PECULIAR TIMING OF THE MESSAGE

Jamshed Akhtar(jamshedakhtar@yahoo.com)
From the book: The Ultimate Revelations

In the fifth and sixth centuries the civilized world stood on the verge of chaos. The old emotional cultures that had made civilizations possible, since they had given men a sense of unity and of reverence for their rulers, had broken down, and nothing had been found adequate to take their place...

It seemed then that the great civilization which it had taken four thousand years to construct was on the verge of disintegration, and that mankind was likely to return to that condition of barbarism when every tribe and sect was against the next, and law and order was unknown....The old tribal sanctions had lost their power...The new sanctions created by Christianity were working division and destruction instead of unity and order. It was a time fraught with tragedy. Civilization like a gigantic tree whose foliage had overarched the world and whose branches had borne the golden fruits of art and science and literature, stood tottering...rotten to the core.[1]

The first characteristic of Message is its peculiar timing of descent. In this context I want to point out that the Message chose a moment in history, when first, there was a widespread decay in the worlds religions; second, an obvious chaos existed in the worlds polity; and third, means of recording the Message were available in the area of its arrival.

A man can very easily identify a period of decay in some one else’s faith or point an accusing finger towards his culture, but will never admit to weakness and failings of his own society or religion. Likewise, no period in the history can claim to be free of chaotic conditions. Either the nations were eter­nally fighting with each other or political parties were waging a domestic war. Even highly prosperous nations cannot avow that they had defeated the chaos, the crime, the misery, or exploita­tion from their midst. So, as far as the rational world is con­cerned, the first and second points will not be classed as ob­jective arguments. They will always remain at best, a subjective opinion, irrespective of the stature of expert, you may cite for these arguments. But the third point may be valid and we would describe more about this aspect.

I will skip my arguments pertaining to first and second issues. But please remember that experts of all affiliations[2], unanimously agree that Message chose a very opportune moment to appear on the planet. The argu­ments related to this subject are plenty, and available for veri­fication, although the reasons forwarded are different in each case. Historians, who do not belong to the community of Message, feel that these peculiar conditions were the main factor respon­sible for the subsequent tremendous effect of the Message. While the followers of Message believe that these favorable conditions by themselves were not responsible but had been created deliberately as per God’s Design.

Unlike other guidance’s that had to rely initially on oral trans­mission only for hundreds of years before they could be reduced to writing, the Message arrived at a time, when means of record­ing it were available. Five points should be considered in this regard. First, in the very initial revelations, Message alluded to the use of pen for knowledge. It was due to this unmistakable initial statement that Messenger had made arrangements from the very beginning, to have every single revelation reduced to writ­ing, as soon as it came down to him, although he himself was una­ble to read or write[3].

The Second point is, Historical sources not only corroborate the existence of writing at the time, in places where Message had descended, but even tell the name and number[4] of persons who could read and write. Then third, the same sources also tell us details about Messenger’s efforts and incentives towards encouragement of general ability to read and write in the followers of Message[5]. These efforts helped increase the number of literate tremendously, during Mes­senger’s very lifetime.

These incentives were, leadership of the tribe and of the forces was allotted on this basis. Besides, he also granted freedom to such prisoners who could teach just ten followers of Message, how to read or write.

The fourth point is, there is a complete chapter in the Message, with ‘pen’ as its ti­tle and where it is mentioned that verses are being written. And lastly, the incontrovertible evidence that Message got recorded from the very beginning is proved by the fact that two of the very first five copies of Message still exist, and are available in Museums of Tashkent and Medina.

These copies were not made during the lifetime of the Messenger. They were scribed eight years after the death of Messenger, during the third Caliph Usman’s reign.

BACK-UP PROTECTION OF MESSAGE

The most convenient apparatus available to man, his memory, provided back-up protection system for this Message.

Now the question arises, how can you call memorizing by illiterate nomads, a reliable protection method? Here we have to realize that memory is not always that unreliable. Very few people realize that before the advent of writing materials or writing aids that made the written words accessible to all, it was human memory in general which served as the storehouse of knowledge. In the medieval period, university teachers in Eu­rope were known to repeat a hundred lines of text shouted at them just once by their pupils. And traveling poets of the times needed to hear several hundred lines of poetry only three times to commit them all to memory. In fact, a trained memory was considered an exigency for the scholar as well as a trader owing to the prohibitive cost of writing materials.. In the case of Message, its initial recipient not only were famous for their memorizing ability, but three other exclusive features of Message itself had contributed towards augmenting this ability considera­bly.. One of the first such feature was that the Message had not come in a single sitting. It had come in segments, spread over a period of twenty-three years. And this mode had helped the followers to memorize it easily and comfortably.

