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Sunday, 16 December 2018

New Islamic Era (3): Could a New Islamic Era Emerge by Shading Light on the Past?

17. Heraclius celebrated his triumph in Constantinople in March 628. Peace was then made between the two Empires on the basis (status as it is). Heraclius in pursuance of a vow he had made, went south in the autumn to Emessa (Hims) and from there marched on foot to Jerusalem to celebrate his victories, and restore to its place the holy Cross which had been carried away by the Persians and was returned to the Emperor as a condition of peace. Heraclius’s route was strewn with costly carpets, and he thought that the final deliverance had come for his people and his empire. Either in the way, or in Jerusalem, he met a messenger from the holy Prophet, carrying a letter inviting him to the True Faith as renewed in the living Apostle of the age. He apparently received the messenger with courtesy. But he did not realize the full import of the new World which was being shaped according to God’s plans, and the future that was opening out through the New Revelation. Perhaps in his heart he felt impressed by the story which he heard from the Arabs about the holy Prophet, but the apparent grandeur of his empire and the pride of his people prevented him from openly accepting the renewed Message of God. He caused a search to be made for any Arab who was sufficiently acquainted with the Prophet to tell him something about him. Abu Sufyan was then trading in a caravan in Syria. He was a cousin of the Prophet, and belonged to the Umaiya branch of family. He was sent for to Jerusalem (Aelia Capitolina).

18. When Abu Sufyan was called to the presence of Heraclius, the Emperor questioned him closely about this new Prophet. Abu Sufyan himself was at that time outside Islam –and really an enemy of the Prophet and of his Message. Yet the story he told of the truth and sincerity of the holy Apostle, of the way in which the poor and the lowly flocked to him, of the wonderful increase of his power and the spiritual influence, and the way in which people who had once received the Light never got disillusioned or went back to their life of ignorance, and above all the integrity with which he kept all his covenants, made a favorable impression on the mind of Heraclius. That story is told in dramatic details by Al-Bukhari and other writers.

19. The relations of the Persian Monarch with Islam were different. He –either Khusrau Parwiz or his successor- received the holy Apostle’s messenger with contumely and tore up his letter. “So will his Kingdom be torn up” said the holy Apostle when the news reached him. The Persian Monarch ordered his Governor in Yemen to go and arrest the man who had so far forgotten himself as to address the grandson of Anaushirwan on equal terms. When the Persian Governor tried to carry out his Monarch’s command, the result was quite different from what the great Persian King of Kings had expected. His agent accepted the Truth of Islam, and Yemen was lost as a province to the Persian Empire and became a portion of the new Muslim State. Khuisrau Parwiz died in February 628. He had been deposed and imprisoned by his own cruel and undutiful son, who reigned only for a year and a half. There were nine candidates for the Persian throne in the remaining four years. Anarchy reigned supreme in the Sasanian Empire, until the dynasty was extinguished by the Muslims victory at the battle of Madain in 637. The great and glorious Persian monarchy, full of pride and ambition, came to an ignominious end, and a new chapter opened for Persia under the banner of Islam.  

20. The Roman Empire itself began to shrink gradually, losing its territory, not to Persia, but to the new Muslim Power which absorbed both the ancient Empires. This power arose in its vigor to proclaim a new and purified creed to the whole world. Already in the last seven years of Heraclius’s reign (635-642) several of the provinces nearest to Arabia had been annexed to the Muslim Empire. The Muslim Empire continued to spread on, in Asia Minor to the north and Egypt to the south. The Eastern Roman Empire became a mere shadow with small bit of territory round its capital. Constantinople eventually surrendered to the Muslim arms in 1453.

21. That was the real end of the Roman Empire. But in the wonderful century in which the Prophet (PPBUH) lived, another momentous revolution was taking place. The Roman Pontificate of Gregory the Great (590-604) was creating a new Christianity as the old Christianity of the East was slowly dying out. The Patriarch of Constantinople had claimed to be the Universal Bishop, with jurisdiction over all the other bishops of Christendom. This had been silently but gradually questioned by the Popes of Rome. They had been building up a liturgy, a church organization and a body of discipline for clergy, different from those of the Holy Orthodox Church. They had been extending their spiritual authority in the Barbarian provinces of Gaul and Spain. They had been amassing estates and endowments. They had been accumulating secular authority in their own hands. Pope Gregory the Great converted the Anglo-Saxon invaders of Great Britain to his form of Christianity. He protected Italy from the ravages of the Franks and Lombard and raised the Sea of Rome to the position of a Power which exercised ample jurisdiction over the Western world. He was preparing the way for the time when one of his successors would crown under his authority the Frankish Charlemagne as Emperor of Rome and of the west (800 A.D.), and another of his successors would finally break away from the Orthodox Church of Constantinople in 1054 by the Pope’s excommunication of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Greeks.

* So to break off this Promiscuous Pivot, and return to throne of Effectiveness and The Efficacious Power once again, the Muslims as Individuals, Scholars, and Leaders should abandon the astray path of the (seventy two) sects/groups/movements and follow –in confidence- the Righteous Path as been seen in verses 102-105 from Surat Al-Imran 3-.

