AN INQUIRY INTO THE MANNER IN WHICH ISLAM AT FIRST SPREAD IN ARABIA ITSELF AND IN THE NEIGHBOURING LANDS
From Ibn Hisham 1 and other biographers of Muhammad we learn that, when he arose as a Prophet in Mecca in his fortieth year, he at first adopted gentle means in order to spread his religion: He called it “the Religion of Abraham”, he identified his teaching with that of Zaid the Hanif, and he employed personal influence, persuasion, and argument in order to induce men to abandon idolatry and to return to the worship of God Most High (الله تعالىَ). His wife Khadijah was perhaps his first convert; the other seven who soon joined him were his slave Zaid 2 ibn Harithah, Abu Bakr, 'Uthman ibn 'Uffan, Zubair ibnu'l 'Awam, 'Abdu'r Rahman ibn 'Auf, Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas, and Talhah. Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham mention the names of a number of other early converts, including even the infant 'Ayishah. These were privately won over to Islam during the first three years of Muhammad's teaching. He then began to preach in public, under the protection of his uncle Abu Talib, who was not then converted. It is disputed whether he ever became a Muslim. Only sixteen converts took part in the first Hijrah to Abyssinia in the fifth year 3 of Muhammad's mission; but from time to time others followed them to the court of the Najashl, so that they finally amounted to eighty-three men, besides some women 4 and children. There is no proof that Muslim historians are right in saying that the Najashi himself became a Muslim, for Abyssinia is still a professedly Christian country. A little later we find some forty Muslims, 5 men and women, in Mecca. We are told that some twenty Christians from Najran heard the Qur'an read in the Ka'bah and believed. 6 But this story can scarcely be true; for, in the first place, Christians would hardly have entered the Ka'bah, then a heathen temple full of idols; and, in the second, they certainly did not find Muhammad described in their Book, as Ibn Hisham says.
At a conference with the chiefs of the Quraish, Muhammad endeavoured to win them to his side by assuring them that they would gain power and influence over both Arabia and Persia by accepting belief in God's Unity and by rejecting all other objects 7 of worship. Once before, after the departure of many of his followers to Abyssinia, he had made an effort for the same purpose by 8 speaking thus: “Have ye not then seen Allat and Al-'Uzza' and Manat, the other, the third? These are the exalted Swans, and verily their intercession may indeed be 9 hoped for.” The Quraish who were then in the Ka'bah thereupon joined with him in worship, and the news spread to the exiles in Abyssinia that the Meccans had all become Muslims. Most of them returned to find the report false, for Muhammad had soon changed the last part of the above quotation into the very different words which are now found in Suratu'n Najm (Surah liii), vers. 21, 22, 23.
Some men of the tribes of Aus and Khazraj dwelling at Yathrib, which is now called Medinah, visited Mecca, and there heard Muhammad preach. One of them was converted, but died soon after his return home. Yet the teaching spread there slowly. Six men then came to Muhammad and embraced 10 Islam. Soon “there was no house amid the houses of the Ansar in which there was no mention of 11 Muhammad”. At the first Agreement at Al 'Aqabah, twelve people from Medinah invited Muhammad to go there, and promised him their support. This Agreement bound these converts not to associate anything with God, not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to murder their children, not to slander, and not to rebel against Muhammad in what was seemly. Muhammad in return promised them Paradise, if they kept their 12 covenant with him. In after times this was called the “Women's Agreement”, because no fighting was involved in it. Mus'ab ibn 'Umair was sent to Medinah with the converts in order to teach them the rules of worship. He soon made several more converts, including two powerful chiefs, Sa'd ibn Mu'adh and Usaid ibn Huzair. Next year Mus'ab returned to Mecca with seventy-three Muslim men and two Muslim women 13 from Medinah. In the second Agreement at 'Aqabah, they offered to draw their swords to help Muhammad to exalt Islam and overthrow Polytheism. At first he said that he had not been so commissioned. 14 Put he soon declared that God permitted 15 war for the faith; and promised Paradise 16 to the faithful. Soon after this the Hijrah took place. Nearly all the Meccan Muslims went to Medinah. Muhammad, Abu Bakr, and 'Ali 17 remained in Mecca for a short time, and then escaped with some danger. We do not know how many Muslims left their native city for their faith. About a year and a half later eighty-three of the Muhajirun fought at Badr, and hence perhaps somewhat more than 100 in all were the converts whom in thirteen years peaceful teaching and preaching Muhammad had succeeded in winning at Mecca. We must remember, too, that a few had died. Those at Medinah numbered perhaps somewhat fewer, and had been won by more, worldly motives.
