From Israelites to Ishmaelites!
Religious lore in contrast with historical data assessed in commemoration of Eid-i-Milad-un-Nabi (SAW)!, writes Dr.Javid Iqbal.
THE patriarch of Middle Eastern Prophets Syedena Ibrahim’s birth in the house of Azar the idol maker, his rebellion against Nimrod, who wanted to be the temporal and the spiritual lord, remains a religious lore. History is silent on his marriages to Syeda Sarah (RA) and Syeda Hegira (RA) siring two sons Syedena Ishmael (AS) and Syedena Isaac (AS) who head the two distinct branches of Ahle-i-Kitab, people of the book; Ishmaelites and Israelites. Distinct, yet united at the root, Ishmaelites are the Arabs/Muslims and Israelites/Judeo-Christians. Modern world remains locked in what some commentators like to call the civilizational conflict. Conflict amongst the sons of Syedena Ibrahim (AS) who share the religious lore! The lore, which Prophet Muhammad (SAW) brought forth by attesting all that, had come to pass. Pre or post Islamic being a misnomer, it is present right since inception. The tale from Adam (AS) to Prophet Muhammad (AS) is woven in the same fiber!
Adam (AS) the progenitor of human race in religious lore dates back to times immemorial, scientific history being just 5000-7000 years old does not support it! It is indeed a travesty of facts to register the historical impact of religion, but remain silent on Prophets who brought it about. And, it is not true of the only the Prophets of Middle East but of Indian peninsula, too. Historical data is based on archaeological survey and other scientific evidences; it ignores religion based evidence, which does not have scientific data to back it, but is a matter of belief. History and theology run like parallel lines. However, the disciplines are not totally alien. We shall get to that, as our study moves ahead, but first a look at Israelites!
The Israelites get their name from Syedena Yaqub, Jacob the son of Syedena Isaac. Israel was another attribute of Syedena Yaqub. The prophetic trail continues; Syedena Yousuf, Joseph, was the son of Syedena Yaqub. Taken on an excursion by his envious step-brothers, they related a false tale of having lost him, bringing back his blood stained shirt. He had actually been thrown into a well, from where he was taken out by a caravan of merchants. Witnessing his handsome appearance, they planned to sell him in Egypt to the highest bidder. That proved to be highly placed Aziz-i-Misr. His wife Zuleikha fell for him, with Syedena Yousuf resisting her advances. Eventually he became the master of Egypt and helped his step-brothers with food supplies as Canaa’n (prophetic land in Iraq, right from Syedena Ibrahim’s time) faced famine. Prophets are not given to revenge; the step-brothers were excused. Syedena Yaqub got the glad tiding of son being alive. Grieving for his son, he had lost his eyesight. Our very own Ghani Kashmiri captures it in a moving couplet, which sends into a swoon, the masters of Persian language like Allama Iqbal:
Ghani Roz-i-Siyah Pir-i-Canaa’n Ra Tamasha Kun
Ki Noor-i-Didaish Roshan Kunad Chasham-i-Zuleikah Ra!
Ghani, on a black day look at old man of Canaa’n, (alluding to Syedena Yaqub)
The light of his eyes (Syedena Yousuf) is setting alight the eyes of Zuleikah.
Ghani means to convey that anyone, anywhere overtaken by grief ought to remember the pain of Syedena Yaqub who grieved whilst the light of his eyes; Syedena Yaqub was setting alight the eyes of Zuleikha. That, implies the poet, would take off the intensity of pain! The Israelite tale continues, as the Hebrews, the people who helped by Syedena Yousuf to settle moved from Canaa’n to Egypt for economic reasons. Eventually they became the bonded labour of Pharaoh’s. Jews form an important part of history; Hazrat Musa hardly finds a mention, though he saved his people from tyranny of Pharaoh. The Hebrew exodus from the land of Pharos is a biblical tale, which finds echo right from old to New Testament and comprehensively in Quran. History is silent on exodus; at most the texts might put it in a footnote on legends without historical backing.
