and tyranny". The main purpose of the zuhur is to humble or destroy the evil forces of this world and establish fully just Islamic rule. (Sachedina, Islamic Messianism, p.173). During his lesser occultation the twelfth Imam is said to have communicated with the Shi'ah through four representatives, each one known as a safir. Today he guides the leaders of the Shi'ah through indirect inspiration, the now famous ayatollahs (ayat-allah - "sign of Allah") being regarded as the chief sources of his guidance. It is true that many Sunni Muslims also believe that a mahdi will arise towards the end of time, but many discount this as there is no mention of such a person in either the Qur'an or the Sahihs of al-bukhari and Muslim. The Shi'ah, however, all believe that the hidden Muhammad ibn al-askari will be the Imam Mahdi. What is most significant, on the other hand, is the possibility that the eleventh Imam, al-hassan al-askari, actually had no son at all! According to the early Imamite sources al-askari did not leave a publicly acknowledged son, nor did he determine upon or install his successor openly. (Hussain, The Occultation of the Twelfth Imam, p.57). There was much dispute as to whether a son had been born to al-askari and as he could not be found it became expedient to claim that he had gone into concealment. The usual explanation of the mysterious disappearance of this unknown leader is given in this account: 313

314 The circumstances which accompanied the birth of al-askari's son suggest that al-askari wanted to save his successor from the restrictive policy of the Abbasids, which had been established by al-ma'mun. Hence he did not circulate in public the news concerning the birth ot his son, but only disclosed it to a few reliable followers, such as Abu Hashim al-ja'fari, Ahmad b. Ishaq, and Hakima and Khadija, the aunts of al-askari. (Hussain, The Occultation of the Twelfth Imam, p.75). An investigation satisfied the Abbasid caliph at the time (al-mutamid), however, that al-askari had left no offspring. The doctrine of a lesser and greater ghaybah appears to have been a pious figment invented to explain the sudden and unexpected cessation of the Imamate. There does not appear to be much in Shi'ism to commend it over and against Sunni Islam. It is, nonetheless, a major branch of Islam and one which is increasingly making its presence felt. C. A Study of The Ahmadiyya Movement 1. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian. During the latter part of the last century the Muslims of the Punjab area in northwest India began to take notice of a Muslim writer from the village of Qadian named Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. This man wrote a number of treatises attacking Christianity and Hinduism and in 1880 began an extensive work entitled Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah which defended Islam from the onslaughts of Christian missionaries and the Arya Samaj, a militant Hindu organisation. At first this work, published in four volumes, was favourably received by the Muslims and it appeared that a mujaddid, a worthy defender of Islam, had risen. These sentiments, however, soon gave way to almost universal opposition as the Mirza began to make one extravagant claim after another for himself. He arrogated to himself the title of "promised Messiah", that is, one raised in the Spirit of Jesus whom the Muslims believed would return to earth but whom the Mirza said was buried at Srinagar, a town in the Punjab. He also claimed to be the Mahdi as well as a prophet of Allah and even a re-incarnation of Krishna, one of the leading Hindu idols! With the declaration that he was masih maw'ud (the Promised Messiah), mahdi of the Muslims and that he appeared in the likeness of Jesus who had died in Kashmir and was no longer in heaven, Ghulam Ahmad committed himself to a renewal of Islam by a process which most Muslims concidered heresy. (Lavan, The Ahmadiyah Movement, p.38). He said he was receiving divine revelations and by the end of his life had proclaimed that no one was a true Muslim unless he acknowledged him as the 314

315 Mahdi whom Allah was to send into the world. Signs of the man's remarkable opinion of himself appeared even in the Barahin when his mission was still in its early stages. Although the work showed no real familiarity with Christianity and very little evidence of true research he nonetheless had convinced himself that he was Islam's answer to the missionary problem as he saw it. The reader also frequently encounters in the Mirza's book references to his Divinely inspired revelations, in miracles and to Divine communication and prophecies, and last but not the least, his boastfulness. All this leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth and transforms the book, which claims to embody a sober academic discussion and a dignified religious debate, into a work of personal bragging - a work in which, again and again, the author stoops to selfadvertisement and self-glorification. (Nadwi, Qadianism: A Critical Study, p.29). Although he boldly claimed to be God's man for the hour there are innumerable evidences to convict him of fraudulence both from a Christian and a Muslim perspective. We shall quote a few of his false prophecies shortly but it can be mentioned here that he at one time stated that his four-volume Barahin would in time be expanded into fifty volumes. Later, by a stroke of the devious kind of reasoning one finds in so many of his writings, he reduced this to five and claimed he would be fulfilling his promise as the only difference between five and fifty (in Arabic and Urdu) is a dot. Even then the fifth volume only appeared in 1905, no less than twenty-five years later. He had called for pre-publication subscriptions many years earlier for the volume and a number of people duly ordered it. "During this period, a large number of people who had paid in advance for all the five volumes but had received only four volumes had passed away" (Nadwi, Qadianism: A Critical Study, p. 28). Furthermore the last volume was a far cry from the earlier works. Those had been basically Islamic in teaching but the last contained a dogmatic presentation of Ghulam Ahmad's arrogant claims for himself and much of its teaching contradicted his earlier works and, with them, orthodox Islam. In the intervening years his initial polemics, directed against Christians and Hindus, had given way to a wholesome onslaught on much of Islam itself. Henceforth, instead of debating with Christians and Arya Samajis he turned towards Muslims and began to challenge them to debate with him. (Nadwi, Qadianism: A Critical Study, p. 35). It was his claim to be a prophet, a veritable nabi, that antagonised most of his Muslim opponents. On one occasion he wrote "God had revealed to me that everyone who has received my call and has not accepted it is not a Muslim" (quoted in Nadwi, op.cit., p.57) and in his work entitled Tatimmah Haqiqat ul- Wahi he made similar grandiose claims for himself. His unashamed personal 315

316 bragging and boastfulness are revealed very clearly in this quote in the book mentioned: "No Prophet came into this world whose name was not given to me. In Burahin-i-Ahmadiya God has affirmed me as Adam, Noah, Ibrahim, Ishaque, Yaqub, Ismail, Moses, Dawud, Isa, son of Mary, and Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). I am the incarnation of all these Prophets". (Maududi, The Qadiani Problem, p. 119). In another work quoted on the same page he said of his generation: "In this Ummat, the distinction of being called a Prophet was bestowed upon me alone and all others are undeserving of this appellation". As all Muslims believe that Muhammad was the seal of the prophets and that there will be no prophet after him, it is hardly surprising that Ghulam Ahmad was bitterly opposed by orthodox Muslims. His son and second "Khalifah", Mirza Bashir ud-din Mahmud Ahmad, sought to justify his father's claim in these words: But it is equally valid to say that the expression 'the last prophet' does not prohibit the coming of prophets who imitate the life and example of the Holy Prophet, teach nothing new, and only follow him and his teaching; who are charged with the duty of spreading the Holy Prophet's teaching, who attribute their spiritual acquisitions including prophethood to the spiritual example and influence of their preceptor and master, the Holy Prophet. (Ahmad, Invitation to Ahmadigyat, p.46). In yet another publication issued in 1901 by the Mirza to defend his position he said "... my contention is that there is nothing objectionable in my being called nabi and rasul after the Holy Prophet..." (quoted in Lavan, The Ahmadiyah Movement, p.47). It hardly matters whether there is, as his followers claim, a distinction between his prophethood and that of Muhammad. No claimant to any kind of prophethood after Muhammad is likely to be favourably received by the Muslim world as a whole. That Mirza Ghulam Ahmad walked a fine line on the question of prophecy is clear. He claimed everything except that he was another prophet in succession of Muhammad himself.... But, by prophesying against Muslims, and not only against Hindus and Christians, and by using the term nabi to describe himself, he did grave offence to Muslim sensibilities. (Lavan, The Ahmadiyah Movement, p.58). 2. The Ahmadiyya Movement - Its Tenets and Branches. Although the Mirza began as a polemicist within the Islamic fold his extreme claims soon ensured that his followers were alienated from the mainstream of Muslim life and it was inevitable that they should form a separate group. They 316

317 are known by the title they gave themselves - Ahmadiyya - which they say refers to Muhammad's other name and not to their founder. (Muslims generally refer to them as "Qadianis" after the small, insignificant village where he was born). Their own general antagonism towards traditional Islam finally led to the point where leading Pakistani theologians sought to have them denounced as non- Muslims. The late Maulana Abul a'la Maududi said of them: To these few examples has now been added the case of the Qadiani group concerning whom all the Ulama of Islam and the general body of the Muslims have arrived at a consensus that they should be proclaimed Heretics and that this finding of Heresy against them includes also their expulsion from the pale of Islam. In the presence of the Qadiani religion, we cannot live with them as one nation and still be Muslims and Believers. (Maududi, The Qadiani Problem, p.103). In 1974 they were duly declared a non-muslim minority by the Government of Pakistan, the country where they have their headquarters to this day. They have also been barred at times from performing the pilgrimage to Mecca. Apart from Ghulam Ahmad's prophetic claims they have also been denounced by Muslim writers for denying the Muslim concept of jihad as meaning holy war, claiming this refers solely to striving in the way of Allah (a commendable approach but one inconsistent with the Qur'an which plainly teaches that jihad means fighting and warfare as we have seen). There are many other issues on which they distance themselves from historical Islam. Ghulam Ahmad was also reviled for constantly praising British rule in India and for seeking the protection of the colonial regime when opposition became heated. Six years after the death of the Mirza in 1908 the Ahmadiyya Movement began to split into two groups, known today as the Ahmadis and the Lahoris. The former are based in Rabwah, Pakistan, while the latter, as their name indicates, operate from Lahore. The chief cause of this split was the determination of a group of leading Ahmadiyya intellectuals to bring the movement back towards traditional Islam and make it more acceptable to Muslims generally. The two prominent leaders of this group were Khwaja Kamal ud-din and Muhammad Ali. The former operated in England for many years while the latter became a prominent author and the translator of the first widely-accepted Muslim translation of the Qur'an. The Lahoris have generally played down Ahmad's prophetic claims, referring to him usually as the "promised Messiah" alone. The split between the Qadiyani Ahmadis and those from Lahore focussed primarily on personality conflicts and also on a divergent interpretation of the role of the Promised Messiah for Islam.... The Lahore Ahmadiyas particularly were anxious to demonstrate their unity with Sunni Islam and the forward thrust 317

318 of those seeking political identity for the Muslims. (Lavan, The Ahmadiyah Movement, p.122). The Lahoris have moved towards the rational approach to Islam first adopted by Syed Ahmed Khan, a nineteenth-century Muslim modernist, denying the miracles of the prophets and the like. The Ahmadis, however, who have become active throughout the world, remain true to Ghulam Ahmad's original stand. The split led to sharp recriminations between the Mirza's son, Mahmud Ahmad, who maintained his father's claims to prophethood, and Muhammad Ali, who led the Lahori branch away from the extravagance of these claims towards mainstream Islam. It does appear, however, that the Ahmadis remain the true representatives of the self-styled prophet Ghulam Ahmad. It is also beyond doubt that this group faithfully represents the teachings of the Mirza, in so far as he had claimed prophethood for himself in clear and vigorous terms. But the standpoint of the Lahori branch, whose leader until a few years ago was Maulvi Muhammad Ali (d. 1952), is enigmatic to the core. (Nadwi, Qadianism: A Critical Study, p.120). The Lahore group operates today under the name of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at-i-Islam and while it is not engaged in much propaganda it does publish many works. One writer defines the points of agreement and difference between this group and the Ahmadis as follows, saying of the former: The secedes admit that they regard other Mussalman as Moslems and not "Kafirs" (unbelievers), as do the followers of Bashir Ahmad; and they repudiate the alleged superstition of the latter, but, on the other hand, they continue true to Ahmad's unique teaching regarding the death and burial of Jesus in Kashmir, they regard Ahmad as the reformer sent for this generation, and they hold that, in time, all Mohammedans will accept those two facts and that so the breach will be healed. They do not regard as important Ahmad's decrees, that no Ahmadi shall follow an orthodox imam in prayer or attend a non-ahmadi's funeral service, and that no Ahmadi shall give the hand of his daughter to a non-ahmadi husband although his son may marry non-ahmadi girls. They regard these prohibitions as having had only a temporary significance in the early days of the movement, and hence no longer important. (Walter, "The Ahmadiya Movement Today", The Muslim World, Vol.6, p.69). The great division between the Ahmadiyya Movement and historical Islam is, ironically, based on diverse views about the person of Jesus Christ. Ghulam Ahmad soon became convinced that traditional Muslim beliefs about Jesus leaned far too far over towards Christianity and sought to "correct" them. A brief study of his attitudes and consequential anti-christian prejudices will help to show why this sect has been denounced by both Christians and Muslims. 318

