A Critical Exposition of the Popular 'Jihád'/Introduction/34
[Sidenote: Mohammad's unwavering belief in his own mission and his success show him to be a true prophet.]
34. I will pause here for a while, and ask the indulgence of the reader to reflect upon the circumstances of the persecutions, insults and injuries, expulsion and attack suffered by Mohammad and his early followers, and his unwavering adherence to preach against the gross idolatry and immorality of his people, which all show his sincere belief in his own mission, and his possession of an irresistible inward impulse to publish the Divine Truth of his Revelations regarding the unity in the Godhead and other moral reforms. His preachings of monotheism, and his enjoining righteousness, and forbidding evil deeds, were not attended to for many years with material success. In proportion as he preached against the gross idolatry and superstition of his people, he was subjected to ridicule and scorn, and finally to an inveterate persecution which ruined his and his follower's fortune. But he unflinchingly kept his path; no threats and no injuries hindered him from still preaching to the ungodly people a purer and higher theology and better morality than had ever been set before them. He claimed no temporal power, no spiritual domination; he asked but for simple toleration, for free permission to win men by persuasion into the way of truth. He declared he was sent neither to compel conviction by miracles, nor to constrain outward profession by the sword. Does this leave any doubt of the strong conviction in his mind, as well as in the truth of his claim, to be a man sent by God to preach the Divine Perfection, and to teach mankind the ways of righteousness? He honestly and sincerely conveyed the message which he had received or which he conscientiously or intuitively believed to have received from his God and which had all the signs and marks of truth in itself. What is meant by a True Prophet or a Revelation is not more than what we find in the case of Mohammad.
The general office and main business of a prophet is to proclaim to mankind the Divine Perfection, to teach publicly purer theology and higher morality, to enjoin the people to do what is right and just, and to forbid what is wrong and bad. It is neither a part of the prophet to predict future events, nor to show supernatural miracles. And further, a prophet is neither immaculate nor infallible. The Revelation is a natural product of human faculties. A prophet feels that his mind is illumined by God, and the thoughts which are expressed by him and spoken or written under this influence are to be regarded as the words of God. This illumination of the mind or the effect of the Divine Influence differ in any prophet according to the capacity of the recipient, or according to the circumstances—physical, moral, and religious—in which he is placed.
- The early followers of Mohammad bore persecutions and exile with patience and steadfastness; and never recanted. Look to the increasing number of these early Moslems, their magnanimous forbearance, and the spontaneous abandonment of their dear homes and relations, and their defending their Prophet with their blood. The number of Christian believers during the whole lifetime of Christ was not more than 120 (Act I, 15). They had a material view of the Messiah's kingdom, and had fled at the first sound of danger. Two of the disciples when walking to Emmaus observed, "We trusted that it had been He who should have redeemed Israel," and the apostle asked Jesus after the so-called resurrection, "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?" "During the periods thus indicated as possible for comparison, persecution and rejection were the fate of both. But the thirteen years' ministry of Mahomet had brought about a far greater change to the external eye than the whole lifetime of Christ. The apostles fled at the first sound of danger, and however deep the inner work may have been in the 500 by whom our Lord was seen, it had produced as yet but little outward action. There was among them no spontaneous quitting of their homes, nor emigration by hundreds, such as distinguished the early Moslems; nor any rapturous resolution by the converts of a foreign city to defend the Prophet with their blood."—The Life of Mahomet by Sir W. Muir, Vol. II, page 274.
- "Let us for a moment look back to the period when a ban was proclaimed at Mecca against all the citizens, whether professed converts or not, who espoused his cause; when they were shut up in the Sheb or quarter of Abu Tâlib, and there for three years without prospect of relief endured want and hardship. Those must have been steadfast and mighty motives which enabled him amidst all this opposition and apparent hopelessness of success, to maintain his principles unshaken. No sooner was he relieved from confinement, than, despairing of his native city, he went forth to Tâyif and summoned its rulers and inhabitants to repentance; he was solitary and unaided, but he had a message, he said, from his Lord. On the third day he was driven out of the town with ignominy, blood trickling from the wounds inflicted on him by the populace. He retired to a little distance, and there poured forth his complaint to God: then he returned to Mecca, there to carry on the same outwardly hopeless cause with the same high confidence in its ultimate success. We search in vain through the pages of profane history for a parallel to the struggle in which for thirteen years the Prophet of Arabia in the face of discouragement and threats, rejection and persecution retained his faith unwavering, preached repentance, and denounced God's wrath against his godless fellow-citizens. Surrounded by a little band of faithful men and women, he met insults, menaces, dangers, with a high and patient trust in the future. And when at last the promise of safety came from a distant quarter, he calmly waited until his followers had all departed, and then disappeared from amongst his ungrateful and rebellious people."—Muir, Vol. IV, pages 314-15.
- "That he was the impostor pictured by some writers is refuted alike by his unwavering belief in the truth of his own mission, by the loyalty and unshaken confidence of his companions, who had ample opportunity of forming a right estimate of his sincerity, and finally, by the magnitude of the task which he brought to so successful an issue. No impostor, it may safely be said, could have accomplished so mighty a work. No one unsupported by a living faith in the reality of his commission, in the goodness of his cause, could have maintained the same consistent attitude through long years of adverse fortune, alike in the day of victory and in the hour of defeat, in the plenitude of his power and at the moment of death."—Islam and its Founder, by J.W.H. Stobart, M.A., page 23. "Of the sincerity of his belief in his own mission there can be no doubt. The great merit is his that among a people given up to idolatry he rose to a vivid perception of the Unity of God, and preached this great doctrine with firmness and constancy, amid ridicule and persecution. But there it seems to me that the eulogy of the Prophet ought to cease."—Islam under the Arabs by R.D. Osborn. London 1876, p. 90.