Islam and Freedom
neither the rancor of abu lahab nor the antagonism of other opponents in quraysh prevented the spread of the islamic call among the people of makkah. hardly a day passed without some new person joining the faith. those inclined toward asceticism accepted islam more readily, as neither trade nor vested interest could prejudice their consideration of the call. such men had observed that muhammad depended upon khadijah's wealth, but that he never allowed wealth to influence his religious judgment. the material considerations were always rejected wherever they ran counter to the dictates of love, compassion, friendship, and forgiveness. indeed, revelation itself commanded that the will to wealth is a curse upon the spirit. did it not say, "the pursuit of wealth has exhausted all your energies and preoccupied your life to the very end? but you will surely come to know-and you will surely come to know it well!-that your wealth will not avail a thing. had you known it with certainty, you would have known of hell and you would have convinced yourselves of it. but it is on the day of judgment that you will be 'questioned concerning the moral worth of your deeds." [qur'an, 102:1-8]. what is better than that to which muhammad calls? he calls to freedom, to absolute and limitless freedom, to that freedom which is as dear to the arab as his very life. does he not liberate men from the bondage which the worship of other gods besides god imposes? has he not destroyed all the obstacles that have once stood between man and god? neither hubal, al lat, nor al `uzza, neither the fire of the zoroastrians nor the sun of the egyptians, neither the astral bodies of the star worshippers, the apostles of christ as princes of the church, nor any other human, angel or genii could stand between man and god. before god and before him alone is man responsible for his good and evil works. man's works alone are his intercessor. on earthman's conscience alone is the final judge of his deeds, as it is its sole subject. upon its everyday verdicts depends the last judgment of the person. what liberty is wider than this liberty to which muhammad called men? did abu lahab and his companions call to anything like it? do they not call men to remain enslaved under superstitions so great that the light of truth and guidance can hardly penetrate and reach through them?