In an age of barbarism, the battlefield itself was humanized and strict instructions were issued not to embezzle, not to cheat, not to break trust, not to mutilate, not to kill a minor child or a woman or an old man, not to hew down a date palm nor burn it, not to cut down a fruit tree, not to molest monks and persons engaged in worship. His own treatment of his bitterest enemies was the noblest example for his followers. At the conquest of Makkah, he stood at the zenith of his power. The city which had tortured him and his followers, which had driven him and his people into exile and which had unrelentingly persecuted and boycotted him even when he had taken refuge in a place more than 200 miles away, that city now lay at his feet. By the laws of war he could have justly avenged all the cruelties inflicted on him and his people. But what treatment did he mete out to them? Muhammad’s heart overflowed with the milk of love and kindness as he declared. “This day, there is no reproof against you and you are all free.”
BITTEREST ENEMIES PARDONED
This was one of the chief objects why he permitted war in self-defense- to unite human beings. And when this object was achieved, even his worst enemies were pardoned. Even those who had killed his beloved uncle Hamza, mutilated his dead body had ripped it open and chewed a piece of his liver.
THEORY MERGED WITH PRACTICE
The principle of universal brotherhood and the doctrine of the equality of mankind which he proclaimed, represent Muhammad’s great contribution to the social uplift of humanity. All great religions have also preached the same doctrine, but the Prophet of Islam had put this theory into actual practice and its value will be fully recognized, perhaps some time hence, when international consciousness is awakened, racial prejudices disappear and a stronger concept of the brotherhood of humanity comes into existence.
PEASANT AND KING EQUAL BEFORE GOD
Sarojini Naidu, speaking about this aspect of Islam, says: “It was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy; for in the mosque when the Azaan (the Muslim call to prayer) is sounded and the worshippers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and king kneel side by side and proclaim, ‘God alone is great’.” The great poetess of India continues: “I have been struck over and over again by this indivisible unity of Islam that makes a man instinctively a brother. When you meet an Egyptian, an Algerian, an Indian and a Turk in London what matters is that Egypt is the motherland of one and India is the motherland of another.”
ISLAM CIVILISED SPAIN AND IS THE ANSWER TO TODAY’S SOCIAL DILEMMA
Mahatma Gandhi, in his inimitable style says: “Someone has said that Europeans in South Africa dread the advent of Islam-Islam, that civilized Spain; Islam that took the torch of light to Morocco; and preached to the world the Gospel of Brotherhood. The Europeans of South Africa dread the advent of Islam, as they claim equality with the white races. They may well dread it. If brotherhood is a sin, if it is equality of the coloured races that they dread, then their dread is well-founded.” Pilgrimage-Hajj a living testimony
Every year during the pilgrimage season, the world exhibition of Islam in leveling all distinctions of race, colour and rank. Not only do Europeans, Africans, Persians, Indians, Chinese all meet together in Makkah as members of one divine family but they are all clad in one dress, every person in two simple pieces of white seamless cloth, one piece round the loins and the other piece over the shoulders, bare-headed without pomp or ceremony repeating: “Here am I, O God; at Your command; You are One and the Only; Here am I.” Thus there remains nothing to differentiate the high from the low, and every pilgrim carries home the impression of the international significance of Islam. In the words of Prof. Hurgronje: “The League of Nations founded by the Prophet of Islam put the principle of international unity and human brotherhood on such universal foundations as to show the candle to other nations.” He continues: “The fact is that no nation of the world can show a parallel to what Islam has done towards the realization of the idea of a League of Nations.”
ISLAM-A BEACON TO A DRIFTING WORLD
The Prophet of Islam brought the reign of democracy in its best form. Caliph Umar, Caliph Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet, Caliph Mansur Abbas, the son of the Caliph Mamun, and many other caliphs and kings had to appear before the judge as ordinary men in Islamic courts. Even today we all know how the black Negroes are treated by the civilized white races. Consider the state of Bilal, a negro slave in the days of the Prophet of Islam nearly 14 centuries ago. The office of calling Muslims to prayer was considered to be a position of honour in the early days of Islam and it was offered to this negro slave. After the conquest of Makkah, the Prophet ordered him to call for prayer, and the negro slave with his black colour and his thick lips stood over the roof of the holy Ka’bah, the most historic and the holiest place in the Islamic world, when some proud Arabs painfully cried aloud: “Oh this black negro slave, woe to him. He stands on the roof of holy Ka’bah to call for prayer.” As if to answer this outburst smacking of pride and prejudice, both of which the Prophet of Islam aimed at eliminating, he delivered a sermon in which he said: “Allah is to be praised and thanked for ridding us of the vices and pride of the days of ignorance. O people! Note that all men are divided in two categories only: the pious and God-fearing who are estimable in Allah’s reckoning, and the transgressors and hard-hearted, who are lowly and contemptible in the eye of Allah. Otherwise all human beings are the progeny of Adam and Allah has created Adam of clay.” This was later approved and confirmed by the Qur’an in the following words: “O mankind! We (Allah) created you from a single (pair) of a male (Adam) and a female (Eve) and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.” (49:13)
The Prophet of Islam thus brought about such a mighty transformation that the noblest and purest among Arabs by birth offered their daughters in marriage to this negro slave, and whenever the second Caliph of Islam, known to history as Umar the Great the commander of the faithful, saw this negro slave, he immediately stood in reverence and welcomed him by exclaiming, “Here comes our master, here comes our lord”. What a tremendous change was brought by the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad in the Arabs, the proudest people at that time on earth. This is the reason why Goethe, the greatest of German poets, speaking about the Holy Qur’an declared that: “This book will go on exercising through all ages a most potent influence”. This is also the reason why George Bernard Shaw says: “If any religion has a chance of ruling over England, nay Europe within the next 100years, it is Islam.”
To be continued.