A Diamond in a Heap of Stones

Understanding Islam – Abul Al\’a Maududi



In such a Dark Age and in such a benighted country a man is born. In his very childhood his parents die and, a few years later, the sad demise of his grandfather also occurs. Consequently, he is deprived even of that scant training and upbringing which an Arab child of his time could get. In his boyhood he tends the flock of sheep and goats in the company of Bedouin boys. When of age, he takes to commerce. All his association and all his dealings are with the Arabs alone condition has just been described. Education has not even touched him; he is completely unlettered and unschooled. He never gets a chance to sit in the company of learned of learned man, for such men were totally nonexistent in Arabia.

He does have a few opportunities to go out of his country, but those journeys are confined to Syria and are nothing more than the usual business trips undertaken by Arab trade caravans. If he men there or has the occasion to observe any aspects of culture and civilization, those random meeting and stray observations cannot be given any place in the making of his personality. For such things can never have that profound influence on anyone which may lift him to tally out of his environment transform him completely and raise him to such heights of originality and glory that there remains no affinity between him and society he is born.

Nor can they be the means of the acquisition of that profound and vast knowledge which may transform an unlettered Bedouin into a leader not only of his own country and age but of the world at large and of all ages to come. Indeed, whatever the measure of the intellectual and cultural influence of those journeys one might suppose the fact remains that they could in no case impart to him those conception and principles of religion, ethics, culture, and Civilization which were totally nonexistent in world of those days, and they could in no way create that sublime and perfect pattern of human character which was nowhere to be found in those days. 


We may now look at the life and work of this noble man in the context not only of the Arabian society but also of the entire world as it stood in that period. He is totally different form the people among whom he is born and with whom he passes his youth and early manhood, attaining finally his full stature. He never tells a lie. His whole nation is unanimous in testifying to his truthfulness. Even his worst enemies never accuse him of telling a lie on any occasion whatsoever during his entire life. He talks politely and uses obscene and abusive language. He has a charming personality and winsome manners with him.  In his dealings with the people, he always follows the principles of justice and fair play.

He remains in trade and commerce for years, but he never enters into any dishonest transaction. Those who deal with him in business have full confidence in his integrity. The entire nation calls him \”Al-Ameen\” (the Truthful and the Trustworthy). Even his enemies deposit their costly belongings with him for safe custody and he scrupulously fulfils their trust. He is the very embodiment of midst of a society which is immodest to the core. Born and bred among a people who regard drunkenness and gambling as virtues, he never touches alcohol and never indulges in gambling. His people are uncouth, uncultured, and unclean, but he personifies in himself the highest culture and the most refined aesthetic outlook. Surrounded on all sides by heartless people, he himself has a heart overflowing with the milk of human kindness. He helps the orphans and widows. He is hospitable to travelers.

He harms no one; rather, he goes all out to suffer hardships for others’ sake. Living among those for whom war is bread and butter, he is such a lover of peace that his heart melts for them when they take up arms and cut each other’s throats. He keeps aloof form the feuds of his tribe and is foremost in bringing about reconciliation. Bred up in an idolatrous race, he is so clear-minded and possesses such a pure soul that he regards nothing in the heavens and the earth worth worshipping except the One True God. He does not bow before any created thing and dose not partake of the offerings made to idols, even in his childhood. Instinctively he hates all kinds of worship of all creatures and beings besides God. In brief, the towering and radiant personality of this man in the midst of such a benighted and dark environment, may be likened to a beacon-light illumining a pitch-dark night or to a diamond shining in a heap of dead stones. 


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