By Spahic Omer
(The contents: A tribute to freedom; Non-belief (kufr) is not compatible with freedom; The hijrah (migration) in the name of freedom; Madinah was disposed to Islam because of its freedom; The case of Abdullah bin Salam; The case of Salman al-Farisi; Visiting the Quba’ mosque and appreciating freedom; Islam is the only religion and idea that genuinely champions freedom.)
The Quba’ mosque was a precursor of the Prophet’s mosque, later becoming akin to its harmonizing twin. The Quba’ mosque signified a transition from the Makkan phase of revelation to that of Madinah, between the predominantly individual character of Islam in Makkah to a predominantly collective one in Madinah, and between a culture of inhibition and oppression as experienced by Muslims in Makkah to a culture of freedom and justice as generated and experienced by Muslims in Madinah.
The Quba’ mosque symbolized maturation, victory and sovereignty. It furthermore symbolized the actual advent of the Prophet, Islam and Muslims in Madinah, on the one hand, and the advent of a new direction and new purpose, on the other. In short, the mosque symbolized an existential transformation and the arrival of the future. It remained a living chronicle and vibrant testament to the evolution of an identity.
A tribute to freedom
On balance, the Quba’ mosque is a testament and tribute to freedom. All Islam ever wanted was freedom, i.e., that people live freely, think and choose freely, and worship their Creator and Master freely. From the outset, the sole objective of the prophets was to create free milieus where people could freely distinguish between the truth and falsehood, after which they could make their free choices. The objective of Prophet Muhammad was no different. It is necessary for individuals to assume control of their destiny and to be fully accountable for their decisions as well as actions. Without freedom, life is meaningless and its exertions inconsequential. Only with freedom on-board, life becomes of great consequence, truly beautiful and “worth-living.”
Indeed, there is nothing that is plainer, more straightforward and more attractive than the truth for which the whole life has been created and for which people exist. Thus, the only path to the truth is freedom: physical, spiritual and intellectual, and the only way to thwart the truth in any way is to eliminate the freedom path and, instead, place between a person and the truth all sorts of impediments, concealments and cover-ups. If the objective of the prophets was the truth and freedom as its instrument, the objective of the prophets’ adversaries was the opposite: falsehood and restrictions-qua-manipulations as the instrument of the former.
During their stay in Makkah, the Prophet and the first Muslims endured the consequences of deprivation of liberty, combined with oppression and manipulation. Many people could not familiarize themselves with the truth of Islam either because the access to it was obstructed or the truth itself was seriously moderated. The proponents of falsehoods (in fact their superiors for whom the Qur’an uses the term al-mala’, which means leaders, chiefs, or elites) knew that they were fighting a losing battle, hence they became busier maligning the truth than defending their falsehoods. The truth, rather than their own flawed beliefs and ways of life, became their obsession. Their preoccupation was their survival, for they knew that their life template stood no chance against the one of the truth, and if the latter prevailed, everything they have ever had and have lived for was about to be turned upside down and be gradually lost forever.
What is paradoxical, however, is that the deniers and obstructers of the truth did what they did in the name of championing freedom along the lines of abiding by the status quo which was rooted in (distorted) traditions and history. They harangued that by the means of deceptive influence and influence with covert intents, the Prophet wished to take away from people whatever they had and have cherished for ages, substituting those with the fruits of conniving persuasion, coercion and physical force. The enemies of the truth accused the Prophet of enveloping his mendacities and false promises in the shroud of unending flatteries and frauds. However, such was exactly part of their own tactics. With allowing neither the Prophet to express – and defend – himself, nor their case to become unmasked and discredited, the truth’s opponents resorted to the method of launching pre-emptive attacks against the Prophet as the best way to protect themselves and safeguard their interests.
As a matter of fact, the Prophet’s enemies succeeded in neither. They did not frustrate the truth, nor did they exonerate themselves and their ungodly scheming. They were only able to conceal the reality, maintaining it as such by endeavouring to misrepresent the Prophet’s mission as much as possible and by any means necessary, and to sway the masses by dint of whatever falsifications as were necessary.
