LA ILAHA ILLALLAH, no god but Allah, is the most fundamental and oft-chanted phrase of the Islamic belief. It simultaneously negates the existence of all other deities, and affirms the divinity of the only one true God, Allah---all in one breath. It is truly the most exclusive and iconoclastic claim that rejects the notion of anyone being divine except Allah.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines ‘cosmopolitan’ as something that is “common to the whole world,” or a person who is “at home in all parts of the earth or in many spheres of interest” (1978, 301). Now, how, on Allah’s earth, can we talk about “Muslim” world cosmopolitanism?
That is just how Allah or His prophet, Muhammad (570-632), from day one, viewed Islam, whether anyone liked it or not, as the religion for entire humanity. Listen to its first revealed injunction “Read in the name of thy Lord, Who created Man from congealed blood; Proclaim that thy Lord is Most Bountiful, Who taught with Pen; Taught man that which he knew not.” (Quran, 96: 1-5). In this first proclamation of Islam, Allah reveals Himself as the Creator of entire humanity, and the Giver of all knowledge.
It was, in fact, this universal sense of God that gave Islam a different outlook which broke with the earlier notions of tribal or regional gods who supposedly competed against one another in providing protection and prosperity to their respective followers. Islam freed God from the tribal and racial confinements of the past cultures. (Maududi, 1960)
The greatest attraction of Islam was that people did not have to belong to a certain caste or ethnicity to be equally chosen of Allah, the Creator. Not tribal allegiance, but human commitment was required to reach the Divine Being. Salvation depended more on the personal and individual goodness, rather than institutional intercessions and indulgences.
In the race- or region- based religions, a god was good only as his followers believed in him. Just as the socioeconomic or political fortunes or misfortunes of peoples changed, we notice a corresponding rise and fall of gods along with their worshippers.
Islam gave Muslims a sense of universalism in time and space. They looked upon non-Muslims as misguided souls who could be saved not by decimating them but by directing them to the Sirat al-Mustaqeem, or the Straight Path of Islam. This was the original mission that was, no doubt, mismanaged by the selection of means after the death of the Prophet of Islam.
Despite some situations that necessitated the extermination of the enemies of Islam, Muhammad, also known as the “walking Quran,” preferred diplomacy, conversion of minds and hearts, and peaceful coexistence even when he commanded great political and military power of life and death over people.
Muhammad never forgot what persecution meant, and how much he appreciated the protection of Negus, the just Christian ruler of Abyssinia. Muhammad had sent a group of newly converted Muslims...