Read! in the name of your Lord


Iqraa – READ!. Inspired the early Muslims to excel in all aspects of social and scientific fields ..

By: Dr. Yahia Abdul Rahman
IslamiCity* –

Muhammad a mercy to humankind.

God did confer a great favor on the believers when He sent among them an apostle from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the Signs of God, sanctifying them, and instructing them in Scripture and Wisdom, while, before that, they had been in manifest error. Quran 3:164

One of the most important aspects of our faith is to understand, deeply love and most closely emulate the character of the Prophet Muhammad. This aspect of our faith is manifested when we pronounce Shahada. It consists of two inseparable parts: That God is one and that Prophet Muhammad is His last Prophet and Messenger.

Unfortunately we find that emulating the Prophet stops at trying to emulate the outward appearance of his image; i.e. the way he looked without focusing on the way he behaved as he applied the Quran to his character and his way of living. Many of us, especially those who are in the role of leaders and Imams of the Muslims do not put enough emphasis on educating the masses on expressing his or her love of the Prophet by emulating his character.

It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course. Quran 33:21

Michael Hart, in his book ” The 100: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Persons In History: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History ” chose Muhammad to be at the top of his list followed by Newton and Jesus. He states: “He was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both religious and secular levels.”

The spread of Islam.

Within 100 years this evolution of the Islamic System and model community started by the Prophet Muhammad over shadowed the long established Persian “Sassanian” and the Byzantine Empires.

Islam swept through Iran and Iraq to Bukhara, Uzbekistan in the east then to China and many other Asian lands, to Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt and then North Africa to the West, to Spain, and many European lands.

Before Prophet Muhammad , people of Arabia lived as nomads and their most recognized business was Poetry and trading. In 100 years Baghdad became the center of the Civilized World.

In a world that existed over 1,400 years ago with no radio, no TV and no radio & TV correspondents, no telephone and cellular phones, no fax machines, no copiers, no e-mail, no internet and other facilities we enjoy today how did Islam spread so rapidly? What was the Secret? Why was the Prophet and his trained successors and followers so successful in capturing people’s imagination and propelled them as leaders of the world?

Islamic renaissances of the past.

We need to remember and never forget that Islamic transformation, which was started in the age of the press, ensuring the preservation of the Quran at all times, opened up new unexplored opportunities for the human race:

  • It brought the age of democracy and freedom of speech to the world, and
  • It helped make new discoveries possible in the world of science enabling man to use his most valuable gift, the mind and intellect, to seek religious truth and explore scientific phenomena to raise the standard and quality of life for all people.

Casualties in military expeditions.

Research on the evolution of the Islamic System and Community under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad that changed the course of world history was achieved at the cost of 1018 lives over a period of 23 years! Here are some facts to ponder:

  1. Number of Military Defense Expeditions: 80, the Prophet participated in about 27 of them and a small number did not even involve any fighting.
  2. Number of Muslims who died in battle 259.
  3. Number of non-Muslims – mostly pagans – was 759.

Contemporary Muslim writers and speakers point with pride to the fact that this number is dwarfed by:

  1. The 13 million who died during the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the 20 million killed by Stalin,
  2. The thousands who were killed in the French Revolution and the Thousands who died in the American Civil war
  3. Thousands killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

We Muslims like these comparisons because it gratifies our pride. However, there is another comparison that many of us, Muslims, are silent about. That is the number of people who died in Islamic liberation efforts over the years and what was achieved? Of course no one wants the pain of such an admonishing fact but it is important to educate ourselves about this issue. Following are some facts to reflect on.

The 20th Century has seen grand “Islamic” revolutionary movements, great “holy wars” in the Muslim world. Here is the cost:

  1. Two and a half million dead in the Algerian War of Liberation and independence
  2. 500,000 killed in the independence struggle of East Pakistan – now Bangladesh,
  3. 10 million lives lost in the formation of the Muslim state of Pakistan.
  4. Several Million people have died for Islam in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Yemen and various other countries.
Islam emphasizes that peace and justice are of paramount importance for humanity.Quran 8:61 But if they incline to peace, incline thou to it as well, and place thy trust in God: verily, He alone is all-hearing, all-knowing!

Quran 5:8 – O ye who believe! stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear God. For God is well-acquainted with all that ye do.

And for all these sacrifices very little was realized!

At the cost of 1018 lives, the revolution that was started during the time of Prophet Muhammad sparked a renaissance that changed the world. While the “Islamic” movements of modern times have yielded little achievement.

