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Old 12-14-2005, 06:42 AM
SeC SeC is offline
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Default The Last Prophet and Universal Man

The Prophet and Prophetic Tradition - The Last Prophet and Universal Man

Professor Syed Hossein Nasr
Vol III No. 1 , 1397

"Extract" The Prophet and prophetic traditions — from Ideals & Realities of Islam written by Professor S. Hossein Nasr, and published by George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 2nd edition London 1975.

The Prophet as the founder of Islam and the messenger of God's revelation to mankind is the interpreter par excellence of the Book of God; and his Hadith and Sunnah, his sayings and actions, are after the Quran, the most important sources of the Islamic tradition. In order to understand the sig- nificance of the Prophet it is not sufficient to study, from the outside historical texts pertaining to his life. One must view him also from within the Islamic point of view and try to discover the position he occupies in the religious consciousness of Muslims. When in any Islamic language one says the Prophet, it means Muhammad—whose name as such is never iterated except that as a courtesy it be followed by the formula 'Sall' Allahu 'alaihi wa sallam', that is, 'may God's blessing and salutation be upon him'.

It is even legitimate to say that, in general, when one says the Prophet it means the prophet of Islam; for although in every religion the founder who is an aspect of the Universal Intellect, becomes the Aspect, the Word the Incarnation, nevertheless each founder emphasizes a certain aspect of the Truth and even typifies that aspect universally. Although there is belief in incarnation in many religions, when one says the Incarnation it refers to Christ who personifies this aspect. And although every prophet and saint has experienced 'enlightenment', the Enlightenment refers to the experience of the Buddha which is the most outstanding and universal embodiment of this experience. In the same manner the prophet of Islam is the prototype and perfect embodiment of prophecy and so in a profound sense is the Prophet. In fact in Islam every form of revelation is envisaged as a prophecy whose complete and total realization is to be seen in Muhammad—Upon whom be peace. As the Sufi poet Mahmud Shabistari writes in h is incomparable Gulshan-i raz (the Secret Rose Garden):

The first appearance of prophethood was in Adam,

And its perfection was in the 'Seal of the Prophets'. (Whinfield translation)

It is difficult for a non-Muslim to understand the spiritual significance of the Prophet and his role as the prototype of the religious and spiritual life, especially if one comes from a Christian background. Compared to Christ, or to the Buddha for that matter, the earthly career of the Prophet seems often too human and too engrossed in the vicissitudes of social, economic and political activity to serve as a model for the spiritual life. That is why so many people who write today of the great spiritual guides of humanity are not able to understand and interpret him sympathetically. It is easier to see the spiritual radiance of Christ or even medieval saints, Christian or Muslim, than that of the Prophet; although the Prophet is the supreme saint in Islam without whom there would have been no sanctity whatsoever.

The reason for this difficulty is that the spiritual nature of the Prophet is veiled in his human one and his purely spiritual function is hidden in his duties as the guide of men and the leader of a community. It was the function of the Prophet to be, not only a spiritual guide, but also the organizer of a new social order with all that such a function implies. And it is precisely this aspect of his being that veils his purely spiritual dimension from foreign eyes. Outsiders have understood his political genius, his power of oratory, his great statesmanship, but few have understood how he could be the religious and spiritual guide of men and how his life could be emu- lated by those who aspire to sanctity. This is particularly true in the modern world in which religion is separated from other domains of life and most modern men can hardly imagine how a spiritual being could also be immersed in the most intense political and social activity.

Actually if the contour of the personality of the Prophet is to be under- stood he should not be compared to Christ or the Buddha whose message was meant primarily for saintly men and who founded a community based on monastic life which later became the norm of a whole society. Rather, because of his dual function as 'king' and 'prophet', as the guide of men in this world and the hereafter, the Prophet should be compared to the prophet-kings of the Old Testament, to David and Solomon, and especially to Abraham himself. Or to cite once again an example outside the Abrahamic tradition, the spiritual type of the Prophet should be compared in Hinduism, to Rama and Krishna, who although in a completely different traditional climate, were avataras and at the same time kings and house- holders who participated in social life with all that such activity implies as recorded in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.

This type of figure who is at once a spiritual being and a leader of men has always been, relatively speaking, rare in the Christian West, especially in modern times. Political life has become so divorced from spiritual principles that to many people such a function itself appears as an impossibility in proof of which Westerners often point to the purely spiritual life of Christ who said, 'My Kingdom is not of this world.' And even historically the Occident has not witnessed many figures of this type unless one considers the Templars and in another context such devout kings as Charlemagne and St. Louis. The figure of the Prophet is thus difficult for many Occidentals to understand and this misconception to which often bad intention has been added is responsible for the nearly total ignorance of his spiritual nature in most works written about him in Western languages of which the number is legion. One could in fact say that of the major elements of Islam the real significance of the Prophet is the least understood to non Muslims and especialiy to Occidentals.

