Before the Prophet had been entrusted with the mission of prophethood, the Jewish community had deteriorated in thought and had a corrupted manner of dealing with its religion. Reviewing the Babylonian Talmud, which the Jews sanctify and which was circulated among the Jews in the sixth century, one finds outlandish examples of feeblemindedness, absurdity, blasphemy, distortion of facts and tampering with religion and reason.
Christianity had been tried by the corruption of those who exaggerate and the interpretations of the ignorant. The light of monotheism and dedication to the worship of Allah The Almighty disappeared behind such heavy clouds. Wars erupted between the Christians of the Levant and Iraq and the Christians of Egypt. The reason behind the wars was their disagreement about the reality of the nature of Christ. Homes, schools and churches turned into rivaling camps. Idolatry was present in the Christian society in different forms.
The History of Christianity in the Light of Modern Knowledge states that though paganism had ended, it had not been completely eradicated; rather, it penetrated the minds and continued in the name of Christianity and under its umbrella. The book continues to state that those who had apparently given up their idols took one of their martyrs, gave him divine characteristics and made a statue of him; they turned their local martyrs into idols to be worshipped. The book goes on to state that by the end of that century, the worship of martyrs and saints had prevailed and a new creed had been formed giving saints holy qualities. The History of Christianity in the Light of Modern Knowledge mentions that the Arisiyin (peasants) considered saints and martyrs to have divine qualities and to be intermediaries between Allah The Almighty and humans. The book states that martyrs and saints became symbols of the sanctity, piety and purity of the middle centuries and the names of pagan festivals were changed into new names; in 400 CE, the old sun festival was turned into Charismas.
The New Catholic Encyclopedia states that belief in the union of the father, the son and the Holy Ghost in one godhead permeated into the life and thought of the Christian world from the last quarter of the fourth century. It was adopted as an official religion and received doctrines on which all parts of the Christian world depended. During the second half of the nineteen century, the curtain was lifted to reveal the development and mystery of the doctrine of the Trinity.
Wars erupted between Christians and they excommunicated each other, killed one another, and were too occupied with each other to fight corruption, promote reform and call all nations to what was better for humanity.
Magianism: The Magi have been known from ancient times for worshipping natural elements, and fire was the greatest of these. Fire houses spread all over the country and the Magi dedicated themselves to worshipping it and built temples and altars for it. They adopted specific etiquettes and laws within temples. Outside the temples, however, the followers of this religion were free to follow their whims and desires as if they had no religion.
In his book L'Iran sous les Sassanides (Iran during the era of the Sassanides), a Danish historian describes the class of clergies and their responsibilities in Magianism saying, “The clergy had to worship the sun four times daily. This was in addition to worshipping the moon, fire and water. They were required to say special invocations at the time of sleeping, getting up, washing, wearing a belt, eating, sneezing, shaving their hair, trimming their finger nails, evacuation and lighting lamps. They were also required not to let the fire extinguish or to touch water. Moreover, they were required to prevent metals from rusting as they considered metals to be sacred.”
The Iranians faced fire as they offered their prayer. Yazdegerd, the last Sassanid king, once swore by the sun, and said, “I swear by the sun, which is the greatest god”.
The Magi adopted dualism as a belief in each age and this was their slogan. They believed in two gods: one was light, or the god of goodness and the other was darkness, or the god of evil.
Buddhism: This religion was founded in India and Middle Asia. Buddhism turned into a form of paganism. Statues and temples were found everywhere; statues of Buddha were especially established in every place.
Brahminism: This was the original religion of India. It was distinguished by the multiplicity of worshipped items and gods. It reached its peak in the sixth century. There is no doubt that the two religions, Hinduism and Brahmanism, were similar with regard to worshipping idols.
The whole world from the Atlantic to the Pacific was drowning in paganism. It is as if Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Brahminism were competing to exalt idols and sanctify them. They were like gaming horses racing on the same track.
The Prophet indicated that such corruption had overwhelmed all races and aspects of life. In a sermon, it was narrated that the Prophet said:
My Lord commanded me that I should teach you what you do not know and what He has taught me today: “The property which I have conferred upon My slave is lawful. I created My slaves as upright, but then the devils came to them and turned them away from the right religion and made unlawful what I made lawful for them, and commanded them to associate partners with Me for which I sent no authority.” Indeed Allah looked towards the people of earth and hated them all, the Arabs and the non-Arabs, with the exception of some remnants of the People of the Book.
The Hadeeth indicates that humanity had deviated in many respects, such as associating partners with Allah The Almighty, discarding His ordinances, the reformers from among those who adopted divine religions becoming corrupt and their prejudice of people, in addition to their deviation.
Dominant civilizations before Prophethood and their religions – I