How Islam passed the Test of History

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan I The Pioneer | Feb. 7, 1999 | Page 5

Religions are called traditions by the scholars. The word, tradition, is defined in the dictionary as : Passing of beliefs or customs from generation to generation. Generally religions comprise a set of traditions from olden times without having a solid base in pure historical sense.

However, Islam is not a religious tradition in that sense. It is totally a historical religion. Standing all tests of historical criterion. Every aspect of Islam can be seen in the full light of history. Islam began with Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Abdul Muttalib. You may consult any encyclopaedia under the name Muhammad, and you will see that like other known names, it will mentioned that he was born in Mecca in 570 AD and died in Medina in 632 AD.

Apparently, it is a simple matter. But one will not find this in case of the founders of other world religions. Another important incident in the history of Islam is that Muhammad ibn Abdullah presented a book in the name of the Quran claiming that it was a divine book which was revealed to him over the span of 23 years. This statement of his too is a proven historical event. It is established by history that two dozen scribes (all names preserved in history) used to stay with the Prophet by turn,

and whenever any part of the Quran was revealed to him, he would give dictation to his scribes. In this way, the Quran continued to be written on the materials available in those days. Finally when the Quran had been completely revealed it was compiled in the form of a book during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr, the first caliph of Islam. During the last days of the Prophet, an Islamic state was formed in the proper sense. Afterwards it continued to see further expansion and consolidation.

During this powerful state copies of the Quran continued to be prepared on a large scale under direct state patronage and were spread all corners of the empire. In this way, right from the earliest period of Islam till today, the Quran continued to be fully memorised (the whole Quran) by the tens of thousands of people in every generation. Thus the Quran was preserved continuously in both forms in paperback as well as a living book in memory.

Until it entered the age of the press after which the question of its changing or human interpolation does not arise. The entire process of this recording and preservation of the Quran exists in books of history which serve as an undeniable proof of its historical credibility. No part of Islamic history is mythology. Rather, it is history in a complete sense. How Islam began in Mecca? How it reached Medina? How its centres were established in Damascus and Baghdad and then its expansion to Asia, Africa and Europe, on a large scale.

It is all a matter of history. Thus Islamic history is free from mythological content. It has happened with most of the religions that with the passing of time a large portion of their teachings has been lost to the vagaries of times, or their practical structure failed to survive the test of time. That is why in later times all religions produced the institution of priesthood which represented the original founders of the religions. These institutions of priesthood, on their own, developed a structure for practising the teachings of their respective religions, thus these institutions replaced the original founders.

The structures of all the major religions existing today are not given to them by their original founders, instead these are provided by the clergy in their later history. However, Islam does not come under this category. In an exceptional way the original set of beliefs and the method of worship in Islam is exactly the same as given to it by its founder. This original set of beliefs and practices has been preserved in history. Therefore, followers of Islam do so according to the exact method taught by the Prophet Muhammad and not by the later-day clergy class. Therefore, from whatever angle we look at Islam it is a historical religion in the complete sense.

It is no mythology based on religious traditions having no solid basis in history. In an exceptional way the original set of beliefs and the method of worship in Islam is exactly the same as given to it by its founder. This original set of beliefs and practices has been preserved in history.