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The biography of the prophet

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The biography of the prophet

  1. 1. ‫سرية النيب صلى اهلل عليه وسلم‬ TheProphets Biography May Allah exalt his Mention Edited By TheVista
  2. 2. www.islamhouse.comCopyright ©This book has been adapted from The Biography of the ProphetThis book is not copyrighted. Any or all parts of this book may be used for educationalpurposes as long as the information used is not in any way quoted out of context or usedfor profit.This material has been reviewed and forwarded for publishing and distribution by theEnglish language section of the Department of Islamic Resources.Form #: 4606Date: 14/01/1427If you have any corrections, comments, or questions about this publication, please feelfree to contact us at:en@islamhouse.comwww.islamhouse.com 2
  3. 3. www.islamhouse.com Pre-Prophethood Religious Conditions Great religions of the world had spread the light of faith,morality and learning in the ages past. However, by thesixth century AD, so completely were their scriptures andteachings distorted that had the founder or the Prophet ofany one of them returned to Earth, he wouldunquestionably have refused his own religion anddenounced its followers as apostates and idolaters. Judaism had, by then, been reduced to an amalgam ofdead rituals and sacraments without any spark of life leftin it. Also, being a religion upholding a strong racialidentity, it never had a message for other nations or for thegood of the humanity at large. Through mysticism and magic many polytheistic ideasand customs again found their way among the people,and the Talmud confirms the fact that idolatrous worshipis seductive. The Babylonian Gemara (popular during thesixth century and often even preferred to Torah by theorthodox Jews) illustrates the state of the sixth centuryJews intellectual and religious understanding. It containsjocular and imprudent remarks about God and manyabsurd and outrageous beliefs and ideas, which lack notonly sensibility but also inconsistency with the Jewishfaith in monotheism. 3
  4. 4. www.islamhouse.com Christianity had fallen prey, in its very infancy, to themisguided fervor of its overzealous evangelists,unwarranted interpretation of its tenets by ignorantchurch fathers and iconolatry of its gentile converts toChristianity. The doctrine of Trinity, which came to havethe first claim to the Christian dogma by the close of thefourth century, has been thus described in the NewCatholic Encyclopedia. "It is difficult, in the second half of the 20th century tooffer a clear, objective, and straightforward account ofthe revelation, doctrinal evolution, and theologicalelaboration of the mystery of the Trinity. Trinitariandiscussion, as envisioned by Roman Catholics as well asother sectors, presents a somewhat unsteady silhouette.Two things have happened. There is an arrangement onthe part of the exegetes and Biblical theologians,including a constantly growing number of RomanCatholics that one should not speak of Trinitarianism inthe New Testament without serious qualification. Thereis also the closely parallel agreement on the part of thehistorians of the Trinitarian dogma and systematictheologians that when one does speak of an unqualifiedTrinitarianism, one has moved from the period ofChristian origins to, say, the last quadrant of the 4thcentury. It was only then that what might be called thedefinitive Trinitarian dogma one God in three persons 4
  5. 5. www.islamhouse.combecame thoroughly assimilated into Christian life andthought." Tracing the origin of pagan customs, rites, festivals andreligious services of the pagans in Christianity, anotherhistorian of the Christian church gives a graphic accountof the persistent endeavor of early Christians to ape theidolatrous nations. Rev. James Houston Baxter, Professorof Ecclesiastical History in the University of St. Andrewswrites in The History of Christianity in the Light ofModern Knowledge: "If paganism had been destroyed, it was less throughannihilation than through absorption. Almost all thatwas pagan was carried over to survive under a Christianname. Deprived of demi-gods and heroes, men easilyand half-consciously invested a local martyr with theirattributes and labeled the local statue with his name,transferring to him the cult and mythology associatedwith the pagan deity. Before the century was over, themartyr cult was universal, and a beginning had beenmade of that imposition of a deified human beingbetween God and man which, on the one hand, hadbeen the consequence of Arianism, and was, on theother, the origin of so much that is typical of medievalpiety and practice. Pagan festivals were adopted andrenamed: by 400, Christmas Day, the ancient festival ofthe sun, was transformed into the birthday of Jesus." 5
  6. 6. www.islamhouse.com By the time sixth century reared its head, the antagonismbetween Christians of Syria, Iraq and Egypt on thequestion of human and divine natures of Christ had setthem at one anothers throat. The conflict had virtuallyturned every Christian seminary, church and home into ahostile camp, each condemning and berating the other andthirsting after its adversarys blood. Men debated withfury upon shadows or shades of belief and staked theirlives on the most immaterial issues, as if these differencesmeant a confrontation between two antagonistic religionsor nations. The Christians were, thus, neither inclined norhad time to settle matters in proper their perspective andsmother the ever-increasing viciousness in the world forthe salvation of humanity. In Iran, from the earliest times, the Magi worshippedfour elements (of which fire was the chief object ofdevotion) in the oratories or fire temples for which theyhad evolved a whole mass of intricate rituals andcommandments. In actual practice, the popular religionincluded nothing save the worship of fire and adoration ofHuare-Kishaeta or the Shining Sun. Certain ritualsperformed in a place of worship were all that their religiondemanded, for, after which they are free to live as theydesired. There was nothing to distinguish a Magi from anunconscientious, perfidious fellow! Arthur Christiensen writes in LIran les Sassanides: 6
  7. 7. www.islamhouse.com "It was incumbent on the civil servants to offer prayersfour times a day to the sun besides fire and water.Separate hymns were prescribed for rising and going tosleep, taking a bath, putting on the sacred cord, eatingand drinking, sniffing, hair dressing, cutting of thenails, excrement and lighting the candle which were tobe recited on each occasion with the greatest care. It wasthe duty of the priests to compound, purify and tend thesacred fire, which was never to be extinguished, norwater was ever allowed to touch fire. No metal wasallowed to rust, for metals, too, were revered by theirreligion." All prayers were performed facing the sacred fire. Thelast Iranian Emperor, Yazdagird III, once took an oath,saying: "I swear by the sun, which is the greatest of allgods". He had ordered those who had renouncedChristianity to reenter their original faith and shouldpublicly worship the sun in order to prove their sincerity.The principle of dualism, the two rival spirits of good andevil, had been upheld by the Iranians for such a long timethat it had become a mark and symbol of their nationalcreed. They believed that Ormuzd creates everythinggood, and Ahriman creates all that is bad. These two areperpetually at war and the one or the other gains theupper hand alternately. The Zoroastrian legendsdescribed by the historians of religion bear remarkable 7
  8. 8. www.islamhouse.comresemblance to the hierarchy of gods and goddesses andthe fabulousness of Hindu and Greek mythology. Buddhism, extending from India to Central Asia, hadbeen converted into an idolatrous faith. Wherever theBuddhists went they took the idols (of the Buddha withthem) and installed them there. Although the entirereligious and cultural life of the Buddhists isovershadowed by idolatry, the students of religion havegrave doubts whether Buddha was a nihilist or a believedin the existence of God. They are surprised how thisreligion could at all sustain itself in the absence of anyfaith or conviction in the primal being. In the sixth century A.D., Hinduism had exceeded everyother religion in the number of gods and goddesses.During this period, 33 million gods were worshipped bythe Hindus. The tendency to regard everything whichcould do harm or good as an object of personal devotionwas at its height and this had given a greatencouragement to stone sculpture with novel motifs ofdecorative ornamentation. Describing the religious condition of India during thereign of Harsha (606-648), a little before the time whenIslam made its debut in Arabia, a Hindu historian, C. V.Vaidya, writes in his History of Mediaeval Hindu India. "Both Hinduism and Buddhism were equally idolatrousat this time. If anything, Buddhism perhaps beat the 8
  9. 9. www.islamhouse.comformer in its intense idolatry. That religion started, indeed,with the denial of God, but concluded by making Buddhahimself as the Supreme God. Later developments ofBuddhism conceptualized other gods like the Bodhisatvasand the idolatry of Buddhism, especially in the Mahayanaschool was firmly established. It flourished in and out ofIndia so much that the word for an idol in the Arabic hascome to be Buddha itself." C. V. Vaidya further says: "No doubt idolatry was at this time rampant all overthe world. From the Atlantic to the Pacific the world wasimmersed in idolatry; Christianity, Semitism, Hinduismand Buddhism vying, so to speak, one with another intheir adoration of idols." (History of Ancient India,Vol. I,p.101) The Arabs had been the followers of Abrahamic religionin the olden times and had the distinction of having thefirst House of God in their land. But the distance of timefrom the great patriarchs and Prophets of yore and theirisolation in the arid deserts of the peninsula had given riseto an abominable idolatry. Such adoration closelyapproximated to the Hindus zeal for idol-worship in thesixth century A. D. In associating partners to God theywere not behind any other polytheistic people. Havingfaith in the companionship of lesser gods with theSupreme Being in the direction and governance of theuniverse, they held the belief that their deities possessed 9
  10. 10. www.islamhouse.comthe power to do them good or harm, or give them life ordeath. Idolatry in Arabia had reached its peak, where everyregion and every clan or rather every house had a separatedeity of its own. Three hundred and sixty idols had beeninstalled within the Kaba and its courtyard - the housebuilt by Abraham (alaihi salaam) for the worship of theOne and only God. The Arabs actually paid divine honorsnot merely to sculptured idols but venerated all types ofstones and fetish---angels, jinn and stars were all theirdeities. They believed that the angels were daughters ofGod and the jinn His partners in divinity and thus bothenjoyed supernatural powers whose mollification wasessential for their well-being. 10