319 3. The Ahmadiyya Attitude towards Jesus Christ. Ghulam Ahmad taught two things about Jesus that were to become fundamental to Ahmadiyya doctrine and which stand out from traditional Muslim beliefs. On the one hand he taught that the second coming of the Son of Mary was a spiritual descension and that it had been fulfilled in him. On the other he taught that Jesus had not ascended to heaven but had survived the cross in a swoon and that he went away to Kashmir in India where he died at the age of a hundred and twenty years and was buried in Srinagar. (An ancient tomb of one "Yus Asaf" in the city conveniently became the tomb of Jesus and is so regarded by the Ahmadiyya to this day!). But the supreme claim of the Mirza of Qadian is that he is the promised Messiah. As such he signed himself in his numerous writings. What did he mean by this claim? He did not mean that he was the very person of Jesus Christ reincarnated in India. On the contrary his conception was that, just as according to the interpretation of Jesus, John the Baptist was the Elijah which was to come (Matthew xi.14), because he came "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke i.17), so he, the Mirza, is the Messiah which is to come, because he is come in the "spirit and power" of Christ. (Griswold, "The Ahmadiya Movement", The Muslim World, Vol.2, p.374). He even went so far as to claim that he was just like Jesus Christ and that his character was in every way a model replica of the Son of Mary's holy personality. As if this was not arrogant enough he even went so far as to claim superiority to Jesus Christ! He claimed that revelation identified him with Jesus, one of his proofs being his likeness in character to Jesus, but afterwards he claimed to be superior to him. (Tritton, Islam, p.161). This claim was repeated by his son who said that it was not beyond the power of God "to raise one in our time similar to Jesus or greater than him from among Muslims" (Ahmad, Invitation to Ahmadipyat, p.26). Another Ahmadiyya writer bluntly declared "Forget then the memory of Mary's Son; Ghulam Ahmad is better than he" (quoted in Maududi, The Qadiani Problem, p.51). One of the marvels of history has been the rise every now and again of a man who has claimed to be Jesus Christ returned to earth, particularly as these men have often been thoroughly evil, speaking and acting in an entirely antithetical manner to the true Jesus. Jim Jones, leader of the "People's Temple" who recently led nearly a thousand gullible followers into a mass suicide pact in Jonestown, Guyana, is a typical example. 319

320 The Mirza was another of these typical "false Christs". Whereas Jesus said that he had not come to judge those who rejected him but rather to save them (John 12.47), Ghulam Ahmad constantly prophesied all manner of immediate evil against those who opposed him until he was forbidden by the British rulers of India to do so. His son unashamedly declared "Whatever lie was invented against Hazrat Mirza Sahib claimed the inventor as its victim. Dreadful signs were shown by God in his support" (Ahmad, Invitation to Ahmadiyyat, p.207). We shall also see that whereas the prophecies of Jesus were fulfilled to the letter, Ghulam Ahmad had to resort to devious and contrived arguments to explain away prophecies he made which were never fulfilled. Furthermore he was a thoroughly arrogant man and one who showed none of the gentle disposition of the founder of Christianity. He was, in fact, almost the opposite of Jesus in character and temperament. He also sought relentlessly to dishonour Jesus and strip Islam of doctrines that seemed to draw it too close to Christianity. He denied the sinlessness, physical ascension and return of Jesus, thereby removing all the remaining traces of his glory in Islam and reducing him to the level of common prophethood. It is noteworthy that the polemic centres on the death and resurrection of Christ, and on His sinlessness. The method is to get behind the Gospel testimony with the help of destructive criticism by Western scholars, and so to eliminate the living message of the evangel. (Stanton, "The Ahmadiya Movement", The Muslim World, Vol.15, p.15). He considered that the Islamic doctrine of the ascension and return of Jesus went a long way towards supporting the Christian belief that Jesus was the eternal Son of God seated at the right hand of the Father and so sought relentlessly to prove that he had died and had been buried in India. In one of his works he said to the ulama "Let the God of Christians die. How long will you go on calling him the living one, the undying. Is there any limit to it?" (quoted in Nadwi, Qadianism: A Critical Study, p.47). In many other sayings and writings one finds evidence that he was grimly determined to refashion the image and life of Jesus until he appeared to be no more than a rather weak and unsuccessful prophet of Israel. One Ahmadiyya writer, following in the steps of his founder, once said "Jesus excelled in nothing except deception and fraud. It is a pity that the ignorant Christians believe such a person to be divine" (quoted in Maududi, The Qadiani Problem, p.51). Above all the Mirza sought to divide Islam as far as he could from Christianity. To achieve this he was prepared to jettison certain Islamic beliefs which, in his view, compromised the standing of Islam in relation to Christianity, and thus to make some sacrifice of orthodoxy in the interests of a more vigorous anti- Christianity.... In pursuit of his resolve that Islam must be cleansed of a 320

321 lingering excess of respect for Jesus, he sought to eliminate those traditional beliefs, which had come into Islam after its expansion, relating to Christ as returning from Heaven to the world in order to subdue anti-christ and bring in a Muslim millenial state of bliss and righteousness. (Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, p.249, 250). His prejudiced attitude towards Christianity is reflected in the writings of his son who on one occasion had no qualms about declaring that Dajjal (the Muslim concept of the anti-christ) and Christianity were "one and the same thing" and claimed that the appearance of Christian evangelists in India was proof that the ultimate moment of evil had arrived, saying "the appearance of the Dadjjal is the appearance of Christian propagandists" (Ahmad, Invitation to Ahmadiyyat, p.117). It is hardly surprising that the Ahmadiyya Movement has antagonised Christians and given them little sympathy for it. Traditional Islam appears mild and friendly towards Christianity in comparison! Islam itself has revolted against this movement in consequence of its abusive attitude towards orthodox Muslims (Ghulam Ahmad constantly derided them as "Jews" and regularly reviled Muslim leaders as "offsprings of harlots", prophesying all manner of vengeance and destruction against them). Bashir ud-din Mahmud Ahmad, the Mirza's son, on many occasions bigotedly claimed that whereas Islam, because of its nebulous beliefs about Jesus, would constantly recede before Christianity, Ahmadiyyat would on the contrary destroy it. In one book he wrote entitled What is Ahmadiyyat?, in a statement reflecting both his wishful extremism and corresponding arrogant bigotry, he said "Christian missionaries and workers now hesitate to confront Ahmadiyyat. Jamaat in Africa has put an end to Christian work in that continent" (!) (quoted in Brush, "Ahmadiyyat in Pakistan", The Muslim World, Vol.45, p. 167). In his other famous work, with tongue-in-cheek, he cheerfully said of Christianity "The most powerful among the enemy religions, which was full of pride over its universal success and regarded Islam as its prey, has suffered such a blow that its votaries take to their heels as soon as they hear of the approach of an Ahmadi exponent. A Christian missionary cannot stand before an Ahmadi" (Ahmad, Invitation to Ahmadiyyat, p.132). The Mirza himself once prophesied that he would fulfil the Muslim belief that Jesus would "break the cross" on his return and that Christianity was destined to be destroyed during his lifetime - just one of those many hollow prophecies he made that has hardly borne any evidence of fulfilment. It will be useful to conclude this study of the Ahmadiyya Movement by examining a few other prophecies he made and their respective outcomes. 4. The Prophecies of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. No prophet should be without the ability to prophesy future events and Ghulam Ahmad, true to his assumed vocation, produced a wealth of such prophecies. 321

322 The mark of a true prophet, however, is the fulfilment of his prophecies (Deuteronomy 18.22) and it is here that the "promised Messiah" proved himself to be a pretender for so many of his bold predictions failed to come to pass. We shall consider just a small selection of the prophecies of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement and the explanations given to explain away their nonfulfilment. The first concerns an elderly Muslim convert to Christianity, one Abdullah Athim, who held a series of debates with the Mirza over a period of twelve days. As these became increasingly acrimonious Ghulam Ahmad prophesied that whichever of the two of them was speaking lies would die within fifteen months and be cast into hell. This was a very subtle prediction as the Christian leader was already sixty-five years old, of poor health, and two hot summers were yet to pass before this period expired. (There appears to be little doubt that the period was shrewdly calculated and there was a strong possibility that the prophecy would be naturally fulfilled). Unfortunately for the Mirza, however, Athim proved to be in better health than he had been for a long time when the prophesied period expired. A few days thereafter a Muslim writer, whose letter is quoted in the source here referred to, said: Was this prophecy fulfilled according to Mirza Sahib's description? No - never. Abdullah Authom is still safe and sound and he has not been punished by death to be flung into hell. I do not think it is possible to make a different interpretation of this prophecy than what it clearly means to be. (Durrani, Fallacy of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, p.36). The Mirza's son, however, laboured to prove that this prophecy had indeed been fulfilled, even though Athim continued to live on for a long time after he was expected to die. Bashir ud-din gave these explanations: He suffered great mental anguish, a sort of hell.... These hallucinations constituted the mental hell into which Atham had fallen. It was the result of remorse, of feelings of guilt over his support of Christianity and hostility to Islam.... Atham began to have doubts about Jesus' divinity. The truth of Islam began to dawn upon his mind. On his retreat God completed the second step of this part of the prophecy. Atham was saved from death even though fear and guilt had driven him very near it. He was saved because he had retreated. (Ahmad, Invitation to Ahmadiyyah, p.250). The author gives no evidence in favour of the claim that the Christian leader began to doubt the divinity of Jesus - a claim typical of many made by the Mirza and his followers over the years which were patently untrue and conjured up to suit the Ahmadiyya cause. In any event one must surely be extremely gullible to entertain suggestions that the hell was "a sort of hell" or a "mental hell" and that 322

323 God had spared the Christian leader because he allegedly no longer wrote critically against Islam! When Jesus said he would rise from the dead on the third day, it happened just as he had said. When he predicted that Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies and would be destroyed with its Temple, it happened just as he said. His prophecies were fulfilled exactly as he made them. Not so Ghulam Ahmad - when his bold claims proved to be entirely presumptuous, both he and his followers had to resort to peculiar lines of reasoning to prove they had been duly "fulfilled". The second prophecy concerns a young Muslim woman named Muhammadi Begum. The Mirza was infatuated with her and even though she was refused to him by her father he predicted again and again that he would marry her and claimed that God had wed her to him as Zaynab had been wed to Muhammad (Surah 33.37). Not long afterwards she was married to an orthodox Muslim named Sultan Muhammad. What followed has an element of tragedy about it: On the strength of prophecy Mirza Sahib wanted to marry Muhammadi Begum and to achieve his object, he used threats. In spite of that the girl was married to another person. Yet he did not lose hope because of his prophecy. In pursuance of this ambition, he disrupted his family, divorced his wife in old age, disowned his young children causing forfeiture of their rights of inheritance and estranged all the members of the family and ultimately instead of the death of Sultan Muhammad, the girl's husband or Ahmad Baig, the girl's father, as prophecied by him, he himself died in utter despair. (Durrani, Fallacy of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, p.28). The threats spoken of included yet another wild prophecy to the effect that Sultan Muhammad would within two-and-a-half years duly pass away. When he also outlived the measure of the days assigned to him by Ghulam Ahmad the latter, with his usual casuistry, claimed that God had "postponed" the demise of his foe. Instead the Mirza died in 1908 while the "usurper" of his God-ordained bride outlived him by many years. The Mirza, as quoted in the work here mentioned, had prophesied almost fatefully against himself when he made this significant prediction: I say again and again that the prophecy about the son-in-law of Ahmad Beg (that is, Sultan Muhammad), is assuredly predestined. Wait for it. If I am a liar, this prophecy would not be fulfilled and my death will come. (Nadwi, Qadianism: A Critical Study, p.96). He can be judged according to his own words and his own mouth condemns him. The marriage that had been made in heaven failed to take place on earth. 323

