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The Biography of the Prophet

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  • The Biography of the Prophet


    ﻢﻠﺳﻭ ﻪﻴﻠﻋ ﷲﺍ ﻰﻠﺻ ﱯﻨﻟﺍ ﺓﲑﺳ



    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 pur-


    poses 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 Eng-


    lish language section of the Department of Islamic Resources.


    Form #: 4606


    Date: 14/01/1427



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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 apos-


    tates and idolaters.


    Judaism had, by then, been reduced to an amalgam of dead rituals and sacraments with-


    out 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 reli-


    gious understanding. It contains jocular and imprudent remarks about God and many ab-


    surd and outrageous beliefs and ideas, which lack not only sensibility but also inconsistency


    with the Jewish faith in monotheism.


    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 iconola-


    try 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 hap-


    pened. 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 close-


    ly 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' 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 persis-


    tent endeavor of early Christians to ape the idolatrous nations. Rev. James Houston Baxter,



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    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 absorp-


    tion. Almost all that was pagan was carried over to survive under a Christian name. De-


    prived 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."


    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 in-


    cluded 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:


    "It was incumbent on the civil servants to offer prayers four times a day to the sun be-


    sides 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



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    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 resemblance to the hierarchy of gods and god-


    desses 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 over-


    shadowed 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 be-


    fore 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 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 Budd-


    hism 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 Hin-


    dus' 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



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    with the Supreme Being in the direction and governance of the universe, they held the


    belief that their deities possessed 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 sculp-


    tured 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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    Social and Moral Conditions



    THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE


    Crushed under vexatious and burdensome taxes levied by the Byzantine Empire, the alle-


    giance to any alien ruler was considered by the populace as less oppressive than the rule of


    Byzantium. Insurrections and revolts had become such a common feature that in 532 A.D.,


    the public voiced its discontent most dramatically in Constantinople by the Nika (win or


    conquer) revolt which took a toll of 30,000 lives. The only diversion of the chiefs and nobles


    was to squeeze wealth, on different pretexts, from the harassed peasantry, and squander it


    on their pleasure and amusement. Their craze for merriment and revelry very often reached


    the depths of hideous savagery.


    The authors of Civilization, Past and Present have painted a lurid picture of the contradic-


    tory passions of the Byzantine society for religious experience as well as its love for sports


    and recreation marked by moral corruption.


    "Byzantine social life was marked by tremendous contrasts. The religious attitude was


    deeply ingrained in the popular mind. Asceticism and monasticism were widespread


    throughout the empire, and to an extraordinary degree even the most commonplace indi-


    vidual seemed to take a vital interest in the deepest theological discussions, while all the


    people were much affected by a religious mysticism in their daily life. But, in contrast, the


    same people were exceptionally fond of all types of amusements. The great Hippodrome,


    accommodating 80,000 wide eyed spectators, was the scene of hotly disputed chariot races


    which split the entire populace into rival factions of 'Blue' and ‘Green.’ The Byzantine people


    possessed both a love of beauty and a streak of cruelty and viciousness. Their sports were


    often bloody and sadistic, their tortures horrible, and their aristocratic lives were a mixture


    of luxury, intrigue, and studied vices.


    Egypt had vast resources of corn and shipping on which Constantinople largely depended


    for its prosperity, but the whole machinery of the imperial government in that province was


    directed to the sole purpose of squeezing profits from the ruled for the benefit of the rulers.


    In religious matters, too, the policy of suppressing the Jacobite heresy was pursued relen-


    tlessly. In short, Egypt was like a milking cow whose masters were only interested in sucking


    her milk without providing any fodder to her.