The Prophet did participate in social life in its fullest sense. He married, had a household, was a father and moreover he was ruler and judge and had also to fight many wars in which he underwent painful ordeals. He had to undergo many hardships and experience all the difficulties which human life especially that of the founder of a new state and society, implies. But with- in all these activities his heart rested in contentment with the Divine, and he continued inwardly to repose in the Divine Peace. In fact his participation in social and political life was precisely to integrate this domain into a spiritual centre.

The Prophet entertained no political or worldly ambition whatsoever. He was by nature a contemplative. Before being chosen as prophet he did not like to frequent social gatherings and activities. He led a caravan from Mecca to Syria passing through the majestic silence of the desert whose very 'infinity' induces man towards contemplation. He often spent long periods in the cave of Hira' in solitude and meditation. He did not believe himself to be by nature a man of the world or one who was naturally inclined to seek political power among the Quraysh or social eminence in Meccan society although he came from the noblest family. It was in fact very painful and difficult for him to accept the burden of prophecy which implied the founding of not only a new religion but also a new social and political order. All the traditional sources, which alone matter in this case testify to the great hardship the Prophet underwent by being chosen to participate in the active life in its most acute form. Modern studies on the life of the Prophet which depict him as a man who enjoyed fighting wars are totally untrue and in fact a reversal of the real personality of the Prophet. Immediately after the reception of the first revelation the Prophet confessed to his wife, Khadijah, how difficult it was for him to accept the burden of prophecy and how fearful he was of all that such a mission implied.

Likewise, with the marriages of the Prophet, they are not at all signs of his lenience vis-a-vis the flesh. During the period of youth when the passions are most strong the Prophet lived with only one wife who was much older than he and also underwent long periods of abstinence. And as a prophet many of his marriages were political ones which, in the prevalent social structure of Arabia, guaranteed the consolidation of the newly founded Muslim community.Multiple marriage, for him, as is true of Islam in general, was not so much enjoyment as responsibility and a means of integration of the newly founded society. Besides, in Islam the whole problem of sexuality appears in a different light from that in Christianity and should not be judged by the same standards. The multiple marriages of the Prophet, far from pointing to his weakness towards 'the flesh' symbolize his patriarchal nature and his function, not as a saint who withdraws from the world, but as one who sanctifies the very life of the world by living in it and accepting it with the aim of integrating it into a higher order of reality.

The Prophet has also often been criticized by modern Western authors for being cruel and for having treated men harshly. Such a charge is again absurd because critics of this kind have forgotten that either a religion leaves the world aside, as Christ did, or integrates the world, in which case it must deal with such questions as war, retribution, justice, etc. When Charlemagne or some other Christian king thrust a sword into the breast of a heathen soldier he was, from the individual point of view, being cruel to that soldier. But on the universal plane this was a necessity for the preservation of a Christian civilization which had to defend its borders or perish. The same holds true for a Buddhist king or ruler, or for that matter any religious authority which seeks to integrate human society.

The Prophet exercised the utmost kindness possible and was harsh only with traitors. Now, a traitor against a newly founded religious community, which God has willed and whose existence is a mercy from heaven for mankind, is a traitor against the Truth itself. The harshness of the Prophet in such cases is an expression of Divine Justice. One cannot accuse God of being cruel because men die, or because there is illness and ugliness in the world. Every construction implies a previous destruction, a clearing of grounds for the appearance of a new form. This holds true not only in case of a physical structure but also in case of a new revelation which must clear the ground if it is to be a new social and political order as well as a purely reiigious one. What appears to some as the cruelty of the Prophet towards men is precisely this aspect of his function as the instrument of God for the establishment of a new world order whose homeland in Arabia was to be pure of any paganism and polytheism which if present would pollute the very source of this new fountain of life. As to what concerned his own person, the Prophet was always the epitome of kindness and generosity.

Nowhere is the nobility and generosity of the Prophet better exemplified than in his triumphant entry into Mecca, which in a sense highlights his earthly career. There, at a moment when the very people who had caused untold hardships and trials for the Prophet were completely subdued by him, instead of thinking of vengeance, which was certainly his due, he forgave them. One must study closely the almost unimaginable obstacles placed before the Prophet by these same people, of the immense suffering he had undergone because of them, to realize what degree of generosity this act of the Prophet implies. It is not actually necessary to give an apologetic account of the life of the Prophet, but these matters need to be answered because the false and often malicious accusations of this kind made against the founder of Islam in so many modern studies make the understanding of him by those who rely upon such studies well nigh impossible.

