Mysticism : The heartbeat of Islam
What is faith according to Islam? Faith is belief in : One God : A Divine Presence, In the existence of spiritual beings known as angels In the revelations of God, the Psalms revealed to David, the Torah sent down to Moses, the New Testament brought to Jesus and the Final Testament, The living Qur'an brought to Muhammad all the prophets that were sent as mercy to mankind : The Judgement Day and Resurrection The Divine Decree destiny
Islam The kindom of God on Earth
In examination of that marvelous vision of the Prophet Daniel (Chap. vii.) we saw how Prophet Muhammad was escorted by the myriads of celestial beings and conducted to the glorious presence of the Eternal; how he heard the words of honor and affection which no creature had ever been favor- ed with (2 Cor. xii.);
how he was crowned to the dignity of the Sultan of the Prophets and invested with power to destroy the "Fourth Beast" and the "Blasphemous Horn." Further, we saw how he was authorized to establish and proclaim the Kingdom of God on earth; how all that human genius can possibly imagine of the highest honors accorded by the Almighty to a beloved worshiper and to His most worthy Messenger could be ascribed to Prophet Muhammad alone.
It should be re- membered that among all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah, Prophet Muhammad alone figures like a tower above all; and the grand and noble work he accomplished stands a permanent monument of his honor and greatness.
One cannot appreciate the value and importance of Islam as the unique bulwark against idolatry and polytheism unless the absolute Oneness of God is earnestly admitted. When we fully realize that Allah is the same God whom Adam and Abraham knew, and whom Moses and Jesus worshipped, then we have no difficulty in accepting Islam as the only true religion and Prophet Muhammad as the Prince of all the Prophets and Worshipers of God.
We cannot magnify the greatness of Allah by con- ceiving Him now as a "Father," now as a "Son," and now as a "Holy Ghost," or to imagine Him as having three persons that can address each other with the three singular personal pronouns: I, thou, he. By so doing we lose all the true con- ception of the Absolute Being, and cease to believe in the true God.
In the same way, we cannot add a single iota to the sanctity of the religion by the institution of some meaningless sacraments or mysteries; nor can we derive any spiritual food for our spirits from feeding upon the corpse of a prophet or an incarnate deity; for by so doing we lose all idea of a true and real religion and cease to believe in the religion altogether.
Nor can we in the least promote the dignity of Prophet Muhammad if we were to imagine him a son of God or an incarnate deity; for by so doing we would entirely lose the real and the historical Prophet of Mecca and fall uncon- sciously into the abyss of polytheism.
The greatness of Prophet Muhammad consists in his establishing such a sound, plain, but true religion, and in the practical application of its precepts and principles with such precision and resolution that it has never been possible for a true Muslim to accept any other creed or faith than that which is professed in the for- mula: "I believe there is no god except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah." And this short creed will continue to be the faith of every true believer in Allah to the Day of the Resurrection.
The great destroyer of the "Eleventh Horn," that personified Constantine the Great and the Trinitarian Church, was not a Bar Allaha ("Son of God"), but a Bar Nasha ("Son of Man") and none other than Prophet Muhammad al-Mustapha who actually established the Kingdom of God upon earth. It is this Kingdom of God that we are now to examine and expound. It would be remembered that it was during the Divine audience of the Sultan of the Prophets, as given in Daniel, that it was promised that:
"The kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under all heaven shall be given to the people of the Saints of the Most High; its (the people's) kingdom (shall be) a kingdom for ever, and all dominions shall serve and obey it" (Dan. vii. 22 and 27).
The expressions in this prophetical passage that the Kingdom of God shall consist of "the People of the Saints of the Most High," and that all other dominions or powers shall serve and obey that people, clearly indicate that in Islam the Religion and State are one and the same body, and consequently inseparable.
Islam is not only the Religion of God, but also His earthly empire or kingdom. In order to be able to form a clear and true idea concerning the nature and the constitution of the "Kingdom of God on earth" it is necessary to cast a glance upon the history of the religion of Islam before it was perfected, completed, and formally established by God Himself under His Messenger Muhammad.
