The Living Religion (Part 2)
by Maulana Mustafa Khan
The Light (Pakistan), 1st April 1922 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 8, p. 2)
The characteristics of Islam which have made it so attractive and beautiful are many; but for the sake of brevity I shall touch on only four points here.
In the first place, Islam has got a complete code of life, a true expression of human nature, and gives detailed instructions for every walk of society. The Holy Quran deals with all the important principles pertaining to civilisation. It is a guide for both the rich and the poor, the high and the low. It is humanity at large, and therefore it has laid down express rules for all the branches of human activities. It is a source of inspiration to the peasant living in a poor hut, and also the king residing in a stately palace. Like the rays of the sun, the showers of the rain, it does not make any distinctions. Naturally, such a Book must win the reverence of all who know about it.
In the second place, Islam has established the equality of man in the world. The gospel of brotherhood of man, which was ushered by Jesus Christ but left undone, was realised and accomplished at the hands of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of God be upon him. Islam does not recognise any differences of caste and creed. It does not believe in the geographical limits and therefore the unnatural and the man-made boundaries of nationalities are not known to it. It stands for the whole of humanity. The equality of man is the cardinal principle of Islam; hence there is no priest craft, no caste system, and no classification of society.
The rapid and the vast spread of Islam have always been a problem to the Western writers, who have generally ascribed it to the political ascendency of the Muslims and also to forcible conversion. But this is absolutely wrong. The real cause of such a rapid progress is to be found in the simple teachings of Islam, which go straight to the hearts of people, and especially in the principle of the universal brotherhood of man, which it has enforced.
The downtrodden races of the Hindus were easily won over to Islam when they saw that the new religion gave them equal status in society. That is why the conversion in the rural parts of India has been the greatest. The Hindus had a very rigid system of classification in society which was extremely disgusting to the “low caste.” Islam came and brought with it the equality of man. Those who were sick of the caste system readily adopted this new religion; and became “brethren in Faith.”
In the third place, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of God be upon him), who was the last exponent of Islam, is a historical personage. The events of his life are handed down to us with perfect accuracy, while the names and the lives of the previous prophets are shrouded in mystery.
Take for instance the case of Jesus Christ. He lived only 600 years before the Holy Prophet [Muhammad (pbuh)] but we are unable to find a connected account of his life. The very scanty information which we can gather from the Gospels is open to criticism; and if we place confidence in it, even then it is too short to be of any great use to us because it is not eventful. Jesus lived a single life; and therefore, could not be an exemplar in the various walks of human life.
The lives of the Hindu gods or Rishis are perhaps still more obscure.
But the case of the Holy Prophet [Muhammad (pbuh)] is different. He lived for sixty-three years, and during this period he passed through various stages of life. He was an orphan, a merchant, a traveller, a husband, a father, a soldier, a general, and an Emperor. We find an authentic and most reliable account of his life. Muslim historians have depicted every phase of the Prophet’s life so vividly that it serves the purpose of a light for every one of us in the dreaded path of the world. He is, therefore, the true and living exemplar for humanity because his life can still inspire us with hope and strength.
In the fourth place, Islam believes that every man has got the capacity of approaching God direct without any intermediary. Allah is the Creator of everything, of every man, and therefore He has got a direct relation with every one of us. He is Eternal and Unchangeable; therefore, He speaks to His chosen servants in these days too, as He spoke in old times. In a word, Islam believes in the continuity of divine revelation. But other religions are at variance with Islam on this point.
Hindus, for instance, hold that God only spoke once, when He revealed the Vedas at the dawn of the world, and since then He has been silent.
Christians too think that God has not spoken since the advent of Jesus or his immediate followers.
But Islam believes in a living God and holds that He speaks in all times. There have been so many Muslim saints and religious reformers who have claimed to be in communication with God. Hence, the truth of the Islamic principle is established.