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Table of contents :
TABLE OF CONTENTS
No Islam but Islam
No Islam but Islam By
No Islam but Islam By Farzana Moon This book first published 2015 Cambridge Scholars Publishing Lady Stephenson Library, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2PA, UK British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Copyright © 2015 by Farzana Moon All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. ISBN (10): 1-4438-7118-4 ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-7118-1
For my kindred spirit Damanjit Yakhmi, dearest of friends
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Foreword .................................................................................................... ix Chapter One ................................................................................................. 1 The Mount of Mercy Chapter Two .............................................................................................. 19 Islamic Festivals Chapter Three ............................................................................................ 33 The Prophet’s Compassion Chapter Four .............................................................................................. 50 The Prophet’s Wives Chapter Five .............................................................................................. 61 Hajj: Holy Pilgrimage Chapter Six ................................................................................................ 70 The Prophet’s Character Chapter Seven............................................................................................ 80 Caliphs in Succession Chapter Eight ............................................................................................. 89 The Second Caliph Chapter Nine.............................................................................................. 98 The Third Caliph Chapter Ten ............................................................................................. 107 The Fourth Caliph Chapter Eleven ........................................................................................ 116 Muayiya, the First Umayyad Caliph 661-680
Table of Contents
Chapter Twelve ....................................................................................... 120 The Great Split of the Year 680 Chapter Thirteen ...................................................................................... 125 Sunni/Shia Islam Chapter Fourteen ..................................................................................... 134 Wahhabi Islam Chapter Fifteen ........................................................................................ 158 Ahmadiyya Islam Chapter Sixteen ....................................................................................... 165 The Taliban: No Islam Chapter Seventeen ................................................................................... 173 Prophet Muhammad’s Islam Conclusion ............................................................................................... 183 Bibliography ............................................................................................ 184 Index ........................................................................................................ 186
This book is about what Islam is, not about what Islam is not, as is proclaimed by mullahs when violence against Islam threatens their selfstyled religion, endangering their lifestyle of zeal, orthodoxy and intolerance. Conceived as an antidote against those fundamentalists who do not denounce the evils of terror, murder and suicide bombing, this book strives toward delineating the compassionate side of Islam based on the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Paradoxically, Islam as a religion of peace and reconciliation was hijacked immediately after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. At the very inception of its rise to glory, it fell from the grace of purity in love, harmony and compassion. The message of Islam was sidelined if not forgotten, and Islam did rise—it rose to the pinnacle of expansion by the sword, under the weight of an astonishing mixture of dualities, in cruelty and compassion, in tolerance and intolerance, in killing and forgiving. Historically, Islam emerged as a power struggle between several factions, and even its great split into the major sects of Shia and Sunni, and further fragmentation into multiple sects, did not affect the dizzying speed of its conquests, along with the flourishing of the arts and sciences. Sadly, the arts of poetry, literature and architecture which allowed Islam to reach the zenith of its expression declined with the gradual onslaught of man-made laws and edicts in stark contrast to the precepts of Islam. Prophet Muhammad’s last sermon on the last holy pilgrimage to Mecca, as detailed at the beginning of the first chapter, is the epitome of Islam as a universal message of love, equality and compassion for all God’s creatures.
CHAPTER ONE THE MOUNT OF MERCY
Pass through this moment of time in harmony with nature, and end your journey in content, as an olive falls when it is ripe, blessing nature who produced it, and thanking the tree on which it grew. —Marcus Aurelius
Prophet Muhammad's Last Sermon on the Mount of Mercy From the Prophet’s sermon on Mount Arafat after hajj: “My beloved friends, listen to my words, because I don’t know if I will ever be with you here again after this year. Therefore listen to what I am saying, carefully, and take these words to those who could not be here today. My friends and family, your lives, property and honor are sacred for you until you appear before your Lord, just as you consider this month, this day and this city sacred. Return the things that are entrusted to you to their rightful owners. You will meet your Lord, and He will hold you answerable for your actions. You have rights over your wives, and your wives have rights over you. Treat your wives with love and kindness. Verily, you have taken them on the security of God, and their persons are made lawful unto you by the words of God. Free your slaves, following my example, and tell others to do the same. But if they wish to stay with you, see that you feed them with such food as you eat yourselves, and clothe them with the stuff you wear. And if they commit a fault which you are not inclined to forgive, then part from them, for they are the servants of God as you and me, and are not to be treated harshly. Know that we are all equal in the sight of Allah, and journey together in this world as a family of brotherhood and sisterhood. All of us belong to the line of Adam, and Adam was created from dust. This is a gift of knowledge for all who cultivate wisdom and humility. An Arab is no better than a non-Arab, nor is a white better than a black, or a black better than a white, except in piety. Nothing is allowed to a Muslim if it belongs to another, unless it is given freely and willingly, so do not oppress each other. I am leaving
behind me two things, the Book of God and my example, if you follow these two, you will never go astray. Spend freely of what is given to you, whether in prosperity or in adversity. Restrain your anger and pardon all, for Allah loves those who do good, as it has been revealed. This hajj is acceptable to Allah, only if we have love in our hearts for each and every one of God’s creatures.” Kill not your children for fear of want. We shall provide sustenance for them. As well as for you. Verily, the killing of them is a great sin. (17:31 Quran) This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you, and have chosen for you as religion Al-Islam. Whoso is forced by hunger, not by will, to sin; for him, lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful,” Prophet Muhammad recited, his eyes shining with mirth. (5:3 Quran) “Know you that what month is this? What territory this is? What day?” “The sacred month! The sacred territory! The great day of pilgrimage—” several voices spluttered forth, filling the Mount of Mercy with the music of joy. “Even thus sacred and inviolable God made His life and the property of each of you unto the other, until you meet your Lord.” Prophet Muhammad’s voice rippled above all, his arms held out. “O Lord! I have delivered my message and accomplished my work!” “Yes, you have, Prophet. Yes, you have—” the pilgrims cheered. “O God, I beseech Thee, bear Thou witness unto it,” Prophet Muhammad prayed. “This is the day of true brotherhood and sisterhood, of devotion and repentance. This is the day when Allah is revealed to His servants, extending His Hands with generosity and immense blessing! We are promised that during these hours by Arafat, Allah will send down His mercy and forgiveness to those who are deserving and they will feel His presence!” “The heart of the believer is between two fingers of the Infinitely Merciful” – the Prophet Muhammad
The Mount of Mercy
The Prophet’s Night Journey to the Throne of the Beloved The Prophet’s cousin Ali had long since retired upstairs, and Ali’s sister Umm Hani had dozed off in a corner by the window, while Muhammad slept soundly. The house itself was quiet when Muhammad’s eyes were shot open by a sudden flood of light. Veils upon veils of shimmering light were dancing before his sight, revealing vistas infinite and boundless. All were expanding into One Circle of Unity, its shining globe a mirror bright. Gabriel was floating out of this mirror, appareled in the purity of light so dazzling that it appeared to cut through the very heart of the night, effacing all darkness. The silvery thatch of hair over his head was crowned by stars, and his wings were sprinkled with the colors of the rainbows. Muhammad could not tear his gaze away, the fires of joy and bliss leaping through his very soul into his shining eyes. Gabriel was commanding him to rise, and he was obeying much like the Pilgrim of Love, listening to the music of the night, which was bidding him to journey to the Throne of the Beloved. The night itself, decked with brilliant stars was beckoning Muhammad to obey each and every command of Gabriel. In absolute surrender to his sight and senses, Muhammad had already followed Gabriel out on the road. Gabriel was drawing his attention toward a beautiful mare, its glittering wings spread out like a giant eagle in flight. The fire and brilliance of jacinth was contained in the eyes of this mare, her golden hair braided with moonbeams. Her name is Buraq, Muhammad. Our heavenly mount to carry us on our Night Journey to the Lord of Power! Gabriel smiled, hoisting Muhammad up, and easing himself on its back with the swiftness of lightning. Buraq whinnied with great delight, sucking in a cool draught of night air, and galloping over the wind toward the celestial skies. Muhammad was feeling light-headed, his eyes searching the expanse of the mountain upon which Buraq had planted her feet. Gabriel was commanding him to dismount and offer his prayers, expounding that the ground under their feet was the summit of Mount Sinai where Jehovah had given the tablets of stone to Moses. Muhammad was spellbound by this Journey awesome and ineffable. Astride Buraq with Gabriel behind him, Muhammad could feel the silken sails of the wind caressing his face. Their next halt was at Bethlehem, where Muhammad prayed at the very spot where Jesus was
born. Buraq was their holy guide, sailing up once again, and then swooping down in front of the temple in Jerusalem. Muhammad was commanded to enter this Holy Temple, Gabriel beside him introducing him to Jesus and Moses. All three were kneeling in unison, offering prayers. Muhammad had barely finished his prayers, when he found himself outside the Temple. Gabriel was leading Muhammad toward a ladder balanced on Jacob’s stone, planting his feet on the first rung, and bidding him to follow in the footsteps of Light and Trust. They were climbing the very rungs of the voids, each step light as a feather. In a flash, Muhammad was whisked into the mists of ether, standing face-to-face with Gabriel at the very gates of Paradise. The portals of the heavens were flung open by Gabriel’s command, and Muhammad was entering the First Heaven, made of pure silver, suspended low under the canopy of stars, and balanced by golden chains. Adam was the first one to greet Muhammad in this First Heaven, embracing him, and hailing him as the noblest of his children. Adam was leading him toward the Second Heaven where Noah stood welcoming. Muhammad was embraced by Noah, Jesus and John the Baptist, before being whisked away by Gabriel into the Third Heaven. The Third Heaven was the abode of the David and Joseph, Gabriel was expounding. In the Fourth Heaven, Enoch offered them warm welcome before they were flown to the Next. Muhammad had barely exchanged greetings with Aaron in the Fifth Heaven, when the Sixth Heaven with its entire splendor was calling him and he yielded to its glory where angels stood singing. O Allah, Who has united snow and fire, unite all Thy faithful servants in obedience to Thy Law. Muhammad’s senses were intoxicated by the sweetness of music from the lips of the angels. His soul was a shuddering mirror of bliss and rapture so supreme that he did not even know that he was transported inside the shining vaults of the Seventh Heaven. Prophet Muhammad was absorbed into a flood of divine Light, standing under the shade of a lote tree, beyond which in rippling waves upon waves of light were concealed many thrones of Allah. Muhammad was invited into the House of Adoration, embellished with rubies and jacinth, his gaze searching the Face of the Beloved. The scent of Paradise was in his breath, the perfume of nearness only two bow shots away from
The Mount of Mercy
the Throne of Allah. The Face of God was veiled in twenty thousand veils, and the glory which radiated from behind the veils was greater than fifty thousand suns caught inside the heart of one day. To the right of God’s Throne was an inscription bright and dazzling. There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger. The golden tongue of this inscription itself was pouring the music of ecstasy and exaltation into Muhammad’s soul as he stood gazing, rapt and dazzled. O Muhammad, salute Thy Creator. One Voice imbued with love encompassing was the pulse of a caress and a command. The shafts of pain and bliss were leaping from within Muhammad’s heart, his own Fire of Love one embrace, ineffable. Sweetness upon sweetness from the very face of his Beloved were infused into each pore of his self-surrender, as he stood there annihilated, dazzled. His very soul was singing in ecstatic exaltation. Glory be to Him Who carried His servant by night from the sacred temple of Mecca to the Temple that is remote, whose precinct We have blessed, that We might show him of Our signs. For He is the Hearer and the Seer. (17: 1 Quran)
The Zen of Islam I cast the garment of love over thee from Me. And this in order that thou mayest be reared under Mine Eye. (20:39 Quran) Work not confusion in earth after the fair ordering thereof, and call on Him in fear and hope. Lo, the mercy of Allah is nigh unto good. (7:56 Quran) Sanction is given to those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo, Allah loveth not aggressors. (2:190 Quran) Women shall have the same rights over men as men have over them. (2:228 Quran)
And the women have rights similar to those of men in equity. I God will allow not the work of any worker from among you, male or female, to be lost. (3:196 Quran) And whoso doeth good works, whether male or female, and he or she is a believer, such will enter Paradise and they will not be wronged the dint in a date-stone. (40:40 Quran) He hath revealed unto thee, Muhammad, the Scripture with the truth, confirming that which was revealed before it, even as He revealed the Torah and the Gospel. (3:3 Quran) And O Muhammad say: my Lord, forgive and have mercy, for Thou art best of all who show mercy. (23:118 Quran) The faithful slaves of the Beneficent are they who walk upon the earth modestly, and when the foolish ones address them, answer: Peace. (25:63 Quran) O mankind, lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Lo, the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo, Allah is Knower, Aware. (49:13 Quran) This it is which Allah announceth unto his bondsmen who believe and do good works. Say O Muhammad unto mankind: I ask of you no fee thereof, save loving-kindness among kinsfolk. And whoso scoreth a good deed, We add unto its good for him. Lo, Allah is Forgiving, Responsive. (42:23 Quran) Enjoin ye righteousness upon mankind, while ye yourself forget to practice? And ye are the readers of Scripture. Have you then no sense? (2:44 Quran) Woe unto each sinful liar. (45:7 Quran) The way of blame is only against those who oppress mankind, and wrongfully rebel in the earth. For such there is a painful doom. (42:42 Quran)
The Mount of Mercy
Yet ye it is who slay each other and drive out a part of your people from their homes, supporting against them by sin and transgression. And if they came to you as captives ye would ransom them, whereas their expulsion itself was unlawful for you. Believe ye in part of the Scripture and disbelieve ye in part thereof? And what is the reward of those who do so save ignominy in the life of the world, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be consigned to the most grievous doom. For Allah is not unaware of what ye do. (2:85 Quran) A gift of welcome from the Forgiving, the Merciful. (41:32 Quran) In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds The Beneficent, the Merciful Owner of the Day of Judgment Thee alone we worship, Thee alone we ask for help Show us the straight path The path of those whom Thou hast favored Not the path of those who earn Thine anger Nor of those who go astray (1:1 Quran) Ye who believe! Be steadfast witness for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you that ye deal not justly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to Allah. Lo, Allah is informed of what ye do. (5:8 Quran)
Teach Islam Islam is the alphabet of love, with the Quran as its dictionary, seeking dialogue or conversation with the People of the Book and with people of all faiths who wish to study its message in the light of wisdom and understanding. Its 114 verses, beginning with The Most Merciful, The Most Gracious, The Most Compassionate God, and with the exception of only one surah, IX Al Bara, testify to a universal love for mankind. Though its verses appear harsh at first, poetic when one gets into the rhythm of reading, enveloping and enlightening at the same time, they are to be understood in the context of times when Arabia was caught up in the fever of greed, cruelty, debauchery, and drunkenness, not to mention violent conflicts between and within tribes. Blood feuds were common, slavery was rampant, women were oppressed, infant girls were buried
alive, and gods were revered and mocked with the same passion as the passionate needs and greed of men, striving toward riches and power. Now to the power of understanding, or lack of it. As one reads the Divine Word of God, as one believes the Quran to be, with only one’s limited intelligence, one tends to squeeze a handful of interpretations out of it, most of which become gilded with distortions, if not the victims of lies, depending upon the intent or the inclination of the author or scholar. If moved by zeal, such persons mold each interpretation into fire-brands, while to others who are guided by the purity of their own minds and hearts, the same verses lend the glow of well-preserved pearls. And yet, they melt against the hurricanes of lies and distortions. If one were to riffle through the pages of history, one would not fail to discover that many truths lie buried under mounds of lies, and that many lies have been repeated so often, by so many, and with such pious conviction, that if someone, even in this age and time, dared speak the truth, it would sound like a lie. And yet, it is a difficult task, to know truth, since truth is a relative term. However, we do walk in its shadows of love and light, our hearts tortured with the longing to be good and to do good. It is even more difficult since the Scriptures speak to us in parables while we wade through the waters of doubt and conflict. The Quranic verse which cautions us not to fall into error, or to dispute with others in regard to different interpretations, becomes our guide, reminding us that we know not what we claim to know. He it is who hath revealed unto thee Muhammad the Scripture wherein are clear revelations—they are the substance of the Book—and others which are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is doubt pursue, forsooth, that which is allegorical, seeking to cause dissention by seeking to explain it. None knoweth its explanation save Allah. And those who are sound of instruction say: we believe therein; the whole is from our Lord; but only men of understanding really heed. (3:7 Quran) But before delving deep into more quotations from the Quran or Hadith, I am taking the liberty of sharing the loving life of the Prophet as a man, as a husband, as a father, and as a friend to all who sought his advice or friendship. History knows everything about him, no doubt, exploring all facets of his life, passion and ambition. Many faces and countless facets!
The Mount of Mercy
Harsh, stern, rebuking, commanding, and then kind, loving, forgiving. Yet, reading in between the lines, and gleaning facts with as much precision as my own limited intellect permits, I have attempted to portray the Prophet as I see him through the veils of the Hadith, the Quran, and history. Skipping quickly beyond his childhood, he emerges as a young man, endowed with wisdom and compassion. His friends call him Al Amin, meaning truthful. He has earned the respect of the young and old by the sheer virtue of his good manners. At the age of 25, when he marries a widow of 40 by the name of Khadija, twice married before and the mother of one son and two daughters, he loves and respects her with something verging on reverence, remaining faithful to her till her death. His character stands out in this happy marriage of 24 years, especially when polygamy was the norm, and men treated women as their property, marrying, divorcing or simply abandoning them as their whim or caprice dictated. Another outstanding characteristic which distinguished him from others was the shimmering ocean of love in his eyes which could never be dimmed, even by the fires of grief and adversity. When he was chosen as the Messenger of God, the light in his own eyes appeared to be his guide, wavering at times, but never dying under the assaults of insult, violence or persecution. Peaceful by nature and averse to violence, he abstained from striking back, even in self-defense. Once, when pelted with stones and hounded by a mob, his shoes filled with blood, he almost collapsed with sheer pain and exhaustion, his followers asked him to curse his tormentors, but he prayed for their forgiveness instead, much in the manner of Jesus, when he said: forgive them, O Lord, for they know not what they do. Revelation upon revelation came to him to guide him toward patience, forgiveness, and compassion. And one night, as detailed above, he was taken to the Throne of God, on what came to be called his Night Journey. He shared the experience of this journey, in which he was taken to Jerusalem, then to the heavens, meeting all the previous Prophets, including Jesus, and finally before the Throne of God, meeting Allah, his Beloved, with his cousin. When this story was circulated amongst the Meccans, one of the Prophet’s bitterest of opponents, Abu Jahl, accused him of making the story up. Abu Jahl told the Prophet to lift one foot up, then the other, with which he complied, and then he asked him to lift both his feet up, to which the Prophet replied that of course he could not. Abu Jahl mocked, You can’t even lift your two feet up in the air and you profess that you went to the highest of heavens.
To which the Prophet replied: I didn’t say I went, I said I was taken. Glorified be He Who carried His servant from the Inviolable Place of Worship Mecca to the Far Distant Place of Worship Jerusalem the neighborhood thereof. We have blessed that We might show him of Our tokens! Lo! He only He, is the Hearer, the Seer. (17:1 Quran) In short, his Prophethood, his later marriages, and his boundless love for all became the gateway to his divine message, which he delivered by living it, as a loving, caring, forgiving man. His followers were prone to zeal even while he lived, and he rebuked and checked them, exclaiming at times: by these pious fools, my back hath been broken. His love did not extend only to human beings, but to all God’s creatures. Once, during a sermon, a cat came to sit on the edge of his robe, and he would not get up lest he disturb the cat. At the time of his final pilgrimage to Mecca, he noticed a bitch on the road with a litter of pups, and commanded his men to change their route so as not to frighten the young pups. As a conqueror, his forgiveness was wholesale and unconditional. No vengeance was wreaked even upon the woman who tore open the breast of his slain uncle, chewed on his liver and made garlands of his intestines. He had come not to avenge, but to reconcile, to stress his message of unity, to abolish slavery, to grant equality to women, and to tell all in the sight of God that he was not the messenger of a new religion, but confirming the religion of the old prophets. After his death, when his youngest wife, Aisha, was asked to describe the character of the Prophet, she said: he smiled often and laughed much. Announce O Muhammad, unto My slaves that verily I am Forgiving, the Merciful. (15:49 Quran) And lo, there is a party of them who distort the Scripture with their tongues that ye may think that what they say is from the Scripture, when it is not from the Scripture. And they say: it is from Allah, when it is not from Allah, and they speak a lie concerning Allah knowingly. (3:78 Quran) Confound not truth with falsehood, nor knowingly conceal the truth. (2:42 Quran) Beautified for mankind is love of the joys that come from women and offspring, and stored-up heaps of gold and silver, and horses and cattle
The Mount of Mercy
and land. That is comfort of the life of the world. Allah, with Him is a more excellent abode. (3:14 Quran) It is not for believer to kill a believer unless it be by mistake. (4:92 Quran) Whoso slayeth a believer of set purpose, his reward is hell forever. Allah is wrath against him and He hath cursed him and prepared for him an awful doom. (4:93 Quran) O ye who believe, squander not your wealth among yourselves in vanity, except it be a trade by mutual consent, and Kill Not one Another. Lo, Allah is ever merciful unto you. (4:29 Quran) Whoso doeth that through aggression and injustice, We shall cast him into Fire, and that is very easy for Allah. (4:30 Quran) Say: O My slaves who have been prodigal to their own hurt! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, Who forgiveth all sins. Lo, He is the forgiving, the merciful. (39:53 Quran) The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo, he, between whom and thee there was enmity will become as though he was a bosom friend. (41:34 Quran) And when we made with you a covenant saying: shed not the blood of your people nor turn a party of your people out of your dwellings. Then you ratified our covenant and you were witnesses thereto. (2:84 Quran) Wrong not mankind in their goods, and do not evil, making mischief in the earth. (26:183 Quran) And each one hath a goal toward which he turneth; so vie with one another in good works. Wheresoever you may be, Allah will bring you all together. Lo, Allah is able to do all things. (2:148 Quran) Keep to forgiveness, O Muhammad, and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant. (7:199 Quran) And for such it may be that Allah will pardon them. Allah is ever Clement, Forgiving. (4:99 Quran)
Whereby Allah guideth him who seeketh His good pleasure unto paths of peace. He bringeth them out of darkness unto light by His decree, and guideth them unto a straight path. (5:16 Quran) And when it is said unto them: make not mischief in the earth, they say: We are peacemakers only. (2:11 Quran) Those who spend of which Allah hath given them in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind. Allah loveth the good. (3:134 Quran) O mankind, call upon your Lord humbly and in secret. Lo, he loveth not aggressors. (7:55 Quran) Yet whoso doeth evil or wrongeth his own soul, then seeketh pardon of Allah, will find Allah Forgiving, Merciful. (4:110 Quran) And if they incline to peace, incline thou also to it, and trust in Allah. Lo, He is the Hearer, the Knower. (8:61 Quran) It may be that Allah will ordain love between you and those of them with whom you are at enmity. Allah is mighty, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (60:7 Quran) Ask pardon of your Lord and then turn unto Him repentant. Lo, my Lord is Loving, Merciful. (11:90 Quran) There is no compulsion in religion. (2:257 Quran) Say: Each one doth according to his rule of conduct, and thy Lord is best aware of him whose way is right. (17:84 Quran) My lord! Lo! They have led many of mankind astray. But whoso followeth me, he verily is of me. And whoso disobeyeth me—still Thou art Forgiving, Merciful. (14:36 Quran) And for every nation there is a messenger. And when their messenger cometh (on the Day of Judgment) it will be judged between them fairly, and they will not be wronged. (Quran 10:48)
The Mount of Mercy
And this Quran is not such as could be intended in despite of Allah; but it is a confirmation of that which was before it and an exposition of that which is decreed for mankind—Therein is no doubt—from the Lord of the Worlds. (10:38 Quran) Say (unto mankind): cry unto Allah, or cry unto Beneficent, unto Whomsoever you cry (it is the same). His are the most beautiful names. And thou (Muhammad), be not loud voiced in thy worship, not yet silent therein, but follow a way between. (17:110 Quran) If you do good, you do good for your own souls. And if you do evil, it is for them (your own souls). (17:7 Quran) Indeed there have come to you clear proofs from your Lord: so whoever sees, it is for his own good, and whoever is blind, it is to his own harm. (6:104 Quran) Permission to fight is given to those who fight against you, but be not aggressive. (22:39 Quran) Those who have been driven from their homes unjustly only because they said: our Lord is Allah. For had it not been for Allah’s repelling some men by means of others, cloisters and churches and oratories and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft mentioned, would assuredly have been pulled down. Verily Allah helpeth one who helpeth Him. Lo! Allah is Strong, Almighty. (22:40 Quran) And they have broken their religion (into fragments) among them, (yet) all are returning to Us. (21:93 Quran) Lo! This, your religion, is One religion, and I am your Lord, so worship Me. (21:92 Quran) Lo! Allah defendeth those who are true. Lo! Allah loveth not any treacherous ingrate. (22:38 Quran) The truth is from thy Lord, so let him who please believe, and let him who please disbelieve. (18:29 Quran) Then whoso doeth good works and is a believer, there will be no rejection of his effort. Lo! We record (it) for him. (21:94 Quran)
Unto Allah belong the East and the West, and withersoever you turn, there is Allah’s countenance. Lo! Allah is All-Embracing. All-Knowing. (2:115 Quran) Say (unto the People of the Scripture): Dispute ye with us concerning Allah when He is our Lord and your Lord? Ours are our works and yours your works. We look to Him alone. (2:139 Quran) Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. (2:136 Quran) Lo, those who believe (in that which is revealed unto thee Muhammad) and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans—whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doth right—surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them, neither shall they grieve. (2:62 Quran) And for every nation have We appointed a ritual, that they may mention the name of Allah on the beast of cattle; and your God is one God, therefore surrender unto Him. And give good tidings (O Muhammad) to the humble. (22:34 Quran) Lo! We have sent thee with the truth, a bearer of glad tidings and a warner; and there is not a nation but a warner hath passed among them. (35:24 Quran) And argue not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them who do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto you. Our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender. (29:46 Quran) It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East and West: but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and prophets; and giveth his wealth, for the love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free, and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and
The Mount of Mercy
the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the God-fearing. (2:177 Quran) The Messenger believeth in that which has been revealed unto him from his Lord and (so do) the believers. Each one believeth in Allah and His angels and His Scriptures and His messengers. We make no distinction between any of His messengers—and they say: we hear and we obey. (Grant us Thy forgiveness, our Lord). Unto Thee is the journeying. (2:285 Quran) And covet not the thing in which Allah hath made some of you excel others. Unto men a fortune from that which they have earned, and unto women a fortune from that which they have earned. (Envy not one another), but ask Allah of His bounty. Lo! Allah is ever Knower of all things. (4:32 Quran) Repel not those who call upon their Lord at morn and evening, seeking His countenance. Thou art not accountable for them in aught, nor are they accountable for thee in aught, that thou shouldst repel them and be of wrong-doers. (6:52 Quran) Revile not those unto whom they pray beside Allah lest they wrongfully revile Allah through ignorance. Thus unto every nation have We made their deed seem fair. Then unto their Lord is their return, and He will tell them what they used to do! (6:109 Quran) Unto each nation have We given sacred rites which they are to perform, so let them not dispute with thee of the matter, but summon thou unto thy Lord. Lo! thou indeed followest the right guidance. (22:67 Quran) And strive for Allah with the endeavor which is His right. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Abraham (is yours). He hath named you Muslims of old times and in this (Scripture), that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that you may be witness against mankind, so establish worship, pay the poor-due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting Friend. A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper. (22:78 Quran) Say: o mankind! I am only a plain warner unto you. (22:49 Quran)
Those who believe and do good works, for them is pardon and rich provision. (22:50 Quran) Create not disorder on earth. (1:12 Quran) O thou soul, in complete rest and satisfaction, come back thou to thy Lord. Well pleased and well-pleasing unto Him. Enter thou then among My devotees, enter thou My Paradise. (89:27-30 Quran) They ask thee concerning wine and the game of hazard. Say: In both there is great sin and also some advantages for men, but their sin is greater than their advantage. And they ask thee what they should spend. Say: What you can spare. Thus does Allah make His commandments clear to you that you may reflect. (2:220 Quran) Lo, the mountains As-Safa and Al-Marwah are among the indication of Allah. It is therefore no sin for him who is on pilgrimage to the House of God, or visiteth it, to go around them, as the pagan custom is. And he who doeth good of his own accord, for him, lo, Allah is Responsive, Aware. (2:158 Quran) And we prescribed for them therein: The life for the life, and the eye for the eye, and the nose for the nose, and the ear for the ear, and the tooth for the tooth, and for wounds retaliation. But whoso forgoeth it in the way of charity, it shall be expiation for him. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are wrong-doers. (5:45 Quran) And do thou O Muhammad remember thy Lord within thyself humbly and with awe, below thy breath, at morn and evening. And be not thou of neglectful. (7:205 Quran) And if anyone of the idolaters seeketh thy protection O Muhammad, then protect him so that he may hear the word of Allah, and afterward convey him to his place of safety. That is because they are a folk who know not. (9:6 Quran) And if they deny thee, say: unto me my work, and unto you your work. Ye are innocent of what I do, and I am innocent of what ye do. (10:42 Quran)
The Mount of Mercy
As for every nation there is a messenger. And when their messenger cometh on the Day of Judgment it will be judged between them fairly, and they will not be wronged. (10:48 Quran) Establish worship at the two ends of the day and in some watches of the night. Lo, good deeds annul ill deeds. This is a reminder for the mindful. (11:114 Quran) And speak not, concerning that which your own tongues qualify as clean or unclean, the falsehood: ‘This is lawful and this is forbidden.’ So that ye invent a lie against Allah. Lo, those who invent a lie against Allah will not succeed. (16:116 Quran) Lo, those who believe this Revelation and those who are Jews, and the Sabaeans and the Christians and the Magians and the idolaters—lo, Allah will decide between them on the Day of Resurrection. Lo, Allah is witness over all things. (22:17 Quran) Lo, We have sent thee with the Truth, a bearer of glad tidings and a warner; and there is not a nation but a warner hath passed among them. (35:24 Quran) O ye who believe! Let not a folk deride a folk who may be better than they are, nor let women deride who may be better than they are; neither defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. Bad is the name of lewdness after faith. And whoso turneth not in repentance, such are evil-doers. (49:9 Quran) And when Jesus son of Mary said: O Children of Israel. Lo! I am the messenger of Allah unto you, confirming that which was revealed before me in the Torah, and bringing good tidings of a messenger who cometh after me, whose name is the Praised One. Yet when he hath come unto them with clear proofs, they say: This is mere magic. (61:6 Quran) Wherever you turn is the face of God. (2:115 Quran) He revealed to His servant what He revealed. (55:10 Quran) There is no thing whose treasuries are not with us. (15:21 Quran)
The Prophet said that on the day of resurrection, God will manifest Himself to all creatures in the forms that they themselves have refuted, announcing “I am your Lord”. In the face of this unfamiliar apparition, they will seek refuge in their own representations of God. Then He will appear in those representations, and they will believe that it is indeed Him. Bilal, the first muezzin in Islam, quoted Prophet Muhammad: “If a Muslim forces a conversion, he does not risk hell, he is certain of hell.” God has sent to the world since its creation two hundred thousand prophets; 25 of them are referred to in the Quran. The greatest of these are Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Prophets are to be regarded as free from sin, the most sinless of all being Jesus. Prophet Muhammad speaks of him as the Word of God, the Spirit of God, born of the Virgin Mary, and a Worker of Miracles. Announce, O Muhammad, unto my slaves that verily I am forgiving, the Merciful. (15:49 Quran)
CHAPTER TWO ISLAMIC FESTIVALS
The best way of avenging yourself is not to become like the wrongdoer. —Marcus Aurelius
Eid-ul-Fitr A day which occurs often, this is a festive and joyous occasion after a whole month of fasting (known as Ramadan). Sumptuous feasts and sweets - especially vermicelli cooked in sweetened milk - are prepared to be shared with friends and neighbors. It is a three day festival when Muslims visit friends, relatives and neighbors in the spirit of love, enjoying feasts and friendships, and forgiving all past rifts and grievances. Everyone wears new and colorful clothes, especially children, who are presented with gifts of cash or sweets. Other celebrations include fairs and entertainment, accompanied by song, music and dancing. This is much like the time when the Prophet Muhammad would sit with his family, watching the performance of dancing with spears, and enjoying songs and music. This joyful festival after the conclusion of Ramadan marks the birth of Islam, as Prophet Muhammad received his first revelation during this holy month. The festival also serves as a reminder to Muslims that they have an obligation toward the poor of the community. A special contribution called sidaqat-ul-fitr is made for this purpose. It is recommended that this contribution be given to the poor before Eid so that they too can enjoy the Eid celebrations. Fasting is a form of worship which has been prescribed and practiced for many ages by different peoples and religions. The essence of this worship may best be presented through this revelation from the Quran: O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed upon you as it was prescribed upon those before you, that you may learn self-restraint and God-consciousness. (2:184 Quran)
Ramadan In pre-Islamic times, the tribe of Quraysh observed Ramadan and Jews would fast on the day of Ashura, marking two historical events: the day when Noah left the Ark and the day when Moses was saved from the Egyptians by God. During the downpour of his revelations, God proclaimed to Prophet Muhammad that fasting for His sake was not a new innovation, but rather an obligation practiced by those truly devoted to the oneness of God. During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims are called upon to reevaluate their lives in conformity with Islamic traditions, making peace with those who have wronged them, strengthening ties with their family and friends, avoiding harmful thoughts and acting nobly and courteously toward mankind. During this month every part of the body must be purged of every evil impulse or inclination. The tongue must be restrained from gossip and backbiting. The eyes must not covet that which is unlawful. The ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or angry expressions. The feet must refrain from approaching dens of vice and violence. That way, every part of the body can participate in fasting, rejecting the corruption of sin, hatred and malice, and purifying one’s body and soul to seek God’s grace and guidance. War is not permitted during the month of Ramadan. War is a great transgression in the sacred month of Ramadan. (2:217 Quran)
Fasting is not only abstaining from food, but purging oneself by shunning the forces of evil, draining out hatred, malice, enmity and the lust to kill and abstaining from defiling the sanctity of any woman’s body or soul. Allah is not in need of leaving his food and drink, and He will not accept the fast of the one who tells lies, acts on lies and refrains not from evil actions. - Prophet Muhammad/Al Bukhari [3:127-O.B] Shall I inform you of a better act than alms, prayer and fasting? Making peace between one another. Enmity and malice tear up heavenly rewards by the roots. - Prophet Muhammad
Times of Fasting A fast begins before sunrise and ends immediately after sunset. Muslims fast from fajr— dawn, until dusk. Fajr means the light of the morning, and Prophet Muhammad said: “God has ordained for you to eat and drink until you can discern the white streak of dawn against the blackness of the night, then resume fasting until sunset.” These are the bounds set by God. Do not then offend against them. It is thus that God makes clear His messages unto mankind, so that they might remain conscious of Him. (2:187 Quran) Eat and drink and do not be misled by the ascending white light. Eat and drink until the redness of dawn appears. - Prophet Muhammad
Laila-tul-Qadr Also known as the Night of Power or Night of Decree, Laila-tul-Qadr is the night during the month of Ramadan when the Quran first began to be revealed. Lo! We revealed it on the Night of Power. Ah, what will convey unto thee what the Night of Power is! The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. The angels and the spirit descend therein by the permission of their Lord with all decrees. That night is peace until the rising of the dawn. (97:1-5 Quran) Look for the Night of Decree among the odd nights of the last ten days of the month of Ramadan. - Prophet Muhammad
The whole month of Ramadan is a period of spiritual training during which Muslims devote much of their time to prayer, recitation of the Quran and remembrance of Allah. They practice charity and goodwill, doing good deeds and striving toward feeling the presence of God in their own hearts and in the hearts of God’s creations. Muslims believe that during the Night of Power, God accepts all the prayers of believers. Once Aisha asked the Prophet Muhammad what her prayer should be if she had the privilege of being awake on the Night of Power. The Prophet Muhammad said, you should say: Allah, Thou art most forgiving and does love forgiveness, then do Thou forgive me.
Itikaf Itikaf means staying in one place and a vow of silence. During the last ten days of Ramadan, some Muslims choose to stay in the mosque for itikaf while fasting. The mosque becomes a silent retreat for them, where they occupy themselves with mindfulness of Allah, performing voluntary prayers in addition to the obligatory ones and reciting the Quran. Food and all the necessities of life are provided for them during their vow of silence so that they do not have to leave their retreat.
Shab-i-Barat Muslims celebrate this festival, but it has more cultural than religious significance. It has several roots and its very essence is controversial. Shab-i-Barat is a festival of goodwill toward mankind, and is celebrated 15 days before the beginning of Ramadan. It is also called the Night of Mercy, when benefit, pardon, blessing and forgiveness descend upon the people of earth. It is believed that Allah comes to the First Heaven this night and proclaims: Is there anyone who seeks forgiveness so that I may forgive him? Is there anyone who seeks sustenance so that I may grant him sustenance? Is there anyone who seeks freedom from problems so that I may remove all problems?
Shab-i-Barat was once also known as the Month of Separation in Arabia when pagan Arabs used to disperse in search of water during this month. It is also known as the Shia Day of Atonement, when people pray for forgiveness for their past sins and pledge to do good in the future. Shab-i-Barat is celebrated with great feasts, the exchange of sweets with friends and neighbors and entertainment for children. Parapets on houses and rooftops are lit with oil lamps or candles. Special blessings are invoked in the name of Prophet Muhammad, his daughter Fatima and his son-in-law, Ali.
Eid-ul-Adha Eid-ul-Adha is the second big festival for Muslims after the end of Hajj (the annual pilgrimage to Kaaba). This festival commemorates the faith of Abraham and his absolute surrender to the will of God, consenting to sacrifice his son as God commanded. When Abraham was about to slit his son’s throat, a ram appeared miraculously in place of his son Ishmael and
so was slaughtered in his place. In remembrance of Abraham’s faith and trust in the one God, Muslims offer animal sacrifices after Hajj to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha. This Eid is also celebrated with feasting and entertainment. Lambs, goats or sheep are the common offerings, but cows and camels can also be sacrificed and the cost shared by family and friends. The person who offers the sacrifice keeps a small portion of the meat for consumption and the remainder is distributed amongst the poor and neighbors. In the Quranic revelations, sacrifices of animals are not offered to appease offended deities, nor to win their favor as atonement for sins, as believed in pre-Islamic times, but as an expression of faith—to obey God. Muslims believe the animal that is sacrificed stands for the animal in man himself.
The Story of Pilgrimage Pilgrimage traces its history back to Abraham, who first built Kaaba as a shrine to the one God. The word of God came to Abraham in a vision and repeated the promise of land and descendants as numerous as the stars. God made a covenant with Abraham, telling him about the lands that his offspring would claim, and also about the future bondage of Israelites in Egypt. Abraham’s wife Sarah wondered how he would become the father of multitudes, since after ten years of living in Canaan, her womb had remained barren. After much thought, Sarah decided to offer her Egyptian handmaid, a woman by the name of Hagar, for Abraham to consort with, so that he may have a child in order to become the father of the nations. Hagar conceived and bore a son whom Abraham named Ishmael. Meanwhile, Sarah also conceived and grew jealous of Ishmael. When her son was born, Abraham named him Isaac. Sarah’s jealousy didn’t decrease with the birth of her own son and she told Abraham: Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will never share the inheritance of my son, Isaac.
Abraham was distraught, but in a dream he heard God commanding him to take Hagar and Ishmael to Arabia. They all journeyed to Arabia, and when Abraham was preparing to return, Hagar cried: Did God order you to leave us here to die?
Abraham could not speak, just pointed at the sky, his grief-stricken expression itself confessing that yes, God had commanded him.
Then God will not waste us, you can go, Hagar murmured hopelessly. When provisions of food and water ran out, and Ishmael, still a child, wailed in hunger and thirst, Hagar went mad with grief. She began to run about frantically between the hills As-Safa and Al-Marwah in search of water. After her seventh trip, Ishmael kicked the ground with his heels where he lay weeping, and a fountain of water miraculously spluttered forth, a voice from above proclaiming: Lift up the lad and hold him in thine hands, for I will make him a great nation.
This fountain later became the well of Zamzam. Hagar’s frantic search for water, back and forth between the two hills, is remembered by Muslims when they perform Hajj at Mecca, running seven times between the hills As-Safa and Al-Marwah. Zamzam water has also become sacred for the health and well-being of pilgrims. Much later, Abraham was commanded by God to bring Hagar and Ishmael back to Canaan, but he was given a test of faith soon after when he was commanded to take his 13 year old first born son Ishmael to the hill of Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice to God. Abraham was tempted by Satan in regards to this commandment from God to sacrifice his son, but he drove Satan away by throwing pebbles at him. Muslims resurrect the memory of Abraham’s total submission to God when stones are thrown at symbolic pillars signifying Satan during the rites of Hajj. Faithful as ever, Abraham took Ishmael on top of the mountain. When he was about to use the knife to slit the throat of his son, God placed a ram under his hand, so he was able to sacrifice the ram instead. A voice from above praised him for his faith and granted him another promise of numerous descendants and abundant prosperity. Muslims commemorate the sacrifice of Abraham by sacrificing sheep and other animals to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha. After returning to Canaan, an initiation rite was commanded by God, so Abraham’s entire household of men, including himself and his sons Isaac and Ishmael, were circumcised. For the last time, years later, Abraham was commanded by God to once again leave Canaan with Ishmael and journey to Mecca to build a place of worship for the one God close to the well of Zamzam. He also told him that the house of worship which he was going to build would be
designated as a shrine of annual pilgrimage for all who wished to strengthen their faith in the one God. Abraham and Ishmael built the shrine known as Kaaba, and after its completion, Ishmael was blessed with prophethood. From then on, Abraham’s mission in life became to proclaim the oneness of God.