  11. 11. www.islamhouse.com Social and Moral Conditions THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE Crushed under vexatious and burdensome taxes leviedby the Byzantine Empire, the allegiance to any alien rulerwas considered by the populace as less oppressive thanthe rule of Byzantium. Insurrections and revolts hadbecome such a common feature that in 532 A.D., thepublic voiced its discontent most dramatically inConstantinople by the Nika (win or conquer) revolt whichtook a toll of 30,000 lives. The only diversion of the chiefsand nobles was to squeeze wealth, on different pretexts,from the harassed peasantry, and squander it on theirpleasure and amusement. Their craze for merriment andrevelry very often reached the depths of hideous savagery. The authors of Civilization, Past and Present havepainted a lurid picture of the contradictory passions of theByzantine society for religious experience as well as itslove for sports and recreation marked by moralcorruption. "Byzantine social life was marked by tremendouscontrasts. The religious attitude was deeply ingrained inthe popular mind. Asceticism and monasticism werewidespread throughout the empire, and to anextraordinary degree even the most commonplaceindividual seemed to take a vital interest in the deepest 11
  12. 12. www.islamhouse.comtheological discussions, while all the people were muchaffected by a religious mysticism in their daily life. But, incontrast, the same people were exceptionally fond of alltypes of amusements. The great Hippodrome,accommodating 80,000 wide eyed spectators, was thescene of hotly disputed chariot races which split the entirepopulace into rival factions of Blue and ‘Green.’ TheByzantine people possessed both a love of beauty and astreak of cruelty and viciousness. Their sports were oftenbloody and sadistic, their tortures horrible, and theiraristocratic lives were a mixture of luxury, intrigue, andstudied vices. Egypt had vast resources of corn and shipping on whichConstantinople largely depended for its prosperity, butthe whole machinery of the imperial government in thatprovince was directed to the sole purpose of squeezingprofits from the ruled for the benefit of the rulers. Inreligious matters, too, the policy of suppressing theJacobite heresy was pursued relentlessly. In short, Egyptwas like a milking cow whose masters were onlyinterested in sucking her milk without providing anyfodder to her. Syria, another fair dominion of the Byzantine Empire,was always treated as a hunting ground for theimperiousness and expansionist policy of the imperialgovernment. Syrians were treated as slaves, at the mercyof their master, for they could never pretend to have any 12
  13. 13. www.islamhouse.comclaim to a kind or considerate behavior upon their rulers.The taxes levied upon them were so excessive in amountand so unjust in incidence that the Syrians had very oftento sell their children for clearing the government dues.Unwarranted persecution, confiscation of property,enslavement and impressed labor were some of thecommon features of the Byzantine rule. (Kurd Ali, Khutat Sham,Vol. i, p.101) THE PERSIAN EMPIRE Zoroastrianism is the oldest religion of Iran.Zarathushtra, the founder of Zoroastrianism, livedprobably about 600-650 B.C. The Persian empire, after ithad shaken off the Hellenistic influence, was larger in sizeand greater in wealth and splendor than the EasternRoman or Byzantine empire. Ardashir I, the architect ofSasanian dynasty, laid the foundation of his kingdom bydefeating Artabanus V in 224 A.D. In its heyday of glorythe Sasanid Empire extended over Assyria, Khozistan,Media, Fars (Persia), Azarbaijan At-Tabaristan(Mazandaran), Saraksh, Marjan, Marv, Balkh (Bactria),Saghd (Sagdonia), Sijistan (Seastene), Hirat, Khurasan,Khwarizm (Khiva), Iraq and Yemen, and, for a time, hadunder its control the areas lying near the delta of the riverSind, Cutch, Kathiawar, Malwa and few other districts. Ctesiphon (Mada’in), the capital of the Sasanids,combined a number of cities on either banks of the Tigris. 13
  14. 14. www.islamhouse.comDuring the fifth century and thereafter the Sasanid empirewas known for its magnificence and splendor, culturalrefinement and the life of ease and rounds of pleasureenjoyed by its nobility. Zoroastrianism was founded, from the earliest times, onthe concept of universal struggle between the ahuras andthe daevas, the forces of the good and the evil. In the thirdcentury Mani appeared on the scene as a reformer ofZoroastrianism. Sapor I (240-271) at first embraced theprecepts uttered by the innovator, remained faithful tothem for ten years and then returned to Mazdaism. TheManichaeism was based on a most thorough goingdualism of the two conflicting souls in man, one good andthe other bad. In order, therefore, to get rid of the latter,preached Mani, one should practice strict asceticism andabstain from women. Mani spent a number of years inexile and returned to Iran after the accession of Bahram Ito the throne, but was arrested, convicted of heresy, andbeheaded. His converts must have remained faithful to histeachings, for we know that Manichaeism continued toinfluence Iranian thought and society for a long time evenafter the death of Mani. (Iran ba Ahd-i-Sasaniyan, pp.233-269) Mazdak, the son of Baudad, was born at Nishapur in thefifth century. He also believed in the twin principle oflight and darkness but in order to put down the vileemanating from darkness, he preached community ofwomen and goods, which all men should share equally, as 14
  15. 15. www.islamhouse.comthey do water, fire and wind. Mazdakites soon gainedenough influence, thanks to the support of EmperorKavadh, to cause a communistic upheaval in the country.The rowdy element got liberty to take forcible possessionof wives and property of other citizens. In an ancientmanuscript known as Namah Tinsar the ravages done tothe Iranian society by the application of the communisticversion of Mazdaeism have been graphically depicted asunder: "Chastity and manners were cast to the dogs. They cameto the fore who had neither nobility nor character, noracted uprightly, nor had any ancestral property; utterlyindifferent to their families and the nation, they had notrade or calling; and being completely heartless they wereever willing to get into mischief, to mince the truth, vilifyand malign others; for this was the only profession theyknew for achieving wealth and fame." Arthur Christensen concludes in Iran under theSasanids: "The result was that the peasants rose into revolt inmany places, bandits started breaking into the houses ofnobles to prey upon their property and to abduct theirwomenfolk. Gangsters took over the possession of landedestates and gradually the agricultural holdings becamedepopulated since the new owners knew nothing aboutthe cultivation of land." (Iran ba Ahd-i-Sasaniyan, p.477) 15
  16. 16. www.islamhouse.com Ancient Iran had always had a strange proclivity tosubscribe to the extremist calls and radical movements,since; it has ever been under the influence of irreconcilablepolitical and religious concepts. It has often been swingingas if by action and reaction, between Epicureanism andstrict celibacy; and at others, either yielded passively todespotic feudalism and kingship and preposterouspriesthood, or drifted to the other extreme of unruly andlicentious communism; but has always missed thatmoderate, poised and even temper which is so vital for aheal Your and wholesome society. Towards the end of the Sasaniyan Empire during thesixth century, all civil and military power wasconcentrated in the hands of the Emperors who werealienated from the people by an impassable barrier. Theyregarded themselves as the descendants of celestial gods;Khosrau Parviz or Chosroes II had lavished upon himselfthis grandiose surname: "The Immortal Soul Among theGods and Peerless God Among Human Beings; Gloriousis whose name; Dawning with the Sunrise and Light of theDark Eyed Night." (Iran ba Ahd-i-Sasaniyan, p.604) The entire wealth of the country and its resourcesbelonged to the Emperor. The kings, grandees and nobleswere obsessed with amassing wealth and treasure, costlygems and curios; were interested only in raising their ownstandard of living and luxuriating in mirth and merrimentto an extent that it is now difficult for us to understand 16
  17. 17. www.islamhouse.comtheir craze for fun and festivity. He can alone visualizetheir dizzy rounds of riotous living who has studied thehistory, literature and poetry of the ancient Iran and isalso well informed about the splendor of Ctesiphon,Aiwan-i-Kisra and Bahar-i-Kisra, tiara of the emperors, theawe striking court ceremonials, the number of queens andconcubines, slaves, cooks and bearers, pet birds and beastsowned by the emperors and their trainers and all. The lifeof ease and comfort led by the kings and nobles of Persiacan be judged from the way Yazdagird III fled fromCtesiphon after its capture by the Arabs. He had with him,during his flight, one thousand cooks, one thousandsingers and musicians, and one thousand trainers ofleopards and a thousand attendants of eagles besidesinnumerable parasites and hangers on but the Emperorstill felt miserable for not having enough of them toenliven his drooping spirits. The common people were, on the other hand, extremelypoor and in great distress. The uncertainty of the tariff onwhich each man had to pay various taxes gave a pretext tothe collectors of taxes for exorbitant exactions. Impressedlabor, burdensome levies and conscription in the army asfootman, without the inducement of pay or any otherreward, had compelled a large number of peasants to giveup their fields and take refuge in the service of temples ormonasteries. In their bloody wars with the Byzantines,which seemed to be never ending and without any 17
  18. 18. www.islamhouse.cominterest or profit to the common man, the Persian kingshad been plying their subjects as a cannon fodder. INDIA The remarkable achievement of the ancient India in thefields of mathematics, astronomy, medicine andphilosophy had earned her a lasting fame, but thehistorians are agreed that the era of her social, moral andreligious degradation commenced from the openingdecades of the sixth century. For shameless and revoltingacts of sexual wantonness were consecrated by religion,even the temples had degenerated into cesspools ofcorruption. Women had lost their honor and respect in thesociety and so had the values attached to chastity. It wasnot unusual that the husband losing in a game of chancedealt out even his wife. The honor of the family, especiallyin higher classes claiming a noble descent, demanded thatthe widow should burn herself alive with the funeral pyreof her dead husband. The custom, upheld by society as thesupreme act of fealty on the part of a widow to her latehusband, was so deep-rooted that it could be completelysuppressed only after the establishment of the British rulein India. India left behind her neighbors, or, rather every othercountry of the world, in evolving an inflexible andcallously inhuman stratification of its society based on 18