324 The third and last prophecy we shall consider relates to the Mirza's claim to be the "promised Messiah" in the light of the Muslim tradition which states that the Son of Mary will descend on a minaret known as the Isaya Minarah in Damascus when he returns to earth: Then Jesus son of Mary will descend at the white minaret to the east of Damascus. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol.3, p.1202). Naturally, as he claimed to be the fulfilment of all the prophecies relating to the second coming of Jesus, he had to somehow contrive a fulfilment of this one as well. In one work entitled Hashia Azala-i-Awham he stated that God had revealed to him that Damascus was only a synonym for his home town of Qadian and that its name appeared in the tradition because the two towns were supposedly very similar! He added that the tradition had always puzzled scholars, a claim for which he adduces no evidence. On this occasion, however, he departed from his usual practice of twisting and contriving his way through his own and other prophecies and personally had a minaret built in Qadian to complete the fulfilment of the prophetic tradition! In 1903 he laid its foundations and after his death the minaret was completed by his son Mahmud Ahmad. After all, a good prophet should always do his best to see that his prophecies are fulfilled! Our brief study of the Mirza and his prophecies shows that he very adequately fills the role of one of the false prophets and false Christs that Jesus said would appear during the new covenant age (Matthew 24.24), and it does not surprise us therefore to find that he possessed a particularly vindictive attitude towards Christianity. Although the Ahmadiyya Movement has made some progress over the years, it is still a relatively minor sect and one which orthodox Islam remains determined to exclude from the Muslim fold. D. Other Important Sects in Muslim History 1. The Kharijites - the Early Secedes of Islam The first major sect that appeared in the history of Islam was made up of the Khawarij or Kharijites as they are known to us. The word means "those who go out", that is, seceders. They appeared as a separate group after the Battle of Siffin when Ali submitted his conflict with Mu'awiyah to arbitration. Although his followers had unanimously influenced him into this course of action, a section broke away afterwards, claiming that no caliph of Allah should submit the cause of God to the discretion of man. This group thus became the nucleus of the Kharijite movement in Islam, a dogmatic and fanatical sect which plagued Iraq for many years. 324

325 Those very men who had forced upon the Caliph the arbitration afterwards repudiated it, and rose in rebellion against him for consenting to their demand for arbitration. They were the original Khawarij (insurgents), who became afterwards an enormous source of evil to Islam. (Ali, The Spirit of Islam, p.298). They taught that the Qur'an was the sole authority over every Muslim and thus believed that they could revolt against any form of secular Muslim rule and indiscriminately kill all unbelievers - including Muslims generally who did not join them - and carry off their property as booty. Ali spent much of his time fighting against the Kharijites who began to terrorise much of the Muslim world during his caliphate. They also claimed that anyone guilty of a grave sin was an infidel and would automatically be excluded from Paradise for ever even though he was a professing Muslim, unless he fully repented of his sin. The man who commits a mortal sin (kabira) is treated by them as an apostate (murtadd), and consequently as an unbeliever (kafir); his person and goods are no longer protected, and he is excluded from the community. (Gaudefroy- Demombynes, Muslim Institutions, p.37). This group did not last long, however, (mercifully for the peace-loving Muslim communities in Iraq) but it did provide an example which was to be followed in later centuries by other sects, in particular the Wahbabis of whom we will hear more shortly. It also set the pace for a number of sects and divisions that were to take place in the coming eras, of which Shi'ite Islam has proved to be the most enduring. 2. The Mu'tazilah - the so-called "Free-Thinkers". Within a hundred years after the death of Muhammad a somewhat rationalistic approach to Islam, influenced by Greek Christian thinking, began to challenge the dogmatic, deterministic nature of orthodox faith. Those who taught that man had a free will as opposed to the orthodox who believed that Allah's will was the cause and effect of all that is, were nicknamed the Qadariyah because they seemed to deny God's fore-ordination and control over all things and taught that man possessed this qadar, this power to determine his own destiny instead. These "free-thinkers" later became known as the Mu'tazilah, a name meaning "those who have withdrawn", allegedly derived from an incident where one al- Hasan was being asked whether a grave sinner was a believer or not. According to this account someone asked al-hasan al-basri whether they should regard the grave sinner as a believer or an unbeliever. While al-hasan hesitated, Wasil ibn-ata, one of those in the circle, burst into the discussion with the assertion that the grave sinner was neither, but was in an intermediate position (manzila bayn al-manzilatayn) literally "a position between the two positions". He then withdrew to another pillar of the mosque, followed by a number of 325

326 those in the circle, whereupon al-hasan remarked "Wasil has withdrawn (i'tazala) from us". From this remark came the name Mu'tazila. (Watt, The Formative Period of Islamic Thought, p.209). The doctrine of an intermediate state in time likewise became one of the basic tenets of Mu'tazilism. Another major difference between the Mu'tazilah and orthodox Islam relates to the Qur'an, whether it is created or the uncreated Word of Allah. The Mu'tazilah taught that as God had neither place, form, body, movement or features, his speech must be considered as separate from his being and so the Qur'an must be created. During the climax of Mu'tazilite influence, when even one or two of the Abbasid caliphs supported their views, many orthodox scholars (including Ahmad ibn Hanbal) were severely treated because of their opposition to such views. The controversy about the Qur'an came to assume a central role as far as the Mu'tazila were concerned, a controversy which was ultimately responsible for their downfall. At the peak of their influence under the Abbasid Caliph al- Ma'mun, the doctrine of the eternity of the Qur'an was proscribed by decree and the holders of the conservative view were subject to flogging, imprisonment and death. But this had the effect of causing Ibn Hanbal to assume the role of martyr and of winning him and his like popular sympathy. (Scale, Muslim Theology, p.67). The Abbaside Caliph el-mamun made an edict declaring the Qoran to be created. This edict was confirmed by his successors, Mu'tasim and Wathik, who whipped, imprisoned and put to death those who held otherwise. Mutawakhil (A.D ) revoked the edict, and put an end to the persecutions. (Roberts, The Social Laws of the Qoran, p.118). The major dispute between the two parties, however, was over the nature of God's being and his control over every man's destiny. An example of how both used the Qur'an appears from a debate between the prominent Qadariyah, Ghailan ibn Marwan, and the pious Ummayad Caliph Umar the Second. The former quoted the words "We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will)" (Surah 76.3) to show that man can respond to God's guidance as he chooses, but in reply the Caliph asked him to read on to the words "Whosoever will, let him take a (straight) path to his Lord, but ye will not, except as God wills" (Surah ) to prove the opposite. In those early days the orthodox took expressions like the "face of Allah" (wajhullah) and other words implying that Allah creates with his hands, sees all things, and hears the prayers of the faithful, in a quite literal manner. Against such open anthropomorphism the Mu'tazilah reacted. 326

327 Mu'tazilism believes in the absolute oneness of God, opposes all dualism, Manichaean or otherwise, rejects anthropomorphism and denies in God any attribute apart from his essence (dhat). (Gaudefroy-Demombynes, Muslim Institutions, p.34). The well-known Muslim scholar Abu Mansur al-baghdadi, in his treatise on the various "philosophic" systems that developed in Islam entitled Al-Farq baynal- Firaq, defined their doctrine as "the common denial that Allah has eternal qualities; the affirmation that Allah has neither knowledge, nor power, nor life, nor hearing, nor seeing, nor any eternal attribute; together with their view that Allah never had a name or an attribute. They claim, furthermore, that it is impossible for Allah to see with his eyes. They say that he himself does not see, nor does anyone see him" (Seelye, Moslem Schisms and Sects, p.116). Of their belief that man has the power to determine his own destiny he said: They hold, on the other hand, however, that it is man who determines his own affairs, without any interference on the part of Allah, either in these affairs of men or of any of the deeds of animals.... Furthermore, they agreed in the view that nothing in the acts of his servants, which Allah did not command or forbid, was willed by him. (Seelye, Moslem Schisms and Sects, p.117). The demise of Mu'tazilism came chiefly through the influence of one Abu'l Hasan Ali al-ashari, for many years a zealous Mu'tazilite but later its strictest opponent. Having enjoyed a thorough grounding in the doctrines of the movement from within, he was able to use this knowledge very effectively against it in later years. Al-Ghazzali, the great Islamic theologian of the fifth century after Muhammad, also strongly opposed the "philosophic" movement in Islam and particularly attacked the Mu'tazilite belief that Allah's will could only be discovered through reason and reflection. 'It is not so improbable', he argues in one place, 'O you who inhabit the world of reason, that beyond reason there exists another plane in which appear things that do not appear in reason, just as it is not improbable that reason should be a plane transcending discrimination and sensation, in which strange and marvellous things are revealed that sensation and discrimination fall short of attaining'. (Arberry, Revelation and Reason in Islam, p.108). Despite such profound reasoning this great scholar's efforts to quench "freethinking" in Islam contributed in some measure to the formalistic stagnation in thinking that followed in the immediate history of Islam and which has yet to shed completely the grip it has on Muslim mentality to this day. In recent times only a handful of scholars have had the courage to challenge the staid convictions of the orthodox and the dawn of progressive thinking in Islam is not yet on the horizon. 327

328 3. The Wahhabis - The Fanatical Reformists of Modern Islam. During the middle of the eighteenth-century a resurgence of Kharijite thinking surfaced in the Arabian Peninsula. Known as the Wahhabi movement after its founder Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab, it swept over the lands of Arabia, laying waste shrines, tombs, minarets and other edifices considered incompatible with orthodox Islam as taught by Ibn Taymiya and, before him, the arch-conservative Ahmad ibn Hanbal. In 1806 the Wahhabis conquered Mecca and soon terrorised the Muslim peoples as the Kharijites had done more than a thousand years earlier. There were few limits to their extremism. Not content with demolishing the mausoleums and the cupolas erected on the tombs, they replaced the silken veils covering the Ka'ba with common stuffs. At Medina they plundered the accumulated treasures of the tomb of Muhammad; but the local ulema had to send them fatwas justifying this audacity and alleging the use of the treasure in the interest of the Medinese population. For several years they plundered the Mekkan pilgrims and finally caused the cessation of the pilgrimage. (Lammens, Islam: Beliefs and Institutions, p.184). Although they were subdued in due course by the Turks the Wahhabis exercised a fearful influence over the Muslim world around Arabia until the end of the nineteenth-century and the effects of this influence are felt to this day in the ultra-strict formalism of Saudi-Arabian Islam. (The ruling house of Saud, descended from the great Arabian ruler Ibn Saud, is Wahhabite in doctrine and origin). During their heyday the Wahbabis emulated the Kharijites in declaring everything inconsistent with their ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam as heretical. Even the sheikhs of Mecca were forced to sign fatwas (religious decrees) admitting that they had lived as infidels prior to the Wahhabi "reforms". The exaggerated, fanatical attitude to the sunna, even in quite trivial matters, is matched by a similar fanaticism towards bid'a. Modern Wabhabism follows the pattern of earlier times in striving to brand as bid'a not only anything contrary to the spirit of the sunna but also everything that cannot be proved to be in it. (Goldziber, Muslim Studies, Vol.2, p.34). Their major tenets, as opposed to traditional Islam, are their rejection of ijma (consensus), believing that the Qur'an and Hadith are the sole sources of theology and doctrine (the Kharijites held similar views about the Qur'an - the Hadith had not yet been formulated in their time); that no prayer can be offered to any prophet or saint (thus the tomb of Muhammad in Medina is screened off to this day to prevent Muslims from praying to him - a practice Muhammad would undoubtedly have endorsed); that Muhammad will only obtain permission to intercede for the Muslims on the Last Day (the Sunnis believe he 328

329 has this power already); that the mawlud (birthday) celebrations of Muhammad, the lesser festivals and all ceremonies around the tombs of the saints are abominable heresies (bid'ah - "heresy"); and that rosaries are also an innovation and should not be used to count the names of Allah. The Wahhabis were hardly a sect in Islam but rather a puritanical reformistmovement, determined to rid the faith of quasi-islamic practices and innovations introduced over the centuries and not sanctioned by Muhammad. The excessive zeal of the movement, however, and its opposition to mainstream Islam eventually ensured that its wings would be clipped. Nevertheless its influence is felt throughout the Muslim world in many forms so this day. Bibliography This bibliography contains details of books consulted in the preparation of the text of this book and catalogues them under appropriate headings. It does not include articles from The Muslim World, published quarterly by the Hartford Seminary Foundation in the United States of America. Quotations from a number of these articles appear in the text of the book and references are there given to the volume from which each respective quotation is taken. 1. The Life of Muhammad. Ahmad, Barakat. Muhammad and the Jews. Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi; India Andrae, Tor. Mohammed: The Man and his Faith. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, USA Anonymous. The Life of Mahomet, or, the History of that Imposture. For the Booksellers, London, UK `Azzám, `Abd-al-Rahmán. The Eternal Message of Muhammad. Quartet Books, London, UK Balyuzi, H. M. Muhammad and the Course of Islam. George Ronald, Oxford, UK Bodley, R. V. C. The Messenger: The Life of Mohammed. Greenwood Press, Westport, USA (1946). 329

