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Subject: Islam FAQ (Part 5/15): Islam, Quran & Muhammad (PBUH)

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Archive-name: islam-faq/part5 Posting-Frequency: monthly Last-modified: 1995/3/27 Version: 3.3 Organization: Alumni Association, Caltech, Pasadena, California
Copyright 1993,1994,1995 Asim Mughal (mughal@caltech.edu) Redistribution for profit, or in altered content/format prohibited without explicit written permission of the author. Any other redistribution must include this copyright notice and attribution. Frequently Asked Questions: Part 5 __________________________________ This message is automatically posted to 'soc.religion.islam' every month and when updated. This lists answers to most commonly asked questions on the forum. Contributions & changes are requested and should be directed to: mughal@caltech.edu OVERVIEW: The Frequently Asked Questions document for Islam has been divided in parts. Below is the index. Part 1 - Welcome & Index Part 2 - Info on Islamic News Groups Part 3 - Introduction to Islam Part 4 - God & Worship Part 5 - Islam, Quran & Muhammad (PBUH) Part 6 - Marriage Laws in Islam Part 7 - Women In Islam Part 8 - Life after Death, Moral System & Human rights in Islam Part 9 - Islam: Prophethood, Jesus & Trinity Part 10 - Islam: Farrakhism & Malcom X Part 11 - Islamic Internet Guide: Islamic Resources on Internet Part 12 - Other Islamic Resource Guides on Internet Part 13 - Islamic Literature: Books & Video Part 14 - Islamic Calendar & Prayer Time Table for 1994 Part 15 - Misc: List of Halal Foods ________________________________________________________ PART 5: Islam, Quran & Muhammad (PBUH) Contents --Articles-- 1. WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT ISLAM ...................................... from III&E 2. WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT THE QUR'AN ................................. from III&E 3. QUR'AN ON QUR'AN ............................................... from III&E 4. WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT MUHAMMAD (PBUH) ............................ from III&E 5. THE SWORD OF ISLAM ............................................. from III&E 6. Has the sword gone Blunt? No, far from it. ..................... from III&E 7. CHOOSING ISLAM: ONE MAN'S TALE ................................. from III&E 8. Who can I ask questions on Islam? ......................................... 9. Indroductory Publications ...................................... from III&E --Announcements-- 10. Archive Info .............................................................. 11. Credits ................................................................... Articles ..................................................................... 1. WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT ISLAM ...................................... from III&E The Islam that was revealed to Muhammad (PBUH), is the continuation and culmination of all the preceding revealed religions and hence it is for all times and all peoples. This status of Islam is sustained by glaring facts. Firstly, there is no other revealed book extant in the same form and content as it was revealed. Secondly, no other revealed religion has any convincing claim to provide guidance in all walks of human life for all times. But Islam addresses humanity at large and offers basic guidance regarding all human problems. Moreover, it has withstood the test of fourteen hundred years and has all the potentialities of establishing an ideal society as it did under the leadership of the last Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It was a miracle that Prophet Muhammad could bring even his toughest enemies to the fold of Islam without adequate material resources. Worshippers of idols, blind followers of the ways of forefathers, promoters of tribal feuds, abusers of human dignity and blood, became the most disciplined nation under the guidance of Islam and its Prophet. Islam opened before them vistas of spiritual heights and human dignity by declaring righteousness as the sole criterion of merit and honor. Islam shaped their social, cultural, moral and commercial life with basic laws and principles which are in conformity with human nature and hence applicable in all times as human nature does not change. It is so unfortunate that the Christian West, instead of sincerely trying to understand the phenomenal success of Islam during its earlier time, considered it as a rival religion. During the centuries of the Crusades this trend gained much force and impetus and a huge amount of literature was produced to tarnish the image of Islam. But Islam has begun to unfold its genuineness to the modern scholars whose bold and objective observations on Islam belie all the charges leveled against it by the so-called unbiased orientalists. Here we furnish some observations on Islam by great and acknowledged non-Muslim scholars of modern time. Truth needs no advocates to plead on its behalf, but the prolonged malicious propaganda against Islam has created great confusion even in the minds of free and objective thinkers. We hope that the following observations would contribute to initiating an objective evaluation of Islam: "It (Islam) replaced monkishness by manliness. It gives hope to the slave, brotherhood to mankind, and recognition of the fundamental facts of human nature." --Canon Taylor, Paper read before the Church Congress at Walverhamton, Oct. 7, 1887; Quoted by Arnoud in THE PREACHING OF ISLAM, pp. 71-72. "Sense of justice is one of the most wonderful ideals of Islam, because as I read in the Qur'an I find those dynamic principles of life, not mystic but practical ethics for the daily conduct of life suited to the whole world." --Lectures on "The Ideals of Islam;" see SPEECHES AND WRITINGS OF SAROJINI NAIDU, Madras, 1918, p. 167. "History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated." --De Lacy O'Leary, ISLAM AT THE CROSSROADS, London, 1923, p. 8. "But Islam has a still further service to render to the cause of humanity. It stands after all nearer to the real East than Europe does, and it possesses a magnificent tradition of inter-racial understanding and cooperation. No other society has such a record of success uniting in an equality of status, of opportunity, and of endeavours so many and so various races of mankind . . . Islam has still the power to reconcile apparently irreconcilable elements of race and tradition. If ever the opposition of the great societies of East and West is to be replaced by cooperation, the mediation of Islam is an indispensable condition. In its