In his speech in the Mosque at Medinah soon after Muhammad's death, Abu Bakr admitted the comparative failure of all Muhammad's efforts at Mecca to spread Islam by gentle means. He said: 18 “Muhammad having for more than ten years remained among his own people, and having invited them to Islam, that community did not believe, except a few. Finally, by the will of God Most High, he cast upon your dwellings the ray of his notice, and made your city the abode of his exile and the refuge of the Migration.”
Muhammad had now for thirteen years tried to spread his religion by the peaceful means by which alone any true Prophet had ever endeavoured to turn men to God. Probably he himself agreed with Abu Bakr in thinking that he had failed. He had been driven from his native city with his followers, and they were now exiles among men of tribes often hostile to the Quraish. He had retained in his religion many ancient Arabian practices,—for instance, the habit of. Tawwaf or circling round the Ka'bah, the Hajj or Pilgrimage, and reverence for the Black Stone. It was impossible for himself and his followers to perform these duties unless he went to 19 war. Nor could he otherwise satisfy the Ansars, whom he had already told that God had sanctioned fighting for the Faith. Hence he now became “the Prophet with the Sword”, and henceforth Islam had its one and only trenchant proof in that weapon.
If we may judge by Muhammad's own conduct and that of his followers after this, they seem to have imagined that the moral rules made and accepted at 'Aqabah were now no longer binding upon them. All that God now required of them was to “fight in the way of God”, with sword and spear, with bow and arrow, with dagger and the assassin's knife. Hence it is that we read of such conduct as that of Abu Na'ilah and Muhaisah and other Muslims already mentioned. In reference to chastity, it is unnecessary to refer to Muhammad's own conduct. Let us consider that of 'Abdu'r Rahman, who left children by sixteen wives, besides concubines. When this man first came to Medinah, one of the Ansars, Sa'd by name, offered to divorce on his behalf whichever of his own two wives his guest preferred. 'Abdu'r Rahman accepted the offer. Muhammad expressed no condemnation of this marriage, which, of course, by God's Law was adultery. 20 Again, the conduct of Khalid ibn Walid, especially in his Syrian 21 campaign, was notorious at the time, but in Islam there was nothing to hinder or to discountenance it. Nay, rather the Qur'an directly encouraged polygamy and servile concubinage, as did Muhammad's own example and the promise of sensual delights as a reward in Paradise for those who believed in Muhammad, and especially for those who “fought in the way of God”. Such of them as died in battle were entitled “martyrs” and believed to be rewarded as such, and especially welcomed by the Houris (Hur) in Paradise, even if they had been slain in a plundering expedition (غزوة) in which they sought to take other men's property by force.
As soon as Muhammad sanctioned and encouraged war and plunder, the Arabs flocked to his standard. In a few months after his arrival at Medinah, as we learn from Ibn Hisham, “there 22 was not a household in Medinah but believed, except certain of the tribe of Aus.” An agreement was drawn up between the Muhajirun and the Ansars, and a mosque was built.