Shab-e-Miraj In reverence to Prophet Muhammad’s ascent to the throne of God, Shab-e-Miraj is celebrated with prayers and feasting. The story of Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey to the heavens where he met his Beloved— Allah— is recounted in mosques. Houses and mosques are lit by oil lamps or candles and decorated with colorful pennants. The significance of this spiritual ascent is accentuated by relating the fact that at one point, even Gabriel could not proceed further, saying: I cannot go any further, but you O Messenger of Peace and friend of the Master of the Worlds, continue your glorious ascent.
Eid Milad-un-Nabi Muslims celebrate Eid Milad-un-Nabi, the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, because he is their beloved Prophet, the recipient of the Holy Quran. The extent of the festivities on this day is restricted, since it also marks the anniversary of the Prophet’s death. Prayers are offered in mosques, and scholars recount events that emphasize the Prophet’s noble character. These include his teachings of love, peace and forgiveness, his fortitude in the face of persecution, his compassion in forgiving the bitterest of his enemies and his boundless love for mankind. Songs are recited in his praise, as well as poetic verses from the Quran. Charitable donations are made freely and generously. Friends get together to have sumptuous meals, and food is served to the poor and also distributed amongst guests visiting the shrines.
Muharram Muharram is a somber festival—less a festival than a procession of mourning to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. Hussain and his family were killed by the armies of Yazid on the field of Karbala in Iraq. Muharram is the first month of the Muslim year. The festival starts on the first day of Muharram and lasts for
the ten days until the tenth of Muharram, when devotees wear black clothes - the color of mourning. A large procession carrying models of the mausoleum of Hussain and his family parade through the streets, devoted followers expressing their grief by beating their breasts and chanting, Ya Hussain. A white horse, beautifully garlanded, also accompanies the procession, depicting the riderless mount of Hussain after his martyrdom. Great feasts are served in the evening and families recite stories to their children of the sufferings that Hussain and his family had to endure at the field of Karbala.
Sayings of Prophet Muhammad The Islam of heart is its purity, and the Islam of tongue withholding it from fruitless words. A man cannot be a Muslim till his heart and tongue are so. Conscience: if you derive pleasure from the good which you perform, and be grieved for the evil which you have committed, you are a true believer. The best of God’s servants are those who, when seen, remind of God, and the worst of God’s servants are those who carry tales about, to do mischief and separate friends, and seek for the defects of good. Humility and courtesy are acts of piety. He is not strong and powerful who throws people down, but he is strong who withholds himself from anger. Abuse nobody, and if a man abuse you and lay open a vice which he knows in you, then do not disclose one which you know in him. Meekness and modesty are two branches of faith, and vain talking and embellishing are two branches of hypocrisy. Death is a bridge which unites friends with friends. He is of the most perfect Muslims, whose disposition is most liked by his family.
To do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you, and to reject for others what you would reject for yourself. Adore God as if you saw Him, for if you see Him not, He sees you. Feed the hungry and visit the sick, and free the captive, if he be unjustly confined. Assist any person oppressed, whether Muslim or nonMuslim. The creation is God’s family; for its sustenance is from Him: therefore the most beloved unto God is the person who does good to God’s family. The proof of a Muslim’s sincerity is that he pays no heed to what is not his business. The faithful are those who perform their trust and fail not in their word, and keep their pledge. That person is not one of us who invites others to aid him in oppression, and he is not of us who fights for his tribe in injustice, and he is not of us who dies in assisting his tribe in tyranny. Do not say, that if people do good to us, we will do good to them, and if people oppress us, we will oppress them; but determine, that if people do you good, you will do good to them, and if they oppress you, you will not oppress them. There is a polish for everything that takes away rust, and the polish for the heart is the remembrance of God. Nine things that my Lord has commanded me: to revere Him; to speak the truth with propriety, in adversity and prosperity; moderation in poverty and affluence; benefit my relations and kindred, who do not benefit me; to give alms to him who refuses me, to forgive him who injures me; to attain the knowledge of God through silence; to mention God in my heart and speech. I should be an example to God’s creatures in love and kindness. Verily those who are patient in adversity and forgive wrongs, are the doers of excellence.
That person is nearest to God, who pardons, when he has in his power who would have injured him. God is gentle and loves gentleness. God says: The person I hold as a beloved, I am his hearing by which he hears, and I am his sight by which he sees, and I am his hands by which he holds, and I am his feet by which he walks. God is One and likes unity; God said: I was a hidden treasure. I would fain be known. So I created Man. God is not merciful to him who is not so to mankind. God says: verily my compassion overcomes my wrath. If you put your whole trust in God, as you aught, He most certainly will give you sustenance, as He does the birds, they come out hungry in the morning, but return full to their nests. O My servants who have oppressed your own souls by sinning, despair not of the Mercy of God (when asked what about the unbelievers) know that him also God forgives, if he repents. If the unbeliever knew of the extent of the Lord’s mercy, even he would not despair of Paradise. Islam is purity of speech and charity. Excellent actions are: to gladden the heart of a human being, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the wrongs of the injured. Whoever is kind to His creatures, God is kind to him, therefore be kind to everyone on earth, whether good or bad. Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever has no kindness, has no faith. He dies not who gives life to learning. An hour’s contemplation is better than a year’s adoration; go in quest of knowledge even unto China.
Seek knowledge from cradle to grave. What weakens the foundations of Islam: the errors of the learned destroy it, the disputations of the hypocrites, and the orders of the kings who have lost the road. To spend more time in learning is better than spending more time in praying. It is better to teach knowledge one hour in the night than to pray the whole night. The pursuit of knowledge is a divine commandment for every Muslim, male or female. God hath treasuries beneath the Throne, the keys whereof are the tongues of poets; he who knows his own self knows God. Acquire knowledge. It enables its possessor to distinguish from right and wrong; it lights the way to Heaven; it is our friend in the desert; our society in solitude; our companion when friendless; it guides us to happiness; it sustains us in misery; it is an ornament amongst friends and an armor against enemies. To the light I have attained and in light I live. O Lord, grant me the love of Thee, grant that I love those who love Thee, grant that I may do the deeds that win Thy love, make Thy love dearer to me than self, wealth or family. O Lord, I make my complaint unto Thee, of my feebleness, the vanity of my efforts. I am insignificant in the sight of men, O Thou Most Merciful. Lord of the weak, Thou art my Lord. Forsake me not. Leave me not a prey to strangers, nor to mine enemies. If Thou art not displeased, I am safe. I seek refuge in the Light of Thy Countenance, by which all darkness is dispelled, and peace cometh in the Here and Hereafter. Solve Thou my difficulties as it pleaseth Thee. There is no power, no strength, save in Thee. - Prophet Muhammad’s prayer when he was wounded at Taif. Prayer is the annihilation of ego and union with the Divine, which lifts one’s soul higher and higher in its journey toward the Beloved. He whom prayer preventeth not from evil and wrongdoing, increaseth in naught save in remoteness from the Lord.
God is beauty and delights in the beautiful, bur pride is holding man in contempt. They will enter the garden of Bliss, who have a true, pure and merciful heart. God has not created anything better than Reason, or anything more perfect, or more beautiful than Reason; the benefits which God gives are on its account; and understanding is by it, and God’s wrath is caused by disregard of it. He is perfect who does good to his relatives when they do not do good to him. Much silence and a good disposition, there are not two works better than those. No man is true in the truest sense of the word but he who is true in word, in deed, and in thought. It is not worthy of a speaker of truth to curse people. He is not of me who, when he speaks, speaks falsely; who, when he promises, breaks his promise; and who, when trust is reposed in him, fails in his trust. A Muslim must not hate his wife, and if he be displeased with one bad quality in her, then let him be pleased with another which is good. What you must never do is to raise your hands against your wife. Treat each woman with respect and kindness. God enjoins you to treat women well, for they are your aunts, wives, mothers and daughters. The rights of the women are sacred, see that women are maintained in the rights assigned to them.
The Prophet from the Line of Abraham Wives of the Prophet WIFE KHADIJA SWADAH AISHA HAFSA ZAINAB UMM SALMAH ZAINAB JUWAIRYA UMM HABIBA MARY SAFIYA MAYMUNA
MARRIAGE DATES 595-619 619 624 625 626 (died 626) 626 627 627 628 628 629
Important Dates BIRTHS 599 610 613 614 617 624 MARRIAGES 569 ABDALLAH - AMINA (PROPHET’S PARENTS) 601 ZAID - BARAKA 623 ZAID - ZAINAB 627 BILAL - UMM SOFIA DEATHS 576 AMINA 610 HALIMA 610 WARAQA 619 ABU TALIB 624 ABU LAHAB 625 MUSAIB IBN OMEIR 628 UMM RUMAN 628 ABU BASEER 628 SAAD BIN MUDAH 628 CHROSOES OF PERSIA 629 ZAID, JAFAR 629 ABDALLAH IBN MASUD ALI AISHA USAMA ANAS OMARA SALIMA
NEGUS ABDALLAH IBN UBBAY WARS AND MAJOR EVENTS THE PROPHET’S TRIP TO SYRIA WITH ABU TALIB DIVINE CALL—THE FIRST REVELATION MUSLIMS TO ABYSSINIA BOYCOTT NIGHT JOURNEY HIJRA TO MEDINA BATTLE OF BADR BATTLE OF OHUD BATTLE OF TRENCH TREATY OF HUDAYBIYAH CONQUEST OF MECCA FAREWELL PILGRIMAGE Meccan Clans: x Banu Shemite x Banu Humayyah x Banu Muttalib x Banu Hashim
Jewish Tribes of Medina: x Beni Nadir x Beni Kainuka x Beni Koreiza
630 631 582 610 613-615 616 619 622 624 625 627 628 630 632 Two Major Tribes of Medina: x Aus x Khazraj
CHAPTER THREE THE PROPHET’S COMPASSION
Everywhere and at all times it is in your power to accept reverently your present condition, to behave justly to those about you, and to exert your skill to control your thoughts, that nothing shall steal unto them without being well examined. —Marcus Aurelius
Prophet Muhammad’s followers were prone to zeal even while he lived, and he rebuked and checked them. When some of the Jews who had accepted Islam tried secretly to destroy him, he forgave them again and again, even one Jewess who tried to poison him. When he asked her why she did it, she said she was testing whether he was the Prophet of God, believing that if he did not know that the food was poisoned, he was a false Prophet. Those men who secretly tried to hurt him were called hypocrites, and it is mentioned in one verse that God would not forgive them. So, when the son of a hypocrite came to the Prophet at the behest of his father with his dying wish that the Prophet pray for him and lend his cloak as a burial shroud, the Prophet assented. But one of his followers protested - how could the Prophet do so when the revelation specifically commanded that even if the Prophet prayed for the hypocrites 70 times, the Lord would not forgive them. The Prophet got to his feet to follow the son of the dying man and said: I have to pray more than seventy times then, don’t I?
Prophet Muhammad told his followers that he had come not to avenge, but to reconcile, to stress his message of unity, to abolish slavery, to grant equality to women, and to tell all in the sight of God that he was not the messenger of a new religion, but confirming the religion of the old prophets. After his death, when his youngest wife Aisha was asked to describe the character of the Prophet, she said: he smiled often and laughed much, and repeated to us that he is sent to mankind as Mercy.
At the battle of Uhud one of the Prophet Muhammad’s enemies threw a stone at him, which bloodied his face and his gums. Some of his companions were angry, beseeching him to curse the man who had injured him. But Prophet Muhammad’s only response, as he had said many times before, was: O God, guide my people, for they do not know. The men taken prisoners at the battle of Badr were treated by Prophet Muhammad with the utmost respect and leniency. Amongst them was a man by the name of Suhayl ibn Amr, who had earlier vociferously denounced the Prophet in public in order to incite people against him and his mission. Omar ibn Khattab noticing that man amongst the prisoners, suggested that two of his lower teeth should be knocked out to curb the zeal of his opposition. Be kind to God’s creatures, Omar, was Prophet Muhammad’s aghast exclamation. God would disfigure me for this on the Day of Judgment even though I am His messenger. At one point Prophet Muhammad was told that Abu Dharr had treated a man seated next to him in a derogatory way by calling him a black man. Prophet Muhammad’s usual expression was applicable: Be kind to God’s creatures, Dharr, make amends. Whites are not superior to blacks worked wonders on Abu Dharr, who sought the man whom he had offended. Stand up and rub your feet on my face for hurting your feelings, he cried in remorse. A Jew by the name of Zayd tugged at Prophet Muhammad’s robe, demanding payment for money the Prophet had borrowed. He was followed by Omar ibn Khattab, who was about to strike him when Prophet Muhammad stalled him. Be gentle and patient, Omar. Why I was not informed that the payment is due? Pay the good man his due and extra since it was not paid on time. Mighty is not he who strikes, but he who withholds his anger. The best draught ever drunk is the draught of anger swallowed by any man for God’s sake.
The Prophet’s Compassion
Prophet Muhammad was told that a Bedouin had defiled a mosque by urinating in it and had been thrown out of the mosque most roughly. A bucket of water would have purified the spot, Prophet Muhammad declared. Go, find that man, treat him courteously and apologize. In Medina, the Prophet Muhammad commenced the task of cultivating friendly relations with all tribes, especially the Jewish tribes. Both Jews and Muslims were able to sign a pact of mutual agreement so that they could work together as friends and partners. The terms upon which they agreed were as follows: The Jews and Muslims should live as one people. Each party should keep to its own faith, and neither should interfere with that of the other. In the event of war with a third party, each should come to the assistance of the other, provided the latter were the party aggrieved and not the aggressors. In the event of an attack on Medina, both should join hands to defend it. Peace should be made only after consulting with each other. Medina should be regarded as sacred by both, all bloodshed being forbidden therein. The Prophet should be the final court of appeal in cases of dispute.
Prophet Muhammad strove toward attaining peace throughout his life, even if the effort caused him personal suffering. Such was the case when a peace treaty was signed between pagan Arabs and Muslims at the site of Hudaybiyah. Muslims had come to perform a pilgrimage at Mecca, their first after Hijra, but were barred by Arabs and forced to remain at the valley of Hudaybiyah. To avoid warfare, Prophet Muhammad sued for peace with the promise that they would be allowed to come next year to perform the pilgrimage. Muslims were not allowed to enter Mecca that year, and the peace treaty, which Prophet Muhammad willingly signed, was disadvantageous to them. As a true apostle of peace, Prophet Muhammad condoned the disadvantages and signed the peace treaty under the Lote Tree of Peace. Both the parties signed this peace treaty for ten years and the clauses were: The Muslims shall this year return without performing the pilgrimage. Next year they may come, but shall not stay at Mecca longer than three days. They shall not take with them any of the Muslims already living in Mecca, but they shall not stand in the way of anyone from among themselves should he wish to remain behind at Mecca. Should any of the Muslims from Mecca go over to Medina the Muslims shall hand him over
Chapter Three to the Meccans, but if any of the Muslims from Medina come to Mecca, he should not be allowed to return to Medina. The Arab tribes shall be at liberty to enter into alliance with whichever party they choose.
During the first pilgrimage in Mecca after Hijra, when the Prophet and his companions were on their way back to Medina, they stopped for rest on rocky ground. Prophet Muhammad had chosen a secluded spot for sleeping. He hung his sword on a palm branch overhead and fell asleep. His sleep was full of dreams, and when he opened his eyes he saw the flash of a sword poised over him and thought he was still dreaming. But this was no dream - a Bedouin by the name of Duthur was leaning over him, holding the Prophet’s own sword. Who is going to save you from my hands now, Prophet? Duthur hissed triumphantly. You claim to be a Prophet, don’t you? Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, will save me, His servant, Prophet Muhammad replied calmly. The sword fell from Duthur’s hands and Muhammad claimed it, his eyes glowing with compassion. Who will save you from me now? Prophet Muhammad asked. You, Messenger of God. Duthur murmured, shuddering with awe. Why would I save your life when you tried to take mine? Prophet Muhammad held him captive in his gaze. Because you don’t repay evil with evil, I have heard, Duthur confessed. Be kind and merciful even to your enemies, Prophet Muhammad forgave him, laughing. After the conquest of Mecca, Ali snatched the keys of Kaaba from the hand of Othman ibn Talha, saying: These keys now belong to the Prophet of Islam. Ali, be kind and loving and return those keys to Othman, Prophet Muhammad commanded.
The Prophet’s Compassion
Then he turned his attention to Othman, saying: you have been the Keeper of Kaaba as far as I remember and you will remain its guardian whether you choose to become Muslim or not. A short time after the conquest of Mecca, Prophet Muhammad encountered a scene of contention between Abdullah and Khalid ibn Walid. He was going to come to you asking your forgiveness, Prophet, Khalid ibn Walid declared. He has become an apostate and he should be killed for his apostasy, if not for his audacity in seeking your forgiveness. There is no such revelation that any man should be killed for apostasy, killing is forbidden in Islam, Prophet Muhammad intoned sadly, turning his attention to Abdullah. You are forgiven, my son, go home in peace. Forgive me, Prophet, I erred in my ignorance, Abdullah murmured contritely. Let me join the fold of Islam again and I will remain forever the slave of Allah. In your heart you never swerved from your faith, Abdullah, Prophet Muhammad consoled. Keep faith and polish the mirror of your spiritual heart bright and you will never swerve from the path to glory. A man by the name of Urwah went to Taif voluntarily to spread the message of Islam, despite Prophet Muhammad’s concern and warnings. After a few weeks, news reached Medina that Urwah had climbed onto the roof of a house, calling the faithful to prayer, and been pelted with stones by a mob from the tribes of Thaqif and Hawazin. Prophet Muhammad was sitting in the mosque when the news came, and his devotees urged him to curse both the tribes for killing Urwah. May Urwah’s soul rest in peace, Prophet Muhammad prayed fervently, adding: Oh, Allah, guide the tribes of Thaqif and Hawazin toward the path of love and understanding, and forgive. Prophet, why are you praying for these people who are our enemies? Al Abbas protested. Have I not been sent as a mercy to nations and mankind, Uncle? Prophet Muhammad intoned kindly. Have I not said, love thy enemy?
Have I not proclaimed equal love for all? They know not what they did, but I wish I was able to dissuade Urwah from going. One day Prophet Muhammad was sitting in his mosque in Medina when a man came pleading for forgiveness. O Prophet, I have committed a sin and all my friends shun me saying they would never forgive me, so I told them I am going to the Messenger of Islam, he would surely forgive me. Tell me, Prophet, what should I do to seek Allah’s forgiveness? You must free a slave, Prophet Muhammad suggested, promoting this cause which was dear to his heart. I am a poor man, Prophet, I can’t even afford a slave, the man lamented. As an act of penance you can fast for a few days, Prophet Muhammad demurred aloud. I am so weak, Prophet, if I fasted I would get sick, the man murmured feebly. Then you must cook and feed the hungry, Prophet Muhammad said as yet another suggestion. I am so poor, Prophet, I can barely afford to buy food for myself. The man sounded desperate. The only option left to you is to go to the officer of charity, ask for a basket of dates. Divide the dates among needy people and save some for your family, Prophet Muhammad laughed. When the child of a woman by the name of Zainab was brought to the Prophet Muhammad dying, her body feverish and shuddering, the Prophet started weeping. O Messenger of God, what is this weeping and grieving? Saad asked. This is an expression of tenderness and compassion which the Lord hath put into the hearts of His servants. The Lord doth not have compassion or commiserate with His servants except such who are tender
The Prophet’s Compassion
and full of feeling, Prophet Muhammad replied, unable to subdue his fit of weeping. The Prophet Muhammad’s son, Ibrahim, was barely two years old when he died, and the Prophet, in utter grief, lamented aloud. O Ibrahim my son, the eyes rain tears, the heart is broken, but we can only say what pleases Allah. I mourn for you, my son, but to Allah we belong and to Him we return. Abdul Rahman, watching the Prophet in such state of utter grief, asked: Did you not say that we are forbidden to weep or lament? So, what kind of bereavement is this, O Messenger of Islam? Do not distort my words, Abdul! When did I ever forbid this? Prophet Muhammad lifted up his tear-streaked face to the heavens. Tears are the channels of God’s love. They make room to receive the balm of healing from Allah. O, Ibrahim, if it was not for the promise of reunion which is sure, and that this is a path that everyone must tread, and that the last of us shall overtake the first, verily we should grieve for thee with a greater sorrow. Prophet Muhammad’s compassion extended to all creatures of God’s creation, including animals. He forbade the acquisition of living birds as targets for marksmen, and remonstrated with those who ill-treated their camels. All acts of cruelty connected with superstition were banned by him. A dead man’s camel was not to be tied to his tomb to perish of thirst and hunger. No more was the evil eye to be propitiated by the bleeding of a certain proportion of the herd. Oxen were not to be victimized by having burning torches secured to their tails for the ritual of conjuring rain. The manes and tails of horses were not to be cut, and asses were not to be branded. Infanticide was also forbidden. Fear God in treating dumb animals and ride them when they are fit to be ridden and get off them when they are tired, Prophet Muhammad told Anas once when he was urging his tired mount to keep going. Blood feuds were abolished as means of vengeance, and the act of vengeance itself was forbidden. Verily God hath one hundred loving kindnesses. One of which He hath sent down amongst man, quadrupeds and every moving thing upon the
face of the earth. By it we learn to be kind to each other and to forgive each other. By it even the animals of the wilds are kind to their young and hurt not their own kind. And God hath reserved ninety-nine loving kindnesses, by which He will be gracious to His creatures on the last day, Prophet Muhammad told his devotees, adding: An adulteress passed by a dog at a well. The dog’s tongue was sticking out and it was obvious he was dying of thirst. The woman took her shoe off, tied to the end of her garment and drew water out of the well for the dog, repeating this process several times till the dog’s thirst was quenched. And for that single act of kindness alone all her sins were forgiven. When you speak, speak the truth. Commit not rape; be chaste; have no impure desires; withhold your hands from striking, and from taking that which is bad and unlawful. The best of God’s servants are those who, when seen, remind of God; and the worst of God’s servants are those who carry tales about, to do mischief and separate friends, and seek for the defects of the good, Prophet Muhammad counselled. As Aisha attested in the Hadith, Prophet Muhammad’s generosity was extended to followers of all persuasions, Jews, Christians and idolaters. Worldly things, riches and comforts had no attraction for the Prophet. My case is like that of a mounted wayfarer who pauses at noon under the shade of a tree, just to rest for a while, and then proceeds on his way Prophet Muhammad
Profound Contemplations of the Prophet Muhammad There are three things of which God disapproves, cunning plans, waste of goods and excessive requests. And three are the enemies of my religion. The fundamentalists, the fundamentalists, the fundamentalists. (Al Bukhari XX1V:53(2)) It can happen that a man will seem to have the behavior of the elect while instead he would be amongst the damned. It can happen that a man will seem to be among the damned while instead he will be one of the elect. (Al Bukhari LV1:77) The energetic man is not one who uses force, but one who keeps control of himself in a moment of anger. (Al Bukhari LXV111:76(1))
The Prophet’s Compassion
If he had two valleys full of wealth, the son of Adam would want a third. Only the tomb satisfies the belly of the son of Adam. However, some of them turn instead to God. (Al Bukhari LXXX: 10(2) Wealth does not consist in abundance of goods. Wealth is wealth of the soul. (Al Bukhari LXXX1:15) Do not speak ill of the dead. (Al Bukhari XX111:97) Do not overlook the performance of a good work, even if it is simply meeting a brother with a serene face. (Muslim Nawwawi, 1:13 (5)) He that invites others to follow the right way will be repaid just as those who follow it, and that in no sense diminishes the repayment. He that invites others to follow the wrong road will be punished just as that follows it, and that in no sense diminishes the punishment. (Muslim Nawwawi 1:20 (2)) Wish not for death for any one, neither for the doer of good works, for perchance he may increase them by an increase of life, nor for the doer of bad works, for perhaps he may obtain the forgiveness of God by repentance. Wish not, nor supplicate for death before its time, for verily when ye die, hope is out, and verily the increase of a Muslim’s life increaseth his good works. None of you must wish for death from any worldly affliction, but if there certainly is anyone wishing for death, he should say: O Lord keep me alive so long as my life be good for me and for others and cause me to die when it is better for me to do so. Muslims are brothers in religion and they must not oppress one another, nor abandon assisting each other, nor hold one another in contempt. The seat of righteousness is the heart, therefore the heart which is righteous, does not hold a Muslim in contempt. The things which are unlawful from one Muslim to another are: his blood, property and reputation. He is not of us who is not affectionate to his little ones and does not respect the feelings of the aged. And he is not of us who does not order which is good and prohibit that which is evil.
There is no man who is wounded and pardoneth the giver of the wound, but God will exalt his dignity and diminish his faults. That person is nearest to God, who pardoneth, when he hath in his power to injure who would have injured him. God said: whoso seeketh to approach Me one span, I seek to approach him one cubit. And whoso seeketh to approach Me one cubit, I seek to approach him two fathoms. And whoso walketh towards Me, I run toward him. And whoso cometh before Me with the earth full of sins, I come before with a font of forgiveness as big as the earth. Verily God instructs me to be lowly and humble and not proud, and that no one should oppress another. He who helpeth his fellow creatures in the hour of need and he who helpeth the oppressed, him will God help on the day of travail. God loves those from whom the greatest good cometh to God’s creatures. All God’s creatures are His family and he is the most beloved of God who doeth most good to God’s creatures. Whoever is kind to His creatures, God is kind to him. Therefore be kind to man on earth, whether good or bad. By being kind to the bad is to withhold him from badness. Kindness is a mark of faith and whoever hath no kindness hath no faith. He is not perfect performer of the duties of relationship who doeth good to his relatives as they do good to him. He is perfect who doeth good to his relatives when they do not do good to him. Be kind to your neighbor. Draw a veil over his faults. Avoid injury. Look upon him with an eye of kindness. If you see him doing evil, forgive him. If you see him doing good to you, proclaim your thankfulness. Help thy brother even if he is unjust, and that help should be preventing him from being unjust. Reprisals are forbidden.
The Prophet’s Compassion
God said: My servant draws nigh unto Me by works of supererogation and I love him. And when I love him, I am his ear so that he hears by Me, and his eye so that he sees by Me, and his tongue, so that he speaks by Me, and his hand, so that he takes by Me. The most excellent of Jihad is that for the conquest of the self. The thing which is lawful, but disliked by God is divorce. If you can keep your heart from morning till night and from night till morning free from malice toward anyone, you are following my path and he who loveth my path verily loveth me. God is one and liketh unity. Do you love your creator? Love your fellow beings first. The Quran was sent in seven dialects and in every one of its sentences there is an external and internal meaning. The pursuit of knowledge is a divine commandment for every Muslim, male and female. The time is near in which nothing will remain of Islam but its name, and of the Quran but its mere appearance, and the mosques of the Muslims would be destitute of worship and knowledge. The learned men will be the worst people under the heavens and strife and contention would issue from them and it will return upon themselves. O followers of Islam, I swear by the Lord, if ye did but know what I know of the future state, verily you would laugh little and cry much. Divine breezes from your Lord waft through the days of your life. Listen, be aware of them. True believers that lend support to one another are like a pair of hands that wash one another clean. I swear by Him Who holds the soul of Muhammad in his hand that the most beloved of God’s devotees are those who increase the love of God in
the hearts of His devotees and make them beloved of God, and who act with goodwill and sincerity toward one another on earth. Whoever wishes to sit with God should sit with the Sufis. Seek the decrees of your heart even if the judges decree otherwise. The Believer is like a bee, which consumes only what is pure and produces only what is pure. The heart of the believer is the sanctuary of God and nothing but God is allowed access thereto.
Respect for all and Equality for women Prophet Muhammad was a great advocate of the rights of women, orphans and widows. He would assist his wives by sweeping the floor, mending his shoes and patching his own clothes. He would milk the goats and go to the market to buy provisions for cooking. After the battle of Badr he treated prisoners of war with respect and kindness. They were served the same kind of food as his own companions, and when some of them could not pay a ransom for their freedom, they were instructed to teach boys and girls the skills of writing and reading as their ransom for freedom. Prophet Muhammad was endowed with such purity of heart and nobility of character that he treated Arabs as well as foreigners with great respect. His faith was so strong that he could embrace diversity in religion with an open heart, welcoming worshippers into his own mosque. Once, the Christian leaders of Najran sent a delegation of 60 learned men to the Prophet under the guidance of a bishop named Abu Harith. Prophet Muhammad welcomed them into his mosque to celebrate Mass, after which he debated with them about the divinity of Christ. The Quran freed women from pre-Islamic mistreatment, giving them legal rights, protecting their property and their right to inherit. Entrusting children to them in case of divorce; and in the case of divorce, which either the man or woman can request. Quranic law states that a woman keep all her property, all gifts she has received and one quarter of her husband’s property. Under Islam the woman can choose to abort if she
The Prophet’s Compassion
wishes, and only woman can make that decision, not the man. - Mandel Khan Once a man came to Prophet Muhammad, pressed by his zeal to defend Islam in some manner and die, so that he could go to Paradise. Since there was peace in Medina and no threat of imminent war, Prophet Muhammad asked him if his mother was alive. On hearing the man’s affirmative response, the Prophet told him to go home and take care of his mother. The man was puzzled, saying that taking care of his mother had nothing to do with the Jihad or martyrdom which would allow him to enter Paradise. Paradise lies under the feet of mother, if you only knew! Prophet Muhammad exclaimed. And Jihad is the inner struggle to fight the evils within you. And you can’t be a martyr if you are wishing for death. You could be considered a martyr if you die in self-defense valiantly and honorably.
The Quran specifically speaks of equality between men and women One of the women exalted and acknowledged in the Quran as a wise ruler over a large kingdom is the Queen of Sheba. She is not mentioned by name in the Quran, but Persian legends have immortalized her as Bilqis, endowed with beauty and wisdom. As mentioned in the Quran, King Solomon was taught the language of the birds, and even of the lowly ants, by the grace of God. From his hoopoe he learned that there was a queen ruling over a vast kingdom who possessed an abundance of everything, including the most glorious of thrones wrought in silver and gold. She and her people worship the Sun instead of Allah. Solomon was fascinated by this account from the hoopoe, instructing the bird to carry a letter from him to the queen inviting her to his own sumptuous palace. Queen Sheba received the letter urging her to come, but she sent valuable presents instead. King Solomon was angry, and since he had mastery over Jinn also, he ordered one of them to fetch the throne of the queen to his palace, and his orders were obeyed instantly. Meanwhile, the hoopoe was dispatched once again, with strict orders to summon the queen to his palace. Her throne was somewhat disguised to test her wisdom and perception and whether she was divinely guided to rule her
people. When she entered the palace, King Solomon indicated the throne, asking if her throne was similar to this one. Her response was: It is, as if it were the same one upon which I preside. We had knowledge of this beforehand, Solomon said. Would you surrender to Allah as we have? Now enter our hall and partake of our hospitality. The floor of the hall was smooth as glass, and Queen Sheba, mistaking it as a pool of water, lifted her skirt. My Lord, I have wronged myself, she declared suddenly. I surrender with King Solomon unto Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Prophet Muhammad bestowed upon women the gift of equality by forbidding the wearing of veils. The veil was worn in Arabia as a mark of rank and it was therefore disallowed when a woman was in a state of ihram, as pilgrimage required the obliteration of all differences of rank. Forbidding a veil in pilgrimage is further a conclusive proof that the Holy Quran does not enjoin the wearing of veils, as in that case the prohibition here stated would be a contradiction of the Holy Quran. Gloves are not allowed because like the veil they are a mark of rank. Ornaments are allowed because they are not a mark of rank and are worn by even ordinary people and laboring classes. One may cover the head in a state of ihram, lest the hair should become dusty and disheveled. - Maulana Muhammad Ali Ibn Omar reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah forbidding women in a state of ihram wearing veil and gloves, and garments dyed with wars and saffron. Saying, that they might wear besides this what they liked of garments colored with safflower, or made of silk, or silk and wool, or ornaments, or shirt or trousers. (Hadith (AD.11:29))
Prophet Muhammad’s Injunctions Women with justice shall have rights similar to those as of men. Men and women who keep faith and do good works shall enter the gardens of Paradise and receive blessings without measure.
The Prophet’s Compassion
We shall reward the steadfast according to their noblest deeds. Be they men or women, those that embrace the faith and do what is right. The true believers, both men and women must be friends to each other and do good works. God says I will deny no man or woman amongst you the reward of your labors. And among His signs is this that he created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility together. He has put love and mercy between your hearts.
The Prophet’s Prayer O God! Truly we ask Thee, O most forgiving and most merciful, to open for our prayers the doors of acceptance. O Thou Who respondeth to the petitions of the afflicted, O Thou Who sayest to a thing be and suddenly it is! O God, truly we come in our multitude to Thee, to appeal for Thy forgiveness for our sins, and that we not be made to return in despair. And bestow upon us the best of that which Thou hast bestowed upon Thy virtuous servants, and make us not to return from this great and sacred place, except with success and happiness, without regrets and without further need to be penitent, and not as those who have gone astray, or who have been led into temptation. O most Merciful of those who show mercy! O God! Make us to be guided, and protect us from the cause of ignorance and destruction, and save us from the misfortunes of the sickness of the soul, for these are the worst of enemies. And make us to be of those, to whom Thou turneth, and who look not toward other than Thee, and take our hands, and lead us toward Thee and have compassion on our supplications before Thee. O our true God, when we are crooked, straighten us; be with us, be never against us! And make us to live in this world in faithfulness and obedience, and make us to die as Muslims, and repenting! And make us to be of those who take the Book with their right hand, and make us to be of those who are secure on the Day of Great Fears, and bless us, O God, with the sight of Thy Exalted Countenance, by Thy Mercy, O Most Merciful of those who show mercy!
The Prophet Muhammad on Behalf of Women Only a man of noble character can honor women and only a man of base intention will dishonor women. The most perfect man of religion who excels in character is the one who gives best treatment to his womenfolk. Women are the other half of men. Fear God in respect of women. One who brings up three daughters, provides them with good education and arranges their marriages and treats them with fairness, deserves to be ushered into Paradise. If a man to whom a girl is born, neither buries her alive, nor gives his sons preference over her, his reward would be heaven granted by God. Shall I tell you what the best object of your charity is? It is your own daughter who has returned to you as a widow or a divorcee and who has no one to earn for her except you. To spend on a daughter in need is the best form of charity. When a man is tested through his daughters by God and he treats them well, he earns great merit from God. Men and women are members of one another and must live on a footing of equity and kindness and practice equality. Men and women share equal status in crimes too, as it has been revealed. If the woman kills a man and crime is proved, the woman will be required to pay the penalty. Similarly, if a man kills a woman, after the crime is proved, verily the man will be killed for killing a woman. During night prayers in the mosques, if Prophet Muhammad heard a child cry, he would cut short the prayer, saying that he did not want to make things difficult for the child and the mother.
The Prophet’s Compassion
Women Scholars and Healers Many Muslim women during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad learned to read and write, and studied and practiced medicine. One of these was a woman by the name of Rufaidah. She was proficient in reading and writing and had studied the science of healing. She became the tutor of Prophet Muhammad’s wife, Hafsa, teaching her reading and writing. One day Prophet Muhammad requested her to teach Hafsa the science of healing, especially the cure for a skin rash which was becoming common in Medina. Rufaidah also served as a nurse to the Medinese community, and when Prophet Muhammad pitched a tent for her in the courtyard of the mosque, it became her private hospital to treat all sorts of ailments. Besides being healers and scholars, Muslim women accompanied men on the battlefield, some serving in defense and others nursing the wounded. There were 14 women at the battle of Ohud, bringing food, water and medicine to the soldiers. Amongst them was Prophet’s own daughter, Fatima. Prophet Muhammad made women integral to his plan for Muslim education and learning when he proclaimed: Acquisition of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim, male and female.
CHAPTER FOUR THE PROPHET’S WIVES
It is a shame to let ignorance and complacency be stronger than wisdom. —Marcus Aurelius
Khadija was Prophet Muhammad’s first wife, a wealthy business woman. She was 15 years older than the Prophet, twice widowed and the mother of one son and two daughters when she married the Prophet in the year 595. Prophet Muhammad was employed by her as a merchant to trade goods in Syria, Aleppo, Baalbek, Antioch, Palmyra, Beirut and Damascus. She fell in love with the Prophet and proposed marriage, since she knew that he had not noticed her and had no intention of proposing. They spent 24 years of happy, married life together, and after her death the Prophet was inconsolable, never forgetting her virtues of love, wisdom and generosity. Throughout his life, Khadija remained his first and only love, unforgotten and unforgettable. Khadija, besides being in love with the Prophet, admired his virtues of honesty, fidelity and integrity, gratefully conscious that in a polygamous society where Arab men often acquired multiple wives, Prophet Muhammad remained faithful to her alone, heart and soul. She herself was endowed with the great virtues of kindness and generosity, and the highest amongst many, her love for the Prophet. Amongst her friends she was known as Tahira—the Purified One. After one year of marriage, a son was born to Khadija and given the name of Abul Qasim, but he died within a year. A year after the death of Abul Qasim, Khadija gave birth to a daughter named Zainab. Another daughter was born to Khadija three years after Zainab and was named Ruqayyah. Two years later Khadija gave birth to one more daughter named Khultum. Three years after that, their last daughter was born and named Fatima. Khadijah gave birth to another son two years after Fatima, and he was named Abdullah, but he died in infancy.
The Prophet’s Wives
After 15 years of his marriage to Khadija, Prophet Muhammad became the recipient of divine revelations, and Khadija, the first one to believe in him, became the Mother of the Believers. She believed in him when he did not even believe in himself, thinking that he was possessed. She comforted him when there was a hiatus in revelations. She relieved him from his business duties, granting him the luxury of devoting most of his time to contemplation and of dividing the rest between family and friends. When the time came for the Divine Call to proclaim Islam, and the Prophet was rejected, maligned and persecuted, she became a pillar of strength for him, spending freely of her money for the propagation of Islam. Six years after the first revelation, when the leaders of Quraysh boycotted the family of the Prophet from the line of Banu Hashim and imposed a ban on Muslims by sending them to exile in the valley of Shib, Khadija suffered the travails of hunger and poverty along with the Prophet with great patience and courage. But her health failed due to poor food and the harsh environment. Just short of three years later, when the ban was lifted and Muslims were allowed to return to their homes, Khadija succumbed to death. But before she died she implored to the Prophet not to grieve, for she was only leaving her body, and would watch over him for all eternity.
Swadah One year after the death of Khadija, Prophet Muhammad got married to Swadah. She was a 55 year old widow at the time of her marriage to the Prophet. She and her husband Sakran were early believers in Islam. When Muslims were being persecuted by pagans, she, along with her husband and their son Abdul Rehman, had migrated to Abyssinia. They were amongst the first Muslims to emigrate in order to avoid persecution. After several years in Abyssinia they decided to return home, but Sakram died on the way to Mecca. Meanwhile, Khadija had died after the ban on Banu Hashim was lifted. Prophet Muhammad was grief-stricken, and his aunt Atika was trying to find a wife for him to take care of Fatima and his household. She heard of Swadah and her plight of not being able to support herself and her son after the death of her husband. So Atika went to her, suggesting that she marry Prophet Muhammad. This was the second time the Prophet Muhammad had received a marriage proposal, Swadah herself approaching him and asking if he would take care of and protect a homeless widow by marrying her and providing her with a home. Prophet Muhammad agreed. Swadah became a great blessing for the
Prophet, managing his depleted funds, which had shrunk considerably after the death of Khadija. She also became a loving mother to young Fatima and was devoted to the Prophet. In kindness and generosity, she followed in the footsteps of Khadija, and cooked and cleaned with a sense of joy and gratitude. A few months after Hijra, when Prophet Muhammad migrated to Medina, he sent Zaid as an escort to bring her to Medina. She was a hardworking, dedicated wife, sharing her earnings, which she earned by cleansing hides and skins, freely with the Prophet so that he did not have to work as hard and could spare more time cultivating the religion. Prophet Muhammad, in return, held her in great esteem, always considerate and loving. She was with him during the last pilgrimage in Mecca, and since she had grown heavy, he allowed her to leave the valley of Muzdalifah a day early so that she would have time for the rite of stoning the Devil’s Pillars without being in a rush and getting exhausted. After the death of the Prophet she never again went on pilgrimage, saying that she had performed her Hajj with the Prophet and could not repeat that experience without him, cherishing that memory forever. She survived for several years after Prophet Muhammad’s death, and died during the reign of Caliph Omar.