Non-belief (kufr) is not compatible with freedom
Those people were “kafirs” and one of the meanings of the name “kafir” is “he who hides or conceals.” The technical meaning of “kafir” is “he who disbelieves, rejects, or denies.” One of the ways to reconcile between – yet amalgamate – the linguistic and technical meanings of “kafir” is to perceive the concept as “he who hides, masks and counterfeits the truth, including the inner and outer avenues leading to it, and then keeps not only rejecting but also, whenever feasible, propagating it as a garbled entity.”
Unquestionably, the notion of “kufr” is very dynamic, rarely encompassing and being confined to the spiritual state of a single person only. Most of the time it also extends into the realms of working audacity and propagandizing. For that reason are the concepts of “kufr”, “takdhib as belying and rejecting” and “dhulm as injustice and tyranny” often interconnected in the Qur’anic discourses. The rest of the forms of denial and refusal of the truth are nothing other than derivatives of kufr. It follows that the tags of “kufr” and “kafir” are universal, others are specialized.
The kafirs of Makkah lived up to their appellation. Steered by their elites, they worked tirelessly at once to repudiate, conceal and misrepresent the truth. Their illegality with respect to the negation of freedom was two-fold. First, they denied themselves freedom when it came to dealing with the Prophet’s mission; and second, they administered the same treatment to others. Instead of a life based on the revealed guidance of the Creator, they preferred a life steeped in the falsehoods of self-interest, ethnocentrism and religious bigotry. The freedom they preached was a cliché. It was a subterfuge to camouflage immorality and oppression, a pretext for evil. The values they expounded as part of a national agenda were anything but advantageous – in actual fact, they were quite detrimental.
Given that freedom is fundamental in Islam and upholding human dignity predicated on it sacred, the only viable option was to abandon Makkah in search of a more conducive environment. On the eve of the hijrah (migration) from Makkah to Madinah, the Prophet made two covenants with the representatives of the ‘Aws and Khazraj tribes in Madinah who had come to Makkah for pilgrimage. Noteworthy among the terms of those covenants are constant references to making Madinah an oasis of peace and security – and, by extension, freedom – offering protection to the Prophet and his divine cause and to whoever may follow him.
The hijrah (migration) in the name of freedom
During the second meeting between the Prophet and the Madinah representatives in 622 CE, when the second covenant was ratified, the Prophet was accompanied by his uncle ‘Abbas bin ‘Abd al-Mutallib. Before the agreement, ‘Abbas cautioned the people of Madinah that what they were embarking on was a serious matter. They were about to take the Prophet from a milieu where, owing to a great many enemies of his, he could not freely preach nor practice his religion, to a milieu where they promised the opposite will be the case, and such entailed numerous unforeseeable implications.
‘Abbas told the Madinah delegation: “If you find yourselves capable of fulfilling towards him (the Prophet) what you have promised, then you may proceed. But if you would betray him and send him over to his enemies once he has joined your party, you had better now say so and leave him alone.”
Agreeing with ‘Abbas, the delegation turned to the Prophet and said: “O Prophet of God, speak out and choose for yourself and your Lord what you desire.” To that, the Prophet replied: “I covenant with you on the condition that you will protect me against all, just as you would protect your women and children… Your blood is my blood and your destruction is my destruction. You are of me and I am of you. I shall fight whomsoever you fight and make peace with whomsoever you will make peace.”
‘Abbas once more reminded everyone present: “O men of Khazraj! Are you fully aware of what you are about to covenant with this man (the Prophet)? You are about to covenant with him to make war against all sorts of men without discrimination. If you have any fear that, should you lose your wealth and should your leaders fall by the sword, you might betray Muhammad, say so now and withdraw from this covenant. For if you do not and then betray your oath, you will have lost this world as well as the next. But if you feel certain that you can stand by him and fulfil this oath, notwithstanding the loss of your property and the murder of your dear ones, then go ahead and covenant with him. He is, by God, the best gain in this world and in the next.”