    Syria, another fair dominion of the Byzantine Empire, was always treated as a hunting


    ground for the imperiousness and expansionist policy of the imperial government. Syrians


    were treated as slaves, at the mercy of their master, for they could never pretend to have


    any claim to a kind or considerate behavior upon their rulers. The taxes levied upon them


    were so excessive in amount and so unjust in incidence that the Syrians had very often to


    sell their children for clearing the government dues. Unwarranted persecution, confiscation



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    of property, enslavement and impressed labor were some of the common features of the


    Byzantine rule. (Kurd 'Ali, Khutat Sham, Vol. i, p.101)



    THE PERSIAN EMPIRE


    Zoroastrianism is the oldest religion of Iran. Zarathushtra, the founder of Zoroastrianism,


    lived probably about 600-650 B.C. The Persian empire, after it had shaken off the Hellenistic


    influence, was larger in size and greater in wealth and splendor than the Eastern Roman or


    Byzantine empire. Ardashir I, the architect of Sasanian dynasty, laid the foundation of his


    kingdom by defeating Artabanus V in 224 A.D. In its heyday of glory the Sasanid Empire


    extended over Assyria, Khozistan, Media, Fars (Persia), Azarbaijan At-Tabaristan (Mazanda-


    ran), Saraksh, Marjan, Marv, Balkh (Bactria), Saghd (Sagdonia), Sijistan (Seastene), Hirat,


    Khurasan, Khwarizm (Khiva), Iraq and Yemen, and, for a time, had under its control the


    areas lying near the delta of the river Sind, Cutch, Kathiawar, Malwa and few other districts.


    Ctesiphon (Mada’in), the capital of the Sasanids, combined a number of cities on either


    banks of the Tigris. During the fifth century and thereafter the Sasanid empire was known


    for its magnificence and splendor, cultural refinement and the life of ease and rounds of


    pleasure enjoyed by its nobility.


    Zoroastrianism was founded, from the earliest times, on the concept of universal struggle


    between the ahuras and the daevas, the forces of the good and the evil. In the third century


    Mani appeared on the scene as a reformer of Zoroastrianism. Sapor I (240-271) at first


    embraced the precepts uttered by the innovator, remained faithful to them for ten years


    and then returned to Mazdaism. The Manichaeism was based on a most thorough going


    dualism of the two conflicting souls in man, one good and the other bad. In order, therefore,


    to get rid of the latter, preached Mani, one should practice strict asceticism and abstain


    from women. Mani spent a number of years in exile and returned to Iran after the accession


    of Bahram I to the throne, but was arrested, convicted of heresy, and beheaded. His con-


    verts must have remained faithful to his teachings, for we know that Manichaeism contin-


    ued to influence Iranian thought and society for a long time even after the death of Mani.


    (Iran ba 'Ahd-i-Sasaniyan, pp.233-269)


    Mazdak, the son of Baudad, was born at Nishapur in the fifth century. He also believed in


    the twin principle of light and darkness but in order to put down the vile emanating from


    darkness, he preached community of women and goods, which all men should share equal-


    ly, as they do water, fire and wind. Mazdakites soon gained enough influence, thanks to the


    support of Emperor Kavadh, to cause a communistic upheaval in the country. The rowdy


    element got liberty to take forcible possession of wives and property of other citizens. In an


    ancient manuscript known as Namah Tinsar the ravages done to the Iranian society by the


    application of the communistic version of Mazdaeism have been graphically depicted as


    under:



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    "Chastity and manners were cast to the dogs. They came to the fore who had neither no-


    bility nor character, nor acted uprightly, nor had any ancestral property; utterly indifferent


    to their families and the nation, they had no trade or calling; and being completely heartless


    they were ever willing to get into mischief, to mince the truth, vilify and malign others; for


    this was the only profession they knew for achieving wealth and fame."


    Arthur Christensen concludes in Iran under the Sasanids:


    "The result was that the peasants rose into revolt in many places, bandits started breaking


    into the houses of nobles to prey upon their property and to abduct their womenfolk. Gang-


    sters took over the possession of landed estates and gradually the agricultural holdings


    became depopulated since the new owners knew nothing about the cultivation of land."


    (Iran ba 'Ahd-i-Sasaniyan, p.477)


    Ancient Iran had always had a strange proclivity to subscribe to the extremist calls and


    radical movements, since; it has ever been under the influence of irreconcilable political and


    religious concepts. It has often been swinging as if by action and reaction, between Epicu-


    reanism and strict celibacy; and at others, either yielded passively to despotic feudalism and


    kingship and preposterous priesthood, or drifted to the other extreme of unruly and licen-


    tious communism; but has always missed that moderate, poised and even temper which is


    so vital for a heal Your and wholesome society.


