Monday, December 11, 2017

Divine Messages and the Fate of Choices

Acceptance & Rejection of the Divine Message

The Holy Quran makes religious progress dependent upon revolution. It says: And in no way do We send the Messengers except as bearers of glad tidings and as Warners. So those who believe and reform themselves, upon them shall come no fear nor shall they grieve. But as for those who reject Our signs, punishment will touch them for their defiant disobedience. (Al-Anam 6: 49-50).

That is, whenever We send a Messenger, he always proclaims two things: (i) he condemns the existing order to death; (ii) and in regard to the system he originates himself he proclaims, without ambiguity that it would be established in the world in its purity, without change or adjustment under any pressure to make it acceptable to this or that people. Those who submit to the system, and mould themselves in conformity with its requirements, survive and prosper, but those who do not do so, they gradually fade out of existence.

When a revolution occurs in the religious sphere, in Islamic terminology it is called 'Qiyamah'. Another expression used for it is Khalq-us-Samawat-i-wal-Ardh, i.e. the creation of a new earth and a new heaven. Still another name for it in the language of the Holy Quran is Al-Sa'ah.

The word 'revolution' which is roughly translated from the Arabic term 'Inquilab' and described in the context which I just mentioned, refers primarily to the moral and spiritual reformation of oneself, not a political revolution to overthrow a government as may be popularly thought these days by the use of the word.

Hence, when a group of individuals or a society have reformed themselves, a revolution in the noble character of man and his dealings with other people and with God is observed. Thus, a condition in the world existed in which the reformation of oneself was demanded to set things right in the affairs of man.

To gain an appreciation of these conditions, let us survey the histories of nations situated in the vicinity of Mecca in the centuries prior to and during the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to ascertain the direction of their progress and international relations. The sixth and seventh centuries A.D. were a time of multiple political upheaval. The chaos that is observed on an international scale is indicative of social condition of the period. Looking back to these centuries and beyond, prior to the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) a steady decline in socio-political conditions of mankind on an international scale is observed.

The Roman Empire: The basic tenets on which Roman civilization was based is described by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra): "The central impulse of the Roman Civilization sprang from the importance it attached to law and human rights. The founders of this culture were the people who gave the earliest recognition to the idea of human rights: they built up a system of life in which no one could be punished except by law, and they reduced political activity thereby to a sort of order. The right to govern also was made dependent on certain principle, this being the reason why Roman law even today is studied carefully by legislatures and legal luminaries all over the world."

The Eastern Roman Empire itself came into existence due to this decline. The emphasis of the Roman Empire had shifted east with the shift of the capital from Rome to Constantinople. The economy of the population had suffered to the extent that the Roman monetary system had suffered collapse. There was a lack of labour, and trade and industry were threatened. Among the causes of the emphasis of the empire to the east was a greater resistance to the suffering economy.

It may be noteworthy that the years of anarchy under Phocas came to an end during the same year as the call of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), i.e. the year in which he received his first revelation. The very same Heraclius was to receive a letter from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in 628 inviting him to Islam.

When the Holy Prophet of Islam (pbuh) was told how his letter had been received by Heraclius, he seemed satisfied and pleased and said that because of the reception which the Roman Emperor had given his letter, his Empire would be saved. The descendants of the Emperor would continue long to rule over the Empire. That is in fact what happened. I will now briefly say some words for the Persian Empire as time is limited.

The Persian Empire: The Persian Empire during the fifth and sixth centuries - prior to the rise of Islam - also declined in power, but information on the state of social affairs is not as detailed as for the Roman Empire. The Sassanid Dynasty in power was established in the early part of the third century. During the fifth century, political history reveals a continuous state of warfare on the borders of the Persian Empire resulting in no significant gains. This is accompanied with the internal strife of religious persecution of non-Zoroastrian adherents, especially in Armenia.

During the reign of Yazgard II (438-457) a systematic persecution of Jews and Christians began in Armenia by the Emperor composing an edict which called all Armenians to give up Christianity. Many Mazdean missionaries (the form of Zoroastrianism popularly believed in this age) were sent to Armenia. Armenia was inhabited by both the Romans and the Persians.

The battle of Avarayr in 451 between the Christian Armenians and the Sassanid authority resulted in defeat for the Christian Armenians, many of whom were then kept in captivity within the Empire. The battle is remembered with emotion even up to today. (Inset: Memorial to the Battle of Avarayr in Gyumri, Armenia). 

In Constantinople, Phocas overthrew and killed Maurice in 602. Khusrau II (Chosroes) had peaceful and friendly relations with the Byzantine Empire under Maurice. The Byzantine envoy who came to the Sassanid Court to announce the accession of Phocas was thrown into prison. Khusrau II  decided to avenge the death of Maurice and began to move his forces into Byzantine territory and against the forces of Phocas. Khusrau II reached deep into Byzantine territory with his army. When Heraclius gained the Byzantine throne and sent an emissary to Khusrau II to make peace in 610, Khusrau still decided to continue his conquests.

The reign of Khusrau II was to see a great rise and tremendous fall after 610. Yet the ultimate result was due to his opportunity of acceptance or rejection of the message from God. In 628 Khusrau II also received a letter from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) inviting him to Islam. Due to his rejection of the letter and thus the message contained within it, Khusrau decided the fate of his own reign and that of the Persian Empire. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) on hearing of Khusrau's negative reaction replied: 'What the Chosroes had done to our letter God shall do the same to his Empire (i.e. reduce it to pieces).'

The words of the Holy Prophet of God (pbuh) was fulfilled and Khusrau II lost his throne and was executed and Persia, now Iran, later on fell into the hands of the Muslims, during the Caliphate of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second Rightly-Guided Caliph (Khalifa-e-Rassool).

All in all, the prophecies of a Messenger of Allah never goes in vain. Sometimes, they can be literal or metaphorical but Allah does fulfil what He reveals to His prophets. Islam is an evergreen plant, the root of which has grown over all the world and universe. It is impossible for anyone to uproot it for those who try to do it shall taste the severity of the anger of God Almighty. Islam is for all humanity; it is clear guidance for one and all. Those who rejects Islam, rejects the salvation of their own souls, they reject God Almighty.

May Allah help us to take heed of the message of Islam and of all messengers of God, especially the Islamic prophets, through the advent of the Holy Quran as the Perfect Law-bearing Book, the Code of Life, for indeed in Allah we trust and it is His words which shall be fulfilled in all glory. Those who heed the message of Allah and His Messengers shall gain felicity in this life and the life to come, but as for those who reject it shall have to face severe retribution. May Allah protect you all from turning away from His clear guidance and Messengers. Ameen.

---Friday Sermon of 08 December 2017(19 Rabi'ul Awwal 1439 AH) delivered by Muhyi-ud-Din Al Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.