* And then came the Glad-Tidings in Surat Al-Fath 48 –verses 1-9 and commentary:-

In the Name of God Most Gracious Most Merciful

Verily, We have granted you a manifest Victory. (1)

That God may forgive you your (faults/sins) of the preceded/past and those of the future/to follow, and fulfills His favors to you, and guide you on a Straight Path . (2)

And God Will help you with powerful/mighty help. (3)

(It is) He Who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers, that they may increase/add in their belief (add Faith to their Faith), and to God belong the hosts/forces/soldiers of the heavens and the earth and God is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise. (4)

That He May admit the believing of men and women to Gardens (Paradise) under/beneath which rivers flow, to dwell/abide there in forever, and expiate/remove from them their sins, and that in the sight of God (is the) Highest achievement (for man). (5)    

And that He May punish the hypocrites –men and women, and the polytheists –men and women, who has low opinion/evil opinion of God. On them is a circuit of torment (encircled); the wrath of God is on them: He had cursed them and got Hell ready for them, and evil is their destination. (6)    

To God belongs the hosts/forces/soldiers of the heavens and the earth; and God is Exalted in Mighty –ever All-Mighty, All-Wise. (7)

Verily, We Have sent you (O’ Muhammad-PPBUH) as a witness, bringer/bearer of glad tidings, and as a Warner. (8)

In order that you (O’ mankind) may believe in God and His Messenger (PPBUH), and that you assist him, and honor him. And glorify/celebrate His Praises morning and afternoon. (9)  

The date of this Sura is fixed by the mention of the Treaty of Hudaibiya, in Zul-qa’ada - A. H. 6 = February 628 A.D. A peaceful Treaty was therefore concluded, known as the Treaty of Hudaibiya. It stipulated: (1) that there was to be peace between the parties for ten years; (2) that any tribe or person was free to join either party or make an alliance with it; (3) that if a Quraishi person from Mecca –under guardianship- should join the Prophet without the guardian’s permission, he (or she) should be sent back to the guardian, but the contrary case, they should not be sent back; and (4) that the Prophet and his party were not to enter Mecca that year, but they could enter unarmed the following year.                                                                                                                                                         Item (3) was not reciprocal, and was objected to in the Muslim camp, but it really was of little importance. Muslims under guardianship, sent back to Mecca, were not likely to renounce the blessings of Islam; on the other hand Muslims going to Mecca would be centers of influence for Islam, and it was more important that they should be allowed to remain there than they should be sent back to Al-Medina. It was impossible to think there would be apostates or renegades to Paganism! The message is “LOOK ON THIS PICTURE AND NOT THAT”.                                                                                    The Muslims faithfully observed the terms of the Treaty. The following year (A.H. 7) they performed the lesser Pilgrimage in great state for three days. It is true that the Meccans later on broke the peace in the attack which one of their allied tribes (The Banu Bakr) made on the Muslims Banu Khuza’a (who were alliance with the Prophet), but this led to the conquest of Mecca and the sweeping away of the autocracy. Meanwhile Hudaibiya was a great victory, moral and social, as well as political, and its lessons are expounded in this Sura.                                                                                                               Victory comes from cool courage, devotion, faith, and patience, as shown at Hudaibiya; therefore remember God, and follow His Apostle.                                                                                                       Victory and Help go with calmness of mind, Faith, fidelity, zeal, and earnestness; not with greed, lukewarmness, or timidity. Discipline and obedience are essential for servicing the success. The rewards for service are not to be measured by immediate results, but accrue in countless hidden ways for Patience and Restraint. Be strong Against Evil, but kind and gentle amongst yourselves: the seed will grow and become strong, to your wonder and delight.                                                                       (Verse 1) This is the best referred to the Treaty of Al-Hudaibiya. By this Treaty the Meccan Quraish, after many years of unrelenting conflict with Islam, at length recognized Islam as (what they thought) an equal power with themselves. In reality the door was then opened for the free spread of Islam throughout Arabia and then through the world.                                                                                          (Verse 2) Any mistakes of the past were now rectified, and any future ones prevented by the free scope now offered, by the act of the Quraish Pagans themselves, to the recognition and free promulgation of Islam.                                                                                                                                       (Verse 3) Three objects or results of the Treaty are mentioned: (1) forgiveness, which is equivalent to Mercy; (2) fulfillment of the dignity of Prophet Hood with the dignity of an effective and recognized position in Arabia; (3) opening up a straight way leading to Islam, by access to the Pilgrimage next year, Mecca being the symbolic center of Islam. These three are summed up in the comprehensive phrase “powerful or (effective) help”.                                                                                                            (Verse 4) [A] The results were achieved by tranquility, calmness, and cool courage among the 1400 to 1500 unarmed men who accompanied the Prophet to Hudaibiya and who were threatened with violence by the excited Quraish leaders of Mecca.                                                                                            [B] It is a casuistically question to ask. Are there degrees in the Faith? The plain meaning is that Believers will see one Sign of God after another, and with each their Faith is confirmed. During all the long years of persecution and conflict they had Faith, but when they see their old enemies actually coming out to negotiate with them, their Faith is justified, fulfilled , and confirmed: and they to gratitude to God.                                                                                                                                                        [C] There are visible forces which you see in the physical world. Men fight with armed forces, and the Muslims had to defend themselves with arms also, and not without success. But social, moral, and spiritual forces were fighting for them under God’s command, and they were the real forces that established the Message of Islam and the position of its Leader and Preacher.                                                                                                                 (Verse 5) This clause is a co-ordinate to the previous clause “That they may add Faith to their Faith”. The intervening words “For to God… and Wisdom” are parenthetical. The third co-ordinate clause comes in the next verse “And that He may punish...” The skeleton construction will be “God sends down calm courage to Believers in-order that they may be confirmed in their Faith; that they may qualify for Bliss of Heaven: and that the evil ones may receive the punishment they deserve.         (Verse 6) [A] They will be encircled (or hemmed) by Evil. [B] That is, deprived them of His Grace, on account of their continued rejection of it.                                                                                                      (Verse 7) These words are repeated (with slight change) from the parenthetical clause in verse 4, to emphasize the assertion as substantive proposition, that fighting and visible forces in the physical world are not the only forces with which God works out His Plan. The invisible forces are more important as they were at Hudaibiya. The slight difference is instructive: in the parenthetical clause, God’s Knowledge was emphasized, and the substantive clause it is God’s Power, Knowledge plans, and Power executes.                                                                                                                                           (Verse 8-9) The Apostle came in order to establish Faith in God and true worship. We can view him in three capacities: (1) as a witness to help the weak if they were oppressed and check the strong if they did wrong: (2) as a giver of the Glad Tidings of God’s Grace and Mercy to those who repented and lived good lives: and (3) as one who warned sinners of the consequences of their sin.                            

