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In the Shade of the Qur'an - Surah # 105

In the Shade of the Qur'an - Surah # 105
Syed Qutb
Sura # 105
                                  al Feel

            In the name of Allah, the Beneficient, the Merciful!

  Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the people of the
  Elephant? Did He not cause their treacherous plan to be futile,
  and send against them flights of birds, which pelted them with
  stones of sand and clay? Thus He made them like devoured dry
                        In the Shade of the Qur'an

  This surah refers to a widely famous incident in the Arabian Peninsula
  which took place before the commencement of the Islamic message. The
  incident shows very clearly how Allah protected the Holy land, which He
  willed to be the focal point of the last enlightenment, the cradle of the
  new ideology, from where it was to begin its blessed and holy march to
  exterminate Ignorance from all corners of the world and to establish in
  its place Allah's infallible guidance. The various reports on this
  incident relate that after the Abyssinians had expelled the Persians
  from Yemen and established their rule there, the Abyssinian governor of
  Yemen, Abrahah, built a superbly luxurious church in his area giving it
  the name of the Abyssinian emperor at the time. He did this after he had
  witnessed the love and enthusiasm of Yemeni Arabs - which were the same
  as those felt all over the Arab land - to the Ka'ba, the Holy Mosque at
  Makka; with the aim of making them forsake their attachment to the Mosque
  of Makka and turn instead to his new luxurious church.

  But the Arabs did not turn away from their Holy House. They believed
  themselves to be the descendants of Abraham and Ishmael who built the
  House. For them, this fact was a source of pride in line with their
  tradition of taking pride in their forefathers. Besides, vain and hollow
  as they were, their beliefs were, in their eyes, better and more profound
  than those of the people of earlier revelations (Jews and Christians).
  They knew how the latter beliefs were conflicting and futile.

  As a result, Abrahah made up his mind to pull down the Ka'ba in order
  to achieve his objective of turning the Arabs away from it. He therefore
  marched at the head of a great army equipped with elephants. In the front
  was a very big elephant which enjoyed special fame among Abrahah's men.
  The news of Abrahah's march and his objective travelled in the Arab land
  and there spread among the Arabs very strong feelings against the
  destruction of their Holy House. A nobleman of the royal family of
  Yemen, called Thu Nafar, tried to stop the Abyssinian governor, calling
  on his people and other Arabs to fight Abrahah and defend the Holy House.
  Some Arab tribes joined him in a battle against Abrahah which Thu Nafar
  lost before he was taken prisoner. Later, while Abrahah was on his way,
  he was attacked by Nafeel ibn Habab Al Khath'ami, who had mobilised two
  Arab tribes as well as troops from other supporting tribes, but Abrahah
  won the battle again and captured Nafeel. Nafeel then agreed to act as a
  guide for Abrahah to show him the way in the Arab land. When the
  Abyssinian governor approached Ta'if,' a number of its leaders went to
  him to say that the House he wanted to pull down was in Makka and not at
  Ta'if. They did this in order that he would not destroy the house they had
  built for their idol "Al-Lat". They also provided him with a guide to show
  him the way to the Ka'ba.
  Then on arrival at Al-Mughammas (a valley mid-way between Ta'if and Makka),
  Abrahah despatched one of his commanders to Makka where he looted some
  belongings of the Quraish and other Arabs, including two hundred camels
  which belonged to Abdulmuttalib ibn Hashim, the chief of Makka and the
  Prophet's grandfather. Quraish, Kinana, Huthail and neighbouring Arab
  tribes gathered to fight Abrahah but then they realised that they stood
  no chance of winning, so they did not proceed. Then Abrahah sent a
  messenger to Makka to meet its chief and convey to him that the governor
  of Yemen did not come to fight the Makkans but to pull down the House; if
  they left him to accomplish what he had come for, he would be pleased not
  to cause any bloodshed. Abrahah also ordered his messenger to bring with
  him the Makkan chief if the latter did not propose to fight. When the
  messenger communicated his master's message to Abdulmuttalib, the latter
    By God, we do not want to fight him and we have no power to resist
    him. This is God's sacred House, built by His chosen friend, Abraham.
    If He protects it against him, it is because the House is His, and if
    He leaves it to him to destroy, we cannot defend it.
  Abdulmuttalib then went with the messenger to Abrahah. Ibn Ishaq said
  that Abdulmuttalib was a most handsome, charming and attractive person.
  When Abrahah saw him he felt much respect for him. He felt that Abdul
  Muttalib was too noble to sit beneath his royal bed but at the same time
  he did not wish to be seen by the Abyssinians sitting with him on his
  royal bed, so he came down and sat with Abdulmuttalib on the carpet.
  Then Abrahah ordered his interpreter to ask his guest what he wanted.
  Abdulmuttalib said he wanted to request the king to give him back his
  two hundred camels which were looted by his commander. Abrahah ordered
  his interpreter to tell Abdulmuttalib on his behalf:
    I admired you when I first saw you but when I spoke to you I was
    disappointed. Do you come to talk to me about two hundred looted
    camels and forget about the House which is an embodiment of your
    and your forefathers' religion and which I have come to destroy?
    You did not even say a word to persuade me to spare it.
  Abdulmuttalib said:
    I am only the master of my camels, but the House has its own Lord
    who is sure to protect it.
  Abrahah snapped, "It cannot be defended against me". The Makkan chief
  said: "You take your chance!" Abrahah returned his camels to him. Abdul
  Muttalib went back to the Quraish and told them of his encounter with
  the Abyssinian commander and ordered them to leave Makka and seek shelter
  in the mountains surrounding it. Then he went with a few personalities of
  the Quraish to the Ka'ba where he held the ring on its door in his hand.
  They all prayed hard to Allah for his help and protection of the House.
  Abdulmuttalib is reported to have recited the following lines of poetry
  in his prayer:

    Our Lord, a creature protects his property, so protect Yours. Let
    not their cross and their might ever overcome Your might. If You
    are leaving them to destroy our House of worship, then You surely
    have something in mind.

  Abrahah, on the other hand, ordered his army to march with the elephants
  to complete their mission, but just outside Makka the renowned big elephant
  sat down and refused to go any further. The soldiers exerted all efforts
  to persuade the elephant to enter the city but their efforts were in vain.
  This incident is a fact acknowledged by the Prophet. When his she-camel,
  Al-Qaswa', sat down some distance away from Makka, on the day when the
  Hudaibiyah peace agreement was concluded, the Prophet said to those of
  his companions who claimed she had become mulish, that she had not and
  that mulishness was not part of her nature. "But", the Prophet added, "she
  has been prevented by the same will which debarred the Elephant from
  entering Makka". On the day of the conquest of Makka, the Prophet said:

    Allah protected Makka against the Elephant but He allowed His
    messenger and the Believers to conquer it. Its sanctity today is
    the same as yesterday. Let those who hear this convey it to those
  Then Allah's will to destroy the Abyssinian army and its commander was
  fulfilled. He sent groups of birds to stone the attackers with stones
  of sand and clay, leaving them like dry and torn leaves, as the Holy
  Qur'an tells. Abrahah suffered physical injuries. The remainder of the
  army carried him on their way back to Yemen but his limbs began to
  separate from the rest of the body and he started losing one finger
  after another, until they arrived at Sana'a. Abrahah died after his
  chest was broken apart, according to various reports. Versions relating
  to this event vary with regard to the description of those groups of
  birds, their size and the nature of stones and the manner of their
  effect. Some of these versions add that smallpox and measles broke
  out in Makka in that year. Those who are inclined to limit the scale
  of miracles and imperceptible phenomena and who seek to explain all
  events as resulting from the operation of familiar natural phenomena,
  prefer to explain this event as an actual outbreak of smallpox and
  measles among the army. They further explain that "the birds" could
  have been flies or mosquitoes carrying germs. The word "bird" in Arabic
  refers to all that flies. Imam Muhammad 'Abduh, explaining this surah in
  his commentary on the thirtieth part of the Qur'an, says:

