Ch 16: A Secret Meeting
Before giving proceedings of this and other meetings let us have a look at the Church of Saint Peter and the monastery and see what happened to the monk of the monastery and its nun, and how the head priest (Isabella’s father) and Michael (Mirano’s father) received the news and what situation was created among the Christians of Cordova.
It so happened that when these four girls left the Church of Saint Peter, the poor monk was lying bound up and since he was gagged by a wad of rags he could not speak. The nun took out the rags from his mouth and released his hands and feet. But even after release he continued to be out of his senses and the nun ran about for help.
Pilgrims, living in chambers, on hearing the noise, wrung their hands and, as usual, began to cry before the skeletons of saints. When the mourning ended and the monk and the nun composed themselves they took two donkeys of pilgrims and rode to the monastery. On reaching the monastery all the monks and nuns of the monastery came out to receive them, but when they found marks of humility, repentance and defeat on their faces they were thunder-struck. One of those present, however, taking courage, came forward and spoke to the monk.
The man: Respected sir, the holy father (head priest) has sent this letter and directed that it should be replied at once.
Monk (beating his breast): Alas ! how can I show my face to the holy father. Alas! the accursed satan has deceived me: the satan who did not spare even the Lord without putting him to trial. Wretched Isabella and O accursed girls abomination on you and O daughter of satan! You yourself became an apostate and put us also to shame. O God! Thou seest what treatment has been meted out to Thine devoted servants.
All the monks of the monastery were struck dumb on hearing this and looked at one another speechless The monk then with trembling hands opened the letter of the holy father and read. It said: “In order to persuade Isabella her three friends have gone to the monastery as I had informed you. I think the reconversion of Isabella is difficult. If her condition is yet unchanged, then hand her over to the Inquisition for this purpose. I will send to you some men in the evening to whom you should hand over the girl. Now you should send back the other three girls lest the devil may mislead them also and they fall not into the trap of Isabella.”
On reading this the monk began to weep and cry loudly. After some time he spoke: What reply can I give to this letter? I will myself go to the holy father and tell him how satan has put pious people to trial. So saying he stood up and walked out and took with him the saintly nun of France. Meeting the holy father at his house, he narrated the whole episode which the head priest quickly heard and then asked.
Head priest: When I had directed you to keep a careful watch on Isabella, why did you fall in the trap of the girls and believing in their false revelation left the monastery? If such a situation had arisen, why did you not inform me?
Monk: What reply can I give? Surely I have been at fault and fell into satan’s trap.
Head priest: But tell me now what other monks were in conspiracy with the girls.
Monk: No one else was in the conspiracy and as a precaution I did not tell anyone. Only this nun whose piety is well known was invloved in this episode.
Head priest (to his servant): Just go and bring Michael and Peter and tell them they should stop all other work and come to me at once.
The servant left and shortly after Michael and Peter arrived with three other priests, holding their hands on their chests. The head priest spoke, addressing Michael.
Head priest: Your daughter Mirano has gone away with my daughter Isabella.
Michael: What, holy father! What are you talking?
Head priest: Not only Isabella and Mirano, Hanana and Mertha also gave a slip to the people of the monastery.
Michael: Holy father! just say what happened.
The head priest asked the monk to narrate to him the whole episode. The monk with tearful eyes narrated what had happened on which Michael and Peter also wept.
Head priest: Why weep! Curse these filthy souls. The only regret is that Isabella escaped the grip of Inquisition.
Michael: Holy father, this is not an ordinary matter. Christians will be humiliated all over Cordova and we will not be able to face the people.
Head priest: Anyway, try to find out where these girls are now. We will set to work about it very soon.
Three days later after one-third of the night had passed all the other priests of Cordova and zealous Christians began to gather in the great Church of Cordova. They were secretly directed to assemble in the great Church. Apparently there was no sign of a large gathering as there was no indication of any preparations for the meeting. People came and quietly and soberly sat in the large hall of the Church in front of the holy altar. This showed that for this special meeting people were secretly invited.
A large cross was fixed on the altar over which Christ hung and below it Virgin Mary sat on her knees demonstrating her obedience. All the walls of the great Church were painted with the figures of saints and disciples, looking like pictures from Roman and Egyptian mythology. Under these walls all those who came took their seats. Nuns, virgins, who where entertainers of pious priests, were also seen in the crowd. The head priest who was chief of this Church and father of Isabella was very cordially receiving all those who came.