·        And then the solemnity in Surat Al-Saff 61- verses 10-14 and commentary:

In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

O’ you who believe, shall I guide/lead you to a trade/bargain that will save you from a painful/grievous torment?  (10)

That you believe in God and His Messenger (Muhammad PPBUH), and that you strive hard in the Cause of God with your property/wealth and your lives, that will be better for you, if you but knew. (11) 

He Will forgive your sins, and admit you into Gardens beneath/under which rivers flow, and to beautiful mansions in Gardens/Paradises of (Eternity) Eden, that is indeed the great/ supreme achievement. (12)    

And another (favor He Will bestow) which you do love (help from God and speedy victory against your enemies). So (O’ Muhammad PPBUH) give glad tidings to the believers. (13)

O’ you who believe, be you the helpers of God (in the Cause of God); as said Jesus the son of Mary to the disciples “who are my helpers (to work) in the Cause of God? The disciples said “we are God’s helpers”. Then a portion of the children Israel believed and a portion disbelieved. So We gave power to those who believed against their enemies, and they became the ones that prevailed/the uppermost victorious. (14)      

God’s Glory shines through all Creation; but what discipline can you show to back your words with action? What lessons can you learn from the stories of Moses and Jesus? Help the cause and God’s help will come with glorious results. God’s Glory shines through the entire universe. What deeds of unity and discipline, of love and righteousness, have you to show in conduct? Or do you only mock and insult the Apostles, as they did of the old? Nay, trust in God and strive your utmost in His Cause. Little has you to give, but glorious is the reward that God will give you, now and in the eternal life.                    (Verse 10) Tijaratin ((تجارة=Trade, bargain, traffic transaction; something given or done, in return for something which we desire to get. What we give or do on our part is described in verse 11 below, and what we get is described in verse 12. It is truly a wonderful bargain: what we are asked to give is so little; what we are promised in return is so much. There comes God’s unbounded Bounty and Munificence.                                                                                                                                                        (Verse 11-12) It would indeed be a great and wonderful bargain, to give so little and get so much, if we only knew and understood the comparative value of things, the sacrifice of our fleeting advantages for forgiveness, the love of God, and eternal Bliss………………………………………………………………………                                                                                    (Verse13) The supreme achievement has already been mentioned, e.g. The Gardens of Eternity in the Presence of God. But lest that seem too remote or abstract for the understanding of men not spiritually advanced, another type or symbol or metaphor is mentioned which the men who first heard this Message could at once understand and appreciate – “Which you do love” it is (Help and Victory). For all striving in righteous Cause we get God’s help. But all life is a striving or struggle- the spiritual life even more than any other; and the final victory there is the same as the Gardens of Eternity……………………..                   (Verse 14) If we seek God’s help, we must first help God’s Cause, i.e. dedicate ourselves to Him entirely and without reserve. This was also the teaching of Jesus, as mentioned in this verse. As found in the New Testament. The metaphor used is that of the Cross {Then said Jesus to his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me-matt. xvi 24}.                 

As what had been said in the prelude of this article, looking back is the way to redress future.