HUSEYN ROFE (G.B.)
When a person decides to abandon a religion that has been infused into him since his childhood and choose another religion, there should be some reasons, which are either emotional or philosophical or social. The zealous aspirations I had been feeling were impelling me towards a belief that would satisfy at least two of the above-mentioned needs. Consequently, as soon as the
educational period of my life was over, I embarked on a comparative study of all the world’s existing religions with a view to determining the one that deserved a true belief in it.
Both of my parents were devotedly religious, one of them a Catholic and the other a Jew formerly. Later, they both abandoned their religions and became Protestants and began to attend the Anglican Church. When I was in school I regularly attended the rites performed in the Anglican Church and listened to the lessons given by the priests. Yet the Christian credal tenets that they were trying to teach me contained a number of elements that I did not understand and which seemed quite irrational to me. First of all, the tripartite godhead which consisted of Father, Son and the Holy Ghost sounded so silly to me that it was impossible to accept it. My conscience rejected it vehemently.
Moreover, the ecclesiastical credo that attaining God would require expiation was altogether meaningless too. In my idealization, the great being who was (and always is) the only being worthy of being worshipped would not demand compulsory expiation from His born slaves.
Upon this, I began to examine the Judaic religion. I saw that their approach to the unity and grandeur of Allâhu ta’âlâ was much more reasonable and that they did not attribute a partner to Him. Perhaps Judaism was not so badly interpolated as today’s Christianity. However, that religion also contained some grotesque tenets which I could not understand and would never accept. There were so many rites, prayers and compulsory religious practices in the Judaic religion that a pious Jew would have no time left for worldly occupations if he were to observe all those religious obligations. I knew that most of those rites were stupid parodies that had been inserted into the religion later by people. Thereby the Judaic religion had been thoroughly stripped of its social character and become the religion of a small minority.
Concluding that there was nothing in Judaism for the world to benefit from, I left it aside, and focused my quest into other religions. In the meantime I attended both the church and the synagogue. Yet those visits were done for quasi-religious purposes. In fact, I was neither a Christian nor a Jew. Alongside the Anglican Church, I examined the Roman Catholic Church, too. I saw that the Catholic credo contained more superstitions than did the credo of those Protestants who were adherent to the Anglican Church. Especially, the Catholics’ excessive adherence to the Pope and their semi-deification of him made me hate them all the more.
Now I turned my face to the east and began to examine the oriental religions. I did not like Magians’ religion at all. For they gave too much prerogative to the priestly caste. A pariah, on the other hand, would deserve what remained from their scorn for beasts. It never occured to them that they should have compassion for the poor. According to them, a person’s poverty was his own fault. If he put up with it silently and without any complaints, there might be some improvement in his situation owing to the priests’ intermediary invocations. The priestly order purposely spread this belief in order to strike a fear of themselves into the people’s hearts and to make the people feel dependent on them.
Therefore I hated the Magian religion. And my hatred even doubled when I knew that the Magians worshipped animals. A cult of that sort could not be a true religion. As for Buddhism; the Buddhists adhered to philosophical thoughts and beliefs. They told me that, if I should exert myself, try very hard and practice the required abstinences, I would obtain great powers and play with the world like doing chemical experiments. However, I did not find any ethical rules in Buddhism. In this system also, the priestly order were different from the ordinary people and occupied a higher status. Indeed, they taught me many wonderful feats of skill. Yet those things had nothing to do with Allah and religion.
Those feats of skill were, like sports or illusionistic artifices, were pastime activities and served only to amaze people who did not know them. They were far from purifying the human heart or bringing man closer to the approval and love of Allâhu ta’âlâ. They had nothing to do with Allâhu ta’âlâ or with the beings He created. The only benefit they gave was that they drilled a full selfdiscipline into the practicer.
There is no doubt as to the fact that Buddha was a welleducated, intelligent man. He enjoined a full-scale self-sacrifice on them. He gave commandments such as, “Do not retaliate evil!”
“Forego all your desires and ambitions!” “Do not think of tomorrow!” Didn’t Îsâ ‘alaihis-salâm’ say the same things? But commandments of this sort had been observed during the early days of Christianity, when the religion of Îsâ ‘alaihis-salâm’ had been in its pure form; people had already given up obeying them.
