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Mar 4, 2016, 10:38 AM | Article By: Alhaji Ousman M. Jah

It is this same democratic spirit of Islam that has emancipated women from the bondage of man. Sir Charles Edward Archibald Hamilton says, “Islam teaches the inherent sinlessness of man. It teaches that man and woman have come from the same essence, possess the same soul and have been equipped with equal capabilities for intellectual, spiritual and moral attainments.”


The Arabs had a very strong tradition that he alone can inherit who can smite with the spear and can wield the sword. But Islam came as the defender of the weaker sex and entitled women to share in the inheritance of their parents. It gave women centuries ago, the right of owing property. Yet it was only 12 centuries later, in 1881, that England supposed to be the cradle of democracy, adopted this institution if Islam and an Act was passed called “The Married Women’s Act”. But centuries earlier, the Prophet of Islam had proclaimed that “Women are the twin halves of men. The rights of women are sacred”. “See that women are maintained in the rights granted to them”.


Islam is not directly concerned with political and economic systems, but indirectly and in so far as political and economic affairs influence man’s conduct it does lay down some very important principles of economic life. According to Prof. Massignon. Islam maintains the balance between exaggerated opposites and has always in view the building of character which is the basis of civilization. This is secured by its law of inheritance; by an organized, and not an optional system of charity known as Zakat; and by regarding as illegal all anti-social practices in the economic field like monopoly, usury, securing of predetermined unearned incomes and increments concerning markets, hoarding and creating artificial scarcity of any commodity in order to force the price to rise. Gambling is illegal. Contributions to school, to places of worship, hospitals, digging of wells, opening of orphanages are the highest acts of virtue. Orphanages have sprung for the first time; it is said, under the teaching of the Prophet of Islam. The world owes its orphanages to this Prophet who was himself born an orphan. “Good all this” says Carlyle about Muhammad: “The natural voice of humanity, o piety and equity, dwelling in the heart of this wild son of nature speaks.”


A historian once said a great man should be judged by three tests:

Was he found to be of true mettle by his contemporaries?

Was he great enough to rise above the standards of his age?

Did he leave anything as a permanent legacy to the world at large?

This list may be further extended, but all these three tests of greatness are eminently satisfied to the highest degree in the case of Prophet Muhammad. Some illustrations of the last two have already been mentioned. We will now begin by considering the first of these questions.


Historical records show all contemporaries of Muhammad, both friends and foes, acknowledged the sterling qualities, the spotless honesty, the noble virtues, the absolute sincerity and the absolute trustworthiness of the apostle of Islam in all walks of life and in every sphere of human activity. Even the Jews, and those who did not believe in his message, accepted him as arbitrator in their personal disputes on account of his scrupulous impartiality. Even those who did not believe in his message were forced to say “O Muhammad we do not call u a liar,but we deny Him who has given you a Book and inspired you with a message.” They thought he was one possessed. They tried violence to cure him. But the best of them saw that a new light had dawned on him and they hastened to seek the enlightenment. It is a notable feature in the history of the Prophet of Islam that his nearest relation, his beloved cousin and his bosom friends, who knew him most intimately, were thoroughly imbued with the truth of his mission and convinced of the genuineness of his divine inspiration. “If these men and women, noble, intelligent and certainly not less educated than the fishermen of Gaillee, had perceived the slightest sign of worldliness, deception or want of faith in the Teacher himself, Muhammad’s hopes of moral regeneration and social reform, would all have been crumbled to dust in a moment.”(From “the spirit of Islam” by Sayed Ameer Ali)

On the contrary, we find that the devotion of his followers was such that he was voluntarily acknowledged leader of their lives. They braved, for his sake, persecutions and danger; they believed trusted, obeyed and honoured him even in the most excruciating torture and severest mental agony caused by excommunication even unto death. Would this have been so had they noticed the slightest backsliding in their leader?


Read the history of the early converts to Islam and every heart would melt at the sight of the brutal treatment of innocent men and women. Sumayya, an innocent woman, is cruelly torn into pieces by piercing through with spears. An example is made of Yasir, whose legs are tied to two camels and the beasts driven in opposite directions. Khabbab Bin Arth is made to lie down on a bed of burning coal with the brutal legs of the merciless tyrant on his breast so that he may not move, and this makes even the fat beneath his skin melt. Khabbab Bin Adi is put to death in a cruel manner by mutilation and cutting off his flesh piecemeal. In the midst of his tortures, when asked whether he wished Muhammad from the prick of a thorn. Scores of heart-rending incidents of this type may be narrated. But what do all these incidents show? Why was it that these sons and daughters of Islam not only surrendered to their Prophet their allegiance, but made a gift of their bodies, heart and souls? Is not the intense faith and conviction on the part of the immediate followers of Muhammad the noblest testimony to his sincerity and to his utter self-absorption in the task assigned to him?


And these men were not of low station or of an inferior mental caliber. Around him, in quite early days, gathered what was best and noblest in Makkah, its flower and cream, men of position, rank, wealth and culture and from his own kith and kin, those who knew the ins and outs of his life. All the first four Caliphs, with their towering personalities, were converts of this early period. The Encyclopedia Brittanica says that “Muhammad is the most successful of all Prophets and religious personalities.” But this success was not the result of mere accident. It was not a windfall. It was not a recognition of the fact that he was found to be of true mettle by his contemporaries. It was the result of his admirable and all-compelling personality.

To be continued.