    On the second day the epidemic of smallpox and measles broke out
    among the soldiers. Ikrimah said: "It was the first time smallpox
    had appeared in the Arab land". Yakoub ibn Utbah said: "That was
    the year when measles and smallpox appeared in Arabia. The
    diseases had an almost unparalleled effect on their bodies: their
    flesh began falling apart. The soldiers and their commander were
    horror-stricken and ran away. Abrahah was also hit; his flesh
    continued falling off his body, finger by finger, until eventually
    his chest broke and he died at Sana'a. This is what different reports
    have mentioned and what is logically  acceptable. This holy surah shows
    us that the smallpox and measles  were produced by solid stones carried
    and thrown on the soldiers by  colossal groups of birds which are
    usually carried by winds. It is in line to believe that those birds
    referred to in the surah were a kind of fly or mosquito which carries
    the germs of some diseases, and that the stones were of dried and
    poisonous clay which the wind carried and which might have stuck to
    the legs of those birds. When this clay touched any organism, it
    penetrated deep into it and then caused complications of wounds and
    injuries which upset the whole body, leading to the dropping off of
    the flesh. Many kinds of these powerless birds are, as a matter of
    fact, the most efficient troops of Allah, which He uses for the
    destruction of whomsoever He wills. That little organism called now a
    days "germ" is within this classification. It gathers in big groups,
    the number of which is unknown except to the Creator. It is not
    essential for the manifestation of Allah's might that the birds should
    be as big as mountain tops, or of a certain shape or colour, and it is
    not essential for this manifestation that we should know the size of
    those stones and the way they work. For Allah has troops of all kinds:
    "In everything He has a sign attesting to His Unity", as the saying
    There is no force in the universe but is subject to His power. To that
    tyrant (Abrahah) who wanted to destroy the House, Allah sent birds
    carrying smallpox and measles. Both he and his people were destroyed
    before entering Makka. That was a grace and a blessing from Allah
    bestowed on the neighbours of His sanctuary in spite of their
    polytheism. Allah wished to protect His House until He sent the one
    who would protect it with the force of faith and ideology, that is,
    the Prophet. At the same time, it was a punishment from Allah inflicted
    on His enemies, the people of the Elephant, who wanted to destroy the
    House without any reason to justify their action.

    This can be taken as a basis for understanding this surah. Nothing else
    can be accepted without logical explanation, even if it is authentically
    reported. The Divine power would be exhibited more strikingly when those
    who manifested their might by recruiting elephants (the biggest four
    legged animals) should be destroyed and crushed by a tiny animal
    invisible to human eyes. For the wise, this is certainly greater,
    more fascinating and miraculous.

  Neither this assumption (of smallpox or measles resulting from clay
  infected with germs of these diseases) advanced by the well-versed Imam,
  nor the opposite one described in some narratives, that the stones (thrown
  by the birds) split the heads and bodies of the Abyssinians and went
  through in them to tear their bodies apart leaving them like remnants
  of dry leaves - neither of the two explanations outweighs the other in
  manifesting Allah's might and neither needs be taken as a better
  explanation of the event. To me, both are the same with regard to their
  possibility and the exhibition of Allah's power. Whether the natural
  phenomena known and familiar to man operated to destroy the people Allah
  willed to be destroyed, or His purpose was accomplished through some
  Divine rules and phenomena of which man has no knowledge, are in my view
  exactly the same.

  The Divine rules of nature are not circumscribed by the boundaries of
  man's knowledge or what is familiar to him. For man knows of the Divine
  rules of nature only a fraction which Allah has put before him and which
  is proportionate to his capacity of understanding and thought nourished
  by his experience through the ages. Hence, the so-called miracles are
  part of the rules of nature laid down by Allah, but they are miracles
  only when measured by human knowledge and experience.

