The Prophet (s.a.w)
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The Prophet (s.a.w)
Prophets and Human Guidance
What is man created for?
Did God create man as part of the chain of reproduction, to be a cog in a machine, and to be counted only as an automaton? Was man created only for his own enjoyment? Was he created only to amass as much wealth as possible through any means, direct or devious, so as to satisfy his material wants? Is there no greater idea behind His creation? A large number of people regard only man's material aspect and neglect the other side of the cion, because they have not understood the profundity of the nature of man, or because they have not correctly evaluated it. Men of great understanding have ascribed three dimensions to man: 1. Individual material life. 2. Social life. 3. The world of the spirit and insight. Those who give importance only to the first dimension, and believe in absolute freedom for man, even though it be harmful for him, overlook the profound character of man and they have forgotten the other two important dimensions. Those who land importance to the first and second dimensions, but neglect the third, only succeed in creating an environment which lacks spiritual and moral values. Arnold Toynbee, the great British historian, in a long interview with the American magazine, 'Life', said that man had submitted himself to materialism, and that from that point of view we do not lack anything. However, he said, we have become bankrupt on the spiritual side of things. However, I think there is still time, he continued, to leave this incorrect view of things and return to religion. So, a serious investigator goes further than the first two dimensions, and looks at and studies man and the aim of creation from all three dimensions. Because the reality of man is thus, and man cannot be known in himself in any other way than this. Moreover, the third dimension gives man the power to evaluate his entrances and exits on the stage of personal and social life. This is the correct way of living. Man must reach his perfection by making his way through various dimensions, and he must find this way, for he is created for this purpose. The question now arises of whether one's conscience can lead one through these dimensions. Let us begin to analyse this problem with a view to find an answer.
Some psychologists deny the existence of conscience. They believe that what is called conscience is really only the result of early childhood training. On the other hand, many scholars, like Rousseau, believe that there is a power hidden in the depths of man's nature which can distinguish good from bad. Children who are not under the influence of an environment which trains them in a certain way, whose conscience has not been perverted, can understand good and bad, basically and instinctively. (See Rousseau's Emile, especially Book IV). We can agree that a part of good and evil is according to custom; for example, dress, food and such things which may be good at one time and place and bad in others. But the intelligent and reasonable who are governed by thinking cannot accept that all goods and evil are like this, because trust, fulfilment of obligation, help for the poor and the weak, work for humanity, brotherhood, equality and the such like have deep roots in the nature of man. On the other hand deception, injustice, breaking agreements, selfishness and the such like have always and in all places been condemned. One cannot, therefore, say that they came to be regarded as instinctively bad. One must, therefore, accept the existence of conscience but with the following necessary condition: that conscience, by itself, cannot guide man completely - it needs training. It must, like minerals in the grounds, be extracted and refined. Otherwise, it may be perverted under the influence of a corrupt environment, with the result that these psychologists cannot recognise it and therefore deny its existence. This is an indication that man needs infallible prophets.
From early times up to now, man has been putting forward many ideas for the improvement of society and the individuals who it comprises. But because man is not completely aware of the secrets of spiritual and material well-being, and his ignorance is very great, he has never been able to put forward any ideas which have been able to satisfy the full requirements of human nature. Dr. Burrows said some years ago that at Princeton he heard Einstein say that science tells us what is there, but religion tells us what should be there, and Victor Hugo said that as much as man progresses, his need for religion becomes greater. Another difficulty with such ideologies is that whatever intelligence tells us, however right it may be, no guarantee can be made that we will follow its ideas. Many people know through their intelligence and knowledge that gambling, alcohol, stealing and crime are not good, but nevertheless they fall victims to such practices. Today we see that the United Nations, with over 150 members from countries all over the world, is a weak body whose resolutions generally remain merely in their minutes and only on paper. This is because intelligence and knowledge are no guarantee for action. But the Divine scheme, because it comes from an unlimited source of knowledge, can have no room for error, and because it issues forth from the immaculate hearts of the prophets, it has influence on mankind. Moreover, the reward and punishment for not carrying out His instructions causes man to implement this scheme. Alone, intelligence and thinking is not enough; a confirmation must be found through Divine assistence. These faculties are only, fields for training through the Divine discipline of the messengers so that man may reach felicity without being diverted. Imam Ali (A.S.), in the first sermon in Nahj al-Balaghah explains the reason for the sending of messengers thus:
Then Allah sent His messengers and the series of His prophets to them (mankind) to make them fulfil the pledges of His creation, to recall to them His bounties, to exhort them by preaching, to unveil before them the hidden virtues of wisdom and show them the signs of His Omnipotence.
However, supposing that man has a correct ideology, do the dictators and those who wish to enforce their own ideas allow us to distinguish the true from the false? Don't they rather try to cover the true face of ideologies? In this way people, through ignorance of correct beliefs, do not rise up against oppression and are successfully deceived. However, a law that comes from God can be made known to all through the miracles and signs of truth which God gives to His messengers, and people can understand its truthfulness and believe in it, and will then be unable to find any excuse for disobedience.
The necessity for the sending of messengers
a) The personal, social and spiritual perfection of man is one of the aims of creation. b) Conscience alone is not enough for the true perfection of man. c) Human ideologies cannot completely satisfy all the demands of man's nature, and there is no guarantee for their implementation. d) Prophets have been sent and their prophethoods proved through miracles so that man distinguish the truth and no one can excuse his disobedience by saying that he could not find the truth. Through these four points, we discover that the prophets are necessary for the perfection of man, and that they were sent to inform man of what he requires in the way of perfection, so that they may tread the path of happiness. One cannot imagine that the Wise God could leave man without instructions, laws and obligations, or that He could leave them in the hands of tyrants, so that they might become the victims of human desires and be prevented from reaching perfection. Ibn Sina wrote in "ash-Shifa":
More necessary for the continued existence of man and his essential perfection than even the growth of eye lashes and eyebrows and the concavity of the soles of the feet is the sending of prophets by Allah.