hands lies very largely the solution of the problem with which Europe is faced in its relation with East. If they unite, the hope of a peaceful issue is immeasurably enhanced. But if Europe, by rejecting the cooperation of Islam, throws it into the arms of its rivals, the issue can only be disastrous for both." --H.A.R. Gibb, WHITHER ISLAM, London, 1932, p. 379. "I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him - the wonderful man and in my opinion for from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Saviour of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today." --G.B. Shaw, THE GENUINE ISLAM, Vol. 1, No. 81936. "The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue." --A.J. Toynbee, CIVILIZATION ON TRIAL, New York, 1948, p. 205. "The rise of Islam is perhaps the most amazing event in human history. Springing from a land and a people like previously negligible, Islam spread within a century over half the earth, shattering great empires, overthrowing long established religions, remoulding the souls of races, and building up a whole new world - world of Islam. "The closer we examine this development the more extraordinary does it appear. The other great religions won their way slowly, by painful struggle and finally triumphed with the aid of powerful monarchs converted to the new faith. Christianity had its Constantine, Buddhism its Asoka, and Zoroastrianism its Cyrus, each lending to his chosen cult the mighty force of secular authority. Not so Islam. Arising in a desert land sparsely inhabited by a nomad race previously undistinguished in human annals, Islam sallied forth on its great adventure with the slenderest human backing and against the heaviest material odds. Yet Islam triumphed with seemingly miraculous ease, and a couple of generations saw the Fiery Crescent borne victorious from the Pyrenees to the Himalayas and from the desert of Central Asia to the deserts of Central Africa." --A.M.L. Stoddard, quoted in ISLAM - THE RELIGION OF ALL PROPHETS, Begum Bawani Waqf, Karachi, Pakistan, p. 56. "Islam is a religion that is essentially rationalistic in the widest sense of this term considered etymologically and historically. The definition of rationalism as a system that bases religious beliefs on principles furnished by the reason applies to it exactly . . . It cannot be denied that many doctrines and systems of theology and also many superstitions, from the worship of saints to the use of rosaries and amulets, have become grafted on the main trunk of Muslim creed. But in spite of the rich developments, in every sense of the term, of the teachings of the Prophet, the Quran has invariable kept its place as the fundamental starting point, and the dogma of unity of God has always been proclaimed therein with a grandeur, a majesty, an invariable purity and with a note of sure conviction, which it is hard to find surpassed outside the pale of Islam. This fidelity to the fundamental dogma of the religion, the elemental simplicity of the formula in which it is enunciated, the proof that it gains from the fervid conviction of the missionaries who propagate it, are so many causes to explain the success of Muhammadan missionary efforts. A creed so precise, so stripped of all theological complexities and consequently so accessible to the ordinary understanding might be expected to possess and does indeed possess a marvelous power of winning its way into the consciences of men." --Edward Montet, "La Propagande Chretienne et ses Adversaries Musulmans," Paris, 1890; Quoted by T.W. Arnold in THE PREACHING OF ISLAM, London, 1913, pp. 413-414. "I am not a Muslim in the usual sense, though I hope I am a "Muslim" as "one surrendered to God," but I believe that embedded in the Quran and other expressions of the Islamic vision are vast stores of divine truth from which I and other occidentals have still much to learn, and 'Islam is certainly a strong contender for the supplying of the basic framework of the one religion of the future.'" --W. Montgomery Watt, ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY TODAY, London, 1983, p. ix. 2. WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT THE QUR'AN ................................. from III&E Humanity has received the Divine guidance through two channels: firstly the word of Allah, secondly the Prophets who were chosen by Allah to communicate His will to human beings. These two things have always been going together and attempts to know the will of Allah by neglecting either of these two have always been misleading. The Hindus neglected their prophets and paid all attention to their books that proved only word puzzles which they ultimately lost. Similarly, the Christians, in total disregard to the Book of Allah, attached all importance to Christ and thus not only elevated him to Divinity, but also lost the very essence of TAWHEED (monotheism) contained in the Bible. As a matter of fact the main scriptures revealed before the Qur'an, i.e., the Old Testament and the Gospel, came into book-form long after the days of the Prophets and that too in translation. This was because the followers of Moses and Jesus made no considerable effort to preserve these Revelations during the life of their Prophets. Rather they were written long after their death. Thus what we now have in the form of the Bible (The Old as well as the New Testament) is translations of individuals' accounts of the original revelations which contain additions and deletions made by the followers of the said Prophets. On the contrary, the last revealed Book, the Qur'an, is extant in its original form. Allah Himself guaranteed its preservation and that is why the whole of the Qur'an was written during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself though on separate pieces of palm leaves, parchments, bones, etc... Moreover, there were tens of thousands of companions of the Prophet who memorized the whole Qur'an and the Prophet himself used to recite to the Angel Gabriel once a year and twice in the year he died. The first Caliph Abu Bakr entrusted the collection of the whole Qur'an in one volume to the Prophet's scribe, Zaid Ibn Thabit. This volume was with Abu Bakr till his death. Then it was with the second Caliph Umar and after him it came to Hafsa, the Prophet's wife. It was from this original copy that the third Caliph Uthman prepared several other copies and sent them to different Muslim territories. The Qur'an was so meticulously preserved because it was to be the Book of guidance for humanity for all times to come. That is why it does not address the Arabs alone in whose language it was revealed. It speaks to man as a