Ch 18: A White Lie
The light of guidance of Islam is the greatest boon of Allah which He confers from His unknown treasure on whomsoever He likes. Isabella is the daughter of a great Christian priest, was a strict Christian herself and a scholar of Christian theology, but now she is a Muslim saint, a traditionist, a devotee and a perfectly disciplined Muslim lady. Eminent Muslim divines and jurists are proud of being her disciples and she is famed all over Spain for her learning and piety. She could solve at a moment’s notice the most complicated problems of Muslim law.
She had been a Muslim for ten years and in this period the attacks of Christians had subsided. Hundreds of Christian men and women got right guidance of Islam through her and by Allah’s grace she won laurels in many learned discussions.
Just at that time the news spread that a Christian woman of Toledo was highly learned in the Quran and the Traditions and earlier revealed books and she had such convincing arguments on the truth of Christianity that even the greatest divine could not refute. Besides, the fame of her miracles gave her a position among Christians which even the Pope did not enjoy. Christian men and women from far-off places came to touch her apparel to acquire blessings and it was said that she cured the most dangerous diseases just by her look. This woman knew that Isabella had accepted Islam ten years ago; she publicly proclaimed that if Isabella came to her she would reconvert her to Christianity by her miracles and force of her arguments, but said that Isabella would never come to her as during the last ten years she must have known the “fraud” which made her to give up Christian religion. This proclamation again created a stir all over Spain and Christians started mischief-making. At last one day in her study circle a learned man addressed her.
The learned man : Have you heard of a new proclamation ?
Isabella: What is it ?
The learned man: A Christian woman has challenged you to debate and has proclaimed that in the first place you will not come to her, and if you came she will not leave you without reconverting you to Christianity both by her miracles and arguments.
Isabella: La haula wala quvvata ilia billah [All power and authority is with Allah]! A Christian woman and her assumption that she can convert a true Muslim to Christianity by her arguments! In fact, I have lost interest in such things. It seems that this Christian woman is greedy of fame.
The learned man : She has her fame since long, but now she aspires to confront you. There is a talk of it all over the city and Christians.. .. Isabella, this is what I have heard that she is very learned and scholarly and Christians even claim that no Muslim divine can beat her in the knowledge of the Quran and the Traditions.
Isabella: Very good. If she is fond of confrontation, let her come here with her associates and ask any question she wants.
On the sixth day after this Isabella received a letter from this woman which said: “Will you have a talk with me on Islam and Christianity? If you allow me to come to you I will gladly try to resolve your doubts.” Isabella wrote in reply: “Not for idle talk or wasting of time but for search of truth, you are welcome to my house at any time.” Immediately on getting Isabella’s reply the Christian woman made it known publicly and next day with about a hundred Christian women she came to Isabella’s house which was in fact a centre of Quranic studies. Isabella cordially welcomed all guests and the talk was initiated by the Christian woman.
Christian woman: It is said that you gave up Lord Jesus and all the saints and accepted a spurious religion like Islam. It is better that after having this experience you come back to Christianity.
Isabella: Even if anyone burns me alive I cannot give up Islam, nor can I accept multi-divinity and shameful creed of Christianity, yet I have a right to ask why you have come here to invite me to Christianity. It is nowhere written in your Bible to invite other communities to Christianity; on the other hand, it is written there that Jesus Christ was the Prophet of Israelites (Jews) only and he was sent to preach to them alone.
Christian woman: But is it written in the Bible that the doors of Christian religion be closed to humanity? Is this your research that made you renounce Christianity?
Isabella: Yes, it is written in the Bible and is also proved by the Quran which says: Wa Rasulan ila Bani Isra’il, that (Jesus Christ) was sent as an apostle to the Israelites (Jews), and at another place: Waj’alnahu mithlan Bani Isra’il [And We have made Jesus Christ a model for the Israelites (not for the whole world)].
Christian woman: We do not believe in the Quran; why do you put it to me?
