Tag Archives: Story

Ch 15: Princess of France

Soon after Isabella was taken to the large room in which her friends were sitting and the monk informed them that Princess Arkia would come shortly after finishing her preliminary prayer and then he left. Now Mirano, Mertha and Hanana found the opportunity to talk secretly to Isabella. They had full talk about their present situation and various plans were discussed about releasing Isabella. It was put to Isabella that, in order to be relieved of her permanent troubles, she should temporarily become a Christian. But Isabella spurned at the suggestion and said that whatever trouble came to her in connection with Islam they would Insha Allah (God willing) be an atonement for her sins and strengthen the faith, and if God wanted her to be released from the clutches of these oppressors, He will provide means for it, otherwise God’s Will be done. After full discussion a plan was thought out on which all agreed and, after making up their minds, the girls engaged in prayer. Isabella’s prayer was simply this verse of the Quran: “My Fosterer, take me in with truth.” Mirano began to recite salutations to the Prophet and other girls recited prayer appropriate to the occasion. Then the door opened and the Princess of France came in. She was welcomed by all.

Arkia: I am very sorry that Isabella has left the fold of the Lord and has allied herself with apostasy. I wonder why Satan has possessed her. Just last night I have seen in my dream that eminent Muslim divines were burning in Hell and this unlucky girl also wants to join them. If she takes up the Cross of the Lord again on her shoulders and lives with me just for a few days I will let her see the Lord.

Mirano: Surely it is most shameful that the daughter of the spiritual father has thus become an apostate. This is why we have brought her to you today that you may influence her with your spiritual powers, and bring her back at the feet of the Lord. She could not be silenced by argument, but now it is necessary to convert her by spiritual influence.

Arkia: Very well. Just today an effort will be made by prayer and austerities to turn Isabella towards Virgin Mary and I am sure that she will come round by the morning. I quite see that the Lord is waiting for Isabella with open arms and Isabella is also ready to go into his arms. You may not worry. Just see what happens by the morning. (Here Isabella wanted to say something but Mertha beckoned her to keep quiet.)

When Arkia had spoken of her miracles, the door opened again and the same chief monk entered and, addressing Mirano, asked her if she needed some more nuns. Mirano thanked him and said that she did not need any more but requested him that if he could come once or twice in the night and give them his advice it will be very good of him. The monk promised to look them up after every two hours and would carry out all their requests, and then left and the door was closed.

Now there was just half an hour for the midnight and the girls sat down for prayer along with Arkia who sat before the statue of Virgin Mary. The girls took their places ten paces apart from one another. Mirano took up her seat near Isabella so that if she wanted to convey something important she could do that easily and others might not know it.

After an hour was spent in prayer Mirano whispered to Isabella: Look here. You should not interrupt me whatever I say, but just listen quietly and accept what I say. Arkia in her zeal of sainthood did very curiouss things, sometimes she extended her hands as if trying to take someone in her arms, sometimes she wept and sometimes cried painfully and uttered again and again: Yes, yes. Your Lord may bless you. The Holy Ghost may soon help us. At about one in the night Mirano raised an outcry and feigned faint. Isabella sat stiffly at her seat, but Arkia, Mertha and Hanana rushed to Mirano and wanted to revive her by sprinkling water but Arkia stopped them saying that Mirano had certainly seen the Lord and their prayer of that day would surely end in success

Do not worry, she said, it is our good fortune that the Lord has come to our monastery. (Going near Isabella) Well, Isabella, do you still hesitate in lifting the Cross of our Lord ? Isabella did not reply and continued to listen in silence. Isabella’s silence further convinced Arkia that the Lord had surely descended there and cast his blessing eyes on Isabella. Mirano still continued in her swoon when the chief monk entered the room and was perturbed to see Mirano faint and cried : Oh! what has happened? Arkia promptly narrated the story of her superstition and said with firm faith that the Lord had descended on Isabella which the monk immediately confirmed as he already believed in the saintliness of Arkia. At last with great effort Mirano was revived and regained her senses.

Chief monk: Well, Mirano, how are you? Give us some good tidings.

Mirano (pointing to Arkia): It is all the manifestation of her saintliness and blessing. With her attention she made me see the Lord.

Arkia: Lord be glorified! Blessed be the name of crucified Christ!

Monk: Well, well! What did you see?

Mirano: I was absorbed in prayer when I saw a very handsome and graceful person rushing towards me and he looked in truth at Isabella and smiled.

Monk: Congratulation, congratulation.

Mirano: I was intently looking at the person when he turned towards me. I saw a mark on his face on which was written “The Holy Ghost” with light letters. (Here Isabella was suddenly forced to laugh but she suppressed it
by coughing.)

Arkia: O Lord ! Glorified be Thy Name!

Mirano: Then he took out a phial and poured a few drops on the head of Isabella.

Monk: Surely, they were drops of faith. Isabella, your luck has brightened.

Mirano: Thereafter the Holy Ghost told me two things…

Monk: Say what these two things were.

Mirano: He said that there is a sacred Church in the southern part of Cordova which is now-a-days deserted and in which bones of holy saints are preserved for pilgrims and seekers of blessings. I am going there. Look, the Lord is waiting for you there with extended arms to confer blessings.

Arkia: Crucified Lord! Thy Name be glorified. By holy Mary! how lucky is the revelation. And I had seen the Lord the moment I came here. Do you see how Mirano’s revelation has confirmed what I said.

Monk : Now say what was the other thing which the Holy Ghost said.

Mirano : The other thing…

Monk: Yes.

Mirano: The other thing is not to be told here, as I have been so enjoined.

Monk: Did the Holy Ghost ask you not to reveal it ?

Mirano: Yes, He told me not to reveal it before others.

Monk: At least tell me if it was about some person or some work?

Mirano: I can say this much that it was about you, holy father. How could I know that your position is so exalted before the Lord?

Since the monks and Roman Catholic Christians are very superstitious and easily led to believe, the monk believed it at once and jumped in joy and on hearing from Mirano “How could I know that you have so exalted a position before the Lord?” Arkia fell at the feet of the monk and began to rub her forehead on them while the monk in the ecstasy of joy stood motionless and could only say to her: Daughter, have patience! You will also be with me in
Paradise.

So two hours passed in this demonstration of jubilations when Arkia addressed the monk. Arkia: What should we do?

Monk: To seek our Lord we should go to the place indicated to Mirano. (To Isabella:) Look, O girl, truly it is due to you that the Holy Ghost has descended on us today. Surely just on meeting the Lord you will become a saint and kings will seek blessing at your feet.

Mirano: Is it necessary for us to go to that old Church indicated by the Holy Ghost ?

Monk: Simple girl, have you still any hesitation when the Holy Ghost has ordered that we should reach there before morning.

Mirano: Well, then, lock up Isabella in the underground chamber and prepare to start.

Monk: Why ! Should we leave the very person behind for whom the Holy Ghost has descended here and given us the honour of seeing the Lord? Look, Isabella has received a special grace of God, just as Holy Peter, despite being the bitterest enemy of the Lord, was the recipient of a special grace. So get up, take Isabella with you and go to the Church.

Hanana: If Isabella slips away on the way? Monk (laughing) : Strange! Has the Lord called us to his presence for nothing? As if he is not aware of even this that the person whom he has called will slip away.

Arkia: I think we should not delay now for the Holy Ghost has directed that we should reach there soon. (Looking at the sky:) See I am already seeing the Holy Ghost. O Lord ! glory to thy Name ! (All join in a loud cry): O Lord! glory to thy Name!

Monk: Well, I am asking the donkeys of the monastery to be brought and you prepare in the meantime. The donkeys are very fast runners and will take you to the Church in half an hour.

The monk then called some servants and ordered them to bring the donkeys. The order was promptly carried out, but he kept his departure a secret. The monk was very happy that Isabella, immediately on reaching there, on seeing the Lord would lift up the Cross of Christ and the holy father (Isabella’s father) would be struck with wonder on seeing this miracle. Now, they were all ready to start and Isabella, Hanana, Mertha, Mirano, Arkia and the monk mounted on fast running donkeys and, at the instruction of Mirano, Isabella was kept in the middle as a precaution. In a quarter of an hour’s time they reached the Church of Saint Peter. In this Church the bones of the martyrs, renowned in Christianity, were preserved and Christian women from distant places came on pilgrimage to receive blessings.

There was yet a long time for the dawn to appear and the awesome atmosphere of the Church filled the hearts of all with awe. Immediately on entering the Church Arkia and the monk prostrated before a large skeleton and began to cry aloud as they hoped that before the morning they will see the Lord and the Holy Ghost will embrace them.

While there was weeping in the dead of the night on the one side, Isabella and her three friends were devising their own plans. Suddenly all the four fell upon the monk who was prostrating and weeping before a skeleton and two of them caught his hands and the other two his feet and taking out a rope and rags concealed in their pockets tightly bound the monk’s feet and thrust rags in his mouth. On this sudden and unexpected attack the poor fellow could not even cry for help. Arkia was prostrating before another skeleton, hoping to see the Lord. After securing safely the monk they went to Arkia and whispered in here ear: Come, holy sister! we will show you the Lord.

Arkia, full of zeal, at once rose and when she approached the helpless monk, she cried in anguish: What is this?

Isabella: This is your Lord to see whom you came here.

Then the girls warned Arkia of her future and preached Islam to her and said that if she wanted to see the soul of truth and the perfect man she should recite, La ilaha ill Allah Muhammad Rasulullah [There is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His Apostle]; otherwise she would never be able to see her imaginary Lord till the Dooms Day. So saying the four girls mounted on the fast running donkeys and quickly left the Church.

After their departure Arkia stood transfixed as if she had lost her wit and senses. At last in the dim light of candles, the monk beckoned to her of his plight and Arkia first took out the rags from his mouth and released his hands and feet.

