Setting Humanity Free -- Using Al-Qalam, The Pen, as the Weapon of Choice And Using an Unlettered Man from an Unlettered Culture and People to Do the Job
And Allah did all this in times when reading material was scarce, when those who could read were few and far between, and when reading and writing were themselves the prerogative of the privileged few -- generally the rich, the nobles, the clerics and the royals.
The common people everywhere were not only denied access to the privilege and means of education, they were in many places forbidden by law from reading and writing -- at times on pain of death.
It was against such a background that God Almighty sent the Unlettered Man, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, from the unlettered culture to be a teacher and educator to humanity.
And he sent him with The Book.
And he sent him with The Pen!
And with one fell swoop of his mighty weapon Al-Qalam, The Pen, this Unlettered Man, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, cut open the chains of ignorance that held humanity in bondage and set human beings free from all forms of tyranny for all times to come.
Free to Read! Free to Think!
This Unlettered Man, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam -- he set humanity free.
Free to read; free to write; free to think; free to reason and question and argue; free to believe or not to believe; free to speak and express themselves; free altogether to be anything and everything that they chose to be, including the best human beings that Almighty Allah created them with the ability to be.
As Allah put it in the Qur’an: We created human beings in the finest mold -- La-Qad Kalaqnal Insaana Fee Ahsani Taqweem.
From that day forward the echo of that simple message -- “Read! Iqra’!” -- in that lonely cave -- Hiraa -- became the rallying cry of humanity for freedom and dignity.
From now on, the opportunity, the freedom and the means and wherewithal to read, write and express were to become the birthright of every human being everywhere.
A crumb of mercy and blessing from the table of this Unlettered Man, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, from this unlettered culture.
I Cannot Read!
Thus did Allah choose a man who himself could not read or write, from a culture and a people who were themselves largely uneducated, to be the messenger of freedom, dignity and education to all of humanity for all time to come.
That Unlettered Man, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, himself tells the story of how he pleaded before Jibra’eel, Alaihis Salaam, the Archangel and God Almighty’s special messenger to such mighty prophets as Moses and Jesus, Allah bless them.
“I said,” he says, “I cannot read!”
The angel had come to him in the cave and told him: “Read! -- Iqra’!”
But inability to read and write was not a good enough reason for Allah to change his plan to set humanity free from its age-old shackles of ignorance, superstition and tyranny of body, soul, mind and spirit. The angel went on.
“Iqra’!” Said the angel a second time.
“But I cannot read!” Said the Unlettered Man, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam!
And the rest, as they say, is history! But I would rather call it reality.
I will talk about the distinction -- between history and reality -- sometime in future, if Allah enables me to do so. If I don’t, be kind enough to remind me and maybe I will, Inshallah.
Not an Ordinary Event
To me, this is not an ordinary event -- this encounter between the angel and this Unlettered Man, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
To me, it is nothing short of a miracle, no matter how you look at it.
And thereafter everything that came into this world as a result of that encounter is a miracle -- a living, ongoing miracle that is fresh and relevant in every time and place.
Much of it in the form of the Qur’an that we hold in our hand -- every single Aayat and teaching of the Qur’an.
An Aayat Is a Miracle
That is why I insist on calling passages of the Qur’an Aayats -- the way Allah calls them -- and not “verses,” as Muslims and others call them. The word Aayat in this context means a miracle. That means -- Allah knows best what it means -- every passage of the Qur’an is a miracle in its own right.
And to me it is -- as plain as daylight.
And the miracle of miracles of Allah in sending an Unlettered Man, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, with all this paraphernalia and wherewithal and instruments of education -- Kitaab, Qalam, Qur’an, Iqra’, ‘Allamal Insaan and the rest -- to educate and train the entire world: Do you know or can you think of a miracle bigger or more overpowering than that?
Of course, it is a miracle for those with eyes to see. But most people are used to looking to the past for miracles.
Or to the sky.
Or to this saint or that.
To many of us, a miracle is when the sea splits or the moon sunders or the dead come alive -- no doubt miracles, all of them. They are all miracles because Allah made them happen and declared them to be miracles.
But the fact that Allah sent an Unlettered Man, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, to educate all of humanity is not a miracle?
And the story of the Qalam and the Kitaab and the Qur’an and Iqra’ is not a miracle?
Well, to me each is a bigger miracle than anything else that we call a miracle.
In fact, it is a continuation of the great miracle of Allah’s mercy and love -- Rahmat -- to his creation.
For, this miracle of the Unlettered Man, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, is the practical and visible manifestation of the everlasting and invisible bond that binds the creation to its creator, Almighty Allah.
That bond is Rahmat -- Allah’s unbounded mercy and love and grace.
Allah is Rabbur Rahmah: God of boundless Mercy and Love!
Elsewhere I called him a doting God.
He is Rabbul ‘Aalameen -- Master of the Worlds!
And he is Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem -- the Most Merciful and Loving, the Most Merciful and Loving!
He is Rabbur Rahmah in heaven and earth and everywhere.
And his Man on Earth is his Unlettered Messenger of Mercy and Love to the Worlds, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
He is Rahmatul-Lil-‘Aalameen.
He is Nabiyyur Rahmah!
Carefully watch the equation now!
Allah is Rahmaan: his Rasul is Rahmat -- Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam!
Allah is Rabbul ‘Aalameen: his Rasul is Rahmatal Lil Aalameen -- Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam!
Allah is Rabbur Rahmah: his Rasul is Nabiyyur Rahmah, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam!
Did you figure it all out? I thought so!