With all this there was such silence and solemnity that no one outside of the Church could know what was happening inside. But the Muslims were informed even of this secret meeting and this secrecy of priests could not remain a secret. The head priest and Michael, standing at the gate, were directing zealous Christians with gestures to keep silence. But people were coming in streams. Several thousands of Christians had already collected in the Church, but the head priest was waiting for others to come. Under the statue of the crucified Christ, a man said quietly to another near him: Brother, Lord’s name be glorified! Here is an envelope which I have to give to the head priest before the meeting begins, but Michael has ordered me to go and bring such and such a person soon. Now I have to carry out this order and so if you take the trouble to give this letter to the head priest as soon as he comes it will be very kind of you.
The other person replied: With great pleasure. You may rest assured that this envelope will be handed over to the holy father the moment he arrives.
The first man said: Thank you very much. And now I am going to do my duty. So saying the man avoiding the look of others quickly went out of the Church.
Now the Church was full of Christians and priests and no others were expected. When all were seated it was ascertained that there was no Muslim in the assembly. Several priests went round and looked carefully at everyone and made sure that there was no Muslim. It was then ordered that all the doors of the Church should be closed and the proceedings of the meeting should begin. Enthusiasm of the Christians was such that if they had not been strictly directed to remain calm and silent, they would have raised a storm. For greater precaution some people were stationed outside so that no one could hear the proceedings of the meeting. When all arrangements were complete the head priest and Michael with ten or twelve priests stood at an elevated place. Just then a man from the front row got up and quietly handed over to the head priest the envelope which a person had given him to be put up to the head priest. Before opening the envelope and reading the letter the head priest spoke in a sober tone: My sons and daughters! Today you have been given the trouble to come here for a very important business which father Michael will put up to you and you should listen to his speech calmly and patiently.
So father Michael stood up to make his speech and at the same time the head priest opened the envelope. But when he had read only a few lines he screamed and began to shake all over in anger. All those assembled began to look anxiously at the head priest and father Michael had to stop his speech. After a brief respite the head priest spoke: Look here! A man has just given me a letter from Isabella in which she has invited all of us to become Muslims. Who has given this envelope tome?
A Christian: Holy father, it was I. A person handed it over to me to put it up before you…
The poor man had not yet completed his sentence when there was a storm in the meeting and the man was hit with fists and kicks from all sides. The poor man made every effort to explain that he had no concern with the letter and was innocent, but no one heeded him and at last by so much beating he fell down senseless and was dragged out and shut up in the closet of the Church. The confusion took a long time to subside and with great difficulty.
Then the head priest came forward and spoke: This man appears to be a Muslim who has made his appearance like us and, putting on our holy dress, has come here to spy. Anyway his case will be taken up tomorrow. Now we have to see that the girls about whom this meeting has been held have preached to us a bloody and barbaric [God forbid] religion like Islam. Tell us how we can succeed in bringing them back and what could be done in this connection.
Thereupon Michael came forward and said: Brethren! the purpose for which this secret meeting was held has been made purposeless after this letter of Isabella. What can we do now except to bear it with patience and pray to God that either she comes back to the fold of the Lord or sent to Hell.
The head priest came forward again and said: Anyway just bring this man here. Possibly by being pressed he may reveal some other things, although we know the Muslims are very hot-headed and they do not easily give out their secrets. Yet he is now in our hands and we may possibly force him to speak out.
So the poor man was brought out from the closet of the Church to the stage. The man was not in himself being badly wounded. The head priest on looking at him cried out: O, this is the priest of the northern church and my own nephew. God forbid, he is yet breathing.
So when the poor wounded man was identified all the priests were very sorry. Next day when the man came to himself he told them that a man brought a letter, gave it to him and quickly went out of the Church. After hearing this, all the priests decided that it was a “mischief” of the Muslims and so they lost hope of Isabella and her friends and the secret night meeting was unsuccessful as nothing could be decided in the confusion.
The letter which Isabella had written to her father read as follows :
“All praise to Allah, the Fosterer of the worlds, Who created the earth and the sky and everything in the universe with His absolute power. Thousands of thousands of greetings to that holy and chaste Prophet who came to the world and took out the world from misguidance and darkness to the bright scene of spiritualism and guided us to the right path which was taken by all Prophets and whose adoption leads us to the nearness of Allah and everlasting peace and security.
“O, my respected father! be it known to you that I have accepted Islam which, according to my deep study, is the only religion which is free from excesses and defects and is the giver of right guidance and salvation. I gave up the Christian religion because it is full of excesses and defects and a contradiction of teachings of all Prophets. Briefly, the following comparison will make the truth clear to you.
“(1) According to Islam, Allah in His Person and Qualities is One without any partner. He is unique and is all goodness and perfection. The Quran says that Allah is one, neither he is the son of anyone, nor has He any son, neither is anyone equal to Him. He is living and will live for ever and is free from sleep, drowsiness or fatigue or any human want. To enumerate His good qualities you should study the Quran.
