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7. Amazing transformation brought about by the Holy Prophet
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7. Amazing transformation brought about by the Holy Prophet

The most outstanding characteristic of the life of the Prophet is the amazing success which he achieved. The transformation wrought within the short space of less than a quarter of a century is in fact unparalleled in the history of the world. There is not a single reformer who brought about such an entire change in the lives of a whole nation inhabiting such a vast country. None, in fact, found his people at such a depth of degradation as the Prophet found the Arabs, and no one raised them materially, morally and spiritually to the height to which he raised them. So deep-rooted was their idolatry, so powerful the bonds of their superstitions and their usages that the propagandic efforts of the Jews and the Christians, carried on for hundreds of years one after the other, with the material power of the kingdoms at their back, could not bring about the least change in their condition. The indigenous Arab movement of the Hanifs proved an even greater failure. All these attempts at form left the Arabs as a nation as ignorant of the principles of religion and morality as they ever were.

Twenty-three years work of the Prophet, however, quite metamorphosed them. Worship of idols and of all objects other than God, whether in heaven or on earth, was now considered to be a disgrace to humanity. No trace of an idol was left throughout the whole of Arabia. The whole nation awakened to a sense of the true dignity of manhood and realized the folly of falling prostrate before things which man was made to rule and before powers which he was required to conquer. Superstition gave place to a rational religion. The Arab was not only cleansed of deep-rooted vice and bare-faced immorality; he was further inspired with a burning desire for the best and noblest deeds in the service of, no country and nation, but, what is far higher than that, humanity. Old customs which involved injustice to the weak and the oppressed were all swept away, as if by a magician's wand, and just and reasonable laws took their place. Drunkenness, to which Arabia was addicted from time immemorial, disappeared so entirely that the very goblets and vessels which were used for drinking and keeping wine could no more be found. Gambling was quite unknown, and the loose relations of the sexes gave place to the highest regard for chastity. The Arab who prided himself on ignorance became the lover of knowledge, drinking deep at every fountain of learning to which he could get access. And greatest of all, from an Arabia, the various elements of which were so constantly at war with each other that the whole country was about to perish, was indeed on:

"the brink of a pit of fire," [3:102]
as the Holy Quran so tersely puts it - from these jarring and warring elements, the Prophet welded together a nation, a united nation full of life and vigour, before whose onward march the greatest kingdoms of the world crumbled as if they were but toys before the reality of the new faith. No man ever; breathed such a new life on such a wide scale a life affecting all branches of human activity; a transformation of the individual, of the family, of the society, of the nation, of the country, an awakening, material as well as moral, intellectual as well as spiritual. Here are a few testimonies from non-Muslim writers:
"The prospects of Arabia before Muhammad were as unfavourable to religious reform as they were to political union or national regeneration. The foundation of Arab faith was a deep-rooted idolatry which, for centuries, had stood proof, with no palpable symptom of decay, against every attempt at evangelization from Egypt and Syria." --- Sir William Muir.

"During the youth of Muhammad, the aspect of the Peninsula was strongly conservative; perhaps never at any previous time was reform more hopeless." Ibid.

"Causes are sometime conjured up to account for results produced by an agent apparently inadequate to correct them. Muhammad arose, and forthwith the Arabs were aroused to a new and spiritual faith; hence the conclusion that Arabia was fermenting for the change, and prepared to adopt it. To us calmly reviewing the past, pre-Islamite history belies the assumption." Ibid.

"From time beyond memory Makka and the whole Peninsula had been steeped in spiritual torpor. The slight and transient influences of Judaism, Christianity, or philosophical enquiry upon the Arab mind had been but as the ruffling here and there of the surface of a quiet lake; all remained still and motionless below. The people were sunk in superstition, cruelty and vice ... Their religion was a gross idolatry; and their faith, the dark superstitious dread of unseen things ... Thirteen years before the Hijra, Makka lay lifeless in this debased state. What a change had these thirteen years now produced ... Jewish truth had long sounded in the ears of the men of Madina; but it was not until they heard the spirit-stirring strains of the Arabian Prophet that they too awoke from their slumber, and sprang suddenly into a new and earnest life." --- Sir William Muir.

"And yet we may truly say that no history can boast events that strike the imagination in a more lively manner or can be more surprising in themselves, than those we meet with in the life of the first Mussalmans; whether we consider the Great Chief, or his ministers, the most illustrious of men; or whether we take an account of the manners of the several countries he conquered; or observe the courage, virtue and sentiments that equally prevailed among his generals and soldiers." --- Life of Muhammad, by Count of Boulainvilliers.

"A more disunited people it would be hard to find, till, suddenly, the miracle took place. A man arose who, by his personality and by his claim to direct Divine guidance, actually brought about the impossible, namely, the union of all these warring factions." --- Ins and Outs of Mesopotamia.

"Never has a people been led more rapidly to civilization, such as it was, than were the Arabs through Islam." --- New Researches, by Hirschfeld.

"Such then, very briefly, was the condition of the Arabs, social and religious, when, to use an expression of Voltaire, . . . 'the turn of Arabia came'; when the hour had already struck for the most complete, the most sudden and the most extraordinary revolution that had ever come over any nation upon earth." --- Bosworth Smith.

"Of all the religious personalities of the world, Muhammad was the most successful." --- Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition.

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