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Prophet’s Conduct and How to Call to Truth

The article before you is about the Holy Prophet’s conduct in inviting people to truth. By studying it you will realize that, contrary to what is claimed by self-interested and spiteful people, the spread of Islam was because of its strong logic and nothing else. Therefore, those who claim that Islam spread by sword and violence are sheer liars who harbor private and sinister motives.

We now call upon our esteemed reader to carefully read the contents of the article. Allah has addressed the Holy Prophet in special terms and said: O Prophet! Indeed We have sent you as a witness, as a bearer of good news and as a warner and as a summoner to Allah by His permission, and as a radiant lamp (33:45).
In respect to the above verse, one of the responsibilities of the great Prophet of Islam was to call people to towards Allah. Obviously this task calls for special means to be used. These methods that have been introduced by God for the task are threefold: wisdom, good advice and good debate; Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good advice and dispute with them in a manner that is best (16:125). Based on this verse, the first step to call people towards Allah is to employ wisdom, right logic and accurate proofs. Due to the fact that the mission and message of the Holy Prophet is to awaken minds, thoughts and let the treasures of intellect blossom, the best technique to realize that goal is to use logic, strong proof and attestation.
The second step in this regard is to use good sermons which have an immense impact on the feelings of people. Normally sermons have profound effect on targeted people when that element of ‘goodness’ in them is well executed. Otherwise, if invitation is done on the basis of mocking and ridiculing the opposite side and under the feeling that the caller is more superior to the other party, and worse still, if the call is accompanied by violence, it will definitely have negative results. The third step of the call towards Allah is the constructive debate and dispute done with good intention. This is to say that such discussions should be done on the basis of achieving the truth, justice, fact and trust void of any falsehood. Given that God the Most High, has the conclusive argument, the message of the Prophet who was sent by Him should have conclusive proof in order to enable his ummah to benefit from conclusive and irrefutable love. Since the axis of the Prophet’s message was to deliver argument and conclusive proof, Allah provided him with different proofs which at times were disseminated in form of wisdom and intellectual proofs, sermons and preaches and at times through constructive and well-intended debates. Invitation to God through wisdom, good sermons and debate is the one that is done by way of vision and insight. As such, Allah addresses His Prophet (SAW) by saying: Say this is my way. I summon to Allah with Insight, I and he who follows me (12:108). Therefore according to this verse, every Muslim who follows the Holy Prophet (SAW) is duty bound to invite others to Allah through his good deeds and words.

Proof and inviting to Tauhid
One of the means used to invite people to Tauhid is by way of proof. However the meaning of proof in Qur’an is broader than what is used in philosophy in as far as their manifestations are concerned. All the same, they are similar from the viewpoint that they are both beneficial academically and enhance knowledge.
In philosophical terms, the word ‘proof’ is employed to refer to the reason of intellect that is composed of definite premises that gives result to what is known as legible analogy. But the presence or intuitive knowledge, miracle and best debate which are never discussed in logic are presented in Qur’an as proofs. This is due to the fact that they are clear and lights in themselves and at the same time clarify those things that have been based on them. An example of intuitive knowledge is: had he not beheld the proof of his Lord (12:24) and the miracle: These shall be two proofs from your Lord to Pharaoh and his elite (28:32). The two, thus the walking stick that turned into a snake and his illuminated hand, were the two proofs that were given to Prophet Moses by his Lord to prove to Pharaoh and his elite that he was indeed sent by Him to save his people from oppression and suppression. Apart from using this kind of proofs to achieve knowledge of God and perfect Tauhid (monotheism), Qur’an also uses intellect and reason to reach the same goal. It employs best debate and at times chooses to use intuitive knowledge or the inner natural sentiments to attain the same objective. In Intellectual proof, emphasis is laid on reason, in best debate on its acceptance and in intuitive knowledge on the purity and cleanliness of heart from any greedy desires and passions.
For instance, God tells His Prophet (SAW) to demand proof from polytheists that proves that what they worship is right. What!! Is there a god besides Allah? Say, ‘Produce your evidence should you be truthful’ (27:64). Proof and evidence in the above verse has been cited in a broader context, encompassing the three proofs. That is atheists are not only needed to provide rational proof to bark up their claim of the rationality of their worship, but they are also needed to do so by intuition and certain narrative proofs.


