Refuting the Baseless Claim that Allah is a ‘Moon-god’

THE CLAIM THAT JEWS AND THE CHRISTIANS REJECTED ALLAH AS A FALSE DIETY

The argument that lays the floor work for the people that argue that Allah is a pre-Islamic pagan deity known and worshipped as the moon-god is their claim that Allah was alien to the Jews and the Christians and they rejected Him as a false deity. We find in Robert Morey’s The Moon-god In the Archaeology of The Middle East, p. 1

The religion of Islam has as its focus of worship a deity by the name of “Allah.” The Muslims claim that Allah in pre-Islamic times was the biblical God of the Patriarchs, prophets, and apostles. The issue is thus one of continuity. Was “Allah” the biblical God or a pagan god in ‘Arabia during pre-Islamic times? The Muslim’s claim of continuity is essential to their attempt to convert Jews and Christians for if “Allah” is part of the flow of divine revelation in Scripture, then it is the next step in biblical religion. Thus we should all become Muslims. But, on the other hand, if Allah was a pre-Islamic pagan deity, then its core claim is refuted.”

The first problem is that the above statement implies that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, and in continuation, the Muslims are trying to sell the Jews and the Christians a lie by saying that Allah is the God mentioned within their scriptures. This opinion is demonstrated further in his next statement:

Muhammad attempted to have it both ways. To the pagans, he said that he still believed in the Moon-god Allah. To the Jews and the Christians, he said that Allah was their God too. But both the Jews and the Christians knew better and that is why they rejected his god Allah as a false god.”

The above sentence is combined with two blatant lies. The first being that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was trying to convince the pagans he worshipped what they worshipped. We know this claim to be false for many reasons as we will refute shortly. The second false claim is that the Jews and the Christians rejected Allah as a false god. Our main focus will be on refuting this false premise.

DID MUHAMMAD ﷺ TRY TO PLEASE THE PAGANS??

It is very easy to prove that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ rejected the idolatrous worship in Arabia and that the Makkan pagans actually rejected Allah. This can be witnessed by any sensible mind who reads the Qur’an, the Ahaadeeth, or the Biography of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ , even at a basic level. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ made no efforts at all to try and convince the pagans of Makkah that he worshipped what they worshipped, and just to prove this I will quote a few passages from the Qur’an.

The following passages can be found in Surat al-Kaafirun: “Say [to them] O disbelievers: I worship not what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship, and I will never worship what you worship, so to you your religion, and to me my religion” The Chapter of the Disbelivers”  It is reported in the Seerah compiled by Ibn Hisham , p. 285 , also in what is said to be Ibn Ihsaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, p. 165 that the Prophet was doing the circumbalation of the Ka’bah when al-Aswaad b. Muttalib b. Asad and Umayyah b. Khalaf approached him and said “O Muhammad, worship our Lord for some time and we will worship your Lord for sometime; if yours is better, then we will benefit from that and if ours is better you will benefit from that. It was at this moment that Surat ul-Kaafirun was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is clear from this account alone that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was not trying to please the pagans by saying we worship the same god. In fact, he made it a common practice to differ with them at nearly every turn! [Footnote, this also refutes Robert Morey’s claim in which he uses the ayah “Tales of the ancients dictated to him day and night, for this is an example of how the revelation would come down in spontanious circumstances].

DID THE JEWS AND THE CHRISTIANS REJECT ALLAH AS A FALSE DEITY??

Dr. Robert Morey also claimed in the above statement that the Jews and the Christians  rejected Allah as a false god. So what name did the Arabic Bible use  if it did not use Yahweh?? What did the Jews and Christians of Arabia call their deity before Islam and after Islam?? The oldest Syriac New Testament dating back to 465 AD [after departure], the Peshitta which is written in the native tongue of ‘Eesa alayhissalaam [Jesus Christ], Aramaic, uses the name Alaha for God. Furthermore, the oldest Arabic Bible, the Mt Sinai Arabic Codex 151, which dates back to 867 AD also uses the name Allah for God. Just this simple fact alone is enough to destroy Dr. Robert Morey’s argument. However, let us look further into this baseless claim.

The fact of the matter is, the Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe that Allah is the true universal God.  Had Allah been a pagan deity that the Jews and Christians rejected as a false deity, then surely there would have been record of this in early Jewsish, Christian-Muslim debates. It would have been recorded in the primary and secondary sources, which include the Qur’an and the Ahaadeeth, yet we find no such objections. Not from the Jews, not from the Christians, not even the pagans!

The Qur’an clearly responds to the Jewish claim regarding parts of their Torah in which they substituted:

“Woe to those who write the book with their own hands and then say ‘This is from Allah’…” Al-Qur’an Surah al-Baqarah, ayah 2:79

We can deduce from this evidence that the Jews used to forge scripture and then claim that is was directly from Allah. Firstly you need to ask why would the Jews attribute their Torah to a pre-Islamic pagan deity if they (according to Robert Morey) believed Allah to be such?? Secondly, why do we not see any recorded argument from the Jews saying “We did not say this book is from Allah” in response to this ayah??

In the following ayah from the Qur’an the Jews claimed that they had made a promise to Allah not to believe in a messenger unless he showed them a sacrifice consumed by fire, they said:

“Allah took our promise not to believe in a Messenger unless he showed us a sacrifice consumed by fire.” Al-Qur’an, Surah al Imraan .3:183

We can see further from the Qur’an that the Jews and the Christians claimed to be the children of Allah:

“And both the Jews and the Christians say ‘we are the children of Allah and His loved ones…” Al-Qur’an Surat ul Maa’idah, ayah 5:18

It does not stop here as we can see the Jews using the name Allāh for their deity can be seen further in Surah 2, verse 89, where it is noted that the Jews of Madinah used to pray to Allah for victory over the pagan tribes in that residence.  Concerning this verse Imaam as-Suyuti [rahimahullah] said:

Ibn Abi Hatim narrated through Said or Ikrima from Ibn Abbas: the Jews used to pray for the Prophet ﷺ to come so they could be victorious against the Aws and the Khajaz , before he was sent. Then, Allāh sent him from amongst the ‘Arabs, but they disbelieved in him. They denied and rejected what they used to say about him.  At this Muaadh Ibn Jabaal, Bishr ibn al-Bara, and Dawud ibn Salama said: “O Jews! Fear Allaah and submit! For you used to pray for victory with the coming of Muhammad when we were disbelievers, and you used to tell us that he is a Messenger soon to be sent, and you would describe him for us.” Whereupon Salaam ibn Mashkam, one from amongst the Jewish tribe of Banu Naadir, said, “He did not come to us with something we recognize, and he is not the one we used to describe and speak about before” _Imaam Suyuti’s Asbaab al-Nuzuwl. from al-Itqaan fi Ulum ul-Qur’an

Imaam Suyuti [rahimahullah] also records the exact supplication the Jews used:

Allahumma unsurna alayhim bin-nabi i.e. “O Allah   please help us (be victorious) over them with the (promised) Messenger ﷺ” _Imaam Suyuti’s Tafseer Jalalayn, ayah 2:89

On another occasion, the Jews were asked by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ what would they think if their main priest converted to Islam and upon hearing that they replied:

May Allah protect him from that”  _Saheeh al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, No. 275

This Hadeeth is known to Dr. Robert Morey as he quoted from it on p. 61 of his book, “Winning The War Against Radical Islam,” however he has chose to ignore this evidence along with many others, as it would destroy the credibility of his thesis that Allah was alien to the Jews. Dr. Robert Morey does not want you to know that the Jews used the name Allah for their deity! He knows fully well that their argument was not concerning the name of God, but, the prophet hood of Muhammad ﷺ, as the Jews only objection was with the Prophet-hood of Muhammad ﷺ.

Another example is the changing of the direction of the Qiblah.   For many years, the Muslims faced towards Jerusalem for their daily prayers until Allah sent down a revelation commanding the Muslims to face the direction of the Kabah in Makkah.   Ibn Ihsaaq reports that the change of direction happened one year and six months after the Holy Prophet ﷺ and the Muslims had emigrated to Madinah.

This demonstrates for us that, for so many years the Muslims prayed towards Jerusalem whilst they were in Makkah! Facing the direction of Jerusalem pleased The Jews and gave them hope that they could convert Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to Judaism. However, they had lost all hope when Muhammad ﷺ told them:

All nations are equal before Allah, and Allah   chooses whom He wishes for Prophet-hood and the distinction is not for Jews alone

This belief would have destroyed everything the Jews stood for concerning their beliefs that only they were to be the trustees and owners of Allah’s religion, thus making them thee chosen ones.  Allah shattered their delusions by revealing the command for the Muslims to change their direction to Makkah. The Jews objected to this strongly and Allah revealed the verse

The fools among the people say ‘What has made them turn away from the direction they used to face’”

It is strange that we do not find the Jews arguing anywhere about the name Allah, but, something a lot less serious, being the direction of prayer.

The Encyclopaedia Judaica also gives us strong irrefutable evidence that the Jews in ‘Arabia did in fact use the proper name Allah for their deity. If we look up the name ‘Abdullah Yusuf, we find the following submission:

Last of the false Messiahs to appear among the Jews of Yemen …His opponents (the Jews) mockingly named him “’Adu Allah” (“enemy of God”), a play on his name ‘Abdallah (“servant of God”). _Encyclopaedia Judiaca, Vol. 2, pp. 51-53.

These evidences demonstrate that the Jews used the name Allah before and after the advent of Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ declaration to his prophetic office. If there had been a problem with the usage of the name Allah, the Jews would have argued this point and such an argument would have been recorded either in the texts of the Ahadeeth or in historical documentation. However we find none. Had it been that the name Allah was pagan in origin, then the Jews would have strongly objected based on the ruling in the “Torah”  which states that one should not utter any name of any false god (see:Bible, Exodus 23:13).

We clearly see from the evidences that Allah was indeed the Jewish Deity, however, what about the Christians??

The Christians also raised many objections against Islam but we find it was never once about the name Allah. It is reported that the Christians of Najran listened attentively to Mughirah Ibn Shubah (radgiyallahu anhu) reciting the verses of the Qur’an that relate to Bibi Maryam (Biblical Mary) and the birth of Hadhrat ‘Eesa  alayhissalaam (Jesus) After hearing the recitation of the Qur’an they objected to Mary being referred to as “O sister of Aaron” accusing Prophet Muhammad ﷺ of Anachronism.

They never objected to the passages which quote baby ‘Eesa alayhissalaam (Jesus) as saying

Indeed I am a servant of Allah (‘Abdullah).

The Christian king Negus had these very same verses recited to him and he made no objections in regards to the name Allah either.

Let us also recall the sixty Christian riders from Najran who came to to hold a face to face dialogue with Prophet Muhammad ﷺ . They had many disagreements with the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ but Allah being the true name for God was never one of them. They were refuted for their notion of Trinity in a very clear cut manner, the very verse that says “wa la taquwlu thalatha” i.e. “do not say three”  – “innama al maseehu ‘isaabn maryam rasoolullahi” i.e. “Jesus the Messiah, son of Mary is only a Messenger of Allah” (S.4:171).

Note here that we fail to find one Christian in any historical account who says “Wait a minute, hold it right there! You said ‘Rasoolullah’! Allah is not God’s name! You must have it confused, why are you saying Jesus is the Messenger of the moon-god?” In fact, we find in the Qur’an and other historical documents the Christians argued that Jesus was Allah, and they still use this very argument to this day.  Furthermore, one of the Christians had the name ‘Abdullah i.e. servant of Allah, and he may have been born well before Muhammad’s ﷺ declaration to Prophet-hood. Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah by Alfred Guillaume, Oxford University Press, pgs. 270-277

Likewise, we find no objections from the pagans!

Had Allah been a pre-Islamic pagan deity housed inside of the Kabah, then the pagans of Makkah would have been the first to object to the idea that Allah was the same God that the Jews and the Christians worshipped. They would have been the first to argue that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the Jews and the Christians. They would have jumped to this chance to call Prophet Muhammad ﷺ an imposter, a liar. This would have been the perfect opportunity for the pagans to disprove Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ beliefs, especially in the court of Negus, as mentioned before.  However these arguments are conspicuously absent from the texts of the Qur’an and the Ahadeeth, or any historical documentation.

Overall, these few examples demonstrate that even though the Jews, Christians and the pagans made objections, they shared a common belief in Allah as being the true universal God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Dr. Robert Morey confirms that the only challenge to the Qur’an that the infidels put forth was the claim that the Qur’an is just a bunch of tales from the ancients:

But the unbelievers say, “This is nothing but a lie which he has forged, and other have helped him do it …Tales of the ancients, which he has caused to be written; and they are dictated before him morning and evening” Qur’an S.25:4-5

However look more closely at this claim for Dr. Robert Morey says:

The authors of the Qur’an assumed that everyone already knew of these things and thus no explanation was needed_Winning The War Against Radical Islam p. 5

Dr. Robert Morey further documents on pgs 7-8 of this said work, that the Qur’an is composed of Jewish and Christian myths. Notice very closely that there was no objection was from the infidels claiming that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ had transformed their pagan deity to the God of the Jews and the Christians. Reason being is that the pagans already believe that Allah, the supreme God of the universe was the same God that the Jews and the Christians worshipped. This is clearly seen from the following ayah from the Qur’an:

Say: ‘Who provides you from the sky and the earth? Or who owns his hearing and sight? And who brings out the dead from the living? And who disposes the affairs?’ They [the pagans] will say ‘Allah.’ Say: ‘Will you not then be afraid of Allah’s punishment [for setting up partners with Allah].”   Surah 10 ayah 31

This understanding is also seen in Imaam Muwaafaq ud-Deen’s lum’at ul-I’tiqaad:

The Holy Prophet ﷺ said to Hussain:  “How many deities do you worship?” He replied: “Seven! Six in the earth and one in the heavens” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ then asked him another question: “Which one do you turn to when you feel frightened or terrified or have a need to be fulfilled?” The man said:  “He who is in the heavens” So the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Abandon the six and worship He who is in the heavens and I will teach you two supplications” Upon hearing this from the Messenger of Allah the man then embraced Islam and learnt from the Holy Prophet ﷺ the following supplication: “O Allah inspire me and guide me and protect me from the evilness of my soulSunan at-Tirmidhi, Kitaab ud-Da’awaah, hadeeth  no. 3483. The whole quotation of this paragraph is found in the classical text Lum’at ul-I’tiqaad p. 45, translated by Andrew Sanders, Saladin Publishing 2009

Therefore it is clearly seen that the pagan ‘Arabs did believe Allah to be the true universal deity “The one in the heavens” and none of them ever understood Allah to be a stone pagan deity housed in the Ka’bah. Although, they “believed” in Allah, their disbeleief was due to associating partners to Him. Robert Morey wants to lead you to believe that Allah was once a stone deity. However it is clear from the evidence I have presented that Allah is the God of the Jews Christians and they had no objections to that.

THE EARLY CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM DEBATES

In a previous discussion, Robert Morey accused me of making a factual error when I posed the question “why has no objection been made by the Jews and the Christians of Arabia in regards to the name of Allah?” instead of answering the question, he replied by saying:

You have committed a factual error in that you do not know the early debates between Christians and Muslims where the name “Allah” was rejected as pagan.”

The book that Robert Morey refers to is an edited version of The early Christian-Muslim dialogue by al-Kindi `Abd al-Masih ibn Ishaq.  This is best known as “The Apology of al-Kindi” and it documents an early Muslim-Christian debate in which letters were exchanged between a Muslim theologian and ‘Abd ul-Maseeh al-Kindi. This text has been translated from the ‘Arabic manuscript

[Risaalah ‘Abdullah Bin Isma’el al-Hashimy ilaa ‘Abdul-Maseeh Bin Ihsaaq al-Kindi. This text can be downloaded at http://www.jesus-for-all.net/hewar_adyan/pdf_266.pdf ] by Sir William Muir in 1880 and N. A. Newman later edited the English of this text adding a few comments of his own. Robert Morey has refered to this book in his “The moon-god in the Archeaology of the Middle East” on page 13.

So what do we learn from this book??

Firstly, al-Kindi uses the Arabic basmalah which Arabic speaking Jews, Christians and Muslims commonly did. This is to begin the book in Allah’s name by saying “Bismillahi” i.e. In the name of Allah.

The reply of al-Kindi is introduced thus… The Christian [al-Kindi] answered him [the Muslim scholar he was debating] In the name of God the Merciful” which in the original Arabic manuscript of this apology is “Bismillah ar-Rahmaan arRaheem” [See the apology of al-Kindi translated by Sir William Muir, p. 16 and the Arabic text  Risaalah ‘Abdullah Bin Isma’el al-Hashimy ilaa ‘Abdul-Maseeh Bin Ihsaaq al-Kindi The Arabic can be clearly seen athttp://www.jesus-for-all.net/hewar_adyan/pdf_266.pdf on p. 41]

Not only this, but we find al-kindi prefixing the name Allah with the ‘Arabic word “ta’alaa” which translates into English as “The Almighty” so along along al-Kindi is saying Allah the Almighty. Even the Biblical quotes that al-Kindi utilizes contain the name Allah as the name for his supreme deity. This factor destroys Robert Morey’s claim that Allah was rejected as a pagan deity. This really does tear apart his claim that:

The Jews and Christians… rejected… Allah as a false god_The moon-god in the Archeaology of the Middle East”  p. 13.

Especially given the fact Robert Morey then goes on to quote from al-Kindi directly after this statement. This only demonstrates that Robert Morey has not carefully read the text in English, let alone ‘Arabic. Let us look at how he quotes al-Kindi to his own little agenda:

Al-Kindi, one of the early Christian apologists against Islam, pointed out that Islam and its god Allah did not come from the Bible but from the paganism of the Sabeans.” The moon-god in the Archeaology of the Middle East, By Robert A. Morey, p. 13

Robert Morey wants us to believe that al-Kindi is suggesting that Allah is a pagan deity who is unknown to the Bible, however we have successfully demolished this claim with overwhelming factual evidence. However, let us see what Sir William Muir undertstands from al-Kindi’s statement:

His friend [Al-Hishamy] had invited him to embrace the Hanyfite, faith of Abraham, their common father. Our Apologist answers that the Hanyfite faith was in reality the idolatrous religion of the Sabeans, which the patriarch professed before his conversion to the worship of the one true God.” The Apology of Al-Kindy, 2nd Edition, page 41

We see from Sir William Muir’s commentary that Al-Kindy alleges that the Hanifite faith of Islam, i.e. the Abrahamic faith, stems from the paganism of the Sabeans, then, he further alleges that Abraham was of this idolatrous religion until he turned in his worship to the one true God. He is not saying Allah is a pagan deity, he is saying that Abraham used to worship pagan deities before his “conversion”.

In Islam we know this to be untrue as the Qur’an clearly states that Abraham was never one of the idolaters in many places, as the Qur’an says “Wa maa kaana minal mushrikeen – He [Abraham was not one of the pagans

I would like the readers to take note what Sir William Muir writes in the footnote to this point:

But the only argument in this passage as to the propriety of circulating or translating which I have doubts is that in which he asserts the Hanyfite religion of Abraham to have been, not the Catholic faith of the Unity (as is clearly intended in the Coran)  , but Sabean idolatry. To support this view, our Author twists texts of the Coran…Mahometan readers will with reason object to such misrepresentation of their Scripture.” Ibid page 43.

Please take special care in noticing how Sir William Muir freely admits that he, himself, doubts what al-Kindi has asserted regarding the alleged paganism of Abraham, due to Al-Kindi’s deliberate twisting and misrepresentation and cherrypicking of the Qur’an to deceive the readers into arriving at his own concocted conclusion that Abraham was formerly a pagan. [He uses the ayah’s from the Qur’an 6:74-82, however it must be understood clearly that Abraham was making an example to his people in order to lead them to the One true God and he was never one of the mushrikeen as proven in Surat ul-Baqarah (2), ayah 135]

Therefore the integrity of Al-Kindi is questioned, not by the Muslim but by a Christian Missionary. Al-Kindi only alleged that Abraham [Qur’anic Ibraheem alayhissalaam] was formerly a pagan and attempted to cherrypick ayahs from the Qur’an to prove his case.  How then has Robert Morey managed to derive without any hard solid evidence to back up his theory that somehow al-Kindi has implied that Allah was the Sabean Moon-god? Robert Morey’s referral to the early Christian and Muslim debates has failed dismally, and the evidence i against his thesis, not with his thesis.

Robert Morey’s deceptive style of quotation does not stop here as he then tries to conclude from the evidence we just refuted that Dr. Newman concludes his study of the early Christian-Muslim debates by stating:

Islam proved itself to be…a separate and antagonistic religion which had sprung up from idolatry.” moon-god booklet, p.13

However, Dr Newman actually wrote:

The first three centuries of the Christian-Muslim dialogue to a great degree moulded the form of the relationship which was to prevail between the two faiths afterward. During this period, Islam proved itself to be less a wayward sect of the “Hagarenes,” from a Christian perspective, and more a separate and antagonistic religion which had sprung up from idolatry. ” N. A. Newman (Ed.), The Early Christian-Muslim Dialogue: A Collection Of Documents From The First Three Islamic Centuries (632 – 900 A.D.) Translations With Commentary, 1993, Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute: Hatfield (PA), p. 719.

Dr Robert Morey conveniently left out that the idea that Islam originating from paganism is from a Christian perspective i.e. this is a point of view, and does not serve as evidence, nor does it have any citations to even strengthen this bias Christian perspective. Unfortunately, Dr Robert Morey has misunderstood and misused the evidences al-Kindi to form baseless assumptions and misinterpretation of what the text actually says. Once again, we are to find this unscrupulousness all too common when it comes to Dr. Morey’s “truthful” integrity and “careful” scholarship.

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The Star and Crescent Symbol has Nothing to Do with Islam

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[By Rafael Narbaez Jr. (a Muslim convert)]

The city of Byzantium (Constantinople, modern Istanbul) was dedicated to Diana, goddess of the hunt, and the crescent was the symbol of Diana. In 330 CE, Constantine rededicated the city to the virgin Mary, whose star symbol was added to the previous crescent. When the Turks took possession of Constantinople, they found lots of crescent flags and adopted it as a symbol of good omen.

“The star and crescent” was first hoisted on behalf of the Muslims by Mahomet II after the capture of Constantinople in 1453 CE. Prior to that, it was common on the arm of knight and esquires. A star within a crescent was a badge of Richard I, 250 years before Constantinople fell. They quit using it when it became the banner of Muslims. It has been used more and more ever since by Muslims in a way to identify themselves.

INTRODUCTION

I remember that as a former Jehovah’s Witness, one of the things that we were taught to always stay away from was the use of religious symbols. It was thought that this would lead to some form of idol worship that could eventually compromise our worship of the one true God. We were not permitted to wear religious icons like the cross because, in the first place, we never believed that Jesus Christ was hung on the cross. Secondly, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in idols and they feel that the use of these in religious worship is idolatry.

Neither could we wear anything that might be perceived as showing allegiance to a particular government, nation or political group. We could not keep a flag of any nation in our homes. We were not permitted to wear a patch of the American flag on our clothing or any of our possessions. We did not vote, sing the national anthem or recite the pledge of allegiance.

They warned that the Bible clearly states that “you shall have no other gods before me.” It also states, “you shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

You can imagine my concern, when, as I was embracing Islam, I became aware of the use of “the star and crescent.” My concern was genuine; I did not want to offend God. I did not want to interpret that I gave allegiance to anyone except Allah. I remember asking some brothers about what “the star and crescent” symbol meant. “Oh, it’s nothing to be concerned about,” they said. “It just represents the Muslim.” One brother, I remember, drew me a clearer picture. “Well,” he said, “you know how the Christians use the cross and the Jews, the star of David? We use “the star and crescent” to identify ourselves world-wide as Muslims.”

Although I didn’t make it a big issue, I decided to do some research and find out for myself. I was not going to stumble over this issue, but at the same time, I didn’t want to do anything that would offend God. The following is some information that I found in my research and I wanted to pass it on to you. Afterwards, I’d like to share with you an interesting view on this matter from a personal perspective and why I think it’s important to consider how we view the use of the star and crescent.

HISTORY

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Image: Roman silver denarius coin of Hadrian (117-128AD) with this symbol. This is a seven-rayed star within a crescent moon …

During the Byzantine Empire, the city of Byzantium (a.k.a. Constantinople and Istanbul) was dedicated to Diana, goddess of the hunt. The crescent was the symbol of Diana. In 330 CE, Constantine rededicated the city to the virgin Mary, whose star symbol was added to the previous crescent. When the Turks took possession of Byzantium, they found lots of crescent flags and adopted it as a symbol of good omen. In 339 BC, Philip of Macedon (the father of Alexander the Great) was thwarted from overtaking the city of Byzantium because his army was spotted due to a bright crescent moon.

“The star and crescent” was first hoisted on behalf of the Muslims by Mahomet II after the capture of Constantinople in 1453 CE. Prior to that, it was common on the arm of knight and esquires. A star within a crescent was a badge of Richard I, 250 years before Constantinople fell. They quit using it when it became the banner of Muslims. It has been used more and more ever since by Muslims in a way to identify themselves. Sultan Othman, founder of the Ottoman empire, had a dream of crescent moon growing bigger and bigger until it reached East to West.

Banners or flags are what people customarily unite around or behind. It may or may not represent some characteristic about them. The twelve tribes of Israel, for example, each had it’s own banner or symbol, e.g. ‘The Lion of Judah,’ etc. An insignia could represent one’s cause, philosophy, belief or attitude; whether religious or secular. The colour and the symbol’s use on national flags is also most interesting. Red is the Ottomon (Turkish) colour and thus, a star and crescent on a field of red. In Mauritania, green stands for prosperity and hope. The star represents the people. On the Pakistani flag, the crescent is for progress and the star for enlightenment.

THE PROPHET’S FLAG

As to what the actual Holy Prophet used, we find some very interesting information. It has been reported that the Holy Prophet’s first standard or flag was a black flag to contradict the white flag of the Quraish, who had a black eagle on it as well. The earliest such flag or banner used by the Prophet was a sable curtain which hung in the chamber of his wife, Ayesha (radhiyallahu anha). In the centre, the Prophet attached a white cloth which was a turban that he captured from the city of Boreide. On it was written the inscription, Nasr um min Allah, which meant “the help of Allah”. Most appropriate. One can see how powerful a symbol this was to be used as a banner or flag. In modern times, some governments, like Saudi Arabia, prefer not to use the star and crescent of the Turkish government, but instead use a plain green field with the Shahadah on it in white. There is also a white sword underneath. Several modern day Muslims use the Shahadah in white on a green field as their way of showing they are Muslim. It was reported that the Prophet’s favourite colour was green; which incidentally represents life.

FLAG OF SYMBOL AS AUTHORITY

But, why all this fuss about a flag or a symbol anyway? In particular, the star and the crescent? Why is it so important to search for a more profound meaning to what it means and what it stands for? Is it really that big of a deal? I mean, it’s just a flag or a symbol, right?

Well, the truth of the matter is that symbols and especially flags, have more than just a casual, passing representation. They actually stand for something and have a definite meaning. A stop sign, for example, isn’t there just to blend in with the landscaping. It represents the law, the authority. It requires some action from you every time you come to it and that action is to stop. It also means there is a reaction from it if you choose not to stop there and that is that you will be cited for failing to obey that sign or symbol.

THE AMERICAN FLAG

With that in mind, let’s look at the flag of the United States. This is not the time to go through a two hundred year history of all the changes in the flag and how it got to it’s present form, however, since we live in this country, I think it’s appropriate to understand a little about it.