1. ISLAM BEFORE PROPHET MUHAMMAD WAS NOT THE KINGDOM OF GOD UPON EARTH, BUT ONLY GOD'S TRUE RELIGION
Those who believe that the true religion of Allah was revealed only to Abraham and preserved by the people of Israel alone, must be very ignorant students of the Old Testament literature, and must have a very erroneous notion of the nature of that religion. Abraham himself offered tithes to the King and Imam
(l.) of Jerusalem and was blessed by him (Gen. xiv. 18). The father-in-law of Moses was also an Imam and a Prophet of Allah; Job, Balaam, Ad, Hud, Loqman, and many other prophets were not Jews.
The various tribes and nations like the Ishmaelites, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, and others which descended from the sons of Abraham and Lot, knew God the Almighty though they too, like the Israelites, fell into idolatry and ignorance. But the light of Islam was never entirely extinguished or substituted by idolatry. Idols or images, which were considered as "sacred" and as household gods by the Jews, as well as their kindred nationalities, and usually called "Traphim" (Gen. xxxi.) in the Hebrew, were, in my humble opinion of the same nature and character as the images and idols which the Orthodox and Catholic Christians keep and worship in their houses and temples.
In those olden times of ignorance the idols were of the kind of "identity card" or of the nature of a passport. Is it not remarkable to find that Rachel (Rahil), the wife of Jacob and the daughter of Laban, should steal the "traphim" of her father? (Gen. xxxi). Yet Laban as well as her husband were Muslims, and on the same day raised the stone "Mispha" and dedicated it to God!
------------- Footnote (1) In Hebrew these old Imams are called Cohen,' and rendered by Christians as "Priest." A Jewish priest can never be identified with a Christian Sacramentarian priest. ------------- end of footnote
The Jews in the wilderness, inebriate with the wonders and miracles worked day and night - their camp shadowed by a miraculous cloud at daytime and illuminated by a pillar of fire at night, themselves fed with the "manna" and "Salwai" - as soon as the Prophet Moses disappeared for a few days on the misty top of Mount Sinai, made a golden calf and worshipped it
The history of that stubborn people from the death of Joshua to the anointment of King Saul, covering a period of more than four centuries, is full of a series of scan- dalous relapses into idolatry. It was only after the close of the revelation and the Canon of their holy Scriptures in the third century before Christ that the Jews ceased to worship idols, and have since remained monotheists.
But their belief in the Oneness of God, though it makes them Unitarians, does not entitle them to the qualification of being called "Muslims," because they have stubbornly rejected both the persons and the revelations of Prophets Jesus and Muhammad. It is only through submission to the Will of God that a man can attain peace and become Muslim, otherwise the faith without obedience and submission is similar to that of the devils who believe in the existence of Allah and tremble.
As we possess no records concerning the other peoples who were favored with Divine Revelations and with the Prophets and Imam sent to them by God, we shall only content ourselves with the declaration that the religion of Islam existed among Israel and other Arab peoples of old, sometimes more luminous, but mostly like a flickering wick or like a dim spark glimmering in a dark room. It was a religion professed by a people who soon forgot it, or neglected it, or transformed it into pagan practices. But all the same there were always individuals and families who loved and worshipped God.
It seems that the Jews, especially the masses, had no true conception of God and of religion as the Muslims have had of Allah and Islam. Whenever the people of Israel prospered and was successful in its wars, then Jahwah was acknowledged and worshipped; but in adverse circumstances He was abandoned and the deity of a stronger and more prosperous nation was adopted and its idol or image worshipped. A careful study of the Hebrew Scripture will show that the ordinary Jew considered his God sometimes stronger or higher, and sometimes weaker, than those professed by other nations.
Their very easy and reiterated relapse into idolatry is a proof that the Israelites had almost the same notion about their El or Yahwah, as the Assyrians had of their own Ashur, the Babylonians of Mardukh, and the Phoenicians of their Ba'al.
With the exception of the Prophets and the Sophis, the Muslims of Torah, the Israel of the Mosaic Law, never rose equal to the height of the sanctity of their religion nor of the true conception of their Deity. The faith in Allah and a firm conviction and belief in a future life was not ingrained and implanted in the spirit and in the heart of that people.
What a contrast, then, between the Muslims of the Qur'an, the believers of the Islamic Law, and the Muslims of Torah or the Mosaic Law! Has it ever been seen and proved that a Muslim people abandoned its Mosque, Imam, and the Qur'an, and embraced any other religion and acknowledged that Allah was not its God? Never! It is extremely unlikely that a Islamic Muslim community, so long as it is provided with the Book of Allah, the Mosque and the Mullah, could relapse into idolatry or even into Christianity.