Hearing his outcries other pilgrims also came up, but Isabella and her friends were nowhere to be seen.

Isabella with her three friends (Mertha, Hanana and Mirano) coming out of the Church of Saint Peter mounted their fast running donkeys and driving them with all speed soon reached Umar Lahmi’s house and informed him and other Muslim divines of all that had happened. Ziad b. Umar was also intimated of these interesting details. All the Muslims were astonished on the wisdom and tact of Mirano and congratulated the four guests on their release from Christian oppression.

The four girls came to the meeting of Ziad b. Umar which assembled after early night prayer at which other eminent divines, philosophers, medical practitioners, interpreters of the Holy Quran, traditionists, and historians were present. As nearly all Muslims were aware of the affairs of Isabella and every second or third day Umar Lahmi was informed of the day-to-day happenings, all with great joy were anxious to hear their stories.

Ch 14: A Complete Change

One day Mirano, Mertha and Hanana went to the head priest and told him that as Isabella was their classmate and was also amenable to their advice, so if they were permitted to talk to her they might be able to bring her back to the Christian fold. This last chance of persuasion might be given them and they had ninety-nine per cent hope that they would succeed. Holy father, they said : Isabella is a piece of our heart and we will not spare any effort to
persuade her. So let us go to the monastery and talk to her.

Head priest: Let that accursed girl go to hell. She has become very hard-hearted and Lord Jesus Christ has cut her off. I am afraid she may not lead astray even you.

Mirano; Well, there is no harm in making a last effort of persuasion. If she comes round, well and good, otherwise you may give her whatever punishment you like.

Head priest: Very well, I give you permission to go to the monastery on condition that you should talk in the presence of two monks so that the accursed may not misguide you, and you may not be influenced by her apostasy. Now go and tomorrow evening you may go to the monastery. I am writing to the monk for it today.

After getting permission Mirano, Mertha and Hanana returned pleased and began to make preparations to leave their homes for ever, as the plan they had conceived was such that they would also have to leave their homes along with Isabella. Anyway they prepared for their permanent departure with great care and precaution and before the time of their leaving for the monastery they informed Ziad b. Umar and Umar Lahmi asking for their help in that enterprise.

After all preparations had been made the three friends came out of their houses and met at an appointed place and at the time given by the head priest they started for the monastery. The head priest had written to the manager of the monastery that these friends of Isabella were going to make a last effort to reconvert Isabella at a specified time and they should be allowed to enter the monastery and given necessary help. Maybe by persuasion of her friends Isabella might see the light. So when these girls reached the monastery the monks and nuns welcomed them cordially and thought that to give guidance to Isabella Jesus Christ had sent his Virgin Mother in the form of these girls and that the help of all saints was with them. Entering the monastery the three girls sat down before the statue of Virgin Mary and a group of monks surrounded them.

A nun (to Mirano): Blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ may be with you and God may give you success in your mission. You know that some devil has misguided this unlucky girl, Isabella. How good and learned was the girl! May God destroy the devil, what pious people he has seduced!

Another nun: Virgin Mary’s shadow be over you. By the Deliverer, you will certainly succeed in your mission. Your beautiful faces assure your success. If Lord Jesus Christ’s grace again supports Isabella it will be a great feat of yours. The news has spread all over Cordova and all Christians have been humbled.

Third nun: By God, just last night I saw girls of your features in my dream who were sitting in the lap of Virgin Mary and on the other side Lord Jesus Christ was indicating by gestures that the honour of the church will be established through these girls. When the monks heard of this dream they cried: It is these girls.

Chief monk: Isabella is locked up in the underground chamber and her hands and feet are chained. The accursed girl is so hard-hearted that the severer the punishment, the more she applauds Islam and in this condition she does not hesitate even to preach to us. Now when do you propose to go to her?

Mirano: Our idea is to talk to her calmly and explain to her the truth of Christian creed, but on condition that except one or two monks none others should be with us. Now that the sun is about to set, after three hours of the night you may bring her here so that we may induce her to pray and practise austerities. Possibly there will be no need thereafter to persuade her and by the blessing of Virgin Mary (pointing to the statue) her heart will be opened for the crucified God.

Chief monk: Whatever you order we are ready to carry out. I am directing all the monks not to interfere in your prayers and keep away from you.

Mirano : Thank you very much, but first let us meet Isabella in the underground chamber and after some usual talk exclusively on personal matters bring her here. (Pointing to the statue of Virgin Mary) Look, the Mother of our Lord is quite ready to take Isabella in her arms and it is hoped that Isabella will not refuse to go to her arms.

Thereafter the monk and the three girls went towards the underground chamber, the lock was opened and all were lost in darkness.

Hanana: Oho ! How dark !

Monk: I am lighting the lamp. You just go a little ahead, but be careful not to stumble for many skeletons are scattered all over here.

The monk lighted the lamp. When Isabella saw her three friends she was overjoyed. While Mirano, Mertha and Hanana had not yet seen her, Isabella loudly called the Muslim salutation of peace.

Monk: O unlucky accursed girl! Just yesterday you got so much beating for it, yet you do not take lesson and reform yourself.

All the girls suddenly laughed on hearing the call of Muslim salutation of peace, but when they came nearer their eyes became wet on seeing Isabella bound in chains.

Mirano: How do you do, Isabella? How is life here? Did you realise what is the punishment of rejecting the truth?

Isabella (smiling): You are right, sister, for the sake of truth people have even gone to the gallows.

Mirano: We have not come here to discuss with you but to adopt your creed.

On this all the girls laughed loudly and the two monks also could not suppress their laughter.

Mirano: Isabella, after all how long you will continue to remain in the grip of satan? Just see how the Christians all over Cordova are perturbed on your apostasy!

Isabella: There is no other way of protection from satan except by accepting Islam. It is only this strong fort from the cover of which man can successfully confront all satanic powers. It is a vain thought that only by becoming a Christian one can save oneself from the grip of satan. You have read the Bible and should know that even holy Disciples could not escape satan’s grip and even Jesus Christ called some of his Disciples satan. When these Disciples who, according to you, were trained under the direct supervision of Jesus Christ, could not escape from satan’s strong hold, how can Christians of today save themselves from satan? But the Quran says that satan cannot even touch the devoted servants of Allah.

Mirano: You have again started the same discussion in which you have been defeated by the priests (laughing) and by God’s grace we have emerged successful. So you should stop this religious discussion and just look to your tortures. O Isabella! It is God’s punishment to you that now, being the daughter of the head priest of Cordova, you sleep on the bed of thorns and your hands and feet are chained. For God’s sake, take pity on yourself.

Isabella: If truth could be given up to avoid troubles, then early Christian martyrs would not have tasted martyrdom. If troubles come only on untruth, then most of the Christians who were the pride of the church would be counted to be on the wrong. In fact, your talk has tortured me more than what I suffer on the bed of thorns and grip of chains. Did you come here to give me torture over torture?

Mirano (to the monk): Isabella can never be defeated by discussion. Her only remedy is that tonight we include her in our prayer and devotion before the idol of Virgin Mary. You will see that this very night she will be completely transformed and her heart will be turned towards crucified Christ.

Monk : May Lord Jesus accomplish this, but apparently Isabella’s turning to the truth seems to be very difficult.

Mirano: It is the rule that one who is more hard-hearted will come to the faith more with reality. Just see how unbending the enemy of the Lord Saint Paul was and what tortures the believers suffered at his hands, but this very Saint Paul became the pillar of Christianity and was the greatest recipient of Lord’s grace.

Monk: You are right. May Lord Christ may do the same for Isabella and she also joins our fold !

Mirano: Well, now we should go from hers and prepare for the prayer in the same large room. (To the monk 🙂 See, after three hours of the night you should bring Isabella to our room and also depute a nun to be with us to keep a watch over Isabella.

Monk: Very well. Isabella will be brought to you at the appointed time.

Mirano: Can you or any other monk also take the trouble of remaining with us for the night ?

Monk: Most surely. But you know that all the night we are engaged in prayer and remembrance of God.

Mirano: Well, just as you like, and there is no need either. But at the time of the morning talk as arranged, you will be with us.

Monk:  In the morning not only myself but other monks also will listen to your talk.

Mertha: If Lord Jesus wills, the object will be gained during the night and there will be no need of any talk.

Mertha said this in a tone that, except the monk, all others understood its implication.

Thereafter Mertha, Hanana and Mirano along with the monk came out of the underground chamber and reached the large room of the monastery. The monk locked the underground chamber. After dinner and toilet Mirano, Mertha and Hanana took another round of the monastery and talked to monks and nuns who began preparations for the night vigil. These girls returned to their room. The purpose of the round of the monastery and talk to monks and nuns was to find out a nun who was the greatest devotee and they found out a nun of this type and also the time of the night when she used to engage herself in prayer. Now three hours of the night were about to pass and these girls were talking quietly. At last the door of the large room opened and the same chief monk entered when the girls stood up to pay him respect as he was chief of the monks. The monk informed the girls that Isabella was being taken out of the underground chamber and brought to them as arranged and soon a nun would also be sent to them.

Mirano: Please send here the nun who is most devoted to prayer in the night and is also saintly. Is there any such nun in the monastery?

Monk: All the nuns that are here are devotees and practise all kinds of austerities for the sake of Lord Jesus, but there is one among them whose name is Arkia who is the most pious devotee, recipient of Divine revelations and performer of miracles. About her family it is enough to say that she is a Princess of France and has given up her riches and royalty for the sake of Virgin Mary.

Mirano: So our object is gained. We needed such a nun who could influence Isabella with her spirituality. Does she also perform miracles?