The first American flag was one that had thirteen stars in a circle on a blue field with a background of thirteen alternating red and white stripes. The thirteen stars represented the thirteen original colonies that became the United States of America. Why stars? Why not thirteen trees or thirteen fish? Perhaps because a bright star is such a beautiful thing to behold. Remember the last time there was a clear night and you looked up at the sky to admire the bright starry sky? They seem so near and yet they are so far away.

Muslims appreciate stars very much because they realize that stars do fulfil many wonderful purposes. They are both beautiful and a way to guide us in a time when perhaps other navigational instruments fail us. But, as Muslims, when we look at a star or any other work of beauty, we always appreciate the Creator, Al-Khaliq, more than the creation.

As the United states added more states they added a star for each new state. Thus, today we have fifty states and also fifty stars on our flag. The stars are laid on a blue field; blue being the colour of truth. The red stripes stand for the blood that was spilled in establishing our republic. The white stands for purity, cleanliness, holiness. Put all together, one can see how easily it would be for one to perceive that these fifty states, America, is to be admired because it was conceived with the blood of righteousness; with the purest and holiest of intentions and it stands for truth and goodness. You can trust her. You can depend on her. She will guide you to success and prosperity. See how she sparkles and shines? Follow her.

LOYALTY AND ALLEGIANCE

Some people might argue that such reasoning is absurd. That respecting the flag does not mean giving loyalty to it as you would the country or government. That it does not mean that we show the same allegiance to it that we show our country and that it certainly does not take the place of God for guidance in our lives. Reality, however, does indicate that people look at the flag and the symbols on it with more than just respect and that they do view what it symbolizes in the same manner that we’ve described above. Let’s look at an example.

Growing up in America, I remember the first thing we did every day in school before class started was recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But allegiance to who? To our God and Creator, Allah? Well, let’s see. The Pledge of Allegiance says, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands”. To demonstrate our loyalty, love, affection and allegiance to the flag and the republic or country “for which it stands”, we would place our right hand over our heart. Contrary to what some people may believe, the oath of allegiance is to the country or government because the flag stands for or represents exactly that and you have just pledged your allegiance to both, the flag and the republic or country; they are one and the same. I’ve always admired some brothers who would tell me that when they received their United States citizenship and had to pledge allegiance to the flag, they would be pledging allegiance to Allah, instead.

Some persist in their view, however, stating that, recently the United States Supreme court upheld the decision that, burning the American flag is permissible because it is a right of expression. The burning of the country, on the other hand, would not be construed as a freedom of expression, they argue, but as an act to overthrow the government of the United States. Therefore, they cannot be one and the same according to them. The pledge of allegiance to the flag, in their opinion, is not the same as a pledge of allegiance to the country. Sounds good, but when you take into consideration the people of this country as a whole, I think you will find that the overwhelming majority feel that burning the flag is wrong and offensive to them because it represents a total disregard and disrespect to the country or government “for which it stands.”

Also, consider this. If they don’t mean the same thing, then, why is it that on the insignias of uniforms, cars or property of local, state or federal peace officers; or even of athletes, or anyone that represents our country, the decal or insignia is of an American flag? If they don’t mean the same thing, then, why don’t they have an insignia of the map of the U.S. or just the words, United States of America. Another thing. When someone, like a military veteran or government official dies, they drape the American flag over his coffin. Do they say that the individual died for his flag or gave his life for his flag? No. They say he died for his country. The reason is because the flag, symbol or insignia stands for or represents the government.

Those of us who have had the misfortune of being under colonial rule at one time, remember all too well the phrase “loyal to the Crown”, meaning the British, of course. How quickly we forget. The fact is that to the great majority of people in this country, and around the world, for that matter, the flag, symbol or insignia and the country do stand for the same thing.

TWO EXAMPLES

Another thing to consider when speaking of flags and the country or people that they represent is: if a country or people separate or abolish the use of certain symbols does it necessarily mean that they have changed their views or stands on certain issues.

For example, hardly anyone can argue the fact that the ‘swastika’ is a symbol for what nazism stood for: a pure Aryan race and all that implies. That symbol still represents that ideology even to this day. In all fairness to the German people, they have taken the initiative to separate themselves from such racism by changing the symbols of their flag as well as rejecting the ideology of a supreme white race.

Some will argue that the United States has done the same thing by insisting that the southern states remove and make illegal the old Confederate flag with the symbol of the ‘stars and bars’ because of what it once represented, namely, slavery and the oppression of black people. Some states, however, still persist in using the Confederate flag. Some people of the South are even more vocal and adamant about the continual use of the Confederate flag.

Taking the two examples just given, we see that in Germany, although it no longer supports the theory that a German white Aryan race is superior it still denies equal rights and justice to many of its citizenry, e.g., the Turkish population and others. The United States is really no better off. She has not taken sufficient steps to educate its populace on the issue of racism and tolerance and has consistently shied away from providing continual legislation that would eradicate such racism by making it absolutely illegal to act in such a manner. In fact at the present time, we see the United States reversing herself on what little legislation it once had that addressed such issues. We see with both countries, especially the US a double-tongue policy of “we’re not better than you, you’re just not as good as us.”

In Spanish there is a saying that says, “Tanto peca el que mata la waca, como el que detiene la pata.” This was a saying contrived in the old cattle rustling days. It means, “Just as guilty is he who kills the cow, as he who ties down it’s hoofs.” If the people of a country are not willing to change the policies of its government by publicly voicing its displeasure, even going to the extent of changing it’s elected officials or even its form of government, if need be, then they agree with the way their country is being represented and perceived; more importantly, the way they are represented and perceived. They publicly reaffirm this perception every time they wave ‘Old Glory’ around. That flag and the symbols on it represent both the government as well as the people.

ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE

Now, as Muslims, why should we be so concerned about all this? Well, for one thing we should never want to look to any person, nation, government or anything as a source of guidance or direction over Allah. To do so would be shirk. No one is worthy of that honour except Allah, the Almighty.

So many people all over the world put so much trust in the US for finding the solutions to their problems. The US itself brags about how it is ‘the greatest nation on the face of the earth.’ People in other parts of the world think it is such a great honour to be allies or associated in some way with the United States of America. There was a time when these people, especially third world countries, thought that the streets in the US were paved with gold. Anything that they can possess that is American brings a sort of prestige. I remember, a few years ago, having a visitor from Egypt. I asked if there was anything I could get for him to take back to Egypt while he was here. He decided on running shoes and a jogging suit but insisted that they be Nike’s. The reason, he said, is because he would be the envy of his entire town. Anything with a designer label from the US was highly sought.

What is really sad when we see so many brothers looking to the United States as the source for relieving their afflictions. Especially where people are oppressed or seeking justice and especially, when those people are sincere Muslims. Nothing or no one take the place of Allah as our Protector; no flag, no government, no nation, not even the believers themselves.

The Qur’an says:

Do the unbelievers think that they can take my servants as protectors besides me? Verily we have prepared hell for the unbelievers for their entertainment.”  (Quran Al-Kahf 18:102)

There are some enemies of Allah that feel that although they practice evil deeds, perhaps if they mingle with the true believers, they will protect them against calamity. Allah assures them that their place is in the hell fire. The Qur’an teaches us in Ash-Shura 42:9-10 that:

“It is God alone who has power over all things and that in Him we should trust.”

So, coming back to our original subject, what does all this have to do with the symbol of the ‘star and the crescent’? Well, for one thing, both symbols, the star and the crescent, come from the false worship or adoration for someone other than Allah. In the case of the crescent, it was the goddess Diana and with the star it was Mary, the mother of Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam). As much as we love and respect Mary, the mother of Jesus, peace and blessings be on her, she is not worthy of worship and she would be the first to tell you so. For that matter neither is Musa (Moses) or ‘Isa (Jesus) or even our beloved Prophet, Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi easallam). Nor is the Qur’an worthy of worship or the entire record of ahadith or the two Holy Mosques or the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs (may Allah be pleased with them) or anything in this universe, past, present or future. Only Allah stands alone as worthy of worship. Yet some of us carry these symbols around as an expression of identity with those very beings and are proud to associate ourselves as Muslims through them.

Some may think that this is making a mountain out of a molehill and that it’s silly to think that the use of these symbols could jeopardize our relationship with Allah; but I think it deserves a lot of prayer and deep meditation and thinking about this. Do we really want to take a chance of offending Allah and facing Him on the Day of Judgement with this on our record? Is associating ourselves with these symbols or icons really worth it? We must strive to ‘always be true to Allah,’ says the Qur’an, Al-Hajj 22: 31 ‘and never assign partners to Him’.

Let us use our ability to reason and ask ourselves, is it really necessary to have an insignia or symbol to make the statement that we are Muslims? If one can so easily identify oneself as a Muslim by simply carrying the symbol of ‘the star and crescent’ around, then what’s to say that the enemies of Islam can’t do the same, as some of them have? I remember, my first Ramadan, one brother proudly revealed his chest to show ‘the star and crescent’ tattooed above the area of the heart. Wouldn’t it be better and certainly more reliable, to identify ourselves as Muslims by our Islamic personality; demonstrating by our righteous deeds that we are of ‘those that bow to Allah in Islam‘(Qur’an, Al-Baqarah 2:136)?

There are many nations and religious organisations today that identity themselves as being Muslims by the use of these two symbols, ‘the star and crescent’ and yet we can see by their deeds that they are totally un-Islamic. How easily they live among us, corrupting the word of God and causing divisions among us and all they have to do to prove they are Muslims is flash the sign of the star and the crescent.

On the other hand, there are organisations like the Red Crescent that do so much good work for their fellow mankind. Also there is a big difference between the symbol of the ‘star and crescent’ and the hilal.

CONCLUSIONS

In conclusion, let me state that all acts are acts of worship. We all try to do the best that we can according to the extent of our knowledge and our level of Iman. Everyone has a conscience. How sensitive our conscience is toward what we have discussed depends on what we previously stated, the extent of our knowledge and the level of our Iman.

It is not the responsibility of Muslims to point the finger at each other and try to force anyone to his personal understanding of matters. Religion and especially the interpretation of matters pertaining to religion should never be forced on anyone. We all know that the Qur’an states:

“…there is no compulsion in religion…” (Qur’an, Al-Baqarah 1:190)

We know that there is nothing wrong with respecting the flag of any country. The degree to which one cares to show such respect is an individual matter of conscience. No one has the right to impose his conscience on another. But, it is important to know how some people feel about a flag, symbol or insignia. As to the use of the ‘star and crescent’ symbols, we know that Allah will judge all of us according to our niyah, our intentions, and how we choose to interpret all matters pertaining to Tawheed.

Proper attention should be given, however, to the use of a symbol or icon that at one time represented the worship of a goddess or to one that symbolises our ‘godly’ adoration for a righteous person whom some may place on the same plane of reverence reserved only for Allah. May Allah guide us as we search to perfect our worship of Him as He has perfected our religion. In the end we all return to Him and He will teach us what was best; for He is the best to decide as mentioned in the Qur’an, Yunus 10:108-109.

Incidentally, the ‘Golden Age of Islam’ that we all reminisce so passionately about came to a close about the mid-l5th century with the fall of Spain and the invasion of the Mongols. This was about the same time that ‘the star and crescent’ started to be hoisted up as the banner or representation of Muslims. We’ve never been able to regain that greatness again. Coincidence??

ARAB CIVILIZATION AND ITS IMPACT ON THE WEST

[By:Dr. ABDULLAH MOHAMMAD SINDI]

INTRODUCTION

It is in these hard times of post September 11 when Arabs and Muslims are being bashed throughout the West that it becomes imperative to explain the various valuable Arab contributions to the West. In fact, unlike any other region in the entire world, the Arab region provided the West (and the rest of humanity) with 3 major contributions:

1. The Arabs’ Semitic ancestors in the Fertile Crescent and Egypt produced 5 brilliant ancient civilizations, which benefited the earliest Western civilizations of Greece and Rome. These 5 are: the Iraqi Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations; the Egyptian Pharaonic civilization; the Lebanese Phoenician civilization; and the Palestinian Canaanite civilization.

2. The 3 Semitic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam were all born in the Arab region.

3. The Post-Islamic Arab civilization (which is the subject of this article) contributed handsomely to the European Renaissance.

I

Arab Civilization before Islam

Contrary to some popular Western misconceptions propagated by many Western “experts” and “authorities” on the Arab world alleging that Arabs did not have any civilization before Islam, or that Arabs were nothing more than a collection of nomadic warring primitive tribes, confined solely to the Arabian Peninsula, who spent most of their existence looking for food and water, the historical record proves otherwise. In fact, centuries before the birth of Islam, the Arabs had several civilizations, not only in the Arabian Peninsula itself, but also in the Fertile Crescent, some of which were highly advanced which elaborate development and culture. Although Arab civilization before Islam might not have had a noticeable impact on Greece and Rome, it is nonetheless important to briefly mention here the following pre-Islamic Arab civilizations in order to dispel this wrong conventional Western notion that Arabs had no civilization before the birth of Islam, were nothing but wandering nomads, and were confined only to the Arabian Peninsula.

 

1

The Kingdom of Saba (or Sheba)

One of the earliest and most important of all pre-Islamic Arab civilizations is the Qahtani Kingdom of Saba or Sheba (10th century BCE – 7th century CE), which had an elaborate civilization, legendary in its reputation of prosperity and wealth. The Kingdom of Saba was located in the southwestern mountainous rainy parts of the Arabian Peninsula in what is known today as the regions of Aseer and Yemen. Envious of its wealth, the Romans named it “Arabia Felix” (fortunate or prosperous Arabia).

The Sabaean capital, Ma’rib, was located near San’a, today’s capital of Yemen, which was reportedly founded by Noah’s (Nooh alayhissalaam) eldest son Shem (or “Sam” in Arabic) from whose name the word “Sami” in Arabic or “Semitic” in English comes. In addition to their domains in the Arabian Penisula, the Sabaean kings controlled for a long time some parts of the East African coast across the Red Sea where they established the Kingdom of Abyssinia, which is Eritrea today. It should be indicated here that the name “Abyssinia” comes from the Arabic word “Habashah”. One of the most famous rulers of the Sabaeans was Queen Balgais. This mystic Arab Queen of Sheba was well known for her beauty, grace, wealth, charm, and splendor. She reportedly had a famous impassioned encounter with the Hebrew King Solomon (Nabi Sulayman alayhissalaam) when she took a special trip to Jerusalem

The Sabaean Kingdom produced and traded in spices, Arabian frankincense, myrrh, and other Arabian aromatics. The Sabaeans excelled in agriculture and had a remarkable irrigation system with terraced mountains, incredible huge water tunnels in mountains and great dams including the legendary Ma’rib Dam, which was built around 2000 BCE. This Arab dam was considered to be one the greatest technological wonders of the ancient world. However, the tragic breaking of the Ma’rib Dam around 575, as indicated in the Qur’an, was an event of very traumatic proportions in the collective consciousness of all Arabs at the time and of later generations.

2

The Kingdom of Himyar

The Arab Kingdom of Himyar (115 BCE to 525 CE), which was also located in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula, had a sizable number of Arab Christians and Arab Jews (not Hebrews). The most prominent Arab Jew of this kingdom was King Dhu al-Nuwas who persecuted his Arab Christian subjects. He reportedly incinerated some of them alive in retaliation for their persecution of Arab Jews in neighboring Arab Christian Najran.

From their capital city, first at Zafar and later at San’a, the powerful Himyarite kings executed military plans which resulted in the expansion of their domains at times eastward as far as the Persian Gulf and northward into the Arabian Desert. However, internal disorder and the changing of trade routes eventually caused the kingdom to suffer political and economic decline. In fact, after several unsuccessful attempts, the African Abyssinians finally invaded the Arab Himyarite Kingdom in 525. In 570, the year Prophet Mohammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was born, the Abyssinian governor Abraha sent an army of elephant-borne troops in an unsuccessful attempt to attack the city of Makkah (Mecca) and destroy its Ka’bah. In 575 the Persians invaded Himyar and ended the Abyssinian presence in Himyar. But the Persians did not last long there either. Soon thereafter Islam swept the entire Arabian Peninsula.

3

The Nabataean Kingdom

The Arab Nabataean Kingdom was established in the 6th century BCE. It was located south of the Dead Sea and along the eastern shores of the Gulf of Aqaba in the northern parts of the Hejaz. The Nabataeans had their capital city in Petra that was a flourishing center of commerce and civilization. The Nabataeans’ great achievements and culture are still echoed in the magnificent carved-in-the-mountains monuments they left behind. Thousands of tourists from all over the world are attracted every year to this Arab region to see these monuments not only at Petra in Jordan but also in Saudi Arabia’s Mada’in Salih (i.e., Prophet Salih who warned the Thamud Arab Kingdom to worship Allah before the birth of Prophet Mohammad). The small Arab neighboring Kingdoms of Ad, Thamud, and Lihyan – all also with brilliant monuments and achievements mentioned in the Qu’ran – came under the Nabataean suzerainty for a while.

The Arab Nabataean Kingdom, which at its zenith ruled much of the Syrian interior including Damascus, later became a vassal Roman state and eventually fell victim to European colonialism when it was absorbed into the Roman Empire as the “Provincia Arabia” in 195 CE. In fact, the Roman Emperor Philip, who ruled from 244 to 249, was ethnically an Arab from this Arab Nabataean region. Incidentally, this Roman Emperor who was known as “Philip the Arab”, was preceded to the Palatine Hill in Rome by a series of Arab empresses, half-Arab emperors, and the fully Arab Elagabulus of Emesa. It is also believed by some scholars that Philip the Arab was really the first Roman Christian emperor (244-249 CE) rather than Constantine I who ruled the Roman Empire (312-337 CE) 63 years after him.

4

The Kingdom of Tadmor (or Palmyra)

Another important Arab civilization before Islam was the famous Kingdom of Palmyra (or Tadmor in Arabic), which is now Hims in Syria. Although mentioned in some history books as early as the 9th century BCE, Tadmor became only prominent in the 3rd century BCE when it controlled the vital trade route between Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean. The Tadmorians had a great civilization and excelled in international trade. However, like the Nabataeans, they eventually came under the control of the expanding Roman imperialism by becoming another client Arab state of Rome.

In 265 the Tadmorian Arab King Udhayna (or Odenathus) was rewarded by the Romans to become a vice-emperor of the Roman Empire because of his assistance in their war against Persia. However, King Udhayna’s widow Zainab (aka az-Zabba or Zenobia), the famous strong Arab queen wanted nothing less for Palmyra than a complete independence from Rome. She succeeded in temporarily driving the Roman invaders out of most of the Fertile Crescent and proclaimed her son Wahballat (or Athenodorus) to be the true emperor of a new independent Arab Palmyra. Queen Zainab’s Arabian independent spirit, however, deeply angered the Romans and eventually resulted in the destruction of the Tadmorian Kingdom in 273 by a powerful force of the Roman imperial army. As part of the Roman victory celebration, queen Zainab was brutally taken to Rome in golden chains.

5

The Kingdom of Kindah

Kindat al-Muluk (or the Royal Kindah) was a famous Arab kingdom, which originated in the southern Arabian Peninsula near Yemen’s Hadramawt region. Its capital city, al-Fau, was excavated northeast of Najran in Saudi Arabia in 1972 by Saudi archaeologists from King Saud University in Riyadh. The Kingdom of Kindah became prominent around the late 5th and early 6th centuries CE when it made one of the earliest and successful efforts to unite several Arab tribes under its new domain in Najd in central Arabia.

The traditional founder and ruler of Kindah was Hujr Akil al-Murar. However, the most renowned of all Kindah kings was al-Harith ibn Amr, Hujr’s grandson, who extended his kingdom’s domain north by invading Iraq and temporarily capturing al-Hirah, the capital city of the Arab Christian Kingdom of Lakhmid. But in 529 al-Hirah was liberated by its Christian Arabs who killed King al-Harith along with 50 members of his family. After al-Harith’s death, the Kindah Kingdom split up into four factions – Asad, Taghlib, Kinanah, and Qays – each led by a prince. The famous pre-Islamic Arab poet Imru’ al-Qays (who died around 540) was the prince of Qays. The continuing feuding between these Arab factions, however, eventually forced the Kindah princes by the middle of the 6th century to withdraw to their original place in southern Arabia next to Yemen. Nevertheless, after Islam was established throughout the Arabian Peninsula, many descendants of the Royal Kindah continued to hold powerful political positions within the Islamic state. In fact, one branch of the Royal Kindah was even successful in gaining great political influence in far away Arab Andalusia in the European Iberian Peninsula.

6

The Kingdom of Lakhmid

The Arab Christian Kingdom of Lakhmid, which originated in the 3rd century CE, reached the height of its power during the 6th century under King al-Munthir III (503-554). Its domain covered from the western shores of the Persian Gulf all the way north to Iraq where its capital city, al-Hira, was located on the Euphrates River near present day Kufah. Working in close cooperation with the Zoroastrian Persian Sasanian Empire to which the Lakhmid Kingdom was a vassal state, al-Munthir III raided and frequently challenged the pro-Byzantine Arab Kingdom of Ghassan in Syria. His son King Amr Ibn Hind was patron of the legendary Arab poet Tarfah Ibn al-Abd and other poets associated with the seven Mu’allaqat (the Suspended Odes”) of pre-Islamic Arabia (see “The Jahiliyyah” below). The Lakhmid dynasty eventually disintegrated after the death of its great Arab Christian King an-Nu’man III in 602.

7

The Kingdom of Ghassan

As the Lakhmid Arab Kingdom was Christian so was its Arab neighbor to the west, the Kingdom of Ghassan, whose capital city was Damascus. This Syrian Ghassanid Kingdom was prominent in the 6th century and was an ally of the Byzantine Empire. It protected the vital spice trade route from the south of the Arabian Peninsula and also acted as a buffer against the desert bedouins.

The Ghassanid King al-Harith Ibn Jabalah (reigned 529-569), who was a Monophysite Christian, supported the Christian Byzantine Empire against the Zoroastrian Sasanian Persian Empire and successfully opposed the Arab Kingdom of Lakhmids, which sided with Persians. As a result, King al-Harith was given the title of “Patricius” by the Byzantine emperor Justinian.

Like the Lakhmids, the Ghassanids patronized the arts and many literary geniuses such as al-Nabighah al-Thubyani and Hassan Ibn Thabit. Great Arab poets like them were frequently entertained in the royal courts of the Ghassanid kings. After the emergence of Islam in the 7th century, most inhabitants of the Kingdom of Ghassan became Muslim. One of the most prominent poets of the Kingdom of Ghassan was Hassan Ibn Thabit. Ibn Thabit, who espoused Islam, wrote several famous and beautiful poems in praise of Prophet Mohammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).

8

The Jahiliyyah (Pre-Islamic Arabia)

Even in the period of Jahiliyyah (or “the ignorance” of pre-Islamic Arabia 500-622) the Arabs also had a great cultural literary civilization. Its great classical belles letters could very easily be compared to the best literary treasures developed during the later golden age of the Arab/Islamic civilization of the Abbasids and Andalusia. The Jahiliyyah era witnessed a vibrant golden age of Arab poetry and odes. Among the top pre-Islamic Arab poets, whose poems are still studied in college and pre-college curricula throughout the Arab world, are the seven legendary poets of the Golden Odes, known as the Seven Mu’allaqat (“the Suspended Odes”). These seven pre-Islamic Arab poets who belonged to different Arab tribes included: Prince Imru’ al-Qays of the Kindah Kingdom; Tarfah (by far the greatest pre-Islamic Arab poet); Zuhair; Labid (who became so overwhelmed by the power and elegance of the Qur’an that he refused to compose any poetry for the last thirty years of his life); Antar (the greatest cavalier warrior of pre-Islamic Arabia); Amru’ Ibn Kalthoom; and al-Harith Ibn Hillizah. Each one of these seven great Arab poets wrote magnificent lengthy poems accentuated with passion, love, eloquence, courage, and sensuality. Their seven golden odes, considered to be the greatest literary treasure of pre-Islamic Arabia, were accorded the highest honor by the critics of the times in the annual poetry fair in Ukaz near Makkah. Their works were inscribed in gold letters and hung (or “suspended”) on the door and walls of the Ka’bah for the public to read, enjoy, and appreciate. To these seven incomparable Jahiliyyah Arab poets one must add the following four geniuses in poetry: an-Nabighah al-Thubyani, Hassan Ibn Thabit, al-Hutay’ah, and al-Khansa’ (a female).

Although most of pre-Islamic Arabia during the Jahiliyyah period was largely nomadic and tribal where bedouin wars and conflicts were the norms among the disunited Arab tribes and where most people believed in pagan religions and superstitions, the two important cities of the Hejaz, Makkah and Ukaz, stood as shining spots in the entire Arabian Peninsula. In fact, Makkah was the religious, political, economic, intellectual, and cultural center of pre-Islamic Arabia. The Ka’bah in Makkah and Mount Arafat outside it (both of which were later incorporated in Islam) had been important religious sites for annual pilgrimage centuries before the coming of Islam.

II

Arab Civilization after Islam

Within a very short period of time after the birth of Islam in the 7th century, the Arabs built a vast empire that stretched from Spain and Portugal (Andalusia) in the west all the way to the Indian subcontinent in the east. Covering almost half of the old known world, the Arab empire was one and a half times the size of the Roman Empire at its peak. Unlike earlier civilizations, the Arab civilization dominated the Mediterranean and made it practically an Arab lake. The Arabs occupied Spain and Portugal in 711 and were on the verge of engulfing all of France in 732 when Charles Martel stopped their advances in the heart of Western Europe in the Battle of Tours, about 100 miles south of Paris.

Between the 7th and 15th centuries, the Arabs established a brilliant civilization the like of which was not contemporaneously found anywhere in the world. However, since Islam united all Arabs for the first time in their history, and rejected nationalism and secularism (Islam united Arabs and non-Arabs under the banner of Islam), Arab civilization and Islamic civilization were one and the same. The two could not be separated. Several Arab powerful states were established each with its own distinct Arab civilization. The most important of these are the following three, the last two of which are considered to be the Arab golden age. These are: The Ummayad State with its capital city in Damascus (661-750); the Abbasid State with its capital city in Baghdad (750-1258); and Arab Andalusia (711-1492) in the European Iberian Peninsula of Spain and Portugal (a continuation of the Ummayad State) with its capital city first in Cordoba and later in Granada. For centuries Arab Andalusia represented Europe’s main cultural center. Although the Arab Abbasid State of the east and Arab Andalusia of the west existed at the same time, they were not united because of the rivalry between their Arab leaders.

In all of the above-mentioned three major Arab States, Arabic was the official language and Islam was the official religion. However, Arabs, half-Arabs, and non-Arabs of all the three Semitic religious faiths lived together in racial and religious harmony. There was a great deal of tolerance towards Christians and Jews whether they were Arabs or not. Within all Arab/Islamic empires, Arabs played the major role in all of the political, economic, social, cultural, educational, and scientific affairs. Non-Arabs were deeply Arabized both emotionally and culturally. In short, these three Islamic civilizations (Ummayad, Abbasid, and Andalusia) were by and large Arab.

However, after the destruction of the Arab Abbasid State in 1258 at the hands of the Mongols and their ruthless leader Hulagu (a crushing defeat that the Arabs have never completely recovered from), the Muslim Turks took over the leadership of the Muslim world. In an affirmation of the political unity of the Islamic nation or “Ummah” (because Islam rejects nationalism), the Turks established their Muslim Ottoman State (1258-1922) with its capital first in Bursa and later in Istanbul (Constantinople), the former capital city of the Eastern Roman Empire (or the Byzantine Empire). It was only in this last major Muslim Turkish State, which did not include either Persia or Andalusia, that the Arabs did not play a dominant role in the political or cultural affairs of the Islamic State. Nor was Arabic the official language of the Ottoman Empire in its last days.