  Hence, there is no need for unease or doubt when faced with a supernatural
  event. Nor is there any need to seek an explanation for it, if the reports
  mentioning it are authentic, or if there are enough reasons, based on what
  is in the texts, to suggest that it was supernatural and did not comply
  with known natural laws. That a certain event should run according to
  familiar natural laws is not, in my opinion, less significant or less
  effective than its following supernatural laws. The natural rules familiar
  to men are in fact miraculous when weighed in the measures of man's powers
  and abilities. Sunrise is a miracle, though it occurs every day, and the
  birth of every child is superhuman in spite of its happening every minute.
  It anyone wants to challenge this, let him try to devise a birth! The
  employment of birds of any kind to carry ground stones infected with
  germs of smallpox and measles, then to throw them at that particular
  place and time, to afflict the raiding army with these epidemics at the
  moment when the army was about to overwhelm the city and destroy the House,
  is indeed a great miracle. That Allah's will should have been realized in
  that way would comprise several miracles with each as a clear manifestation
  of Allah's might and will. Had that course been followed, it would not have
  been less significant or less striking than sending a certain kind of bird,
  carrying unfamiliar kinds of stones, to afflict human bodies with a
  peculiar sort of affliction at that particular time. The two courses are
  the same; both are supernatural and superhuman.

  As for the event in question, the opinion advocating an unfamiliar,
  superhuman course carries more weight. This opinion visualises that Allah
  sent groups of unfamiliar birds, carrying strange stones which caused
  extraordinary affliction to human bodies. To accept this opinion does not
  necessitate the acceptance of those narratives which describe the birds
  in a most striking and fascinating way, similar to descriptions of other
  incidents which betray exaggeration.

  The general tone. of this surah and the circumstances of the event tend
  to support this opinion. Allah had a scheme for the House: He wanted to
  preserve it as a refuge for mankind where everyone finds peace, and to
  make it a gathering point for the followers of the new faith to march out
  in security in a free land, not subject to any external force or to any
  tyrannical government which might try to smother the new message in its
  cradle. Allah also wanted to make this event a permanent lesson, clear to
  everyone in all ages, so much so that in this surah He reminds the Quraish
  even after the Prophethood' of Muhammad (peace be on him) of this grace
  He bestowed on them, and gives it as an example of how He protects His
  sanctuaries and preserves them. There is no need for any attempt to
  impart a familiar image to this event that is exceptional and singular
  in essence and circumstances. This is all the more so especially when
  we take into consideration the fact that what we know of smallpox and
  measles and their effects on man does not fit in with what was reported
  of the effects of the incident on the bodies of the soldiers and their
  commander. Neither of the two diseases causes the falling off man's
  limbs, finger by finger and organ by organ, and neither of them causes
  the breaking up of one's chest. The Qur'an's narrative suggests very
  clearly that this is what happened: "Thus He made them like devoured dry
  leaves". Moreover, the reports of Ikrimah and Yakoub ibn 'Utbah do not
  state that smallpox hit the army. Neither report says anything more than
  that smallpox broke out that year for the first time in the Arabian
  peninsula. Neither of the two men suggested that Abrahah and his army
  particularly fell victims to this epidemic. Besides, if the army only
  was hit with the disease while the Arabs around remained safe - that is,
  if the birds were meant to hit only the army - then this is again preter
  natural. Since the event is in any case supernatural, why trouble our
  selves in limiting it to a certain explanation only because this
  explanation is based on what is familiar to human senses?
  The motives of the rational school of which Imam Muhammad 'Abduh was the
  leading thinker, to limit the field of the supernatural and the
  imperceptible to our senses when explaining the Holy Qur'an, are
  commendable and understandable. This school tried to explain such events
  within the bounds of the known and familiar natural laws. It was confronted
  with the superstitious trend which tightened its grip on the minds of the
  masses at that time. Moreover, it was facing a flood of legends and
  Thalmudic narratives with which books explaining the Qur'an were over
  burdened, while the fascination with modern technology and science and
  doubt in the principles of religion was reaching its zenith. The rational
  school tried, therefore, to preserve the place of religion taking the
  standpoint that whatever it says is compatible with reason. Hence, this
  school strived to keep religion pure from any association with any kind
  of legend and superstition. It also tried to establish a religious
  mentality which understood the natural laws and recognised that they
  were constant and infallible, and which attributed all human and universal
  functions and operations to these natural laws. This mentality is in
  essence the Qur'anic mentality. For the Qur'an refers men to the natural
  laws as they constitute the permanent and infallible rule which organizes
  individual operations and diverse phenomena.
  But resisting the pressures of superstition on the one side and fascination
  with technology on the other left their stamps on that school. It became
  extra cautious, tending to make the familiar natural laws the only basis
  of the Divine Laws of nature. Hence the Qur'anic explanations of Sheikh
  Muhammad 'Abduh and his two disciples Sheikh Rasheed Rida and Sheikh Abdul
  Qadir Al-Mughrabi show clearly a strong desire to reduce the greater number
  of miracles to only the more familiar of Allah's natural laws rather than
  the supernatural. They explain some of these miracles in a way that would
  be in line with what is called "rational", and they are excessively
  cautious in accepting what is imperceptible to human senses.
  But with this understanding and appreciation of the environmental factors
  behind this trend of the rational school, it may be noted that it has gone
  too far in overlooking the other side of the comprehensive concept which
  the Qur'an aims to implant in the minds of the Muslims. This is that
  Allah's will and power are absolute, limitless and go far beyond the
  universal rules and laws He ordained, whether familiar to man or not.
  This absoluteness does not accept the human mind as a final arbiter.
  Neither does it accept the limits of the human mind as binding in such
  a way as to classify as probable only what may be acceptable to human
  reason, and to demand "rational" explanations for all which may be
  unacceptable to it. This demand is frequently stated by the advocates
  of this school. Moreover, the Divine laws of the universe are not only
  those familiar to man. Indeed, what is familiar to man is only a fraction
  of these laws. Both these and the unfamiliar laws are the same in
  manifesting the greatness of the Divine power and the exactness and
  precision of Allah's designs.

