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Woods Press. Each and every soul has to pass over al-Sirat al-Mustaqeem , the straight path over hell, a fire more intense in heat than boiling molten brass, with seven bridges over it the length of each one of which is three thousand years: one thousand to vertically ascend, one thousand to horizontally cross, and one thousand to descend. It is thinner than a human hair, more sharp than the sharpest sword, and darker than the darkest night inside a tunnel.
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Each bridge has seven branches, and each branch is like a long lance with sharp teeth: each servant of Allah will be confined on each and every one of them and be asked about all the injunctions the Almighty had required him to perform during his life on this planet. In the first of such stops he will be asked about belief and conviction, about shirk and hypocrisy. In the second he will be asked about prayers, what they contain, how to perform them, and whether he performed them properly and on time.
In the third he will be asked about zakat , its types, and whether he paid it or not. And it is in the fourth one that he will be asked about the fast It is then that he will realize whether he upheld this important obligation or not, whether he offered charity or not, and whether he regretted and repented during the month of Ramadhan or not. In the sixth he will be asked about wudu ablution and ghusul , how he performed them, which one is compulsory and which one is optional.
Finally, in the seventh, he will be asked about how kind he was to his parents and kin, and whether he did injustice to any human being. In the absence of sufficient optional good deeds such as offering charity, helping a needy Muslim, performing optional prayers or fasts He adds saying, on p. Only those who cross it successfully will achieve salvation and bliss.
With reference to those who will fall into hell, the Almighty says:. Have you not considered those who have changed Allah's favor into blasphemy and caused their people to fall into the abode of perdition? Holy Qur'an, Surah Ibrahim To whomsoever My wrath is due, he shall fall therein.
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Holy Qur'an Surah Taha Whoever follows My guidance will not lose his way nor fall into perdition. Holy Qur'an, Surah Taha Nor will his wealth benefit him when he falls headlong into the pit of fire Holy Qur'an, Surah Layl If one is found as having been derelict in performing any of his obligations, the angels questioning him will try to find out whether he somehow made up with optional good deeds. Once he is cleared, he will be escorted into Paradise. Idolatry is an unforgivable sin and the laws against the making of images and pictures are particularly stringent.
Anyone who makes an imitation of any living thing will, on the day of judgement, undergo punishment in hell for a certain period of time. Slavery is recognized, but slaves must be kindly treated and even encouraged to purchase their liberty. Women slaves may be taken as concubines. The Koran has much to say about the position of women. That position is implicitly detined by the word for marriage, which is the same as that used for the sexual act.
A man may have four wives and any number of concubines, but all his wives must be treated equally. A man may divorce his wife, but a woman cannot divorce her husband. The Koran specifically states that women are inferior to men. An injunction to fight the infidel guarantees to those who die in defence of Islam the reward of martyrdom and entry into paradise. People of different faiths on whom war is declared are first to be offered the choice: to embrace Islam; to pay tribute, in which case they may continue to practise their faith; or to settle the affair by the fortunes of war, in which case captives are made slaves, the men usually being slain unless they embrace Islam.
One-fifth part of any spoil belongs to the ruler. Ethical teaching of the Koran is high and it may be said to represent a sort of mercantile theology, emerging as it does from the commercial background of Muhammad and the Arabs. It was the duty of an Arab in Muhammad's time to support his tribe, to give food and shelter to the traveller, and to protect those who claimed his protection. Commerce was impossible without good faith and honest dealing.
To these precepts Muhammad gave a religious sanction and offered in return rewards according to each man's deeds.
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But the appeal is not only to self-interest. It is God who hates injustice and oppression, and who is above all compassionate and merciful; man has the responsibility and the power to be the same. The present life of Muhammad is by the earliest biographer whose work has survived. No copy of Ibn Ishaq's biography in its original form is now in existence, but it was extensively quarried by Ibn Hisham died AH or Much of the material used was left in the original words and in whole sections, so that Ibn Hisham's work can best be described as an edited version of the original biography, with interpolations by the editor.