Also the Prophet was not certainly without love and compassion. Many incidents in his life and sayings recorded in Hadith literature? point to his depth of love for God which, in conformity with the general perspective of Islam, was never divorced from the knowledge of Him. For example in a well known Hadith, he said, 'O Lord, grant to me the love of thee. Grant that I love those that love thee. Grant that I may do the deed that wins thy love. Make thy love dear to me more than self, family and wealth.' Such sayings clearly demonstrate the fact that although the Prophet was in a sense a king or ruler of a community and a judge and had to deal according to Justice in both capacities, he was at the same time one whose being was anchored in the love for God. Otherwise, he could not have been a prophet.

From the Muslim point of view, the Prophet is the symbol of perfection of both the human person and human society. He is the prototype of the human individual and the human collectivity. As such he bears certain characteristics in the eye of traditional Muslims which can only be discovered by studying the traditional accounts of him. The many Western works on the Prophet, with very few exceptions, are useless from this point of view no matter how much historical data they provide for the reader. The same holds true in fact for the new type of biographies of the Prophet written by modernized Muslims who would like at all cost to make the Prophet an ordinary man and neglect systematically any aspect of his being that does not conform to a humanistic and rationalistic framework they have adopted a priori, mostly as a result of either influence from or reaction to the modern Western point of view. The profound characteristics of the Prophet which have guided the Islamic community over the centuries and have left an indelible mark on the consciousness of the Muslim cannot be discerned save through the traditional sources and the Hadith, and, of course, the Quran itself which bears the perfume of the soul of the person through whom it was revealed.

The universal characteristics of the Prophet are not the same as his daily actions and day to day life, which can be read about in standard biogra- phies of the Prophet, and with which we cannot deal here. They are, rather characteristics which issue forth from his personality as a particular spiritual prototype.Seen in this light there are essentially three qualities that characterize the Prophet. First of all the Prophet possessed the quality of piety in its most universal sense, that quality which attaches man to God The Prophet was in that sense pious. He had a profound piety which inwardly attached him to God, that made him place the interest of God before everything else including himself. Secondly he had a quality of combativeness, of always being actively engaged in combat against all that negated the Truth and disrupted harmony. Externally it meant fighting wars, either military, political or social ones, the war which the Prophet named the 'little holy war' (al-jihad al-asghar). Inwardly this combativeness meant a continuous war against the carnal soul(nafs), against all that in man tends towards the negation of God and His Will, the 'great holy war' (al-jihad al-akbar).

It is difficult for modern men to understand the positive symbolism of war thanks to modern technology which has made war total and its instruments the very embodiment of what is ugly and evil. Men therefore think that the role of religion is only in preserving some kind of precarious peace. This, of course, is true, but not in the superficial sense that is usually meant. If religion is to be an integral part of life it must try to establish peace in the most profound sense, namely to establish equilibrium between all the existing forces that surround man and to overcome all the forces that tend to destroy this equilibrium. No religion has sought to establish peace in this sense more than Islam. It is precisely in such a context that war can have a positive meaning as the activity to establish harmony both inwardly and outwardly and it is in this sense that Islam has stressed the positive aspect of combativeness.

The Prophet embodies to an eminent degree this perfection of combative virtue. If one thinks of the Buddha as sitting in a state of contemplation under the Bo-tree, the Prophet can be imagined as a rider sitting on a steed with the sword of justice and discrimination drawn in his hand and galloping at full speed, yet ready to come to an immediate halt before the mountain of Truth. The Prophet was faced from the beginning of his prophetic mission with the task of wielding the sword of Truth, of establishing equilibrium and in this arduous task he had no rest. His rest and repose was in the heart of the holy war (jihad) itself and he represents this aspect of spirituality in which peace comes not in passivity but in true activity. Peace belongs to one who is inwardly at peace with the Will of Heaven and outwardly at war with the forces of disruption and disequilibrium.

Finally, the Prophet possessed the quality of magnanimity in its fullness. His soul displayed a grandeur which every devout Muslim feels. He is for the Muslim nobility and magnanimity personified. This aspect of the Prophet is fully displayed in his treatment of his companions which, in fact, has been the model for later ages and which all generations of Muslims have sought to emulate.

To put it another way, which focuses more sharply the personality of the Prophet, the qualities can be enumerated as strength, nobility and serenity or inner calm. Strength is outwardly manifested in the little holy war and inwardly in the great holy war according to the saying of the Prophet who, returning from one of the early wars, said, 'We have returned from the small jihad to the great jihad.' It is this great jihad which is of particular spiritual significance as a war against all those tendencies which pull the soul of man away from the Centre and Origin and bar him from the grace of heaven.

The nobility or generosity of the Prophet shows itself most of all in charity towards all men and more generally towards all beings. Of course this virtue is not central as in Christianity which can be called the religion of charity. But it is important on the human level and as it concerns the person of the Prophet. It points to the fact that there was no narrowness or pettiness in the soul of the Prophet, no limitation in giving of himself to others. A spiritual man is one who always gives to those around him and does not re- ceive, according to the saying, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'. It was characteristic of the Prophet to have always given till the last moment of his life. He never asked anything for himself and never sought to receive.