  19. 19. www.islamhouse.comsocial inequality. This system which excluded the originalinhabitants of the country as exteriors or outcasts, wasformulated to ensure the superiority of conqueringAryans and was invested with an aura of divine origin bythe Brahmins. It canalized every aspect of the peoplesdaily life according to heredity and occupation of differentclasses and was backed by religious and social laws setforth by the religious teachers and legislators. Itscomprehensive code of life was applicable to the entiresociety, dividing it into four distinct classes: (l) The Brahmins or priests enjoying the monopoly ofperforming religious rites; (2) The Kshatriyas of nobles and warriors supposed togovern the country; and, (3) The Vaisyas or merchants, peasants and artisans; (4) The Sudras or the non Aryan serfs meant to serve thefirst three castes. The Sudras or the dasas meaning slaves (forming amajority in the population), believed to have been bornfrom the feet of Brahma, formed the most degraded classwhich had sunk socially to the lowest level. Nothing wasmore honorable for a Sudra, according to, the ManuShastra, that to serve the Brahmins and other highercastes. 19
  20. 20. www.islamhouse.com The social laws accorded the Brahmin class distinctiveprivileges and an honored place in society. "A Brahminwho remembers the Rig Veda", says the Manu Shastra, "isabsolutely sinless, even if he debases all the three worlds."Neither any tax could be imposed on a Brahmin, nor hecould be executed for any crime. The Sudras, on thecontrary, could never acquire any property, nor retain anyassets. Not allowed to sit near a Brahmin or touch him, theSudras were not permitted to read the sacred scriptures! India was drying up and losing, her vitality. Dividedinto numerous petty states, struggling for supremacyamongst them, the whole country had been given tolawlessness, mal-administration and tyranny. The countryhad, furthermore, severed itself from the rest of the worldand retired into her shell. Her fixed beliefs and thegrowing rigidity of her iniquitous social structure, norms,rites and customs had made her mind rigid and static. Itsparochial outlook and prejudices of blood, race and colorcarried within it the seeds of destruction. Vidya DharMaHajjan, formerly Professor of History in the PunjabUniversity College, writes about the state of affairs inIndia on the eve of Muslim conquest: "The people of India were living in isolation from therest of the world. They were so much contented withthemselves that they did not bother about what washappening outside their frontiers. Their ignorance of thedevelopments outside their country put them in a very 20
  21. 21. www.islamhouse.comweak position. It also created a sense of stagnation amongthem. There was decay on all sides. There was not muchlife in the literature of the period. Architecture, paintingand fine arts were also adversely affected. Indian societyhad become static and caste system had become veryrigid. There was no remarriage of widows and restrictionswith regard to food and drink became very rigid. Theuntouchables were forced to live outside the towns." ARABIA The idea of virtue, of morals, was unknown to theancient Bedouin. Extremely fond of wine and gambling,he was hardhearted enough to bury alive his owndaughter. Pillage of caravans and cold blooded murder forpaltry gains were the typical methods to still the demandsof the nomad. The Bedouin maiden, enjoyed no socialstatus, could be bartered away like other exchangeablegoods or cattle or be inherited by the deceaseds heir.There were certain foods reserved for men which couldnot be taken by women. A man could have as many wivesas he liked and could dispose of his children if he had notenough means to provide for their sustenance. The Bedouin was bound by unbreakable bonds offidelity to his family, blood relations and, finally, to thetribe. Fights and forays were his sport and murder atrifling affair. A minor incident sometimes gave rise to asanguine and long drawn warfare between two powerful 21
  22. 22. www.islamhouse.comtribes. Oftentimes these wars were prolonged to as manyas forty years in which thousands of tribesmen came to aviolent end. EUROPE At the beginning of the Middle Ages the torch ofknowledge flickered dimly and all the literary and artisticachievements of the classical past seemed destined to helost for ever under the young and vigorous Germanicraces which had risen to political power in the northernand western parts of Europe. The new rulers foundneither pleasure nor honor in the philosophy, literatureand arts of the nations outside their frontiers andappeared to be as filthy as their minds were filled withsuperstition. Their monks and clergymen, passing theirlives in a long routine of useless and atrocious self-torture,and wailing before the ghastly phantoms of their deliriousbrains, were abhorrent to the company of human beings.They still debated the point whether a woman had thesoul of a human being or of a beast, or was she blest witha finite or infinite spirit. She could neither acquire norinherit any property nor had the right to sell or transferthe same. Robert Briffault writes in the Making of Humanity: "From the fifth to the tenth century Europe lay sunk in anight of barbarism which grew darker and darker. It was a 22
  23. 23. www.islamhouse.combarbarism far more awful and horrible than that of theprimitive savage, for it was the decomposing body ofwhat had once been a great civilization. The features andimpress of that civilization were all but completelyeffaced. Where its development had been fullest, e. g. inItaly and Gaul, all was ruin, squalor and dissolution." 23
  24. 24. www.islamhouse.com The Era of Darkness and Depression The sixth century in which the Prophet () of Islam wasborn was, to be brief, the darkest era of history: it was themost depressing period in which the crestfallen humanityhad abandoned all hopes of its revival and renaissance.This is the conclusion drawn by noted historian, H. G.Wells, who recapitulates the condition of the world at thetime when Sasanid and Byzantine Empires had wornthemselves out to a death like weariness: "Science and Political Philosophy seemed dead now inboth these warring and decaying Empires. The lastphilosophers of Athens, until their suppression, preservedthe texts of the great literature of the past with an infinitereverence and want of understanding. But there remainedno class of men in the world, no free gentlemen with boldand independent habits of thought, to carry on thetradition of frank statement and inquiry embodied inthese writings. The social and political chaos accountslargely for the disappearance of this class, but there wasalso another reason why the human intelligence wassterile and feverish during this age. In both Persia andByzantium it was an age of intolerance. Both Empireswere religious empires in a new way, in a way that greatlyhampered the free activities of the human mind." 24
  25. 25. www.islamhouse.com The same writer, after describing the events leading tothe onslaught of the Sasanids on Byzantium and eventualvictory of the latter, throws light on the depth of socialand moral degradation to which both these great nationshad fallen. In these words: "A Prophetic amateur of history surveying the world inthe opening of the seventh century might have concludedvery reasonably that it was only a question of a fewcenturies before the whole of Europe and Asia fell underMongolian domination. There were no signs of order orunion in Western Europe, and the Byzantine and PersianEmpires were manifestly bent upon a mutual destruction.India also was divided and wasted." Man had forgotten his Master, and had thus becomeoblivious of his own self, his future and his destiny. Hehad lost the sense to draw a distinction between vice andvirtue, good and bad; it seemed as if something hadslipped through his mind and heart, but he did not knowwhat it was. He had neither any interest nor time to applyhis mind to the questions like faith and hereafter. He hadhis hands too full to spare even a moment for whatconstituted the nourishment of his inner self and theSpirit, ultimate redemption or deliverance from sin,service to humanity and restoration of his own moralhealth. This was the time when not a single man could befound in a whole country who seemed to be anxious abouthis faith, who worshipped the One and only Lord of the 25
  26. 26. www.islamhouse.comworld without. associating partners to Him or whoappeared to be sincerely worried about the darkeningfuture of humanity. This was the situation then obtainingin the world, so graphically depicted by God in theQuraan: "Corruption doth appear on land and sea because of (theevil) which mens hands have done, that He may makethem taste a part of that which they have done, in orderthat they may return." [Quraan 30:41] NEED OF A NEW PROPHET The old world was completely disarranged by themiddle of the sixth century and man had fallen to such adepth of depravity that no reformer, revivalist or religiouspreacher could have hoped to put a new life in thehumanity worn to its bones. The problem was not to fightany particular heresy or to its reshape a given mode ofdivine service, nor the question was how to curb the socialevils of any society; for, there has never been any dearth ofsocial reformers and religious preachers in any age orplace. How to clear the contaminating debris of idolatryand fetishism, superstition and paganism, piling up fromgeneration to generation during the past hundreds ofyears over the true teachings of the Prophets sent by God,was indeed a task, exceedingly toilsome and unwieldy. Itwas a Herculean task to make a clean sweep of this 26
  27. 27. www.islamhouse.comwreckage and then raise a new edifice on the foundationsof piety and godliness. In short, the question was how toremake man who could think and feel differently from hispredecessors as a changed an, re-born or brought back tolife again. "Is he who was dead and we have raised him unto life, and set for him a light wherein he walketh among men, as him whose similitude is in utter darkness whence he cannot emerge?‛ [Quraan 6:123] In order to solve the problem of man once for all, it wasnecessary to root out paganism so completely that no traceof it was left in his heart, and to plant the sapling ifmonotheism so deeply that it should be difficult toconceive of a more secure foundation. It meant to create a penchant for seeking the pleasure ofGod and humbling oneself before Him, to bring intoexistence the longing to serve humanity, to generate thewill to keep always to the right path and to sow the seedsof that moral courage which restrains all evil passions anddesires. The whole problem, in a nutshell, was how torescue humanity, then too willing to commit suicide, fromthe misery of this world as well as of the next. It was anendeavor which makes a beginning in the form of avirtuous life, like that of an elect and godly soul, and then 27
