After the Prophet of Allah, 'Isa ibn Maryam, there was a long period without a Prophet. Light and knowledge disappeared. Christianity fell into disrepute and became a matter of sport for the corrupt and the hypocrites. From the very beginning, Christianity had been subjected to altera- tions by extremists and to interpretations by the ignorant. The simple teaching of the Messiah was buried beneath the transgressors' evil behaviour.
The Jews had become a society obsessed with rites and rules lacking all life and spirit. Apart from that, Judaism, a tribal religion, did not carry a message to the world nor a summons to other nations nor mercy to humanity at large.
The Magians were devoted to fire-worship. They built altars and shrines to fire. Outside the shrines they followed their own pursuits. Eventually, no difference whatever could be discerned between the Magians and those with no religion or morality.
Buddhism, a religion widespread in India and Central Asia, was transformed into outright paganism. Altars were built and images of the Buddha set up wherever it went.
Hinduism, the basic religion of India, is distingu-ished by its millions of idols and gods, and by the unjust separation that exists between its castes, discrimination between the castes being a harsh reality of daily life.
The Arabs also suffered from a paganism and idol-worship of the most abhorrent kind that had no parallel, even in pagan Hindu India. They were involved in shirk and adopted gods other than Allah. Every tribe, region or city had a particular idol. Indeed, every house had a private idol. Inside the Ka'bah, the house which Ibrahim (peace be upon him)1 had built for the worship of Allah alone, and in its courtyard, stood three hundred and sixty idols.
The Arabian peninsula
The morals of the Arabs were corrupted and they were obsessed with drinking and gambling. Their cruelty and so-called zeal reached the point where they buried baby girls alive. Raiding was widespread as well as highway robbery against trading caravans. The position of women in society was so low that they could be inherited like property or animals. Children were murdered because their parents feared the poverty that would come from raising them.
The Arabs were fond of war and did not hesitate to shed blood. A minor incident could stir up a war lasting for many years in which thousands of people would lose their lives.
1. Muslims are required to invoke Allah's blessings and peace upon the Prophets whenever their name is mentioned.
In short, at this time, mankind was on a suicidal course. Man had forgotten his Creator and was oblivious of himself, his future, and his destiny. He had lost the ability to distinguish between good and evil, and what is beautiful and what is ugly. Throughout vast regions no one was concerned with religion at all and no one worshipped his Lord without associating something with Him. Allah Almighty spoke the truth when He said: 'Corruption has appeared in the land and sea through what the hands of people have earned, that He may let them taste some part of that which they have done, that perhaps they will return.' (30: 41)
The Prophet is sent to the Arabian peninsula
Allah chose the Arabs to receive the call of Islam and to convey it to the furthest corners of the world. These people were simple-hearted with no complicated ideolo- gies which would have been difficult to remove. While the Greeks, Persians and people of India were arrogant about their many sciences, their fine literature and their splendid civilization, the Arabs followed only simple traditions. related to their desert existence. It was not difficult to sweep these away and replace them with a fresh vision.
The Arabs were in a natural state. When it was difficult for them to grasp the truth, they fought it. However, when the covering was removed from their eyes, they welcomed the new beginning and, having embraced it, would risk their lives for it. They were honest and trustworthy, hardy, courageous and fine horsemen. They also possessed a will of iron.
In Makkah, a city in the Arabian peninsula, was the Ka'bah which had been built by Ibrahim and Isma'il (peace be upon them). In it, Allah alone was to be worshipped and it was to be a centre for calling people to tawhid for all time. Tawhid, meaning the Oneness of Allah, is in sharp contrast with the worship of idols.
The first house established for people was that at Bakkah, a blessed place and a guidance for the worlds. (3: 97)
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