Saturday, 18 February 2017
The Expected One
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following is a transcript of discourse given by Mawlana Waffie Mohammed.
The coming of Abraham (a.s.) ushered in a new era in the mission of man as the Vicegerent of Allah (s.w.t.) on the Earth. On one hand, he was a model for mankind, while on the other he became the father of the Revealed religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Judaism and Christianity came from his son with Sarah (r.a.), while Islam came from his son Ishmael (a.s.).
Christians do not recognise Ishmael (a.s.) as a son in every sense of the word, because he was born from the slave of Sarah (r.a.), that is, Hagar (r.a.). However, their argument for not accepting him as a legitimate son of the Patriarch is very weak. Their reason for not accepting him as Abraham’s (a.s.) first son is as they say that he was the son of lust and not the son of Promise.
What they failed to take note of is the fact that his father, Abraham (a.s.), was a very pious person and because of his righteousness, according to their beliefs, he is in Paradise. He became the father of Ishmael (a.s.) when Sarah (r.a.) gave her slave, Hagar (r.a.), to him, so that he did not commit any immoral act. So, the argument about him being the son of lost is misleading.
Abraham (a.s.) was nearing eighty years old and was not blessed with any offspring from Sarah (r.a.). He used to pray for a son, as he was desirous of having someone to take up his legacy and continue to spread the Religion of Submission, Islam. Abraham’s (a.s.) prayer is Recorded in the Qur’an as follows:
“O my Lord! Grant me a righteous (son)!” (Surah asw-Swaffat:100)
Both Abraham (a.s.) and his wife, Sarah (r.a.), were concerned about the fact that they did not have any children. The Bible tells us about their concern as follows:
1 And still Abram’s wife, Sarai, bore him no children. But she had an Egyptian maid-servant, called Agar; 2 and now she said to her husband, “The Lord, as thou seest, Denies me motherhood; betake thyself to this maid of mine, in the hope that I may at least have children through her means.” So Abram consented to the wish of his wife, 3 and she brought this Egyptian maid-servant of hers, Agar, and gave her to her husband as his mate, ten years after they had taken up their abode in the land of Chanaan. 4 Abram, then, had knowledge of her, and she, finding herself with child, began to look on her mistress with scorn.
So, Ishmael (a.s.) was born in the normal way like any other human being. His birth was that of a normal child, which resulted in the union of a male, Abraham (a.s.) and a female, Hagar (r.a.), who was given to him by her mistress, Sarah (r.a.).
From Ishmael’s (a.s.) genealogy came Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). The Prophet (s.a.w.) was also born as a normal human being. Perhaps, that is a reason why Allah (s.w.t.) Records about him in the Qur’an in the following verse:
Say, “I am but a man like yourselves ...” (Surah al-Kahf:110)
Both the Qur’an and the Bible confirm that fact that the Merciful Lord Accepted the prayer of Abraham (a.s.) regarding his off springs. In the case of Ishmael (a.s.), there are the following references.
18 And this was what he asked of God, “If only thou wilt Grant life to Ismael!” 19 But God Said to Abraham, “Thou shalt have a son by thy wife Sara, and shalt give him the name of Isaac; it is to him and to the race which shall follow him that I will Make Good My Promise, Ratified forever. 20 As for Ismael, for him too I Grant thy prayer; be sure that I will Bless him, and Make him fruitful, and Grant him increase beyond all measure, so that he will be the father of twelve chieftains. From him, too, a great nation shall arise. As for Ishmael, I have Heard your prayer; I will, Indeed, Bless him and Make him fruitful, Giving him many, many descendants. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will Make him a great nation.”
So, We Gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear. (Surah asw-Swaffat:101)
Both the Qur’an and Bible Confirm that Ishmael (a.s.) was a Gift from the Lord to the Patriarch (a.s.). So, to lower his status in the eyes of man, in order to promote the importance of Isaac (a.s.) is misleading. Both of these sons had their mission, one to the Israelites and the other to the whole world.
In addition to getting the Good News from the Lord about Ishmael (a.s.), Abraham (a.s.) also prayed that from his offspring should come a person who will be able to establish the Lord’s religion of submission on the earth. This is Confirmed in the Qur’an in the following verses:
“Our Lord! Send, amongst them, a Messenger of their own who shall rehearse Thy Signs to them and instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom, and purify them; for Thou art the Exalted in Might the Wise.” (Surah al-Baqarah:129)
Abraham (a.s.) is recognised as a model and a very righteous person. This is confirmed both in the Bible and in the Qur’an.