Isabella: I mentioned the Quran because you may know that in this matter the Quran and the Bible are one. Now listen! It is written in the Book of Matthew 10 : 5: “These twelve Jesus sent forth and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles and into the city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Look, it has been proved from your Bibles also that Jesus Christ did not come as a prophet for us but only for the Israelites and it is better for you to obey your Lord. To convert us to Christianity is to act against the injunction of your Lord and to rebel against him.
Christian woman: What do you know about the Bible? Ask from me the meaning of these verses. Is it not written in the Bible that the Bible may be proclaimed everywhere?
Isabella: Not at all !
Christian woman : Do not speak a white lie, Isabella. At least before this assembly you should refrain from lies. See, it is written in Mark 16:15= 16: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth shall be saved.” Look, how clear is the injunction to make all the world Christian.
Isabella: These are verses 15 and 16 of chapter 16. Probably you do not know that the real Bible ended at verse 8 only and the remaining twelve verses are later additions. So you cannot put forth in argument this manipulated gospel.
Christian woman: How do you know that these verses are later additions?
Isabella: From the researches of Christians themselves, for by comparison with older copies it was found that twelve verses of the last chapter were not in the earlier copies. [In the Urdu edition of the Bible this manipulation is indicated in the margin.]
Christian woman: As we do not have original copies of the Bible I cannot say anything in reply. Let me consult the original copies. But just what teaching of the Quran is not in the Bible? Then why did you accept Islam?
Isabella: On this subject I had had detailed discussion with the priests. So you just enquire from them and then ask this question.
Christian woman: How do I know what reply you gave to the priests. But just tell me what superiority you found in Islam. Tell me any superiority of Islam.
Isabella: Do you think I accepted Islam with eyes closed? At least there is something which made me disgusted with Christianity and made me a lover of Islam.
Christian woman: Why do you not mention the superiority of Islam? In fact, there is no superiority in it. Look here, Isabella! There is no one in Spain equal to me in learning and you have not the least inkling of things that I know Anyway, I am asking you just one question which will make clear the truth and untruth like the bright day. Just tell me which of the qualities of justice is superior to the law of grace or the law of grace is superior to the creed of justice.
Isabella: Both are superior in their proper places and defective when out of place.
Christian woman: Did you understand what I said ? Look ! the law of Taurat is justice as in this punishment is specified for every transgression, but the Bible is the law of grace in which only Lord Jesus Christ has been specified as atonement for sins. Now, say if you reject the law of grace.
Isabella: I have already said that both are correct in their proper places. If any transgressor is forgiven with a view that he will reform himself, then forgiveness and grace will be followed, but if it is feared that the transgressor will be emboldened in transgression and even then he is forgiven, then this forgiveness will be criminal and injustice to the transgressor.
Christian woman: Now just say whether the Quran is the law of justice or of grace.
Isabella: According to your view, Taurat is the law of justice and not of grace, while the Bible is the law of grace and not of justice. So both of them are defective in their places, while the Quran covers both justice and grace and has taught correct ways of the use of both. For instance, the Quran says that “the return of evil is evil.” This is the law of justice. It further says that “if anyone forgives and there is better in it, then he will be rewarded” (xlii. 40). This is the law of grace.
At another place it says: “If you have been wronged, then retaliate according to the wrong done.” This is justice and : Walan sabartum fa huwa khairul Sabirin [If you be patient, then that is also good for those who are patient]. This is grace. At a third place it says: Wa in kana dhu ‘usratin fa naziratun ila maisaratin [If the debtor is in strained circumstances then give him time till it is easy for him to repay (ii. 280)]. This is justice. But Wa in tasaddaqu khairul lakum [If you forgo it, this is better for you (ii. 280)]. This is grace. Thus the Quran comprehends both justice and grace.
Christian woman: The Quran orders retaliation but the Bible prohibits retaliation and orders forgiveness. Thus the superiority of the Bible has been proved.
Isabella: It does not prove superiority but a defect. If mischief-makers and criminals are forgiven on every occasion, mischief will spread in the world and order of the world will be disrupted, but the Quran has allowed the use of both, forgiveness and retaliation, in their proper places. Besides, the teaching of the Bible also casts aspersion on God as to why He created the quality of anger and excitement in men. Has the quality of anger been created uselessly? Never. God has never created any of the capabilities of men without merit. So the Quran has taught proper use of the qualities of mercy and anger and forgiveness and retaliation and does not allow any branch of human capabilities to wither away.
