Before the Reading was revealed there were people who consented themselves to the deen and declared themselves Muslims. For example, Abraham specifically used the word Muslims when he prayed to God:
Our Lord, make us at peace (Muslims) to you, and from our progeny nations who are at peace to you. (2:128)
Then the followers of Jesus declared themselves Muslims:
And recall that I inspired the disciples, “Believe in Me and My messenger.” They said, “We believe, and bear witness that we are at peace (Muslims).” (5:111)
The word Muslims simply indicates those who are at peace with God. It is not a magic word. According to 2:140, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and all the patriarchs were not Jewish, nor were they Nazarenes.1
They served God and fulfilled their commitments. They considered themselves to be at peace because they were able to fulfil certain requirements sincerely, and in this case, it is obvious they were required to focus on certain set of rules or sanctions ordained by God.
The suffix -lah in the Reading relates the key idea back to God. For example, when the consented decree is categorically implied to have been prescribed by God it is called the masajidal-lah. When it talks about God’s prescribed limits it is called the hududul-lah, God’s laws are known as sh’iaral-lah and the path of God is called the sabi-lil-lah. When these words appear in the Reading they indicate the specifics and they are taken as the guidelines in the sanctions. None of these words has a physical connotation but they are to be taken as the specific orders. Before the Reading was revealed those who were at peace were observing their commitments by focusing towards these consented sanctions.
The Last Prophet was similarly committed to the same system. Those who wish to agree to God’s deen should focus on the consented sanctions. Whoever they are and wherever they may be, their focus would be towards the sanctions of the consented decree.
Although each individual is responsible for his or her personal deeds, each should race towards doing good deeds according to what they have consented in upholding God’s decree sanctioned by Him. The masjidil-Harami is nothing other than the details of the guidelines to be observed as prescribed in the Scripture.
Masjidil-Harami does not refer to a physical structure geographically located anywhere on the Arab soil. Had it referred to such a building, it would mean that the Arabs had received knowledge of the teachings of God at some prior point in history – which they had not – and thus could not have been ummyin – i.e. ignorant of revelation.
According to 62:2, the Arabs had no prior knowledge about God’s revelations:
Wainkanu min qoblu lafi dhola-lin mubin (62:2)
And indeed they were from before in total loss. (62:2)
Thus, the Arabs did not know anything about a sacred mosque nor did they have a sacred building standing in the desert for the performance of ritual prayers. According to Arabic legend, their own ‘sacred mosque’ started as a wooden hedge similar to a cowboy ranch and was slightly larger than a modern basketball court. Even according to their own version of events – which has nothing to do with the Reading – the first mosque was built in Medina only twelve years after Muhammad’s call to prophethood.
Readers will be surprised to know that:
- Nowhere in the Reading does it say there was a building by the name of Sacred Mosque during the time of the Last Prophet.
- There is no instruction from the Reading for the Last Prophet to build a building called the Sacred Mosque.
- Nowhere in the Reading does it say the people must perform the ‘ritual prayer’ facing Mecca.
1 Nazarenes, literally means those who support. This word is used in the Qur’an to refer to one who professes to follow Jesus of Nazareth the son of Mary and the supporters of the last prophet and the believers.