Chapter#4: Danger Threatens
That very night Abd ul-Cadir went off to his master, Sheikh Nasir al-Din, a learned scholar, filled with bigotry and hatred toward Christianity. To him he related what had happened at the assembly, and how that, when his heart was stirred within him at all he saw there of the danger to Islam, he resolved to come and tell it to his guide and master.
Is it true, my son?" cried Nasir, clapping his hands, and excited like a lion, is it all true?" Assured that it was, he sat silent for a moment, stroking his beard, and lost in thought. Then looking up, he said: "Alas, alas! It is indeed a sad business; but be of good cheer, my son. I will show them their folly, the baseless ness of Christianity, and the solidity of Islam. Then, if they still do not yield, I will, with the Lord's help, win them back to the faith, by force if necessary. But, my son, why did you not tell me all this earlier, that I might at once have crushed the abominable conspiracy in its cradle? These men have been my enemies ever since our school days, and that because I was their superior, and more favoured by our master; and yet I have always tried to do them good."
Abd ul-Cadir blushed at the blame implied.
"I stayed to see the end," he said, "resolved that if any evil did transpire, I would lay it at once before my master; and I now beg of him to pardon the delay."
"The Lord preserve you, my son!" Nasir replied. "I accept your excuse. And now let us call my brother's son, AI Haj Cadur, a witless fellow to be sure, but one that will serve my purpose better than a wiser and more serious man."
So AI Haj was called, who, when told of what had happened, stormed like a madman, and swore that he would rouse the city, young and old, against the vile apostates. He was hurrying off with this intent, when his uncle stopped him, saying that first everything must be done that lay in their power to recall their brethren to the truth. So he dictated a letter to his scribe, addressed to the apostates, and sent it off in the morning to Ali's house by the hand of his son. He began the letter by casting contempt on it, and ridicule on the Christian doctrines of the incarnation and atonement. Asserting the corruption of the Bible, he emphasised the danger of denying the Quran, and warned them of the risks they were sure to encounter by falling into apostasy. He offered himself to join their assembly, and discuss with them the dangerous treatise that had led them astray; and ended by praising the Prophet and his revelation. Pleading with them not to rush headlong into destruction, he begged that he might be favoured with an answer.
Early next morning Sheikh Ali was startled by Nasir's son, who, entering the house, pulled this letter tram his pocket and placed it in Ali's hand. Knowing well the intolerance of the writer, he but glanced at the contents, and then asked the bearer to thank his father and tell him that, after he had shown the letter to his friends, he hoped shortly to send a reply. So the son returned and told his father, who said: "Good! We shall see what will come of it."
Sheikh Ali retired to his chamber after the messenger had left, and as he read the letter over, he smiled and frowned alternately. Seeing the bitterness, clothed as it was in words of friendship that lurked in every sentence he thought thug within himself: "He warns us against being led astray, as if the Lord would suffer those that seek His face to be led astray. God forbid! For is it not promised that 'He will teach the meek His way'? And his threats of persecution! I foresee it all; for does not history tell us of the trials awaiting the confessor? But the Lord will give blessing and strength to bear the cross. How hard and cold is the world! The Lord save me from the hatred of man, and give me light and grace to hold on unto the end!" Then, as he left his closet, he said: "Poor Nasir al-Din! How dare he speak so of the letter! As if he could write anything like it in defence of Islam! But so goes the proverb: 'Every youth swears by his father.'"
The story now turns to Sayyid Ibrahim. When he retired from the second conference, he entered his house happy and content at the turn the debate had taken. Then he sat down, and, opening his Quran on one side, with the Torah and the Gospel on the other, he went over all the passages he could remember in the Old Testament containing predictions of the Christ, then those in the Gospel which signified their fulfillment, and lastly, the parallel passages in the Quran mentioning the same. Then he copied these out, side by side, in three parallel columns, onto a large sheet or table. Having finished this table, he looked it over again and again with satisfaction, and was bath delighted and surprised at the correspondence of the three columns one with the other, and especially at the clear testimony of the Quran given to the previous revelation and the person of Christ.
"How can our scholars," he thought within himself, "read the Quran over and over without seeing the supremacy there ascribed to the Messiah? And here I have myself been doing just the same thing! Thanks to the wanderer's Guide, who at the last has led me into the right way!" (The table is given by the author complete, with all the quotations in full, but need not be repeated here, as the various passages are fully brought out in the discussions which follow. There are six series of texts. The first relates to "Emmanuel," [Isaiah 7 and 9, Column 2; Matthew 1 and Luke 1, Column3; Sura Allmran 3:45 and Sura Mary 19:20]. The second series is on "the Ward"; the third, on the promised blessing to mankind from the seed of Abraham and line of David. The fourth, on the death of Christ; and the fifth, on His resurrection.)
Then he arose and went, table in hand, to his friend Suleiman, who told him he had just been through the same struggle, and was now convinced that Jesus is the Son of God and Saviour of the world. He praised Ibrahim for his fearless and impartial attitude in the debate of the previous day, and marvelled at his rapid growth in the knowledge of Scripture. Suleiman, much pleased with the table, and then began a long discourse with his friend on the precious truths of the Bible. Men stumble over them as unperceived jewels in their path; or as precious simples in a field that would cure the fatal disease of him who trampled heedlessly on them; or as a box of precious ointment thrown carelessly away. Then as to the varying testimony of the Quran, though some texts do deny the divinity of our Lord, others clearly admit it, like those in which He is termed "the Ward of God" and "a Spirit from Him." In fact, the Quran, as it were, shows the glory of Christ on one side, and hides it on the other; just as the new moon reveals but a tiny streak of the shining disc, while one can trace dimly and darkly the shadowy outline of the full orb, well aware of the lustre thus concealed.
"And so, as to the objections against the atonement, are we," he said, "to sit in judgment on what the Lord has revealed of Himself, and not come with meek and lowly heart to learn His will? Does the patient refuse the medicine prescribed for him till he knows its nature? Rather, assured of the physician's skill and faithfulness, does he not immediately follow his instructions? Even so with us; we must come to the Divine Physician and accept the remedy, take the blessed Son as our Saviour, and refrain from asking how or why."
And so, Ibrahim being delighted with Suleiman's excitement over the matter, the two sat long together in loving discourse. Then they look the table with them to show to their other friends, who were ail delighted with it, and agreed that Ibrahim should be their spokesman at the next meeting, which would be the last, the subject being the authenticity of the Gospel.
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