Aisha The daughter of Abu Bakr, the dearest of Prophet Muhammad’s friends, Aisha was betrothed to the Prophet at the age of ten a few weeks after his Night Journey to the Throne of the Beloved. She was born a Muslim, since Abu Bakr had become a believer the day Prophet Muhammad received his first revelation, simultaneously receiving the good news that a daughter was born to his wife Umm Ruman. The Prophet was already married to Swadah when Gabriel came to him in his dream, offering the gift of God’s mercy to him, and Aisha as his bride. In his dream, Prophet Muhammad had objected to this match due to the disparity of their ages, but Gabriel assured him that she would be happy to marry him. The same day, Abu Bakr came with the proposal that Aisha marry Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet objected once again, as he had objected in his dream, but Abu Bakr allayed his fears by recounting how Aisha felt. Little Aisha was betrothed to Zubayr ibn Awwam, but when her mother Umm Ruman told her that she would be marrying him, Aisha started crying. Both Abu Bakr and Umm Ruman appealed to Zubayr’s mother, requesting that the engagement be dissolved, but she would not
The Prophet’s Wives
agree. Zubayr’s mother Safiyah was also the Prophet’s aunt, and she was approached once again with the same request and told that Aisha would be marrying Prophet Muhammad. With this additional knowledge, Safiyah consented to dissolve the engagement. When Aisha got to know about this, she was seen jumping with joy and saying: I would be the wife of a Prophet. A few weeks after the Night Journey, Aisha was betrothed to Prophet Muhammad. Two years later, at the advent of Hijra, Prophet Muhammad migrated to Medina. First Swadah joined him, and within a year, his daughters came to Medina, with the exception of Zainab. Another year later Umm Ruman journeyed to Medina with Aisha, and she was married to the Prophet at the age of fourteen. It was almost five grief-filled years since the death of Khadija, and he began to discover joy in the company of his virgin bride. Aisha was intelligent and sprightly and made the Prophet laugh, as well as being a great admirer of his revelations. She had a burning desire to learn and question, and had memorized the revelations by heart. Her eloquence in describing the character of the Prophet earned her the title of scholar. Her love for the Prophet made her jealous of even Khadija, since he could never forget his first love, and talked about his first wife often and with much tenderness. The Prophet, in return, indulged Aisha in her whims and pranks with Swadah and later with his other wives, and loved her the best next to Khadija. Before his death he requested that he be permitted to stay in the apartment of Aisha, and died in her lap. She died 43 years after the death of the Prophet, during the reign of Caliph Muayiya. There are about 22,010 traditions of the Prophet narrated by Aisha, which are attributed to her great intellect and impeccable memory.
Hafsa A year after his marriage to Aisha, Prophet Muhammad married Hafsa. She had been widowed at the age of 18, and much like Swadah, proposed to the Prophet. Her first marriage had been to Khunais, who had died at the battle of Badr. Omar ibn Khattab was her father and a great friend of the Prophet. After his daughter was widowed, he was pressed by his family to find her a husband. He had offered her hand in marriage to Uthman, but he had refused. Then he approached Abu Bakr with the same proposal, but he too declined. Mocked by his family for not finding a husband for his daughter, in sheer desperation, Omar came to Prophet Muhammad with
the same proposal while the Prophet was sitting in the mosque with his wives and devotees. Before Prophet Muhammad could say anything, Hafsa herself made a stormy appearance, crying indignantly: Are you not the protector of the orphans and the widows, Prophet? My father can’t find me a husband, won’t you marry me? Prophet Muhammad was in a quandary, saying that she was too young. Hafsa started crying louder and louder, declaring that she was older than Aisha and that the Prophet too was rejecting her as others had. So the Prophet agreed to marry her, and Omar took her home, ecstatic that a husband was found for his daughter Hafsa. No sooner had they left than Abu Bakr brought the ransom for the Prophet’s son-in-law, Abul As, who had been captured at the battle of Badr. The Prophet’s daughter Zainab had sent a garnet necklace as ransom for her husband—a necklace which Khadija had given her. Prophet Muhammad’s old grief was awakened and he murmured Khadija’s name while instructing Abu Bakr that the necklace must be returned to Zainab. Aisha’s jealousy flared up as she cried, demanding angrily why the Prophet was still in love with an old woman who had been dead for years. Now it was the Prophet’s turn to shed tears, saying: You would not understand, dear Aisha, you are too young, our joys and sorrows consecrated our love till eternity.
Aisha befriended Hafsa after she got married to the Prophet and they became great friends. Hafsa, despite her fiery temper, had a great talent for acquiring knowledge. She could read and write, and Prophet Muhammad asked Rufaidah—a woman of learning—to teach Hafsa the science of medicine. She recorded quite a few of the revelations, and more than 60 traditions of the Prophet are narrated by her in the Hadith. She was an independent woman and did not shy away from arguments with the Prophet, and he would participate humbly and patiently. She loved to pray and fast and was generous. Her eagerness to learn became her life-long passion after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Much like Aisha, she died during the caliphate of Muayiya.
Zainab bint Khuzayma Prophet Muhammad married Zainab a year after Hafsa. She too was a widow, and her husband Hobeida had also died at the battle of Badr. She
The Prophet’s Wives
was 30 years old and had no one to take care of her, and was not skilled enough in anything to earn her own living. After her marriage to the Prophet she became actively involved in helping the poor and widows. She worked tirelessly for this cause, and her dedication became so pronounced that she attained the title of Mother of the Destitute. Perceptive by nature, she got to know the Prophet more intimately than the rest of his wives. Before the battle of Ohud, when other wives of the Prophet were wondering who would be chosen to accompany the Prophet onto the battlefield, she said with great annoyance: Why would any of us want to go to the war when Prophet himself abhors wars? Weak of constitution, she became ill and died suddenly after three months of marriage to the Prophet. She was the second wife of the Prophet to die during his lifetime.
Umm Salmah At the end of the same year in which Zainab died, the Prophet Muhammad married Umm Salmah. She was a widow, and her husband Abdullah had died at the battle of Ohud. She had two sons, Umar and Salma, and a daughter by the name of Durrah. The Prophet wanted to take care of her children and offered to marry her, but she was a proud woman and declined, recounting that she had three afflictions: jealousy for one, the burden of family and youth in decline. To this Prophet Muhammad responded that he would pray to Allah for the removal of her jealousy, that having a large family was a blessing, not a burden, and that as for youth in decline, he had the same affliction. She was convinced and consented. Endowed with wit and wisdom, she could transform difficult situations into pleasant ones with her charming suggestions. She was with the Prophet and his companions on their first pilgrimage from Medina to Mecca, but the Meccans did not allow them the rite of pilgrimage. After a lengthy discussion, Prophet Muhammad, always an advocate for avoiding a war, was convinced to sign a peace treaty which was unfavorable to the Muslims. They were camping in the valley of Hudaybiyah, half a day’s journey from Mecca, but were prevented from entering Mecca; however, with the signing of the peace treaty, they were permitted to return to Mecca the following year to perform the rites of pilgrimage. After the peace treaty was signed and the Meccans had left, Prophet Muhammad suggested to his companions that they perform the rites of pilgrimage right there in the valley. The men were bitter for having been put at a disadvantage due to the peace treaty, so they did not heed the Prophet, though he requested thrice that they commence the rites of pilgrimage.
Feeling distraught and overwhelmed by the silence and defiance of his companions, he went to the tent of his wife, Umm Salmah. After listening to his plight, she said: you can’t make fourteen hundred men do something they don’t want to do, but you can make them look silly. Go out and slaughter your garlanded camel on the spot where everyone can watch you. Be assured, they will be watching and they will join you. Her prophecy came true, for when they saw the Prophet commencing the rites of pilgrimage alone, they could not remain defiant, joining him with the spirit of joy and merry-making. Umm Salmah could tame the wildest of horses, and fought in the battles of Badr and Ohud. An adept scholar in her own right, she was well versed in the sciences of tradition and jurisprudence. She narrated more than 378 traditions of the Prophet. She died when the Syrian army went to Mecca, where ibn-e-Zubair was besieged.
Zainab bint Jahsh A year after his marriage to Umm Salmah, Prophet Muhammad married Zainab, who was 38 years old. She was his cousin and his ward. After the proclamation of Islam, the Prophet, in order to instill equality amongst all, arranged her marriage to his freed slave Zaid, further stressing that a slave can marry a lady of high ranking. This marriage did not last long, for Zaid told the Prophet that it was very difficult for him to live with a hot tempered woman like Zainab, and requested a divorce. Since she was divorced and had to be taken care of legally, the Prophet wanted to marry her, but was not sure if it was right to marry the divorced wife of his adopted son Zaid. He prayed for understanding and received a boon in the form of revelation: And when thou saidst unto him on whom Allah hath conferred favor and thou hast conferred favor. Keep thy wife to thyself and fear Allah. And thou didst hide in thy mind that which Allah was to bring to light, and thou didst fear mankind whereas Allah hath better right that thou shouldst fear Him. So when Zaid had performed the necessary formality of divorce from her, We gave her unto thee in marriage, so that henceforth there may be no sin for believers in respect of wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have performed the necessary formality of release from them. The commandment of Allah must be fulfilled. (33:37 Quran)
When Aisha heard this revelation, she couldn’t help but retort: Truly, thy Lord makes haste to do thy bidding, Prophet.
The Prophet’s Wives
Amongst the Prophet’s wives, the wedding feast of Zainab, though planned to be simply, turned out to be the most elaborate one, since close to 200 guests showed up, bringing along baskets of bread and sweets. They stayed till late, feasting and merrymaking. The Prophet was becoming impatient and restless, but his gentle manners did not permit him to tell the guests that it was time to leave. Finally, when the guests left, Prophet Muhammad was blessed with this revelation: Believers, do not enter the houses of the Prophet for a meal before waiting for the proper time, unless you are given leave. But if you are invited, enter, and when you have eaten, disperse. Do not engage in familiar talk, for this would annoy the Prophet, and he would be ashamed to bid you go. But of the truth, Allah is not ashamed. If you ask his wives for anything, speak to them from behind a curtain. This is more chaste for your hearts and their hearts. (33:53 Quran)
Zainab was the first of the Prophet’s wives to die after his death. Before his death, Propher Muhammad had told his wives that of them, the one with the longest arms would be the first to die after him. So all the wives had started comparing their arms, not understanding that what he meant by the longest arms was the one most generous. Zainab was indeed the most generous. 11 traditions of the Prophet narrated by her are recorded in the Hadith.
Juwairya The same year as his wedding to Zainab, Prophet Muhammad married Juwairya. Her first marriage had been to Safwan from the tribe of Banu Mustaliq, the tribe of her father, Harith, who was a powerful chieftain. Incited by the Quraysh, Harith planned a massive attack on Medina. The Prophet got to know about tjos covert plan and launched a counter attack, resulting in the swift defeat of the tribe of Banu Mustaliq. A large number of soldiers fled, but 600 were taken prisoners, including the daughter of the powerful chief Harith. Her husband was killed in the battle and she became a widow at the age of 20. When the Muslims returned to Medina with their war booty and prisoners, Juwairya demanded to see the Prophet. She wanted to borrow gold from him as a ransom for her safe release from her captor, Thabit. Prophet Muhammad presented her with an easy alternative by offering to marry her, and she agreed, on the condition that all the prisoners be released without ransom. All 600 soldiers were forgiven and released, and the Prophet married Juwairya. She survived Prophet Muhammad and died at the age of 65. Aisha praised her, and said
she was wise beyond her years, a great blessing to her people, and a model of generosity.
Umm Habiba Prophet Muhammad married Umm Habiba one year after his marriage to Juwairya. She was 37 years old when she married him. In fact, she had already been married to him by proxy by King Negus of Ethiopia. She was the daughter of Abu Sofyan, enemy of the Prophet. Umm Habiba and her husband Ubaid Allah had accepted Islam and had migrated to Ethiopia for fear of persecution. A few years later, her husband passed away and the Prophet sent her a message saying that he wanted to marry her. She in return sent her message of consent, saying that in her dream she had already seen herself as the Mother of the Faithful. King Negus also sent a personal message to Prophet Muhammad to the effect that he was willing to arrange a proxy marriage if the Prophet agreed, which he did. A few months after this proxy marriage, the Prophet’s cousin Jafar and his family, who were also in Abyssinia, escorted Umm Habiba to Medina and she was married to the Prophet. Umm Habiba had two children from her previous marriage, a son, Abdullah, and a daughter, Habibah, both much loved by the Prophet. She was devoted to the Prophet heart and soul, and died during the caliphate of her brother Muayiya.
Mary Mary was born in Upper Egypt to a Coptic Christian father and a Greek mother, and moved to the court of Muqawqis when she was very young. She was sent as a Coptic slave by the King of Egypt to Prophet Muhammad when he returned to Medina after signing the peace treaty at Hudaybiyah. He granted her freedom, and married her the same year as he married Umm Habiba. Aside from Khadija, she was the only one amongst his wives who bore him a son. He was named Ibrahim, but he died when he was two years old. Many scholars argue about the status of Mary and whether she was the Prophet’s wife or concubine. But the facts seem to be in favor of her being his wife. During the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad, she was given the same title as his other wives, Mother of the Believers. After the Prophet’s death, his wives were not allowed to marry again, and she lived as a widow till she died. She died five years after the Prophet’s death, during the caliphate of Omar. Omar afforded the same
The Prophet’s Wives
respect to Mary as he did to the Prophet’s other wives. He gathered people for her funeral and personally offered funeral prayers.
Safiya Prophet Muhammad married Safiya in the same year as he married Mary and Umm Habiba. She was Jewish, and her first marriage was to Aslam, who divorced her. She had then been married to a man by the name of Kinanah. Her clan, the Khaiber, allied with the Qurayshi and Ghatafanis, had planned to disrupt the peace in Medina despite their peace treaty with the Muslims, so Muslims had laid siege to their fortress and been victorious. During this battle, Safiya’s husband, brother and father had been killed, and the rest of the army had surrendered. Since they had asked for clemency and forgiveness, Prophet Muhammad permitted them to stay in Khaiber and married Safiya, the widow of Kinanah, the chief of the Khaiber.
Maymuna Maymuna was Prophet Muhammad’s last wife, and they were married during the first pilgrimage to Mecca from Medina after the signing of the peace treaty at Hudaybiyah. The pilgrims were allowed only a three day stay in Mecca. After the pilgrimage, the Prophet’s uncle suggested making an alliance with the Quraysh by offering the hand of his sister-in-law Maymuna, who had been recently widowed by the death of her second husband Abu Rahim, in marriage. Her first marriage was to Masood, but that was quickly dissolved by mutual agreement. Maymuna was escorted to the Prophet’s camp by Abu Rafi and chaperoned by Salma and Omara, but since the Meccans gave the Muslims the ultimatum that they must pack up and leave after their three day visit was over, the Prophet married her on his way to Medina, in the small town of Sarif. A little further along the way, the Prophet teased his cousin Jafar, saying that if he wanted to marry Omara he should propose, and that Jafar looked a great deal like him and that no woman has so far rejected the Prophet. Jafar, drunk on this praise, jumped down from his horse and began dancing in circles around the camel of the Prophet. When the Prophet asked why he was dancing, Jafar replied that he had seen Abyssinians do this when their King Negus gave any of them a good reason to rejoice. Why you are rejoicing? Prophet Muhammad asked. Before Jafar could respond, Aisha chirped, perhaps another bride for you,
Prophet. Prophet Muhammad laughed, saying that Maymuna was the last, adding: had I been wise I would have married only one. Besides, this new revelation puts an end to further marriages: If you fear that you will not be able to deal justly with the orphans. Marry the women of your choice, two, three or four. But if you fear you will not be able to deal justly with them, then only one. (4:3 Quran)
I wish, Prophet, you received this revelation after our marriage, Aisha retorted. The Prophet’s only response was: Aisha, be good to Maymuna, she is not only a dear relative of my uncle, but the widow of a chief from the clan of Najd. She is loving and compassionate, still mourning the deaths of our seventy-two men who were murdered by the members of her clan. 46 of the traditions of the Prophet are narrated by her in the Hadith. Ironically, she died in the same small town where she was married (Sarif), 19 years after the death of the Prophet.
CHAPTER FIVE HAJJ: HOLY PILGRIMAGE
If you are pained by any external thing, it is not that thing that disturbs you, but your own judgment about it. —Marcus Aurelius
Hajj literally means “setting out towards”, or the will and desire to visit, and in the Islamic lexicon it is an annual religious rite of pilgrimage to Mecca. Pagan women used to wear veils as a mark of wealth and royalty and in order to instill the virtue of equality; Prophet Muhammad forbade Muslim women to wear veils, which is why they are not allowed to veil themselves on their yearly pilgrimages. There are only two verses in the Quran alluding to head coverings, often used by scholars of zeal, but they have nothing to do with present day hijab. One verse was revealed after the Prophet’s marriage to Zainab, when the men of his congregation would not leave after the feast and kept talking to his wives and celebrating. But this verse was that in which God told men not to enter the dwellings of the Prophet without his permission, saying, and when you do, do not linger and when you ask something from the Prophet’s wives, ask them from behind a curtain. The second verse only tells both men and women to dress modestly. Another verse which could be misinterpreted like the previous two in favor of the wearing of hijab is that in which women are asked to cover their bosoms in view of the pagan women at the time going around wearing low-cut robes. In the Hadith there is a mention of Uthman urging the Prophet to force his wives to be veiled, and the Prophet does not agree to do so. The fact that the Prophet’s wives were not veiled is shown by the fact that once, Aisha was left behind in a deserted campsite when the whole cavalcade moved to another site. She had lost her necklace, and while searching for it did not notice the flight of time, and the men, thinking that she was sleeping in her howdah, drove her camel to the next encampment. When she returned to the deserted camp, she was so tired
that she fell asleep. One of the Prophet’s scouts whose duty it was to scout the area and go back and see if there was anything left behind found Aisha sleeping there and escorted her to the next encampment. It is stated in the Hadith that this scout recognized Aisha, which must mean she was not veiled. There is no revelation in the Quran that instructs men to don head gear, but Arab men do so as protection against the heat and sand, and so do the women, so in fact head gear has nothing do with religion, and everything to do with culture and environment. Muslims believe that Abraham was the first patriarch, who built Kaaba as ordained by God. And remember when we showed Abraham the site of the Sacred House, saying: Associate not anything in worship with Me and purify. My House is for those who circumambulate it and those who stand up for prayer and those who bow down and make prostrations. (22:26 Quran)
The rites of Hajj are pre-Islamic rites which have been incorporated into Islam. Historians assert that Kaaba was built by Abraham as the first house of God. He was an old man when God spoke to him in a dream, saying that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars and would rule Arabia. But his old wife Sarah, who was barren, wondered how he could possibly have descendants when they did not have any children. So she gave him her young Egyptian handmaid by the name of Hagar, who bore him a son named Ishmael. Meanwhile, Sarah also conceived, and her son was named Isaac. She became jealous of Hagar and Ishmael, and did not want them in the same house as her. Abraham dreamt again, this time of God telling him to take Hagar and Ishmael to Mecca and leave them there. So Abraham left Hagar and his young infant son Ishmael in Mecca with a few provisions. When the provisions were used up, both son and mother began to suffer the pangs of thirst, and Hagar, in sheer desperation, began to run back and forth between the hills As-Safa and Al-Marwa in search of water. She had made seven circuits when young Ishmael kicked his heel against the ground and a fountain of water spurted forth, now called Zamzam, the holy water of healing. Now the rite of running seven times between the hills is repeated every year by those on pilgrimage, following in the footsteps of Hagar. Later, when God wanted to test Abraham’s faith, commanding him to sacrifice his son Ishmael, Abraham obeyed. While he was taking his son toward the top of the hill, he was tempted three times by the devil not to go through with the sacrifice, but he persevered in his resolve. The spots
Hajj: Holy Pilgrimage
where Abraham was tempted by the devil are now pillars where pilgrims throw stones at the devil during the rites of pilgrimage. When Abraham was about to cut his son’s throat, a ram appeared instead. God said that Abraham’s faith was perfect, and his son was saved, the ram slaughtered in his place. This ritual of sacrifice is also repeated at the yearly pilgrimage in the form of offering the sacrifice of a cow, goat, sheep or camel as proof of man’s fidelity to his God, as Abraham did by being willing to sacrifice his son for Him. Hagar running seven times between the hills As-Safa and Al-Marwah in search of water is a reminder to pilgrims to feel the suffering of mankind, and throwing pebbles at the devil pillars serves as an injunction to fight temptations. Then Abraham prayed fervently: Our Lord accept from us this duty. Thou only. Thou art the Hearer, the Knower. And when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundations of the House, Abraham prayed: Our Lord! And make us submissive unto Thee and of our seed a nation submissive unto Thee and show us our ways of worship, and relent towards us. Lo, Thou only Thou art the Relenting, the Merciful. (2:127:128 Quran)
God promised Abraham that Ishmael’s progeny would grow and multiply, and both father and son prayed together: Our Lord! And raise up in their midst a messenger from among them who shall recite unto them Thy revelations, and shall instruct them in the Scripture and in wisdom and shall make them grow Lo! Thou only Thou are the Mighty, the Wise. (2:129 Quran)
This prayer found fulfillment in the person of the Holy Prophet, as the Prophet was reported to say: I am the prayer of my father Abraham. Ishmael’s progeny multiplied and were divided into several tribes. One of those was known as the Quraysh, who were descended from Nadzr. This tribe was further divided into many clans, one of which was Prophet Muhammad’s clan, the Banu Hashim. The rites and rituals prescribed by Abraham for the yearly pilgrimage were slowly and gradually transformed to such a degree that nothing remained of its purity, and the concept of one God was forgotten. Kaaba became the trading center of Arabia, and the yearly pilgrimage brought a horde of traders from all over Arabia to trade their goods - Mecca prospered. Traders also brought their gods along with them, and by the
time Prophet Muhammad grew to be a young man, there were 360 idols housed at Kaaba, and countless worshippers belonging to different clans and tribes with their gods and goddesses. Abraham’s shrine dedicated to the unknown God was still there, but the Arabs prayed to several deities, and their pagan god Hubal reigned supreme. Some of the rituals of yearly pilgrimage that survived this transformation were the kissing of the black stone of Kaaba, throwing stones at the three pillars of the devil, running seven times between the two hills and offering animal sacrifices. Even animal sacrifices had acquired a different connotation. Rich merchants slaughtered camels to flaunt their wealth, smeared the walls of the Kaaba with the blood of the animals and hung the slaughtered flesh on pillars in the belief that their gods would reward them for their generous offerings. With the advent of Islam, Prophet Muhammad forbade this custom of flaunting and defiling the walls of Kaaba by the smearing of blood. It is neither their meat, nor their blood that reaches God, but only the acts of piety from you that reaches Him. (22:37 Quran) So mention the name of God over those animals when they are drawn up in lines. Then when they are taken to the side after the slaughter, eat thereof and feed the beggar who does not ask, and the beggar who asks. (22:36 Quran)
During pre-Islamic pilgrimages, arguments would sometimes occur, and men’s anger would flare up and they would use indecent language. Some of the pilgrims would also go around Kaaba dressed indecently, or even naked. The Prophet Muhammad received another revelation concerning rage and indecency: The pilgrimage is in the well-known month and whoever is minded to perform the pilgrimage therein, let him remember that there is to be no lewdness, nor abuse, nor angry conversation on the pilgrimage. (2:197 Quran)
Many pre-Islamic pilgrims would arrive at Mecca without provisions and go begging, disrupting the rites of pilgrimage with their excessive solicitation. Another revelation came to the rescue of the Prophet to amend that situation. And take a provision with you for the journey, and the best provision is to ward off evil. (2:197 Quran)
Hajj: Holy Pilgrimage
Pagan Arab women of royal lineage used to perform the rites of pilgrimage while veiled; to instill equality, Prophet Muhammad forbade Muslim women to wear veils, saying: they are not allowed to cover their face or wear gloves. They were allowed to wear jewelry and any kind of clothing they preferred, shirts, vests, khimars or baggy trousers. Some of the pre-Islamic pilgrims did not bathe while performing the rites of pilgrimage, and carried with them the unpleasant odor of sweat and dust, so in order to instill the virtue of cleanliness, Prophet Muhammad stressed the point that Muslims could bathe while in the state of Ihram as often as they desired, or whenever necessary to refresh themselves as a mark of courtesy to others. Aisha narrated that she used to scent Allah’s Messenger when he wanted to assume Ihram and also on finishing Ihram before the Tawwaf around the Kaaba. (Al-Bukhari 2:612-O.B.) During a pilgrimage Caliph Omar waited for Al-Hijjaj to take a bathe while in the state of Ihram before proceeding to Mount Arafat, thus allowing him to follow the example of Prophet Muhammad, a great advocate for cleanliness. (Al-Bukhari 2:722-O.B.) The Pilgrims taking Ihram for Hajj should employ the same phrases: O God I intend to make Umrah and I am taking Ihram for it. Make it easy for me and receive it from me. The Ihram of Hajj cannot be put aside unless from the beginning the pilgrim declares that the Hajj being performed is that of Interrupted Ihram until the full rites of the pilgrimage have been concluded. This does not mean that a pilgrim should wear soiled Ihram robes. Change of robes is allowed as well as bathing as often as desired, donning fresh garments if they are available, but not the accustomed garb of one’s native country. - S. A. Hussain
A man after performing Hajj is called Haji, and a woman is called Hajjah. The intention behind performing Hajj puts a person into a state of purity, and the donning of clean clothes denotes the state of Ihram for every pilgrim. Bathing is required for both males and females before donning Ihram. Both men and women trim their finger nails and remove their pubic hair, as well as hair from the underarms. For men, Ihram clothing is simply two large pieces of white fabric. One length of cloth is worn over the shoulders, covering the upper half of the body. The second length is worn wrapped about the waist and secured with a belt.
For women, there are no special requirements for donning the Ihram; the only requirement is that they must be unveiled. They may wear their customary dress of any color and jewelry. Pilgrims believe that Hajj is a journey of forgiveness, during which all past sins are absolved. The rite of passage to forgiveness is not only the outward change of apparel, but the intentional sincerity of changing inwardly - all evil passions must be drained out, filling that vacuum with nothing but love for God and His creatures. One approaches God as a perfect devotee, begging for wisdom and understanding so that one can walk on the path to righteousness. The donning of Ihram instills the virtue of equality, bringing into consciousness the observance of purity. Remembrance of God at each step of the pilgrimage carves a path for each pilgrim toward great humility and self-surrender, the pilgrim begging for the alms of eternal love and grace as he or she journeys toward the throne of God. Kaaba, as the navel of the universe, suffuses the heart of each pilgrim with the light of peace, and the ritual of circumambulation becomes a catalyst for radiating the same light of peace throughout the whole world. The world, with its elements of suffering and need for compassion, is enacted through the suffering of Hagar while running between the hills of As-Safa and Al-Marwah. Throwing pebbles at the devil’s pillars is a stark reminder that human beings must cling to faith under all circumstances, even during trials and tribulations, and not fall prey to temptation. The ritual of sacrifice at Mina enhances the virtue of gratefulness in each heart for the abundance of God’s mercies and bounties to mankind. Lo, the first sanctuary appointed for mankind was at Mecca, a blessed place, a guidance to the peoples. Wherein are plain memorials of Allah’s guidance, the place where Abraham stood up to pray and whosoever entereth is safe. And pilgrimage to the House is a duty unto Allah for mankind, for him who can find a way thither. As for him who disbelieveth, let him know that, lo, Allah is Independent of all creatures. (3:96-97 Quran)
The Valley of Arafat Pilgrims enter the Valley of Arafat in the morning, journeying toward Mount Arafat—a naked stone jutting up at the heart of a barren valley. This is the site where, expelled from Paradise into the wilderness of the world, Adam and Eve found one another after two centuries of separation.
Hajj: Holy Pilgrimage
All pilgrims must reach the Valley of Arafat by high noon, and when they enter the sanctuary of Mecca they are heard confessing that they feel a profound sense of humility and exaltation, as if experiencing the noblest moments of their lives both spiritually and intellectually. It is here that pilgrims disengage themselves completely from worldly temptations and attachments, and pray humbly: There is no deity except God. For Him is the kingdom of the heaven and earth and the Praise. He makes us to live and to die. He Himself lives, but never dies. And in His hand is goodness and He is all powerful. O God, for thy pleasure is my prayer and Sacrifice, my life and my death, and for the attainment of Thy pleasure are all my belongings. I cannot be saved from evil, but with Thy help and I have no power to achieve good, but with thy assistance. O God, I seek Thy refuge from poverty, from evil suggestions of the Satan within my breast, from the harms of my personal affairs. O God, I beseech of Thee goodness during the day and during the night. O God, create light in my heart, in my ears, in my eyes, on the day when I meet Thee. O Lord, thou have power over everything. Open my heart, to the secrets of Thy truth. O God, Who sublimates the places of the righteous and Who creates the heavens and the earths, all voices of those who supplicate return to Thee in various languages. I also offer my needs to Thee, and my supplication in that Thou should not forget me in a land of troubles and calamities. When the mortals of the world forget me, O God, Thou hear my words, Thou know what I conceal and what I disclose and nothing of my affairs is hidden from Thee. I am an afflicted and humble beggar at Thy door and a petitioner. O God, grant us goodness in this world and goodness in the Hereafter. O God, illuminate my heart with Thy Divine Light and guide me to the right way and protect me from every kind of evil. O God, grant me ease and comfort and save me from misery and affliction. O God, grant me honesty in my dealings, bless me in my actions, in my words, in my body, in my soul, in my family and in my friends. O God, let not the benefits of this Pilgrimage be limited to only this place where I stand today, but continue its benevolence for me as long as I live. O God, send Thy peace and blessings upon our beloved Prophet and to all mankind. Amen.
Muzdalifah Then, when you pour down from Mount Arafat, celebrate the praises of God at the Sacred Monument and celebrate His praises as He has directed you, even though before this ye went astray. Then pass on at a quick pace from the place, whence it is usual for the multitude to do so and ask for
Chapter Five God’s forgiveness, for God is oft-forgiving, most merciful. (2:198-199 Quran)
While at Muzdalifah, the pilgrims say this prayer: O most merciful and most forgiving God, open for our prayers the doors of acceptance. O Thou Who respondeth to the petition of the afflicted, O Thou Who sayest to a thing, Be, and suddenly it is! O God, truly we come in our multitude to Thee, to appeal for Thy forgiveness for our sins and that we may not be made to return in despair. And bestow upon us the best of that which Thou hast bestowed upon Thy virtuous servants and make us not return from this great and sacred place, except with success and happiness, without regrets and without further need to be penitent, and not of those who have gone astray, or who have been led into temptations. O most merciful God, make us to be guided and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction and save us from the misfortunes of the sickness of the soul, for these are the worst of our enemies. O God, hold our hands and lead us toward your divine Grace and have compassion on our supplications. O God, bless us with the sight of Thy exalted countenance and by Thy mercy, O most merciful of those Who show mercy.
Prophet Muhammad’s Last Pilgrimage While performing the rites of Hajj, Prophet Muhammad chanted: I am here, O Lord, I am here! There is no other God, but Thee! I am here! Praise, blessing and dominion be to Thee! I am here! No one therein may share with Thee! I am here, O Lord! I am here!
Between the hills As-Safa and Al-Marwah, Prophet Muhammad praised God: Glorified is He, and High Exalted above what they say! The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein praise Him. And there is not a thing but hymneth His praise, but ye understand not their praise. Lo, He is ever Clement, Forgiving. (17:43-44 Quran) Glory to Him Who has subjected these to our use, for we could never have accomplished this by ourselves. And to our Lord, surely, must we turn back. (57: 1, 5 Quran) O Lord! Let my entry be by the Gate of Truth and Honor and likewise my exit by the Gate of Truth and Honor, and grant me from Thy presence and Authority and aid me. (17:80 Quran)
Hajj: Holy Pilgrimage
O God Thou hast many claims on me for what is between Thee and me, and there are many claims against me, in my relation to the world of Thy creation. Make me content with what Thou hast made lawful, instead of that which is forbidden by Thee, knowing Thy bounty above all others, O most forgiving! O God, verily, Thy house is glorious, Thy countenance benign, and Thou art clement and bounteous. Great and oft-forgiving, therefore forgive me. God is most great! God is most great! God is most great! And unto God is all due praise. Allah hath appointed the Kaaba, the Sacred House, a standard for mankind, and the Sacred Month and the offerings and the garlands. That is so that ye may know that Allah knoweth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth and that Allah is knower of all things. (5:97 Quran) Today I have perfected your religion for you and completed my favor unto you, and have chosen for you as religion Al-Islam. Whoso is forced by hunger, not by will, to sin, for him, lo, Allah is forgiving, merciful. (5:3 Quran)
The outward rites of pilgrimage teach each pilgrim the virtues of humility, equality, obedience and surrender. The inward pilgrimage opens up within each heart the conduits of love, peace and harmony for the world. Both these rites, internal and external, are meant to purify the heart of each devotee from even the smallest trace of malice, hatred, pride, zeal or bitterness. The flowering of love in each heart makes the pilgrimage complete, and the pilgrim must emerge forth purified of all evils before his or her Hajj is acceptable to God.
CHAPTER SIX THE PROPHET’S CHARACTER
Take away your opinion, and there is taken away the complaint, I have been hurt. Take away the complaint, I have been hurt, and the hurt is gone. —Marcus Aurelius
The rivers of love and compassion flowed smoothly in the Prophet’s heart even amidst, the hurricanes of war and conflicts. When after the battle of Badr he noticed that prisoners were shackled, he commanded that the shackles be removed. All prisoners were treated with the utmost courtesy, and fed and clothed as his own army. They were allowed freedom after they paid a ransom according to their own means, and the ones who could not afford a ransom were employed to teach children until they earned their right to be free. As a young man, Prophet Muhammad was called Al-Amin, meaning truthful. As his first attempt to proclaim the message of Islam, he asked a throng of men who had gathered on the hills to listen to him whether, if he told them that an army was coming down from those hills to attack them, they would believe him. Everyone answered in the affirmative, saying that they would believe him, for they had never heard him tell a lie. But their affirmation melted away when he began proclaiming the oneness of God. Then a string of persecutions began; he was pelted with jeers and stones. Although the Arabs knew that there was a shrine dedicated to the one unknown God, it had been abandoned and forgotten, replaced with 360 gods and goddesses from the several tribes who came for a yearly pilgrimage to trade and perform the rit of circumambulations. They had created their own high god, called Hubal, who reigned over all those deities. They were in the habit of praying to their gods, as well as mocking them if their prayers were not answered. Kaaba was the center of trade and revenue from goods, which brought an abundance of wealth, and all that wealth would vanish if the idea of one God was incorporated into their pantheon of gods. But this wealth was
The Prophet’s Character
only for a few rich people; the poor were extremely poor. One day Prophet Muhammad saw one man carving a date as his personal deity and sat worshipping. When the sun rose high he felt hungry and thirsty, so he ate his god and sat contemplating which deity to worship next. As for mocking their gods, one man sat shooting arrows, asking for an oracle from his god so that he could avenge the murder of his father. The arrow kept coming back to him with the word no written on it, but he shouted at the face of his idol: O wretch had it been the murder of your father, you would not have forbidden me to avenge it. Prophet Muhammad overlooked the faults of others with a smile. His freed slave Zaid attested to the fact that the Prophet had not rebuked him for his mistakes even once. Throughout his life, the Prophet Muhammad chose to forgive rather than avenge. During his Hijra from Mecca to Medina, a Bedouin by the name of Suraqah went after him to capture him and bring him back to Mecca. The Meccans had set a reward of 100 camels to anyone who could bring the Prophet to Mecca alive. Prophet Muhammad saw Suraqah riding toward him and divined his intent, but was not afraid. Abu Bakr, who was riding beside the Prophet, warned him, but the Prophet consoled him, telling him not to be afraid. Twice, Suraqah stumbled from his horse in the act of shooting an arrow and climbed back on. The third time, he came very close and stumbled at the feet of the Prophet’s camel. Why do you want to kill me? Prophet Muhammad asked gently. The Quraysh have promised a reward of hundred camels to any man who kills or captures Muhammad, Suraqah breathed hoarsely. But it is obvious you are protected by your God. I seek mercy and forgiveness. You are forgiven, my son. Be merciful to God’s creatures. Prophet Muhammad not only forgave him, but prophesied that he would one day wear the gold bangles of the ruler of Persia. The Prophet’s prophecy came true 16 years later, after his death, when during the caliphate of Omar, Chrosoes became the King of Persia and employed Suraqah, giving him a gift of gold bangles. Amongst many examples of forgiveness for personal injuries, he forgave even the man who toppled the carriage of his daughter while she was migrating from Mecca to Medina, causing her to suffer a miscarriage.
And each one hath a goal toward which he turneth; so vie with one another in good works. Wheresoever you may be, Allah will bring you all together. Lo, Allah is able to do all things. (2:148 Quran)
Prophet Muhammad’s sayings The Islam of heart is its purity, and the Islam of tongue withholding it from fruitless words. A man cannot be a Muslim till his heart and tongue are so. Conscience: if you derive pleasure from the good which you perform, and be grieved for the evil which you have committed, you are a true believer. The best of the God’s servants are those who, when seen, remind of God, and the worst of God’s servants are those who carry tales about, to do mischief and separate friends, and seek for the defects of the good. Humility and courtesy are acts of piety. Abuse nobody, and if a man abuse you and lay open a vice which he knows in you, then do not disclose one which you know in him. Meekness and modesty are two branches of faith, and vain talking and embellishing are two branches of hypocrisy. He is of the most perfect Muslims, whose disposition is most liked by his family. To do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you, and to reject for others what you would reject for yourself. Adore God as if you saw Him, for if you see Him not, He sees you. Feed the hungry and visit the sick, and free the captive, if he be unjustly confined. Assist any person oppressed, whether Muslim or nonMuslim. The proof of a Muslim’s sincerity is that he pays no heed to what is not his business.
The Prophet’s Character
The faithful are those who perform their trust and fail not in their word, and keep their pledge. That person is not one of us who invites others to aid him in oppression, and he is not one of us who fights for his tribe in injustice, and he is not one of us who dies in assisting his tribe in tyranny. Do not say, that if people do good to us, we will do good to them, and if people oppress us, we will oppress them; but determine, that if people do you good, you will do good to them, and if they oppress you, you will not oppress them. Verily those who are patient in adversity and forgive wrongs are the doers of excellence. That person is nearest to God, who pardons, when he has in his power to injure who would have injured him. God is gentle and loves gentleness. God says: The person I hold as a beloved, I am his hearing by which he hears, and I am his sight by which he sees, and I am his hands by which he holds, and I am his feet by which he walks. God is One and likes unity; God said: I was a hidden treasure. I would fain be known. So I created Man. God is not merciful to him who is not so to mankind. God says: verily my compassion overcomes my wrath. If you put your whole trust in God, as you aught, He most certainly will give you sustenance, as He does the birds, they come out hungry in the morning, but return full to their nests. O My servants who have oppressed your own souls by sinning, despair not of the Mercy of God (when asked what about the unbelievers) know that him also God forgives, if he repents. If the unbeliever knew of the extent of the Lord’s mercy, even he would not despair of Paradise. Islam is purity of speech and charity.