The words of the second and final covenant included that which was binding on the people of Madinah: “We have covenanted to listen and to obey in health and in sickness, in fortune and misfortune, to tell the truth wherever we might be and, at all times, to fear none in the cause of God” (Muhammad Husayn Haykal, The Life of Muhammad).
The people of Makkah could not see the truth in the Prophet and his message because they incapacitated their faculties. They mutually denied themselves freedom by yoking their souls and minds, enabling themselves but to see what their prejudice and the likeminded ones wanted them to see.
Madinah was disposed to Islam because of its freedom
However, the situation of Madinah was different. Its people were free. They were not influenced by any preconceived notions or biases, which is the ideal environment for the proliferation of the truth. They looked at the Prophet and his prophetic call through the lens of human intrinsic purity and innocence. They both cherished and made the most of their intellectual and spiritual freedom. That they wanted to remain free at all costs and to be able to make their free judgments forevermore testify the words of the members of the Madinah pilgrimage delegation upon becoming acquainted with the instance of the Prophet in Makkah: “By God, this is the prophet by whom the Jews had threatened us. Let us acclaim him before they do.”
Upon closer inspection, this statement has a greater import than its surface appearance, with a plethora of nuances. For illustrative purposes, the people of Madinah experienced an abrupt surge of enthusiasm due to the magnitude of what could be attained by exercising freedom genuinely. There was no cap on possibilities. Suddenly, the one who was the best reward in this world and in the next could join them and become one of their own. Moreover, the members of the Madinah delegation wished to be the masters of their own judgements, yet providences – and their ultimate corollaries – without being influenced either before or after by any of the potential sources and parties, the most critical one being the sizable Jewish community in Madinah. They did not want to sully the joy of freedom and delight of spiritual independence through the acrimony of mental conditioning and manipulation.
It should be recalled that, while perpetuating their myopia and spiritual enslavement, the Makkan polytheists frequently made recourse to the means the same Jewish Madinah community could offer. And just as the Makkans utilized the Jews for intensifying their condition, the citizens of Madinah decided to do without the Jews also in order to intensify their own condition, that of spiritual freedom and objectivity. The latter were cognizant that freedom was the assurance of the future, whereas its absence was its undoing.
The fruits of freedom were as much immeasurable as reciprocal. Everyone had a share in the enterprise. Having sensed what could be their allotment, the people of Madinah intimated to the Prophet what they foresaw as his: “We have left our people, al Aws and al Khazraj, who are alienated from one another and are full of hatred for one another. Perhaps Allah will unite them through you. Should this ever become the case, you will be the strongest man in Arabia.”
The case of Abdullah bin Salam
As soon as the Prophet arrived in Quba’, en route to Madinah proper, the results of this freedom outlook were manifest. People thronged to see the Prophet, exhibiting veneration and gratitude. Everything associated with him: his appearance, language, demeanour and dealings, exemplified his magnificence and the grandiosity of his mission. The truth was in plain sight for whoever wanted it and was able – free – to see it. For everybody in their own right, Quba’ indeed was a feast of freedom, a day of liberation and renewal.
The spirit of the situation is aptly articulated by the conversion of Abdullah bin Salam, a Jewish rabbi in Madinah, to Islam while the Prophet was still in Quba’. Abdullah bin Salam narrated that after he had heard of the appearance of the Prophet, he began to make enquiries about his name, his genealogy, his characteristics, his time and place and he began to compare this information with what is contained in the Jewish books. From those enquiries, he became convinced about the authenticity of the Prophet’s prophethood and he affirmed the truth of his mission.