  Nevertheless, we must be well guarded against superstition and at the
  same time reject any unfounded legend with conscious moderation, so that
  we do not succumb to the influence of particular environments nor be
  motivated by the need to resist a common tradition of a certain age.

  There is a safe rule for approaching the Qur'anic texts which may be
  appropriately stated here, viz, we cannot approach what the Qur'an
  states with prejudiced minds and preconceived ideas, whether generally
  or in relation to the subject matter of the statements under study. The
  opposite is the right way: WE MUST APPROACH THE QUR'ANIC STATEMENTS IN
  Qur'an states is final as it is. For what we call "reason" and its
  adjudication on what the Qur'an relates of events in the universe or
  in the history, in the world of man or of the imperceptibles, is no
  more than the net result of our finite human existence and experiences.
  Although this reason is, in essence an absolute force, not subject to,
  or limited by individual experiences or events, yet, it is, after all,
  confined to our human existence. This existence does not reflect "The
  Absolute" as this belongs to Allah. The Qur'an comes from Allah, the
  Absolute. Hence, it is binding on us in the sense that whatever it
  states is the basis of our very "rational" concepts. Then, no one can
  say about a certain statement of the Qur'an: "It is unacceptable to
  reason, so a logical explanation must be sought for it," as the advocates
  of the rational school frequently say. This does not mean that we should
  accept superstitions, it only stresses that human reason is not the
  arbiter of what the Qur'an states. When the expressions of a Qur'anic
  text are clear and straightforward, they determine how our reasons
  should approach it in order to formulate our views concerning its subject
  matter as well as regarding other universal facts.