Excellent actions are: to gladden the heart of a human being, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the wrongs of the injured. Whoever is kind to His creatures, God is kind to him, therefore be kind to everyone on earth, whether good or bad. Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever has no kindness, has no faith. He dies not who gives life to learning. An hour’s contemplation is better than a year’s adoration; go in quest of knowledge even unto China. God hath treasuries beneath the Throne, the keys whereof are the tongues of poets; he who knows his own self knows God. Acquire knowledge. It enables its possessor to distinguish from right and wrong; it lights the way to Heaven; it is our friend in the desert; our society in solitude; our companion when friendless; it guides us to happiness; it sustains us in misery; it is an ornament amongst friends and an armor against enemies. Prayer is the annihilation of ego and union with the Divine, which lifts one’s soul higher and higher in its journey toward the Beloved. God is beauty and delights in the beautiful, but pride is holding man in contempt. They will enter the garden of Bliss who have true, pure and merciful heart. He is perfect who does good to his relatives when they do not do good to him. Much silence and a good disposition, there are no two works better than those. No man is true in the truest sense of the word but he who is true in word, in deed, and in thought. It is not worthy of a speaker of truth to curse people. He is not of me who, when he speaks, speaks falsely; who,
The Prophet’s Character
when he promises, breaks his promise; and who, when trust is reposed in him, fails in his trust. A Muslim must not hate his wife, and if he be displeased with one bad quality in her, then let him be pleased with another which is good. What you must never do is to raise your hands against your wife. Treat each woman with respect and kindness. God enjoins you to treat women well, for they are your aunts, wives, mothers and daughters. The rights of the women are sacred: see that women are maintained in the rights assigned to them. To die before dying—to die to the darkness within, and to live in the Light of God. The ink of a scholar is more holy than the blood of a martyr. Say unto the people of the Scripture: dispute ye with us concerning Allah when He is our Lord and your Lord? Ours are our works and yours your works. - the Hadith After migrating to Medina, Prophet Muhammad established friendly relations with the Jews there, signing a pact of peace and friendship which was written as follows: Jews and Muslims should live as one people. Each party should keep to its own faith. In the event of war with a third party, each should come to the assistance of the other, provided the latter were the party aggrieved and not the aggressors. In the event of an attack on Medina, both parties should join hands to defend Medina. Peace should be made only after consultation with each other. Medina should be regarded as sacred by both parties, all bloodshed being forbidden therein. Prophet Muhammad would be the final court of appeal in cases of dispute. And surely thou hast sublime morals. (68:4 Quran) Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar. (33:21 Quran)
The two verses above attest to the exemplary character of Prophet Muhammad. He loved cleanliness, and whatever he did he did with love, keeping compassion as a talisman of his faith. He assisted his wives in cleaning the house. He would milk his goats, mend his shoes and patch his own clothes. His affection for his camel Qaswa was noteworthy, for he would not ride when Qaswa needed rest or was tired. Prophet Muhammad led a simple and frugal life, eating what was available and never craving a sumptuous meal. At times, he and his family subsisted on nothing but dates and water. He would wear both good robes and patched robes, and did not seem to notice what he was wearing. His house was made of mud bricks, divided into small rooms, one for each wife, with only matting for sleeping on. Material things and the comforts of the world had no attraction for Prophet Muhammad, and he viewed the world as a temporary abode, saying: My case is like that of a mounted wayfarer who pauses at noon under the shade of a tree, just to rest for a while, and then proceeds on his way. His manners were impeccable. He was courteous to all, regardless of age, and loving to all, even more so to the elderly and children. In the mosque, if he heard a child cry, he would cut short his sermon to save the mother from the discomfort of staying longer, and if he noticed the discomfort of an elderly person he would also end his sermon quickly. During conversations, he would never interrupt anyone, and as a guest would eat whatever was offered to him. If he did not like the food he would eat just a little, but never found fault or showed displeasure. Cleanliness was a great priority for Prophet Muhammad; he bathed often, put on clean robes, combed his hair meticulously and used perfumes. After every meal he brushed his teeth with a dried out twig called a miswak. He did not like the smell of raw garlic or onions, and refrained from eating foods with excessive flavor. Cleanliness is next to godliness, he would tell his devotees, trying to instill the virtue of keeping their bodies and houses clean. And we have not sent thee but as a bearer of good news and as a warner to all mankind. (34:28 Quran) That he might be a warner to the nations. (25:1 Quran) Say, O mankind, surely I am the Messenger of Allah to you all. (7:158 Quran)
The Prophet’s Character
The Quranic verses above proclaim the Prophet Muhammad as a messenger with a universal message for all nations. The universality of the Prophet’s message was not limited to Arabia, but meant for the whole wide world, stressing the point that several thousand Prophets had come at different times to different people proclaiming the message of the same God throughout the wide world. His character was the embodiment of all previous prophets, especially the ones who were revered and recognized by the Jews and the Christians. He was known to possess the manliness of Moses, the tenderheartedness of Aaron, the generalship of Joshua, the patience of Job, the daring of David, the wisdom of Solomon, the simplicity of John and the humility of Jesus. Prophet Muhammad emerged as a beam of light in the darkness of ignorance, and Arabian tribes which were steeped deep in blood feuds were united as one, despite their ethnic differences in race or religion, during his lifetime. Within a short span of time, he became the Prophet of the World, delivering his message: that there were no nations on the earth that had not had a divine messenger of their own, and that reformers had come to all peoples in all parts of the world. From time to time, he said, people have practiced profession of the faith in different tongues and with different rituals, but in fact all religions are one, with the common ground of worshipping one and the same God. He taught his followers to refrain from speaking ill even of the obviously false deities of others. Do not abuse those who take up as Gods beside Allah. (6:108 Quran)
When the pagan Arabs accused him of destroying idols at Kaaba, his response was: To break the idols means to pound one’s ego to dust, to recognize the idols of greed within one’s own self, and the idols of cruelty and injustice, and to dissolve those idols to nothingness, even if one needs to break each bone in one’s body for the sake of a new birth in living and loving. Filling one’s heart with so much love that there is no room left for hatred in there. Die before dying, and live for love alone. Such a purity of love can be attained only when one is able to approach the throne of Allah with one’s soul bare and body naked, purged clean of all the idols in passions vile and corrupt. To break your idols does not mean desecrating your gods, but venerating the sparks of divinity in your own souls, guiding you toward Allah Whose face the material forms have concealed from you for so long. Surely, I am a man like yourselves. (18:110 Quran)
The Prophet’s Garden of Eden If a Muslim truly loves Allah, he will love Allah’s Creatures first and foremost, believers and non-believers. And if he tries to know the essence of an idol, he will know religion in idolatry. And if an idolater wishes to discover the meaning of religion, he will know where he has gone astray. To come to such an understanding, one must scrape away all layers of falsehood. That is the only way to find and nurture the flower of unity, the fragrance of which carries itself from North to South, from East to West, longing to gather us all into the love and beauty of its brotherhood and sisterhood. No one is superior to anyone else. Arabs have no precedence over non-Arabs, nor white people over black people. Superior is one who is in possession of great love and piety. Such are the teachings of Islam. In Islam, no one is a slave, and none claims to be a master. Rich or poor, according to the measure of their own trials and struggles, have the privilege of contributing toward one whole, seeking to know our sustainer, Who created us. That is the prime goal of our existence. Pain and pleasure are a part of this goal too, so we can know the difference between good and evil, and enjoy what we can and endure grief with patience. We are all together on this earth, journeying toward our end, and to make this journey easy and peace-loving, we must learn to obey the commands of Allah, enjoying what is permitted, and shunning what is forbidden. Love is the key that opens the gates of joy and peace. If we can learn to love all, the treasures of Paradise will come down to us, making this whole world a Garden of Eden. Prophet Muhammad stressed that men and women, masters and servants, kings and subjects all have their mutual rights. This concept of equality was practiced five times every day, during prayer, when everyone stood shoulder to shoulder before God without being conscious of race, rank, status or gender. He abolished slavery, granting civil rights to people of high birth as well as to freed slaves. His own freed slave, Zaid, was given authority over the members of the Quraysh who had migrated to Medina. Peace and reconciliation were brought about amongst the warring tribes of Medina, while Prophet Muhammad taught them that nationality was no criterion for greatness, but what could be were acts of virtue and goodwill in securing peace and prosperity. Come to an equitable proposition between us and you. (3:64 Quran)
The Prophet’s Character
In essence, the message of Islam as proclaimed by Prophet Muhammad was that Muslims should take what is common to all religions as a basis, and proceed to build upon it the solid structure of a universal religion. Prophet Muhammad proclaimed the glory of God, as well as sharing the music of brotherhood and sisterhood under the providence of one God.
Death Immediately after his death, the first sprig of zeal sprouted forth afresh. Uthman, the Prophet’s son-in-law, was leading men to prayer in the mosque when he received the news that the Prophet had died. Abu Bakr, the closest of the Prophet’s friends and also his son-in-law, straggled into the mosque, grief-stricken, and saw Uthman with a raised sword, saying: Anyone who says Prophet is dead, I am going to kill him. Abu Bakr commanded him to put his sword down, saying: if anyone worships Muhammad, know that Muhammad has died. But if anyone worships God, then know that He is alive and cannot die.
CHAPTER SEVEN CALIPHS IN SUCCESSION
Thou art creeping through life—a pygmy soul, carrying a dead body to its grave. —Marcus Aurelius
Caliph Abu Bakr 632-634 After the death of Prophet Muhammad, Abu Bakr was chosen as the first Caliph of Islam. Prophet Muhammad had left no instructions as to who would be the leader of the Muslims after his death, so a great vacuum of fear was left behind as to the fate of the small community of Muslims in Medina. The most likely choice for succession could have been Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad, married to his beloved daughter Fatima, so a direct descendant from the line of the Messenger of Allah. While Ali, Fatima and other close members of the family were busy preparing the Prophet’s body for its final internment, Abu Bakr had succeeded in allaying the fears of his followers in the mosque by reciting this Quranic verse: Muhammad is but a messenger. Many were messengers that passed before him. If he died or was slain, will you turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm it will do to God. But God will swiftly reward those who are grateful. (3:144 Quran)
After that, the intimate companions of Prophet Muhammad, including the Ansars, Muslim Helpers of Medina, and Muhajirins, Muslim immigrants from Mecca, gathered at the nearby Saqifa of Bani Saida to discuss who would be the spiritual and political leader of the Muslim community, to avoid rifts and dissentions. Ali was not a part of that discussion, and the men who had gathered together to reach a decision, following the Arab tribal custom of honoring the elders of the tribe, turned to Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr had been the closest of Prophet Muhammad’s
Caliphs in Succession
friends, remaining faithful since the inception of the first revelation, purchasing freedom for slaves with his own money and accompanying the Prophet on his Hijra from Mecca to Medina. He was also the father of Aisha, the youngest bride of Prophet Muhammad. After a short recess, the same companions gathered again, in the absence of Ali this time, to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr. Ali, after hearing that Abu Bakr had been chosen as a successor, felt hurt and neglected, and did not want to pledge his allegiance until he had a private conversation with Abu Bakr. Besides this, his own group of friends from the Ansars and Muhajirins, collectively called Shiat, also felt slighted and betrayed that Ali had not even been present when the monumental decision was made. What made you accept this title, Abu Bakr, when I am the closest to Prophet in blood and lineage? I am the elder of the community and followers of the Prophet have honored me with the age-old custom of honoring the eldest. How could I refuse? Besides, am I not alluded to as the second of the two in this Quranic revelation? Abu Bakr recited softly. If ye help him not, still Allah helped him when those who disbelieve drove him forth, the second of the two, when they two were in the cave, when he said unto his comrade. Grieve not. Lo, Allah is with us. Then Allah caused His peace of reassurance to descend upon him and supported him with hosts ye cannot see, and made the word of those who disbelieved the nethermost, while Allah’s word it was that became the uppermost. Allah is Mighty, Wise. (9:40 Quran) How reverently you recite the revelation of the Prophet, Abu Bakr, I am touched, Ali murmured sadly. Ansars and Muhajirins are mentioned in the revelations too, he began to recite profoundly. And the first to lead the way, of the Muhajirin and the Ansar, and those who followed them in goodness—Allah is well pleased with them and they are well pleased with Him, and He hath made ready for them Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. That is the supreme triumph. (9:100 Quran)
Allah hath turned in mercy to the Prophet and to the Ansar and Muhajirin who followed him in the hour of hardship. After the hearts of the party of them had almost swerved aside, then turned He unto them in mercy. Lo, He is full of pity, Merciful for them. (9:117 Quran) And those who believed and left their homes and strove with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah, and those who took them in and helped them, these are protecting friends one of another. And those who believed, but did not leave their homes, ye have no duty to protect them till they leave their homes, but if they seek help form you in the matter of religion then it is your duty to help them except against a folk between whom and you is a treaty. Allah is Seer of what you do. And those who disbelieve are protectors of one another—if ye do not so, there will be confusion in the land and great corruption. Those who believed and left their homes and strive for the cause of Allah, and those who took them in and helped them—these are the believers in truth. For them is pardon and a bountiful provision. (8:72-74 Quran) Would you, Ali, have suggested someone else from amongst the Ansars and Muhajirins, or recommended your own self as the leader of the community? Abu Bakr asked thoughtfully. No, Abu Bakr, you are the best amongst us, Ali replied candidly. And yet I do confess I did presume that I would be the candidate since Prophet Muhammad likened himself with Moses and me with Aaron. And yet again you are more suitable. What does caliph mean? It means a civil and spiritual Muslim leader chosen as successor of Prophet Muhammad. Abu Bakr permitted himself a thin smile. It reminds me of a revelation where Prophet David is chosen as a viceroy. And it was said unto him, O David! Lo, We have sent thee as a viceroy in the earth, therefore judge aright between mankind and follow not desire that it beguile thee from the way of Allah. Lo, those who wander from the way of Allah have an awful doom, forasmuch as they forgot the Day of Reckoning. (38:27 Quran) Yes, the revelations. And the foremost in the race, the foremost in the race. Those are they who will be brought nigh in the gardens of delight.
Caliphs in Succession
(56:10-12 Quran) Ali recited in response. And how would you teach the Muslims? Through the example of Prophet’s life, Sunna—isn’t that what it is called? Abu Bakr intoned wearily. Prophet’s life, I might yet learn to live closer to him ever than before. Ali had gotten to his feet. And when we did appoint for Moses thirty nights of solitude and added to them ten, and he completed the whole time appointed by his Lord of forty nights, and Moses said unto his brother. Take my place among the people. Do right, and follow not the way of mischief-maker. (7:142 Quran) Ali professed allegiance to Abu Bakr before leaving. Abu Bakr did not even come close to following the example of the Prophet Muhammad’s life, though he lived as frugally as the Prophet had, trying his best to nurture the seeds of compassion and forgiveness, which were two of the many virtues that had shaped the noble character of Prophet Muhammad. The message of peace and reconciliation in Islam vanished like a puff of smoke, and Abu Bakr emerged as a man of conflicting emotions and decisions, known for bouts of cruelty and kindness. The news of the Prophet’s death had spread in the oasis like a tidal wave of fear and unrest, and the neighboring tribes of Medina who had accepted Islam began to sever their ties with Muslims, refusing to honor their oaths of allegiance, as well as withholding the tribute of harvest they were wont to bring to Medina in exchange for safeguarding their trading routes and tribal warfare. So Abu Bakr began a string of wars known as the Ridda Wars, meaning wars of apostasy, in order to regain the momentum of Islam as the ruling power in and around Medina. His first move was to subjugate Ghatafan, he himself personally leading, and the Muslim army was victorious at the field of Dhu-al-Kassa. After returning to Medina, Abu Bakr awarded each commander with a banner and a blessing. Then 11 missions were planned, escorted by detachments of tribal cavalry, ready to march out in all four directions, recruiting allies on the way in preparation for war. They were to carry the message of Abu Bakr to all the tribes who had broken their oaths of loyalty. The message read as follows: Repent and submit and you will be pardoned and received back into the fold of Islam. Refuse and you will be attacked, your crops destroyed, your men cut to pieces and your women and children taken captive.
One of the men chosen for one of these missions was Ikrima, the son of most ruthless of the late Prophet’s enemies, a man by the name of Abu Jahl, and this choice set off a wave of horror amongst Muslims. Another man who led one of the missions was Khalid, much reprimanded for his zeal by the late Prophet, but chosen by Abu Bakr regardless of the objections of his companions, including the strong opposition of Omar. Khalid, having gained a great victory against Ghatafan in the northern desert region, on the battlefield of Buzakha, moved out to the East. He sent one of the captive sheikhs by the name of Uyaynah to Medina where he was publicly mocked by the children of the oasis as a treacherous turncoat as he was led in chains to an audience with Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr happened to be in one of his clement moods when Uyaynah exclaimed: I am no apostate, for I was never a believer, until now.
Abu Bakr forgave him and unshackled him with his own hands. Another battle bitterly fought by the Muslims was against the Beni Hanifa, on the plains of Aqraba, the enemy fleeing to the refuge of a walled palm orchard. This palm grove became a slaughterhouse before Muslims could claim victory, their own losses amounting to the deaths of 700 men, amongst them 39 close companions of the late Prophet. After the battle the grove was named the Garden of Death, and Washi, the slave of Abu Sofyan, boasted that he had killed Musaylama, the would-be prophet of the Beni Hanifa. At the battle of Uhud, Washi had also killed Hamza, the uncle of Prophet Muhammad, and was now heard boasting afresh: with this one javelin I have killed the best and worst of men. Khalid, unmoved by so many deaths, celebrated his victory by marrying the virgin daughter of a captive chieftain of the Beni Hanifa, bedding her in the same garden, where the ground beneath their nuptial couch was moist with the blood of thousands. Back in Medina, Omar was bitter and grieved when the news reached him that his brother Zayd had been killed in the battle. So when his son Abdallah returned to Medina victorious, he cried: Why you have returned home safe and sound while Zayd your uncle is among the fallen? Why you were not slain in his defense?
Khalid had secured enough alliances to march toward the Persian Gulf and the mountains of Oman. He then led his army close to the border with Iraq, sweeping through the farmlands and marshes of southern Mesopotamia. Together, Khalid and ibn Harith had defeated the Persian
Caliphs in Succession
Militia at Khadima (present day Kuwait), but left the port city Ubulla (later Basra) unscathed, accepting protection money in return for the safety of the city. After another hard-won battle with the Persians, Khalid’s vengeance was brutal and savage. All the prisoners, wounded and dying were massacred indiscriminately, in stark contrast to his previous act of clemency within the walled city of Hira, accepting tribute in exchange for a guarantee of freedom of Christian faith and free trade. Khalid had gained many victories, and the re-conquest of tribal Arabia was achieved in less than two years. Abu Bakr was content, since the size of the Muslim state had been doubled by the constant conquests. He could relax and be magnanimous. When one captive from Beni Hanifa was questioned about their slain Prophet Musaylama and he answered truthfully, Abu Bakr said kindly that his words were neither good nor evil, but had the quality of beguiling the innocent and the uneducated. So he pardoned the captives and sent them back to their homes. The Ridda Wars had come to an end, and Abu Bakr, noticing the restlessness of his army, decided to summon the leaders of Mecca, Taif, Yemen, Najd and Hejaz to unite together to fight for your soul, against the Byzantine Empire, to collect war booty and to seize Holy Land. It was jihad, the first distortion of the word, which during the Prophet’s time, meant the inner struggle to fight the evil within oneself; wars were avoided, and only to be fought in self-defense. Later, this word came to mean Holy War, and so far it has not sloughed off its armor of steel, pounded into solidity by distortions. Letters were sent all over Arabia, written on whitened parchments, bearing the seal of the late Prophet, stamped by a ring that bore a small carnelian inscribed with words: God the best of potentates. This ring was Abu Bakr’s only precious possession, left behind by Prophet Muhammad. Abu Sofyan from Mecca was delegated to serve Abu Bakr in the province of Yemen, while Khalid was still raiding the borderlands of the Persian Empire. Chieftains with great armies came to Medina before marching out in all directions under the standard of Abu Bakr. This time, Abu Bakr, recalling some of the ethics of war from the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad, sent instructions to the armies on how to behave. Yet actions speak louder than words, which would become apparent during the maelstrom of war and vengeance.
Do not betray. Do not carry grudges. Do not deceive. Do not mutilate. Do not kill the children. Do not kill the elderly. Do not kill women. Do not destroy beehives or burn them. Do not cut down fruit bearing trees. Do not slaughter sheep, cattle or camels except for food. You will come upon people who spend their lives in monasteries, leave them to what they have dedicated their lives and do not hurt them. Three large armies marched out of Medina simultaneously. The first army, under the command of Yazid, the son of Abu Sofyan, took the central roadway so as to pass through Tabuk on the way toward the shore of the Dead Sea. Amr took the westernmost route, which would skirt the Red Sea coast and take him toward Gaza and southern Palestine. The third contingent, under the leadership of Shurahbil, marched towards Bostra and the broken black mountains known as Jebel Druze. Another contingent of reinforcements was sent out under the command of Abu Ubaydah. Abu Bakr then sent an order to Khalid to disengage from his successful assaults on the Iraqi frontier and march across the desert to join the general assault against Byzantine Syria. Khalid obeyed, entrusting ibn Harith with command over the Iraqi borderlands. Khalid moved through the desert swiftly and relentlessly. The fortified Christian monastery at Ain al Tamar, the spring of the Date Palm—a Nestorian community on the edge of the desert close to the Euphrates— refused to surrender. The monastery was thoroughly looted, its defenders killed and its 40 young student monks captured as slaves. Many more captives were slaughtered ruthlessly, and one of the pro-Byzantine chieftains of the Arabs crucified during Khalid’s epic journey through Duma and Palmyra, approaching the Syrian frontier. A small skirmish took place at Marjal-Rahit (15 miles outside Damascus) with a Ghassanad prince, and Khalid knew that he could not prevail against him. He broke off all hostilities, and moved south to join the other armies. Abu Bakr was quick to send a note to Amr to join Khalid, not to solve his problems without consulting Khalid, and not to impose his superiority nor oppose Khalid. The three armies sent by Abu Bakr from Medina were able to march directly into Byzantine Palestine. The first battle was fought at Wadi-alarabah, just south of the Dead Sea, and commanded by Yazid against Sergios, the Byzantine Patrician of Palestine, whose troops were forced back towards the coast. Just 12 miles outside the coastal city of Gaza, at
Caliphs in Succession
Dattin, Amr attacked the retreating army, and Sergios was later found dead amongst the defeated. His body was sewn up inside a camel’s stomach as a punishment for his greed and defiance. A month later, a third battle was fought within Palestine, at Ajnadayn. Holy Jerusalem was cut off from the Mediterranean coast and the Arab armies were encamped outside the walls of coastal city ports such as Caesarea and Gaza. Bostra, the capital of inner Syria, was isolated and forced to sue for peace. The Byzantine army in Syria was finally defeated in battle on the plain of Marj-al-Suffar, 20 miles from the walls of Damascus. This victory went to Khalid for his superior strategic skills and being a brilliant general. Abu Bakr had just returned to Medina from his yearly pilgrimage to Mecca when he heard of this triple victory. He was also happy to learn that ibn Harith had foiled the Persian attempt to recapture Hira. Ibn Harith, meanwhile, had learnt that a young prince by the name of Yazdegird had amassed a large army to defend Persia by repelling Arab Muslim incursions. So he rode posthaste to Medina to inform Abu Bakr of the grave situation and seek reinforcements. However, Abu Bakr had contracted a fever and was confined to his bed. Fearing the worst, Abu Bakr, the 63 year old caliph, summoned half a dozen of his leading companions, including Ali, proposing that Omar be confirmed as his successor. There were a few objections because Omar was known to be of harsh and untamed character, but Abu Bakr insisted, and Omar was chosen as the second Caliph of Islam. Abu Bakr spent the last days of his illness with his wives and his daughter Aisha. He died after a fortnight of fever, his reign as caliph having been the shortest, only two years and three months. He was buried inside the hut of Aisha, next to the grave of his master, the Prophet Muhammad. Ali was sidelined once again, though he had raised no objections, and had pledged allegiance to Omar whole heartedly despite the fact that Abu Bakr’s decision was arbitrary. The Shiat, as Ali’s group of friends were called, did not approve of Omar, but they could not voice their disapproval, since the Prophet’s memory was still clear within their breasts. They feared that they would soil the very fabric of that memory by opposing his dear friend Abu Bakr. But they would never forget, during the reign of Omar, that he had been greatly influential in the selection of Abu Bakr as the first caliph, and now Abu Bakr, on his death bed, had rewarded him for his loyalty. In fact, after Abu Bakr became the caliph,
some of the men complained to the caliph that Omar was behaving as if he was the caliph. To which Abu Bakr replied, of course he is the fittest person to be the caliph, I am but a humble servant of the Almighty. Abu Bakr’s short reign had left behind a trail of blood and ruthlessness not ever seen during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad, who was forever the apostle of peace and reconciliation, but there had not been enough men to oppose the first caliph, who was a friend of the Messenger of Allah. He was the first one to die a natural death; the latter three out of the four, known as the rightly guided caliphs, would be murdered most brutally, adding to the trail of blood in the wake of Islam through the flood of ambition, warfare and expansion. After the death of her father, Aisha stepped forward to portray him in a favorable light by saying: When Prophet Muhammad died, the Arabs apostasized and Judaism and Christianity raised their heads, and disaffection appeared. The Muslims became as sheep exposed to rain in a winter’s night through the loss of their Prophet until god united them under Abu Bakr.
Furthermore, she quoted her father as a man of tender spirit, longing for freedom and understanding. Once, watching the flight of birds in his garden, he was heard exclaiming: O bird, you are lucky indeed! You eat and drink as you like and fly, but do not have to fear reckoning of the Day of Judgment. Another time, noticing a goat grazing in the field, he contemplated aloud: I wish I were a blade of grass whose life ended with the grazing of any beast, or a tree that would be cut and done away with.
CHAPTER EIGHT THE SECOND CALIPH
All things to which you wish to attain sooner or later, you can have now, if you do not refuse them, if only you will take no notice of the past, and trust the future to providence, and direct the present in harmony with piety and justice. —Marcus Aurelius
Caliph Omar 634-644 Omar was a close companion of Prophet Muhammad, and his daughter Hafsa was married to the Prophet. He was a man of unpredictable moods, quick to anger, judgmental and domineering. Prophet Muhammad had checked his bouts of anger several times, reprimanding him and commanding him to be humble and patient. Now that the Prophet was not around to check him, half of the Muslim community, especially the Shiat, were apprehensive about the nature of his rule and decisions. Paradoxically, the post of caliph made him mild and gentle, and he led an exemplary life of faith, piety and simplicity. Yet his penchant for control manifested in his treatment of women, and he made laws contrary to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad on justice and equality for women, and up to this day and age those laws are mistaken as Islamic. To label him a misogynist would be half true, for though he did not hate women, he tried to take every aspect of the liberty which they had enjoyed during the lifetime of the Prophet away from women. He forbade them to pray in mosques, and even tried to forbid them to go on pilgrimage, as well as limiting their activities behind the four walls of their homes. All Muslim women, including the Prophet’s wives, had free rein to express their opinions; Omar disallowed this prerogative of freedom of expression, especially in his own household. Abu Bakr’s last wish, expressed to his daughter Aisha, was to donate his personal walled garden to Omar after his death. When the keys of the walled garden were handed to Omar, he raised his hands histrionically,
saying: God bless Abu Bakr. Assuming the air of rightful caliph, he did not give anyone even the hint of a chance to contest his succession, and vanished inside the garden. Later, he would style himself Amir-alMuminin—commander of the faithful. Puritan at heart and stern in demeanor, Omar emerged forth as a warlord on the road to further the conquest which had been started by Abu Bakr. Prompted by his innate sense of caution not to put too much power into the hands of his generals, his first action after becoming caliph was to demote Khalid from the supreme command, though he was to remain the head of the army which he had led out of Iraq. Then he sent four contingents of soldiers toward Syria and Palestine, who were able to secure the submission of the smaller cities between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee before reuniting close to Damascus, which capitulated within six months under the command of Abu Ubaydah. People of the Book, Jews and Christians were free to retain their property and free to worship in conformity with their own religion in exchange for an annual tribute to the victors. The four armies began their march once again, Abu Ubaydah succeeding in capturing the cities of Homs and Baalbek in northern Syria. Yazid subjugated the kingdoms of Moab and Edom, now southern Jordan. The city of Tiberias and the territories of northern Jordan surrendered to Shurahbil. Amr marched toward the Judean hills, preparing for the siege of Jerusalem. Emperor Heraclius, in his capital of Antioch in northern Syria, becoming aware of the Muslim conquests, had begun to recruit soldiers from Armenia and Anatolia, assembling a formidable army, the best of the Byzantine Empire. This army was commanded by the emperor’s own brother Theodorus, and assisted by Yahan, the Armenian general. Regiment after regiment marched down the Anatolian plateau and through the valleys of the Taurus Mountains to join encampments outside Antioch. The four Muslim armies were outnumbered by the imperial forces of Byzantium, so all four Arab commanders decided to withdraw. All the towns and citadels that they had captured and occupied were now evacuated, and their forces retreated into the desert, back into the steppe land from which they had appeared in the spring, mighty and victorious. At the beginning of the summer, the Byzantine army was in complete control of the Holy Land and all the villages of Syria and Palestine. They pitched their tents on the fertile plateau of Hauran, to the east of the
The Second Caliph
volcanic terrain of Jebel Druze, to the west of which rose the Golan Heights. All summer they remained there, without any intention of moving toward Medina, though Khalid’s troops kept the Byzantine army busy with small raids (without engaging in real battle). Meanwhile, messengers were dispatched to Caliph Omar seeking reinforcements. By early August, reinforcement arrived and Khalid was back in command, ready to launch a decisive attack. After months of raids, retreats and advances he was able to march along the dry bed of the Yarmuk River after a sudden onslaught of sandstorms which turned the farmland of Hauran into an inhospitable trap for the Byzantine army. Taking advantage of the sandstorm, Khalid led his army across the broken volcanic plateau, outflanking the imperial camp and quickly seizing a strategic site - the bridge over the Wadi al Raqqada. Turning west, they cut their way through the Galilean hills. It was mid-August now, and when Khalid’s troops launched a massive attack, the field of Yarmuk became pandemonium in the high winds that were the aftermath of the sandstorm. The Arabs had the advantage of the wind at their back, and their shower of arrows caused utter chaos and confusion in the ranks of the Byzantine army. The fighting lasted all day and through the next day, when the Byzantine infantry were pushed back toward the network of the Wadi ravines. The Byzantine regiments from Anatolia and Armenia kept fighting, but were slain by invisible Arab bowmen shooting down from the heights above the ravines. The Byzantine army was completely destroyed at Yarmuk. The sandstorm finally abated, and amongst the slain the body of Theodorus was discovered. Damascus, Baalbek and Homs were soon reoccupied by the Arab armies. The cities which resisted occupation, like Chalchis, suffered the full devastation of Khalid’s assault. A few skirmishes ensued outside Antioch, but the Byzantine garrison abandoned the city, seeking the protection of the mountains. The city fathers then sued Abu Ubaydah, who was once more in supreme command, for honorable terms of surrender. The walled city of Jerusalem still remained under the protection of Patriarch Sophonius, who resisted Muslim invasion, but sued for peace and surrender under the condition that Caliph Omar himself came to Jerusalem. Omar ordered all his commanders to meet him at the campsite of Jabiyqah.
On the way along the old caravan routes, the caliph, wearing a tattered cloak, craftily patched, was greeted by a delegation of Arabs from the Syrian steppe lands. They welcomed him in their customary style, with songs, drums and jugglers, and women dancing and playing on their tambourines. Omar was furious, ordering their escorts to stop them immediately, with whips if necessary. But he was politely cautioned that if the inhabitants were prevented from honoring their victor, they would fear that he had not accepted their surrender and would soon order their massacre. Later, when Omar entered the Holy City, he donned the white linen of a pilgrim and received the keys to Jerusalem from the black-clad patriarch with all humility. Once inside the Holy Sepulchre, Omar heard the muezzin call for prayer but Sophonius requested that he pray where they stood. Omar declined, choosing an outside porch to offer his prayers. Later he explained that if he had agreed to pray at the Holy Sepulchre, Muslims would have converted it into a mosque. He was right - within a few days, his followers had converted the porch into a mosque. At the end of the day, Sophonius led Omar up to the ruined terraces of the old Temple of Solomon as rebuilt by Herod. He was awed by the Sakhra rock, known as the navel of the earth. It was believed to be the tomb of Adam, the place where King David sang psalms in praise of God and from where Prophet Muhammad had set off on his mystical journey to the Throne of God. 60 years later, this rock would be covered by Qubbat as-Sakhra, known as the Dome of Rock. As Omar stood contemplating the rock in utmost reverence, Sophonius could not help whispering to his aide in Greek: Behold the Abomination of Desolation spoken by the Prophet Daniel that standeth in the Holy Place.
In the months that followed, Omar ordered the clearing of heaps of garbage dumped over the old temple of the Jews by the Christians. After that he returned to Medina. Learning of Khalid’s excesses in Byzantine, such as a bathhouse filled with wine, and his generous gift of gold to a poet who had sung an epic of his deeds, Omar summoned him to Medina to stand trial, and he was sent back to Syrian front humiliated. Meanwhile, one of Khalid’s opponents on the battlefield, who had fought for the Byzantine Empire, had decided to come to Medina to accept Islam after its defeat. His name was Jabala, a proud prince of the Ghassanid dynasty. Upon reaching Medina, and after being jostled by a Bedouin in the mosque, he was so angry that he struck
The Second Caliph
him a vicious blow and the Bedouin lost his eye. The prince was summoned by his victim to appear before the caliph, and Omar, ignoring diplomatic ties, allowed the Bedouin to strike the prince a similar blow. Indignant and humiliated, the prince, accompanied by hundreds of his relatives who had had the intention of accepting Islam, marched out of the oasis without professing the faith. Almost three years after the occupation of Jerusalem, Omar rode north from Medina to revisit the camp of Jabiyah. He was remembering the death of one of his generals, ibn Harith, on the Persian front. Ibn Harith had won the battle of the bridge, but while defending the boat bridge on the Euphrates his old wounds had opened and this had caused his death. Omar had then chosen Saad, dispatching him south of the Euphrates as a commander. He had succeeded against Persia at al-Qadisiya in Iraq. In central Arabia, due to severe drought, a famine ensued, and Omar was seen carrying sacks of grain to distribute to the poor. Later, amidst the tightly packed encampment of the Bedouin Arab army, a plague swept through the garrison. Amongst the dead were Yazid and Abu Ubaydah. Khalid had already died a year earlier, from the ravages of the same plague, at Homs, so Omar was left with the choice of a younger brother of Yazid, by the name of Muayiya, as the next commander-in-chief of the Muslims. Muayiya was dispatched to besiege and conquer the walled port of Caesarea, where the conflict had been dragging on for years. Before leaving, he told Omar that the Byzantine Greeks would never be defeated unless the Arabs learnt to fight them on the sea. Omar did not want to make his conquests by sea, but he finally permitted Muayiya to build a defensive squadron, especially after the capture of Acre, which had given him the possession of a fully equipped shipyard. Muayiya would prove to be a shrewd commander, knowing that Arab troops had first to be consulted, then persuaded, before they could be commanded. He told Omar: I apply not my sword where my lash suffices, nor my lash where my tongue is enough. And even if there be one hair binding me to my fellow men, I do not let it break. When they pull, I loosen, and if they loosen, I pull. Muayiya was dependent on the indigenous Christian workforce of Syria. Later, Muayiya would explore naval matters to his heart’s content and make use of the skills of the talented natives of Syria and Palestine, but for
the time being he was content to obey the caliph. His personal physician and court poet were Christians. His chief financial controller was also a Christian, a man by the name of Mansur ibn Sarjan who had been able to transfer his talents and his skilled staff of clerks from the service of Byzantium to that of the Islamic Caliphate without losing a single file, as he asserted. Muayiya married a Christian woman by the name of Maysun, who would practice her faith till her dying day. Their son, named Yazid after Muayiya’s late brother, would grow up in the company of his cosmopolitan court, and one of his friends would be St. John Damascene, the grandson of Mansur ibn Sarjan. A year after the famine, the three year truce with Egypt was up, so after the conquest of Palestine, Amr was given the command to conquer Egypt. After the fall of Egypt, Amr marched toward Babylon, receiving reinforcements from Medina. The Byzantine army had re-emerged on the field of Heliopolis—now a western suburb of Cairo—so Amr engaged them in a battle and was victorious. After almost a year of warfare and conquests, Heraclius died, succeeded by his son Constantine III. He died soon after, so Heraclius’ 11 year old grandson, Constantine II, was proclaimed emperor. Amr marched on toward the North, facing opposition from the populace of Tarana, whose fortress city of Nikious was besieged and conquered. For resisting conquest, the inhabitants of the city were slaughtered, which was Ironically much in contrast to Amr’s compassion for a dove who had once hatched its eggs in his tent in Babylon - he had not dismantled the tent, leaving it intact so as not to disturb the dove and its brood. Back in Alexandria, Patriarch Cyrus had returned, reclaiming Egypt, but at the approach of Amr’s troops, he once again sued for a truce of one year. One year after the truce was agreed, Amr marched toward Alexandria and reconquered Egypt. Despite the surrender of Alexandria, smaller towns on the delta refused to submit to the Muslims. So a year later Amr was on a march west, subjugating Barca and Libya. This time he was magnanimous, allowing the inhabitants to choose and assess their own tribute and assuring them that no tax collector would approach them demanding tribute. Later that year he rounded off the subjugation of the whole of Egypt. Crossing the breadth of the Sirtic Desert, he acquired the olive groves of Tripolitania, then subjugated the walled cities of Tripoli, Sbratha, and Leptis Magna with its splendid marble ruins.
The Second Caliph
Meanwhile Omar had commissioned one of Amr’s cousins, Oqaba, to strike south, riding through the Sahara, where no other conquerors had ventured, not even Roman, Byzantine, Hellenistic or Carthagian. Oqaba succeeded in capturing the settlements on the oasis of Zuwaya, then marched down the hidden valleys of the Garamantian kingdom in the Fezzan, gaining allies among the camel riding Berber tribes of the Sahara, such as the Luwata. When the victorious armies of Amr and Oqaba were reunited at Barca and rode back into Egypt, they were the masters of great spoils, slaves and rich lands. Prophet Muhammad would have freed the slaves, but since he was not there to enforce his edict, the slaves did not have the privilege of freedom. However, Amr’s first sermon in Fustat mosque was somewhat gentle: Idleness and frivolity are the chief sources of sin and vice. The Nile floods have fallen, the spring grazing is good for you. There is milk for the lambs and the kids. Go out with God’s blessings and enjoy the land, its milk and its herds. And take good care of your neighbors the Copts, for the Messenger of God himself gave orders for us to do so.
Omar was getting old and more suspicious than ever, so he dismissed Saad from his position as commander of the army at Kufa and Governor of Iraq and chose Mughira as the next commander. He also began building the structure of a coherent government by appointing a treasurer, a tax collector, a judge and a land surveyor. All these officials were to be housed in the central garrison camps: Kufa and Basra in Iraq, Fustat in Egypt, or the fort that had grown out from the Jabiyah camp of SyriaPalestine—Damascus, Homs, Tiberias and Ramla. Finding the ritual space at Kaaba too small, he purchased all the surrounding houses, demolishing them to enlarge the space of the Haram. For the first time, the holy space was enclosed by a circuit wall, pierced by gateways. The Arabian cloth covering of the Kaaba was replaced with Egyptian linen. A jail was constructed in Mecca, a city which had never housed such buildings. Omar also started the Islamic calendar, from the date of Hijra. To instill the example of justice, Omar sentenced his son Abu Shahmah to 80 lashes for drunkenness, which killed him, even though no such punishment for drunkenness was sanctioned under Islam during the life of Prophet Muhammad. On a gentler note, he insisted that there should never be forced proselytization. People of the Book were free to practice their faith without any threat of violence toward them for their religion. The superiority of Islam was to be demonstrated by the behavior of Muslims. Omar remembered the revelation below:
Chapter Eight Will you dispute with us about God? When He is our Lord and He is your Lord. We have our words and you have yours, but we all return to Him.
However, he clearly forgot Prophet Muhammad’s last sermon on the Mount of Mercy, where the Prophet proclaimed: no one is superior to another. A man of complex character, Omar remained a mixture of zeal and piety, splintered with acts of justice and kindness. He was not seduced by wealth or honors, and liked to be accessible to his people if they needed his advice or judgment. Anyone could approach him freely on the streets or inside the mosque, for he seemed to be visible everywhere. One morning he was approached by a Christian slave of Persian origin by the name of Abu Lulu. He complained to the caliph about his ill-treatment at the hands of his master, who was actually a friend of Omar and the Governor of Kufa. Abu Lulu was furious that he had been taken captive in Iraq and then, even when free to live in Medina, he had to send two dirhams a day to his master, even though he was not able to earn that much. Omar suggested that since Abu Lulu was skilled as a painter and a carpenter, he himself would find him a job in those fields so that he could earn enough to pay his master and to live comfortably. Abu Lulu was not satisfied. In fact, he had had his share of misfortunes. As a child, he was enslaved during a Byzantine invasion and then again by the Muslim Arab army. He had witnessed the dejected prisoners filing from his Persian hometown of Nehewand, and those memories were unforgettable. So the next morning he decided he would be the first one to enter the mosque. When Omar bent down to perform his morning prayers, Abu Lulu sprang upon him, stabbing him half a dozen times before he could be pulled away. He slashed at everyone who approached him, before he drove his blade deep into his own body and died. 63 year old Omar had six wounds, too deep to be dressed. As Omar lay dying in his chamber in Medina, his close followers wanted to know who would succeed him as caliph. Omar was reluctant to answer, adding that, had Abu Ubaydah survived he would have recommended him. When some suggested that his son Abdullah should succeed, he vehemently objected. He made his own suggestion, saying that Prophet Muhammad had spoken highly of six of his followers who would
The Second Caliph
enter the kingdom of heaven, so three days after his death they should get together and decide the next successor. Then he advised all present: Fear God and uphold the rights of the first Muslims, both those who had emigrated from Mecca and those who welcomed them in Medina. A caliph should take from the rich and give to the poor. He should treat the nonMuslims in the empire well and always keep his word.
His dying wish was to be buried beside the Prophet. He breathed his last after whispering, O God, cover me with your forgiveness. Aisha’s bedroom hut was dug up once again, and Caliph Omar was buried beside his Master and Caliph Abu Bakr, his head facing Mecca and his shoulder beside the Prophet. Before his death, his bloodline had also mingled with that of the Prophet. Five years before his death he had requested the hand of Ali’s daughter, Umm Khultum in marriage. At first, Ali was reluctant to let his daughter enter Omar’s strictly controlled household, but he proved to Ali that he had become gentle since he prayed constantly: O God, if I am strict, make me soft, if I am weak, give me strength.
Omar had also become the ruler of entire Middle East, so Ali relented, and Umm Khultum was married to the caliph. She bore him two children, a boy named Zayd and a girl named Ruqayyah.
CHAPTER NINE THE THIRD CALIPH
You are a little soul bearing about a corpse. —Marcus Aurelius
Caliph Uthman 644-656 Uthman also was the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad. He was married to Prophet Muhammad’s daughter Ruqayyah, and after her death, to the Prophet’s other daughter, Khultum, so he was called the Possessor of Two Lights. Three days after the death of Omar, five close companions of the Prophet met in a small room to choose the next successor amongst themselves. Uthman, of course, was amongst the group. Also present were Ali, Zubayr and Saad, who were all cousins of the Prophet, Ali being also his son-in-law. Abder Rahman, who had married Uthman’s sister, was the fifth. The sixth one, Talha, the cousin of Abu Bakr, was not present since he was on a peace mission outside Medina. Ali was the natural choice as successor, but the main argument against him was that if he was chosen, the office of caliph might become hereditary, since he was the only male descendant of Prophet Muhammad. Uthman was the next choice since he was a venerable 70 year old man of great experience, and Ali was still young, so he still had a chance to become a caliph later. After two days of discussion, it was obvious that Ali and Uthman were the two likely candidates, but none would have the majority of electoral votes, since Talha was absent. After a heated discussion in the mosque on the third morning, Abder Rahman, renouncing his own candidacy, emerged forth as a chairman. He posed a single question to both the candidates in order to choose the successor whose answer would best serve the Muslim community: Do you pledge yourself to abide by the covenant of God, to act according to God’s word, to the practice of the Prophet and to the precedent set by his two successors?
The Third Caliph
I hope that I should do so. I would act for the best according to my knowledge and capability, Ali responded sincerely. Yes, I do, Uthman had said simply.
