Propagation of the Faith
Example of Early Followers of Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them)
by Col. (Retd.) Mahmud Shaukat (Imam, London Centre of AAIIL)
The Light & Islamic Review (US), January/February 1993 Issue (Vol. 70, No. 1, pp. 12–14)
فَلَمَّاۤ اَحَسَّ عِیۡسٰی مِنۡہُمُ الۡکُفۡرَ قَالَ مَنۡ اَنۡصَارِیۡۤ اِلَی اللّٰہِ ؕ قَالَ الۡحَوَارِیُّوۡنَ نَحۡنُ اَنۡصَارُ اللّٰہِ ۚ اٰمَنَّا بِاللّٰہِ ۚ وَ اشۡہَدۡ بِاَنَّا مُسۡلِمُوۡنَ ﴿۵۲﴾
“But when Jesus perceived disbelief on their part, he said: Who will be my helpers in Allah’s way? The disciples said: We are Allah’s helpers, we believe in Allah, and bear thou witness that we are the submitting ones” (The Holy Quran, 3:52).
According to this verse, when Jesus became disappointed and disillusioned by the lack of reception of his message and teachings by the Jews, he turned to his disciples for carrying forward his message and gospel. Religion to the Jews was only the form, ceremonies and feasts. It was devoid of all spiritual content. Their priests and rabbis were corrupt and worldly.
Thus, Jesus turned to his disciples. “Who,” he said, “will be my helpers in Allah’s way”. They said: “Aye, we will be Allah’s helpers”. His disciples were very few, twelve in number, poor and humble in their standing. They took up the Call and went far and wide to spread the word of Gospel. Jesus told them that they did not require gold or silver, spare clothes or even a pair of shoes for this task. “Go,” he said, “and God will provide you”. One disciple of his, Joseph of Arimathea, a rich trader, came up to England and laid the foundation of the first Christian church at Glastonbury, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. St. Thomas, another of his disciples, went to South India and laid the foundation of a church over there. He was martyred and buried in South India.
For three hundred years, Christianity faced great hardship. They propagated their religion secretly and suffered great persecution. Then the time came that it became the official religion of the Great Roman Empire and the dominant religion of the world, although it had lost all semblance to the original, pure and simple religion of Jesus Christ.
Appearance of Holy Prophet Muhammad [pbuh]:
A new chapter of religious history in the realm of human affairs begins six hundred years after the prophet Jesus. The spiritual and moral condition of society at that time was so low that it could well be called the darkest period in the dark ages of human history. This state of affairs of the society has been confirmed by historians and writers. At this time, God out of His mercy and love for the suffering humanity sent a benefactor, a guide and an exemplar — the Prophet from Arabia, a sun which appeared from Mount Paran to illumine the whole world. He taught a simple, perfect and a pure religion. God says in the Quran:
اَلۡیَوۡمَ اَکۡمَلۡتُ لَکُمۡ دِیۡنَکُمۡ وَ اَتۡمَمۡتُ عَلَیۡکُمۡ نِعۡمَتِیۡ وَ رَضِیۡتُ لَکُمُ الۡاِسۡلَامَ دِیۡنًا ؕ
“This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favour to you and chosen for you Islam as a religion” (The Holy Quran, 5:3).
Holy Prophet’s Companions spread the Truth:
The Holy Prophet carried out a complete moral and spiritual reformation of society which was deeply immersed in sin, superstition, idolatry and ignorance. People who were near and around him, who were called his Companions or Sahaba, were completely transformed into a nobler existence. Due to their deeds of sacrifice, valour in the service of Islam, and their acts of piety, God was greatly pleased with them and honoured them and complimented them with the title radiy-alliihu an-hum —
رَضِیَ اللّٰہُ عَنۡہُمۡ
“Allah is well-pleased with them” (The Holy Quran, 98:8).
They submitted their persons and their property to the pleasure of the Lord. The Quran says:
اِنَّ اللّٰہَ اشۡتَرٰی مِنَ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ اَنۡفُسَہُمۡ وَ اَمۡوَالَہُمۡ
“Surely Allah has bought from the believers their persons and their property…” (The Holy Quran, 9:111).
These Companions of the Prophet carried the word of God, the light of Islam, to far and near corners of the world, and after them succeeding generations who were similarly inspired, the Tabi-in and the Tabi Tabi-in, the saints and other pious people. They were like seeds blown by the wind; wherever they landed they took root, bloomed and blossomed. To China, the Far East or Far West and to central Asia, they went singly, journeying for years and bearing all the hardships. They were not escorted by soldiers or armies nor had they logistic support. I will quote a verse from the Holy Quran where a similar phenomenon is described:
مُحَمَّدٌ رَّسُوۡلُ اللّٰہِ ؕ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ مَعَہٗۤ اَشِدَّآءُ عَلَی الۡکُفَّارِ
کَزَرۡعٍ اَخۡرَجَ شَطۡـَٔہٗ فَاٰزَرَہٗ فَاسۡتَغۡلَظَ فَاسۡتَوٰی عَلٰی سُوۡقِہٖ
“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those with him are firm of heart against the disbelievers … like seed-produce that puts forth its sprout, then strengthens it, so it becomes stout and stands firmly on its stems …” (The Holy Quran, 48:29).
