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Islam EDWARD J. J U R J I ONE night near the end of the month of Ramadan, about A.D. 610, Muhammad, according to the belief of his followers, was seized by the mighty grasp of an angel and heard a Voice saying unto him : Cry in the name of the Lord! Who created man . . . ! Cry, for the Lord is most generous! . . . who taught man What he did not know (Koran 96: 1-5). That was the fateful "Night of Power," celebrated among the faithful as the Night of Destiny, when amidst the clash of empires and nations, the wild cries of race and clan, and within the confines of pagan Mecca, the Book was opened to the Prophet's thirsting soul, calling him to preach the God of Nature , who had written His law in the heart of man, and who was now about to restore and perfect the knowledge of His truth, revealed by the true prophets and seers of preceding generations. In the story of its architects and interpreters down the ages are revealed both the creative impulse of Islam, once it touches the lives of men, and the varieties of religious experience engendered by it. Like the representatives of other historic faiths, these men demonstrate, each in his own way, as William James has aptly put it, "that the visible world is part of a more spiritual universe from which it draws its chief significance"; and what is even more remarkable, they all possess "a new zest which adds itself like a giftio life." In a sense, however, there has always been but one founder of Islam. To the devout believer, the name of Muhammad— ever to be followed reverently with the mystical formula: God bless him and grant him peace—is high above every other I7 S EDWARD J. JURJI earthly name, designating one whose flaming passion for the truth and luminous presentation of God's purpose has ever inspired the hearts of his followers with rapture and adoration, assurance and faith. This consummate allegiance to the Prophet springs from the breast of the twentieth-century, often sophisticated , Moslem as it did from that of his spiritual forebear in the days of untarnished piety long ago. Let Dr. Muhammad Husayn Haykal, the distinguished Egyptian author, statesman, and critic of today, express the position of his coreligionists on this crucial subject: ". . . the career of Muhammad, though thoroughly human, has, nonetheless, ascended the highest summits ever attained by any man. Upon the Moslems he desperately sought to impress that his humanity was like unto theirs, inspired though he surely was. He knows no miracle save that of the Koran. . . . No other life can match in sublimity and power his own achievement in all the phases of existence. No words can adequately portray the penetrating depth of his communion with the life of the cosmos in its infinite meaning, extending from eternity to eternity, as he communed with the Creator of the universe, thanks to His everlasting mercy and forgiveness. Were it not for this communion, and Muhammad 's own veracity in the transmission of his Lord's message, subsequent ages might well have rejected his affirmations. Yet thirteen hundred and fifty years have now gone whereas the message which was delivered unto Muhammad by his Lord remains the wonder of truth and enlightenment. Suffice it to cite one corroborative example, namely, the truth revealed by God to Muhammad that he is the seal [last] of prophets and messengers. Fourteen centuries have now elapsed and no one professing to be a prophet or a messenger bearing a divine mandate has truly captured the imagination of men. Prior to Muhammad , prophecies were successive and divine messengers not unknown . . . though scarcely any one of these proclaimed a universal message intended for all mankind, neither declared himself the seal [last] of the prophets and divine messengers. Only Muhammad makes these assertions, and the centuries believe him. . . ." 179 ISLAM Through its reflections on the decisive historic movements in the Prophet's career, the Koran, above everything else, magnifies the one pivotal point in his character—his unwavering conviction. His constant and abiding faith in the divine origin and righteousness of the cause to which he was called marks Muhammad as a unique figure. His firm belief in those invisible things which form the content of many an exhortation is the thread of meaning upon which his entire preaching is strung. As a result the message regarding God's transcendent sovereignty begins...


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