HOW THEY REFORMED
Religion, and most especially
the religion of Islam, is a way of life based upon belief
and understanding which seeks to reform the characters of
its adherents and the ethos of their societies and communities.
To grasp how profound a reform Islam achieved, it is worthwhile
to reflect on the norms prevailing in pre-Islamic Arabia.
Here is one particularly chilling account by a Makkan polytheist:
day I took up my arms—my arrows and sword—to participate in
a raid. However, the owners of the flocks we attacked overwhelmed
us and set out to chase us in the desert. Five of us were
shot in the back with arrows and killed. On returning to Makka,
we discussed why our arrows had failed to hit their target.
We were angry with the gods whose idols we carried with us
because they had not given us any help.
of my nieces whose father had been killed in an earlier raid
was growing up in my care. I took her to the desert and bound
her to a date-palm and used her for target practice. It was
normal for orphan girls to be used in this way. I did not
hit the target as I wished and so became convinced that the
gods were determined not to give us good fortune on that day.
However, I made another attempt the following day and hit
the target at the first attempt. Concluding that the gods
were now in favor of it, we set off on a raid to the lands
where flocks pastured.
sort of barbarity characterized not only the Arab polytheists
but much of humankind lived before the advent of Islam. A
Turkish poet describes it vividly:
civilized part of the world suffered corruptions
worse than those prevailing nowadays.
Mankind excelled in rapaciousness,
If there was one 'devoid of teeth', his brothers tore him
up to eat.
Anarchy prevailed in all corners of the world.
radically transformed those who accepted it and once-rapacious
people who killed one another for racial motives became as