The aspect of serenity, which also characterizes all true expressions of Islam is essentially the love of truth. It is to put the Truth before everything else. It is to be impartial, to be logical on the level of discourse, not to let one's emotions colour and prejudice one's intellectual judgment. It is not to be a rationalist, but to see the truth of things and to love the Truth above all else. To love the Truth is to love God who is the Truth, one of His Names being the Truth (al-haqq).

If one were to compare these qualities of the Prophet, namely, strength, nobility and serenity, with those of the founders of the other great religions one would see that they are not necessarily the same because firstly, the Prophet was not himself the Divine Incarnation and secondly, because each religion emphasizes a certain aspect of the Truth. One cannot follow and emulate Christ in the same manner as the Prophet because in Christianity Christ is the God-man, the Divine Incarnation. One can be absorbed into his nature but he cannot be copied as the perfection of the human state. One can neither walk on water nor raise the dead to life. Still, when one thinks of Christianity and Christ another set of characteristics come to mind, such as divinity, incarnation, and on another level love, charity and sacrifice. Or when one thinks of the Buddha and Buddhism it is most of all the ideas of pity for the whole of creation, enlightenment and illumination and extinction in Nirvana that stand out.

In Islam, when one thinks of the Prophet who is to be emulated, it is the image of a strong personality that comes to mind, who is severe with himself and with the false and the unjust, and charitable towards the world that surrounds him. On the basis of these two virtues of strength and sobriety on the one hand and charity and generosity on the other, he is serene extinguished in the Truth. He is that warrior on horseback who halts before the mountain of Truth, passive towards the Divine Will, active towards the world, hard and sober towards himself and kind and generous towards the creatures about him.

These qualities characteristic of the Prophet are contained virtually in the sound of the second Shahadah, Muhammadun rasul Allah, that is Muhammad is the Prophet of God, in its Arabic pronunciation, not in its translation into another language. Here again the symbolism is inextricably connected to the sounds and forms of the sacred language and cannot be translated. The very sound of the name Muhammad implies force, a sudden breaking forth of a power which is from God and is not just human. The word rasul with its elongated second syllable symbolizes this 'expansion of the chest' {inshirah al-sadr), and a generosity that flows from the being of the Prophet and which ultimately comes from God. As for Allah it is, of course, the Truth itself which terminates the formula. The second Shahadah thus implies by its sound the power, generosity and serenity of reposing in the Truth characteristic of the Prophet. But this repose in the Truth is not based on a flight from the world but on a penetration into it in order to inte- grate and organize it. The spiritual castle in Islam is based on the firm foundations of harmony within human society and in individual human life.

In the traditional prayers on the Prophet which all Muslims recite on certain occasions, God's blessing and salutation are asked for the Prophet who is God's servant ('abd), His messenger (rasul), and the unlettered Prophet (al-nabi al-ummi). For example, one well-known version of the formula of benediction upon the Prophet is as follows:

'Oh, God, bless our Lord Muhammad, Thy servant and Thy Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, and his family and his companions, and salute them.'

Here again the three epithets with which his name is qualified symbolize his three basic characteristics which stand out most in the eyes of devout Muslims. He is first of all an 'abd; but who is an 'abd except one whose will is surrendered to the will of his master, who is himself poor (faqir) but rich on account of what his master bestows upon him. As the 'abd of God the Prophet exemplified in its fullness this spiritual poverty and sobriety which is so characteristic of Islam. He loved fasting, vigilance, prayer, all of which have become essential elements in Islamic religious life. As an 'abd the Prophet put everything in the hands of God and realized a poverty which is, in reality, the most perfect and enduring wealth.

The rasul in this formula again symbolizes his aspect of charity and generosity and metaphysically the rasul himself is sent because of God's charity for the world and men whom He loves so that He sends His prophets to guide them. That is why the Prophet is 'God's mercy to the worlds.' For the Muslim the Prophet himself displays mercy and generosity, a generosity which flows from the nobility of character. Islam has always emphasized this quality and sought to inculcate nobility in the souls of men. A good Muslim must have some nobility and generosity which always reflect this aspect of the personality of the Prophet.*

Source: http://www.al-islam.org/al-serat/

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Old 12-14-2005, 08:16 AM
Ahmad Ahmad is offline
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peace be upon you SeC,

This is a very well written aticle, however it shows us how the Muslims have deviated same like the Jewish and the Christians, here are some examples,

The Prophet as the founder of Islam and the messenger of God's revelation to mankind is the interpreter par excellence of the Book of God; and his Hadith and Sunnah, his sayings and actions, are after the Quran, the most important sources of the Islamic tradition.

