In This book on attempt is made, perhaps for the first time, to study the sacred life of Jesus, using all available, sources, including the Dead Sea Scrells, Christian Scripture, Modern research, Qur’an and Hadith. Christain scholars who attempt to write the history of Jesus never completely free themselves of the idea of his divinity. When they fall to prove his divinity, they sometime conclude that he did not exist at all, or that he is “everything to everybody”. An objective study is impossible to anyone with this frame of mind.
This book starts with the conviction that Jesus did exist. He was a man and a prophet of Allah.
An eminent scholar of Christian history admits that the present-day Christianity is a "mask" on the face of Jesus, but goes on to say that a mask worm for a long" time acquires a life of its own and it has to be accepted as such. The Muslim believes in the Jesus of history and refuses to accept the "mask". This, in a nutshell, has been the point of difference between Islam and the Church for the last fourteen hundred years. Even before the advent of Islam, the Arians, the Paulicians, and the Goths, to mention only a few, accepted Jesus, but rejected the "mask". The Holy Roman Emperors forced Christians to think alike. To achieve this impossible goal, millions of Otislians were killed. Castillo, an admirer of Servitus, said thid "to kill a man is not to prove a doctrine." Conviction cannot be forced with a dagger.
It is suggested in some quarters that, to achieve integrations in England, the Muslims should change their two festivals to synchronise with Christmas and Easter. Those who say this forget that these are pre-Christian pagan festivals. One is the ancient birthday of the sun-god and the other is a sacred festival for the old Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility. In this situation, one begins to wonder who in reality is "Anti-Ouist".
In this book an attempt is made, perhaps for the first time, to study the sacred life of Jesus, using all available sources, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, Christian Scripture, m:odem research, Qur' an and Hadith. Christian scholars who attempt to write/the history of Jesus never completely free themselves of the idea of his divinity. When they fail to prove his divinity, they sometimes conclude that he did not exist at all, or that he is "everything to everybody". An . objective study is impossible to anyone with this frame of mind. This book starts with the conviction that Jesus did exist. He was a man and a prophet of Allah.
This work is the result of thirty years of study. My thanks are due to Amatur Raquib who went to the trouble of searching for out-of-print books sold on the streets of many cities in the U.S.A. These books were unavailable in the libraries of Karachi, so the help she gave me was of vital importance.
His Excellency Mr. Ahmad Jamjoom of Jeddah visited me in Karachi, and his encouragement and support were always available to me whenever I was facing any difficulty.
Thanks are also due to His Eminence Shaykh Mahmoud Subhi of Jamiat Dawa Islamia in Tripoli for making it possible for me to come to London in order to undertake the study of this subject in depth.
In London, I met His Eminence Shaykh 'Abd al-Qadir as-Sufi. At every step, he extended his helping hand to me. This resulted in the collaboration of Mr. Ahmad Thomson with me. He helped me to collect the material and without him work would have been painfully slow. Hajj 'Abd al- Haqq Bewley was always ready with useful suggestions and advice.
The affection and heart-warming friendship I received from Dr. Ali Aneizi cannot be described, only deeply felt.
Lastly, in the words of Qur'an,
Nothing from me except with the help of Allah
The author of this book, Muhammad 'Ata ur-Rahim, felt passionately that if only the people of the Christian countries had some knowledge of the Islamic faith, together with a realistic understanding of Jesus, the prophet, may he rest in peace, "l great deal of unnecessary distress could be avoided in the future. A brilliant, cosmopolitan scholar, the author knew no national boundaries so far as- the happiness and well-being of people are concerned. Inter- cultural ignorance, he maintained, is the greatest single cause of today's suffering and hardship.
So this book is written, primarily, for the western world, but also for all who seek enlightenment amidst the tangle of conflicting ideas surrounding the birth of Jesus, his mission and his death. Muhammad 'Ata ur-Rahim attacked the muddle with the logic of a pure historian; he found most of the confusion is caused by those two dogmas which defy rational explanation=the supposed Divinity of Jesus and the Trinity.
This work demolishes a great deal of the myth upon which the Christian Church leans and shows Jesus as the highly orthodox Jew he actually was; as a teacher of the Unitarian faith sent as a messenger by Allah to destroy those base elements which had grown to such enormous proportions within the Jewish priesthood.
