By Imam Ibrahim Oladejo Raji
IN the Name of Allah, the Entirely-Merciful, The Especially-Merciful. May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon the Noble Prophet, who had prophesied many centuries ago in one of his sayings that: “(The teachings of) Islam (initially) started as a strange entity and would (once again) revert back to its early status as a strange thing just like how it started. Blessed are those who maintain their standing as strangers; (those who refused to change with the change of things)”. Before we move further in this discussion, let us have a look at the following reoccurring questions: Firstly, was Islam an innovation, as was initially branded by the Arabian tribes who happened to be the pioneer addressees of its message? Secondly, did Islam spread under the influence of the sword as some, especially in the Western world, till today perceive it to be? And thirdly, does Islam condone violence, intolerance and terrorism, as it is seen by yet others today? First and foremost, Islam is a continuation of a long existing divine system on the earth, which was revived though, in an entirely new environment, that is, Arabian Peninsula, inhabited by unlettered nomadic tribes. It came as a moderator to curb the excesses of the tyrants among them, restore all the virtues of the ancient time, as well as protect the interests of the less-privileged ones, grant equal rights to all and sundry, in order to make the surface of the land habitable for them and by extension for the mankind at large. On top of that, Islam came to liberate mankind from worshipping the creatures, and to guide them towards worshipping only the creator, Allah the Lord of the world. Going back to the early history of Islam, the Arabian Desert dwellers, from among whom the Prophet of Islam emerged, were popularly known to be idolaters, though they did not see themselves as such. They were so proud of being a very religious people, to the extent of boasting that, they were the custodians of the ancient religion of their ancestors, who in turn inherited the faith of Ibrahim (Abraham) (AS); the renowned Messenger of Allah, who was ordered, alongside his son Ismael, to build the Ka’bah in Mecca and keep it properly maintained as a place of worship for the coming generations. This fact was corroborated by the Qur’an thus: “And we commanded Ibrahim and Ismael that they should purify My House for those who will circumambulate it, or (briefly) stay (there in) for (I’tikaf), or bowing or prostrating themselves (there in prayer). Q: 2: 125. But as time went by, the Meccans, long after Prophet Ibrahim distorted his religion, turned away from monotheism and adopted polytheism hence, filled up the holy sanctuary with all sorts of idols which they carved with their own hands and worshipped them assiduously. Despite that, they still had the belief that they were godly, the idols they were worshipping were merely intermediaries between them and God, The Supreme Being whom they affirmed was the creator of the heavens and the earth. The Holy Qur’an did confirm the level of their belief thus: “If you (Muhammad) were to ask them (the idolaters):“Who has created the heavens and the earth and subjected the sun and the moon? “They will surely reply: “Allah.” How then are they deviating (as polytheists and disbelievers)? Quran.29:61. Meanwhile, the core message of Islam, which was the same as all the messages delivered by the previous Messengers, was vehemently opposed by these people. “LAA ILAAHA ILLA LLAH”.(Meaning there is no deity worthy of worship save Allah). It sounded so odd to them that their immediate reaction was: has He (Muhammad) made the aliha (gods) (all) into (only) one Ilah(God)? Verily, this is a thing (very) unfamiliar!” Quran 35:5. One aspect here, on which light must be shed is that, in the Islamic point of view, merely proclaiming that God exists is not enough to call such person a believer as most people, including some Muslims assume. Otherwise the infidels of the Arabian Peninsula in those days, had an unshakable belief that God did exist, but what they found difficult to comprehend then, was the idea of unification of the worship, otherwise known as monotheism reintroduced by Muhammad (SAW). Many people today go about with hollow beliefs, assuming they are Muslims simply because they believe that God exists. But they can easily dole out their worship, which is the exclusive right of The Lord The Creator, to anything worship-able. A true believer is expected to be in possession of a creed that will guide him to absolutely obey Allah by carrying out His commandments as much as he can, refrain from His prohibitions, and worship Him alone in accordance to the teachings of His Prophet (SAW). That is the practical aspect of LAA ILAAHA ILLA ALLAH. Allah says: “And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him Alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him), and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) and give Zakat; and that is the right religion”. Quran 98:5. As for those who claimed that Muhammad used force to spread Islam, let us examine the way they portrayed the action of the Prophet (SAW) in doing that. They claimed that he carried a sword in one of his hands and the Qur`an in the other one and threatened whoever came his way thus: ‘you either accept this i.e. the Qur’an or else you get yourself beheaded.’ We need to tell the world that such ‘misinformation’ is falsehood in its entire ramifications. Firstly, the compilation of the Qur’an in form of a book did not take place during the lifetime of the Prophet (SAW). Though, parts of it were written on the skins and flat bones of animals, etc, for individual references, while the whole book was committed to memory by the Prophet and some of his companions, as is the case today. Even the first compilation that took place during the reign of Abu Baker, the first Caliph (successor) was so voluminous, because of the available materials then for recording that the whole book could fill up a small room. The copies of the Qur’an that are handy enough to be carried about did not surface until after the invention of printing machines. And that was long after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). From where then, did they find the copy of the Qur’an they claimed Muhammad carried and used to terrorise people? That imaginary copy of the Qur’an exists only, in the filth imagination of the fabricators of such misleading story. As for the sword, the simple answer to that is: in Islam any action performed under duress is considered invalid. In other words, any good or evil deed you are lured or forced to perform will never be recorded for you or against you. One of the core teachings of Islam is that for you to deserve a reward or punishment for any good or evil deed, no matter how huge or minute, it has to be done out of conviction and should be preceded by intention. Allah says: “There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the right path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghut (false gods) and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower”. Quan 2: 256. Another question that might arise here is: “If there is no compulsion in religion, why did Islam introduce Jihad”? In response to that, we say: had it been that Islam was designed to be spread by the sword; that would have been the integral part of the Da’wah (preaching) right from the onset. But throughout the first decade of the Prophetic mission in Arabia, no mention of any war was recorded in Islamic history, despite all the various persecutions meted out to the Prophet and his early followers for thirteen good years, in the holy city of Mecca.