human being: "O Man! What has seduced you from your Lord." The practicability of the Qur'anic teachings is established by the examples of Muhammad (PBUH) and the good Muslims throughout the ages. The distinctive approach of the Qur'an is that its instructions are aimed at the general welfare of man and are based on the possibilities within his reach. In all its dimensions the Qur'anic wisdom is conclusive. It neither condemns nor tortures the flesh nor does it neglect the soul. It does not humanize God nor does it deify man. Everything is carefully placed where it belongs in the total scheme of creation. Actually the scholars who allege that Muhammad (PBUH) was the author of the Qur'an claim something which is humanly impossible. Could any person of the sixth century C.E. utter such scientific truths as the Qur'an contains? Could he describe the evolution of the embryo inside the uterus so accurately as we find it in modern science? Secondly, is it logical to believe that Muhammad (PBUH), who up to the age of forty was marked only for his honesty and integrity, began all of a sudden the authorship of a book matchless in literary merit and the equivalent of which the whole legion of the Arab poets and orators of highest calibre could not produce? And lastly, is it justified to say that Muhammad (PBUH) who was known as AL-AMEEN (The Trustworthy) in his society and who is still admired by the non-Muslim scholars for his honesty and integrity, came forth with a false claim and on that falsehood could train thousands of men of character, integrity and honesty, who were able to establish the best human society on the surface of the earth? Surely, any sincere and unbiased searcher of truth will come to believe that the Qur'an is the revealed Book of Allah. Without necessarily agreeing with all that they said, we furnish here some opinions of important non-Muslim scholars about the Qur'an. Readers can easily see how the modern world is coming closer to reality regarding the Qur'an. We appeal to all open-minded scholars to study the Qur'an in the light of the aforementioned points. We are sure that any such attempt will convince the reader that the Qur'an could never be written by any human being. "However often we turn to it [the Qur'an] at first disgusting us each time afresh, it soon attracts, astounds, and in the end enforces our reverence... Its style, in accordance with its contents and aim is stern, grand, terrible - ever and anon truly sublime -- Thus this book will go on exercising through all ages a most potent influence." --Goethe, quoted in T.P. Hughes' DICTIONARY OF ISLAM, p. 526. "The Koran admittedly occupies an important position among the great religious books of the world. Though the youngest of the epoch-making works belonging to this class of literature, it yields to hardly any in the wonderful effect which it has produced on large masses of men. It has created an all but new phase of human thought and a fresh type of character. It first transformed a number of heterogeneous desert tribes of the Arabian peninsula into a nation of heroes, and then proceeded to create the vast politico-religious organizations of the Muhammadan world which are one of the great forces with which Europe and the East have to reckon today." --G. Margoliouth, Introduction to J.M. Rodwell's, THE KORAN, New York: Everyman's Library, 1977, p. vii. "A work, then, which calls forth so powerful and seemingly incompatible emotions even in the distant reader - distant as to time, and still more so as a mental development - a work which not only conquers the repugnance which he may begin its perusal, but changes this adverse feeling into astonishment and admiration, such a work must be a wonderful production of the human mind indeed and a problem of the highest interest to every thoughtful observer of the destinies of mankind." --Dr. Steingass, quoted in T.P. Hughes' DICTIONARY OF ISLAM, pp. 526-527. "The above observation makes the hypothesis advanced by those who see Muhammad as the author of the Qur'an untenable. How could a man, from being illiterate, become the most important author, in terms of literary merits, in the whole of Arabic literature? How could he then pronounce truths of a scientific nature that no other human being could possibly have developed at that time, and all this without once making the slightest error in his pronouncement on the subject?" --Maurice Bucaille, THE BIBLE, THE QUR'AN AND SCIENCE, 1978, p. 125. "Here, therefore, its merits as a literary production should perhaps not be measured by some preconceived maxims of subjective and aesthetic taste, but by the effects which it produced in Muhammad's contemporaries and fellow countrymen. If it spoke so powerfully and convincingly to the hearts of his hearers as to weld hitherto centrifugal and antagonistic elements into one compact and well-organized body, animated by ideas far beyond those which had until now ruled the Arabian mind, then its eloquence was perfect, simply because it created a civilized nation out of savage tribes, and shot a fresh woof into the old warp of history." --Dr. Steingass, quoted in T.P. Hughes' DICTIONARY OF ISLAM, p. 528. "In making the present attempt to improve on the performance of my predecessors, and to produce something which might be accepted as echoing however faintly the sublime rhetoric of the Arabic Koran, I have been at pains to study the intricate and richly varied rhythms which - apart from the message itself - constitute the Koran's undeniable claim to rank amongst the greatest literary masterpieces of mankind... This very characteristic feature - 'that inimitable symphony,' as the believing Pickthall described his Holy Book, 'the very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy' - has been almost totally ignored by previous translators; it is therefore not surprising that what they have wrought sounds dull and flat indeed in comparison with the splendidly decorated original." --Arthur J. Arberry, THE KORAN INTERPRETED, London: Oxford University Press, 1964, p. x. "A totally objective examination of it [the Qur'an] in the light of modern knowledge, leads us to recognize the agreement between the two, as has been already noted on repeated occasions. It makes us deem it quite unthinkable for a man of Muhammad's time to have been the author of such statements on account of the state of knowledge in his day. Such considerations are part of what gives the Qur'anic Revelation its unique place, and forces the impartial scientist to admit his inability to provide an explanation which calls solely upon materialistic reasoning." --Maurice Bucaille, THE QUR'AN AND MODERN SCIENCE, 1981, p. 18. 