Examples of intellectual proofs

The proof of the beginning of universe and man:
1- According to the Holy Qur’an, one of the proofs that the Prophet (SAW) used in his debates with the idol worshipers during his time is the proof of the affirmation of the beginning for the universe. This holy Book says: Were they created from nothing? Or are they (their own) creators? Did they create the heavens and the earth? Rather they have no certainty! (52:35) This verse highlights the intellectual proof and evidence in proving the beginning of the world and the existence of one God. It seems to pose this doubt, for the sake of argument, that man and the universe came onto existence by coincidence and by themselves without there being anyone who brought them into existence. Then it poses a number of warning questions to be answered by man if he really thinks that that is the case. By doing so, it arouses his natural sentiments to enable him scrutinizing and carefully answer them by invoking the guidance of divine revelation. It asks, is it possible that man came into existence without the help of someone else? Is it possible for man to have created himself? If that is the case, then who created the heavens and the earth which came into being before him? Were they also created by man? In short; 1- does man have a cause agent (doer) or not? 2- If he has one, then is he the very cause agent of himself or someone else? 3- In case he is the cause agent of himself, is he also the cause agent of celestial and earthly bodies? By posing these questions, the Holy Qur’an wants man to pay attention and be informed that he has a cause agent which is definitely not he. This is so because if he is a phenomenon and a creation of someone else, then it is clear that he has a creator and can never be a creator of himself. A phenomenon can never be a creator of itself and needs a beginning whose being is the very self that is eternal and has no beginning or an end. Such a being has ever been there and is not a phenomenon to make us claim that he needs a beginning or that he created himself. In answering the third question, they admit that in spite of the fact that man has huge innovative prowess and can create beautiful and wonderful works, but has the least role in the creation of earth and heavens. Therefore, the preceding verses have provided proofs for man to affirm that there is a beginning for him and the universe.
2- Proof of mutual antagonism and hindrance
One of the most solid and indestructible proofs of the Holy Qur’an, Tauhid and the Lord of the heavens and the earth, is the proof of antagonism that has been mentioned in verse 22 of Chapter Anbiyaa as follows: Had there been gods in them (heavens and the earth) other than Allah, they would surely have fallen apart. The main aim of the verse is to prove Tauhid (monotheism), lordship and the oneness of the controller of the universe. This verse in addition to verse three of Chapter Mulk is a complete intellectual reasoning and an exceptional syllogism whose hypothetical premise is in Chapter Anbiyaa and its predicative premise is in Chapter Mulk. Allah says in Anbiyaa: Had there been gods in them other than Allah, they would surely have fallen apart, and in Mulk He says: You do not see any discordance in the creation of the All-beneficent. Look again, Do you see any flaw? Look again, once more. Your look will return to you humbled and weary (67:3). When we can’t find the slightest disorder, flaw and incompatibility in the whole universe and that all His creations live and move in total compatibleness and harmony, then we certainly conclude that there will never be defect, chaos and disarray in heavens and earth. By putting these verses together we conclude through the exceptional analogy that had there been other prudent managers or controllers of the heavens and the earth, definitely there would have been disorder, flaw and shortage in the world, but we see nothing of the sort. Therefore we come to the conclusion that there is no other prudent controller of the world other than God Himself. The meaning of falling apart and discordance in the world here means the crumbling of the organization of the world existence and the disintegration of the system of creation. It does not mean the mere social, economic and cultural corruption. In short; 1- the unity of the universe and the integration of the world is one big reality. 2- Plurality in the sources of decision making produces contradiction. This is so because two divergent decision making bodies cannot produce one product whose different parts are in harmony with one another as we see today in the world. Therefore the perception of there being other gods other than Allah is null and void. The plurality of gods ultimately calls for the plurality of their conflicting attributes also. This is because if they are different in essence then their attributes should also follow the same pattern. This is due to the fact that God’s essential attributes are His very existence and being. The knowledge that would have emanated from such plurality in gods would definitely be conflicting hence their systems of control over the world, something that we never see happen in our universe. Therefore the controller of this world is only one who is none but Allah the Most High. So far, we have discussed two proofs that were used by the Holy Prophet (SAW) in calling people towards Allah. There are many other proofs in the Holy Qur’an that were used by the Prophet (SAW) in regard to Tauhid, resurrection and his message, which unfortunately time does not allow us to discuss here.
Good sermon and calling to Allah
One of the ways that were used by the Prophet (SAW) in calling people to Allah was through good sermon.
A sermon is the elaboration and expression of good deeds in such a way that the listener is impressed and carried away by them making him soften his stand and change behavior, ultimately submitting to the truth. Of course, since the holy Qur’an has tied sermon with goodness, it obviously means that there are some sermons that are not good or best. A good sermon is the one that is delivered by a doer of good deeds himself and not just a pretender who pays lip-service to this important subject. A sermon is considered to be good because of the effect it has in reviving the truth, and the effect is enhanced when the one who delivers the sermon himself practices what he teaches. He should implement and show good behavior in what he teaches to the best of his ability so as to make what he preaches to be accepted and absorbed by the hearts of those being preached to. Their hearts, ears and eyes should all humble and pay attention to his preaching as a result of his good behavior. The Holy Qur’an cites many cases where the Prophet (SAW) used good sermons to attract his audience.

