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The Egyptian Society for Spiritual and Cultural Research

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The "Common Term"
Emphasizes the Inner Freedom

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Islam, as Religion of Fitra respects differentiations and diversity as characteristics of the natural world as well as the human world. Yet, the Islamic Call invites the whole world to a “common term” where the ultimate goal of creation is clear, that is, to be worthy of humanness, and in Islamic terminology to be Servant of Allah. If the world unifies its goal, and every nation is left to achieve that goal according to its own way and the guidance of Messengers of Allah or wise human beings, peace will prevail and love will connect the whole world in one big family.

In short, to come to a “common term” with humankind in general and with People of the Book in particular, forms the base of the Islamic Call and it is linked to the invitation to witness, “There is no god but God”. Witnessing the oneness of God is the corner stone of the Islamic call because it is the way to be a Servant of God.

Say thou: "This is my Way: I do invite unto Allah - on evidence clear as the seeing with one's eyes - I and whoever follows me. Glory to Allah! and never will I join gods with Allah!"(HQ: 12:108).

O People of the Book! come to “common term”s as between us and you: that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah." If then they turn back, say ye: "Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah's Will.) (HQ: 3: 64).

Generally, to witness the oneness of Allah implies that man has faith in the One Transcendent, Supreme, Unseen and Manifest Being. To Him alone, man surrenders. Her/his faith should be reflected in her/his mundane life so that man might not make of any physical, limited, transient thing a god. At The Prophet's time, just like any time, people did have many gods: power, money, physical desires, political authority…etc. The 360 idols they put around Al Ka'ba were but an aspect of the illusive way of life they conformed to. Taking illusions as gods, leads man to be enslaved, and lose her/his inner freedom. Witnessing that there is only one Origin of Life that transcends all the known and seen power of the world, liberates man from the confusion of the conflicting gods which s/he creates, and supports her/him to retain her/his inner freedom.



óThe Common Term
and the Inhabitants of Macca

 


In The Prophet’s time, the Call for witnessing the oneness of God represented the “common term” around which the inhabitants of Macca would have gathered. It would have solved many problems in the corruptive social environment. Faith in the Supreme Being would have meant that people would not associate partners with Him, taking them as their lords, fearing them and surrendering to them. It would have meant that those who enjoyed political and economic power would have not controlled, dominated, and exploited those who were less privileged. This faith would have liberated the helpless to get rid of their depicted self-image as hopeless, because they would have acquired and believed in Allah's support and protection.

The “common term” between The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the inhabitants of Macca could have been achieved, if the majority of Macca's inhabitants did not magnify the importance of being followers of the old heritage as a source of false self-pride. Peaceful co-existence could have been realized, if they could change their orientation to life. Denying the continuation of life after the physical death, they were keen on realizing the utmost of worldly pleasures on earth, and compete to achieve the maximum of wealth and power regardless of how much transgressions and injustices they made to others. Muhammad's call seemed to disrupt their way.

For The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) , the “common term” - as he defined it- seemed to be necessary to settle any conflicts. For the inhabitants of Macca, what The Prophet (PBUH) was asking for deemed to be unattainable. They were wedded to their style of life and the beliefs, which supported it. Rejecting the paganism was accompanied by rejecting all the illusive value system of the society. That was too difficult for them to accept.glossary

During thirteen years in Macca, The Prophet (PBUH) was spreading the Divine’s call steadily and with great Faith in Allah. His insistence to come to the “common term” and to call for what is better did not express prejudice as some historians came to interpret. His insistences to call for the oneness of God was out of conviction that faith in Allah would liberate the exploited from their fear, and liberate exploiters from their false ideas. In the darkest of time when his followers fell under the tyranny of the unbelievers, he did not compromise or fear any powerglossary. He realized complete inner freedom so were his followers who sacrificed their life.



