Faith Of Islam
FAITH OF ISLAM
The author writes: In the following pages, therefore, we will endeavour to correct some of these erroneous notions, and to explain what is “ The Faith of Islam.”
One of the best and briefest descriptions of the faith of Islam is that given by David Urquhart in the introduction to vol. I. of his clever work “The Spirit of the East,” published in 1839, and reads thus: “Islam, as a religion, teaches no new dogmas; establishes no new revelation, no new precepts; has no priesthood, and no church government.
It gives a code to the people, and a constitution to the state, enforced by the sanction of religion.”
That Urquhart was right lias been admitted by many. Palgrave, Vambéry, Rawlinson, Layard, Rolland, Stanley of Alderley, De Chonski, and others, llave participated in his insight and confirmed his statements. Every traveller who has come into intimate contact with Moslem people has had something to say in their favour.
Notwithstanding all this, the bulk of opinion in Great Britain has remained unaffected.
The truth has not been generally known, because the great body of the English-speaking people being brought up in one sect or another of the Christian faith have inherited a bitter and unreasoning prejudice on the subject that seems to them to be an essential part of their religion;
and even when a dignitary of the Avglican Church like Canon Isaac Taylor has had the courage at a church congress to deliver his honest convictions on the matter, he has been assailed by bitter invective and bigoted vituperation.
The remarks of Canon Taylor, as delivered by him at the church congress at Wolverhainpton, on the 7th October, 1887, and reportel iu llie Times of the following day, are well worthy of careful perusal and consideration. Our time and space will not permit us to give the whole of his speech, but we cannot refrain from republishing a portion of it.
“ The Rev. Canon Isaac Taylor said that over a large por tion of the world Islamism as a missionary religion is more successful than Christianity. (Sensation.)
Not only are the Moslem converts from paganism more numerous than the Christian converts, but Christianity in some regions is actually receding before Islam, while attempts to proselytize Maliom medan nations are notoriously unsuccessful.
We not only do not gain ground, but even fail to hold our own.
The faith of Islam already extends from Morocco to Java, from Zanzibar to China, and is spreading across Africa with giant strides. It has acquired a footing on the Congo and the Zambesi, while Uganda, the most powerful of the negro states, has just become Mahomedan.
In India western civilization, which is sapping Hindooism, only prepares the way for Islam.
Of the 255 millions in India, 50 millions are already Moslems,* and of the whole population of Africa more than half.
It is not the first propagation of Islam that has to be explained; but it is the permanency with which it retains its hold upon its
* The recent census gives the number of Moslems in India as 57,365,201, and the nuraber of Christians (including Europeans residing there) as 2,284,191. It is estimated that about five millions of persons bave, in India alone, during the last ten years, become converts to Islam.
Christianity is less tenacious in its grasp. An African tribe once converted to Islam never reverts to paganism, and never embraces Christianity. . . . .
Islam has done more for civilization than Christianity. Take for ex ample the statements of English officials or of lay travellers as to the practical results of Islam.
When Mahomedanism is embraced by a negro tribe, paganism, devil worship, fetish ism, cannibalism, human sacrifice, infanticide, witchcraft, at once disappear.
The natives begin to dress, filth is replaced by cleanliness, and they acquire personal dignity and self respect.
Hospitality becomes a religious duty, drunkenness becomes rare, gambling is forbidden, immodest dances and the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes cease, female chasity is regarded as a virtue, industry replaces idleness, license gives place to law, order and sobriety prevail, blood feuds, cruelty to animals and to slaves are forbidden.
A feeling of humanity, benevolence and brotherhood is inculcated. Poly gamy and slavery are regulated and their evils are restrained.
Islam, above all, is the most powerful total abstinence associa tion in the world, whereas the extension of European trade means the extension of drunkenness and vice, and the degrada tion of the people; while Islam introduces a civilization of no low order, including a knowledge of reading and writing, decent clothing, personal cleanliness, veracity and self-respect.
Its restraining and civilizing effects are marvellous. How little have we to show for the vast sums of money and all the precious lives lavished upon Africa! Christian converts are reckoned by thousands, Moslems converts by millons.
These are the stern facts we have to face. They are extremely unpleasant facts; it is folly to ignore them.
We ought to begin by recoguising the fact that Islam is not an anti-Christian faith, but a half-Christian faith. Islam was a replica of the faith of Abraham aud Moses, with Christian elements. Judaism was exclusive. Islam is cosmopolitan not like Judaism, confined to one race, but extended to the whole world.
Moslems acknowledge four great teachers Abraham, the friend of God; Moses, the prophet of God; Jesus, the work of God: and Mahomed, the apostle of God.* . . . There is nothing in the teaching of Mahomed antagonistic to Christianity. It is midway between Judaism and Christianity.
This reformed Judaism swept so swiftly over Africa and Asia because the African and Syrian doctors. had substituted metaphysical dogmas for the religion of Christ.
They tried to combat licentiousness by celibacy and virginity. Seclusion from the world was the road to holiness, and dirt was the characteristic of monkish sanctity.
The people were practically polytheists, worshipping a crowd of martyrs, saints and angels.
Islam swept away this mass. of corruption and superstition. It was a revolt against empty theological polemics ; it was a masculine protest against the exaltation of celibacy as a crown of piety. It brought out the fundamental dogma of religion-the unity and greatness of God.
It replaced monkliness by manliness. It gave hope to the slave, brotherhood to mankind and recognition to the fundamental facts of human nature… …
The virtues which Islam inculcates are what the lower races can be brought to understand-temperance, cleanliness, chastity, justice, fortitude, courage, benevolence, hospitality, veracity, and resignation.
They can be taught to cultivate the four cardinal virtues, and to abjure the seven deadly sins.
The Christian ideal of the brotlierhood of man
*Moslems recognise six great teachers. In addition to the four given above they acknowledge Adam, the created of God; and Noah, the specially preserved of God. Canon Taylor has overlooked this fact.