Nonetheless, inspired by numerous exhortations of Prophet Mohammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) to Muslims such as: “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave“; “Search for knowledge, even if you must go to China to find it“; and “The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr”, the Arabs excelled in science and art and provided the world with a brilliant and unique civilization. Arab civilization contributed a great deal to the world in general and to the West in particular by helping bring about the European Renaissance, first in Spain and Portugal and later in Italy. As will be explained shortly, the West is immensely indebted to the Arabs for many scientific, technological, and artistic inventions as well as philosophical concepts. As the contemporary Western civilization has enlightened the world, so did the old Arab/Islamic civilization.

However, while the brilliant ancient civilizations of Iraq and Egypt, and the Jewish and Christian religions that emerged from Palestine, are all acknowledged in the West but only as a part of what is strangely called “Western civilization”, the great Arab/Islamic civilization (like Islam itself) that emerged from the same Arab region is either ignored in the West or, if mentioned, distorted and belittled by many European and American “scholars” and “experts”. In fact, these so-called “Arabists” or “Orientalists” cannot hide their hatred, resentment, racism, and patronizing attitudes towards the Arabs and Islam. [1]

Because Arab civilization – especially that of the Abbasid State – included some contributions from half-Arab and non-Arab Muslims as well as from Arab Jews and Arab Christians, many American “scholars”, who like to demean or insult the Arabs, downplay the vital Arab role in the Arab/Islamic civilization. They argue that Arab civilization was copied from the Greeks and/or was nothing more than the civilization of Persians, Turks and other non-Arab Muslims. Even the so-called American “left” and “open-minded scholars” argue in a racist way that Arab contribution to the Islamic civilization was minimal. For example, the following citation is a typical example of Western distortion of Arab contribution to Islamic civilization. In an address given at a symposium on the history of philosophy of science held at Boston University on September 22, 1994, Mr. Dirk Struik said the following, which appeared in the American Monthly Review, the so-called “left-wing and socialist” periodical: “Incidentally, we often speak of the Arabs. But these “Arabs” were Persians, Tadjiks, Jews, Moors, etc., seldom Arabs [My underlining]. What they had in common was their use of the Arabic language.” [2] Also, Mr. Struik wrongly referred to the Jews as a distinct nationality, forgetting the elementary fact that “Jews” are nothing but the adherents of the Jewish faith regardless of their race or language, and disregarding the basic fact that Arab Jews have always existed even up to the present time. He also wrongly implied that Moors are not Arabs, dismissing the simple fact that Moors are indeed Arabs. In addition, Mr. Struik even ridiculed and belittled Arab contribution to human civilization by saying: “…the Arabs, who were so kind [my underlining] as to keep the torch of Greek science ablaze to pass it over to the Europeans…” [3]

However, unlike Mr. Struik and the many Western “scholars” like him who distort Arab intellectual and scientific contributions to humanity, Professor Briffault in his book Making of Humanity simply stated the basic facts: “Science is the most momentous contribution of Arab civilization to the modern world.” [4] In addition, historians Edward Burns and Philip Palph concluded that: “The intellectual achievements of the …[Arabs] were far superior to any of which Christian Europe could boast before the twelfth century.” [5] They also correctly acknowledged that: “In no subject were the [Arabs] farther advanced than in science. In fact, their achievements in this field were the best the world had seen since the end of the Hellenistic civilization.” [6] In addition, Burns and Palph wrote that Arabs:

“…were brilliant astronomers, mathematicians, physicists, chemists, and physicians. Despite their reverence for Aristotle, they did not hesitate to criticize his notion of a universe of concentric spheres with the earth at the center, and they admitted the possibility that the earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun… [The Arabs] were also capable mathematicians and developed algebra and trigonometry… [Arab] physicists founded the science of optics and drew a number of significant conclusions regarding the theory of magnifying lenses and the velocity, transmission, and refraction of light…[Arab] scientists were the first to describe the chemical processes of distillation, filtration, and sublimation…The accomplishments in medicine were just as remarkable…[The Arabs] discovered the contagious nature of tuberculosis, described pleurisy and several varieties of nervous ailments, and pointed out that the disease can be spread through contamination of water and soil.” [7]

In fact, the Arabs were the world’s pioneers in establishing the first major institutions of higher learning. Arabs established the oldest universities in the world. The University of Qeirawan in Fez, Morocco was founded in 859, and the al-Azhar Mosque-University was established in 970 in Cairo. On the other hand, the oldest university in Europe is the University of Bologna in Italy, which was founded in 1088.

1

The Golden Arab Abbasid Civilization

Arab civilization reached its golden age during the Abbasid era (750-1258). Baghdad, the seat of the powerful Abbasid State – which the USA brutally and illegally occupied in 2003 – was the proud Arab capital city and the world’s major center for the arts and sciences. Abbasid’s Baghdad was not only the largest city in the world in size, about 100 square kilometers, but was also the world’s most crowded city, containing about 2 million people. During its heyday, Baghdad was the center of the richest and most powerful country in the entire world. It contained two of the world’s oldest and greatest universities, the Nizamiyah and the Mustansiriyah.

Baghdad was also the seat of the legendary Bait al-Hikmah or (“the House of Wisdom”), the most widely-respected “think tank” and the major research center in all of the vast Abbasid Empire. From it came various important translations of Greek and other earlier non-Arab scientific manuscripts; major breakthroughs in many scientific and artistic fields; and different discoveries in various scientific fields that enriched Arab civilization and in turn benefited the West and the rest of the world.

Moreover, Baghdad had many banks, where the world’s first checking accounts were established, with various branches all over the world even as far as China; an enormous free general public hospital; a thousand physicians; many pharmacies; a large number of schools and higher institutions of learning; a very well-organized postal service; countless libraries and bookstores; an excellent water-supply system; a comprehensive sewage system; and a great paper mill. Even though paper was invented in China, it was the Arabs who introduced it to the West. The Europeans, who up to the 12th century used only parchment for writing, learned for the first time the art of manufacturing paper from straw after the brutal Crusaders invaded the Arab world. [8]

Among the great Arab inventions was the clock. Some Arab clocks had their timepieces moved by water, others by burning candles or mercury. A beautiful Arab water clock was given in 807 as a gift by the great Arab Abbasid Caliph Haroon ar-Rasheed (786-809) to the French King Charlemagne who was totally impressed by it. In fact, the 13th century Abbasid Arab genius, Ibn ar-Razzaz al-Jazari, invented impressive arrays of water-operated monumental clocks such as the famous automated Peacock Fountain and the Castle Water Clock.

The Abbasid Arab leaders, or Caliphs, were the most opulent rulers in the entire world. Their palaces, halls, parks, and treasures were highly ostentatious. For example when a diplomatic Byzantine delegation arrived in Baghdad during the reign of the Caliph al-Muqtadir (908-32), they were highly impressed to see the outstanding treasures in the store-chambers and the magnificent armies of elephants caparisoned in peacock-silk brocade. The Byzantine delegation saw Caliph al-Muqtadir arrayed in brilliant clothes embroidered in gold and sitting on an ebony throne which was surrounded on both sides by nine hung collars of gems and other fabulous jewels. [9] In his elegant Room of the Tree, they observed:

“…a tree, standing in the midst of a great circular tank filled with clear water. The tree has eighteen branches, every branch having numerous twigs, on which sit all sorts of gold and silver birds, both large and small. Most of the branches of this tree are of silver, but some are of gold, and they spread into the air carrying leaves of different colours. The leaves of the tree move as the wind blows, while the birds pipe and sing.” [10]

In fact, the Arabs were so advanced in all of the scientific and artistic fields over the West that they considered the Europeans to be inferior barbarians with uncouth manners. In a language similar to the current racist propaganda perpetrated by many Europeans and Americans against non-Europeans, especially Blacks, the famous 10th-century Arab geographer/historian Abu al-Hasan al-Mas’udi of Baghdad (died 956) wrote the following about the Europeans:

The peoples of the north are those for whom the sun is distant from the Zenith… cold and damp prevail in those regions, and snow and ice follow one another in endless succession. The warm humour is lacking among them; their bodies are large, their natures gross, their manners harsh, their understanding dull and their tongues heavy… their religious beliefs lack solidity…those of them who are farthest to the north are the most subject to stupidity, grossness and brutishness.” [11]

In addition, in the 11th-century, an Arab judge from Toledo in Arab Spain made even more racist remarks than al-Mas’udi’s about the “stupidity” of the Europeans and their lack of civilization. He wrote:

“…their bellies are big, their colour pale, their hair long and lank. They lack keenness of understanding and clarity of intelligence, and are overcome by ignorance and foolishness, blindness and stupidity.” Even as late as the 14th century the great Arab sociologist and philosopher, Ibn Khaldun, made contemptuous remarks about the Europeans. [12]

Before the European Renaissance (the start of the current Western civilization from 1350 to 1650), most of Europe was living in the feudalism of the Dark Ages. Europeans lived in poverty, ignorance, hunger, diseases, violence, treachery, squalor, and intolerance. Most Europeans lived in mud huts with filth, practically like animals. Dirty roadside ditches throughout Europe, filled with stagnant water, served as public latrines. [13] In fact, most Europeans did not even wash their own bodies with water for fear of damaging their skins and health.

2

The Glorious Arab Andalusian Civilization of Europe

Arab entrance into Europe began with an “invitation”. The governor of an outlying province in the Iberian Peninsula sent his daughter to Toledo for schooling. She was supposedly under the protection of King Rodrick (one of the Germanic ruthless Visigoth occupying rulers in Spain) who instead of protecting her, violated and impregnated her. As a result, her father appealed to the Arabs in North Africa for a redress of this injury. [14] The Arabs complied, and thus began almost 8 centuries of Arab occupation and civilization in Europe’s most southwestern part. To be exact, the Arabs stayed in Europe 781 years during which they introduced to the West a wonderful civilization; religious tolerance; racial harmony; public baths; and the novel idea of cleanliness expressed in public and personal hygiene by washing the human body with water.

While most Westerners of the Dark Ages lived in filth, poverty, and ignorance, the Arabs had a brilliant civilization in Andalusia, Europe’s Iberian Peninsula. From 711, when Tariq Ibn Ziyad (rahimahullah) landed with his Arab conquering army at Gibraltar (so named after him from the Arabic words Jabal Tariq or “the Mountain of Tariq”), to 1492 when the Arab presence in Europe ended, Andalusia was the most enlightened, civilized, racially and religiously tolerant place in all of the West.

Before the Arabs arrived in the Iberian Peninsula, the barbarian Germanic occupying Visigoths viciously persecuted Spanish and Portuguese Jews. The Arabs not only treated local Jews with kindness and respect, but also treated their fellow Christians with the same kindness and tolerance that Islam called for. In fact, the Iberian Jews welcomed the Arab conquering army as a liberating force and joined it against the Visigoths. [15] The intolerant Germanic Visigoths also heavily taxed and ruthlessly treated the poor Iberian peasants, rendering them practically as slaves. The Arabs, on the other hand, humanely treated the local peasants and drastically reduced their taxation.

As early as the 10th century, the Arab Andalusian capital, Cordoba, was a magnificent metropolitan center of progress. The pride of the Arabs in Europe, Cordoba had a half million people living in it at a time when no European city could claim a population of even 10,000. Indeed, Arab Cordoba was the largest and most cultured city in all of Europe. Its jewelry, leather work, woven silk and elaborate brocades were highly prized throughout the world. Cordoba’s Arab women copyists excelled far better than most European Christian monks in the production of religious works. A travelling German nun by the name of Hrosvitha, who died in 1002, was highly impressed by Arab Cordoba. She referred to it as “the jewel of the world”. She wrote:

“In the western parts of the globe … there shone forth a fair ornament … a city well cultured … rich and known by the famous name of Cordoba, illustrious because of its charms and also renowned for all resources, especially abounding in the seven streams of knowledge, and ever famous for continual victories.” [16]

Arab Cordoba was truly the jewel of the entire world. In contrast to the dust and mud which would remain familiar features of the streets of London and Paris for 7 centuries to come, Cordoba had miles of paved streets; street lights (even seven hundred years later there was not so much as one public lamp in London); 113,000 houses with lavatories and water drainage (even poor houses had them, something which was not found at the time in most other European cities); 700 mosques; 300 public baths; 70 public libraries; numerous bookstores; parks and palaces; [17] and two major magnificent treasures unequal for their sophistication in the known civilized world.

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                     Mosque of Cordoba

The first treasure was the Great Mosque of Cordoba, the most extraordinary religious shrine, second in size only to the Great Mosque of Makkah. It was completed in 976 and took 200 years to build. This Great Mosque, which is still a major tourist attraction in Spain today, is a vast rectangle with a deep sanctuary divided into 19 aisles by a forest of 870 marble columns. The interior of this marvelous religious shrine was beautifully decorated with gold; silver; precious stones; mosaics; colored tiles; contrasting green and red marbles; carved plater; wall paintings; Qur’anic calligraphy; and 8,000 oil lamps, to provide light, hung from two hundred chandeliers. The scent of burning aloes and the perfumed oils in the lamps drifted through the arches of the long naves. The Mosque’s spacious seven-sided mihrab (the prayer niche which directs worshipers toward Makkah) was lined with gold mosaics and marbles. Next to the mihrab stood the beautifully carved minbar (or pulpit) with its several straight steps for the Imam to climb up in order to give his Friday sermon. This wonderful unique pulpit, which took eight talented craftsmen seven years to make, was laced with rails of gold and silver and made of ivory, ebony, sandalwood, and citron wood. Unfortunately, this magnificent pulpit was cut into pieces when the Spanish Christians took over Cordoba in 1236. Today this great mosque is the Catholic Cathedral of Cordoba.

The second treasure in the Arab Andalusian capital city of Cordoba was the outstanding enormous public library. Completed around 970, this wonderful library alone had over 440,000 books, more than all of the books in all of France at the time. In addition to this gigantic public library, there were 69 other public libraries in Cordoba. These Arab libraries had been using paper for over 200 years at a time when the few Europeans, who could read or write, were still using animal skins for writing.

Just outside Cordoba, in the city of al-Zahra, the Arab ruler Abdul-Rahman III built his famous magnificent Palace of Madinat al-Zahra. One of the great wonders of this extraordinary Arab palace was the Room of the Caliphs, which had a gilded ceiling and walls of multi-colored marble blocks. On each side of the hall were eight splendid doors, which stood between columns of clear crystal and colored marble, decorated with gold and ebony and inlaid with precious stones. In the center of this beautiful room was a large pool filled with mercury, which produced dazzling reflections from the walls and ceiling every time the sunrays shone on it. When the surface of the pool was quivered, the whole room was shot through with rays of light, giving the impression that the room was floating away. All experts and writers at the time agreed that the magnificence of this Arab hall had never been equaled anywhere in the world. [18]

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After the fall of Cordoba to the Spanish Christians, the Arabs moved their capital city to Granada – in the south of the Iberian Peninsula – which also became famous as an Arab center of arts and learning. Arab Granada was also renowned for its wealth and trade especially in silk. To immortalize Grenada, its Andalusian Arab rulers built the magnificent Palace of al-Hamra (“the red”) or Alhambra Palace. This unique palace has two splendid courts, the Court of the Lions and the Court of the Myrtles, considered to be the most magnificent and glorious of all Arab monuments in Spain. The Alhambra Palace, which was also an Arab fortress, took about 100 years to build and is today a major tourist attraction attesting to the beauty and genius of Arab architecture. In addition to Cordoba and Granada, Seville and Toledo also served as the greatest houses of Arab Andalusian knowledge. In fact, Toledo was the main center of scientific translation from Arabic to Latin.

The Andalusian Arabs also produced several exotic agricultural products (see “Agriculture” below) and developed many great manufactured products, which were all exported to Western Europe and the rest of the world. These industrial products include: textiles; paper; silk; baked tile; glazed cups, dishes, and jars which rivaled Chinese porcelain; pottery; sugar refining; gold; silver; ruby; silk; various crafted metals; marble; ceramics; and the much-admired Cordovan (“cordwain”) leather-work.

The sciences that the Andalusian Arabs excelled in and were taught at their universities, which helped educate several generations of Western scholars and students from all over Europe, included: mathematics, geometry, astronomy, physics, chemistry, architecture, optics, meteorology, engineering, pharmacology, medicine, biology, botany, anatomy, zoology, and philosophy. It should also be mentioned here that Arab students in Andalusia were the first to use the cap and gown worn today by students all over the world during graduation ceremony.

III

The Legacy of Arab/Islamic Civilization and Its Impact on the West

Thanks to Islam and Arab civilization, Arabic has become the richest of all Semito-Hamitic languages (so-named after Noah’s (Nuh alayhissalaam) two eldest sons Sam and Ham), and one of the world’s greatest languages in history. As a major language of scripture and civilization, Arabic has deeply influenced several world languages both in the East and the West such as Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Hindi, Spanish, Portuguese, Maltese, Malay-Indonesian; some African languages like Hausa and Swahili; and to a lesser extent even the English language (see below). The Arabic alphabet, which contains 28 letters (2 more letters than the English alphabet), is now – like the Latin alphabet – one of the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world used in the writing of the languages of Muslim countries like Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Between the 9th and 15th centuries, during the zenith of Arab civilization, Arabic was the international language of science to a degree which has since never been equaled by any other language including English. Arabic was not only the language of the Arab people, but also the language of many other peoples and faiths. Neither Greek, nor Latin, nor even English has ever attained the far-reaching unique historical dominance over human civilization as Arabic had. Arabic was so important as the language of science that European scholars had to learn it as they learned Latin. Today, Arabic is one of only six official languages of the United Nations along with French, English, Russian, Chinese, and Spanish. Arabic is also the World’s fourth most popular language after Chinese, English, and Spanish. And as the language of the important Arab oil-producing countries, Arabic has also achieved a prominent status in the world of international finance and economics.

In fact, the profound impact of the Arabs and their civilization on Western civilization can be found in the many Arabic words that became part of the everyday language in the West. While it is obvious that the influence of Arabic is much greater on Spanish and Portuguese, both of which contain many thousands of Arabic words, than on any other European language, at least some 4% of the English language came from Arabic. [19] The following is a group of words from several scientific and cultural areas – presented in alphabetical order – used today in English that originally came from the Arabic language:

[aba, abelmosk, abutilon, Achernar, acrab, admiral, adobe, afreet (or afrit), albacore, albatross, alcalde, alcazar, alchemy, alcohol, alcove, Aldebaran, alembic, alfalfa, alforja, algarroba, algebra, Algol, algorism (or algorithm), alidade, alkali, alkanet, Allah, almanac, alphabet, Altair, amalgam, amber, ameer (or amir), aniline, antimony, apricot, ardeb, argan, ariel, arrack, arroba, arsenal, artichoke, assassin, atabal (or attabal), attar, aubergine, average, azimuth, azure …

baldachin, banana, barberry, bard (or barde), bark, barkentine, bedouin, benzoin, berseem, Betelgeuse, bint, bonduc, borax, buckram, bulbul, burnoose (or burnous) …

cable, cadi (or kadi or qadi), calabash, caliber (or calibre), caliph, caliphate, camel, camise, camlet, camphor, canal, candy, cane, Caph, carafe, carat, caravan, caraway, carmine, carob, carrack, Casbah (or Kasbah), check (from the Arabic word “sakk”), checkmate, chiffon, cinnabar, cipher, civet, coffee, coffer, coffle, colcothar, Copt, cotton, crimson, crocus, cubeb, cumin, curcuma …

dahabeah, damascene, damask (from Damascus), damson, darabukka, Deneb, dhow, dinar, dirham, djin (or djinn or djinni), dragoman, drub, durra …

elixir, emir, emirate …

fakir, fedayee (or fedayeen), fellah, fennec, fils, Fomalhaut, fustic …

gabelle, galingale, garble, gauze, gazelle, genet, genie, ghibli, ghoul, Gibraltar, ginger, giraffe, grab, guitar, gundi, gypsum …

haik, hajj, hajji, hakim, halva (or halvah), hamal (or hammal), hardim, harem, hashish, hazard, hegira (or hejiara), henna, hookah, houri, howdah …

imam, imamate, imaret …

jar, jasmine, jebel, jerboe, jereed, jessamine, jihad, jinn (or jinni), jubba (or jubbah), julep …

Kaabah, kabob (or kebab), Kabyle, kafir (or kaffir), kantar (or qantar), kaph, kat (or qat), kef, kermes, khamsin, khan, khanjar, kismet, kohl, Koran (or Qur’an)…

lacquer, lake, lapislazuli, latakia, leban (or leben), lemon, lilac, lime, lute …

magazine, Mahdi, majoon, mancus, marabout, marcasite, marzipan, mascara, mask, massage, mastaba, mate (as in checkmate in Chess), mattress, mecca (after Makkah or Mecca), mezereon, minaret, Mizar, mizen (or mizzen), mocha (from Mocha, Yemen), mohair, monsoon, mosque, muezzin, mufti, mullah, mummy, Muslim, muslin (from Mosul), Mussalman (or Mussulman), myrrh …

nabob, nacre, nadir, natron, nizam, noria, nucha, nuchal …

oka (or oke), olibanum, orange, Ottoman, oud …

pandore, pistachio, pherkard, popinjay …

qintar, quintal …

racket, realgar, ream, rebec (or rebeck), retem, retina, rial, ribes, Rigel, rice, risk, riyal, rob, roc, rook, rotl…

safari, safflower, saffron, Sahara, Sahel, sahib, saker, salam, salamoniac, salep, saloop, saluki, sambul, santir, saphena, sash, satin, sayyid, scallion, senna, sequin, serendipity, sesame, shadoof (or shaduf), shaitan, shallot, sharif, sheik (or sheikh), sherbet, sherbert, sherif (or sheriff), shish-kebab, shrub, simoom (or simoon), sinologue, sirocco, sirup, sloop, soda, sofa, spinach, sudd, Sufi, Sufism, sugar, sultan, sultana, sultanate, sumac (or sumach), sumbal (or sumbul or sumbal), sura, Swahili, syce, syrup …

tabby, tabla, tabor (or tabour), taffeta, talc, talisman, tamarind, tambour, tambourine, tangerine, taraxacum, tarboosh (or tarbush), tare, tariff, tarragon, tazza, timbal (or tymbal), traffic, tutty, typhoon …

ulama (or ulema) …

Vega, vizier …

wadi …

xeba, xebec …

yashmac (or yashmak) …

zaffer (or zaffre), zareba (or zariba), zenith, zero, zibet (or zibeth) …]

However, more important than the above Arabic words are the actual scientific contributions and foundations that the Arabs provided for the West. As indicated earlier, the European Renaissance was deeply indebted to the Arabs and their civilization. From the Arabs the Europeans took the basic scientific, technological, philosophical, and cultural foundations that put them on top of the world and eventually led them in their global colonial terrorization of the non-European world, which started with Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the Western Hemisphere in 1492. In fact, one of Columbus’s main sea navigators was an Arab Muslim who upon sighting the land of the New World joyfully shouted in Arabic: “Allahu Akbar” (or God is the Greatest). [20]

Indeed, as will be revealed shortly, major works in various philosophical and scientific fields were borrowed and/or copied from the Arabs by a number of leading European scholars and scientists before, during, and after the European Renaissance. The following is a brief summary of the Arab contribution to Western and human civilizations in 15 major scientific and artistic disciplines. Only the top Arab and Muslim scientists (as well as some occasional Arab Jews and Arab Christians) both from the Abbasid and Andalusian civilizations are mentioned in this survey.

1

Mathematics

The Arabs and Muslims contributed more to the field of mathematics, the basic foundation of modern civilization, than any other people in history. To the magnificent Arab civilization the world owes algebra, algorithm (logarithm), arithmetic, calculus, geometry, trigonometry, the decimal system, and the brilliant “zero”. The revolutionary “zero”, which gave us what is referred to in the West as the Arabic decimal numeration system, did not originate in India as some Western historians claim but was rather developed in ancient Iraq by the Neo-Babylonians maybe as early as 500 BCE. [21] American mathematics Professor Karl J. Smith indicated in his textbook, The Nature of Mathematics, that while the ancient Indians developed mathematical digital symbols, their numeration system offered no advantage over other earlier systems because it did not contain a “zero” or use a positional system. [22] Although the Arabs’ Semitic ancestors in ancient Iraq developed the “zero”, it was only through the great post-Islamic Arab civilization that it was incorporated into the main body of the general mathematical theory. It took Europe almost 300 years to finally accept the “zero” as a gift from the Arabs. The Arabic numerals were simultaneously expressed in somewhat two different figures or forms, one Abbasid (the eastern style which most Arabs currently use) and one Andalusian (the western style which is used today in the Arab Maghrib countries of Northwest Africa). It was this Arab Andalusian form of numerals (i.e., 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9) that the West and the rest of the world eagerly adopted; hence the worldwide label “Arabic numerals”.

Mohammad al-Khawarizmi (780-850), the giant genius scientist who was born and died in Abbasid Baghdad, created modern algebra and made brilliant contributions in the field of mathematics. In fact, the word “algorithm” is derived from his name, and the Arabic word al-jabr (or “algebra” in English) comes from the title of his major work, Kitab al-Jabr wa al-Muqabalah (“The Book of Integration and Equation”). Served for a number of years as the Executive Director of the prestigious “House of Wisdom” in Baghdad, al-Khawarizmi was also the first scientist in history to explain how passing light through water particles creates rainbows.

Another Muslim genius in mathematics, also from Abbasid Baghdad, is Abu Arrayhan al-Biruni (973-1048) who was a mathematician, astronomer, physician, physicist, chemist, geographer and historian. He was probably the greatest scientist in all of medieval Islam. Another great mathematician is Naseer al-Din at-Tusi (1201-1274). It was in the super work of at-Tusi that trigonometry achieved the status of an independent branch of pure mathematics, thus making it an invention of Arabic science. At-Tusi’s contribution was to combine the results of earlier investigators and to replace Menelaus’ complete quadrilateral by a simple triangle, thus freeing trigonometry from spherical astronomy. [23]

Practically all of the advanced trigonometrical work in the world during the 12th and 13th centuries were made by Muslim mathematicians and published in Arabic. Arabic influence in this major scientific field did not only impact the West, but also other parts of the world. It seemed that even the Chinese trigonometry as used by Kuo Shouching at the end of the 13th century was also of Arab origin. [24]

2

Astronomy

The most important figure in this scientific field is the Arab Abu Abdullah al-Battani (aka Albategius: 858-929) from the Abbasid era. He was the best-known Arab astronomer in Europe during the Middle Ages. Al-Battani refined existing values for the inclination of the ecliptic, for the length of the year and of the seasons, and for the annual precession of the equinoxes. He showed that the position of the Sun’s apogee is variable and that the annular eclipses of the Sun are possible.

Al-Battani also improved the Greek Ptolemy’s astronomical calculations by replacing geometrical methods with trigonometry, thus becoming the chief responsible scientist for the first notion of trigonometrical ratios as they are in use to the present day. He carried out many years of remarkably accurate observations at ar-Raqqah in Syria. One of al-Battani’s major works in astronomy – a compendium of astronomical tables – was translated into Spanish and was published in 1537 under the title De motu stellarum (“Our Stellar Motion”). [25]

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Image: An illustration from al-Biruni’s astronomical works, explains the different phases of the moon.