This is just not true and is actually how Satan distorted the religion of Submission. By the introduction of this man-made books (Hadith, in Arabic means Sayings) which contains thousands of false sayings (a few are correct historical events though) attributed to Muhammad, Satan succeeded in penetrating and injecting his falsehood into the one religion. It is the same trick that he did with the Jews, by introducing the oral laws of Moses that they claimed were unwritten, this back door allowed for the introduction of the ideas of Supremacy, racism, bias against women and intolerance of others...etc. Literally the books of Jewish Talmud and Islamic Talmud (Hadith) became the manual by which Satan is directing his agents into the sole goal of destroying this planet along with his enemy, the human being.

Muhammad had one sole mission which is to deliver Quran, the final testament, he was forbidden from explaining it, but as a leader of community he had to use the CLEAR verses to judge among them.

Bear in mind that Muhammad himself is quoted in their books (Hadith) that he ordered his followers not to write anything but Quran. Now the Muslims are following another religion and law derived from these unauthorized books, for example they practice the stoning of adulterers, while in Quran the punishment is clear, the public witnessing of 100 Symbolic lashes to both parties.

And because of this deviation en masse, the Muslim world now is the most deteriorated, corrupt and defeated in the world.

When in any Islamic language one says the Prophet, it means Muhammad—whose name as such is never iterated except that as a courtesy it be followed by the formula 'Sall' Allahu 'alaihi wa sallam', that is, 'may God's blessing and salutation be upon him'.
A clear example of glorifying and exalting a creature instead of God. Thus the Muslims are duped by Satan into commemorating Muhammad's name day and night instead of remembering his Creator.


The first appearance of prophethood was in Adam,And its perfection was in the 'Seal of the Prophets'. (Whinfield translation)
The Muslims say more, they say Muhammad is "Ashraf almursaleen" or the most honorable messenger, this focusing and exalting of a creature is called idolatery (Shirk), for God says in Quran that we are not to make distinction among the messengers, all of them are equal honorable messengers. as far as we are concerned Muhammad, Jesus and MOses..etc are all equal.


the Prophet is the supreme saint in Islam without whom there would have been no sanctity whatsoever.
If this statment means the message he delivers that's onething, but if it means he in himself was the way (e.g: had the power to purify the people) it is idol-worship.


These qualities characteristic of the Prophet are contained virtually in the sound of the second Shahadah, Muhammadun rasul Allah, that is Muhammad is the Prophet of God, in its Arabic pronunciation, not in its translation into another language.
This second declaration of faith is a clear distortion, for in Quran the shahada is 'I bear witness that there is no god except God', thus the emphasis is on God and not the postman. The writer fails to realize that Islam (Submission) is a religion that comes from Abraham, all the way through Moses, Jesus who delievered different stages of the same religion, Muhammad was to deliver the last stage which is the final testament, the final law, Quran. Thus the declaration of faith for all of these messengers before Muhammad couldn't have possibly carried his name. Quran confirms that Abraham was the first to be given the five pillars of Submission, and not Muhammad.



In the traditional prayers on the Prophet which all Muslims recite on certain occasions, God's blessing and salutation are asked for the Prophet who is God's servant ('abd), His messenger (rasul), and the unlettered Prophet (al-nabi al-ummi). For example, one well-known version of the formula of benediction upon the Prophet is as follows:'Oh, God, bless our Lord Muhammad, Thy servant and Thy Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, and his family and his companions, and salute them.'
Quran tells us that when somebody dies his relation with this world is severed, thus no salutation would be heard by them. This is another example of idolatery, a horrendous crime that was later extended to all the family members of Muhammad, including Ali and his sons (revered by the Shi'a). Idolatery is simply to attribute the power (knowledge, beauty, wisdom..etc) to a creature instead or besides God, because Satan uses these creatures to force us into submission to him, into beleiving his lie that he has power indpendent of God. To conclude i should say that the Sunni idolize Muhammad and the Shia idolize Ali, same like what the Christians and the Jews did when the idolized Jesus and the Talmud writers, instead of the one absolute god.

However we have good news, that this deviation will be corrected and Satan's respite is coming to an end soon, check the prophecy on my website.
God\'s alternative, USN

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[3:19] The only religion approved by GOD is \"Submission.\"...
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Old 12-14-2005, 09:09 AM
SeC SeC is offline
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Dear Ahmad

please consider also the following article of the same author:

The Spiritual Significance of Jihad*

Seyyed Hossein Nasr*
Vol. IX, No. 1*

And those who perform jihad for Us, We shall certainly guide them in Our ways, and God is surely with the doers of good. (Quran XXXIX; 69)*

