The Religion Of Islam vol.1


  • bookcover

  • The Religion Of Islam vol.1


  • XV

    Refutation of Certain False Changes by

    Prejudiced Writers against Islam

    1. “Force and Compulsion were Employed for the Dissemination of Islam”

    Islam took its birth, and has since lived, in the broad daylight of history. The Moslems adhere to the faith of Islam not because they were born and bred in this faith, but because it is the most historical religion and can bear with perfect safety even the severest possible criticism.

    If those who brought the above charge, had cared to deal with their subject in an honest, straightforward manner, they should have gone through the teachings of Islam, as embodied in the Holy Koran, and then pondered over the face, that the early Moslems were so much devoted to the letter, as well as the spirit of this Book, that they sacrificed everything to obedience to the injunctions contained in it, and did not swerve even a hair’s breadth from the path laid down in their Book. If the Book enjoined force and compulsion for the spread of Islam, the Moslems must fought and worked havoc for the propagation of Islam. There is not even a single verse in the Holy Koran which directly or even indirectly insinuates the alternative of death or Islam for the unbelievers. “ There is no compulsion in religion” trumpets forth loudly the peaceful spirit of Islam. The commandment is absolutely positive and admits of no exception. The use of force and compulsion is, then, totally forbidden, and the imperative and highly dictatorial character of the injunction leaves no room for any chance of making an exception in favour of the employment of war– like means, for the purpose of popularising Islam. The mere fact that in the history of Islam one meets with fighting and bloodshed can in no way lead to the conclusion that Islam was spread by the sword. There is no religion the history of which is not stained with blood. The Crusades, the Christian conquest of Spain, the subsequent persecution and expulsion of the Moslem Moors, the days of the Inquisition, the massacres of St. Bartholomew’s day and other similar tragedies, perpetrated in the name of religion, recurring the memory, send a new horror and dismay throughout the world.

     

    No reasonable person will therefore be prepared to accuse the adherents of any religion of allowing force and compulsion, on the flimsy ground that the story of such religion makes mention of bloodshed and fighting. Islam will be to blame, if it can be proved that it sanctions the use of force and compulsion for the propagation of the faith. But on the contrary, we find clear and explicit injunctions forbidding force for the purpose of religion. The only possible conclusion that can be drawn from the above considerations, is that if the Moslems were acting in accordance with the teachings of Islam, they did not take up arms for the sake of forcing conversions. A glance at the history of those days will bring to light the fact that they were persecuted, and were subjected to all sorts of torture and ill–treatment. They left their homes to save their lives, but the merciless enemies followed them. At last when all peaceful means failed, and the aggressive spirit of their antagonists reached its zenith, the enemies having made up their minds, to annihilate the embryo dispensation, the handful of Moslems were driven to have recourse to arms. They fought and fought, till there was no danger left to retard free growth and expansion of Islam. If facts alone are looked at, there should be no difficulty in realising the real situation of the early Moslems who had to fight for the sake of self-preservation. Later on there was also a good deal of fighting, and although much of this later fighting had little to do with religion, there is certainly nothing in it to blame the Moslems for. The political development of a nation is another problem which needs careful handling and which I leave for students of politics to examine. In regard to those verses of the Holy Koran, in which war is enjoined upon Moslems against the infidels, and that “wherever they are found they shall be taken and killed with a general slaughter,” these verses and their like, as already stated, bear upon the defensive war of the Prophet. The Moslems can produce any number of verses from the Holy Koran which enjoin all courtesy, politeness and civility, even in the case of severe persecutors. The example of the Prophet is clear on this point. He granted pardon to the Mecca persecutors when, quite vanquished, they threw themselves on the mercy of the Prophet. God says” “And the servants of God of Mercy are they who walk upon the earth softly; and when the ignorant address them, reply ‘Peace’; and they pass the night in the adoration of their Lord, prostrate (at times) and standing (at others) for prayers.”

