Groping after Truth
muhammad did not hope to find the truth he sought in the narratives of the rabbis or the scriptures of the monks but in the very world surrounding him, in the sky and its stars, moon, and sun, and in the desert with its burning air under the brilliant sun-its impeccable purity enclosed by the light of the moon or that of the stars in the balmy night, in the sea with its countless waves, and in all that which underlies this existence and constitutes its unity of being. it was in the world that muhammad sought to discover the supreme truth. he sought to unite his soul to it, to penetrate it, and to grasp the secret of its being. he did not take much thought to realize that his peoples' understanding of the nature of this world, of their religiosity and devotion, was all false. their idols were mere stones-speechless, thoughtless, and powerless. hubal, al lat, and al `uzza, as well as every one of these idols and statues inside or around the ka'bah, had never created even so much as a fly and never did makkah any good. where was to be found the truth in this vast universe of infinite skies and stars? is it in the brilliant stars which give men their light and warmth and sends them rain ? is it in their water, the light and warmth as sources of life to all mankind throughout the world? no! for all these are creatures like the earth itself. is the truth then behind the sky and their stars, in the boundless space beyond? but what is space? and what is this life which is today and is gone tomorrow? what is its origin and source? is this world and our presence therein all a mere accident? the world and its life have, however, immutable laws which cannot be the product of circumstances. men do good and they do evil. but do they do it willingly and deliberately, or is their action a mere instinct which they are powerless to control? it was of such spiritual and psychological problems that muhammad thought during his solitary retreat in the cave of hira', and it was in the totality of spirit and life that he sought to discover the truth. his ideas filled his soul, his heart, his consciousness, indeed all his being. this paramount occupation diverted him from the commonplace problems of everyday. when at the end of ramadan, muhammad returned to khadijah, his perturbed thoughts showed on his face and caused khadijah to inquire whether he was well.
in his devotions during that retreat, did muhammad follow any one of the known religious schools? that is a question on which scholars disagree. in his al kamil fi al tarikh, ibn kathir reported some of the current views in answer to this question. some claimed that muhammad followed the law of noah; others, the law of ibrahim; others, the law of moses; others the law of jesus. others claimed that muhammad had followed every known law and observed it. perhaps this last claim is nearer to the truth than the others, for it agrees with what we know of muhammad's constant search for answers and for ways to the truth.