Dr Wasim Ahmad,
I asked a colleague of mine why did he believe in the prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh) and Qur’an being the word of Almighty. Then I told him why I did. I (now) believe in Muhammad (pbuh) for the same reason as did Abu Bakr Siddique (ra). He critically thought about this matter. Related the past events. And finally arrived at the conclusion that what his Friend said cannot be belied. He called to witness the entire past life of the person concerned. Let us not assume that Abu Bakr had a very easy criterion to decide whether to believe or not. He, in fact, had the toughest yardstick. He cross-checked the credentials of forty years.
Hence, I believe in Muhammad because of Muhammad himself (pbuh). More than anything else. Someone may say that you believe in Muhammad (pbuh) because of his ‘truthfulness’, ‘trustworthiness’ and his ‘track record’. I would say yes. Later if he says that if there is someone else with the same traits and he proclaims that he is the Messenger of Allah would you believe in him, too, being so? I would say that I will not! Why? Because I will find it unreasonable and self-contradictory.
The belief in Muhammad (pbuh) also means that the humanity has come of age. It also means that we have entered into the ‘world of ideas (‘aalam al-afkaar)’ – leaving the ‘world of personalities (‘aalam al-ashkhaas)’ behind. It also means that “the birth of Islam…….. is the birth of inductive intellect (al-‘aql al-istiqraa’ee). In Islam prophesy reaches its perfection in discovering the need of its abolition. This involves the keen perception that life cannot forever be kept in leading strings; that, in order to achieve full self-consciousness, man must finally be thrown back on his own resources”. Also, “Inductive reason, which alone makes man master of his environment, is an achievement; and when once born it must be reinforced by inhibiting the growth of other modes of knowledge.” (Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Adam Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi – 2005 pp. 100-101)
I can, therefore, believe in the new messenger only after denying Muhammad (pbuh). How can I do that? If I do that then what will I do with the ‘tack record’, the ‘truthfulness’, ‘trustworthiness’ and the evidences of Abu Bakr?
On the other hand the ‘new Messenger’ will – by the same logic – be duty bound to listen to the ‘truthful’ and the ‘trustworthy’ as did the Last one concur with ALL the ‘truthful’ and the ‘trustworthy’ ones earlier than him. They should not be denying each other. They should, in fact, be reaffirming each other. As actually they did. This is because TRUTH is free from self-contradiction!
Going back to the world of personalities is not an option for us anymore. We have to challenge ourselves and chart our course of action guided by the Book of Allah and by the Sunnah of His Prophet (pbuh). No matter how much we try to escape carrying out the most difficult job on earth (THINKING) we cannot escape it. We cannot run away from the field of action. We should never think of going back to the world of personalities leaving the world of ideas behind. This is the crux of the finality of prophethood (khatm an-nubuwwah).
Similarly, I believe in the Book because of the Book itself. Here I am relying on internal evidences more than any other evidence. The Book itself bears a witness that it is The Book. This is the real challenge that has remained unanswered ever since. I would like to reproduce here a part of what Sir Syed Ahmad Khan has said on this subject:
“Qur’an was revealed in the time of ignorant, uneducated and untrained people. It was for the guidance of the people of that time. Also, it was for the guidance of the highly educated people of the same time and age who were found at that time and were ever to be found on earth. It was necessary that its teachings were put forth in a manner that desert-dwellers, camel grazing Bedouins as well as great philosophers like Socrates and Hippocrates could all benefit from it. Qur’an is the only book which has this quality that people of varying and rather opposing capacities could equally get guidance from it. An ignorant Bedouin, a maulvi and a philosopher get equal guidance and do not find anything in it which is against nature or philosophy.
Write a book in any language like French, Latin, Sanskrit and Persian etc or identify one written in a past age which is full of philosophical wisdom in very easy and beautiful words and which an educated, a non-educated and a philosopher could equally benefit from. And which leaves an impact on everyone. This is impossible. Qur’an is the only book which has all these qualities and this is the real and true miraculousness of Qur’an. Its subjects were as true when the earth was considered to be stationary as they are now when the sun is considered to be stationary and the earth orbiting.
The philosophy and science which is considered to be true today if it is proved to be wrong in future (as it happened with the Greek philosophy) and entirely new principles are discovered in the domains of philosophy and science, even then – I can claim – Qur’an will be as true as it is today and it will be proved after reflection and research that whatever mistake was there it was only in our understanding of it and it was merely because of our lack of knowledge.” (Hayaat-e-Jaaved by Maulana Altaaf Hussain Hali, Taraqqi Urdu Bureau, New Delhi, 1990 p 268)
A more fundamental question, however, is why I believe in Allah? I believe in Allah because of the fact that He has all perfections (kamaalaat). As human beings we want perfection in everything. For instance, we want perfect health, house, spouse, job and all other things. It is not in only a few of us. It is in ALL of us. If the desire for perfection was in a few of us we would have considered it a pathological situation which required treatment. Maybe we could have taken those few persons with these desires to psychiatrists or we would have confined them to lunatic asylums. But these desires are with everybody. Just as the hunger and thirst are common among all. If the human beings want to see perfection in everything then their Lord should also be perfect.
If the Lord has to have all perfections (kamaalaat) then it also means that He should be One. There cannot be two entities wielding perfect or absolute powers – both at the same time. It will be a contradiction in terms, otherwise. As then none of them will, in fact, remain perfect. “Ism-e Muqaddas ke saath khayaal-e kamaal laazim hai…………….Jab du’ee aa’ee, kamaal jaataa rahaa. Kamaal ke saath baqaa bhi rukhsat huee. Pas ek khayaal-e khaam ko khudaa banaa liyaa jis kaa kuchh wujood nahheN. Ma‘doom-e mahaz se dil lagaa kar helaakat ke sewaa aur keyaa mil saktaa hai! (Nizaam al-Qur’an by ‘Allama Hameeduddin Farahi, Daa’irah Hameediyyah, Madrasatul Islaah, Sarai Mir, Azamgarh – 1990 pp. 529-532)
Ibrahim (a.s.) expressed the human desire for perfection in the following verse: ‘When the night covered him over, he saw a star: he said: “This is my Lord.” But when it vanished, he said: “I love not those that vanish.” (al-An‘aam, 6: 76) “Laa uhibb-ul-aafileen” implies that only Allah the Almighty deserves submission from the human beings who are the seekers of perfection – by nature.
(The author is Head of the Dept of Islamic Studies, Preston University, Ajman, UAE. He can be contacted at Mob:+971505363235 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)