Ch 8: Behind the Curtain
In the course of this talk Umar Lahmi addressed Isabella.
Umar Lahmi: So for securing forgiveness of sins all kinds of dirty acts have to be narrated? But how did you use to seek forgiveness?
Isabella (lowering her eyes with modesty): On a given date everyone has to go to the great church, the same where you had discussion with Michael and Peter and then…
Umar Lahmi: Are girls also bound to appear?
Isabella: Yes, every adult girl and boy is present there and the priest enquires from everyone what sins he had committed the previous week. After stating the sins and making confession, the priest, passing his hand on the head of the sinner, says: Now go. By the blessing of Jesus Christ all your sins are forgiven.
Umar Lahmi: Are questions put to everyone in seclusion or in the presence of all?
Isabella: It would not have been so shameful if everyone were asked to confess in seclusion. But everyone is questioned in the presence of all before the certificate of pardon is granted.
Umar Lahmi: Allah forgive! Even in the presence of unmarried boys and girls?
Isabella: Yes, and in fact (bowing her head in shame again) unmarried boys and girls have to confess in public and in the hearing of all.
Umar Lahmi: Allah forgive us! In the confession of sins many shameful things may have to be stated. Supposing one has committed theft, he shall have to confess it before all.
Isabella: Not only theft, even the most heinous act has to be publicly confessed. If anyone does not confess and conceals something, then the pardon is not granted and the sinner is threatened of Hell.
Umar Lahmi: This might be having a very bad effect on the morals of unmarried boys and girls.
Isabella: Certainly. But among the Roman Catholics no importance is attached to sins securing pardon of sins being so easy. This has made people bold in committing sins.
One of the audience: Are sins of common people forgiven by the priest himself?
Ziad (smiling): Probably the priest may not be committing any sins.
At this stage Ziad b. Umar leaves the meeting and goes upstairs to devote himself in prayer and devotion.
Isabella (lowering eyes in shame and modesty): You cannot conceive what our religious leaders do, particularly our monks, and how full of sins is their life.
Umar Lahmi: What! Are the lives of religious leaders even worse than common people? What are you talking? It does not mean that by becoming a Muslim you make false allegations against anyone. Punishment of false accusation is very severe according to the Holy Quran.
Isabella: You must think like that because you are not aware of the black record of the monks’ lives and since you cannot even conceive of these shameful acts, you may not be wrong if you think me lying or disbelieve me.
Umar Lahmi: Is it a fact? If so, please let us know in detail.
All those present insisted that Isabella should throw some light on these matters so that they may have an idea of the great boons conferred by Islam.
Isabella: You know that abandoning the world and the life of a monk have been greatly stressed in Christianity and, therefore, most of our priests have adopted monkery and have forsaken the world. To gain salvation they take great pains and afflict their bodies. In the same way women also become nuns (that is follow in the footsteps of Virgin Mary and lead unmarried lives). But at the same time monks and nuns cannot maintain their chastity. Monks and religious leaders are also corrupt and nuns often completely lose their chastity. Because of confession and pardon monks often find a good opportunity to satisfy their lust. Nuns are mostly involved in this moral depravity while some monks do not spare even their mothers and sisters. [Laski, History of Civilization of Europe, Vol. II].
(At this stage Isabella is extremely ashamed and perspires.)
All present: Allah protect us ! Allah forgive us ! All power and authority is with Allah!
Umar Lahmi: These things happen because Christianity has dignified unmarried life and asceticism which is against Nature and Divine law. A strong argument of the falsity of Christianity is also that it enjoins on men such laws as are against Nature which men cannot follow. It is for this that the Apostle of Islam had declared that La Rahbaniyat fil-Islam. [There is no monkery or giving up the world in Islam.] He also said : An-nikah min sunnati fa-man raghaba an sunnati fa-laisa minni [Marriage is my system and whosoever turns away from my system is not of me]. The Quran says: “And (as for) monkery, they innovated it—We did not prescribe it to them, but they did not observe it with its due observance.” And how can anyone observe a thing which is unnatural and against law?