Thus, in arriving to the aim of creation and to spiritual and material perfection, God must have sent some people as messengers, as indeed we see that he has, so that they might guide people by the radiant torch of revelation. A tradition is related by Hisham ibn al-Hakam that: Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq, in answering an atheist who had enquired about the need for the sending of prophets, said: "When we have shown that there is a Creator Who fashioned us and Who is above us and all of His creation, and that this Creator is Wise and Elevated in the sense that He did not allow His creatures to see or touch Him, so that He might be together with them, and they might be together with Him, and that He might argue with them and they might argue with Him, then it becomes clear that He has emissaries in His creation so that they can speak from His Presence to His creatures and servants, and they might guide them to their advantage and benefit and to that in which is their continued existence and in the absence of which is their extinction. So it has become evident that there are some who command and prohibit on behalf of the Wise, the Knowing to His creation, and who speak from His Glorified Presence, and these are the prophets, and His chosen from among creation, wise and trained through wisdom, and raised in it. They are apart from man in all their conditions - in spite of sharing with him in his form and fashioning - they are sustained in wisdom by the Wise, the Knowing. Then the above is evident in every epoch and era in which the messengers and prophets brought evidence and proofs so that the earth of Allah might not be deprived of a witness with whom there is a sign which refers to His Truthfulness and Righteousness." (Usul al-Kafi, Kitab al-Hujjah)
Of course, Divine plans are not conceived on only one level. Rather they guide us from all directions. Worship, government, justice, economy, power, individual and social duties, and also the general laws which govern individual problems. All of these are the aims of religions and they enable man to perfect himself in all the three dimensions of his nature. Again Divine plans do not restrict themselves to one class of society, but encompass all levels of society and uphold the rights of all people, so those who think that religion was invented by the ruling or wealthy class, and that it was invented in feudal and capitalist societies to serve the purposes of these societies are clearly wrong, because these people have not paid proper attention to the foundations of religion. In addition to this, history bears witness that the upper and wealthy classes did not participate in the movements led by the prophets, and Divine religions always opposed the oppression and transgressions of feudalists and capitalists. Leaders, scholars, the simple, the poor and others, all come to religion because only by its clear objectives can they satisfy the demands of their natures and emotions, and they realise that only religion can guide them to real perfection. This is the only reason why man turns to religion. Fortunately, today, educated people are more aware of the value of religion, and they believe that real peace and perfection can only be had in the shade of religion and belief in God.
The necessity for miracles
After man has realised that he needs the guidance of prophets in order to reach an all-embracing happiness, and that he can only construct the glorious edifice of perfection through their instructions, he naturally feels affection for those teachers who work for his benefit and sacrifice their sinless souls for his advantage. Thus belief comes to reach such a degree that people do not spare themselves any hardship in order to advance the aims of the prophets, and they prefer the demands of the prophets to the demands of their own souls. But this deep-rooted and comprehensive influence and importance of the prophets, and the love and belief of people in them cause some ambitious persons to take advantage of them, seeking to become influential and obtain their desires by claiming prophethood. So, if someone claims prophethood and people gather round him, one cannot believe in him without some investigation. For it is possible that he falsely proclaims prophethood, as many people have done up to the present day, and thus collects a following. In order to find out if someone is a genuine prophet, this latter must bring some evidence with him so that people can be sure of him and accept his claim. Thus the real prophets can be distinguished from the false. This evidence that distinguishes the true prophets from the false is known as miracles, and God gave miracles to His prophets and messengers so that people could be saved from mistakes and the dangers of those who seek to deceive them, and so that the face of truth may never be hidden from people. So far we have seen that messengers must bring miracles so that people can know that they bear a message from God, and that what they say is true, and so that they may be completely obedient to them and follow their teachings with faith and conviction.
What are miracles?
Miracles (mu'jizah) are what the prophets did according to the Will of God in order to affirm the prophethood they claimed, and which others are unable to copy.
Miracles are only a proof of prophethood. A group of those who sought excuses for their lack of faith demanded various things as miracles, not through a desire to have the prophethood confirmed, but in order to oppose the prophets. They even asked for things that were logically impossible. However, because the prophets brought enough miracles they did not accede to these demands and told these people that the position of a prophet is to guide, to bring good tidings and to warn. This is why miracles are according to the Will of God and in situations where they are necessary, as is mentioned in the Qur'an with reference to such people:
"Say: The signs are only with Allah, and I am only a plain warner." (XXIX: 50)
"It was not for any Messenger to bring a sign, save by Allah's leave." (XL: 78) * * * (The Roots of Religion, p. 67-75)
The Radiance That Shone Forth in The Darkness
The World Before Islam
The chaotic situation of the world prior to Islam is clearly reflected in the accurate mirror of history. The outline of decline, oppression, bloodshed, idol-worship is evident in this mirror. Before Islam, it was as if mankind were leaning over the edge of the precipice of ruin and destruction, and there was the fear that at any moment it could roll down and be annihilated in it.
The Religions and Beliefs of .the Peoples
a) In the Arabian Peninsula
The Arabs prior to Islam were committed in their hearts to idols, and what they saw around themselves with their own eyes they made into idols. Not only did they lower their heads and prostrate before them, but they donated everything they had, even gifts of agricultural produce, to their idols (see VI:137). They believed that apart from the life of this world there was no other life (see XLV:24). Obviously those who did not see the wretchedness of their idols whom they had chosen as their gods could not grasp the idea and truth of the resurrection. So it was no wonder that they turned the House which Hazrat Ibrahim(A.S.) had built at the command of and in the name of Allah into quarters for their idols. As for the origins of idol-worship in the Hejaz, some believe that the first person to introduce it was 'Amr ibn Luhayy. Al-Ya'qubi writes in his history: "He (ibn Luhayy) journeyed to Syria and saw all of the inhabitants worshipping idols. When he asked about the virtues of the idols, they told him, 'They have befriended us, and they bring down rain for us.' He took a liking to them and asked them to give him an idol. They gave him Hubal and he took him to Mecca." Ibn Hisham writes that 'Amr ibn Luhayy brought this idol from Mu'ab. In any case, Hubal was the most famous of the gods in the Ka'bah: he was built in the form of man, and holy arrows, which the diviners used fot casting auguries, were set in front of him. The influence of idol-worship grew to the point where idols were built in the form of animals, plants, men, jinn, angels and stars; even stones were the object of worship. 'al-Lat' was in Ta'if in the form of a cubic stone, and had a special field and meadow near Ta'if which was a holy place, and cutting trees, hunting and the spilling of blood were not lawful in its vicinity; the people of Mecca and other places made pilgrimage to it. 'al- 'Uzza' was a very powerful god equivalent to the planet Venus, and was situated in Nakhlah east of Mecca, and was worshipped there. It was given much more honour than the other idols. The sanctuary of al-'Uzza took the form of three trees and human sacrifices were offered to it. Manat was the god of predestination, and its original place of worship was a black stone at Qudayd (on the road between Mecca and Medina). It belonged especially to the tribes of Aws and Khazraj. Bal was the embodiment of the spirit of wells and underground waters. Sometimes a well with clean, invigorating water became worshipped in the dry desert. A cave, when it had connections with the gods and the underground powers, was also sanctified. The temple of Ghabghab in Nakhlah (see above) was in such a place. Dhat Anwat, from which things were hung, was in Nakhlah, and in some years the Meccans made pilgrimage there. Dhu'sh-shara was respected in the form of a heap of black shining cubic stones. The spirit of arable lands was the god of good works and sacrifices had to be made to it. The spirit of barren land was a wicked devil who had to be avoided. They had idols made of wood or metal or stones with no definite form round which they made several turns whenever they went into their houses, and from which they took permission when they went out on a journey, and then took with themselves. The town of Harran, where Ibrahim had started his campaign against star-worship, was the center of the Sabaeans. In this town, stars were the object of veneration. Belief in the stars and in the connection between the movements of the stars and earthly destiny was very strong. Each star was the god of one event Images of Mars, Jupiter, Venus, etc. were erected in the temples, and they asked for help from them, and sometimes sacrificed to them. The thoughts of the Sabaeans sometimes turned to angels and jinn. The angels were the daughters of god, and were thought to influence events. They imagined that god had a wife who was one of the jinn.
