The first time the Holy Prophet (sa) raised his voice of invitation to call Allah (swt) the only Lord, he was, in fact, not the only one practicing such an idea in the Arabian Peninsula. History contains names of many people, who already at that time, believed in the oneness of Allah (swt).
Waraqah Ibn Naufal, a relative of the Messenger (sa), is an example of such men in Makkah, though he had passed away when the Prophet (sa) publicly called people to Islam. One of the great poets of that period Labeed Ibn Rabia was another believer in the unity of Allah (swt). These men, who worshiped the only Lord (swt), had been passing their lives quite peacefully among their polytheist brethren. They were never questioned, as to why they had adopted an absolutely different belief from that of their brothers. History does not report even a single instance of torture or coercion of these people.
This atmosphere of peace and coexistence was brought to an end by the same inhabitants of Makkah, when Muhammad (sa) publicly called them to accept the truest invitation of ‘La Ilaha Ill-Allah.’
This is an interesting point to consider: why did the leaders of Makkah react so angrily to Muhammad (sa) upon his call, as compared to their behaviour of coexistence for the two aforementioned men? Their belief was the same (the unity of Allah (swt)) and all of them were inhabitants of Makkah.
Yet another contrast: before the Prophet (sa) declared himself as the preacher of Kalima-e-Tayyaba, Makkans had repeatedly been acknowledging the unquestionable honesty and truthfulness of Muhammad (sa), while later on their reaction was so aggressive that the Prophet (sa) was forced to leave his homeland.
This is the point where we should start thinking in-depth about the factors responsible for the two different attitudes of Makkah’s leaders.
The answer is quite simple. Activities of the first innocent group of persons were confined to themselves only. They never propagated their ideas to others. In fact, they themselves were afraid that the outside sinful environment could endanger their beliefs and extinguish the feeble light of their truth. This is why we see them pass most of their time in caves, far away from the temptations of this world.
As soon as Muhammad’s (sa) voice was raised, all the dominating classes of the city got alarmed, because they instantly realized that this small sentence (Kalima) meant that they would now have to submit to a higher authority and give up many things which were a part and parcel of their lives. After embracing this new belief, they would at once stand accountable before Allah (swt) for every act they did. They would not be free to do as they please but would be allowed to act only as Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) required them to act.
This was the principal difference that they realized as soon as the Kalima of ‘La Ilaha Ill-Allah Muhammad-ur-Rasoolullah’ was offered to them. Leaders and intellectuals of Makkah were, of course, very clever, so they did not delay in concluding that a new order of life is emerging from this small sentence – altogether different from what they had themselves developed so far. It was not simply a lip service, but a complete renovation of life.
Sensing this danger, they all united and rejected the call. They put all their force to create obstacles in the advancement of this call. First, they offered temptations and affections; then, used coercion and violence on the followers of the Prophet (sa).
Muslims were dragged on roads, tortured and even killed by the cruel lords of Makkah, only because they were found busy in dismantling the old order of their merciless leadership. The movement of Kalima-e-Tayyaba, however, could not be deterred, and Islam ultimately succeeded in enjoying the position of the greatest religion of the Arabian Peninsula.
The results came exactly the way the Quraish leaders had feared. Revolutionary changes occurred in the lives of those who embraced Islam. The ones who had no care for spilling of human blood earlier, trembled with fear even on the killing of a sparrow. Those, who used to bury their daughters alive with their own hands, started feeling proud about bringing them up.
Thieves and robbers sacrificed their properties for the sake of their Muslim brothers in an attempt to strengthen them financially. Their rulers became the actual servants of humanity, and their wealthy persons turned to be the squanderers of their own wealth.
They all submitted to Allah (swt) and got rid of the evils of the dark ages. They were affectionate, bore sacrifices and became committed well-wishers of the society. The atmosphere changed so much that those, who committed a sin, presented themselves before the Prophet (sa) for receiving the punishment.
Because of this result, the conduct of the leaders of Makkah towards the two categories of believers was absolutely different. The former men, having the belief in the oneness of Allah (swt), were pardoned on account of confining their beliefs to their own selves.
As against that, the Prophet (sa) and his companions took every effort to convey their message across the land by inviting people to unite around it. It was a challenge to the prevailing society, and a society based on evils does not ignore such a challenge. So this act provoked the Makkan polytheists commit violence to hinder its progress.
Now, this short account leaves us with the following questions: “What should be our role, as Muslims, in this world? Should we confine religion to ourselves only or should we commit to promoting it? Should we act as the former pious men acted, or should we enlighten the whole world with the light of Islam?” On the answer to these questions, rests the future of the world.
Kalima is not a lip service only. It is a Jihad. It guides us to rise and to correct the society, and it explains to us that the truth one has discovered should be conveyed further.
This is the commandment that was given to the Apostle of Allah (sa) by the Creator Himself: “O you Muhammad! Rise, warn and declare before the masses, the greatness of your Sustainer.” (Al-Muddaththir 71:1-3) It is, therefore, imperative that the Muslims of the world should rise and announce the call of Allah’s (swt) greatness. They should invite people to the Kalima, so that only Allah’s (swt) law and order is practiced throughout the world.
The writer is the Director, National Academy of Islamic Research, Karachi.