Many years ago, during the time of the Tâbi’în (the generation of Muslims after the Sahâbah), Baghdâd was a great city of Islam. In fact, it was the capital of the Islamic Empire and, because of the great number of scholars who lived there, it was the center of Islamic knowledge.
One day, the ruler of Rome at the time sent an envoy to Baghdad with three challenges for the Muslims. When the messenger reached the city, he informed the khalîfah that he had three questions which he challenged the Muslims to answer.
The khalîfah gathered together all the scholars of the city and the Roman messenger climbed upon a high platform and said, “I have come with three questions. If you answer them, then I will leave with you a great amount of wealth which I have brought from the king of Rome.” As for the questions, they were: “What was there before Allâh?” “In which direction does Allâh face?” “What is Allâh engaged in at this moment?”
The great assembly of people were silent. (Can you think of answers to these questions?) In the midst of these brilliant scholars and students of Islam was a man looking on with his young son. “O my dear father! I will answer him and silence him!” said the youth. So the boy sought the permission of the khalîfah to give the answers and he was given the permission to do so.
The Roman addressed the young Muslim and repeated his first question, “What was there before Allâh?” Read the rest of this entry »