Abdullah bin Salam’s first impression of the Prophet in Quba’ was striking. He reports: “When the Messenger of Allah arrived – meaning in Quba’ on the way to Madinah – the people came out to meet him. It was said that the Messenger of Allah had arrived, so I went among the people to get a look at him. When I gazed upon the face of the Messenger of Allah, I knew that this face was not the face of a liar. The first thing that he spoke about was that he said: ‘O you people! Spread the salam (peace), feed others, and perform prayer while the people are sleeping, you will enter Paradise with the salam (the greeting of peace)” (Jami’ al-Tirmidhi).
Such was the reaction of the liberated and free thinking Abdullah bin Salam, who was in search of the truth and of a path to an actual bliss. When such a seeker finds and unites with that which is sought, there is only one outcome, a moment of rapture coupled with a feeling of elation that resides beyond the boundaries of human verbalization.
This is in stark contrast to the attitude of the majority of the Madinah Jews who were trapped and were suffocating in the sea of biases and delusions. Spiritual subjugation, rather than freedom, was their way. Before they were told that one of their crème de la crème had converted to Islam, their opinion about Abdullah bin Salam was exceptional. They held that he was their sayyid (leader) and the son of their sayyid; he was their rabbi and their scholar, the son of their rabbi and scholar, and that – God forbid – he would never accept Islam.
However, no sooner had they been told that what they had dreaded had just happened – that is, Abdullah bin Salam had embraced Islam – than the Jews became horrified. Overwhelmed by their narrow-mindedness and chauvinism – which were both caused and intensified by their unyielding inner bondage – they shamelessly started hurling abuses against the man. They yelled: “You (Abdullah bin Salam) are a liar; by God, you are evil and ignorant, the son of an evil and ignorant person”; and they continued to heap every conceivable abuse on him.
The case of Salman al-Farisi
Another example was the remarkable life story of a companion Salman al-Farisi. From his native Persia, Salman al-Farisi traversed numerous lands in search of the truth. He sacrificed everything he had: comfort, luxury and physical freedom, for the purpose. He was keenly aware that if he could get hold of the truth, each and every authentic blessing of the material and immaterial sides of life would be his, just as there was no worldly advantage that entailed any meaning or value without the truth on-board. The truth was the guarantor of all goodness; its absence was ruinous.
By the same token, losing physical freedom was worthwhile, if it led to the acquisition of spiritual freedom as a background for the attainment and application of the truth. Physical freedom makes sense only when it is accompanied by a spiritual-qua-intellectual counterpart; whereas the latter, inevitably, is the surety and, at the same time, guardian of the former. Clearly, one with an imprisoned soul and inhibited mind can never avow freedom; similarly, one with an unfettered spirit and emancipated intellect can never be locked up and impaired.
Salman al-Farisi experienced all this first hand. He departed Persia as a wealthy, recognized and free man, albeit with a constricted and restless soul as well as mind. As his journeys unfolded, his assets were steadily diminishing, culminating in the forfeiture of his freedom. Finally, as a slave to a Jewish master, but with his spiritual freedom and craving condition intact, Salman al-Farisi arrived in Madinah. His presence in Madinah was partly due to the workings of fate and partly due to a deliberate effort, consistent with the principles that fortune favours the brave, and that fortunes smile on the intrepid.
The climax – and happy ending – of Salman al-Farisi’s epic story took place right in Quba’, immediately following the Prophet’s arrival from Makkah. Having heard of the advent of the one for whom he eagerly waited and with that – i.e., the truth – for which he initially had abandoned everything he had, Salman al-Farisi quickly made his way to visit the Prophet and ascertain the validity of the assertions about him.
It did not take Salman al-Farisi long to arrive at the right decision, because his free and thirsty soul was finally brought to the inexhaustible source of virtue, nourishment and beauty. As a result, illumed and ecstatic, he staggered towards the Prophet, kissing him and weeping. With the support of the divine plan, Salman al-Farisi’s steadfast faith in freedom and loyalty to the truth, was rewarded. Soon afterwards, he secured his physical freedom as well, and became one of the most accomplished companions of the Prophet, securing in the process the status of an outstanding history-maker.
