suppose we lay all this aside and completely avoid its influence upon our minds and hearts. suppose we cut ourselves loose from every view and every doctrine we have previously entertained. and suppose we observe and consider. the first truth to stand out is that every being is somehow connected with all other beings. in the case of man, the clans, the tribes, and nations are obviously interconnected. man is also connected with the animals and the world of things. this earth of ours is connected with the sun, the moon, and all the heavenly bodies.
necessary and immutable laws regulate and govern all these interconnections. neither may the sun overtake the moon nor the night overtakes the day. if any one being in the universe were to alter or change these laws, the cosmos itself would change and would no more be what it is. if the sun, for instance, failed to provide the earth with light and heat and thus violate the laws by which nature has been running for millions of years, the earth and the sky would not be what they are. as long as this does not happen it is not possible for the totality of the cosmos to hold itself together except by a moving spirit, a spirit from which it has arisen and has developed and to which it must return. this spirit alone is that to which man should be subject. everything else in this universe is subject to that spirit just as man is. man, the cosmos, space, and time are therefore a unity; and this spirit is the origin and substance of this unity. to this spirit alone therefore belongs worship. to this spirit alone all minds and hearts should be oriented. everywhere in this universe we should be able by reason and meditation to discover this spirit's eternal laws. hence, whatever men worship besides god be it idols, kings, pharaohs, fire, or sunrise a falsehood and an illusion unworthy of man, of human reason, of the human capacity to discover the laws of god through examination of the creation with which god has endowed man.
that is the essence of the message of muhammad as the early muslims knew it. it was conveyed to them by muhammad as a revelation cast into such sublime form that it is still regarded as a miracle. this revelation has combined the truth of content with the perfection of form. upon contact with it, the souls of the muslims became ennobled, and their hearts were moved to seek communion with the noble spirit of muhammad. muhammad led them to the realization that good works constitute the road of felicity and that men shall be rewarded for their works on the day they complete in piety their duties in this world, i.e. when every soul shall receive its due. "and whosoever does an atom's weight of good shall be rewarded therefore, and whosoever does an atom's weight of evil shall be punished therefore." [qur'an, 99:7-8]
what great and ennobling respect for human reason! what sweeping destruction of all the impediments that stands in the way of human reason ! sufficient is it to man to understand this for him to appreciate it, to believe in it, and to realize what it demands of him to rise to the highest level of humanity. as long as one takes his stand on the side of reason, every sacrifice demanded by such heights seems easy.