Before The Dawn Of Islam
THE sun is beating down the hot sands of Arabia. There is hardly any water to drink or anything to eat. The sun is at its highest peak and there is no one in sight, bird or beast.
The only thing seen is the Ka’bah, surrounded by the 360 idols of the Arabs.
During the sacred months, you would see the Arabs worshipping idols, making Tawaf around them and sacrificing animals to their revered idols. The number 360 might seem big, but then every tribe had its own idol and almost every house kept an idol too.
The Arabs did worship Allah, but not in a spirit of His Oneness. They ascribed all these 360 idols as His partners or intermediaries that they worshiped to gain the pleasure of Allah.
Polytheism was not the only problem that the Arabs had in the 6th century. There was poverty, injustice towards women and orphans, adultery, slavery, wars, tribal pride, superstitions, drinking, gambling …and on top of all this they were illiterate.
In such circumstances, there was nothing that could unite all the Arab tribes. How could they possibly unite?
Their belief system was distorted, and they had made up their own theories of worship, which they stuck to. They followed their tribe till their last breath. They desired leadership, had a keen sense of competition and rivalry to be better than others, which often resulted in bitter tribal warfare despite having one common ancestor.
Let me give you an example to show you how wars started for insignificant reasons.
There were two tribes called Taghlib and Bakr. The leader of the Taghlib tribe owned herds of camels, and kept them in a special place. Once a she-camel of the Bakr tribe, was found in his herd, and without thinking or investigating, he killed the she-camel. This enraged the Bakr tribe, who in turn killed the leader of Taghlib.
No one talked and tried to resolve the matter, but only shot arrows at one another. A war went on for 40 years, only because of a she-camel!
What Brought The Change?
Everything was to change, when Allah sent down His Final Messenger, Muhammad ﷺ. Everything changed, when the words of the Quran were recited by the noble Prophet ﷺ. Everything changed when the Messenger of Allah ﷺ preached Tawheed and the Oneness of Allah.
The Quran says:
And remember the favor of Allah upon you, when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the fire, and He saved you from it. [Surah Aal Imran 3: 103]
It was only due to Tawheed that people who were enemies had become brothers. It was only through Tawheed that people who lived their life aimlessly, now had a purpose, a goal.
Definition of Tawheed
What is Tawheed? And what did it mean to the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ ?
Imam Ibn Rajab, may Allah have mercy on him, said:
“To explain this meaning and to clarify it: When a person says laa ilaaha illallaah, it means, according to him, that none has the right to be deified and worshiped except Allah. And al-Ilaah is the One Who is obeyed and not disobeyed; due to awe and veneration of Him, and due to love, fear, hope and reliance upon Him; as well as being the One Who is asked from and is supplicated to. And none of this is correct, except for Allah the Mighty and Majestic.”
This is what Prophet Muhammad ﷺ called to and this is how the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ understood it.
Transformation Of Arabs
When the Companions proclaimed Tawheed, they embarked on a journey, a journey that led them from darkness to light. It lead them to a straight path, a path towards Allah, a path towards Paradise. The Quran says:
Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into the light. [Surah Al Baqarah, 2: 256]
When Arabs started proclaiming Tawheed, they became free — free from their desires, and free from their 360 idols. They didn’t have to bow down to them anymore, performing rituals and offering sacrifices. They prostrated to Allah alone, the Majestic and the Omnipotent.
Whichever member of a tribe — whether slave or chief — accepted this faith, they were united by Tawheed, because they worshipped the same Lord, followed the same Messenger ﷺ, and obeyed the same commands that were revealed.
One such example was seen in Madinah. When Saad bin Muadh , accepted Islam, he was aware that total change would not come about unless he destroyed the roots of idolatry in the city. He, with Usayd bin Hudhair, took axes and destroyed the idols that had been worshipped by the people in Madinah.
This belief brought all of them from deviant paths to the straight path. They no longer competed in worldly pleasures, but competed in gaining Allah’s pleasure and forgiveness. They raced to do good deeds and find a place for themselves in the eternal garden.
This was seen in the year 9 A.H., when Prophet Muhammad ﷺ decided to fight against the Byzantines on the expedition of Tabuk. He ordered his Companions and other tribes to get ready for war and asked for their assistance. The Muslims raced to give from their wealth and property to support this expedition. Uthman bin Affan was one of them. He gave away 100 saddled camels, 100 horses, 200 ounces of gold, and 1000 dinars. The Prophet ﷺ said, “From this day nothing will harm Uthman regardless of what he does.”
They no longer compared themselves according their status, but according to their deeds and the Taqwa each had. Everyone — slave, master, Arab or non Arab — all stood in one row when they performed Salah. The people who were constantly at war and killed each other, now stood shoulder to shoulder and feet to feet in Salah. The ones who were divided by tribes, were now united and followed the same leader, the same Imam, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
With faith in their hearts, the proud and arrogant tribes now became humble towards each other. They cared for their brothers in faith like their own brothers. They now sought consultation for any problem, rather than proclaiming war among themselves.
Influence Of Tawheed
Changes come when true Tawheed enters your heart and you feel the essence of true faith. Changes come when you worship Allah alone. Changes come when you finally submit yourself, your soul to the Only Creator, who created you. – لا اله الا الله – there is no deity worthy of worship other than Allah.
Those who were bitter enemies were now believers of the same faith. They no longer held resentment in their hearts, which they had nurtured in the days of ignorance. Rather their hearts were pure and clean, and they loved each other purely for the sake of Allah.
Through Tawheed, Allah purified not only their hearts, but also their souls from disbelief, doubts, desires, evil doings, and increased their innate goodness, so that they could perform righteous actions. The Quran says:
The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith, and upon their Lord they rely. [Surah Al Anfaal 8:2]
The ones who were ignorant, now had become guides for others due to Tawheed. The ones who were illiterate, now had scholars, jurists, teachers, reciters embedded in the fabric of society. The ones who were looked down upon, ruled 2/3 of the world in its time. The ones who were divided, now were united, only because of Tawheed.
They embodied the words of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ: “The believers in their mutual love, are like the human body where when the eye is in agony, the entire body feels the pain; when the head aches, the entire body suffers.” (Muslim, Mishkaat-ul-Masabih)