Monk: Her miracles are known far and wide. Have you never heard about it ? You may just take this that she drinks the cup of poison and is not at all affected. Once a very dangerous and poisonous snake entered the monastery and fell at the feet of Arkia. This I saw myself.

Mirano: God’s name be glorified! The work is done. Now, you please go and send Isabella to us.

Ch 13: A Conspiracy

While Isabella was in her room, a maidservant gave a letter in her hand which read: “Sister Isabella, I have to talk to you on some important things, so be kind to take the trouble of coming here at once. The matter is very important. You should not delay at all. Just now I am waiting for you anxiously in another house. Please come along with this maidservant. Your sister, Mirano.”

Isabella immediately got up to follow the maidservant while suspecting that the letter was not from Mirano, but was a secret conspiracy of the priests. She followed the maidservant on the road which, rounding from the Palace of Martyrs, went straight to Rabat Ramani. At some distance the maidservant turned to a lane and entered a grand house and as soon as she entered all the doors were closed and unsuspecting Isabella was taken to another room whose doors were also closed and Isabella was taken to another room whose doors were also immediately closed. Here Isabella suspected that she probably had been taken prisoner. Then two or three monks pushed Isabella to the stairs leading to the underground room. Isabella was perturbed and she realised that she was in the grip of the Inquisition. When she put her feet on the stair a monk gave a hard blow on the back of the poor, delicate girl, and said. O accursed one! why do you not go ahead? See that the fire of Lord Jesus Christ’s anger is ready to burn you up. Unlucky girl! you have defamed Christianity and dragged the honour of your father, the head priest, into the mire.

Poor Isabella was silent. Shivering and suffering blows on her back she got down to the underground chamber where human skeletons were lying here and there in all corners and human craniums were hanging on the walls. Going inside the monk lighted a lamp and said to Isabella: Now you have to live here so that you may know the consequences of hostility to Lord Jesus Christ. Unluckily girl (pointing to the skeletons), these have been deputed to chastise you.

Isabella kept silence and felt as if she was in a dream. In the meantime all the monks went out of the cell after locking it and engaged themselves in prayer and devotion in other rooms. After some time Isabella came to her senses and soon realised that she was put to the tortures of being shut up in this chamber of ghosts because of her acceptance of truth.

The day passed somehow and darkness of the night enveloped the world. After eighth part of the night Isabella was taken out of the chamber and was given some parched and ground grain with water to drink. The monks even now continued to snub her. Then Isabella was taken to different rooms of the house where monks were engaged in various devotional exer-cises. The object of this round was to frighten Isabella by the austerities of monks which might appeal to her conscience. Isabella watched all this with great interest. One person was lying bound up in chains and another person was striking him with a lash. Isabella was terrified at this sight and thought that probably he was also a guilty one like herself. She soon found that it was a method of subduing the self, and self-torture was voluntarily taken up by monks. In the large room of the house there was an idol of Virgin Mary, around which monks and nuns were sitting in meditation. Some monks were lying along the wall with faces downward and some were sobbing in a corner ; for subduing the self they had not taken food for the last twenty or twenty-one days. Isabella was aware of these things but had not yet actually witnessed these scenes with her own eyes.

An elderly monk said to Isabella: O abandoned girl, if you want to gain salvation, practise such austerities and by these achieve the pleasure of Lord Jesus Christ.

Isabella laughed at it and said : Why does God need such austerities ? The purpose of religion is that one should perform the duties which a man has towards other men and serve men, not that he should hang himself in a corner like abat. Further, when, according to you, Jesus has atoned for all Christians, then such austerities are useless.

On this the monk’s eyes became red with anger, and he struck a fist on the chest of Isabella with full force saying : Hellish girl, you can never be reformed. Go away, sit at your place. You will get your full treatment there.

So the monk again opened the door of the underground chamber and forced poor Isabella inside.

Isabella sat in a corner of the chamber where tons of human bones were scattered and human skeletons all around were creating an awesome spectacle. In the beginning Isabella’s mind was somewhat perturbed but soon her senses revived and she was able to think about her past and future affairs. In this fearful and silent house of the dead if there was a slightest sound Isabella looked around perturbed and worried, but soon she brought herself up and began to recite prayers. At last the night ended and in this dark and closed chamber some rays of light entered through some holes. After some time the door of the chamber was opened and a monk brought her out in the large hall of the house here twelve idols of the Disciples of Christ and other martyrs were stalled. Isabella was taken where two very famous priests were sitting, Isabella sat before them. At first a great deal of anger and fire was demonstrated and then preaching began.

They said : Have you become a Muslim? Isabella: Thank Allah, Who gave me the great boon of Islam.

Priest: Leave out the praise of Islam. Just tell me if you want to die an obnoxious death, or do you want to become again worthy of God’s grace?

Isabella: After accepting Islam any person becomes worthy of God’s grace and no one is more fortunate than the one who is given the luck to accept Islam as this religion alone is the source of God’s pleasure and love.

Priest: Do not praise before me a bloody religion like Islam. I just want a reply in two words, whether you like to die or to live a Christian. Reply at once for your fate is to be decided today.

Isabella: What tribulations Christian martyrs had not suffered in the very beginning, but did they renounce the truth? They were burnt alive, thrown before tigers and lions, cut into two by saw and yet they held on to the truth.

If for the sake of truth anyone has to meet death, it will be the means of having God’s pleasure and satisfaction of his conscience. Since I am on the right, nothing on earth, even death, can make me deviate from it. The Holy Quran has taught me that “My prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are surely for Allah, the Lord of the worlds—no associate has He.”* I have been enjoined to remain firm on it, and I am among those devotees.

Priest: That is, you do not want to give up Islam and enter into the grace of Lord Jesus Christ, Well, then your fate will be decided today.

Isabella: Whatever decision you like you may make about me with your heart’s content. The utmost you can do is to take my life, but you do not know that the Being to Whom I am related is Allah, Who lives for ever.

Priest: When death will confront you, you will forget all these verses of the Quran and Allah, etc. We shall see if the Quran or Prophet Muhammad saves you from death.

Isabella: The same problem was put by the Jews before Jesus Christ that if he was on the right, he should come down from the scaffold and save his life. Now either (Allah forbid!) Christ was wrong that, according to you, he could not save himself from death, or you are in the footsteps of Jews.

Priest: O devil, hellish, evil-minded, worthless, unlucky! You call me a Jew! Now keep quite and wait for your end.

Isabella: It will be better if you also keep quiet and leave me alone and do yourself whatever you please.

Priest (to monks): Lock up this girl in the underground chamber, do not give her any food or drink. Holy Father (Isabella’s father) has ordered that she should be given over to the Inquisition and her fate will be decided tomorrow.

On this the monks caught hold of Isabella forcefully pushing and beating her, and carried her out of the room. Outside the room the beating was harder and numerous. Isabella fell and got up. At last she was thrown in the underground chamber and locked up.

Now three days had passed in this confinement and Isabella was not even once taken out. But she was so happy and complacent as if angels of firmness and stability were deputed for her. In the solitude of the night human skeletons made the atmosphere quite fearsome, while monks and nuns were engaged in austerities ; their weeping and cries reached Isabella’s ears.

In the meantime Isabella’s friends (Mirano, Mertha and Hanana) had also learnt that Isabella had been fraudulently called and thrown into the underground chamber of a monastery and was being subjected to great tortures. Then they consulted together and decided to inform Umar Lahmi and Ziad b. Umar. One night they went to the assembly of Ziad b. Umar and narrated the whole episode which greatly excited the Muslims who were present there.

One person: By Allah, if we continue to remain so tolerant Christians will put great obstruction in the propagation of Islam. Isabella is now our sister in Islam and it is the duty of every Muslim to release her from the grip of Christians at whatever cost.

Another person (drawing his sword): By your permission I can go at once and release Isabella. It is a pity that while our sister is under such tortures we sit silent even now which is a great injustice.

Umar Lahmi: Brothers, excitement and outbursts will not do. The case is now before Hazrat Ziad b. Umar and we shall do whatever he orders.

All (to Ziad b. Umar): Well, sir, whatever you order we are ready to carry it out.

Ziad b. Umar : My advice to you is that you should not show any excitement as it will cause the death of poor Isabella. If we like we can get her released by sending a contingent of our army, but it is expedient to take a strategic action. If Isabella is in trouble it will InshaAllah (God willing) strengthen her faith and the fact is that the worth of Islam is realised in the taste of tribulations.

Umar Lahmi (to Mirano, Mertha and Hanana): Now say what is your opinion and how far you can help our sister Isabella.

Mirano: If we are allowed and the matter is left to us we can easily relieve Isabella from the trouble.

Umar Lahmi: Thank you very much.

Ziad b. Umar: You have our permission to do whatever you can in your own way to get Isabella released.

The three girls, making firm promises, sought permission to depart. They left and went to their respective homes. The plan of releasing Isabella remained under discussion all the way.

Isabella – A girl of Islamic Spain
Next Chapter

Ch 12: Isabella’s Prayer

Evening came after anxious waiting and Isabella started for the garden of Cordova well in time. On the way she met Michael’s daughter, Mirano, who also accompanied her and her other two friends, who had listened to the talk at Michael’s house, also joined them in the garden.

Mirano: Isabella, there is great sorrow on your face. Why? You have to part some day from your relatives.

Isabella: I was in great plight after I parted from you. But luckily my mother, being engaged in other things, could not come to me, otherwise Heaven knows what trouble she would have caused. But now by Allah’s Grace I am not worried but prepared to bear all troubles for the sake of truth.

Mirano: But, sister, you were wonderful today, you gave such crushing replies to priests that they were flabbergasted and could not reply, and moreover whatever you argued was from the Bible.

Mertha (the other friend): But what is strange is that despite being silenced they do not confess.

