HUSAIN ROFE (G.B.)
When a person decides to abandon a religion that has been infused
into him since his childhood and choose another religion, there
should be some reasons, which are either emotional or philosophical
or social. The zealous aspirations I had been feeling were impelling
me towards a belief that would satisfy at least two of the above-mentioned
needs. Consequently, as soon as the educational period of my life
was over, I embarked on a comparative study of all the world's
existing religions with a view to determining the one that deserved
a true belief in it.
Both of my parents were devotedly religious, one of them a Catholic
and the other a Jew formerly. Later, they both abandoned their
religions and became Protestants and began to attend the Anglican
Church. When I was in school I regularly attended the rites performed
in the Anglican Church and listened to the lessons given by the
priests. Yet the Christian credal tenets that they were trying
to teach me contained a number of elements that I did not understand
and which seemed quite irrational to me. First of all, the tripartite
godhead which consisted of Father, Son and the Holy Ghost sounded
so silly to me that it was impossible to accept it. My conscience
rejected it vehemently. Moreover, the ecclesiastical credo that
attaining God would require expiation was altogether meaningless
too. In my idealization, the great being who was (and always is)
the only being worthy of being worshipped would not demand compulsory
expiation from His born slaves.
Upon this, I began to examine the Judaic religion. I saw that
their approach to the unity and grandeur of Allahu ta'ala was
much more reasonable and that they did not attribute a partner
to Him. Perhaps Judaism was not so badly interpolated as today's
Christianity. However, that religion also contained some grotesque
tenets which I could not understand and would never accept. There
were so many rites, prayers and compulsory religious practices
in the Judaic religion that a pious Jew would have no time left
for worldly occupations if he were to observe all those religious
obligations. I knew that most of those rites were stupid parodies
that had been inserted into the religion later by people. Thereby
the Judaic religion had been thoroughly stripped of its social
character and become the religion of a small minority. Concluding
that there was nothing in Judaism for the world to benefit from,
I left it aside, and focused my quest into other religions. In
the meantime I attended both the church and the synagogue. Yet
those visits were done for quasi-religious purposes. In fact,
I was neither a Christian nor a Jew. Alongside the Anglican Church,
I examined the Roman Catholic Church, too. I saw that the Catholic
credo contained more superstitions than did the credo of those
Protestants who were adherent to the Anglican Church. Especially,
the Catholics' excessive adherence to the Pope and their semi-deification
of him made me hate them all the more.
Now I turned my face to the east and began to examine the oriental
religions. I did not like Magians' religion at all. For they gave
too much prerogative to the priestly caste. A pariah, on the other
hand, would deserve what remained from their scorn for beasts.
It never occurred to them that they should have compassion for
the poor. According to them, a person's poverty was his own fault.
If he put up with it silently and without any complaints, there
might be some improvement in his situation owing to the priests'
intermediary invocations. The priestly order purposely spread
this belief in order to strike a fear of themselves into the people's
hearts and to make the people feel dependent on them. Therefore
I hated the Magian religion. And my hatred even doubled when I
knew that the Magians worshipped animals. A cult of that sort
could not be a true religion.
As for Buddhism; the Buddhists adhered to philosophical thoughts
and beliefs. They told me that, if I should exert myself, try
very hard and practice the required abstinence, I would obtain
great powers and play with the world like doing chemical experiments.
However, I did not find any ethical rules in Buddhism. In this
system also, the priestly order were different from the ordinary
people and occupied a higher status. Indeed, they taught me many
wonderful feats of skill. Yet those things had nothing to do with
Allah and religion.
Those feats of skill were, like sports or illusionist artifices,
were pastime activities and served only to amaze people who did
not know them. They were far from purifying the human heart or
bringing man closer to the approval and love of Allahu ta'ala.
They had nothing to do with Allahu ta'ala or with the beings He
created. The only benefit they gave was that they drilled a full
self-discipline into the practicer.
There is no doubt as to the fact that Buddha was a well-educated,
intelligent man. He enjoined a full-scale self-sacrifice on them.
He gave commandments such as, "Do not retaliate evil!"
"Forego all your desires and ambitions!" "Do not
think of tomorrow!" Didn't Issa a.s. say the same things?