I am aware of the certain so-called Tartar families who embraced the Orthodox Christian Faith in Russia. But I can assure my readers, on authentic authority, that these "Tartars" were those Mongols who, long after the subjugation of Russia and the establishment of the "Altin Ordu" by Batu Khan, were either still pagans or newly converted to Islam and seem to have been forced or induced to join the Russian Church.
And in this connection it should not be ignored that this happened after the Muslim power of the "Golden Horde" ("Altin Ordu") tumbled down at the tremendous invasion of Timur Lang (Tamerlane). On the contrary, Muslim traders and merchants, in China as well as in the dark continent of Africa, have always propagated their Holy Religion; and the millions of Chinese and negro Muslims are the fruit of these unpaid and unofficial Mussulman missionaries.
It is evident from the above that the true religion of God before Prophet Muhammad was only in its infancy, that it remained immature and undeveloped amongst the Hebrews, although it shone brilliantly in the life of the true worshipers of Yahwah.
Under the direction of the God-fearing Judges and the pious Kings of Israel, the government was always theocratic, and as long as the oracles of the Prophets were favorably received and their injunctions duly executed, both the religion and the nation prospered.
But the True Religion of God never took the form of the Kingdom of God as it did under the Qur'anic regime.
Allah in His Infinite Wisdom had decreed that four great Powers of Darkness should succeed each other before His own Kingdom was to be established. The great ancient civilizations and empires of the Assyro-Chaldeans, of the Medo-Persians, of the Greeks and of the Romans, had to appear and flourish, to persecute and oppress the people of God, and to perpetrate all the evil and wickedness that the Devil could devise. All the glory of these great powers consisted in their worshipping the Devil; and it was this "glory" that the "Prince of the Darkness" promised to grant to Jesus Christ from the top of a high mountain if he were only to follow him and worship him.
2. CHRIST AND HIS DISCIPLES PREACHED THE KINGDOM OF GOD
They were, it is true, the harbingers of the Kingdom of God upon earth. The soul and the kernel of the Gospel of Jesus is contained in that famous clause in his prayer: "Thy Kingdom come." For twenty centuries the Christians of all denominations and shades of belief have been praying and repeating this invocation, "Thy Kingdom come," and God alone knows how long they will continue to pray for and vainly anticipate its coming.
This Christian anticipation of the coming of the Kingdom of God is of the same nature as the anticipation of Judaism for the coming of Messiah. Both these anticipation exhibit an inconsiderate and thoughtless imagination, and the wonder is that they persistently cling to this futile hope. If you ask a Christian priest or parson what he thinks of the Kingdom of God, he will tell you all sorts of illusory and meaningless things.
This Kingdom is, he will affirm, the Church to which he belongs when it will overcome and absorb all the other heretical Churches. Another parson or priest will harangue on the "millennium." A Salvationist or a Quaker may tell you that according to his belief the Kingdom of God will consist of the new-born and sinless Christians, washed and cleansed with the blood of the Lamb; and so forth.
The Kingdom of God does not mean a triumphant Catholic Church, or a regenerated and sinless Puritan State. It is not a visionary "Royalty of the Millennium." It is not a Kingdom composed of celestial beings, including the departed spirits of the Prophets and the blessed believers, under the reign of a divine Lamb; with angels for its police and gendarmes; the Cherubs for its governors and judges; the Seraphs for its officers and commanders; or the Archangels for its Popes, Patriarchs, Bishops, and evangelical preachers.
The Kingdom of God on earth is a Religion, a powerful society of believers in One God equipped with faith and sword to fight for and maintain its existence and absolute independence against the Kingdom of Darkness, against all those who do not believe that God is One, or against those who believe that He has a son, a father or mother, associates and coevals.
The Greek word euangelion, rendered "Gospel" in English, practically means "the enunciation of good news." And this enunciation was the tidings of the approaching Kingdom of God, the least among whose citizens was greater than John the Baptist. He himself and the Apostles after him preached and announced this Kingdom to the Jews, inviting them to believe and repent in order to be admitted into it. Jesus did not actually abrogate or change the Law of Moses, but interpreted it in such a spiritual sense that he left it a dead letter.