Mirano: They may not confess by mouth but their hearts do believe. After you left my father Michael said to Peter: It is true that the divinity of Christ is not proved by the Bible, but anyway we have to abide by the judgment of the Church. Father Peter was convinced of the weight of your arguments and said that your arguments were not weak.

Mertha: But today’s discussion proved that Islam is a true and firm religion while in Christianity there is nothing but misguidance.

Mirano (to Isabella): Would you like to leave your parents, brothers, sisters and relatives, and the life of ease and comfort? And what will you do if your father is strict on you and gives you up to the Inquisition?

Isabella: I have now freed my mind from all these worries. Allah Who has conferred on me the boon of Islam will also help me in future and will not discard my good cause. I find great solace in the verse of the Quran which says: “Whosoever has fear of Allah in him, then Allah will provide for him the means to find the path of salvation and give him sustenance from quite unexpected quarters.”

Mirano: Well, when shall we go to meet Ziad b. Umar and his company? Isabella : We have to go there a little early so as to benefit by the company of respected Ziad as much as possible and return home in time. Mirano: Will you report to respected Ziad the events of today?

Isabella : Why not? But let us go now so that we may reach there at the time of isha (early night prayer) and return after staying there for an hour.

Coming out of the garden of Cordova Isabella, accompanied by her friends, took her way to the’ great Mosque of Cordova and on the way Isabella informed her friends that, although in her heart she has become a Muslim, she has not been formally converted. She would now take the pledge at the blessed hands of Ziad b. Umar, so that Allah may grant her more courage and firmness and take in her heart the full measure of Allah’s help. All her friends congratulated her on her good intention and expressed their pleasure also.

Half an hour after this, the girls entered the inner part of Umar Lahmi’s house, which adjoined the house of Ziad b. Umar, who had already been informed of their visit by Umar Lahmi. So after isha prayer divines, devotees, traditionists, poets, men of letters, academicians and eminent scholars assembled there. After formal talk Umar Lahmi asked Ziad b. Umar’s permission to bring the girls to his presence, and on getting permission the girls were called from Umar Lahmi’s house.

As soon as the girls arrived Ziad asked about their welfare. Isabella narrated to him the happenings of the last two days with her father, the head priest, and other priests and also the talk she had had with Michael and Peter on different subjects and also the arguments which she had put before them. The learned men present there applauded her achievement and greatly encouraged her. All were impressed by the profound knowledge of Isabella.

Isabella (to Ziad b. Umar): Respected sir, this has all passed and whatever comes after will be seen, but now my request is that you formally convert me to Islam and include me in the universal brotherhood of the believers of one God. So Ziad b. Umar formally converted her and all those present prayed sincerely for her firmness.

Ziad b. Umar: Daughter Isabella, now that you have formally embraced Islam, you should put a veil on your face as Islam enjoins concealment of the woman’s face. In future you should always be veiled. At the same time five times of prayer are incumbent on you and see that it is never missed as this is the only door to felicity. Well, are these girls with you the same whom you had mentioned ?

Isabella: Yes, one of them is the daughter of Michael, whose name is Mirano, and the other two are my friends and confidantes. Their names are Mertha and Hanana.

Ziad: Have they any doubt about Islam?

Isabella: They have no doubt about the truth of Islam and, like me, they believe in it and when Allah wishes they will formally declare their Islam, yet Mirano has some doubts which my spiritual father, Umar Lahmi, will resolve. She will come here some time and present her doubts and have satisfaction.

Umar Lahmi: It appears from your father’s attitude that he will be strict with you and it will not be surprising if he secretly hands you over to the Inquisition. By the morning Michael and Peter will report to him the details of your debate after which he is sure to antagonise you. Now, what remedy have you thought of it ?

Isabella: Allah knows better what is going to happen in future. I have submitted my case to Allah. Yet I have resolved that if he is more oppressive I will come over to your house.

Umar Lahmi: You may do this whenever you like; anyway you have to do this sometime, for Christians are not so broadminded as not to oppress you and leave you free when they find that you have accepted Islam.

Isabella (to Zia’d b. Umar): Respected sir, you pray for me that Allah may grant me endurance and firmness. Now permit us to leave.

Ziad b. Umar and others present said goodbye to the girls and, after leaving the place, Isabella and her three friends got to their respective homes.

Isabella slept in a corner of her house and, long before dawn, when she woke up, she could not leave her bed. While still in bed the voice of Allah-o-Akbar reached her ears and made her quite restless, while the idea of Glory and Grandeur of Allah and His Awe and Might filled her eyes and tears began to fall from them. Getting some solace after weeping she fell in prostration and with all humbleness prayed to the Creator of the earths and heavens: “O Allah! grant me Thy love and Thy most loved one. O Allah ! fill my heart with the light of Islam and Tauhid (Unity) and make the obedience of Thy Apostle my fate in life. O Allah! I am so grateful to Thee for conferring on me the honour of following the Mercy of the Worlds.O Allah! grant my parents, my relatives and all Christians and the misguided ones the blessings of Islam and let us all live and die on Islam. O my Lord! just grant this humble prayer of the oppressed one, for Thou art the hearer and the seer.”

After concluding this prayer Isabella felt that her soul had got solace and a great load had been lifted from her mind. She found that a treasure-house of endurance, firmness and elation had been installed into her heart. She was very happy as she had secured a great wealth like Islam. She was now fearless and bold, for the Tauhid had cast off from her all fears except the fear of Allah.

Isabella’s mother was in an unusual great rage. It appeared that Peter and others had conveyed all their talk to her parents and convinced them that she had become an apostate and all the doors of persuasion had closed on her.

Isabella – A girl of Islamic Spain
Next Chapter

Ch 11: Test of Faith

Continuing her talk Isabella said: Christ has no power to perform miracles as it has been proved from the Bible. Now I say that Jesus Christ was as powerless in everything as any other man. If he were God he could not have been so helpless and he would have been free to do anything like the Almighty God and could not have felt the need of seeking the help of others. (Opening the Bible) Jesus Christ says: “Foras the Father has life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to exercise judgment also, because he is the Son of man.”[ John, 5 : 26-27.] That is even the life of Jesus Christ was not his own but given by God and it was He Who gave him authority to do justice. Without God’s grace he could not do even justice and the argument given was that Jesus was human and a human being could not do anything without the help of God. Christ also says: “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear I judge and my judgment is just.” [Ibid., 5:30] Further he said: “I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me.”[Ibid. 6:38] Thus it is proved that Christ was quite powerless like other men, and who is dependent on others cannot be God, and so Jesus also was not God.

Peter (to Michael): Do you see how unbending is this girl ? Muslims have taught her well to become so talkative. Now, can you believe that she will come to the right path? I think it is useless to have any further talk with her as she has lost faith and has become very disobedient.

Michael: I am also convinced that she is wholly under the control of Satan. (To Isabella 🙂 All the arguments produced by you have obvious replies and you have also read them in the lessons on theology. There are also other replies which you cannot understand at all. Now, instead of replying to you, I should like to hear your ideas so that we can come to the decision easily about you. You have clearly stated your views about the Divinity of Christ and Atonement. Now what have you to say further?

Isabella: I have neither denied the Bible nor Jesus Christ. But what I say is that, according to the teaching of the Bible, neither Christ is proved to be God, nor any basis of atonement. All this is the invention of Christians.

Michael: It means that all Christians are liars and all Christians have united against the Holy Bible. Accursed and hellish girl, if you cannot understand anything, just accept the judgment of your elders. Does your father, who is the head priest and has full authority to pardon sins, also consider these things wrong 7 Are all his popes, monks, Christian divines and savants of Christianity on the wrong path?

Isabella: Just as the Bible does not prove the Divinity of Christ and Atonement, in the same wav the Christianity of the so-called Christians of today is not established according to the Bible and so their opinions cannot be my guide.

Michael: Wonderful! That we are unreal and false Christians, and you are a real and true Christian. Unlucky girl, what has become of your senses? You have discarded even your elders. After all what is your proof that we are not true Christians?

Isabella: There is no reason for losing temper. The matter is quite obvious. If you could prove from the Bible that modern Christians are true Christians, then I will wholeheartedly accept their decision and will not press any argument against them from the Bible. So, you just prove from the Bible that Christians of today are true Christians.

Michael: There are Christians all over the world, and you say that they are not Christians according to the Bible. What is its proof? Is it not proof enough that we believe in the Bible, in the Divinity of Jesus and his crucifixion?

Isabella: Do not Muslims believe in the Bible? Can you call them Christians? As to believe in the Divinity of Christ and Atonement, it is not any argument for Christianity. On the other hand, it proves that such persons are not at all Christians as there is no trace of such beliefs in the Bible.

Peter : O worthless girl, why are you doubting our Christianity? If we are not Christians, then it is for you to give proof of true Christians. Just say where in the world do real and true Christians live.

Isabella : You may be as much angry as you like, but the truth cannot be concealed. If you want the proof from me, then I declare candidly that Christians of today are not at all followers of Christ, and who can be a true Christian I am prepared to prove from the Bible itself.

Michael: O accursed girl, why talk and talk? Why not come out with your proof?

Isabella : Well, then, listen. The signs of the true Christians are mentioned in the Bible as follows: “And these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” [Mark, 16 : 17-18.] At another place the sign of the believing Christian is stated as follows: “Then came the disciples to Jesus and said, Why could we not cast him [evil spirit] out ? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief, for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say upon this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place ; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” [Matthew. 17 : 19-20.]

Now, from these two passages of the Bible, the following six signs of Christians have been established:

(1) driving out evil spirits
(2) speaking new languages without learning them
(3)lifting up poisonous snakes
(4) taking the cup of poison without injury
(5) curing the sick by the touch of their hand and
(6) moving away mountains.