“(2) On the other hand, Christian religion believes that God is not one but three, Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. Jesus Christ is the only Son of God and he is creator and everlasting like his father, although the Bible says that Jesus ate and drank, slept and woke and was dependent on water, air and everything that a human being requires and had in him all human wants. If God is also dependent on all things like man, then how can He be fit to be God and what difference remains between God and man? The Quran has clearly declared that those who call Christ God or Son of God assign partners to Allah and are unbelievers. Christians by making Christ son of God are traducing God. The Quran has taught that Christ, like Moses, David, Solomon, Job, Hud, Noah and other Prophets, was an apostle and prophet and just a man and created and not creator. Now think yourself how clear and acceptable is this declaration of the Holy Quran and how the Christian creed is complicated and unacceptable.
“(3) According to Islam, every man is born pure and free from sins and on attaining maturity, others lead him astray. Further, Allah has given man the capacity to obey the laws of Allah and avoid prohibited things. The Quran says that Adam did not commit any sin and all Prophets were innocent and free from sins, and so the question of inherited sin is satan’s invention. The Christian creed, on the other hand, says that every man is a sinner, born so much so that even Prophets committed sins and Adam’s sin has made all men sinful. It is obvious that this belief is illogical, unnatural and contrary to the evidence of intuition that while Adam commits sin (which is also not proved) all humanity suffers punishment for it. So in this respect also the teaching of the Quran is just and right and its decision is logical, natural and according to the usage of Prophets.
“(4) The emphasis which the Quran lays on conduct and on the sublimity and superiority of morals is not found in any other religion. Islam says that man will succeed by his own efforts and will be rewarded by his own good actions. It says that this was the teaching of all Prophets (see Surah Najm, Section 6).
“No one can bear the burden of another, but every man will be responsible for his own actions. It is this chaste teaching which gives man the lesson of nobility and urges him to do good.
“On the other hand, the Christian teaching is that Jesus Christ, taking the load of the sins of all sinners, was crucified and he atoned for the sins of all. Sins were committed by thousands and millions of men but punishment was given to an innocent person, the only Son of God! This teaching, on the one hand, makes man worthless and insolent and, on the other hand, one loses confidence in oneself, and so his worth and value fall in his own eyes. Further, this creed is a great derogation of God’s Holi-ness.
‘ “(5) When the Quran came to the world, it revealed all the truths, the truths which had been long forgotten; even their sources were polluted. Islam re established the nobility of all Prophets and refuted the false allegations made against them. It exposed man’s interpolation made in their revealed books and clarified the reality by this exposition. Islam refuted false and base-less charges against Prophet Jesus which some enemies and false friends had made against him, and it is in fact the beneficence of Islam that it represented Prophet Jesus in his true colour and cleared him of the accusations of the Jews and the so-called Christians.
“As against this Christians have accused the Prophets with falsehood, fornication and murder and presented the character of Christ also in such a mutilated form that if Islam on its advent had not clarified the truth” no one would have taken him even as a man of morals. This is an obligation of Islam which Christians can never repay. Christians not only manipulated their books but also compiled hundreds of Bibles in the name of Christ. Today the same compiled, fraudulent and false Bibles are put before us which do not have the remotest concern with Christ. The Quran claims that all revealed books have been fully and completely preserved in it. So I invite you and all Christians to this Quran which maintains the honour of Christianity in the world and which presents to us all at a time the teachings of all Prophets.
“(6) Islam specifies the rights of women, issues orders for the liberation of slaves, infuses the spirit of equality and brotherhood among mankind and establishes contact between man and God.
“But in Christianity there is not even a hint at women’s rights. Only men have been told that they can divorce their wives on adultery but said nothing as to what the wife could do on husband’s going bad. There is not a word of liberation of slaves in Christianity.
“(7) Islam fertilised human morals and provided a regular code of conduct for humanity. By following it man can utilise moderately his inner faculties. The Holy Quran says (see Part 2 5, Section 4): ‘The return of evil is evil, but who forgives for the sake of reforming them, its reward and credit is with God.’
“But Christianity emphasises only one aspect if it that the offender may not be punished, but if anyone strikes on one cheek the other cheek should also be presented to him. How can anyone in the world follow this teaching and how can world order be maintained by it? If it were the intention to show mercy and kindness on every occasion, then why did He create the quality of anger in man and then why did He allow His part of human instinct to wither away.
“These are a few points as an illustration on understanding. I have accepted Islam and so for you also if there is any straight path it is only one, that is you should accept Islam at the earliest and express penitence on such multiplication of Divinity in Christianity which are contrary to all qualities of God and an obstacle in the path of human progress. May God grant you the privilege of accepting the truth ! I am also praying for your right guidance and may God give it to you soon! Amen !