Revolutionary Role of Islam
By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
As a result of the ignorance the evil known as phenomenal worship was born in human society. Man assumed divine attributes in the creatures. He began to worship all the things in the world holding them to be gods.
Owing to this intellectual aberration (going astray) idolatry became an inseparable part of human civilization. Not even the coming of thousands of Prophets and reformers could bring about any change in this state of affairs, in the practical sense. The refusal of the Prophets brought on the deniers the chastisement of God but "shirk" could never be wiped out from society. The God decreed to take this responsibility upon himself.
We can call it divine intervention. The emergence of Prophet Muhammad was in one respect divine intervention in human history, an intervention that changed the course of human history. An American encyclopedia has very appropriately described this event in these words: Its advent changed the course of human history.
French historian, Henri Pirenne, has expressed it in these words:
"Islam changed the face of the globe. The traditional order of history was overthrown."
The Quran speaks of this 'divine interferences in these words:
"It is He that has sent forth His Prophet with guidance and the true Faith, so that he may exalt it above all religions God is the All-sufficient witness." (48:28)
This has found expression in a hadith recorded in Sahih Bukhari in these words:
"He will not depart from this world as God has decreed, unless and until these people are brought to the straight path." (449-8 Fathul Bari)
This Shows that for the prophets of the past communication alone was required, whereas for the Prophet of Islam communication as well as implementation was also required.
The task of the earlier prophets was completed with the full communication of the message to the people. Instead of his message remaining at the theoretical stage the divine plan in sending the Prophet of Islam to the world was to bring about a practical revolution.
It is beyond human capacity to make the end result a certainty. Then how this theory in the case of the Prophet of Islam could be translated into reality. It all became possible due to the special divine succor extended to the Prophet by God. We have termed this special divine succor as divine interventions in human history. This divine plan had two basic aspects to it. One, to provide the Prophet with powerful and trustworthy team, and the other to weaken the enemies of monotheism considerably, by means of a special strategy, so that the supremacy of the Prophet and his companions over these peoples could be facilitated.
The first part of this divine plan was brought to completion in the form of the settlement of Ismail, son of Ibrahim, in the unpopulated desert of Arabia two thousand and five hundred years ago. At that time it was a totally isolated place situated far from the centers of civilization. At this isolated place a community was raised by Ismail ibn Ibrahim,
trained in the desert atmosphere where there was nothing save nature. As a natural result of this unadulterated atmosphere, (free from all man made pollution,) the human qualities of the inhabitants of the desert were fully preserved. It was as if a vast natural training camp. It took more than two thousand years to prepare a nation of high caliber called
a nation of heroes' by a western scholar. In the history of Arabs this nation is known Ismailites. Although religious perversion had set in, but owing to their particular training they were so distinguished in human values that such people have neither existed before nor after them.
The prophet of Islam was one of the distinguished members of Banu Ismail The Prophet struggled for about thirteen years in Makkah and ten years in Madina. Consequently about more than one hundred thousand people believed in him and joined his mission. Each and every one of his companions possessed a strong character, which may be termed predictable character. In this way the Prophet of Islam, in an exceptional way,
secured a team by which he could bring the message of the prophets to fruition -taking the Prophetic mission from the stage of ideology (theoretical) to the stage of practical revolution.
The next part of this divine plan consisted of weakening these antimonotheism forces so considerably that the last Prophet may subjugate them and usher in the desired revolution in the very first generation itself. To achieve this end on the one hand the Arabian tribes remained engaged among themselves in bloody warfare for a long period of time.
Consequently, when the Prophet of Islam was sent to the world the idolatrous tribes of Arabia, having weakened themselves considerably, could not continue their resistance for long. This enabled the Prophet of Islam to overcome Arabia and root out idolatry completely within a short period of time.
In those days there were two great empires outside of Arabia. These empires kept the major parts of Asia and Africa in their full control. Their power was so great that the Arabs could not even have dreamt of overcoming that mighty empire. Despite this extremely out of proportion difference, how it became possible for the Arabs of the very first generation, to conquer both these empires - Sassanid and Roman - in such a decisive way as to crush them absolutely, resulting in the dominance of monotheism over idolatry throughout this region. This miracle became possible owing to a special divine strategy as pointed out in a verse of the Quran in these words:
"The Romans have been defeated in a neighboring land. But after their defeat they shall themselves gain victory within a few years." (30:1-3)
History shows that from 602 CE to 628 CE, extremely extraordinary events took place between these two great empires.
First, the royal families in the respective countries came into clash and confrontation with one another; consequently many individuals of great political worth were killed. These feuds gave a deathblow to these empires, shaking the very roots of the empires. Afterward some factors led to the destructive collision of these empires with one another.
First the armies of the Sassanid empires entered the border of the Roman empires to attack it. The circumstances proved favorable to them and they succeeded to the extent that the Roman emperor Hercules decided to flee from his Palace in Constantinople. But again the events took a new turn. Hercules regained his lost confidence and with full preparation attacked the Sassanid Empire, destroyed their armed forces and entered
right into the heart of Jerusalem.
These civil wars lasting for about twenty-five years weakened both these empires considerably therefore, during the pious caliphate when the Arab forces entered Roman and Sassanid Empire they managed to advance with great speed.
This event of the Islamic empire was not simply a political event. Its aim was, in fact, to set in a revolutionary process in history. This Process had been initiated in Makkah itself, and then it traveled from Makkah to Madinah, to Damascus and Baghdad from where it entered Spain and thereafter it spread all over Europe and the entire world. We would
probably be right in saying that the 20th century is the culmination of this process.
There are two basic aspects to this process. One aspect is that which may be called the end of religious persecution. This kind of persecution has been mentioned in the Quran as 'fitna' (8:39).
