By Khwaja Mohammad Zubair
9 August 2012
Every living thing in this world has some basic characteristics, which distinguish it from others. This is as true of individuals as of groups of people and their religions and philosophers. It is, therefore, appropriate that we try to find out the distinctive characteristics of Islam and acquire correct knowledge about it. Firstly, it must be clearly understood that the religion of Islam was not given to us by any philosopher, legal expert, moralist, and psychologist, and conqueror, founder of a kingdom, politician or national leader.
It has come down to mankind from Almighty Allah, the Creator and Master of the universe, through His prophets or messengers. They were specially chosen by Him to receive His guidance in the form of Wahee (revelation) and pass it on to the mankind without adding to, or suppressing from it, any word according to their own wish. All of them taught only one religion which Allah calls Islam (meaning submission to Him).
The last of these messengers was Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). With him the teachings of Islam were finalised and the guidance completed. The first distinctive characteristic of Islam is its emphasis on correct basic faith, that is faith in Almighty Allah, as the One and Only Being, Who is the Creator, Sustainer and Master of the whole universe, Who alone is worthy of being worshipped and to Whom all of us have to return and account for our deeds done in this life.
This has been the prime teaching of all His messengers throughout the ages from Prophet Adam right up to the last Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). They never budged from teaching. The second point to note is that it is only Allah’s pleasure, which was the motive force behind all the efforts of His messengers to preach and spread His message for the benefit of men. It was this burning zeal that left no room in their hearts for any mundane benefits— pelf, power or honour. Nor did they in accomplishing their mission harboured any ill- will, rancour or feeling of enmity and revenge against anyone on a personal basis.
The journey to Taif, which Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) undertook to preach Islam, did not result in any conversion and he was maltreated and even severely stoned by the local people. But this did not dishearten him. Suffering all the humiliation patiently, he only prayed to His Creator for His help and mercy.
What is required on the part of Allah’s servants is sincere and whole-hearted efforts to spread His message and to establish His order. His rewards are for such efforts irrespective of their results. When or where will the efforts bear fruit or result in success is known to Him only. He, however, promised His faithful servants, the true believers, that their striving would sooner or later meet with success.
The third characteristic of Islam is that Allah’s messengers, the prophets, are duty bound to guard His guidance, His word, as received from Him. They will never allow any change or amendment in His Word or accept any compromise in connection with their mission.
After Taif had been subdued, a deputation of its influential tribe, Bani Thaqueef, having embraced Islam came to see the Holy Prophet. They requested that their idol named Laat, which was one of the most revered idols of the pagan Arabs, be left unharmed. The request was not granted. The idol and its temple were demolished. Thereafter, the whole tribe of Banu Thaqueef and then the whole population of Taif came into the fold of Islam.
As in the fundamental beliefs and principles of Islam, so also in the enforcement of Allah’s commandments in respect of individual and social life, the Holy Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) could not and did not adopt a compromising attitude. The same uncompromising attitude in respect of Deen is found during the Caliphates era.
This does not, however, mean that the messengers while preaching the faith, did not take into account the intellectual level of their people or that they did not accomplish their mission with understanding and prudence. Far from it; for Allah, the All-Knowing Himself advised them to keep these things in view. To His Last Messenger, He said: “Invite (them) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good exhortation and argue with them in (ways) that are the best...”— 16:125.
At another place in the holy Quran, Allah said: “It was with Allah’s mercy that you were lenient with them. Had you been stern and hard hearted, they would have broken away from you...”— 3.159
The Holy Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) also advised his companions to be soft spoken and kind to the people in preaching Islam. He would tell them that they had been raised (appointed) to facilitate matters, not to create difficulties.