  Now we proceed to discuss the surah itself and try to understand the
  significance of the story.
    Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the people of the
  It is a question which draws attention to the wonders involved in the
  incident itself and stresses its great significance. The incident was
  so well known to the Arabs that they used to consider it a sort of
  beginning of history. They used to say, "This incident happened in the
  Elephant year", and, "That event took place two years before the Elephant
  year", or, "This dates to ten years after the Elephant year". It is well
  known that the Prophet was born in the Elephant year itself. This is
  perhaps one of the fascinatingly perfect arrangements of the Divine will.

  The surah then is not relating to the Arabs something they did not know.
  It is a reminder of an event well known to them, aiming at achieving
  something beyond the actual remembrance of it. After this opening note,
  Allah goes on to tell the rest of the story in the form of a rhetorical
  question: "Did He not cause their treacherous plan to be futile? ", which
  means that the designs of the people of the Elephant were useless,
  incapable of achieving anything at all. They were like someone who lost
  his way and thus could not get to his own destination. Perhaps this is a
  reminder to the Quraish of the grace Allah bestowed on them when He
  protected and preserved the House at the time when they felt too weak
  to face the mighty aggressors, the people of the Elephant. Such
  remembrance may make them feel their disgrace when they persist in
  denying Allah after He has helped them out of their weakness. It may
  also curb their conceit and heavyhandedness in their treatment of Muhammad
  and the few believers who supported him. Allah destroyed the powerful
  aggressors who wanted to pull down His House and sanctuary. Allah then
  may destroy these aggressors who try to persecute His messenger and
  suppress His message. The Qur'an superbly portrays how the defeat of
  the aggressors' designs were brought about:
    And send against them  flights of birds, which pelted them with
    stones of sand and clay. Thus He made them like devoured dry
  The birds were flying in groups. The Qur'an uses a Persian term,
  "sijjeel", which denotes "stone and clay" to describe the substance
  with which the birds struck the aggressors. The dry leaves were
  described as ''devoured'' to denote that insects or other animals
  had eaten them. It is a vivid image of the physical shattering of
  the Abyssinian soldiers when they were stricken with these muddy
  stones. There is no need to go into such explanations as that it
  was an allegorical description of their destruction with smallpox or

  The significance of this event is far reaching and the lessons deduced
  from mentioning it in the Qur'an are numerous. It first suggests that
  Allah did not want the polytheists to take the responsibility of
  protecting His House, in spite of the fact that they held it in deep
  respect and sought security in being its neighbours. When He willed to
  preserve the House and made it clear that He Himself was its protector
  who looked after it, He left the polytheists to be defeated by the
  Abyssinians. The Divine Will then directly intervened to repel the
  aggression and preserve the sacred House of Allah. Thus the polytheists
  did not have the chance to hold the protection of the House as a 'favour
  they did to Allah' or as "an act of honour". If they did, they would have
  been prompted by the fanatic impulses of Ignorance. This point gives
  considerable weight to the argument that the Divine Will of destroying
  the aggressors was accomplished through preternatural rules.

  This direct intervention by Allah to protect the Holy House should have
  prompted the Quraish and the rest of the Arabian tribes to embrace Islam,
  the Divine religion, when it was conveyed to them by the Prophet. Surely,
  their respect and guardianship of the House, and the paganism they spread
  around it, should not have been their reason for rejecting Islam ! Allah's
  reminder to them of this event is a part of His campaign against them and
  His drawing attention to their amazingly stubborn attitude.