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343 Rosenthal, Eric. From Drury Lane to Mecca. Sampson Co., Marston & Co. Ltd., London, UK. n. d. Shariati, Dr. Ali. Hajj. Free Islamic Literatures Incorporated, Bedford, USA Long, David. The Hajj Today. State University of New York Press, New York, USA Wallin, Georg August. Travels in Arabia. The Oleander Press New York, USA (1848). Wavell, A. J. B. A Modern Pilgrim in Mecca. Constable & Company Ltd., London, UK Sufism - The Islamic Mysticism. Arasteh, A. Reza. Rumi the Persian, the Sufi. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, UK Arberry, A. J. Muslim Saints and Mystics. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, UK (1966). do. Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam. George Allen & Unwin, London, UK (1950). do. The Doctrine of the Sufis. Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Lahore, Pakistan Archer, John Clark. Mystical Elements in Mohammed. AMS Press, New York, USA. n. d. (1924). Burckhardt, Titus. An Introduction to Sufi Doctrine. Thorsons Publishers Limited, Wellingsborough, United Kingdom Cragg, Kenneth. The Wisdom of the Sufis. Sheldon Press, London, UK Iqbal, Afzal. The Life and Work of Jalaluddin Rumi. The Octagon Press, London, UK (1956). Lings, Martin. What is Sufism? George Allen & Unwin, London, England Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. Living Sufism. George Allen & Unwin, London, UK (1972). 343

344 Nicholson, Reynold A. Studies in Islamic Mysticism. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, United Kingdom (1921). do. The Idea of Personality in Sufism. Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Lahore, Pakistan do. The Mystics of Islam. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, UK (1914). Nurbakhsh, Dr. Javad. Sufism. K. N. Publishers, New York, Uni ted States of America Shah, Idries. The Way of the Sufi. Penguin Books Limited, Harmondsworth, UK (1968). Smith, Margaret. Al-Ghazali the Mystic. Hijra International Publishers, Lahore, Pakistan do. Rabia the Mystic. Hijra International Publishers, Lahore, Pakistan do. The Way of the Mystics. Sheldon Press, London, UK (1931). Schimmel, Annemarie. Mystical Dimensions of Islam. The University of North Carolina Press, United States of America (1975). Stoddart, William. Sufism: The Mystical Doctrines and Methods of Islam. The Aquarian Press, Wellingsborough, United Kingdom Trimingham, J. Spencer. The Sufi Orders in Islam. Oxford University Press, New York, USA (1971). 10. Shi'ism: Its Doctrines and Tenets. Ayoub, Mahmoud. Redemptive Suffering in Islam. Mouton Publishers, The Hague, Holland Hussain, Jassim M. The Occultation of the Twelfth Imam. The Muhammadi Trust, London, UK Jafri, S. H. M. The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam. Longman Group Ltd., London, UK Momen, Moojan. An Introduction to Shi'i Islam. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA

345 al-mufid, Shaykh. Kitab al-irshad: The Book of Guidance. Balaghi and Muhammadi Trust, London, UK Nasr, S. H. (translator). Shi'ite Islam. Shia Institute of Pakistan, Karachi, Pakistan Pelly, Col. Sir Lewis. The Miracle Play of Hasan and Husain. (2 volumes). Gregg International Publishers Ltd., London, UK (1879). Sachedina, A. A. Islamic Messianism. State University of New York Press, New York, USA Yusuf Ali, Abdullah. Imam Hussain and his Martyrdom. Al-Biruni, Lahore, Pakistan (1931). 11. The Ahmadiyya Movement Ahmad, Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud. Invitation to Ahmadiyyat. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, UK (1961). Burney, Prof. M. E. Qadiani Movement. Makki Publications, Durban, South Africa Hasan, Suhaib. The Truth about Ahmadiyat. Al-Quran Society, London, UK. n. d. Iqbal, Dr. Sir Muhammad. Islam and Ahmadism. Islamic Research & Publications, Lucknow, India Lavan, Spencer. The Ahmadiyah Movement. Manohar Book Service Delhi, India Maududi, S. Abu A' la. The Qadiani Problem. Islamic Publications Ltd., Lahore, Pakistan Nadwi, Abul Hasan Ali. Qadianism: A Critical Study. Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Lahore, Pakistan (1965). Najaar, Shaig A. The Origin of the Ahmadiyya Movement. Islamic Publications Bureau, Cape Town, South Africa. n. d. Otten, Henry J. The Ahmadiyya Doctrine of God. Henry Martyn Institute of Islamic Studies, Hyderabad, India

346 Glossary of Qur an Terms As Quran covers a huge variety of subjects, we have assembled an index of those subjects in shape of a Quranic glossary of terms. If you see a listing like goat 6:143, it means Sura Number 6 and Ayat Number 143 and so forth. Animals apes 2:65, 5:60 Ark, in 11:37-50 camel 5:103, 7:73-77, 11:64-66, 17:59, 22:28, 26:155, 54:27, 81:4, 88:17, 91:13 cow 2:67-71, 12:43, 12:46 dog 18:18-22 donkey 2:259, 16:8, 31:19, 62:5, 74:50 elephant 105:1-5 goat 6:143 horse 3:14, 16:8, 59:6, 71:1, mule 16:8 nations, of 6:38 sheep 6: , 21:79, 38:23-24, 54:31 swine 5:60 Atom knowledge, of 34:3 weight, of evil 99:8 weight, of good 4:40, 99:7 unbelievers 34:22 Belief; Believe refer also to Oneness: Allah knows 4:25 angels 40:7 believers 2:3-4, 2:121, 2:153, 2:172, 2:183, 2:186, 2:218, 3:16, 49:14 brothers, in 9:11 brotherhood, in 59:9, 60:10 challenge 52:36 Day of Judgement 6:158, 30:56, 22:18, 22:56 denial, of 5:5, 7:45 dispute, about 4:59 evil 2:93, 10:33, 49:11, 7:153 examine 3:141 example, of 66:11 guide, in 9:23 guidance, of 4:175, 6:82, 7:203, 42:52, 45:20, 49:17 346

347 heart 49:7, 49:14 Everlasting Life 6:113, 17:10 hypocrites, in 3:167, 4:143, 5:41 increase, in 3:173, 33:22, 48:4, 74:31 Jews, see People of the Book 2:41, 2:55, 2:75-76, 2:85, 2:88, 2:91, 2:93, 2:108, 2: , 3:183, 4:150, 4: , 5:41, 6:20, 7: , 16:79 judge 5:50 justice, in 4:135 Nazarenes, see People of the Book 2:82, 2: , 2:257, 2:277, 3:52, 3:179, 4:150 4:171, 4:173, 5:82-85, 6:82, 7: , 10:2, 12:57, 16:97, 18:2, 18:107, 24:55,48:29 patience, in 3:200 People of the Book 3:72-73, 3:110, 4:150, 4:159, 4:171, 5:59, 7: polytheists 6:148 Prophets 3:81 Prophet Muhammad - 9:60 Prophet Abraham 3:68, 3:84 Prophet David 38:24 Prophet Isaac 3:84 Prophet Ishmael 3:84 Prophet Jacob 3:84 Prophet Jesus 3:52, 3:84, 4:171, 5: Prophet Jonah 10:98 Prophet Joseph 12:37, 12:57, 12:108 Prophet Moses 3:84, 7: , 10:78, 11:17, 26:24 Prophet Noah 10:74-75, 11:36, 23:26 Prophet Salih 11:62, 7:75-76 recant 3:177, 4:137, 7:89, 9:66, 16:106 reward, for 2:25-26, 10:9, 52:21 striving, to 9:88, 49:15 strong belief 8:2, 9:124, 45:4, 49:15, 22:55 supplication 3:193 unbelievers 2:6, 2:8-9, 2:13-14, 2:26, 2:100, 2:165, 2:212, 4:38, 4:51, 4:60, 4:136, 4:150, 5:41, 6:25, 6:110, 6:124, 12:106, 16:22, 21:30, 26:201, 27:4, 34:8, 34:31, 40:10, 40:85 warning 2:208, 2:254, 2:264, 2:267, 3:100, 3:102, 3: , 3:130, 3:149, 3:156, 4:94, 4:144, 5:2, 6:48, 16:60, 57:28 Birds crow 5:31 flight, of 105:3 347

348 hoopoe 27:20 hunting 5:4 nations, of 6:38 prayers, of 24:41 Prophet Abraham, and 2:60 Prophet David, and 21:80, 34:10, 38:19 Prophet Jesus, and 3:49, 5:110 Prophet Joseph, vision 12:36-41 Prophet Solomon, story 27:16-44 quail 2:57, 7:160, 20:80 Charity; Alms Giving amount, of 2:219 believers 3:16-17, 32:15-16, 35:32 command to give 16:90 covenant with Allah 9:75 Day of Judgement 2:254 death, before 63:10 debt, release of 2:280 manners in giving 2: , 2:271, 22:36 pilgrimage, during 2:196 Prophet Isaac 21:73-74 Prophet Ishmael 19:55 Prophet Jacob 21:73-74 Prophet Jesus 19:31 promotion, of 4:114 purification, as 9:103 recipients, of 2:215, 2:271, 2:273, 9:60 repentance, by 9:104 reward, for 2:272, 2:274, 3:92, 3:133-34, 4:162, 12:88, 30:39, 57:7, 57:18 spending, for show 4:38 unbelievers, of 3:117, 4:38, 41:7 Nazarenes, People of the Book (Torah or Gospel), also see Prophet Jesus fancies, of 2:111 claim, of 5:18 covenant, with 5:14 Day of Judgement 2:113, 22:18 death, before 4:159 dialog, with 29:46 guidance 2:

349 invitation, to 3:64, 5:15 Messiah, and 9:30 monasticism, 57:27 nearest, to Muslims 5:82 Paradise 2:111 Prophets Prophet Abraham 2:135, 2:140, 3:67, 3:65 Prophet Isaac 2:140 Prophet Ishmael 2:140 Prophet Jacob 2:140 guardians, of 5:51 question, to 3:70-71, 3:98 some, of the 3:199 trustworthy, some 3:75 warning 2:109, 3:20, 3:79, 4:171, 5:77, 98:1, 98:6 Conservation; Waste brothers, of devils 17:27 command, not to 26:151 Creation of the Universe atom's weight, 34:22 challenge 23:86 command 6:14 contemplation, upon 3:190, 7:185 creation, of earth and heavens 2:29, 6:73, 7:54, 9:36, 10:3, 11:7, 13:2, 15:85, 21:30, 25:59, 32:4, 38:27, 41:12, 42:11, 50:38, 64:3, 65:12, 67:3, 71:15 Day of Judgement 7:187, 14:48, 39:67, 39:68, 45:27 heavens, seven 2:29, 17:44, 65:12, 67:3, 71:15 knowledge, of 2:284, 3:29, 5:97, 6:3 obedient, to Allah 2:116, 3:83 ownership, of 2:107, 2:117, 2:164, 2:255, 2:284, 3:109, 3:129, 4:171, 5:17-18, 5:40, 6:101, 7:158, 10:68, 85:9 Prophet Abraham 6:75 prostration, of 13:15, 16:49, 22:19 signs, of 3:190, 7:187, 10:101, 12:105, 14:32, 30:24 Throne/Seat 2:555, 11:7, 23:86, 43:82 unbelievers 14:2, 17:19, 21:30, 29:61, 38:10 unseen, of 16:77 349

350 Debts recording, of 2:282 unrecorded 2:283 Family Life Adultery; Fornication; Dating; Lovers marriage, to 24:2-3 warning 4:24-25, 17:32, 25:68 Children Day of Judgement 60:3 puberty, at 24:31, 24:59 supplication, of 25:74-75 warning 8:28, 9:85, 17:31, 18:46, 34:37, 63:9, 64:14-15 Divorce before consummation 33:49 dowry 2:237, 4:20 false witness 24:4, 24:6-9, 24:23 final 2: pregnancy, during 65:6 reconcile 2: , 4:128 swearing 24:6-9 waiting period 2:228, 2:241, 65:4 warning 2: Gays and Lesbians indecent 27:54-58, 29:28 Prophet Lot 11:77-83, 21:72, 21:75, 26: punishment, for 29:31-33, 54:33-34 warning 7:80-81 Inheritance distribution, of 2: , 4:7-8, 4:11-12, 4:36, 4:176, 8:41 warning 4:19, 89:17-20 Marriage abstinence, from 24:33 dowry, before 5:5, 4:4 justice, in 4:135 modesty, in 24:31 position of husband 4:34 pregnancy 2:233, 39:6 remarriage 2:235 who to marry 5:5, 60:10 who not to marry 2:221, 4:22-23, 24:3, 60:10 Orphans 350