Uthman’s answer was regarded as the best, and Ali was sidelined yet again. The companions of the Prophet had forgotten that Prophet Muhammad had said once, if I am the city of knowledge, then Ali is its gate. So after the puritanical reign of Omar, Uthman, known to be liberal, was chosen his successor. After Uthman’s succinct response, Abder Rahman extended his hand, saying: Stretch forth your hand so that I may make the oath of allegiance to you. Ali’s dignified behavior itself was a validation of his faith and the face that he did not feel any resentment; he was the next to extend his hand to pledge allegiance to Uthman. All the faithful were gathered in the mosque during the ritual ceremony of succession, after which Uthman gave a brief speech, choking with emotion and confessing that he was no orator. Generous and compassionate by nature, Uthman was also born to a rich family of the Umayyad clan of the Quraysh. Omar had left him the signet ring of the Prophet, and that would become his most prized of possessions. Though not a great orator, he proved to be an excellent administrator. He continued to use the services of existing clerks from the Byzantine and Sassanian empires, but began the process of converting those accounts into Arabic and making use of Arabic numerals. Within a few years, tax revenues from his provincial states were increased, so he increased stipends across the board by allowing war widows to inherit ten percent of their husband’s salaries, plus an extra allowance for child welfare. The office of secretariat was created by Uthman to facilitate the paperwork. A talented cousin of his by the name of Marwan was employed as a secretary to oversee the filing system, and to quote from the previous written orders of Omar when entering into correspondence. He initiated a string of public works, ordering the construction of embankments to protect houses in Medina from being swept away by the periodic floods. The most noteworthy of his projects, those which benefited the citizens of Medina and Mecca the most were the supply of clean water and setting up kitchens to feed the poor. Taking advantage of the ever-growing resources of his treasury, he purchased blocks of lands to be converted into pastures for the state-owned herds of horses and camels.
He also ordered the construction of state stables and guest houses for travelers, messengers and poor pilgrims. Uthman faced a little opposition when he wanted to expand the old mosque of Medina by purchasing the adjacent houses. The owners were not willing to sell their houses, but for the price offered by Uthman they could not refuse. The old palm trunks were replaced with great pillars of hewn stone, and the first time the worshippers came to pray, they were awed, forgetting completely that any controversy had ever existed over building this mosque. His next project was to construct a new port at alJeddah, known as the site of the tomb of Eve, which would serve as a doorway to the Red Sea from Mecca and Medina. Omar’s austerity measures during his short rule were also on Uthman’s agenda to be changed. He lifted the restrictions imposed by Omar to the effect that nobody was allowed to own more than four houses, and only certain numbers of slaves were allowed to be admitted into Medina. Slavery or enslavement, in fact, was forbidden by Prophet Muhammad, and the first two caliphs had failed to address that issue – sadly, it would not be addressed by later caliphs either, including Uthman. Not only did Uthman succeed in lifting the ban upon man-made laws set in place by Caliph Omar, but he openly advocated living in comfort and enjoying the abundance of bounties with which Muslims had been rewarded after hardwon battles over the borderlands of Iraq and Syria. He set an example by building himself an imposing mansion in Medina, with walled gardens, a greenhouse, multistoried apartments with stuccoed walls and marble columns. A new wave of aristocracy was spreading forth amongst Arab Muslims with the wealth received in the form of high salaries and war booty from the earlier conquests. The most enviable gardens of the Muslim Empire were the gardens of Zubayr and Abder Rahman. Zubayr had acquired slaves and horses in equal numbers, amounting to hundreds, and was planning to build mansions in Kufa, Basra, Mecca, Medina and Damascus. Abder Rahman was to follow his lead and build princely estates in all major cities, estates as grand even as Uthman’s in Medina. Not long after the death of Omar, along with the surge of opulent lifestyles and prosperity, spluttered forth rebellions in the conquered nations, each faction seeking opportunities for independence. Persia had become a hotbed of rebellion, and two armies in Kufa and Basra were
The Third Caliph
caught up in an internal conflict. Armenia, Caucasus and Azerbaijan were quick to repossess their dominions. They were able to destroy two Muslim armies isolated by the Turkic Khazars. Egypt too had risen up in revolt, supported by a counter attack by the Byzantine Empire. Almost a thousand soldiers of the Arab garrison were massacred after the defeat, and Uthman was blamed for this tragedy, for he had sacked his highly skilled general Amr and replaced him with Abdullah. The battle had taken place on the field of Nikious. Muslims were expelled from Egypt, and the Byzantine General Manuel had repossessed the Delta Lands. Uthman then reinstated Amr into the position of general, and within the first two years of the caliph’s reign, Egypt was reconquered on the field of Nikious. General Manuel, along with his army, was forced to retreat to the safety of the walls of Alexandria. But there was no safety for this defeated army, and they were mercilessly slaughtered or enslaved by the Muslim conquerors until Amr had called a halt to the rapine. Patriarch Benjamin of Egypt’s Coptic Church had presented the case to Amr that their resistance to the Arabs’ first attack on Egypt had not been their choice, but they had been forced into the fray of rebellion by the secret assault of the Greek Orthodox Byzantine Empire. Amr was convinced by his argument, and ordered that Coptic community should retain their property, as well as being reimbursed a year’s worth of poll tax, for the Arab Muslim Army had failed in protecting them from external enemies. After this second victory in Egypt, Amr was allowed to remain there as governor general, but Abdullah retained the post of financial advisor. Amr was offended, declaring: Am I to hold cow’s horns while another man draws off the milk?
Uthman was angry, sacking Amr once again and reinstating Abdullah. Within a year, Abdullah, at the head of 20,000 men, was dispatched to launch an assault on South Africa. He marched west across the breadth of Libya, which had been subdued by Amr five years earlier. The Byzantine Governor of Tunisia marched south from his capital of Carthage to camp at Sbeitla, a city on the southern steppes. Following him was Viceroy Gregory, with a large force recruited from the Berber principalities of the mountains and pre-Saharan steppe in North Africa. To encourage his Berber lords, Gregory promised that anyone who could bring the head of slain Abdullah to him would win the hand of his beautiful daughter in marriage. Despite the fact that the Christian population of Byzantine
Tunisia was abuzz with millenarian fervor incited by Abbot Maximus, the Muslims emerged victorious on the battlefield of Sbeitla. Abdullah was exultant in reversing the wager of Gregory and making his daughter a concubine after beheading her father. The Byzantine army had been destroyed, but Amr was cautious about moving against the Berber tribes of the mountains, or the port cities of the Tunisian coast. He opted instead demand from them a great tribute from Tunisia’s olive orchards. He then returned to Egypt laden with war booty and captives. Uthman rewarded him by giving him a fifth of the booty, earning resentment, especially when it was made known that the caliph’s young secretary, cousin Marwan, had accumulated great wealth with a private speculative bid for the state’s portion of the war booty. This war had convinced Abdullah that, without an Arab navy, they would not be able to defend themselves from the Byzantine forces from Crete, Sicily, Cyprus and southern Italy, for they would always be able to counter attack, raising rebellions amongst the Berbers the moment the Arab army left these shores. Abdullah proposed to Uthman that for future success they needed to build a naval force. This proposal was backed by Muayiya, the Governor of Syria, so Uthman agreed, setting two conditions: only volunteers would be employed in making a naval assault, and in order to prove that they were certain of their victory, the commanders would have to their wives with them on their expeditions. It had been five years since Uthman’s rule began, and a joint naval assault was launched against the Egyptian and Syrian sailors by Abdullah and Muayiya, manning ships which had been built in the harbors of Acre and Alexandria. The island of Cyprus was won in this naval assault, and they agreed to pay the same tribute to the caliph which they were used to paying to the emperor in Constantinople. A year later, Uthman was rewarded with the greatest of his triumphs, his pride and glory, the first copy of the Quran, the creation of which he had commenced at the beginning of his reign. The task of collecting written verses had begun in earnest, from different households, from people who had been the scribes and secretaries of the Prophet and from libraries in Mecca and Medina. Some were written on bone shoulder blades, some on stone tablets and others on the split stalks of palm branches. Zayd had recorded many, but the largest collection came from Hafsa, the wife of Prophet Muhammad. The scribe of Prophet Muhammad
The Third Caliph
was employed to write the first copy of the Quran. He was assisted by Abdullah ibn Zubayr, Said ibn al-As and Abd-al-Rahman ibn al-Harith. This first Quran was written on sheets of parchment that were bound together in a book. The sixth successful year of Uthman’s rule was blessed with the completion of the collection of the Prophet’s revelations in the first book of the Holy Quran, assuming the aura of the Living Quran. Uthman was happy and relaxed and devoted his time to the welfare of the community in Medina. One day he was supervising the digging of the Arees Well, for the purpose of making clean water available to his people, and while bending over the wall to indicate a stone which needed adjustment, his signet ring slipped off his finger and fell into the well. Uthman’s grief was profound and inexpressible, for this was the Prophet’s signet ring, dearer to him than life, and he ordered a thorough search to retrieve this precious ring, worn by Prophet Muhammad. The well was emptied out, every handful of mud sieved multiple times to find the lost treasure, but the efforts turned out to be fruitless and the ring of Prophet Muhammad, bearing the seal God the best of Potentates, was irretrievably lost. Uthman was devastated, his heart troubled by the shadows of fear and presage (which were proving groundless, for fresh news of victories kept pouring into Medina). Muslims had been able to reestablish their rule over Persian Empire. They had advanced into Central Asia, capturing the cities of Herat, Merv, Balkh and Kabul. The dynasty of the Sassanian had collapsed when their prince, the last of the heirs, by the name of Yazdegird, was murdered. One year after the loss of the Prophet’s ring, Uthman began to be exposed to criticism for favoring his relatives and members of his clan, the Umayyad, for high posts. Marwan, the secretary of state in Medina, was an Umayyad, and so were many more in other states: Harith was the inspector of markets in Medina; Abdullah, the foster brother of Uthman, was ruling in Egypt; Muayiya, the son of Abu Sofyan, once the opponent of Prophet Muhammad, became the head of Syria, and two of Uthman’s cousins, Abdallah and Said, were ruling Basra and Kufa respectively. The caliph’s half-brother Walid was acquitted of charges of drunkenness, since no one could be found to execute the punishment of 80 lashes. This criticism, however, did not retard the surge of conquests, and the Muslim empire expanded into the Aegean along the North African coast, into Central Asia and up to the frontiers of India.
Some of the critics were more assertive, though, and posed a great threat to the rule of Uthman. One of them was an early convert by the name of Abu Dharr, who began denouncing the accumulation of wealth and grand palaces, urging Muslims to follow the example of Prophet Muhammad’s life of poverty, simplicity and generosity. He went as far as Syria to preach this message. Muayiya did not like his preaching and sent him back to Medina, dispatching a secret message to Uthman warning him about Abu Dharr and his fanatic behavior. Uthman received Abu Dharr at his palace, telling him that after Muslims have fulfilled their sacred obligations, they are free to spend their wealth, which they have earned rightfully, in any manner they deem appropriate. For further discussion, Uthman appointed his court poet Kaab, but Abu Dharr got angry with the poet and dealt him a fierce blow. So Uthman banished Abu Dharr from Medina and sent him into exile in the desert of Rabada to practice restraint and tolerance. Meanwhile, Arab garrisons were hosting more ethnic tribes, the most noted amongst them with their own languages: Berber, Persian, Turkic, Aramaic, Caucasian, Greek, Egyptian, Syriac and Armenian. Revolt and unrest were simmering, especially against the Umayyad Governors of Kufa and Fustat, who were accused of being corrupt. The time for yearly pilgrimage drew near, four years of unrest and open revolt after the loss of the signet ring, and the old caliph was preparing to lead pilgrims to Mecca. Uthman had just turned 82 when the news reached him in Medina of a revolt in Kufa, demanding the dismissal of Governor Saeed. Simultaneously, protests were taking place in Fustat against their Governor Abdullah. Uthman was quick to replace Saeed with Abu Musa, but he refused to remove his half-brother Abdullah from the post of Governor of Fustat. O Prince of the Faithful, you have subjected the whole nation to the Beni Umayya. You have gone astray and so have the people. Either make up your mind to be just or give up the job.
Amr boldly confronted Uthman, but the caliph would not heed his words, since he deemed himself just and rightly guided. Finally, when the time for Hajj arrived, delegations from the Arab armies from Kufa, Basra and Fustat were holding meetings, planning to topple the Umayyad governors. They had reached the decision that three months before the next Hajj they would march to Medina with a petition to the caliph to sack his unpopular kinsmen, and if he refused, they would force him to step down from his own office.
The Third Caliph
At pilgrimage time a year later, as planned, the three armies, presumably on their way to Mecca for the Hajj, marched toward Medina. The rebel army from Kufa camped at Awas, the army from Basra at Dhu Khushub, and the one from Fustat at Dhu Marwah. In Egypt, Abdullah, fearing the worst, fled to the Syrian frontiers to seek refuge in Palestine, which was under the authority of Muayiya. The arrival of three armies in Medina sent shock waves through society, and immediately, support for the old caliph began to re-emerge. Ali, Talha and Zubayr, the close companions of the caliph, gathered supporters for an urgent meeting. At first they rebuked the rebels for coming armed to the holy city of Medina, but that had no impact on the rebels, so Ali agreed to serve as a peacemaker between the rebels and Uthman. He urged Uthman that unpopular Abdullah should be removed from the governorship of Egypt, which would mollify the rebels and probably convince them to compromise in returning to their respective posts. Aisha too favored this cause, suggesting that Amr should be given back his old job, which would pacify the rebels instantly. The rebels demanded that Muhammad, the last born child of Abu Bakr, be made Governor of Egypt. Uthman consented, and many individuals from the rebel columns took this opportunity to depart for Mecca before pilgrims packed into the city for the yearly pilgrimage. The rebel column from Egypt was on the third day of its march back toward Fustat when they captured an African slave, riding posthaste for the frontier. In his possession was a sealed letter from Uthman containing orders to arrest the rebel ring leaders and put them to death. The rebels were furious at this covert deceit on the part of the old caliph, and at once turned around, riding back toward Medina. They were joined in their coalition by the rebels from Kufa and Basra and pitched their tents on old campsites. Once again Ali consented to be an arbiter and peacemaker between the rebels and Uthman. Uthman denied all knowledge of the letter, but admitted that the slave was from his household. The seal was genuine too, but the mystery of the letter was not solved, suspicion falling upon Marwan, the secretary of the state, and also on Amr, the disgraced governor. The rebels-turned-mutineers were ready for a battle. They publicly denounced Uthman as a liar and an old incompetent caliph who was ruled more by his treacherous family than by the teachings of Islam. He was not
their caliph, they shouted, and demanded his resignation, also inviting him to fight if he did not resign - if he refused they would kill him. Of course, Uthman refused to fight, for he said he would prefer to die than to spill the blood of his fellow believers. As to resigning, he said he was invested by God to be a caliph, and to renounce that gift of a blessing would be faithlessness to God. The following Friday after this announcement, when Uthman went to the mosque and began his sermon after the prayers, he and his supporters were pelted with stones. He was carried home unconscious. The rebels were adamant that he could never leave his house or return to the mosque. The caliph was under house arrest and could not lead the yearly pilgrimage, so he appointed Ali’s cousin Abdullah-ibn-Abbas to be the leader of the pilgrims. Meanwhile the rebels kept demanding Uthman’s resignation and the expulsion of Marwan. Uthman would not agree, so they decided to lay a siege to his house. The house had no well of its own, so its water supply was cut off - Ali was allowed to dispatch just three goatskins of water to them. When one of Prophet Muhammad’s widows, Umm Habiba, attempted to leave a water-bag laden mule at the door of the house, she was barred by the rebels. Ali, Talha and Zubayr sent their own sons to guard Uthman’s door from any direct assault, but could not force the rebels to give up their siege of his home. Their first attack on the caliph’s house was unsuccessful, since Ali’s son Hasan and Talha’s son Muhammad guarded his door most faithfully, despite being wounded. Next morning, the rebels made a concerted attack. Marwan was felled by a sword blow to the neck and left for dead. Uthman was alone in the room of his wife Naila (from a Christian Bedouin tribe from northern Syria). He was reading the Quran when Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr stormed in, grabbing his beard and piercing his forehead with a sword followed by another blow from behind his ear through his throat, and thus the first copy of the Holy Quran was drenched with the blood of the caliph. As he lay on the floor, dead, another of the assassins jumped on his chest, stabbing him furiously nine times, until Naila threw herself over her dead husband to protect his body from mutilation, losing two of her own fingers in the aftermath of this brutal murder.
CHAPTER TEN THE FOURTH CALIPH
Would I were Heaven that I might look on thee with many eyes . —Plato
Caliph Ali 656-661 Ali was Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and married to the Prophet’s beloved daughter Fatima. He was named as the fourth caliph in the mosque of Medina after the death of Uthman. Talha and Zubayr were amongst the six surviving men from the electoral committee who swore their obedience to Ali. Abdullah, the son of Omar, withheld his oath of allegiance, saying that he would not decide until the pilgrims returned from Mecca and pledged their allegiance to the new caliph. At the inception of his caliphate, Ali became the nominal commander of an empire stretching east across Iraq and Persia into the borderlands of Afghanistan and central Asia. To the West, the Islamic empire stretched as far as Libya and Egypt, and to the North, included all of Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Cyprus and much of Armenia. At the very inception of his caliphate Ali was also confronted with sprigs of opposition. The main opposition came from Aisha, the youngest wife of Prophet Muhammad. She was returning to Medina after performing Hajj, and she heard the news of Uthman’s murder and Ali’s accession when her caravan halted at Sarif, 12 miles north of Mecca, but instead of riding ahead she ordered her caravan to ride back to Mecca. Once in Mecca, she raised the standard of revolt by accusing Ali of deliberately causing the political strife which led to the murder of Uthman. To rally support she said she wanted to avenge the death of Uthman and people flocked to her in droves to follow the Mother of the Faithful. Even Talha and Zubayr, breaking their oaths of allegiance, slipped out of Medina and joined Aisha’s camp in Mecca. Two of the Prophet’s wives distanced themselves from Aisha. One was Umm Salmah, who rode back from Mecca to give her oath of loyalty to Ali in Medina. The other was
Hafsa, who did not accuse Ali of any plot related to the murder of Uthman, and advised her brother Abdullah to stay neutral. Meanwhile, Ali, with all fairness, began the selection of governors from amongst all Arab Muslims, regardless of their status within the noble clans of the Quraysh. He chose the new Governor General of Basra from one of the clans from Ansar in Medina. For the governorship of Fustat in Egypt, he appointed Qays from the Khazraj clan in Medina. When Mughira suggested to Ali that in order to succeed he should keep the existing governors and send them flattering letters with promises of wealth which he would not need to fulfill, Ali was furious, saying: By God, this will never be. Mughira, feeling deflated, slipped out of the oasis, riding north toward Syria to give the same advice to Muayiya, by whom he knew it would be appreciated. It was almost four months since Ali was elected caliph, and Aisha’s army of 900, which was marching toward Iraq, had halted at Basra. At the request of the Mother of the Faithful, the newly appointed Governor of Basra permitted the garrison to camp in the marketplace of Mirbad until the caliph, who had been informed of their location and was coming to negotiate peace, arrived. The following night, some men from Aisha’s party seized the governor as he came out of the mosque. He was tortured and humiliated with 40 lashes, and his eyelids and eyebrows plucked out most brutally before he was thrown into prison. In the morning, Talha and Zubayr went to the mosque for morning prayers as if nothing had happened during the night. They then tried to seize public buildings, but the soldier slaves from Sind proved strong, refusing to relinquish their hold over the grain stores and provincial treasury. Again, Talha and Zubayr tried to gain the support of the soldiers from Kufa, but their acting governor, Abu Musa, offered no support, advising his army to stand aside from any political activity that could weaken the unity of Islam. The Chieftain of the Beni Saad also declared that he would fight neither against the Mother of the Faithful nor the cousin of the Prophet, so led 6,000 of his tribesmen back into the neutrality of the desert. Ali, meanwhile, had sent his son Hasan to Kufa to gather supporters before he himself started from Medina. Hasan was able to recruit 7,000 men from the Bedouin tribes to add to his father’s army.
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It was almost winter when Ali arrived in Basra, and the peace negotiations failed. The two armies confronted each other, arrayed for a decisive battle. By early afternoon, both Talha and Zubayr had been killed. Aisha’s camel litter, in which she sat directing the battle, was protected by champion after champion in the service of the Mother of the Faithful. A poet by the name of Kaab was killed with a Quran tied around his neck, followed by Attab, serving as a brave knight. Next were Talha’s sons, succumbing to death. Then Aisha’s own nephew, Abdullah, the son of Zubayr, was killed. Almost 40 men of Dabba had fallen while guarding Aisha’s camel. Finally, Ali gave the orders for the camel to be hamstrung. When the camel fell, Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, who was fighting on Ali’s side, ran to the litter so that no one would dare to touch his sister, and removed an arrow which had pierced her flesh from her arm. Ali then knocked on the wall of the howdah, taunting her mildly with the endearment Prophet Muhammad used for her and the mention of the garden of Irem from a verse in the Quran: Surely, this is the Humaira of Irem, who wanted to kill me as she killed Uthman! Ali shifted the blame back to Aisha. You have won the reign, son of Abu Talib. So pardon now with goodness, was Aisha’s humble request. Ali forgave her unconditionally, commanding her own younger brother to escort her to a house in Basra and then to her own home in Medina. Then he sent heralds all over the place, proclaiming his message of forgiveness. No one turning his back should be pursued No one wounded shall be killed Whoever throws away his arms is safe
Uthman’s relatives were removed from their public positions, but were granted freedom and immunity. Prophet Muhammad’s cousin Abdullah ibn Abbas and his stepson Umar were appointed Governors of Basra and Bahrain. The most contentious of Ali’s choices in assigning the important posts was Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, who became the Governor of Egypt; he was a prime suspect in the murder of Uthman. Muayiya in Syria was embarrassed by Uthman’s unemployed family coming to Damascus as refugees, amongst them Uthman’s brother Walid, who had been sacked from the governorship of Kufa for public drunkenness.
Walid took this opportunity to incite Muayiya to take vengeance for the death of Uthman. Muayiya did not need inciting. He wanted to remain the sole ruler of Syria, so, overcoming his initial shock and embarrassment, he welcomed Uthman’s relatives, who had brought Uthman’s bloodstained shirt, the relic showing multiple stab wounds. This shirt was paraded around Syria, then nailed to the pulpit in the Great Mosque of Damascus. Almost a year after Ali became caliph, he was forced to confront the armies of Muayiya in Syria. He marched out of the garrison city of Kufa, through the farmland of central Iraq beside the River Tigris. On the way to Mosul, the number of his army swelled to tens of thousands, because everyone wanted to rally for his cause against the unpopular Muayiya. Reaching the Euphrates valley, Ali ordered a bridge of boats to secure the supply lines so that, if needed, he could advance directly into central Syria. At Siffin, Ali’s large army came face to face with Muayiya’s army, but he was able to drive them away from the river. Always a paragon of chivalry, Ali then allowed them access to water for their mounts. Ali and Muayiya tried to negotiate peace, but failed in coming to any agreement. To settle their differences, Ali challenged Muayiya to single combat to avoid a bloody battle on a large scale, but Muayiya declined, suggesting that champions from both sides engage in single combat, as in days of old, before the battle commenced in all earnest. Ubaydallah ibn Omar challenged Ali’s son Muhammad to bring a small retinue to fight, and Ubaydallah died in this fray. More duels followed, but they were disrupted by the sighting of the new moon, signifying Muharram, and a month-long truce began since, fighting is forbidden in Muharram. After a month of truce, the battle at Siffin began on a large scale. The first day was favorable for the Syrians, but the next day they were pushed back into their camps. The third day was the bloodiest, with hand-to-hand fighting and no victory in sight for either party. On the fourth morning the assault from Ali’s army was the heaviest so far, and they were on the brink of victory when a group of Syrian cavalry emerged on the battle lines with open copies of the Holy Quran tied to the heads of their lances. The word of God. Let the word of God decide between us and you. Who would protect the border towns of Syria if we are slain and who will protect the people of Iraq after you are gone? Let the book of God judge between us and you, the Syrian soldiers cried in unison.
The Fourth Caliph
This refrain was picked up by the soldiers of Ali, their battle-cry replaced with the slogan for peace. Ali and his chief commanders knew this to be a ruse on the part of Muayiya to avoid imminent defeat, and urged their soldiers to press for victory, but they were in favor of trial by book, even without understanding what it meant. A messenger was sent to Muayiya with a proposal for peace, and he was relieved to sign it in the face of imminent defeat if the battle was to continue raging. Abu Musa was chosen for peace negotiations as the ambassador from Ali’s camp, despite Ali’s opposition to the negotiations, for he deemed him neutral and not one of his supporters. From Muayiya’s side was designated Amr, who was secretly aspiring to win back the command of Egypt. Two days later Amr rode to Ali’s camp as an arbitrator, while Ali’s scribes began drafting the agreement with the words: This is what has been agreed between the Commander of the Faithful and Muayiya— Amr protested that Ali was commander of his own army just as Muayiya was of his, and if Ali was to be addressed as the Commander of the Faithful, there was no room for peace negotiations. By the end of the discussion the title was dropped and a new draft was written, stating that both parties agreed to bind themselves by God’s word and where the Quran was silent, by Muslim precedent, all should accept the decision of two arbitrators who bound themselves to judge righteously. A military truce was to be upheld until the two arbitrators could meet at a place equidistant from Kufa and Damascus. A month later when Ali’s army reached the outskirts of Kufa, about a third of the men began to realize the unfairness of the peace treaty, for their Commander of the Faithful was demoted to just one of the petitioners awaiting the decision of the arbitrators. Forgetting their own reluctance to fight, they were quick to blame Ali for leading them to Siffin and their returning, not as victors, but as one of the factions in a civil war. They refused to pitch their camp with Ali’s garrison, establishing a rival camp across the Tigris at Harura. Later, they would be joined by like-minded soldiers from Basra and would be known as seceders—the Khawarij. Ali, learning of their bitter opposition to arbitration, sent Abdullah ibn Abbas as his emissary to remind them that at Siffin he had pleaded with them to continue to fight, and they were the ones who had favored peace negotiations. Most of the seceders had returned home, so Ali proposed that the old oath which Prophet Muhammad himself had made his followers repeat should be renewed:
Chapter Ten Swear to Ali to be a friend to whomever he befriends, and an enemy of whomever he takes as an enemy.
While Ali’s followers took this oath, Ali requested for any surviving witnesses from that day who had heard this oath during the life of Prophet Muhammad to come forward. Twelve companions of the Prophet stepped forward as solemn witnesses, and the 25 year old oath of personal allegiance to Ali was renewed by the soldiers of Kufa and Basra. Three months later, at the beginning of the solar new year, the two arbitrators formally met at Udruh in Jordan. Amr and Abu Musa, each followed by 400 of their followers, gathered to negotiate the terms of a peace treaty. Abu Musa emphasized that all Muslims should aspire to end the civil war and work towards unity. Amr agreed, pledging his support for the joint cause of peace and harmony. Encouraged by this, Abu Musa began to propose a framework where Uthman’s death would be treated as murder, after which a shura would be formed which would allow Muayiya to be confirmed in his office, while Ali would be re-confirmed as Caliph of the Faithful. Amr pretended to agree, but during further discussion, the opinions of various compromising candidates were rejected, and all they could agree on was that both Ali and Muayiya should retire and leave the choice up to the people. The people decided as proposed by Abu Musa, and Amr told Abu Musa to make the proclamation. After Abu Musa was done, Amr rose to his feet, announcing gleefully that they had reached a joint decision. You have heard the decision of Abu Musa, for he has decreed the deposition of his candidate Ali, and I confirm this decision. As for my candidate Muayiya I confirm him as the true caliph, the heir of Uthman and the avenger of his blood.
Amr’s treachery shattered the very fabric of the peace conference, and was followed by violent curses and bitter reproaches. Abu Musa was denounced as a gullible tool in the hands of Muayiya and reviled as a traitor by the partisans of Ali. Amr’s trickery was pronounced blatant fraud, but it gave Muayiya the opportunity to proclaim himself caliph, receiving oaths of loyalty from his troops in the Great Mosque of Damascus. Ali, still recognized as the true caliph, took the road to Mecca, his supporters adding a formal curse on Muayiya and his associates after their morning prayers. The seceders or Kharijites were highly incensed by these new events, forming their own self-governed independence, designating their own imam to lead them in prayers and, if need be, in war.
The Fourth Caliph
Abandoning their homes in Kufa and Basra, they decided to establish their community on the banks of the Tigris at Nahrawan. Four months after this deceitful arbitration, Ali decided to lead his army of soldiers from Kufa and Basra north to challenge the false claim of Muayiya’s caliphate. On the way he appealed to the Kharijites, who joined him with a militant fervor. The armies of Ali and Muayiya confronted each other outside Nahrawan, where most of the Kharijites were killed, and with their deaths the morale of Ali’s army vanished. Countless of the dead on the field of Nahrawan were great champions who had fought at Siffin and at the battle of Camel. Ali and his army retreated to the garrison cities to contemplate plans to invade Syria. Meanwhile Muayiya played it safe, concentrating on his immediate goal: to take control of Egypt. Ali was cognizant of Muayiya’s covert moves, so he dispatched his agent Ashtat to take care of affairs in Egypt. He rode swiftly across the Arabian Desert, boarding a ship across the Red Sea to avoid Muayiya’s agents in Syria and Palestine. Upon reaching Egypt he was welcomed most cordially by the customs officer, who served him a drink sweetened with honey, but it was poisoned and Ashtat died instantly. Muayiya had gained many allies, and his aim of winning Egypt was almost accomplished. To reward Amr he sent him to Egypt at the head of 6,000 men to reclaim his lost territory. Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, the Governor of Egypt, was aware he was losing the support of his Arab soldiers in the city of Fustat, but he was hasty in fighting with Amr in an attempt to check his advance. By choosing to be offensive, his vanguard was isolated and then trapped. His army deserted, and welcomed back Amr. Amr’s army first cut off the supply of water to Muhammad’s dwindling force of dejected soldiers, then provoked them to fight. Muhammad was killed, his body wrapped within the carcass of a donkey and buried. When this news reached Aisha in Medina, she was griefstricken, cursing both Amr and Muayiya. Despite wars and conflicts, Ali remained devoted to his people first and foremost. Noticing discrepancies in accounts from his cousin in Basra, he dismissed Abdallah ibn Abbas. Telling him that neither he the caliph, nor Abbas the governor was to receive more reward than any other Muslim. Ali’s own brother Aqil was infuriated when the caliph refused to give his family extra loans or pensions or to offer them high posts. Muayiya, on the other hand, bent on reducing the authority of Ali, offered
lucrative jobs to the discontented members of Ali’s family and friends. He also continued to raid northern Iraq from his bases in the eastern Syrian Desert. Ali was distracted by his eastern front, and Kufa and Basra had become the centers of his government. The Kharijites had raised standards of rebellion in Persia, first in Fars, then in Kerman. Ali appointed Zayyad to suppress these revolts. Soon, a Muslim Arab army from the Syrian garrison of Arabia marched to Medina and Mecca, forcing the inhabitants of these holy cities and of Yemen to swear the oath of loyalty to Muayiya. Ali, learning of this breach, was quick to march out of his garrison in Kufa. Muayiya’s armies had swiftly marched back to Syria, so Ali, upon reaching the twin holy cities, was able to extract another oath of allegiance to himself as the rightful caliph. The fourth year of Ali’s reign was drawing to its end, and this year was known as the year of two oaths. Letters were exchanged between Ali and Muayiya about coming to a truce, and at the end of the year an agreement was signed. Muayiya would rule Syria, Egypt and Palestine; Ali would rule Iraq, Persia, central Asia and Arabia. The Kharijites, learning of these two oaths and the consequent division of Arabian Peninsula, were filled with anger and bitterness. It was the beginning of the new year, and while returning from their yearly pilgrimage they had decided to take matters into their own hands. They were making plans to get rid of all three contentious leaders, Ali, Amr and Muayiya, and unite all Arabs under their own administration, choosing their own imam and leader. It took the Kharijites several months to materialize their plans, and the month of Ramadan had already arrived when they decided to simultaneously attack the mosques of Kufa, Fustat and Damascus where the three leaders would be leading Friday prayers. In the mosque at Fustat, the white-clad imam who was kneeling in prayer at the head of the worshippers was killed by a single blow of the assassin’s blade, but he was not the intended victim - Amr had chosen not to lead the prayers that day. So Amr was able to execute his own failed executioner at the end of the day, offering thanks to God for his safety. In Damascus, Muayiya was leading the prayers at the head of his congregation. His bodyguard, noticing an unusual movement amongst the worshippers, was quick to slay the assassin with a single blow of his own
The Fourth Caliph
sword. Muayiya was unharmed, and he too offered great thanks to God for saving his life. Ali was leading the morning prayer in the mosque of Kufa. He had started his sermon with: Judgment belongs to God, O Ali, not to you, when the assassin struck him a violent blow. The Khajirite, by the name of ibn Muljam, had used a poisoned sword and Ali knew he would die soon, but he wanted to spare his assassin the fate of brutal punishment. By the God of Kaaba I have triumphed, Ali declared, commanding his followers not to wreak vengeance on the assassins. He forgave ibn Muljam unconditionally, even sharing a bowl of milk with him before he died, two days later, of the poisoned wound over his brow. He was buried in Najaf, a half a mile ride from Kufa. Hasan, the 37 year old son of Ali, read his father’s eulogy at the mosque in Kufa while the men wept silently. After the eulogy, Ubaydallah ibn Abbas stepped forward, urging the congregation to profess their loyalty to Hasan. The congregation most willingly pledged their allegiance to Hasan and he was accepted as the next caliph. Hasan, much like his grandfather Prophet Muhammad, abhorred war and wanted peace for all Muslims. When Muayiya marched out of Syria toward Kufa and Basra with the intention of conquest, he realized that Hasan was all for peace and had no ambition to be a caliph. So Hasan and Muayiya corresponded, and an agreement was signed under which Hasan relinquished his caliphate to Muayiya in exchange for an agreement not to harm the Shiat (the followers of Ali) and to govern by the book of God and the example of the Prophet. Muayiya, in return, promised that the caliphate would return to Hasan after his death and that he would not appoint a caliph of his own choosing before his death. Included in his promises was an oath that he would rule according to the Quran and the example of Prophet Muhammad. Hasan had only been caliph for six months, and after the agreement rode out of Kufa with his younger brother Hussain toward Medina with the intention of spending the rest of his days in quiet contemplation.
CHAPTER ELEVEN MUAYIYA, THE FIRST UMAYYAD CALIPH 661-680
Jupiter himself was turned into a satyr, a bull, a swan, a shepherd, a golden shower and what not for love. —Robert Burton
Muayiya entered Kufa as the sole caliph of the Arab Empire. Soon after returning to Damascus, he journeyed to the oasis of Medina to receive oaths of allegiance from the companions of the Prophet. He was disappointed, for not many came to pledge their allegiance, and the few who did were reluctant, looking upon him as a usurper. This did not deter him from making great conquests, for since the beginning of his reign he had been determined to expand his empire, by sea or by land, as far as his well-trained Syrian army would allow him the thrill of conquests. Damascus was his seat of power, from where his armies marched to the East of Khorasan and returned wearing the laurels of victory. His next expansion began after almost seven years of his rule as caliph. This time he chose the northern frontier, employing the Arab navy which he had been nurturing for two decades, since he started as the Governor of Syria. His navy ships were let loose on the sea lanes of the southern Aegean. Two years later, Sicily and Crete had been attacked and Rhodes was occupied. An Arab colony was settled in Rhodes, and one merchant had made his fortune by smelting down the Colossus of Rhodes—the gold statue of Helios which had been toppled by an earthquake three centuries before. The island of Rhodes was also used as an advanced base to launch a marine-based assault on the triple-walled city of Constantinople. Muayiya had appointed his first born son, Yazid, to lead that assault, but when the Arab fleet was defeated by a Byzantine squadron, Muayiya commanded an orderly withdrawal. A truce was agreed upon by both parties and the Muslims left the city of the Caesars. To secure peace at home, Muayiya
Muayiya, the First Umayyad Caliph 661-680
promoted one-eyed Mughira to the rule of Kufa, while his protégé Zayyad was assigned the job of keeping Basra under control. Zayyad’s son Ubaydallah was made governor of the garrison city of Khorasan. Uthman’s son Saeed was given the governorship of the newly conquered city of Bokhara. Confident of future conquests and becoming the master of a vast empire stretching as far as the Oxus River, Muayiya decided to repair and consolidate the internal affairs of his empire before sending out his armies to subjugate more kingdoms. Keenly aware of the immigration of Arab tribes into Iraq and Syria, each with competing interests, he first began to secure the loyalty of the Syrian tribes, then appeased the Iraqi tribes by allowing them to choose their own leader who would represent the interest of all of them. His own great leadership, ballooned with ambition, had intoxicated him with success to such an extent that he had not even noticed the lapse of nine years of his absolute rule of utter pride and prosperity. The caliph, successful in internal and external affairs, had almost forgotten about Hasan and Hussain when, after nine years of his reign, Hasan died suddenly. At the same time there came forth a plethora of rumors to cast further aspersions on Muayiya’s character, adding to the title of usurper with a new one, that of a murderer. There were several rumors as to how Hasan had mysteriously died, but the most circulated of those was that he was poisoned. It was alleged that Muayiya had bribed one or several of Hasan’s wives to poison him so that he could appoint his son Yazid as successor. One suspect was Hasan’s wife, the daughter of Amr, who had supposedly given him poison mixed with honey. The other was his wife by the name of Jada, who had allegedly seduced into believing that Muayiya would marry her after the death of Hasan. Such rumors, believed to be carrying at least a few grains of truth, dissipated against the fresh surge of expeditions which Muayiya had been planning for the past nine years while putting affairs in order between tribes and gaining alliances. The first march was toward the western front, headed by the nephew of Amr, Oqba ibn Nafi. He was to accomplish the conquest of Anatolia and North Africa against the Byzantines and an advance base would be established about fifteen hundred miles west of Fustat, in central Tunisia. Oqba was successful in conquering Ifriqiyah and Tripolitania, his stopping place growing into the city of Kairouan. It had good grazing ground in the form of the steppe, allowing him to draw a strategic wedge between the walled Byzantine cities of the coast and the
fierce Berber principalities of the mountains. The Byzantine land frontier, with its many great castles that guarded all the passes through the Taurus, had remained intact, so Muayiya appointed Khalid’s son Abdal Rahman as Governor of Homs to lead the Arab armies in summer raids against these mountain redoubts. Muayiya was getting old; he had ruled for almost 19 years and was feeling feeble and vulnerable. Two of the Prophet Muhammad’s wives had already died (Swadah, six years before, and Aisha, two years before). He had built a great empire and did not want to fall it into the hands of Ali’s heirs, so he chose his son Yazid as his successor in the open court of Damascus, the crown prince receiving felicitations from his general. Then he decided to journey to Medina to win the support of the chiefs there for him and his choice of successor. The chiefs, Hussain ibn Ali, Abdur Rahman ibn Abu Bakr, Abdullah ibn Zubayr and Abdullah ibn Omar, rode out of the oasis a few days before Muayiya reached Medina. They did not want to confront the Caliph if he decided to impose his son Yazid upon them as the uncontested candidate for the caliphate. To them, Yazid was an emblem of cruelty and debauchery, and they did not want to recount his vices to the aged caliph. Besides, they had no love for the caliph, who had forgotten his pledge to return the caliphate to Ali’s sons after his death. They also felt betrayed that Muayiya was turning a community of believers into a hereditary kingdom to be based on the military power of distant Syria. Bitterly disappointed, Muayiya returned to Damascus, his governor, Marwan, always vigilant and sympathetic. He knew his end was near, so he settled down to contemplate what he had accomplished, hoping to look into the eyes of the future without fear or regret. He had extended his empire to the very gates of Constantinople at one point, but was sad that he had been unable to hold on to Anatolia. The Dome of Rock in Jerusalem, which Omar had left unfinished, was now beautifully complete. He had a personal library outside the mosque which boasted works on science, the military, medicine, chemistry, astrology, and books on religion, practical arts and applied sciences. He had introduced Greek coins in his empire and many documents were now translated into Greek. Reminiscing, Muayiya could honestly say to himself that he had ruled following the example of the Prophet by practicing religious tolerance in his vast empire, which spread from North Africa in the West to
Muayiya, the First Umayyad Caliph 661-680
Afghanistan in the East. He employed Christians as part of a broader policy of religious tolerance, remembering the Prophet saying that each religious minority should be allowed to practice its own religion. His wife Maysum, the mother of his son Yazid, was a Jacobite Christian who practiced her own religion. Oh, Allah, reduce my lapses, pardon the shortcomings and overlook my ignorance, for You are All Forgiving. My mistakes are all my own and not attributable to You, only You can forgive and grant me refuge, Muayiya was heard saying before he died. He was buried most regally, his body decorated with a hoarded treasury of relics, including nail clippings and hair from Prophet Muhammad’s head and beard. Yazid was proclaimed the next caliph in Damascus, receiving oaths of allegiance from generals, police chiefs and treasury officials. When the news reached Medina, most of the populace was plunged deeply into the throes of grief and despair. Yazid’s being successor caused great turmoil in Arabia. The atmosphere of mosques in Medina became that of funeral homes, where men wept silently and groaned in grief that a dynastic monarchy was triumphing over the religion of God.
CHAPTER TWELVE THE GREAT SPLIT OF THE YEAR 680
One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life. That word is love. —Sophocles
The now dynastic nature of the caliphate infuriated many Muslims, who decided to rise up in revolt against Yazid. The sprigs of major revolt sprouted in the very heart of Kufa when about 18,000 people from the Shiat group signed a petition requesting that Hussain leave Medina and come to them to lead them as their caliph. Hussain accepted their invitation, sending them a letter defining his role as an imam. You must be clear about the fact that the imam is only one who follows the Book of God, makes justice and honesty his conduct and behavior. Judges with truth and devotes himself to the service of God. May peace be with you!