We have seen how few converts were won to Muhammad during the thirteen years before the Hijrah. On the other hand, they were now won so rapidly that, when Muhammad advanced to attack Mecca in the eighth year after the Hijrah, he had an 23 army of 10,000 Muslims with him. In A.H. 9, on the expedition to Tabuk, he had 30,000 men. A little later, the Katibu'l Waqidi says of those sent by Abu Bakr on the Jihad to conquer Syria that they were so numerous that they “filled 24 the land” There can be no doubt that most of these men were animated more by their desire for the good things of this world than even for the sensual delights of the Muslim Paradise. This we shall see was the opinion of the Khalifah Al Ma'mun, among others. But some of those who professed belief in Islam, even in those early days, did so through compulsion and for the sake of saving their lives. For instance, many of the Jews living in or near Medinah became converted, but Ibn Ishaq 25 says that they “assumed the outward appearance of having accepted Islam, and they accepted it as a protection against slaughter”. He mentions the names of a number of such 26 converts. That they had good reason to fear for their lives is proved by the fate of their brethren, the Banu Nadhir, the Banu Qainuqa', and the Banu Quraizah.
But it was not only Jews who had to choose between Islam and a violent death. After the conquest of Mecca in A.H. 8, many of the Quraish admitted that Muhammad's arms had prevailed, and as a matter of course became Muslims. 27 Of Abd Sufyan's conversion we are given the following account. 28 When he was taken prisoner, before the capture of the city, and brought into Muhammad's presence, the latter asked him whether he did not know that there was no god but God. This he admitted. He was then asked whether he acknowledged Muhammad to be God's Prophet. Abu Sufyan very courteously explained that up to that time he was still in some doubt on that point. Al 'Abbas thereupon said to him, “Woe to thee! Become a Muslim, and testify that there is no god but God, and that Muhammad is God's Apostle, before thy head is cut off,” Convinced by this forcible and logical argument, Abu Sufyan at once repeated the Kalimah, and became a Muslim. With him and by the same argument were converted his two companions in misfortune, Hakim ibn Kharram and Budail ibn Warqa.
Ibn Athir 29 tells us that a man named Bujair, who had spoken somewhat disrespectfully of Muhammad, nevertheless went to him and professed Islam. This man's brother, Ka'b ibn Jubair, hearing of this, wrote some verses against Muhammad. The latter thereupon became angry, and declared that Ka'b's blood might be shed with impunity. Bujair then wrote to his brother and told him to hasten and become a Muslim, and so anticipate Muhammad's determination to kill him. Ka'b immediately took this advice, and thereby saved his life.
Still lower inducements influenced many to profess faith in Muhammad. Al Waqidi 30 shows what one of these was in the following story: “The Apostle of God said, that he might incite the men and endear to them the Jihad and encourage them to it: 'Vie with me in speed to Syria; perchance you may get Al Asfar's daughters.' As they thought, Al Asfar had been one of these blacks ... He had perished in Byzantine territory, and had married of their women, and there were born to him men and women, the likeness of whom was never seen, but they became a proverb for their beauty. And when the Apostle of God mentioned to them Al Asfar's daughters, Jidd ibn Qais, one of the Ansars, stood up and said, 'O Apostle of God, thou knowest the Ansars, and my admiration for women. And I am afraid, if I make a raid with thee and see the daughters of Al Asfar, I shall be led astray by them. Therefore leave me, and do not lead me astray.'” It is in complete accordance with Muhammad's conduct on this occasion that 'Abdu'llah Al Hashimi in Al Ma'mun's reign, in his letter to Al Kindi the Christian, in urging him to embrace Islam, uses no spiritual inducement, but speaks of the sensual delights of Paradise and all the good things here and hereafter offered by Islam, including permission to have four wives at a time as well as slave-girls, and entreats his Christian friend on this account to enter “this 31 abiding, easy religion.”
Another inducement to become Muslims was afforded by the prospect of plunder. That those who for this object joined Muhammad's banner were not disappointed is well known, but we give a few examples. 'Abdu'r Rahman, whom we have already mentioned as one of the Muhajirun, came to Medinah in great poverty. When he died, he left such a heap of gold that it was cut up with axes until people's hands bled with hacking at it. Besides this, he left 1,000 camels, large herds of cattle and flocks of sheep. Again, after the battle of Nahavand, the amount of booty taken by the Arabs was so enormous that, when the consecrated fifth had been removed, what remained gave every horseman of the Muslim army 6,000 darhams 32 and every foot-soldier 2,000.