When he declared that hatred was the root of murder, lust the source of fornication; that avarice and hypocrisy were as abominable sins as idolatry; and that mercy and charity were more acceptable than the burntofferings and the strict observance of the Sabbath, he practically abolished the letter of the Law of Moses in favor of its spiritual sense.
These spurious and much interpolated Gospels report frequent parables and references of Christ to the Kingdom of God, and to Bar-Nasha or the Son of Man, but they are so corrupted and distorted that they have succeeded, and still succeed, in misleading the poor Christians to believe that by "Kingdom of God" Jesus only meant his Church, and that he himself was the "Son of Man."
These important points will be fully discussed, if Allah wills, later on; but for the present I have to content myself with remarking that what Prophet Jesus announced was, it was Islam that was the Kingdom of God and that it was Prophet Muhammad who was the Son of Man, who was appointed to destroy the Beast and to establish the powerful Kingdom of the People of the Saints of the Most High.
The religion of God, until Jesus Christ, was consigned chiefly to the people of Israel; it was more material and of a national character. Its lawyers, priests, and scribes had dis- figured that religion with a gross and superstitious literature of the traditions of their forefathers. Christ condemned those traditions, denounced the Jews and their leaders as "hypocrites" and "the children of the Devil." Although the demon of idolatry had left Israel, yet later on seven demons had taken possession of that people (Matt. xii. 43-45; Luke xi. 24-26).
Christ reformed the old religion; gave a new life and spirit to it; he explained more explicitly the immortality of the human soul, the resurrection and the life in the next world; and publicly announced that the next Messiah whom the Jews were expecting was not a Jew or a son of David, but a son of Ishmael whose name was Ahmad, and that he would establish the Kingdom of God upon earth with the power of the Word of God and with sword.
Consequently, the religion of Islam received a new life, light and spirit, and its adherents were exhorted to be humble, to show forbearance and patience. They were beforehand informed of persecutions, tribulations, martyrdoms, and prisons. The early "Nassara," as the Qur'an calls the believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, suffered ten fearful persecutions under the Roman Emperors.
Then comes the Emperor Constantine and proclaims liberty for the Church; but after the decisions and the Trinitarian Creed of the Nicene Council in 325 A.C., the Unitarian Muslims (l) were submitted to a series of new and even more cruel persecutions by the Trinitarians, until the advent of Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace and blessings).
----------- Footnote 1. Jesus Christ has never authorized his followers to call themselves "Christians". There is no better title for the early Unitarians than "Muslims." AD. ----------- end of footnote 3.
THE NATURE AND CONSTITUTION OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD
There is a call to prayer repeated aloud five times a day from the minarets and the mosques in every part of the globe where the Muslims live.
This anthem is followed by a most solemn worship of Allah by His faithful worshipers. This call to prayer is called Adhan (Azan). This is not all; every action, enterprise and business, however important or trifling it may be, is begun with the words Bismi 'l-Lah, which means "in the Name of Allah," and ends with an Al-Hamdu li'l-Lah, meaning "praise be to Allah!"
The bond of faith which binds a Muslim to his Eternal King is so strong, and the nearness between the Sovereign and His worshiper is so close, that nothing, however powerful or seductive, can separate him from Allah. The Qur'an declares that Allah is nearer to one than the life-vain.
Never was there a favorite courtier who, in his sentiments of affection, devotion, obedience, and respect for his beneficent monarch, could ever equal those which a Muslim entertains towards his Lord. Allah is the Owner of the Heavens, Earth and Universe, He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
He is the King and the Lord of every Muslim in particular, for it is a Muslim alone who thanks and praises the Almighty King for all that happens and befalls him, be it prosperity or adversity.
Nearly three hundred million Muslims or more are endowed with the same feelings of faith and trust in Allah.
It is evident, therefore, that the nature of Islam consists in its being the only real and truly Theocratic Kingdom on earth. Allah need no longer send Messengers or Prophets to convey His Messages to the Muslims as He used to do to Israel and other Hebrew peoples; for His will is fully revealed in the Holy Qur'an and imprinted on the minds of His faithful worshipers.