3. QUR'AN ON QUR'AN ............................................... from III&E "Hence, indeed, We made this Qur'an easy to bear in mind: who, then is willing to take it to heart?" --Chapter 54: Verses 17, 22, 32, 40 (self-repeating) "Will they then not meditate on the Qur'an, or are there locks on their hearts?" --Chapter 47: Verse 24 "Surely this Qur'an guides to that which is most upright and gives good news to the believers who do good works that they shall have a great reward." --Chapter 17: Verse 9 "Surely We have revealed the reminder (Qur'an) and We will most certainly guard it (from corruption)." --Chapter 15: Verse 9 "Praise be to Allah Who has revealed the Book (Qur'an) to His slave (Muhammad) and has not placed therein any crookedness." --Chapter 18: Verse 1 "Will they not then ponder on the Qur'an? If it had been from other than Allah they would have found therein much discrepancy." Chapter 4: Verse 82 "And certainly We have explained in this Qur'an every kind of example; and man is most of all given to contention. And nothing prevents men from believing when the guidance comes to them, and asking forgiveness of their Lord, except that what happened to the ancients should overtake them, or that the chastisement should come face to face with them." --Chapter 18: Verses 54-55 "And We reveal (stage by stage) of the Qur'an that which is a healing and a mercy for believers, and to the unjust it causes nothing but loss after loss." --Chapter 17: Verse 82 "And if you are in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto Our slave (Muhammad) then produce a surah (chapter) of the like thereof, and call your witnesses besides Allah if you are truthful." --Chapter 2: Verse 23 "And this Qur'an is not such as could be forged by those besides Allah, but it is a verification (of revelations) that went before it and a fuller explanation of the Book - there is no doubt - from the Lord of the Worlds." --Chapter 10: Verse 37 "So when you recite the Qur'an, seek refuge in Allah from Satan the outcast." --Chapter 16: Verse 98. 4. WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT MUHAMMAD (PBUH) ............................ from III&E During the centuries of the crusades, all sorts of slanders were invented against Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). But with the birth of the modern age, marked with religious tolerance and freedom of thought, there has been a great change in the approach of Western authors in their delineation of his life and character. The views of some non-Muslim scholars regarding Prophet Muhammad, given at the end, justify this opinion. But the West has still to go a step forward to discover the greatest reality about Muhammad and that is his being the true and the last Prophet of God for the whole humanity. In spite of all its objectivity and enlightenment there has been no sincere and objective attempt by the West to understand the Prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh). It is so strange that very glowing tributes are paid to him for his integrity and achievement but his claim of being the Prophet of God has been rejected explicitly or implicitly. It is here that a searching of the heart is required, and a review of the so-called objectivity is needed. The following glaring facts from the life of Muhammad (pbuh) have been furnished to facilitate an unbiased, logical and objective decision regarding his Prophethood. Up to the age of forty, Muhammad was not known as a statesman, a preacher or an orator. He was never seen discussing the principles of metaphysics, ethics, law, politics, economics or sociology. No doubt he possessed an excellent character, charming manners and was highly cultured. Yet there was nothing so deeply striking and so radically extraordinary in him that would make men expect something great and revolutionary from him in the future. But when he came out of the Cave (HIRA) with a new message, he was completely transformed. Is it possible for such a person of the above qualities to turn all of a sudden into 'an impostor' and claim to be the Prophet of Allah and invite all the rage of his people? One might ask: for what reason did he suffer all those hardships? His people offered to accept him as their King and he would leave the preaching of his religion. But he chose to refuse their tempting offers and go on preaching his religion single-handedly in face of all kinds of insults, social boycott and even physical assault by his own people. Was it not only God's support and his firm will to disseminate the message of Allah and his deep-rooted belief that ultimately Islam would emerge as the only way of life for humanity, that he stood like a mountain in the face of all opposition and conspiracies to eliminate him? Furthermore, had he come with a design of rivalry with the Christians and the Jews, why should he have made belief in Jesus Christ and Moses and other Prophets of God (peace be upon them), a basic requirement of faith without which no one could be a Muslim? Is it not an incontrovertible proof of his Prophethood that in spite of being unlettered and having led a very normal and quiet life for forty years, when he began preaching his message, all of Arabia stood in awe and wonder and was bewitched by his wonderful eloquence and oratory? It was so matchless that the whole legion of Arab poets, preachers and orators of the highest calibre failed to bring forth its equivalent. And above all, how could he then pronounce truths of a scientific nature contained in the Qur'an that no other human being could possible have developed at that time? Last but not least, why did he lead a hard life even after gaining power and authority? Just ponder over the words he uttered while dying: "We the community of the Prophets are not inherited. Whatever we leave is for charity." As a matter of fact, Muhammad (pbuh) is the last link of the chain of Prophets sent in different lands and times since the very beginning of the human life on this planet. Read the following writings of the Western authors: "If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great man in modern history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples and dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and souls. . . his forbearance in victory, his ambition, which was entirely devoted to one idea and in no manner striving for an empire; his endless prayers, his mystic conversations with God, his death and his triumph after death; all these attest not to an imposture but to a firm conviction which gave him the power to restore a dogma. This dogma was twofold, the unity of God and the immateriality of God; the former telling what God is, the latter telling what God is not; the one overthrowing false gods with the sword, the other starting an idea with words. "Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of a cult without images; the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?" --Lamartine, HISTOIRE DE LA TURQUIE, Paris, 1854, Vol. II, pp. 276-277. "It is not the propagation but the permanency of his religion that deserves our wonder, the same pure and perfect impression which he engraved at Mecca and Medina is preserved, after the revolutions of twelve centuries by the Indian, the African and the Turkish proselytes of the Koran. . . The Mahometans have uniformly withstood the temptation of reducing the object of their faith an devotion to a level with the senses and imagination of man. 