A very great deal of Muhammad's time between the Hijrah and his death was spent in planning and in taking part in expeditions for the purpose of enriching his supporters by plunder. Al Waqidi says that Muhammad was present in nineteen out of twenty-six or twenty-seven of these raids (غزوات). Ibn Athir 33 speaks of thirty-five such expeditions, others count as many as forty-eight. Ibn Hisham is more probably correct in saying that they were 34 twenty-seven altogether. Al Kindi states that Muhammad himself 35 fought in nine such expeditions, but was present in twenty-six, besides some sorties by night. We need make no comment upon this part of Muhammad's conduct, but content ourselves with referring to what Al Kindi 36 says on the subject.
With reference to the motives which led to the spread of Islam at this period and for long after, it suffices for us to quote the following speech by the Khalifah Al Ma'mun. He said 37 on one occasion: “Verily, I know for certain that So-and-so and So-and-so . . . assume the outward mask of Islam, while they are devoid of a trace of it. And they look at me, and I know that their inward parts are indeed contrary to what they show forth outwardly . . . They are a people who enter Islam, not through inclination towards this religion of ours; but, on the contrary, they seek nearness to us and honour through the sovereignty of our realm. They have no insight into and no inclination for the correctness of that into which they have entered. And verily I know that their story is as the tale which the common people have made proverbial, that, as for the Jew, verily his Judaism is correct, and he keeps the enactments of the Torah and then professes Islam. And what is the story of these men in their being Magians and their professing to be Muslims but like the story of the Jew? And verily I indeed know that So-and-so and So-and-so . . . were Christians, and they became Muslims against their will: and they are not Muslims, nor are they Christians, but they are a mixture of both. What then is my device, and how shall I act? The curse of God be upon them all! . . . But I have a pattern in the Apostle of God and consolation in him. Many indeed of his Companions, and those most familiar with him and nearest. to him in descent, used to pretend that they were his Followers and his Helpers, and he knew that they were hypocrites and the opposite of what they pretended to him to be. And that was evident to him. And they did not cease to desire for him misfortunes, and to wish evil to him, and to seek for him occasions of stumbling, and to aid the Polytheists against him . . . Then, after his death, they all apostatized; and there remained not one of them who thought that in him there was right guidance, but turned back and apostatized, and longed for the overthrow of this business” (Islam) “and its destruction, openly and inwardly and manifestly and secretly, until God aided it and patched up their divisions and cast into the hearts of some of them longing for the Khalifate and love of the world.”
The revolt of the tribes after Muhammad's death is called by Muslim historians an apostasy. It was not therefore a mere refusal to pay the zakat, though that was a serious offence against Islam and the injunctions of the religious law of the Qur'an. Ibn Athir, for instance, says: “The 38 Arabs apostatized (ارتدّت آلْعرب), whether common or noble, of every tribe, and hypocrisy became manifest and rejoiced. The Jews and the Christians refused (submission), and the Muslims remained like sheep in the rainy night because of the loss of their Prophet and their small numbers and the multitude of their enemies.” The circumstances were so desperate that Abu Bakr was repeatedly urged to detain the army then assembled near Medinah under Usamah ibn Zaid for the conquest of Syria. But he refused to disobey Muhammad's last wish by doing so. Abu Bakr subdued the tribes, and brought them back to Islam “by 39 promises and threats”, and still more by force of arms. This is admitted by As Suyuti, among others, who says: “When 40 the Arabs apostatized, Abu Bakr and his companions waged a Jihad against them, until he brought them back to Islam.”
There now began the spread of Islam beyond the borders of Arabia. We must inquire how this took place, by whose command, what methods were employed to convince men that Muhammad was the Apostle of God and the Seal of the Prophets, in what spirit the conversion of the world was undertaken, and by what arguments the majority of the people of Syria, Egypt, and Persia were led to embrace the new Religion so effectively brought to their notice.