Christian Homan: Look ! how unjust it is that you are rejecting every good quality of ours. Our Lord never fought with anyone but forgave his enemies and bore their oppression patiently, while your Prophet took revenge from his enemies and never forgave anyone. Thus it is proved that it is the example of the Bible and our Lord which will lead to salvation.
Isabella: Patience, forgiveness, firmness, bravery and justice, etc., are such qualities whose merits are known to every man but few of them know their real significance. Every moral quality is good or bad according to its use in its proper place, otherwise in themselves patience and forgiveness, etc., have no merit. Look, forgiveness and overlooking will be at their best when the forgiver has the power to retaliate. If a helpless and weak person has no power to retaliate, his overlooking and forgiveness will not be considered a merit but just his helplessness. Our Prophet possessed this moral power of forgiveness and overlooking in the highest degree. Thus when after the victory of Mecca cruel unbelievers were brought to him he let them free, saying : La tasriba alaikum al-yauma [There is no charge against you today]. Although if he wanted he could have cut them to pieces, because he was in power and his Companions awaited his orders. Now, tell me what was the position when your Lord forgave his enemies. Obviously he was oppressed, had no one to help him nor had he the power to take revenge ; what else could he do but to forgive? If he were in power and then had forgiven his enemies it would have been a matter of pride for you. Patience in the state of helplessness is not at all forgiveness.
Christian woman: Fie ! Isabella, you call sanguinary men moral and do not give any merit to the person who never shed a drop of blood.
Isabella: It is your faulty understanding that you take obvious things in perverse light. I now put it to you. Do you see any good in bravery and whether you regard justice good or bad ?
Christian woman: Both these qualities are excellent; who can deny it ?
Isabella: Very good. Now, tell me if the quality of bravery can be manifested except in battle and justice can be at its best without the establishment of a government. Never! Thus Allah had provided both these opportunities to our sacred Prophet. That is, he waged war against non-believers and also acquired the ruling power so that on the occasion of fighting, his quality of bravery is manifested and with the establishment of a government the quality of justice comes to the fore. Can you show both these qualifications in your Lord?
Christian woman: You think fighting is also a great merit. Our Lord brought the message of peace and security and not of fighting.
Isabella: But in our Prophet both these qualities were combined. On the one hand he was a mercy for the worlds and kind and forgiving and on the other hand a champion fighter in the cause of Allah, so that he may be an example and good model in all aspects of life.
Christian woman: How perverse is your talk, Isabella? Can you compare favourably a fighting man with a man of peace?
Isabella: If fighting the enemies and suppressing their mischief is a great crime, then what do you say about Prophet Moses, whole life was spent in fighting against enemies and of which the Old Testament is witness? It is true that Jesus Christ was an apostle of peace and security and he never fought in his life. But our Prophet was an Apostle of Dignity as well as of Grace. If on the one hand he fought against enemies like Moses, on the other hand, like Christ, he gave the message of peace and security to the world. Thus he was the most perfect example of both Prophets Moses and Jesus.
Christian woman: It seems that you have become very clever, but I will not leave you till I have defeated you completely. I want to talk to you frankly so that all the women present here may follow it as two and two make four. Just think after comparing the Quran and the Bible so that the truth becomes quite clear to you at once.
Isabella: I will promptly answer whatever question you ask.
Christian woman: Look here, unless the apostleship of your Prophet is proved all this talk is useless. First you prove the truth and prophethood of Prophet Muhammad and then the talk may proceed.
Isabella: What is the test of Prophethood according to you?
Christian woman: If you can prove two things about Prophet Muhammad, then Islam is true, otherwise false. Firstly, that some previous Prophet has foretold about him and, secondly, that he should have performed miracles. For every Prophet these two things are essential.
Isabella: Was Adam a Prophet according to you?
Christian woman: Why not ?
Isabella: Did any previous Prophet foretell about him ?
