Friday, September 9, 2016

A Tribute to Prophet Muhammad(pbuh)

September 9, 2016

By Saeed Qureshi

All the known religions and their founders of the past do not have clear-cut chronological and historical facts and figures about their lives and missions. It is only the prophet of Islam Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) who has the unique distinction of his life properly chronicled and recorded. All the phases encompassing his birth to his final departure from the transitory earthly abode have been meticulously and distinctly preserved.

The times, periods and years relating to the ancient apostles starting from Adam to Solomon and afterward are ambiguous and lack credibility. Those years are simply approximate, which in a roundabout manner, describe the periods in which these apostles of God existed. This assertion in no way negates their divinity or their being the messengers of God in various eras.

The Biblical or history-based religions are three i.e., Judaism, Christianity and Islam. From among the litany of the mythical religions, the Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, Taoism, Confucianism, stand on top. The ancient mythical religions and their dogmas came to be known from one generation to another by word of mouth or from writing on the stone tablets or columns. As such these religions suffered from distortions, exaggerations and a kind of mythical stuff that mostly is hard to believe.

The principal reason for such a lacuna was the absence of a workable or credible system for recording the chronological data and securing the utterances, sayings and sermons of the sages, saints and prophets of the bygone ages delivered to their respective communities. As such these religions belong to an age when the techniques of preserving the history of the world or religions were yet not discovered.

The New Testament was historically written by different authors at different times after the ascension of Jesus Christ to the heavens. The period of writing the New Testament is reckoned to be between 35 to 85 CE. or AD after Jesus’ ascension to heaven. With regard to the contents of the Bible both in the old and the New Testament, there are grave variations in the editions published in various stages and times. The authors of the four gospels, Mathew, Johan, Luke and Mark differ with each other on a whole range of episodes and events concerning Jesus Christ. Jesus did not dictate his speeches, sermons and conversations, nor were there scribes who took notes to secure his utterances and messages.

The myriad of different texts of the Bible and the variation in narration by authors bear the testimony that the gospels lacked the actual utterances of the Jesus. It could at best be described the life account of an apostle or prophet of God with broader events but not in the actual sequence as he lived and delivered his divine discourses According to a research scholar on religions, Dr. Abdul Hye, there were 103 clear contractions in the Bible.

From the primitive manuscripts of the Bible to the latest one known as “King James Version” (KJV) compiled and published in 1611CE, a staggering number of fifty thousand grammatical and descriptive errors have been corrected or redrafted. The KJV has dropped 7 books that were part of the Bible for roughly almost three thousand years. The Protestants do not believe in these 7 discarded books. If such a hug number of books are excluded as apocrypha, then one can imagine how fictitious this stuff could have been that was believed by the Christians for almost 16 hundred years.

As we all know that there is a total of 66 books that constitute the two parts of the Bible commonly known as the old and the New Testament. The Hebrew or the old treatment consists of 39 chapters or books and the New Testament comprises 27 chapters. These two sections were written by some 40 men in the course of 1600 years that is from 1513 BC (before Christ) to 98 CE (common era) or AD (after death of Christ).

There are only fables and narrations concerning kings, rulers, battles or the messages of the apostles covering several centuries written by a diversity of authors who were not even present during the occurrence of those incidents. These writings are devoid of clear-cut chronological order.

 The Hindu religion does not have a founder, definite creed, priestly hierarchy or governing agency” (Mankind’s Search for God) It historically starts from the writing of the Vedas some 900 years BC. The Vedas were later augmented and supplemented by Brahmanas, Upanishads and Puranas. It would be utterly impossible to justify or figure out if the 330 million gods in the Hindu mythology actually exist or not? It is also difficult to apportion definite periods or times during which these volumes were written and by whom these were written.

As for the founder of Buddhism Goutam Buddha, there is no evidence or account of his life and religious doctrine that was written during his life time. All that we know about him are the canonical texts that have no historical evidence about their time of writings and their authors.

There is a mention of the convening of council by 500 monks after the death of Buddha to deliberate about the authentic teachings of the master i.e., Siddhartha Gautama. So the Buddhist canonical material as uttered from the mouth of Gautama was not recorded in his life time but was compiled much later by others.

The Shinto, Tao and Confucianism religions too are embodiments of obscurity and are unclear about the exact time and periods of their apostles. Taoism is believed to be founded by philosopher Lao-Tzu some six centuries before the Jesus Christ. Little is known about him except that after his retirement from the royal service, he wrote a brief treatise of 5000 words at the request of some custom officer of those primitive times.

After writing the book he departed and was seen or heard no more. The researchers however are skeptical about this story. But one thing is quite clear that Lao-Tzu has been obscure and least known among the founders of religious or faith based creeds. The gist of the Taoism is to “shun the society and return to the nature”

The life story of the great philosopher of the East Confucius is more elaborate as compared to Lao. Both these sages belonged to the same period of Chou dynasty; torn and weakened by a long period of wars and chaos. A part of the life account of Confucius looks to be more mythical than reality. He is described to be a great teacher.

His lectures and sayings are saved in nine books by his disciples who travelled with him during his tours. This is one sage or the founder of creed and a moral code, whose writings are preserved but still not in a chronological format and without mention of any specific time periods.