The room of stone and mud walls was small and bare. The moon light coming through the window and the solitary oil lamp illumi­nating the area, were insufficient to light up the tense faces of seven persons who were seemingly waiting for someone. Suddenly the door opened and a man entered. This stranger turned towards the expectant faces, extracted a piece of a parchment skin from the folds of his clothes and informed them in a hushed excited tone about the latest revelation which had been received by the Messenger.

Then the second feature was that the Messenger himself had methodically encouraged the memorising of Message.

The scene dissolved into a visual of a desert morning. An elderly man and a child, slowly moving on a camel were trying to memorise verses against the background of undulating sand and the rising sun.

The status, position and often the leadership in community depended upon the extent to which a person retained the Message in his memory.

The third feature is very peculiar. The text of Message contains a unique phenomenon known as memory bells. These bells are in fact, peculiarly placed words at appropriate places, reminding the memoriser of the next correct expression. Such words help the followers in memorising the text quickly and easily...And it is probably because of this peculiar compositional help and Messen­ger’s repeated insistence reported in his sayings that even now, hundreds of thousands of adults and children throughout the world, regularly commit the entire Message to memory.

From the moment of its completion till today, no other Scripture of the world, can claim to possess such a large number of recit­ers, who have committed their entire text to memory. This phe­nomenon is unique only to this Scripture and this can be verified easily. In fact, it was this presence of Message in memories of thousands of followers which later helped in the assembly and scribing of Message, after the death of Messenger.

A Question raised by people is, “Do you mean to say that Message in present form, was not assem­bled and scribed during Messenger’s lifetime? Now, this changes the entire complexion of your hypothesis.? For a coded Message, the order of primary text is extremely im­portant. If Messenger himself had not given this order, then it follows logically that it is not extra-terrestrially inspired. This fact alone destroys your premise of a hidden order. I hope you will not say that later Caliphs too were inspired?”

Here we have to note that the order was dictated by Messenger himself and not by the Ca­liph who had assembled the Message. The historical sources are very clear on this point.

It had been the practice of Messenger that with the descent of each revelation, he not only directed his scribes to write it immediately, but he also instructed them about its placement at specific places under specific chapters, and also to memorise it in that same order. Then, each year in the month of Ramadhan, it was the duty of every follower to recite the entire Message which had till then been revealed, in that particular order. Thus, twenty-three years later, as the last component of Message[6] got revealed, and Messenger directed it to be put inside the fourth verse of fifth chapter, the order also got completed then and there.

It was night time and the mosque was of average size but full of worshippers. The devotees were all standing in disciplined files and listening to the leader, the Imam, reciting the verses..

From that last day, till today without a break, hundreds of millions of followers have recited the entire Message in that particular order, regularly in the month of Ramadhan, in their Tarawi prayers. And I think it is needless to say that at the compilation of Message, the same order was followed.

This compilation was done only six months after his death. It was in the war of Yamamah that Umar, a close companion of Messenger, noted that the enemy was isolating and attacking only those men who were known reciters of Message. This observation prompted Umar to counsel Abu Bakr, the Caliph at that time, to assemble the Mes­sage in written form so that any part of it may not get lost to the world. After an initial hesitation, Abu Bakr asked Ali and Zayed[7], to assemble the Message. Both of them also hesitated initially but completed the task ultimately.

Since Messenger had not assembled the Message in book form dur­ing his own lifetime, they were not sure of the propriety of their action. But, as the entire Message was already complete and available in the memory of thousands of followers in a particular order, Umar’s’ logic regarding its transcription prevailed.

It was not as simple as that. A general call was given first to bring all individually scribed pieces of revelations. Then at the time of collection, every written revelation was accepted only after two independent witnesses, vouched for the genuineness of these articles[8]. To include it into the Book every single written revelation was again double checked against the memorised version of verses, from companions. These companions were the ones who had heard the verses directly from Messenger and most of them had committed the entire Message to heart. Needless to say, the number of such persons had reached several hundreds during the very lifetime of Messenger.

Although the ‘Book’ was collected and compiled under the first Caliph, it was the third Caliph, who made official copies from this manuscript. By his time, the influence of Message had spread up to Syria, and it was feared that distortions in pronun­ciation which had started cropping up in far off lands, might result in changes in the original text.

After this production of several copies of Message, the third Caliph destroyed all unofficial copies and sent official copies to all important religious centres together with batches of reciters, who could teach the correct way of reciting the Mes­sage.

The verses were revealed in segments. The community members cir­culated these written segments among themselves. Several men had made their own copies from these partial documents, making ele­mentary spelling mistakes. The scribes too, in some cases had noted their own comments on the margins of their personal copies. These mistakes and comments could have resulted in confusion, in later years. The Message had been revealed in the language of Quraish. At that time, the whole tribe was there. It knew the nuances of lan­guage. Several companions of Messenger were also alive who had heard and learnt the Message directly from him. But nobody could have guaranteed the future.

There is one other angle to this affair, a metaphysical angle.