He also sent a letter to his well-wishers in Basra, stating that the religion of Prophet Muhammad that followed the example of his life was already being corrupted with man-made laws and judgments, that Islam was not something that could be magically transmitted from generation to generation, but had to be experienced through inner purity of heart and mind and protected from all falsehood with great devotion and diligence. Keeping such sentiments as his talisman in word and thought, Hussain left the safety of Medina to head toward Kufa. The men who had requested Hussain as their caliph failed miserably in their pledge to join him against Yazid. With only a handful of followers, Hussain marched on; not a single man or youth who had pledged allegiance came out from the garrisons to join him on the desert trail to Kufa. Hussain sent his young cousin ahead as a messenger, with the intent of negotiating peace if war could be avoided. His cousin was welcomed into the home of Ubaydallah, the Governor of Kufa, but then betrayed, taken into captivity and killed.
The Great Split of the Year 680
Meanwhile, Ubaydallah had sounded the proclamation that anyone suspected of supporting Hussain would be hanged without trial, and their homes and property would be confiscated. After this proclamation he dispatched a large army under the command of General Hurr to intercept the advance of Hussain. Hussain, with his small cavalcade of family and friends numbering around 30 horsemen and 40 warriors on foot, kept marching on the hot trail, hoping that some of the men from nearby garrisons would join him, but because of the proclamation, none of them dared. A poet by the name of Farazdaq, who was devoted to Husain, secretly rode out of Kufa to plead with Hussain not to enter the city, for he would be killed mercilessly. Hussain was not to be dissuaded, however, and continued marching until he was barred by the army of Hurr. The men from both sides were thirsty and exhausted, and reached a friendly decision to rest for the night before discussing the course of warfare or negotiations. Hurr’s army had exhausted their water supply, so Hussain shared generously from his rations to quench the thirst of the enemies who had come to stop him from entering the city of Kufa. General Hurr had received orders from Kufa that he was not only to intercept Hussain’s army, but also to prevent them from returning to Mecca or Medina. In this limbo of uncertainty and confusion, a whole week had elapsed when suddenly 4,000 cavalry men arrived from Kufa, surrounding the small army of Hussain. They were forced to camp on the field of Karbala, 25 miles from Kufa, on the banks of Euphrates. Amr was the commander of this newly arrived cavalry, ordered by Ubaydallah to guard the waters of the Euphrates so that not a drop could reach Hussain and his supporters until they pledged unconditional submission. Hussain requested to see Yazid face to face, but his request was turned down. He then requested terms of warfare where duels could be fought on an individual basis; that request too was denied. Another general, by the name of Shamir, had arrived from Kufa, appointed by Ubaydallah. He relieved Amr of duty and began the task of enclosing the clusters of Hussain’s tents at Karbala with a fence made out of thorns and brushwood. So the siege of Hussain’s small army began in earnest. Hussain, fearing the worst, asked his family and friends to leave the camp and join the enemy, but none would abandon him, despite his pleas, which became commands. On the verge of dying of thirst, Hussain
decided to confront the enemy in the morning in a pitched battle. Most of the women and children were delirious with thirst; Hussain’s infant son Ali, with parched lips and a high fever, sobbed all night without a drop of water to quench his thirst. The battle lines were set in the morning, the 70 men of Hussain’s army against the 4,000 of Yazid’s. Hussain donned the mantle of the Prophet and prayed to God before confronting his enemy: O God, you are my only trust in every calamity. You are my only hope in every hardship. You are the only promise in the anxiety and distress in which hearts become weak and human action becomes slight. In which one is deserted and forsaken by his own friends and in which the enemies take malicious pleasure and rejoice at his misfortunes. O God, I submit myself to you.
Before the battle, the enemy began taunting Hussain and his followers, saying that they were heading straight into hellfire. Hussain asked his followers not to respond to such taunts, and not to shoot any arrows - they would not be the first to engage in fighting, since they were not the offenders, but the defenders of their faith. The enemy then rushed headlong, and Hussain’s men, already weak with thirst and hunger were cut down by the ranks of archers, caught in a hailstorm of arrows. One by one, Hussain’s followers shielded him from the shower of arrows, but they all succumbed to death against the brutal onslaught. No one was spared, not even Hussain’s infant son, nor his ten year old nephew Kasim. However, Hussain’s sister Zaynab was somehow able to save Ali, the son of her brother, heroically and miraculously. The fury of hell was let loose as wounded men were trampled further into the dust by a fresh charge of the cavalry. The heads of the 70 slain men from Hussain’s army were stuffed into sacks to be delivered to the governor at his palace in Kufa. The horror and tragedy of the field of Karbala had torn the Prophet Muhammad’s religion of peace and reconciliation into fragments of shame, revolt and eternal confusion. The great split had flashed its fury in one bolt of lightning, cutting open the heart of Islam and tearing it into the two shreds of Shia Islam and Sunni Islam. Muslims had killed Muslims. Of the four caliphs who had succeeded since Prophet Muhammad’s death, only Abu Bakr had died a natural death; the other three, Omar, Uthman and Ali, had been brutally murdered. Only 29 years after the Prophet’s death, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law Ali was murdered. His group of followers, known as the Shiat, were devastated and grief-stricken. Then,
The Great Split of the Year 680
just two years short of half a century after Prophet Muhammad’s death, his beloved grandson Hussain, the son of Ali, was murdered, and the Shiat group was transformed into a sect of remorse and mourning. Ali was no more, and the Shiat, known as Shias, were the ones who had urged Hussain to lead them in the fight against the usurper of Islam, Yazid, the second Umayyad Caliph. When Hussain, heeding their requests, had commenced his march toward Kufa, the same Shias, fearing Yazid’s rod of punishment, had let him fall into the trap of utter annihilation. Yazid, claiming to be a Sunni (meaning a follower of the Sunna—the teachings of the Prophet), had held on to his caliphate by the brute force of his power, wealth and ambition. Paradoxically, both Shias and Sunnis follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. They read the same Quran, say the same prayers and follow the same rituals of pilgrimage. However, those lacking in understanding see not the similarities, only the man-made differences. In memory of the tragic deaths of Hussain and his family, both Shias and Sunnis acknowledge the tenth day of Muharram as the day of mourning called Ashura. Passionate commemoration is carried out only by the Shiite community. After the schism, Shias and Sunnis began asserting their claims as the rightful heirs of the Prophet. Tehe Sunnis applauded the first caliph, Abu Bakr, as Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama’ah, meaning the guardian of the people of tradition and unification. They proclaimed the first four caliphs as the rightly guided caliphs, since they were close companions of the Prophet and the best of Muslims. To assert their belief, they recounted a saying of the Prophet Muhammad: The best of the people are my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them.
Shias believe that Ali was the only divinely appointed successor to Islam and the first imam—a person who is endowed with the special spiritual and political authority to guide the community. Their assertion that Ali was the first caliph is borrowed from the prophetic traditions. Prophet Muhammad rested at a place called Ghadir Khumm close to the city of al Juhfah, Saudi Arabia, and said: Oh people, reflect on the Quran and comprehend its verses. Look into the clear verses and do not follow the ambiguous parts, for by Allah none shall be able to explain its mysteries and warnings. Nor shall anyone clarify its interpretations other than the one I have grasped his hand brought up
Chapter Twelve beside myself, the one about whom I inform you that whomever I am his master, Ali is his master. He is my brother, the executor of my will whose appointment as your leader and guardian has been sent down to me from Allah, the mighty and the majestic.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN SUNNI/SHIA ISLAM
Whether by nature or by art, you never make a gesture without imparting beauty to it. —Somerset Maugham
These twin sects, born most violently out of the womb of Islam, began mapping out their own beliefs in remembrance of Prophetic traditions. Sunnis believe that Prophet Muhammad died in the lap of Aisha, while Shias recount that he died on the shoulders of Ali. Both these claims might be true, literally and figuratively. The traditions of Sunni and Shia Islam emerged simultaneously during the century after the schism for which the Umayyad Caliphs continued to rule and expand the Muslim empire. Immediately after the death of Hussain, when his sister Zaynab came face to face with the tyrant Yazid, she cursed him saying: Do you know what you have done. You have killed the best household of the Prophet and you have chopped off the roots and branches of the tree of the garden of his mission. Zaynab then turned to the people of Kufa and voiced her grief and bitterness in words most candid and memorable. O people of Kufa, you deceptive, fraudulent and treacherous people, by God, you made false promises and turned your hypocritical face toward my brother and sent him deceptive letters. And conspired to destroy the household of the Prophet. You have chosen the worst of worldly people of power and authority over the best of people. Instead of defending truth and justice, you simply stood by at a distance as spectators. Now you dare to share hypocritical tears on our behalf.
Sunnis began emphasizing the need for rule of law and public order, denouncing rebellion as lawlessness which would lead to chaos and disorder and ultimately pave the way for heresy. They defined their
fundamental belief by explaining that God’s will alone unfolds the book of history, especially sacred history. The Shias’ fundamental belief system began with the need for justice and a cosmic duty to stand up for justice, even if it is necessary to do so against one’s own community. Since they suffered so terribly under injustice they rose up against it, saying that no lie could last forever. Against the very burden of penance they gave voice to their profound contemplation in words both beautiful and enlightening: The slaughter of Hussain is in reality the death of Yazid Islam is revitalized after every Karbala
Many revolts against Yazid arose in Medina and Mecca, the most threatening amongst them led by Abdallah ibn Zubayr, but Yazid’s rod of tyranny was swift to extinguish all fires of rebellion. Abdallah launched revolts in the cities of Hejaz and Tihamah, then incited the people of Mecca with this speech: O people, no other people are worse than Iraqis and among the Iraqis the people of Kufa are the worst. They reportedly wrote letters and called Imam Hussain to them and took allegiance for his caliphate. But when ibn Zeyad arrived in Kufa, they rallied around him and killed Imam Hussain who was the rightful heir to caliphate.
Yazid, after hearing this speech, was highly incensed, and ordered a thick chain to be made out of silver, then commanded Walid ibn Utbah to arrest Abdallah ibn Zubayr. However, he escaped into a remote part of southern Arabia. Three years later Yazid exacted vengeance by sending a huge army, regiments of Christians from Damascus, from Syria to Medina. They slaughtered the defenders of Medina on the volcanic battlefield of the Harran Hills, then sacked, looted and raped their way through the capital of Islam for three days. Holy Mecca was besieged, and within two months, Kaaba was burned to the ground, hit by naphtha-treated arrows launched by the Syrian besiegers. The black stone of Kaaba was shattered into three pieces by the heat of the blaze. Meanwhile Yazid, after just three years of tyrannous rule, died after he lost control of his horse and was tossed to the ground by his own favorite mount. He was buried in Damascus, succeeded by his son Muayiya II. A Persian poet commemorated the death of Yazid in a poem which he may have written while the caliph was still alive:
The dead body of Yazid Lying in his pleasure palace at Hawwarin With a cup next to his pillow And a wineskin whose nose was still bleeding
The siege in Mecca was lifted after the death of Yazid, and the Syrian army returned to Damascus. Muayiya ibn Yazid did not want to deal with the politics or policies of his father, and within a year he abdicated in favor of Marwan, who became the ruler of Damascus. Abdullah ibn Zubayr was quick to consolidate his power by sending his own governor to Kufa. He also succeeded in expelling the armies of the late Yazid from Iraq, southern Arabia, the greater part of Syria and parts of Egypt. Marwan died suddenly, having ruled for only one year, and his son Malik ibn Marwan became the Governor of Damascus. After seven years of rule, Malik had amassed a large army, so he sent a heavy contingent, led by Hajjaj, to regain control over the lost territories. Hajjaj was able to defeat Abdullah ibn Zubayr, and after crucifying him, beheaded him, so once again the Umayyads had absolute control over the Islamic Empire. After another 58 years of rule, the Umayyads were toppled by an army that came out of Persia, led by an unknown leader by the name of Abu Muslim. His warriors had been recruited from the city of Merv and the province of Khorasan, and marched under black banners, indicating their support for the cause and family of Ali. But after their victory on the banks of Zab, a tributary of Iraq’s Tigris, Abu Muslim would support the Abbasids, the descendants of the family of Abbas from the line of Prophet Muhammad’s uncle, not that of the Alids - the descendants of Ali. The Abbasids would rule for a little over five centuries, while the powerless descendants of Ali would fashion their own dynasty by choosing their imams (spiritual leaders) and trying to establish their identity, while being betrayed and put into the hands of the Sunni caliphs. Throughout the long period of Abbasid rule, no one from the lineage of Prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima and her husband Ali gained any political authority, though they were publicly championed (and secretly assassinated). While the Umayyads had ruled from Damascus, the Abbasids favored the city of Baghdad as the seat of their caliphate. Shias, though respectful of the caliphate, did not recognize any of the Abbasid caliphs as true successors of Prophet Muhammad. They established their belief in the authority of imams. For them, Ali was the first imam, the second was Hasan, the third Hussain, and the fourth Ali, the son of Hussain. The fifth imam was Muhammad al-Baqir, though some Shias
later accepted his brother Zayd from Yemen as the fifth imam and came to be known as Fivers or Zaydis. They propagated the belief that the leadership qualities of a true imam were not restricted to the descendants of the Prophet. The split within Shia had already begun to divide Islam into smaller fragments. Despite this belief that a true imam did not have to be from the line of Prophet Muhammad, the sixth imam chosen by the Shias was a descendant of Ali by the name of Jafar. He did not last for long, and disappeared into the state prison of the Abbasids, where he was most probably murdered. After this, the Shias were split in their decision regarding the true imam. The ones who chose Ismail, the eldest son of Jafar, were known as Seveners or Ismailia, very active politically and ambitious to create their own empire. Unlike the Fivers, their imamate was complete with the man they considered the seventh. The ones who chose Ismail’s brother Musa as the seventh imam continued following more imams through another four generations. Ali al-Ridda became the eighth imam, Muhammad al-Jawad the ninth, and the tenth was Ali al-Naqi. The Abbasid Caliph Mamun married his sister off to the ninth imam, but then had him secretly murdered. The eleventh imam, by the name of Hasan al-Askari, was not from the lineage of the Prophet, but simply a private citizen of the Abbasid caliphate. Hasan al-Askari was assassinated on the orders of Abbasid Caliph Mutamid. He had left no heir, but the Shias claimed that through his secret marriage to a Byzantine princess, Narjis, he had a son by the name of Mahdi, and they chose Mahdi as the twelfth imam. To avoid the assassination of this true imam, the Shias decided that he should go into hiding, and he was known as the Hidden Imam. He instructed the Shias through his faithful disciples, and they believe that after four generations of Abbasid rule, he went into occultation. It is believed by the Shia faithful that Hidden Imam Mahdi will return at the dawn of a new age of purity, righteous actions and correct belief—the final manifestation of true Islam before the end of the world. Almost two centuries elapsed while the Abbasids continued to rule, and they would still rule for just short of another century, but the Shias emerged as the ruling power in most of Arabia, including Syria, Egypt and North Africa. Their rule of two and a half centuries was known as the Fatimid caliphate, and based in their stronghold in Cairo. They ruled sideby-side with the Abbasid caliphate until a Sunni leader by the name of
Saladin, a man of Kurdish descent, destroyed them. He conquered Egypt and Syria and expelled Crusaders from the Holy Land, reaffirming the rights of the Abbasid caliphs, even though their authority extended no further than their palaces in Baghdad. The time from the inception of the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad till the end of the Fatimid caliphate in Cairo, a period spanning four and a half centuries, was a period of great ferment in literature and architecture. It began in the 8th century with Ibn Ishaq’s biography of Prophet Muhammad, followed by a multi-volume collection of Hadiths. Simultaneously, Arabic grammar was compiled and Quranic commentaries were written. From the garrison city of Kufa, a gentleman of Persian descent by the name of Abu Hanifa compiled a code of discipline called Hanafi Law. Another was written called Shafi Law, a code derived from the traditions of Egypt and Fustat. This law was assembled by Shafi, an orphaned boy from Palestine whose input on Islamic thought was candid and impeccable. During this period, biographies of the companions of Islam were also written, along with canonical laws within the traditions of Sunni Islam. Malik ibn Anas compiled his version of law called Maliki Law, slightly different from the traditions of Hanafi and Shafi Law. He established a hierarchy of sources within Sunni Islam, insisting on the absolute primacy of the Quran, followed by the Hadith. Based on the example of the Prophet’s life, he commented that the Prophet’s life would be illumined by Islamic law, not contradicted by any of the carefully kept traditions and examples of the companions and first four rightly guided caliphs. In Baghdad, aside from Hanafi Law, Shafi Law and Maliki Law, a fourth school of law developed from the strict teachings of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, who had suffered persecution at the hands of the Abbasid caliphate. His message appeared simple, and similar to other schools of law in referring back to the Quran and the example set by the Prophet, but the simplicity of the message was lost in countless arguments and restrictions. The recurrent problems faced by scholars of Sunni law were the inherent contradictions within the Quran, with further arguments as to which Hadith was authentic. Amidst such confusion there evolved a selfserving, self-defining priesthood which had nothing to do with the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, who wanted to connect mankind in spiritual communion with God.
Both Sunni and Shia Muslims celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, which marks the end of fasting after Ramadan, and Eid-ul-Adha, which is celebrated after the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. In addition, Shias observe other festivals. One of these is Eid al-Ghadeer—the anniversary of the occasion where Prophet Muhammad announced Ali’s imamate before a group of Muslims in the town of Ghadir Khum. The festival most celebrated by Shias is the rite of mourning in the month of Muharram, when Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, was killed by Yazid. Fatima’s birthday is also celebrated by Shias, and looked upon as Women and Mother’s Day. Included in the birthday celebrations is Ali’s birthday, marked as Men and Father’s Day. Mid Sha’ban is the birthday celebration of the twelfth imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi. Mawlid is the celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday by both Sunnis and Shias. The anniversary of the night of the revelation of the Quran is also celebrated by Shias and Sunnis alike, and is called Laylat al-Qadr. Eid al-Mubahila is celebrated only by Shias, in commemoration of a meeting between the household of Prophet Muhammad and a Christian deputation from Najran. Zaydi is the second largest branch of Shia Islam, named after the fifth imam, Zayd ibn Ali. Zaydi Muslims are also called Fivers, since they also believe in the first four imams. Their doctrine does not presuppose the infallibility of the imam, nor do they believe that he receives divine guidance. In their doctrine, the imamate does not have to pass from father to son, but can fall to a descendant of Hasan and Hussain. Ismaili Shias, also known as Seveners, get their name from the seventh imam, Imam Ismail ibn Jafar, whom they believe to have been a divinely appointed spiritual successor. After his death and occultation, Shias proclaimed that he would return as the messianic Mahdi, Muhammad ibn Ismail to establish an age of justice. Though the imamate continued during the period of occultation, Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi Billah, a claimant to the Ismaili imamate, established the Fatimid Caliphate. He was much persecuted, and another religious group emerged during his lifetime which broke off from Ismailia, forming their own group, the Druze. They believed that Imam al-Hakim was the incarnation of God, the prophesied Mahdi who would one day return to bring justice to the world. Yet another split in Shia Islam occurred after the death of another imam, Imam Ma’ad al-Mustansir Billah. His oldest son Nizar and his younger one al-Musta’li fought for political and spiritual control of the Islamic Empire. Nizar was defeated, but escaped to Almut, where Iranian Ismailis accepted him as their imam. There was a further split in the Shia
imamate, and Dawodi Bohr emerged as one branch and Hafizi the other. The Nizari imamate was passed on to a Nizari Ismaili by the name of Karim al-Husayni, known as Agha Khan IV, and the line of succession continues to this day. Twelver Shia is the largest branch of Shia Islam. This term is derived from the doctrine of believing in twelve divinely ordained leaders, known as the Twelve Imams. They are the political and spiritual successors to Prophet Muhammad. Twelvers believe that the successors of Muhammad are infallible individuals who not only rule over the community with justice, but are able to interpret divine law and its esoteric meaning. The words and deeds of Prophet Muhammad and imams are a guide and model for the community. Each imam must be free from sin and error, and must be chosen by divine decree. Each imam was the son of the previous imam, with the exception of Hussain, who was the brother of Hasan. Twelvers believe that the twelfth and final imam is Muhammad al-Mahdi, who is alive and in occultation. 14th century Islam saw the emergence of a Sunni leader from the Hanabali tradition by the name of Ibn Taymiyyah. During the Mongol invasion he fled from Persia to Damascus and began redefining the law of Islam, declaring that he was qualified to interpret the teachings of the Quran and the Hadith. His most orthodox interpretation of Islamic precepts was the misuse of the word jihad, which he succeeded in transforming from “inner moral struggle” to the meaning of a real-life war with the aim of the whole world falling under the sway of Islamic authority. Jihad, in his violent and hate-mongering way of thinking, was the finest act any Muslim could perform. He challenged the authority of the caliphate, proclaiming that a true caliphate had ceased to exist after the death of the four rightly guided caliphs. Boldly and histrionically he argued that the imam, the religious leader should guide the emir, the temporal leader in all matters of jurisprudence, with the support of the mullahs and Ulemas. For his un-Islamic, incendiary preaching of jihad he was persecuted by the rulers of Syria and Egypt. 400 years later, in the 18th century, another leader from the Hanabali legal tradition gained popularity, a man by the name of Abd al-Wahhab, born in Nejd in central Arabia. He was from the impoverished tribe of Beni Temin, and had very shallow knowledge of Islam. For Arabs, Nejd came with negative connotations based on a popular saying to the effect that nothing good ever came out of Nejd. The Hadith also favored their
opinion of Nejd, as the Prophet Muhammad asked God to bless Nejd three times, but was refused, which was followed by an injunction: Dissentions and earthquakes are there, and there shall arise the horns of Satan. Abd al-Wahhab gained the support of local power-brokers such as the Saudi and Rashidi emirs of central Arabia. Politically and religiously ambitious, his orthodox teachings were crushed by the military power of the new Egyptian kingdom of Muhammad Ali, whose son Ibrahim Pasha conquered Mecca and Medina in the year 1813. 100 years later, in 1928, Wahhab’s voice was heard again when a Saudi emir conquered Mecca and Medina. Simultaneously, the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt by a school teacher by the name of Hasan al-Banna. He was an active critic of all Arabs, proclaiming that he was striving toward leading Muslims on the straight path that is commanded by God at the beginning of the Quran. The message of peace and reconciliation in Islam was neglected by him, and instead he promoted rifts and violence. A passionate critic of the West, Hasan al-Banna did not shy away from adopting the successful techniques of the Fascist and Communist parties to establish his own Brotherhood in 1930, in selfcontained cells called Usar—families. He developed his own form of Islamic boy scouts, Hitler Youth-style, to inculcate hatred for anything unIslamic (in his estimation) in young minds. Hasan al-Banna was assassinated in the year 1940, allegedly by King Farouq’s secret police. His devoted disciple Sayyid Qutub began preaching their distorted version of jihad, saying that those who deny jihad’s active and aggressive character diminish the greatness of Islam. His great lies and distortion of the Islamic precepts landed him in jail, and in 1966 he was hanged on the orders of Abdul Nasser of Egypt. Starting with the reign of pro-Soviet President Abdul Nasser, the Saudi government had begun giving refuge to the Muslim Brotherhood—the underground soldiers of Allah. It was a matter of policy, part of King Faisal’s strategy for combating so-called godlessness at home and abroad. The exiled members of the Muslim Brotherhood entered the kingdom to train teachers, who in turn would inculcate strict doctrines of their own making into the heads of young Muslim students. Many female members of the Muslim brotherhood recruited from Syria were successful in training teenage girls to wear the full veil and niqab. Saudi universities were geared toward teaching the acceptance of canon knowledge without question. The students were not to learn how to think, critically or otherwise, or how to change the world. The most radical of ideas were
promoted amongst staff and students. Many sects of the Brotherhood, with their man-made, rigid orthodoxy, were crushed time and time again in Syria, Egypt and Algeria, but they stayed resilient, and to this day remain active, violent and belligerent.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN WAHHABI ISLAM
Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is war, love is a growing up - James Baldwin
Wahhabi Islam traces its roots to a single man by the name of Abd alWahhab, born in 1702 in the town of Uyainah in the desert country of Nejd in the hinterland of the Arabian Peninsula. He was from an impoverished tribe, the Beni Temin, and had little access to Islamic scholarship. His father followed the Hanabali school of law, so his knowledge consisted mainly of what his father taught and practiced: the puritanical teachings of a 13th century jurist by the name of Sheikh Ibn Taymiyyah. Three centuries before, this sheikh had declared himself qualified to make his own interpretations of the Quran and to redefine the laws of Islam. Imbibing the teachings of that sheikh, Abd al-Wahhab was considered a provincial bumpkin, ignorant of the true precepts of Islam, though he became Hafiz, meaning that he could recite the entire Quran from memory. He went to Mecca, Medina and Basra and returned to Medina bloated with extreme views of his own on how Islam should be, declaring that he was the privileged recipient of divine knowledge since his name was one of the God’s ninety-nine names—Abd al-Wahhab meaning son of the worshipper of the Giver. There was not even a trace of the divine in Abd al-Wahhab’s message as he began preaching in Nejd, preaching a doctrine of hate and hostility to all who did not believe in the oneness of God, calling them infidels and polytheists. Anyone who opposed his views was pronounced a heretic, and his own heretical views, as they were deemed by religious teachers in Nejd, landed him in trouble too, even with his uncle and father. In his home village of Uyainah he was denounced as schismatic and expelled. He was offered refuge in his father’s new home in the settlement of Huraymila, but did not desist from preaching hatred, violence and intolerance. His teachings infuriated his father’s neighbors to such an extent that they demanded his expulsion unless he kept his views to
himself. Abd al-Wahhab obeyed his father and resorted to silence, but after the death of his father in 1740 he began pronouncing judgments in accordance with his self-made teachings, including the stoning of a woman who refused to end her liaison outside marriage and inciting a mob to tear down the tomb of the companion of the Prophet. The Ulemas were shocked by his violent acts, and he was charged with heresy and commanded to leave the settlement of Huraymila. A fugitive once again, he fled to the little hamlet of Dariya, a small town near the even smaller oasis of Riyadh. Ascribing his retreat to Dariya to a re-enactment of the Prophet’s Hijra from Mecca to Medina, Abd al-Wahhab began his spiritual conquest of Arabia. He was fuelled by his inner sense of fury and hatred, doubling his efforts in preaching what he deemed to be divine inspiration straight from God. He campaigned actively to stop music and to smash domes and gravestones in the name of God’s oneness. His puritanical attacks on music and architecture were rejected by the inhabitants of Nejd, but he gained the friendship of the new Governor of Dariya, whose aunt he married to forge a strong alliance. Muhammad ibn Saud was the name of the new governor befriended by Abd al-Wahhab, and their alliance was further strengthened when Ibn Saud’s eldest son, Abdal Aziz, married Abd al-Wahhab’s daughter. In 1744, a pact was signed by both to the effect that Ibn Saud would protect the stern doctrines of Abd al-Wahhab and in return Abd al-Wahhab and his followers, the Wahhabis, would support him, raising him to the pinnacle of glory and power. He further boasted that whoever championed his message would by means of its blessing rule men and lands. His dream to make Ibn Saud the King of Arabia began with an inter-tribal commonwealth—a large group of men who were required to take an oath of allegiance to Ibn Saud on pain of losing their place in paradise if they did not accept his authority as lawgiver, in matters both temporal and religious. These self-styled laws came directly from the teachings of Abd al-Wahhab. This was the inception of the first Saudi State, destined to persevere for centuries to come. Abd al-Wahhab stated explicitly that ritual action is more important than intention; that Muslims should not revere the dead; that no intercessory prayers to God through Prophet Muhammad were needed. Ibn Saud trusted Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrines with utter devotion, and they began to take on a life of their own in the diligent hands of his enormous
retinue of staff, who also believed in action over intention. Constables or religious policemen were ordered to force people to take part in public prayers five times a day; shopkeepers were commanded to close their shops during prayer times. A dress code was fashioned and enforced for both men and women. Men were to be segregated from women during social functions, and Wahhabi doctrine was a mandatory part of the curriculum in schools and mosques. Preaching openly and without the fear of being persecuted, Abd alWahhab launched his spree of radical ideas with a gusto, beginning by condemning the traditional praise of Prophet Muhammad. He ordered the graves of the saints to be dug up and turned into latrines. Next he attacked the treasures of literature, ordering the burning of all books, saying that the Quran had all the knowledge one needed. The most radical of his preaching began with a call to jihad, sidelining the message of peace in the Quran. He proclaimed the urgent need for a holy war against all those who did not share his vision of Islam. So commenced the version of holy war believed in by Wahhabis—a blood-soaked campaign for expansion and subjugation. The Wahhabi interpretation of jihad started with a holy war against the Muslims, Shias and Sunnis, denouncing them as polytheists since they prayed to saints and Sufis (including Prophet Muhammad). The Bedouins of Nejd were trained as holy warriors. Savage fanatics, they donned the mantles of martyrs and, coveting the rewards of paradise, were let loose as raiding parties to prey on their neighbors, killing, plundering and destroying with the fury of hurricanes. Ibn Saud’s forces were swift to conquer part of Nejd, their sway expanding from the eastern coast of Kuwait to the northern borders of Oman. While Ibn Saud’s holy warriors brought Asir under his suzerainty, Abd al-Wahhab incited Jihadis to remove polytheism, which in his judgment existed in countries like Iraq, India, Syria, Egypt and Yemen. In 1766, after 22 years of terror and bloodshed by the Abd al-Wahhab - Ibn Saud alliance, Ibn Saud was assassinated while at prayer, and succeeded by his son Abdul Aziz ibn Saud. Abd al-Wahhab, after the death of Ibn Saud, expanded his zeal onto the very heart of battlefield. In the privileged position of being the father-inlaw of Emir Abdul Aziz, he began training Bedouins in the use of firearms, which would be much more efficient than spears and scimitars. As an imam he took the liberty of writing a letter to the gatekeeper of
heaven saying that every man dying on the battlefield must be received as a martyr into paradise. These letters were copied and distributed amongst the holy warriors before they embarked on jihad. If Jihadis triumphed in battle they were promised material gains, and if they died they were assured of the delights of paradise. The Wahhabi army had access to fast horses, fine weapons and good armor, and they went raiding far and wide. Abdul Aziz proved to be a staunch follower of his father-in-law, enforcing his hardline teachings with a renewed savagery akin to the fever of vengeance. His soldiers were commanded to convert the conquered tribes to Wahhabi Islam, and if they refused they were to be killed mercilessly, their towns pillaged and their properties confiscated. Within two years of his reign, Abdul Aziz had conquered most of the Arabian Peninsula. His method of conquest was deceptive, yet brutally effective. His soldiers were commanded to enter the conquered domain with a Quran in one hand and a sword in the other. They were to proclaim: Abdul Aziz to Arab tribes. Hail! Your duty is to believe in the book I send you. Do not be like idolatrous Turks. If you believe in our laws truly, you would be saved, otherwise you would die a wretched death. In the year 1733 Abdul Aziz’s strongest opponent in Nejd was defeated and the Wahhabis gained victory in the town of Riyadh. The same year, Abd al-Wahhab retired from the office of imam and Abdul Aziz styled himself as the new imam. Thus began the inception of Wahhabism, donning the mantle of a cult based around the infallibility of its emir-cum-imam. Abd al-Wahhab passed away in the year 1792, leaving behind 20 widows and 18 children. Five of his sons became religious teachers, and their dynasty, known as the Family of Sheikhs, were called the Mufti or judges of the Wahhabis. Their alliance with the Saudi dynasty remains intact even today. Abdul Aziz continued his policy of raids and the Wahhabis evoked great terror in large parts of Arabia, as far south as Oman and Yemen and as far north as Baghdad and Damascus. Abdul Aziz died in 1802 at the hands of a vengeful Shia from Karbala, and his son, Saud Ibn Abdul, attacked Karbala, pillaging and plundering the tomb of Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. The entire town was sacked and a huge amount of booty seized, a fifth of which went to Saud Ibn Abdul, with the rest divided amongst the Wahhabi soldiers, a single share to every foot soldier and a double share to every horseman.
Emulating his father in zeal, Saud Ibn Abdul conquered the town of Taif, ordering a bloody massacre after the conquest. A year later, Saud Ibn Abdul requested the Sharif of Mecca for permission to perform Hajj. Once in Mecca, his Wahhabi zealots forced their creed on all Muslims, and the ones who refused were brutally slaughtered, including venerable sheiks and their families. The zealots laid waste to shrines, looted the sacred tombs, and desecrated the mosque and homes of the Prophet Muhammad’s family, and those of Ali and Khadija, shattering domes and facades. A year later the Wahhabi army marched to Medina, destroying tombs in the ancient cemetery, and even despoiling the grave of the Prophet Muhammad. Their attempt to destroy the mosque of the Prophet was unsuccessful as several of the Wahhabis who tried to climb the dome fell off and died. They succeeded, however, in destroying the graves of the Prophet Muhammad’s wives and of his companions. Not satisfied with their many acts of sacrilege, the Wahhabis went back to Mecca the next year to complete their conquest and spree of destruction and destroy the remaining domes, even the one built over the well of Zamzam. Another great massacre occurred after the fall of Mecca, and the Wahhabis proclaimed that no one was allowed to undergo the rite of pilgrimage unless they adopted Wahhabi doctrine on law and jurisprudence. Saud Ibn Abdul voiced his own proclamation, saying that pilgrims must embrace Wahhabi beliefs and promote the Wahhabi mission. If they refused to do so they would be marked as infidels and heretics. In the wake of this proclamation in 1805, Iraqi and Iranian Muslims were refused permission to perform Hajj, as were Syrians in 1806 and Egyptians the following year. To enforce his will, Saud Ibn Abdul shut off all the pilgrimage routes, the privilege of Hajj open only to Wahhabis. The shock waves of the fall of Mecca to the Wahhabis were felt as far away as the farthest corners of the Ottoman Empire. Muslims were outraged, but due to internal warfare it was five years after the pilgrimage ban that Egypt’s Muhammad Ali Pasha from Baghdad was chosen as an army general. He was entrusted with the order to reclaim Hejaz for the caliph so that pilgrimage routes could be opened to all Muslims. Muhammad Ali Pasha, underestimating the strength of the Wahhabis, dispatched a large force under the command of his 18 year old son. It was the year 1811, and an army of 8,000 Egyptian soldiers was defeated by the Bedouin tribes and hard core Wahhabi fighters from Nejd. The Egyptians
returned a year later with a larger force and recaptured Medina, forcing the Wahhabis back to Mecca. After this conquest they began looting Jeddah, and the Arab chieftains once more rushed forth to pledge allegiance to the Wahhabis. Saud Ibn Abdul continued promoting zeal and aggression until the year 1814, when he contracted a fever and died suddenly. He was succeeded by his son Abdullah Ibn Saud. A year after the accession of Abdullah Ibn Saud, the Egyptians returned with a great force to crush the Wahhabis. The decisive battle was fought west of Riyadh. Several of the allies of the Wahhabis, disgusted by their acts of cruelty and intolerance, deserted them, so the number of fighting men in their army was reduced drastically. Ali Pasha’s army, in contrast, was strong and unified and they were able to gain victory after slaughtering the Wahhabis en masse. After the battle, Ali Pasha announced that he would pay six silver coins for every head brought to him, so before long the grounds of his headquarters were full of pyramids of severed heads. 300 prisoners were impaled alive in batches before the gates of Mecca and Jeddah and at the ten staging posts in between. In 1818, the Egyptians besieged Diriyah, where surviving Wahhabis were still being protected inside the walled fortress of Abdullah Ibn Saud. This siege lasted for several months, until the food supplies were exhausted and the Wahhabis, fearing starvation, were forced to surrender. The prisoners, close to 500 of them, were herded together into a mosque, where for three days, Ibrahim Pasha, the son of Ali Pasha, engaged them in a theological discussion, pointing out the brutality and absurdity of their creed. They remained adamant, however, that anyone not believing in their doctrine was an infidel and must be killed.
The Wahhabi Creed: Excerpts from Kitab al-Tawhid by Abd al-Wahhab There would be only one interpretation of the Quran and Hadith. The rise of Islam would only be accomplished by Jihad against idolaters and polytheists. True Muslims are those who swear absolute loyalty to their religious leader—Imam, follow his teachings in every respect and join him in armed Jihad against all apostates, blasphemers and unbelievers and to hate those same apostates, blasphemers and unbelievers. Such pious believers as true Muslims would be protected by God, loved by their Wahhabi companions and granted immediate ascent to the heavens should they die as martyrs, defending the faith of Islam. The foundations of our faith are: reliance on one God. Repudiation of all forms and celebrations.
Chapter Fourteen Our duty to wage holy war against all infidels, including Muslims who have corrupted the purity of Islam. Strict practice of blind and implicit obedience to our Imam. Perfect belief in our Imam that he is our spiritual guide to lead us to victory over infidels—especially Muslims who have strayed from true path and have become polytheists. Men have to wear headgear at all times, women are to be veiled and shrouded. Music is forbidden.
