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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Life and Teachings of the Prophet Muhammed by Annie Besant

Occasionally Annie Besant says the most wisest of things. Other times the most absurd. But she has a fondness for the Prophet Muhammed and an appreciation for the Holy Quran unknown to most. Annie sees the Quran has the champion of women's rights with Muhammed being a persecuted prophet resulting in self defence to defend his life. She also teaches the pen of the scholar is mightier than the blood of the martyr; coming from the Prophet himself.

Whilst we do not recognise all of her teachings it is enlightening to find some common ground with her on Muhammed and the religion which came out of the Holy Quran.

Few people fail to be inspired by the Prophet Muhammed. He was the most persecuted man (besides Jesus of Israel), having only thirty followers at the end of three years. Later being reduced to three believers. Islam was the most short lived religion. Those who came after Muhammed did not continue in his teachings; an apostasy formed. This happened in Christianity by the Catholic Church of God (known today as Catholicism) and Judaism suffered from the Sadducees who destroyed that religion.

From The Life and Teachings of the Prophet:

Have you ever tried to discriminate something about that and to judge the religion by the teaching of its Prophet rather than by the excess of its adherents ? You should always take a religion at its best and not at its worst, from its highest teachings and not from the lowest practices of some of its adherents.

A Prophet is always much wider than his followers, much more liberal than those who label themselves with his name. You may remember that wonderful statement of his that in the day of resurrection God would explain to the different religions the things in which they differed, and that until then they should live together in peace, not hating nor injuring each other.

The Prophet did not succeed very much. At the end of three years he had thirty followers, and last there came a time when the terrible persecutions scattered them all over the country and only three men were left; and then his uncle who had been [Page 11] so marvellously faithful to him throughout turned to him and said: “Give up your teaching, because it is hopeless". And the answer was: "As God is my witness if they place the sun on my right hand and the moon on the left I will not forsake this cause". And when the uncle seemed a little annoyed with him, he turned away and left him throwing his mantle over his head to hide his grief at seeing the breaking of the tie. And then his uncle cried after him: "Stop, stop, teach what you will, but do not go away". At last out of the three, there was only one left. And with him the Prophet wandered lonely across the desert and when the disciple said: "We are only two", the answer of Muhammad was: "Nay , we are three, for God is with us".

The Prophet never in any way tried to conceal any possible mistake he might have made.

There is a phrase that you must all know well. "The pen of the scholar is more valuable than the blood of the martyr". That was one of the things that caused Ali, his beloved son-in-law, to start the great circle of pupils and begin the growth of marvellous steady discovery which [Page 15] characterises the great Arabian scholar of Baghdad. If you take what happened during the 8th century you will not marvel at the discoveries that were made by the followers of the Prophet, how they had two other sciences, how they took up one, how taking the great astronomical works of the Hindus they translated them into Arabic, and basing themselves on those went on to new discoveries in Astronomy that have been later passed on into Europe. You find that they studied mathematics and added very largely to mathematical knowledge. You find their wonderful skill in architecture, some of the most exquisite monuments in India having been built by Muslim Emperors. And so you find some splendid record of knowledge.

Perhaps no religion is more misunderstood than Islam, by those who do not follow it. In Europe, for instance, we find a deeply-rooted prejudice against Islam, which is based on ignorance of that which is disliked. It is the duty of the followers of Islam to spread through the civilised world, a knowledge of what Islam means — its spirit and message. They should spread a knowledge of the teachings of the great Prophet, and not allow the more ignorant to narrow down the limits of his teachings. Islam is misunderstood. because of ignorance;

When the religion was proclaimed, it was spread, in a population universally hostile, step by step, by the power of its great Teacher. For three years the religion only attracted the members of his family, and he was persecuted by the rest. The earlier Muslims took up the sword in self-defence to protect themselves against persecution. History tells us of the means adopted by the pagan Arabs to persecute the earlier Muslims, which took the form of tortures horrible, unbearable almost by human flesh and blood. They tore his followers in pieces; they thrust them through with stakes; they put them on the burning sand with faces up- turned to the Arabian sun; and with heavy rocks upon their chests. “Would you not rather that Muhammad were in your place, and you at home?" was the question put to a poor wretch suffering all these agonies. His chivalrous answer was: “As God is my witness, I would not be at home with wife and children and substance, if Muhammad were for that to be pricked by a single thorn". A man who thus wins the hearts of his disciples, must [Page 23] have some great qualities at least. Only great men can have such disciples.

Because of the persecution of his enemies, the Prophet had to flee with his disciples to Medina where he was received as a refugee. He had armies of assailants and enemies upon enemies. It was only then that he appealed to the God of war. Notice how over and over again, when he bids the sword to be taken up, it is for self-defence only. Al Quran distinctly says in many places: “Take up the sword against the unbelievers when they have attacked and persecuted you". (b) But it may be urged that there are many other passages in Al Quran where this proviso does not occur, where it is merely said: “Fight and destroy the unbelievers". It is an established canon of interpretation that when once a command is given with a proviso, and it is again repeated in another place, but, without the proviso, the proviso is applicable at the latter place also.

Islam believes in many Prophets, and AI Quran is nothing but a confirmation of the old Scriptures.

On Women

I often think that woman is more free in Islam than in Christianity. Woman is more protected by Islam than by the faith which preaches monogamy. In AI Quran the law about woman is juster and more liberal. It is only twenty years that Christian England has recognised the right of women to property, while Islam has allowed this right from all times. Says AI Quran: "Be ye kind to your wives; be just to them; if there is a quarrel, seek a reconciliation before divorce". The period of divorce is intentionally prolonged so that the parties may come to a better understanding in the interval. Muhammadan law in its relation to women, is a pattern to European law.

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