'I believe in One God and Mahomet the Apostle of God,' is the simple and invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol; the honours of the prophet have never transgressed the measure of human virtue, and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of reason and religion." --Edward Gibbon and Simon Ocklay, HISTORY OF THE SARACEN EMPIRE, London, 1870, p. 54. "He was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without Pope's pretensions, Caesar without the legions of Caesar: without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue; if ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by the right divine, it was Mohammed, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports." --Bosworth Smith, MOHAMMAD AND MOHAMMADANISM, London, 1874, p. 92. "It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher." --Annie Besant, THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF MUHAMMAD, Madras, 1932, p. 4. "His readiness to undergo persecutions for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement - all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems than it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad." --W. Montgomery Watt, MOHAMMAD AT MECCA, Oxford, 1953, p. 52. "Muhammad, the inspired man who founded Islam, was born about A.D. 570 into an Arabian tribe that worshipped idols. Orphaned at birth, he was always particularly solicitous of the poor and needy, the widow and the orphan, the slave and the downtrodden. At twenty, he was already a successful businessman, and soon became director of camel caravans for a wealthy widow. When he reached twenty-five, his employer, recognizing his merit, proposed marriage. Even though she was fifteen years older, he married her, and as long as she lived, remained a devoted husband. "Like almost every major prophet before him, Muhammad fought shy of serving as the transmitter of God's word, sensing his own inadequacy. But the angel commanded 'Read.' So far as we know, Muhammad was unable to read or write, but he began to dictate those inspired words which would soon revolutionize a large segment of the earth: 'There is one God.' "In all things Muhammad was profoundly practical. When his beloved son Ibrahim died, an eclipse occurred, and rumours of God's personal condolence quickly arose. Whereupon Muhammad is said to have announced, 'An eclipse is a phenomenon of nature. It is foolish to attribute such things to the death or birth of a human being. "At Muhammad's own death an attempt was made to deify him, but the man who was to become his administrative successor killed the hysteria with one of the noblest speeches in religious history: 'If there are any among you who worshipped Muhammad, he is dead. But if it is God you worshipped, He lives forever." --James A. Michener, "Islam: The Misunderstood Religion," in READER'S DIGEST (American edition), May 1955, pp. 68-70. "My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level." --Michael H. Hart, THE 100: A RANKING OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS IN HISTORY, New York: Hart Publishing Company, Inc., 1978, p. 33. 5. THE SWORD OF ISLAM ............................................. from III&E The first few who embraced the "new" religion in Makkah in the Arabian Peninsula at the hands of the Prophet, were his wife Khadijah, his servant Zaid and his eleven-year-old cousin Ali. Among the ones who later joined this faith were the honest merchant, Abu Bakr; the iron man of Arabia, Umar the Great; the shy businessman, Uthman; the Prophet's brave uncle Hamza and a slave of a pagan, Bilal. They simply couldn't resist the MAGIC SWORD of a humble and lonely Prophet! The negligible minority of the believers in this new Faith was soon exiled from Makkah and they arrived in the city called Yathrab which later became known as MADINAH. The Muslim emigrants to Madinah brought their SWORD with them. The SWORD continued to "pull" people towards it until the whole of Arabia joined the Faith. Compared to the population of the rest of the world at that time, the Arabs constituted a tiny minority. A fraction of this minority decided to take the SWORD beyond the boundaries of the Arabian desert to the mighty empires of Rome and Persia, the shores of the Mediterranean, the coast of Malabar and the far away East Indies Islands. People after people continued surrendering to this SWORD and joining the Faith. So sharp was the edge of the SWORD! It simply conquered the hearts; bodies yielded automatically. It is the SWORD OF TRUTH, whose mere shine eliminates falsehood just like light wipes away darkness. 6. Has the sword gone Blunt? No, far from it. ..................... from III&E It continues to pierce the hearts of countless men and women even today - in spite of the relentless efforts by persons with vested interests who like darkness to prevail, so that they may rob people of their good things. Read below the impressions of some who were recently conquered by the same SWORD. They are from different countries, speak different languages and have different backgrounds. Their present addresses are also given. Perhaps you may like to ask them how it feels to be struck by the SWORD OF TRUTH. 1. LEOPOLD WEISS (now Mohammad Asad): Austrian statesman, journalist, former foreign correspondent for the Frankfuerter Zeitung; author of ISLAM AT THE CROSSROADS and ROAD TO MECCA and translator of the Qur'an. He embraced Islam in 1926. (1) "Islam appears to me like a perfect work of Architecture. All its parts are harmoniously conceived to complement and support each other. Nothing is superfluous and nothing lacking, with the result of an absolute balance and solid composure." 