Losing patience with them after the unsuccessful theological discussion, Ibrahim Pasha sanctioned their execution. Abdullah Ibn Saud and five male members of his family were sent as prisoners to Cairo, then transferred to Constantinople. For three days they were paraded on the streets, exposed to the sun and insults, and then they were beheaded. Abdullah Ibn Saud was executed in the Ottoman capital of Constantinople, his severed head later thrown into the waters of Bosporus. Other members of the Saud family were sent to Medina and placed under house arrest. A year later, the main stronghold of the Wahhabis at Riyadh was taken and a fortress built over the ruins of the building initially built by Saud Ibn Abdul Aziz. The destruction of Wahhabism was greeted with joy by Muslim communities, still smarting against their rule of tyranny and injustice and their killing of Muslims, justified by proclaiming that they, the Wahhabis, were the only true Muslims and the rest were polytheists. This marked the end of the first Saudi State. Abdullah Ibn Saud’s uncle Turki Ibn Abdullah, also the grandson of Muhammad Ibn Saud, escaped house arrest and retreated into the desert. He styled himself the next imam, regrouped the Wahhabis and in 1824 emerged forth to free Riyadh from the rule of Egyptian forces. Thus began the second Saudi State. Turki Ibn Abdullah ruled mainly in Nejd, while another Arab ruling family by the name of Al Rashid controlled the rest of Arabia. The Wahhabis had suffered a downfall, but their presence was very much noticed due to the men’s long beards and plain dress and the women, covered in shrouds from head to toe. Imam Turki Ibn Abdullah ruled from 1824 to 1834, Imam Mushari succeeding him and ruling only for one year. Imam Faisal Ibn Turki ruled from the end of 1834 to the middle of 1838. The next in line was Imam Khalid Ibn Saud 1838-1841, and following him it was Imam Abdallah Ibn Thunayyan (1841-1843). Imam Faisal ruled for a second time in 1843-1865; Imam Abdallah Ibn Faisal from 1865-1871; Imam Saud from 1871-1871; Imam Abdallah for the second time, 18711873; Imam Saud for the second time, 1873-1875; Imam Abdul Rahman from 1875-1876; Imam Abdallah for the third time in 1876-1889, and Imam Abdul Rahman for the second time from 1889-1891. In 1891 the
forces of the Al Rashid dynasty defeated the Wahhabi forces of Imam Abdul Rahman at the battlefield of Mulayda, thus ending the second Saudi State. Abdul Rahman took refuge in Kuwait, appealing to the Emir of Kuwait for assistance to conquer Riyadh. The emir was already involved in several wars with the Rashidis, and finally, in 1902, agreed to help Abdul Rahman. Abdul Rahman’s son Abdul Aziz (styled as Ibn Saud) was to lead a small force of just 40 men to capture Riyadh. Astonishingly enough, he was able to capture the castle of Masmak after killing Ibn Ajlan, the Chief of Riyadh. Encouraged by this miraculous victory, Ibn Saud began an extensive plan of conquest, conquering the region of Qasim in 1906, and his armies expanding their territories year by year thereafter until, in 1913, they annexed Al-Hasa and Qatif into their domain, the Emirate of Riyadh. Ibn Saud promoted the revival of Wahhabism, which led to the formation of the Muslim Brotherhood under the name of Ikhwan. The Ikhwan chose to settle three hundred miles north of Riyadh in the town of Artawiyah. About 10,000 Ikhwans made Artawiyah their permanent settlement and began to impose their will with the authority of warring zealots. In a spree of madness they attacked public places, smashing hookahs, portraits and musical instruments. They enforced attendance at the mosque by dragging people who did not go, and whipped shopkeepers who did not close their shops during prayer times. Music and smoking were banned. They killed Christians and also Muslims who could not recite the Quran properly. With the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914, the Ottomans chose to side with Germany and Austria-Hungary, proclaiming jihad against Britain. The British, constrained by the need to divide Islam, sought the favor of Ibn Saud, offering him help to fight his old enemy, the pro-Turkish Emir of Hail. The two armies met near an oasis called Jarab. At the last moment, one of Abu Saud’s allies changed sides, and his army was defeated. The British then began supporting Abu Saud’s rival, Sharif Husayn of Mecca, in his revolt against the Ottomans, which took place in 1916, urging all Muslims to liberate their caliph from the atheistic regime in Turkey. Ibn Saud did not favor this plan, knowing that such a revolt would be treason against the caliphate. Once again, the British curried the favor of Ibn Saud, encouraging him to come to an understanding with the Sharif of Mecca. The Treaty of Darin was signed by the British, under which the lands of the House of Saud became part of a British
protectorate. Ibn Saud pledged to wage war against Ibn Rashid, who was an ally of the Ottomans. In exchange for waging war against Ibn Rashid, a monthly stipend was allotted to Ibn Saud by the British. The war between Ibn Saud of Nejd (along with his supporters the Ikhwan) and the Hashemites of the Kingdom of Hejaz was fought in 1919, resulting in the defeat of the Hashemites, but the British intervened and a ceasefire was agreed, saving the Hashemites from a total collapse. Two years later, Ibn Saud, backed by the Ikhwan, attacked the Emirate of Hail, or Jabal Shammar, and conquered it, adding it to the Sultanate of Nejd. The Ottoman Empire was crushed, the British declaring Kuwait to be an independent sheikhdom and a British protectorate in 1921. The same year, an Ikhwan party raided southern Iraq, pillaged Shia villages and massacred 700 Shias. The raids by the Ikhwan were getting more numerous and daring, and included raids on Transjordan. In 1924, a band of 3,000 Ikhwans raided Taif, burning down houses and killing 300 townsfolk. Secular rule was established in Turkey in 1924 by Kemal Ataturk, and a liberal government was formed in Egypt. In retaliation, Sharif of Mecca assumed the title of Caliph of Islam, banning the Ikhwan from making Hajj. The tribal Ikhwan were outraged, and their armies, under the command of Ibn Saud, conquered Mecca and Medina and closed in on Jeddah. The tombs of many saints were torn down by the Ikhwan, including that of the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter, Fatima. The Ikhwan carried out wholesale massacre and mutilation, beheading 40,000 Meccans and amputating the body parts of more than 50,000 of their victims before slaughtering them en masse. At the gates of Jeddah, Ibn Saud held back, waiting to see if the British would come to the aid of Sharif. They did come, but to oversee his abdication and to provide him an escort into exile. Ibn Saud became the master of Jeddah, Mecca and Medina. In the year 1926, Ibn Saud banned the Ikhwan from further looting and killing, but they persisted in their zeal for jihad. They attacked Egyptian pilgrims and carried out raids across the Saudi borders, butchering men, women and children. A year later, they became vocal critics of Ibn Saud, for letting his son Prince Faisal visit infidel England, for allowing Shias and Christians to flourish in his kingdom, and for permitting “satanic” contraptions such as telegraphs to be installed in Arabia. Cars, telephones, wireless sets; all were tools of sorcery invented by the devil, they proclaimed. God had not authorized them in the Quran, and acting as God’s soldiers, they took extra pleasure in destroying the lines leading to
the residences of Ibn Saud. As they became openly rebellious in Jabal Shamar and in the vicinity of Awazim tribe, Ibn Saud quelled their rebellion at the battle of Sabilla. The leaders of the Ikhwan were jailed and their followers massacred. Finally, in 1930, through a diplomatic exchange of give and take Ibn Saud brought the Ikhwan under a seal of reconciliation. They were guaranteed to receive the religious taxes which were their due, and they would be consulted on such critical issues as whether he (Ibn Saud) as an imam had the final authority to order or suspend jihad. In return for their support, their sheikh would be given the absolute authority to impose Wahhabi Sharia in law courts and mosques. The Wahhabis who had fled to the desert were allowed to return to Mecca. The kingdoms of Nejd and Hejaz were united in 1932 by Ibn Saud as the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He continued to practice the traditional ruler’s strategy of alliance, maintaining 235 and wives and 660 concubines. His son, Prince Faisal, was the child of one of his wives, the daughter of a Wahhabi leader. A British agent by the name of Harry St. John Philby had become great admirer of Ibn Saud for his strength of character in maintaining a balance between cruelty and kindness even amidst mountains of adversity. Disenchanted with the policies of the British, he converted to Islam, changing his name to Haji Abdullah. When Britain appointed him to seek a concession from Ibn Saud in a bid for oil refineries for the British Iraq Petroleum Company, Haji Abdullah instead favored the rival bid of the Standard Oil Company of California, thereby laying the foundations of the Aramco concession, of Saudi Arabia’s wealth and of the kingdom’s future cooperation with the United States of America. Ibn Saud, now in control of Saudi Arabia was trying to relax the rules imposed by the Wahhabis, circumventing the ban on music by introducing radio. It was also a new tool for him to use to unite the kingdom and increase his military efficiency. Since the beginning of Ibn Saud’s rule, the chief qadi, one of the descendants of Abd al-Wahhab by the name of Sheikh Abdullah, had opposed the changes the king planned to implement to modernize Saudi Arabia. He criticized the king for building radio stations, saying that the devil made these machines work. So Ibn Saud took him to the radio station and let him listen to Quranic verses being spoken by an imam in Nejd before letting him communicate with the imam over the wireless. Sheikh Abdullah was astonished, asking the imam if it was really him, and when he recited verses while sitting in Riyadh, the other imam confirmed that he could hear him from 800 miles away, as clear as if the word of God was
coming straight from Mecca. Despite opposition from the Wahhabis, Ibn Saud was able to lift the ban on tobacco by increasing taxes. Alcohol was also allowed in Jeddah to sustain the non-Muslim community. Two years after the inception of Saudi Arabia, some Yemenis began making trouble in Asir, so Ibn Saud sent the army, headed by his son Prince Faisal, to invade Yemen, but a truce was signed and both armies withdrew, signing a treaty of Islamic brotherhood. A year later. Ibn Saud was performing Hajj with his son Saud when three men attacked him with daggers. He would have been killed had not Saud hurled himself in front of his father, receiving a large gash in the shoulder, while the attackers were shot by guards. They were identified as soldiers from the Yemeni army. Two years after this failed assassination, Ibn Saud made a statement of protest against Britain, which planned to partition Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states. In 1939, oil was found in Saudi Arabia, and the same year, Hitler invaded Poland. The Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal was still within the range of nearby German Bombers when Ibn Saud and Roosevelt met on the pier of the harbor in 1945. Their meeting resulted in a promise from President Roosevelt to the Saudi King that he, the president, would do nothing to assist the Jews against the Arabs, and would make no move hostile to the Arab people. President Roosevelt encouraged the plan Ibn Saud had been nursing, to send a delegation to the West to explain the Arab viewpoint on Palestine. Less than six months later, after Roosevelt’s death, President Truman tore up the promises that Roosevelt had given to the Arabs at the Great Bitter Lake, and when he was presented with a report about the fear and anger being aroused in the Arab world by the support President Truman was showing for Zionist ambitions, he calmly responded: I am sorry, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.
Saudi Arabia was in great debt after World War II, and plunged even further into debt even when getting rich with the oil money, for Ibn Saud, in his great spirit of innovation and generosity, funded the projects of a railway from Dhahran to Riyadh, a jetty in Jeddah, tarmac roads and a network of water wells. Ibn Saud’s readiness to change and innovation declined as he grew old, until he began refusing to acknowledge his own national anthem. The old Wahhabi in him was awakening, and he refused to show reverence to a piece of music. The king was 77 years old, almost
blind, and wore thick woolen socks to reduce the swelling in his ankles and to maintain the even flow of his circulation. In the last days of his illness before death, his sons prevailed upon him to delegate powers to Crown Prince Saud and the ministers. The king passed away on November 9th 1953 at the old Hashemite resort at the palace of his second son, Faisal. After his accession in the year 1953, King Saud declared passionately: My father’s reign may be famous for all its conquests, but my reign will be remembered for what I do for my people in the way of their health, welfare, education.
Though his first act was to order the tearing down of his father’s Nasiryah Palace, which was not grand enough for him, to be replaced with a spacious grander palace which would cost millions. His next grand plan was to build buildings for his ministries of health, education and agriculture along the lower end of Riyadh’s Airport Street. In Jeddah, a plan was developed for a tanker fleet. Instead of Aramco carrying Arabia’s oil in their own ships, Saudi oil would travel in ships owned by the SaudiArabian Maritime Tanker Company. A deal between a Greek Shipping Company and Jeddah merchants was signed at the beginning of 1954 by Aristotle Onassis. Aramco was outraged and protested, but King Saud was adamant in his decision to protect and promote this deal. In an attempt to modernize Saudi Arabia, King Saud introduced a female majlis so women had someone to bring their grievances to once a week. He also built a school for girls inside the walls of Nasiryah palace. Egyptian teachers were invited to teach young boys, but they exploited that privilege by filling the heads of their students with ideas both radical and erratic. In 1955, a mutiny occurred amongst a group of Taif army officers who had a plot to assassinate King Saud. King Saud acted swiftly, executing the officer who had concocted this plot, and brought back his old supporters, the Ikhwan Bedouins. They were recruited as his personal guards and called the White Army because they were allowed to wear their own thobes rather than khaki uniforms. 1956 brought news of the nationalization of the Suez Canal by Nasser, and King Saud was not happy, but later that year, when British, French and Israeli troops attacked Egypt, he offered the use of Saudi airstrips for Nasser’s warplanes. A year later King Saud went to Washington to meet President Eisenhower. A pact was signed between the two whereby King Saud would allow the use of Dhahran Airport by the US Air Force and in
return would receive military assistance and armaments. In December 1963, King Saud became ill. His liver was weak, he was vomiting blood and his eyesight was failing. His brother, Crown Prince Faisal, was managing all his affairs and the king’s brothers were urging him to hand over the powers to Faisal, but King Saud had retired inside the walls of Nasriyah palace and refused to do so, guarded by the red-bereted soldiers of his Royal Guard. Finally, in November 1964, King Saud agreed to abdicate, leaving Saudi Arabia to settle in Athens. Faisal became the next Saudi King. King Faisal and his wife Iffat rose to the task of improving conditions for women in Saudi Arabia, who were being oppressed by the man-made laws of the Ikhwans who had been very much in control during the last years of King Saud’s reign. Faisal’s first move was to appoint his brother Khalid as crown prince, offering him the post of prime minister, although it took Khalid a year before he accepted both these honors. Next, King Faisal began his plan to educate women. Schools were built in remote parts of Taif and Jeddah to avoid active protests from the Wahhabis, who had indoctrinated many villagers to believe that educating girls was unIslamic. Iffat met that challenge by quoting verses from the Quran that promoted women’s rights in justice and equality and by reciting the words of the Prophet Muhammad, who said that knowledge is incumbent upon all Muslims, male and female. However, the actual education process in these schools did not run smoothly, for the Wahhabi Sheikh Nasr al Rashid insisted that more time be spent reciting the Quran than studying art and sciences. King Faisal was also caught in a tide of opposition when a Wahhabi by the name of Khalid ibn Musaid incited his comrades to burn down the television station in the outskirts of Riyadh. The king’s forces subdued this rebellion, though one of his nephews lost his life in the debacle. King Faisal’s rod of justice was swift and absolute. When he heard that 12 of his soldiers had ambushed pilgrim buses on Medina road, robbing men and molesting women, he ordered the public beheading of those men. More trouble came his way after one year of his independent rule when his brother Saud began secretly building a private air force, purchasing planes from America, which were to be flown from Canada to Portugal. His secret was discovered by the CIA, and all 23 planes were confiscated by the Portuguese on charges of exportation violation. A couple of years later,
Saud was calling Faisal an imperialist and saying that he would regain his rule in Saudi Arabia. He had gone to Egypt, calling Nasser his dearest of friends. Meanwhile, the six day Arab-Israel war resulted in victory for Israel. Israel had won the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and also conquered the Gaza Strip. East Jerusalem was also won from Jordan, as well as Golan Heights from Syria. Nasser was compelled to mend his relations with the Arab States, and Saud was asked to leave Egypt. Back in Athens, though ill and distraught, he did not abandon his plan to return to Saudi Arabia, but returned only after his death in 1967’ King Faisal sent a plane to bring the body of his brother home, and he was buried in Riyadh. The six day Arab-Israeli war made Faisal change his opinion on America being a friend of Saudi Arabia, for they were still supporting Israel, even after the war, with armaments, justifying their military assistance by the fact that Egypt and Syria were receiving arms from the Soviet Union. Faisal was not impressed, saying that the more US aid Israel received, the more radical the feelings of Arabs grew - a recent example of such a consequence being the emergence of the Palestinians. After the death of Nasser in 1970, when Anwar Sadat took control of Egypt, Faisal befriended him, promising that he would withdraw the Russians if America forced Israel into some sort of withdrawal. Anwar Sadat agreed to this, and as a goodwill gesture expelled 16,000 Russian advisors from Egypt. America did not respond in kind to this gesture and kept supplying Israel with tanks and jet fighters. A year later Faisal sent a message to Washington saying that unless America took genuine steps to secure justice for Palestinian Arabs and to bring about the restoration to Muslims of Jerusalem’s holy places, his friendship with America would be over. An ultimatum followed: America’s complete support of Zionism against the Arabs makes it extremely difficult for us to continue to supply US petroleum needs and even to maintain friendly relations with America.
King Faisal’s oil embargo made the life of every American slower, darker and chillier. The lights in Time Square were switched off and gas stations started rationing sales. Within two weeks of the oil embargo, the European community met to call on Israel to end the territorial occupation. It had already been a month since Anwar Sadat had stormed across the Suez Canal, and he had lost as much ground as he had gained. Syria had also sustained a hopeless defeat. Henry Kissinger had flown to Riyadh to negotiate with King Faisal, but had returned home with the oil embargo still intact. In February of the year 1974, King Faisal convened a
conference in Pakistan for Islamic brethren to pledge the oath of unity, and in March he lifted the oil embargo. Another summit was held the same year by the UN General Assembly, inviting the PLO to participate in its debates on Palestine. Islamic pressure from other countries barred Israel from full membership of, and cut off all aid from, UNESCO. In 1975, the United Nations condemned Zionism as a form of racial discrimination. After the oil embargo was lifted, Saudi Arabia’s booming infrastructure business plummeted. Hotels, steel plants, cable factories and telephone exchanges popped up everywhere. So did hospitals and refineries. Plans for roads outside Jeddah and Riyadh were in progress, as well as plans for airports and railways. Car imports tripled. It was March 1975, and King Faisal was in his palace, getting ready to receive a delegation from Kuwait who were waiting in the anteroom outside his royal office. Ahmad Abdul Wahhab was in the anteroom when he noticed the King’s nephew, Faisal ibn Musaid, appear suddenly. He was about to go and ask the chief of protocol, Ahmad Zaki Yamani, who was with the king, what to do with the prince, when the door was opened by Ahmad Zaki to receive the Kuwaiti delegation. In a flash, Faisal ibn Musaid was the first to enter the royal office. King Faisal reached forward to kiss and embrace his nephew. The young prince quickly pulled a pistol out of his thobe and shot thrice; the first bullet went under the king’s chin, the next through his ear and the last one grazed his forehead. The King was rushed to hospital alive, but he died a few hours later due to damage to the artery in his neck. After his death, Faisal’s brother Khalid became the new king, choosing his brother Fahad as the crown prince. A fortnight after his accession, King Khalid ordered the release of 150 political prisoners, chief amongst them Abdul Aziz and Abdullah Tariki. King Faisal’s assassin Faisal ibn Musaid was kept alive for questioning; since no wider plot was discovered, he was beheaded three months later in the gutter beside the mosque on the main square in Riyadh. Then King Khalid began working toward better welfare for his people by replacing low cost housing, which he called “matchbox living”, with spacious homes. No expense was spared, so impressive houses began to sprout up in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam. Along with the welfare of the people, Wahhabi orthodoxy also flourished, under the strict guidance of Bin Baz, religious advisor to King Khalid. He funded and promoted the Muslim Brotherhood as long as they
did not oppose the king. Their leader was a man by the name of Juhayman, who had left the White Army since people had ceased to talk about jihad in Saudi Arabia and joined Medina’s Salafi group, supporting himself by buying, selling, repairing and reselling cars in the auctions of Jeddah. In 1977, with the help of Bin Baz, he succeeded in obtaining permission from the Saudi jurisprudence for the execution of Princess Mishael and her lover Khalid on charges of adultery. The princess was publicly shot six times in the head in Jeddah, and her lover was beheaded. The next year, bold reforms were introduced in Saudi Arabia on the insistence of Juhayman. In Riyadh, all beauty parlors were closed. Women university graduates were banned from going overseas. Women were forbidden to jog or ride bicycles. An unmarried man and woman were not allowed to ride in the same car, and men and women were separated on buses by means of a steel partition. In universities, women and men were segregated and taught in separate rooms, the women only allowed to watch male lecturers on closed circuit television. Female clerical staff were banned from working in the same offices as men. Juhayman’s reforms prevailed until he became a vocal critic of the king, objecting to the photos of kings on banknotes as un-Islamic and opposing soccer matches as immoral, as men wore shorts to play. Many of his followers were arrested on charges of plotting against the king and jailed. Bin Baz was in Riyadh, and the local sheikhs of Medina convened a meeting with Juhayman and his zealous followers with the intention of convincing them to desist from their zeal. The meeting ended in disagreement and the sheikhs left, furious. Juhayman, fearing arrest, decided to flee. 30 of Juhayman’s Brothers were arrested for interrogation while he himself became a fugitive in the northern deserts. Isolated from his followers, he began to express his zeal in a manifesto. Al-Saud has exploited religion as a means to guarantee to their worldly interests, putting an end to jihad, paying allegiance to the Christians by allowing Americans to bring evil and corruption upon Muslims. The House of Saud are hypocrites, they exploited Islam to entice good Muslims to fight and die on their behalf, but when they had accomplished their worldly ends, they killed the same men who had made them kings.
This letter or manifesto was secretly published and smuggled across the Kuwaiti border to be distributed amongst radical students. His transformation from ambitious missionary to violent revolutionary began when he started having wild dreams.
One evening in 1978, as Juhayman lay in the northern desert watching the bright stars, he felt the spark of epiphany. Deeming himself the recipient of divine prophecy, he thought glimpsed of the Islamic Messiah, the Mahdi, who would come down to earth to correct the problems of mankind. That was when he began to dream of one of his own followers, a man by the name of Mohammed Abdullah Al-Qahtani, as the promised Messiah. Al-Qahtani had dropped out of university and gained a minor reputation as a poet. He was one of the members of the Salafi Group who had been locked up then released in Riyadh. Juhayman, to the astonishment of his own followers, was able to convince them all that Al-Qahtani was Mahdi, the Rightly Guided One, even tracing his roots back to the line of the Prophet Muhammad. He told his followers that an army coming from the North would find itself swallowed up by earth. Further, he urged his brethren to get weapons before the end of the year and buy portable radios so that they could listen for the reports of the angels who would fly down from heaven to defeat the northern army. It was November in 1979 by the time Juhayman’s plan to lay siege to Mecca’s Grand Mosque was finalized. Since it was permitted for the relatives of a deceased person to bring the corpses of their loved ones into the mosque on a bier for a farewell prayer, Juhayman’s followers, pretending to carry corpses, were able to smuggle arms into the mosque before morning prayers. Beneath the shrouds of 70 biers were dozens of firearms: pistols, rifles, Kalashnikovs and magazines of ammunition. As the morning call for prayer began, Juhayman pushed aside the imam and snatched his microphone. He ordered celebratory shots to be fired, shouting “behold the Mahdi” and introducing Al-Qahtani as the Rightly Guided One. His voice boomed from the microphone: The Mahdi will bring justice to the earth. Recognize the Mahdi who will cleanse the world of its corruptions. In a flash, several dozen men, pulling rifles from under their thobes, rushed toward the 25 gateways of the mosque, shouting and cheering. The hundreds of worshippers leaped to their feet, startled. Policemen and a young assistant imam who tried to resist were shot dead. The gunmen shut the doors after them; the holiest of Muslim shrines had been defiled by bloodshed. King Khalid was shaken, delaying his attack on the rebels for three days until the Ulemas could reach a decision on attacking without compromising the sanctity of the mosque. A verdict was issued by the
Ulemas that the rebels should be given a chance before they were attacked. A military jeep with loudspeakers was driven around the mosque announcing: To all those who are underground and inside the mosque, we warn you so that you can save your souls by surrendering. If you don’t surrender, you will be forced to surrender. Since silence was the only answer, the mosque’s towering minarets were struck by tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-command link guided missiles. Day by day the Saudi assault intensified, their troopers wearing gas masks and flinging out gas containers through the khalawi catacombs, stumbling forward through toxic fumes. The brethren did not budge until, after two weeks, their Mahdi was killed by a grenade and they were overrun by troopers entering through a metal door. A pitiful lot they were, their faces blackened with soot, their ragged clothes soiled with blood and vomit. All 63 of the captive Wahhabis, including Juhayman, were executed. King Khalid was grieved beyond expression, and deeply troubled by Bin Baz’s comment that the mosque’s disaster was God’s punishment against straying from the path of Islam. Juhayman was dead, but the spirit of Wahhabi Islam was very much alive in Saudi Arabia. Grief-stricken by so many deaths and looking at the blackened, bullet-scarred carcass of the Grand Mosque, King Khalid lost the heart to move toward liberalism, promoting from then on the doctrines of Wahhabis, the same that had brought about such a great disaster. Jeddah’s cinemas were shut down. There were no more celebrations of Valentine’s day, Halloween or Christmas. Female photos were banned in newspapers. Universities were to devote more hours of teaching the history of Islam and religious studies. Even math and science had to incorporate some sort of Islamic content. The French hotels with segregated gyms were forced to close down the women’s part of their gyms. Coffee shops were forced to segregate men and women. Music shops were closed down. Jeddah’s ancient tradition of downtown street vendors and sweet makers singing songs to celebrate Ramadan was suppressed. TV entertainment was replaced with religious shows. Women were not allowed to walk with their husbands without their ID cards. King Khalid died suddenly of a heart attack in 1982 and was succeeded by his brother, Prince Fahad. King Fahad chose Abdullah as the crown prince and head of the National Guard, and commenced to improve the structures of Mecca and
Medina, spending his personal fortune along with the funds allocated by the government. White marble halls and decorative arches were a part of the expansion to be built by the company of Osama Bin Laden for the comfort of pilgrims. Two years after his accession, Medina’s printing complex was churning out millions of copies of the Quran to be distributed free to all at the yearly pilgrimage. All the Shia activists who had been imprisoned since the riots of 1979 were released by the orders of King Fahad. Meanwhile, orthodoxy was spreading in many cities of Saudi Arabia with the growth of a new group called Sawah—“the awakening”. Zealous sheikhs were schooling young men in their made-up laws of hatred and bigotry. One young disciple of the sheikhs by the name of Mansour even had the audacity to issue a fatwa against those families who celebrated their son’s graduation after memorizing the entire Quran. For his presumption he was jailed, but after two weeks he was released. A year after his release he issued another fatwa against the World Youth Soccer Cup which was to be held in Saudi Arabia, saying it was forbidden because infidels would be competing in the holy land. Mansour was put behind bars again, this time in Riyadh’s Alaysha prison. While curbing insurgency, Crown Prince Abdullah would find the time to visit his specialist center for the separation and rehabilitation of conjoined twins, spending time with the parents of separated twins who had been brought to Riyadh from all over the world at his own expense. The insurgence of Jihadis had been in the air since the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, and many young Saudis had gone there to fight the infidels – leading them was Osama bin Laden. In 1989, when the Soviet Union announced that last of its soldiers had left Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia. He was seen being welcomed into the homes of the wealthy merchants of Jeddah and treated as a hero for fighting the Russians. A year later, Saddam invaded Kuwait and King Fahad, against all opposition, invited the US to free the country. During the frenzy of American troops gathering in Saudi Arabia, Saudi women planned a protest against the ban on driving. 47 women, in 14 cars, made a symbolic gesture of protest by driving on a circular route through the busiest streets of Riyadh, and were roughly arrested by religious police in white thobes with long beards. In the evening, when their brothers and the husbands came to take the women home, they were scorned by the bearded zealots: Weaklings! Don’t you know how to control your women?
Later, harsh measures were taken against the female activists who had dared defy the ban. All the women lecturers at King Saud University were suspended and banned from campus. Religious conservatives denounced
them in newspapers. During the Friday Sermon the loudspeakers boomed with fury and indignation. Bin Baz issued a fatwa against women driving, saying: “The situation of the women is the reason of all these woes that are falling on the nation.” Osama approved the sentiments of Bin Baz, since his own offer of freeing Kuwait with his Jihadis had been rejected by King Fahd and instead, godless Americans had been chosen to fight the Iraqis. His incendiary speeches, along with his promoting and maintaining the Al Qaeeda armed camp in Yemen, infuriated King Fahd. When barbed wire began appearing over the walls of Osama’s house on Macarona Street in Jeddah, and he defied the orders of the Saudi government to take it down and stop making speeches, his passport was confiscated. After the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, he was able to retrieve his passport, and left for Afghanistan. Later, he set up a base in Sudan for his Al Qaeeda army. From his base in Sudan, Osama preached jihad and trained terrorists. In 1994, the Saudi government stripped Osama of his Saudi citizenship, and his assets and bank accounts were frozen. King Fahad even put a ban on his family - the Bin Laden family would not secure any construction contracts if they supported Osama. Osama’s brothers renounced him as a member of their family and confiscated his share of the family fortune, while Osama began a string of terrorist attacks in a fit of fury and vengeance. In 1995 a bomb struck the National Guard training center in Riyadh, killing two Indian officials and five Americans. Eight months later, another bomb fell on the residential complex of Khobar Towers; 19 US Air Force personnel were killed, and 372 wounded. A few days after this terrorist attack, King Fahad suffered a stroke, and Crown Prince Abdullah took control of the Saudi Government. Osama returned to Afghanistan in 1997 to perfect his expertise in the field of bombs and explosives. The most brutal and daring of his terrorist attacks was Nine Eleven, in 2001, when two planes struck the twin towers simultaneously of the World Trade Center. On the second anniversary of Nine Eleven, Prince Abdullah wrote to George W. Bush: God Almighty in his wisdom tests the faithful by allowing such calamities to happen. But He in His mercy, also provides us with will and determination, generated by faith, to enable us to transform such tragedies into great achievements. And crisis that come debilitating are transformed into opportunities for the advancement of humanity. I only hope that with your leadership and cooperation, a new world will emerge out of the rubble of the World Trade Center, a world that is blessed by the virtues of peace, harmony, freedom and prosperity.
The Saudi branch of Al Qaeeda began a series of bombings, while Abdullah began the project of promoting diversity and tolerance for other religions. His first step, in 2003, was to plan a National Dialogue, inviting Shia and Sunni scholars to get together to discuss their differences. Two years later, King Fahad died and Abdullah became the next King of Saudi Arabia. At the very inception of his rule, King Abdullah began to implement reforms in Saudi Arabia. The only holidays celebrated in Saudi Arabia were Eid ul-Adha, the day of sacrifice marking the end of pilgrimage, and Eid ul-Fitr, the sharing of joy and peace at the end of Ramadan. The sheikhs had banned the celebration of Saudi National Day, which was the anniversary of Abdul Aziz’s proclamation of the Saudi State on September 23rd 1932, but King Abdullah reinstated it, bypassing the cleric’s indignation. More reforms followed as he began improving relations with other religious groups and expanding the horizons of education. In 2007, King Abdullah visited Pope Benedict XVI in the Apostolic Palace. A year later he hosted Peace of Culture at the United Nations General Assembly to eradicate misconceptions about Islam and terrorism. In 2009 he called for brotherly dialogue between believers from all religions. The same year, he implemented reforms in education by appointing Nora Al Fayez, a US educated former teacher, as deputy education minister, in charge of new departments for female students. A year later, 25 percent of the kingdom’s budget was being put toward education. In 2011, women were granted permission to vote in the municipal court elections to be held in 2015. After back surgery in Riyadh in 2012, King Abdullah marked the year by dismissing the head of Saudi Arabia’s religious police and replacing him with a moderate cleric. He also allowed women athletes to compete in the Olympics, along with establishing the International Center for interreligious and intercultural dialogue. In 2013, he passed a law making domestic violence a criminal offence. King Abdullah is still ruling, has four wives, seven sons and 15 daughters. 345 executions have been reported in Saudi Arabia between 2007 and 2010, carried out by public beheading. One case of judicial amputation was reported from the same time period. The last reported execution for sorcery was in 2012.
June 27th, 2014 The latest from King Abdullah: He is sending a global appeal to all nations and denouncing the children of insanity (IS, ISIS, ISIL), who are bringing down clouds of tyranny to envelope the entire world. The King says: These terrorists do not know the name of humanity and you have witnessed them, severing heads and giving them to children to walk in the street.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN AHMADIYYA ISLAM
The love we give away is the only love we keep. —Elbert Hubbard
Ahmadiyya Islam was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, born in 1835 in Qadian, India. He belonged to a Moghul family which could trace its migration to India to the time of the first Moghul emperor, Babur, during the 16th century. As a young man he loved solitude and worked for his father in the management of farmland. In 1864, in obedience to his father’s wishes, he went into government service at Sialkot. His father allowed him to return to Qadian in 1868 to take care of law suits in conjunction with their farmlands. That was when he came into contact with Christian missionaries. Noticing their unpleasant propaganda against Islam, he decided to check their arguments against the doctrines of Islam. After the death of his father in 1876, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad devoted himself completely to the study of the Quran and the traditions and commentaries of other religions. While he was striving toward refuting the Christian arguments against the Islamic doctrines, the Arya Samaj Movement had started amongst Hindus. Known for his piety and intellect, he benefitted much from the study of major religions, and became a great scholar of Islam. His famous book, Baraheen-e-Ahmadiyya, was published in 1880 and it became an instant success amongst both Muslims and nonMuslims. Ulemas praised him profusely, including one learned Maulvi by the name of Muhammad Hussain Batalvi. The Maulvi wrote a glowing review of the book to share with his students and scholars. In our opinion, this book in this age and to meet the present circumstances is such that like of it has not been written up to this time in Islam. Its author has proved himself to be firmly staunch in helping the cause of Islam with his money, with his pen and his tongue and with his personal religious experiences. And he has done this service to such an extent that an example of it is rarely met with among the Muslims who have gone before him - Muhammad Hussain Batalvi
After adept research and deep contemplation, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was blessed in 1884 with the revelation that Jesus Christ was not alive, but had died like other prophets. He declared that the Messiah, whose advent had been promised to Muslims, was to be a reformer of nations, and that the prophecies would soon be fulfilled in his own person. His claim to being this reformer was based on his recent spiritual experience, in which the appearance of Mahdi symbolized the coming of the Messiah, who would spread Islam in the world not by sword, but by argument and reasoning. He announced in 1889 that he had been appointed reformer of Islam by Allah, quoting Prophet Muhammad from the Sunna: Verily, Allah shall raise for this community at the beginning of every one hundred years, one who will reform for it its religion. (Abu Dawood, Kitab-us-Sunan, Chapter Al Malahim, Vol 2, page 241)
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was accepted as a reformer and a recipient of divine revelation by thousands of Muslims, including Ulemas well-versed in the Quran and Hadiths. Later, when his following kept increasing, other sects of Islam began finding fault with his modes of belief and teaching. In 1892, during a religious debate in Lahore, Maulvi Abdul Hakim accused Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of claiming Prophethood. For the ten years until his death that followed, he would be repeatedly charged with heresy, falsehood and distortion of the Islamic scriptures. Endowed with the inner strength of purity and patience, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was always ready to defend himself against the barrage of accusations which exposed him and his followers to the barbs of persecution. He was accused by his opponents of being an imposter: How could Allah the Supreme Champion of Islam in this hour of mortal peril to His perfect and last religion, instead of sending the savior as the Promised Messiah as predicted send him—an imposter to rise and destroy Islam. To which Mirza Ghulam Ahmad simply replied: The time was ripe for the Promised Messiah and for no other. If I had not come, somebody else would have come as the Promised Messiah.
He was branded as a heretic, charged of claiming himself to be a prophet and thereby going against Islamic belief, as Prophet Muhammad was the seal of the prophets. This was one false charge amongst many,
since Mirza Ghulam Ahmad never claimed to be a prophet, but he used a Quranic verse as a validation of his defense: And it is not vouchsafed to a mortal that Allah should speak to him except by revelation or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger and revealing by his permission what He pleases. He is High, Wise. (42:51 Quran)
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad expounded this verse in three points. Firstly, revelation means a suggestion or inspiration. Secondly, “from behind a veil” means receiving visions through dreams, or hearing words where the speaker is invisible, and a reformer receives such revelations. Thirdly, some revelations came through the angel Gabriel in the form of revealed books being given to prophets; the last such book was the Quran – this form ceased to be given with the termination of Prophethood in the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Again he was accused, people saying that since he proclaimed himself Mahdi, the Promised Messiah, he believed himself to be a prophet, as Messiah means “the Prophet”. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad explained patiently once again that he had no claim on Prophethood, explaining that Prophet Muhammad had never said Prophethood would be an attribute of the Promised Messiah. The Holy Prophet clearly stated that the Promised Messiah would be a Muslim, bound by the law of the Quran like ordinary Muslims. As a humble servant I am commanded by Allah to proclaim myself as Mahdi.
Again and again, against a barrage of multiple charges, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad rose to defend himself against all base accusations. He wrote down his articles of faith to prove that he did indeed believe in Prophet Muhammad as the seal of the prophets.
Articles of Faith I have not claimed Prophethood, but I claim to be a reformer which I do under Divine orders. I consider anybody who claims to be a prophet after Prophet Muhammad, a liar and a Kafir. So how can I claim Prophethood and throw myself out of the pale of Islam and join the party of Kafirs.
I believe in the oneness of God as all Muslims do, fast during the month of Ramadan, pay zakat, offer five daily prayers and believe in the ritual of pilgrimage. I read the same Quran and believe Prophet Muhammad to be the seal of the Prophets.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad assumed the title of imam, the spiritual leader of Muslims, to guide them on the path to righteousness. In 1894, his followers strengthened his role as a spiritual leader by pointing out that never in the history of the universe had two propitious events happened in the month of Ramadan for the coming of the Mahdi as prophesied by the Prophet Muhammad, for the moon was eclipsed one night and the next day, the sun too was eclipsed. Another sign to validate his claim was the fact that Prophet Muhammad said: Mahdi will appear from the village the name of which will be Kadah—Qadian. Soon, some factions who did not like Muslims began circulating rumors in Delhi that Mahdi had come to spread Islam by the sword. The British Government, in view of their bitter and bloody experience with the Mahdi of Sudan a few years earlier, was greatly concerned. It was 1898 when British officials brought charges of planning an attack on the government against Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. They issued a warrant to search his house, but no armaments were found, as had been suspected. However, their suspicions were never placated and they posted secret police in civilian clothes in Qadian to watch his movements. His mail was censored. The names of all visitors to Qadian were noted and reported to the government. Imam Mirza remained calm during all his ordeals, sharing this verse of the Quran with his opponents: There should be a party from among you who should invite to good in Islam and enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong. And these are they who will be successful. (3:103 Quran)
As an inspired reformer, he told his followers that Allah would bring to perfection His light, making Islam prevail over other religions, since previous religions were incomplete. Jesus Christ himself said: I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you unto all truth. [John 16:12-13]
I have firm faith, Imam Mirza stressed. Our Holy Prophet was the last of the prophets. And after him no prophet will come, whether one of the old ones or a new one. And not a dot or vowel point of the Holy Quran can be abrogated. Imam Mirza laid down a happy medium between the two extremes concerning the Hadith and the Quran. He said that the Holy Quran must come first. It is the fountainhead of the religion. It is the word of Allah. It is the Book which the Holy Prophet himself followed. Besides, there is a divine guarantee that it will be safeguarded against loss or interpolation, as is obvious in this Quranic verse: Surely We have revealed this reminder and surely We will be its Guardian. (15:9 Quran) Say if you love Allah, follow me and Allah will love you too, and grant you protection from sins. (3:30 Quran)
The founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Imam Mirza, passed away in 1908, and his last words were Allah, my beloved Allah. His interpretations of the revelations of the Quran remain an inspiration to students of Islam. A few of his sayings and interpretations are quoted below. And give good news to those who believe and do good deeds, that for them are gardens underneath which rivers flow. (2:25 Quran)
In this revelation God compares belief to gardens beneath which rivers flow. They reveal a secret, indicating the connection between faith and good deeds. As trees would wither away if they were not watered, so faith without good deeds is dead. Faith without deeds is useless and good deeds not actuated by faith are mere show. The Islamic paradise is a true representation of the faith and good deeds of this world. Every man’s paradise is an image of what he has done here below. It does not come from without, but grows from a man within himself. It is his own faith and his own good deeds that take the form of a paradise for him to live in, and its delight is tasted in this very life. The tree of faith and the streams of good deeds are even here discernible, though not manifest. In the next life, all veils that hide from the eye shall be uplifted and their existence shall be palpably felt. The teachings of the Quran tell us that true and perfect faith in God, His attributes and His will is a delightful orchard, while the good
deeds which a man does are, in fact, the streams flowing in the orchard, giving life and fruit to its trees. He is indeed ignorant of the Holy Quran who takes paradise for a place where only the things of this world are provided in abundance. Seize him, then fetter him, then cast him into the burning fire, then insert him in a chain the length of which is seventy cubits. (69:32-33 Quran)
In the verse above the spiritual torture of this world has been represented as a physical punishment in the next. The chain to be put around the neck, for instance, represents the desires of this world which keep a man with his head bent upon the earth and it is these desires that shall assume the shape of a chain. Similarly, the entanglements of this world shall be seen as chains on the feet. The heart-burning of this world shall likewise be clearly seen as flames of burning fire. The wicked one has, in fact, in this very world, within himself, a hell of the passions and inextinguishable desires of this world and feels the burning of that hell in the frustration he meets with. When, therefore, he will be cast farther off from his temporal desires and will see an everlasting despair before him, his heart burning and bitter sighs for his dear desires will assume the shape of burning fire. Hell and Heaven, according to Islamic belief, are the images of the actions which we perform down here. In whatever way may suicide be explained afterwards, it cannot be doubted that it is an act of folly resulting from weakness of mind. After Imam Mirza’s death, his close companion and a renowned Indian physician, a man by the name of Hakim Noor-ul-Din, became his successor. He was active in keeping the Ahmadiyya community together. In 1912 he established a working Muslim Mission in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, he died in 1914 and was succeeded by Mirza Basheer-ulDin Mahmood Ahmad— the son of the deceased Imam Mirza. Imam Mahmood Ahmad, as the second Imam of Ahmadiyya, proclaimed himself Khalifa. In his speeches and sermons he began saying that his father had not been a reformer but a prophet, and that he had been too humble to tell his followers the truth of his divine mission. Imam Mahmood Ahmad was challenged in this claim by Maulana Muhammad Ali, and a great split occurred amongst the Ahmadiyya
community, dividing it into two different sects. The Qadian sect followed Imam Mahmood Ahmad, and the other, the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, established themselves as Anjuman Ishaat Islam. The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement believed that the Prophet Muhammad was the last of the prophets, and that after him no prophet could come, neither one who had come before, like Jesus, nor a new one. The Qadian sect, on the other hand, believe that Prophet Muhammad was the last law-bearing prophet, and new non law-bearing prophets may come after him. The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement justified their split by saying that the followers of Jesus Christ raised him from Prophethood to Godhood, and in the same way, the followers of the Qadian sect were elevating the promised Messiah from a reformer to a prophet. Imam Mahmood Ahmad continued to propagate the teachings of Islam from country to country as far as West Germany, where in 1922 he established the Working Muslim Mission in Berlin. Within 31 years, his expansion of the Muslim Mission spanned over 200 countries, while the mission of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement extended only to 17 countries. In 1953, an anti-Ahmadiyya movement by some Islamic factions resulted in great violence in Lahore, Pakistan. Armed forces were called in and martial law declared, while Lieutenant General Azam Khan tried to suppress the violence. Despite the spears of persecution, Imam Mahmood continued to promote the teachings of Islam for 12 more years until his death in 1965. He was succeeded by Mirza Nasir Ahmad, and the great rift was healed. Imam Nasir Ahmad himself spoke for the Ahmadiyya Community at the National Assembly of Pakistan, and his foundation funded a mosque in Spain. Five years after the start of his imamate, Imam Nasir Ahmad faced a mighty opponent in the form of Jamaat-e-Islami, who, having suffered defeat in elections, started a widespread anti-Ahmadiyya movement in Pakistan. Three years later, in 1973, Maulana Maududi condemned Ahmadiyyas as heretics in his book, the Qadian Problem. An antiAhmadiyya crusade compelled Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to declare Ahmadis constitutionally non-Muslim. Imam Nasir Ahmad passed away in 1982, succeeded by Mirza Tahir Ahmad. Imam Tahir Ahmad was thrown straight into the pandemonium of violence and persecution. Within two years of his accession in 1984, the Government of Pakistan under General Zia-ul-Haq passed a law which banned Ahmadis from proselytizing and from identifying themselves as
Muslims. With a sense of betrayal pervading amongst his fellow Muslims, Imam Tahir Ahmad changed the Ahmadiyya headquarters from Rabwah to London in 1994, and launched the first Ahmadiyya satellite TV channel under the name Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International. From his headquarters in London, Imam Tahir Ahmad nurtured the true precepts of Islam until his death in 2003. He was succeeded by Mirza Masroor Ahmad. At the very inception of his accession, Imam Masroor Ahmad was forced into exile from Pakistan. He chose as the place of his exile the United Kingdom, from where he could transmit televised messages on Ahmadiyya International. As a Khalifa, he led the worldwide campaign to convey the peaceful message of Islam in all forms of print and on television. Ahmadis are engaged worldwide in grassroots efforts to distribute millions of peace leaflets to Muslims and non-Muslims. They host interfaith and peace symposia and present the message of the Quran in its true light of love, unity and harmony. The Annual National Peace Symposium, in which guests from all walks of life come together to share ideas about promoting peace and harmony in the world, was introduced in 2004. In 2009, Imam Masroor launched a prize award for the advancement of peace for individuals and organizations who demonstrated an earnest commitment to the causes of peace and humanitarianism. His Friday Sermon is broadcast worldwide, addressing members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Despite the continued sectarian persecution of Ahmadis, Imam Masroor forbids any kind of violence. In 2010, anti-Ahmadiyya terrorists attacked two mosques in Lahore belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Many Muslims were killed and several injured. Against the brutality of such aggression, Imam Masroor instructed Ahmadi Muslims worldwide to respond only through prayers or peaceful protests. Imam Masroor resides in the UK with his wife, Amtul Sabooh Ahmad. He has two children and three grandchildren. Under his guidance, the Ahmadiyya Muslims are a fast growing community, cultivating the virtues of love, peace and tolerance. He loves walking, reading and gardening and enjoys photography. The Spirit of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad lives on as the long awaited Messiah, the Imam Al-Mahdi, as foretold by Prophet Muhammad.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Organization is funded by the members of the community. Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad’s tribute to the founder of the Ahmadiyya community, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, after his death still fills the hearts of the Ahmadis with awe as they read this eulogy in honor of their spiritual as well as temporal leader: Mirza Ghulam Ahmad—that great man, whose pen was a magic wand and whose tongue was spell-binding. That man whose brain was a complex of wonders, whose eye could revive the dying and whose fingers held the wires of revolution, touching the hearts of his followers with the moral compass of spiritual and religious teachings. Such people who cause a revolution in this world or the world of intellect do not come into this world often. These sons of history in whom it rightly takes pride rarely enter the world scene and when they do, they demonstrate to the world a revolution of sublime character.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was of a unique temperament which is not given to each and every person. By the virtue of his study and upright nature he attained mastery over religious literature. He was the greatest religious thinker of the Islamic revolution. Now his successor, Imam Masroor Ahmad, promotes the same pattern of high thinking in this millennium.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN THE TALIBAN: NO ISLAM
So let not thy soul waste away in grief for them. Allah is knower of what they do. (35:8 Quran)
The Jihadis from the Arabian Peninsula and the Mujahedeen, the warlords of Afghanistan who resisted the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1979, regrouped as the Taliban in 1989 after the Soviets were defeated to fight the pro-Soviet Government. The invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union sent ripples of shock through the West and Saudi Arabia. Both America and Saudi Arabia were anxious to supply arms to this poor nation so they could fight the Russians. The Muslims envisioned this fight as strengthening Islam, and the West saw it as a battle to bring down communism. Money poured into Afghanistan from America in the form of arms and armaments to strengthen the Mujahedeen, while Saudi Arabia opened its coffers of wealth, along with sending their Jihadis to fight the infidels. Amongst these Jihadis, the most active was a citizen of Saudi Arabia by the name of Osama Bin Laden. For several years during the war between the Russians and the Mujahedeen, Osama was an armchair warrior, traveling to Peshawar to bring money and supplies. There was a huge weapons souk outside Peshawar, hundreds of guns hanging inside. Anyone could buy any weapon they liked; the most popular amongst Jihadis was the Kalashnikov. The war still raging between the Soviets and the Afghanis, and in 1986, Osama started building a military base near the Afghan village of Jaji, about ten miles from the Pakistani border, where he would set up camp and several dozen Arab fighters would be housed. The following summer, Soviet jets bombarded Osama’s camp with missiles that landed inside the camp, but did not explode. That day Mujahedeen canon brought down four Soviet planes, Osama gloated, cheering over the deaths of Russian pilots. The story was picked
up by the Saudi press, who praised the Jihadis, lauding them as holy warriors. The Saudis had given as lavishly as America in support of this war, but for Saudis some of the payment was in blood. The bodies of the Arab dead were dispatched in cold storage, embalmed in sweet smelling scents to console the grieving parents that their sons had died as martyrs. After a decade of warfare, the Russians acknowledged defeat in 1989 and left Afghanistan in the hands of the pro-Soviet leader Najibullah. Osama Bin Laden was ecstatic, returning to Jeddah as a war hero. He was received into the homes of wealthy Saudis to be kissed and embraced, presiding over grand feasts with grand stories to share and exaggerate. King Fahad praised him and applauded his efforts to defeat the Russians. Back in Afghanistan, civil war had broken out. The Americans, satisfied with Russia’s defeat, had withdrawn their support, not concerned with internal warfare in Afghanistan. After a decade of armed struggle, fighting had become a way of life for the Afghani Mujahedeen and ethnic factions, as well as regional lords engaged in internecine warfare and war against the puppet Government of Najibullah. Young students calling themselves Talibs, meaning pupils in the Pashtu language, styled themselves as the Taliban (“group of pupils”), and fashioned their own laws to govern and subjugate. Most of them were orphans or came from poor families, the victims of Soviet aggression and taught in madrassas funded by Saudi Arabia. They were schooled to fight infidels and brainwashed into believing the distorted version of Islam which has nothing to do with real Islam. Trained to have long beards and be turbaned at all times, they went from village to village, carrying a copy of the Quran in one hand and a Kalashnikov in the other, demanding that the chieftains put down their weapons for the sake of the Quran. If anyone resisted the armed bandits, the self-styled Taliban, they were considered rebels and ruthlessly shot dead on the spot. Back in Saudi Arabia, Osama was expanding his own organization of Jihadists in Yemen and Jeddah. When news of Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait reached Saudi Arabia in 1990, Osama was concerned for the safety of the House of Al Saud. He suggested that King Fahad should move out of his palace in Jeddah because it was close to the sea and could be easily attacked. Furthermore, he offered his own army of Jihadis to liberate Kuwait from the clutches of Saddam. King Fahad declined Osama’s offer, instead seeking the aid of “godless Americans”, as Osama put it, feeling outraged and offended. Instantly he became a sworn enemy of Al Saud,
The Taliban: No Islam
starting an armed organization called Al Qaeeda in Yemen without the permission of the government. Soon he was making incendiary speeches, and barbed wire appeared along the top of the high wall surrounding his Macarona Street house in Jeddah. He was ordered by the government to take down the barbed wire and stop making speeches against the house of Al Saud. He did not comply, so his passport was confiscated. In 1991, he was able to retrieve it and left for Afghanistan, and then to Sudan as a base for his Al Qaeeda operations. Meanwhile, the Taliban kept fighting the government, but they did not succeed until 1992, when they toppled the government of Najibullah. It was not until 1996 that the Taliban kidnapped Najibullah, the President of Afghanistan, and his brother. They beat both Najibullah and his brother and castrated them publically, dragged their bodies behind a jeep, then hanged them by wire nooses from lampposts. After these brutal acts, the Taliban began issuing made-up edicts of prohibitions outside the pale of Islam. No music, no pool tables, no kite flying. No nail polish, no toothpaste, no television. No beard shaving or adopting the hairstyles of the British or Americans. The women were to wear burqa, covered from head to toe, and banned from working. All girls’ schools and colleges were closed. Back in Sudan, Osama’s business ventures, as well as his Al Qaeeda camp, were flourishing. He had set up a nine room office in the Sudanese capital, from which he ran a trucking company, a leather tanning factory and a furniture making venture. He also owned a bakery and a sweetproducing company. His rhetoric against the House of Al Saud was becoming offensive to King Fahad, so in 1994 the king ordered that Osama be stripped of Saudi citizenship. His Saudi assets and bank accounts were frozen. Despite all precautions against violence, Saudi Arabia became the victim of a terrorist attack in 1995 when a bomb tore apart the National Guard training center, killing five Americans and two Indian officials. Though not privy to these bombings, Osama was under suspicion of aiding the terrorists. A year later, his attempt to assassinate Egyptian President Mubarak resulted in his expulsion from Sudan. No choice was left to Osama but to choose Afghanistan as the place of his permanent exile in 1996, with the intention of launching attacks against Saudi Arabia and America, the latter for abandoning the Afghanis to their own throes of conflict and warfare.