The Abbasid mathematician al-Biruni also made valuable contributions in astronomy by accurately determining the latitudes, longtitudes, geodetic measurements, specific gravity, and the magnitude of the earth’s circumference. In addition, the astronomer Ahmad al-Farghani published a comprehensive treatise on astronomy from which the famous Italian Alighieri Dante heavily borrowed both in his Vita Nuova and his Convivio. [26] The great Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) also quoted several Arab scientists in his famous De Revolutionibus Orbium Celestium – especially the great Arab astronomer and instrument-maker al-Zarkali (aka Arzachel) of Andalusia. Al-Zarkali not only invented a revolutionary astrolabe and wrote a major treatise about it that influenced the entire astronomical sciences of the Middle Ages, [27] but also built a fascinating water clock capable of determining the hours of the day and night and indicating the days of the lunar month. [28]

3

Chemistry

The word “chemistry” itself comes from the Arabic word alchemy (or al-Keem’ya‘). There is no bigger name in the field of Muslim chemistry than the great alchemist Jabir Ibn Hayyan (aka Geber: 721-815), the “father of Arab chemistry” of the Abbasid era. More than 2,000 works are attributed to Jabir Ibn Hayyan. [29] Many of the chemical terms used in English today come from Ibn Hayyan: “alkali”, “antimony”, “realgar” (red sulphide arsenic), and “sal-amoniac” which he discovered. He was also the author of an important work in chemistry on the use of manganese dioxide in glass making; the dyeing of leather and cloth; the waterproofing of cloth; and the preparation of steel. When European scientists began to turn their attention to chemistry, they accepted Ibn Hayyan as their mentor. In 1144 the Englishman Robert of Chester translated Ibn Hayyan’s Book of the Composition of Alchemy into Latin, and Gerard of Cremona also made another translation of Ibn Hayyan’s other important work Book of the Seventy. Ibn Hayyan’s 17th century English translator, Richard Russell, called him: “Geber, the Most Famous Arabian Prince and Philosopher”. [30]

Also, the world’s first explosive developed in the field of gunpowder known as black powder – which is a mixture of salt petre (potassium nitrate), sulfur, and charcoal (carbon) – was originally invented by the Arabs and not by the Chinese [31] as it is commonly believed in the West. The Chinese took this invention from the Arabs, and by the 10th century used it in their fireworks and signals. The Arab-invented black powder was eventually adopted by the Westerners, (during the 14th century primarily for use in firearms), who gradually discontinued it use in the middle of the 19th century in favor of the guncotton (the first smokeless powder) and other forms of nitrocellulose. In addition, around 1304 the Arabs invented the world’s first real gun, a bamboo tube reinforced with iron that used a charge of black powder to shoot an arrow. [32]

4

Physics

In the fields of physics and optics, no Arab scientist comes close to the legendary Abu Ali al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham (aka Alhazen: 965-1039) who was born in Iraq and died in Egypt during the golden Abbasid era. Ibn al-Haytham made the first significant contributions to optical theory since the time of the Alexandrian astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century. In his book On the Burning Glass, he revolutionarized the nature of focusing, magnifying, and inversion of the image.

Ibn al-Haytham was the world’s first scientist to give an accurate account of vision, correctly stating that the light comes from the object seen to the eye, and not the other way around as was previously believed (i.e., from the eye to the seen object). [33] Also, In his widely-acclaimed treatise on optics, translated into Latin in 1270 under the title Opticae Thesaurus Alhazeni Libri VII, this great Arab physicist/optometrist published revolutionary theories on reflection; refraction; binocular vision; focussing with lenses; the rainbow; atmospheric refraction; spherical aberration; parabolic and spherical mirrors; and the apparent increase in size of planetary bodies near the Earth’s horizon. In fact, so complicated and so advanced were Ibn al-Haytham’s theories in physics that for a long time both Western and Eastern scientists were afraid to adopt them. But when he was finally proven to be correct, Ibn al-Haytham’s scientific pre-eminence throughout the world was no longer in doubt. [34] The English Roger Bacon (1242-92) was not the only Western scientist on optics to admit his indebtedness to Ibn al-Haytham. Both the great Italian Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) and the German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) were also deeply influenced by the scientific findings of this Arab genius.

5

Medicine

The great Persian Muslim scientist Abu Bakr al-Razi (aka Rhazes: 865-925) of Abbasid’s Baghdad was the greatest medical authority in the entire Islamic civilization. His major works were translated into Latin. A pioneering physician, al-Razi was the first to describe pupillary reflexes; gave the world’s first account of smallpox and measles; discovered the contagious characters of diseases; and differentiated among colic pain, kidney-stone pain, and the pains of the ileus. His ten-part treatise in Arabic on clinical and internal medicine, at-Tibb al-Mansuri that was translated into Latin under the title Medicinalis Almansoris, was widely influential in the West throughout the Middle Ages. In it, he discussed drugs; diets; skin diseases; child and mother care; mouth hygiene; toxicology and epidemiology; climatology and the effect of environment on health; a regiment for preserving good health; and general medical theories and definitions. In his brilliant treatise on psychic therapy written in Arabic, at-Tibb ar-Ruhani (“Psychic Therapy”), and in his comprehensive medical encyclopedia, al-Hawi fi at-Tibb, al-Razi provided considerable insight into the scope, methods, and applications of the clinical, internal, and psychiatric medicine as well as the interpretation of the general health precepts.

Another medical genius was Abu al-Qasim Az-Zahrawi (aka Albucasis: 936-1013), an Arab from the great Arab Andalusian civilization. Az-Zahrawi is considered to be Islam’s greatest medieval surgeon who single-handedly shaped European surgical procedures until the Renaissance. His 30-part medical encyclopedia, At-Tasrif (“The Method”), which contained over 200 surgical medical instruments he personally designed, was a surgical treatise that had a tremendous influence on Western medicine. Translated into Latin in the 12th century by the Italian scholar Gerard of Cremona, at-Tasrif stood for nearly 500 years as the leading textbook on surgery in Europe, preferred for its concise lucidity even to the great works of the classical Greek medical authority Galen of Pergamum.

A third Muslim medical giant, from the Abbasid’s Baghdad era, is the Persian Abu Ali Ibn Sina (aka Avicenna: 980-1037). Perhaps the most controversial philosopher but an influential scientist in all of Islam, Ibn Sina added to al-Razi by discovering the contagious character of disease (e.g. through water). Ibn Sina wrote many medical volumes in Arabic, the most important of which are the following two, both of which were translated into Latin. The first is Kitab ash-Shifa (“The Book of Healing”), a vast encyclopedia that included the science of psychology and is probably the largest work of its kind ever written by one man. The second is an encyclopedia by the name of al-Qanun fi at-Tibb (“The Canon of Medicine”), the most famous single book in the history of medicine in both East and West. The Canon became the medical authority not only in the Islamic world where it was used as a major reference until the 19th century, but also in the Western world where it was used for more than 500 years. [35]

Arab and Muslim medical science came to a climax in the two famous treatises on the plague by two great Arab physicians: Ibn al-Khatib (1313-1374) of Granada, and his contemporary Ibn Khatima. Ibn al-Khatib who wrote more than fifty books on different subjects, used some revolutionary medical terms for his time in his treatise on the plague. On the other hand, Ibn Khatima’s treatise on the plague was considered to be “far superior to all the numerous plague tracts edited in Europe between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries”. [36]

The Arabs founded the world’s first hospitals as well as travelling hospitals during the Abbasid era. While hospitals were well established and widespread throughout the Arab and Muslim world as early as the 9th century, they did not come into existence in the West until the 13th century. As late as the 16th century medical studies in the West were still largely based on the findings of Arab scientists. Actually it was due to contacts with the Arabs that medical schools began to appear in the West. Even in the 17th century we still find some Western scholars from France and Germany relying on Arab medical writings rather than on any other. [37]

6

Pharmacy and Pharmacology

As a recognized profession, pharmacy is an Arab/Islamic institution. Under the patronage of the Arab Abbasid rulers around 800 CE, pharmacology achieved the status of an independent science, separate yet closely related to medicine. The first privately owned and managed pharmacies in the world (where drugs, herbs, and spices were sold) were established in Baghdad in the early part of the 9th century. Shortly thereafter, pharmacy shops started to appear throughout the Muslim world. [38]

In pharmacology (or “as-Saydalah” in Arabic), the Arabs produced some of the best pharmacists in the world at the time. The most famous pharmacist/botanist was an Andalusian Arab by the name of Ibn al-Baytar (died 1248) who wrote the greatest of all medieval books on botany called Collection of Simple Drugs and Food. Ibn al-Baytar collected plants and drugs from all over the Muslim world and described over 1,400 medical drugs and their use. For hundreds of years, European dispensaries relied heavily on recipes prepared by Arab pharmaceutists and took to the West some of the Arabic medical terms such as sirup (sharab) and julep (gulab). [39] In fact, Arab pharmacology in the West survived until the early part of the 19th century. [40]

7

Zoology and Veterinary Medicine

Depending on animals for food, war, and transportation, the Arabs and Muslims raised the basic interest in animal husbandry to the level of a science. The first important comprehensive zoological study of animals in Arabic was Kitab al-Hayawan (Book of Animals), written by Abu Uthman Amr Ibn Bahr al-Jahiz (776-869) from Basrah, Iraq. Covering animals in and around Iraq with their characteristics, this pioneering book was written in an eloquent and interesting literary style. In it, al-Jahiz described the various diseases that afflict animals and their treatments. Another important work in this field was The Uses of Animals, written by an Arab doctor named Ibn Bakhtishu. This 11th century book is a comprehensive account of the medicines that could be extracted from animals for human use.

However, the greatest medieval work in veterinary medicine is the comprehensive work by Abu Bakr al-Baytar of Cairo (died 1340) entitled Kamil as-Sina’atayn. This famous work in Arabic covers animal husbandry, birds, breeding, horsemanship, and knighthood. In it, al-Baytar also detailed animal diseases, the methods and drugs used in their treatment, and the use of animal organs in therapeutics.

Also, during the 14th century, another Arab scientist from Egypt by the name of Kamal al-Din ad-Damiri (died 1405) provided the world with a brilliant work in zoology and animal husbandry entitled Hayat al-Hayawan (The Life of Animals). In this most comprehensive major work, al-Damiri (who was also a philosopher/theologian) arranged and discussed animals in alphabetical order. He listed their characteristics, qualities, habits, and the medical values of their organs for humans. In addition, this brilliant work by al-Damiri along with other Arabic texts on animals and natural sciences – which were written over four centuries before the famous 1859 Origins of Species by the English Charles Darwin (1809-1882) – contained rudimentary concepts of evolutionary theory, including the doctrine of survival of the fittest and natural selection. [41]

8

Agriculture

Arab Andalusia had a highly advanced system of agricultural engineering, an elaborate irrigation canal system, and fountains – the likes of which was not found anywhere in Western Europe at the time. The Arabs made the Iberian land produce more and better crops and introduced to Europe such exotic and valuable agricultural products as oranges, cotton, eggplants, saffron, pomegranates, apricots, rice, sugar cane, artichokes, peaches, date palms, and mulberry.

The Andalusian Arabs were the leading agricultural practitioners in all of Europe who also developed the most advanced systems in canal and irrigation, land drainage, and siphoning. Thanks to them, Spain was agriculturally the richest and most advanced country in Europe. According to one American author, agriculture and horticultural improvements “constituted the finest legacies of Islam, and the gardens of Spain proclaim to this day one of the noblest virtues of her Muslim conquerors.” [42]

The Arabs of Andalusia also produced some of the world’s finest agricultural scientists who benefited humanity. For example, during the second half of the 11th century, an Arab scientist from Toledo by the name of Ibn al-Bassal wrote a brilliant book on agriculture, which in 1955 was edited with a Spanish translation and notes under the title Libro de Agricultura. [43] In addition, an Arab scientist from Seville named Ibn al-Awwam wrote the most important agricultural treatise during the golden age of Arab Spain in the 12th century. It was entitled Kitab al-Filahah (“Book of Agriculture”) and was translated from Arabic into both Spanish and French in the 19th century. Ibn al-Awwam’s brilliant book contained 35 chapters and covered 585 plants. It dealt with agronomy, cattle and poultry raising, and beekeeping; made important observations on soil, manures, plant grafting, and plant diseases; and covered such agricultural topics as medical plants, farming techniques, husbandry, plant sex life, fertilization, tillage, sharecropping, gardening, and landscaping. [44]

9

Philosophy and Metaphysics

Western Christian philosophy and theology owe a great deal to Arab thinkers and philosophers. For example, The Italian theologian St. Thomas Aquinas (1224-74) copied liberally from the Arabic writings of Abu al-Walid Ibn Rushd (aka Averroes: 1126-98), the Arab Muslim of Cordoba who is considered to be the Mutazalite philosopher of Islam.The Summa of St Thomas, which was considered to be the very citadel of Western Christian theology, was deeply influenced by the writings of Arab philosophers, especially Ibn Rushd. The French philosopher, Rene Descartes (1596-1650), was also deeply influenced by Ibn Rush. Also, St. Thomas’ great Dominican’s most essential doctrines were copied practically word by word from the Arabic work of an earlier Turkish Muslim philosopher by the name of Abu Nasr al-Farabi (878-950) of Abbasid’s Baghdad. [45]

In addition, Italy’s greatest poet, Dante (1265-1321), who hated Prophet Mohammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and Islam, plagiarized his greatest work, the Divine Comedy, by copying from the works of the mystic Arab genius Ibn al-Arabi rahimahullah (1165-1240) of Arab Andalusia, and also from Risalat al-Ghufran (The Epistle of Forgiveness) written by the great Arab philosopher and poet Abu al-Ala’ al-Ma’arri of Syria (973-1057). Dante’s Divine Comedy’s fundamental concepts of Heaven and Hell very closely resemble Ibn al-Arabi’s account of Prophet Mohammad’s ascent to Heaven from Makkah via Jerusalem. [46] Ironically, however, the unthankful plagiarist Dante consigned Prophet Mohammad to the lowest level of Hell in his Divine Comedy. On the other hand, the Spanish mystic Ramon Llull (1235-1316) was also highly influenced by Arabic philosophy and Islamic mysticism produced by such Muslim mystics as al-Hallaj rahimahullah (858-922) of Abbasid’s Baghdad.

Actually Arab influence was so obvious on Western philosophy that many European scholars and theologians openly admitted their great indebtedness to the Arabs. One of those who admitted his gratitude to the Arabs is the Scottish theologian John Duns Scotus (1266-1308) who was deeply influenced in his intellectual activities by the Fons Vitae which was originally written in Arabic by a great Arab philosopher of Jewish faith (not a Hebrew) from Cordoba by the name of Abu Ayyub Ibn Gabirut “or Gabirol” (aka Avicebron: 1022-70). [47] Other great Andalusian Arabs of Jewish faith may include such scholars as the philosopher/poet Abu Haroon Moussa (aka Moses Ibn Ezra: 1060-1139), and the philosopher/physician Abu Imran Moussa Ibn Maymun (aka Moses Maimonides: 1135-1204), the personal physician of the great Salah ad-Din (rahimahullah) who liberated Palestine from the Crusaders.

10

Geography

Many Arabs and Muslims made valuable contributions in the field of geography. Abu al-Hasan al-Mas’udi of the Abbasid era (died 956) – a geographer, historian, and traveler – was the author of more than twenty major voluminous works many of which were translated into Latin. He was the first Arab to combine history and scientific geography in his widely acclaimed historical-geographical encyclopedia, The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems. Al-Mas’udi’s encyclopedia was one of the finest and richest medieval sources not only in geography but also of geographical and anthropological information. Al-Mas’udi also wrote another 30-volume encyclopedia on world history entitled Akhbar az-Zaman (“The History of Time”).

image

Image: al-Idrisi’s map

The Arabs who occupied Sicily, prior to its occupation by the Normans (Vikings) in the 11th century, made it major center of Arab sciences. Even during the occupation by the Norman Kings, Sicilian coins were minted with Arabic inscriptions and Islamic dates; many of the Sicilian records including those of the courts were written in Arabic; and it was also fashionable for Christian Sicilians to dress like Arabs and to speak Arabic. [48] When the Christian Norman King Roger II of Sicily (1130-54) needed a compendium of the then known world, he entrusted no other geographer in the world except a Moroccan descendant of Prophet Mohammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) by the name of al-Sharif Abu Abdullah al-Idrisi (1100-1166), the greatest of all Arab geographers. Al-Idrisi produced for King Roger II not only a brilliant construction of a celestial sphere but also a disk-shaped map of the known world (i.e., the world’s Eastern Hemisphere), both of which were made of solid silver. The silver map, which was one of seventy accurate maps he produced, was based on his encyclopedic work, The Book of Roger, translated into Latin in Paris in 1619. After the death of King Roger II, al-Idrisi stayed on at the court in Palermo and wrote, for his son King William I, another geographical treatise, The Garden of Civilization and the Amusement of the Soul. [49] Al-Idrisi also wrote one of the greatest works of medieval geography, The Pleasure Excursion of One Who is Eager to Traverse the Regions of the World.

However, in the area of travelling and exploration no Arab geographer achieved the fame of the legendary Moroccan Mohammad Ibn Abdullah Ibn Battutah (1304-1369). Ibn Battutah documented his famous travels that covered over 75,000 miles in 28 years throughout Africa, Arabia, Persia, India and China. In addition, the Arab geographer Hassan al-Wazzan (aka Leo Africanus: 1485-1554) produced a major work titled, A Geographical Historie of Africa, which was translated into Latin around 1600 and subsequently appeared in 14 different editions. This scholarly work by al-Wazzan served Europe almost up to the modern times as its main source of knowledge on Africa. [50]

11

Sociology

The Arab legendary Abdulrahman Ibn Khaldun, sociologist and philosopher of history (1332-1406) from Tunis, was an amazingly original genius. He was the world’s first historian to develop and explicate the general laws that govern the rise and decline of civilizations. Ibn Khaldun wrote many books the most important of which is his brilliant seven-volume encyclopedia on history and societies. This encyclopedia’s first volume is entitled al-Muqaddimah (“Introduction”), which gives a profound and detailed analysis of human society and its cultural components. In it he fathered the sciences of sociology, economics, anthropology, and political science.

Ibn Khaldun’s greatest contribution to human civilization is found in his “positive” philosophy of history and social evolution. It is to him that we owe the systematic elaboration of a full-fledge theory of sociological determinism. Ibn Khaldun’s study of the nature of society and social change, as well as his deference to empiricism in general, enabled him to develop “the science of civilization” which he clearly saw as a new science. It was a totally new science without any parallel in the history of ancient and medieval thoughts. Indeed, Ibn Khaldun had founded the discipline of Sociology over 4 centuries before the French Auguste Comte (1798-1857) who is credited in the West with its establishment.

Ibn Khaldun called his new science Ilm al-Umran (“the science of culture”), which he defined as: “This science … has its own subject, viz., human society, and its own problems, viz., the social transformations that succeed each other in the nature of society.” [51]

Robert Flint once eulogized Ibn Khaldun as follows: “As a theorist on history he has no equal in any age or country until Vico [the great Italian philosopher of history Giambattista Vico: 1668-1744] appeared, more than three hundred years later. Plato, Aristotle and Augustine were not his peers…” [52] The great 20th-century British historian Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) stated that Ibn Khaldun has founded: “a philosophy of history which is undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time or place.” [53]

12

Literature

Not only did the West learn from the Arabs the arts of making paper books, as indicated earlier, but also the typically beautiful Arab art of leather binding with its luxurious ornamentation in “gold tooling” and its flap that folds over to protect the front edges of a book. [54] In addition to the thousands of Arabic words that entered the various Western languages, especially Spanish and Portuguese, the rich Arabic literature itself has left some of its general imprints upon Western literature.

Among the great works of Arabic literature that have impacted the West is the multi-volume Alf Laylah wa Laylah (“The Thousand and One Nights” or “The Arabian Nights”) from the golden Abbasid era which is composed of a large collection of famous Arab entertaining stories narrated by queen Scheherazad to her husband Scheherayar. These include such famous legends as “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp”, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, and “The Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor”. The Arabian Nights was translated early in the 18th century into many Western languages and immediately introduced a distinct new element to Western fiction writing. For example, “The Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor” became an inspiration for Gulliver’s Travels published in 1726 by the Irish author Jonathan Swift. The Arabian Nights was also a source of inspiration for many other Western writers and poets. These include: the French writer Voltaire (1694-1778) who modeled his famous work Zadiq on it; the English Samuel Johnson (1709-84) who was influenced by it in his Rasselas; the English poet George Gordon Byron (1788-1824); the English poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850); and the Argentinean poet Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986). [55]

In fact, the influence of Arabic literature on Europe was so pervasive and widespread that we find echoes of it in the Grail-saga, in the old French romance Floire et Blanchefleur; in the allied German Rolandslied and the French Chanson de Rolandl and in the more famous Aucassin et Nicolette, the name of whose male hero derives from the Arab name Qasim. Obviously, both the oriental tales in Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron and Geoffrey Chaucer’s Squieres Tale are of Arab origin. Also, the Arabic apologies came to play an important role in medieval and later Western literature, especially the Spanish and Portuguese literatures. For example, Arabic influence is very clear on Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote published in 1605. [56]

The two best-known Arab characters in English literature are found in William Shakespeare’s Othello and The Merchant of Venice. While Othello is an Arab with all the pride, passion, and nobility of his own cultural identity, the Prince of Morocco, in The Merchant of Venice, is an Arab with a high distinction of soul and appearance hardly matched by the Western characters against whom he was pitted. [57]

Moreover, Professor H. A. R. Gibb indicated that Arabic poetry contributed in some measure to the rise of the new poetry of Europe [58], especially the Provencal troubadours whose poetry and music owed so much to the Arabs. Arab poetry was cultivated in the court of Alfonso the Wise of Castille and of the Norman kings and of Frederick II of Sicily. The Arab poet Shushtari provided literary themes to many Western writers such as St. John of the Cross and Ramon Lull. The Arabic poetry of ghazal (“love and romance”), especially as reflected in the idealized legendary love passion of Qays and Layla, left a profound mark on the Western love lyrics of many European writers such as the French communist poet Louis Aragon (1897-1982). [59]

Also, the love traditions of Jamil and Umar made their way into the French Provencal courtly love whereby the Arabic word TaRiBa became TRoBar and TRouBadour. The great Arabic literature of the genius Abu Mohammad Ibn Hazm of Cordoba (994-1064), especially his chivalric love in Dove’s Necklace, deeply influenced the French writer Andre Le Chapelain’s The Art of Courtly Love, published in 1185. [60]

In fact, we find Arabic and Islamic influences and elements in the works of many other and more recent European authors and poets such as in the English author William Beckford’s (1760-1844) Vathek, published in 1786; in the English author Daniel Defoe’s (1660-1731) Robinson Crusoe, whose inspiration clearly came from the beautiful Arab novel Hayy Ibn Yaqzan (“Living, Son of Awake”) written by the great Arab Andalusian philosopher/physician Mohammad Ibn Tufayl (1109-85); in the German poet Johann Goethe’s (1749-1832) West-ostlicher Divan, published in 1819; and in the works of other great German poets of the 19th century such as August Platen (1796-1835) and Friedrich Ruckert (1788-1866). [61]

13

Music

Even though orthodox Islam does not approve of music, it was with the advent of Islamic pseudo-mysticism, such as Pseudo-Sufism, that the Arabs and Muslims began to develop a great deal of musical art, especially for religious observation. A talented Arab musician by the name of Zaryab (died 850), who moved from Baghdad to settle in Andalusia, established Europe’s first conservatory in Cordoba. Zaryab became a great singer, lute player, and music teacher. The influence of the Arab music on European music can also be found in the musical instruments the Arabs invented and/or introduced to the West. For example, in 942, the Arabs introduced kettledrums and trumpets to Europe.

In fact, the West did not only adopt Arab musical instruments but also took their names as well. These include such instruments as the lute (al-ude), pandore (tanbur), and guitar (qitara). [62] The origins of many other Western musical instruments, such as the oboe, trumpet, violin, harp and percussion instruments, can also be traced to Arab Spain.

In addition, the Arabs and Muslims produced a large amount of literature on music, mostly of scientific nature. For example, the great Arab philosopher/mathematician Abu Yousif al-Kindi (801-873), known as “the philosopher of the Arabs”, wrote important works on the theory of music, including more than 270 works on different musical subjects many of which were translated into Latin. Others who also wrote in Arabic on music include the great Turkish al-Farabi and the  Persian Ibn Sina. Actually, al-Farabi’s Grand Book on Music in Arabic was superior to anything produced anywhere at the time. The Arab and Muslim writers on music not only influenced the West, but also Africa, India, and the Far East. [63]

After the 12th century few of the Western authors, from the Spanish Domingo Gundisalvo to the Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Kilwardy, Lull, George Reish, and Adam de Fulda, omitted to quote from al-Farabi’s musical writings in Latin translations, especially his De Ortu Scientiarum and De Scientiis. Both Roger Bacon and Adelard de Bath, of the 12th century, advised their fans and followers to abandon their Western schools for those of the Arabs. [64]

Another major Arab contribution to Western music was the mensural music and rhythmic modes such as the famous and beautiful Andalusian Arab Muwashshahat, strophic poems performed with music. Arab music was spread all over Europe through the wondering medieval minstrels, echoes of whose music have survived for hundreds of years in Gypsy music. Many Arab musical terms are still used today in Spanish such as huda, nourisca, zamra, and zarabanda. In fact, not only the famous Spanish flamenco music and dance originally came from the Arab music of Andalusia, but also even the English Morris dancers were deeply influenced by Arab music. Actually the word Morris means Moorish or Arab. [65]

There are many outstanding Western musicians and composers, from the 19th and 20th centuries, who found inspiration in Arab music and were influenced by it. These include four French: Hector Berlioz (1803-1869), Charles Saint-Saens (1835-1921), Jules Massenet (1842-1912), and Claude Debussy (1862-1918); one French-Belgian: Cesar Franck (1822-1890); four Russians: Aleksander Borodin (1833-1887), Mily Balakirev (1837-1910), Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881), and Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) who composed the famous symphonic suite Scheherazad in 1888; and two Spanish: Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909) especially in his musical production Alhambra, and Enrique Granados (1867-1916), especially in his songs Chansons Arabes and Mauresques. [66]

14

Art

Because Islam forbids the portrayal of human figures and animals (for man must not compete with God who alone has the power to create), Arab civilization produced not only the beautiful and distinguished artistic forms of Arabic calligraphy, but also the famous “arabesque”, a unique stylish form of Arab art.

Arabesque is a most perfect style of decoration characterized by an elaborate interlocking plants and abstract curvilinear motifs as well as intricate geometrical designs. Because it represents visual art in its purest form, arabesque was copied throughout Europe from the time of the Renaissance and up to the 19th century. European artists used arabesque, as the Arabs did, for the decoration of walls and ceilings; plaster panels; woodcarving; metalwork; pottery; textile; furniture; and illuminated manuscripts. In fact, the Italian Renaissance used the term “arabesque” to mean intricate design.

European artists, particularly in Spain and Portugal eagerly adopted the famous Arab art of using the alphabet letters for purely decorative purposes, calligraphy. The European Gothic script was used in the same fashion as Arabic calligraphy. Sometimes Christian art itself used the actual Arabic letters as a form of decoration. For example, Arabic artistic writing in Western art could be found in the paintings of the following three great Italian painters: Giotto Di Bondone (1266-1337), Fra Angelico (1400-1455), and Fra Lippi (1406-1469). In Lippi’s great painting of the “Coronation of the Virgin”, housed in the Uffizi Gallery of Florence, the yard-long scarf held by the angels has Arabic words written all over it.