So, anyone who claims to be a Christian must first prove these six signs in him. You are also a Christian. Leave aside all the six signs and cure a sick man with your touch; mountain, of course, you cannot move. Here is just a stone; move it away only ten or twenty yards, so that your Christianity is proved by the Bible.

Michael: True, it is all in the Bible, but where is it written that anyone who is unable to do such miracles is not a Christian? Besides, all these signs are peculiar to Disciples and not to Christians in general

Isabella : Both these statements are wrong. The Bible clearly says that any Christian who has an atom of faith in him will move away the mountain by his bidding. It follows that anyone who has not even an atom of faith in him will not be able to move the mountain. Then it is also wrong to say that these signs are for the Disciples only as it is clearly said in the Bible that these miracles will be among the believers. If these signs are intended for the Disciples only, then belief is also for the Disciples only which means that no true Christian was born after the Disciples.

Peter: Unlucky girl, that is why I say that you cannot understand the mysteries and inner meanings of the Bible. Foolish girl, these miracles relate to spiritual matters, that is, by Illness is meant spiritual illness, poison means disbelief which means that Christians, even if they are attacked by unbelievers, will not degrade from faith and so on.

Isabella: Just think before you reply. You call me foolish; the cap may fit on you. Look, Jesus Christ says: “He that believeth on me the works that I do shall he do also.”[ John, 14 : 12.] If by miracles Is meant spiritual matters, then it will follow that Christ neither revived a dead, nor did he give sight to the blind, nor cured a sick, but he just cured spiritually dead, exorcised the evil spirits, and created in them the light of faith. But you people will never admit this interpretation about Christ. Then why do you concoct this new rule for others ? Christ said: “the works that I do,” so whatever he did and in whatever manner, believers should also do and in the same manner, otherwise they will not be believers.

Peter: It is difficult to make this unbelieving girl understand. Her remedy is not exhortation but the same punishment which the Inquisition decides (after whose decision the guilty is tied to the stock). (To Michael.) You turn her out of the house and tell holy father (the head priest) that she is past remedy and some other device must be adopted.

Michael and Peter then rose and went to another room and consulted among themselves. Michael’s daughter Mirano told Isabella to leave at once otherwise there might be trouble for her there. But it was agreed that Isabella and her friends must assemble at the famous garden of Cordova in the evening and think about the future. Isabella went out of Michael’s house and took the way to her home. But although she was going to her house her steps faltered and she pondered as to what was she going to meet at her home.

Anyhow she reached her home and, on the insistence of her mother, also ate something, but in the worried state of her mind she could not decide about her future and, waiting for the evening, she retired to her room. She looked at her library and other things and cast gloomy eyes at every corner of the house fearing that she might have to leave it. Who will use her things and read her books, she thought. So thinking she abruptly alerted and said: Let anyone live in this house and use my things and read my books. I was in search of truth, which I have got. My Allah has guided me. Thousands of thanks to Him Who has granted me the wealth of truth and nothing could be greater than it. Thousands of such houses may be sacrificed for the boon of Islam. So saying she fell down to prostrate and thank the Almighty Allah.

Isabella – A girl of Islamic Spain
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Ch 10: Inside Knowledge

Next morning a maid-servant brought a note from Michael to Isabella which said : Daughter Isabella ! I have to talk to you on something; you should come to me at once leaving all other work. I am waiting for you. Isabella realised that it was in continuation of the previous day’s plan. Informing her mother she left for Michael’s house, where Peter and another well-known monk, highly popular and famous throughout Spain for his ascetic life, were also present. Michael’s daughter Mirano hurriedly dispatched a messenger to call her other friends and very soon all the friends collected there. Michael then addressed Isabella.

Michael: Yesterday, you put off the matter by giving ambiguous answers to our questions. Today I want to talk to you very frankly. Now say, will you answer my questions correctly?

Isabella: In the first place, I am not so able as to respond to your questions and, secondly, there is no such matter as to need interrogation. But you may ask and I will try to answer according to my understanding.

Michael: Have you become a Muslim?

Isabella: I answered this question yesterday and do not want to say anything more.

Michael: Well, now say if you believe in the holy divinity and in Jesus Christ being “God” with his necessary existence.

Isabella: I do believe God as God, not any man as God.

Michael: So it is clear that you do not believe in the divinity of Lord Jesus Christ. Now what is left there in your being a confirmed Muslim?

Isabella: I mean that there is no proof anywhere in the Bible that Jesus was God.

Michael: For God’s sake, do not calumniate the Holy Bible. Have you not read in the Bible that he was the “Son of God”?

Isabella: There have been other “sons” of God also and so they should also be called “God”.

Michael: Never. Except Lord Jesus Christ, no other man was a true “son” of God.

Isabella (holding the Bible in her hand): Well, please explain to me the meaning of this passage : “The Jews again lifted stones to strike Christ who told them: I have shown you many good things from the father; on which of these you are stoning me? The Jews said: We are not stoning you on good acts but on your infidelity that being a man you call yourself God. Christ said: Does not your creed say that you are God ? When it calls those God to whom divine revelations came, then the person whom God sent to the world after glorifying him, how can you say that he talks infidelity. This is why I said that I am son of God.” [ Jonah, chapter 1, verses 31-36,]

Now the question is what previous Apostles have been called God? Christians believe that these predecessors were called God metaphorically and in love. I say the same. Jesus Christ is also called God in the metaphorical sense and in love, and not because he was really God as alleged.

Michael: Accursed girl! you have become very talkative. Having studied from me you venture to ask the meaning of these verses from me as if we are ignorant and you are learned. But just see, each of the previous Prophets could not be God in the real sense, because they were not innocent while our Lord Jesus Christ was sinless and innocent and therefore he was also God.

Isabella: We are not talking of sin or innocence. The question is that Jesus Christ called himself God as other Prophets were called. If Jesus Christ was really God, then we have to admit that every other Prophet was also God. Besides, in these verses Jesus Christ was replying to the accusations of the Jews. If he were really the son of God, he would have accepted the accusations of Jews.

Michael: Oh! How great! you are such a great scholar that you slight us. It is now clear that you have been well grounded. If Jesus Christ was not God but just a man, how could he constitute atonement for our sins. And is any man free from sins?

Isabella: I do not understand how you concoct the rule that no one among men can be innocent, although even in the Bible a man says about Malik Sidq Shalem : “He without father, without mother, without genealogy. Neither is there beginning of his life nor its end. but just as kin to the son of God.” [ Ecclesiaites, chapter 7, verse 3]. Then in the Bible it is written about Zacharias and his wife: “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” [Luke, chapter 1, verse 6.]

So it is clear that Malik Sidq Shalem, Zacharias and his wife were certainly innocent, otherwise the words “just as kin to God” and “blameless” would be meaningless. So innocence of Christ is not unique but he was innocent like other innocent men. As to the case of Atonement this is also not proved from the Bible, for no man can take the load of other man’s sins and least of all taking the load of men’s sins on his head and dying on the cross. In fact, Jesus has declared in the Bible that salvation will be on the basis of acts and not by atonement, as it is written: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; then he shall reward every man according to his works”[Matthew, chapter 16, verse 27.]; “And, behold, one came and said unto him: Good what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life. Christ said:… If thou wilt enter into life keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false-witness.” [Ibid., chapter 19. verses 1618. t 2 ]. It is proved from these verses that salvation is by acts alone. Christ did not tell the man that he did not need do anything as he (Christ) would be atonement for him.

Michael: Girl, you seem to have come to teach me. Do you not trust me? I am your teacher. Whatever I say you must believe. By your own wisdom you cannot comprehend the delicate problems of religious law. The question of atonement comes later. First the question of the divinity of Jesus Christ should be settled. See Christ was taken to heaven in life which Muslims also believe. Is it not the proof of his divinity? Jesus Christ exhibited great miracles. He revived the dead, gave sight to the blind. Do not these things prove his divinity? First you must believe or reject divinity of the Lord and then talk of other things.

Isabella: It was you who raised the question of Atonement. So I began to discuss it. If Jesus Christ can be God by being raised to heaven alive, then Eli should also be God as he was also, according to the Bible, raised alive to heaven [Kings, chapter 14, verse 12]. As to the Christ reviving the dead and giving sight to the blind, that also does not prove his divinity as other Prophets had also demonstrated miracles as is clearly mentioned in the Bible. If these miracles can make anyone God, then other Prophets were also God.

Peter: See, how this girl confuses us! O, foolish girl! The miracles shown by other Prophets were not by their own power but by the power of God, while Christ did miracles by his own power, which proves that he was God.

Isabella: In the first place miracles are not proofs about prophethood, to say the least of divinity. That according to the Christian creed it is not necessary that anyone who does miracles is a prophet and when he cannot be even a prophet, how can he be God? Jesus has said: “… I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater work than these shall he do.” [2 Kings, chapter 2, verse 12.]

As to your claim that the miracles of Christ were by his own authority while those of others they were by constraint, this is also wrong for the Bible proves that not only in performing miracles but in everything else Jesus was as powerless as other Prophets. And whenever Jesus performed any miracle he first prayed for the help of God. In his miracle of bread and fish he sought the help of God and at another place he said to the Disciples that taking out of souls depended on prayer. Christ revived a dead by praying to God.[See Matthew, 12 : 16 ; Mark. 9 : 29 ; Jonab, 11 : 41]

Isabella – A girl of Islamic Spain
Next Chapter

Ch 9: Inside the House

Leaving the auspicious and glowing meeting at the house of Ziad b. Umar, Isabella took the road straight to her home which ran through the Palace of Martyrs to Suqul Asafir. Isabella’s house was just a few paces away. The meeting had filled her with such joy that, unmindful of everything around, she walked quietly and soberly with downcast eyes. Half an hour later she reached home where her mother was waiting impatiently for her. On enquiry about the cause of her delay Isabella named a friend of her’s, at whose house she was delayed. On her mother’s order the dining table was set and she immediately sat down and began to eat. Soon her father (the head priest) also arrived and the night passed peacefully.