We mention here a few examples;
1- Calling People of the Book to Tauhid
Verse 64 of Chapter Aali Imran says: Say, ‘O People of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you: that we will worship no one but Allah, and that we will not ascribe any partner to Him, and that we will not take each other as lords besides Allah.’ But if they turn away, say, ‘Be witnesses that we are Muslims.’
Through this verse the Prophet (SAW) used the best sermon to call the People of the Book to Allah because:
Firstly: The verse has used the term ‘People of the Book’ which shows high respect for the group of people who were called to dispute and curse in the preceding verse. These words have special attractiveness and prove that God does not close the doors of repentance and salvation even after dispute, but has left them wide open for those who wish to embrace salvation and submit to truth.
Secondly: The word ‘come’ (in plural) shows that even though the caller is in an elevated position as compared to those being called, but in his mission he behaves and speaks as if he has not yet ascended to that position. This is because being humble in deed and words, which was the social behavior of the Prophet (SAW) throughout his life, enhances the attractiveness of the speech of those who intend to lead others on the straight and right path.
Thirdly: Used the acceptable principles and faiths of the opposite side. This means, believing in the principle of Tauhid which is accepted by the followers of other divine religions and which can be used to bring unity among mankind.
Fourthly: The tail of the verse says that if these people evade the common point and belief of Tauhid after your logical call, then tell them to bear witness to the fact that you are Muslims who submit to the truth. Let them know that because the way of truth is clear, their parting ways with you will not cause you any harm.
In actual fact, the composition of these facts indicates that the Prophet (SAW) used better sermons in his divine mission to call towards Allah.
In Chapter An’am, after rejecting the fake laws initiated by polytheists, God calls upon them to discard them and embrace divine ones from Him. He uses sermon by saying: Say, ‘Come, I will recount what your Lord has forbidden you from. That you shall not ascribe to any partners to Him, and you shall be good to the parents, you shall not kill your children due to penury –We will provide for you and for them – you shall not approach indecencies, the outward among them and the inward ones, and you shall not kill a soul (whose life) Allah has made inviolable, except with due cause. This is what He has enjoined upon you so that you may apply reason. Do not approach the orphan’s property, except in the best (possible) manner, until he comes of age. And observe fully the measure and the balance with justice. We task no soul except according to its capacity. And when you speak, be fair even if it were a relative; and fulfill Allah’s covenant. This is what He enjoins upon you so that you may take admonition. This indeed is my straight path, so follow it, and do not follow (other) ways for they will separate you from His way. This is what He enjoins upon you so that you may be God wary (6151-153).
It is interesting to note here that, these verses had an enormous impact on the people who were being addressed by the Prophet (SAW). They flowed deep into the hearts of two people by the names of As’ad bin Zurara and Dhakran bin Abdu Qais influencing them to embrace Islam. After becoming Muslims they urged the Holy Prophet (SAW) to send someone to the town of Madina so that he could teach Islam to the inhabitants of the town and invite them to this noble religion, a request that was granted by the Prophet. He sent Mus’ab bin Umair along with them to Madina whose face was radically changed with the coming of this virtuous man.
3- Good sermon and most inclusive social program
One of the verses that have been able to clearly summarize the teachings of Islam in social, human and moral issues is the following verse: Indeed Allah enjoins justice and kindness and generosity towards relatives, and He forbids indecency, wrong and aggression. He advises you, so that you may take admonition (16:90).
The revival of the three principles of justice, kindness and generosity and combating of the three evils of indecency, wrong and aggression in the world is enough to create a world full of tranquility and free from any kind of adversity and indecency. Therefore this verse has been quoted to be the most inclusive of the verses of Qur’an concerning good and evil. There are many verses in the Holy Qur’an that talk about good sermon, not forgetting the fact that this holy book has itself been referred to as good sermon in a number of verses.