351 care, of 2:83, 2:215, 2:177, 2:220, 4:3, 4:8, 4:36, 4:127, 8:41, 59:7 reward, for 90:15 warning 4:2, 4:5-6, 4:10, 6:152, 17:34, 89:17-20 Parents justice, to 4:135 kindness, to 2:215, 4:36, 6:151 mother 31:14, 46:15 supplication 71:28 warning 29:8 Fasting command, to 2: , 33:78, 2:183 divorce, when 58:3-4 expiation, of 4:92, 5:89 illness, during 2:184 inability, to 2:184 journey, 2:184 pilgrimage 2:196, 5:95 Ramadan 2:185 reward, for 4:146, 9:112 time, to 2:187 Fish fish 7:163, 16:14, 18:61-63 whale 37:142, 68:48 Forgiveness Allah, is 2:182, 2:192, 2:235, 4:23, 4:25, 4:43 angels, ask 42:5 ask, for 2:199, 2:285, 3:17, 4:110, 11:3, 27:46, 40:7, 40:55, 51:18, 57:21, 71:10, 110:3 believers 5:9 Lord, of 41:43 merit, of 2:263 martyrdom, 3:157 promise, of Allah 2:268 rain, when asking for 11:61 recompense, is 3:136 reward, of 11:11, 33:35, 36:11, 47:15, 48:29 sin, not forgiven 4:48 supplicate, for 73:20 unbelievers 4:48, 9:80, 9:113, 47:34, 63:

352 warning 18:55 Who forgives 3:135 Gabriel, Angel enemy, of 2:97-98 Mary, mother of Prophet Jesus 66:12 order, to descend 19:64 Prophet Jesus, and 2:87, 2:253, 5:10 revelation, bringer of 26:193 Gambling; Bingo; Games of Chance sinful 2:219 work of satan 5:90-91 YaGoog and Magoog corrupters 18:94 loose, let 21:97 Heavenly Bodies Constellations constellations Ch. 85 description, of 15:16 heavens, 25:61, 55:33 jinn and humans, 55:33, 72:8 oath 85:1 Planets Day of Judgement 82:2 lower heaven, with 37:6 Prophet Abraham 6:76 Prophet Joseph 12:4 Moon appointed, course 13:2, 14:33 creation, at 7:54 crescent, of 2:189 Day of Judgement, 54:1, 75:6-9 eclipse, of 75:8 illuminating 25:61 jinn, and human 55:33, 72:8 moon Ch. 54 oath, 74:32, 84:16-20, 91:1-2 orbit, of 21:33, 36:40 Paradise, in 76:13 352

353 phases, of 10:5, 31:29, 35:13, 36:39, 39:5, 2:189 Prophet Abraham, and 6:77 Prophet Joseph, vision 112:4 prostration, of 22:19 reckoning, as 6:96, 55:5 subservient, to 16:12 unbelievers 29:61 warning 41:37 Stars creation, at 7:54 Day of Judgement 77:8, 81:2 falling stars 56:75 guides, as 16:16, 6:97 jinn and humans 55:33, 72:8 oath, 56:75-79 praise, your Lord 52:49 piercing, 86:3 Prophet Abraham 37:83-89 prostration, of 55:6, 22:19 star Ch. 53 subservient, to 16:12 Sun brightness, of 10:5 cave, outside 18:17 creation, of 14:33 Day of Judgement, on 75:9-10, 81:1 declining, of 17:78 decree, by 36:38 Eden, garden of 20:119 lantern, as 71:16 oath, by 91:1 orbit, of 7:54, 21:33, 35:13, 36:40 Paradise, in 76:13 praise, in heavens 30:18 Prophet Abraham, 2:258, 6:78 Prophet Joseph, vision of 12:4 prostration, of 22:19 reckoning, as 6:96, 55:5 shadows 25:45 Sheba, and 27:24 sun ch. 91 Thul-Karnain, the pious 18:86, 18:90 353

354 unbelievers, say 29:61 warning 41:37 Hell - Gehenna angels, of 96:18 call, of those 32:20 cast, into 8:37, 40:76 Day of Judgement 18:53, 18:100, 50:30, 52:13 description, of 13:18, 14:16, 17:8, 21:39, 44:43-50 hypocrites, in 4:140, 9:68, 9:73, 48:6 inhabitants, of 2:217, 7:50, 7:179, 11:119, 19:86, 20:74, 40:47-48 iblis, see satan murderer, in 4:93 People of the Book 98:6 perverse, in 26:91 punishment, in 9:35, 10:27, 14:29 questioning, before entry 39:71-72 pride, because of 2:206, 40:60 removed, from 3:185 satan/iblis 7:18, 17:61-63, 38:82-85, satan, friend of 4:121 scales, light 23:103 tree, of 37:44 unbelievers, in 2: , 4:55, 4:169, 5:10, 7:40-41, 8:36, 9:68, 9:73, 10:27-28, 18:102, 21:23, 21:99, 25:32-34, 35:36, 37: , 38:27, 50:24, 85:10 warning 3:12. 3: , 17:39 Jesus, Prophet of Allah affirmation of Allah: 19:35 Allah, questioning of divinity: 5:116 Nazarenes 4:150, 4:171 Christians, pure; see Nazarenes followers of Prophet Jesus Christians, followers of Paul 9:30-31 conception/birth, of 19:16-41 covenant, with 33:7-8 crucifixion, of Judas 3:55, 4: cross, see crucifixion disciples, of 3:52, 5:112, 61:14 falsity, of sonship 4:171, 9:30 Gabriel, Spirit of Purity, sent to 2:253 identity, of 2:136, 3:45, 3:84, 4,157, 4:171, 5:75, 6:85, 19:35 354

355 Jews, and 2:87, 4:150, 4:156, 5:46, 5:78, 9:31, 61:6, 61:14 Mary, mother of 3:36-37, 3:42-47, 19:16-41, 66:12 Messiah, messenger 3:45, 4:171, 5:75 miracles, of 2:87, 2:253, 5:110, 5:112-14, 43:63 monasticism 57:27 nature, of 19:31-32 permission for miracles 5:10 prophet sent for 3:49 prophecy of a prophet yet to come 61:6 revelation, to 4:163 trinity 5:116, 19:35, 4:171, 5:73 unbelievers 5:17, 5:72, 5:116 warning 4:171, 5:116, 19:37, 42:13 Jews, People of the Book (Torah) Allah, their saying 3:181, 5:64 apes 2:65 claim, of 5:18 cursed 5:64, 3:181 death, before 4:159 death, long for 62:6 dialog, with 29:46 enmity, of 5:82 Ezra 9:30 invitation, to 3:20, 3:64, 5:15 Paradise 2:111 Prophets Prophet Abraham 2:120, 2:135, 2:140, 3:65 Prophet Isaac 2:140 Prophet Ishmael 2:140 Prophet Jacob 2:140 protectors, of 5:51 question, to 3:70-71, 3:98 Sabbath 4:47, 4:154, 7:163, 16:124 slaying, of Prophets 3:181 some, of 3:199 tampered, with 4:46 Torah 5:44 trustworthy, some 3:75 warning 2:120, 3:79, 4:171, 5:77, 98:1, 98:6 wronged, themselves 16:

356 Jinn believing 46:29, 55:56, 72:1-8 challenge, and 55:33 created, to 51:56 created, from 15:27 Day of Judgement 55:39 favors, and 55:13-15 Hell 7:38, 7:179, 11:119 iblis, see satan jinn Ch. 72 jinn, worshipped 34:42 Koran, and 17:88 losers, some 41:25 Paradise, in 55:56 partners, not 6:100 questioning, of 6:130 satan, disobedience of 18:50 satan, pride of 18:50 satans, of 6:112 seducers, of mankind 6:128 Prophet Solomon, and 27:17, 27:39, 34:12, 34:14 unbelievers, and 41:29 Ka'bah first House, of Allah 3:96 pilgrimage, during 5:95 purification, of 22:27 Sacred House 5:97 sacrifice, place of 22:34 sanctuary, as 2:125 support of Allah 14:37 unbelievers, at 8:35 Intoxicants prayer 4:43 sinful 2:219 work of satan 5:90-91 Insects and Reptiles ant 27:18 bee 16:68 fly 22:73 356

357 frog 7:133 gnat 2:26 lice 7:133 locust 7:133, 54:7 nation, of 6:38 spider 29:41 Magic taught, them 2:102 refuge from 113:1-5 warning 2:102 Mary, the Virgin Mother of Prophet Jesus Mary 2:87. 2:253, 3:36-45, 4: , 4:171, 5:17, 5:46, 5:72-78, 5: , 9:31, Ch. 19, 19:16-34, 23:50, 33:7, 43:57, 57:27, 61:6, 61:14, 66:12 Metals Brass punished, with 55:35 Thul-Karnain 18:96 Copper Day of Judgement, heavens 70:8 food, of sinners 44:45 punishment, of 18:29 Iron iron Ch. 57 Prophet David, and 34:10-11, punishment, rods of 22:22 strength, of 57:25 Thul-Karnain 18:96 Night Journey of Prophet Muhammad - praise and peace be upon him - from the Ka'bah to the Mosque in Jerusalem, to the Sidrat Tree night journey 17:1-2 events, at Sidrat Tree 53:1-19 unbelievers 17:93 Oneness of Allah, refer also to belief Allah 112:1-4, 2:163, 16:22 Nazarenes, People of the Book 4:171, 5:73, 29:46 357

358 clear message 14:52 Day of Judgement 14:48, 20:111, 40:16 Finest Names 59:24 Prophet Muhammad 18:110, 21: , 38:65, 41:6 Prophet Abraham 2: Prophet Ishmael 2: Prophet Isaac 2: Prophet Jacob 2: Prophet Jesus 9:31, 39:4 Prophet Joseph 12:38-39 Jews, People of the Book 9:31, 29:46 reward 41:32 surrender, to 22:35 trust, in 25:58 warning 14:4 witnessing 6:19, 37:1-4 Oaths breaking, of 9:12-13 deceit, in 16:92 deterrent, as 2:224 expiation, of 5:89 slip, in 2:225 solemn swearing 5:89 unbelievers 3:77, 58:16 warning 16:91, 16:94, 38:45, 48:10, 68:10 Paradise Nazarenes, 2:111, 5:72 Day of Judgement 26:90 description, of 13:35, 29:58, 47:15 entry, into 39:73, 43:70 extent, of 3:133 greetings, of 7:46, 16:32 Jews 2:111. 5:71 martyrs, in 9:111 people, of 2:82, 18:107, 19:60-63, 39:73 Prophet Adam 2:35, 7:19 promise, of 41:30 reward, of 3:133, 4:124, 7:42-43, 7:49, 9:111, 46:14 trial, before 2:214, 3:142 truth, of 7:44 358

359 unbelievers 5:72 warning 2:221, 7:27, 7:40 Prayer; Supplication answer, of 2:186 acceptance, of 10:89,12:34 believers 2:186, 8:45, 9:71, 9:99, 22:42, 32:16 command 2:43, 2:83, 13:36, 20:14 comfort, in 9:103 cautious, in 2:239, 4:102 dedication, in 8:35 death, at 5:106 forgiveness, 73:20 Friday, congregational 62:9-10 friends, in 5:55 general 2:177, 4:162, 6:72, 7:29, 22:37, 24:56, 108:2 hypocrites 4:142 Jews 2:89, 5:12, 7:56, 7:134, 7:161 Muslims 22:78 neglect, of 19:59, 74:43 patience, in 2:45, 2:153, 13:22, 20:132, 22:36 performance, of 2:239, 4: , 7:55, 7:56, 17:79, 17:110, 23:2, 73:2 Pharaoh, 43:49 Prophet Muhammad 33:46, 60:12, 72:18-20 Prophet Abraham 2:125, 2:127, 14:30, 14:37, 14:39, 60:4 Prophet Ishmael 2:127, 19:55 Prophet Jacob 2:74 Prophet Jesus 19:31 Prophet Job 21:85 Lokman 31:17 Prophet Moses 10:87, 20:14, 44:22 Prophet Noah 21:77, 54:10, 71:26 Prophet Shu'aib 11:87 Prophet Thul-Nun 21:89 Prophet Zachariah 19:4 prosperity, in 23:9 Paradise 10:10 requisites of 4:43, 5:6, 24:58, 29:45 reward, for 2:110, 2:157, 2:277, 7:170, 9:18, 24:37-38 steadfast, in 8:3, 14:31, 70:19-23 times, of 2:238, 11:114, 17:78-79, 105:5 unbelievers 4:49-50, 4:117, 7:28-29, 9:84, 13:4, 13:14, 16:86, 17:67, 25:79, 359