You have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad. (Hadith)*

The Arabic term jihad, usually translated into European languages as holy war, more on the basis of its juridical usage in Islam rather than on its much more universal meaning in the Quran and Hadith, is derived from the root jhd whose primary meaning is to strive or to exert oneself. Its translation into holy war combined with the erroneous notion of Islam prevalent in the West as the 'religion of the sword' has helped to eclipse its inner and spiritual significance and to distort its connotation. Nor has the appearance upon the stage of history during the past century and especially during the past few years of an array of movements within the Islamic world often contending or even imposing each other and using the word jihad or one of its derivative forms helped to make known the full import of its traditional meaning which alone is of concern to us here. Instead recent distortions and even total reversal of the meaning of jihad as understood over the ages by Muslims have made it more difficult than ever before to gain insight into this key religious and spiritual concept.*

To understand the spiritual significance of jihad and its wide application to nearly every aspect of human life as understood by Islam, it is necessary to remember that Islam bases itself upon the idea of establishing equilibrium within the being of man as well as in the human society where he functions and fulfills the goals of his earthly life. This equilibrium, which is the terrestrial reflection of Divine Justice and the necessary condition for peace in the human domain, is the basis upon which the soul takes its flight towards that peace which, to use Christian terms, 'passeth understanding'. If Christian morality sees the aim of the spiritual life and its own morality as based on the vertical flight towards that perfection and ideal which is embodied in Christ, Islam sees it in the establishment of an equilibrium both outward and inward as the necessary basis for the vertical ascent. The very stability of Islamic society over the centuries, the immutability of Islamic norms embodied in the Shari'ah, and the timeless character of traditional Islamic civilization which is the consequence of its permanent and immutable prototype are all reflections of both the ideal of equilibrium and its realization as is so evident in the teachings of the Shari'ah (or Divine Law) as well as works of Islamic art, that equilibrium which is inseparable from the very name of islam as being related to salam or peace.*

The preservation of equilibrium in this world, however, does not mean simply a static or inactive passivity since life by nature implies movement. In the face of the contingencies of the world of change, of the withering effects of time, of the vicissitudes of terrestrial existence, to remain in equilibrium requires continuous exertion. It means carrying out jihad at every stage of life. Human nature being what it is, given to forgetfulness and the conquest of our immortal soul by the carnal soul or passions, the very process of life of both the individual and the human collectivity implies the ever-present danger of the loss of equilibrium and the fact of falling into the state of disequilibrium which if allowed to continue cannot but lead to disintegration on the individual level and chaos on the scale of community life. To avoid this tragic end and to fulfill the entelechy of the human state which is the realization of unity (al-tawhid) or total integration, Muslims as both individuals and members of Islamic society must carry out jihad, that is they must exert themselves at all moments of life to fight a battle both inward and outward against those forces that if not combatted will destroy that equilibrium which is the necessary condition for the spiritual life of the person and the functioning of human society. This fact is especially true if society is seen as a collectivity which bears the imprint of the Divine Norm rather than an antheap of contending and opposing units and forces.*

Man is at once a spiritual and corporeal being, a micro-cosm complete unto himself; yet he is the member of a society within which alone are certain aspects of his being developed and certain of his needs fulfilled. He possesses at once an intelligence whose substance is ultimately of a divine character and sentiments which can either veil his intelligence or abett his quest for his own Origin. In him are found both love and hatred, generosity and coveteousness, compassion and aggression. Moreover, there have existed until now not just one but several 'humanities' with their own religious and moral norms and national, ethnic and racial groups with their own bonds of affiliation. As a result the practice of jihad as applied to the world of multiplicity and the vicissitudes of human existence in the external world has come to develop numerous ramifications in the fields of political and economic activity and in social life and come to partake on the external level of the complexity which characterizes the human world.*

In its most outward sense jihad came to mean the defence of dar al-islam, that is, the Islamic world, from invasion and intrusion by non-Islamic forces. The earliest wars of Islamic history which threatened the very existence of the young community came to be known as jihad par excellence in this outward sense of 'holy war'. But it was upon returning from one of these early wars, which was of paramount importance in the survival of the newly established religious community and therefore of cosmic significance, that the Prophet nevertheless said to his companions that they had returned from the lesser holy war to the greater holy war, the greater jihad being the inner battle against all the forces which would prevent man from living according to the theomorphic norm which is his primordial and God given nature. Throughout Islamic history, the lesser holy war has echoed in the Islamic world when parts or the whole of that world have been threatened by forces from without or within. This call has been especially persistent since the nineteenth century with the advent of colonialism and the threat to the very existence of the Islamic world. It must be remembered, however, that even in such cases when the idea of jihad has been evoked in certain parts of the Islamic world, it has not usually been a question of religion simply sanctioning war but of the attempt of a society in which religion remains of central concern to protect itself from being conquered either by military and economic forces or by ideas of an alien nature. This does not mean, however, that in some cases especially in recent times, religious sentiments have not been used or misused to intensify or legitimize a conflict. But to say the least, the Islamic world does not have a monopoly on this abuse as the history of other civilizations including even the secularized West demonstrates so amply. Moreover, human nature being what it is, once religion ceases to be of central significance to a particular human collectivity, then men fight and kill each other for much less exalted issues than their heavenly faith. By including the question of war in its sacred legislation, Islam did not condone but limited war and its consequences as the history of the traditional Islamic world bears out. In any case the idea of total war and the actual practice of the extermination of whole civilian populations did not grow out of a civilization whose dominant religion saw jihad in a positive light. On the more external level, the lesser jihad also includes the socio-economic domain. It means the reassertion of justice in the external environment of human existence starting with man himself. To defend one's rights and reputation, to defend the honour of oneself and one's family is itself a jihad and a religious duty. So is the strengthening of all those social bonds from the family to the whole of the Muslim people (al-ummah) which the Shari'ah emphasizes. To seek social justice in accordance with the tenets of the Quran and of course not in the modern secularist sense is a way of re-establishing equilibrium in human society, that is, of performing jihad, as are constructive economic enterprises provided the well-being of the whole person is kept in mind and material welfare does not become an end in itself; provided one does not lose sight of the Quranic verse, 'The other world is better for you than this one'. To forget the proper relation between the two worlds would itself be instrumental in bringing about disequilibrium and would be a kind of jihad in reverse.*

