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Journey to Taif

By Erica Berry,2014-02-05 08:50
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Journey to Taif

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    م:سو ه(:ع لا ى:ص يبن,ا ةر(س

    The

    Prophet's Biography

    May Allah exalt his Mention

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Copyright ?

    This book has been adapted from The Biography of the Prophet

    This book is not copyrighted. Any or all parts of this book may be used for educational purposes as long as the information used is not in any way quoted out of context or used for profit.

    This material has been reviewed and forwarded for publishing and distribution by the English language section of the Department of Islamic Resources.

    Form #: 4606 Date: 14/01/1427

    If you have any corrections, comments, or questions about this publication, please feel free to contact us at:

    en@islamhouse.com

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    Pre-Prophethood

    Religious Conditions

    Great religions of the world had spread the light of faith, morality and learning in the ages past. However, by the sixth century AD, so completely were their scriptures and teachings distorted that had the founder or the Prophet of any one of them returned to Earth, he would

    unquestionably have refused his own religion and denounced its followers as apostates and idolaters. Judaism had, by then, been reduced to an amalgam of dead rituals and sacraments without any spark of life left in it. Also, being a religion upholding a strong racial identity, it never had a message for other nations or for the good of the humanity at large.

    Through mysticism and magic many polytheistic ideas and customs again found their way among the people, and the Talmud confirms the fact that idolatrous worship is seductive. The Babylonian Gemara (popular during the sixth century and often even preferred to Torah by the orthodox Jews) illustrates the state of the sixth century Jews' intellectual and religious understanding. It contains jocular and imprudent remarks about God and many absurd and outrageous beliefs and ideas, which lack not only sensibility but also inconsistency with the Jewish faith in monotheism.

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    Christianity had fallen prey, in its very infancy, to the misguided fervor of its overzealous evangelists, unwarranted interpretation of its tenets by ignorant church fathers and iconolatry of its gentile converts to Christianity. The doctrine of Trinity, which came to have the first claim to the Christian dogma by the close of the fourth century, has been thus described in the New Catholic Encyclopedia.

    "It is difficult, in the second half of the 20th century to offer a clear, objective, and straightforward account of the revelation, doctrinal evolution, and theological elaboration of the mystery of the Trinity. Trinitarian discussion, as envisioned by Roman Catholics as well as other sectors, presents a somewhat unsteady silhouette. Two things have happened. There is an arrangement on the part of the exegetes and Biblical theologians, including a constantly growing number of Roman Catholics that one should not speak of Trinitarianism in the New Testament without serious qualification. There is also the closely parallel agreement on the part of the historians of the Trinitarian dogma and systematic theologians that when one does speak of an unqualified Trinitarianism, one has moved from the period of Christian origins to, say, the last quadrant of the 4th century. It was only then that what might be called the definitive Trinitarian dogma 'one God in three persons'

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    became thoroughly assimilated into Christian life and thought."

    Tracing the origin of pagan customs, rites, festivals and religious services of the pagans in Christianity, another historian of the Christian church gives a graphic account of the persistent endeavor of early Christians to ape the idolatrous nations. Rev. James Houston Baxter, Professor of Ecclesiastical History in the University of St. Andrews writes in The History of Christianity in the Light of Modern Knowledge:

    "If paganism had been destroyed, it was less through annihilation than through absorption. Almost all that was pagan was carried over to survive under a Christian name. Deprived of demi-gods and heroes, men easily and half-consciously invested a local martyr with their attributes and labeled the local statue with his name, transferring to him the cult and mythology associated with the pagan deity. Before the century was over, the martyr cult was universal, and a beginning had been made of that imposition of a deified human being between God and man which, on the one hand, had been the consequence of Arianism, and was, on the other, the origin of so much that is typical of medieval piety and practice. Pagan festivals were adopted and renamed: by 400, Christmas Day, the ancient festival of the sun, was transformed into the birthday of Jesus."

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    By the time sixth century reared its head, the antagonism between Christians of Syria, Iraq and Egypt on the question of human and divine natures of Christ had set them at one another's throat. The conflict had virtually turned every Christian seminary, church and home into a hostile camp, each condemning and berating the other and thirsting after its adversary's blood. Men debated with fury upon shadows or shades of belief and staked their lives on the most immaterial issues, as if these differences meant a confrontation between two antagonistic religions or nations. The Christians were, thus, neither inclined nor had time to settle matters in proper their perspective and smother the ever-increasing viciousness in the world for the salvation of humanity.