  The event also suggests that Allah did not allow the people of earlier
  revelations, represented in this case by Abrahah and his army, to destroy
  the sacred House or to impose their authority over the Holy land, even
  when it was surrounded by the impurity of polytheism and the polytheists
  were its custodians. Thus the House remained free from any human
  authority, safe against all plottings and designs. Allah preserved the
  freedom of the land in order that the new faith would grow up there
  completely free, not subjected to the authority of any despot. Allah
  revealed this religion as the force which keeps under its fold all
  other religions and all mankind and takes over the leadership of
  humanity. This was Allah's will concerning His House and religion. It
  was accomplished long before any human being knew that the Prophet, who
  was to convey the new message, was born in the same year. We feel
  contented and reassured when we realize this aspect of the significance
  of the event. We know the wicked ambitions of international crusading
  forces and world Zionism concerning the Holy lands. We realize that
  these forces spare no effort to  achieve their wicked ambitions. But
  we are not worried. For Allah who protected His House against the
  aggression of the people of earlier revelations when its custodians
  were polytheists will protect it again, if He wills, and will protect
  Medina the city of His Messenger against the plottings and designs of
  the evil doers. The third aspect the event refers to concerns the reality
  of the Arabian situation at the time. The Arabs did not have any role to
  play on the face of the earth; they did not even have an identity of
  their own before Islam. In the Yemen they were subjugated by either the
  Persians or the Abyssinians. If they had any government of their own it
  was under the protection of the Persians. In the north, Syria was
  subject to the Byzantine rule which was either direct or in the shape of
  an Arab government under the protection of the Byzantines. Only the heart
  land of the Arabian Peninsula escaped foreign rule. But this also was in
  a state of tribalism and division which deprived it of any weight in world
  power politics. Tribal war could drag on for forty years or more, but
  neither individually nor as a group did these tribes count as a power in
  the eyes of the neighbouring mighty empires. What happened with regard to
  the "Elephant" aggression was a correct assessment of the real force of
  these tribes when faced with a foreign aggressor.

  Under Islam the Arabs had, for the first time in history, an international
  role to play. They also had a powerful state to be taken into
  consideration by the world powers. They possessed a sweeping force that
  destroys thrones, conquers empires, and brings down the false deviating
  and ignorant leaderships in order to take over the leadership of mankind.
  But what facilitated these achievements for the Arabs for the first time
  in their history was that they forgot their Arabism. They forgot the
  racial urges and fanaticism. They remembered that they were Muslims, and
  Muslims only. They carried the message of a forceful and all-comprehensive
  faith, which they delivered to humanity with mercy and compassion. They
  did not uphold any sort of nationalism or factionalism. They were the
  exponents of a Divine idea which gives mankind a Divine, not earthly,
  doctrine to be applied as a way of life. They left their homes to
  struggle for the cause of Allah alone. They were not after the
  establishment of an Arab empire under which they may live in luxury
  and conceit. Their aim was not to subjugate other nations to their own
  rule after freeing them from the rule of the Byzantine or the Persians.
  It was an aim clearly defined by Rabaie ibn Amir, the Muslims' messenger
  to the Persian commander, when he said in the latter's headquarters:
    Allah ordered us to set out in order to save humanity from the
    worship of creatures and bring it to the worship of Allah alone,
    to save it from the narrowness of this life so that it may look
    forward to the broadness of the life hereafter, and from the
    oppression of other religions so that it may enjoy the justice
    of Islam.

  Then, and only then, did the Arabs have an identity, a power and a
  leadership. But all of these were devoted to Allah alone. They possessed
  their power and leadership as long as they followed the right path. But
  when they deviated and followed their narrow nationalistic ideas, and
  when they substituted for the banner of Islam that of factional bonds,
  they came under subjugation by other nations. For Allah deserted them
  whenever they deserted Him; He neglected them as they neglected Him.

  What are the Arabs without Islam? What is the ideology that they gave,
  or they can give to humanity if they abandon Islam? What value can a
  nation have without an ideology which it may present to mankind? Every
  nation which assumed the leadership of humanity in any period of history
  advanced an ideology. Nations which did not, such as the Tartars who
  swept over the east, or the Berbers who crushed the Roman Empire in the
  west, could not survive for long. They were assimilated by the nations
  they conquered. The only ideology the Arabs advanced for mankind was the
  Islamic faith which raised them to the position of human leadership. If
  they forsake it they will no longer have any function or role to play in
  human history. The Arabs should remember this well if they want to live
  and to be powerful and to assume the leadership of mankind. It is Allah
  who provides guidance for us lest we go astray.





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