  28. 28. www.islamhouse.comleads on to the paradise promised by God to those whoare God-fearing and just. The advent of the Prophet () was thus the greatestDivine blessing on mankind; that is why it has been soelegantly clothed in words by the Writ of God. "And remember Allahs favor unto you: how you were enemies and He made friendship between your hearts so that you became as brothers by His grace; and (how) you were upon the brink of an abyss of fire, and He did save you, from it." [Quraan 3:103] No task more delicate and baffling and no charge moreonerous and gigantic than that entrusted to Muhammedthe Messenger of God (), was imposed on any man sincebirth of man on this planet. And never has a manaccomplished such a huge and lasting revolution as theLast Prophet () for he has guided millions of men ofmany nationalities to the path of justice, truth and virtueby putting a new life in the humanity at the throes ofdeath in the sixth century. It was the greatest marvel ofhuman history, the greatest miracle the world has everwitnessed. The well-known French poet and litterateur,Lamartine, bears witness to the grand accomplishment ofthe Prophet () Muhammed in a language ofincomparable elegance and facility. 28
  29. 29. www.islamhouse.com "Never has a man set for himself, voluntarily orinvoluntarily, a more sublime aim, since this aim wassuperhuman; to subvert superstitions which had beeninterposed between man and his Creator, to render Godunto men end men unto God; to restore the rational andsacred idea of divinity amidst the chaos of the materialand disfigured gods of idolatry, then existing. Never has aman undertaken a work so far beyond human power withso feeble means, for he had in the conception as well as inthe execution of such a great design no other instrumentthan himself, and no other aid, except a handful of menliving in a corner of the desert." Lamartine goes on further to enumerate theachievements of the Great Prophet (): "...And more than that, he moved the altars, the gods,the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and the souls. On thebasis of a Book, every letter of which has become Law, hecreated a spiritual nationality which blended togetherpeoples of every tongue and of every race. He has left usas the indelible characteristic of this Muslim nationality,the hatred of false gods and the passion for the One andImmaterial God. This avenging patriotism against theprofanation of Heaven formed the virtue of the followersof Muhammed; the conquest of one-third of the earth tohis dogma was his miracle; or rather it was not the miracleof a man but that of reason. The idea of the Unity of God,proclaimed amidst the exhaustion of fabulous theogonies, 29
  30. 30. www.islamhouse.comwas in itself such a miracle that upon its utterance fromhis lips it destroyed all the ancient temples of idols and seton fire one-third of the world." This universal and enduring revolution whose objectivewas rejuvenation of humanity or rebuilding of the worldanew, demanded a new Prophethood surpassing theMessengership of the old, for the new Prophet () had tohold aloft the banner of Divine guidance andrighteousness for all times to come. God has Himselfexplained the reason for it: "Those who disbelieve among the People of the Scriptureand the idolaters could not have left off (erring) till theclear proof came unto them." "A Messenger from Allah, reading purified pages containing correct scriptures." [Quraan 98:1-3] 30
  31. 31. www.islamhouse.com Arabia It was the will of God that the glorious sun ofhumanitys guidance, which was to illuminate the worldwithout end, should rise from Arabia. For it was thedarkest corner of this terrestrial globe, it needed the mostradiant daystar to dispel the gloom setting on it. God had chosen the Arabs as the standard bearers ofIslam for propagating its message to the four corners ofthe world, since these guileless people were simplehearted, nothing was inscribed on the tablets of their mindand heart, nothing so deep engraver as to present anydifficulty in sweeping the slate clean of every impression.The Romans and the Iranians and the Indians,instinctually thrilled by the glory of their ancient arts andliteratures, philosophies, cultures and civilizations wereall crushed by the heavy burden of the past, that is, aconditioned reflex of touch not-ism had got itselfindelibly etched in their minds. The imprints in thememory of the Arabs were lightly impressed merelybecause of their rawness and ignorance or rather theirnomadic life, and thus these were liable to he obliteratedeasily and replaced by new inscriptions. They were, inmodern phraseology, suffering from unpreceptivenesswhich could readily be remedied while other civilizednations, having vivid pictures of the past filled in their 31
  32. 32. www.islamhouse.comminds, were haunted by an obsessive irrationality whichcould never be dismissed from their thoughts. The Arabs were frank and unassuming, practical andsober, industrious, venturesome and plain spoken. Theywere neither double-dealers nor liked to be caught in atrap. Like a people true souled, they were alwaysoutspoken and remained firm once they had taken adecision. The Greeks, the Byzantines and the Iranians werepeoples of a different mettle. Accustomed to improvingthe shining hour as a godsend opportunity, they lackedthe grit to fight against injustice and brutality. No ideal, noprinciple was attractive enough for them: no conviction orcall was sufficiently potent to tug at their heartstrings in away that they could imperil their comfort and pleasure. Unspoiled by the nicety, polish and ostentatiousnessusually produced by the display of wealth and luxury ofan advanced culture, the Arabs had not developed thatfastidiousness which hardens the heart and ossifies thebrain, allows no emotion to catch the flame and alwaysacts as an inhibition when ones faith or convictiondemands stirring of the blood. This is the listless apathywhich is hardly ever erased from ones heart. The common ignorance of the Arabs, exempted from theshame or reproach it involves, had helped to conserve thenatural briskness and intellectual energy of these people. 32
  33. 33. www.islamhouse.comBeing strangers to philosophies and sophistry,ratiocination and lame and impotent quibbling, they hadpreserved their soundness of mind, dispatch, resolutenessand fervidness of spirit. The perpetual independence of Arabia from the yoke ofinvaders had made the Arabs free unacquainted with thepomp or majesty or haughty demeanor of the emperors.The servile temper of the ancient Persia had, contrarily,exalted the Sasanian monarchs to supernatural beings. Ifany king took a medicine or was given phlebotomy, aproclamation was made in the capital that all and sundryshould suspend their trades and business on that day. Ifthe king sneezed, nobody dared raise his voice to saygrace, nor was anybody expected to say Amen when theking sent up a prayer. The day any king paid a visit to anynoble or chief was regarded an event so memorable thatthe elated family of the fortunate grandee instituted a newcalendar from that day. It was an honor so singular thatthe grandee was exempted from payment of taxes for afixed period besides enjoying other rewards, fiefs androbes of honor. We can imagine what a state audience of the king musthave been like for those who were allowed to appearbefore him. By etiquette, all the courtiers, even the highestnobles and dignitaries, were required to stand silentlywith their hands folded on the navel, and their headsbowed in reverence. Actually, this was the ceremonial 33
  34. 34. www.islamhouse.cometiquette prescribed for State audience during the reign ofChosroes I (531-579), known as Anushirvan (of theImmortal Soul) and Adil (the Just). One can very wellvisualize the pompous ceremonials in vogue during thereign of Sasanid kings justly reputed as tyrants anddespots. Freedom of speech and expression (and not censure orcriticism, in the least) was a luxury never indulged in byanyone in the vast kingdom of the Sasanids. Christensenhas related, on the authority of At-Tabari, a story aboutChosroes I, passing under the name of The dust amongthe Sasanid kings, which demonstrates the freedom ofallowed by the Iranian kings and the price paid for theimprudence of speaking out the truth. "He assembled his council and ordered the secretary fortaxes to read aloud the new rates of collection. When thesecretary had announced the rates, Chosroes I asked twicewhether anyone had any objection to the newarrangement. Everybody remained silent but on the thirdtime of asking, a man stood up and asked respectfullywhether the king had meant to establish a tax forperpetuity on things perishable, which, as time went on,would lead to injustice. "Accursed and rash!" cried theKing, "To what class do you belong?" "I am one of thesecretaries", replied the mall "Then, ordered the king,"Beat him to death with pen cases". Thereupon everysecretary started beating him with his pen case until the 34
  35. 35. www.islamhouse.compoor man died, and the beholders exclaimed: "O King, wefind, all the taxes you have levied upon us, just and fair!(Iran ba Ahad Sasaniyan, p.511) The horrible condition of the depressed classes in thethen India, who were condemned as untouchables by thesocial and religious laws promulgated by the Aryans,baffles all human understanding. Subjected to it gruesomeindignity, this unfortunate class of human being wastreated pretty much the same way as pet animals exceptthat they resembled the species of man. According to thislaw, a Sudra who assaulted a Brahmin or attempted to doso, was to lose the limb with which the assault was made.The Sudra was forced to drink boiling oil if he made thepretentious claim of teaching somebody. (Manil Shahtra, 10Chapter) The penalty for killing dogs, cats, frogs,chameleons, crows and owls was the same as that forkilling the Sudras. (R.C. Dutt, Ancient India, Vol. III, pp. 324 qnd 343) Unworthy treatment of their subjects by the SasanianEmperors had not been the lot of the common man inByzantium, but in their pride and policy to display thetitles and attributes of their omnipotence, the Caesars ofRome had all the signs of their oriental counterparts. Victor Chopart writes about the arbitrary rule andmajesty of the Roman Emperors. "The Caesars were gods,but not by heredity and one who rose to power wouldbecome divine in his turn, and there was no mark bywhich he could be recognized in advance. The 35
