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Eighty Years Ago

THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 31 EIGHTY YEARS AGO (The following is an extract from the Review of Religions dated Feb. 1908) THE MISSION OF MESSIAH AND MAHDI In exact accordance with the teaching of Islam it is said of the latter days in the traditions of the Holy Prophet that when the Promised Messiah will make his appearance he shall bring the message of peace and put an end to wars; in other words, lehad or religious wars which shall be associated with the name ofIslam through the errors of the Mulla shall be declared by him to be illegal. The tradition which contains this prophecy is contained in the Sahih Bukharee, which is the most reliable of all collections of traditions. The words of the tradition are: This tradition contains the prophecy that in the latter days when blood will be shed under the cloak of religion and murderers will be called Ghazis, the Promised Messiah will make his appearance and declare in plain and emphatic words the illegality of such inhuman deeds and of fighting for the propagation of religion. No doubt can be entertained as to the correctness of this tradition, for it is a fact that our Holy Prophet did not undertake a single expedition to convert any tribe to Islam. His fights were all for the defence of Islam and the Muhammadans, being against people who had slain innocent Muhammadans and their children and wives. These were the people to punish whom the sword was resorted to, but leniency was shown even in their case, the extreme punishment being remitted when a person being convinced of the truth of Islam entered that religion. The reason of showing this leniency was that owing to severe hardship befalling those who accepted in those days, the acceptance of Islam was equivalent to the acceptance of death. Hence the person who openly accepted Islam chose a kind of death for himself, and his conversion was, therefore, regarded as equivalent to an execution of the sentence of death in a certain sense. In short, all such beliefs and ideas as that the Messiah and Mahdi will appear at any time to convert the non-Muslims to Islam with the sword are utterly absurd and false, and the Holy Quran is sufficient for their refutation. The religion which can show heavenly signs at all times and which is full of truth and wisdom does not stand in need of earthly weapons for its propagation. It carries on its fight with the shining signs from God and not 32 EIGHTY YEARS AGO with the sword. Had not the fanatics of Mecca taken up the sword to annihilate Islam, Almighty God would not have meted out to them a punishment with the sword. When, therefore, it is an established fact that our Holy Prophet, may peace and the blessing of God be upon him, did not fight to make converts by compulsion, but only after long and continued suffering took up th~ sword to defend himself and his companions against the evil designs of his enemies, it is quite incomprehensible how one of his successors can make it legal to convert people at the point of the sword. In taking such a course, the expected Mahdi or Messiah would not only be going against the teachings of the Founder of Islam, but would also show the spiritual weakness of his cause by inaking it dependent upon the sword. Nothing can be more absurd than to suppose that a matter to which the Holy Prophet did not resort, though he suffered the severest hardship, would become legal for the Mahdi and Messiah. AUTHORS AND ARTISTS The Children Book Committee which has been appointed by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih seeks the help of authors who have written or are able to write Islamic literature for children. The list of topics may be obtained on request. Any books already written may be submitted for consideration as well as any manuscripts. The help is also required of artists and designers who can prepare cover designs and illustrations. Please contact: Rashid Ahmad Chaudhary (Chairman), Children Book Committee, 16 Gressenhall Road, London. SWI8 5QL.