At the time of Prophet Muhammad – upon whom be peace – there was a powerful and influential tribal leader by the name of Musaylimah. For those who know his history, I challenge you to tell me who his father was. Ask anyone in the world and they will say, Al-kadhdhab – the liar! Even if we were to search out his descendants in the present day and ask them who was your ancestor Musaylimah’s father and they will say, the liar! Why?
Musaylimah had all the earthly ingredients to launch a new religion. He had an exquisite knowledge of the language, a magical public speaker, wealth beyond imagination, and a tribal army crazy about him, ready to die for his safety. He took all these ingredients and proclaimed to all that he was a Prophet of God just like Muhammad.
He missed one ingredient though, that sunk his ship, the ingredient of truthfulness. That is why today – over 1400 years later- there is not a single human soul on earth that thinks Musaylimah was the Prophet of God. Alas, God did not give him the authority to make this claim.
On the other hand, not a second ticks by in 24 hours / 7 days a week, except that there is a Muslim caller to prayer somewhere in the world in the millions of Masjids announcing Ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasul Allah – I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
This is so, because human beings did not give him this authority. Nor did he himself proclaim this to himself. As the emperor of Rome – Heraclius – asked the Muslim messenger in the year 679 after he had presented Islam to him, “Which King gave Muhammad this authority?” The reply was so simple, so profound, “Allah did! God gave him this authority!”
I grew up in central Canada, in a city called Winnipeg, a city synonymous with the term cold – local folk call it Winterpeg. It’s so cold that people in Canada say: man you’re from Winnipeg, isn’t it cold there?
I went to grade school in Winnipeg in the early 80’s. My family and I lived in an environment where we would be giggled at and insulted at the mall and by passing cars. Not uncommon were random shouts of, “Hey Ninja lady!” or “Look what came out of the Desert!”
At that time, we were the only coloured children in the school. I remember once telling a friend to guess what the most popular name in the world was. When I told him it was Muhammad, he told me, “Get lost! You’re the only one in the school with that name. It must be John or something.”
I don’t blame him; a lot of people in North America have not travelled and experienced the treasures of culture and flavour that the nations of the world have to offer humanity.
Rev. Billy Graham once said something so profound. He said, “I travelled the world and came to the realization that perhaps America does not have in its palm all the truths of the world.”
Rev. Billy Graham deserves a standing ovation for a statement like that, the modesty to announce that to millions of viewers. But although America may not have all the truths, it is blessed with a nation of truth seekers, for it is never a shame to be mistaken, all shame lies in – after truth has come – to persist in ones mistake.
Islam is the fastest growing religion in America, rather in the world. In the past 50 years, Muslims have increased by 233%. And across the earth, from every nation, Muslims number over 1 Billion.
The key to Islam is the statement Laa ilaaha illa Allah, Muhammad Rasul Allah – There is no god except Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
This statement takes only a few seconds to pronounce, but it is the transformation point of the lives of billions of Muslims around the world. Only the Creator deserves to be worshipped.
Let’s take an example from the lives of such people who’s lives changed with this call to worship only one God. Bilal – may Allah be pleased with him – was an Abyssinian slave for the aristocracy of Makkah in the year 623. When Muhammad the Messenger of Allah – upon whom be peace – came with this message of ‘No god except Allah’, Bilal – may Allah be pleased with him – denounced the 360 statues and idols that the tribes of Makkah were worshipping and believed in only Allah.
His enraged slave master Umayyah would take Bilal out in the sizzling noonday heat because of his beliefs and burn away Bilal’s back on the sand. To intensify the pain, Umayyah would bring a boulder and place it on his stomach to press his down on the grilling sand, burning the skin away.
All Bilal would whisper was, “He is only one (God), He is only one (God)” infuriating Umayyah who would only intensify the torture.
Bilal was freed by one of Muhammad’s – upon whom be peace – closest friends and followers: Abu Bakr, and Bilal become the first Mu’adhdhin (the one who calls others to prayer) of Islam.
Another example is that of the Muslim woman, Sumayyah – may Allah be pleased with her. She was also a slave and because they had accepted that no created thing deserved worship, only the creator, her and her husband and son were subjected to physical beatings.
