Charters of Human Equality

Charters of Human Equality (Malik Saifur Rahman) In the 4th year of Hijra, the Holy Prophet gave a signed guarantee of protection to the monks, priests and Christians of St. Catherine’s Churchnear Mount Sinai. In this guarantee the Prophet laid down: “It is the duty of Muslims to safeguard the Christian churches, monastries and their holy places against trespass by the enemy and to protect the Christians fully from all harm and injury. They should not be unduly taxed, nor should they be forced to quit. No Christian Monk should be expelled from his monastry, nor should any pilgrim be stopped from visiting any holy place. No Christian church should be razed to the ground or occupied to provide accommodation for Muslims or their mosques. “It is the duty of the Muslims to give unqualified and unconditional help to the Christians in the construction of their churches and shrines, and in any other religious matter in which they need help”. Then addressing the Muslims, the Prophet said: “Do not think that by doing the things mentioned in the guarantee, you participate in promoting their religion, because the real intent of this order is to remove any difficulty which they feel, and submission to these orders is in reality the submission to the orders of the Prophet of God which he has issued under Divine Command”. He further advised the Muslims: “Even in time of war, in fact when the Muslims are actually engaged in fighting against the Christians, do not harbour feelings of hatred and enmity against a Christian who lives among you. If any Muslim shows such behaviour towards a Christian, he will be considered an aggressor and a rebel”. The Holy Prophet further declared: “If any Muslim is guilty of violating any of the above given orders, he will be denounced as one who has broken the Divine Covenant, has violated CHARTERS OF HUMAN EQUALITY 39 His express injunctions and who has humiliated and shamed the religion of Islam”. Quoting this guarantee, a famous European historian and orientalist declares it to be a great Charter of “Human Equality and Freedom” and a “document of Human brotherhood which establishes the greatness of the guarantor”. The sermon which the Prophet gave at the time of the last Pilgrimage to Mecca is a Masterpiece of Human Equality and Brotherhood, he said: “O Men! Your Maker is One; you are the sons and daughters of one •father, therefore no attempt at dividing you into high and low is acceptable; No Arab has any superiority to a non-Arab nor has a non-Arab any superiority to an Arab; neither the Whites are superior to the Blacks nor are the Blacks superior to the Whites. The only mark of excellence is the fear of God and an individual’s personal virtue and piety. Under an Islamic State race and colour have no distinction”. Continuing the Prophet said: “As you respect this day; this month and this land of pilgrimage, so shall you respect the life, property and honour of every human being, which, under the law, are as sacred and inviolable”. It is not surprising that after such a declaration of human equality and brotherhood the Muslims were welcomed with open arms wherever they went and conquered more than half of the known world in a span of a few years. Needless to say that it was not a triumph of superior Muslim arms, but a victory of a superior law which appealed to the heart and won it. Things which bring Peace Endeavour to do the will of another rather than your own. Ever choose rather to have less than more. Always seek the lowest place, and to be inferior to every one. Always wish and pray that the will of God may be wholly fulfilled in yourself. (The Imitation of Christ) 40 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS as a result of his commiting any fault, then God promises to forgive it. If man again and again intentionally falls a victim to sin then God’s grace is withdrawn and He ignores such a hardened sinner who repents but makes no amends. The Holy Quran makes prayer as the master-key for opening the door of salvation from the worldly troubles. God has suggested a scheme of work by the adoption of which a person can make himself sin-proof. “And when My servants ask thee about Me, say ‘I am near. I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to me. So they should hearken to Me and believe in Me that they may follow the right way.'” (2:187). It is not only the prayer that fortifies man from the dangers of evil but Islam tells us of yet another important thing by which the evils could be warded off. It is the fear of God that can keep oneself safe from sin. For the Holy Quran says: “O ye who believe! If you fear Allah, He will grant you a distinction and will remove your evils from you and will forgive you; and Allah is Lord of great bounty.” (8:30). Once the state comes when the sins have been forgiven by God there follows another distinctive thing in its trail. For the Holy Quran says: “He removes from them their sins and improves their condition.” (47:3). Thus prayer and fear of God help to rescue the individual from being the victim of sins. They also act in a way as to improve his condition spiritually. Once he starts moving up in the spirit of a resurrected person after having received the Divine mercy and salvation God