Leaving Sudan and arriving in Jalalabad, Osama sought the protection of Mullah Omar, the one-eyed leader of Taliban. Mullah Omar welcomed him, taking an oath that he would protect him and never give him up to anyone in the face of any threat, reward or pressure. Being an ex-citizen of Saudi Arabia, Osama was not shocked to witness the execution of a convicted murderer by a member of his victim’s family in a football stadium packed with men and children. He was impressed by the orthodoxy of the Taliban, feeling close to home, when he encountered a Taliban member beating a taxi driver who was playing music in his cab. A year earlier, Mullah Omar told Osama, he had received a Saudi envoy and had told him that the Taliban would fight until there was no blood left to be shed in Afghanistan and Islam was a way of life for Afghanis. The Saudi envoy was pleased, which was why new trucks and machine guns were flooding the streets of Kabul for the propagation of Islam. Mullah Omar was ready to lead the faithful to the gates of heaven. When the Taliban took control of Kabul in 1996, Mullah Omar summoned to Kandahar more than 1,000 religious leaders from his newly conquered domains to proclaim himself Amir-al-Muminin—Commander of the Faithful—before them all. To invest himself with more power, he ordered the Prophet’s cloak to be brought out from the most sacred shrine in Kandahar to the top floor of a mosque in the center of the city. Staging a grand show for taking possession of the Prophet’s cloak, he stuck his hands into the sleeves of the holy garment and proceeded to parade around the roof, wrapping and unwrapping the cloak for half an hour as the mullahs in the courtyard threw their turbans in the air, pledging their homage to the Commander of the Faithful. By the end of the year, the Taliban had extended their rule to 22 of the country’s 31 provinces. They announced that their godly government would be known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Only three countries recognized this entity: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. By 1998 Osama had trained around 8,000 non-Afghanis in his Jihadi camps as potential fighters to wreak vengeance against all who had done wrong to Muslims around the world. He set up the International Islamic Front for jihad against Jews and Christians. An official manifesto was written and signed by militant leaders from Egypt, Kashmir, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and the Taliban were given the privilege of declaring war on America to civilians. This was also a threat, indirectly, against the Al Saud, who even after the end of the Gulf War were permitting US Air Force bases in the Land of the Two Holy Places.
The Taliban: No Islam
The Taliban were organizing their own jihad against Shias in Afghanistan. In the middle of 1998, using the new trucks and machine guns supplied by Saudi Arabia, they were able to capture the northern town of Mazar-e-Sharif. On a spree of blood-thirsty rampage, they slaughtered about 6-8,000 Shia men, women and children. Not satisfied with mass murder, they ploughed their way into people’s homes, raping, murdering and slitting the throats of all they could find, regardless of their age, gender or ethnicity. Pressed by the fever of madness, they packed hundreds of victims into shipping containers without water to be baked alive in the desert sun. Movie theaters were closed and music was banned. The Taliban stopped all women from working in schools or hospitals, and if they deviated from the edict of complete coverage from head to toe, they were publicly beaten. Local festivities and new year celebrations were banned, as well as festivities for the two Eids and Ashura, Shia Islam’s month of mourning. Portraits and photography were also banned. At the end of the same year, Al Qaeeda’s suicide bombers launched assaults against the American embassies in Kenya, Nairobi, Tanzania and Dar es Salaam. Their coordinated attacks, within eight minutes of each other, resulted in the deaths of 224 people, while 4,500 were injured. In retaliation, America’s Operation Infinite Reach launched Tomahawk missiles against a suspected chemical weapons factory in Sudan, which turned out to be a pharmaceutical plant. 75 cruise missiles were also fired from US warships in the Indian Ocean in the direction of the recently built terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. The missiles did not reach their intended target and the next day Osama exulted: By the grace of God, I am alive.
Osama was rewarded by the Taliban with a code name Taqwa, meaning reverence for God. In 1999, the UN imposed an air embargo and froze Taliban assets in an attempt to force them to hand over Osama for trial. A year later, the UN also imposed an arms embargo on the Taliban. In March of 2001, the Taliban blew up two statues of Buddhas, both over a thousand years old, in the cliffs above Bamiyan. The Taliban began enforcing more of their own laws on the populace of Afghanistan. Starting from May 2001, religious minorities were ordered to wear tags identifying them as non-Muslims. Hindu women were required to veil themselves in the manner of Afghani women. More edicts
were enforced in July 2001, banning playing cards. The use of TVs, movies, satellites, computer disks, chessboards and musical instruments were prohibited, labelled as un-Islamic. In August of the same year, eight Christian foreign aid workers were arrested by the Taliban on the charges of preaching. Two of them were Americans. A month later, Northern Alliance Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud was wounded in a suicide attack, dying of his wounds a few days later. The most vicious of attacks landed on American soil on September 11th 2001. The World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York were hit by hijacked planes, killing thousands of Americans. The Pentagon in Washington was also attacked. US and British forces attacked the Taliban’s air defense installations and air based command centers in Afghanistan in October of 2001, and in November the same year, Taliban forces abandoned the capital Kabul and Northern Alliance forces took control of the city. In December an Afghan tribal leader in exile by the name of Hamid Karzai was chosen to head the interim government in Afghanistan by delegates in Bonn, Germany. In January 2002, the Taliban capitulated, and two years later Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga (decision making assembly) adopted a new constitution, granting equality to men and women and proclaiming Afghanistan as an Islamic Republic. In November 2004 Hamid Karzai was elected President of Afghanistan. The Taliban began regrouping to fight back, and a year later started a string of suicide bombings. Despite unrest in Afghanistan and terrorist attacks by the Taliban, Hamid Karzai was reelected in 2009. Two years later, on May 1st 2011, US President Barack Obama announced that Osama had been killed by US Navy seals in a covert operation in Abbottabad. The Taliban, in stark contrast to Islam’s message of peace and reconciliation, promoted conflict and warfare, committing the most inexpiable of atrocities, and they continue to do so, ruthlessly and shamelessly. No man but a madman would preach hatred, violence and destruction in the name of religion, turning a blind eye to the evil of bloodshed and suffering. By training orphans and poor students to become murderers and hatemongers, the Taliban are not worthy of the name of Islam, and, utterly ignorant of the true precepts of Islam, they have no right to be called Muslims. Only godless, heartless and conscienceless men
The Taliban: No Islam
could devise such brutal means to oppress women in a manner so savagely barbaric that while raping, beating and torturing women, they would call their actions Islamic. The Taliban are not Muslims, but bigots, zealots and blasphemers, as is obvious from their vile acts during the course of their occupation in Afghanistan, and even in this new millennium they desist not from their vices of suicide bombing and aggression. The Taliban had a network of human trafficking, and in addition to raping the women, they abducted them from all walks of life and sold them into sex slavery in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Their harsh edicts forbade women from being educated. Girls’ schools and colleges were closed. Women were not allowed to leave home without a male chaperone. They were required to wear a burqa, a head to toe covering, and if any part of their body was revealed, they were publicly beaten. One young woman by the name of Sohaila was convicted of walking with a man who was not her relative and charged with adultery. Her body was lacerated by 100 lashes as she was flogged publicly in Ghazi Stadium. More than 600 Somali women were abducted, the desirable ones selected for the leaders of the Taliban and the rest carted away in trucks to Peshawar, where they were kept in private homes as slaves or sold to brothels. Women were not allowed to work except in the medical profession, since no male doctor was allowed to examine a woman. Malala Yousufzai, a teenage girl in the district of Swat in Pakistan, was shot in the head by the Taliban in October 2012 for her courage in speaking up against the Taliban and promoting education for girls worldwide. In the town of Bamiyan alone, hundreds of men, women and children were executed. Most of the houses were razed to the ground and the rest used as bases for forced labor. The religious police of the Taliban scouted everywhere to tyrannize women if they dared go out of their homes to work secretly in schools or operate their beauty parlors, and if caught they were flogged mercilessly. To raise funds for their hateful enterprises, the religious police began charging tolls from the trucking companies, including the heroin merchants who were transporting their share of opium to foreign markets. The wars on Afghanistan and Iraq had compelled the Taliban to leave their safe haven and infiltrate the entire world. Nothing is sacred to the Taliban, rather, their ideology is to create disorder on earth, in violent contrast to the teachings of the Quran and
Prophet Muhammad. The blood of the so-called infidels, those who do not conform to their own made-up laws, is holy to the Taliban, and they cannot stop spilling it to appease the hate-fire at the altar of their souls, burning with the fever of zeal and ignorance.
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN PROPHET MUHAMMAD’S ISLAM
Your face this morning is in the center of my soul, but it was there long since, there from the first moment. Nothing in the world is sweeter than you. —Gabriele D’Annunzio
Islam is as it was during the life of the Prophet Muhammad. It began in the year 610 with the first revelation of unity and guidance for mankind, and ended in 632 with the death of the Prophet. Though after the demise of the Prophet, Islam appeared to rise and shine from continent to continent, it literally and historically abandoned its message of peace and reconciliation, carving a bloody trail of zeal, violence, intolerance and destruction. All amongst the first four Rightly Guided Caliphs, with the exception of Abu Bakr, were brutally murdered. When present-day authors, scholars and historians say that Muslims are returning to olden times, it is utterly untrue. If Muslims were to revert back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad, there would be no hatred, killing, violence or intolerance. Jihad would be retrieved as a pearl well-preserved by the oyster shell of truth, taken again to mean an inner struggle to fight the evil from within oneself. The word martyr would reveal the light of purity, redefining the qualities of a martyr as those of one who removes obstacles from the path of others, helps the sick, feeds the poor; strives toward making peace in the world. When Ulemas-turned-zealots claim they are struggling to revert back to the purity of Islam during the time of Prophet Muhammad, they are in essence reaching out to the corruption in their own hearts and preaching their own made-up laws and rules to oppress women and tyrannize the hearts and minds of the young Muslims till they are turned into robots of hatred and violence and suicide bombers. Prophet Muhammad’s message
of peace and reconciliation is forgotten by the Muslims. It has been substituted by a bloody trail of conflict, tyranny and bigotry. In comparison, if Christians had believed in just one saying of the Christ - If someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn your left - there would never have been any crusades. Likewise, if Muslims heeded just one saying of Prophet Muhammad - If you love God, sanctify your love by loving God’s creatures first - there would be no hatred, no killing, no suicide bombers, and no oppression of women. You have indeed in the Messenger of God a lovely example, for anyone whose hope is in God and the last day, and who engages in the frequent remembrance of God. (33:21 Quran) And surely thou hast sublime morals. (68:4 Quran) Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar. (33:21 Quran)
Prophet Muhammad’s Islam exists in the example of his life, in what he said and how he comported himself with perfect equanimity. Love virtue for its own sake was one of his favorite sayings. He assisted his wives in their household duties and no job was too menial for him; he would milk his own goats and patch his own clothes. He did not mind wearing a patched robe, but welcomed a new one with gratitude. He had no attraction to worldly comforts and deemed this universe a temporary abode. My case is like that of a mounted wayfarer who pauses at noon under the shade of a tree, just to rest for a while, then proceeds on his way - Prophet Muhammad
Prophet Muhammad maintained friendly relations with everyone and greeted all with a smile, forbidding his friends to talk ill of anyone or engage in backbiting. He was generous to his enemies, never taking vengeance for wrongs done to him personally and freeing prisoners at a nominal ransom of whatever each individual could afford. His generosity was extended to followers of all persuasions, including Jews, Christians and idolaters. Equal justice for all was Prophet Muhammad’s motto throughout his life and he lived it, following the injunction of this Quranic verse dear to his heart:
Prophet Muhammad’s Islam
Let not the hatred of people incite you not to act equitably. Be just, that is nearer to the observance of duty. (5:8 Quran)
Hold fast to forgiveness. Prophet Muhammad also lived this Quranic injunction in the example of his life, saying: Whosoever should cut you off, draw him to yourself. Whosoever should deprive you, give him. Whosoever should do you wrong, pardon him. At the battle of Uhud, when he was wounded and fell down, a comrade asked him to invoke divine wrath on the enemy. But he said, I have not been sent as a curse to mankind, but an inviter to good and as a mercy, parrying: O Lord, grant guidance to my people, for surely they know not. He never repaid an evil with an evil, but always held fast to forgiveness. Prophet Muhammad did not elevate himself above others, remembering always the Quranic verse: Surely I am a man like yourselves. (18:110 Quran) He taught his followers the virtues of justice and equality, and that man and woman, master and servant, king and subject, all have their mutual rights. Surely the most honorable among you with Allah is the one who is the most virtuous. (49:13 Quran)
The universal message of peace and reconciliation was an integral part of Islam, and Prophet Muhammad taught that there is not a nation on the face of this earth but has had a divine messenger of its own. Religious reformers were raised from time to time to proclaim the faith of oneness in all religions and Islam came with the same reason to form a common meeting ground for the various religious systems of the world. He further stressed that his followers must refrain from speaking ill of even the obviously false deities of others. Do not abuse those whom they take up as gods besides Allah. (6:108 Quran)
Prophet Muhammad worked toward the amity and goodwill to settle all religious differences by taking what was common to all religions to serve as a foundation of love, unity and harmony. Come to an equitable proposition between us and you. (3:64 Quran)
The word Umma is derived from Umm, meaning “mother” in Arabic. Muslims were believed to have been born from one mother in terms of their intimacy with each other and with the Prophet. The Prophet Muhammad was also considered the maternal prophet, the one who chose the milk of the mother over the wine. The first Muslims who followed in his footsteps were considered to be endowed with the innocence of babes, attaining the heights of spiritual innocence worthy of perfect Muslims. In his works, the Persian mystic poet Attar asks the Prophet to be like a mother, nursing the infantile Umma from his breast of mercy: Give us milk from the breast of generosity. Prophet Muhammad was averse to war, which is obvious in the verse below. Fighting is ordained for you, even though it is hateful to you. (2:216 Quran) And fight in God’s cause against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression. For verily, God does not love aggressors. (2:190 Quran)
The term “infidel”, which is used concurrently amongst different religions as a religious slur against those who deem the faith of others untrue, has altogether a different meaning in Islam, forgotten by the Muslims. “Infidel” in the Quranic worldview means literally to cover up something (i.e. the realization of what we are created for), as in the Arabic connotation. It is the covering up of the inner jewel of our primordial nature that is the egregious error of infidelity. We did send messengers before you. Of them there are some whose story we have told you, Muhammad, and some whose story we have not told you. (40:78 Quran)
Muslims’ belief in God as the lord of the universe strengthened the belief of the community during the life of Prophet Muhammad that there were around 124,000 prophets sent by God on every nation on earth. Prophet Muhammad himself asserted that he was not bringing a new religion, but rather had been chosen as a validator to confirm the oneness of God, the God also worshipped by the Jews and the Christians.
Prophet Muhammad’s Islam
And they say none entereth Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian. These are their own desires. Say: bring your proof of what ye state if you are truthful. (2:111 Quran) Nay whoever submits his core being to God and is good and beautiful shall have a reward with his lord. On such a soul shall be no fear, no grief. (2:112 Quran)
All God’s creatures are promised salvation, and Muslims have no exclusive right to heaven, as was made clear by Prophet Muhammad in his last sermon on the Mount of Mercy. Prophet Muhammad said: everyone who is born is born with a sound nature. It is his parents who make him a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim or a Magian. The true flight of Hijra is the flight from evil and Jihad is the warfare against one’s passions - Al Ghazali The heart of the believer is between two fingers of the Merciful - Prophet Muhammad Busy yourself with acquiring the necessities of life for yourself or for your family in such a way that no Muslim suffers any harm from you nor has anything to fear from your tongue or your hand, and that your religion is upheld by your not committing any sin - Al Ghazali Whoever increases in knowledge and does not increase in guidance, only increases in distance from God -Prophet Muhammad God says: O My servants, I have forbidden oppression for myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another - Prophet Muhammad O My servants, all of you are astray except for those I have guided, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you. O My servants, all of you are hungry except for those I have fed, so seek food of Me and I shall feed you. O My servants, all of you are naked except for those I have clothed, so seek clothing of Me and I shall clothe you. O My servants, you sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you - Prophet Muhammad God says I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself. And if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make
Chapter Seventeen mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me a hand’s span, I draw near to him an arm’s length, and if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed - Prophet Muhammad God said: O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it - Prophet Muhammad
Some Prayers of Prophet Muhammad O Allah, open unto me the gates of Thy Mercy. O Allah, purge my heart of hypocrisy. My conduct from dissimulation. My tongue from falsehood. And my eyes from treachery. For Thou indeed knowest the treacherous glance of the eyes and that which bosoms conceal. I beseech Thee, O Beneficent Lord, in the name of Thy Majesty. And of the light of Thy Countenance. To illuminate my sight with Thy Scripture. To set free my tongue. To comfort my heart therewith. And to wash my body therewith. For indeed, none helps me in the path of truth besides Thee, and favors me beside Thee. There is no strength nor power save in Allah, the Exalted, the Magnificent.
Prophet Muhammad’s Sayings Allah does not see your bodies, but your hearts and your intentions. I have been sent as a Prophet that I might bring to perfection gracious ethics. Allah has sent me as the support of afflicted persons. Among them those children whose supporting and guarding father has passed away and who have been left helpless. The God fearing are those who spend the sustenance granted by God according to the will of the Almighty.
Prophet Muhammad’s Islam
Show gratitude for wealth to the grace of God and spend it to help other creatures of God. Be careful of one piece of flesh in your body. When it stays well, the whole body stays wholesome, but when it turns rancid, the whole body becomes rancid. And know that, that piece of flesh is your heart. To stay on the right path, leave which creates doubt in your heart and embrace that which leaves no room for doubt. Overlook the faults and weaknesses of others, that is worthy of human kindness, and inflict not punishment, for it enhances enmity and gladdens the heart of no one but one’s own, falsely and selfishly. Always speak the truth, desist from causing hurt to anyone and abstain from profanity. Be kind to God’s creatures. Truthfulness guides toward virtue and virtue shows the path to heaven. A Muslim is the one who avoids harming Muslims with his hands and tongue. Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection. Allah does not take away the knowledge by taking it away from the hearts of people, but takes is away by the death of the religious learned men till when none of the religious learned men remains. People will take as their own leaders ignorant persons who when consulted will give their verdict without knowledge. So they will go astray and will lead the people astray. Do no become infidels after me by killing each other. Men and women are allowed to perform ablution together. Every prophet used to be sent to his nation only, but I have been sent to all mankind. If your women ask permission to go to mosque at night, allow them.
Allah commands you deal with justice. Mighty is not he who vanquishes in wrestling, but rather mighty is he who controls his anger. Whoever commits suicide with piece of iron will be punished with the same piece of iron in the hellfire. Whoever takes his own life, to him paradise is forbidden. If meat is brought to you by someone upon which the name of Allah is not mentioned, mention the name of Allah and eat it gratefully. Based on the Traditions of the Prophet and how he lived Islam by the example of his life:
Islam Is Love, peace and harmony. Justice, equality and forgiveness. Reason is the best of virtues. Knowledge is the most precious of possessions. Wisdom is the most prized gift from God to the ones who love truly. Unity in multiplicity is promoted, nurturing respect, humility and tolerance. Courtesy, modesty and good manners are the core values to be practiced by Muslims. Women have equal rights as men and are required to seek knowledge in all areas of education. Muslims are forbidden to kill women even when they are participating in the battle. If a fighting force takes the shelter of women and children, it is not lawful to shoot at the enemy until women and children are separated. All God’s creatures are treated with great respect, kindness and generosity. Islam is veracity in deeds, in speech, in will and intent, in undertaking, in faithfulness. Salvation is open to all religions as is stated in the verses below. Global unity is an integral part of Islam. God said: We created you all from a single male and single female and fashioned you into tribes and nations so that you might come to know each other intimately. (49:13 Quran) Nothing brings men near to Me like the performance of what I have made obligatory. My servant comes ever nearer to Me until I love him, and when I have bestowed my love on him, I become his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his tongue with which he speaks, his hand with which he grasps and his foot with which he walks.
Prophet Muhammad’s Islam
Prophet Muhammad was the most generous of men amongst all Arabs, the most truthful of them in speech—Al Amin. He was soft-spoken, imparting knowledge in his own gentle manner, and in return he was venerated by his followers. He was of a happy disposition and did not speak a harsh word against anyone. He was forever courteous, overlooking the faults of others and never criticizing. If he did not agree with someone, he would keep his thoughts to himself. He was always humble and kept himself aloof from arguments. Umm Mabad, a Bedouin woman who met Prophet Muhammad during his journey to Medina described him most candidly: I saw a man, pure and clean, with a handsome face and a fine figure. He was graceful and elegant with intensely black eyes and thick eyelashes. When silent he was grave and dignified and when he spoke, glory rose up and overcame him. He was from afar the most beautiful of men and most glorious, and close up he was the sweetest and the loveliest. He was sweet of speech and articulate, but not petty or trifling. His speech was a string of cascading pearls, measured, so none despaired of its length and no eye challenged him because of brevity.
Islam is belief in Allah, the one God of all peoples, all nations. Allah is neither male, nor female. Allah does not resemble anything in the whole of creation, and Allah is beyond contemplation. Allah is beyond description; our finite, limited senses cannot perceive the infinite, yet we get to know the infinitely merciful through the light in our spiritual hearts. Islam teaches us to believe in angels, scriptures and prophets. Prophets are people who are sent by God as guides toward righteousness, and righteousness means mercy and compassion toward Allah’s creatures. Many prophets have come to this earth, to different parts of the world, proclaiming love and peace, belief in an afterlife and in the Day of Judgment, and belief in destiny. God is all mercy, the light of His mercy flowing toward us all at all times, if we are but receptive. Our limited intelligence cannot comprehend the all merciful, the infinite beautiful. And yet again, to understand God, one must believe that He is the one and only, the source of mercy. One must have faith that He is eternal, without beginning or end, infinitely compassionate. Absolute is He, not limited by time or place, or circumstances, His love boundless and unconditional. Perfect All. Allah is He, the maker of unity, and the source of mercy.
In essence, Islam is goodness of heart by the grace of God under the shadow of Divine Guidance.
In conclusion, Islam is, like any other religion, a mixture of conflicts and contradictions. Most of the scriptures, brimming with parables, injunctions or revelations, are either exploited or misunderstood. All religions with the intention of promoting love, peace and harmony end up preaching hatred, discord and oppression. No doubt the power of religion is control through man-made laws, and without exception women become the main victims of oppression. Since the inception of major world religions, multiple edicts have been invented and reinvented, with the result that women have been oppressed for centuries and no respite is in view even in this new millennium. This is even more the case in Islam, regardless of the fact that Prophet Muhammad granted equality to women in work, marriage and education. After the death of Prophet Muhammad, the purity of Islam was corrupted by zeal, hypocrisy and an irrepressible need for expansion. Paradoxically, the message of Islam as lived by Prophet Muhammad was abandoned immediately, if not completely forgotten. Each and every injunction of Prophet Muhammad was sidelined, replacing peace with war, usurping the rights of women with invented laws dubbed Sharia. Jurisprudence was fashioned from manmade laws and Islam was fragmented into chunks of sects, each sect defining their own code of laws and restrictions. This book is written with the hope that the pearls of wisdom in the Quran regarding peace, tolerance and compassion may be gathered from it, and that the conflicting revelations be left alone till they can be purged of the soot of lies and distortion.
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Prophet Muhammad’s Islam
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Aaron, 5, 84, 91 Abbasids, 144, 145, 146 Abd al-Wahhab, 149, 152, 153, 154, 155, 158, 163 Abdul Rahman, 42, 159, 160 Abdullah, 39, 40, 55, 60, 64, 108, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 120, 121, 122, 123, 125, 133, 144, 157, 158, 159, 162, 163, 168, 170, 172, 174, 175 Abraham, 15, 16, 19, 24, 25, 26, 33, 68, 69, 70, 73 Abu Bakr, 56, 57, 58, 59, 78, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 100, 108, 109, 117, 119, 122, 123, 127, 133, 139, 140, 195 Abu Dharr, 36, 115 Abu Harith, 48 Abu Sofyan, 63, 93, 94, 95, 115 Abul As, 59 Abul Qasim, 54 Abyssinia, 55, 63 Adam, 1, 4, 19, 44, 73, 102, 200, 207 Afghanistan, 120, 134, 172, 173, 174, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 191, 192, 193 Ahmadiyya, 176, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 206 Aisha, 11, 23, 33, 35, 43, 56, 57, 58, 59, 62, 63, 65, 66, 68, 72, 89, 97, 100, 108, 117, 120, 121, 122, 123, 128, 133, 141 Al Bukhari, 21, 44 Ali, 3, 24, 39, 50, 88, 89, 90, 91, 96, 97, 108, 109, 110, 117, 118, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 133,
138, 139, 140, 141, 144, 145, 147, 148, 150, 156, 157, 158, 182, 183, 206, 207 Allah, 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, 27, 38, 40, 41, 42, 49, 50, 60, 61, 62, 63, 72, 73, 76, 79, 82, 83, 84, 85, 88, 89, 90, 91, 97, 134, 140, 148, 150, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 186, 196, 197, 198, 200, 201, 202, 204 Al-Marwah, 17, 25, 26, 69, 73, 75 Anas, 43, 146 Arabs, 23, 37, 48, 70, 77, 85, 95, 97, 101, 102, 104, 112, 129, 149, 150, 163, 164, 167, 203 Arafat, 1, 3, 72, 73, 74 As-Safa, 17, 25, 26, 69, 73, 75 Badr, 36, 48, 58, 59, 61, 77 Baghdad, 145, 146, 147, 156, 157 Bamiyan, 191, 193 Banu Hashim, 34, 55, 56, 70 Basra, 93, 106, 112, 115, 116, 117, 121, 122, 123, 125, 126, 127, 128, 130, 132, 136, 152 Beirut, 54 Bethlehem, 4 Bhutto, 183 Bilal, 19 Buraq, 3, 4 Byzantine, 94, 95, 96, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 107, 110, 112, 113, 132, 133, 145 Caliph Omar, 56, 72, 99, 101, 102, 108, 111 Caliph Uthman, 109 Christians, 15, 18, 43, 84, 100, 103, 104, 134, 142, 160, 162, 169, 190, 196, 197, 199
No Islam but Islam Constantine, 105 Damascus, 54, 95, 96, 100, 102, 106, 112, 123, 125, 127, 129, 131, 133, 134, 142, 144, 145, 149, 156 David, 5, 84, 91, 103 Duthur, 38, 39 Egypt, 24, 64, 105, 106, 112, 113, 115, 117, 120, 121, 123, 125, 127, 128, 144, 146, 149, 150, 151, 155, 157, 161, 165, 166, 167, 190 Eid Milad-un-Nabi, 27 Eid-ul-Adha, 24, 26, 147 Eid-ul-Fitr, 20, 147 Enoch, 5 Ethiopia, 63 Euphrates, 95, 103, 124, 137 Eve, 73, 111 Faisal, 150, 159, 162, 163, 164, 165, 166, 167, 168 Fasting, 20, 21, 22 Fatima, 24, 53, 55, 56, 88, 120, 144, 147, 161 Gabriel, 3, 4, 27, 57, 178 Garden of Eden, 85, 86 Hadith, 9, 43, 50, 59, 62, 66, 67, 82, 147, 149, 158, 180, 206 Hafsa, 33, 53, 58, 59, 99, 114, 121 Hagar, 25, 26, 68, 69, 73 hajj, 1 Hamid Karzai, 192 Hasan, 118, 122, 130, 132, 145, 148, 149, 150 Hawazin, 40 hijab, 67 Hijra, 38, 56, 57, 78, 89, 106, 153, 199 Holy Temple, 4 Hudaybiyah, 37, 60, 64, 65 Hussain, 27, 72, 130, 132, 133, 136, 137, 138, 139, 141, 142, 145, 147, 148, 149, 156, 176, 177, 206 Ibrahim, 42, 64, 150, 158, 159, 206 Ihram, 71, 72, 73
Imam Al-Mahdi, 185 Iraq, 27, 93, 100, 104, 106, 107, 111, 120, 121, 124, 128, 132, 144, 155, 161, 162, 193 Isaac, 15, 25, 26, 68 Ishmael, 15, 24, 25, 26, 68, 69, 70 Islam, 2, 6, 8, 19, 20, 28, 30, 31, 35, 39, 40, 41, 42, 47, 48, 55, 61, 63, 68, 70, 76, 77, 79, 81, 86, 88, 92, 96, 97, 103, 106, 118, 122, 136, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 145, 146, 148, 149, 150, 152, 154, 155, 158, 160, 161, 162, 169, 171, 175, 176, 177, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184, 186, 187, 188, 189, 191, 192, 195, 196, 197, 198, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206 Israel, 18, 166, 167 Itikaf, 23 Jafar, 63, 65, 145, 148 Jeddah, 111, 157, 158, 161, 163, 164, 166, 168, 169, 171, 173, 187, 188 Jerusalem, 4, 10, 96, 100, 102, 103, 134, 166, 167 Jesus, 4, 10, 15, 18, 19, 84, 177, 180, 182 Jews, 15, 18, 21, 35, 37, 43, 82, 83, 84, 100, 103, 163, 190, 197, 199 Jihad, 46, 49, 149, 158, 195, 199 Jihadis, 155, 172, 173, 186, 187, 188 John the Baptist,, 4 Joseph,, 5 Juhayman, 168, 169, 170, 171 Juwairya, 33, 62, 63 Kaaba, 24, 26, 39, 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 76, 78, 85, 106, 129, 143 Karbala, 27, 137, 138, 139, 142, 156 Khadija, 9, 33, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 64, 156 Khaiber, 64 Khalid, 39, 40, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 133, 159, 165, 166, 168, 171, 172
188 Khalid ibn Walid, 39, 40 Kharijites, 127, 128, 129 Khultum, 55, 108, 109 Kinanah, 64 King Negus, 63, 65 Kufa, 106, 107, 112, 115, 116, 117, 122, 123, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 136, 137, 138, 139, 141, 142, 144, 146 Laila-tul-Qadr, 22 Lord of Power, 3 lote tree, 5 Malala Yousufzai,, 193 martyrdom, 27, 49 Mary, 18, 19, 33, 64 Mecca, 6, 10, 11, 25, 26, 38, 39, 56, 60, 61, 65, 67, 68, 70, 71, 73, 74, 78, 79, 89, 94, 96, 106, 108, 111, 112, 114, 116, 117, 120, 127, 128, 137, 142, 143, 144, 147, 150, 152, 153, 156, 157, 158, 160, 161, 162, 163, 170, 172 Medina, 34, 37, 38, 40, 41, 48, 53, 56, 57, 60, 63, 64, 65, 78, 79, 82, 83, 86, 88, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 101, 103, 105, 107, 108, 109, 111, 112, 114, 115, 116, 117, 120, 121, 122, 123, 128, 130, 131, 133, 134, 136, 137, 142, 150, 152, 153, 156, 157, 159, 161, 166, 169, 172, 203 Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, 176, 177, 178, 179, 180, 184, 185 Moses., 4 Mount of Mercy, 1, 2, 107, 199 Muayiya, 58, 59, 64, 104, 114, 115, 116, 117, 121, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 143, 144 Muhammad ibn Saud, 153 Muharram, 27, 124, 139, 147 Mujahedeen, 186, 187 Muslim, 2, 19, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 39, 44, 45, 47, 53, 57, 67, 71, 79, 80, 82, 85, 88, 91, 92, 94,
Index 96, 99, 100, 101, 102, 107, 109, 112, 115, 125, 128, 141, 144, 149, 150, 159, 160, 163, 168, 171, 179, 182, 183, 184, 185, 199, 202, 206 Muslim brotherhood, 150 Muzdalifah, 56, 74, 75 Najran, 48, 148 Nejd, 149, 152, 153, 154, 155, 157, 159, 161, 162, 163 Night Journey, 3, 10, 27, 57 Noah, 4, 19, 21 Omar ibn Khattab, 36, 58 Osama, 172, 173, 174, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 191, 192 Osama Bin Laden, 172, 186, 187 Othman ibn Talha, 39 Pagan, 67, 71 Pakistani, 183, 187 Pilgrimage, 24, 67, 74, 75 Prophet, 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 11, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 31, 33, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 70, 71, 72, 74, 75, 77, 78, 79, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 97, 99, 103, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 114, 115, 116, 118, 120, 122, 123, 126, 130, 131, 133, 134, 136, 138, 139, 140, 141, 144, 145, 146, 147, 149, 153, 154, 156, 161, 166, 170, 177, 178, 179, 180, 182, 185, 189, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 202, 203, 205, 206, 207 Qadian, 176, 179, 180, 182, 183 Qaswa, 83 Quraysh, 21, 55, 63, 65, 70, 78, 86, 110, 121 Ramadan, 20, 21, 22, 23, 129, 147, 172, 174, 179 Ridda Wars, 92, 94 Rufaidah, 53, 59
No Islam but Islam Ruqayyah, 54, 108, 109 Saddam, 173, 188 Safiya, 33, 64 Sarah, 24, 68 Saudi Arabia, 140, 162, 163, 164, 165, 166, 167, 168, 169, 171, 172, 174, 175, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190 Shab-e-Miraj, 27 Shab-i-Barat, 23 Sheba, 49, 50 Shia, 23, 139, 141, 145, 146, 147, 148, 156, 161, 172, 174, 190 Solomon, 49, 50, 84, 102 Sophonius, 102 Soviets, 186 Suhayl ibn Amr, 36 Sunni, 139, 141, 144, 146, 147, 149, 174 Swadah, 33, 55, 57, 58, 133 Syria, 54, 95, 96, 100, 101, 104, 106, 111, 114, 115, 116, 119, 120, 121, 123, 124, 127, 128, 130, 131, 132, 134, 142, 144, 146, 149, 150, 155, 166, 167 Taif, 31, 40, 94, 156, 161, 165, 166
Taliban, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 191, 192, 193 Thaqif, 40 Throne of the Beloved, 3, 57 Torah, 6, 18 Uhud, 36, 93, 197 Umm Habiba, 33, 63, 64, 118 Umm Hani, 3 Umm Salmah, 33, 60, 61, 121 Urwah, 40, 41 Uthman, 58, 67, 87, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 120, 122, 123, 126, 132, 139 veil, 46, 50, 67, 151, 178, 191 Wahhabi, 152, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 160, 162, 164, 166, 168, 171 Women Scholars, 53 Yazid, 27, 95, 96, 100, 104, 132, 133, 134, 136, 137, 138, 139, 141, 142, 144, 147 Zainab, 33, 42, 54, 57, 59, 60, 61, 62, 67 Zamzam, 69