Meeting of the Men of Allah
This was the time when Muslims had started building mosques and schools all over Spain and eminent divines and jurists of Islam had come over to this country. In the capital, Cordova, the Islamic system of teaching and training had been introduced. Ziad b. Umar was a highly learned traditionist, philosopher and interpreter of the Holy Quran. At the same time, he had no equal in offering prayers and due to his integrity, purity, and unostentatious prayerfulness, he was held in great affection throughout Spain. He would spend his days in teaching and at nights he would attend gatherings of divines and officials of the government. His house was adjacent to the University of Cordova and so after Isha prayer, those interested in learning gathered at his house.
One day while this meeting was in progress and eminent divines and men of letters were present, Ziad b. Umar came. All stood up in his respect. After they were seated Ziad enquired after everyone’s health and then addressed Umar Lahmi.
Ziad b. Umar: May Allah fructify your efforts! You have conveyed the message of truth in the very home of unbelief and humbled unbelievers!
Umar Lahmi: I am just an ordinary weak Muslim and this has been possible because of your prayers; Isabella has accepted Islam in her heart. She was desirous of meeting you, so she has come here for an audience.
Ziad b. Umar: Oh! Is Isabella present here?
Umar Lahmi: Yes, she has been put up in the adjoining house and if you permit she may be brought to your presence.
Ziad: Yes, certainly. If she has come to meet me, let her come.
Asad (one of those present): By Allah, sir, this is very great! There is a great commotion among the Christians of Cordova. But is it Isabella alone who has been attracted to Islam or are there others also with her?
Umar Lahmi: About this you will hear from Isabella herself.
Another of the audience: I have heard that Christians intend to kill Isabella.
Umar Lahmi: So far, Isabella has taken great care to keep it secret. No one has found out that she has embraced Islam or intends to do. So the rumour of the intention to kill her is premature.
Ziad: Now call Isabella here. We shall hear the interesting details from her own lips.
Shortly after, Isabella enters and seeing Ziad b. Umar sitting at a prominent place, raises her hand to salute him and sits in a corner while all those present congratulate her on her great courage and firmness.
Zaid: Daughter Isabella, I congratulate you on your love of truth; Allah has taken you out of the darkness of unbelief and granted you the boon of Islam, relieved you from the labyrinth of Trinity and put you on to the Straight Path beset with dangers! To remain firm on it is the task of a very brave person. But those in whose hearts Islam has firmly established itself would not mind the greatest trouble of the earth. Allah guides them.
Isabella: Revered father….
Ziad: Daughter, you have to give up such words too. There is no papacy in Islam. Islam has not given its divines the position which Christians have given to their priests. There is perfect equality in Islam. The only duty of the divines is to guide Muslims in the light of the Holy Quran and sacred Traditions of the Messenger (Peace and Blessings be upon him). It is the duty of Muslims to act on that guidance and not to deify them or make them masters of all their affairs.
Isabella (ashamed): Now will you, yourself teach me how I should address you and other leaders of Islam?
Ziad: Address me and other Muslims just as brothers, but if you desire to add anything, just say “sir”. To be continued
Isabella: Very well, sir, I will obey all your orders in future. Oh sir, it is a great benevolence and grace of God that He showed this humble servant the path of truth and justice and took me out of the course of trinity and worship of the cross. The means of any guidance is my spiritual preceptor and benefactor Umar Lahmi, who preached to all the priests of Cordova in their own homes and, through him, the call of truth reached my ears. I wholeheartedly pray that God grant him all the boons of this world and the next and by prayer my life and death be on Islam.
All those present cried: Amin!
Ziad: Daughter, Allah wants to take from you great service and surely Muslims will be greatly benefited through you. But say if you have converted any one of the other ladies.
Isabella: Yes, sir, I have four other friends of mine who have lost their faith in Christianity and are inclined to Islam. God willing, I will bring them with me tomorrow or the day after, that they may have grace from you and any doubts that may still lurk in them are removed.
Umar Lahmi: Sister, who are these friends of yours? By Allah, we have no knowledge of them and you never mentioned them to me.
Isabella: One of them is the daughter of Michael, my teacher in theology, and there are three others. All these have been listening to all the discussions.
Umar Lahmi: Have they really become Muslims and see through the weaknesses of Christianity?
Isabella: The weaknesses of Christianity have become manifest to all of them, and they have recognised the truth of Islam, but they have not yet mustered enough courage to give up their ancestral religion and declare their adherence to Islam.
Ziad: Well, Allah will give them the necessary courage. We shall also pray for them.
Umar Lahmi: Bring Michael’s daughter also some day so that her doubts may also be removed.
Isabella: Tomorrow or day after I will surely bring her with me and if all the four girls do not come, I will bring at least this one (Michael’s daughter) with me.
Ziad: I tell you, daughter, again that you should accept Islam after clearing all your doubts and never, by any greed or deception, for Allah wants sincerity and the Quran says that a Muslim’s life and death, prayer and devotion, sitting and standing, sleep and waking everything should be for Allah and the pleasure of Allah should be the aim of our life.
Isabella: Oh sir, I say it and bring God to witness that no lust or greed has brought me to the threshold of Islam, nor the acquisition of wealth and power is my aim. You yourself know the honour my father enjoys in Cordova and throughout Spain.
Ziad: May Allah reward you, give you firmness and shower His bounties on you.
Umar Lahmi: Islam is the only religion which by accepting it Allah’s bounties are showered on man and all his sins are forgiven!
Isabella: (smiling); All my sins are forgiven every week by the priest of Cordova, who is in charge of the Department of Inquisition and (bowing her head) I am already sinless and innocent.
Ziad: What is this Department of Inquisition and what is the meaning of the priest forgiving sins? Can any man also forgive sins?
Isabella: (with shame and humility): Oh sir, this story is most interesting and probably quite novel to you, as you are not aware of the inner working of Christianity.
Ziad: Will you inform us of these matters? Such interesting facts should certainly be worth knowing and no one can relate them better than you.
Isabella: Oh sir! Christians go before the altar of the Christ in the presence of the head priest every week and confess their sins which the head priest forgives as, according to Christian creed, the head priest has power to do that as he is considered to be the representative of Saint Peter.
Ziad: La hawla wala quwwata illa billah! [There is no power or authority except with Allah]. Allah forgive us! Can any man forgive sins except Allah? This is why the Holy Quran has accused Christians that they have made their priests and elders their Rabb (fosterer) besides Allah: (In surprise) Have the priests the authority to forgive all sins?
Isabella: Yes, provided the sinner confessed all his open and secret sins before the priest. If he has concealed anything it will not be forgiven.