     

    I appeal to the good sense of the readers as to whether there can be, found a higher ideal for humanity to pursue. God’s servants are required to walk humbly and harmlessly, and when they are confronted with ignorance which is only another name for lack of manners and manly behaviour, even there, when hedged round by ill manners and ill–treatment the true Moslem is called upon to wish for peace. He sole object in his social capacity should be to spread peace, even when harassed by bad behaviour and inconsiderate treatment. Peace is the Moslem’s watchword, whatever circumstances he has to pass through. When comparing this highly practical ideal with the Christian injunction “Love your enemy,” a Moslem is constrained to admit his impression that the Christian code of morality is only a set of fair–seeming platitudes, not meant for practice, but merely for controversial purposes. It is all very well to love one’s enemy, but is it, a Moslem asks, in consonance with human nature, to be able to show anything like real and true love, where there exists enmity? Our enemy if he is an enemy at all, in the natural sense of the word, cannot be expected to feel favourably disposed, much less loving and affectionate to us. However pious and godly we may happen to be, hatred and contempt, the necessary characteristics of enmity, must re-act on us, and our attitude, at best, will be supposed inactive hatred, and in no case real love. Love begets love, and hatred begets hatred. This is the law of nature, and a wise man cannot ignore the course of nature and frame a line of conduct conflicting straightway with it. Islam does not require us to be hypocritical lovers of our enemies, but calls upon us to be reconciled with our enemies, and to be at peace with them. Thus, removing the cause of enmity, if it is possible to do so, a Moslem should be sincerely loving. But if the cause cannot be removed, our hostilities should not be active and aggressive, for we are, in the honest discharge of our religious duties bound to wish for peace under all circumstances and all events.

     

    I have already stated with sufficient fullness, and not repeat it over and over again that Moslem wars, as allowed in the Koran and explained by the teachings of the Prophet, were entirely defensive, and therefore the attacks recommended are never aggressive. The religion of Islam is essentially for peace, and even in fighting the aim was nothing but peace.

     

    The defensive wars of the early Moslems are a matter of history. It is an historical truth, and no reasonable person can refuse to accept it. After thirteen long years’ persistent persecution, when all peaceful measures had failed and proved unavailing when war or death were the only alternatives, it would not have been right to act upon the Gospel verdict “Love your enemies and do good to them that hate you,” and thus to allow the enemies of Islam to revel in the wholesale massacre of harmless worshippers of the one true God, and to sweep the only living faith out of existence. Moslems who were bent upon the preservation of their beloved faith at all hazards, Moslems who loved God above all worldly considerations, even their very lives, Moslems who were by all sorts of ruthless tortures and merciless butcheries, goaded by natural anger, so far kept down by the peaceful ordinances of Islam, could not of course adopt the “Love your enemy” maxim as their guide. The enemy of God and his blessed dispensation which preaches love, peace and fellow–feeling, can scarcely be expected to deserve real love at the hands of a sincere lover of God. A Moslem cannot afford to love an enemy who hates God. He cannot go against human nature. His ideal will be peace, he refuses to play the aggressive part, and he takes the initiative in the reconciliation and shows sincere love there–after. A zealous enthusiastic Moslem writer makes the following remarks on the attitude of Christian critics who lay great stress on the defensive wars of the Prophet:

     

    “Our Christian friends love to conceal facts while dealing with Islam. They are ever prepared to dwell upon the defensive wars of the Prophet and his early followers, but they take good care to keep us away from what Jesus is reported to have said with positive definiteness: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword” Again, we read: “I am come to send fire upon the earth and what will be if it be already kindled.” We read again in the Gospels: “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, nay but rather division.” One more we read in the Gospel: “Then said he unto them but now he that hath no sword let him sell his garment and buy one”. It is now as clear as the day, that if Jesus had had the opportunity of gaining political strength, he would have filled the earth with war and bloodshed, notwithstanding his saying “Love your enemy”. Peace is the thing a Moslem is called upon to maintain by whatever means he can; but peace, according to the above statements attributed to Jesus, is the very thing Christ came to destroy. [1]

    Instead of the Christian commandment, “Resist not evil, but whosever smiteth thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also,” ‘the Moslems follow their Koranic verdict, to wit: “Ward off evil in the best possible manner.” [2]