In despatching the army to Syria after Muhammad's death, Abu Bakr said: “Know 41 that the Apostle of God had resolved to send his force to Syria: and God took him to Himself . . . And I verily purpose to direct the faces of the heroes of the Muslims towards Syria, ... for the Apostle of God announced that to me before his death, and said, 'The Earth has been Divinely decreed to me, therefore have I seen its eastern and its western parts: and what of it has been Divinely decreed to me shall come into the possession of my people.'” Abu Bakr also wrote a letter and sent a copy of it to Yaman and Mecca, urging the people to undertake this Jihad. This latter title is repeatedly given to the war by the Katibu'l Waqidi, and the same term is used of it in 'Umar's letter to Ibn 'Ubaidah, quoted in that author's Futuhu'l 'Ajam, p. 2.
To the army starting for Syria under the command of Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan, Abu Bakr gave the commission 42 mentioned in Chapter II of the Third Part of our present Treatise. It agrees very closely with what Muhammad had said when sending Zaid ibn Harithah, his adopted son, on a similar expedition before the march to Tabuk “Slay 43 your enemies and God's enemies that are in Syria. There you will find a class of men who live retired in cells. Give them no trouble. And slay not woman and boy and suckling; cut not down the date-palms and trees, nor destroy the houses.” But this must not be taken to indicate mercy to the women, for they were often reserved for a fate far worse than death. We have already seen that Muhammad had caused women who had offended him to be put to death in both Medinah and Mecca. Nor were the Muslims more merciful to women after his death. As Suyuti tells 44 us of the treatment suffered by two women of the Arabs, one of whom had abused Muhammad and the other had lampooned the Muslims. In each case the woman's hand was cut off and one of her front teeth knocked out. Abu Bakr, hearing of this, wrote to say that, if he had been consulted, he would have ordered the former of the two to be put to death.
The spirit in which the conversion of the neighbouring countries was undertaken is clearly shown in the following lines, ascribed to 'Ali ibn Abi Talib:—
“Our 45 flowers are the sword and the dagger:
Narcissus and myrtle are nought.
Our drink is the blood of our foemen;
Our goblet his skull, when we've fought.”
This is in accord with the teaching of the Qur'an, as far as putting opponents to death is concerned, for in Surah 5:27, it is written: “Verily the recompense of those who wage war against God and His Apostle and run after evil in the land is that they be slain or crucified, or that their hands and their feet be cut off on opposite sides, or that they be banished from the land.” In Surah 9 we find it enacted that, after the end of the four sacred months of A.H. 11, no agreement with the Polytheists was to be regarded as binding (vers. 1-4.). “When the sacred months are past, then slay the Polytheists wherever ye find them, and seize them and besiege them and lie in ambush for them in every ambuscade” (ver 5). Only on condition of their paying zakat and observing the fixed times of prayer and repenting, that is, becoming Muslims, were they to be spared. As for the “People of the Book”, we find their sentence in the same Surah, for to the Muslims is given the command: “ Fight 46 ye against those who believe not in God nor in the, Last Day, nor forbid what God and His Apostle have forbidden, nor profess the true religion, from among those who have been brought the Book, until they give the jizyah-tax out of hand and be brought low” (or “are little”). This command is still incumbent upon Muslims, whose duty it still is to compel Jews and Christians either to become Muslims or to be reduced to a condition worse than that of slaves. As we shall now show, the early Muslims recognized this obligation, and therefore conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Persia, and other lands. Doubtless the chief reason with many of them for engaging in such conquests was the love of war and the desire of plunder and female slaves: but all this was sanctioned and encouraged by their religion. Hence the professed object of each war was the spread of Islam, and thus it was proclaimed a Jihad. We have seen that Abu Bakr called the invasion of Syria by this name. The Khalifah 'Umar, in the letter 47 in which he ordered Ayaz ibnu'l Ghanam to march to the conquest of Diar Bakr and of Rabi'ah in Fars, speaks of this war also as a Jihad. Historians openly apply the same title to each of these wars of conquest. And the terms offered to the inhabitants of these countries, being those laid down in Surah 9:29, show that the Muslim generals fully recognized this. A few examples will suffice to prove this fact.