    In Iran, from the earliest times, the Magi worshipped four elements (of which fire was the chief object of devotion) in the oratories or fire temples for which they had evolved a whole mass of intricate rituals and commandments. In actual practice, the popular religion included nothing save the worship of fire and adoration of Huare-Kishaeta or the Shining Sun. Certain rituals performed in a place of worship were all that their religion demanded, for, after which they are free to live as they desired. There was nothing to distinguish a Magi from an unconscientious, perfidious fellow!

    Arthur Christiensen writes in L'Iran les Sassanides:

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    "It was incumbent on the civil servants to offer prayers four times a day to the sun besides fire and water. Separate hymns were prescribed for rising and going to sleep, taking a bath, putting on the sacred cord, eating and drinking, sniffing, hair dressing, cutting of the nails, excrement and lighting the candle which were to be recited on each occasion with the greatest care. It was the duty of the priests to compound, purify and tend the sacred fire, which was never to be extinguished, nor water was ever allowed to touch fire. No metal was allowed to rust, for metals, too, were revered by their religion."

    All prayers were performed facing the sacred fire. The last Iranian Emperor, Yazdagird III, once took an oath, saying: "I swear by the sun, which is the greatest of all gods". He had ordered those who had renounced

    Christianity to reenter their original faith and should publicly worship the sun in order to prove their sincerity. The principle of dualism, the two rival spirits of good and evil, had been upheld by the Iranians for such a long time that it had become a mark and symbol of their national creed. They believed that Ormuzd creates everything good, and Ahriman creates all that is bad. These two are perpetually at war and the one or the other gains the upper hand alternately. The Zoroastrian legends described by the historians of religion bear remarkable

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    resemblance to the hierarchy of gods and goddesses and the fabulousness of Hindu and Greek mythology. Buddhism, extending from India to Central Asia, had been converted into an idolatrous faith. Wherever the Buddhists went they took the idols (of the Buddha with them) and installed them there. Although the entire religious and cultural life of the Buddhists is overshadowed by idolatry, the students of religion have grave doubts whether Buddha was a nihilist or a believed in the existence of God. They are surprised how this religion could at all sustain itself in the absence of any faith or conviction in the primal being.

    In the sixth century A.D., Hinduism had exceeded every other religion in the number of gods and goddesses. During this period, 33 million gods were worshipped by the Hindus. The tendency to regard everything which could do harm or good as an object of personal devotion was at its height and this had given a great

    encouragement to stone sculpture with novel motifs of decorative ornamentation.

    Describing the religious condition of India during the reign of Harsha (606-648), a little before the time when Islam made its debut in Arabia, a Hindu historian, C. V. Vaidya, writes in his History of Mediaeval Hindu India. "Both Hinduism and Buddhism were equally idolatrous at this time. If anything, Buddhism perhaps beat the

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    former in its intense idolatry. That religion started, indeed, with the denial of God, but concluded by making Buddha himself as the Supreme God. Later developments of Buddhism conceptualized other gods like the Bodhisatvas and the idolatry of Buddhism, especially in the Mahayana school was firmly established. It flourished in and out of India so much that the word for an idol in the Arabic has come to be Buddha itself."

    C. V. Vaidya further says:

    "No doubt idolatry was at this time rampant all over the world. From the Atlantic to the Pacific the world was immersed in idolatry; Christianity, Semitism, Hinduism and Buddhism vying, so to speak, one with another in their adoration of idols." (History of Ancient India,Vol. I,

    p.101)

    The Arabs had been the followers of Abrahamic religion in the olden times and had the distinction of having the first House of God in their land. But the distance of time from the great patriarchs and Prophets of yore and their isolation in the arid deserts of the peninsula had given rise to an abominable idolatry. Such adoration closely approximated to the Hindus' zeal for idol-worship in the sixth century A. D. In associating partners to God they were not behind any other polytheistic people. Having faith in the companionship of lesser gods with the Supreme Being in the direction and governance of the universe, they held the belief that their deities possessed

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    the power to do them good or harm, or give them life or death.

    Idolatry in Arabia had reached its peak, where every region and every clan or rather every house had a separate deity of its own. Three hundred and sixty idols had been installed within the Ka'ba and its courtyard - the house built by Abraham ('alaihi salaam) for the worship of the One and only God. The Arabs actually paid divine honors not merely to sculptured idols but venerated all types of stones and fetish---angels, jinn and stars were all their deities. They believed that the angels were daughters of God and the jinn His partners in divinity and thus both enjoyed supernatural powers whose mollification was essential for their well-being.

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