b) In Iran
In Iran also many religions were being practiced, but the one which most people followed was Zoroastrianism, the official religion. If we accept that Zoroaster was a true prophet who had a religion based on tawhid, we must also acknowledge that his true teachings had been changed by the passage of time. Gradually, they changed their direction and even their form and identity to the benefit of the ruling classes. Its very general and pleasant maxims were covered by a veil behind which the foundations and principles were transformed by the Magi and the priests to the advantage of themselves and the ruling classes. Thus it was that tawhid became polytheism, and the pure sweet and excellent teachings did not stay: the shell remained, but the nut was thrown out, and the empty shells were filled with the ancient gods of the first times of the Aryan tribes.
c) In Europe
The religious situation in Europe was like it was in Iran. Christianity had given up its original form, and had become stuck in polytheism and the dogma of the Trinity. In France, Britain and Spain, people did not believe in a Unique God.
d) In India
There were various religions, but idolatry prevailed.
Class and Racial Differences
In Iran people were divided into classes, and each class had special restrictions and privileges. The class connected with the ruling council had the most privileges. Similarly in Europe and India, society was divided into classes and the right to possess land, to trade, and the exemption from taxes was the prerogative of the nobility. At that time also, everyone of the people of the world thought themselves superior in terms of race over everyone else.
The Situation of Women in Pre-Islamic Society
In Arabia, woman was a commodity, counted in the wealth of the father, husband or son; and after death she was inherited like the other possessions and became the property of the descendents. It was a disgrace to have a daughter, and in some tribes the family buried this shameful thing with their own hands (see XVI: 59). In Iran, also, the form of class society did not bring anything better for women. In Greece, woman was a creature of perpetual filthiness, a child of Satan, similar to an animal. In India, throughout her life, she was under the control of her father, husband or son, and had to address her husband as god, master and lord, and, like a slave, she had no right to ownership - after the death of her husband she had no right to take another husband. The revolting custom of Sati, the burning of the widow alive with the funeral pyre of her husband, was also practised at that time. In Japan, as well, woman was under the control of her father, husband or son for the whole of her life, and the daughter had no share in inheritance. In China the father was master of the house and had so much power that he could sell his wife and children into bondage and slavery, and sometimes he even had the right to kill them. On top of this, daughters had no esteem and sometimes they were left in the desert to be the prey of the wild pigs. The Romans also considered women to be the incarnation of evil and as harmaful spirits, and kept them like children under their control. So every human society at that time, wherever it was, was sunk in darkness, decline and oppression. Throughout the whole of the world, no glow or gleam of light met the eye, and although the desire for goodness and virtue still flickered in the depths of the heart of human nature covered by a dark opaqueness, it had been almost extinguished on the one hand in the blackness and gloom of humiliations, passions and oppression, and on the other hand in the prominent features of poverty and wretchedness. It could not illuminate the path for the seekers after light, purity and felicity. A darkness like a thick heavy cloud in the sky had submerged the daily life of all societies of the time in a deep sleep; and a horrible, powerful obscurity reigned which only the rising of a radiant sun could disperse. This darkness was more overpowering in Arabia than in any other place, as if they had been invaded to the depths of degradation and debasement. Hear what Imam 'Ali (A.S.) says about those days: "...You people of Arabia followed the worst religion; you dwelt amongst rough stones and poisonous serpents. You drank putrid water and ate filthy food. You shed the blood of one another and payed no heed to relationships. Idols were established among you, and sins clung to you." (Nahjul-Balaghah, Sermon 26). (The Roots of Religion, p. 111-117)
The Birth of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam (S.A.)
Muhammad (S.A.) opened his eyes to the world on the 17th of Rabi' al-awwal of the 53rd year before the Hijrah (570 A.D.). His father, 'Abdullah, was from the family of Hazrat Isma'il, and had died before he could see his son. His mother was one of the most pious women of that time. Muhammad (S.A.) was entrusted to a virtuous woman called Halimah, who suckled him and nursed him. One day, Muhammad (S.A.), who had not yet reached the age of four years, asked Halimah if he could go into the desert with the other boys ... Halimah said: "I bathed Muhammad an anointed his hair with oil. I put collyrium on his eyes and hung a Yemenite stone on a string and put it round his neck so that no harm could come to him from the spirits of the desert. But Muhammad tore the stone from his neck and said, 'Don't worry about me. My God is taking care of me!"' So we see that from childhood he was the object of God's favour and grace, and was always guided by Divine power and help in works that were in their right time and place. Muhammad's behavior and speech in childhood were such that everyone's attention was attracted. In his youth, also, he was far from that which tainted those people in his environment. He took no part in their riotous poetry gatherings. He drank no wine, was an enemy of the idols; he was perfect in speech and act. Years before he became a prophet, the people called him 'al-Amin' (the trustworthy one). He had a pure mind and radiant intellect, and a godly and heavenly character. Every year for one month he went to the cave of Hira and was with God in His mysteries and in prayer. At the end of the month, before returning to his home, he went to the Ka'bah and made seven or more circumambulations. At the age of forty, while busy in worship in the cave of Hira, he was elevated to the station of Messengership.
