The following article was carried by the Liwa’ al-Islam, an Arabic journal of Islamic studies edited by Salah al-Din Samman, and associated with al-Azhar University.
The Egyptian journal carried a rear-section of essays and news about Islam in English, mainly written by Indian Muslims who included some who had made a home in Australia.
I purchased the fragile issue of Liwa’ al-Islam from a stall in Cairo: unfortunately the front Arabic page had fallen off so that it is impossible from my text alone to reconstruct its date of publication. However, it came out after World War II in the era of King Faruq.
The article eloquently hammers home the universal relevance of the message of Al-Qur’an al-Karim, but in its second half sees nothing positive in Christianity or other religions or ideologies other than Islam. This narrowness of vision and in the language it uses run against the nuanced teachings of Islam about Christianity.
Nonetheless, the article is worth republishing, I believe, as an authentic argument for the truths in Islam, as a period piece, and as evidence that the articulation of Islam in Australia goes back considerably earlier than commonly supposed.
The style of English that Aly Asir Al-Din employed was of a native-speaker level: it neither stumbled into Indianisms/Pakistani idioms nor did it lapse into the “chichi” [“sheeshee”] affected overfluency of Salman Rushdie, more English than the English ever tried to be.
“THE THING ALL MEN ARE SEEKING”
By the Late Aly Asir Al-Din (Australia)
In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
This is not a defence of Islam, for, in spite of all the lies that have been written about it, Islam being the truth needs no defence.
It is not an attempt at proselytising, for Islam, being the truth, will still exist when all its followers are dead.
It is but a fulfilling of the laws of charity in Islam, which teach us that to lead a blind man across the street. to direct a stranger on his way, to give water to the thirsty is as much Charity as to give food to the hungry — to each one his need.
Perhaps now as never before in the History of the World, mankind is crying aloud in its need for the truth of Religion.
The World War has shattered the Self-complacencies of the Western man and his worn-out, time-changed creeds. No longer can any educated, thinking man find consolations in the complexities and contradictions of the Bible. In despair he turns to what he calls Atheism — but what is in fact Agnosticism — or needing something more tangible he clutches, like a drowning man, at the straws of many” isms”, “osophies “, which are in themselves no creed, no answer to, but a begging of the question, “What is truth?”
Islam is the truth from God the Lord of the Worlds, therefore, as we are told to desire for our brothers that which we desire for ourselves, we being Muslims, believe the saying of the last Prophet, Muhammad, that every child is born, a Muslim ( which is to say that he is born with truth in his soul) and that his parents make him a Christian, a Jew or a fire-Worshipper. We being Muslims wish to put before you the Truth which your spirits secretly know and will recognise if you will but allow them.
And what is this Truth? Simply that God is One, Indivisible, in all places at all times — “Nearer to you than the vein of your neck”, as the Holy Quran says. The All-wise, the Giver of all things, the Gracious, the Merciful, the Just, the All-knowing, the Creator, the Unbegotten, the Begetter-of-No-child, the Beautiful, the Incomparable, the Truth, the One, and that Muhammad (s) is the Prophet and Apostle of God.
Do not think that we deny the Lord Jesus (a), Moses (s), or any of the other Prophets of God. No! All of them are revered by us as Prophets sent by God to the World: all we say is that which all educated Westerners already know — that in the course of time their teachings have been changed by translation, by Political schemings and Ecclesiastical alteration until the Divine Truth has become almost lost to the World.
And so at the Appointed Day came the Lord Mohammad (s), and once more God gave through His chosen Prophet the Truth to Mankind. This time Perfect and Complete and, through the Holy Quran, Unchangeable either by priests, Political Men or Translators, until the end of time, We therefore shall set forth for you in coming issues what Islam is.
Do not think we are trying to force you to become Muslims. We only place before your hungry souls, food.
Does the starving man refuse the meat placed before him simply because some ignorant fool tells him it is poisoned? No! a thousand times no! He is starving,
First, before foolishly throwing it away, he will examine it and if he find that it is good he will eat and rejoice and give thanks to God the All-Provider.
Well! You men and women of the West are crying for food: your hearts reject the food they have been offered — the Creeds you know.
Then we out of compassion and love (Believe us! For in what else is our gain?) we offer you food — Truth: The teachings of Islam.
Examine it for yourselves: do not be misled by ignorant fools and throw it away untasted. Examine it for yourselves and if you find it good eat, and give praise to God, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful Without Whose Will nothing is written, nothing is spoken.