  36. 36. www.islamhouse.comtransmission of the title of Augustus was governed by noregular constitutional law; it was acquired by victory overrivals, and the Senate did no more than ratify the decisionof arms. This ominous fact became apparent in the firstcentury of the Principate, which was merely a continuanceof the military dictatorship." If we compare the servile submission of the commonman of Byzantium and Persia with the spirit of freedomand pride, as well as the temperament and social conductof the pre-Islamic Arabs, we would see the differencebetween the social life and natural propensities of theArabs and other nations of the world. "May you be safe from frailty", and "Wish you a happymorning", were some of the salutations very often used bythe Arabs to hail their kings. So solicitous were they ofpreserving their dignity and pride, honor and freedomthat many a time they even refused to satisfy the demandsof their chiefs and rulers. A story preserved by Arabhistorians admirably describes the rudimentary Arabvirtues of courage and outspokenness. An Arab kingdemanded a mare known as Sikab from its ownerbelonging to Bani Tamim. The man flatly refused therequest and instantly indited a poem of which the openinglines were: Sikab is a nice mare, good as gold, Too precious it is to be gifted or sold. 36
  37. 37. www.islamhouse.com And, in the concluding verse he said: To grab it from me, make no effort, For I am competent to balk your attempt. There was yet another reason for the advent of the lastProphet () in Arabia and it was the Kaba, the House ofGod, built by Abraham and Ishmael as the center forworship of One God. "Lo ! the first Sanctuary appointed for mankind was that at Becca , a blessed place, a guidance to the peoples." [Quraan 3:96] There is a mention of the valley of Baca in the OldTestament. The old translators of the Bible gave this wordthe meaning of a valley of weeping, but better senseseems to have prevailed later on. According to morerecent of the Biblical scholars, the word signifies ratherany valley lacking water, and the Psalmist apparently hasin mind a -particular valley whose natural condition ledhim to adopt that name. Now, this waterless valley, whichcan easily be identified with the valley of Makkah, hasbeen thus mentioned in the Book of Psalms. "Blessed art they that dwell in Your house; they will still be praising thee Selah. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; In whose heart are the ways of 37
  38. 38. www.islamhouse.com them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well." [Psalm 84:4-6] The birth of the Prophet Muhammed () in the city ofMakkah was really an answer to the prayer sent up byAbraham and Ishmael while laying the foundation ofKaba.They had beseeched God in these words: "Our Lord! And raise up unto them an Messenger from among them, who shall recite unto them Your revelations, and shall teach them the Book and wisdom, and shall cleanse them. Verily You! You art the Mighty, the Wise." [Quraan 2:129] A standing norm of God Almighty is that He alwaysanswers the prayers of those who are pious and devotedand pure in heart. The Messengers of God occupy,without doubt, a higher place than the most devout andthe godliest believers. All the earlier scriptures andprophecies bear witness to this fact. Even the OldTestament testifies that the supplication of Abraham inregard to Ishmael met the approval of the Lord. The Bookof Genesis says: "And as for Ishma-el, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall 38
  39. 39. www.islamhouse.com he beget, and I will make him a great nation." (Gen. 17:20) That is why the Prophet () is reported to have said: "I am the (result of the) prayer of Abraham and prophecy of Jesus". (Musnad Imam Ahmad) The Old Testament still contains, notwithstanding itsnumerous recensions and alterations, the evidence thatthis prayer of Abraham was answered by God. Mark thevery clear reference in the Book of Deuteronomy to theadvent of a Prophet. "The Lord Your God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of Your brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken." (Deut. 18:15) Now, this being a prognosis by Moses, "Your brethren"clearly indicates that the Prophet () promised by Godwas to be raised from amongst the Ishmaelites who werethe cousins of Israelites. God again reiterates His promisein the same Book: "And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall 39
  40. 40. www.islamhouse.com speak unto them all that I shall command him". (Deut. 18:17-18) The words put my words in his mouth occurring in thisoracle very clearly indicate the advent of the Prophet ()who was to recite and deliver to his people the divinerevelation exactly as he received them. This prediction hasbeen substantiated by the Quraan also. "Nor doth he speak of (his own) desire". [Quraan 53:3] Again, the Quraan says about the revelation vouchsafedto the Prophet Muhammed (): ‚Falsehood cannot come at it from before it or behind it. It is! a revelation from the Wise, the Owner Praise.‛ [Quraan 41:42] But, quite unlike the Quraan, both the Bible and itsfollowers ascribe the authorship of the Books included inthe Bible to the ancient sages and the great teachers andnever to the Divine Author Himself. Modern Biblicalscholars have reached the conclusion that: "Ancient Jewish traditions attributed the authorship of the Pentateuch (with the exceptions of the last eight verses describing Moses death) to Moses himself. But the many inconsistencies and seeming contradictions contained in it attracted the attention of the Rabbis, 40
  41. 41. www.islamhouse.com who exercised their ingenuity in reconciling them." (Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. IX, p.589) As for the Books forming part of the New Testament,they have never been treated, either literally or in theircontents to be of Divine origin. These books really containa biographical account and anecdotes of Jesus, as narratedby the later scribes, rather than a Book of revelation sentunto the Master. We now come to the geographical position of Arabia,which, being connected by land and sea routes with thecontinents of Asia, Africa and Europe, occupied the mostsuitable place for being chosen as the center ofenlightenment for radiating divine guidance andknowledge to the entire world. All the three continentshad been cradles of great civilizations and powerfulempires, while Arabia lay in the center through whichpassed the merchandise of all the countries , far and near,affording an opportunity to different nations and races forexchange of thoughts and ideas. Two great empires,Sasanid and Byzantine, on either side of the ArabianPeninsula, governed the history of the world. Both werelarge, rich and powerful, and both fought each otherconstantly; yet, Arabia jealously guarded herindependence and never allowed either of the two powersto lay its hands on it, barring a few territories lying on itsfrontiers. Excepting a few peripheral tribes, the Arab of 41
  42. 42. www.islamhouse.comthe desert was extremely sensitive to his regal dignity anduntrammeled freedom, and he never allowed any despotto hold him in bondage. Such a country, unimpeded bypolitical and social constraints, was ideally suited tobecome the nucleus of a Universal message preachinghuman equality, liberty and dignity. For all these reasons God had selected Arabia, and thecity of Makkah within it, for the advent of the Prophet ()to whom divine Scripture was to be sent for the last timeto pave the way for proclamation of peace throughout thelength and breadth of the world from age to age. "Allah knoweth best with whom to place His message." [Quraan 6:125] Yet, in no part of the Peninsula was there any indicationof an awakening or a vexation of spirit showing the sign oflife left in the Arabs. There were scarcely a few Hanif, whocould be counted on ones fingers, feeling their waytowards monotheism but they were no more than theglowworms in a dark and chilly rainy night incapable ofshowing the path of righteousness to anybody orproviding warmth to one being frozen to death. This was an era of darkness and depression in thehistory of Arabia—a period of darkest gloom when thecountry had reached the rock-bottom of its putrefieddecadence, leaving no hope of any reform or 42
  43. 43. www.islamhouse.comimprovement. The shape of things in Arabia presented atask far more formidable and baffling than ever faced byany Messenger of God. Sir William Muir, a biographer of the Prophet (), who isever willing to find fault with the Prophet () and castderision upon him, has vividly depicted the state of affairsin Arabia before the birth of Muhammed which discreditsthe view held by certain European orientalists that Arabiawas fermenting for a change and looking forward to aman of genius who could respond to it better than anyother. Says Sir William Muir: "During the youth of Mahomet, this aspect of the Peninsula was strongly conservative; perhaps it was never at any period more hopeless." Reviewing the feeble stir created by Christianity andJudaism in the dark and deep ocean of Arabian paganism,Sir William Muir remarks; "In fine, viewed thus in a religious aspect the surface ofArabia had been now and then gently rippled by thefeeble efforts of Christianity; the sterner influence ofJudaism had been occasionally visible in the deeper andmore troubled currents; but the tide of indigenous idolatryand of Ishmaelite superstition, setting from every quarterwith an unbroken and unebbing surge towards the Ka’ba,gave ample evidence that the faith and worship of 43
  44. 44. www.islamhouse.comMakkah held the Arab mind in a thralldom, rigorous andundisputed." R. Bosworth Smith is another European biographer ofthe Prophet () who has also reached the same conclusion. "One of the most philosophical of historians has remarked that of all the revolutions which have had a permanent influence upon the civil history of mankind, none could so little be anticipated by human prudence as that effected by the religion of Arabia. And at first sight it must be confessed that the science of History, if indeed there be such a science, is at a loss to find the sequence of cause and effect which it is the object and the test of all history, which is worthy of the name, to trace it." 44
  45. 45. www.islamhouse.com The Arabian Peninsula Arabia is the largest peninsula in the world. The Arabscall it Jaziratul-Arab which means the "Island of Arabia",although it is not an island, being surrounded by water onthree sides only. Lying in the south-west of Asia, theArabian Gulf is to its east, which was known to the Greeksas Persian Gulf; the Indian Ocean marks the southernlimits; and to its west is Red Sea which was called SinusArabicus or Arabian Gulf by the Greeks and Latins andBahr Qulzum by the ancient Arabs. The northern boundryis not well-defined, but may be considered an imaginaryline drawn due east from the head of the Gulf of al-Aqabah in the Red Sea to the mouth of the Euphrates. Arab geographers have divided the country into fiveregions:(1) Hijaz extends from Aila (al-Aqabah) to Yemen and hasbeen so named because the range of mountains runningparallel to the western coast separates the low coastal beltof Tihama from Najd(2) Tihama inside the inkier range is a plateau extendingto the foothills(3) Yemen, south of Hijaz, occupies the south-west cornerof Arabia 45
