League of History

Arabian Ignorance and Other Countries

What has been described in the previous sections refers to the condition of Arabia and its people before the appearance of Islam and the advent of the Prophet. What has been stated regarding character, habits, living, religion, and beliefs reflects the conditions from one century before the era of the last Prophet ~ and remained unchanged until he was declared a Prophet. The reader can ponder over what kind of environment the Prophet~ was sent to and how depraved were the people when Islam came to them. The following pages will give a picture of the magnificent revolution brought about by the teachings of the Prophet ~ and the impact of Islam as a force. This assessment may be correctly made when we cast a glance at the overall situation prevailing in the world and to see how Islam brought about change in the existing situation. It is appropriate at this time after assessing the situation in Arabia to take a look at what condition the world contemporary to that time was experiencing.


Persia was reckoned among the most renowned, ancient, and venerable civilizations. During ancient times the people worshipped the moon, and a large number of religious guides came on the scene one after another to reform the situation. Before the end of this period, Zoroaster gave currency to the fire worship. [The religion of Zoroaster was free from fire worship and proclaimed the oneness of God but fire worship took over this religion later on.] He offered himself as a true guide and very soon it became the state religion and that of its subjects.

The Persians possibly surpassed all other countries in terms of progress and development. During the height of its greatness and glory, Persian rule had stretched from Egypt to Mongolia and from the Himalayan range and the Persian Gulf to the Altai Mountains. Persian society ruled over the whole of the Asian continent and their culture, civilization, and ethical standards were considered worth following in every Asian country. At the time of the appearance of Islam, they had become so low and depraved that they had lost most of their good qualities after falling into the dark quagmire of polytheism. They had given Zoroaster divine attributes and enlisted him among their false deities. The creators of good and evil were worshipped in the name of Yazdan (Ahura Mazda-god of goodness) and Ahriman (Angra Mainyu-god of evil and darkness). They worshipped fire and light openly and fervently.

The worship of the moon, the sun, the stars, and the planets was also in vogue. Theft and highway robbery were rampant. Adultery was so much in force that the wicked Mazdak asked for a liaison with the Princess of Kisra (Chosroes) openly in the court and the ruler of Persia did not think it necessary to oppose this most unreasonable and immodest demand. Mutual dissension and bestiality, malice and enmity, cheating and deceit, treating the weak by the strong more disgracefully than even the animals were some of the defects that had sent Persia to the lowest level of depravity and degradation. Persia was bereft of all ethical and human qualities, and the country that was once the center of culture and civilization was groping in the dark. Not only the worship of stars, fire and heroes was their custom, the kings, ministers, commanders, and nobles also made the people worship them. The Persian subject rose to freedom from this torment and the darkness was dispelled only when the Muslims marched into the Persian territories and brought it under their control.


Another great power and rival of Persia were the Roman Empire. Greek and Roman civilizations were also very ancient and magnificent and their arts and sciences and grandeur and glory had been universally known. No country in the world could surpass Greece in the spheres of medicine, mathematics, astronomy, logic, and philosophy. This country had produced Socrates, Hippocrates, Luqman, Plato, and Aristotle. It was in this country that a conqueror and king like Alexander was born. The Roman Caesar whose capital was Constantinople was not only an emperor but considered also a religious guide. But, despite all these material and scientific developments, both Greece and Rome had, during the sixth and seventh centuries, become steeped in such degradation and depravity that the darkness prevailing in Persia was in no way deeper than in Greece and Rome. As every indebted person in Persia would sell himself like a slave, Greece too had several kinds of slaves. One kind of slave could not be sold outside Greece, but all other kinds of slaves were sold in foreign lands like horses, oxen, camels, and goats. Any master had the right to kill his slave as anybody has the right to slaughter his animal. Parents would sell their children and make them slaves to others. In Greece and Rome, slaves had no right to marry and there was no legal relationship between the slaves and their children.


For the first two hundred years after the birth of Isa (Jesus), there was no trace of a monk among the Christians. But during the sixth century, the number of monks rose to such an extent in Syria, Greece, and Rome that anybody desirous of being held in high esteem became a monk. Gradually this custom prevailed among the womenfolk with the result that monasteries became centers of all kinds of shameful acts. Some monks lived in deserts. Respect for women and parents had no place in their lives. Theft, adultery, and cheating were most common. Begging was not a matter of shame which was in fact the logical result of being a monk. The concept of the oneness of God and divine worship was virtually lost. Certificates of deliverance could be had from the monks and religious guides by pleasing them through services. The rich considered it their legal right to have the poor serve them. Kings and commanders treated their subjects like animals took control of the efforts of their labor and left them very little to live on.


To assess the ancient position of Egypt and its social greatness, the mammoth construction of the Sphinx, the Egyptian pyramids, and objects and articles recovered from the many excavations in recent times have a lot to tell about the glory and grandeur of ancient Egyptian society. Since Egypt is an agricultural country, it became the target of successive foreign attacks when it had grown weak. Persians, Greeks, and Romans invaded it time and again and kept it under their control for long periods. It is a matter of conjecture that the society and civilization of the invaders favorably influenced the Egyptians.

Christianity was followed by a large section of the Egyptians during the reign of Romans. But, before the advent of Islam in Egypt, it was a country immersed in darkness and depravity. Christianity in Egypt was in no better position than pure idolatry. All the defects that had been part of Egyptian idolatry could be found among the Christians. The Romans and the Greeks who were known as ruling nations treated their subjects more disgracefully than even their animals. The defects found among the Greeks and the Romans took their worst forms among the Egyptians. Slavery was rife in the most wretched form. Alluring principles and rules were instituted for committing adultery and pillage. Human killings served as a source of entertainment. Women were encouraged to commit suicide. In short, the darkness prevailing in Egypt was not less than that of anywhere else. Egypt was replete with all the forms of degradation that could be thought of.


Great Maharajahs like Asoka, Chandra Gupta, and Vikarmajeet had already passed away. Indians were particularly proud of their astronomy, mathematics, and philosophy. They also retained the tales of founders of religions like Krishn, Ramchandra, and Gautama, and the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. But the era we are referring to here is one when Buddhism was declining and making a way for Brahmanism. No province of the country had a magnificent leader. Idolatry was rampant in the entire country. Idol worship was considered as the only means of deliverance both in Buddhism and Brahmanism. In most cases, idols of Brahmans and Buddhas were kept side by side in the same temple and were worshipped with great fervor.

A Chinese traveler writes that no household was free from idols. The immodest and impure ways of Barn-Marga had achieved popularity all over the country. They had also instituted, like the Egyptians, rules, and principles for committing adultery, which was essentially made a part of their religious rites. The Rajahs of Sindh set the example of marrying their own sisters. When Rajahs and rulers had reduced themselves to such human degradation, it is not surprising that their subjects followed them in the meanness of character. Some books written in that period that are now available as part of the Hindu scriptures and religious books, bring to light the utter degradation of their style of living. Worship of stars, planets, mountains, rivers, trees, animals, snakes, stones, and human genitals was rife in India. One can easily infer from this the depth of terrible darkness prevailing in India at that time.


The countries mentioned above lie around Arabia and these alone are taken as civilized. Only China may be added to this list. China was worse than all the others. The mixture of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism had made a mess of the cultural and moral condition of China. However, peace returned to China only when a band of Muslims settled in China and impressed their neighbors with their high moral examples. Human populations existed in Turkistan, Russia, and Europe too but either they were unknown to the rest of the world or they could hardly be called humans and they possessed no enviable qualities.


The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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