JOURNEYS OF INSIGHT
Voice from the Past
"Allah has revealed the most beautiful Message in the form of a Book, consistent with itself (yet) repeating (Its teaching in various aspects):The skins of those who fear their Lord tremble thereat: then their skins and their hearts do soften to the celebration of Allah's praises. Such is the guidance of Allah: He guides therewith whom He pleases, but such as Allah leaves to stray, can have none to guide."
The subject of our Journey of Insight this issue is one who came through hardship and danger. One who, although an ordained Christian 'preacher', was guided by Allah to the path of Islam in 16th century Germany. This man's remarkable letter, mentioned by Muhammad 'Ata ur-Rahim, in his very revealing and important book, Jesus A Prophet of Islam, may be found in the ''Antiquities Palatinae" in the Archives at Heidelberg, Germany.
Today, we know little of the theological storms which raged during the earlier centuries in Europe. Little is mentioned of those who, rather than giving allegiance to the doctrine of Trinity, were executed. This was the religious climate during the time of Adam Neuser who, in his search of Christianity, found that the undeniable teaching of Jesus had been the acknowledgment of God as one Lord and Master:
.... .And Jesus answered him, 'The first of all the commandments is, 'Hear, 0 Israel; The Lord our God is One Lord....' "' Mark 12: 29-33. Further, how could Jesus possibly be God or equal to God when on being addressed as "Good Master" he reportedly replied to a certain ruler, "Why callest thou me good? None is good, save One, that is, God." Matthew 19:16,17, Mark 10:17,18 and Luke 18:18,19.
This was a very real argument against those who declared that God was not One, but three entities - The Father, The Son and the Holy Ghost. Only two years earlier on 15th February 1568, a sentence of the Holy Office had condemned all the inhabitants of the Netherlands to death as heretics, only a few being exempted. Ten days later the decree was confirmed by the ruling Monarch. What was this crime of heresy? Refusal to accept the doctrine of Trinity.
Therefore we have some understanding of this letter addressed to the Emperor Selim and the Muslims of Constantinople, of which we give part herein:
"I, Adam Neuser, a Christian born in Germany and advanced to the dignity of Preacher to the people of Heidelberg, a city where the most learned men at this day in Germany are to be found, do fly for refuge to your Majesty with a profound submission adjuring you for the love of God and your Prophet, on whom be the peace of God, to receive me into the number of your subjects and those of your people that believe in God. For by the grace of the Omnipotent God, I see, I know and I believe with my whole heart that your Doctrine and your Religion are pure, clear and acceptable to God. I am firmly persuaded that my retreat from among the idolatrous Christians will engage many persons of consideration to embrace your Belief and your Religion, especially since many of the most learned and most considerable amongst them are herein of the same sentiments as me, as I shall inform your Majesty by word of mouth.
"As to what concerns myself, I am certainly one of those of whom it is said in the thirteenth chapter of Al Coran: The Christians show us more good will than the Jews; and when their Priests and Bishops, provided they are not imprudent and opinionated, understand the commandments which the Prophet of God gave, and Thereby acknowledge the truth, they say with tears in their eyes, '0 God! We hope from our hearts that since we believe the same things that the good people do, Thou wilt also make us enter into the communion: For why should not we believe in God and in Him who is manifested to us by the Truth?".
"But first of all your Majesty ought to be entirely persuaded that I have not recourse to your protection as some Christians are accustomed, who, because of their crimes, thefts, murders, or adulteries, cannot live with safety among the people of their own religion. For I have resolved above a year ago to fly for refuge to you, and was advanced in my way as far as Presburg but not understanding the Hungarian language I could go no further and against my will was constrained to return to my country which I should not have ventured to do if I had fled for any crime. Besides, nothing constrains me to embrace your Religion, for who could force me to it being unknown to your people, and at so great a distance from them?
"Being promoted to the dignity of Preacher in the famous University of Heidelberg by the Elector Palatine, who next to the Emperor, is the most powerful Prince in Germany, I began to weigh maturely within myself the diverse dissensions and divisions of our Christian religion: for so many persons as there are amongst us there are so many opinions and sentiments. I began with abstracting from all the Doctors and Interpreters of the Scriptures who have written and taught since the days of the Prophet Jesus Christ. I tied myself only to the commandments of Moses and to the Gospel. Then I called upon God inwardly with a most religious application and prayed Him to shew me the right way that I may not be in danger of misleading myself and my hearers.
"Then it pleased God to reveal to me the "Articles of the Invocation of the One and Only God" upon which Article I composed a book in which I prove that the Doctrine of Jesus Christ did not consist in asserting that he was himself a God as the Christians falsely allege: but that there is only one God who has no son consubstantial with Him .... and I am very sure that the most able men amongst the Christians are not capable of refuting it. And wherefore indeed should I associate to God another God like unto Him: Moses had forbidden it and Jesus Christ never taught it... I concluded that all they (the Christians) have is falsified. For they have perverted, by their false interpretations almost all the writings of Moses and the Gospel which I have shewn in a book written with my own hand and which I shall present to your Majesty.
"When I say the Christians have falsified and corrupted the commandments of Moses and the Gospel, I mean only the words and the sense. For the doctrine of Moses, of Jesus and of Mahomet agree in everything and are not contrary to anything - Al Coran gives a very advantageous testimony of Moses and Jesus Christ Indeed, if the Word of God was faithfully interpreted, then there would be no difference amongst the Jews, Christians and Turks (Muslims). Thus what Al Coran so often repeats is true. The doctrine of Mahomet destroys all false interpretations of the Scriptures and teaches the true sense of the Word of God.
"After that, by the Grace of God I understood there was but one only God, that I had observed that the doctrine of Jesus Christ was not taught as it ought to have been, that all the ceremonies of the Christians were very much different from their first institutions.... I began to think I was the only man of my opinion in the World. I had not seen Al Coran and among us Christians there was care taken to spread in all parts such infamous and scandalous reports against everything that concerns the doctrines of Mahomet that the poor people who are made to believe things as so many truths are seized with horror and run out of themselves at the very mention of Al Coran. Nevertheless, by Divine Providence, that book fell into my hands for which I give thanks to God
"...I sought all effects of ways to impart the knowledge of these truths to my Examiners, and in case they would not receive this doctrine I resolved to ask leave of the Electors to abandon my charge and retire to you. I began to attack by way of dispute in all the churches and in the schools some points of our doctrine and obtained what I wished: for I brought the matter to such a point that I was known to all the States of the Empire and I drew several learned men to my side...."
History tells us that this letter did fall into the hands of Maximilian, and Adam Neuser was arrested, along with his friends. They were imprisoned on 15th July 1570. Neuser escaped but was retaken. A second time he escaped, only to be again arrested. Their trial lasted for two years. One of their number was sentenced to death. Again Neuser escaped - this time successfully, fleeing to Constantinople where he embraced Islam.
1. Muhammad 'Ata ur-Rahim - "Jesus A Prophet of Islam"
2. A. Reland - "Treatises Concerning the Mohametons"
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