     If evil is not to be resisted, it would be allowed to grow unchecked and eat away the very vitals of humanity. All goals, reformatory schools, and law courts should be abolished forthwith, so that under the charitable teachings of the Christian faith, evil may have perfect freedom and run riot in whatever way it can. When it is a sin to resist evil, the natural consequence is the abject toleration, or rather encouragement, of all sorts of nefarious designs and mischievous courses. Human nature is not safe under the assumed Christian teachings; therefore, it naturally revolts against them. Never has mankind, even in the very heart of civilisation which is said to be the direct result of Christian teachings, acted upon these teachings which are against the intellect, nature and instincts of humanity. The Holy Koran strikes at the very root of evil. It stops the very source of it. It says: “Ward off evil in the best possible manner”. The measure to be taken for the removal of evil is not positive non-resistance, which is not a sensible policy at all, but on the contrary the most effective methods ought to be used for the extirpation of evil. The means suited to particular cases are to be employed, whether they be harsh or mild. Whatever is productive of desirable results should be restored to for the eradications of evil.

     

    1. Mohammedanism: A Religion of Sex–Indulgence”

    As regards the assertion that Islam is a religion of sex–indulgence nothing can be farther from the truth. A comparison of the moral conditions of the countries, populated by Moslems and Christians respectively, will clearly show that the number of illegitimate birth is alarmingly greater in Christian than in Moslem countries. The honour of the fair sex is more in jeopardy in the former than elsewhere, and the freedom of the softer sex is nowhere so cruelly abused and insulted as in many Christian lands. Islam enjoins upon its followers to live and act under a constant sense of the fear of God. Whatever a Moslem does, he does it God fearingly. Fear of God is the prevailing passion with a Moslem, and governing all his thoughts, words, and actions. Even in conjugal relations and connubial dealings, fear of God is the main motive of action.

    I give below, in extenso, the nuptial sermon, universally preached on the occasion of marriage, in imitation of the Prophet: -

     “O ye believers, fear God as He deserves to be feared, and die not without having become true Moslems. O men fear your Lord Who hath created you of one progenitor, and of the same species created. He his wife and from these twain hath spread abroad so many men and women. And fear ye God, in Whose name ye ask mutual favours, and reverence the wombs that bore you. Verily, God is watching over you. O believers fear God and speak with well–guided speech, that God may bless your doings for you and forgive you your sins. And whoso obeyeth God and His apostle, with great bliss he surely shall be blest.”

    The sermon is a collection of Koranic verses, and their repetition at each and every wedding, is meant to remind the Moslem men and women of their duties and obligations. It opens with a commandment to fear God and the self–same commandment is repeated quite a number of times in the course of the sermon, showing that the whole of the ceremony to carried through with fear of God so that from beginning to end it may be a pure moral binding, and no selfish equivocation or hypocritical prevarication may mar the sanctity of the sacred rite. The obligations accepted by the pair at the time when the marriage sermon is delivered, will thus be real and will exercise a lasting influence on the future life of the couple, as man and wife. The institution, based solely on fear of God, is bound to be holy and those who hold to such a holy institution cannot be charged with sinister motives, if they are true Moslems. Such a sacred system can never be productive of sex–indulgence. A man who God–fearingly enters into a contract and bind himself to certain obligations, cannot be termed a sexual man. The verses clearly give the Moslem to understand that the ultimate object of the marriage contract is to win the pleasure of God. When acting from such motives, it cannot be conceived that a Moslem considered himself to be pleasing God, while indulging in sensuality. Sensuality is an abomination to God and a Moslem knows that fact from the Koran, more than anybody else. It is impossible, therefore, to incur displeasure where the avowed object is to win approval. Thus it is clear that Islamic marriage makes life pure and chaste, and does not afford occasion to taunt any one with the vice of sensuality.

                Whether a Moslem weds one wife or the fullest admissible number of wives, he cannot lose sight of the object of his life. He is not born for anything but the adoration of God. He turns heretic if he even for an instant, even in the moment of sexual intercourse-the moment of utmost enjoyment and therefore of utmost self–forgetfulness banishes from his mind the purpose, for which he was brought into being. Marriage, whether monogamous or polygamous, is for a Moslem the means of attaining the nearness of God.