This process began with the end of idolatry; this aspect of the process had been completed during the life of the Prophet himself. Afterwards during the pious caliphate with the disintegration of the two great empires-Sassanid and Byzantine- the two greatest pillars of religious persecution had been uprooted, setting off the age of religious freedom.
However no great revolution materializes all of a sudden. It reaches to fruition over a long historical process. The same therefore happened in this matter as well. The process of human freedom set off by Islam continued to advance through individual and collective efforts taking various forms, the second Caliph, Umar Faruq (d.644) addressing one of his governors and his son in a well-known caste had said:
"Since when you have enslaved people while their mothers had Given birth to them in freedom." (Al-Abqariat Al-Islamia)
This voice was echoed (reverberation) eleven hundred years later by the well-known French reformer Rousseau (d 1778).His book titled 'Social Contract' began with this famous sentence,
"Man was born free, but I find him in chains,"
This concept of intellectual and religious freedom reached its completion by the end of the 20th century, With the establishment of the United Nations all the Nation of the world signed its charter of Human Rights and proclaimed that the intellectual and religious freedom is an irrevocable right of every human being and that under no excuse or
pretext it can be abrogated.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE
Through a long process that age has finally come when man has secured absolute right to adopt the religion of his choice and propagate that religion with the only condition that he will not use violent means in exercising his religious freedom. This change brought about in the world has thrown open all the locked doors of communication of the message of
Monotheism; doors that had been locked by the ancient absolutist regimes.
The creation plan of God regarding human beings has been mentioned in the Quran in these words:
"He who created Death and life, that He may try which of you is best in deed" (67:2)
For achieving this end, it is essential that the atmosphere of freedom prevail in this world, that everyone without any obstacle may play his role. Without freedom neither reward nor punishment can be awarded to anyone. In an atmosphere where there is no intellectual freedom amounts to nullifying the very scheme of God - the scheme plan under which man has been created and placed in this world. That is the reason why these
regimes based on absolutism were abolished/overthrown, which had taken root for centuries.
In recent times the communist revolution of (1917) again attempted to establish a vast empire based on the coercive system of the ancient type. But since this ran counter to the divine plan, God produced such factors as abolished the Soviet Union in 1991. Man again was granted the same freedom as was available in the rest of the world.
THE END OF SUPERSTITIOUS ERA
Another basic change wrought about by Islamic revolution was the same as has been termed scientific revolution in modern times. That is the rooting out of superstitious thinking on scientific ground and the general prevalence of thinking based on facts.
As mentioned above the continuity of idolatrous way of life/thinking in ancient times was due to the ignorance of human beings regarding nature.
The ancient man used to see natural phenomenon by their appearance. Holding them sacred he began to worship them. In known history, Islam succeeded for the first time in human history to convince men that these phenomena of nature were not creators but that these were creatures. They were entirely helpless being, only slaves and not the masters of man.
In the wake of this revolution the ideological base of idolatry was wiped out altogether. All those things held sacred have been relegated to the status of mere creatures. They are there for man to be harnessed and not for man to be enslaved by them. The sun was held to be a god and worshipped in ancient times; the man of today is converting the sun into
solar energy. The ancient man held the moon sacred; the modern man has set his foot on it. The ancient man had deified the river; the modern man has converted these rivers into steam power etc.
In this way, it has happened for the first time in human history that the phenomenon of nature looked upon by ancient man with reverence, have how become the object of investigation. In other words, Islam set off the process, which, in scientific jargon, is called exploration. The Quran repeatedly enjoins to reflect on the objects of the universe. This is no simple matter. The act of pondering over the phenomenon of the universe in its nature is a kind of worship has been accorded the status of worship in Islam. As a result of this thinking for the first time in known history the phenomenon of the universe were subjected to research and investigation.
This revolutionary concept of the phenomenon of nature was introduced in human history initially in the form of a process. It continued to grow, spreading from one country to another until it reached the west where it saw its culmination; the scientific way of thinking produced in the modern age had been initiated in the early period of Islam, which has seen its culmination in modern times in the western world. In respect of
its reality this scientific thinking is a revolution desirable by Islam Itself.
After this revolution it has happened for the first time in human history that idolatrous way of thinking has been totally deprived of its ideological base. The concept of sacredness regarding the phenomenon of nature is now a superstition. Modern scientific investigation has rendered belief of this kind baseless.
All that happened was exactly in accordance with the divine plan. The Prophet and his companions were asked to carry out this divine scheme in these words:
"Fight then until there be no persecution and religion by wholly God's" (8:39)
This means that there is no barrier in the way of God for man to make a choice.
This was the final goal of the revolution brought about by the Prophet of Islam and his companions. Its actual goal was to end that absolutist system of coercion, which places barriers in taking a decision about one's religion. Another objective was to remove the veil of obstacles in ideological terms, which confuse and mislead him, as a result of which he begins to worship the creature supposing it to be creator. (For detail see the author's book 'Islam the creator of Modern Age')
The Quran tells us that there is no compulsion in the matter of religion. But along with it He desires that guidance and transgression / deviation should be thoroughly separated from one another (2:256)
Just as in the morning light and darkness are clearly separated from each other so that one who is desirous of knowing the reality with open mind may learn it beyond a shadow of doubt so that one who is ready to think with open mind may not be left to grapple in the dark; that he reaches God in a state that he has no pleas to make for his rejection of
Towards this particular end God brought about the revolutions in human history, as mentioned above. Now the truth and untruth have been so clearly distinct from one another that there is no thick or thin veil in between. Now this job has been performed so completely that the man of today has complete freedom of choice. Now man has neither ideological excuse nor practical barrier in his path.
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