22 Time went on; the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom ...
Abraham was indeed a model devoutly obedient to Allah, (and) true in faith, and he joined not gods with Allah: He showed his gratitude for the Favours of Allah Who Chose him and Guided him to a straight way. And We Gave him good in this world, and he will be, in the Hereafter, in the ranks of the righteous. So, We have Taught thee the inspired (message), “Follow the ways of Abraham, the true in faith, and he joined not gods with Allah.” (Surah an-Nahl:120-123)
Abraham’s (a.s.) prayer was very specific. He wanted someone to come after him who would be able to teach the people how to read the Book, teach them the messages contained in the Book, teach them the wisdom of the Messages in the Book, and teach them self-purification and spirituality. None of the Messengers were able to fulfill the prayer of Abraham (a.s.). As a result, the Israelites were always on the lookout for him who was to come as the answer to the Patriarch’s (a.s.) prayer.
There were always wise men called “sophias” on the borders and in the important centres of worship, on the lookout for him who was to come, the expected one. When John the Baptist (a.s.) began his mission, the people thought that he was the expected One. In response to their belief, John the Baptist (a.s.) denied it explicitly:
16 But John gave them their answer by saying publicly, “As for me, I am baptising you with water; but one is yet to come who is mightier than I, so that I am not worthy to untie the strap of his shoes. He will baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.”
When Jesus (a.s.) began his mission, John (a.s.) thought that he was the expected one, so he sent two of his disciples to question Jesus (a.s.) about it. The Bible records this in the following verses:
19 And he summoned two of his disciples, and sent them to Jesus to ask, “Is it thy coming that was foretold, or are we yet waiting for some other?”
In response to John’s (a.s.) query, Jesus (a.s.) said:
11 “Believe me, God has Raised up no greater son of woman than John the Baptist; and yet to be least in the kingdom of heaven is to be greater than he.”
15 “If you have any love for me, you must keep the commandments which I give you; 16 and then I will ask the Father, and He will Give you a Paraclete, one who is to dwell continually with you for ever. 17 It is the truth-giving Spirit, for whom the world can find no room, because it cannot see him, cannot recognise him. But you are to recognise him; he will be continually at your side, nay, he will be in you.”
12 “I have still much to say to you, but it is beyond your reach as yet. 13 It will be for him, the truth-giving Spirit, when he comes, to guide you into all truth. He will not utter a message of his own; he will utter the Message that has been Given to him; and he will make plain to you what is still to come. 14 And he will bring honour to me, because it is from me that he will derive what he makes plain to you. 15 I say that he will derive from me what he makes plain to you, because all that Belongs to the Father belongs to me.”
Neither John (a.s.) nor Jesus (a.s.) met the criterion of the conditions made by Abraham (a.s.) regarding the prayer for the one who was to take his legacy. As a result, the sophias continued to keep looking for the expected one.
When Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) was born, they saw the sign in the sky and they were sure that he had arrived. This was confirmed by the monk Bahirah (r.a.), who interviewed the Prophet (s.a.w.) as a boy who was in the company of his uncle, ‘Abd al-Muththalib (r.a.), on a caravan journey to Basra.
Allah (s.w.t.) Answered Abraham’s (a.s.) prayer with the birth of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). He Says:
Allah did Confer a great favour on the believers when He Sent, among them, a Messenger from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the Signs of Allah, sanctifying them, and instructing them in Scripture and wisdom, while, before that, they had been in manifest error. (Surah Ali ‘Imran:164)
Unfortunately, the followers of Isaac (a.s.) did not select to accept him as the one they were expecting due to the fact that he came from the progeny of Ishmael (a.s.) and not of Isaac (a.s.). Whatever Jews and Christians may want to believe, that does not alter the position and status of the Prophet (s.a.w.), as he was the only one that was able to unite mankind into one brotherhood. He fulfilled the prediction of Jesus (a.s.), who informed his people that the Comforter will teach them all things, and will not say anything, except what the Lord wants him to say. About this, Allah (s.w.t.) Says:
Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) desire. It is no less than inspiration Sent down to him: (Surah an-Najm:3-4)