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An Extract From ''the Road to Mecca'' by Muhammad Asad (An Austrian Convert to Islam)

An Extract From ''the Road to Mecca'' by Muhammad Asad (An Austrian Convert to Islam)

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Published by Ibn_Sadiq_Bhatty
Afghanistan, The Winter of 1926 I WAS ON MY WAY from Herat to Kabul and was riding, accompanied by Ibrahim and an Afghan trooper, through the snow buried mountain valleys and passes of the Hindu-Kush, in central Afghanistan. It was cold and the snow was glistening and on all sides stood steep mountains in black and white. I was sad and, at the same time, strangely happy that day. I was sad because the people with whom I had been living during the past few months seemed to be separated by opaque
Afghanistan, The Winter of 1926 I WAS ON MY WAY from Herat to Kabul and was riding, accompanied by Ibrahim and an Afghan trooper, through the snow buried mountain valleys and passes of the Hindu-Kush, in central Afghanistan. It was cold and the snow was glistening and on all sides stood steep mountains in black and white. I was sad and, at the same time, strangely happy that day. I was sad because the people with whom I had been living during the past few months seemed to be separated by opaque

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Published by: Ibn_Sadiq_Bhatty on Feb 27, 2010
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 Afghanistan, The Winter of 1926
I WAS ON MY WAY from Herat to Kabul and was riding, accompaniedby Ibrahim and an Afghan trooper, through the snow buried mountainvalleys and passes of the Hindu-Kush, in central Afghanistan. It wascold and the snow was glistening and on all sides stood steepmountains in black and white.I was sad and, at the same time, strangely happy that day. I was sadbecause the people with whom I had been living during the past fewmonths seemed to be separated by opaque veils from the light andthe strength and the growth which their faith could have given them;and I was happy because the light and the strength and the growth of that faith stood as near before my eyes as the black and whitemountains- almost to be touched with the hand.My horse began to limp and something clinked at its hoof: an ironshoe had become loose and was hanging only by two nails.'Is there a village nearby where we could find a smith?' I asked ourAfghan companion.'The village of Deh-Zangi is less than a league away. There is ablacksmith there and the
hakim
of the Hazarajat has his castle there.'And so to Deh-Zangi we rode over glistening snow, slowly, so as notto tire my horse. The
hakim,
or district governor, was a young man of short stature andgay countenance - a friendly man who was glad to have a foreignguest in the loneliness of his modest castle. Though a close relative of King Amanullah, he was one of the most unassuming men I had metor was ever to meet in Afghanistan. He forced me to stay with him fortwo days.In the evening of the second day we sat down as usual to an opulentdinner, and afterward a man from the village entertained us with
 
ballads sung to the accompaniment of a three-stringed lute. He sangin Pashtu- a language which I did not understand - but some of thePersian words he used sprang up vividly against the background of the warm, carpeted room and the cold gleam of snow that camethrough the windows. He sang, I remember, of David's fight withGoliath - of the fight of faith against brute power - and although Icould not quite follow the words of the song, its theme was clear tome as it began in humility, then rose in a violent ascent of passion toa final, triumphant outcry.When it ended, the
hakim
remarked: 'David was small, but his faithwas great...'I could not prevent myself from adding: 'And you are many, but yourfaith is small.'My host looked at me with astonishment, and, embarrassed by what Ihad almost involuntarily said, I rapidly began to explain myself. Myexplanation took the shape of a torrent of questions:'How has it come about that you Muslims have lost your self-confidence - that self-confidence which once enabled you to spreadyour faith, in less than a hundred years, from Arabia westward as faras the Atlantic and eastward deep into China - and now surrenderyourselves so easily, so weakly, to the thoughts and customs of theWest? Why can't you, whose forefathers illumined the world withscience and art a time when Europe lay in deep barbarism andignorance, summon forth the courage to go back to your ownprogressive, radiant faith? How is it that Attaturk, that pettymasquerader who denies all value to Islam, has become to youMuslims a symbol of "Muslim revival"?'My host remained speechless. It had started to snow outside. Again Ifelt that wave of mingled sadness and happiness that I had felt onapproaching Deh-Zangi. I sensed the glory that had been and theshame that was enveloping these late sons of a great civilization.
 
'Tell me - how has it come about that the faith of your Prophet and allits clearness and simplicity has been buried beneath a rubble of sterile speculation and the hair-splitting of your scholastics? How hasit happened that your princes and great land-owners revel in wealthand luxury while so many of their Muslim brethren subsist inunspeakable poverty and squalor - although your Prophet taught that
No one may call himself a Faithful who eats his fill while his neighbor remains hungry?
Can you make me understand why you havebrushed woman into the background of your lives - although thewomen around the Prophet and his Companions took part in so granda manner in the life of their men? How has it come about that somany of you Muslims are ignorant and so few can even read andwrite - although your Prophet declared that Striving
after knowledgeis a most sacred duty for every Muslim man and woman
and that
Thesuperiority of the learned man over the mere pious is like thesuperiority of the moon when it is full over all other stars?'
Still my host stared at me without speaking, and I began to think thatmy outburst had deeply offended him. The man with the lute, notunderstanding Persian well enough to follow me, looked on inwonderment at the sight of the stranger who spoke with so muchpassion to the
hakim
. In the end the latter pulled his wide yellowsheepskin cloak closer about himself, as if feeling cold; then hewhispered:'But - you are a Muslim...'I laughed, and replied: 'No, I am not a Muslim, but I have come to seeso much beauty in Islam that it makes me sometimes angry to watchyou people waste it ... Forgive me if I have spoken harshly. I did notspeak as an enemy.'But my host shook his head. 'No, it is as I have said: you are aMuslim, only you don't know it yourself...Why don't you say, now andhere, "There is no God but God and Muhammad is His Prophet" and

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