Isabella: Has Islam prohibited monkery and abandoning the world?
Umar Lahmi: Certainly. You have just heard what the Holy Quran and the Prophet of Islam say.
Isabella was greatly moved on this and the dignity of Islam was further enhanced in her mind.
A person: So the monks do not discriminate between the permissible and the prohibited, between right and wrong ?
Isabella: There are many shameful things. When the honour of their mothers and sisters is not safe at their hands, what else they would not be doing!
Mr Laski in his book, European Morals, has very elaborately exposed the depravities of monks and priests in general and has written that there was no moral crime which they did not commit.
A person: Are the nuns also so corrupt?
Isabella: Allah may protect us. Their condition is worse than monks.
Even European historians have testified that when a tank in a school of nuns was cleaned out several thousand craniums of babies were found there which had been thrown in to conceal corruption of some of them.
Umar Lahmi: In fact the root of all this corruption is the creed, of Atonement which has given licence to Christians to commit sins.
Isabella: Surely, you have understood it well. In fact, the creed of Atonement has taken away the fear of sins and everyone is confident that by confessing before the priest all kinds of sias will be forgiven.
Umar Lahmi: Allah-o-Akbar (Allah is great!). The greatness and truth of Islam is also manifest from the fact (hat while rejecting the creed of Atonement, it has made good conduct the basis of salvation and felicity and at the same time it has propounded the principle that: “He who does an atom’s weight of good will see it. And he who does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.”
A person (to Isabella): You know that the creed of Atonement has induced Christians to commit sins, but there is also another reason. Christians consider all Prophets to be sinners and think that they have been committing all kinds of sins in their life.
Isabella: This seems to be wrong. If the holy Prophets are also taken to be sinners, then who will be left to cause aversion from sins and what right shall they have to ask people to refrain from sins ?
Umar Lahmi: You are right, but what would you say to the Christians regarding holy Apostles (Allah forbid!) as idol-worshippers, adulterers and liars ?
Isabella: Oh brother! it is really the creed of Christians. They regard Apostles as idol-worshippers and also liars. If this is so, which of the Christian books say so ?
Umar Lahmi: My sister! you do not know yet the ideas of Christians and, in order to justify their own sins, what serious accusations they have made against Apostles. Since you have not yet carefully studied your sacred books you are surprised at my words. I assure you that if Islam had not come and the Champion of all Goodness, the Chief of Apostles, had not exposed the untruths of Christians and Jews, no one would have found any proof of the chastity of Apostles today.
Isabella : Are the Christians so shameless that they still believe in Prophets while considering them sinners. Probably you have misunderstood. I have not yet heard from anyone that Apostles worshipped idols and told untruths. Can you prove your allegations from the religious and revealed books of Christians ?
Umar Lahmi: Certainly from your revealed books…
Isabella : My religious and revealed books! My religious and revealed book is the Holy Quran.
Umar Lahmi: I mean the books which you as a Christian regarded religious and revealed. They contain all these things.
Isabella : Very strange! But kindly give some proof of it.
Umar Lahmi: I say it again that in the sacred Christian books Prophets (Allah forbid!) have been described as adulterers and idol-worshippers. It is said about Prophet Lut (Lot) (the Old Testament in his hand) had sexual intercourse with his daughters. See Genesis, Chapter 19, verses 32-38. About Prophet David it is said that he had. sexual intercourse with an alien woman. See Samuel 2, Chapter 11, verse 4. Then it is said about Prophet Samson (Shamshun) that he had intercourse with an alien woman and then had a love affair with another. See Judges, chapter 16, verse 1.
All present: Allah forbid ! Allah may curse the Jews and Christians! Allah forgive us! Allah forgive us!
Isabella is ashamed and perspires and could not speak.