Good argument (dispute) and call to truth

One of the ways used by the Holy Prophet (SAW) in his divine mission was by way of best argument and debate.
Argument has been divided in three different categories of bad, good and best. In propagation and calling towards God only the best argument is supposed to be employed. This is due to the fact that people who are obstinate and pertinacious and who capitalize on falsehood with an intention of suppressing the truth, are people whose hearts are filled with false views. Therefore the only way of dealing and calling them to the straight path is by using the best argument and debate.

The roots of best and false arguments

It is worth mentioning that from the viewpoint of Qur’an, the root of best argument is the divine revelation and wisdom-seeking and the root of false dispute is the satanic infusions, ardor and party-spiritism: Indeed the satans inspire their friends to dispute with you; and if you obey them, you will indeed be polytheists (6:121). Considering the fact that dispute or argument in intellectual matters is based on imagination and supposition and in scientific matters on zeal and party-spiritism, if someone is not well versed with truth and be engulfed in party-spiritism, he goes under the control of satan straight away and becomes an advocator of false dispute.

How the Holy Prophet (SAW) used to argue dispute 

Allah ordered His Prophet to dispute in the best way possible, an order he implemented to the best of his ability. A discussion came up in the presence of Imam Swadiq (AS) as to whether the Holy Prophet (SAW) used to dispute or not. Imam Said: ‘The Holy Prophet did not completely rule out disputing, but according to ‘Allah’s order he engaged in constructive and best dispute and made it to be his way of life. He closely followed best dispute and avoided an unconstructive one, urging his followers to do the same: Do not dispute with the People of the Book except in a manner which is best (29:46).

Criterion of best dispute

Imam Swadiq (AS) was asked to explain what best dispute is. He answered: A dispute that is not best is whereby one misuses his intellectual weakness to deny and cover up the truth or accept falsehood, or misuse his rival’s intellectual weakness in doing the same.’ When one lacks intellect and proof, he speaks ignorantly opposing his rival’s truth, and at times, accepts his falsehood and fabrication. This is what is referred to as bad or worst dispute. Best dispute is that which is barked by truthful premises and be accepted by the opponent side. In other words, truth is part and parcel of best dispute.

