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  • Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

The Revolutionary Role of Islam

The Revolutionary Role of Islam As a result of ignorance the evil known as the worship of natural phenomena was born in human society. Man attributed divinity to mere creatures. He began to worship all the things in the world, holding them to be gods. Owing to this intellectual aberration, idolatry became a rooted feature of human civilization. Not even the coming of thousands of Prophets and reformers could bring about any change in this state of affairs, in the practical sense. The rejection of the Prophets brought down on the deniers the chastisement of God, but shirk (idolatry) could never be wiped out from society. Then God took it upon Himself to intervene. One major manifestation of this divine intervention in human history was the emergence of Prophet Muhammad e. An American encyclopedia has very appropriately described his coming as having “changed the course of human history.”

French historian, Henri Pirenne, has expressed it thus: “Islam changed the face of the globe. The traditional order of history was overthrown.

The Quran, in defining the objective of the divine intervention, has this to say:

It is He that has sent forth His Prophet with guidance and the true faith, so that he may exalt it above all religions. God is the All-sufficient witness (48:28).

This has found expression in a Hadith recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari:

He will not depart from this world as God has decreed, unless and until these people are brought to the straight path. (Fathul Bari 449-8).

This shows that, for the prophets of the past, communication alone was required, whereas for Prophet Muhammad e, may peace be upon him, not just communication but also implementation was required.

The task of the earlier prophets was completed with the full communication of the message to the people. But the divine plan in sending Prophet Muhammad e, may peace be upon him, to the world was to bring about a practical revolution. His message could not, therefore, remain at the theoretical stage.

It being beyond human capacity to make the end result a certainty, how was the Prophet’s message to be translated into reality? It all became possible due to the special divine succor extended to the Prophet by God. This took the form of a divine plan which had two basic aspects to it: one, to provide the Prophet with a powerful and trustworthy team, and the other to significantly weaken the enemies of monotheism by means of a special strategy, so that the Prophet and his companions could easily dominate their opponents.

The first part of this divine plan was brought to completion in the form of the settlement of Ismail, son of Prophet Ibrahim, in the unpopulated desert of Arabia two thousand five hundred years ago. At that time it was a totally isolated place situated far from the centers of civilization. There a community was raised by Ismail ibn Ibrahim, trained in the desert atmosphere where there was nothing save nature. As a natural result of this unadulterated atmosphere, (free from all man-made pollution,) the human qualities of the inhabitants of the desert were fully preserved. It was like a vast natural training camp. It took more than two thousand years to evolve a nation of such high caliber as to be called a “nation of heroes” by a western scholar. In the history of the Arabs, this nation is known as the Ismailites. Despite religious perversion having set in, so distinguished were they in human values—

thanks to their particular training—that they had no peers among those who came before or after them.

Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, one of the distinguished members of the Banu Ismail, struggled for about thirteen years in Makkah and ten years in Madinah. Ultimately, more than one hundred thousand people believed in him and joined his mission. Each and every one of his companions possessed a strong and dependable character. In this way Prophet Muhammad e, may peace be upon him, in an exceptional way, secured a team by which he could bring the message of the prophets to fruition—taking the prophetic mission from the theoretical stage of ideology to the practical stage of revolution.

The next part of this divine plan consisted of weakening these anti-monotheism forces so considerably that the last Prophet might subjugate them and usher in the desired revolution in the very first generation itself. To achieve this end, the Arabian tribes remained engaged for a long period of time in bloody, internecine warfare. Consequently, when Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, was sent to the world, the idolatrous tribes of Arabia, having so weakened themselves, could not continue their resistance for long. This enabled

Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, to overcome Arabia and root out idolatry completely within a short period of time.

In those days there were two great empires outside of Arabia. These empires kept the major parts of Asia and Africa under their full control. Their power was so great that the Arabs could not even have dreamed of overcoming them. Despite this extremely out of proportion difference, how did it become possible for the Arabs of the very first generation, to conquer both these empires—the Sassanid and Roman—in such a decisive way as to crush them absolutely, resulting in the dominance of monotheism over idolatry throughout this region? This miracle became a reality owing to a special divine strategy, which is paralleled by the case of the Romans:

The Romans have been defeated in a neighboring land. But after their defeat they shall themselves gain victory within a few years. (Quran, 30:1-3)

History shows that from 602 to 628 A.D., extremely extraordinary events took place between these two great empires.

First, the royal families in the respective countries clashed internally with one another, and in consequence, many individuals of great political

worth were killed. In fact, these feuds gave a deathblow to these empires, shaking them to the very roots. Subsequently, certain factors led to the destructive collision of these empires with one another. First the armies of the Sassanid Empire crossed the border of the Roman Empire to attack it. Circumstances proved favorable and they succeeded to the extent that the Roman Emperor Heraclius decided to flee from his Palace in Constantinople. But again, events took a new turn. Heraclius regained his lost confidence and after making full preparations, attacked the Sassanid Empire, destroyed their armed forces and penetrated right into the heart of Jerusalem.

These civil wars, lasting for about twenty-five years, considerably weakened both these empires. Therefore, during the pious caliphate when the Arab forces entered the Roman and Sassanid empires, they managed to advance with great speed.

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