    The Gospel’s commandment “Every one that looketh at a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with he already in his mind,” shows us that an evil look is forbidden; but a look having no wicked intention behind it is permitted. Moslems, however, are bond by their religion not to look repeatedly and freely at a strange woman, for the pleasure of doing so. According to human nature a woman, on account of her charms, is an object of temptation; and whoever exposes himself freely to temptation prepares the way for his moral destruction. Too much indulgence in the habit of looking freely at beauties, as it seems to be allowed according to the Gospel’s text leads to evil. The best way to guard against evil, is to avoid the path that leads to temptation. The Koran forbids both pure and impure free looks; for too much recourse to pure looks is likely to prompt impure ones. To be safe, temptation must be kept at arm’s length and not nourished freely to exhaust one’s patience and power of resistance. The Koran’s injunctions on the subject are as follows: -

    “Ask the believers men to cast down their eyes and observe continence. Thus they will be more pure. Verily God is well aware of what they do. And ask the believing women to refrain their looks and observe continence; and to display not their ornaments except those which are external, and to draw their husbands or their husband’s fathers or their sons, or their fathers or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or their sisters sons or their women or their slaves or male domestics who have no natural force, or to children who note not women’s nakedness. And let them not strike with their feet, so as to show their hidden ornaments. And be ye wholly turned to God, O ye believers; then all shall be well with you.” [3]

    Thus; both men and women are required to refrain from unnecessary looking at each other. The softer sex is required to walk about so carefully as not to be a stumbling block for any weakling, and therefore the social morality and individual chastity are kept intact. Promiscuous intermingling of both sexes, and the reckless display of charms on the part of the fair sex, have gone a long way towards undermining the moral tone of Christian countries.

     

    A learned man [4], commenting on the charge that Islam stimulates sex indulgence, writes in the Review of Religions: -

    “The living facts speak volumes for themselves and no one who has had occasion to read up certain articles in the Encyclopedia Britannica, can afford to question the truth of the sad state of affairs so strikingly brought to light in them. We cannot shut our eyes to the ennobling influence of the growing civilisation of Europe, but civilisation with all its softening and elevating forces, has not yet been able to obviate the necessity of food, and alleviate the pressure of all the cravings of nature. If therefore attraction of charms, is a natural aptitude, as surely it is, one cannot help admitting, that unlike other natural desires, this craving of nature also remains unaffected by the advance of civilisation. No amount of learning and no sort of culture and scholarship can alter human nature; and it follows, therefore, that civilisation can scarcely prove a bar to the inborn desire of man for woman, and vice versa. To assert that civilised Europe is proof against the resistless onslaught of passion is a ridiculous statement when, civilisation has failed to do away with other natural desires of mankind. To give a moral lift to the Christian countries, it is necessary to introduce the Islamic moral code which pays equal attention to the intellectual; moral and social advancement of the people. But under the present circumstances, it is sad to note that Christian Europe improves the intellectual side at the sacrifice of the moral one.”

     

