August 15, 2013 Leave a comment
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Before the coming of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), humanity was going through one of the worst periods in its history, a truly “dark age”. Nothing was untouched by this darkness. It pervaded the lives of the people in every way: religiously, morally, socially, politically, and economically. Humanity was going through endless turmoil. Ignorance pervaded all aspects of a life typified by vain desires, deficiency, bigotry, and deviance.
The effects of the divinely revealed teachings of before had all but disappeared. They had become corrupted with alterations and substitutions to such an extent that they lost their relevance as Allah’s Message to humanity. The adherents of these faiths engaged in ideological conflicts with each other caused by the effects of human interference with the original religious teachings. This often led to violent wars between them. Those who remained on the uncorrupted faith were extremely few. They found no place for themselves in the societal framework in which they lived. Therefore, they preferred to be reclusive and live a life of seclusion. The Prophet (peace be upon him) indicated how universal and absolute the corruption was at that time, encompassing all peoples and every aspect of life without exception. He said in one of his sermons:
Verily, my Lord has commanded me to teach you, from what He has taught me today, what you had been ignorant of. Allah declares: “All the wealth that I give to My servants is lawful for them. Verily I created all of My servants on the pure and natural faith, then the devils came to them and took them away from their religion. They forbade them what I had made permissible for them and commanded them to associate partners with Me whom I had never given any authority.”
Verily Allah looked at the denizens of the Earth and despised them, the Arabs among them and the non-Arabs, except for a few people who remained of the true People of the Scripture.” [Sahih Muslim]
We learn from this sermon that the deviance of humanity at that time was general and all-encompassing. Chief among this deviance was polytheism. People at that time were engaging in the worship of numerous deities along with Allah or instead of Him. They worshipped many things, including the Sun, the Moon, the angels, the jinn, the planets, fire, trees, stones, totems… even the very prophets of Allah.
The people who possessed the scripture had thrown the true teachings of their religion behind their backs, inventing religious laws for themselves in which Allah had vested no authority. They forbade for themselves certain types of wealth and cattle, like the different types of cattle that they dedicated to their gods. This is why He said: “All the wealth that I give to My servants is lawful for them.” and: “They forbade them what I had made permissible for them.”
This is the most catastrophic form of deviance – when the very people who carry the divinely revealed teachings became corrupt and become implicated in the misguidance of their people.
The nations of the Earth at that time were all in this sorry state of corruption. The Arabs, however, had the lion’s share of problems. They were afflicted by the most severe form of religious decay and decline. They were plagued by the most imbecilic form of idolatry known to man. Their society was wracked with enduring moral and social ills of the worst kind. Their laws were corrupt and their political circumstances were in constant upheaval. For this reason, they were of little consequence to the world around them. They were barely a footnote in the history of world events. The best that some of them could achieve was to live as subjects of Roman or Persian authority.
Their hearts were enamored with the legacy of their forefathers. They would slavishly follow in their ways and traditions, no matter how misguided, twisted, or corrupt some of those traditions might have been. This is why they worshiped idols. Each tribe had its own patron idol.
Along with these major idols, there were countless minor ones, some of them seasonal.
Abu Raja’ al-`Utaridi recalled: “We used to worship stones. When we saw a stone that was choicer than the one we had, we would discard our stone and substitute it with that one. When we could not find a stone, we would pile together a mound of dirt. Then we would bring a sheep and milk it over the mound. Then, we would circumambulate the mound.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
The pervasive idolatry of the Arabs was a barrier to their proper awareness, reverence, and veneration of Allah. Because of it, they did not have proper faith in Allah and the Last Day. Their hearts were filled with these idiotic traditions. Though they claimed that their idols merely acted as intermediaries between them and Allah, these false gods had taken complete possession of their hearts, their deeds, their behavior, and every aspect of their lives. Their consciousness of Allah was very weak.
Allah says: “And they assign to Allah a share of the tilth and cattle that He created. They say, according to their whims: ‘This is for Allah and this is for Allah’s partners.’ But the share of their “partners” does not reach Allah, while the share of Allah reaches their ‘partners’! Evil is the way they judge!” [Surah al-An`am: 136]
Even what remained of the religion of Abraham (peace be upon him) was not free from corruption and substitution. The pilgrimage had become a season for boasting, fostering enmity, and competing with one another. What remained of the pure beliefs of that religion had become weak and obscure, having been distorted by superstitions and fables that cut them off from their noble origins.
Nevertheless, no matter how corrupt people become and no matter how far they stray from guidance, as long as there remains a group of people on Earth who forbid corruption and proclaim the truth openly, clearly, and without hesitation, neither faltering nor fearing anyone, then success will be theirs, one way or another. Success will continue to alternate between truth and falsehood in the ongoing conflict between truth and unbelief. Allah says: “Such days we give to people in turns.” [Surah Al `Imran: 140]