2. AHMED HOLT: British Civil Contractor, traveler in search of the Divine truth, spent much of his time in research and comparative study of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He embraced Islam in 1975. (2) "The SWORD OF ISLAM is not the sword of steel. I know this by experience, because the sword of Islam struck deep into my own heart. It didn't bring death, but it brought a new life; it brought an awareness and it brought an awakening as to who am I and what am I and for what am I here?" 3. BOGDAN DOPANSKI (now Bogdan Ataullah Kopanski): Originally Polish, now American; Ph.D. in history and politics, had a very interesting journey to Islam and faced severe hardships; was imprisoned twice by the Polish communist regime (1968, 1981-82). He embraced Islam in 1974. (3) "When I was 12 years old I rejected illogical and contradictory faith of the Church. Two years later in 1962 - I was fascinated by victorious struggle of the Algerian Muslim mujahideen against French colonialism. It was the first ARROW of Islam.... The high school and earliest days of my education in the University, I was a typical example of 'rebel generation' of Reds.... My way to the truth of Al-Qur'an was slow and unpaved.... In 1974 I visited Turkey, I wrote my M.A. dissertation about Sultan and Caliph Suleiman Kanuni's policy towards the Polish Kingdom. There, I was hit by the most beautiful voice of mankind, the ADHAN, the call to prayer. My hair stood up. An unknown powerful force led me to old masjid in Istanbul. There, old smiling Turkish, bearded men taught me WUZU, ablution. I confessed to tears SHAHADAH and I prayed my first SALAH Maghrib.... I swept out the rubbish ideologies.... The first time in my life, my mind was relaxed and I felt pleasure of Allah's love in my heart. I was a Muslim...." 4. VENGATACHALAM ADIYAR (now Abdullah Adiyar): Indian, noted Tamil writer and journalist; worked as a news editor in Dr. M. Karunanidhi's daily MURASOLI for 17 years; assisted 3 former Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu. Received Kalaimamani Award (Big Gem of Arts) from Tamil Nadu Government in 1982. He embraced Islam in 1987. (4) "In Islam I found suitable replies to nagging queries arising in my mind with regard to the theory of creation, status of woman, creation of the universe, etc. The life history of the Holy Prophet attracted me very much and made it easy for me to compare with other world leaders and their philosophies." 5. HERBERT HOBOHM (now Aman Hobohm): German diplomat, missionary and social worker. An intellectual who has been serving the German diplomatic missions in various parts of the world. Presently working as Cultural Attache in German Embassy in Riyadh. He embraced Islam in 1941. (5) "I have lived under different systems of life and have had the opportunity of studying various ideologies, but have come to the conclusion that none is perfect as Islam. None of the systems has got a complete code of a noble life. Only Islam has it; and that is why good men embrace it. Islam is not theoretical; it is practical. It means complete submission to the will of God." 6. CAT STEVENS (now Yousuf Islam): British; formerly a Christian and a world famous pop singer. He embraced Islam in 1973. (6) "It will be wrong to judge Islam in the light of the behavior of some bad Muslims who are always shown on the media. It is like judging a car as a bad one if the driver of the car is drunk and he bangs it into the wall. Islam guides all human beings in the daily life - in its spiritual, mental and physical dimensions. But we must find the sources of these instructions, the Qur'an and the example of the Prophet. Then we can see the ideal of Islam." 7. MS. MARGARET MARCUS (now Maryam Jamilah): American, formerly a Jewess, essayist and an author of many books. She embraced Islam in 1962. (7) "The authority of Islamic Morals and Laws proceeds from Almighty God. Pleasure and happiness in Islam are but the natural byproducts of emotional satisfaction in one's duties conscientiously performed for the pleasure of God to achieve salvation. In Islam duties are always stressed above rights. Only in Islam was my quest for absolute values satisfied. Only in Islam did I at last find all that was true, good, beautiful and which gives meaning and direction to human life and death." 8. WILFRIED HOFMAN (now Murad Hofman): Ph.D. in law (Harvard); German social scientist and diplomat; presently German Ambassador in Algeria. He embraced Islam in 1980. (8) "For some time now, striving for more and more precision and brevity, I have tried to put on paper, in a systematic way, all philosophical truths, which in my view, can be ascertained beyond reasonable doubt. In the course of this effort it dawned on me that the typical attitude of an agnostic is not an intelligent one; that man simply cannot escape a decision to believe; that the createdness of what exists around us is obvious; that Islam undoubtedly finds itself in the greatest harmony with overall reality. Thus I realize, not without shock, that step by step, in spite of myself and almost unconsciously, in feeling and thinking I have grown into a Muslim. Only one last step remained to be taken: to formalize my conversion. As of today I am a Muslim. I have arrived." 9. CASSIUS CLAY (now Muhammad Ali): American; three times World Heavyweight Champion, formerly a Christian. He embraced Islam in 1965. (9) "I have had many nice moments in my life. But the feelings I had while standing on Mount Arafat on the day of HAJJ (Muslims' pilgrimage), was the most unique. I felt exalted by the indescribable spiritual atmosphere there as over a million and a half pilgrims invoked God to forgive them of their sins and bestow on them His choicest blessings. It was an exhilarating experience to see people belonging to different colors, races and nationalities, kings, heads of states and ordinary men from very poor countries all clad in two simple white sheets praying to God without any sense of either pride or inferiority. It was a practical manifestation of the concept of equality in Islam." (Speaking to the daily "Al-Madinah," Jeddah, 15 July, 1989.) These were the impressions of a few persons who had themselves been struck by the SWORD OF TRUTH, that is, the Message of Islam. AS FOR THE PROPAGANDA THAT IT WAS THE SWORD OF STEEL, THAT IS, FORCE, WHICH WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN THE UNIVERSAL EXPANSION OF ISLAM, WE GIVE BELOW QUOTATIONS FROM THE WRITINGS OF SOME OF THE PROMINENT NON-MUSLIM SCHOLARS AND LEADERS REFUTING THIS BASELESS ACCUSATION. 1. M.K. GANDHI: "....I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These, and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every trouble." YOUNG INDIA, 1924. (10) 2. EDWARD GIBBON: "The greatest success of Mohammad's life was effected by sheer moral force without the stroke of a sword." HISTORY OF THE SARACEN EMPIRE, London, 1870. 