360 35:14, 39:8, 40:12, 46:5, 46:17. warning 5:58, 9:53-55, 9: , 10:106, 30:31, 30:33-36, 31:17, 107:4 Prophet Muhammad - praise and peace be upon him abundance, Al Kawthar 108:1 Allah, is witness to 13:43, 29:52 asks no reward 38:86 aversion, backs in 17:46 bearer, of 33:45-48, 48:8, 61:13 belie, you 3:184 believers, and 3:164, 4:70, 4:162, 10:2, 33:45, 61:13, 65:11 believers, believing 4:162 believe, in His Messenger 57:28 best, of narratives 12:3 Book, know him 6:20 chapter, Ch. 47 character, of 68:4 challenge, to produce 2:23 Christians, Nazarenes, people of the Book 2:146, 4:150, 5:19, 5:68, 6:20, 7:157, 43:81, 61:6 compassion, of 3:159, 9:128 covenant, with 33:7 disbelieve, in some 4:150 doubt, do not be 32:23 doubt, in 2:23 example, good 33:21 expanded, your chest 94:1 family, of 33:28, 66:1, 66:3 Favor, of Allah 4:113 fealty, to 48:10, 48:18 first, of worshipers 43:81 forgery, not 46:8, 34:7-8 forsaken, not 93:3 follow, me 3:31 guidance, and 2:272 guardian, not 42:48 human, like you 41:6 identity, of 3:144, 3:164, 6:107, 7:188, 18:110, 33:40, 34:28, 38:86, 39:41, 41:6, 42:48, 46:9, 48:8-9, 48:29, 61:9, 72:27, 73:15 His, worshiper 17:1 invitation, 16:

361 Jews, people of the Book 2:146, 4:150, 5:19, 5:68, 6:20, 7:157, 11:12, 46:10, 5:68 Jinn, company of 46:29 Kawthar, given you 108:1 Know, him as they know their own sons 2:146 Koran 3:44, 10:15-16, 25:30, 39:41, 42:52, 65:11, 98:2 Leniently, with them 3:159 love, Allah 3:31 Madness, no 34:46 mankind, for all 34:28 Mecca 27:91 Merciful, if He had a son 43:81 mercy, sent as 21:107 Messenger, Allah knows 63:1 Messenger, believe in His 57:28 Messenger, has come 4:170 Messenger, from yourselves 2:151 Messenger, to humanity 4:79 Messengers, sent 36:3 messages, deliverer of 72:28 mission, of 10:2, 11:2, 22:50, 25:1, 52:29 mocked, is 25:41-42 morality, a great 68:4 mosques, and 72:20-23 news, of the unseen 3:44 news, of the dispute 38:21 news, of a Messenger 61:6 night journey, see also section, 17:1, 53:10 opened, for you 48:1 ordered, to worship 27:91 path, of 12:108 patience, and 76:24, 16:127 People, of the Book 5:68 plotted, against you 8:30 poet, not 69:40-41 poetry, not taught 36:69 prayed, to your Lord 8:9 prayer, and 73:1-16 Prophet Jesus 43:81, 61:6 Prophet Muhammad contd. Prophets, took a covenant from 33:7 prophesied, coming 61:6 361

362 read, in the Name of your Lord 96:1 reasons, with you 58:1 recited, it 10:16 recognized, they 2:146, 6:20 religion, above all others 61:9 Remembrance, sent down 38:8 reveals, to you 42:3 revealed, to him 53:10 revealed, to you 16:64, 42:52 revelation 3:44, 47:2 revere, him 48:9 right, of 33:6 river, of 108:1 Sacred Mosque, 17:1 sent, not to be 42:48 sent down, the Book 18:1, 39:2, 39:41 sent down, the Criterion 25:1 sent down, to him 38:8 sent down, to you, 2:5, 5:68, 13:1, 38:29 sent you, forth, 2:119 sent to, warn 22:49, 26:194 soothsayer, not 69:42 some, believed 4:55 speaks, not out of desire 53:2-5 supplicating, to Him 72:19 teacher, as 3:164 travel, in the night 17:1 truth, with 4:170 truth, came 28:48 tyrant, not a 50:45 unbelievers, 4:113, 13:43, 16:127, 34:7, 48:26, 58:20, 66:9, 72:24, 73:17, 76:24 unlettered 7:157 verses, of Allah 2:252 victory, 22:15 wage, as for no 38:86 warner, are but 35:23, 48:9 warning 10:2, 7:184, 22:50, 25:1, 26:194 Prophet Muhammad contd. wrapped, 73:1 western, side 28:44 witness, 48:8 witness, against 4:41, 16:89 362

363 worship, ordered to 27:91 Zayd, 33:37 Prophets, some of the Prophet Aaron 2:248, 4:163, 6:84, 7:122, 7:142, 7:150, 10:75, 19:28, 19:53, 20:30, 20:70, 20:90-92, 21:49, 23:45, 25:35, 26:13, 26:48, 28:34, 37: Prophet Abraham 2: , 2:258-60, 3:33, 3:65-68, 3:84, 3:95-97, 4:54, 4:125, 4:163, 6:74-75, 6:83, 6:161, 9:70, 9:114, 11:69, 11:75-76, 12:6, 12:38, Ch. 14, 14:35, 15:51, 16: , 19:41-47, 19:58, 21:52, 21:61-70, 22:27, 22:44, 22:78, 26:69, 29:16, 29:25-31, 33:7, 37:7, 37:83, 37:104, 37:109, 38:45, 42:13, 43:26, 51:24, 51:31, 53:37, 57:26, 60:4, 87:19 Prophet Adam 2:31-37, 3:33, 3:59, 7:11-12, 7:19, 7:26-27, 7:31, 7:35, 17:61, 18:50, 19:58, 20: , 36:60 Prophet David 2:251, 4:163, 5:78, 6:84, 17:55, 21:79, 21:80, 27:15, 34:10-13, 38:17-30 Prophet Elisha 6:86, 38:48 Prophet Hood 7:65, 7:72, Ch. 11, 11:50-60, 11:89, 26:124 Prophet Idris 19:56, 21:86 Prophet Ishmael 2: , 3:84, 4:163, 6:86, 14:39, 19:54, 21:86, 37:101, 38:48 Prophet Jacob 2:132-33, 2:136, 2:140, 3:84, 4:163, 6:84, 11:71, 12:6, 12:38, 12:68, 19:6, 19:49, 21:73, 29:27, 38:45 Prophet Jesus, see separate entry Prophet Job 4:163, 6:84, 21:84, 38:41 Prophet John 3:39, 6:85, 19:7, 19:12, 21:91 Prophet Jonah 4:163, 6:86, Ch. 10, 10:98 Prophet Joseph 6:84, Ch. 12, 40:34 Prophet Lot 6:86, 7:80, 7:83, 11:70-89, 15:59-61, 20:97, 21:72-75, 22:44, 26: , 27:54-56, 29:26-33, 26:160, 37:133, 38:13, 50:13, 54:33-34, 66:10 Prophet Muhammad, see separate entry Prophet Noah 3:33, 4:163, 6:84, 7:59, 7:69, 9:70, 10:71-73, 11:25-89, 14:9, 17:3, 17:17, 19:58, 21:77, 22:43, 23:23-26, 25:37, 26: , 26:116, 29:14, 33:7, 33:75, 37:79, 38:12, 40:15, 40:31, 42:13, 50:12, 51:46, 53:52, 54:9, 57:26, 66:10, Ch. 71, 71:1-26 Prophet Moses 2:51-67, 2:87, 2:92, 2:108, 2:136, 2:246, 2: , 3:84, 4:150-53, 4:164, 5:20-24, 6:84, 6:91, 6:154, 7: , 10:75-88, 11:17, 11:96, 11:110, 14:5-8, 17:2, 17:101, 18:60-77, 19:51, 20:9-95, 21:49, 22:45, 23:45-49, 25:5, 26:10-65, 27:7-10, 28:3-76, 29:39, 32:23, 33:7, 33:69, 37:114, 37:120, 40:23-37, 40:53, 41:45, 42:13, 43:46, 46:12, 46:30, 51:38, 53:36, 61:5, 79:15, 87:19 Prophet Salih 7:73-77, 11:61-66, 11:89, 26:142, 27:45 Prophet Shu'aib 7:85-93, 11:84-94, 26:177, 29:36 363

364 Prophet Solomon 2:102, 4:163, 6:84, 21:79-82, 27:15-44, 34:12, 38:30-34 Prophet Zachariah 3:37-38, 6:85, 19:2-8, 21:90 Pilgrimage command, to 2:196, 22:30-31 fasting, during 2:196 hunting, on 5:1-2, 5:96 Prophet Abraham 3:97, 6: rules, of 2:196 sacrifice, on 2:196 Safwa and Marwa 2:158 shaving, during 2:196 Prostration angels 7:11. 17:61 believers 32:15, 48:29, 53:62, 76:26 command, to 22:77, 84:21 command, to before Prophet Adam 2:34, 38:72-73 covenant, with Prophets Abraham and Ishmael 2:125 Day of Judgement 68:42-43 dwell, who 13:15, 22:27 humility, in 7: , 9:112 iblis, see satan knowledgeable 17:107 obey 15:98 mark, of 48:29 Mary, mother of Prophet Jesus 3:45 prostration Ch. 32 satan 7:11-12, 15:32-33, 17:61, 18:50, 20:116, 38:75 unbelievers 25:60, 68:42-43, 77:48 warning 96:19 worshipers 25:63-64, 39:9 Qintar, measurement People of the Book 3:75 Trade conduct, in 5:8, 6:152, 7:85, 11:85, 55:9, 49:9 fraud, in 3:161, 7:85, 11:85, 26:181 general 5:42 perish, never 35:29 364

365 remembrance, during 24:37 warning 2:275, 4:29 Trees; Plants; Herbs banana 56:29 corn 2:61, 13:4 cucumbers 2:61 date 4:49-53, 4:78, 4:124, 6:95, 6:99, 16:11, 17:71, 19:25, 35:13 fig 95:1 fruit 16:11, 55:11 grapes 12:36, 16:11, 80:28 herbs 2:61, 55:12 leaf 6:59 lentils 2:61 lotus 34:16 mustard 31:16 nabaq 56:28 olive 6:11, 6:99, 6:141, 24:35, 80:29, 95:1, 80:29 onions 2:61 palm 2:266, 5:11, 6:99, 6:141, 13:4, 16:67, 17:91, 18:32, 19:23-25, 20:71, 23:19, 36:34, 36:39, 54:20, 69:7, 80:29 plants 18:45, 39:21, 78:15, 88:6 pomegranates 55:68 pumpkin 37:146 sidrat 53:14 tamarisk 34:16 thicket 15:78, 26:176, 38:13, 50:14 thorny 88:16 timber 63:4 tree 7:19-22, 14:24, 14:26, 16:10, 16:68, 17:60, 18:32, 20:120, 22:19, 23:20, 24:35, 27:60, 28:30, 31:27, 34:16, 36:80, 37:62, 37:63-64, 37:146, 55:6, 56:52, 56:72 vine 16:67, 18:32 zaqqum 44:43, 56:52 Usury; Interest abstain, from 2:278 Jews 4: warning 2: , 3:130, 30:3 365

366 The Islamic Glossary: An Explanation of Names, Terms and Symbols You might have noticed unfamiliar Arabic terms or English abbreviations/titles/names. An attempt at explaining them follows. The definitions are by no means comprehensive, and serve as an introduction to the term. A full definition of each term would surely require more disk space than available in all the world. Aaron see Harun Abar Ali the name of a place where Masjidu Shajarah is situated, 7 km. outside of Medinah. Abbas b. Ali b. Abi Talib was the brother of Imam Hussein (A.S.). His mother was Umm al-banin. Abbas was killed at Karbala. Abu Dharr al-ghiffari (Jundub b. Junada) was a companion of the Prophet (S.A.W.) who was loyal to Imam Ali (A.S.) He died in 32 (A.H.) 651 (A.D.) after being expilled by Uthman. Abu Talib was the father of Ali (A.S.). He looked after the Prophet (S.A.W.) when the latter was a child. 'Adl is Justice Adam was the first man and the first prophet of Allah. Adhan is the call for daily ritual prayers (Salat). Ahlul-Bayt refers to the Household of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.). Ahwat is a precaution. This can be obligatory or optional as ruled by the Mujtahid. Akhirah is the Hereafter A'lam is the top ranking jurist Ale Muhammad Blood kin, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). 366