For three years the Prophet of Islam (S.A.) received no command to call people openly to Islam, and during that time only a few people had faith in Muhammad (S.A.). Among men, the first person who loved and followed him was Hazrat 'Ali (AS.), and among women, Khadijahl(Tarikh at-Tabari, vol. I, p. 240 - 245. ). Then after three years he received the command to invite people openly to Islam, and he called his close family to be his guests; about forty of these people assembled together. The food which the Prophet (S.A.) had prepared was no more than enough to satisfy the appetite of one man, but by the power of God that little food filled everyone, and this was the cause of much amazement. Abu Lahab, without thinking what he was saying, cried out: "Muhammad is a magician!" That day the relatives dispersed before the Prophet could speak, so he called them again the next day. After they had partaken of the food and hospitality, he spoke: "O Sons of Abdul-Muttalib! No youth has brought to his people better than what I bring to you. I have brought you the best of this world and of the world of the resurrection. I have been commanded by Allah to call you to Him. Which of you will extend his help to me and become my brother, executor and successor?" Apart from 'Ali (A.S.), no one answered. The Prophet placed his hand on 'Ali's shoulder and said: "This is my brother, executor and successor among you. Listen what he says and obey him!''(Tarikh at-Tabari, vol.v 3, p. 1171-1173). One day the Prophet (S.A.) went up on Mount Safa and called the people around him. He said: "If I told you that an enemy, was going to fall on you this morning or this evening, would you trust me?" All together they replied: "Yes ! " He said: "I warn you of a severe torment that is soon to fall on you." Out of fear that the speech of Muhammad (S.A.) would take effect in the hearts of those present, Abu Lahab broke the silence and said to him: "Did we assemble here just to listen to this nonsense?" The Prophet of Islam (S.A.) started his call with the slogan of tawhid and the worship of one God, and established tawhid as the basis of all other beliefs. He made known to men Allah, who is nearer to man than man himself; he abolished all forms of idol-worship, revolutionised the atmosphere of Mecca, and drew people to his religion. Meanwhile, the Quraysh (( the most powerful tribe in Mecca, to which Muhammad (S.A) belonged,, were becoming ill at ease with the progress he was making and tried hard to stop his preaching, even once trying to kill him; but with the help and protection of Allah and with His care and intercession all their tortures, persecutions and schemes were without effect and came to nothing. Day by day the call to Islam, and also the acceptance by people, spread, even to those who came from outside Mecca. People rose up with their souls in answer to this Divine invitation. In the eleventh year of the prophethood, some people from Medina belonging to the Khazraj tribe came to Mecca to perform the ceremonies of Hajj. The Prophet invited them to Islam and they accepted, with this promise that when they went back to Medina they would call the people to Muhammad's religion. They went to Medina and spread around the invitation of the Prophet (S.A.). The next year twelve Medinese accepted the faith of the Prophet of Islam (S.A.) at 'Aqaba and resolved: not to associate any with Allah, not to steal, not to fornicate, not to indulge in infanticide, not to bring malicious accusations against anyone, not to disobey the Prophet in any thing which he indicated. Then the Prophet sent a man by the name of Mus'ab along with them to teach the Qur'an, and thus a large group in Medina pledged their faith in the Prophet. * * * (The Roots of Religion, p. 117-120)
Lover of nature and Quite, worried about human sufferings, Muhammad very often retired toMount Hira' for meditations. One night, laylatu'l-qadr(the Night of Majesty) a voice addressing him, commanded O Recite in the Name of the Lord. O Deeply excited by the strange phenomena of Divine Visitation, Muhammad hurried home to his wife , Khadijah, who listened to him attentively and said that " I bear witness that you are the Apostle of God." After an interval, the voice from heaven spoke again "magnify the Lord." This was a signal for him to start preaching the gospel of truth of One God. In the beginning Muhammad invited only those near him, to accept the new Faith. The first to embrace Islam among women was khadijah and among men Ali. Soon after, Zayd ibn al-Harithah become a convert to the new faith followed by abut baker and Uthman. ' Umar hitheto a violent opponent of Islam, notorious for the persecution of the Muslims and a bitter enemy of the Prophet, embraced Islam, later. (The Brief History fourteen Infallibles of Islam, P. 18)
The Message of Islam
The spirit of the message of Islam can be summed up and shown in this phrase: La ilaha illa'llah."- There is no god but Allah. It means that, apart from the One and Only Allah, nothing must be worshipped. This is the great, fruitful, abundant secret of the tree of Islam. For if we compare Islam to a tree, and its ideology to the seed or the root, we must realise that the health and fruitfulness of the tree is connected to the health of the roots. And then we see how strong, how steadfast and steely the basis of the ideology of Islam is, as revealed in this one phrase.
Contentment and Faith Go Together
If all man's wishes were rooted in material things alone, and man felt no desire in his soul to transcend the material world, happiness would come from securing material things. But we know and see that man screams out with the voice of his spirit against the depths of technology and materiality. With every increase in material things the craving of society for the spirit and for spiritual wants increases, and this phenomenon is clearly evident in the recalcitrance and disorder in society. The proof is the complete disruption and crisis which has cast its shadow over civilised societies since the beginnings of the twentieth century,
to the point where the spiritual upheaval of society, especially among the young, is out of control. The Russian psychologist and sociologist, Sorokin, said: "Because, in the culture of a materialist civilisation, man is only an organism with life, and is in no way attributed with the values and absolutes of goodness, beauty and wisdom, no way has been envisaged to reach spiritual perfection and spiritual wants." Unless the sublime spirit of man which, like the keen-winged falcon, desires the exaltation of flying above the mountain ridges and peaks, soars to places far from human hands, and unless it is refreshed at the source of spiritual virtues, it will not be free of these disruptions and outbursts. All the crimes and desires for gratification are signs of the breaking of natural roaring waves which will not be quiet until they reach the safety of the shore. And the shore of safety is only faith in One Limitless Power, Infinite Knowledge, Pure Perfection and keeping away from imaginary gods. By remembering such a power, and having true faith in it, the heart finds contentment. The Qur'an recites this great truth in the shortest of sentences:
"In remembrance of Allah are the hearts at rest." (XIII:28)
Indeed the peace of hearts is only in remembrance of Allah. Only leaning towards and attention to God can regulate human nature and guide it to happiness. Islam weighs the value of man by this very standard and criterion and says:
"Surely the noblest among you in the sight of Allah is the most godfearing of you." (XLIX:13)
The aim of Islam is to show, to indicate the better and higher horizons, and to save man from the ash-cloth of his material skin and his lusts, so that man may know the real pastures of green and luxuriant pleasures, and desist from journeying in the furnace of material ways and walk in the true way of contentment.