3. A.S. TRITTON: "The picture of the Muslim soldier advancing with a sword in one hand and the Qur'an in the other is quite false." ISLAM, London, 1951, page 21. (12) 4. DE LACY O'LEARY: "History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims, sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated." ISLAM AT CROSSROADS, London, 1923, page 8. 5. K.S. RAMAKRISHNA RAO: "My problem to write this monograph is easier because we are not generally fed now on that (distorted) kind of history and much time need not be spent on pointing out our misrepresentations of Islam. The theory of Islam and sword, for instance, is not heard now in any quarter worth the name. The principle of Islam, there is no compulsion in religion, is well known." MOHAMMED THE PROPHET OF ISLAM, Riyadh, 1989, page 4. 6. JAMES A MICHENER: "No other religion in history spread so rapidly as Islam... The West has widely believed that this surge of religion was made possible by the sword. But no modern scholar accepts that idea, and the Qur'an is explicit in support of the freedom conscience." ISLAM - THE MISUNDERSTOOD RELIGION, READERS' DIGEST (American Edition) May 1955. 7. LAWRENCE E. BROWNE: "Incidentally these well-established facts dispose of the idea so widely fostered in Christian writings that the Muslims, wherever they went, forced people to accept Islam at the point of the sword." THE PROSPECTS OF ISLAM, London 1944. IF YOU TOO POSSESS A SOFT, TENDER HEART AND AN OPEN MIND, DO WRITE TO US FOR SOME BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE WAY OF LIFE CALLED "ISLAM." DO NOT BELIEVE IN HEARSAY AND LEARN FROM THE DIRECT SOURCES. WE ARE READY TO HELP. 7. CHOOSING ISLAM: ONE MAN'S TALE ................................. from III&E I became a Muslim when it seemed I had already accepted Islam in my bones, as if beyond choice, and I only had to make a leap to embrace it formally. Outwardly I was content; inwardly I was coasting. My three-year-old theatre company was disbanded after a hilariously chaotic production for a Tim Leary Benefit at the Family Dog in San Francisco, circa '68 -- naturally the orange juice everyone had passed around was spiked, so that chorus members were doing the final scene in the first ten minutes -- and for six months I had been methodically typing out poetry manuscripts in my attic in Berkeley preparatory to a big publishing peak. I considered myself a Zen Buddhist. But I was other things as well. My normal routine was to get up, sit zazen, smoke a joint, do half an hour of yoga, then read the "Mathnawi" of Rumi, the long mystical poem of that great Persian Sufi of the thirteenth century. Then I met the man who was to be my guide to our teacher in Morocco, Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib, may Allah be pleased with him. At first the meeting was simply remarkable, and my guide simply a remarkable man. But soon our encounter was to become extraordinary, leading to a revolution in my life from which I have never recovered and never hope to. The man looked like an eccentric Englishman. He too had only recently come out of the English version of the Hippie Wave. He was older, refined in his manners, spectacularly witty and intellectual, but of that kind prevalent then who had hobnobbed with the Beatles and knew the Tantric Art collection of Brian Jones firsthand. He had been on all the classic drug quests -- peyote in the Yucatan, mescaline with Laura Huxley -- but with the kif quest in Morocco he had stumbled on Islam and then the Sufis, and the game was up. A profound change had taken place in his life that went far beyond the psychedelic experience. =46or the three days following our meeting, two other Americans and I listened in awe as this magnificent storyteller unfolded the picture of Islam, of the perfection of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, of the Sufis of Morocco, and of the 100-year-old plus Shaykh, sitting under a great fig tree in a garden with his disciples singing praises of Allah. It was everything I'd always dreamed of. It was poetry come alive. It was the visionary experience made part of daily life, with the Prophet a perfectly balanced master of wisdom and simplicity, an historically accessible Buddha, with a mixture of the earthiness of Moses, the otherworldliness of Jesus, and a light all his own. The prophetic knowledge our guide talked about was a kind of spiritual existentialism. It was a matter of how you enter a room, which foot you entered with, that you sipped water but gulped milk, that you said, "Bismillah" (In the Name of Allah) before eating or drinking, and "Al-hamdulillah" (Praise be to Allah) afterwards, and so on. But rather than seeing this as a burden of hundreds of "how-to's," it was more like what the LSD experience taught us, that there is a "right" way to do things that has, if you will, a cosmic resonance. It is a constant awareness of courtesy to the Creator and His creation that itself ensures and almost visionary intensity. It is hard to put forward any kind of explanation of Islam, to try to suggest the beauty of its totality, through the medium of words. The light of Islam, since it is transformational and alchemical in nature, almost always comes via a human messenger who is a transmitter of the picture by his very being. Face to face with our guide, what struck us most was his impeccable, noble behavior. He seemed to be living what he was saying. Finally the moment came, as a surprise, when he confronted me with my life. "Well," he said one morning after three full days of rapturous agreement that what he was bringing to us was the best thing we'd ever heard, "What do you think? Do you want to become a Muslim?" I hedged. "It's the most beautiful thing I've heard about so far. After all my Zen Buddhism, all my yoga, Tibetan Buddhism and Hindu gurus, this is certainly it! But I think I would like to travel a little, see the world, go to Afghanistan (then unoccupied), maybe meet my Shaykh in a mountain village far off somewhere." "That's not good enough. You have to decide now. Yes or no. If it's yes, then we start on a great adventure. If it's no, then no blame, I've done my duty. I'll just say goodbye and go on my way. But you have to decide now. I'll go downstairs and read a magazine and wait. Take your time." When he had left the room I saw there was no choice. My whole being had already acquiesced. All my years up to that moment simply rolled away. I was face-to-face with worship of Allah, wholly and purely, with the