367 Ali b. Abi Talib (A.S.) is the first Imam (A.S.), the cousin and son-in-law of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.). He is referred to as Ameer al-mu'mineen, the Leader of the Faithful. He was poisoned in 661 A.D. Ali b. al-husayn b. Ali b. Abi Talib (A.S.) is the fourth Imam. Ali b. Muhammad b. Ali b. Musa al-hadi, Abu al-hasan (A.S.) is the 10th Imam. Ali b. Musa al-rida, Abu al-hasan (A.S.) is the eighth Imam. 'Alim is a scholar Allah refers to God, glory be to Him, there is no god but He. Allah is a Divine name of God. It is the perfect name for God as it truly denotes the absolute Oneness of God. The name has no plural and no feminine form. A'maal is an act of worship. Amirul Mu'mineen The commander of the faithful, Imam Ali (A.S.). Amr bil Ma-roof ordering to goods Arafah is the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah. Arafat is the area about 25 km. away from Mecca, Saudi Arabia. A.H. refers to After Hijrah. A.S. refers to 'Alayhis-salaam, (God's) peace be with him. It is said after the names of all previous prophets, their mothers (e.g. Bibi Maryam [Mary] A.S.), the twelve divine Imams from the household of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) and Bib i Fatima (A.S.). It will change to 'Alayhas-salaam (peace be with her) if it follows a lady's name. After any two names we say 'Alayhimas-salaam and after more than two names or when referring a group of people we say 'Alayhimus-salaam. Thus, we sa y Imams Hasan and Husayn (A.S.='alayhimassalaam) and the Ahul-Bayt (A.S.'alayhimus-salaam). Ashura the day Iman Hussai (sa) was killed in Karbala land 'Asr is the afternoon, and the prayer of the afternoon Ayah is a sign of Allah or a verse of the Qur'an (pl. Ayat) 367

368 Ayatul Kursi Verse No. 255 in Suratul Baqarah Baab-al-Salaam is one of the famous gates of Masjidul Haraam. Baligh is one who is an adult Batil is void Bilal was a companion of the Prophet (S.A.W.) Bismillah means In the Name of Allah or I begin in the Name of Allah Bulugh is puberty David see Dawood Dawood was a Prophet of Allah mentioned in the Qur'an and the Old Testament. Deen is religion Dhikr is remembrance, the recitation of special invocations during and after ritual prayers. Dhuhr prayers are the afternoon prayers Dhul Hijjah is the last month (12th) of the Islamic calendar. Dhul Qidah is the 11th month of the Islamic calendar. Du'a is supplication Ehtiaat see Ahwat Ehtiaat-Mustahabbi is a preferable precaution Ehtiaat-Waajib is an obligatory precaution which must be followed Eid is an Islamic holiday. The four Eids are listed below. Eid ul-adha falls on the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah. Eid ul-fitr falls on the 1st day of Shawwal. Eid-e Ghadeer 368

369 Eid-e Mubahala Fajr is dawn, and denotes Subhe-Sadiq, the prime time for prayer Farsakh is a distance of five and a half kilometers Fatiha is the opening chapter of the Holy Qur'an. Fatima or Fatema (A.S.), the Chief of the women of the worlds, is the daughter of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and the wife of Ali b. Abi Talib (A.S.), the mother of Hasan and Hussein (A.S.) Fatwa is a verdict, especially of a Mujtahid Fidyah is a sacrifice of an animal for expiation Fiqh is a science of religious jurispudence Fitrah is the charity due on the occasion of Eid al-fitr, on the night after Ramadhan. Foroo-e-Din are the branches of Islam Ghadeer is the name of a place near Mecca, and the great holiday named after the event that occurred at that place. Ghasbi is usurpation Ghusl is a spiritual bath required after sexual intercourse, menstruation, seminal discharge, and other conditions. Hadath-Akbar is something that needs wudhu or ghusl Hadath-Asghar is a minor hadath that needs wudhu Hadeeth is a narration/tradition reported from the Prophet (S) and the Imams (a) Hajarul Aswad is the Black Stone. Hajj is the Islamic pilgrimage Hajjatul Tamatu is the secnod session of the Hajj for those who are not resident in Mecca or its vicinity. 369

370 Halal is something that is lawful and permissible to use/consume in Islam Halq is to shave off the hair from the head (during Hajj) Hamza was an uncle of the Prophet who became a Muslim and was martyred at the battle of Uhud. Haq is the right or claim to something Haram is that which is unlawful in Islam. It is necessary to abstain from the acts which are haram. Harun was the brother of Musa (Moses) and Prophet of Allah mentioned in the Qur'an. Hasan b. Ali b. Abi Talib (A.S.) was the secnd Imam. Hasan b. Ali b. Muhammad, Abu Muhammad al-askari (A.S.) was the 11th Imam. Hijab is the screening between non-mahram men and women Hijra is the day the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) left Mecca for Medina. In particular, it was the Prophet's (S.A.W.) abandoning Mecca because of its mounting hostility, and transferring himself and his followers to Yathrib (200 miles north) whose people had invited him. He arrived on the 20th of September 622 AD, and the city proudly changed its name to Medinatu'l-Nabi (the Prophet's (S.A.W.) city). On Imam Ali's (A.S.) advice, Omar, reproached for not dating documents, took this event as the start o f the Muslim era, dubbing the year of the Hijrah year as Year 1 and starting it on the Lunar New Year's Day, the 1st of Muharram 622 AD. Hijr-e-Ismaaeel is a small wall in an arc shape adjoining the Ka'ba on one side Hira is the cave wherein Prophet Muhammad (S) sat for worshipping Allah Husain b. Ali b. Abi Talib (A.S.) was the third Imam. Ibadah is devotion or worship Ibrahim Iftar is the breaking of the fast 370

371 Ihram is the state in which every pilgrim in Hajj has to perform his/her Hajj, consisting of two modest clothes and 25 restrictions. Ihtiyat is a precautionary action which usually requires repetition. Ihtiyat Wajib means precautionarily obligatory. Its significance is the same as that of wajib with the difference that in the problems where a mujtahid says it is precautionarily obligatory, one has the option of leaving his taqlid in this particular problem and following the rulings of the second-best mujtahid in that problem. Imam means Leader in Arabic. The term is generally applied to religious leaders. However, there are 12 infallible and noble Imams, the descendants of Muhammad (S.A.W.). Iman is full, deep belief or faith. Injil is the New Testament. Inshallah means with the will of Allah Iqamah is the announcement of the beginning of prayer. Isa was the son of Mariam (Mary). He is a prophet of Allah. Isha is the commencement of darkness, and the prayer of that time. Ishmael see Ishmael Islam was revealed to the Prophet (Sura III: Ali-Imran--The Family of Imran, verse 19) The Religion of Allah is Al-Islam, and again (Sura V: Ma'idah--The Table Spread, verse 3) This day I have approved al-islam for you as a religion. Islam is the verbal noun of asalama --to submit oneself to God. Ismaeel was the son of Abraham, Prophet of Allah and the father of the Arabs. Istighfar is to seek the forgiveness of Allah Ja'far b. Muhammad b. Ali b. al-husayn, al-sadiq, Abu Abd Allah (A.S.) was the 6th Imam. Ja'iz see Halal Jacob see Yaqub 371

372 Jama'at is a group or a congregation Jesus see Isa. Jihad is a holy war (striving or fighting in the way of Allah) by the order of the Imam. Jinn is a type of creature having, like humans, free will Joseph see Yusuf Jum'ah is Friday Ka'bah is the cubic house built by Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.) and his son Ismaeel (A.S.) more than 3000 years ago in Mecca, towards which all Muslims face for their Salat. It contains the Hajarul Aswad or the Black Stone. Kafa is the shroud for the dead Kaffarah are alms to be given as penance on different occasions. Karbala a holey city In Iraq where Imam Hussain (sa) was killed there in day Ashura Khadija was the daughter of Khuwaylid and the wife of the Prophet (S.A.W.). She was the mother of Fatima (A.S.). Khums is a fifth, obligatory tax-like charity Kifie is an obligatory Islamic rule. If one person performs the act, then it is not required for others to perform. For example, the burial of a deceased Muslim is obligatory on any one person to perform. Labbaik literally means a response to the call Madina means city, and Medinatu'l Nabi (the city of the Prophet) was the name taken by the citizens of Yathrib, the town to which the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his companions migrated during Hijrah. Maghrib is sun-down and the prayer associated with it Mahram is a person with whom marriage is forbidden Makruh is something abominable 372

373 Maqame-e-Ibrahim is a place near the Ka'bah, where there is a stone bearing the footprint of Prophet Ibrahim (a) Marwah is a remnant of a mountain in Mecca. Masjid is a mosque, a place of Islamic worship. Masjid-u-Shajarah is a mosque outside Madinah, where most of the Hajis go there for wearing Ihram; a Meeqat Masjid-ul-Haram is the Grand mosque in Makkah, where the Holy Ka'ba is situated Mayyit is a corpse, a dead body of a human being Mecca is a holy city in Arabia Medina see Madina Meeqat are appointed places for wearing Ihram before entering Makkah Mina is an area about 12 km. from Mecca. Moses see Musa Muhammad (S.A.W.) is the Last of the Messengers of Allah to mankind. Muhammad b. Ali b. al-husayn al Baqir, Abu Ja'far (A.S.) is the 5th Imam. Muhammad b. Ali b. Musa, al-jawad, is the 9th Imam. Muhammad b. al-hasan al-askari (A.S.) is the 12th Imam. Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. Mujtahid is s specialist on the deduction of the Islamic rules from four major sources: the Qur'an, Hadith, conscience of the community, and reasoning. Mu'min is a believer, one who has Iman (pl. Mu'mineen) Muqallid is a follower of a qualified specialist on religious matters. Musa was a Prophet of Allah mentioned in the Qur'an and the Old Testament. 373

374 Musa b. Ja'far b. Muhammad al-kadhim, Abu al-hasan (A.S.) is the 7th Imam. Muslim is one who believes in Allah, his Prophet (S.A.W.), the day of Resurrection (Qiyamat), recites the Kalemah, and accepts the commandments of Allah and His Prophet (S.A.W.) as the Truth. Mustahab or Sunnat is something that is recommended and performed in desire for (divine) love Muzdalafah (also called Mash'ar) is the area between Mina and Arafat, about 20 km. form Mecca. Nabi is a Prophet Nabuwwat is prophet-hood Nadhr is one of the three types of vows to Almighty Allah. Nafilah are the recommended prayers after or before the daily obligatory Salat. Nahi anil Munkar interdicting from ugly (sin) Najasat is an impurity Najis is something that is impure Naar is the fire of Hell Nikah is a pronouncement of marriage according to Shari'ah Niyyah is an intention to perform an activity. Noah see Nuh Non-mehram is one with whom marriage is permitted Nuh was a prophet of Allah mentioned in the Qur'and and the Old Testament Pak is something that is clean, not najis Prophet refers to a Messenger sent by Allah to mankind, such as: Adam, Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Isa (Jesus)(A.S.), and the Last Messenger, the Seal of the Prophethood, Muhammad (S.A.W.). 374

375 Qadha is the duty that is required for a missed ritual activity, such as prayers or fasting. Qamar is the moon Qiblah is the direction of Salat (towards the Ka'bah). Qira-at is the reading of the prayer Qiyam is the standing during the Salat for recitation of Suratul Hamd and the second Surah, and the standing after the Ruku'. Qiyamat is the day of Resurrection Qunut is the act of raising both palms in fornt of the face while praying in the second Rakat of Salat. Qur'an is the Holy Book, the Living Miracle, revealed from Allah as a guidance to mankind. Quraysh is the tribe of Mecca to which Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) belonged. All his descendants are also called Qurayshi. Qurbani is a sacrifice Qurbat is the niyyah of nearness to Allah Rajab is the seventh month of the Islamic calendar. Ramadhan is the ninth and the holiest month of the islamic calendar. It is the month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. Rasool is messenger Rukn literally means a pillar. It is also a basis of the prayer. Ruku' is the act of bowing in the Salat S.A.W. stands for Sallal-lahu 'alayhi wa-alihi wa-sallam in Arabic, and means Blessings and peace of God be with him and his household. It is a prayer which is said after the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). Sadaqah is the charity given to the poor. 375