Abu 'Ubaidah wrote thus to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, when it was besieged by the Muslim army: “If 48 you conform to our religion, or agree to pay the jizyah-tax, I shall withdraw from the skirt of your reputation the hand of interference. But if not, I shall appoint against you a people, in whose opinion it is a more acceptable thing to be slain for their faith than it is among you to eat the flesh of the hog and to drink wine.” Similarly the Katibu'l Waqidi 49 informs us that Yazid was sent with the following message to the people of Jerusalem: “What say ye in answer to the invitation to Islam and the Truth and the Creed of Simplicity? And it is the creed, 'There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Apostle of God': that our Lord may forgive you those of your offences which are past, and that ye may obviate the shedding of your blood. And, if ye refuse and do not assent unto us, then make terms of peace for your town, as others than you have done of those who were greater than you in number and stronger than you. And if ye reject these two conditions, perdition is due to you, and may your going be to Hell-fire!” The interpreter explained all this simply and quite correctly by saying, “This chieftain says so and so, and he invites you to one of these three terms, either entrance into Islam, or the payment of the jizyah-tax, or the sword.” The Christians replied: “We shall not turn back from the religion of glory and of acceptance; and if we be slain, it will be easier for us than that.”
Similarly, at the beginning of his account of the invasion of Armenia, the Katibu'l Waqidi tells us 50 that messengers were sent by the Arabs to the Armenian Bustius, governor of Yadlis, to say: “We have been sent to you as envoys to summon you to testify that there is no god but God alone; He has no Partner: and that Muhammad is His Servant and His Apostle: or that ye should enter into that into which the men have entered, and that ye should pay the jizyah-tax out of hand, and be brought low.”
When Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas sent Mughairah ibn Shaibah to Yezdijird's court at Mada'in the message which he delivered in the Khalifah's name to the astonished King of Persia was this: “We 51 invite thee to the acceptance of the imperishable Law. If thou dost accept, no one shall set foot within thy realm without permission, nor demand a copper coin except the zakat 52 and the Fifth.3 And if grace become not thy companion, 53 do thou become subject to the jizyah-tax. Otherwise, prepare for war.” Another account given by the same historian 54 runs thus:. “If thou refusest to accept the faith and to pay the zakat and the Fifth, give the jizyah-tax, and in that state thou shalt be brought low.” Yezdijird asked the meaning of “low” (or “little”—صاغر). Mughairah replied: “'Low' means this, that, when thou payest the jizyah-tax, thou remainest standing on foot, and a scourge is held over thine head.”
Somewhat similarly the Katibu'l Waqidi relates 55 that Abu Musa' was sent by Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas to the Persian general Rustam before the battle of Qadisiyyah to say: “We summon you to bear witness: and, if ye refuse Islam, then pay the jizyah-tax; and, if ye refuse, then the sword is a very reliable witness.”
It is evident that, in thus compelling Christians and Zoroastrians to choose between (1) becoming Muslims against their will, (2) paying the jizyah-tax and being bitterly humiliated, and (3) being put to death, the Arab generals were obeying the Qur'an (Surah 9:29). In fact, they might have treated the Zoroastrians in the sterner way mentioned in Surah 9:5, had they not considered them entitled to rank as “People of the Book”, though doubtless that title properly belonged only to the Jews and the Christians.
Occasionally when people were thus forced to accept Islam at the point of the sword, they rejected it when they thought themselves strong enough to do so. Thus in A. H. 30 we are told that the Khalifah 'Uthman sent Uthman ibn Abi'l 'As, or Sa'd his brother (for accounts differ) against Yezdijird, who was advancing to the assistance of the people of Istakhr [Persepolis], of whom we learn that they had previously “yielded 56 obedience to the chiefs of Islam”, but had now “turned aside from the right way”.
