Ch 19: Islam, the Perfect and True Religion
Isabella did not say anything after this and all those present were struck dumb. The Christian women put their heads down in humility, while Muslims seemed to be pleased in their minds. The Christian woman herself sat silent and found no word to say. When Isabella noticed her helplessness she spoke again.
Isabella: Well, you must be tired now. Let us put off the discussion till tomorrow. Now, say at what time will you be able to come?
Christian woman: I will not rise without finally deciding about truth and falsehood right now. But probably you are tired.
Isabella: From me you are at ease to continue the talk day and night and do not go till truth and falsehood are sorted out. What I said was for your convenience.
Christian woman: In fact, I am resolved to carry the discussion till the last point. Now, just say what was the need of Islam when Christianity prevailed.
Isabella: If Islam had not come, truth would not have been brought here to the world. It was Islam which revived the teachings of Apostles and taught people purity and cleanness. I tell you briefly a few reasons for the coming of Islam :
(1) Islam by its advent perfected religion, for teaching of previous revealed Books were suited for their own time and had no universal appeal. The Quran filled the gap.
(2) True teachings of Prophets were corrupted by their followers which the Quran purified. For instance, Christians, by deifying Jesus Christ, had built up the rotten structure of assigning partners to Allah which was pulled down first. Islam brought the light of the sun of God’s unity and presented the true form of God’s Glory and Mercy to the world.
(3) Ahl-i-Kitab (People of the Book) had attributed many shameful acts to Prophets, calling some of them liars, cheats and adulterers and thus making all Prophets sinners. Islam strongly refuted these charges and restored the real nobility and dignity of Prophets.
(4) Ahl-i-Kitab (People of the Book), by interpreting their sacred Books, had manipulated them and so people’s trust on all revealed Books was lost. The Quran exposed their mischief and fraud and presented all the real teachings of previous Books anew, and now we have no need of any other book as the Quran includes teachings of all the Books revealed to Prophets.
(5) Since previous Prophets and their revealed Books were for particular periods and particular people, so they did not contain laws which were needed by men till the last day. The gap was filled by the Quran and, after completing the code of religion, proclaimed that needs of all humanity are served in it by which men will be benefited till the Day of Judgment.
Do you now realise why Islam came to the world?
Christian woman: All these are mere claims without arguments, you neither mentioned any miracle of your Prophet nor proved his Prophet-hood. The question of his teachings comes after these problems are resolved.
Isabella: You asked me to say what was the need of the advent of Islam and I briefly narrated some of the needs. Now it is for you to meet these arguments. I have already given you the proof of miracles and have put up to you such a living miracle which can be seen by all the world today, that is, the Quran and its challenge. If the Quran is not the” Word of Allah, then bring just one verse to compare with it. But it is just this which the world could not accomplish. As to the Prophet being a Messenger of Allah its proof is in this very miracle. When not even one verse can be produced to compare with it, then it is established that it is the Word of Allah and the person who brought it can only be True Apostle of Allah. Another proof is that the Prophet, after his getting Prophethood, gave such a reform to the world and in his own lifetime made entire Arabia to bow before Allah. Can an example of this type be found in any false prophet? Just name even one fraudulent man who would have performed this great reforming task.
Christian woman: Whatever you say, your Prophet is not fit to be obeyed. How can a person who had shed blood all his life and married so many women be ever a reformer? Look at the purity of our Lord, that he never married all his life.
Isabella: Well, your lord was God and did not need married life, for it is man who needs marriage. As our Prophet was a human being like others, he contracted marriages. But just name any other Prophet who, in spite of being a human being, had not married.
Christian woman: The perfect man is one who is distinguished from others.
Isabella: But you believe your Lord to be God, Son of God.
Christian woman: But along with this our Lord was also a perfect man.
Isabella: Did he eat and drink ?
Christian woman: Why not? His eating and drinking was not in his capacity of God but in the capacity of man.
Isabella: Then, how was your Lord distinguished? What is the definition of perfect man?
Christian woman: The perfect man is one in whose obeying there is no difficulty.