But commandments of this sort had been observed during the early
days of Christianity, when the religion of Issa a.s. had been
in its pure form; people had already given up obeying them. I
diagnosed the same laxity in the Buddhist societies. If people
were as pure-hearted as Issa a.s. or as benevolent as Buddha,
they would in all probability follow their guidance and attain
the state approved by Allahu ta'ala. But how many people in the
present world could be so pure-hearted and noble-natured as to
cease from all vices? It came to mean that the ethical principles
laid by Buddha were not practicable in the modern man's system
How strange it was that I was living in the Islamic world and
yet I was examining the other religions without thinking a bit
about Islam! The reason was clear: We had already been brainwashed
with the information of Islam given to us and with the books written
about it in Europe, which asserted that that religion was entirely
wrong, meaningless, and false, and that it infused torpor. Reading
Rodwell's translation of the Qur'an al-karim had specially fixed
these preconceptions into my subconscious. Rodwell had purposely
mistranslated some parts of the Qur'an al-karim and distorted
its meanings, thus turning the holy book into a mass of unintelligible
words altogether different from the original version. It was not
till after having contacted the 'Islamic Society' in London and
having read a true translation of the Qur'an al-karim did I know
the truth. One thing I would regret to say at this point is that
Muslims are doing very little to advertise this lovely religion
of theirs to the world. If they try to spread the true essence
of Islam over the entire world with due attention and knowledge,
I am sure that they will achieve very positive results. In the
near east people are still reserved towards foreigners. Instead
of coming into contact with them and illuminating them, they prefer
to keep as far away as possible from them. This is an exceedingly
wrong attitude. I am the most concrete example. For I was somehow
hindered from being interested in the Islamic religion. Fortunately,
one day I met a very respectable and highly cultured Muslim. He
was very friendly with me. He listened to me with attention. He
presented me an English version of the Qur'an al-karim translated
by a Muslim. He gave beautiful and logical answers to all my questions.
In 1945 he took me to a mosque. With intent attention and deep
respect, I watched the Muslims praying there, which was a sight
I was watching for the first time in my life. O my Allah, what
a gorgeous and sublime sight it was! People from all races, all
nations and all classes were worshipping. All those people had
come together without any sort of segregation in the presence
of Allahu ta'ala, and they had entirely devoted themselves to
Allahu ta'ala. Next to a rich Turk, for instance, stood a very
poor Indian clad in beggar-like clothes, next was an Arab who
I would say was a merchant, and besides him prayed a Negro. All
these people were performing a prayer in profound reverence. No
one was different from any other. Entirely oblivious to their
nationalities and economical, social and official statuses, they
had focused all their existence to the worship of Allahu ta'ala.
No one assumed superiority to another. The rich did not despise
the poor, nor did persons of rank have an iota of scorn for their
Seeing all these marvels, I realized that Islam was the religion
that I had been seeking for. None of the other religions that
I had examined up to that time had had an effect like that on
me. In fact, after seeing Islam closely and learning the essence
of Islam, I accepted that true religion without any hesitation.
Now I am proud of being a Muslim. I attended lectures on "The
Islamic Culture" at a university in Britain, whereupon I
saw that as Europe had suffered the gloom of the Middle Ages,
Islam had shone through the darkness and illuminated everywhere.
Many great explorations had been accomplished by Muslims, Europeans
had been taught knowledge, science, medicine and humanities in
the Islamic universities, and numerous world conquerors had embraced
Islam and established great empires. Muslims were not only the
founders of a universal civilization, but also the recoverers
of many an ancient civilization devastated by Christians. When
the news of my conversion to Islam got about, my friends began
to remonstrate with me and to accuse me of retrogression. Each
time they did so I answered them with a smile: "Quite the
other way round. Islam is not retrogression. It is the most advanced
civilization." Sad to say, today's Muslims have fallen behind.
For Muslims have been gradually getting less and less appreciative
of their possession of so sublime a religion as Islam, and more
and more negligent in carrying out its commandments.
The Islamic countries still boast the intact remnants of a warm
hospitality. When you go to a Muslim's house, he will welcome
you in a balmy air of readiness to help you. For helping others
is one of Islam's commandments. It is one of the basic Islamic
tenets for the rich to help the poor by giving them a certain
percentage of their wealth. This property does not exist in any
other religion. This comes to mean that Islam is the most, and
the only, suitable religion for the present social life-styles.
It is for this reason that there is no place for Communism in
Muslim countries. For Islam has by far forestalled that social
problem by prearranging the most essential solutions.