  46. 46. www.islamhouse.com(4) Najd, the north central plateau, extends from themountain ranges of Hijaz in the west to the deserts ofBahrain in the east and encompasses a number of desertsand mountain ranges(5) Aruz which is bounded by Bahrain to its east andHijaz to its west. Lying between Yemen and Najd it wasalso known as Yamamah. THE LAND AND ITS PEOPLE One of the driest and hottest countries of the world,ninety percent of Arabia is made up of barren desert. Thegeological and physical features of the land along with itsclimatic conditions have kept its population, in the daysgone by and also in the present time, to the minimum andhindered the flowering of large civilizations and empires.The nomadic life of the desert tribes, ruggedindividualism of the people and unrestrained tribalwarfare have tended to limit the settled population to theareas where there is abundance of rainfall or water isavailable on the surface of land in the shape of springs orponds or is found nearer the surface of the earth. TheBedouins dig deep wells in the ground. The way of life inArabia is, so to say, dictated by the availability of water;nomadic tribes continually move about in the desert insearch of water. Wherever verdant land is found, thetribes go seeking pastures but they are never bound to the 46
  47. 47. www.islamhouse.comland like the tillers of the soil. They stay over a pasture oroasis so long as they can graze their flocks of sheep, goatsand camels and then break up their camps to search outnew pastures. Life in the desert was hard and filled with danger. TheBedouin felt bound to the family and to the clan, on whichdepended his existence in the arid desert; loyalty to thetribe meant for him the same life-long alliance as othersfeel for the nation and state. His life was unstable andvagrant; like the desert, he knew not ease nor comfort; andunderstood only the language of power, of might. TheBedouin knew no moral code— no legal or religioussanction—nothing save the traditional sentiment of hisown and the tribes honor. In short, it was a life thatalways brought about hardship and trouble for him andsowed the seeds of danger for the neighboring sedentarypopulations. The desert tribes of Arabia were engaged in endlessstrife amongst themselves and made incursions into thesettled lands around them. At the same time, the Arabsdisplayed a boundless loyalty to their tribes andtraditions, were magnanimously hospitable, honored thetreaties, were faithful friends and dutifully met theobligations of tribal customs. All these traits of the Arabcharacter are amply illustrated by their forceful andelegant literature, both in prose and poetry, proverbs,metaphors, simile and fables. 47
  48. 48. www.islamhouse.com CULTURAL CENTERS In places where there were sufficient periodic rains orwater was available in wells or springs settlements used tospring up or the nomads came together during seasonalfairs and festivals. While such get-togethers exerted acivilizing influence on the life of the Bedouins, theagricultural settlements reflected their specificcharacteristics depending on climatic conditions andeconomic and occupational features of the sedentarypopulations. Accordingly, Makkah had a peculiar culturaldevelopment as had other settlements like Yathrib andHira their own distinguishing cultural features. Yemenwas culturally the most developed region in the countryowing to its long history and political developments in therecent past. Because of its suitable climate, Yemen hadmade rapid strides in cultivation of cereals, animalhusbandry, quarry of minerals and construction of fortsand palaces. It had commercial relations with Iraq, Syriaand Africa and imported different commodities needed byit. ETHNIC DIVISIONS Arab historians as well as old traditions of the land holdthat the people of Arabia can be categorized in three broaddivisions. The first of these were the Arab Baidah (extinct 48
  49. 49. www.islamhouse.comArabs) who populated the country but ceased to existbefore the advent of Islam. The next were the ArabAr’ibah (Arabian Arabs) or Banu Qahtan who replacedthe Arab Baidah and the third were the ArabMustarabah (Arabicized Arabs) or the progeny of Ishmaelwhich settled in Hijaz. The line of demarcation drawnaccording to racial division of the Arab stock makes adistinction between those descending from Qahtan andAdnan; the former are held to be Yemenites or southernArabs while the latter had settled in Hijaz. Arabgenealogists further divide the Adnan into two sub-groups which they term as Rabia and Mudar. There hadbeen a marked rivalry from the distant past between theQahtan and the Adnan just as the Rabia and the Mudarhad been hostile to each other. However, the historianstrace the origin of the Qahtan to a remoter past fromwhich the Adnan branched off at a later time and learnedArabic vernacular from the former. It is held that theAdnan were the offspring of Ishmael (Ismail) who settledin Hijaz after naturalization. Arab genealogists give great weight to these racialclassifications which also find a confirmation in theattitude of Iranians in the olden times. The Iranian generalRustam had admonished his courtiers who had deridedMughira b. Shuba and looked down upon him for havingpresented himself as the envoy of Muslims in tatteredclothes, Rustam had then said to his counselors: "You are 49
  50. 50. www.islamhouse.comall fools....The Arabs give little importance to their dressand food but are vigilant about their lineage and family." LINGUISTIC UNITY Multiplicity of dialects and languages should not havebeen at all surprising in a country so big as Arabia(actually, equal to a sub-continent), divided into north andsouth, not only by the trackless desert, but also by therivalry of kindred races and clanish patriotism of apassionate, chauvinistic type, affording but littleopportunity for intermixing and unification of thecountrys population. The tribes living in the frontierregions close to Iranian and Byzantine empires were, quitenaturally, open to influences of alien elements. All thesefactors have given birth to numerous languages in Europeand the Indian subcontinent. In India alone, fifteenlanguages have been officially recognized by theConstitution of India while there are still people who haveto speak in an official language other than their ownmother tongue or take recourse to English for beingunderstood by others. But, the Arabian Peninsula has had, despite its vastnessand proliferation of tribes, a common language ever sincethe rise of Islam. Arabic has been the common linguafranca of the Bedouins living in the deserts as well as ofthe sedentary and cultured populations like the Qahtan 50
  51. 51. www.islamhouse.comand Adnan. Some local variations in the dialects ofvarious regions arising from differences of tones andaccents, wide distances and diversity of physical andgeographical conditions could not be helped, yet there hasalways been a linguistic uniformity which has made theQuran intelligible to all. It has also been helpful in therapid diffusion of Islam to the far-flung tribes of Arabia. ARABIA IN ANCIENT HISTORY Archaeological excavations show existence of humanhabitation in Arabia during the earliest period of StoneAge. These earliest remains pertain to Chellean period ofPaleolithic epoch. The people of Arabia mentioned in theOld Testament throw light on the relations between theArabs and ancient Hebrews between 750 to 200 B.C.Similarly, Talmud also refers to the Arabs. Josephus (37—100 B.C.) gives some valuable historical and geographicaldetails about the Arabs and Nabataeans. There are manymore Greek and Latin writings of pre-Islamic era,enumerating the tribes living in the Peninsula and givingtheir geographical locations and historical details, which,notwithstanding the mistakes and inconsistencies in them,are inestimable sources of information about ancientArabia. Alexandria was also one of those importantcommercial centers of antiquity which had taken a keeninterest in collecting data about Arabia, its people and the 51
  52. 52. www.islamhouse.comcommodities produced in that country for commercialpurposes. The classical writers first to mention the Arabians in theGreek literature were Aeschylus (525-465 B. C.) andHerodotus (484-425 B. C.). Several other writers of theclassical period have left an account of Arabia and itsinhabitants, of these, Claudius Ptolemaeus of Alexandriawas an eminent geographer of the second century, whoseAlmagest occupied an important place in the curriculumof Arabic schools. Christian sources also containconsiderable details about Arabia during the pre-Islamicand early Islamic era although these were primarilywritten to describe Christianity and its missionaryactivities in that country. The numerous references made to the Ereb in the OldTestament are synonymous with the nomadic tribes ofArabia since the word means desert in Semitic and thecharacteristics of the people described therein apply to theBedouins. Similarly, the Arabs mentioned in the writingsof the Greeks and Romans as well as in the NewTestament were Bedouins who used to make plunderingraids on the frontier towns of Roman and Byzantineempires, despoiled the caravans and imposed extortionatecharges on the traders and wayfarers passing throughtheir territories. Diodorus Siculus, a classical writer ofSicily in the second half of the first century B.C., affirmsthat the Arabians are "Self reliant and independence- 52
  53. 53. www.islamhouse.comloving, like to live in the open desert and highly prize andvalue their liberty." The Greek historian Herodotus (484-425 B. C.) also makes a similar remark about them. "Theyrevolt against every power," he says, "which seeks tocontrol their freedom or demean them." The passionateattachment of the Arabs to their personal freedom hadbeen admired by almost all the Greek and Latin writers. The acquaintance of the Arabs with the Indians and theircommercial and cultural relations which India began inthe days much before the advent of Islam and theirconquest of India. Modern researches on the subject showthat of all the Asiatic countries, India was closest to,Arabia and well-acquainted with it. 53
  54. 54. www.islamhouse.com EARLIER REVEALED RELIGIONS IN ARABIA Arabia had been the birth-place of several Prophets ofGod () in the bygone times. The Quraan says: "And make mention (O Muhammed) of the brother of Aad when he warned his folk among the wind- curved sandhills—and verily warners came and went before and after him—saying: Serve none but Allah. Lo! I fear for you the doom of a tremendous Day. [Quraan 46:21] Prophet Hud () was sent to the Aad; a people,according to historians, belonging to the Arab Baidahwho lived in a tract of white or reddish sand blown intohill banks or dunes and covering a vast area to the south-west of al-Rube al-Khali (the vacant quarter) nearHadramaut. This region has no habitation and is void ofthe breath of life, but it was a verdant land in the ancienttimes, with flourishing towns inhabited by a people ofgigantic strength and stature. The whole area wasconsumed by a fearful and roaring wind which covered itwith sand dunes. The Quraanic verse quoted above shows that theProphet Hud () was not the only Messenger of God sentto the ancient Arabs of this area as many more warnerscame and went before him. 54