    3- Islam and Polygamy

    Islam enjoins marriage, whether monogamous or polygamous, as the conditions of life necessitate, with due regard to piety, so that there may be no violence to human nature; and the desire for sexual intercourse, like other cravings of nature, being duly gratified, may lead to the perfect safety and the complete security of social morality. Thus the Islamic system of marriage, harmonising with the practical need and the requirement of mankind, gains fresh lustre when brought under the search light of unbiassed criticism. The Prophet’s example in the matter of marriage is specially striking. It refutes the commonplace objection of ignorant people that it is impossible to deal fairly with more than one wife. One need not waste time and energy in discussing the practicability of monogamy or polygamy for mankind. The example of the Prophet is vividly before us. He had as many as nine wives, but how lovingly and fairly he behaved towards them, is known to all students of religion. The love he bore to each individual wife, and the consummate spirit of good will that characterised the mutual relation of the Prophet and his wives, is above the possibility of suspicion. We have the absolutely credible evidence of the wives themselves. They state him to be the embodiment of love and justice. [5] Never was there any real grievance on the part of the wives against his treatment. The Prophet with his perfect example has proved up to the hilt, that it is quite possible for a polygamous husband to maintain justice and equality of treatment among his wives, if only he has a mind to do so. When the Prophet could do perfect justice towards nine, there should be no reason why we cannot do justice towards only four, even less than half the number. The excess allowed to the Prophet is not to permit him to indulge in sensuality, as certain critics would have us believe, for the Prophet’s life is unsullied and above such base charges, but it is meant to show to the world how the Prophet was endowed with superhuman feeing of love and affection towards his wives. It was also intended to show the Moslems how it was within the range of possibility, to deal kindly and justly with a plurality of wives. He left no room for discussion. He acted and asked his followers to act. Polygamy must not be discarded, if it be found conductive to social happiness, on the clumsy pretext that it is impossible to live smoothly with more than one wife. The Prophet did live peacefully with nine wives, and we Moslems can also do so, under given conditions, with four wives, if we follow the noble example of the Prophet in all our doings and actions. It is only when we fail to live up to the standard of the Prophet’s perfect manners, that we fail to secure a peaceful and loving attitude towards a plurality of wives, nay even towards a single wife.  

    The writer takes this opportunity to point out that our critic friends have no cause to lose their temper at the mention of polygamy. Islam does not enforce polygamy. It enjoins marriage where no disabilities stand in the way. Monogamy is the general rule, polygamy is a provision for urgent emergencies. It is unwise to question the general wisdom of an institution in exceptional cases. If a man can be content with one wife. Islam does not compel him to resort to polygamy. If Christian critics find that their way of living obviates the necessity of a plurality of wives, they are not bound to have recourse to polygamy. Let them live with one wife and refrain from reviling Islam, as Islam does not make polygamy obligatory. If they clearly understand the problem of polygamy, I hope they will come to entertain better feeling towards the law of the Prophet Islam simply permits polygamy, if one cannot live in happiness and piety with one wife. But if Christians can live piously and happily with one wife, Islam does not interfere. Islam is as much monogamous as Christianity, the difference, being that the former makes a provision for urgent needs, with due regard to the rights of the wife, whereas the latter does not, should a man fail to find any emergency calling for a plurality.

    Polygamy is not essential in Islam. To consider polygamy as essential in Islam would be an unpardonable mistake. In fact, the teaching of the Koran is to the contrary, and strongly recommends monogamy, as already shown. Islam claims to be a universal religion. It was not revealed to meet the requirements of a particular race or age; with its world–wide mission, Islam had to look to the requirements of all ages, countries, and civilisations. Besides the substantial laws, the code of Islam, as every wise legislation must do, provides certain ordinances which may be looked upon as auxiliary or remedial laws, with an elasticity to meet the contingencies of place and time. It deprecates their abuses, and lays down proper restrictions as to their use.     

    The events of the world sometimes give rise to circumstances which cause appreciable paucity in the number of men. Inter–tribal or international wars often lead to the same result; and leave numberless members of the weaker sex without home or protection. The recent European war (1914 – 18) and (1939-45) is a quite example of international calamity that caused an unimaginable decrease in the number of males leaving hundreds of thousands of females without guardians or protectors. With all our refined ideas of chivalry and broadmindedness, no other institution than marriage can safely come to save the situation. Other measures under similar circumstances have been schemed and resorted to, but they could not avoid undesirable results. To maintain strict continence and piety in society, Islam would not recommend any woman to seek refuge under the roof of any man who does not stand in marital, or within the prohibited degree of relation to her. Our experience also goes far to endorse the advisability of Islamic policy in this respect. Polygamy is the only specific remedy to meet the need. But woman has not been left without her own choice in the matter. To secure her peace, comfort, and happiness, if she needs no other help or protection, no Moslem would compel her to marry a man who is already the husband of another woman. Thus polygamy, as said before, is a sort of remedial law in Islam which may come into operation when opportunity arises, and should not be resorted to when there is no occasion for it. It is not only for connubial purposes, that equality of number in men and women is a necessity. In human life there are occasions when only men are in requisition. How to fill up the shattered ranks, if similar calamities cause the dearth of men? The only two resorts left are either to encourage bastardy or adopt polygamy. To recruit the number no one having the least sense of decency would recommend the former measure. One, indeed cannot understand the wisdom of the law in the West which, practically speaking, condones what it condemns under the name of bigamy. Marriage after all is only a union of man and woman which under specified formalities received the sanction of society. Therefore, if the special circum-stances of an age do demand the multiplication of units in a nation, why not legalise what has already received the sanction of practice and usage, and save thousands and thousands of souls from the ignominy of being called ‘bastard’ sons or daughters, and thus give them the right to inherit from these who gave them their body? It would tend to improve morality, and enhance the sacredness of nuptial rights. Thus, poly-gamy sometimes becomes a national necessity.