Ishaq's work is not a biography in the modern sense, but more a compilation of anecdotes and traditions collected by him and arranged in chronological periods.
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Collected within a century of the prophet's death, it bears the stamp of authenticity, though again not in a modern sense. The miraculous is always present and is given the same weight as mundane descriptions of the prophet's actions.
Because tales of miracles may be unacceptable today, this does not mean that other parts of the biography are untrustworthy. The facts are there, and the miraculous is that essential embroidery of faith which the life of no religious leader - from Christ to the Buddha - is without. The translation which follows is the first known English version of Ibn Ishaq's biography, and is here published for the first time.
The translator, Edward Rehatsek, was born in Hungary in and died in Bombay in He arrived in India in and spent a number of years in research upon oriental subjects. He later became professor of mathematics and Latin at Wilson College, Bombay, from which position he retired in Rehatsek lived the life of a recluse, working upon his translations Sirat Rasonl Allah by Ibn Ishag from Arabic and many other languages. After his death, his body was burned in the Hindu manner, the first European, it is said, to be cremated in India. The manuscript of the translation was completed just before his death and was presented to the Royal Asiatic Society, London, by F.
Arbuthnot, the Islamic scholar, in This edition is published by courtesy of the Society. Rehatsek produced an almost literal translation and it suffers somewhat from scholarly pedanticism. In preparing this edition for publication, I have kept one main aim in view - to present the earliest extant life of Muhammad in a form, and at a length, acceptable to the general reader. To do this it has been necessary to cut the text as well as to make some rearrangement in the interests of orderly chronology. I have inserted linking passages, printed in italic, where the text seems to require it.
Generally speaking, those parts which have been excised have been repetitions of events, long lists of names, confusing accounts of minor battles, and a large quantity of verse.
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Some errors have been corrected and verbal infelicities removed. The transliteration of Arabic names is always something of a problem in books intended for the reader who has no knowledge of Eastern languages. In this instance I have omitted all diacritical marks, believing it preferable for the reader to mispronounce the words rather than be prevented from pronouncing them at all by the intrusion of apostrophes and other symbols.
When he is born on this earth, thou must say, "I place him under the protection of the only One, from the wickedness of every envious person. And Abdullah b. Abdul-Muttalib, the father of the apostle, died while the child was yet unborn. What is the matter? It is said that his grandfather took the boy into the Kaba [place of worship] and prayed to Allah and thanked Him for His gift; then he brought him again to his mother. Soon he hired for the boy a nurse, whose name was Halima. Halima was the daughter of Abu Dhuayb of the Banu Sad tribe.
The tradition concerning her is that she went forth with her husband and a little son whom she was suckling, with others of the women of the Banu Sad who were in search of children to nurse. She relates: Tn a year of dearth, when nothing was left us, I went forth on a piebald she-ass and we had with us a she-camel which gave us not one drop of milk. We could not sleep the whole night, because the infant we had with us cried for hunger, there being nothing in my breasts to satisfy him nor anything in our camel to nourish him.
We were, however, hoping for aid and deliverance; accordingly I continued the journey, riding on my she-ass which was so weak that it lagged behind and the people complained. They all refused to take charge of him as soon as they were told that he was an orphan, because we expected benefits from the father of an infant but did not like orphans, thinking that a mother or a grandfather would do us but little good.
Not a woman, however, remained who had not obtained a suckling except myself When we assembled to depart, I said to my husband, "I am unwilling to return with my companions and not take a suckling. I shall go to that orphan and take it. Perhaps Allah will make it a blessing to us. Sirat Rasoul Allah by Ibn Ishag "After that, I took him to my arms and offered him my breast he drank as much as he liked till he was satisfied, and his -brother did the same till he had enough.
After that both of slept, whereas before we could not sleep for our child wailing. Then my husband approached our she-camel, and lo! It was full.
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Accordingly I milked it, and we both drank until we were satisfied and filled, so that we had a good night. In the morning, my husband said, "By Allah, Halima, you have brought a blessed soul.