As to the formation and the constitution of the Kingdom of God, inter alia, the following points should be noted: -
(a) All Muslims form one nation, one family, and one brotherhood. I need not detain my readers to study the various quotations from the Qur'an and the Hadith (Quotations of the Prophet) on these points. We must judge the Muslim society, not as it presents itself now, but as it was in the time of Prophet Muhammad and his immediate successors. Every member of this community is an honest worker, a brave sol- dier, and a fervent believer and devotee. All honest fruit of the toil belongs by right to him who earns it; nevertheless the law makes it impossible for a true Muslim to become excessively wealthy.
One of the five foundations of Islam is the duty of almsgiving, which consists of sadaqa and zakat, or the voluntary and the obligatory alms. In the days of the Prophet and the first four Caliphs, no Muslim was known to be enormously rich. The national wealth went into the common treasury called "Baitu 'I-Mal," and no Muslim was left in need or want.
------------- Footnote (1) The Jihad or "Holy War" is also an obligatory practice of piety. ------------- end of footnote
The very name "Muslim" signifies literally "a maker of peace." You can never find another human being more docile, hospitable, inoffensive and peaceful a citizen than a good Muslim. But the moment his religion, honor, and property are attacked, the Muslim becomes a formidable foe. The Qur'an is very precise on this point: "Wa la ta'tadu" - "And you must not transgress" (or take the offensive).
The Holy Jihad is not a war of offence, but of self-defense. Though the robbers, the predatory tribes, the semi-barbarous nomad Muslims, may have some religious notions and believe in the existence of Allah, it is the lack of knowledge and of religious training which is the root-cause of their vice and depravity. They are an exception. One can never become a good Muslim without the religious training and education.
(b) According to the description of the Prophet Daniel, the citizens of the Kingdom of God are "the People of the Saints." In the original Chaldish or Aramaic text, they are described as "A'mma d' qaddishid' I'lionin," an epithet worthy only of the Prince of the Prophets and of his noble army of the Muhajirm (Emigrants) and the Ansar (Helpers), who uprooted idolatry from a great part of Asia and Africa and destroyed the Roman Beast.
All the Muslims, who believe in Allah, in His angels, Books, and Prophets; in the Day of the Resurrection and Judgment; that the good and evil are from Allah; and perform their pious practices according to their ability and with good will, are holy saints and blessed citizens of the King- dom.
There is no grosser religious ignorance than the belief that there is a person called the Holy Ghost who fills the hearts of those who are baptized in the names of three gods, each the third of the three, or the three of the third, and thus sanctifies the believers in their absurdities. A Muslim believes that there is not one Holy Spirit, but innumerable holy spirits all created and ministers of the One Allah.
The Muslims are sanctified, not by baptisms or ablution, but their spirits are purified and sanctified by the light of faith and by the fire of zeal and courage to defend and fight for that faith. John the Baptist, or rather Christ himself (according to the Gospel of Barnabas), said: "I baptize you with water unto repentance, but he who comes after me, he is stronger than I; he will baptize you with fire and with the holy spirit."
It was this fire and this spirit with which Prophet Muhammad baptized the semi-barbarian nomads, the heathen Gentiles, and con- verted them into an army of heroic saints, who transformed the old waning synagogue and the decaying church into a permanent and strong Kingdom of Allah in the promised lands and elsewhere.
4. THE PERMANENCE AND THE DIGNITY OF THE KINGDOM OF ALLAH
This is doubly assured by an Angel to Daniel. It is stated that "all the nations under the heaven shall serve the People of the Saints of the Most High." It requires no proof to say that all the Christian Powers show a particular respect, and even deference when necessary, not only to Muslim Powers, to Muslim sacred places and mosques, but also to the local institutions of their Muslim subjects. The mystery of this "service" lies in this: in the first place, the Muslims always inspire respect and fear through their dignified behavior, attachment to their religion and obedience to just laws, and their peacefulness; and secondly, because the Christian Governments, as a rule, treat the Muslims with justice and do not interfere with their laws and religion.
Space does not permit us to extend our observations over other points of this Divine Religion and Kingdom, such as the Muslim Caliphas, Sultans, etc. Suffice it to say that the Muslim Sovereigns are subject to the same Qur'anic laws as their compatriots; that justice and modesty are the best safeguards for the prosperity and stability of every State, Muslim or non-Muslim; and that the spirit and the principles of the Book of Allah are the best guidance for all legislation and civilization.