Early next morning the Muezzins called for the Fajr prayer from all mosques of Cordova. How pleasant is the sound and how, in the salubrious hour of morning, people were being roused for bowing and prostrating for the Fajr prayer with the name of Allah. How enchanting is the sound of Allah-o-Akbar, Allah-o-Akbar, (Allah is great, Allah is great). Now the gongs of churches also began to toll. How jarring and meaningless is the sound. Truly the condition of each community is known from its rites. From mosques devotees began to emerge. Labourers, traders and cultivators took their respective ways to places of work, markets and fields. The chirping of birds had somewhat subsided.

Hearing the call of prayer Isabella got out of her bed and went to the library room of her house and sitting at a table began to study a book. In the meantime Peter and Michael also came there and Isabella stood up and received them with respect. A little later Isabella’s father also came and took his seat in the room and Isabella’s mother was also called in. Isabella was frightened at this unexpected, uncalled and strange gathering and suspected that these people had assembled on her account and probably her association with Islam had come to their knowledge. Colour went out of her face and her heart began to throb quickly and so, taking the excuse of thirst, she went for water to another room.

The head priest, addressing Isabella’s mother, Peter and Michael said: Do you know what is the state of Isabella and how is she trying to humiliate and degrade us? It is to think about this matter that I have given you the trouble to come over here.

Peter: Oh ! What is the matter!

Head Priest: It is all very serious. I have been hearing for some time that Isabella has given up Christian creed and has secretly embraced Islam.

Helena (Isabella’s mother): Fie, fie ! What are you talking? Jesus Christ may never do it. What is the matter that you are so enraged today that, without any reason, you have made my daughter a Muslim ?

Head Priest: What I am saying is quite true. If not today, you will learn it a few days after.

Peter: Holy father, you have said something strange. Isabella is a very good girl. She has studied theology. She is not ignorant as to accept the bloody religion of Islam.

Helena: Well, I am just calling the girl. I do not know what caused this suspicion in you.

So saying Helena went to the room where Isabella was sitting horrified in a corner. Helena at once caught the hand of Isabella and said to her: Listen, daughter, your father calls you. Isabella who had realised the situation rose up and followed her mother to the large room and presented herself to the head priest.

Isabella’s father beckoned to Michael and asked him to talk to her.

Michael: Daughter, we have heard that you have revolted from Christianity. Is it true? If anyone has given wrong report about you, you may refute it.

Isabella heard this and kept quiet and, lowering her eyes, began to weep. Warm tears began to drop on her rosy cheeks.

Helena: Just see. Did not I tell you that someone has falsely accused my daughter. What refutation could she give! Her tears speak that the allegation of her revolt from Christianity is quite false.

Head Priest: You just keep quiet for a while and let Isabella herself reply. Yes, daughter, tell me what is this report about you?

Isabella continued to remain silent with bowed head. But on persistent questioning from Peter and Michael she was compelled to open her lips.

Isabella: I have not yet accepted Islam but continue to remain Christian.

Michael: If you have not yet accepted Islam, do you intend to accept it in future?

Isabella: Why do you ask me about future? I can put the same question to you.

Michael: Then tell me what is your opinion about Islam?

Isabella: I do not abuse Islam like others for in the Muslim sacred Books Christ is praised and Muslims speak well of him.

Michael: Then you love Islam and Muslims?

Isabella: You may call it love or anything else. Anyway I am not ungrateful. If Muslims respect our Christ, then I also must respect their Prophet and their Sacred Book.

Peter: So it is clear now that in your heart you have become a Muslim, otherwise you would not have so praised Islam and Muslims. But now tell me what do you think about the religion you have been believing, that is Christianity.

Isabella: I have faith in the Bible and all revealed books, but I do not accept the flaws which later Christians have introduced in religion.

Head Priest (addressing Michael, Peter and Isabella’s mother): Now you have known her ideas. There is no other remedy to it except the sword.

Peter: Please give me time. I will explain to her and she will surely be reformed. I will remove her misunderstandings. Anyway, she has studied books on theology.

Head Priest: Well, you may try and see, otherwise I will think of some other remedy for her.

After this talk the meeting dispersed and the head priest, taking Peter and Michael with him, left for the great church as there was a large crowd of Christians of Spain to see the relics (bones, etc.) of Prophets and the head priest. They had come from long distances to participate in the ceremony and the head priest had gone to bless thousands of Christians.

The priests having left, Isabella went to her room and silently thought about her future. She was now convinced that she was sure to be put to torture and she will have to face severe trials. Yet she found her mind at ease and heart strong and prepared to meet all troubles.

She took out a paper from her table and wrote a letter to her friend Mirano (daughter of Priest Michael) to the following effect:

“My dear sister!

“Last night at nine I attended the meeting of Muslim divines at which my spiritual father Umar Lahmi and other divines were present. How can I describe its atmosphere, my sister ! A wonderful spiritual assembly it was. My participation in it greatly fortified my heart. I wish you were also present there. I have made a promise with their spiritual leader Ziad b. Umar to take you with me tomorrow or day after to them. A strange thing happened today. It appears that I am going to be put to trial. Pray that God may keep me ever on the right path. It so happened that my father got some information about me that I have embraced Islam and so he called your father [Michael] and Peter to his house and many questions were asked from me. Now, just fancy with my father on one side and Michael and Peter on the other, in what difficult position I was placed. But I also gave them stunning replies. Now, Peter has given promise to my father that he will make me understand. If any such occasion comes you must also be present along with other three friends. Other details I will give you verbally.

“Your sister, Isabella.”

After finishing the letter she called her maidservant and told her to go to Mirano and bring from her a book. She also gave her the letter which, she said, was lying with her for some time and asked her to deliver it to Mirano. The maid-servant did as she was ordered and, going to Michael’s house, gave the letter to Mirano, who immediately opened and read it and said to the maid-servant that she will herself bring the book in the evening.

Isabella and her other friends met together in the evening in the same garden in which Isabella had first heard the talk of Umar Lahmi. She informed her friends all that had happened and consulted them. It was also decided that next evening they should all go to attend the meeting of Ziad b. Umar and also inform him of everything. After enjoying the evening walk of the garden all the girls left for their respective homes.

Isabella – A girl of Islamic Spain
Next Chapter

Ch 8: Behind the Curtain

In the course of this talk Umar Lahmi addressed Isabella.

Umar Lahmi: So for securing forgiveness of sins all kinds of dirty acts have to be narrated? But how did you use to seek forgiveness?

Isabella (lowering her eyes with modesty): On a given date everyone has to go to the great church, the same where you had discussion with Michael and Peter and then…

Umar Lahmi: Are girls also bound to appear?

Isabella: Yes, every adult girl and boy is present there and the priest enquires from everyone what sins he had committed the previous week. After stating the sins and making confession, the priest, passing his hand on the head of the sinner, says: Now go. By the blessing of Jesus Christ all your sins are forgiven.

Umar Lahmi: Are questions put to everyone in seclusion or in the presence of all?

Isabella: It would not have been so shameful if everyone were asked to confess in seclusion. But everyone is questioned in the presence of all before the certificate of pardon is granted.

Umar Lahmi: Allah forgive! Even in the presence of unmarried boys and girls?

Isabella: Yes, and in fact (bowing her head in shame again) unmarried boys and girls have to confess in public and in the hearing of all.

Umar Lahmi: Allah forgive us! In the confession of sins many shameful things may have to be stated. Supposing one has committed theft, he shall have to confess it before all.

Isabella: Not only theft, even the most heinous act has to be publicly confessed. If anyone does not confess and conceals something, then the pardon is not granted and the sinner is threatened of Hell.

Umar Lahmi: This might be having a very bad effect on the morals of unmarried boys and girls.

Isabella: Certainly. But among the Roman Catholics no importance is attached to sins securing pardon of sins being so easy. This has made people bold in committing sins.

One of the audience: Are sins of common people forgiven by the priest himself?

Ziad (smiling): Probably the priest may not be committing any sins.

At this stage Ziad b. Umar leaves the meeting and goes upstairs to devote himself in prayer and devotion.

Isabella (lowering eyes in shame and modesty): You cannot conceive what our religious leaders do, particularly our monks, and how full of sins is their life.

Umar Lahmi: What! Are the lives of religious leaders even worse than common people? What are you talking? It does not mean that by becoming a Muslim you make false allegations against anyone. Punishment of false accusation is very severe according to the Holy Quran.

Isabella: You must think like that because you are not aware of the black record of the monks’ lives and since you cannot even conceive of these shameful acts, you may not be wrong if you think me lying or disbelieve me.
Umar Lahmi: Is it a fact? If so, please let us know in detail.

All those present insisted that Isabella should throw some light on these matters so that they may have an idea of the great boons conferred by Islam.

Isabella: You know that abandoning the world and the life of a monk have been greatly stressed in Christianity and, therefore, most of our priests have adopted monkery and have forsaken the world. To gain salvation they take great pains and afflict their bodies. In the same way women also become nuns (that is follow in the footsteps of Virgin Mary and lead unmarried lives). But at the same time monks and nuns cannot maintain their chastity. Monks and religious leaders are also corrupt and nuns often completely lose their chastity. Because of confession and pardon monks often find a good opportunity to satisfy their lust. Nuns are mostly involved in this moral depravity while some monks do not spare even their mothers and sisters. [Laski, History of Civilization of Europe, Vol. II].

(At this stage Isabella is extremely ashamed and perspires.)

All present: Allah protect us ! Allah forgive us ! All power and authority is with Allah!