I diagnosed the same laxity in the Budhhist societies. If people were as pure-hearted as Îsâ ‘alaihis-salâm’ or as benevolent as Buddha, they would in all probability follow their guidance and attain the state approved by Allâhu ta’âlâ. But how many people in the present world could be so pure-hearted and noble-natured as to cease from all vices? It came to mean that the ethical principles laid by Buddha were not practicable in the modern man’s system of thoughts.
How strange it was that I was living in the Islamic world and yet I was examining the other religions without thinking a bit about Islam! The reason was clear: We had already been brainwashed with the information of Islam given to us and with the books written about it in Europe, which asserted that that religion was entirely wrong, meaningless, and false, and that it infused torpor. Reading Rodwell’s translation of the Qurân alkerîm had specially fixed these preconceptions into my subconscious. Rodwell had purposely mistranslated some parts of the Qur’ân al-kerîm and distorted its meanings, thus turning the holy book into a mass of unintelligible words altogether different from the original version. It was not till after having contacted the ‘Islamic Society’ in London and having read a true translation of the Qur’ân al-kerîm did I know the truth. One thing I would regret to say at this point is that Muslims are doing very little to advertise this lovely religion of theirs to the world. If they try to spread the true essence of Islam over the entire world with due attention and knowledge, I am sure that they will achieve very positive results. In the near east people are still reserved towards foreigners. Instead of coming into contact with them and illuminating them, they prefer to keep as far away as possible from them. This is an exceedingly wrong attitude. I am the most concrete example. For I was somehow hindered from being interested in the Islamic religion. Fortunately, one day I met a very respectable and highly cultured Muslim. He was very friendly with me. He listened to me with attention. He presented me an English version of the Qur’ân al-kerîm translated by a Muslim. He gave beautiful and logical
answers to all my questions. In 1945 he took me to a mosque. With intent attention and deep respect, I watched the Muslims praying there, which was a sight I was watching for the first time in my life.
O my Allah, what a gorgeous and sublime sight it was! People from all races, all nations and all classes were worshipping. All those people had come together without any sort of segregation in the presence of Allâhu ta’âlâ, and they had entirely devoted themselves to Allâhu ta’âlâ. Next to a rich Turk, for instance, stood a very poor Indian clad in beggar-like clothes, next was an
Arab who I would say was a merchant, and besides him prayed a negro. All these people were performing a prayer in profound reverence. No one was different from any other. Entirely oblivious to their nationalities and economical, social and official statuses, they had focused all their existence to the worship of Allâhu ta’âlâ. No one assumed superiority to another. The rich did not despise
the poor, nor did persons of rank have an iota of scorn for their juniors.
Seeing all these marvels, I realized that Islam was the religion that I had been seeking for. None of the other religions that I had examined up to that time had had an effect like that on me. In fact, after seeing Islam closely and learning the essence of Islam, I accepted that true religion without any hesitation. Now I am proud of being a Muslim. I attended lectures on “The Islamic Culture” at a university in Britain, whereupon I saw that as Europe had suffered the gloom of the Middle Ages, Islam had shone through the darkness and illuminated everywhere. Many great explorations had been accomplished by Muslims, Europeans had been taught knowledge, science, medicine and humanities in the Islamic universities, and numerous world conquerers had embraced Islam and established great empires. Muslims were not only the founders of a universal civilization, but also the recoverers of many an ancient civilization devastated by Christians. When the news of my conversion to Islam got about, my friends began to remonstrate with me and to accuse me of retrogression. Each time they did so I answered them with a smile: “Quite the other way round. Islam is not retrogression. It is the most advanced civilization.” Sad to say, today’s Muslims have fallen behind. For Muslims have been gradually getting less and less appreciative of their possession of so sublime a religion as Islam, and more and more negligent in carrying out its commandments.
The Islamic countries still boast the intact remnants of a warm hospitality. When you go to a Muslim’s house, he will welcome you in a balmy air of readiness to help you. For helping others is one of Islam’s commandments. It is one of the basic Islamic tenets for the rich to help the poor by giving them a certain percentage of their wealth. This property does not exist in any other religion. This comes to mean that Islam is the most, and the only, suitable religion for the present social life-styles. It is for this reason that there is no place for Communism in Muslim countries. For Islam has by far forestalled that social problem by prearranging the most essential solutions.