Understanding Islam – Abul Al\’a Maududi
After spending a great part of his life in such a chaste, pure, and civilized manner there comes a revolution in his being. He feels fed up with the darkness and ignorance massed around him. He wants to swim clear of the horrible sea of ignorance, corruption, immorality, idolatry, and disorder which surround him on all sides. He finds everything around him out of harmony with his soul. He retires to the hills, away from the hum and drum of habitations. He spends days and night in perfect seclusion and meditation. He fasts so that his soul and his heart may become purer and nobler still. He muses and ponders deep. He is in search of a light which might melt away the encompassing darkness. He wants to get hold of that power with which he might bring about the downfall of the corrupt and disorderly world of his day and lay the foundations of a new and better world.
Lo! A remarkable revolution comes over his person. All of a sudden, his heart is illuminated with the Divine light, giving him the power, he had yearned for. He comes out of the confinement of his cave, goes to the people, and addresses them in the following strain: \”The idols which you worship are a mere sham. Cease to worship them from now on ward. No mortal being, no star, no tree, no stone, no spirit, is worthy of human worship. Therefore, bow not you heads in worship before them. The entire universe with everything that it contains belongs to God Almighty alone. He alone is the Creator, the Nourisher, the Sustainer, and, consequently, the real Sovereign before Whom all should bow down and to whom all should pray and render obedience. Thus, worship Him along and obey only His commands. Loot and plunder, murder and rapine, injustice and cruelty-all the vices in which you indulge are crimes in the eyes of God. Leave your evil ways. He hates them all. Speak the truth. Be just. Do not kill anyone. Do not rob anyone. Take your lawful share. Give that is due to other in a just Manner. You are human beings, and all human beings are equal in the eyes of God. None is born with the slur of shame on his face, nor anyone has come into the world with the mantle of honor hung around his neck. He alone is high and honored who is God fearing and pious, true in words and deeds.
Distinctions of birth and glory of race are no criteria greatness and honor. One who fears God and dose good deeds is the noblest. One who fears God and does good deeds is the noblest of human beings. One who is shorn of love of God and is steeped in bad manners is doomed. There is an appointed day after your death when you shall have to appear before your Lord. You shall be called to account for all your deeds, good or bad, and you shall not be able then to hide anything. They whole record of life shall be an open book to Him. You fate shall be determined by your good or bad actions. In the court of the true Judge-the omniscient does not arise. You shall not be able to bribe Him. No consideration will be given to your pedigree or parentage.
True faith and good deeds alone will stand you in good stead at that time. He who will be fully equipped with them shall take his abode in the Heaven of eternal happiness; while one devoid of them shall be cast in the fire of Hell.\” This is the message with which he comes. The ignorant nation turns against him. Abuses and stones are showered at his august person. Every conceivable torture and cruelty is perpetrated on him. And this continues not for a day or two but uninterruptedly for thirteen long troublesome years. At last, he is exiled. But he is not given respite even there. He is tormented in various ways in his abode of refuge. The whole of Arabia is incited against him. He is persecuted and hounded down continuously for full eight years there. He suffers it all but does not budge an inch from the stand he has taken. He is resolute firm and inflexible in his purpose and stand.
WHY ALL THAT ENMITY?
One might inquire: how is it that his nation became his sworn enemy? Was there any dispute about gold and silver or other worldly possessions? Was it due to any blood feud? Did he ask for anything from them? No! The whole enmity was based on the fact that he had asked them to worship the One True God and to lead a life of righteousness, pity, and goodness. He had preached against idolatry and the worship of other beings besides God and had denounced their wrong ways of life. He had cut at the roots of priestcraft.
He had inveighed against all distinctions of high and low between human beings and had condemned the prejudices of clan and race as sheer ignorance; and he wanted to change the whole structure of society which had been handed down to them from time immemorial. In their turn, his countryman told him that the principles of his mission were hostile to their ancestral traditions and asked him either to up or to bear the worst consequences. One might ask: what nor did he suffer all those hardships? His nation offered to accept him as their king and to lay all the riches of the land at his feet if only he would leave preaching his religion and spreading his message. But he chose to refuse the tempting offers and to suffer for his cause, instead. Why? Was he to gain in any way if those people became pious and righteous? Why was it that he cared not a jot for riches and luxury, kingship and glory, and ease and plenty? Was he playing for some higher material gains so that these blessings sank into insignificance in comparison with them? Were those so tempting that he could elect to go through fire and sword and bear tortures of the soul and torments of the body with equanimity for years?
One has to ponder over it deeply to find an answer. Can anyone ever imagine a higher example of self-sacrifice, fellow-feeling, and kindheartedness towards his fellow-beings that a man may ruin his own happiness for the good of others, while those very people for whose betterment he is striving his utmost should stone him, no quarter even in his exile, and that, in this all, he should refuse to refrain from striving for their will-being? Can any insincere person undergo so much suffering for a false cause? Can any dishonest speculator and visionary exhibit such firmness and determination for his ideal as to stick to his guns to the very last and remain unruffled and unperturbed in the face of dangers and tortures of every conceivable description when a whole country rises up in arms against him?
This faith, this perseverance, and this resolution, with which he led his movement to ultimate success, is, therefore, an eloquent proof of the supreme truth of his cause. Had there been the slightest touch of doubt and uncertainty in his heart, he could never have been able to brave the storm which continued in all its fury for twenty-one long years. This is one side of the revolution wrought in his being. The other is even more wonderful and remarkable.
A CHANGED MAN AT FORTY-WHY?
For forty years he lived as an Arab among Arabs. In that long period, he was not known as a statesman, a preacher, or an orator. None had heard him imparting gems of wisdom and knowledge as he began to do hereafter. He was never seen discoursing upon the principles of metaphysics, ethics, law, politics, economics, and sociology. Not to speak of being a great general, he was not even known as an ordinary soldier. He had uttered no word about God, the Angels, the revealed Book, the early prophets, the bygone nations, the Day of Judgment, the Life after, Death, Hell and Heaven. No doubt he possessed an excellent character and charming manners and was highly cultured; yet there was nothing so deeply striking and so radically extraordinary in him which could make men expect something great and revolutionary from him in future.
He was known among his acquaintances as a sober, calm, gentle, law-abiding citizen of good nature. But when he came out of the cave with a new message he was completely transformed. When he began preaching his Message the whole of Arabia stood in awe and wonder and was bewitched by his wonderful eloquence and oratory. It was so impressive and captivating that his worst enemies were afraid of hearing it, lest it should penetrate deep into the recesses of their hearts or the very marrow of their beings and carry them off their feet and make them bid goodbye to their old religion and culture. It was so matchless that the whole legion of Arab poets, preachers, and orators of the highest caliber failed to bring forth its equivalent in beauty of language and splendor of diction when he threw the challenge to his opponents to put their heads together and produce even a single line like the one, he recited.