Umar Lahmi: These things happen because Christianity has dignified unmarried life and asceticism which is against Nature and Divine law. A strong argument of the falsity of Christianity is also that it enjoins on men such laws as are against Nature which men cannot follow. It is for this that the Apostle of Islam had declared that La Rahbaniyat fil-Islam. [There is no monkery or giving up the world in Islam.] He also said : An-nikah min sunnati fa-man raghaba an sunnati fa-laisa minni [Marriage is my system and whosoever turns away from my system is not of me]. The Quran says: “And (as for) monkery, they innovated it—We did not prescribe it to them, but they did not observe it with its due observance.” And how can anyone observe a thing which is unnatural and against law?

Isabella: Has Islam prohibited monkery and abandoning the world?

Umar Lahmi: Certainly. You have just heard what the Holy Quran and the Prophet of Islam say.

Isabella was greatly moved on this and the dignity of Islam was further enhanced in her mind.

A person: So the monks do not discriminate between the permissible and the prohibited, between right and wrong ?

Isabella: There are many shameful things. When the honour of their mothers and sisters is not safe at their hands, what else they would not be doing!

Mr Laski in his book, European Morals, has very elaborately exposed the depravities of monks and priests in general and has written that there was no moral crime which they did not commit.

A person: Are the nuns also so corrupt?

Isabella: Allah may protect us. Their condition is worse than monks.

Even European historians have testified that when a tank in a school of nuns was cleaned out several thousand craniums of babies were found there which had been thrown in to conceal corruption of some of them.

Umar Lahmi: In fact the root of all this corruption is the creed, of Atonement which has given licence to Christians to commit sins.

Isabella: Surely, you have understood it well. In fact, the creed of Atonement has taken away the fear of sins and everyone is confident that by confessing before the priest all kinds of sias will be forgiven.

Umar Lahmi: Allah-o-Akbar (Allah is great!). The greatness and truth of Islam is also manifest from the fact (hat while rejecting the creed of Atonement, it has made good conduct the basis of salvation and felicity and at the same time it has propounded the principle that: “He who does an atom’s weight of good will see it. And he who does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.”

A person (to Isabella): You know that the creed of Atonement has induced Christians to commit sins, but there is also another reason. Christians consider all Prophets to be sinners and think that they have been committing all kinds of sins in their life.

Isabella: This seems to be wrong. If the holy Prophets are also taken to be sinners, then who will be left to cause aversion from sins and what right shall they have to ask people to refrain from sins ?

Umar Lahmi: You are right, but what would you say to the Christians regarding holy Apostles (Allah forbid!) as idol-worshippers, adulterers and liars ?

Isabella: Oh brother! it is really the creed of Christians. They regard Apostles as idol-worshippers and also liars. If this is so, which of the Christian books say so ?

Umar Lahmi: My sister! you do not know yet the ideas of Christians and, in order to justify their own sins, what serious accusations they have made against Apostles. Since you have not yet carefully studied your sacred books you are surprised at my words. I assure you that if Islam had not come and the Champion of all Goodness, the Chief of Apostles, had not exposed the untruths of Christians and Jews, no one would have found any proof of the chastity of Apostles today.

Isabella : Are the Christians so shameless that they still believe in Prophets while considering them sinners. Probably you have misunderstood. I have not yet heard from anyone that Apostles worshipped idols and told untruths. Can you prove your allegations from the religious and revealed books of Christians ?

Umar Lahmi: Certainly from your revealed books…

Isabella : My religious and revealed books! My religious and revealed book is the Holy Quran.

Umar Lahmi: I mean the books which you as a Christian regarded religious and revealed. They contain all these things.

Isabella : Very strange! But kindly give some proof of it.

Umar Lahmi: I say it again that in the sacred Christian books Prophets (Allah forbid!) have been described as adulterers and idol-worshippers. It is said about Prophet Lut (Lot) (the Old Testament in his hand) had sexual intercourse with his daughters. See Genesis, Chapter 19, verses 32-38. About Prophet David it is said that he had. sexual intercourse with an alien woman. See Samuel 2, Chapter 11, verse 4. Then it is said about Prophet Samson (Shamshun) that he had intercourse with an alien woman and then had a love affair with another. See Judges, chapter 16, verse 1.

All present: Allah forbid ! Allah may curse the Jews and Christians! Allah forgive us! Allah forgive us!

Isabella is ashamed and perspires and could not speak.

Umar Lahmi : Now, listen further. In the Christian sacred books Prophets have also been said to have been liars. First the Prophet Samson (Shamshun) told a lie and taught a wrong thing to a woman thrice. See Judges, chapter 16. Next a Prophet (whose name is not mentioned in the Bible) told a lie. See 2 Kings, chapter 13. Another Prophet also told a lie. See 1 Kings, chapter 20. Christ told a lie. See 1 Kings, chapter 22, verse 15. Apostle Jeremiah also spoke a lot of falsehood. See Jeremiah, chapter 38. (To Isabella:) You know Saint Paul very well. What do the Christians say of him ?

Isabella : Christians believe Saint Paul to be a prophet and all great priests are regarded as successors of Saint Paul and for this they are authorised to forgive sins.

Umar Lahmi: Quite right. But is it not said about him in all the four Bibles that when the enemies arrested Jesus Christ and wanted to arrest Saint Paul, he thrice cursed Jesus- Christ and told a lie that he did not know him (Christ)?

Isabella : Of course, it is so written. I used to take daily lessons of the Bible from my teacher, Michael.

Umar Lahmi: Now, take the proof of the third thing that, according to Christians, Prophets worshipped idols. It is written in the Book of Exodus (which is the fourth part of Taurat), chapter 32, verse 4, that Prophet Aaron asked his people to make idols and taught them to worship them. In chapter 11 of 1 Kings, it is said that Prophet Solomon at the insistence of his wife worshipped idols in his old age and thus assigned partners to Allah. Allah forbid!

Isabella : Allah protect us !

Umar Lahmi: Look, I have the Bible with me and I have marked relevant portions. You may see yourself that I am not telling a lie. (Isabella turns over the pages and reads all the references.) My object in referring to these is that Christians boldly and fearlessly commit all kinds of sins because, according to them, Prophets also committed them (Allah forbid!) and they think that when Prophets were not deprived of their prophethood in spite of their sins, why should common people be condemned on that very account.

Isabella: Does the Quran call all Prophets innocent ?

Umar Lahmi: It is the greatest merit of the Quran that it has strongly repudiated all the wrong ideas and allegations of the Jews and Christians and declares that Prophets did not. even think of committing sins, to say the least of actually committing them. The Quran says that what the Prophets prohibited they had never even thought of doing it, and the Quran counts all Prophets among the virtuous.

Isabella : Is it not written in the Quran that Prophet Adam ate the fruit of the prohibited tree? Is it not disobedience of God’s orders a sin?

Umar Lahmi: The definition of sin is that it is an act which is committed deliberately. Anything done unintentionally is not a sin. For instance, a man is prohibited from eating or drinking while he is observing fast, but if anyone eats and drinks in forgetfulness the fast is not broken and there is no sin. Prophet Adam also ate the fruit of the prohibited tree in forgetfulness as the Quran says: “We had taken a pledge from Adam but he forgot it and We did not find deliberation in him.”

Isabella: Glory to God! I know it today that Adam committed no sin, otherwise Christian priests used to allege that Adam is described as a sinner in the Quran. (Suddenly becoming conscious of the time) Oh! I am very much delayed and should go home at once. My father and mother will be anxiously waiting for me, and I have not yet taken my food.

Umar Lahmi: If you like food can be served to you here. The common food of my master (Ziad b. Umar) will be served to all of us, You may also participate. Will you accept this request of mine?

Isabella: Thank you very much, but I will prefer to take food at my house, for mother does not eat till I return after walk. She always takes food with me.

Umar Lahmi: How long will she have your company in taking food! At last one day the secret has to be out.

Isabella: Leave it to the time when it comes, but just now permit me to leave.

Umar Lahmi: When will you bring your friends with you?

Isabella: Tomorrow if possible, otherwise day after tomorrow certainly. And now you should pray that they should also be guided to the right path like me.

All present : Amin!

Isabella – A girl of Islamic Spain
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Ch 7: 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 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.

Ziad: 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 labrynth 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 Prophet. 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 you will 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”.

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 my guidance is my spiritual preceptor and benefactor Umar Lah-mi, 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 your 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.

Isabela: 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.

Isabela: One of them is the daughter of Michael, my teacher in theology, and there are other three. All these have been listening to all the discussions.

Umar Lahmi: Have they really become Muslimss and seen 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 walking 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 by accepting which 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 a sham 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 ilia billah [Allah forgive us! There is no power or authority except with Allah]. Can any man forgive sins except Allah ? This is why the 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 confesses all his open and secret sins before the priest. If he has concealed anything it will not be forgiven.

Isabella – A girl of Islamic Spain
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Ch 6: The Third Round

Let us see what Isabella had been doing in connection with these discussions and what were her activities in the meantime. In fact, all this time her mind was filled with the subject-matter of these discussions and all other engagements and social entanglements were relegated to the background.

After ‘the discussion’ between the priests and Umar Lahmi she had come to the conclusion that the priests had no answer to the objections of Muslims and her belief in Christianity had been shaken and no argument could keep her firm on it. During this time she had often secretly met Umar Lahmi and sought information about the Muslim creed. The talk between Umar Lahmi and her father (the head priest) had also concluded at her house and more than a month had passed on it. Nevertheless she continued her enquiry. She had also met several times Ziad b. Umar, the Qazi of Islam in Cordova, through Umar Lahmi and got consolation from him.