  55. 55. www.islamhouse.com Salih () was another Arabian Prophet sent to the peoplecalled Thamud who lived in al-Hijr situated betweenTabuk and Hijaz. Prophet Ismail () was brought up inMakkah, and he died in the same city. If we extend thefrontiers of the Arabian Peninsula northwards to includeMidian on the borders of Syria, Prophet Shuaib () wouldalso be reckoned as an Arabian Prophet (). The historianAbul Fida says that Midianites were Arabs, living inMidian near Maan, which is adjacent to the Sea of Lut(Dead Sea) in Syria on the frontier of Hijaz. The Midianitesflourished after the downfall of the people of Lut. Ancient Arabia had been the cradle of many a civilizedand flourishing people to whom God had sent HisProphets. But all of them were either destroyed because oftheir evil ways or became strangers in their ownhomeland, or were forced to seek new homes. TheProphets of God born in the lands far away hadsometimes to seek refuge in Arabia from the despotickings of their lands. Ibrahim (Abraham) () had migratedto Makkah and Moses () had to flee to Midian. Followersof other religions, too, had to seek shelter in Arabia. TheJews, when persecuted by the Romans, had settled inYemen and Yathrib while several Christian sects harassedby the Byzantine Emperors had migrated to Najran. 55
  56. 56. www.islamhouse.com Ismail in Makkah The patriarch Ibrahim (Abraham) , came down to thevalley of Makkah surrounded by mountains, naked rocksand bare and rugged crags. Nothing to sustain life, neitherwater nor verdure, nor food grains, was to be found there.He had with him his wife Hajjar (Hagar) and their sonIsmail (Ishmael) . Ibrahim () had wandered through thedeserts of Arabia in order to move away from the wide-spread heathen cult of idol-worship and to set up a centrefor paying homage to the One and Only God where hecould invite others to bow down before the Lord of theworld. He wanted to lay the foundation of a lighthouse ofguidance, a sanctuary of peace which should become theradiating centre of true monotheism, faith andrighteousness! God blessed the sincerity of Ibrahim () and the dryvalley of this wild country. Ibrahim () had left his wifeand his infant son in this inhospitable territory. Here, inthe midst of rugged hills, the Master of all the worldsmanifested His grace by causing water to issue forth fromthe earth which is called the well of Zamzam to this day. When Ismail () was a few years old, Ibrahim () wentto visit his family in Makkah. Ibrahim () now made uphis mind to sacrifice Ismail for the sake of God, for theLord had commanded him in a dream: Offer up Your son 56
  57. 57. www.islamhouse.comIsmail. Obedient to the Lord as he was, Isma’il at onceagreed to have his throat cut by his father. But, God savedIsma’il, and instituted the day of great sacrifice, in orderto commemorate the event for all times, since, he wasdestined to help Ibrahim () in his mission and becomethe progenitor of the last Prophet () as well as of thenation charged to disseminate the message of God and tostruggle for it to the end of time. Ibrahim () came back to Makkah again and assisted byhis son Ismail (), built the House of God. While thefather and the son occupied themselves in the work, theyalso beseeched God to confer His grace; cause them to liveas well as die in Islam; and help their progeny to keep awatch over their patrimony of monotheism, not only byprotecting their mission against every risk or peril but alsoby becoming its standard-bearers and preachers, bravingevery danger and sacrificing everything for its sake untiltheir call reached the farthest corner of the world. Theyalso supplicated God to raise up a Prophet amongst theiroffsprings, who should renovate and revive the summonsof Ibrahim () and bring to completion the task initiatedby him. "And when Ibrahim and Ismael were raising the foundations of the House, (Abraham prayed); Our Lord! Accept from us (this duty). Lo ! You, only You, art the Hearer, the Knower. 57
  58. 58. www.islamhouse.com "Our Lord ! and make us submissive unto You and of our seed a nation submissive unto You, and show us our ways of worship, and relent toward us. Lo! You, only You, are the Relenting, the Merciful. "Our Lord! And raise up in their midst a messenger from among them who shall recite unto them Your revelations, and shall instruct them in the Scripture and in wisdom and shall make them grow. Lo! You, only You, are the Mighty, the Wise." [Quraan 2:127-29] The prayer sent up by Ibrahim () included the requestthat the House he was constructing might become asanctuary of peace and God might keep his progeny awayfrom idol worship. Ibrahim held nothing more inabomination than idolatrousness, nor deemed anythingmore fraught with danger for his progeny, for he knew thefate of earlier idolatrous nations. He was aware how thegreat Prophets of God had earlier struggled and foughtthis evil throughout their lives, but in no long time aftertheir departure from the world their people were againmisled into fetishism by devils advocates disguised aspromoters of faith. Ibrahim () had implored the Lord to bless hisdescendants with his own spirit of struggle against theevil of pantheism and iconolatry. He wanted his heirs tocarry into their thoughts how he had to strive all his life 58
  59. 59. www.islamhouse.comfor the sake of Truth and Faith; how he had to bid farewellto his hearth and home; realize why he had incurred thewrath of his idolatrous father; and appreciate the wisdombehind his making a selection of that valley, unbelievablybare with no scrap of soil, sheer from top to bottom andjagged and sharp for their habitation. He wanted them tounderstand why he had preferred that wilderness,holding no prospects of progress and civilization, oververdant lands and flourishing towns and centers of trade,arts and commerce where one could easily meet oneswishes. Ibrahim had invoked the blessings of God on his sons sothat they might be esteemed and adored by all the nationsof the world; that the people of every nation and countrymight become attached to his children; that they shouldcome from every nook and corner of the world to payhomage to his posterity and thus become a means ofsatisfying their needs in that barren country. Allah says: "And when Ibrahim said: My Lord! Make safe this territory, and preserve me and my sons from serving idols. "My Lord! Lo! They have led many of mankind astray. But whoso followeth me, he verily is of me. And whoso disobeyeth me still You art Forgiving, Merciful. "Our Lord! Lo! I have settled some of my posterity in an uncultivable valley near unto Your holy House, our Lord! that they may establish proper 59
  60. 60. www.islamhouse.comworship; so incline some hearts of men that they mayyearn toward them, and provide You them with fruitsin order that they may be thankful." [Quraan 14:35-37] 60
  61. 61. www.islamhouse.com Quraish God answered each and every prayer sent up byIbrahim and Ismail (). The descendants of Ismailmultiplied exceedingly, so that the barren valleyoverflowed with the progeny of Ibrahim (). Ismail ()took for his wife a girl of the tribe of Jurhum, a clanbelonging to the Arab Aribah. In the lineal descendantsof Isma’il, Adnan was born whose lineage wasuniversally recognised as the most worthy and nobleamong them. The Arabs being too particular about thepurity of race and blood have always treasured thegenealogy of Adnans progeny in the store house of theirmemory. Adnan had many sons of whom Maadd was the mostprominent. Among the sons of Maadd, Mudar was moredistinguished; then Fihr b. Malik in the lineage of Mudarachieved eminence; and finally the descendants of Fihr b.Malik b. Mudar came to be known as Quraysh. Thus cameinto existence the clan of Quraysh, the nobility of Makkah,whose lineage and exalted position among the tribes ofArabia as well as whose virtues of oratory and eloquence,civility, gallantry and high mindedness were unanimouslyaccepted by all. The recognition accorded to the Qurayshwithout a dissentient voice throughout the Peninsulabecame, in due course of time, a genuine article of faith tothe people of Arabia. 61
  62. 62. www.islamhouse.com QUSAYY BIN KILAB Qusayy Bin Kilab was born in the direct line of Fihr butthe hegemony of Makkah had, by that time, passed onfrom Jurhums clansmen to the hands of the Khuzaites.Qusayy b. Kilab recovered the administration of theKabah and the town through his organizing capacity andsuperior qualities of head and heart. The Qurayshstrengthened the hands of Qusayy b. Kilab in dislodgingthe Khuzaites from the position of leadership usurped bythem. Qusayy was now master of the town, loved andrespected by all. He held the keys of the Kabah and therights to water the pilgrims from the well of Zamzam, tofeed the pilgrims, to preside at assemblies and to hand outwar banners. In his hands lay all the dignities of Makkahand nobody entered the Kabah until he opened it for him.Such was his authority his Makkah during his lifetime thatno affair of the Quraysh was decided but by him, and hisdecisions were followed like a religious law which couldnot be infringed. After the death of Qusayy his sons assumed hisauthority but Abdu Munaf amongst them was moreillustrious. His eldest son, Hashim b. Abdu Munafconducted the feeding and watering of the pilgrims, and,after his death the authority passed on to Abdul Muttalib,the grandfather of the Prophet (). His people held him inthe highest esteem and such was the popularity gained by 62
  63. 63. www.islamhouse.comhim, so they say, as was never enjoyed by anybodyamongst his ancestors. The progeny of Hashim, who now filled the stage andassumed a commanding position among the Quraysh, waslike a stream of light in the darkness of Arabia. Thesketches of Bani Hashim preserved by the historians andgenealogists, although fewer in number, eloquently speakof the nobility of their character and moderation of theirdisposition, the reverence they paid to the House of God,their sovereign contempt for the things unjust anduneven, their devotion to fair-play and justice, theirwillingness to help the poor and the oppressed, theirmagnanimity of heart, their velour and horsemanship, inshort, of every virtue admired by the Arabs of the paganpast. Bani Hashim, however, shared the faith of theircontemporaries which had beclouded the light of theirsoul; but despite this failing, they had to have all thisgoodness as the forefathers of the great Prophet () whowas to inherit their ennobling qualities and to, illustratethem by his own shining example for the guidance of theentire human race. MAKKAH IN PAGANISM The Quraysh continued to glorify the Lord of theworlds, from whom all blessings flow, like theirforefathers Ibrahim and Isma’il () until Amr b. Luhayy 63
