A PAIR OF DAINTY ANTIQUES
One of the essential tools to illumine the present and the footpath to the future is the evulsion of inspiring monitions from the past.
The loss of our radiant past is a weighty causative agent both of our immediate disorientation and of our expected short- to medium term discombobulation.
This tiny bite consists in two lovely curios, which lay in manuscript form before the dawning of this “new millennium”:
1. From the first travel book of
an Eastern Muslim to America (1668‐1683 CE), Ilyās al‐Mawsilī, called Adh‐Dhahab wa al‐‘Āsifah
The Indian child
“We then travelled, over one day and one night, through a passageway between two mountains which people failed to use. The Shaytān desired to seize the Mestizo muleteer, who had set his resolve on slaying me.
Allah, however, unveiled his intent at the hand of my servant.
I thus took from my attendant whichever weapons I needed, and proceeded cautiously so as to save my life, until we arrived at Waka Namo . When the inhabitants of this village, who were Indians, gazed at me, they felt bewildered by my appearance, and asked me, ‘How did you manage to get to this tortuous mountain pass? You can only be a prophet or a holy person.’ Their clergymen, too, were Indians like them, save that the residents of that particular village hardly had manly chins, as only a tiny bit of hair was stuck on their throats.
Given that I was a man regaled with a full beard, they were astounded by my presence, and were calling me an extremely intrepid person for having crossed into that region.
The two traitors!
Thereafter, on the second day since we walked into that locality, we departed from it and headed for a village named Amotape [presently an Inka resort]. One night, while I was sleeping under a tent, my two travelling companions held a consultation between themselves, and planned the details of my murder.
I had in my company a young Indio, who was conversant with the language of the Spaniards. Either this child spent the night awake, or else he happened to overhear how they had conspired to kill me. The child, trembling, hastened to my side, shook me out of my slumber, and apprised me of the matter. By Allah’s assistance, however, one of the mules bolted away that very same night, scampering away as a fugitive betwixt mountain peaks. My Mestizo fellow traveller, whom I mentioned earlier, began to race after the mule, and remained in hot pursuit of the bolting animal throughout the night. He only came back with the mule at sunrise.
During his enforced departure, I snatched from the pair of them all the weapons that belonged to them, since I was carrying no weaponry of mine. Out of fear that their plot might be executed, I took the sword in my hand, and, wielding it, I called for the Mestizo. Once he was in front of me, I said in a peremptory tone ‘Kneel down and stay seated on the ground. Tell me honestly how did the Shaytān succeed in foisting a murderous thought on your mind!’. He then confessed the truth to me. He acknowledged his evil thought, and beseeched me to forgive him and spare his life.
Five days later, we arrived at the abovementioned village (of Amotape).
Before we could enter it, as we were marching through its luscious trees, the pair of treacherous men fled out of fear for their lives, and left their mules behind.
The curate in charge of the monastery came out and welcomed me warmly. I then recounted to him the perilous adventures I had gone through, and he said to me, ‘Allah has rescued you from their evil. It was that way, in fact, that my own brother had been assassinated by them on that mountain pass.’
This village that we are presently speaking about, Amotape, is flanked on both sides by a river that is called Fleuve Colan . It abounds in fish, and resembles the Tigres [in Iraq]. On that day, I crossed the said river and reached a town named Ville De Colan, solely inhabited by Indios.
I put up at the residence of the curate. That day was the festival of Mr Ya`qūb, the brother of the chieftain in charge of the region. The curate made me resolve on sanctifying the second day of my visit. The practice was that any votive offering handed to the curate would be transferred as a rule onto my ownership. I did consecrate the second day, and all the Indios, who numbered 4000 persons, attended the Mass I celebrated. After completing the ceremony of the Mass, I sat on a chair and I prepared a “blessing”, that is, some hallowed bread. The people kept on approaching me to kiss my hand, take the “blessing”, and cast their votive offerings into a large, round metal plate with a raised brim, which was used for that purpose. When they were through with that, I cast a look and saw that an amount of 250 piasters had gathered inside that plate as offering.”
2. The invalidation of an official
certificate purporting to attest a former Christian’s profession of Islam
“We now move back to the “old” world, more precisely to Islamic Spain, where we make our acquaintance with one of the stalwarts of Ahl as‐Sunnah, the judge and Imām Mundhir b. Sa`īd al‐Ballūtī.