Ziad b. Umar, besides being a profound scholar of Islam, was a Godfearing man of piety. Muslims of Spain revered him as a Wali Allah (Friend of Allah). Isabella’s mind was greatly affected by several visits to him and she became attached to Islam and fully realised that Islam is the true religion while Christianity is a mixture of misguidance and disruptions.

The head priest had asked Umar Lahmi in the cathedral to come to his house next day and had also invited all the priests. So early next morning Umar Lahmi with some of his associates and divines reached the house of the head priest and was treated with respect and given refreshments in a separate room. Then more than forty Christian divines also arrived and the head priest then addressed Umar Lahmi.

Head Priest: I know the questions which you will ask, but I do not want to go into details and prolong the talk. I will say just a word or two which may lead to the result in minutes instead of hours. What I mean is that Islam and Christianity may be tested by their basic teachings and whichever teaching is best the religion which taught it will be true. Is it not so?

Umar Lahmi: I have no objection to anything and I am prepared to discuss on any lines that you choose. Surely it is by the teachings of Christianity and Islam that truth and falsehood can be known.

Head Priest: Bravo, bravo ! Surely the help of the Holy Ghost is on your side and you will soon come from the wrong path to right guidance. Now that you have agreed to the lines suggested by me, let me proceed. In every religion there are basic principles and matters of detail. I want to put before you the essence of Christianity in just one word and desire that you will also give the essence of your religion in one word. Do you agree?

Umar Lahmi: Yes, you may proceed. I agree to whatever you say.

Head Priest (to the priests) : See, this is the way to talk! Just one word decides the issue. (To Umar Lahmi:) Now listen. The essence of Christianity is “Love”. Christianity has been condensed in a single word. Now, you have also to give the essence of Islam in one word.

Umar Lahmi: I am proud to say that Islam has also condensed the essence of its teachings in a single word which covers all basic principles and details. The root of Islamic principles and teachings is Tauhid (unity).

Head Priest: If the essence of Islam is Tauhid (unity), then love has been excluded from it. Besides, we also say “unity” to be the essence of our religion.

Umar Lahmi: If Tauhid were the essence of your religion, you should have said so. Why did you say that love is the essence of your religion? Now, it is quite wrong to say that by accepting “unity” as the essence of religion, “love” is excluded from it. On the other hand, the fact is that “love” comes from “unity”. If “unity” is not taken with all its requisites, love will be a meaningless word. To accept “love” as the essence of religion means total denial of “unity,” cr not to take it as the essence of religion.

Head Priest: The thing is that “unity” comes from “love” and not “love” from “unity”.

Umar Lahmi: This is an example of perverted logic. If unity comes from love, then love is quite a meaningless word. Because without unity, that is, want of knowledge of Allah, love of Allah will be excluded from it as love of Allah depends on the knowledge of the divine, and unity is but the true recognition of the divine. Mere love does not prove love of Allah.

Head Priest: You have started a long discussion. What I mean is that love has no place in Islam.

Umar Lahmi: If love has no place in Islam, then love does not exist at all in the world. It can, on the other hand, be said that there is not the least trace of love in Christianity. Where love is merely a verbal claim, it has neither any standard nor proof.

Head Priest: Look here. It is a well-known slogan of our Scriptures that God is love. Is it not the proof of love ?

Umar Lahmi: It is nothing but merely a verbal claim. Unless there is a standard of love, the prescribed theory of love will not be acceptable.

Head Priest: Now, you define the standard of love. Have not our Scriptures called God father? Does not father love his children?

Umar Lahmi: Mere repetition of the word love leads us nowhere unless all its conditions are fulfilled. If anyone loves another, he should prove it by the sacrifice of his life and possessions and then only can he be said to have loved truly. Therefore Islam has prescribed obedience and service as the criterion of love which is another name of sacrifice of life and possessions. The Quran says to the Prophet: “Qul in kuntum tuhibbun Allah fat-tabi’unl yuhbibkum Allah” [Say: If you love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you].* Thus this verse has prescribed a standard of love which has discriminated between true and false love. But in your religion there is no criterion of love. Any pretender can stand up and say that he loves Allah.

Head Priest: You have again started a long discussion. I want that everything should be comprehensive so that the decision may be arrived at quickly. However, if your Qur’an has also called God father, which is the highest position of love?

Umar Lahmi: If the Qur’an had used the word father for God, it would have been the greatest proof of its deficiency. Islam never used this misleading word for God but, on the other hand, has used such words as have the most
sublime significance as compared to the term father.

Head Priest: You are very impudent, calling the word “father” misleading. Now, tell me quickly what better word Islam has used instead of father. (The head priest’s neck at this time became stiff and foam came from his mouth in great anger.)

Umar Lahmi: There is no reason for the loss of temper. I have called the word “father” misleading because it has become the basis of assigning partners to Allah, and people invented a son to Allah. Christians also believe in the divinity of Christ. As to the better word in place of father used by Islam, that word is Rabb (fosterer), which implies a Being who fosters from beginning to end and his fostering care never ends. So by using the word “fosterer” Islam has taught that Allah’s. fostering love is never withdrawn. But the concept of father implies that father will care for his child up to a certain time and will then become indifferent. Besides, a father can care for his child only in optional matters but not in matters beyond his control. If the child falls ill, father cannot cure his illness while the fostering of Allah is. not so; He has power over everything and in nothing is He helpless and His fostering care is everlasting. This proves that, instead of father, fosterer is more suited to the Dignity of Allah and, besides, fosterer is indicative of “Unity of Allah,” while father is the source of assigning partner to Allah in the world.

Head Priest: The effects of the fosterer as indicated by you find no proof in the world while you cannot shut your eyes to father’s love. So how can one accept a word without meaning which has no proof in the world, while you cannot ignore the effects of father’s love.

Umar Lahmi: Unfortunately, the creed of Atonement has clouded your vision, otherwise you could not have said so. We see every day that a child is fostered in its mother’s womb and in childhood and youth and old age the fostering care continues. That is, his fostering continues from beginning to end. Is it not he work of the Rabb (fosterer) which we see very day?

Head Priest: The Holy Bible says that God has such a love with the people of the world that He sacrificed His only child for the sake of men. What better proof can be of love that father secrifices his dearest thing for love.

Umar Lahmi: This very statement of the Bible refutes your claim. You mean that the father is one who sacrifices his pure and innocent son for the sake of impure and sinful men. That is, father’s love was manifested thus that he killed his innocent son. But the fosterer is one who is not unjust to anyone. On the other hand, He punishes the unjust. The Quran says: “Wa la tuziru waziratun wizra ukhra” [And no burdened soul can bear another’s burden].* But your father killed his own child. If to crucify and kill one’s innocent and sinless child is love we cannot touch such love with a pair of tongs.

Head Priest (to other priests) : I had thought that this man was inclined to Jesus Christ, but he is a stiff “unbeliever”. Everything that I have said is of high order but how can these people understand them ? (To Umar Lahmi:) Your heart has turned black. Christ does not want to accept you. Now, you go away from here. I have nothing to do with you. You just came to annoy me. (To the priests:) You should also have no concern with these people. You have seen that they are so hot-headed, they would not agree to anything.

Uinar Lahmi But, sir…

Head Priest: Shut up, now. I have seen for what purpose you came here and with what object you talk to us.

So saying the Head Priest, exhibiting his Christian manners, left for his room on the upper storey. Umar Lahmi and other Muslim divines came out raising the cry of “Nasrun min Allah wa fathun qarib” [Help from Allah and victory is at hand].

Voicing the slogan of victory, Umar Lahmi and other Muslim divines repaired to their respective homes. Isabella had attentively listened to the talk of both sides. With her were her friends and other respectable Christian ladies. In the evening when Isabella’s friends gathered again comments started on the morning talk. Whatever little faith Isabella had in Christianity was shattered and she fully realised that the Christian creed was just a sham which had neither any basis nor any principle. Earlier meetings had left her with the impression that Michael, Peter and others were not well informed, but her father, the head priest, had profound knowledge of the reality of Christianity and, therefore, if these people were unable to meet the questions of Muslims, she had thought, her father would be able to silence them. But after listening this last talk she was thoroughly disappointed and had left no alternative but to conclude that the basis of Christianity was no better than the spider’s web.

A month had passed and a great revolution had come in the mind of Isabella. She had secretly been meeting Umar Lahmi and, through him, other divines like Ziad b. Umar in Cordova. She was now more devoted to the study of the Holy Quran and the truth of Islam was taking deep root in her mind. She made a comparative study of the Quran and the Bible to find out which of the two had greater truth and which was just a mixture of superstitions. She had given thought according to her lights to the problems of Unity of Allah, Prophethood, the Quran, salutation, atonement, intercession, meaning of sin and human acts and their consequences.

She was no longer a devotee of Christianity, but had bowed her head to Islam. But often she was perturbed with the idea of giving up a religion she had followed from her birth. What trials and tribulations she might have to face on going over to Islam. She will have to forsake her father, mother, sisters and relatives. How shall be her future life. But immediately it struck her that trials and troubles have to be encountered in the path of truth and if, after recognising the truth, she did not openly declare it she will be guilty in the sight of Allah.

When Umar Lahmi learnt of her perturbation he secretly sent word to her to recite ten times each morning and evening the verse of the Holy Quran: “Rabbi adkhilni mudkhala sidqin wa akhrijni mukhraja sidqin waj’al-li min-ladunka sultaman nasira” [My Lord! make me enter a truthful entering, and make me go forth a trouthful going forth, and grant me from Thy presence an authority to help (me)].* Allah willing, her anxiety will be relieved.

So Isabella followed this advice. By reciting this verse morning and evening she felt as if some mysterious power was giving strength to her heart and removing her fears. This prompt effect of the verse further strengthened her faith in Islam and she became more devoted to the Quran and Islam.

Isabella – A girl of Islamic Spain
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