    Towards the end of the Sasaniyan Empire during the sixth century, all civil and military


    power was concentrated in the hands of the Emperors who were alienated from the people


    by an impassable barrier. They regarded themselves as the descendants of celestial gods;


    Khosrau Parviz or Chosroes II had lavished upon himself this grandiose surname: "The Im-


    mortal Soul Among the Gods and Peerless God Among Human Beings; Glorious is whose


    name; Dawning with the Sunrise and Light of the Dark Eyed Night." (Iran ba 'Ahd-i-


    Sasaniyan, p.604)


    The entire wealth of the country and its resources belonged to the Emperor. The kings,


    grandees and nobles were obsessed with amassing wealth and treasure, costly gems and


    curios; were interested only in raising their own standard of living and luxuriating in mirth


    and merriment to an extent that it is now difficult for us to understand their craze for fun


    and festivity. He can alone visualize their dizzy rounds of riotous living who has studied the


    history, literature and poetry of the ancient Iran and is also well informed about the splen-


    dor of Ctesiphon, Aiwan-i-Kisra and Bahar-i-Kisra, tiara of the emperors, the awe striking


    court ceremonials, the number of queens and concubines, slaves, cooks and bearers, pet


    birds and beasts owned by the emperors and their trainers and all. The life of ease and


    comfort led by the kings and nobles of Persia can be judged from the way Yazdagird III fled


    from Ctesiphon after its capture by the Arabs. He had with him, during his flight, one thou-


    sand cooks, one thousand singers and musicians, and one thousand trainers of leopards and


    a thousand attendants of eagles besides innumerable parasites and hangers on but the


    Emperor still felt miserable for not having enough of them to enliven his drooping spirits.



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    The common people were, on the other hand, extremely poor and in great distress. The


    uncertainty of the tariff on which each man had to pay various taxes gave a pretext to the


    collectors of taxes for exorbitant exactions. Impressed labor, burdensome levies and con-


    scription in the army as footman, without the inducement of pay or any other reward, had


    compelled a large number of peasants to give up their fields and take refuge in the service


    of temples or monasteries. In their bloody wars with the Byzantines, which seemed to be


    never ending and without any interest or profit to the common man, the Persian kings had


    been plying their subjects as a cannon fodder.



    INDIA


    The remarkable achievement of the ancient India in the fields of mathematics, astronomy,


    medicine and philosophy had earned her a lasting fame, but the historians are agreed that


    the era of her social, moral and religious degradation commenced from the opening dec-


    ades of the sixth century. For shameless and revolting acts of sexual wantonness were con-


    secrated by religion, even the temples had degenerated into cesspools of corruption. Wom-


    en had lost their honor and respect in the society and so had the values attached to chastity.


    It was not unusual that the husband losing in a game of chance dealt out even his wife. The


    honor of the family, especially in higher classes claiming a noble descent, demanded that


    the widow should burn herself alive with the funeral pyre of her dead husband. The custom,


    upheld by society as the supreme act of fealty on the part of a widow to her late husband,


    was so deep-rooted that it could be completely suppressed only after the establishment of


    the British rule in India.


    India left behind her neighbors, or, rather every other country of the world, in evolving an


    inflexible and callously inhuman stratification of its society based on social inequality. This


    system which excluded the original inhabitants of the country as exteriors or outcasts, was


    formulated to ensure the superiority of conquering Aryans and was invested with an aura of


    divine origin by the Brahmins. It canalized every aspect of the people's daily life according to


    heredity and occupation of different classes and was backed by religious and social laws set


    forth by the religious teachers and legislators. Its comprehensive code of life was applicable


    to the entire society, dividing it into four distinct classes:


    (l) The Brahmins or priests enjoying the monopoly of performing religious rites;


    (2) The Kshatriyas of nobles and warriors supposed to govern the country; and,


    (3) The Vaisyas or merchants, peasants and artisans;


    (4) The Sudras or the non Aryan serfs meant to serve the first three castes.



    The Sudras or the dasas meaning slaves (forming a majority in the population), believed to


    have been born from the feet of Brahma, formed the most degraded class which had sunk



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