“And remember the Favour of Allaah towards you when you were enemies to one another, then He put love into your hearts then by His blessing you became brothers and you were on the brink of the pit of fire; then He rescued you therefrom.”
(Chapter 3, Section11)
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) had before him a people who had for centuries been immersed in gross fetishism and idolatry. Their social and moral laws were simply those of savages and they were involved in the basest vices and the grossest immoralities. A superhuman power was required to reform them for two of the most powerful religions (i.e Judaism and Christianity) of the world had already tried their lot and signally failed in converting Arabia. They made stupendous exertions for the purpose and had even the authority of governments at their back. The idolatry and lawlessness of Arabia had thus stood proof against every attempt at reform. All possible means had been tried. Never was reform so hopeless in the case of any other nation of the earth. And the Arabs retained the strong conservatism in spite of the fact that their religious beliefs and their laws were so low when compared with those of the people who sought to reform them. To any one who might stand up to reform this stubborn people, the previous history of Arabia and of the reform movements was a sufficient warning to refrain from the task. Even Sir William Muir has admitted all this in plain words. He says: -
“During the youth of Muhammad, the aspect of the Peninsula was strongly conservative; Causes are sometimes conjured up to account for results produced by an agent apparently inadequate to affect them. Muhammad arose, and forthwith the Arabs were aroused to a new and a spiritual faith; hence the conclusion that Arabia was fermenting for the change and prepared to adopt it. To us, calmly reviewing the past, pre-Islamic history belies the assumption. After five centuries of Christian evangelization, we can point to but a sprinkling here and there of Christian converts; the Bani Harith of Najran, the Bani Hanifa of Yemama; some of Bani Tay at Tayma and hardly any more. Judaism vastly more powerful, had exhibited spasmodic efforts at proselytism, but as an active and converting agent, the Jewish faith was no longer operative. In fact, viewed on a religious aspect, the surface of Arabia had been, now and then, gently rippled by the feeble efforts of Christianity; the sterner influence of Judaism and had been occasionally visible in a deeper and more troubled current; but the tide of indigenous idolatry and Ishmaelite superstition, setting strongly from every quarter towards the Ka’aba, gave ample evidence that faith and worship of Mecca held the Arab’s mind in a rigorous and undisputed thraldom.”
On another occasion, the same writer remarks: -
“The prospects of Arabia before the rise of Muhammad were as unfavourable to religious reform as they were to political union or national regeneration. The foundation of Arab faith was a deep-rooted idolatry, which for centuries had stood proof, with no palpable symptom of decay, against every attempt at evangelization from Egypt and Syria.”
It is, therefore, an incontestable fact, and it is admitted even by hostile writers, that not only no circumstances had arisen in Arabia which should have brought about a change in the condition of Arabia, but the circumstances had actually arisen which had made reform more improbable than ever, nay, had made it impossible for more mortal efforts to bring it about.
Now mark the wonderful transformation which, in the words of famous historian Bosworth Smith, is
“the most complete, the most sudden and the most extraordinary revolution”,
which the world has ever seen. The deep-rooted idolatry of the Arab gave place to a firm faith in the Unity of God. The low fetishism suddenly changed into noble Divine worship. The base and beastly qualities were transformed into sublime virtues. None can describe the most wonderful transformation thus wrought in more fitting words than those which the Holy Qur’aan has adopted in the verse heading this page. A period of 23 years elapses, and all of a sudden the whole scene is so entirely changed that one cannot recognise in the newly arisen nation the lawless Arabs of pre-Islamic times. The fire of enmity which had burned for centuries among individuals and tribes was extinguished all at once, and all traces of it were so entirely blotted out as if it had never existed. The tribes that had lived at constant warfare with one another were now united in one body and the whole nation seemed as an organised whole, the parts of which had never been separate or loose. This wonderful union among the unruly and never yielding spirits of Arabia is without a parallel in the history of the world.
The change in beliefs is not less important and less magnificent. Those who not only worshipped idols and attributed Divine powers to the heavenly bodies and elements of nature, but had, with the blind superstition of a savage, bowed in worship even before animals, trees, strewn stones and heaps of sand, were not only brought to a realisation of the doctrine of Divine Unity, but also to the highest and the most sublime conception of the Divine Being and Divine Attributes. Those who prostrated themselves before their idols at the time of every need and considered them as endowed with all powers, recognized now the highest principle of Divine Unity which denied the attribution of any power to anything besides Allaah. (To be continued).
(For Milad & Miraj Shareef) San Juan Dated the 8th, September, 1939.