The Andalusian Arabs introduced to the West many beautiful artistically handcrafted industries such as the unique Arabian jewelry; the manufacture and painting of ceramics, including tiles; and the manufacture of crystal, a process discovered by the Arabs in Cordoba in the second half of the 9th century. [67] Also, an 11th century Spanish Catholic prince by the name of Alfonso VIII ordered the minting of a decorative coin in which not only the inscriptions were written in Arabic, but also he referred to himself on the coin as the “Ameer of the Catholics” and the Pope in Rome as the “Imam of the Church of Christ”. [68]

During the Renaissance, Arabian turbans and other articles of Arab apparel appeared in many Western paintings, some of which even displayed Christian Saints looking like Arab and Muslim notables. [69] Arab artistic influence could also be easily seen as late as the 19th century in the great paintings of the French Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) who lived in Arab North Africa and was influenced by his experiences there.

In reality, the beautiful Arabian textiles; silk; damasks; inlaid tables; wood carving; colored glass wares; lamps; bottles; enamelled glass; beakers; metal and leather works; book-binding; and decorative colored glazed pottery were all considered great objets d’art throughout Europe. They were copied and sometimes poorly imitated by European artists, especially in Italy. Also, what was identified in Europe as the “Chinese Blue” pottery, which was copied especially in Holland and Denmark, was in reality the Islamic pottery known in China as the “Mohammadan Blue” which the Chinese potters themselves had learned from the Arabs. Further, at the Canterbury Cathedral, the mother-church of English Protestantism, the artistically made 13th century Arabian silk bags were used to hold the seals of documents. [70]

15

Architecture

The style of Arab architecture was popular in the West and was copied by both European and American builders. Both the plain Andalusian horseshoe arch and the more complex cupsed arches of the mosques of Cordoba and Samarra in Iraq as well as at those of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, served as models for many arches in Perpendicular and Gothic churches in England and France.

The beautiful Arab brick tracery of the facades of both the well-known Islamic Giralda Tower in Seville, as well that of its sister-minaret, the Kutubia in Morocco, were copied with some minor variation in much of Gothic tracery throughout Europe, especially on the Bell Tower at Evesham in England. [71] Many churches both in Sicily and Southern Italy have a deep Arab architectural influence such as the church of Capella Palatina in Palermo. The medallions of Christian saints that adorn its arches bear Arabic writings of the Kufic style. Many European arches and battlements, such as the Palazzo Ca’ d’Oro (one of the greatest of 15th century palaces in Venice), also reflect Arab architectural influence. The Italian cities of Siena and Florence provide the best available examples of the Arab architectural influence of alternating white and black marbles on the facade of churches. Other examples elsewhere include various churches and academic buildings in England, such as Cromer Church in Norfolk and Christ Hall in Oxford. [72]

However, the very best example of the profound impact of Arab architecture on the West is provided by the campanile that is nothing but a clear adaptation of the tall graceful slender minaret. This adaptation can be found in the campaniles of the Torre del Commune in Verona, the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, and the Piazza San Marco in Venice. [73] Arab architectural influence touched even the early American city architecture; especially those buildings designed by the great American architect Louis Sullivan (1856-1924), the spiritual father of modern U.S. architecture. In fact, the interest of American architects both in long ornamental friezes and in the severity of American exteriors is due to the influence of Arab monuments, especially those of the Madrasah (“religious school”) of Sultan Hasan in Cairo. [74]

IV

The Horrors of the Spanish Inquisition after the End of Arab Andalusian Civilization

In January 1492 Granada surrendered to the Christian Spanish forces of King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile. Although there was no final battle, but rather a final surrender, the Pope declared their victory to be a “holy war” – a crusade against Islam. Ironically, after almost 800 years of brilliant Arab civilization and presence in Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, the Christian Spaniards resorted back to the old Western uncivilized religious and racial intolerance. By brutal and barbaric acts of racism and religious intolerance, the Spanish “Christians” initiated the horribly violent Inquisition (or holocaust) against both Muslims and Jews whether they were Arab or not. The terrorist Inquisition in Spain, which was officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church and the Papacy in Rome, was actually a continuation of the general European Inquisition against non-Christians, which started some 200 years earlier during the violent European Crusades against the Arabs and Muslims of the East. In fact, the barbaric European Inquisition that started with the beginning of the Crusades in Toulouse, France, in 1229 continued for over 600 years all over Europe. This Western terrorism that included the horrors of witch-hunting and the killing and torturing of non-Christians and Christians, as well as the censoring of scientific ideas, finally came to an end in Spain in 1834.

The Spanish violent Inquisition of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries resulted in the widespread killing and burning of Jews and Muslims; their brutal torture and deportations from Spain; their denial to hold any public office whatsoever; and their forced conversion to Christianity. In fact, even those who had been forced to convert to Christianity (i. e., the “Moriscos”) were also expelled from Spain. In all, over three million Muslims were deported from Spain. [75] It was believed that all Hispanic names that ended with “ez” were originally Arab-Muslim families who were “converts” to Christianity and who fled the Spanish Inquisition to find new hopes in the New World. In fact, the voyages of Christopher Columbus (who was an inquisitor, a slave-owner, and a slave-trader) to the New World were financed with the revenues from the confiscated properties of Muslims and Jews who had been brutally deported from their homes in Spain. [76] Armand-Jean du Plessis (1585-1642), the famous French Cardinal and Duke of Richelieu – who served as the chief minister to the French King Louis XIII from 1624 to 1642 – described the expulsion of the Arabs and Muslims from Spain in his memoirs “as the most barbarous act in human history.” [77]

During the Spanish Inquisition, many Christians also resorted back to the old dirty European habit of avoiding washing their bodies with water, this time in order not to imitate the heretic expelled Muslim Arabs! After the “uncivilized” Arabs were expelled from Spain, all public baths were closed. The Spanish Christians rejected all forms of bathing, public or private, because they associated them with Islam and regarded them as “a mere cover for Mohammedan ritual and sexual promiscuity.” [78] In fact, even until today people throughout the “civilized” Western world, whether in Europe or in the Americas, still clean up with only toilet papers after using the toilet bowl, whereas all Arabs and Muslims have always used water to wash and clean up afterwards. In addition to the sudden disappearance of the virtues, such as personal and public hygiene, religious and racial tolerance, which the Arabs had introduced to the West, intellectual academic freedom in Spain also suffered a major setback. In 1499 in Granada the Spanish Cardinal and Grand Inquisitor, Francisco Jimenez (or Ximenes) de Cisneros (1436-1517), ordered the public burning of over 80,000 Arabic treasure books, and denounced Arabic as: “the language of a heretical and despised race.” [79] The Spanish Inquisition’s violent ethnic cleansing outlawed Muslims and Jews (Arab and non-Arab alike) from Spain until the 1890s.

However, not all Spanish people hated the Arabs. There were, and still are, many Spanish who were grateful to the Arabs, for their religious and racial tolerance, and for their wonderful civilization. The great Christian Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936) once lamented the loss of Arab civilization and its religious and racial tolerance in his own country by writing: “It was a disastrous event, even though they say the opposite in schools. An admirable civilization and a poetry, architecture and delicacy unique in the world – all were lost…” [80]

***********************************
Notes:

1. For detailed information on Western “Orientalist scholars”, see Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979).

2. Dirk Struik, “Multicluturalism and the History of Mathematics,” Monthly Review, 46, No. 10 (March, 1995), 30.

3. Ibid., p. 28.

4. Quoted in Rom Landau, Arab Contribution to Civilization (San Francisco: The American Academy of Asian Studies, 1958), p. 9.

5. Edward McNall Burns and Philip Lee Ralph, World Civilizations: From Ancient to Contemporary. Their History and Their Cultures, 2 volumes (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1964), p. 397.

6. Ibid., p. 398.

7. Ibid., pp. 398-99.

8. Amin Maalouf, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes. Translated by Jon Rothschild (New York: Schocken Books, 1984), p. 54.

9. Albert Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1991), p. 34.

10. Ibid., p. 34.

11. Bernard Lewis, The Arabs in History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 180.

12. Ibid., p. 181.

13. David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 58.

14. Catherine Young, An Introduction to Islamic History: A Teacher’s Resource Book Grades 7-12 (Fountain Valley, California: Council on Islamic Education, n.d.), p. 1 of the section on Spain.

15. Lewis, The Arabs, pp. 131-32.

16. Duncan Townson, Muslim Spain (Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 1979), p. 24.

17. Ibid., p. 17.

18. Ibid., p. 19.

19. Mohammad T. Mehdi, Islam and Intolerance: A Reply to Salman Rushdie (New York: New World Press, 1989), p. 21.

20. Ibid., p. 61.

21. Clifford N. Anderson, The Fertile Crescent: Travels in the Ancient Footsteps of Ancient Science (Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Sylvester Press, 1972), p. 94.

22. Karl J. Smith, The Nature of Mathematics (5th ed.; Monterey, California: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, 1987), p. 176.

23. Abdelhamid I. Sabra, “The Exact Sciences,” in The Genius of Arab Civilization: Source of Renaissance, ed. by John R. Hayes (3rd ed.; New York: New York University Press, 1992), p. 186.

24. Landau, Arab Contribution, p. 36.

25. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1989, vol. 1, p. 962.

26. Landau, Arab Contribution, pp. 35-36.

27. Ibid., p. 37.

28. Paul Lund, “Science in Al-Andalus,” Aramco World Magazine (a Special Aramco Knoxville World’s Fair Issue, 1982?), p. 22.

29. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1989, vol. 6, p. 451.

30. Landau, Arab Contribution, pp. 50-51

31. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1989, vol. 5, p. 571.

32. Ibid., p. 571.

33. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 267.

34. Landau, Arab Contribution, pp. 46-47.

35. Hayes (ed.), The Genius of Arab Civilization, p. 226.

36. Quoted in Landau, Arab Contribution, pp. 42-43.

37. Ibid., pp. 47-49.

38. Sami K. Hamarneh, “The Life Sciences,” in Hayes, The Genius of Arab Civilization, p. 213.

39. Landau, Arab Contribution, p. 44.

40. Ibid., p. 49.

41. The entire section on “Zoology and Veterinary Medicine” is drawn from Hamarneh, “The Life Sciences”, p. 213.

42. Landau, Arab Contribution, pp. 52-53.

43. Hamarneh, “The Life Sciences”, p. 217.

44. Ibid., p. 217.

45. Landau, Arab Contribution, p. 24.

46. Mounah A. Khouri, “Literature,” in Hayes, The Genius of Arab Civilization, p. 66.

47. Landau, Arab Contribution, pp. 25-26.

48. Lewis, The Arabs, p. 130.

49. Hayes (ed.), The Genius of Arab Civilization, p. 266.

50. Landau, Arab Contribution, pp. 39-40.

51. Quoted in Encyclopedia Britannica, 1989, vol. 6, p. 222.

52. Quoted in ibid., p. 222.

53. Quoted in ibid., p. 222.

54. Landau, Arab Contribution, p. 58.

55. Khouri, “Literature”, p. 70.

56. Landau, Arab Contribution, p. 55-56.

57. Ibid., p. 57.

58. Cited in ibid., p. 55.

59. Khouri, “Literature”, p. 56.

60. Ibid., p. 67.

61. Landau, Arab Contribution, pp. 56-57.

62. Ibid., pp. 59-60.

63. Ibid., pp. 60-61.

64. Ibid., p. 61.

65. Ibid., pp. 61-62.

66. Ibid., p. 62.

67. Ragaei and Dorothea El Mallakh, “Trade and Commerce,” in Hayes, The Genius of Arab Civilization, p. 259.

68. Landau, Arab Contribution, p. 65.

69. Ibid., p. 65.

70. Ibid., pp. 66-67.

71. Ibid., p. 68.

72. Ibid., p. 68.

73. Ibid., pp. 68-69.

74. Oleg Grabar, “Architecture and Art,” in Hayes, The Genius of Arab Civilization, p. 112.

75. Audrey Shabbas, “Living History With a Medieval Banquet in the Alhambra Palace,” Social Studies Review, 34, No. 3 (Spring, 1996), 25.

76. Ibid., p. 25.

77. Quoted in Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition (New York: The New American Library, 1965), p. 115.

78. Stannard, American Holocaust, p. 161.

79. Quoted in Desmond Stewart, Early Islam: Great Ages of Man (New York: Time Incorporated, 1967), p. 143.

80. Quoted in Shabbas, “Living History With a Medieval Banquet,” p. 25.

Dhikr with Tasbeeh (Rosary) and the Joints of the Fingers

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[By Hakimul Ummat Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Rahmatullah Alayh)]

Two methods of keeping count of Tasbeeh (saying Subhaanallah), Tahmeed (saying Alhamdulillah) and Takbeer (saying Allahu Akbar)  are generally employed. They are:

1) Tasbeeh or Rosary

2) Joints of the fingers

It is necessary to show that these two methods are Masnoon (in conformity with the Sunnat of Rasulullah-sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and to explain the manner of counting with the joints of the fingers.

1) Let it be known that Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, Nasaai, Ibn Hibbaan and Haakim have narrated from Hadhrat Sa’d Bin Abi Waqqas (radhiyallahu anhu) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) noticed some date-stones or pebbles placed infront of one his wives with which she was making Tasbeeh. (The Hadith continues.)

2) Abu Dawood and Haakim have narrated from Hadhrat Safiyya (radhiyallahu anha) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) came to her while she had heaped infront of her 4,000 date-stones. She was reciting Tasbeeh (Zikr) with the date-stones.

The author of Mirqat (A Hadith Commentary) and the author of Raddul Muhtaar (an authoritative work on Hanafi Fiqh) have stated (in exposition of the aforementioned Hadith) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did not prohibit (Hadhrat Safiyya­ radhiyallahu anha-from using date-stones to count) after noticing this.

Therefore the validity of the popular tasbeeh (rosary) emerges from a Hadith-e-Taqreeri (a Hadith in which Rasulullah-sallallahu alayhi wasallam-corroborates a statement or action of a Sahaabi/ Sahaabiya by his silence). The reason for this validity is that there is no significant difference between date-stones (which is mentioned in the Hadith) and the popular tasbeeh besides one being stringed and the other loose. This difference is no cause for prohibition. Thus, the view of one who says it is a bid’at is unacceptable.

The Honourable Mashaaikh (Qaddasallaahu Sirruhum) have called the tasbeeh ‘Taaziyanah-e ­Shaitaan’ or a ‘Whip for Shaitaan’.

Someone saw Hadhrat Junaid Baghdaadi (rahmatullah alayh) with a tasbeeh in his hand and queried:

What is the need for it (the tasbeeh) when you have ascended to the limits of spiritual progress?

Hadhrat Junaid (rahmatullah alayh) replied: “How can we abandon something by virtue of which we have reached Allah?

The Great Saints of Islam have given it the title Muzakkirah or The Reminder, since having it in the hand reminds one to recite something or the other.

 THE JOINTS OF THE FINGERS

To count with the joints of the fingers is likewise Masnoon and this is established through a Hadith-­e-Qauli (saying of Rasulullah-sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and Fe’li (deed of Rasulullah-sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

Tirmidhi narrates from Hadhrat Yaseera (radhiyallahu anha) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) told women: “Engage in tasebeeb, tahleel and taqdees (i.e. engage in various forms of Zikr) and keep count with the joints of the Fingers. On the Day of Qiyaamah these fingers will be questioned and they will be made to speak.

Abu Dawood narrates from Hadhrat Abdullah Bin Amr Bin al-‘Aas (radhiyallahu anhu):

I Saw Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) used to keep count of tasbeeh by closing the fingers.”

Ibn Qudaama, one of the narrators in the chain, explains:

That is, with his (Rasulullah’s-sallallahu alayhi wasallam) right hand,”

However, literally, counting with the finger has a broad meaning. Hence the author of Hirz states: “Whether one opens and closes the fingers, or fingers are pressed, or the thumb is placed along the tips of the fingers.

In other words, in whichever manner one counts with the fingers the actual Sunnat is obtained. Determining any particular method is not stipulated. Despite this, it is understood from the Ahaadith that in the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) the manner of keeping count with the forgers was indeed fixed.

Now the zaakir (one who engages in Zikr) has the option, whether to keep a tasbeeh (rosary) in view of the ease in it, or he may count with the fingers since the virtue is greater. Then again he has the option of counting with the finger in the aforementioned (in the kitaab ‘Aqd-e-Anaamil) method or any other method which has reached him via his Mashaa-ikh.

The actual purpose is to ward off negligence as stated towards the end of the Hadith on counting with the fingers. The gist of which is:

DO  NOT  BE  NEGLECTFUL!   OTHERWISE  YOU  WILL  BE DRIVEN  AWAY  FROM  (THE) MERCY  (OF  ALLAH  TA’ALA). “

Refuting P.N Oak’s False Contentions on the Ka’bah

[By Majlisul Ulama of South Africa]

Some  “researcher”  known  as  P.N.  Oak  has  come  up  with  some ludicrous,  puerile  and  absurd  comments  regarding  Islam.  His  theory postulating  the  “impact  of  the  Vedic  religion  on  Islam”  is  laughable. Those  acquainted  with  history  will  smile  at  the  silliness  of  the assertions made by Oak.

Among  the  fallacious  claims  made  by  Oak  is  that  The  Holy  Ka’bah  in Makkah  was  “originally  a  Shiva  temple“.  But,  for  this  astounding  and absurd  claim  he  fails  to  present  any  evidence.  He  permits  his imagination to  play  havoc  with  him,  hence  he  bases  his  claim  on  “a  gold dish”  supposedly  located  in  the  Ka’bah.  Oak  alleges  that  some inscription  on  the  gold  dish  supposedly  found  in  the  Holy  Ka’bah  refers to  “Vikram’s  enlightened  rule“.  Assuming  that  such  a  dish  was  in  fact located  in  the  Holy  Ka’bah,  how  on  earth  can  such  a  chance  finding override  and  abrogate  the  volumes  of  historical  facts  surrounding  the Holy  Ka’bah?    If  a  copy  of  the  Holy  Qur’aan  is  found  in  some  Hindu temple  or  in  a  Christian  shrine  or  in  the  Pope’s  headquarters,  does  it follow  that  these  places  were  some  Muslim  Shrines  in  some  remote point  in  time  and  that  it  will  be  correct  to  conclude  from  such  a  finding that  Islam  has  made  an  impact  on  the  respective  religions..?  No  person of  intelligence  can  uphold  such  a  ludicrous  and  unreasonable conclusion.  The  finding  of  some  dish,  parchment,  plate,  garment  or  any other  object  is  not  an  intelligent  basis  for  upturning  and  negating  facts which  have  been  testified  for  accuracy  by  authorities,  from  generation to  generation.  If  every  simple  find  such  as  a  dish,  constitutes  a  valid basis  for  revising  historical  facts,  then  we  dare  say  that  the  entire history  of the  world  will have  to  be  re-written.

If  Oak’s  “key”  to  his  “research”  is  a  mere  dish  supposedly  located  in  the Holy  Ka’bah,  every  man  of  some  intelligence  can  understand  the  fallacy of  his  entire  research-conclusions.  It  staggers  the  imagination  to  be informed  that  a  man,  supposedly  a  research  scholar,  is  prepared  to dismiss  the  wealth  and  volume  of  historical  facts  on  the  basis  of  a  dish which  has  been  claimed  to  have  been  found  in  the  Ka’bah.  If  the  same or  a  similar  dish  singing  the  praises  of  Vikram  had  to  be  found  in
Buckingham  Palace  will  it  be  sensible  to  aver  that  this  Palace  was  a Hindu  shrine  once  upon  a  time..?

We  have  no  knowledge  of  any  “golden  dish”  with  Hindu  praises  having been  found  in  the  Holy  Ka’bah.  Let  Mr.  Oak  furnish  factual  proof regarding this  “dish”.

Mr.  Oak  should  also  be  apprised  of  some  historical  facts  pertaining  to the  Ka’bah.  Prior  to  the  advent  of  Prophethood  of  Prophet Muhammad  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam),  the  Ka’bah  was  filled  with  hundreds  of  idols  —  the gods  of  the  pagans  who  had  abandoned  the  true  religion  of  their forefather,  Nabi  lbraaheem  (Prophet  Abraham  alayhissalaam) [for more details read this: How Idols found place in the Ka’aba during Pre-Islamic Era??]. The pagan  Arabs  in  fact  had  a  god  (an  idol)  for  each  different  day  of  the year.  It  will  not  be  at  all  surprising  if  Mr.  Oak’s  research  could  have suggested  that  the  cult  of  idol  worship  which  existed  among  pre-Islam Arabs  was  the  impact  of the  Vedic  religion.  Since  the  Hindu  or  the  Vedic religion  is  an  idolatrous  cult  with  a  multitude  of  gods,  the  idolatry  of the  pagan  Arabs  in  the  pre-Islamic  era  can  understandably  and reasonably  be  attributed  to  the  Vedic  religion.  The  idols  of  the  pagan Arabs  and  the  idols  of  the  Vedic  religion  are  birds  of  a  feather,  but,  to suggest  that  the  Vedic  idolatrous  religion  had  any  impact  on  Islam  and its  rigidly  monotheistic  teachings  and  beliefs  is  preposterous  and absurd  in  the  extreme.

Again  assuming  that  some  Hindu  golden  dish  was  located  in  the  Holy Ka’bah,  common  sense  would  have  concluded  that  the  “dish”  was  a relic  of  the  idolatrous  pagans  who  had  filled  the  Holy  Ka’bah  with  360 idols.  The  idolatrous  pagans  of  the  pre-Islam  era,  having  imported  their cult  of  idolatry  from  the  Hindu  east,  had  similar  rites  of  idol-worship.  Offerings  of  a  variety  of  kinds  were  made  to  propitiate  the  idols.  It  will, therefore,  not  at  all  be  surprising  if  the  supposed  golden  dish  was among  the  offerings  which  the  pagans  had  made  to  the  idols  which  had been  installed  in  the  Holy  Ka’bah  by  the  pagan  Arabs  heavily  influenced by  the  idolatry  of  the  east  —  the  idolatry  of  the  Vedic  religion  being  the most  profound.

In  terms  of  the  “golden  dish”  theory  as  propounded  by  Oak,  Vedic missionaries  had  arrived  in  Arabia  to  preach  their  religion.  This  is  the claim  supposedly  made  in  the  inscriptions  on  the  “dish”. If  this  is  indeed so,  then  it  accounts  for  the  paganism  and  the  idolatry  of  the  Arabs before  the  advent  of  Prophet Muhammad  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).  The  Arabs, being  the  followers  of  Nabi  lbraaheem  (Prophet  Abraham  alayhissalaam)  were  rigidly  and  uncompromisingly  believers  in  THE  ONE  GOD.  The  spread  of  idolatry  among  them  is  therefore  surprising.    However, the  “dish”  theory  of  Oak  throws  light  on  the  origin  of  idol-worship among  the  pre-Islam  Arabs.  A  “golden  dish”  located  in  the  Ka’bah,  with Vedic  inscriptions  is  testimony  for  the  origin  of  the  idols  which  had once  occupied  the  Holy  Ka’bah  Mosque  in  the  days  before  Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).  When  the  Holy  Ka’bah  had  housed  even  the  idols of  the  pagan  Arabs  sedated  by  Hindu  idolatry,  then  the  location  of  a mere  “dish”  with  Vedic  inscriptions  should  come  as  no  surprise.

Mr.  Oak  presents  a  number  of  fallacious  points  for  his  conclusion  that the  Vedic  religion  had  an  impact  on  Islam.  The  article  in  the  LEADER states:

In  his  research Mr.  Oak  furnishes other  proof reinforcing  the  belief that Arabs  were  once  followers  of  the  Indian  Vedic  way  of  life.

That  the  pre-Islam  Arabs  were  pagans  and  idolaters  is  an  undeniable and  a  well-established  historical  fact  which  ten-year  old  kids  in  a primary  school  are  aware  of.  If  the  Arab  idolatrous  cult  was  the influence  or  even  the  product  of  “the  Indian  Vedic  way  of  life”,  there  is nothing  surprising  about  it.  But,  the  cult  of  the  pre-Islam  Arabs  should not  be  confused  with  the  uncompromising  religion  of  monotheism  of Islam  delivered  to  mankind  by The Prophet Muhammad  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).  No one  will  deny  the  idolatry  of  the  pagan  pre-Islam  Arabs.  If  some  theory or  research  establishes  that  the  360  idols  installed  by  the  Arabs  in  the Ka’bah  prior  to  the  advent  of  Islam  were  the  influence  or  the  impact  of the  Vedic  religion,  we  shall  not  contest  such  a  claim  since  reason  can accept  that  a  religion  grounded  and  advanced  in  idolatry  can  spawn  a  cult  of  lesser  idolatry,  the  lesser  idolatry  in  this  instance  being  the idolatry  of the  pagan  Arabs. One  of his  points  is  the  Hajj.

In  this  regard  Oak  states:

The  annual Hajj  of  the  Muslims  to  the  Ka’bah  is  of  an  earlier  pre-Islamic  congregation.

It  is  clear  that  Mr.  Oak  is  a  poor  student  of  history.  Even  our  little children  are  aware  of  the  fact  that  the  Hajj  pilgrimage  was  in  existence prior  to  the  appearance  of  Nabi  Muhammad  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).  The Hajj  worship  came  into  existence  among  the  Arabs  during  the  time  of Nabi  lbraaheem  (alayhissalaam).  From  this  angle  it  will  be  correct to  conclude  that  the  Hajj  of  the  present-day  Muslims  “is  of  an  earlier pre-Islamic  congregation”.  By  “pre-Islamic”  will  mean  the  era  prior  to the  advent  of  Prophet Muhammad  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).  But,  it  is  ridiculous  to infer  that  the  Islamic  Hajj  is  the  impact  of  the  Vedic  religion  merely because  it  was  in  existence  from  the  time  of  Prophet  lbraaheem (alayhissalaam).  Every practice  of  the  pre-Islam  pagan  Arabs  cannot  be  attributed  to  Vedic influence  or  the  influence  of  some  other  idolatrous  cult.  While  the actual  worship  of  Hajj  among  the  Arabs  came  into  existence  during  the time  of  Nabi  lbraaheem  (alayhissalaam),  the  Arabs  who  later abandoned  the  true  religion  of  lbraaheem  (alayhissalaam) introduced  many  pagan  and  idolatrous  rites  into  the  Hajj  pilgrimage presumably  under  influence  of  Vedic  idolaters  who  came  to  Arabia  to preach  the  idolatry  of  the  Vedic  religion.  But,  such  idolatrous  influences introduced  by  the  pre-Islam  pagans  cannot  be  cited  as  a  basis  for  the preposterous  claim  that  the  Hajj  itself  is  a  Vedic  rite.  There  is  absolutely no  factual  or  historical  evidence  to  substantiate  this  fallacious  claim made  by  Oak.

Another  absurd  claim  made  by  Oak  is  stated in  the  Leader  as  follows:

The  principal shrines  at Varanasi, in India  and  at  Mecca,  in  Arrastan, were  Shiva  temples. Even  to  this  day  ancient  mahadeva  emblems  can be  seen.

Such  emblems  can  be  seen  on  the  Shiva  temples  in  India.  But  the allegation  of  such  signs  of  idolatry  —  such  emblems  of  paganism  —  on the  Ka’bah  is  a  blatant  falsity.  What  is  Oak’s  proof  for  existence  of  such emblems  in  the  Ka’bah..?    Such  “emblems  of  Mahadeva”  allegedly  in  or  on  the  Ka’bah  are  the  reflections  of  Oak’s  imagination.

The  “dish”  theory  constrains  Oak  to  conjecture  the  following conclusion which  he  seems  to  believe  as  factual evidence:

According  to  the  inscriptions,  if  King  Vikram  spread  the  Vedic  religion, who else but he could  have  founded the  Ka’bah  temple?