We are going to quote a very rare example of meticulous scholarship‐in-action, which had remained hidden as a barely legible manuscript until very recent times.
A Christian had embraced Islam, but our judge was dissatisfied with the formula of his acceptance of the true Dīn as previously recorded by a professional scribe tasked with writing down notarial deeds and other
official documents and certificates.
A learned man informed him that the notary or a third party had refuted the validity of Judge al‐Ballūtī’s critique of the contents of the certificate verifying the Christian’s acceptance of Islam. Judge al‐Ballūtī thus set out to refute that refutation, in the process laying bare the issue of the uncreated nature of the Qur’ān and the impressive subtleties of accurate exegesis of Allah’s Book in the light of the correct Sunnī ‘aqīdah.
One has to bear in mind āyah 171 of Sūrah an‐Nisā’ (170 in the Warsh riwāyah), which says:
«‘Īsā, son of Maryam, was only the Messenger of Allah and His word, which He cast into Maryam, and a Spirit from Him».
“I read – may Allah ennoble you – what you wrote, and I understood what I needed to know of your refutation of my critique concerning the official certificate which one of our companions committed to writing and which concerned the profession of Islam by a former Christian.
You made mention in your writing of the fact that the notary who took it down, or else a third party, refuted or belittled our own refutation regarding the way the said document had been phrased.
A far cry from a trivial matter is my refutation indeed!
Nay, it is a model of duly spreading out a debunking critique and dealing with self-adulating and self-aggrandizing people.
The basis of my disavowal of such document is that one finds therein the following: “He bore testimony to the fact that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and that ‘Īsā is the Messenger of Allah and His word”, full stop. The notary penning that certificate refrained from linking the last phrase to its follow-up, and thus failed to specify things by adding, “which word He cast into Maryam, and a Spirit from Him” [since the relevant Qur’ānic āyah does join the last three phrases as part of a single verbalized continuum allowing for no pause at the end of each segment of speech].
What escaped the notary’s cognition, since he was not a man marked by scrupulous care, and his yearning for what is nobly elevated had not been raised aloft to the comprehension of the truth encompassed by the
pertinent āyah, is His statement, Exalted is He: «A Book whose āyāt are perfectly constructed, and then demarcated» (Sūrah Hūd: 1), His other statement: «It is He Who has sent down to you the Book clarifying
everything» (Sūrah al‐An`ām: 114, 115 in the Warsh riwāyah), as well as His further statement: «We have conveyed the Word to them, so that hopefully they will pay heed» (Sūrah al‐Qasas: 51).
He, Lofty is His Majesty, thus informed that He clearly demarcated and clarified His Speech in detail whenever its detailing was obligatory, and that He connected parts of such Speech with one another whenever they had to be read jointly.
If, then, a person were to say, ‘‘‘Īsā is indeed the Messenger of Allah and His word’, without joining that with its follow‐up by saying, ‘and His word which He cast into Maryam, and a Spirit from Him’, it is necessarily entailed by his truncated statement that Allah’s Speech is created, i.e. originated at some point in time from previous non‐existence.
That is so since ’Īsā is created, and if ‘Īsā is created while being “the word of Allah”, it would obligatorily follow that Allah’s Word, too, is created. Far Exalted above that is Allah in His lofty exaltation [One likewise fears from the said premise that the sayer of such a partial sentence might believe that Jesus is the Logos in the sense of the Divine Word “kun” (= be!)].
The only thing that would have sufficed the writer of this document was for him to record “that such a
man bore witness to the fact that ‘Īsā was the Messenger of Allah”, and then, by joining what had been joined by Allah, state in full that «‘Īsā, son of Maryam, was the Messenger of Allah and His word, which He cast into Maryam, and a Spirit from Him».
By not uniting the whole Divine statement, and by pausing at the end of His phrase «‘Īsā, son of Maryam, was the Messenger of Allah», he would make such amputated phrase a self-contained speech, i.e. one complete in itself. In consonance with that, His additional statement «and His word, which He cast into Maryam», would represent the fresh start of a separate speech.
The like of the aforesaid obligation not to pause in the middle of a joined Divine statement is frequently encountered in the Qur’ān. For instance, if a reader were to say,
«Those who do not have īmān in the Ākhirah have an evil likeness, and Allah» (Sūrah an‐Nahl: 60), and he were to halt at that point, though the beginning of the new sentence «and Allah» has been clarified in the
Divine speech that ensues [= «and Allah’s is the Highest Likeness»], the person thus reading it could only be a kāfir or a Muslim who is ignorant about the language of the Arabs.