The Quba’ district and its mosque – the first built by the Prophet – served as the first confluence of completely free Muslims. The newly created ambiance was the first of its kind in which the precepts of Islam were for the first time freely preached and practiced. That in addition is the explanation for the Prophet’s insistence, while in Quba’, on the notion of peace: to be stimulated, spread and lived (implemented).
The Prophet was conscious that peace in its broadest definition is one of the fundamental outcomes and also prerequisites of freedom, and that freedom is the exclusive patron of peace. Mutually dependent in a cause-and-effect manner, they are indivisible. The Prophet’s message to the Muslims was to harness the power of their free spirits and their inexhaustible strength in the pursuit of productive relationships with their Creator, people, nature and the whole of the universe. The Quba’ mosque was a starting point and a launch platform.
Visiting the Quba’ mosque and appreciating freedom
It follows that a visitor to the Quba’ mosque should remember its history and how, as a matter of fact, its historical background was about the hijrah (migration) from the vulgarity of falsehood to the wholesomeness of the truth, and from the yokes of tyranny to the infinitude of freedom. A visitor – no matter who he might be and where he might come from – should know that he is what he is because of the success of the hijrah; that is to say, because of the success of the truth over falsehood and freedom over tyranny. He is a by-product (religious progeny or scion) of the hijrah.
A visitor should also assess how faithful he is to the legacies of his spiritual predecessors, to the freedom bequests of the hijrah. Without hesitation, he should ask if he himself is a free being who lives, thinks and performs freely. He should investigate if his being a Muslim is because he decided so on account of his own free scrutiny, comprehension and acceptance, or because someone forced him, he had little or no other choice, peer pressure, or because of some socio-cultural influences. He is also expected to analyse the commitment with which he is attempting to repel the countless forces that are insistent in their aim to divest him of his freedom and ensnare him in the stifling chains of apprehension, doubt and self-indulgence.
By way of illustration, if a person never or rarely befriends the Qur’an, the Prophet’s sunnah, and materials on Islam and its history and civilization, but instead enjoys befriending – and following – alien-to-Islam literature, knowledge, entertainment and other critical civilizational pursuits, it means that he is trapped in the sea of uncertainty and outright untruths, fettered in the manacles of dubiety, and that the sooner he starts preparing himself for a hijrah, the better. Somewhere a quba’ with its sanctuary awaits, beckoning. Such a person should scour and hasten towards it.
Such a person furthermore needs to break away as soon as possible from the convoluted shams that stand between him and the pure-cum-sensible truth of Islam, and head for his personal quba’ with a sanctuary wherein he will be able to purify his body, soul and thinking patterns. Thus freed and purified, he will be able next to set up a framework saturated with piety and his Creator’s pleasure, functioning as a foundation for his entire life enterprise. This is a reflection of the Qur’anic verses which state that the Quba’ mosque has been established on the principles of righteousness and piety to Almighty Allah and His good pleasure, and that in it were persons who loved to purify themselves (al-Tawbah, 108-109).
In short, a visitor should ask himself if he has undertaken his own hijrah, abandoning not just evil per se, but also all its sources, contexts, allies, means and manifestations. Certainly, the hijrah must not be physical only; it can also be spiritual, intellectual and behavioural (ethical). The latter, perhaps, is more important and more challenging. The success of the former is predicated on its success. That is the reason why the Prophet once said: “The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated (performed the hijrah) for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for” (Sahih al-Bukhari).
This means that by merely migrating from a place to another, a person is not automatically guaranteed the privileged rewards of the migration (hijrah). There are prerequisites of the hijrah that must be fulfilled. There is a hijrah credo as well as ethics. Hence, deeds are measured according to intentions and a person’s emigration is for what he emigrates for. Certainly, if there is an inner jihad, the clothing of taqwa (piety and God-consciousness) and generally inner dimensions of every single Islamic tenet, there is also an inner and personal hijrah, entailing a beginning, a process and an end (i.e., arrival in a personal quba’).