All of those external forms of jihad would remain incomplete and in fact contribute to an excessive externalization of human being, if they were not complemented by the greater or inner jihad which man must carry out continuously within himself for the nobility of the human state resides in the constant tension between what we appear to be and what we really are and the need to transcend ourselves throughout this journey of earthly life in order to become what we 'are'.*

From the spiritual point of view all the 'pillars' of Islam can be seen as being related to jihad. The fundamental witnesses, 'There is no divinity but Allah' and 'Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah', through the utterance of which a person becomes a Muslim are not only statements about the Truth as seen in the Islamic perspective but also weapons for the practice of inner jihad. The very form of the first witness (La ilaha illa' Lla-h in Arabic) when written in Arabic calligraphy is like a bent sword with which all otherness is removed from the Supreme Reality while all that is positive in manifestation is returned to that Reality. The second witness is the blinding assertion of the powerful and majestic descent of all that constitutes in a positive manner the cosmos, man and revelation from that Supreme Reality. To invoke the two witnesses in the form of the sacred language in which they were revealed is to practice the inner jihad and to bring about awareness of who we are, from whence we come and where is our ultimate abode.*

The daily prayers (salat or namaz) which constitute the heart of the Islamic rites are again a never ending jihad which punctuate human existence in a continuous rhythm in conformity with the rhythm of the cosmos. To perform the prayers with regularity and concentration requires the constant exertion of our will and an unending battle and striving against forgetfulness, dissipation and laziness. It is itself a form of spiritual warfare.*

Likewise, the fast of Ramadan in which one wears the armour of inner purity and detachment against the passions and temptations of the outside world requires an asceticism and inner discipline which cannot come about except through an inner holy war. Nor is the hajj to the centre of the Islamic world in Mecca possible without long preparation, effort, often suffering and endurance of hardship. It requires great effort and exertion so that the Prophet could say, 'The hajj is the most excellent of all jihads". Like the knight in quest of the Holy Grail, the pilgrim to the house of the Beloved must engage in a spiritual warfare whose end makes all sacrifice and all hardship pale into significance, for the hajj to the House of God implies for the person who practices the inner jihad encounter with the Master of the House who also resides at the centre of that other Ka'bah which is the heart.*

Finally the giving of zakat or religious tax and khums is again a form of jihad not only in that in departing from one's wealth man must fight against the coveteousness and greed of his carnal soul, but also in that through the payment of zakat and khums in its many forms man contributes to the establishment of economic justice in human society. Although jihad is not one of the 'pillars of Islam', it in a sense resides within all the other 'pillars'. From the spiritual point of view in fact all of the 'pillars' can be seen in the light of an inner jihad which is essential to the life of man from the Islamic point of view and which does not oppose but complements contemplativity and the peace which result from the contemplation of the One.*

The great stations of perfection in the spiritual life can also be seen in the light of the inner jihad. To become detached from the impurities of the world in order to repose in the purity of the Divine Presence requires an intense jihad for our soul has its roots sunk deeply into the transient world which the soul of fallen man mistakes for reality. To overcome the lethargy, passivity and indifference of the soul, qualities which have become second nature to man as a result of his forgetting who he is constitutes likewise a constant jihad. To pull the reigns of the soul from dissipating itself outwardly as a result of its centrifugal tendencies and to bring it back to the centre wherein resides Divine Peace and all the beauty which the soul seeks in vain in the domain of multiplicity is again an inner jihad. To melt the hardened heart into a flowing stream of love which would embrace the whole of creation in virtue of the love for God is to perform the alchemical process of solve et coagula inwardly through a 'work' which is none other than an inner struggle and battle against what the soul has become in order to transform it into that which it 'is' and has never ceased to be if only it were to become aware of its own nature. Finally, to realize that only the Absolute is absolute and that only the Self can ultimately utter 'I' is to perform the supreme jihad of awakening the soul from the dream of forgetfulness and enabling it to gain the supreme principal knowledge for the sake of which it was created. The inner jihad or warfare seen spiritually and esoterically can be considered therefore as the key for the understanding of the whole spiritual process, and the path for the realization of the One which lies at the heart of the Islamic message seen in its totality. The Islamic path towards perfection can be conceived in the light of the symbolism of the greater jihad to which the Prophet of Islam, who founded this path on earth, himself referred.*