Isabella: Quite right. Now, you yourself have clarified the point. How can a Christian who has wife and children follow his Lord in his home life? Similarly, how can Christians who are fighting against Muslims and idolaters follow their Lord in military matters?
Christian woman: Our Lord neither fought any battle nor married. So the question does not arise.
Isabella: You have defined perfect man as one in following whom no difficulty arises. But here a great difficulty has arisen, for a man with a wife and children has no model for him in your Lord because he remained unmarried all his life. In the same way for the man staking his life in a battle, for him Christ cannot be a model.
Christian woman (after some silence): Our Lord is the model for spiritual life. What concern he has with physical life?
Isabella: Quite right, Jesus Christ can be a model in spiritual life and not in physical life. So for physical life another guide should be found. In this aspect your Lord is wanting. But the being who can be a model both for spiritual and physical life is only one. Man is neither only physical that he needs just a worldly guide. Just as man is a combination of spirit and body, he needs a guide who can rightly guide him in both the spheres of life and whose life can be a model in the whole life of man. There is no doubt that Prophet Moses’ life was of Dignity, while the life of Jesus Christ was of Grace, but the life of the Last Prophet, Muhammad, was of Perfection. Just as his life was a model for the prayerful, pious and for sufi, so also for a man of the world, a merchant and even for a king, The Prophet Muhammad grazed goats in early life, then retired to the seclusion of the cave of Hira for meditation.
He traded in Syria, then married Khadijah and, taking to household life, preached from the top of mount Faran and in the lanes of Mecca, went to preach in Taif and among the tribes of Hejaz and suffered at the hands of enemies and opponents, served the starving people, looked after orphans and widows of the community, migrated from Mecca to Medina, made pacts with Jews of Medina, built mosques, settled disputes between parties, led prayers, delivered speeches at different places, trained armies in the battles of Badr and Uhud and led them as a commander, exhibited the highest military skill, and then prayed at night and for so long a time that his feet swelled and cracked. So, in fact, all the ways and means and models of life’s requirements are found in the sacred, perfect life of our Holy Prophet Muhammad. Just as for one who grazes goats as well as for a great trader his life is a model, so also for a preacher and for a traveller and an emigrant his sacred life is worth following, so also for a retired devotee he is a good guide and his teaching a model for worldly men of homely life.
And his teaching provides perfect regulations, for international life as also for the need of the dweller of forests. Just as his plan of work is a guide in the battlefield, so also he is a good model for people in the days of peace and security. In short, in household life, preaching, trading, leadership, sermonising and leading prayers, retired life, tending cattle, formulating laws, ruling as king, and in happiness and mourning, marriage and divorce, life and death, teaching and training children and whatever tasks come in man’s civilised life there is nothing for which there is not a model in the perfect life of the Prophet. Thus perfection of life and all embarrassing needs of life are found neither in the life of Prophet Moses, nor in Prophet Jesus. So in justice and honesty we are bound to say that the Last Prophet Muhammad embodies in him all spiritual and physical codes of human life and of glory as well as grace. Any man of the world who is in search of a correct plan of actions for this world or the next for him in all honesty there is no other course but to take cover under the vast and merciful shade of the Last of the Prophets, Muhammad, and his sacred and complete life, his code of conduct.
The entire assembly was struck dumb after this speech of Isabella and even the Christian woman with all her claim of performing miracles was entranced. When Isabella found the Christian woman sunk in humility and remorse, she apologised to all guests and said good-bye to them.
It is reported by Abu Hafs that the effect of this speech was that many of the Christian women present at the meeting accepted Islam and after some years even that Christian woman also accepted Islam at the truthful hands of Isabella. But it did not happen all at once ; it took a few years for the amenable souls to come under the shade of Divine Grace and Mercy.
So long as Isabella lived she continued to render magnificent services to Islam. On the one hand she silenced Christians and on the other hand poured an ocean of learning in traditions and interpretation of the Holy Quran, and thousands of Muslim divines were benefited by her learning. She lived up to the age of eighty. All Spain mourned her death and millions offered her funeral prayer.