bestows his gifts and favours on him. The reward is unending and everlasting. He too receives the revelation of God and the door of Heaven is opened for the redeemed person. God says in the Holy Quran: “As for those who say, ‘Our Lord is Allah’, and then remain steadfast, the angels descend on them saying: ‘Fear ye not, nor grieve; but rejoice in the Garden that you were promised.'” (41:31). It should be noted that the Islamic teachings regarding the remission of sins are more easily acceptable as they can weigh well in the scale of reason and sense. No world saviour was ever sent onto this planet to save men from the task of saving themselves. The Islamic charter of salvation can stand the test of time and it alone gives a methodology which the human mind can grasp and accredit as harmonious with veritude. What is Islam? Islam literally means Peace, surrender of one’s Will; and to be in amity and concord. The significance of the name Islam is the attainment of a life of perfect peace and eternal happiness through complete surrender to the Will of God. The Quran — the Holy Book of the Muslims — interprets it to be the religion whose teachings are in consonance with human nature. Islam, as the Quran has stated (5:4), is the completion of the religion inaugurated by God in the beginning of the world, on His sending the Quran through the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him). As a child is taught his alphabet, so God taught the religion to the world gradually and little by little, by sending His prophets at different times and to different peoples. When the world reached that stage of understanding when it was ready for the final lesson, He sent the last and complete Book through the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him). This Book not only corrects the errors which had found their way into various religions, but preaches the truths which have not been preached before, on account of special circumstances of the society or the early stage of its development. At the same time it gathers together in itself the truths which were contained in any Divine revelation granted to any people for the guidance of men (The Quran 98:4). Lastly, it meets all the spiritual and moral requirements of an ever advancing humanity. This is Islam which is wrongly called Muhammadanism. According to Islam, the object of man’s life is its complete unfoldment. Islam does not support the idea that man is born in sin. It teaches that everyone has within him the seed of perfect development and it rests solely with a person himself to make or mar his fortune. We created man in the best make says the Holy Quran (95:5). The cardinal doctrine of Islam is the Unity of Godhead. There is none worthy of worship but the one and only God, and Muhammad is His Prophet. He is free from all defects, Holy and Transcendent. He is All Good, All Mercy and All Power. He has no partner. He neither begets nor is He begotten, because these are the traits of frail and weak humanity. Furthermore, Islam helps us to establish a permanent relationship with God and to realise Him during our earthly life as our Helper in all our affairs and undertakings. This Unity of God is the first and foremost pillar of Islam and every other belief hangs upon it. Islam requires belief in all the prophets, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Confucious and Zoroaster. We regard them all (and many more not mentioned here) as heavenly teachers born to reform and regenerate man and lead him to God. Adherents of some other religions may consider it an act of piety to use disrespectful words and heap abuse on the prophets of other religions, but if a Muslim were to show the slightest disrespect towards the founder of any other faith, he does so at the cost of his own faith. He has to utter the respectful benediction Alaihis-Salam (peace be on him) after mentioning the name of every prophet. Thus Islam establishes peace between all religions. The REVIEW of RELIGIONS The Review of Religions is the oldest magazine of its kind published in the English language in the Indo-Pakistan Sub-Continent. Its first issue was published in 1902 and it has been continuously published since. It bears the distinction that it was initiated under the direction of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah himself. During more than eighty-one years the message of Islam has been conveyed through this magazine to hundreds of readers and many fortunate persons have recognised the truth of Islam and accepted it through studying it. The articles published in it deal not only with the doctrines and teachings of Islam but also set forth a comparative appreciation of the teachings of other faiths. One of its outstanding features is the refutations of the criticism of Islamic teachings by orientalists and non-muslim scholars. It also presents solutions in the light of Islamic teachings of the problems with which the Islamic world is from time to time confronted. A study of this magazine is indispensable for the appreciation of the doctrines of the Ahmadiyya Movement and the teachings of its holy Founder. Printed by The Eastern Press Ltd, London and Reading Published by The Review of Religions, The London Mosque, 16Gressenhail Road, London, SW18 5QL