“Our Lord, sent forth to them a messenger of their own to recite Your revelations to them, to teach them the Scripture and wisdom, and purify them. You are the Mighty and the Wise One”.
BY DR ALTAF HUSSAIN YATOO
Rabi al-Awwal, the third month of the Islamic calendar, reminds us the coming of the Last Prophet of God, Muhammad upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah. Every Prophet of God preached and practiced Islam which, as the name suggests, is the way of complete obedience of One God, Allah the Almighty. Islam, as the religion of God, doesn’t take its name from any particular person, tribe or place. The days when the Orientalists would call it as ‘Mohammadanism’ are gone. Now the staunchest amongst them call it by its very name, that is, Islam.
Actually, Islam wants to inculcate among the believers the very traits and virtues that it stands for. Islam connects an individual ‘vertically’ with Allah the Almighty and ‘horizontally’ with the humanity. Firmness of the believer’s bond with Allah demonstrates his connection with his fellow beings. His being good to the human beings is directly proportional to the purity of his bond with the Lord of the worlds.
In the prophetic history Ibrahim (BC 2000-1800) faced difficulties of great magnitude. He was threatened, persecuted, isolated and finally was to be burned alive where only the Divine Intervention saved him and he established the centres for preaching monotheism at different places such as Palestine, to the east of the Dead Sea and he visited Egypt as well which then was a great centre of civilization. According to Divine Inspiration Ibrahim got settled his son, Isma‘il in the ‘barren’ valley of Makkah. The reason behind this move was ‘to create a segment of people totally free from polytheistic approaches’ and Makkah was the most suitable place for this purpose. The valley was totally barren, uncultivable, unpopulated and free from ancient polytheistic culture. Ibrahim himself supervised his son from Palestine and he used to visit him frequently.
Once he visited Makkah when Isma‘il was away and he enquired of his wife how everything was going on. She replied that they faced difficulties and life was troublesome for them. Hearing this he asked her to tell her husband to change his door-sill. When Isma‘il returned home he understood that the visitor must have been his father and the message symbolically implied that he should divorce his wife for this woman was not worthy of mothering the generation under preparation. So Isma‘il married another woman of the gypsy tribe Jurham who was found capable by Ibrahim on his next visit.
Meanwhile, Allah continued to raise Prophets among the Banu Isra’il for the continuation of the chain of Prophethood and when it was established that they have degraded and devalued themselves by not only opposing the Prophets but also by persecuting and killing many of them, (Jesus) ‘Isa was sent to them with extraordinary birth and qualities to establish their transgression. They tried to kill him but he was saved by Allah. His followers (Hawariyyun) became the preachers of his word but the people who followed opened the ways for “neo-polytheism” in the form of Trinity and Monasticism.
The generation produced under Divine Supervision for which Ibrahim had worked very hard was now searching for the Final Guide. Since the message of Ibrahim had Universal bearing, the Final Prophet had to be Universal and Ultimate. The Quranic expression millata abikum Ibrahim (this is the Way or band of your father, Ibrahim) signifies this fact.
The socio-political and commercial conditions of the world also demanded the Finality, Universality and the Culmination of the Prophethood on Muhammad. We know that substantial part of the civilized world was under the Byzantines and the Sassanid. India had trade links with Europe through Makkah. Thus it was the ripe time for the prayer of Ibrahim to get its fruition. Ibrahim had thus prayed to his Lord:
“Our Lord, sent forth to them a messenger of their own to recite Your revelations to them, to teach them the Scripture and wisdom, and purify them. You are the Mighty and the Wise One”. (Quran, 2:130) Ibrahim had invoked Allah while building the Ka‘bah, the symbol of monotheism on earth.
In the whole inhabited world, this band of people who became the Companions of the Final Prophet were a ray of hope for the mankind and it was through these people that the Prophetic Mission was culminated and the Prophethood was sealed as the objective of eradicating the state patronage of polytheism was brought about through these people. They were indeed the cream of the creation as is evident from the prayer of the Prophet at the battlefield of Badr:
“O Lord: If this group of believers is annihilated, then there would remain nobody to worship You on the surface of earth.” (Ibn Hisham)
The prayer in no way is a sentimental outburst and it could not be so. In fact the people who had gathered at Badr with the Prophet (SA‘AS) were the extraction of the generation produced for over a period of 2500 years. This was a ‘nation of heroes’ indeed! These were the people who built the sample Islamic Civilization, the Muslim Ummah as such. Obviously, this is not the community code of the Muslims unless and until they understand the great responsibility which lies beneath the common understanding. Every person can have the share from it if he makes Allah his Lord, Muhammad (SA‘AS) his messenger and Islam his religion much in the Ibrahimic way because:
“When his Lord said to him, ‘Surrender [become Muslim]!’ he responded, ‘I have surrendered [became Muslim] to the Lord of the Universe.” (Quran, 2:131)
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