Christian woman: There was no Prophet before him, so how could anyone have foretold about him?
Isabella: So your criterion is obviously wrong and mischievous that it is necessary for every Prophet that some previous Prophet should have foretold about him, otherwise Adam would be excluded from Prophethood. As to the performance of miracles, that is also not necessary for prophethood, as it is written in your own Bible, that false prophets will perform greater miracles than Jesus.
Christian woman: You do not agree to anything. After all, will you prove the Prophethood of your Prophet or not?
Isabella: This is the very question I am asking you. On what ground Christians believed in Prophets Moses, David, Solomon, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Noah, Abraham? Just let me hear that argument and on the same ground, Inshallah (God willing), the Prophethood of the Last Apostle will be proved to your entire satisfaction and you shall have no reason to reject.
Christian woman: We have accepted every Prophet by his acts.
Isabella: What acts! Just give their details so that there remains no difficulty in establishing the basis of argument.
Here the Christian woman became thoughtful keeping her head bowed for a long time, while the women present there felt that it was difficult for her to escape the strong grip of Isabella and that she would certainly become the cause of humility and degradation of the Christians. Then the Christian woman raised her head and spoke.
Christian woman: We do not know about other Prophets, we are only concerned with our Lord Jesus Christ and through him we believe in all Prophets.
Isabella: So you should come forward with the criterion of the truth of your Lord so that on the same criterion the Prophethood of Muhammad may be proved.
Christian woman: The greatest proof of the Prophethood of our Lord is that he revived the dead, gave sight to the blind, cured the leper and saved people from the grip of Satan.
Isabella: What is the proof that your Lord did all this? Where are those dead whom Jesus Christ revived? Where do those blind and lepers live whom your Lord gave sight and cured? As against this I present to you a miracle of our beloved Prophet which is as alive today as it was in his lifetime and will live for ever. This is the miracle of the Holy Quran which challenged the whole world, that, if it is the invention of the Prophet’s mind, to bring forth any such work: just ten verses, a few verses, only one verse like it, but so far no Christian, no Jew, no idol-worshipper, nor anyone else has taken up the challenge. This is the living miracle which will keep helpless the whole world till the Day of Judgment. As against this the miracles of other Prophets were transitory, timely and made to die out, of which there is no proof except hearsay.
Christian woman: You have started irrelevant talk. Can such a book be a miracle which orders four marriages? Look here! our Lord had said that he was the path of truth and life and without him no one could reach God, the Father.
Isabella : The Quran never ordered four marriages. It has just given permission for it under certain conditions. But if multiple marriages are any crime what would you say about Prophet David and Solomon who, according to Old Testament, had hundreds of wives? As to your Lord saying that he was the path of truth and life, how can this be a refutation of the Quran? Every Prophet came to the world with the path of truth and life. Your Lord said that he was the path of truth and life, but the Quran says about our Prophet that not only he was on the right path but he also showed the path of truth to others : “Innaka la-tahdi ila siratin mustaqim” [Surely thou guidest to the right path (xliii. 52)}. The Quran says our Prophet was not only himself life but he came to give life to the world : “Ya ayyuhalladhina amanustajibu lillah wa lir Rasuli idha da’akum lima yuhyikum” [O ye who believe, when Allah and His Apostle call you then you should respond to the call so that he may give you life (viii. 24)].
The proof of it is that the Holy Prophet converted the barbarians, cruel, oppressive, ignorant, thieves, murderers, adulterers and idolators into moral, Allah-worshippers and pious men and hundreds of thousands of Companions flocked to his standard. That is, he gave life to the Arabs in his very lifetime. As against this, your Lord made just twelve Disciples in his whole life and even to them he did not give full life, as Christ himself called some of them dishonest, some accursed and some thieves.
Christian woman: You talk a lot, but so far you have not proved what miracle your Prophet performed.
Isabella: My advice to you is that you give up logical talk but try to convince me by your miracle, as your miracles are widely known and people come to take your blessing from long distances. You are not apt in logical talk.
Christian woman: You are not competent enough that miracles may be performed before you.
Isabella – A girl of Islamic Spain