Life is a dynamic experience featuring a series of ups and downs, hence a series of hijrahs. As long as a person constantly grows and moves forward in his quest for the spiritual and civilizational excellence, he is on the right path; he is performing his hijrah and is ever closer to his destination. A sign of one’s hijrah is restlessness, endless motivation and self-reproach in the face of wickedness and sin. For him, the Quba’ mosque renders a revolutionary encounter; it is a feeling of déjà vu.
In opposition, a sign of one’s inner bondage and so, non-hijrah, is indifference, apathy and indulgence in the presence of iniquity and transgression. For the latter person, journeying to the Quba’ mosque is a completely foreign experience; it is a kind of un-relatable chain of events together with disconnected set of circumstances. It is an adventure into the mysterious depths of the unfamiliar.
It is apt to mention at this juncture that the Jews of Madinah had also settled in the city as a result of their own hijrah. However, their hijrah was not a noble one. According to the majority of the exegetes of the Qur’an, one of the reasons why the Jews had migrated to Madinah was their a priori knowledge that the final messenger of God will ultimately come, settle in and operate from the city. They entertained a distorted notion of the occurrence, believing that the final messenger will be an adherent of the Jewish paradigm and consequently, they felt that they could cunningly persuade him to accept their shady designs. Nevertheless, as per the decrees of the hijrah, since their plans were dishonest, the whole thing quickly unravelled, culminating in a series of catastrophic disasters. Their motives for migrating (hijrah) to Madinah were insincere, so the final outcomes had to be commensurate and in alignment with the genesis.
A Quba’ visitor shall continue to ask and explore – which is a crucial process of self-examination (muhasabah) highly appreciated in Islam – loosening one by one and eventually eliminating the shackles that impede and strangle him. This is a result of Islam, as the only true religion, not being afraid of the effects of liberty, curiosity, scrutiny and ingenuity. On the contrary, those are seen as partners and the most applicable instruments of the truth. Without them, the truth is bound to remain dormant and relegated to the mere level of barren rituals and deadening symbolism.
Islam is the only religion and idea that genuinely champions freedom
Islam questions and allows to be questioned; it not only exposes the types of crooked falsehood, but also offers the right alternative (the straight path) compatible with rationality, practicality and common sense; it not only champions freedom, but also exerts every effort to liberate people and keep them in such a state. While this is true of Islam, other religions and ideologies are intimidated by similar prospects. As proponents and indexes of falsehood in varying degrees, they are neither rational, practical nor commonsensical. They are thus apprehensive of being subjected to questioning and examination.
Those religions and ideologies are also afraid of the ascendancy and spread of Islam. Their supremoes – like those in Makkah who had rejected and expelled the Prophet and his first followers, setting in motion the concept and phenomenon of the hijrah – have an idea of the reality of the matter, but are neither equipped nor inclined to accept it. They therefore are resolute in both defending themselves and trying to denigrate Islam, Muslims and Islamic civilization. They are aware that whenever the truth and falsehood are pitted against one another, no matter the circumstances, the conclusion will always be the same. The truth is unbeatable; the problem is merely one of holding back and manipulating it.
This explains the almost fanatical fixation of the modern, profane Western-dominated civilization with Islam, from which emerged such bogus ideas and trends as Orientalism as a Western scholarly discipline, mission to civilize, islamophobia, war on terror, and democratization of the Middle East. The object was to misrepresent Islam as much and as subtly as possible, constructing a unique Westernized variant of the faith, and to serve it as such to the unsuspecting – and ignorant – Western public. Islam had to be adjusted and placed in the same league as the rest of religious convictions which the reborn vulgar and offensive Western mind had not long ago dispensed with. Accordingly, Islam had to be projected as fallacious, anachronistic and regressive. It had to be recognized as anti-civilization, anti-modernity and anti-future.