"O ye who believe! Respond to Allah and His messenger when He calls you unto that which will give you life." (VIII:24)
By acquiring knowledge of Islam, the dead soul and dormant faculties of man will be made alive, will rise up and grow, and this life will reach the source through the windows of the laws and the perspective of the aims of Islam. Now let us look at some of these perspectives:a Islamic fraternity; watchfulness by the people; the status of knowledge; work and effort; the structure of the family.
1. Islamic Fraternity
Islamic brotherhood is based on the highest human virtue, for it is far from hollow rootless formalities. It is a reality for the strengthening of self-sacrifice in the Muslim individual and the keeping alive of the spirit of purity, sincerity and faith. One of its direct practical results is the creation of responsibility and sympathy between individuals in all aspects of life. On the basis of this brotherhood, a Muslim cannot refrain from sharing his brother's difficulties.
The project of initiating Islamic brotherhood in the first days of Islam was so skillfully and interestingly put into action that the poor and the rich were brothers in heart and soul. The Prophet (S.A.) explained Islamic brotherhood in this easy and expansive way: The believers are brothers one to the other, and are in the likeness of one man in that if one part is in pain, the other parts will not be at peace." Imam Sadiq (A.S.) said: "The spirit of Islamic brotherhood does not allow you to be full and your thirst quenched while your Muslim brother is hungry and thirsty, nor that you should be clothed and your Muslim brother naked. You must wish for him what you wish for yourself. Support him as he supports you. When he is traveling, guard his property and honour. When he returns, hurry to see him, give him respect as if you were his and he were yours. If he is fortunate, give thanks to Allah for his gladness. If he is in difficulty, help him." * * * (The Roots of Religion, p. 147-150)
from the first, Islam has said that it is the last message, and Muslims have accepted this fact with wisdom and with love, and have realised that Islam is the last manifestation of revelation prophethood and the culmination of the former pure religions Also, all Muslims, on the basis of ayahs in the Qur'an and hadith believe that the prophet of Islam (S.A.) is the last messenger of Allah who was the recipient of human leadership. The great Qur'an has explained the universality of the pure religion of Islam in many ayahs and has shown that Muhammad (S.A.) is the last emissary sent be God:
" Muhammad is not the father of any of one of your men, but the messenger of Allah and the seal of the Prophets; and Allah has knowledge of everything" (XXXIII:40)
It has been said in a hadith from the Prophet to Ali: "In all respects your relation to me is like that of Harun to musa ( i.e. if Harun was muse's brother, I also take you as a brother according to the rules of brotherhood; if he was musa's successor, you also will be my successor). Except that musa was not the last prophet, and I am the last." (It is an authentic hadith accepted by both the shia and the sunnis, see al-ghadir, vol3. p.196-202).
He also said: "I am the last brick in the building of prophethood. with my coming the prophets have come to an end."
Imam Ali (A.S.) said in Nahg al-Balaghah, the great book of learning and knowledge: "with the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (S.A.), revelation come to an end. "(sermon 133)
The eighth leader, the true Imam, Hazrat Rida(A.S.) said : "The pure religion of Muhammad (S.A.)will not be abrogated till the Day of Resurrection, and also no Prophet will follow him." (Bihar al-anwar, vol.II,p.34)
What we have just recounted is only a sample of tens of hadiths which clearly and succinctly explain the conclusive status of the Prophet (S.A.) and the Perpetuity of his pure religion; they leave no room for doubt.
The universality of Islam
one of the greatest causes of Islam's ever-Iastingness is its all-inclusiveness'. Islam is a comprehensive project based on the human disposition, and it embraces all aspects of life: individual, social, material, spiritual, doctrinal, emotional, economic, legal and so forth and it explains the basis of each in the most acceptable way, most realistically , for all peoples and all levels of people, in every time and place. Thus European Islamicists, each with his deep view and research, have all acknowledged the omni-sidedness of Islamic laws and its universality. Now let us investigate some aspects of this universality.
The God of Islam and the Qur'an
The God of Islam is the Preserver of all worldly things. He is not the god of a tribe, for some special group only. At prayer we say: al-hamduli'llahi rabbi'l- alamin' praise be to Allah, the lord of the worlds.' Every moment, in every place, whenever he wants, He brings into existence ; there is no limitation on His Essence. He has authority over all existent things.
"Blessed be He in Whose hand is the kingdom. He is powerful over everything" (lxvll:1)
He is aware of the manifest and the concealed, the past and the future, and everything, even what is in our hearts.
"He knows whatever is in the heavens and the earth, and He knows you conceal and what you declare, and Allah knows what is in the breasts" (LXIV:4)
Being with Him is possible in every place: there is no need to travel or to pass by a doorman. He is nearer to us than anything.
"We are nearer to him (man) than his jugular vein" (L:16)
He is a reality without parallel, beyond all human attributes and likenesses; He is not like the gods of other altered religions who have become man-like or like something created. Therefore He has no place, for He created place. He is not contained in time, for He is the creator of time. He is not associated, nor has He any beginning or ending. therefore, He has no like or similitude.
"Like him there is naught; He is the All-hearing, the All-seeing." (XLII:11)
His Essence is beyond sleep, tiredness, remorse and so forth
"slumber seizes him not, neither sleep." (II:255)
"Say: He is Allah, one." (CXII:I)
He is one without equal: He has no son or nother or father, neither partner or associate. This is the reality in surah tawhid, which Muslims recite many times each day in prayer so as to be far from the possibility of associating something with Him (shirk). The god of Islam is a god with all the attributes assigned to by the pure, sweet tongue of the Qur'an, with an understanding wider, more magnificent, greater than can be conceived by created intelligences. free from want, without partner, prevailing, close, supreme, compassionate, most compassionate, available to all so that anyone at any time may communicate with Him, bring his needs before Him, ask whatever he wishes of Him, that He may make available what is of benefit and what is expedient, as He Himself said:
" And verily, Allah is to you all-gentle, All-compassionate." (LVII:9)
The Equality of all in Islam
Superiority of race or segregation is not only eliminated and void in the eyes of Islam, but the equality of man is an absolute reality from the point of view of Islam, and it says that all men are equal, all are from one father and one mother and are members of one family, and from the aspect of nobility, origin and connections they are equal partners. no one is better than anyone else, except in purity and devoutness.