The text of Message, which is believed by all its followers to have come direct from Creator, contains a unique assertion.

It is for Us... to collect it and to recite it:

But when We have recited it, follow thou its recital:

Nay more, it is for Us to explain it: [75:17]

Now one may or may not believe in the Creator factor or the extra terrestrial origin of this Message but it is a fact that in all the subsequent fifteen hundred years, no difference has ever been found in any copy of the Message, any where in the world. In these intervening centuries, there had been many countries under the influence of Message, situated far from one another; and followers who have remained separated from each other for long ages; and sects, bearing utmost enmity against one another; yet, they have always followed the same text of Message, irrespective of time and place. Even now, anyone, anywhere, can purchase a copy from any remote spot on earth, and can compare it with the original copies of Caliph Usman’s time from the museums of Tash­kent and London. God willing, even a small variation of a single alphabet will not be found in a single copy. It is almost as if to corroborate this statement, the Power Himself, seemed to have taken the responsibility of collection, preservation, recitation and ex­planation of its contents.

THE ‘NATION’ TO WHOM THE MESSAGE INITIALLY CAME

The nation that was the initial recipient of the message had two very obvious gifts from the Creator. They lived in a central­ly located area; and this area was known to be an inhospitable barren desert, which no one wanted to conquer. The inhospitality of desert kept the empires away from subjugating them and moulded their characters in a peculiar way. While their central location helped them to carry the influence of Message, to East and West, with equal ease, when the time came to do so.

The area was central to the world that contained the largest portion of human race.

Every country and every nation had received a messenger from the Creator to guide them. The Message has confirmed it in a clearest possible statement. What I am talking about now is a last Message and that necessarily had to come at a single place.

It is very difficult to give an answer on behalf of Creator. But I feel that sending different components to different nations would have meant the birth of many ‘last and final messengers’, which in turn would have led to inevitable and unavoidable, multiple allegiance factors, eternally in conflict with each other.

Logically I believe a last Message which can be copied and kept by billions of individuals all over the planet in their own homes, irrespective of their status, place, colour or race, and to be studied in the environment of their choosing, would be a much better alternative than a lone awesome communicating machine, in a remote hill spot.

But why on a remote spot and why on a hill? The Creator could have chosen any place accessible to all? Does such a place exist, specifically for men who do not have resources even to feed themselves properly?

The desert factor had given rise to some distinctive character­istics in this nation, which the Message utilised with full in­tensity.

You see, by keeping the influence of old decaying powers at bay, the desert had not let these men develop the negative character­istics associated with putrid societies, like debauchery and intrigue. Instead it had kept them unhewn, unpolished, fiercely independent and with strong inherent desires for vengeance and protection of the weak. All these qualities were prime requi­sites for survival in desert. The Message nurtured and channelled these qualities in the right direction when the time came. These nomads lived under a simple Clan organisation. Each tent represented a family; an encampment of tents a clan or Al-hayy and a number of clans coming together formed a tribe or Qabilah. To survive in this hostile environment, a Bedouin had to stand by his brother or a clan member in distress, without questioning whether he was right or wrong. This produced in them, such strong family and tribal attachments, that they often sacrificed their own personal interests for the greater cause of clan or tribe.

The Message used this tribal loyalty to protect the messenger in the initial stages, when the entire old order stood against him. But later it gradually enlarged the concept of tribe, and turned this narrow tribal allegiance towards the universal brotherhood of faith. The tough desert life was also responsible for several negative characteristics in them. Scarcity of material goods and the blaz­ing sun always goaded them into a fighting mood.

Brigandism was considered a sign of virility. Drunken orgies, brawls, and blood shed were common. Gambling tables and easy availability of dancing girls added to the confusion. Supersti­tion was rampant, with every tribe having its own favourite dei­ty. The Message not only checked the negative characteristics of these men but taking advantage of the existing chaos it revealed the guidance meant for the entire humanity.



[1] J.H. Denison, Emotion as the Basis of Civilization (London 1928) p. 265.

[2]Sir William Muir: The Caliphate: Rise, Decline and Fall; P.K. Hitti: History of the Arabs; B. Lewis: The Arabs in History; Sir T. W. Arnold: The Preaching of Islam etc.

[3] Even in the historic flight or Hijrat of the Prophet, from Mecca to Madina; pen, inkstand and writing mate­rial were among the essential necessities of the journey, owing to the messenger's emphasis on writing the message immediately.

[4] When revelations started 17 persons could read and write in Mecca.-Fatuh-al-Baldan p.477

[5] These incentives included the leadership of tribe, leadership of Islamic forces and freedom to prisoners if they could teach ten followers of message reading and writing.

[6]Known as “seal of the Message”.

[7]Ali, the mesenger's cousin and son in law; and Zayed was his freed man slave and close companion.

[8]These revelations were written on paper, leather, bones, stone tablets and palm stems shorn of leaves.








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