  64. 64. www.islamhouse.combecame the chief of Khuzaites. He was the first to deviatefrom the religion of Ismail; he set up idols in Makkah andbade the people to worship and venerate them, heinstituted the custom of sa’iba which were to be held inreverence. Amr b. Luhayy also modified the divine lawsof permissible and impermissible. It is related that onceAmr b. Luhayy went from Makkah to Syria on somebusiness where he found the people worshipping idols.He was so impressed by the ways of the idol worshippersthat he obtained a few idols from them, brought themback to Makkah and asked the people there to pay divinehonors to them. It might have been so, or, perhaps, on his way to SyriaAmr b. Luhayy had happened to pass through Betrawhich was variously known to ancient historians andgeographers as Petraea and Petra. It was the key city onthe caravan route between Saba and the Mediterranean,located on an arid plateau three thousand feet high, to thesouth of what is today called Transjordan, as mentionedby the Greek and Roman historians. The city was foundedby the Nabataeans, ethnically an Arab tribe, in the earlypart of the sixth century B. C. These people carried theirmerchandise to Egypt, Syria, valley of the Euphrates andto Rome. Most likely, they took the way to the valley ofthe Euphrates through Hijaz. The Nabataeans were anidolatrous people who made their deities of graven stones.Some historians hold the view that al-Lat, the famous 64
  65. 65. www.islamhouse.comdeity of the Northern Hijaz during the pre-Islamic period,had been originally imported from Petra and wasassigned an honored place among the local gods andgoddess. The above view finds a confirmation in the History ofSyria by Philip K. Hitti who writes about the religion ofNabataean kingdoms: "At the head of the pantheon stood Dushara (dhu-al-Shara, Dusara), a sun deity worshipped under the form ofanobelisk or an unknown four-cornered black stone....Associated with Dushara was Al-Lat, chief goddess ofArabia. Other Nabataean goddesses cited in theinscriptions were Manat and al-Uzza, of Koranic fame,Hubal also figures in the inscriptions." It is noteworthy that the above description relates to aperiod when idolatry had, in different forms and shapes,engulfed Arabia and the countries around it. Jesus Christ() and his disciples had not yet appeared on the scenewho later on laboured to restrain its unbridled expansion.Judaism had already proved its incompetence to the task,since, being essentially a racial religion; it allowed nonesave the children of Bani Israel to join his faith to the creedof monotheism preached by it. Another writer, De Lacy OLeary, tracing the influencesresponsible for introduction of idol worship in the 65
  66. 66. www.islamhouse.comArabian Peninsula sums up his findings in the "Arabiabefore Muhammed" in these words: "It seems fairly safe therefore to understand that the useof images was an instance of Syro-Hellenistic culturewhich had come down the trade-route; it was a recentintroduction in Makkah in the time of the Prophet () andwas probably unknown to the Arab community at large." Worship the idols was thus the popular creed of thepeople in the valley of the Euphrates and the lands to theeast of Arabia. As the Arabians were bound, since timesimmemorial, by the ties of commerce with these countries,it is not unlikely that their cultural influence wasresponsible for grafting idol worship within the ArabianPeninsula. In his history of Ancient Iraq, Georges Rouxsays that during the third century B.C. and long thereafteridol-worship was very popular in Mesopotamia. Its everycity, old or new, gave shelter to several foreign godsbesides the local deities." There are also reports which suggest that idol worshipgradually; came into vogue among the Quraysh. In oldentimes, as some historians relate, when anybody went outon a long journey from Makkah he took a few stones fromthe enclosures of the sanctuary as a mark of grace withhim. In due course of time, they started venerating themonoliths they admired most. The subsequentgenerations, not knowing the reason for holding suchmonoliths in esteem, started worshipping them like other 66
  67. 67. www.islamhouse.compagan people of the surrounding countries. The Quraysh,however, remained attached to some of the oldertraditions like paying deference to the holy sanctuary, itscircumambulation, and the greater and lesser pilgrimages:Hajj and Umra. The gradual evolution of different religions showingsubstitution of means for the ends and the slowprogression from suppositions to conclusions lendsupport to the view put forth by the historians about thebeginning of idol worship among the Quraysh. Theesteem and reverence in which even certain misguidedMuslim sects come to hold the portraits and sepulchers ofthe saints and the way they sluggishly adopt this coursepossesses an incriminating evidence in support of thegradual evolution of idol worship. That is why the IslamicShariah completely stalls all those tracks and alleys whichlead to the undue veneration of personages, places andrelics for they ultimately lead to ascribing partners to God. THE BATTLE OF THE ELEPHANTS It was during this period that a significant event,unparalleled in the history of Arabia, came to pass whichportended something of vital importance likely to takeplace in the near future. It augured well for the Arabs, ingeneral, and predicted a unique honor for the Kabah,never attained by any place of worship anywhere in the 67
  68. 68. www.islamhouse.comworld. The incident afforded hope for expecting a greatfuture for the Kabah—a future on which depended thedestiny of religions or rather the entire humanity since itwas soon to unfold itself in the shape of an eternalmessage of righteousness and peace. AN IMPLICIT BELIEF OF THE QURAYSH The Quraysh had always held the belief that the Houseof God had a special place of honor in the eyes of the LordWho was Himself its protector and defender. The trustplaced by the Quraysh in the inviolability of the Kabah isamply borne out by the conversation between Abraha andAbdul Muttalib. It so happened that Abraha seized twohundred camels belonging to Abdul Muttalib, who, then,called upon him and sought permission to see Abraha.Abraha treated Abdul Muttalib with the greatest respectand got off his throne and made him sit by his side. Askedto tell the purpose of his visit, Abdul Muttalib replied thathe wanted the King to return his two hundred camelswhich the King had taken. Abraha, taken by surprise, asked Abdul Muttalib, "Doyou wish to talk about your two hundred camels taken byme, but you say nothing about the House on whichdepends your religion and the religion of your forefathers,which I have come to destroy?" Abdul Muttalib boldly 68
  69. 69. www.islamhouse.comreplied "I am the owner of the camels and the House hasan Owner Who will Himself defend it". Abraha said again, "How can it be saved from me?" "This is a matter between you and Him", replied AbdulMuttalib."(Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, pp.49-50) Who could dare to do harm or cast a blighting glance atthe House of God? Its protection was, in truth, theresponsibility of God. The episode, briefly, was that Abraha al-Ashram, whowas the viceroy of Negus, the King of Abyssinia, in Yemenbuilt an imposing cathedral in Sanaa and gave it the nameof al-Qullays. He intended to divert the Arabs pilgrimageto this cathedral. Being a Christian, Abraha had found itintolerably offensive that the Kabah should remain thegreat national shrine, attracting crowds of pilgrims fromalmost every Arabian clan. He desired that his cathedralshould replace Kabah as the most sacred chapel of Arabia. This was, however, something inglorious for the Arabs.Veneration of the Kabah was a settled disposition withthe Arabs: they neither equated any other place ofworship with the Kabah nor they could have exchanged itwith anything howsoever precious. The perturbationcaused by the declared intentions of Abraha set them onfire. Some Kinanite dare-devils accepted the challenge andone of them defiled the cathedral by defecating in it. Now,this caused a serious tumult. Abraha was enraged and he 69
  70. 70. www.islamhouse.comswore that he would not take rest until he had destroyedthe Kabah. Abraha took the road to Makkah at the head of a strongforce which included a large number of elephants. TheArabs had heard awesome stories about elephants. Thenews made them all confused and bewildered. Some ofthe Arab tribes even tried to obstruct the progress ofAbrahas army, but they soon realised that it was beyondtheir power to measure swords with him. Now, hopingagainst hope, they left the matter to God putting theirtrust in Him to save the sacred sanctuary. The Quraysh took to the hills and craggy gorges in orderto save themselves from the excesses of Abrahas soldiers.Abdul Muttalib and a few other persons belonging to theQuraysh took hold of the door of the Kabah, praying andimploring God to help them against Abraha. On the otherside, Abraha drew up his troops to enter the town and gothis elephant Mahmud ready for attack. On his way to thecity, the elephant knelt down and did not get up in spiteof severe beating. But when they made it face Yemen, itgot up immediately and started off. God then sent upon them flocks of birds, each carryingstones in its claws. Everyone who was hit by these stonesdied. The Abyssinians thereupon withdrew in fright bythe way they had come, continually being hit by the stonesand falling dead in their way. Abraha, too, was badlysmitten, and when his soldiers tried to take him back, his 70
  71. 71. www.islamhouse.comlimbs fell one by one, until he met a miserable end onreaching Sana (101). The incident finds a reference in theQuraan also. "Hast You not seen how Your Lord dealt with the owners of the Elephant? Did He not bring their stratagem to naught, And send against them swarms of flying creatures, Which pelted them with stones of baked clay, And made them like green crops devoured (by cattle)?" [Quraan 105:1-5] REPERCUSSIONS OF ABRAHAS FAILURE When God turned back the Abyssinians from Makkah,crushed and humbled, and inflicted His punishment uponthem, the Arabs, naturally, looked up to the Quraysh ingreat respect. They said: "Verily, these are the people ofGod: God defeated their enemy—and they did not haveeven to fight the assailants." The esteem of the people forthe Kabah naturally increased strengthening theirconviction in its sanctity. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, p.57) It was undoubtedly a miracle; a sign of the advent of aProphet () who was to cleanse the Kabah of itscontamination of idols. It was an indication that thehonour of the Kabah was to rise with the finaldispensation to be brought by him. One could say that theincident foretold the advent of the great Prophet (). 71
  72. 72. www.islamhouse.com The Arabians attached too much importance, and rightlytoo, to this great event. They instituted a new calendarfrom the date of its occurrence. Accordingly, we find intheir writings such references as that a certain event tookplace in the year of Elephant or that such and suchpersons were born in that year or that a certain incidentcame to pass so many years after the Year of Elephant.This year of miracle was 570 A.D. 72

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