First publication of a pamphlet from Intellectual Muslim
Throughout history, Islam has encountered opposition from both its rivals and its own followers. Even during the early years of Islam and under the prophet’s leadership, a group of Muslims (or so-called companions) opposed and sometimes violated the prophet’s commands at various occasions. While there existed true companions of the prophet who took upon themselves the responsibility of propagating and delivering the authentic message of Islam, there were those who viewed embracing Islam as a means for taking over the leadership of the Arabian Peninsula and other parts of the world. Consequently, Islamic history has been written by those who used Islam for their own advantage disregarding the corruption and misguidance of its leaders and caliphs.
This phenomenon is not unique to Islam though. During the medieval ages, the Christian church exploited the message of Jesus to influence the lives of the masses and to suppress opposition, freedom of speech and freedom of knowledge-seeking. However, unlike Christianity in which the retaliation to the church has resulted in adopting secularism, there is little mention of similar incidents by Arabs and Muslims when looking into the history of Islam. A religion as great as Islam will manifest its greatness only by admitting the shortcomings committed by those who claimed to be followers of the religion while their motivation was earthly gains rather than following the teachings of Islam.
Hanging Onto the Profitable Status Quo
When Prophet Muhammad was chosen by Allah to deliver his message, Arabs (especially the elite) did not deny the existence of Allah nor did they find the message of Islam to be human-made or false. However, Arabs knew that Islam would take away their wealth, pride, and elatedness in two aspects. Firstly, Mecca was the center of the pilgrimage, and the Meccan tribes made huge monetary gains during these seasonal pilgrimage markets through trade and commercial transactions. Secondly, there were around 360 idols each of which was owned by a main tribe. Arabs considered these idols to be mediators between them and Allah; hence, Meccan tribes were in charge of caretaking for these idols which was a profitable business. As a result, Meccans realized that submitting to Allah meant to give up power, wealth, and arrogance and to be equated in treatment with slaves. To avoid power loss, they attempted to compromise the message of Islam either by offering the prophet leadership and money (which he clearly rejected) or by waging war on Islam and Muslims.
Plotting for Future Leadership
However, there were other Arabs who foresaw the importance of Islam in the future as means to rule others in the name of God. These Arabs embraced Islam with the expectation that they would eventually utilize their Islamic seniority to justify the legitimacy of their leadership after the death of Prophet Muhammad. This group included some who embraced Islam before the migration to Medina and many others who had no choice but to embrace Islam as the prophet took over Mecca and freed it from idols. It is those people who ended up ruling the Islamic world for tens of years after the death of the prophet. Condemning their motivations, the Quran speaks clearly to those Arabs “The Badwins say, ‘We believe.’ Say, ‘you have no faith; but you (only) say, ‘We have submitted our wills to Allah,’ for Faith has not yet entered your hearts.” [Chapter 49, Verse 14 of the Holy Quran]
Opposition to the Prophet
Some of those Muslims who later on took leadership of the Muslim nation have been cited opposing the prophet and exhibiting ill-mannered behavior. One of them was condemned in the Quran because of his disrespect to the prophet, “Those who shout out to you from without the Inner Apartments—most of them lack understanding.” [Chapter 49, Verse 4 of the Holy Quran] Some others never gave up their arrogance after embracing Islam and were condemned because of their arrogance as clearly mentioned in the Quran, “He frowned and turned away, because there came to him the blind man.” [Chapter 80, Verses 1-2 of the Holy Quran]
The Death of the Prophet
The prophet did not leave the Islamic world without a named leader. His cousin, Ali ibn Abi Talib (hereandafter “Ali”), was clearly declared a few months before the death of the prophet to be his successor. The confusion and near-fighting amongst Muslims before the death of the prophet is clear in all Islamic history narrations. The prophet requested the companions to write his last testament; however, some Muslims (the ones who later took over leadership) refused and even accused the prophet of hallucinating thereby rejecting a basic concept of Islam which is the infallibility of prophets. While the true companions were busy burying the prophet, Meccans were busy arguing with citizens of Medina about who should be the successor of the prophet, ignoring the fact that the prophet had commanded them to take Ali as the leader.
After the death of the prophet, these caliphs made sure to repress all voices who challenged their legitimacy as caliphs. It is clear that these Meccans viewed Islam as a power-sharing religion to be divided among tribes. This is made clear when they argued by saying that Banu Hashim (the tribe to which the prophet belonged) could not possibly take ownership of both the message of Islam and the leadership of the Muslim nation.
Islam Without the Prophet
The post-prophet stage in Islamic history witnessed the use of religion to achieve earthly gains. During this era, wars were waged on neighboring nations with three choices given to the inhabitants, Islam, taxation, or death, a demand which clearly contradicts the commandments Allah stated in the Quran and the prophet’s way of preaching Islam to others. To convince Muslims (most of whom were faithful and honest,) these rulers utilized the media which was led by some scholars to interpret the scriptures justifying these wars and their merits. Compensated for and bought out by rulers, these scholars stood up in mosques encouraging Muslims to join the “jihad” army. They even made up hadiths to repress opposing views, especially those of the progeny of the prophet whom the prophet named as imams to lead Muslims after his death.
Forty years after the death of the prophet, the spread of Islam made it from the Persian Gulf all the way to the Atlantic Ocean including parts of Europe. Caravans full of women, young kids, gold, and other treasures were taken all the way to the center of the caliphs’ kingdoms in Damascus and Baghdad to be used by the members of the royal family and their followers. It is clear from the teachings of Islam that waging wars is not an allowable way to spread Islam Rather, it should spread as it did to the Indo-China subcontinent—by the high level of personal and commercial integrity exhibited by Muslim tradesmen which encouraged others to learn about and discover the Islam that shaped such behavior.
During the prophet’s time, Islam was never preached by force. To call for Islam, the prophet only sent written messages to other rulers inviting them to Islam. Contemporarily, during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Islam is growing rapidly in Europe and the USA as Muslim communities migrate to the west.
The early scholars who misled Muslims set forth hadiths that promote violence in the name of Allah justifying the oppression by unjust rulers. According to some hadiths, a Muslim is supposed to obey his ruler even if the ruler is unjust and oppressive. Rulers throughout Islamic history have made sure that scholars continue promoting such hadiths which are in clear contradiction to the Quranic teaching “to relieve people (be they Muslims or non-Muslims) from oppression.” Umayyads, Abbasids, Ottomans, and current Muslim leaders have dominated the media to gain legitimacy and consequently deprive Muslims of their basic rights.
However, many Muslims have realized that such hadiths are made up by bought-out scholars. The revolutions that have taken place in Middle East in the second decade of this century are nothing but a way of rejecting what ancestors have falsely set forth and an initial step towards the return to the true teachings of Islam. With the new methods of media technology (internet and online social networks), corrupt leaders no longer dominate media and Muslims have (finally) realized that literature that promotes violence is not Islamic but is made up by bought-out scholars. Therefore, distorted history and misguidance by these scholars are the main reasons for the defaming of Islam in the name of God for centuries, and there is a new hope that Muslims are to admit the wrong-doing by their rulers and preach Islam by example.