Examples of the Prophet’s best disputes

One day, a number of leaders of different religions met with the Holy Prophet (SAW) and each one of them was given a chance to speak. Jews said: ‘Uzeir is the son of God. If you accept our claim, then you must follow us because we shall have preceded you in knowing the truth as far as this issue is concerned, otherwise we shall dispute you.’
Christians said: ‘Isah (Jesus) is the son of God and he is in unity with Him. We are ready for dispute. If you accept our call, then you must follow us for we shall have preceded you in identifying the truth, otherwise we shall dispute with you.
Materialist and atheists said: objects have no beginning or end. And because the universe is a primordial matter it needs no active subject. This is so because development and progress takes place in the physical material world and not in the essence of primordial matter. If you acknowledge this perception then you must follow us otherwise, we shall dispute with you intellectually.’
Dualists said: ‘Light and darkness are the two sources of the world. We associate good with light and evil with darkness.’ They repeated the same statements made by the Jews, Christians and others.
Polytheists of Saudi Arabia also said: ‘the world has its creator who is God. However idols are its managers and controllers who deserve respect and worship. They are beneficial and do save man from harm. Like the others, they said that they were ready for dispute if the Holy Prophet (SAW) was not prepared to accept their belief and follow them.
After listening to them carefully, he answered them saying: ‘I believe only in one God who has no partner and disbelieve in idols and all that is worshiped except Him. I also believe in the principle of the Creator of the universe and His oneness. Should I believe what you say without clear proof or should I do so with proof? Indeed I am the clear proof of God and the clear proof of God neither speaks without proof nor does he accept one’s claims without proof.’
Prophet’s reply to Jews
The Holy Prophet (SAW) told the Jews: ‘If truth depends on proof, you, who claim that Uzeir is the son of God, provide a proof to substantiate your claim.’ They said the proof is that he revived the Torah and kept it alive in memories and books after being erased from them. Therefore they concluded that there is no one else who can take the supposed place of God’s son except Uzeir.
First the Holy Prophet (SAW) analyzed the subject then scrutinized it with a critical eye. He asked: What do you mean by claiming that Uzeir is the son of God? If you mean a material son, just like any bodily father has a material and physical son, then this view cannot be associated with God the Exalted. You also accept the impossibility of this view because God does not have a wife. Nothing has been removed from God neither has He been removed from something. He is absolutely indivisible and incorporeal. He has no partner, wife nor does He bear children. What you claim amounts to the embodiment of materialism and composition, something that is not accepted by intact intellect, revelation, divine books, Musa Kalim (Moses) as well as yourselves. And if your intention is the son of respect and honor just like a wise teacher could praise one of his smart and intelligent students by saying: ‘he is my son’ and not his biological son, this notion also is susceptible to fault and criticism. This is so because if you claim Uzeir to be the son of God, and ignore Musa who brought the original Torah and Judaism, the famous walking stick and the luminous hand, numerous verses revealed in his honor including the one that speaks about the submerging and disappearing of Pharaoh’s men in the river and to whom God spoke, then something must be wrong somewhere. If you regard Uzeir to be the son of God then you must give Musa a title which is higher than that. This is because a teacher who addresses his bright student as ‘my son’ will definitely address the one who is better than him as ‘my brother.’ Therefore you should address Musa Kalim as brother of God. Bearing in mind that the position of a brother is more important than that of a son and the position of Musa is higher than that of Uzeir, then definitely Musa deserves a better title. Musa’s greatness is much higher than that of Uzeir and should make you call him brother and friend of God. Contrary to this, we see that you totally ignore him and give Uzeir a much better place than him.’
In actual fact this answer was the best dispute displayed by the Holy Prophet (SAW) and when he reached that point, they said: ‘O Muhammad! Give us time to think over this matter.’ The Prophet said, ‘I have given you time, however try to minimize your blind fanaticism and stubbornness and maximize your justice and intellect so that you may be guided by Allah.’
Indeed the Prophet (SAW) advised them to be people of vision, research and opinion and not blind followers.

Prophet’s reply to Christians

Considering that Christians said Isah (AS) was God’s son and His union, the Holy Prophet (SAW) said in reply: ‘If you claim that God is united with Isah you must clarify the subject from the very beginning and elaborate what you mean by unity. Is your intention the real unity or a metaphor used to mean greatness or an act of divine grace? If your intention is the real union, then it is rationally impossible to unify creatable and eternal or a contingent being with obligatory entities. This is so because this amounts to the union of creation and pre-eternity (union of two contradictories) or exchange of creatable and eternal entities, which are both rationally impossible.
Clarification: Eternal means a being that has not been preceded by nothingness or otherness and creatable is that that has been preceded by nothingness and otherness. The union of eternal and created entities means the union of something that is eternal and created at the same time. It also means the union of two entities that are contingent upon nothingness and the one that has been preceded by something. This is tantamount to unifying two contradictories which is rationally impossible. And if we change something that is eternal with something that is created then it means that something that is contingent upon nothingness reverts to an entity that has been precede by nonexistence. This is impossible because something that never was will never be. If a being has never been preceded by nothingness then it is impossible to propose nothingness for him. If something depends on itself and has never been preceded by otherness, then it is impossible for it to be preceded by otherness. This is due to the fact that if existence is its very essence, then it is not supposed to be preceded by otherness or nothingness. This essence is neither prone to change nor development. Otherwise, if the essence is the other way round then it will definitely be preceded by otherness and nothingness, and surely something that has such qualities will ever be so.
Therefore one thing as far as it remains so cannot be eternal and creatable at the same time and these two can never change places or positions. For that reason, if your intension from the word union is the real meaning of the word, then it is impossible, be it through union or by change and revolution.’ So he said: ‘because God is eternal and Isah creatable and has been preceded by nothingness and otherness while the Almighty God is not so, if God wants to be creatable then there are two possibilities which, as we mentioned before, are both impossible to be attributed to God. The Qur’anic source of the matter also rejects this view by saying: Nothing is like Him (42:111). The Glorious God is All-sufficient and therefore does not need otherness. As a result His existence is His very essence and therefore has never been preceded by nothingness or otherness. He can never be united with something that need is one of its qualities and that has been preceded by nothingness and otherness.’ He then said that, the verse: ‘O mankind! You are the ones who stand in need of Allah and Allah – He is the All-sufficient, the All- laudable (35:15), does not exclusively refer to Isah but him and other contingent beings who have been preceded by otherness and certainly need God. However, if your aim from this union is miraculous power and act of divine grace since Isah (AS) is a generous and great being, then in faulting this view we must say: this miraculous power was not confined to Prophet Isah since other prophets like Ibrahim (Abraham), Nuh (Noah), Adam….(AS) also had this power and greatness. Why didn’t you speak of this union concerning other prophets and decided to limit it to Isah (AS)?’ After posing that question and proof, a number of Christians kept quiet and started to look at one another in bewilderment. Some of them said: ‘just like God in Qur’an referred to Ibrahim (Abraham) to be His Khalil (his dedicated friend) And Allah took Ibrahim (Abraham) for a dedicated friend (4:125), the same case applies to Isah (AS) whom He addressed as ‘son to honor him.’ The Prophet (SAW) said: ‘This is an analogy with a difference, because it is possible for one to be a friend of God but not so with being a son and in union with Him. It is possible for one to be God’s friend as a result of his intellectual and active excellence but it is practically impossible to be in union with Him.