     

    This institution has also its legitimate use in individual cases as well. Propagation of one’s species is the most important of all the purposes of marriage, and if all hopes of an issue through the first wife are at an end, there seem to be only three ways open to man: either to divorce his wife; to deny himself the pleasure of having issue- the desire of nearly every married man; or to wait till the death of the wife and spoil his whole life. Is not there a second contemporaneous marriage to be preferred to any of the above alternatives, a man may do it and save heart–burnings, if he is strongly attached to his first wife? The case of Napoleon presents a good illustration. He had to divorce his well beloved wife, Josephine, a lady possessing virtues and abilities of a very high order. There was the warmest attachment between the two, but Napoleon could not have issue from her, and the country therefore insisted upon her divorce. The account of her divorce, as related by historians and biographers, is extremely pathetic. Napoleon married another wife, he reigned splendidly and enjoyed the benefits of a prosperous kingdom; then came calamities, upon him, which continued until his death. Josephine had been divorced, but their love for each other underwent no change. She remembered him with ardent loved and sympathy in his troubles and calamities as in the days of happiness. But the strong cord which bound them together had snapped asunder. If polygamy had been allowed and this was, I say, one of the rare occasions where the jurists of Islam have sanctioned polygamy – Napoleon and his widow, would not have suffered this extreme affliction. Moslem ladies have often allowed their husbands in such cases to take another wife and beget an issue.[6]

     

    Of course, those who indulge in polygamy without obvious reasons are not acting in accordance with the spirit of their religion. Islam placed the institution under restrictions which gradually proved to be a most efficatious check to polygamy, and made the largest portion of the Moslem world observe strict monogamy. The best check indeed has been provided in the very verse of the Koran which is held to authorize polygamy: “Then marry that seems good to you of women, two, three or four (wives); but if ye fear that ye shall not act equitably, then one (wife) only.” [7]

    In this verse the license given to polygamy is curtailed by the proviso which enjoins strict equity and justice towards all wives as obligatory on man. In case a man feared that he could not act equitably and justly between his wives, he was directed to be content with one wife only. The word ‘fear’ in the verse deserves special notice; that is to say, if a man is afraid that he will not be able to comply with the proviso, he must not go beyond one wife. And it need hardly be pointed out, how difficult it is to give every one his (or her) own just due; nor is every one able to do it. Nay, the Book of God itself admits in another verse the inability of man, to observe the required equality of treatment in every respect to all of his wives, and this emphasises the desirability of having only one wife; but suggests, at the same time, a very wise course to those who under unavoidable circumstances have been compelled to have more than one wife. The verse is as follows: “And ye can never act equitably between women, although ye covet (it); but turn not with all partiality (towards one of them) nor leave the other like one who is in suspense; but if ye be reconciled, and fear (to do wrong), verily God is Forgiving, and Compassionate.” [8] And if a wife fear ill–usage or aversion from her husband, it shall be no crime in them both that they should be reconciled among themselves with some reconciliation; for reconciliation is best. And souls are prone to avarice; but if ye be good and God–fearing, verily God knows what ye do.” [9]

     

    If will thus be clear from the above instructions that when a man has married two wives in the belief that he is able to treat them equitably, and he then finds that he is inclined towards the one to a degree amounting to aversion against the other, and is prepared to divorce one of his wives, the above verses lay down directions for the guidance of both man and wife, namely, that they should come to an understanding between themselves and be reconciled- the wife by forgoing some of her rights, and the man by self-control. This would save each of them the troubles attendant upon a divorce.