376 Saee means walking between the rocks of Safa and Marwah Safa is the part of a mountain in Mecca. Saheefa-Kamila is a collection of supplications by our 4th Imam (a), Zainul Abideen. Sajdah is the act of prostration in the Salat, when seven portions of the body touch the earth: the forehead on pure ground, two palms, two knees, and the two big toes. The two Sajdahs together are called sajdatain. Salam is a salutation. It is also the last recitation at the end of Salat. Salat are the obligatory prayers Salawat are invocation of blessings, specifically the recitation of Allahumma Sali 'Ala Muhammadin Wa Aali Muhammad, meaning O Allah, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad. Salman (al-farsi) was the Persion Companion of the Prophet (S.A.W.) Sawm is the act of fasting Sayyid is a descendant of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) Shaabaan is the eighth month of the Islamic calendar. Shahadah is declaration Shaheed is a martyr in the way of Islam (pl. Shuhada). Shaitan is Satan, the enemy of mankind Shari'ah are the rules and regulations of Islam, the divine Law. Shari'ah is the totality of of Allah's Commandments relating to man's activities. Shams is the sun Shawwal is the 10th month of the Islamic calendar. Shi'a is a follower of the twelve Imams (A.S.). 376

377 Sunnat or Mustahab means recommendable, desirable. The acts whose neglect is not punished, but whose performance is rewarded, e.g., the call for prayers (adhan). Surah is any chapter of the 114 in the Holy Qur'an. It literally means a sign, or a revelation. Each Surah in the Qur'an is named from some subject or word which is particularly striking. Tabarra opposite of Tawalla, avoiding and eluding enemies of Allah and prophet and Imams Tafseer is a term used for a commentary of any book, specifically the Holy Qur'an. Taharat is the state of being clean and not impure Tahur is the cave wherein Prophet Muhammad (S) stayed before finally migrating to Madinah Takbirah is saying Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest). Talbiyah is the formula of response to the Call of Allah, which must be pronounced immediately after Niyyah of Ihram Tawaf is part of the worship of Hajj and Umrah Tawalla is loving and supporting and following (Allah and prophet and Imams and their allies) Tawbah is repentance Tawheed is Divine Unity Tayammum means spiritual cleansing which is sometimes a substitute for wudhu and ghusl Thawab is a Divine blessing Turbah is earth, especially from the shrines of the Holy Imams (A.S.), on which Muslims place their heads during Sajdah Umm Kulthum see Zaynab 377

378 'Umra is the little pilgrimage, performed in ritual purity wearing the Ihram, the seamless ceremonial garments consisting of a white sheet from the navel to the knees and a white sheet covering the left shoulder, back and breast, knotted on t he right. Usule Din are the principles of Islam. Wafat is a death Wajib is obligatory (pl. Wajibat). An act which must be performed. Wudhu is a spiritual wash of the face and hands before Salat Yaqub was a prophet of Allah, mentioned in the Qur'an and the Old Testament. Yusuf was a prophet of Allah, mentioned the Qur'an and the Old Testament. Zakat is an obligatory charity Zamzam is the name of a well at Makkah Zaynab (Umm Kulthum) was the younger daughter of Ali and Fatima (A.S.). Ziyarat is to visit and/or to recite special salutations for the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) and his household (A.S.). 378

379 From the Editor on Sufism Spirituality in Islam: Over the centuries, the Orientalists (a breed of Western scholars who studied Islamic history and culture in the period of colonialism) have been censorious of Shari ah but appreciative of Sufism. The dichotomy continues. In nurturing this dichotomy, some Western scholars are anti-shari ah, some are unacquainted with Islam; some are motivated to moderate what they perceive as the excesses of Shari ah, such as persecution of religious minorities, subjugation of women, and imposition of harsh criminal punishments. Unfortunately, scholars bereft of mysticism are incapable of understanding the Sufi ways because intellectualized 379

380 scholarship can barely see beyond the walls of argumentation. However, in spite of so many differences in world religions as even in Islam, I accepted the Islamic Faith exactly September 6, 1997, after having taken a one-year Saturday curriculum in Le Centre Islamique et Culturel de Bruxelles ( La Ligue du Monde Islamique), the Brussels main mosque. Sufism is Islamic mysticism. As such, it has the special distinction of being found in the Sunnite as well as the Shiite traditions of Islam. It is extremely difficult to attempt a description of Sufism. Like all forms of mysticism, it is above all the search for God and this search may be expressed in many different ways, taking various forms. On the other hand, by reason of its esoteric aspects ; it introduces secret practices, initiation rites that vary depending on the masters who teach them. Islamic spirituality is commonly known as sufism, or tasawwuf, in Arabic. It was famously summarised by the great Moroccan scholar, Ahmed Ibn Ajiba Alhasani Almaghribi: Sufism is the science by which one knows the methods of travelling towards the King of kings. It is also the means to the purification of the inward from defects and its adornment with all virtues. Sufism is the method by which the creation is obliterated, lost in the vision (shuhud) of the Truth (God; Al Haqq), and then returned to the world of phenomena (Al-Athar). Its beginning is knowledge, its middle is action and its finality is the exquisite gift from God. Muslim Sufis strive to expand law s space for tolerance, egalitarianism, and spiritual diversity. However, no version of Sufism can discard Shari ah without undermining Islamic law. Lawless Sufism does little to improve a satisfying way of life for most Muslims. Law is indispensable for the construction and maintenance of an ordered society. Equally true, however, is the fact that law without enlightened criticism leads to cruelty. Contemporary opposition to Shari ah in the West and denunciation of Sufism in some Muslim communities, both are misguided. Sufis are made differently from jurists and judges. There are no schools or universities that offer certificates or degrees to become Sufis. It requires years of education and professional knowledge for a person to be a jurist, judge, or learned person. Shari ah judges and jurists acquire special knowledge after years of studying the Qur an, the Prophet s Sunnah, the fiqh, and Islamic secular law found in modern constitutions, legislation, and treaties. By contrast, Sufis may or may not begin as scholars of law. Sufis are cultivated in the veiled folds of knowledge, mystery, intuition, worship, wanderings, and purity. The Sufi seeks, and eventually lives in, a world free of ego, greed, gluttony, intemperance, ingratitude, envy, jealousy, lust, demons, kings, queens, and fools. 380

381 Much like ordinary Muslims, Sufis subscribe to the five obligations of Shari ah. The Shari ah mandates that Muslims believe in One God and in the prophecy of Muhammad, say the daily five prayers, fast in the month of Ramadhan, give zakat (charity), and perform the hajj (pilgrimage) if they can afford it. Sufis discharge these five obligations day and night. In fact, most Sufis do more than minimal observance of the five obligations. They say optional prayers throughout the day, fast throughout the year, and generously give charity. Every moment of their life is devoted to the remembrance of God. They pray during the day and during the night, give charity openly and secretly, remember God boisterously and wordlessly, and send salutations to all Prophets by their tongues and hearts. Since the introduction of Islam in the seventh century, the province of Khorasan has been the most cherished homeland for Sufis. Khorasan (comprised of numerous cities including Nishapur, Balkh, Ghazni, Merv, Samarkand, and Bukhara) nurtured great hadith-collectors, scientists, jurists, and Sufis of Islam. The seventh-century Iraq, when its cultural identity was Mesopotamian more than Arab, was a favourite abode of master Sufis. Najaf, an Iraqi town where Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib is buried, excels in Sufi spirituality. Sufis have always lived, openly and secretly, in cities and villages of Egypt. Fallen to militarism, modern Egyptians appear to have drifted away from Sufi spirituality. Morocco, particularly the city of Fez, is blessed with the Sufi heritage, opening the way for West African Muslims to experience the raptures of mysticism. Pakistan and India remain most hospitable to Sufi spirituality as the people in this region seek to reconcile various religious traditions. Unfortunately, Muslims are divided over Sufi spirituality. Some misguided governments and clerical organizations are anti-sufi. For the most part, however, Muslim communities respond kindly to Sufi spirituality. Muslims in Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India are wide open to the teachings of Sufis. Muslims in these countries see no contradiction between Islamic law and Sufi spirituality. By contrast, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and some other Gulf ministates have little reverence for Sufi spirituality and see Islamic mysticism as a threat to the integrity of Islam. Many governments are suspicious of Sufis because Sufis are unlikely to support royal families, kingships, and other forms of power that elevate some families over others. Despite official hostility to Sufi spirituality in some countries, Sufis in all Muslim nations continue to influence individuals, families, towns, and communities. Sufi spirituality is not a separate sect of Islam. Nor is Sufi spirituality more aligned with the Shia or the Sunni sect. While Iranian culture and sensibilities have greatly influenced the construction and development of mysticism, Sufi 381

382 spirituality is not a branch of Shia theology. Most prominent Sufis have been raised with the Sunni faith. More recently, the Wahhabis have been vociferously opposed to Sufi spirituality. Many attacks on Sufi shrines are inspired by the theology of Wahhabism. In a protracted contest, however, generous Sufi spirituality will likely win over narrow-minded sectarianism. Furthermore, there is no unity in Sufism. Each master gathers together a band of disciples drawn by the reputation of his teaching. At most, these masters admit to belonging to a " confraternity ", itself founded by a famous Sufi in bygone ages. As soon as reference is made to Islam, nobody checks any orthodoxy whatever in the teaching given. The importance of this secret Islam as it were, is nonetheless remarkable. Historically, it played a major role in giving rise to the deviations of the Shiah doctrine known as Ismailism and the Druse religion. In literature it had a profound influence on the inspiration of some of the most outstanding Arabo- Persian works like the Tales of a Thousand and One Nights and the love poem of Leyla and Majnoon. However, I like to repeat, the most original aspect of Sufism is its spirituality. In the Sufi view, God is approached by degrees. Firstly, the law of the Qur an must be respected ; but this is only a first step which does not lead to the understanding of the nature of the world. The rituals are of no use if one doesn t know their hidden meaning. It is only through an initiation (mostly selfinitiation) that one is enabled to see behind the appearance of things. For example, Man is a microcosm, a world in miniature, in which the image of the universe is to be found, the macrocosm. So it is quite natural that in deepening one s knowledge of man one should arrive at an understanding of the world which is already a step towards God. According to the Sufis, all existence comes from God and God alone is real. The created world is but a reflection of the Divine ; " the universe is the Shadow of the Absolute ". The ability to discern God behind the screen of things implies purity of soul. It is only through an effort to withdraw from the world that one can approach God : " Man is a mirror which, when polished, reflects God. " The God that the Sufis discover is a God of love and the way to him is through Love : " whoever knows God, loves him ; whoever knows the world turns away from him. " " If you wish to be free, become a prisoner of Love. " This is not unfamiliar music to the ears of the Christian mystics. In this respect, it is curious to note the similarities between Sufism and other philosophic or religious trends. Originally, Sufism was influenced by Pythagorean thought and by the Zoroastrian religion of Persia. The Sufi initiation rite, which opens up the 382

383 possibility of a spiritual rebirth, is not entirely unlike Christian baptism and one could even identify some Buddhist echo s in the Sufi formula " man is nonexistent before God ". There is the same diversity and the same imagination in the spiritual techniques of Sufism. The search for God through symbolism, in the case of some Sufis, passes through music or dance which, they believe, transcends thought. This was practised by Djalal ed din Rumi, according to Mevlana, the founder of the whirling dervishes. In the case of other Sufis, symbolism is an intellectual exercise in which one meditates on the numerical value of letters as the Cabbalistic Jews do. Sometimes also, it is through an endless repetition of the invocation of the names of God that the Sufi seeks union with Him. And so Sufism brings to Islam a poetic and mystical dimension that one could never find in the exegetes pernickety analysis of the texts of the Qur an. For this reason the latter, irritated by this over-zealous fervour, seek to marginalise Sufism. This is also why the Sufis set such store by their practices and trace them back to the prophet himself. They hold that Mohammed received, at the same time as the Qur an, esoteric revelations which he revealed only to some of his companions. In this way, the Sufi masters all link their teaching to a long line of predecessors who give them authenticity. However, this legitimacy through reference to the Prophet does not give rise to uniformity in the Sufi movement. There are many different schools and each one has its own style and practices. In French, these schools are generally designated under the name of confraternities. Before going on to study some of these schools, it is necessary first to keep in mind that the confraternities have become, not an institution, but at least one way of living Islam in a manner so widely accepted that all kinds of movements, mystical or not, assume the title of confraternity in order to practise their activities. One should not therefore be surprised at times to come across rather un-mystical confraternities with a rudimentary spirituality that is far removed from the elevated speculations that have made Sufism one of the major components of universal spirituality. Some quotes from Imam Al-Ghazali to round up what I wanted to say at the end of this manuscript: What is destined will reach you, even if it be beneath two mountains. What is not destined will not reach you, even if it be between your two lips. Never have I dealt with anything more difficult than my own soul, which sometimes helps me and sometimes opposes me. Hamza (Philippe) De Coster, B.Th., DD 383

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386 For Information Only 386

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