Umar Lahmi : Now, listen further. In the Christian sacred books Prophets have also been said to have been liars. First the Prophet Samson (Shamshun) told a lie and taught a wrong thing to a woman thrice. See Judges, chapter 16. Next a Prophet (whose name is not mentioned in the Bible) told a lie. See 2 Kings, chapter 13. Another Prophet also told a lie. See 1 Kings, chapter 20. Christ told a lie. See 1 Kings, chapter 22, verse 15. Apostle Jeremiah also spoke a lot of falsehood. See Jeremiah, chapter 38. (To Isabella:) You know Saint Paul very well. What do the Christians say of him ?
Isabella : Christians believe Saint Paul to be a prophet and all great priests are regarded as successors of Saint Paul and for this they are authorised to forgive sins.
Umar Lahmi: Quite right. But is it not said about him in all the four Bibles that when the enemies arrested Jesus Christ and wanted to arrest Saint Paul, he thrice cursed Jesus- Christ and told a lie that he did not know him (Christ)?
Isabella : Of course, it is so written. I used to take daily lessons of the Bible from my teacher, Michael.
Umar Lahmi: Now, take the proof of the third thing that, according to Christians, Prophets worshipped idols. It is written in the Book of Exodus (which is the fourth part of Taurat), chapter 32, verse 4, that Prophet Aaron asked his people to make idols and taught them to worship them. In chapter 11 of 1 Kings, it is said that Prophet Solomon at the insistence of his wife worshipped idols in his old age and thus assigned partners to Allah. Allah forbid!
Isabella : Allah protect us !
Umar Lahmi: Look, I have the Bible with me and I have marked relevant portions. You may see yourself that I am not telling a lie. (Isabella turns over the pages and reads all the references.) My object in referring to these is that Christians boldly and fearlessly commit all kinds of sins because, according to them, Prophets also committed them (Allah forbid!) and they think that when Prophets were not deprived of their prophethood in spite of their sins, why should common people be condemned on that very account.
Isabella: Does the Quran call all Prophets innocent ?
Umar Lahmi: It is the greatest merit of the Quran that it has strongly repudiated all the wrong ideas and allegations of the Jews and Christians and declares that Prophets did not. even think of committing sins, to say the least of actually committing them. The Quran says that what the Prophets prohibited they had never even thought of doing it, and the Quran counts all Prophets among the virtuous.
Isabella : Is it not written in the Quran that Prophet Adam ate the fruit of the prohibited tree? Is it not disobedience of God’s orders a sin?
Umar Lahmi: The definition of sin is that it is an act which is committed deliberately. Anything done unintentionally is not a sin. For instance, a man is prohibited from eating or drinking while he is observing fast, but if anyone eats and drinks in forgetfulness the fast is not broken and there is no sin. Prophet Adam also ate the fruit of the prohibited tree in forgetfulness as the Quran says: “We had taken a pledge from Adam but he forgot it and We did not find deliberation in him.”
Isabella: Glory to God! I know it today that Adam committed no sin, otherwise Christian priests used to allege that Adam is described as a sinner in the Quran. (Suddenly becoming conscious of the time) Oh! I am very much delayed and should go home at once. My father and mother will be anxiously waiting for me, and I have not yet taken my food.
Umar Lahmi: If you like food can be served to you here. The common food of my master (Ziad b. Umar) will be served to all of us, You may also participate. Will you accept this request of mine?
Isabella: Thank you very much, but I will prefer to take food at my house, for mother does not eat till I return after walk. She always takes food with me.
Umar Lahmi: How long will she have your company in taking food! At last one day the secret has to be out.
Isabella: Leave it to the time when it comes, but just now permit me to leave.
Umar Lahmi: When will you bring your friends with you?
Isabella: Tomorrow if possible, otherwise day after tomorrow certainly. And now you should pray that they should also be guided to the right path like me.
All present : Amin!