By Arab News
26 April 2013
Colonel Donald S. Rockwell was born in Illinois, United States. He completed his studies in universities of Washington and Columbia where he received many honorary degrees. He was a poet, literary critic as well as editorial director at Radio Personalities.
He gained the rank of colonel while participating in conscription during World War II, when the US fought against Germany and Japan. As a writer he wrote the book, “Beyond the Brim” and “Bazaar of Dreams.” Equality in Islam always attracted Donald. The rich and the poor have an equal right on the floor of the mosque, kneel in humble worship.
In his book, he wrote down his views on Islam and why he ultimately chose to embrace Islam.
THE simplicity of Islam, the powerful appeal and the compelling atmosphere of its mosques, the earnestness of its faithful followers, the confidence inspiring realization of millions throughout the world who answer the five daily calls to prayer, these factors attracted me from the first.
But after I had determined to become a follower of Islam, I found many deeper reasons for confirming my decision. The mellow concept of life — fruit of the combined course of action and contemplation, the wise counsel, the admonitions to charity and mercy of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
The broad humanitarianism, the pioneer declaration of women’s rights, these and other factors of the teachings of the man of Makkah, were to me among the first obvious evidence of a practical religion so tersely and so aptly epitomized in the cryptic words of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): ‘Trust in God and tie your camel.’ He gave us a religious system of normal action, not blind faith in the protection of an unseen force in spite of our own neglect, but confidence that if we do all things rightly and to the best of our ability, we may trust in what comes as the Will of God...
When I stood in the inspiring mosques of Istanbul, Damascus, Jerusalem, Cairo, Algiers, Tangier, Fez and other cities, I was conscious of a powerful reaction — the potent uplift of Islam’s simple appeal to the sense of higher things, unaided by elaborate trappings, ornamentation, figures, pictures, music and ceremonial ritual. The mosque is a place of quiet contemplation and self-effacement in the greater reality of the true God.
The democracy of Islam has always appealed to me. Potentate and pauper have the same rights on the floor of the mosque, on their knees in humble worship. There are no rented pews or special reserved seats.
The Muslim accepts no man as mediator between himself and his God. He goes direct to the invisible source of creation and life — Allah — without reliance on a saving formula of repentance of sins and belief in the power of a teacher to afford him salvation. The universal brotherhood of Islam, regardless of race, politics, color or country, has been brought home to me most keenly many times in my life, and this is another feature which drew me towards the Faith.
Medieval Islam was technologically advanced and open to innovation. It achieved far higher literacy rates than in contemporary Europe; it assimilated the legacy of classical Greek civilization to such a degree that many classical books are now known to us only through Arabic copies. It invented windmills, trigonometry, lateen sails and made major advances in metallurgy, mechanical and chemical engineering and irrigation methods. In the middle ages the flow of technology was overwhelmingly from Islam to Europe rather from Europe to Islam. Only after the 1500’s did the net direction of flow begin to reverse.
The baseless claim that Islam converted the peoples it had ‘conquered by force’ has also been refuted by prominent non-Muslims.