"O mankind, we have created you male and female, and appointed you races and tribes that you may know one another. surely the noblest among you in the sight of Allah is the most godfearing of you; Allah is All-knowing All-aware." (XLiX:13)
Islam and freedom of Thought. Islam is a firm supporter of logic, rational argument and freedom of thought. Imposition of ideas or beliefs, or the stifling of voices does not exist in Islam.
"No compulsion is there in religion. rectitude has become clear from error". (II:256)
In Islam, investigation of the foundations of beliefs is a duty for every individual, and it is an obligation for everyone not to accept anything without proof, and if some commands and precepts are obligatory and must be accepted without why and wherefore, it is because they are from the source of revelation which cannot be in error, and because they have been stated through the Prophet and the pure Imams. Islam censures those who blindly follow the beliefs of their fathers and ancestors, and commends self-investigation and deep examination. It rejects feeble-mindedness and vain speculation, and urges only to the persual of knowledge and certainty.
"and pursue not that thou hast no knowledge of; the hearing, the sight, the heart-all of these shall be questioned of". (XVII:36)
Islam grants its opponents the right to set forth their queries in reasonable discussion and to enumerate their proofs and listen to the answers.
"Say: Produce your proof, if you speak truly." (II:111)
This was the reason that many Jews, Christians and those from other groups who took a stand against Islam, came to the Prophet or the pure Imams, and sat down and discussed their religious ideas.
Islam and the Invitation to Thought and Education.
Islam lends great value to thinking. It asks the learned and wise to think and think again about creation, time, night and day, the sky, the earth, animal life, man and the universe and what is in it.
"surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of night and day, and the ship that runs in the sea with profit to men, and the water Allah sends down from the sky therewith reviving the earth after it is dead, and His scattering abroad in it all manner of crawling thing, and the turning about of the winds and the clouds compelled between heaven and earth, surely there are signs for a people having understanding". (II;164)
Also it asks them to research into the lives of those who come before, their thoughts and the causes of their decline and fall, so that they may keep far from the precipices of their destruction.
"Divers institutions have passed away before you; journey in the land and behold how was the end of those that cried lies. This is and exposition of mankind, and a guidance and an admonition for the god fearing." (III;136-7)
In short, Islam desires that man should think deeply and freely and travel across the far horizons of thought and knowledge and take everything that is best for the improvement of his being. For this reason Islam values scientific advances and discoveries which are for the help of humanity, and this is why scientists and scholars rose up in the centuries following the advent of Islam, to decorate the high road of human civilisation with the jewel of their scientific endeavours, so much so that their great names will shine forever at the summit of scientific history. They include Jabir ibn Hayyan, Razi, Ibn Sina ( Avicenna) and Khwajah Nasir ad-Din tusi, who were celebrated in all the sciences of their times: the intellectual sciences, natural science, astronomy, chemistry, etc. The books of Ibn Sina were even being taught in European universities up to the end of the last century. Jurji Zaydan, the famous Christian Lebanese writer, says on page 598 of his history of Islamic civilisaton: "As soon as Islamic civilisation found its feet, and the now sciences spread among the Muslims, Muslim scholars appeared whose thinking was more important that the founders of some of the branches of the sciences. in fact these sciences took on a fresh colour with the new researches of Islamic scientists, and progressed due to Islamic civilisation."
from the view of Islam, there is no oppposition between the material and the spiritual life, the world and religion. similarly, those who do not work in this world make no effort are not approved of, although those who do not think of anything apart from individual benefit and consumption and profit are also detested from the point of view of Islam. Imam Sadiq (A.S.) the sixth imam, said: "He who abandons this world for the next - i.e. he who withdraws from the activities of life in the name of asceticism- and he who gives up the next world for this world both are not from among us "(Wasa'ilash-shia,vol.12,p.49). So it can be said that in this matter Muslims should adjust their actions with equal movement in this world, advancing with its happiness, and in the spiritual world. Therefore in Islam there is no monasticism, being a burden on society, social withdrawal, egoism or seclusion. The Prophet (S.A.) said: "There is no monasticism for us; the monasticism for my followers is jihd in the way of Allah." (Bihar al-anwar,vol.p114).
Islamic commands and the Advance of Time
The transformation, evolution and development of the means of living and progress in the various elements of civilisation have no kind of incompatibility with the eternity of the commands of Islam, because the incompatibility of a law with this kind of progress is because the law depends on fundamental means and special factors. For example, if one makes a law: only the hand must be used when writing, only a donkey must be used for travel, etc. , this kind of law cannot come into action when science and civilisation advance. but if it is not in contradiction with fundamental means, and at the time of making the law these were only used as examples, they will not clash with the occurrence of now means and the advance of civilisation. Islamic laws are of this latter category, that is to say they do not look especially at the means of one period in history. For example, they say: one must be unconquerable with regard to foreign powers so as to defend one's vital and human rights. This law, although it was declared in the time of the sword, never depends on the instruments of that time, i.e. Islam never says: The Islamic jihad must only be with swords. Thus it is practicable today. similarly with business transactions, trade, word, etc. So, however much civilisation and its means and elements expand, it will never leave the domain of inclusion in the laws of Islam, and this is one of the secrets of eternity of Islam.
Does Islam Dispense with contemporary Idealogies and systems of Thought?
There is no doubt that man has progressed far in the way of knowledge, but scientists themselves confess that what they know in the world of creation is not comparable with what they do not know. and basically, since their vision is limited, they cannot find out all the secrets of the world. Moreover, each leap forward that man makes is not immune from error. Therefore, in the area of human aspirations, not everything that comes forward, in every field, can be one hundred percent imbued with certainty, because it is possible that environmental factors and other unforeseen thing have an effect on man's thinking and outlook and take him far from reality. But the fundamental project of Islam, since it grows from the root of revelation, has nothing to do with the possibility of mistake, and can give trustworthy guidance at all times of course, with the condition that these pure laws are not inserted within the framework of other deviated systems, whereupon they the become completely incapable of deriving advantage.