Let us now turn our attention to the prophet of Islam Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh). He is the most watched, observed, revered, adored and chronicled prophet in the history.  He was born in 570 CE or AD and passed away in 632 CE. In between this period his birth, travelling, marriages, revelations sayings, commandments, decrees, decisions, tenets and accounts of battles, were recorded and memorized by those who observed and remained with him in praying, during hardships, preaching, in battles, social interaction or in traveling. Those companions included his pious wives also.

As stated in the foregoing, the scriptures and holy books of the other leading religions such as Bible were written over a time frame of several centuries by other authors after the death of Jesus Christ. However, the holy book of the Muslims, Qur’an was preserved by prophet Muhammad himself for all the 23 years during which he was receiving the divine revelations.

Since he himself was unlettered, his method of preserving the divine messages and directions were to recite them before the Muslim faithful, compatriots, family members and followers who would commit these to memory and keep it alive by repeated recitations. Later these would be written on shoulder blades of camel or sheep, palm leaves, wood, parchments and dried skins. 

Apart from his revelations his social utterances, normal conversations, sermons and decisions are composed in the form of Hadith. Every period of his life starting from the childhood, to his upbringing, his adolescence, his youth, his marriages, his business tours, his meditations in the cave Hira, migration to Madina and the divine mission to preach Islam are meticulously preserved, arranged and tabulated in a chronological order.

It was during the first Caliph Hazrat Abu Bakr's tenure that Qur’an was collected from written and memorized sources and the task of their collection in shape of a book was initiated. However, it was during the caliphate of the third caliph Hazrat Usman (Othman) that it was compiled in the form of a proper book.  A good number of copies of this original edition of Quran were made and sent to various destinations within the Muslim territories.

When Hazrat Usman was murdered in 656 CE, he was reading the same edition of Qur’an that was compiled under his guidance and circulated to other places. The copy of that specific Qur’an is preserved in the Topkapi museum in Istanbul (Turkey) and in Tashkent (Uzbekistan). The Qur’an from that period to the present is the exact copy of that original edition formulated during the third caliph Hazrat Osman's period.

From his birth in 570 CE to his first marriage with Hazrat Khadija in 595 CE to his fist revelation in 610 CE preaching in public from 613 CE onwards, to sending of persecuted Muslims to Abyssinia in 615 CE are the events that are indelible facts of history. His crusades, his meeting during the Hajj with a batch of Medina pilgrims in 620 CE, migration from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE are succinctly recorded in history. His stay in Medina and the “Battle of Trenches in 627 CE, conquering Mecca in 630 CE, his demise in 632 CE, are various phases of his glorious life that were witnessed by countless Muslims and non-Muslims alike of those times and are clearly narrated in history with the dates and months and even timings.

When he passed away he was buried in the same room where he lived after migrating to Medina. The tomb erected on his grave stands from day one and is visited round the year by countless Muslims from all over the world. That is a continuous evidence of his presence till death in Medina and therefore is irrefutable.

The graves or tombs of other ancient prophets do not denote any period and did not survive in their original shape during the course of time. The floods, natural disasters and ravages of invaders did not leave the original structures intact of their resting places in holy cities like Baghdad, Damascus Mosul, Basra and Cairo, among others. During his invasion of Baghdad in 1258 CE, the Mongol invader Hilaku Khan demolished every building and inundated that city by diverting Euphrates river.

In contrast, the loving and caring way, the tomb of Hazrat Muhammad(pbuh) with its shining green minaret has been kept intact and well maintained for fifteen centuries speaks for the imperishable glory of a prophet who is as immortally and fondly adored after his death as he was held in extreme love and unbounded reverence by Muslims during his life time. As a model of personal piety and immaculate moral character, his life is shining like a diamond and serves ever as a beacon of divine light for the humanity.

The sustained revelations of the Muslims’ holy book Quran for 23 years and later its compilation done by prophet himself and later by his two noble successors also undeniably testify to the fact that it was not the work of latter day scribes or writers. It is a truthful, genuine and authentic chronological production by prophet himself and by those who were witnesses to its being revealed, memorized, written and distributed.

Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) appeared as God’s messenger in an era that was not as primitive as compared to those eras of early messengers and apostles. The time period of Prophet Muhammad was considerably advanced and developed. The time distance between Jesus Christ and Hazrat Muhammad(pbuh) is 570 years. In between there was no prophet that could lay claim of prophet-hood. In these 570 years the world had progressed considerably.

The two main Biblical religions namely Judaism and Christianity are in fact the forerunners of Islam. Islam acknowledges and owns these religions as its precursors.  However, with the advent of Islam, the outdated, obsolete teachings or unwarranted dogmas contained in those scriptures were edited, updated and refined by the founder of Islam.

In fact, Islam, as the legend goes, starts from Prophet Adam and assumes finality with Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) as the last prophet of Islam as declared by him in Mecca in 630 CE, in his last sermon during the pilgrimage. On that occasion he declared before a mammoth assemblage of pilgrims that the religion Islam stood completed today.

The prophets and apostles mentioned in the Old Testament (the Hebrew Scriptures) and the New Testament (the Greek scriptures) are also the prophets of Islam. Yet Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) enjoys the exclusive distinction of being the final messenger of God in the line of prophets that came before him from time to time.

It is therefore, foregone that the life of Prophet Muhammad is not mired in obscurity, mythical ambiguity and hollow projections. It has been candidly self–revealing, carefully and diligently chronicled by his colleagues, contemporary historians and by those who came in subsequent times. As such it is truthful and pristine.

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