Her torturer Abu Jahl became infuriated one day with her soft voice repeating, “There is no god but Allah!” He took a spear and pushed it through her mid section, he made Sumayyah the first Martyr. She was the first Muslim to die in the name of “There is no god but Allah!” May Allah be pleased with her.
Although it was permissible for the Muslims to lie to save themselves from the torture, you’ll see many examples of Muslims who would rather die than surrender their right to believe that only Allah deserved to be worshipped.
Amongst the tyrants of Makkah was a man by the name of Umar ibn Al-Khattabh. He was so vicious with the Muslims that he would volunteer to torture the Muslim slaves.
One day, he just had enough, so he sheathed his sword and set on his way to the home of Muhammad – upon whom be peace – to slit his throat once and for all. On the way he passed a Muslim who had been hiding his Islamic identity, – Nu’aym ibn Abdullah. Nu’aym inquired about Umar’s haste. “I’m off to find Muhammad, that convert who cut up our tribe, belittled our gods, and mocked our religion. I’m going to kill him!” Nu’aym became afraid for the Messenger of Allah – upon whom be peace – so he quickly thought and said, “Why don’t you start with your family first! Your sister and her husband have accepted Islam!”
Umar became enraged and changed direction to his sister’s home. At that time, a Muslim teacher – Khabbab ibn al Arat – was at their home teaching them the word of Allah – The Qur’an – and for a few moments Umar stood there listening. Then he shouted for them to open the door, Khabbab hid in an adjacent room and Umar’s sister Fatimah hid the scroll that had the Qur’an written on it.
Umar entered and walked right up to his brother in law. “I heard you both have accepted Muhammad and you’re following him.” Then Umar pounded his brother in law in the face. Fatimah his sister stood to protect her husband, and when she came in the way, Umar slapped her face with all his might.
She fell to the ground, her cheek split and the blood spilt all over her clothes. She looked up at her brother and said from behind her tears, “Yes Umar we are Muslim and yes we have believed in Allah and His Messenger. Maybe you don’t have all the truth like you think you do?”
Umar was ashamed at the sight of his sister’s blood and desisted. He asked, “What was that sound I heard, that recitation.” His sister replied, “I fear for that scroll to fall in your hands.” But Umar swore by the Idols that he would do no harm. She handed him the scroll after he had cleansed himself and he recited:
“Ta ha / We did not send down to you the Qur’an that you be distressed / But only as a reminder for those who fear (Allah) / A revelation from Him, who created the earth and the highest heavens / (Allah) the Merciful (who is) above the Throne established / To him belongs what is in the heavens and what is on the earth and what is between them and what is under the soil / And if you speak aloud – then indeed, He knows the secret and what is (even) more hidden / Allah – there in no god except Him, to Him belong the most beautiful names.”
Umar later that day visited the Messenger of Allah – upon whom be peace. When he met him, the Messenger of Allah – upon whom be peace – took the coat of Umar and said, “Hasn’t the time come for you to become Muslim?” And Umar replied, “I’ve only come for that reason. There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”
The Prophet shouted – Allahu Akbar! (God is Great!) and everyone that heard it knew that Umar had become Muslim!
I’ve been in large crowds in my life, both in the west and in the Middle East.
In Winnipeg, the biggest crowds I experienced were at hockey games. Like I said before, Winnipeg has a lot of ice. Maybe 20 thousand Winnipeggers would gather at night for that hockey game. Hey that’s a lot for Winnipeg.
In Makkah, at the Grand Mosque, I have been in a crowd of 3 million worshippers in one prayer! These people were not from one nation, nor were they from one language background, and no they didn’t gather to see the Winnipeg Jets beat the Washington Capitols!
As you’ll see today when we line up for prayer, In Makkah, 3 Million people lined up in perfect circles around the Grand Mosque to worship Allah! I once stood in the window of a Hotel across from the Grand Mosque and watched down below the swarming crowd of 3 million Muslims. Then when the call to prayer began, that entire crowd stood in perfect circles in less than 50 secs. Who gathered these hearts? Only Allah.
A consistent crowd of 3 million from every nation, class, and color did not come about without pain and struggle to assert the human right to worship nothing but the one true God – Allah.
