Fundamentals of the Christian Faith in the Light of the Gospels
by Maulana Sadr-ud-Din
Speaking of the Gospel of Jesus, God confirms in the Holy Quran that it was revealed by Him (3:3), and that Jesus was His apostle (4:171), and a true and righteous servant; and (19:30) speaking of his mother, Mary, God testifies that she was a chaste and pure woman (21:91; 66:12). These Divine declarations were intended to absolve and acquit both Mary and Jesus of the disgraceful charges which the Jews had levelled against them. These obscene and contemptuous charges had lacerated and rent the hearts of the Christians; and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and the blessings of God be upon him) who always stood for and supported truth, finding the Christians a target of tyranny and oppression, made up his mind to help them. The Christians had their abode at Najran, a place far-flung from Medina, and were helpless and weak, whereas the Jews who were much superior to the Christians in knowledge, wealth and number, lived in Medina along with the Holy Prophet. To stand by the weak, which was bound to provoke the wrath of the stronger nation, was certainly no small or easy task. The so-called civilised nations of the twentieth century have nothing to do with the righteousness of a cause, nor do they cherish any respect or regard for fair play and justice in favour of a weaker people subjected to oppression. On the contrary, they would stand up to support the aggression of a stronger nation to gain their selfish ends; the weeping and wailing of a weaker people, even though they may be in the right, does not excite in them any feeling of sympathy. But the Holy Prophet, who always stressed the adoption of righteousness and truth and maintenance of equity and justice, did not hesitate even for a moment to render help to the oppressed Christians, even at the risk of provoking the animosity of a stronger people who were stricken with prejudice to an abnormal degree. And it was for this reason that some European writers as well as some commentators of the Holy Bible have been pleased to call the Holy Prophet “chivalrous” for his unique heroism and courage.
There is yet another fact worth mentioning. The Holy Prophet had left behind him his word of honour that when the Muslims would conquer Egypt, they should abide by the sacred covenant already announced by him, viz., that it should be the responsibility of the Muslim rulers to protect the life, honour, and property of every non-Muslim subject of the Islamic State, that all the rights of citizenship of such subjects should be properly safeguarded, and that they should enjoy freedom of speech and conscience. All these rights and privileges were conferred on the Christian subjects of Egypt when it was conquered. However it came to pass on one occasion that the son of `Amr bin al-’As, the conqueror and governor of Egypt, beat up a Christian in public. This incident threw the Muslim rulers to a severe test. When the news reached Medina, the Caliph Hazrat Umar Faruq summoned both the governor and the young prince to appear before him at Medina, where the Caliph reprimanded the governor, saying:
منذکم تعبدتم الناس الذین ولدتھم امھاتھم احرارا
“Since how long have you assumed the authority of enslaving people born free by their mothers?”
This reproof uttered by a just and truth-loving Caliph, as Hazrat Umar was, is a historical fact and shall abide and endure for all time to come. Besides this sharp admonition, the young prince was also punished in the presence of his father and the public.
This action of justice created confidence in the minds of the people: it convinced them that the rights of the non-Muslim subjects were absolutely safe and secure in the Islamic State. On the Christians of Egypt particularly it produced a very wholesome effect; they would never imagine that the Muslim rulers and their princes could also be held to account for their deeds and punished, and that too for the sake of protection of the non-Muslims. They came to know that the Islamic law recognises no such thing as any person’s special privilege or prerogative. Having recounted these instructive facts of history, we wish the Christians of the world in general, and those of Pakistan in particular, to recall Jesus’ (peace be on him) teaching:
Love thine enemy.
Is it, then, right for them to harbour animosity and ill-will in their minds against such a kind and benevolent personality as the Holy Prophet of Islam and pour into the ears of the Muslim youth poisonous and perverted things against him? The people of Pakistan expected no such treatment at the hands of the Christians, and it is not surprising that this behaviour should shock and rend the hearts of the people of Pakistan.
The Christian subjects of Pakistan are witnesses to the pleasing spectacle of Islamic toleration. They are living a life of honour and peace. They enjoy freedom of every kind, and their way of life, their religious rites and worship are not interfered with in any way. Their rights are thoroughly safeguarded and many Christians hold high positions in the country’s administrative machinery. These are, undoubtedly, the fine fruits of the Holy Prophet’s sublime teachings which they are enjoying to their benefit. It is, therefore, not proper for them to use offensive and bitter language in respect of this benign benefactor. We appeal to the Christians of the world in general, and those of Pakistan in particular, that they should revise and reconsider their methods and ways of preaching, and abstain from practices which injure Muslim feelings. The world today stands in need of peace and mutual goodwill more than it ever did before. The Holy Prophet’s principles which have been stated in the clearest terms point out that just as God is the Rabb and Lord of the entire universe, so He is the Rabb, that is, Cherisher, of all the nations of the world, that all the nations of the world are one great family of God, and that those who treat this great family of the Most Beneficent God with kindness and affection are His loved ones. It has, further, been taught by the Holy Prophet that just as, for the development of our physical faculties, God has bestowed upon all nations of the world, without distinction or discrimination, the blessings of sun and moon, wind and rain, in like manner, for the development of their spiritual and moral faculties, He has showered His spiritual bounties upon all the nations of the world in the form of Heavenly Books; and for that reason, such noble and righteous men of God have been appearing among the nations as worshipped and adored the Most High God, and rendered selfless service to His creatures. And it was for this reason that the Muslims have been commanded to believe in all the prophets and Sacred Scriptures of all the nations of the world, and to cherish profound respect for them all, and to have sincere faith that God’s good and righteous men are found among all the peoples of the world. These articles of faith go a long way to bring about genuine union among the peoples of the world, and to establish real peace.