The Common Term
and People of the Book

 


In the period of Madina, the core meaning of the “common term” remained that same, " that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah"

For People of the Book, the oneness of God meant the revival of the original Call that Abraham (PBUH) carried, and which extended in the message of Moses (PBUH) and Jesus (PBUH) . The Prophet (PBUH) invited them to Islam, not as a special or new religion, but as their original religionglossary. The “common term” between all is to understand anew the Call that all Prophets carried. The Holy Qur’an put it so clearly and concisely:

And they have been commanded no more than this: to worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, by being Hunafa’ glossary(ever seeking the Religion of Uprightness)glossary (HQ: 98: 5) (Our translation)

To come to a “common term” meant that they could keep their own ways of rituals, not necessarily declare their commitment to perform the Muslims' rites. Suffice if they believed that Muhammad (PBUH) was honest and sincere, so that they would have taken his teachings seriously and reconsidered their misunderstandings of the teachings of Moses (PBUH) and Jesus (PBUH) . Such people existed at the time of Muhammad (PBUH) , and they exist always. About them the Holy Qur’an says:

And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book, those who believe in Allah, in the revelation to you, and in the revelation to them, bowing in humility to Allah: they will not sell the Signs of Allah for a miserable gain! for them is a reward with their Lord, and Allah is swift in account (HQ: 3: 199)

To revive the belief in the oneness of God meant that People of the Book (including followers of Muhammad (PBUH) ) would have approached life from similar perspective, so that they would have been honest, loyal to one another, and can co - exist in peace. When the Jewish tribes broke their treaty with The Prophet (PBUH)glossary , it meant that they violated the ethical code of all heavenly Revelations. They chose to deviate from the “common term” that could have tied them together with the Muslim society. So, they left no space for The Prophet (PBUH) to accept them within the community. They took Muhammad their enemy because they did not accept his spiritual call, and figured him out as a mere political leader who stole their power.



To Come to Common Term
Is the Base for Relations Between Nations

 


To come to a “common term” seemed to be the base according to which human relationship could be constructed. Without that base, it is easy for an individual or a group to take any malicious means to achieve goals. It is easy to be obsessed by their egoistic desires, and to submit to any power (taking gods with God).

If man can free her/himself from any dominant temporary power, and pursue only the values of truth and justice, s/he would be considered one who is committed to the “common term”, "we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah." The absolute values of Truth, Goodness and Justice are manifestations of God. Those who seek to enlighten their way by following those principles are in their way to believe in the Unseen, Transcendent.

The continuous call to the “common term” was essential in the Islamic Call. Yet, no enforcement was practiced:

“If then they turn back, say ye: "Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah's Will.)ó

Calling for the “common term” stood behind The Prophet's call to Emperors of his time; the Romans, Abyssinia, Persia and Egypt. In the case of addressing Emperors who follow the Book, The Prophet’s message included the following:

"O People of the Book! come to “common terms as between us and you".

The Prophet (PBUH) meant to show the “common term” that gather Muslims and Christians in his message to Negus the Emperor of Ethiopia. He (PBUH) wrote:

In the name of God the most Gracious and Merciful.
From: Muhammad, the Messenger of God
To: Negus, the king of Ethiopia.
I praise Allah, the Holy, Peace, Guardian of Faith, and Might. I witness that Jesus, the son of Mary is the Spirit of God and His Word that He bestowed on Virgin Mary, the pure and kind. God created Jesus from His spirit, and breathed into him as well as He created Adam. I invite you to God the One Who has no partners, to obey Him and believe what has been revealed to me, I am a prophet of God. I call you and your subjects to Him the Most Supreme. Here I have conveyed (what I had to) and (only) sent my advice. Peace is always upon those who are well guided.glossary

Historians differed about whether Negusglossary of Ethiopia converted to Islam or not. No doubt that he supported Muhammad, when he received his migrated followers, and refused to send them back to Muhammad's enemies when they asked for them. Moqawqas of Egypt paid a courteous guest to The Prophet (PBUH) by sending him some presents from Egypt. He politely expressed his inclination to remain following the Christian creed. Both emperors responded positively to The Prophet's letters.

Heraclius, the king of the Romans, might have been convinced that Muhammad was a Prophet, but he was concerned about the destiny of his reign. He thought that once he declared that he had a belief in Muhammad, he should give him also the lead and submit to him. Even if he allowed the growing call to spread among his people and the regions that he dominated, he might face resistance to his authority. He chose to uproot that call before it became a real threat. Khosrau of Persia showed a spirit of enmity, he even sent some agents to assassinate The Prophet (PBUH)glossary . Those emperors who refused to come to “common term” have chosen to be enemy of the Islamic Call and did what the tribes of Quraish did before, started to attack The Prophet (PBUH) militarily.  Next >>>


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