If  king  Vikram  did  in  fact  spread  the  Vedic  religion  of  idolatry  which  gave  birth  to  the  360  idols  of  the  pagan  Arabs,  it  does  not  follow  therefrom  that  the  Holy  Ka’bah  was  a  Hindu  temple  built  by  Vikram. For  such  a  preposterous  claim  factual  proof  is  required.  The  wishful  thinking  of  Mr.  Oak  cannot  override  the  facts  of history. Even  the  pagan Arabs  were  fully  aware  of  the  origin  of  the  Ka’bah.  They  had  full knowledge  of  the  fact  that  Nabi  lbraaheem  (alayhissalaam)  was the  founder  of  the  Ka’bah.  The  groundless  suggestion  of  a  man  in  this belated  century  is  nothing  other  than  pure  wishful  thinking  —  a  fallacy to  be  dismissed with  contempt.

In  support of his  conclusions  based on  the  “dish”  theory,  Oak  claims:

Pilgrims’ shaving  of  head  and  beard  and  donning  white cloth  are remnants  of  the  old  Vedic  practice  of  entering  temples  clean  shaven.

Oak  demonstrates  his  lack  of  knowledge  of  Islamic  practices  by  his claim  of  shaving  the  beard.  Hujjaaj  (pilgrims)  do  not  shave  their  beards. Muslim  males  are  not  permitted  to  shave  their  beards  whether  they are  at  home  or  entering  temples  or  Mosques,  be  it  the  Sacred  Mosque of  the  Ka’bah.  While  shaving  the  head  for  male  pilgrims  is  a  rite  of  the Hajj,  shaving  the  beard  is  not  permissible.  It  may  be  a  Vedic  practice  to shave  the  beard,  but definitely  not  a  Muslim  practice.
Muslim  pilgrims  do  not  shave  their  heads  in  order  to  enter  temples  or  Mosques.  If  shaving  the  head  is  a  Vedic  practice  necessary  for  entry  into  a  temple,  Mr.  Oak  should  learn  from  us  that  it  is  not  a  practice  of Islam.  Muslim  pilgrims  either  shave  or  clip  some  hairs  to  release  them from  the  restrictions  of  the  Hajj  (pilgrimage).

If  donning  white  cloth  was  a  custom  of  “old  Vedic”  religion,  it  does  not  logically  follow  therefrom  that  the  white  garments  which  Muslim pilgrims  don  are  “Remnants  of  old  Vedic  practice”.  What  are  Oak’s grounds  for  this  fictitious  theory..??  It  is  absurd  to  suggest that wherever a  white religious  garb  exists  it must be the  result of  Vedic  influence.

Among  the  points  put  forward  by  Oak  for  his  fallacy  is  the  emblem  of the  crescent  moon. Stating  this  point of  Oak,  the  Leader  says:

In  India  the  crescent  moon  is  always  painted  across  the  forehead  of  the Shiva  symbol. The  same  emblem now  adorns  the  flag  of  Islam.

Mr. Oak  has  transgressed all bounds  of absurdity  in  putting  forward  this ignorant  claim.  What  is  the  “flag  of  Islam”  in  Oak’s  understanding??   From  where  did  this  ‘research  scholar’  obtain  his  information  in  this regard!  If  the  flags  of  Muslim  countries  have  the  symbol  of  the crescent,  it  does  not  follow  that  the  Flag  of Prophet Muhammad  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)  —  the  Flag  of  Islam  —  also  displayed  the  crescent  emblem.  The crescent  emblem  is  an  innovation which  did  not exist during the  time  of the  Holy  Prophet Muhammad  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)  nor  during  the  time  of  his righteous  Khulafaa  (Representatives  and  Successors).  Assuming  that the  crescent  emblem  did  exist  among  the  Muslims  of  the  Prophetic  era,  then  too,  Oak  will  have  no  grounds  to  bolster  his  claim  of  Vedic  origin and  Vedic  influence.  One  cannot  venture  such  claims  without producing  facts  and  proofs  to  substantiate  one’s  claims  which  are  in conflict  with  all facts  of history.

Endeavouring  to  present  his  wishful  thinking  as  a  fact  of  history,  Oak asserts  that  the  Tawaaf  (circumambulation)  of  Ka’bah  by  pilgrims  is  the influence  of the  Vedic  religion. Thus,  the  Leader  says:

Muslim pilgrims  go around  the  Ka’bah  seven times,  a  common  practice among Hindus.   In  no other  mosque  does  circumambulation  prevail.

Circumambulation  of  the  Ka’bah  is  because  of  the  special  religious significance  which  Muslims  believe  is  exclusive  to  the  Ka’bah,  the  first Place  of  Worship  ever  to  be  constructed  on  earth.  According  to  Islamic Belief,  the  first  person  to  build  the  Ka’bah  was  Aadam  (alayhissalaam)  —  the  first  man  on  earth.  Its  superior  rank  and  the  special  divine presence  which  Muslims  believe  surrounds  the  Ka’bah  are  the  facts underlying  the  circumambulation.  If  Hindus  do  in  fact  circumambulate  some  temple  seven  times,  it  cannot  be  claimed  that  such  a  Hindu practice  gave  rise  to  the  Tawaaf  (circumambulation)  rite  of  Islam.  Mere similarities  between  opposite and  divergent  religions  cannot  be  cited  as evidence  for  one’s  claims  unsupported  by  factual proof.

Another  point of  Oak  stated by  the  Leader  is:  

Eid  in  Sanskrit  means  worship  and  Bakri  Eid, which  derives  from sacrifices of  Vedic  times  was  celebrated  with  mutton  feasting  at the time of  the  sun’s  entry  into  Aries.

If  the  term  “Eid”  means  “worship”  in  Sanskrit,  we  have  to  apprize  Oak  of  the  fact  that  in  Arabic  the  word  “Eid”  does  not  mean  “worship”.  In Arabic  “Eid”  means  ‘the  Day  of  Return’.  The  Islamic  Festivals  are  known as  such  because  of  their  ‘return’  or  ‘repeated  coming’.  The  term  itself does  not  connote  ‘worship’  in  Arabic.  Thus,  there  is  no  question  of  the Arabic  term  ‘Eid’  being  the  Sanskrit  term  contended  by  Oak.  There  is, therefore,  absolutely  no  point  for  Oak’s  “dish”  theory.  in  the  Arabic word,  “Eid”.  “Bakri  Eid”  being  the  occasion  when  Muslims  sacrifice animals  unto  Allah  Ta’ala  has  no  resemblance  with  any  Vedic  muttonfeasting  practice  dedicated  to  idols.  The  word  “Bakri”  is  not  Arabic.  It  is an  Urdu  term  meaning  ‘goat’.  Since  goats  are  generally  sacrificed  in  India  on  the  occasion  of  Eidul  Adhaa,  Indian  Muslims  have  coined  the name  “Bakri  Eid”.  The  main  animal  of  sacrifice  for  the  Arabs  has  always been  the  camel.  Eidul  Adhaa  —  the  original  and  correct  name  of  this auspicious  Day  —  is  the  name  known  to  the  Arabs.  The  sacrifice  of animals  on  this  occasion  is  in  commemoration  of  the  supreme  sacrifice of  lbraaheem  (alayhissalaam).  There  is  absolutely  no  resemblance to  any  Vedic  mutton-eating  custom  of  idolatrous  merry-making.  If  the  Vedic  custom  of  mutton-feasting  is  to  mark  the  sun’s  entry  into  ‘Aries’, the  Islamic  practice  of sacrificing animals  is  not.  Even  the  Christian  Bible speaks  of  the  sacrifice  of  animals.  If  the  Islamic  custom  of  sacrificing  animals  has  to  be  the  result  of  Vedict  impact,  then  Oak  may  also  argue that  the  biblical  practice  of  sacrificing  animals  is  likewise  the  influence of the  Vedic  religion.

Oak  then  claims:

The  Islamic word  Eidgah,  signifies  “House  of  Worship”  which  is  the exact  Sanskrit  connotation  of  the  term.

Again  Oak  exhibits  his  total  ignorance  of  Islam  and  its  practices.  In  Arabic  there  is  no  such  term  as  “Eidgah“.  This  term  was  unknown  to  the  Prophet  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)  and  His  followers  during  the  early  history  of  Islam.  The  term  ‘gah’  means  place  in  the  Urdu  language.  It  is  not  of  Arabic  origin  nor  does  Eidgah  in  Urdu  mean  “House  of  Worship”. The  Eidgah  is  a  special  venue  set  aside  for  solely  the  prayers  which  are performed  on  the  Day  of  Eid.  Eidgah,  therefore,  means  in  Urdu  the place  where  the  special  Eid  prayers  are  performed.  Since  the  term  is not  of  Arabic  origin  nor  is  it  the  word  used  by  the  Arabs  to  describe  the place  where  the  Eid  prayers  are  conducted,  there  is  no  support  in  it  for Oak’s  conclusions  stemming  from  his  “dish”  theory.  In  Arabic  the  place where  the  Eid  prayers  are  conducted  is  known  as  the  “Musallaa“.

Oak  betrays  his  ignorance  of  Islam  in  similar  fashion  by  tendering  the following point in  substantiation  of the  “dish”  theory,  

Also  the  word  ‘Namaaz’  derives  from  two  Sanskrit  roots  ‘nama’ and ‘yajna’  meaning  bowing  and  worshipping.

The  word  “namaaz”  is  not  an  Arabic  term.  It  was  never  used  by  the Prophet  of  Islam  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)  nor  by  the  Arab  Muslims. Even to  this  day  the  Islamic  practice  of  prayers  is  described  as  Salaah,  not NamaazNamaaz  is  of  Persian  origin.  While  Salaah  (Islamic  prayers)  is known  as  ‘Namaaz‘  in  Persian  and  Urdu,  it  has  never  been  the  case  in Arabic.  How  ridiculous  then,  is  it  not,  for  Oak  to  cite  an  Urdu  term coined  ages  after  the  Prophet  of  Islam  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam),  to  bolster  his  theory  arising  out  of  a  dish  supposedly  found  in  the  Ka’bah..??    The Urdu  language  consists  of  words  from  many  languages,  including Sanskrit.    But,  the  Urdu  language  was  not  the  language  of  the  Prophet (on  whom be  peace)  or  of  the  Arabs.

It  is  therefore  meaningless  to  seek  to  forge  a  theory  concerning  the Arabs  of  the  pre-Islam  and  post-Islam  era  by  tendering  terms introduced  by  non-Arab  Muslims  centuries  after  the  advent  of  the Prophet  of  Islam  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).

Presenting  another  preposterous  and  fallacious  point  in  substantiation of his  “dish”  theory,  Oak  says:

…..that shabibarat is the  corrupt form  of  Shiva  Ratra  and  that the  term ‘eidul  fitr’  derives  from  the  eid  of  piters  (worship  of  forefathers in Sanskrit  tradition  and  Pitri  Paksha  among  Hindus).

The  term  “shab”  is  not  Arabic. The  occasion  referred  to  is  the  15th  night of  the  month  of  Sha’baan  in  the  Islamic  calendar.  The  Arabs  do  not know  this  night  by  the  name,  ‘Shabibarat‘.  This  is  an  Indian  term,  also introduced  ages  after  the  Holy  Prophet  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).  It  is blatantly  false  to  aver  that  the  Urdu  or  Faarsi  word  ‘shab‘  is  the  corrupt form  of  ‘Shiva’.  Whatever  Shiva  may  mean  in  Sanskrit,  it  has  absolutely  no  relationship  with  the  Urdu  term,  ‘shab‘ which  means  night.

The  word  ‘baraa-ah‘  is  not  a  corrupt  form  of  the  Sanskrit  term,  ratra’- Oak  has  allowed  his  imagination  to  play  havoc  with  him.  He  makes sweeping claims  without furnishing grounds  for  his  fallacies.

His  claim  regarding  “Eid ul  Fitr”  is  just  as  fallacious.  Eid ul  Fitr  has absolutely  no  connection  with  some  idolatrous  worship  of  forefathers. Eid ul  Fitr  is  the  Day  of  Happiness  marking  the  end  of  the  month  of fasting,  viz.,  the  month  of  Ramadhaan.  In  Islam  there  is  no  ritual  or practice  which  is  even  remotely  akin  to  the  Hindu  custom  of worshipping forefathers.

Oak  claims  that the  word  ‘Allah ‘, the  Islamic  term  for  God  Almighty,  is  a Sanskrit  word  meaning  ‘goddess  or  mother’.  If  there  is  some  such  word in  Sanskrit  having  these  meanings  stated  by  Oak,  there  is  absolutely  no  proof  for  the  claim  that  the  Arabic  word,  Allah  has  been  borrowed from Sanskrit.  In  Arabic,  the  word  ‘Allah’  does  not  mean  ‘goddess’  or ‘mother’.  The  word,  ‘Allah’  has  been  known  to  the  very  first  man  on earth,  viz.,  Aadam  (alayhissalaam).  If  some  of  the  progeny  of  Aadam  in  the  different  parts  of  the  world  retained  the  term  ‘Allah’  after having  abandoned  the  true  religion  taught  by  the  Prophets,  there  is  no surprise  whatsoever.

It  is  the  belief  of  Muslims–a  belief  stated  by  the  Qur’aan–that  Almighty Allah  had  sent  Prophets  to  all  nations. Prophets  of  Allah  have  therefore appeared  in  India  and  in  all  places  to  deliver  the  Truth  of  Islam.  It  is, therefore,  quite  possible,  in  fact,  almost  certain  that  the  Prophet  or Prophets  who  came  to  India  many  thousands  of  years  ago,  had  come  with  the  word,  Allah.  The  Indians  must  have  been  apprized  by  the Prophets  that  God  Almighty  is  Allah,  The  One.  Therefore,  it  is  not  at  all surprising  if  the  term  ‘Allah  ‘  has  been  retained  by  the  Sanskrit language.  But,  then  why  do  Hindus  not  refer  to  God  with  the  Name  Allah  if  their  language  and  their  religion  claim  that  the  correct  word  for God is  ‘Allah’ ??

Oak,  spurred  on  by  his  imagination,  is  reading  too  much  in  word similarities.  Word  similarities  exist  in  most  languages.  A  word  of  the same  or  similar  pronunciation  may  be  found  with  the  same  or  different meanings  in  different  languages.  Historical  facts  of  certitude  cannot  be deduced  from  such  similarities  of  ambiguity.  Such  flimsy  theories  which are  the  product  of  mere  imagination  and  wishful  thinking  cannot constitute  facts  and  grounds  for  the  negation  of  historical  and  religious facts supported by the testimony of generations of authorities.

In  conclusion  we  are  compelled  to  observe  that  the  findings  of  Oak are  amazing  in  absurdity  and  in  their  degree  of  fallacy.

In  response  to  the  queries  and  views  of  ‘Rationalist’  (The  Leader,  3rd June 1988) we wish to say:

(1)  Whatever  the  meaning  and  significance  of  the  Black  Stone  at  the Ka’bah  may  be,  it  is  NOT  the  interpretation  which  is  associated  with  the “Lingam-Yoni  worship”.  It  is  not  our  intention  here  to  engage  in  any refutation  of  the  rites  of  paganism  and  immoral  cults.  Our  concern  is  with  the  baseless  and  blasphemous  interpretations  and  vile connotations  which  self-appointed  historians  seek  to  attach  to  the religious  rites  and  acts  of  worship  of  Islam.  

P.N.  Oak  is  no  authority  on  any  Islamic  matter.  His  views  are  essentially his  personal,  unfounded  and  unsubstantiated  opinions  devoid  of  truth and  stripped  of  any  sort  of  evidence.  Theories  can  be  propounded  in abundance.  But,  as  long  as  theories  remain  unsubstantiated  by  facts, they  will  be  regarded  as  the  figments  of  imagination  and  the  products of  whimsical  fancy.  Thus,  the  baseless  interpretation  regarding  the Black  Stone  which  “Rationalist”  seeks  to  trade  is  raised  on  the  hollow foundations  of  an  unsubstantiated  theory  of  one  Mr.  Oak  who  avers that  the  Ka’bah  was  a  Shiva  temple.  In  postulating  his  idea  regarding the  Black  Stone,  Rationalist  has  placed  the  cart  before  the  horse.  Let  him  and  Oak  first  prove  conclusively  that  the  Holy  Ka’bah  was  in  fact  a Shiva  temple.  Once  they  have  succeeded  (and  never  will  they  ever succeed)  in  backing  up  their  ill-begotten  theory  with  facts  and evidence,  then  only  will  it  be  rational  for  Rationalist  to  embark  upon  his interpretation  which  he  has  postulated  for  the  Black  Stone  by implication of his reference to the Ka’bah as a Shiva temple. 

Since  we  do  not  accept  Oak  as  any  authority,  his  views  are utterly  baseless  and  puerile  and  in  stark  conflict  with  historical evidence.

(2)  On  the  contrary,  it  is  abundantly  clear  that  the  arguments  of  Oak  are  irrelevant  in  entirety  in  view  of  the  fact  that  he  has  advanced  his personal  idea  unsubstantiated  by  evidence.  His  allegation  about  a “dish”  –  a  Shiva  dish  –  a  Vedic  dish  —  is  laughable,  to  say  the  least.  One  has  to  be  really  senile  in  the  mind  to  regard  the  dish-trash  as  evidence for  upsetting  and  negating  the  historical  evidence  which  has  been transmitted  reliably  down  the  long  corridor  of  time.  A  theory,  no matter  how  plausible  it  may  sound  and  how  appealing  it  may  appear  to the  imagination  of  some  persons,  remains  pure  conjecture  as  long  as evidence  cannot  be  advanced  to  make  it  stand  on  its  legs.  A  mere allegation  of  a  “dish”  supposedly  discovered,  is  not  evidence  for  the ridiculous  contentions  made  by  Oak.

To  men  of  intelligence,  the  claims  of  Oak  do  not  appear  reasonable  ”by large”  as  Rationalist  asserts.  On  the  contrary  his  claims  appear downright childish  and  ludicrous.

(3)  Arguing  in  vindication  of  Oak’s  blasphemous  views  pertaining  to  the Holy  Ka’bah,  Rationalist  states:

He  has  established that there  is  a  well  at Mecca  called  Zam  Zam

Rationalist  presents  this  as  a  wonderful  discovery  made  by  Oak.  Every little  child  –  all  Muslim  children  by  the  million,  the  world  over,  know  of the  existence  of  the  Well  of  Zam  Zam.  We  are  certain  that  numerous non-Muslims  are  aware  of  the  existence  of  the  Well  of  Zam  Zam.  There is  no  secrecy  surrounding  the  existence  of  the  Well  of  Zam  Zam.  The Zam  Zam  is  not  some  hidden  relic.  It  is  not  a  discovery  which  any archeologist  has  made.  It  is  a  Well  which  has  been  in  daily  use  since  the advent  of  Nabi  Ismaa’eel !  (alayhissalaam).  It  is  indeed  laughable to  read that  Oak  has  finally,  possibly  after  prolonged  research  and  years of  in-depth  investigations,  established  the  existence  of  a  Well  which  is as  famous  as  Makkah  itself.  This  reflects  the  degree  of  historical knowledge  possessed  by  the  self-appointed  historians  of  the  age  –  by those  who  pride  themselves  with  investigations  conducted  in  the  socelled  search-light of scientific  facts.

(4)  Again,  Rationalist  lending  support  to  the  vile  theory  which  Oak propounds  in  relation  to  the  Sacred  Ka’bah,  seeks  to  display  Oak’s  mentioning of the  Black  Stone as  a  significant discovery,  hence  he  avers that  Oak  has  established  the  existence  of  the  Stone  in  the  Ka’bah.  But, the  existence  of  the  Black  Stone  at  the  Ka’bah  is  not  a  secret–  has never  been  a  secret  hence,  Rationalist’s  claim  In  regard  to  the establishing of this  fact by  Oak  is  meaningless.
(5)  Rationalist  then  makes  the  lurid  and  the  stupid  conclusion  that  “to the  Saivites  this  is  Siva’s  lingum“.  Stones  and  immoral  inscriptions elsewhere  may  be  “Siva’s  lingum”.  But  to  associate  the  Sacred  Black Stone  at  the  Ka’bah  as  the  miserable  lingum  of  siva  is  among  the  worst statements  of blasphemy.

Let  Rationalist  and  Oak  inform  us  precisely  when  did  this  ludicrous  idea developed  among  Saivites..??  Since  when  has  saivites  considered  the Sacred  Black  Stone  at  the  Ka’bah  to  be  the  lingum  of  siva..??  Why  has this  idea  arisen  in  this  belated  century  belated  in  relation  to  the  Vedic religion..??  Even  if  Saivites  have  imagined  this  silly  notion,  what  is  the evidence  to  support  this  conjecture??  The  allegation  of  a  chance-finding of some  idolatrous  “dish”  is  not  evidence.  

(6)  Rationalist  also  alleges  that  the  Well  of  Zam  Zam  to  the  Saivites represents  the  river  Ganges.  How  childish  can  Rationalists  and scientists  become  in  presenting  the  figments  of  their  imagination!  Since when  have  saivites  regarded  the  Well  of  Zam  Zam  to  represent  the river  Ganges  of  India..?  Is  it  rational  to  aver  that  the  Zam  Zam  Well  in Makkah  represents  the  river  Ganges  in  India??  What  is  the  rational  and the  scientific  factor  of  relationship  of  this  supposed  representation?? Rationalist  prides  himself  with  the  “searchlight  of  scientific  facts”.  But, how  rational  and  how  scientific  is  he  behaving  by  postulating  a relationship  between  the  Well  of  Zam  Zam  at  Makkah  and  the  river Ganges  in  India??  Rationalist  should  drop  the  outer  facade  of rationalism which  he  has  sought  to  adopt.  Rational  thinking  has  no  scope  for  the type  of  ridiculous  relationships  and  baseless  representation  which Rationalist  has  endeavored  to  portray  between  the  Well  of  Zam  Zam and  the  river  Ganges.

In  our  reply  to  Oak’s  views  we  had  already  answered  the  claims regarding  the  circumambulation  and  the  shaving  of  the  head.  We  shall,
therefore,  not  repeat  ourselves  here.  Our  earlier  reply  suffices  to dismiss  the  unfounded idea  of  Rationalist  stated in  support of  Oak.

(7)  In  an  attempt  to  force  another  relationship  between  the  idolatrous Vedic  cult and  Islam,  Rationalist  avers:

The  moon  has  an  important place  in  Islam. The  sighting  of  the  moon on  certain  occasions  is  imperative.  To  the  Hindus  the  moon  is  an emblem on  Shiva’s  forehead.

Be  the  moon  “an  emblem  on  Shiva’s  forehead”.  It  is  not  the  emblem  of  Islam.  The  adoption  of  the  crescent  moon  on  the  flags  of  most  Muslim countries  is  not  a  teaching  of  Islam.  Islam  is  what  the  Qur’aan  and  the Traditions  of our  Holy  Nabi  Muhammad  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)  teach. The acceptance  of  the  crescent-symbol  on  Muslim  flags  is  not  grounded  in Islamic  teaching.  It  is,  therefore,  baseless  to  portray  the  moon  as  an object  of  religious  significance  in  Islam.  It  may  have  religious significance  in  the  cult  of  shiva  and  the  pagans,  but  it  has  no significance  in  Islamic  teaching.

The  imperativeness  of  sighting  the  moon  “on  certain  occasions”  is  not because  of  religious  significance  which  Muslims  attach  to  the  moon. Rationalist  exhibits  his  ignorance  of  Islam  by  having  made  this  claim. Muslims  have  a  lunar  calendar.  Just  as  the  sun  is  the  imperative  object in  the  determination  of  the  solar  calendar,  so  is  the  moon  in  the  lunar calendar  which  Islam  has  adopted.  Since  Islam  is  the  universal  religion for  all  mankind,  the  overwhelming  majority  of  which  are  simple  folk  inhabiting  villages  and  the  country-sides,  Islam  has  fixed  a  simple  way for  all  to  determine  the  beginning  of  the  months  of  the  lunar  calendar. The  lunar  month  for  Muslims  commences  with  the  sighting  of  the crescent  moon.  Thus,  the  imperativeness  of  the  sighting  is  purely  for  the  purpose  of  determining  the  commencement  of  the  new  lunar month.  The  sighting  of  the  moon  is  not  restricted  to  “certain occasions”.  Rationalist  conveys  the  impression  that  auspicious occasions  in  Islam  are  related  to  the  moon.  This  notion  is  utterly  false. The  sighting  of  the  crescent  moon  is  imperative  to  establish  the  beginning  of  every  month  in  the  Muslim  lunar  calendar.  Hence,  some Muslims  in  a  community  are  required  to  sight  the  crescent  moon  every month.  There  is  absolutely  no  other  occasion  and  no  other  purpose  for which  the  moon  is  sighted.  There  is  thus  no  religious  significance  and no  symbolic  interpretation  which  Islam  associates  with  the  moon. Rationalist  is  indeed  exhibiting  irrationalism  by  his  ideas unsubstantiated by  proof and  facts.

(8)  The  following  statement  by  Rationalist  demonstrates  his  profound ignorance  about  Islam:

What lends  added support to  Oak’s  findings  is  that the  Holy Qum  by Abdullaah  Yusuf  Ali page  62  foot  note  160  makes mention  of  a  male and  female  idol near  the  well of Zam Zam.  To  the  Hindus  these represent  Shiva  and  Parvathi.

Indeed,  Rationalist  just  does  not  realize  what  he  is  saying.  Firstly,  the Qur’aan  is  not  a  Book  by  any  Abdullah  Yusuf  Ali.  The  Qur’aan  is  the revealed  Word  of  Almighty  Allah.  Furthermore,  Abdullaah  Yusuf  Ali  is  a non-entity  in  Islam. He  is  no  authority  in  Islam  in  fact, many  of his  views are  his  personal  opinions  just  as  baseless  as  Rationalist’s  and  Oak’s  ideas.  Yusuf  Ali  in  his  spurious  commentary  of  the  Qur’aan  is  guilty  of  certain  opinions  and  theories  of  blasphemy.  As  far  as  we  are  concerned Rationalist  may  just  as  well  say  “the  Holy  Qur’aan  by  Oak”.  Just  as unworthy  as  we  consider  Oak’s  and  Rationalist’s  propositions  and suppositions,  so  do  we  consider  many  of  Yusuf  Ali’s  comments  and views.  Rationalist  has  not  at  all  enhanced  his  hypothesis  by  introducing Yusuf  Ali  since  he  is  no  authority  in  Islam.  In  fact,  Yusuf  Ali’s commentary on the Qur’aan  is  heretical.

Thus,  Rationalist  should  understand  that  the  statement  which appear  in  the  footnotes  of  Yusuf  Ali’s  commentary  do  not  constitute the  Qur’aan  nor  are  his  comments  authentic  Qur’aanic  exegesis.  They are  merely  the  baseless  suppositions  of  a  mere  child  gone  astray  in  the spiritual  realm  of  Islamic  Knowledge  springing  out  of  the  Qur’aanic Fountain.  