But to abandon Islam when proved not to be from God is a dangerous thing. By the law of the Qur'an the punishment is 57 death; for in Surah 2:214 it is enacted that “Whosoever shall apostatize from his religion, let him die for it, and he is an infidel”. If a man outwardly professes Islam but inwardly disbelieves, his condition is that of a hypocrite, and, according to the Qur'an the hypocrites will be in the lowest 58 abyss of Hell. Yet the chief duty of Muslims in the early days of Islam was to force people by the sword to become Muslims outwardly, that is, to become hypocrites. Worldly temptations were also held out to men as inducements to accept Islam in appearance, and in these two ways it spread. Ignorance was then employed to safeguard men's faith. This is clear from the Khalifah 'Umar's commands regarding the libraries captured in conquered lands. Regarding the great library at Alexandria, Abdu'l Faraj tells us that, when 'Amr ibnu'l 'As conquered Egypt in A. D. 640, 'Umar was asked whether the library was to be preserved or not. In reply he said: “If these writings of the Greeks agree with the Book of God” (the Qur'an), “they are useless, and need not be preserved. If they disagree with it, they are pernicious, and ought to be destroyed.” Similarly, as we are informed in the Kashfu'z Zunun, Sa'd Abu Waqqas, having conquered Persia, wrote to ask the same Khalifah what he should do with the libraries of Persia. The reply was: “Cast them into the rivers. For, if in these books there is guidance, then we have still better guidance in the Book of God. If, on the contrary, there is in them that which will lead us astray, then may God protect us from them.” In each case the order was obeyed. Only in the time of the Mu'tazilah has any freedom of thought and inquiry been permitted in any Muslim land.
The persecutions inflicted on those who refused to accept Islam in Persia compelled many of the Zoroastrians to flee to India, where their descendants now form a large and industrious trading community in Bombay. They found it far more tolerable to live amid the idolatrous Hindus than to endure the ignominy and oppression which they had to suffer from the Muslims in their own land. Those who live or have travelled in Muslim lands well know how miserable is the condition of the Dhimmis (whether Jews, Christians, or Zoroastrians) there. They cannot even give evidence in a court of justice, they cannot defend themselves from wrong and violence, they are liable at any moment to be massacred by the Muslims,—as at Adana recently, in Armenia and in Bulgaria only a few years ago. For many generations the children of Christians were often taken away by force, made Muslims by violence, and compelled to serve as Janissaries, until the whole of the Janissaries were disbanded one day by the Sultan's command.
When the reviser of these pages was in Persia, near Isfahan, he had a Muslim acquaintance there who dwelt in a neighbouring village. This Persian said to him: “When I was a little boy some fifty years ago, my parents and I and all the people in our village were Zoroastrians. One day the chief Mujtahid of the city of Isfahan issued a decree, commanding us all to embrace Islam. We petitioned the Prince-Governor of the province, we refused to change our religion, we offered bribes to leading Muslim nobles and ‘Ulama. They took our money, but did not help us at all. The Mujtahid gave us until midday on the following Friday to be converted, declaring that we should all be put to death if we did not at that time at latest become Muslims. That morning all the lowest ruffians from the city surrounded our village, each with some deadly weapon in his hand, awaiting the appointed hour to permit him to begin the work of plunder and murder. We waited in vain until it was almost midday, hoping that our enemy would relent. As he did not, just before noon we all accepted Islam, and thus saved our lives.”
In the same country until quite recently there was still in force the law that, if any single member of a Christian family, even the youngest son could be induced to embrace Islam, all the property of the family was at once handed over to him; his father, mother, brothers and sisters being turned out of their home and left destitute. When we consider the cruelty and oppression which for about 1,300 years has been the lot of Dhimmis in all Muslim lands, the marvel is that any of them have been able to resist the inducements and the pressure brought upon them to become hypocrites.
We have now finished our examination of Islam's claims to be God's final Revelation of His Will. When we consider the Criteria hid down in the Introduction, and inquire how far Islam satisfies them, the answer is not difficult to give. To us it seems that the only one of these Criteria which Islam can in any degree claim to satisfy is the fourth. Christianity, on the other hand, satisfies them all. The conclusion is obvious.