The exodus led to Israeli settlements after the Sinai crossing. Thousands of years later Jews claimed the land based on records in the testaments, although prosecuted by Pauline Christianity, they had dispersed around the globe, some taking refuge in suburbs of Medina and in Khyber. St. Paul, originally an orthodox Jew converted to Christianity, carrying orthodoxy with him. He gave Christianity a new name ‘Pauline’ which was intolerant of other faiths. Still, we hear of Judeo-Christian civilization opposed to, what is called the ‘Islamic orthodoxy’? Even after it is known to all and sundry that Jewish Rabbis took Jesus Christ to the court of Pontius Pilate to get the crucifixion verdict! The verdict they thought got carried out; Al-Quran in 004.157 (An-Nisa) denies it comprehensively: That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not! Jesus Christ came to Beni-Israel’s with the final word on divine law, the ultimate warning on persistent transgression. They did not pay heed; hence nothing could stop repercussions following course. Notes Encyclopedia Britannica---In the year 70 AD, such a calamity struck Jerusalem, which has had no parallel, anywhere else in the world. Utter turmoil spelt fall of Jerusalem. The temple was burnt and this resulted in fall of Jewry. Thus a cradle of civilization after a millennium and a half of ups and downs ultimately lost its place amongst community of live nations. Henceforth the promise Allah had made to Abraham of blessing Ishmaelite, instead of Israelite would get fulfilled.
Troubled by inter-family feud, the patriarch had settled the Ishmaelite branch in the desert, devoid of water and vegetation. The heel of the crying and thirsty Syedena Ismael dug out of the desert sand ‘Zum-Zum’! Khana-i-Kabba got build by divine command, the city of Mecca spread around it. The ever watchful eye of the time pronounced its verdict, announcing a new dawn. The Israelite branch of family tree of Abraham, losing all its freshness had turned dry. In his day, Abraham had himself pronounced “But My Promise is not within the reach of evil-doers.” (Al-Baqara, 124). The spring dawned on Ishmaelite branch, which turned green and emitted fragrance. Thus did the divine focus shift from Israelite (Palestinian) branch to Ishmaelite branch in Hejaz (present day Saudi Arabia). The Ishmaelite branch with the fate smiling on it had developed the wherewithal to hold, what was being bestowed on it ‘Fate of Wine (of love) lies in the cup holding it’ says the poet!
Born and bred among Ishmaelites, the revelation came to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) of the unmistakable common link between Ummah/Nations of various hues. The definition of nationhood is different in Islamic lore than the commonly taken western definition of geographical boundaries dividing nations and bringing into vogue geo-political concepts. Planet Earth like all other planets in the universe belongs to Allah; Rubb-ul-Alameen. ‘Rubb’ springs from ‘Murabbi’ the nearest equivalent in English would be the ‘prime mover’ one that sets in motion the events. How the events shape is left to the participants in the event, of course with guidance, as to how to shape up. In sporting terms, some authorities have likened it to a coach, who prepares the team, gives them guidelines, but does not participate in the event. Differences existing between various races, differences in physical features, differences of belief are recognized. The distinction however need not come in the way of a common human bond. The concept of a global village was the gift of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). We woke upto it 1400 years later. As to the existent differences in belief, the guidelines are clear ‘Lakum Dinakum; Walia-i-Deen’ [Unto me my religion, unto you yours (109:6)]! The wheel had turned full cycle! With the advent of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) religious lore and history remained parallel lines, no more. As an author notes ‘bright and glaring he stands in the full glow of history’!
Being scientific, a dictate of advancing civilization, makes us toe the historical data. Civilizational affect indeed! One that bred conflict, where as the religious lore breeds faith, love, understanding. Provided, the lore is taken in the spirit, in which it grew over millennia.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi (Reunion is subordinate to survival)
(Feedback at:Iqbal_drji6217@yahoo.co.in or firstname.lastname@example.org )
Lastupdate on : Thu, 25 Feb 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 25 Feb 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 26 Feb 2010 00:00:00 IST
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