Without  having  checked  Yusuf  Ali’s  comment  mentioned  by  Rationalist and  without  any  attempt  to  verify  the  historical  veracity  of  the  claim  of the  idols  in  close  proximity  to  the  Zam  Zam,  let  us  assume  for  a moment  that  such  idols  did  exist  once  upon  a  time  near  to  the  Sacred  Well  of  Zam  Zam.  If  such  idols  did  in  fact  exist  there,  it  will  not  be  cause for  any  surprise  when  it  is  a  historical  truth  that  even  the  Holy  Ka’bah  was  polluted  and  contaminated  with  the  presence  of  hundreds  of  idols which  the  pagan  Arabs  had  installed  possibly  under  the  influence  of  the devilish  missionaries  who  had  hailed  from  India  according  to  Oak  some millennium  ago.  What  then  is  so  surprising  if  some  of  the  idols  of  the idolaters  had  been  left  near  to  the  Well  of  Zam  Zam..??  If  Hindus  indeed  did  or  do  regard  the  miserable  idols  which  allegedly  and  supposedly existed  near  to  the  Zam  Zam  once  upon  a  time,  as  Shiva  and  Parvathi, then  by  all  means  let  them  soothe  themselves  with  such  silly  notions. We  discern  nothing  rational  and  nothing  scientific  in  this  preposterous supposition  fabricated  by  Rationalist.  Whatever  the  Hindus  may  think or  may  have  thought  of  the  imagined  idols  at  the  Zam  Zam,  all  idols  are evil  and  condemned  by  Islam.  The  Arabs  since  their  adoption  of  Islam eliminated  the  traces  of  their  pre-Islam  idolatrous  cult  and  idolatrous and  a  paganistic  cult  of  evil  and  immorality  which  was  akin  to  the idolatry  of  the  Hindus.  But,  the  pre-Islam  idolatry  of  the  Arabs  should not  be  confused  with  any  teachings  of  Islam.  To  imagine  any relationship  between  the  idolatrous  rites  of  paganistic  cults  and  Islam  is pure  conjecture.  There  is  absolutely  no  evidence  to  back  up  the  claims made  by  Oak  and  Rationalist  in  this  regard.  

(9)  Rationalist  arguing  in  support  of  Oak  mentions  some  poem  of  a  pre-Islam  pagan  Arab.  The  poem  purports  to  sing  the  praises  of  India  and the  Vedic  religion.  But,  any  such  poem  cannot  be  cited  as  any  relationship  between  Islam  and  the  idolatrous  Vedic  religion  of  the Hindus. The  pre-Islam  pagan  Arab  was  just as  idolatrous  as  the  idolaters of  India.  One  idol-worshipper  lauding  the  religion  of  other  idol worshippers  cannot  be  interpreted  as  any  relationship  between  Islam and  the  Vedic  religion  of  idolatry.  Even  if  the  idolater  happens  to  be  an Arab,  it  presents  no  evidence  for  the  ridiculous  theories  of  Oak.  We  fail to  understand  the  absurd  level  of  thinking  portrayed  by  Rationalist  in his  support for the  ideas  propagated by  Oak.  

The  polytheists  in  their  iconological  zeal  have  indeed  stretched  their imagination  to  absurd  proportions  by  the  attempt  to  strike  a resemblance  between  the  monotheistic  teachings  of  Islam  and  the idolatrous  practices  of  the  cult  of  iconolatry.  Idolatry  paralysis  the  human  mind  and  spirit  and  diminishes,  not  only  diminishes  but  utterly  destroys  the  dignity  of  human  being  –  a  dignity  which  pervades  him  by virtue  of  his  intelligent  belief  in  the  natural  concept  of  Tauheed  (Unity of Allah).

(10)  Rationalist  alludes  to  an  apparent  contradiction  in  our  explanation of  the  origin  of  the  Holy  Ka’bah.  It  was  said  in  our  explanation  that Aadam  (alayhissalaam)  was  the  first  person  to  build  the  Ka’bah. Again  we  stated  that  Nabi  Ibraaheem  (alayhissalaam)  was  the founder  of the  Ka’bah. Thus,  Rationalist  asks,

Was  Nabi  Ibraaheem  and  Adam  the  one  and  the  same  person?
  
No,  Nabi  Ibraaheem  and  Nabi  Aadam  (alayhimussalaam)  were  not the same  person.  Islam  teaches  that  the  first  House  of  Worship  on  earth was  the  Ka’bah  which  was  first  erected  by  Aadam  (alayhissalaam) under  the  guidance  of  Jibraeel  (the  Archangel  Gabriel).  The  great Deluge  during  the  time  of  Nabi  Nooh  (alayhissalaam)  destroyed the  building  of  the  Ka’bah  and  so  it  was  lost  to  mankind.  According  to the  Qur’aan  Nabi  Ibraaheem  and  his  son  Nabi  Ismaa’eel  (alayhimussalaam)  under  divine  instruction  and  guidance  once  again  founded  the Holy  Ka’bah  and  erected  the  holy  building.  The  Father  of  the  Arab nation  was  Ismaa’eel  the  son  of  Ibraaheem  (alayhissalaam). Historical  links  of  the  Arabs  leading  to  Ibraaheem (alayhissalaam)  were  well  recorded among  the  pagan  Arabs.  Thus,  while  they  were  fully  aware  of  the  fact that  Nabi  Ibraaheem  (alayhissalaam)  erected  the  Ka’bah,  they  did not  necessarily  have  the  knowledge  of  the  fact  that  Aadam  (alayhissalaam)  was  the  first  man  on  earth  to  have  built  the  Ka’bah.  Our  contention  that  Ibraaheem  (alayhissalaam)  was  the  founder  of  the Ka’bah  was,  therefore,  in  relation  to  the  Arabs  and  their  known  history. There  is  thus  no  real  contradiction.

(11)  In  an  attempt  to  refute  the  Islamic  contention  of  the  Ka’bah’s special  significance  in  so  far  as  Muslims  are  concerned,  Rationalist states:

But in the  Holy Quran,  Abdullah  Yusuf  Ali advocates  that  it  merely typifies  activity.

Commenting on  this  view  of  Yusuf  Ali,  Rationalist  asks,

Which  of  the  two is  acceptable,  what is written in  the  Holy Quran  or what the  Ulama  say..?”  

This  statement  reflects  Rationalist’s  stark  ignorance  about  matters pertaining  to  Islam.  Nowhere  in  the  Qur’aan  or  even  in  the  Ahaadeeth (Traditions)  is  it  said  that  the  circumambulation  (Tawaaf)  of  the  Ka’bah typifies  activity.  Rationalist  has  confused  Yusuf  Ali’s  personal  idea  and opinion  with  the  Qur’aan.  Rationalist  seems  to  be  labouring  under  the mistaken  notion  that  Yusuf  Ali’s  views  and  comments  are  in  fact  the Qur’aan  of  Islam.  What  Yusuf  Ali  believes  and  propagates  is  not  Islam. On  the  contrary  the  Ulama  present  what  is  propagated  by  the  Qur’aan. Yusuf  Ali’s  views  on  many  issues  are  just  as  fallacious  as  Oak’s  and Rationalist’s  theories  and  ideas  pertaining to  Islamic  issues.  

12)  For  the  information  of  Rationalist,  Muslims  do  not  believe  in  the Black  Stone  as  a  deity.  Islam  does  not  teach  the  Black  Stone  to  be  a possessor  by  divine  power.  Muslims  do  not  worship  the  Black  Stone. Kissing  by  no  means  constitutes  an  act  of  worship.  In  contrast, prostration  and  other  specific  acts  of  propitiation  do  constitute  acts  of worship.  Muslims  do  not  believe  the  Black  Stone  to  be  an  intermediary  between  them  and  Allah.  Kissing  the  Black  Stone  has  absolutely  no relationship  with  icon-worship.  Icon-worship  is  the  practice  of  the idolaters  who  believe  in  the  deification  of  man-made  idols.  Worship  is offered  to  man-made  idols.  On  the  other  hand,  it  is  Muslim  belief (which  Rationalist  is  not  asked  to  believe  or  accept)  that  the  Black Stone  heralds  from  Jannat  (Paradise).  Its  present  form  is  not  its  original form  of  beauty  and  lustre.  It  is  kissed  as  an  expression  of  love  for  the Holy  Prophet  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)  who  had  kissed  it  because  of  its origin.  It  originated  from  man’s  original  and  true  home,  viz.,  Jannat (Paradise),  the  abode  where  Aadam,  the  first  man,  was  created. Aadam (alayhissalaam),  our  father,  inhabited  Paradise.  The  original  home  of  man  is therefore  Paradise.  Man  will  have  to  return  to  his  original  home  one day.  The  Black  Stone  is  a  momento.  It  reminds  us  of  our  Home.  Our kissing,  it  is  thus  a  mere  expression  of  love.  Such  expressions  of emotions  are  perfectly  valid  and  reasonable  for  people  in  love.  Even those  in  love  with  transitory  worldly  objects  have  their  emotional  ways of  expressing  their  love  and  affection  –  ways  which  have  nothing  to  do with  worshipping.  

(13)  Rationalist  asks:

Cannot  one  have  communion  with  Allah  without these tangible  and intangible  supports..?

What  are  the  intangible  supports  to  which  Rationalist  refers?,  Here  is  a self-contradiction.  The  ‘tangible’  supports  obviously  refer  to  physical objects.  But, what does  Rationalist  mean by  “intangible  supports??”  

Out  of  the  hundreds  of  millions  of  Muslims  who  inhabit  this  earth  only about  a  million  annually  perform  the  pilgrimage  to  Makkah.  The  vast majority  of  Muslims  never  gain  the  opportunity  to  visit  the  Holy  Places, yet  they  commune  with  Allah  Ta’ala  without  any  ‘tangible  supports’. Even  those  who  perform  the  pilgrimage  and  have  the  opportunity  of expressing  their  love  by  kissing  the  Black  Stone  of  Jannat  commune with  their  Creator  Allah  without  the  support  of  the  tangible  Black Stone.  The  object  of  kissing  the  Black  Stone  is  not  to  establish communion  with  Allah.  Rationalist  possesses  absolutely  no understanding  of  Islamic  practices,  hence  he  jumps  to  baseless conclusions  which  are  merely  his  wishful  thinking.  Even  when performing  their  Salaat  (obligatory  five  daily  prayers)  Muslims,  while required  to  face  the  direction  of  the  Ka’bah  are  not  at  all  required  to  contemplate  the  Ka’bah  or  the  Black  Stone  or  any  other  physical  or tangible  object.  Such  contemplation  of  physical  objects,  viz.,  idols,  is the  practice  exclusively  of  those  who  have  sold  their  souls  to  satanic iconolatry.  Rationalist  has  thus  gravely  blundered  in  attempting  to strike  a  parallel  between  the  Islamic  act  of  kissing  the  Black  Stone  and the  worship  of icons  by  the  idolaters. 

(14)  Rationalist  states:

The  whole  controversy, initiated  by  Ahmad  Deedat need  not  have arisen:  We  agree  with  Rationalist  in  this  observation  and  condemn  Deedat  for initiating  such  useless  and  destructive  controversies.  Deedat  is  not  an ambassador  of  Islam  nor  is  he  qualified  to  speak  on  matters  pertaining to the Islamic Shariah

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah | Verses 21-22

Previous: Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah | Verses 8 to 20

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                      TRANSLATION

O  men,  worship  your  Lord  –  who  created  you  and  those before  you,  so  that  you  may  become  God-fearing –  who made  the  earth  a  bed  for  you  and  the  sky  a  roof,  and sent  down  water  from  the  sky,  then  through  it  brought forth,  out  of  fruits,  provision  for  you.  So,  do  not  set  up parallels  to  Allah  when  you  know.  (Qur’an 21-22)

A  review  of  verses  linked  together

The  second  verse  of  the  Surah  ‘Al-Baqarah’ provides  the  answer  to the  prayer  made  in  the  Surah Al-Fatihah: “Guide us  in the  straight  path– that  is  to  say,  the  guidance  man  has  prayed  for  is  present  in  this  book,  for  the  Holy  Qur’an  is  from  the  beginning  to  the end  a  detailed  account  of  the  straight  path.  Then,  the  Surah  proceeds to  divide  men  into  three  groups  according  to  whether  they  accept  the guidance  of  the  Holy  Qur’an  or  not.  Three  verses  speak  of  the  true  and God-fearing  Muslims,  who  not  only  accept  but  also  act  upon  the guidance,  and  the  next  two  verses  of  those  disbelievers  who  oppose  it openly.

Then  come  thirteen  verses  dealing  with  the  hypocrites  who  are hostile  to  this  guidance,  but,  for  the  sake  of  petty  worldly  interests  or in  seeking  to  harm  the  Muslims,  try  to  keep  their  disbelief  concealed and  to  present  themselves  as Muslims.  Thus,  the  first  twenty  verses  of the  Surah,  in  dividing  men  into  three  groups  on  the  basis  of  their acceptance  or  rejection  of  the  guidance,  indicate  that  the  proper criterion  for  dividing  men  into  groups  is  neither  race  or  colour,  nor language  nor  geography,  but  religion.  Hence  those,  who  believe  in Allah  and  follow  the  guidance  He  has  provided  in  the  Holy  Qur’an, form  one  nation,  and  those  who  disbelieve  form  a  different  nation  –  the Holy  Qur’an  calls  the  former  the  ‘party  of  Allah’  and  the  latter  –  ‘the party  of  Satan’  (Qur’an 58:19-22)

Then,  the  present  verses  (21 and  22),  addressing  the  three  groups together,  present  the  message  for  which  the  Holy  Qur’an  has  been revealed.  In  asking  men  to  give  up  the  worship  of  created  beings  and to  worship  Allah  alone,  they  adopt  a  mode  of  expression  which  not  only makes  an  affirmation  but  also  supports  it  with  arguments  so  clear that  even  an  average  man,  only  if  he  uses  his  common  sense,  cannot help  being  convinced  of  the  Oneness  of  God.

Commentary :

In  starting  the  address,  verse  21  uses  the  Arabic  word  An-nas, which  signifies  man  in  general,  or  man  as such  –  so,  the  word  covers  all the  three  groups  we  have  just  mentioned.  And  the  message  delivered by  the  verse “Worship your  Lord.”  The  Arabic word  ‘Ibadah (worship) connotes  expending  all  energies  one  has  in  total  obedience  to somebody,  and  shunning  all  disobedience  out  of  one’s  awe  and reverence.  (Ruh-al-Bayan) We  have  earlier  explained  the  meaning  of  the word  Rabb  (one  who  gives  nurture).  Let  us  add  that  the  choice  of  this particular  name  from  among  the  Beautiful  names  of  Allah  is  very meaningful  in  the  present  context,  for  the  affirmation  has  thus  been combined  with  the  argument  in  a  very  short  sentence.  The  word  Rabb indicates  that  only  He  is,  or  can  be,  worthy  of  being  worshipped,  He  is the  final  and  absolute  Cause  of  nurturing  man  –  Who  changes  man through  gradual  stages  of  development  from  a  drop  of  water  into healthy,  sentient  and  rational  being,  and  Who  provides  the  means  for his  sustenance  and  growth.  This  truth  is  so  obvious  that  even  an ignorant  or  intellectually  dull  man  would,  on  a  little  reflection,  not  fail to  see  and  admit  that  such  a  power  of  nurturing  can  belong  only  to Allah,  and  not  to  a  created  being.  What  can  a  creature  do  for  man, when  it  owes  its  very  existence  to  the  Creator?  Can  a  needy  one  come to  the  help  of  another?  And  if  it  appears  to  be  doing  so,  the  act  of nurturing  must  in  reality  and  ultimately  belong  to  the  One  Being  on whom  both  have  to  depend  in  order  to  exist  at all.  So,  who  else  but  the Rabb  can  be  worthy  of  adoration  and  worship?

The  sentence  is  addressed  to  all  the  three  groups  of  men,  and  for each  it  has  a  different  meaning.  “Worship  your  Lord”:  the  phrase  calls upon  the  disbelievers  to  give  up  worshipping  created  beings  and  to turn  to  the  Creator;  it  asks  the  hypocrites  to  be  sincere  and  true  in their  faith;  it  commands  the  sinning  Muslims  to  change  their  ways and  try  to  be  perfect  in  their  obedience  to  Allah;  and  it  encourages  the God-fearing  Muslims  to  be  steadfast  in  their  worship  and  obedience, and  to  make  a  greater  effort  in  the  way  of  Allah  (Ruh-al-Bayan).

The  two  verses  proceed  to  enlarge  upon  the  theme  by  specifying 6 certain  special  qualities  of  the  Rabb: “He created you  and  those  before  you.”  This  is  a  quality  which  one  cannot  even imagine  to  belong  to  a  created  being,  for  it  can  pertain  only  to  the Creator  –  that  is,  the  quality  of  giving  existence  to  what  did  not  exist before,  and  of  producing  from  the  darkness  and  filth  of  the  mother’s womb  a  creature  as lovely  and  noble  as man.

In  adding  to  the  phrase: “who  created  you”  the  words, “and  those  before  you,”  the  verse  shows  that  Allah  alone  is the  Creator  of  all  mankind.  It  is  also  significant  that  the  verse mentions  only  “those  before  you”  and  not  “those  who  will  come  after you”,  and  through  this  omission  suggests  that  there  will  not  be  any Ummah  (a  traditional  community  formed  by  all  the  followers  of  a prophet)  to  succeed  the  Ummah  of  the  Holy  Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), for  no  prophet will  be  sent  down  after  the  Last  Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) , and  hence  no  new ‘Ummah‘  will  arise.

The  final  phrase  of  verse  21 has  been  translated  here  as “so  that  you  may  become  God-fearing”.  It  may  also  be  translated  to mean “So that  you  may  save  yourselves  from  hell”,  or  “So  that  you  may guard  yourselves  against  evil.”  But  the  point  is  that  one  can  hope  to attain  salvation  and  paradise  only  when  one  worships  Allah  alone,  and does  not  associate  anyone  else  with  Him.

Before  we  proceed,  we  must  clarify  a  very  important  doctrinal point.  The  phrase  La’allakum Tattakhun  which  has  been  translated  here  as “so  that you  may  become  God-fearing” employs  the  Arabic  particle  I’alla  which indicates  an  expectation  or  hope,  and  is  used  on  an  occasion  when  it  is not  definite  that  a  certain  action  or  event  would  necessarily  be actualized.  Now,  if  one  does  really  possess  ‘Iman  (faith) and  does  really believe  in  tauhid, one  would,  in  consequence  definitely  attain salvation  and  go  to  Heaven,  as  Allah  Himself  has  promised.  But  here the  certainty  has  been  expressed  in  terms  of  an  expectation  or  hope  in order  to  make  man  realize  that  no  human  action  by  itself  and  in  itself can  bring  salvation  as  a  necessary  reward.  One  can  attain  salvation and  go  to  Heaven  only  by  the  grace  of  Allah  alone.  The  ablility  to perform  good  deeds,  and  ‘Iman itself  is  only  a  sign  of  divine  grace,  not the  cause.

The  next  verse  recounts  some  other  qualities  of  Allah  with  regard to  the  act  of  nurturing,  with  the  difference  that  while  verse  21 spoke  of the  bounties  of  Allah  pertaining  to  the  human  self,  verse  22 speaks  of those  pertaining  to  man’s  physical  environment.  Since  man’s  being basically  has  two  dimensions,  one  internal  (Anfus) and  the  other external  (Afaq) the  two  verses,  in  a  summary  way,  encompass  all  the kinds  of  blessings  that  descend  on  man  from  Allah.

Among  the  cosmic  bounties,  the  first  to  be  mentioned  is  the  earth which  has  been  made  a  bed  for  man.  It  is  neither  soft  and  fluid  like water  on  which  one  cannot  settle,  nor  hard  like  stone  or  steel  that should  make  it  difficult  to  be  harnessed  for  man’s  purposes,  but  has been  given  a  middle  state  between  the  soft  and  the hard  for  man  to utilize  it  conveniently  in  his  daily  life.  The  Arabic  word,  Firash  (bed), which  literally  means  ‘somethings  spread  out’,  does  not  necessarily imply  that  the  earth  is  not  round,  for  the  great  globe  of  the  earth,  in spite  of  being  round,  appears  to  be  flat  to  the  onlooker,  and  the  usual way  of  the  Holy  Qur’an  is  to  describe  things  in  an  aspect  which  should be  familiar  to  an  average  man,  literate  or  illiterate,  city  dweller  or rustic.

The  other  bounty  is  that  the  sky  has  been  made  like  an ornamented  and  beautiful  ceiling.  The  third  is  that  Allah  sent  down water  from  the  sky.  This,  again,  does  not  necessarily  mean  that  water comes  down  directly  from  the  sky  without  the  medium  of  clouds  –  even in  everyday  idiom,  a  thing  coming  down  from  above  is  said  to  be coming  from  the  sky.  The  Holy  Qur’an  itself,  on  several  occasions, refers  to  Allah  sending  down  water  from  the  clouds:

“Did you  send  it  down  from  the  clouds,  or  did  We  send  it?”  (Holy Qur’an 56:69)

“And- have  sent  down  from  the  rain-clouds  abundant  water.” (Holy Qur’an 78:14)

The  fourth  bounty  is  to  bring  forth  fruits  with  this  water,  and  to provide  nourishment  to  man  from  them.

The  first  three  of  these  bounties  are  of  an  order  in  which  man’s effort or  action,  his  very  being  even,  does  not  enter  at  all.  There  was  no sign  of  man  when  the  earth  and  the  sky  already  existed,  and  clouds and  rain  too  were  performing  their  functions.  As  for  these  things,  not even  an ignorant  fool  could  ever  fancy  that  all  this  could  be  the  work  of a  man  or  an  idol,  or  of  a  created  being.  In  the  case  of  producing  fruits and  making  them  serve  as  nourishment  for  man,  however,  a  simpleton may,  on  a  superficial  view,  attribute  this  to  human  effort  and ingenuity,  for  one  can  see  man  digging  the  earth,  sowing  the  seed  and protecting  the  plants.  But  the  Holy  Qur’an  has,  in  certain  verses, made  it  quite  clear  that  human  effort  has  nothing  to  do  with  the  act  of growing  trees  and  bringing  out  fruits,  for  human  activity  accomplishes nothing  more  than  removing  the  hindrances  to  the  birth  and  growth  of a  plant,  or  protecting  it  from  being  destroyed.  Even  the  water  which feeds  the  plant  is  not  the  creation  of  the  farmer  –  all  he  does  is  to  make the  water  reach  the  plant  at  the  proper  time  in  a  proper  quantity.  The actual  birth  and  growth  of  the  tree,  and  the  putting  forth  of  leaves, branches  and  fruits  is  the  work  of  Divine  Power,  and  of  no  one  else. Says  the  Holy  Qur’an :

“Have you  considered  the  soil  you  till?  Is  it  you  that  give  them growth  or  We ?”  (Holy Qur’an 56:63)

The  only  answer  which  man  can  find  to  this  question  posed  by  the Holy  Qur’an  is  that  undoubtedly  it  is  Allah  alone  who  makes  the plants  grow.

In  short,  this  verse  mentions  four  qualities  of  Allah  which  cannot possibly  be  found  in  a  created  being.  Having  learnt  from  these  two verses  that  it  is  Allah,  and  no  one  else,  who  brings  man  into  existence out  of  nothingness,  and  provides  the  means  of  his  sustenance  through the  earth,  the  sky,  the  rains  and  the  fruits,  one  cannot,  if  one possesses  a  little  common  sense,  help  acknowledging  that  Allah,  and no  one  else,  is  worthy  of  all  worship  and  obedience,  and  that  the ultimate  iniquity  is  to  turn  away  from  Him  who  made  man  exist  and gave  him  the  means  of  survival  and  growth,  and  to  prostrate  oneself before  others  who  are  as  helpless  as  man.  Allah  has  put  man  at  the head  of  all  His  creatures  so  that  the  universe  should  serve  him,  while he  should  totally  devote  himself  to  the  worship  and  remembrance  of Allah  and  obedience  to  Him  without  distraction.  But  there  are  men  so given  to  their  indolence  and  ignorance  that  they  forget  the  One  God, and  in  consequence,  have  to  serve  a  billion  gods.

In  order  to  rescue  men  from  this  slavery  to  others,  the  Holy  Qur’an says  at  the  end  of  this  verse:

“So, do  not  set  up  parallels  to  Allah  when  you  know.”

That  is  to  say,  once  one  has  understood  that,  in  reality,  Allah  alone is  the  Creator  and  the  Provider,  one  will  have  also  understood  that  no one  else  can  be  worthy  of  worship  and  of  being  associated  with  Allah as  an  equal  or  rival  god.

To  sum  up,  these  two  verses  call  men  to  what  is  the  esseni-tial purpose  of  sending  down  all  the  Divine  Books  and  all  the  prophets  – Tauhid,  or  the  affirmation  and  the  worship  of  the  one  God.

Tauhid  is  a  doctrine  which  has  an  all-pervading  and  radically transforming  impact  on  every  sphere  of  human  life,  internal  as  well  as external,  individual  as  well  as  collective.  For,  once  a  man  comes  to believe  that  there  is  only  One  Being  who  alone  is  the  Creator, the  Lord and  Master  of  the  universe,  who  alone  is  all-powerful  and  ordains  the slightest  movement  of  the  smallest  atom,  and  without  whose  will  no one  can  harm  or  do  good  to  another  –  such  a  man,  rich  or  poor,  in joy  or sorrow,  would  always  look  only  towards  that  One  Being,  and  gain  the insight  to  discover  behind  the  veil  of  apparent  causes  the  workings  of the  same  Omnipotence.

If our  modern  worshippers  of  ‘energy’  only  had  some understanding  of  the  doctrine  of  Tauhid, they  would  easily  see  that power  resides  neither  in  steam  nor  in  electricity,  but  that  the  source  of all  powers  is  the  One  Being  who  has  created  steam  and  electricity.  To know  this,  however,  one  must  have  insight.  The  greatest  philosopher in  the  world,  if  he  fails  to  see  this  truth,  is  no  better  than  the  rustic fool  who  saw  a  railway-train  move  at  the  waving  of  a  green  flag  and stop  at  the  waving  of  a  red  flag,  and  concluding  that  it  was  the  power of  the  green  and  red  flags  that  controlled  the  movement  of  the  huge train,  made  an  obeisance  to  them.  People  would  laugh  at the  rustic,  for he  did  not  know  that  the  two  flags  are  merely  signs,  while  the  train  is actually  run  by  the  driver,  or,  better  still,  by  the  engine.  A  more perceptive  observer  would  ascribe  the  function  to  the  steam  inside  the engine.  But  he  who  believes  in  the  One  God  would  laugh  at  all  these wise  men,  for  he  can  see  through  the  steam,  the  fire  and  the  water even,  and  discover  behind  the  appearances  the  might  of  the  One  and Only  Being  who  has  created  fire  and  water,  and  whose  will  makes them  perform  their  allotted  functions.

The  Doctrine  Of  Tauhid : A  source  of  peace  in  human  life

Tauhid, the  most  fundamental  doctrine  of  Islam,  is  not  a  mere theory,  but  the  only  effective  way  of  making  man  a  man  in  the  real sense  of  the  term  –  it  is  his  first  and  last  refuge  and  the  panacea  for  all his  ills.  For  the  essence  of  this  doctrine  is  that  every  possible  change  in the  physical  universe,  its  very  birth  and  death  is  subject  to  the  will  of the  One  and  Only  Being,  and  a  manifestation  of  His  wisdom.  When this  doctrine  takes  hold  of  a  man’s  mind  and  heart,  and  becomes  his permanent  state,  all  dissension  ceases  to  exist  and  the  world  itself changes  into  a  paradise  for  him,  as  he  knows  that  the  enmity  of  the  foe and  the  love  of  the  friend  equally  proceed  from  Allah  who  rules  over the  hearts  of  both.  Such  a  man  lives  his  life  in  perfect  peace,  fearing none  and  expecting  nothing  from  anyone:  shower  him  with  gold,  or  put him  in  irons, he  would  remain  unmoved,  for  he  knows  where  it  comes from.