The continuation of Divine Assistance
Some imagine that the meaning of the conclusive nature of the prophet's mission is that after him connection with the hidden, divine world has been interrupted and stopped. This is not valid because the meaning of its conclusiveness is only that after the prophet of Islam (S.A.), no other prophet or religion will come, not that in a general way connections with the unseen world are also severed. For with the understanding of shia Muslims, whereby we believe in the Imamate and wilayat of the twelve pure Imamas this connection is everlasting and is continued by means of these pure ones. And this is one of the distinctive points of the shi'a school. Mulla Sadra has written in Mafatih al-ghayb - keys of the unseen _ : "Revelation, that is to say the descent of the angel to the delegated and prophetic eyes, has been eyes, has been forever cut off, but the door of inspiration and illumination has not and will never be closed, and it is not possible for it to be interrupted."
How can Islam be practised in the present Day and age?
Although corruption in our world is greater today, and although as time rolls on it becomes greater, and in the end more destructive and more annihilating, we must remember that generosity and magnanimity are found in difficulty. so our independence and individuality demand that we struggle with the aberrations of the our times. Basically, control and reform of the environment can be considered as one of the most pressing duties. The prophets have also taught us by their lives the lesson of the struggle against the aberrations of the times. They never followed the perverse desires of the pulsation of their own societies or the various passions of the environment; eventually they made the environment their own environment. The prophet of Islam (S.A.) struggled constantly against the aberrant and amoral customs of the ignorance of his time, till he built another society and environment. class differences, the inferiority of women, idol-worship, tribal wars, and tens of other kinds of amorality were among the conventions and customs and beliefs of the people of those days, but the courage of the prophet saw that all of them were destroyed. some of the chiefs of the quraysh, such as utbah, were very unhappy about the prophet's method, so they arranged a meeting and after they conferred together with him to make him deviate from his way by promise and threat, the prophet replied to them: " This is what I was delegated to do. I swear by Allah that even if the sun were put in one of my hands and the moon in the other I would not deviate from my way, nor give up my faith, till victory or death ensue." So let us follow the way of the iron-willed leader and envoy of Allah. ( The Roots of Religion, p. 158-169)
The Prophet's Migration (Hijrah)
Till the thirteenth year of his mission, the Prophet (S.A.) called the people in Mecca to Islam, and stood firm when faced with the persecutions of the Quraysh. Eventually he got to know that the Quraysh had hatched an incredible plot to kill him, so he put Hazrat 'Ali (A.S.) to sleep in his bed in his place and left Mecca at night; he hid in a cave, and then migrated from there to Medina. The hijrah of the Prophet opened an entirely new chapter in the history of Islam from which a stimulating and surprising leap forward was made. For this very reason, the hijrah of Muhammad (S.A.) became the beginning of the dating system of the Muslims. With the presence of the Prophet of Islam (S.A.) in Medina, the tribes of Aws and Khazraj became bothers for life in the shadow of the teachings of Islam, and a blessed sincerity and cordiality was established between them. The example of Muhammad's behavior, his spiritual and moral superiority, and the naturalness of his pure religion, caused the people to come to Islam by the score, and in the end to accept it. The Prophet of Islam (S.A .) was from the people and with the people, and did not maintain a distance from them. He shared with them in their gains and losses. He firmly criticised oppression and aggression, and refrained from and prevented them. He set forth all the principles which were, in the light of Islam, effective for the development of the position of women, and put an end to the tyranny they had been subjected to previous to Islam, but he also vehemently fought against their unchastity and licentiousness, for he wanted them to attain their real development on the basis of the true principles of Islam. He defended the rights of slaves, and had broad comprehensive programmes for their freedom. The Prophet of Islam created a society where black and white, rich and poor, great and small, were all equal and could enjoy the benefits of being human beings. In such an atmosphere, there could be no question of 'racial discrimination', for there was a much higher basis in virtue, knowledge, piety, human values and ethical greatness.
Let us look at a clear example of the great teachings of the Prophet (S.A.): Juwayber was a young man, poor and rather ugly. He came to Medina with a great enthusiasm for Islam, and accepted it. The Prophet gave him a place in the mosque, and later in a "Saqifah", a garden which was under the control of the Prophet, and made him its overseer. One day the Prophet told him: "It is good for a man to take to himself a woman, and to choose a wife, so that he may keep his chastity and have a home-life."
"May God bless you, but I am poor and ugly; in what woman could there be such a desire that she would take me as her husband, especially as I am not from a noble family?"
"Juwaybar, with the coming of Islam all the nobility of the age of ignorance (before Islam) has been broken down together with all the standards of greatness and have been melted together. Black and white, Arab and non-Arab have all come from Adam, and God made Adam from the earth. "For this reason today there is no black and white, nor ven any results from imperfection or excess in something. "The dearest person to God is the most virtuous person. "Now go to the house of Ziyad and ask for his daughter, Dhalfa' on my behalf." Juwaybar did what the Prophet had told him, but Ziyad, who was one of the nobles of the Ansar group, did not accept, and said, "We only give our daughters to people like ourselves and the Prophet himself knows that very well; so go back till I have consulted with him and give my apologies myself." He turned to go back, but because of his anger he cried out, "I swear by God, neither the Qur'an nor the Prophet have said that one must give one's daughter to someone who is of equal status in family and in wealth!" Dhulfa' heard the voice of Juwaybar, and sent someone to her father. He came to her and she asked him, "What have you said to that young man that has made him angry?"
"The Prophet sent him to me to take you, my daughter, with my agreement."