There were times in that very same valley of Makkah when Muhammad – upon whom be peace – would prostrate to only to Allah, avoiding all the false idols that surrounded him. The Polytheists (in Arabic Mushrikeen) of Makkah sat there staring at him and loathed the scene. They said to themselves, “How can you sit here and allow Muhammad to prostrate to Allah in your midst. Who amongst us will humiliate him?”
“I shall,” said a man by the name of Utbah.
He took the intestines of a fresh lamb that had been sacrificed to the idols and dumped it on the head of Muhammad – upon whom be peace. The Mushrikeen fell off their seats in hysterical laughter. Muhammad – upon whom be peace – did not come up from his prostration.
News reached his daughter Fatimah – who at that time was still a young girl – that her Father was being ridiculed at the Ka’bah (The Grand Mosque). She raced there and when she saw her father she cried and removed the filth and swore through her tears at the idol-worshippers.
This is just one example of the ridicule suffered by the Messenger of Allah and his followers. All they wanted was to teach humanity that nothing deserves worship except Allah!
The Mushrikeen/idol-worshippers of Makkah used their media – poetry and word of mouth – to sway public opinion against this call that there was no god but Allah.
A doctor by the name of Damaud from the tribe of Azd made pilgrimage to Makkah and when he arrived in the Holy valley the news media of Makkah flash-warned him not listen to a word Muhammad says. “He is a magician,” they said, “He’s mad”
Damaud recalls, “They frightened me so much that I considered putting cotton in my ears. But then I said to myself, ‘I am a doctor and have healed mad men before…perhaps I may be able to cure Muhammad.”
So after completing his circumbulation around the ka’bah, he saw Muhammad – upon whom be peace – sitting peacefully in the courtyard. He approached him and said softly, “Muhammad, I administer treatment for this illness and God has allowed me to heal many people, would you wish that I nurse you?”
Muhammad – upon whom be peace – turned and said, “Verily all praise belongs to Allah; we thank Allah and seek his protection from everything; whoever Allah guides none can misguide them and whoever Allah leaves to go astray none can guide them aright. I testify that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah and that (I) Muhammad am the Messenger of Allah.”
Damaud’s mouth gapped open. He swallowed and said, “Could you repeat that for me?” Muhammad the Messenger of Allah – upon whom be peace – repeated it.
Then Damaud smiled and announced, “By God, I have heard the words of soothsayers, and have heard the words of magicians, and have heard the words of poets, and I have never heard words like this! Give me your hand for I am pledging allegiance to Islam. There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger!”
You’ll find in the Qur’an (the book/word of Allah) verse after verse opening the eyes of humanity to the reality that there is a God and He is only one.
Jubayr ibn Mut’em stood quietly behind the Messenger of Allah – upon whom be peace – at sunset prayer (in Arabic Maghrib) one day and listened to the verses of Qur’an. The Messenger of Allah – upon whom be peace – was reciting the Chapter Toor (chapter 52) and in it he heard him recite:
“Or were they created by nothing, or were they the creators of (themselves) / Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Rather, they are not certain / Or have they (in their hands) the treasures (of humanities provision) of Your Lord? Or do they control it?” verse 35 to 37.
Jubayr ibn Mut’em said, “When I heard these verses, it was as if my heart had wings flying swiftly and in bliss to the truth that I had found in Islam.”
Brother, Sister, where will you be in 100 years? You’ll probably be dead. And where were you 100 years ago? Nothing.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Has there not come upon man a period of time when he was not a thing (even) mentioned? / Indeed, We created man from a sperm – drop mixture (i.e. combination of male and female substance) that We may test him; and We made him hearing and seeing. / Indeed, We guided him to the way, to be thankful or to be ungrateful.” Chapter 76/1-3
In those early days of Islam, the Messenger of Allah – upon whom be peace – would go from tent to tent, tribe to tribe, announcing to them, “Say there is no god but Allah and success will be yours!” Today, over 1400 years later as the followers of Muhammad, believers in Allah, we extend those words of our Messenger – upon whom be peace – to all our guests today:
“Say there is no god but Allah and success will be yours!”
Ameen! Aqeemus salaah!
* Delivered at the American University, Washington DC, USA