1. Siratu’r Rasul, vol. i, pp. 73-88.
2. Who thereby gained his liberty.
3. Ibn Hisham, vol. i, p. 111.
4. Ibid., vol. i, p. 114.
5. Vol. i, p. 119.
6. Vol. i, p. 136.
7. Vol. i, p. 146.
8. Vol. i, 127.
9. In Surah 18:75, 76, is an admission that Muhammad was then in danger of making a compromise with the Polytheists.
10. Ibn Hisham, vol. i, p. 150.
12. Vol. i, p. 151.
13. Vol. i, pp. 155, 159.
14. Vol. i, p. 157.
15. Vol. i, p. 164.
16. Vol. i, p. 159.
17. Vol. i, p. 169.
18. Rauzatu's Safa, Vol. ii, p. 221.
19. Hence the teaching in Surahs 22:40, 41; 2:212, 214.
20. Matthew 5:32 and 19:9; Mark 10:11; Luke 16:18.
21. Katibu'l Waqidi, Futuhush Sham. Even earlier he had shown his propensities: Rauzatu's Safa, vol. ii, p. 230.
22. Vol. i, p. 177.
23. Ibn Athir, vol. ii, p. 93.
24. Futuhu'sh Sham, vol. i, p. 6: (فنظر اليهم قد مَلؤا الارض) (Edition published at Safdari Press, Bombay, A. H. 1298.)
25. Siratu’r Rasul, vol. i, p. 183: (فظهروا بآلاْسلام وآْتّخذوهُ جُنّةَّ من آلْقتل)
26. Vol. i, p. 188.
27. Siratu’r Rasul, vol. ii, p. 211.
28. Op. cit., vol. ii, p. 215, and Ibn Athir, vol. ii, p. 93.
29. Vol. ii, pp. 104, 105.
30. Al Maghazi, p. 144: referring to the Expedition to Tabuk.
31. هذا آلْدّين القيّم آلْسهل Risalatu 'Abdi'llah, &c., pp. 12-22, printed at London, A. D. 1880.
32. Rauzatu's Safa, vol. ii, p. 253.
33. Ibn Athir, vol. ii, p. 116.
34. Ibn Hisham, vol. iii, p. 78.
35. Risalatu 'Abdi'llah, &c., p. 47.
36. Ibid., pp. 43-47.
37. Ibid., pp. 66, 67. [There are some misprints in the Arabic text, which in this translation I have tried to correct.]
38. Ibn Athir, vol. ii, p. 127: compare Al Kindi, pp. 65, 66, and Rauzatu's Safa, vol. ii, pp. 224-231.
39. Rauzatu's Safa, vol. ii, p. 231.
40. لمّا ارتدّت آلْعرب جاهدكم ابو بكر واصحابُهُ حتّى ردّهم الى آلاْسلام . Tarikhu'l Khulafa, p. 44, Muhammadi Press, Lahore, A.H. 1304. A fuller account is given in the same work, pp. 51, 52.
41. Katibu'l Waqidi, Futuhu'sh Sham, vol. i, p. 3: printed at Safdari Press Bombay, A.H. 1298.
42. Ibid., p. 5, of the edition printed at Kanpur in A.H. 1287; see also As Suyuti, Tarikhu'l Khulafa, p. 66.
43. Rauzatu's Safa, vol. ii, p. 164. Compare Revelation 9:4.
44. Tarikhu'l Khulafa, p. 67.
45. السّيْف وآلْخنجر ريحاننا ـ أُف على النّرجس وآْلآس
شرابنا دم اعدائِنا ـ كأسنا جُمجُمةُ آلْرّاُس.
('Ali's Diwan, p. 52.)
46. Surah 9:29.
47. Katibu'l Waqidi, Futuhu'l 'Ajam, p. 2.
48. Rauzatu's Safa, vol. ii, p. 241.
49. Futuhu'sh Sham, vol. i, p. 340, printed at Safdari Press, Bombay, A. H. 1298.
50. Futuhu'l 'Ajam, p. 62; printed at Kanpur, A.H. 1287.
51. Rauzatu's Safa, vol. ii, p. 246.
52. [Due from all Muslims.]
53. i.e. if thou dost not accept Islam.
55. Futuhu'l 'Ajam, p. 72.
56. Rauzatu's Safa, vol. ii, p. 258.
57. In Ibn Hisham, vol. ii, p. 217, a man is sentenced to death for abandoning Islam.
58. Surah 4:144.