This is nearly the end of the Gregorian year, 2010. Not long, from now, as many people as visit the “Olympic Games” every four years, are trouping to Arabia (Saudi Arabia, to be exact), to perform the Hajj. Due to the difference of ten days between the Gregorian and Hegira Calendars, the Hajj falls yearly at different times, between January and December.
This year, Christmas and the Hajj would fall so close to one another. In recent times, the number of pilgrims is large. My information, in as much as one could obtain from a private source, is roughly about three million. The pilgrims come from all dimensions of the earth. What motivates them all? Islam! All followers are urged to perform the Hajj, at least, once in a life-time. In other words, it is not compulsory.
Even so, to make matters more pleasant for some believers, the late King Fahd, ibn Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, used to buy a few thousand tickets, with accommodation, for some Muslims who could otherwise not afford it. In some Islamic countries (in Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia, wealthy businessmen offer such treats too.) It is said the present Saudi King extends the gesture to many Muslims, like his late elder brother.
The Prophet, Muhammad (PBUH), was born in Mecca in the year 570, AD. He was of modest parentage. Worse still, he got orphaned at the age of seven. At the time, a few Christians and Jews lived among the big populations of idol-worshippers resident in Mecca and inside the Kabbah (which the Prophet Abraham, is accredited as having built), to worship the “True God”, were as many as a thousand idols, worshipped by the “privileged men.” The Prophet to be of Islam was however enticed by some hearings from the Christians and Jews that emphasised “oneness of God”.
He was also believed, from the age of twenty onwards, to have been perceiving “messages from God,” through the Angel Gabriel. He listened quietly to begin with, but in time, he got more and more “vocal” and more “active.” The noble men in Mecca were not enchanted with this stance, and the Prophet to be had to exercise extreme caution, for his own safety.
He eventually was advised to seek sanctuary in the city of Medina, some 270 kilometres north of Mecca, in the year 622 AD. This step widened his realm of influence, and he was requested to mediate between feuding tribes.
Followers of Muhammad, among them, Abubakr, and Umur Ibn Al Khattab (both in-laws of the Prophet), directed important battles, and by the year 630, Muhammad had triumphantly returned to Mecca, and Islam (religion of Submission to Allah), had been firmly established.
Some Islamic historic renditions often miss the fact that followers of the Prophet, chased out of Mecca, had fled to Abyssinia (present day Ethiopia).
There, they had been granted sanctuary, upon the ruling Emperor at the time, hearing that “the Prophet of Mecca” propagated the Religion of Monotheism. “There is only one God, and Muhammad was His messenger.” Upon hearing this, the Abyssinian Christian leader, pointing to the ground with his walking stick, and facing the young men from Mecca, he proclaimed; “The difference between my Religion and yours, is only this long. You can stay here for as long as you need to. And when you may leave, God be with you.” The ebullient young men returned surreptitiously, and at the appropriate time, to Mecca, and played a decisive role in the battle that dislodged the nucleus of Muhammad’s opponents.
Among them was a young powerful man of dark skin, called Bilal. He sang the first call for the Muslim prayer, five times in a day. The Prophet of Islam, who married four wives, died in the year 632 AD, without having named a successor.
There was both wisdom and good-will for the potential successors, which included an in-law called Umur ibn Khattab, to elect Abubakr, another in-law and close friend of the Prophet, as the immediate successor. Abubakr’s reign lasted only two years. The “powerhouse” who succeeded him was called “Umur Ibn Al Khattab” 586-644. There was the obvious need for the new religion, which had entrenched in it political power as well, to consolidate military might too.
The nucleus of the new religion conquered in 637 AD, at the battles of Qadisiya and Nehavend, the Persian Army. Mesopotamia, Palestine, Syria, and finally by 642 AD, Egypt had been taken away from the Byzanthine Empire by the Moslems. The Moslems had reached Cordoba in Spain, but any attempt to advance further north was crushed by the Christians (the Franks).
Islam had a sojourn of about 500 years in Europe, until the 1st Crusade, initiated by Pope Uban II, in 1099 AD, crushed them in Jerusalem. This is not to forget that much as the Arabs themselves are not as revered as having brought civilisation to Europe, Islam as “a bastion of knowledge,” had been instrumental in teaching Europe Mathematics, Navigation, Astronomy, Architecture, and Medicine.
As a matter of fact, the first medical schools in Europe, Spain, South of France, and South of Italy, were established by the Moslems. The English Physician and Anatomist, William Harvey (1578-1657), studied in Padua, the reason being that no such institutions existed in England at the time. Should it not appear strange that Christianity had barely existed six hundred years in the “same region” of the then known world (Jesus had been crucified, around 33 AD)?
St. Paul of Tarsus (now Turkey), had written and preached extensively, tirelessly, and finally, paid the same price as Jesus Christ – his Master.
How did paganism spring up again, not too far away from where it all happened? The Prophet Muhammad is said to have been unlettered, and that “The Message from Allah,” through the Angel Gabriel, had been received by him, and he dictated what was said to his lettered friends, who in turn, wrote it down. The Quran, according to this version, is the direct (unadulterated) word from God. Egypt was a Copt Christian country, until she was overrun by ‘Umur Ibn Al Khattab’s forces.
A lot has happened originating from Arabia, but following the rising sun all the way to the Orient, such that, Indonesia, until the 7th Century a Hindu bastion, is today the largest Islamic country. Europe (especially Germany), has had an ambivalent relationship with Islam prior to, and during the reign of the Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II (1888-1918), some two hundred years ago.
This is not to forget the run-over of Europe by the Ottoman Turks some 500 years previous to that. The little spillover of this was felt in Europe (Yugoslavia), recently. But, we are talking of a march to Arabia today, by as many as 3 million people voluntarily, at beginning of the third Millennium, since the birth and death of Christ, and 15 years, after the Prophet Muhammad.
In Germany, a big debate is ongoing, and it’s all about who is, or wants to be German today? Should he be Moslem or should he be Christian, or Jewish? No Hindu is mentioned, and no Buddhist seems to be part of the debate either.
A former colleague, and settler in Germany, of Turkish origin and staunch Moslem, puts it this way: “Exactly 77 years ago, a man was voted into power” in a European country, which through no fault of her citizens, had lost one World War.
Nobody knows, whether it was through his own volition, or coerced by some satanic forces, or through hitherto unknown political influence, he initiated actions, which led to another war, the most destructive in history. Wise religious men believe that it was God’s plan to ISLAMIZE the world by seeding Muslim workers to re-construct Europe. He came from Turkey, from Yugoslavia. Others have joined. Islam is growing fast. “Allah wants it that way.” This is his version.