Decline of Later Generations:
After these torchbearers of Islam came evil generations who forsook the religion. God says:
فَخَلَفَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِہِمۡ خَلۡفٌ اَضَاعُوا الصَّلٰوۃَ وَ اتَّبَعُوا الشَّہَوٰتِ فَسَوۡفَ یَلۡقَوۡنَ غَیًّا ﴿ۙ۵۹﴾
“But there came after them an evil generation, who wasted prayers and followed lusts. They will meet perdition” (The Holy Quran, 19:59).
The Muslim Umma [Nation] fell apart, the simple and true religion of Islam was confounded into ceremonies, innovations and priesthood. People in general became totally ignorant of the teachings of the Quran. The Holy Quran became a forsaken book. This total apathy towards the Quran is prophesied as follows:
یٰرَبِّ اِنَّ قَوۡمِی اتَّخَذُوۡا ہٰذَا الۡقُرۡاٰنَ مَہۡجُوۡرًا ﴿۳۰﴾
“My Lord, surely my people treat this Quran as a forsaken thing” (The Holy Quran, 25:30).
Their hearts hardened and they became transgressors. The Quran describes this state of affairs:
اَلَمۡ یَاۡنِ لِلَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اَنۡ تَخۡشَعَ قُلُوۡبُہُمۡ لِذِکۡرِ اللّٰہِ وَ مَا نَزَلَ مِنَ الۡحَقِّ ۙ وَ لَا یَکُوۡنُوۡا کَالَّذِیۡنَ اُوۡتُوا الۡکِتٰبَ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ فَطَالَ عَلَیۡہِمُ الۡاَمَدُ فَقَسَتۡ قُلُوۡبُہُمۡ ؕ وَ کَثِیۡرٌ مِّنۡہُمۡ فٰسِقُوۡنَ ﴿۱۶﴾
“Has not the time come for the believers that their hearts should be humble for the remembrance of Allah and the truth, and that they should not be like those who were given the Book before, but time was prolonged for them so their hearts hardened. And most of them are transgressors” (The Holy Quran, 57:16).
This is an apt description of the Muslims of today. Religion to them is an outwardly show and a form without spirit or sincerity. They are engrossed in the affairs of the world and have no time for God or religion, like the Dabbat al-ard (creature of the earth), bent low on earthly desires. Alas, the present-day Muslims are in name only, a label which has stuck to them by the accident of birth.
Ladies and gentlemen, I was given a limited time for my lecture and have to rush through some of its parts. The subject I chose, i.e., the propagation of Islam, is agitating the minds of so many people of understanding. I therefore want to remind and impress its importance. I pray that the Muslims may unite, and avoid in-fighting, takfir, and sectarianism.
I started the subject with a reference to the history of Jesus Christ, explaining as to how his disciples carried out the word of the Gospel. I then came to the Holy Prophet’s time, showing how his Companions and other pious people propagated Islam, with such a zeal and fervour that no other followers have done so. Then coming to the present times, I will only say that God has laid a duty on our shoulders, the duty of the propagation of Islam. God says:
وَ کَذٰلِکَ جَعَلۡنٰکُمۡ اُمَّۃً وَّسَطًا لِّتَکُوۡنُوۡا شُہَدَآءَ عَلَی النَّاسِ وَ یَکُوۡنَ الرَّسُوۡلُ عَلَیۡکُمۡ شَہِیۡدًا ؕ
“And thus We have made you an exalted nation that you may be the bearers of witness to the people, and the Messenger may be the bearer of witness to you…” (The Holy Quran, 2:143).
By propagation to others is not meant that you neglect your own souls. God says:
کَبُرَ مَقۡتًا عِنۡدَ اللّٰہِ اَنۡ تَقُوۡلُوۡا مَا لَا تَفۡعَلُوۡنَ ﴿۳﴾
“It is most hateful in the sight of Allah that you say that which you do not” (The Holy Quran, 61:3).
Ladies and gentlemen, coming to the end of my talk, I will read a verse of the Quran which is self-explanatory. Everyone knows that we have a limited time of life at our disposal, so please listen to what I have quoted from the Quran and make the best use of time:
وَ الَّذِیۡنَ اِذَا ذُکِّرُوۡا بِاٰیٰتِ رَبِّہِمۡ لَمۡ یَخِرُّوۡا عَلَیۡہَا صُمًّا وَّ عُمۡیَانًا ﴿۷۳﴾
“And they who, when reminded of the messages of their Lord, fall not down thereat deaf and blind” (The Holy Quran, 25:73).