In the same way that with every breath the principle of life which functions in us irrespective of our will and as long as it is willed by Him who created us, exerts itself through jihad to instill life within our whole body, at every moment in our conscious life we should seek to perform jihad in not only establishing equilibrium in the world about us but also in awakening to that Divine Reality which is the very source of our consciousness. For the spiritual man, every breath is a reminder that he should continue the inner jihad until he awakens from all dreaming and until the very rhythm of his heart echoes that primordial sacred Name by which all things were made and through which all things return to their Origin. The Prophet said, 'Man is asleep and when he dies he awakens'. Through inner jihad the spiritual man dies in this life in order to cease all dreaming, in order to awaken to that Reality which is the origin of all realities, in order to behold that Beauty of which all earthly beauty is but a pale reflection, in order to attain that Peace which all men seek but which can in fact be found only through the inner jihad.

Source: http://www.al-islam.org/al-serat/jihad-nasr.htm
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Old 12-14-2005, 12:23 PM
Akbar Akbar is offline
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Default Re: The Last Prophet and Universal Man

I agree with most of everything you shared except for Quote #5. Yes, we need to place more importance on worshipping only God, but the addition of Muhammed in the Shahadah speaks to us also obeying God. It is God who tells us to believe in him and to follow Muhammed. He goes on to state that if we do not follow Muhammed then we are not believers in God. So the addition of Muhammed in the shahadah is to direct man to the fact that yes we are to believe in God, but faith without works is a dead matter (this is Bible). So in the shahadah Muhammed is added to give man direction on how to live a life in submission to God. Man needs direction on how to engage this material world as a means of submission to God. The Prophets were sent by God to give us direction on how to engage this world as believers in God. So this is why it is important for the prophet's name to be in the shahadah. It simply means that we believe in God (faith) and as a witness of our belief in this God, we will conduct our lives based on the guidance sent to us by God through the example of his last Prophet Muhammed (good works). Faith + good works = Paradise, both on earth and in Heaven. The Quran states that there are two heavens.
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Old 12-14-2005, 06:09 PM
nomad nomad is offline
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Default Re: The Last Prophet and Universal Man

How do explain all the previous prophets

being of Hebrew origin and Allah suddenly

chooses a prophet of the Arabic tongue ???

Pretty pathetic God considering he erred

with the first prophets don't you think ?
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Old 12-14-2005, 11:30 PM
psholtz psholtz is offline
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Default Re: The Last Prophet and Universal Man

nomad wrote:
How do explain all the previous prophets

being of Hebrew origin and Allah suddenly

chooses a prophet of the Arabic tongue ???

Pretty pathetic God considering he erred

with the first prophets don't you think ?
How do you explain Apollo's Oracle at Delphi, which prophesized for over 1,700 years with a batting average far higher than anything seen in the Bible (New or Old Testament)?

The Hebrews do not have a monopoly on prophesy, nor do they have a monopoly on God, nor do they have a monopoly on much of anything else.. moreover, once the Hebrews realize that they are ordinary humans just like everyone else, in no way any more or less privileged than anyone else, and that they are subject to the same laws (i.e., God's laws), in the same manner, reaping what they sow just like everyone, the sooner they will free themselves from the ignorance and oppression that is currently plaguing them..

For the record, I believe Western civilization owes a far deeper debt to Islam than it does to Judaism.. It was Islam that kept the fire of Western culture and learning burning for over 1,000 years while Europe languished in the Dark Ages. As for Judiasm, it did not exist prior to 500BC, and it permitted itself to become deeply degraded and perverted and corrupted almost right from the get-go.. What legitimacy Judaism may have had as a moral code by which to live was essentially gone by the time of Christ, and has never since returned (imho).. The Jews themselves are descended from Chaldean Magi who were, arguably, great seers and great prophets and who walked mightly in the ways of the Lord, and what "magic" (<- using that term loosely) there appears to be in the OT is a remnant and an echo of that proud Chaldean heritage, but again.. I'm reminded of a proverb (I'm getting the precise wording wrong, I know) that goes something like "those who talk mightily about their parents and ancestors do so b/c they have nothing honorable to say about themselves"..

I think it's a Latin proverb I read in Plutarch once..

Just my two cents..

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