"Juwaybar would not tell a lie; send him back and go yourself to the Prophet so that he may clarify the matter for you." Ziyad did what his daughter had said. He sent Juwaybar back, and himself hurried to the Prophet and said, "Juwayber brought a message from you. I want to remind you that I am an Ansari, and that we do not give our daughters in marriage except Io men of equal status from the same tribe." "Juwaybar is a believer and a man of faith, and a man with faith is the equal of a woman with faith. Give him your daughter as a wife." Ziyad then returned home and told his daughter what the Prophet had commanded. The daughter said, "Father! to disobey the Prophet's command is against the religion. And I am ready of my own accord, so accept Juwaybar as your son-in-law! " Ziyad brought Juwaybar in front of the people of his tribe and gave him in marriage to his daughter on the basis of the command of Islam. He even gave the dowry to his daughter from his own pocket, and gave them a house with all necessities so that they would live happily. Truly, this light was dazzling; this source or warmth-giving radiance lit up a flame in every heart that was a guide to all pure hearts on the path. And thus it was that the muddled souls of the people were led forth from the harassment of the gloom and darkness of that time, like moths who wing their way towards the brilliant flame, and turned in their hundreds towards Islam, seeking the protection of the illustrious, illuminating system of the Qur'an. ( The Roots of Religion, p. 120-123 )
Important events after the immigration
Brotherhood The Greatest Gleam Of Faith
The centralization of Muslims in Medina opened a new chapter is the life of the Prophet. Before his arrival there he had been engaged in attracting the hearts and in propagating his religion, but from that day onwards it was necessary that he should protect his own existence as well as that of his followers like an experienced statesman and should not permit the internal and external enemies to penetrate into the Muslim society. At this juncture he was faced with three main difficulties: 1. Danger from Quraysh and other idol-worshippers of the Arabian Peninsula. 2. The Jews of Yathrib who lived within and outside the city and possessed enormous wealth and resources. 3. The differences which existed between his own supporters. As the Muhajirs and the Ansar had been brought up in two different environments there was a vast difference between their ways of thinking and culture. And then there were the two components of Ansar (viz. Bani Aws and Bani Khazraj) who had been fighting for one hundred and twenty years and were the sworn enemies of each other. With all these dangers and differences there was no possibility of their continuing to lead a peaceful religious and political life. However, the Prophet overcame these difficulties in a perfectly wise manner. As regards the first two problems he took measures the details of which will be recorded later, and as regards the differences between his followers he removed them with perfect wisdom and ingenuity. He was ordered by Allah to establish brotherhood between the Muhajirs and the Ansar. One day he turned to his followers in a general meeting and said "Now you should become brothers in faith in pairs". The particulars of persons who became brothers of each other have been recorded by the Muslim historians including Ibn Hisham.(1) Hence, by this method the Prophet ensured the political and spiritual unity of the Muslims and this unity enabled. him to think about ways and means of solving the other two difficulties as well.
TWO GREAT DISTINCTIONS OF ALI
Most of the Shiah and Sunni historians and traditionalists have mentioned two great distinctions of Ali which we record here briefly: The Prophet established brotherhood between a pair of two among three hundred persons out of the Muhajirs and Ansar and told every one of them that he was the brother of such and such person. When the establishment of brotherhood was completed Ali, with tears in his eyes, said to the Prophet: "You have established brotherhood amongst your companions but have not made me the brother of anyone". Thereupon the Prophet turned to Ali and said: "You are my brother in this world as well as in the Hereafter". Qandozi has quoted this incident in a more comprehensive manner and says that the Prophet replied to Ali "By the Almighty (who has appointed me to guide the people) I postponed the question of your brotherhood for the reason that I desired to become your brother when brotherhood among all others had been completed. Your position vis-a-vis myself is similar to that of Harun and Musa, except that there will be no Prophet after me. You are my brother and my successor.(2) Ibn Kathir has, however, doubted the authenticity of this incident.(3) But as his doubts are the product of his special mentality and are nothing short of the apology which he has tendered on behalf of Muawiyah and his supporters, we refrain from quoting his remarks and refuting them.
Another Distinction Of Ali
The construction of the mosque was completed. Around the mosque there were the houses of the Prophet and his companions. There were also the houses whose doors opened into the mosque, and whose inmates entered the mosque through those doors. Suddenly an order was received from Allah that all the doors which opened into the mosque, except the door of the house of Ali, should be closed. Thereupon some persons became fussy about the matter and thought that this exception had been made on sentimental grounds. In order to enlighten the people on the subject the prophet delivered a sermon and said inter alia: "I have not given orders about the closing or otherwise of the doors on my own account. In fact it was an order from Allah and I had no alternative but to implement it". (Ayatullah Jafar Subhani, The Message, p.337-339)
The Battle Of Badr
The first battle between the Muslims and the unbelievers of Makkah took place at Badr (a valley between Makkah and Medina) in the second year of the Hijrah. In this battle, the number of fully equipped unbelievers was about one thousand. The Muslims were about one-third of them and lacked all necessary war equipment, but divine dispensation afforded the Muslims a bright victory and defeated the unbelievers in the worst possible way. Suffering heavy casualties and many captives and losing their entire stock of equipment in this battle, the mushrikin (polytheists) ran away to Makkah. It is said that in this battle, seventy unbelievers were killed, out of which almost half of them were killed by the sword of Ali (AS). Also seventy people from the unbelievers were taken as captives.
The Battle Of Uhud
In the third year of Hijrah, the unbelievers of Makkah, led by Abu Sufyan again rushed towards Medina with three thousand men (and according to one narration with five thousand men). They confronted the Muslims at Uhud out- side Medina. In this battle, the Holy Prophet (SA) arrayed seven hundred Muslims to face the enemy. In the beginning of the battle, the Muslims had the upper hand again, but after a few hours due to the mistake of some Muslims, the army of Islam was defeated. At this time, the unbelievers attacked from all sides and the Muslims suddenly found themselves surrounded on all sides by the swords of unbelievers. In the battle, the Muslims sustained heavy losses. Hamzah, the uncle of the Holy Prophet (SA), along with seventy other disciples of the Holy Prophet (SA) who were mostly Ansar, were martyred. The forehead of the Holy Prophet (SA) was wounded and one of his front teeth broke. One of the unbelievers who inflicted a blow on the Holy Prophet's (SA) shoulder shouted: "I killed Muhammad". Hearing this, the army of Islam disposed. Only Ali (AS), along with a few men, remained steadfastly near the Holy Prophet (SA). All these were killed but Al; (AS) resisted the enemy until the end of the battle and defended the Holy Prophet (SA). On the last day, those who had fled away from the army of Islam gathered around the Holy Prophet (SA) once more and prepared for battle. But the army of Abi Sufyan, however, considered only that much success as enough, stopped fighting, and set out for Medina. After traveling a few kilometers, the army of the unbelievers seriously regretted why they had not pursued the battle to final victory and why they had not taken Muslims' women and children as captives, and plundered their proper- ties. They even got
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