Path before me well-trodden, heavily signposted, with a guide to a Master plunk in front of me. Or I could reject all of this for a totally self-invented and uncertain future. It was the day of my birthday, just to make it that much more dramatic. I chose Islam. -- Abd al-Hayy Moore Mr. Abd al-Hayy Moore has two books of poetry published by City Lights under the name Daniel Moore. He's traveled extensively, living in England, Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria and Spain. Mr. Moore is a talented writer and poet, and has turned his talents in writing for Islam. He is a contributor to "The Minaret" and other publications. His more recent publications are "The Chronicles of Akhira," "Halley's Comet" and Holograms. His writings and publications may be obtained from Zilzal Press, 126 North Milpas Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, U.S.A. Published with the permission of: 1) Whole Earth Review 27 Gate Five Road Sausilito, CA 94965 2) Abd al-Hayy Moore The III&E is grateful for his kind permission. Reprinted from Whole Earth Review No. 49, Winter 1985 8. Who can I ask questions on Islam? ......................................... A- The Institute of Islamic Information and Education P.O. Box 41129 Chicago, IL 60641-0129 U.S.A. Fax: (312) 777-7199 Tel: (312) 777-7443 B- The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Non-Muslims interested to learn about Islam can now dial toll-free 1-800-662-ISLAM The phone number has been set up by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) exclusively for non-Muslims. The number became operational on August 30, 1994. Note: The last letter 'M' in the telephone number is optional. C- Islam on Phone Islam-on-the-Phone (312) 777-0767 Ask for a list of questions and codes. Provided by III&E. WRITE TO ANY OF THE FOLLOWING: 1. (deceased) 2. Ahmad Holt, 23 Welland Garden Perivale, Middlesex UB6 8SZ, U.K. 3. Bogdan Ataullah Kopanski, 3013 Harrel Drive, Grand Prairie, TX 75051. 4. Abdullah Adiyar, 1 Ashok Avenue, Rangarajapuram, Kodambakkam, Madras,India. 5. Aman Hobohm, Cultural Attache, P.O. Box 8974, Riyadh 11492, Saudi Arabia. 6. Yousuf Islam, Chairman, Muslim Aid, 3 Furlong Road, London, N7, U.K. 7. Maryam Jamilah, c/o Mohammad Yusuf Khan, Sant Nagar, Lahore, Pakistan. 8. Murad Hofman, Ambassador, Embassy of Federal Republic of Germany, BP 664, Alger-gare, Algeria. 9. Muhammad Ali, c/o Masjid Al-Faatir, 1200 East 49th Street, Chicago, IL 60615. NOTE: 10. Twentieth century champion of non-violence who lead the Indian movement of freedom from British colonization. 9. Indroductory Publications ...................................... from III&E RECOMMENDED: 1. III&E Brochure Series may be obtained from the address given below. 2. WHAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ISLAM AND MUSLIMS by Suzanne Haneef, Kazi Publications, Chicago, IL. 3. ISLAM IN FOCUS by H. Abdulati, American Trust Publications, Indianapolis, IN. 4. THE BIBLE, THE QUR'AN AND SCIENCE by Maurice Bucaille, American Trust Publications, Indianapolis, IN. 5. QUR'AN, AN INTRODUCTION by A.R. Doi, Kazi Publications, Chicago, IL. 6. HADITH, AN INTRODUCTION by A.R. Doi, Kazi Publications, Chicago, IL. 7. MUHAMMAD, HIS LIFE BASED ON THE EARLIEST SOURCES by Martin Lings, Inner Traditions International, Rochester, VT. 8. LIFE OF MUHAMMAD by A.H. Siddiqi, Kazi Publications, Chicago, IL. 9. HISTORY OF ISLAM by Masud-ul-Hasan, Islamic Publications, Lahore, Pakist= an. 10. THE CULTURAL ATLAS OF ISLAM by I.R. al-Faruqi and Lois L. al-Faruqi, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, NY. Announcements ................................................................ 10. Archive Info .............................................................. This FAQ is archived at several sites and is available for public retrieval thru anonymous FTP, E-MAIL, Gopher & World Wide Web. -- Anonymous FTP -- Login: anonymous Password: Your e-mail address Site: rtfm.mit.edu Dir: /pub/usenet/news.answers/islam-faq/ Site: ftp.uu.net Dir: /pub/usenet/news.answers/islam-faq/ Site: ftp.cco.caltech.edu Dir: /pub/calmsa/islam-faq/ -- E-MAIL -- Send E-mail to: mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu Text of E-mail Message: send usenet/news.answers/islam-faq/part5 quit -- GOPHER -- Site: gopher.caltech.edu 70 Path: Computing Information/ CCO anonymous ftp archive/ pub/ calmsa/ islam-faq/ Site: latif.com 70 Path: Resources relating to Islam/ Soc.Religion.Islam -- World-Wide-Web (WWW) -- One recommended interface is 'mosaic,' below are mosaic 'home pages.' URL at USENET Archive site: http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/hypertext/faq/usenet/islam-faq/faq.html URL at Caltech MSA site: http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~calmsa/links.html 11. Credits ................................................................... The author wishes to thank all those who contributed in any capacity for the original one part FAQ or this multi-part FAQ. -- SOURCES -- The basic introduction and literature presented in the FAQ is from brochures on Islam distributed by Institute of Islamic Information & Education (III&E). These brochures were typed in electronic form by Ms.M.Ahmed. The information on soc.religion.islam forum (in Part 2) has been compiled from USENET archives and administrative logs of Soc.Religion.Islam moderator panel. What is III&E? III&E is an acronym for the Institute of Islamic Information & Education which was established in Chicago, Illinois in 1985. The III&E is registered in the State of Illinois and recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a not-for-profit religious organization. More information can be obtained by contacting Dr. M. Amir, III&E, P.O. Box 41129, Chicago, IL 60641-0129, U.S.A.; Fax: (312) 777-7199; or or Tel: (312) 777-7443. -- FORMAT -- The format of the FAQ series has been done by utilizing resources of Islamic Information & News Network (IINN). A custom program, Nebula, written by editors of IINN for generating newsletters has been used. What is IINN? Islamic Information & News Network is a forum dedicated to educate the network community on issues relating to Islam and Muslims in an academic & non-political environment. Weekly digest is available on internet by subscribing to MUSLIMS@ASUACAD.BITnet (A Bitnet listserv list) and on USENET: bit.listserv.muslims. -- Permissions -- Permission to post this multi-part FAQ has been obtained by the following: o Institute of Islamic Information & Education (III&E) o Islamic Information & News Network (Muslims@PSUVM.bitnet) o Moderator(s) of News.Answers (Thomas Khoenig & P.Huang) # End of Islam FAQ Part 5 #