This  is  the  significance  of  the  basic  declaration  of  the  Islamic  creed, or La Ilaaha Illallaah (there is  no  god  but  Allah).  But,  obviously,  it  is  not  enough to  affirm  the  Oneness  of  God  orally;  one  must  have  a  complete certitude,  and  must  also  have  the  truth  always  present  close  to  one’s heart,  for  Tauhid  is  to  see  God  as  one,  and  not  merely  to  say  that  He  is one.  Today,  the  number  of  those  who  can  respect  this  basic  formula  of the  Islamic  creed  runs  to  millions  all  over  the  world  –  far  more  than  it ever  did,  but  mostly  it  is  just  an  expense  of  breath:  their  lives  do  not show  the  colour  of  Tauhid;  or  otherwise,  they  should  have  been  like their  forefathers  who  were  daunted  neither  by  wealth  nor  by  power, awed  neither  by  numbers  nor  by  pomp  and  show  to  turn  their  back upon  the  Truth  –  when  a  prophet  could  all  by  himself  stand  up  against the  world,  and  say: “SO try  your  guile  on  me,  then  give me  no  respite” (Al-Qur’an 17:195). 

If  the  blessed  Companions  and  their successors  came  to  dominate  the  world  in a  few  years,  the  secret  lay  in this  Tauhid, correctly  understood  and  practised.  May  Allah  bless  all the  Muslims  with  this great  gift!

Jesus (Nabi ‘Eesa alayhissalaam), Was Neither Killed…Nor Crucified

We have seen that Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) greeted his disciples like a Muslim, by saying: “Peace be unto you”, when he appeared before them after his so-called ‘resurrection’ (John 20:19). Muslims use the same words to greet, (but in Arabic): Assalaamu Alaikum.

We have also seen that the utterances of Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) have been supportive of and predicting about the rise of Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), and through him the belief Islam and the believing nation of Muslims, to which his followers are required to join.

In John 16: 12 & 13, Jesus says:

“I have yet many things to say unto you,

but you cannot bear them now.

Howbeit when he, the spirit of truth, is come,

He will guide you into all truth; ”

In forthcoming posts , will see that this prophecy by Prophet Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) refers to Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), whose arrival his followers were directed to await. The many things that Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) would have liked to tell his followers have not been told to them, not because Jesus did not know them, but only because his followers were not ready to bear them at that time: “….. but you cannot bear them now.

When Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) states “you cannot bear them now”, it only refers to his followers and does not include himself, because he did not say: “WE cannot bear them now”.

Since Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) didn’t count himself among them in this matter, it means he was ready to bear them: the guidance that the expected prophet will bring. He was aware of them and he was ready to bear them. But did he follow in action what he knew and was ready for? Yes. He did much of what a Muslim would do and is expected to do. In fact, this begins to happen even while he anticipates arrest by the Roman rulers.

He comes to know that he will be betrayed by one of his disciples, Judas, into the hands of the Jews, who intended to kill him. Apart from this, the other thing that makes him sorrowful is that he was expecting to do many things that a Muslim does. He was looking forward to the joy of doing all those things; but now his end is staring on the face. He tells his disciples:

“My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.” 

(Mark 14:34)

The one thing that he can surely do, before he is arrested, is to pray to the Lord as a Muslim prays. So he prays like a Muslim and does prostration (Sajda), touching his forehead to the ground:

“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed….” (Matthew 26:39) What is his prayer to the Lord? The verse (Matthew 26:39) continues: “…saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.

Mark 14:36 says about his prayer: “And he said, Abba, Father, all things [are] possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what you will.

Luke 22:42 says about Jesus’ prayer: “Saying, Father, if you be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but your, be done.

The common thing observed from the above verses is: Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) prays to the Lord to save him from the anticipated persecution at the hands of the Jews; yet not as Jesus wishes but as the Lord wills. Do you realize what Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) is stating at this moment? He subdues his wishes and submits himself to the will of Allah. In other words, Jesus declares his Islam, submission, at that moment.

 A Muslim is one who has submitted to the will of Allah. Islam means submission (to the will of Allah), while it also means Peace. Thus, by declaring his submission to the will of Allah, Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) declared himself to be a Muslim.

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, and that which the Prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. ” (2:136)

Thus, Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) practiced Islam, i.e., Submission 

and he got Islam, i.e., Peace. How?

The Bible tells us in Luke 22:43

“ And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.”

This is in appreciation of his act of Submission and as an answer to his prayers. The  strength at that moment but what he needed most desperately was solace and assurance from the Lord that he would be saved from the arrest and wanted the freedom to perform the things he wanted to do as a Muslim.

So, Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) the Muslim (peace be upon him) had prayed in ARABIC: “Yaa Ilaahi, Yaa Ilaahi, Lima Sabaqtanee? ”. Does the phrase sound familiar?? Yes, this is what he asked the Lord at that moment. “O my Lord, O my Lord, Why have you advanced me (in my end)?? ”

Since he wished to do important things which a Muslim must do while he is still alive, the threatened end troubles him. So his prayer: “ O my Lord, O my Lord, Why have you ADVANCED ME? ”

Having not understood what he said, but actually having misunderstood what he said, the writers of the Gospel shifted these words into a situation where it fitted according to their understanding and scheme. The prayer has thus been misunderstood and then quoted out of context.

He did not utter such words at the cross, where he was never taken. They say that Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) said: “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachtani? That is to say:My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? “(Matthew 27:46)

The above statement attributed to Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) is totally wrong, because:

1. God will never forsake His messenger.

2. Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) , who submits himself to the will of the Lord, will never utter such a
Word.

(Please refer to the three verses quoted above: Matthew 26:39, Mark 14:36 and Luke 22:42)

The prayer of Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) did not go unanswered, but was answered through the angel, which appeared, in order to strengthen him. Luke 22:43: “ And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.

What message did the angel carry from the Lord, in reply to Jesus’ (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) question: “ O my Lord, O my Lord, Why have you advanced me? ”

Let us turn to Qur’an, 3:55:

 “When Allah said: O Jesus! I will complete your (term)

and cause you to ascend unto Me

and cleanse you of those who disbelieve…”

Allah assures that Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) will be saved from the Jews and that his term and what is destined for him is guaranteed for him and that Allah will cause Jesus to ascend unto Him. The Bible agrees that Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) ascended unto heaven (Luke 24:51), but the main dispute is about what happened in between: the alleged crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) .

Allah says in Qur’an that they neither killed him nor crucified him, but it was made to appear so unto them. In many places in Qur’an, it has been mentioned that Jews used to kill the prophets unjustly. But in the case of Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) it vehemently denies that they killed him or that they crucified him. This is because Qur’an will not contain anything except truth.

Surah 4, Verses 157 & 158:

 “and their saying : we killed Christ Jesus, son of Mary, The messenger of Allah – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but it was made to appear to them so; and those who disagree concerning it are full of doubts; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; For surely they killed him not; but Allah took him up unto Himself; and Allah is ever mighty, wise.”

From the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), we get a more detailed account. The Muslim belief is that Allah changed the face of the person who betrayed Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) , showing to the rulers the place where he was hiding, into a face resembling Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) . So, they crucified that betrayer instead of Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) .

Let us now do a deeper study of the above verses of Qur’an, so that we may be rightly guided into the truth. Allah says in Qur’an not only that Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) was not killed, but also that he was not crucified, either. Those who do not accept the truth or those who accept only a part of the truth will never get at the truth.

As a result, 

1. those who wish to prove that Jesus was crucified, but did not die at the cross; and

2. those who believe that Jesus was crucified and killed at the cross, have equally failed to convince and provide clear-cut answers to the many points that beg a solution. 

Allah has said: “……and those who disagree concerning it are full of doubts.”

Those who disagree that he was neither killed nor crucified, are full of doubts.

So, before proceeding with our study, let us not disagree and let us not be in doubt any more. But let us fully believe in what Allah, The Exalted, says, so that we may be correctly guided. Allah says to Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), about Qur’an: “And We sent down the Book to you for the express purpose, that you should make clear to them those things in which they differ, and that it should be a guide and a mercy to those who believe.” (Qur’an 16:64)

Allah has said three things about the alleged crucifixion of Jesus:

1. They didn’t kill him.

2. They didn’t crucify him.

3. But it was made to appear to them so.

In the case of an affirmative sentence, like: “They killed him” , there is no doubt. Everything is clear. 1. The Offender 2. The Offence 3. The Offended. But once the word “NOT” comes in and makes it a negative sentence, like: “They DID NOT kill him”, there is a possibility to vary the meaning in three ways by shifting the stress alternatingly on the rest of the three words:

1. “They did not kill him” would mean that somebody else killed him.

2. “They did not kill him” in this context would mean that they just tortured him but did not kill him.

3. “They did not kill him” would mean that they killed somebody else.

We should remember that Qur’an is not denying the events wholesale by saying: “No. Nothing happened. Nobody did anything to anybody.” It is not saying so. Therefore, let us study further and consider for elimination, two out of the three possible variations of the sentence “They did not kill him” mentioned above.

There is no doubt as to The Offender. The Jews themselves claim to have done the deed and we all know of their complicity. Now the doubt remains about Two Things: The Offence and The Offended. About the second possibility that “They did not kill him” would mean that they crucified him but he escaped death, Allah denies that too. The next part of the verse eliminates that possibility by saying: They did not crucify him. Having eliminated the first two possibilities, only the third one survives: “They did not kill him.” Yes, it was not himthat they crucified and killed, but someone else. So, let us write that part of the verse, by putting the stress on the right word:

they did not kill him;

they did not crucify him;

but it was made to appear to them so.

It was made to appear to them that they crucified Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) and killed him. They did not kill nor crucified Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam).

Having fully believed in Allah’s words, let us now move on to find evidence of the truth in The Bible in support of it.

1. First of all, while Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) was awaiting arrest by the soldiers, what he tells his disciples is that

a) “sleep on now, and take rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the son of man is betrayed into the hands of the sinners.” (Mark 14:41)

b) “the son of man is betrayed to be crucified” (Matthew 26:2)

Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) never said he will be crucified, but only reveals the intention with which he will be betrayed: “betrayed to be crucified”.

2. Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) says in Matthew 26:24: “The son of man goes as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born”.

a) About himself, Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) says: “The son of man goes as it is written of him ”; goes and not dies.

b) About the betrayer he says: “it had been good for that man if he had not been born”, a nice way of wishing death for the betrayer.

Even after this curse by the messenger of Allah, is there a way that the betrayer will continue to live?? Thus, in the above verse, it has been determined as to who is destined to go and who is destined to die.

3. The betrayer Judas comes in to identify Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) , when it is dark, along with a large number of soldiers , carrying lanterns, torches and weapons. The stage is perfect for the change of form of the betrayer and the betrayed, as more confusion follows: From Mark 14:44, Matthew 26:48 and Luke 22:47, which are quoted below, it is proved that Judas drew near unto Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) to kiss him, so as to identify him.

Mark 14:44: And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead [him] away safely.

Matt 26:48: Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.

Luke 22:47: And while he yet spoke, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.

From John 18:3 to 18:6 which is mentioned below, we come to know of another enabling factor:

18:3. Judas, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests, comes inside with lanterns and torches and weapons.

18:4. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should happen to him, went forth, and said unto them, whom do you seek? 

18:5. They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus says unto them, I am [he]. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. 

18:6. As soon as he had said unto them, I am [he], they went backward, and fell to the ground.

From verse 6 above, we notice one strange thing: as soon as Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) identifies himself, “I am (he)”, the great crowd that had come in falls to the ground. As Judas stood near Jesus (after kissing him) and as the crowd fell to the ground along with the lanterns they brought, the situation was perfect for the exchange of faces, so that those who came to arrest him do not notice it. Then the soldiers, who came to arrest Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) , take away Judas instead, while Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) escapes along with his other disciples, who all fled the scene.

Mark 14:50: And they all forsook him, and fled.

(The readers of Bible normally take it to mean that the disciples forsook Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) and fled. It is shameful to think that all the disciples of Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) forsook him at the most crucial hour of his life. Qur’an testifies that the disciples expressed their belief and loyalty:

But when Jesus sensed disbelief from them, he said: Who will be my helpers in the cause of Allah? The disciples said: We will be Allah’s helpers. We believe in Allah, and bear you witness that we have surrendered (unto Him).” (3:52)

Therefore, it was Judas whom the disciples rightly forsook and all of them fled with Jesus.)

4. Now Judas is caught in an unbelievable situation, which nobody else would have experienced. Even if he tells the truth, nobody will believe it, but only think him to be Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) trying to escape death. So it is better for him that he endures whatever happens. Some verses from the Bible are quoted below, to show how Judas behaves at the trials at the high priest’s place. Whenever you encounter below the name Jesus, in the biblical verses, you have to take it as Judas, so that you may understand what the people on the scene and people in the past 2000 years have failed to comprehend.

John 18:19 to 18:23

18:19 “ The high priest therefore asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his teaching.

18:20 Jesus answered him, I spoke openly to the world; I always taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, where the Jews always meet; and in secret have I said nothing.

18:21 Why ask you me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.

18:22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand (or with a rod), saying, Answer you the high priest so?

18:23 Jesus answered him, if I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smite you me? ”

Thus the betrayer-in-a-dilemma Judas speaks evasively. He cannot preach what Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) used to preach in the temple and in the synagogue. He neither has the authority nor the ability to repeat what Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) used to preach. Anyway, he certainly cannot answer them if they question him further in religious matters. Had it really been Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) , he would not have missed the opportunity to tell the priests of his teachings. But here, Judas evades the issue by saying: “I always spoke openly; I said nothing in secret; Ask them which heard me; they know what I said; If I spoke well, why you smite me.” etc.

Matthew 26:

26:62 “And the high priest stood up, and said unto him, Answer you nothing? What is it, which these witness against you?

26:63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest said unto him, I adjure you by the living God, that you tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

When some false witnesses testify against Jesus (Judas), the high priest begs Judas for an answer. But Judas remains quite. Then what the priest presses Judas to answer is not whether he is guilty or not but “I adjure you by the living God, that you tell us whether you are the Christ”.

So the main question raking their brains is whether this person really is Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) .

26:64 “Jesus said unto him, You have said: nevertheless I say unto you, Henceforth you shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Judas does not say “I am Jesus”, but lets the priest take as true what he thinks, by saying: “You have said” and then continues “Henceforth you shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power” instead of speaking in the first person “henceforth I shall sit at the right hand of Power.”

Then they condemn him to death by holding him guilty of blasphemy. One more thing you must note now is that in this session, the process of disfiguring Judas’ face has slowly begun.

26:67 Then did they spit in his face and buffet him: and some smote him with the palms of their hands (or rods). This is quoted also in Luke 22:64.

5. Peter, who apparently witnessed what happened at the time of arrest, follows Judas to the priest’s hall, so as to see what happens to Judas. The priest’s servants come and question Peter three times whether he is a disciple of that person, (deeming Judas to be Jesus), but he, naturally, denies all the three times, as predicted by Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) . Peter who was very loyal to Jesus and had told Jesus (in Matthew 26:35) “Even if I must die with you, [yet] will I not deny thee.” had to deny the person thrice because he cannot affirm to be the disciple of Judas, whom they deem to be Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) .

6. Another account of the second session with the priests that took place on the day after the arrest, is given in Luke 22:66 to 68 :

22:66: And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying,

22:67 Are you the Christ? Tell us. And he said unto them, if I tell you, you will not believe:

22:68 And if I also ask [you], you will not answer me, nor let [me] go.

Again, they want to know if he is Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) . And he tells them: If I tell you (that I am Judas), you will not believe. And if I ask you (what happened to Jesus), you will not answer me, nor let me go.

7. In the trial that takes place before the governor Pilate, again the dominant question is: Are you the Christ?? And most of the time Judas says: YOU say it. (That is YOUR statement, NOT MINE.) On other occasions, he remains silent like a stone. Please refer Luke 23:3, Mark 15:2, Mark 15:5, Matthew 27:11, Matthew 27:12. Matthew 27:14.

8. Jesus (Judas) is brought for trial before another official Herod:

Luke 23:8 and Luke 23:9:

23:8 And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.

23:9 Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.

Poor Herod, he has been longing to witness some of the miracles that he had heard Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) performing. But can Judas perform those miracles? On the other hand, he avoids talking straight to even somebody who is sympathetic and glad to see him, because he is not what Herod deems him to be: he is not Jesus.

9. By talking evasively and at times refusing to talk, Judas somehow managed to avoid being found guilty by the Governor and other officials. But the Jews do not wish to lose face by retreating from the actions already taken to have Jesus killed. Hence, upon their stubborn insistence, he is condemned to be crucified. Before they take him to the cross, more injury is done to him:

Mark 15:19: And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him.

Matthew 27:30: And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

Please note that after first injuring his FACE, now it is the turn of his HEAD to be injured. Judas is killed at the cross and later on buried. John does not add dramatic words to this scene of crucifixion, but quotes what could be reasonable words from the betrayer, while he dies:

1. “ I thirst! ” (John 19:28)

2. “ It is finished! ” … and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30)

(not the “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit ” kind of stuff! See Luke 23:46).

10. The Bible records that Mary (Bibi Maryam), Jesus’ (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) mother, was a witness to the crucifixion.

John 19:25 “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother…. ”

While the Bible records the reaction of every bystander and passer-by, it fails to mention the reaction of Mary (Bibi Maryam) the mother of Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) , because there was no reaction from her worth mentioning. Since she knew that the person on the cross was not Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) , she stood by the cross and just watched the punishment meted out to the betrayer of Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) . Had the person on the cross really been Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) , she would have reacted hysterically. Because it was she who bore Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) with difficulty and delivered him with pains. No mother will be a mute spectator to such an event.

Qur’an records the labour pains of Mary, while she delivered Jesus:

“ And the pangs of childbirth drove her unto the trunk of the palm tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died before this and had become a thing forgotten.” (Qur’an 19:23)

11. The Bible says that Jesus  addressed his mother from the cross as “ Woman! ” (John 19:26). No mean person will address his mother as “Woman! ”. It is only because the person on the cross was Judas and not Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) that he addresses Mary as “ Women! ” Qur’an testifies that Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) was kind to his mother and said from his cradle: “ And (God has made me) dutiful toward her who bore me, and has not made me arrogant, unblest. ” (Qur’an 19: 32)

12. And where is Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) when all this happens. Jesus had predicted, in Matthew 12:40

“for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Do you know which is the heart of the earth? Before thinking further, let us consider what is the function of a heart.

It draws blood from other parts of the body for purification and again sends it back to all the parts. Right? Can you think of a place on the earth, which draws people from all parts of the earth and sends them back, too, after purifying them? And that too at a regular interval, just like the heart?

Yes, you guessed it right: it is Makkah.

It is the belief of Muslims that all the prophets wished to be a follower of Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), in preference to be born as a prophet. Only Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) was granted the wish. Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) is expected to descend on the earth again, supported by two angels, during the reign of the expected guided leader Mahdi. Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) will live as one of the followers of Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and follow the Shariah (laws) brought by Prophet Muhammad. Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) knew that he would live as a Muslim when he comes back to the earth. But he could not wait, as we now know, not less than twenty centuries to relish this. So, when he knows that his days in the earth are not many, he formally submits himself to the Lord, starts to pray like a Muslim, does prostration and now goes on a pilgrimage to Makkah. (This may not be the first time Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) is praying like a Muslim. Qur’an records what Jesus spoke from his cradle: “And (God) has made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and has enjoined upon me prayer and almsgiving so long as I remain alive.” (19: 31).

(Earlier, he had prayed to the Lord for the Muslims, in the following manner:

John: 17:20 & 21: 21.

17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me).

And as predicted, he was in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

13. THE JEWS IN A DILEMMA:

Now let us imagine the restlessness of the Jews after the soldiers brought Judas, thinking him to be Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) . While, according to them, Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) is in their custody, what happened to their man, Judas? Why did he not turn up to win accolades from them, for the great betrayal he committed, in order to please them. This must have greatly disturbed them. Anyway, where is Judas?

The answer to this was provided to them by the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, and made possible the entry of Peter into the palace.

John 18:15 : And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and [so did] another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.

John 18:16 But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.”

That other disciple sounded the high priest of what happened at the time of arrest, but since it is an unbelievable event for everyone, they wanted to elicit information from Judas and, hence, kept on enquiring Judas, whether he is really Christ. On the basis of the information provided by the other disciple, the high priest’s people tried thrice to rope in Peter for enquiry, by sending female servants to talk to him, but he craftily refused to yield. The Jews were in a terrible dilemma.

1. Now they have to kill a person who co-operated with them against Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) . The fellow is not even trying to save himself, being unable to overcome the humiliation wrought on him by the Lord.

2. If they disclose the truth and spare Judas, they have to bear the shame of having failed to kill Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) . So they decided to kill Judas and claimed to have killed Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) .

Now, they face another problem: How to account for the missing Judas. So, their soldiers removed Judas’ body from the grave, while everybody was observing the Sabbath – (the compulsory Jewish holiday on Saturdays.) Then they disfigure the face more, because that is the only thing that has the resemblance of Jesus. After this is done, he is now perfectly Judas. To account for the injury to the face and the head, they spread the news that is reported in Acts 1:18:

Acts 1:18 Now this man obtained a field with the reward of his iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.”

Is it not enough that they have disfigured his head and face? What is the necessity to cut open his stomach and spread the news that: “ he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.”

So that, because of the nasty stench it would produce, nobody can come near the body and notice or find out the minor injuries that Judas suffered at the cross.

The cause of death should be very apparent from a distance, in order to avoid a close scrutiny by curious people.

The fact that all this was done by the Jews, by bribing the watchmen or the soldiers, is recorded in Matthew 28:11 to 28:15

Matthew 28:11: Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and informed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.

28:12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

28:13 Saying, Say you, His disciples came by night, and stole him [away] while we slept.

28:14 And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you

28:15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”

And to make it appear that it was really Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) whom they arrested and to make the people believe that Judas was roaming freely after the arrest took place, they spread the lie that he came to the temple and threw back the silver coins he received as bribe from them:

Matthew 27:5: And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.” That this verse is a total lie is borne by the fact that the other accounts talk of Judas falling headlong and his bowels gushing out. (Acts 1:18)

14. In respect of the later events:

a. at the grave where they buried Judas and

b. where Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) meets his disciples, etc.

we find a lot of difference in the narration of Luke, John, Matthew and Mark, just as in respect of the earlier events. It is a waste of time counting and comparing the different and conflicting details. Hence, only those details that are important in view of the truth revealed above are mentioned.

15. a) When Mary Magdalene goes to the grave; she finds that the stone covering the grave of Judas is already removed.

Mark 16:3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

16:4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

16:5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.”

Points to be noted in the above verses:

1. The heavy stone was already rolled away by the soldiers of the governor.

2. People perform the pilgrimage rites in Makkah wearing white clothing.

b) Mary Magdalene sees two angels in white sitting. (John 20:12) Just as the Muslims believe that The Almighty will provide two angels for Jesus’ (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) descent from heaven, when he comes again, similarly these two angels have made possible his pilgrimage to Makkah.

c) Luke 24:4 & 24:5

24:4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

24:5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down [their] faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

The two men in shining garments are angels, who refer Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) as the living, and not as the resurrected.

d) John 20:14: “And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

20:15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him,” etc.

Points to be noted: She saw Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) standing, and knew not that it was Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) , because she supposed him to be the gardener. She could not recognize Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) , because of the changed face and deemed him to be the gardener because of the simple cloths worn while performing pilgrimage rites. Moreover, he would have had a shaven head, another rite of the pilgrimage.

e) John 20:17 “Jesus saith unto her, touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and [to] my God, and your God.”

Things to be noted: 

1. Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) tells her “Touch me not”.

However, when Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) meets his disciples later, he asks them to touch him and handle him, but here he forbids her. The reason: As a good Muslim, he avoids being touched by the lady. 

2. Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) says: ” I am not yet ascended to my Father: ”

That means he knew that he was supposed to ascend only, as the Almighty had already informed him through the angel. His statement shows that he did not expect himself to die, nor resurrect, but only ascend. 

f) The same day evening, Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) appears before his disciples and says: “Peace be unto you”, (i.e., Assalaamu Alaikum,) as a Muslim. . 

g) Luke 24:13 to 24:24 is quoted below. In this event, two disciples walking together while going to a village, are joined by Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) . Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) enquires them as to what they are talking and why they are sad. They narrate the whole story from being condemned to death to the vision of angels at the sepulchre. If it were Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) who suffered all that, then he would not pretend ignorance and listen again to all that which he himself has suffered, as they think. Only because he was absent and went on the pilgrimage to Mecca, he did not know of what happened in his absence and, hence, he is enquiring and listening to the whole story. 

Luke 24:13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem [about] threescore furlongs.

24:14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.

24:15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed [together] and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.

24:16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

24:17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications [are] these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?

24:18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

24:19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 24:20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.

24:21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

24:22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulcher;

24:23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.

24:24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulcher, and found [it] even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.”

This is another proof that it was Judas who suffered death at the cross.

h) Back in Jerusalem, Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) has another session with the eleven disciples:

1. “Luke 24:36: And as they thus spoke, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and says unto them, Peace [be] unto you.

24:37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.” Having seen the dead body of Judas, they were now 100 % sure of his death. Hence, when Jesus appears there with Judas’ face, they are terrified and affrighted and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 

2. Luke 24:38: “And he said unto them, Why are you troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?

24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

24:40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them [his] hands and [his] feet.” 

John repeats similarly in 20:20 :

John 20:20: “And when he had so said, he shewed unto them [his] hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.”

From the above, we can understand fully well, that Jesus’ face is not the identity of the person, at that moment, because it looked like Judas’. Hence, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself” and “when they saw his hands and his sides they were glad they saw the Lord ”

3. Luke 24:41 “ And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?

24:42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.”

Fish is the only thing that a Muslim can obtain from anyone and eat. The meat of other (permitted) animals and birds should be properly slaughtered in the manner taught by Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and by mentioning the name of Allah over it, while slaughtering. Hence, the other meat cannot be obtained from everybody.

4. John 20:30 “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.

Most important of which should be: restoration of his face, as it looked before.

The Bible does provide a clue that Jesus’ (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) face was restored to its original appearance, before his ascension unto heaven.

In the verse of John 21:12, which is in the context of the events just before his ascension, it is written:

“ Jesus saith unto them, Come [and] dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.” This time, there is no need to see his hands and his feet to know that it is Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) .

Now, it is time to thank the Almighty for opening our eyes to the truth, by accepting Islam. We now know for certain that:

1. There is no one worthy pf Worship except Allah; and

2. Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is a slave and a messenger of Allah and the last of the prophets, whom all the people have to follow. This has been foretold in The Bible.

3. Idols and graven images are forbidden.

4. Allah sent messengers to all nations.

5. Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) too is a slave and a messenger of Allah, but sent only for (the lost sheep of) the house of Israel.

6. Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) is a creation of Allah; he is not His son and has no portion whatsoever in His Sovereignty.

7. Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) was not killed, nor crucified. It was his betrayer who was killed on the cross.

The next time you see a cross, you would know that it is not a sign that relates to Jesus, but something that denotes the punishment his betrayer deserved and got.

But…, should we have a memorial to commemorate the betrayer of a mighty messenger of Allah ?

Qur’an: 5: 83 to 86.

83. When they listen to that which has been revealed unto the messenger, you see their eyes overflow with tears because of their recognition of the truth. They say: Our Lord, we believe; write us down as among the witnesses.

84. How should we not believe in Allah and that which has come unto us of the truth and we hope that our Lord will admit us to the company of the righteous folk.

85. Allah has rewarded them for what they said: Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. That is the reward of the good people.

86. But those who disbelieve and deny Our signs, they shall be companions of hell-fire.