As a consequence, the majority of the West remains largely oblivious to the true nature of Islam, its people, history and civilization. All of this has occurred in spite of the avowed commitment to freedom and enlightenment that Western civilization claims to have. If such is truly the case, why Western civilization did not let the most potent and the fastest spreading spiritual force, in the shape of Islam, have free access to the Western shores; why it did not enlighten its people about what Islam actually is. If the West was all about rectitude and integrity, and Islam all about the antitheses of those, why there is need to pull the wool over people’s eyes when dealing with both the West (Occident) and the East (Orient). Can’t people who are “free” and “enlightened” discern on their own where goodness and uprightness, and where their opposites, reside? Why are there entire global institutionalized movements, crusades, systems and industries dedicated to telling the “progressive” and “educated” minds where the “obvious truth” and “obvious falsehood” are?
This treatment of Islam by the West is its biggest crime against Muslims and the best proof that the whole fabric of Western civilization is based on false premises. That is also a serious crime against the Western people and the world at large. The scheme was concocted and painstakingly executed because of the trepidation which at times bordered on paranoia. The godfathers of Western civilization knew they were lying, or at least were camouflaging the truth about Islam and Muslims, so they had to be constantly on their toes lest the collusions they were perpetrating are somehow given away. Without a doubt, those who propagate falsities live in a perpetual state of dread, doing all they can to prevent exposure, while those who are honest live their lives peacefully and have nothing to be afraid of.
That is why it is righty said that Satan, and by extension his armies from among the ranks of humankind and the jinns, never sleep. They remain vigilant at all times in order to sustain the twisting and hiding of the truth, and to keep their followers in the dark about what is really going on. Sophisticated systems of indoctrination and brainwashing through the latent potentials of the ostensibly harmless fields of education, politics, media and pop culture were developed for the purpose, which, when all is said and done, stood for the brazen violations of the spirit of freedom and enlightenment.
In this kind of environment, the bona fide Islam was not approved of to be freely preached, taught or practiced, which affected both Muslims and non-Muslims. For example, some of the fundamental tenets of Islam – like jihad, shari’ah, da’wah, penal code, morality, role of woman, and of late, Islam’s stance on LGBT – were almost never allowed to see the full light of the day. Neither in the interest of freedom nor enlightenment were they allowed to be thoroughly articulated. What was allowed were either the purely pacifist and unworldly (eschatological) sides of Islam, or its warped interpretations.
It stands to reason that the West is hypocritical, exhibiting double standards as regards the principles of freedom. It fails to live up to its billing as the exemplar and mainstay of freedom. Its numerous monuments and institutions supposedly exemplifying the idea of freedom and the assumed quintessence of Western civilization in general are nothing but decoys. They distract from and obscure the actual reality. Its own people, followed by the rest of the world, are victims. If there is one specific type of freedom that the West has truly perfected it would be the freedom to indulge in sin and to be absolved from any moral responsibility. Such indeed is the West’s defining trait when it comes to freedom.
Inasmuch as Islam is the greatest advocate of freedom and Muslims both protagonists and beneficiaries, the Quba’ mosque was the first institutionalized monument of freedom in the history of Islam, with every subsequent mosque following its example and modelling itself on it. When later the Muslims fanned out from the city of Madinah to liberate the world (from worshipping creation to the worship of the Creator alone), each and every facet of the unfolding undertakings owed a share to the spectacle and underpinning philosophy of the Quba’ mosque.
Those who visit the mosque today should feel a sense of honour and should endeavour to enliven the occasions connected with the place. They should take great satisfaction in their faith, seeing that in all regards – particularly freedom, an area in which the West holds itself in highest esteem – Islam stands head and shoulders above the rest of the world and its life systems. With immense gratitude, they should be thankful to Islam for liberating them from their previous limitations, and for raising them to a place of high esteem, providing them with a virtually unlimited range of possibilities. ***
(Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer is an academic in Department of History and Civilisation, AbdulHamid AbuSulayman Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences. The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of IIUMToday.)