    But the best remedy to avoid future unpleasantness lies in the hand of the woman in Islam, where marriage is a civil contract and can be saddled with adequate conditions, to violate which would in itself bring marriage to nullity. Thus, a woman who fears the possibility of a second marriage on the part of her betrothed can make provisions against its unpleasant effects, before she is married. She may get such special damages as are provided in the contract of marriage, when the contingency arises; she may have the option of living separately from her husband with a suitable maintenance; or get herself divorced and lead an independent life, and recover damages as well. But this should all be provided for in the contract of marriage.       

     

    “Polygamy, in a word, in Islam, is a remedy. It has uses and abuses. Islam guards against the latter, and allows the former under restrictions and within stringent limits. More knowledge of human needs and exigencies would enlighten the world and enable it to see the necessity of allowing an institution, like polygamy, with its rare and limited use as in Islam. [10]

     

     

    Polygamy is not an institution originated by Islam. “Now Mohammed,” writes Mr. Bosworth Smith, “was legislator and a statesman, as well as the founder of a religion and why is the defence which we allow to Solon, and the praise we bestow upon the limited scope of the Mosaic legislation, denied to Islam?    

     

    “Polygamy is, indeed next to caste, the most blighting institution to which a nation can become a prey. It pollutes society at the fountain-head for the family is the source of all political and all social virtues. Mohammed would have more than doubled the debt of gratitude the Eastern world owes to him, had he swept it away; but he could not have done so, even if he had fully seen its evil. It is not fair to represent polygamy as a part of Mohammedanism any more than it is fair to represent slavery as a part of Christianity. The one co-exits with the other, without being mixed with it, even as the muddy Arve and the clear Rhone keep their currents distinct, long after they have been united in one river bed. Perhaps it is strange that they ever could have co-existed, even for a day; but we have to deal with facts as they are, and it is a fact, that slavery has co-existed with Christianity, nay, has professed to justify itself by Christianity even till this nineteenth century. Mohammed could not have made a ‘tabula rasa’ of Eastern society, but what could do he did. He least put strict limitations on the unbounded licence of Eastern polygamy, and the facility of Eastern divorce. If the social touch stone of a religion is the way, in which it regards the poor and the oppressed, Mohammed’s religion can stand the test. He improved the condition of women by freeing them from the arbitrary patriarchal power of the parents or the heirs of the husbands, by inculcating just and kind treatment of them by their husbands themselves, by giving them legal rights in case of unfair treatment, and by absolutely prohibiting the incestuous marriages which were rife in the times of ignorance, and the still more horrible practice of the burying alive of female infants. Nor was this all, for besides imposing restrictions on polygamy, by this severe laws at first, and by the strong moral sentiment aroused by these laws afterwards, he has succeeded, down to this very day, and to a greater extent than has ever been the case elsewhere, in freeing all Mohammedan countries from those professional outcasts who live by their own misery, and by their existence as a recognized class, are a standing reproach to every member of the society, of which they form part. [11]

     

    ([1]) Quazi Abdul Haque, ‘The Review of Religion’  (Sept. 1913).

    ([2]) Koran.

    ([3]) Koran.

    ([4]) Quazi Abdul Haque.

    ([5]) Ibn Athir, Abul Feda, Sir W. Muir etc, etc.

    ([6]) ‘Muslim Home’ by H. H. Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum Sahiba, Ruler of Bhopal, India.

    ([7]) Koran IV : 3.

    ([8]) Koran IV : 128. 

    ([9]) Koran IV: 129.

    ([10])  H. H. Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum Sahiba, Ruler of Bhopal, India.

     

    ([11]) Bosworth Smith: “Mohamed and Mohammedanism” pp. 174-176.

     

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