At the age of 40 the Prophet was commissioned to become the final prophet and messenger of God. Through Muhammad God convoyed his final and complete message that included all the prior messages to mankind in the Holy Quran. The divine message that Muhammad was asked to promote was at a time when Arabia was drenched in uncivilized practices and despair. e.g.

  1. The rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer and slavery was the order of the day,
  2. The most fertile lands and border settlements of Arabia was occupied by the Byzantine / Romans and by the Persian Sassanid’s, and
  3. The Kaabaa – the first house ever built to worship and glorify Allah – God – was full of over 370 idols.

God could have revealed to Prophet Muhammad:

  • Ya Muhammad – Start a social revolution by which assets are taken from the rich and given to the poor….but He almighty, did not do that!

  • Ya Muhammad – prepare a popular uprising to liberate the lands of Arabia from the occupiers …did He do that? The answer is no!

  • Ya Muhammad – start a military campaign and fight the unbelieving pagans in order to recapture the Kaabaa and clean it out of the idols … did he do that? The answer is no!

Read! in the name of your Lord

We all know what the first word of the revelation of the Quran was: “Iqr’aa” (READ!). This aspect of the Quran that encourages us to acquire knowledge, inspired the early Muslims to excel in all aspects of social and scientific fields.

Today if we analyze the reading habits and education among Muslims, following are some facts:

  1. Muslims cannot read because over 70% of the 1.2 billion – we boast about are illiterate.

  2. Muslims who know how to read, do not read! We do not educate ourselves.

  1. There are 57 member-countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), and all of them put together have around 500 universities; one university for every three million Muslims. The United States has 5,758 universities and India has 8,407. In 2004, Shanghai Jiao Tong University compiled an ‘Academic Ranking of World Universities’, and not one university from Muslim-majority states was in the top 500.

  2. Some 98 per cent of the ‘literates’ in the Christian world had completed primary school, while less than 50 per cent of the ‘literates’ in the Muslim world did the same. Around 40 per cent of the ‘literates’ in the Christian world attended university while no more than two per cent of the ‘literates’ in the Muslim world did the same.

  3. Muslim-majority countries have 230 scientists per one million Muslims. The US has 4,000 scientists per million and Japan has 5,000 per million. In the entire Arab world, the total number of full-time researchers is 35,000 and there are only 50 technicians per one million Arabs (in the Christian world there are up to 1,000 technicians per one million). Furthermore, the Muslim world spends 0.2 per cent of its GDP on research and development, while the Christian world spends around five per cent of its GDP.

  4. Oil rich Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar collectively produce goods and services (mostly oil) worth $500 billion; Spain alone produces goods and services worth over $1 trillion, Catholic Poland $489 billion and Buddhist Thailand $545 billion (Muslim GDP as a percentage of world GDP is fast declining).

  5. The average number of books published per million in the Arab world is approximately 30 (0.7%), compared to about 212 in the US and 584 in Europe.

  6. The average number of copies printed of a “best seller book” – outside the Holy Quran is, 7000 to 10,000 copies compared to almost 225,000 copies sold in one week for Mrs. Clinton Book and over 2.5 million of Harry Potter sold in one night.

  7. Daily newspapers per 1,000 people and number of book titles per million are two indicators of whether knowledge is being diffused in a society. In Pakistan, there are 23 daily newspapers per 1,000 Pakistanis while the same ratio in Singapore is 360. In the UK, the number of book titles per million stands at 2,000 while the same in Egypt is 20.

  8. As for the Arab world: the average Arab reads 1/2 hour per year or the equivalent of 1/2 page per year as compared to the average American at 11 books per year and the average British at 7 books per year! 

In conclusion, the Muslim world urgently needs to increase its capacity to produce, diffuse, and apply knowledge.

Even though the above statistics show a bleak picture, there are several initiatives in progress that give me hope: “Muslims are gradually rediscovering the importance of education. I am sincerely optimistic about the future because what is being done today and was done in the past 40 years is yielding positive results that, God-willing, will change not only the fortunes of the Muslims in America but all of humanity.”

In the end I would like to remind my self, my family and each one of us – especially the mothers – let us PLEASE put our children in the habit of reading from the youngest age possible.

Adapted from a Friday sermon delivered by Dr. Yahia Abdul Rahman at the Culver City Mosque in California.

Over the last few decades Dr. Yahia has led a distinguished career in the world of banking and finance. In 1987, he founded the American Finance House – LARIBA in Pasadena, California. Specializing in interest-free lending.

For over a generation, Dr. Yahia has educated Muslims and non-Muslims alike on how the integration of the divine teaching of Islam into our lives provides the greatest of benefits and blessings.



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