The meaning of Khalil

The word Khalil either comes from the Arabic root-word of ‘khallat which means deficiency and need or ‘khullat’ which means secret keeping and secret knowledge. If it is taken to mean insufficiency and need, then Ibrahim is referred to as Khalil for the simple reason that he felt that he needed no one else But Allah the Glorious in all conditions and circumstances. Although all mankind need Allah: O mankind! You are the ones who stand in need of Allah, and Allah – He is the All-sufficient, the All-laudable (35:15), but there are those who understand this fact and those who don’t. Those who understand this reality and feel that the whole world is deficient in itself and needs someone else to cater for its needs, neither depend on themselves or on someone who is not Allah. Those who don’t understand this fact and think otherwise assume themselves to be self-sufficient and independent of God. This misperception leads them to overdo things and transgress Allah’s boundaries: Indeed man becomes rebellious when he considers himself without need (96:7). Ibrahim Khalil (AS) witnessed that reality and clearly understood that it was only Allah the Most High who could cater for his needs. Anyone who thinks that he is self-sufficient and not in need, or acknowledges that he is in need but that the need can be satisfied by others, then definitely he has not understood himself. This is because the nature of a human being or any other possible being for that matter is in absolute need and insufficient in essence. It is in constant linkage with Allah. When man cannot understand himself then certainly he does not understand his Creator, not by external signs or internal ones. On the other hand, Ibrahim (AS) evidently understood himself well and only relied on God both in the open and in secret. He only trusted in God on the day he victoriously broke the idols and when he was thrown into the fire by idol worshipers: They said, ‘Burn him, and help your gods, if you are to do anything!’ (21:68). When he was being thrown into the fire and Angel Jibril (Gabriel) appeared and told him that he had been sent to answer his request, he answered back saying that although he was in need but did not need Jibril’s help. He told him that he like himself, had no power of his own but was also in need, and that the power he (Jibril) had was God’s who had entrusted it to him. There is none in the heavens and the earth but he comes to the All-beneficent as a servant (19:93). This is the need and want that engulfs all beings from all the three dimensions of essence, attribute and action. They all need God and this is what calls for worship as a result of an essential need. This is why Khalil who understood the meaning of noble Tauhid in depth did not even dare to ask Jibril a question despite the situation he was in saying that to him his knowledge of God was enough. Such great people know for sure that they are constantly under God’s control and that He does not want anything for His servants and creatures other than what is in their best interest.
Therefore Ibrahim Khalil (AS) despite being in the most difficult situation but did not give up hope and continued to trust and rely on his God by exposing his need and want before Him the All-sufficient, who at long last positively answered his call. This is why he was referred to as Khalilullah.

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