Islam in Four Minutes




Mr Yehia Syed, London Correspondent, Morning News, in a letter to the Imam the Shah Jehan Mosque, Woking writes:


                                                                                                                                                             April 14, 1959.

Dear Maulana Sahib,

I must congratulate you on the most timely and extremely soul-stirring Khutba you delivered on I’d Day. I was unfortunately kept at home that day as my wife was ill in bed, but I was told by at least a dozen people about the logic and topicality of your Khutba. The appeal, as I gather, to the English people and newsmen here to try to understand this most misunderstood religion of the world was most timely.

I wonder if you heard a talk by one Father Gerard Rathe, a White Father, operating in Africa, in the B.B.C. Home Service on April 12th, 1959. He is a White Father missionary working in Africa for many years. He made certain remarks in his broadcast which I want to check with you if they were correct. I’ve consulted the original script of Father Rathe’s talk and there is no question of misreporting or misquoting.

Father Rathe said:    “It’s very easy to become a Muslim – it might take you four minutes. It’s very hard to become a Catholic – It might take you four years. The quality must be somewhat in proportion to the training: nevertheless, once a man becomes a Muslim, he’s as good as lost to Christianity”. Would you be good enough to let me know if this is a fact? What the Father missed to say is that there is also a long training before a man can become Muslim. Saying of actual Kalima might take just over a minute, but that is only the final culmination of the process which ends in reciting the Kalima. Am I correct? Will you please Maulana send me a statement on this for publication in my Paper. I will also send your statement to Father Rathe who is here these days resting outside London after his tour of duty in Africa.

The White Father Rathe had some nice things to say about Islam, too. He said:

“And Islam is very strong in Africa, and it is rapidly gaining more strength still: Cairo is urging the 400 million Muslims of the world to unite politically to conquer the world for Islam. The envoys of Islam are pouring into all parts of black Africa: And Islam is penetrating the masses with frightening rapidity. Eighty-seven mosques and 82 Muslim schools were opened in East Africa alone in the last 10 years. In West Africa – for every 3 pagans who became Christian 7 become Muslims. Twenty years ago, there were 40 million Muslims in Africa. Today there are 80 million and, in that time, the Catholic Church has added only 15 million to her number”.

I would request you, if you are interested, to see the whole of Father Rathe’s script of the talk, which is available from:

Miss Williamson, G. M., B.B.C. Overseas Press Section, 2-Surrey Street, London. W. C. 1

I’m sure she will be pleased to send you a copy of the talk. I have not received a copy; otherwise, I would have sent that to you.

I hope Maulana you will find time to write to me soon about this. Thanking you and wishing you I’d Mubarak.

                                                                                Sincerely yours,

                                                                         Yehia Syed


The Imam’s Reply:

                                                                                                                                                      15th April 1959.


My dear Yehia Sahib,

Thanks very much for your letter of April 14th.

It is unfortunate you could not come for the I’d prayer. It would have been a great pleasure to see you once again. I hope your wife is better now. Perhaps you can find time to come down someday. Sunday is the best day. We have a small gathering every Sunday and a talk on Islam in the Mosque.

As regards Father Rathe’s talk, I think he is right. The surprise to me is not that Catholicism should take four years to understand. The surprise is that it should at all be understood. A God Who can put His own son to a torturous death on the Cross must appear to the pagans of Africa too cruel even by their primitive standards, and that is perhaps why they keep away from such a God. That He should do so because He can not forgive the sins of men without extorting the pound of flesh as retribution makes that picture of God all the more gloomy. How can He run this huge universe if He is so weak as to be unable to forgive human sins? And on top of this, there is not much sense in getting hold of an innocent person and killing him simply because someone else has sinned. All this, which makes up the story of Christianity, must look very funny even to the pagans of Africa. No wonder it should take so long to push this kind of stuff down their pagan throats.

The fact is that what passes for Christianity is the sum-total of the pagan cults which have been in vogue among ancient Greeks, fathered on the holy name of Jesus Christ.

That is what makes Islam, by sheer contrast, most acceptable to human understanding. It is a simple, straightforward religion that has only to be presented to grip the mind. There are no mysteries. One God Who is the Creator of all mankind – white as well as black – Who needs no son to help Him to run the Universe – this is plain common sense which even a primitive man can understand. A beneficent God Who has given us thousands of His bounties gratis can certainly forgive our sins as well free of charge. Forgiveness after charging the price in the form of Jesus’ blood sounds more like a business transaction than an act of a God Who is painted as Love.

I have not encountered this B.B.C. talk. I am writing to ask them to send me the full text.

                                                                                                                                          With best wishes.

                                                                                                                                           Yours sincerely,

                                                                                                                                  (MUHAMMAD YAKUB KHAN)


                                                                                                                                    The Mosque, Woking, Surrey