A similar scenario emerges in respect of His statement: «Only those who can hear respond. As for the dead» [Sūrah al‐An`ām: 36, 37 in the Warsh mushaf]. If a person reciting, reading or quoting the Qur’ān were to stop at the word «the dead», he would be a liar or someone devoid of any understanding of Arabic, without any third possibility being envisageable, since the dead do not hear. He would only move out of such mendacity or linguistic ignorance, as the case might be, if he joins the phrase «the dead» with the rest of the sentence that Allah has ordered to be read together with it, by saying in one go: «As for the dead, Allah will raise them up».
The same ruling would apply in the event that one said: «Allah is not ashamed» (Sūrah al‐ Baqarah: 26, 25 in the Warsh riwāyah), until and unless he completes it by the words «to make an example of a gnat».
Equally, one who begins by reading «that Allah would not know much of what you did» (Sūrah Fussilat: 22) is either a kāfir or an ignoramus, unless he connects the Divine statement right through as Allah has commanded him to do, and thus says «and you thought that Allah would not know much of what you did».
Plentiful other examples in the same vein are found throughout the Qur’ān.
Whoever busies himself with what Allah has sent down in His Book encompasses what we mentioned in his cognitive grasp, and comes to understand the reality of its true meanings. In such laudable engrossment, he is veiled from what is done by those who have cast His Book behind their backs, and from those who have spent their lifetime in idle pursuits.
The Word of Allah is the one by which creatures come into being, that is, His statement «kun», to wit, «be!».
Had Allah’s Word been created, it would ensue from it, as an obligatory corollary thereof, that a creature would create another creature, Exalted far above that is Allah!
Those who separate parts of the Divine Speech that Allah have ordered to be joined, and who digress from the straight path on the issue of His Names [and Attributes], shall be repaid in accordance with their actions.
Allah the Exalted has said:
«The likeness of ‘Īsā in Allah’s sight is the same as Ādam. He created him from earth and then He said to him, ‘Be!,’ and he was» (Sūrah Āl ‘Imrān: 59, 58 as per the Warsh mushaf).
His statement «and then He said to him, ‘Be!’, and he was» indicates to the Arabs, in their language, that the personal (damīr) in lahu, the hā’ with the dammah, refers to ‘Īsā, and that His statement ‘Be!’ is other than such a personal referring to a previously mentioned explicit noun [= His uncreated Word is other than His word ‘Īsā which He cast into Maryam].
It is the same with His statement: «Allah verily gives you good news of a word from Him. His name is the Messiah, ‘Īsā, son of Maryam» (Sūrah Āl ‘Imrān: 45). By Allah mentioning his name in the masculine, instead of the name Kalimah in the feminine, which would have been traced to the Word, He signalled the fact that the Word is something, and ‘Īsā something else.
It is precisely on this issue [the answer to which has been spread out by our author in the foregoing] that the Byzantine king once wrote the following to (the Abbasid Caliph) al‐Ma’mūn: “You people assert that ‘Īsā is the word of Allah and believe that Allah’s Speech is uncreated. Since Allah’s Speech is uncreated in your view and ‘Īsā is a word from and thus part of Allah’s Speech, why then do you declare it permissible to shed our blood, seize our belongings, and take our concubines as captives?”.
We have thus elucidated – may Allah grant you honour – what you have asked about, and our answer has fully encircled, Allah the Exalted willing, what nearly grants sufficiency of understanding to those endowed with penetrating intellects. We are not astounded by the refuter’s refutation of what we had refuted, since he only opposed what he did not understand, and hastened to utter a speech on what he had achieved no
Whoever plunges into a discourse on what eludes his knowledge, and tries to enter into a contest with the savants in their own domain, which is knowledge, will only alert people to his own neglectfulness, and lay bare to them some of his defective faculty of considerate reflection.
As for us, we extend our pardon to the whole lot of them, even if they treated us coarsely, since they are Muslims. We likewise excuse them, because they are ignorant.
We direct our desire to Allah, on our own behalf and on their behalf as well, as regards His teaching us what we previously had no knowledge of, and as regards guiding us and them to what is best.
Greetings of peace to you, together with Allah’s Mercy and His Blessings.”
 The whole anecdote took place in present-day Peru in South America.