But I do not wish this introduction to be a synopsis of a book which stands entirely on its own. The author wrote this as but a single part of his overall desire to help non-Muslims towards the truth and to lessen the superstitious fear of Islam held by most Christians.
We, as Muslims, know how baseless are these fears.
We are secure in our knowledge of Allah as One all merciful, all beneficent to man; untouchable by human qualifications: 'There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing." (The Qur'an; XLII:ll).
We are secure in our knowledge of His prophets, may peace be upon them; secure in the knowledge they have given us of Allah and His covenant for us to follow on earth. Muslims following the unchanging completeness of the Holy Qur'an know all this but, perhaps, fail at times to make it obvious to others. The author, from the depths of his great sympathy for all people--especially those less fortunate than himself--was aware of this failure in communication. He was also aware of a great -deal of regional tradition which has grown up within Islam; tradition .which is capable of confusing those looking at us across the fence of fear; even of causing confusion and misunderstanding between Muslims of different nations.
Only great determination, great sympathy, can bring true brotherhood and understanding between nations and fear of the unknown is the greatest obstacle. Many Muslims looking westward at the lost moral values feel it should be a simple matter to introduce Islam into the spiritual vacuum, but such hopes are a matter of building castles in the sky. Mass education of the people necessary for the growth of western technology and industry has shown those people all too clearly that religion, as they know it, is based on dogmas unsupported by fact. Consequently, it is small wonder that the intellectual elite of this industrial society were the first to withdraw their support, finding , a great sense of freedom in their new-found independence ' from the monopolistic priesthood of the Christian Church; a priesthood which had contained the spread of education over the centuries. For such people, religion, whatever its name, is seen not only as outdated superstition but as a restrictive force and a hindrance to the quest for further scientific knowledge. Born Muslims, unused to interference between themselves and Allah, appear not to appreciate that, for the lapsed Christian, the loss of faith is only the dropping of a man-made philosophy which, in the past, had some expediency as a method of maintaining law and order.
Before Islam can fill the west's spiritual vacuum, these now purely materialistic people have to be convinced of the actuality of Allah and that knowledge of Him does not depend upon acceptance of the priestly hierarchy they have deposed. They also have to be given a new image--by example--of Muslim people.
If the Islamic countries had not, almost overnight, gained great riches, the western world would have retained its ignorance of Islam for a great deal longer. As it is, all of Europe--including Russia-sand America are suddenly faced with not only a faith they know nothing of, but a faith backed by the one commodity they recognise--money, in enormous quantities. And that means power; the power to overcome.
It is not surprising that there is very real fear of this power. It is a long time since the Muslim-world held a monopoly of scientific knowledge, and it is long forgotten that western technology is based upon that eastern science. The Arab nations have, only recently, found true nationhood: Pakistan has, as a part of the sub-continent, been kept in sub-jugation by the strength of western industrial power until a few short years ago. And yet, now, these same people of Islam are showing the west the possibility of overwhelming its society despite that society's ability to walk upon the moon; despite the ability to produce test-tube babies and a near-capability of, may be, doubling the present expected lifespan.
Having fought so hard to free themselves and their countries from the domination and jurisdiction of the Roman clergy, and to replace these by civil government and civil law, those born in Christian lands now see the possibility of this freedom being swept away.
Unless Islamic scholarship, directed with loving care for people, such as this work by Muhammad 'Ata ur-Rahim, creates a climate of close communication with the west, only conflict can emerge from this atmosphere of fear. Upon Muslim countries, especially those with so much financial power, lies an enormous responsibility of example to be set. Hopefully, the proliferation and growth of universities and cultural centres in the west, and in the Muslim world itself, will make greater opportunities available for serious and constructive Islamic research and scholarship, and thereby allowing these fears, Allah willing, to recede gradually.
We, as Muslims, know that all will follow the pattern of Allah, but that does not mean that we may sit back in complacency. We have the great gift of the example of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and the unchanging instruction and inspiration of the Holy Qur'an to guide us. But the instruction is clear; we must work to the Will of Allah if we are to attain peace in this life and His most favourable reward in the next.
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