CHAPTER 11, THE FOUNDER
REJECTED BY THE WORLD
The founders of religion inevitably met resistance, disbelief, and
persecution when they attempted to spread their message. Thus Moses
endured the murmurings of his people, Muhammad was branded a charlatan and
pursued by his fellow tribesmen of the Quraysh, and Jesus was rejected and
slandered by many of the Jews of his day and eventually was executed as an
insurrectionist. Confucius was unsuccessful in his efforts to get his
teachings accepted by the leaders of his day, and Lao Tzu describes his
plight as that of a social outcast. Mahavira and even Buddha, whose
ministry is glorified by later traditions, were abused and ridiculed as
they wandered from town to town. Yet even more profound than the pains
and travails which they suffered in the body was the inner agony of
loneliness as these founders wandered about, with no one to understand
them or sympathize with their minds. Their only solace was their
single-minded devotion to God or their conviction about the truth which
they, alone in the world, could understand.
Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "Thus says the Lord, the
God of Israel, 'Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the
wilder- ness.'" But Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord, that I should heed
his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover I will
not let Israel go." Then they said, "The God of the Hebrews has met with
us; let us go, we pray, a three days' journey into the wilderness, and
sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or
with the sword." But the king of Egypt said to them, "Moses and Aaron,
why do you take the people away from their work? Get to your burdens."...
The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their
foremen, "You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as
heretofore; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the number
of bricks which they made heretofore you shall lay upon them, you shall by
no means lessen it; for they are idle; therefore they cry, 'Let us go and
offer sacrifice to our God.' Let heavier work be laid upon the men that
they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words."...
The foremen of the people of Israel saw that they were in evil
plight, when they said, "You shall by no means lessen your daily number of
bricks." They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came
forth from Pharaoh; and they said to them, "The Lord look upon you and
judge, because you have made us offensive in the sight of Pharaoh and his
servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us."
Then Moses turned again to the Lord and said, "O Lord, why have you
done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to
Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you
have not delivered your people at all." But the Lord said to Moses... "I
will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in
the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you; then I will lay my hand
upon Egypt and bring forth my hosts, my people the sons of Israel, out of
the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. And the Egyptians shall know
that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth my hand upon Egypt and bring out
the people of Israel from among them."
Judaism and Christianity. Exodus 5.1-7.5
The whole congregation of the people of Israel murmured against Moses and
Aaron in the wilderness, and said to them, "Would that we had died by the
hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and
ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to
kill this whole assembly with hunger."
Judaism and Christianity. Exodus 16.2-3
We gave Abraham of old his proper course, for We were aware of him,
when he said to his father and his people, "What are these images to which
you pay devotion?" They said, "We found our fathers worshippers of them."
He said, "Truly you and your fathers were in plain error." They said, "Do
you bring us the truth, or are you some jester?" He said, "No, but your
Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, who created them; and I am
of those who testify to that. And, by God, I shall circumvent your idols
after you have gone away and turned your backs." Then he reduced them to
fragments, all save the chief of them, that perhaps they might have
recourse to it.
They said, "Who has done this to our gods? Surely it must be some
evil- doer." [Others] said, "We heard a youth make mention of them, one
called Abraham." They said, "Bring him here before the people's eyes that
they may testify." They said, "Are you the one who has done this to our
gods, Abraham?" He said, "No, their chief has done it. So question them,
if they can speak." Then they gathered apart and said, "You yourselves
are the wrongdoers," and they were utterly confounded. Then they said [to
Abraham], "You know well that they do not speak." He said, "Do you
worship instead of God that which cannot profit you at all, nor harm you?
Fie on you and all that you worship instead of God! Have you then no
They said, "Burn him and stand by your gods, if you will!" We
said, "O fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham!" They wished to set a
snare for him, but We made them the greater losers. And we rescued him
and Lot, and brought them to the land that We have blessed for all
Islam. Qur'an 21.51-71
The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He
was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew
him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.
Christianity. John 1.9-11
A scribe came up and said to him, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you
go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have
nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head."
Christianity. Matthew 8.19-20
He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples
followed him. And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and
many who heard him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get all
this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by
his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of
James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with
us?" And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, "A prophet is
not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and
in his own house."
Christianity. Mark 6.1-4
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Exodus 16.2-3: Moses struggled with a rebellious people even after they
had escaped from Egypt. Having been raised with a slave mentality, it was
not easy for the Hebrews to have the courage to go forward into the
Promised Land. Qur'an 21.51-71: Though this episode is not found in the
Bible, it is well attested in Jewish and Christian traditions. See Qur'an
19.41-58, p. 655. On trial by fire, see Daniel 3.1-28, pp. 883f;
Ramayana, Yuddha Kanda 118-20, pp. 783f. John 1.9-11: Cf. Matthew 23.37,
p. 458. Matthew 8.19-20: Cf. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 40, p. 960. Mark
6.1-4: On the persecution which Jesus endured during his lifetime, see
also Mark 3.31-35, p. 957 and note; Matthew 5.11-12, p. 879; 10.24-25, p.
821; 12.9-14, p. 862; 12.22-24, p. 379; Acts 7.51-53, pp. 887f.; Isaiah
53.1-12, pp. 639f.
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And [Jesus] came out, and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of
Olives; and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place he
said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." And he
withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed,
"Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my
will, but thine, be done." And there appeared to him an angel from
heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly;
and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the
ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found
them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, "Why do you sleep? Rise
and pray that you may not enter into temptation."
While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called
Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss
him; but Jesus said to him, "Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a
kiss?" And when those who were about him saw what would follow, they
said, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?" And one of them struck the
slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, "No
more of this!" And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to
the chief priests and officers of the temple and the elders, who had come
out against him, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and
clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay
hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness." Then
they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's
Now the men who were holding Jesus mocked him and beat him; they
also blindfolded him and asked him, "Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?"
And they spoke many other words against him, reviling him. When day came,
the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief
priests and scribes; and they led him away to their council, and they
said, "If you are the Christ, tell us." But he said to them, "If I tell
you, you will not believe; and if I ask you, you will not answer. But
from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the power
of God." And they all said, "Are you the Son of God, then?" And he said
to them, "You say that I am." And they said, "What further testimony do
we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips."
Then the whole company of them arose, and brought him before
Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, "We found this man
perverting our nation, and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, saying
that he himself is Christ a king. And Pilate asked him, "Are you the King
of the Jews?" And he answered him, "You have said so." And Pilate said
to the chief priests and the multitudes, "I find no crime in this man....
Behold, nothing deserving of death has been done by him. I will therefore
chastise him and release him."
But they all cried out together, "Away with this man, and release
to us Barabbas"--a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection
started in the city, and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more,
desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted out, "Crucify, crucify him!" A
third time he said to them, "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in
him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release
him." But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be
crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that their
demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into
prison for insurrection and murder, but Jesus he delivered up to their
And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was
coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind
Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to
death with him. And when they came to the place which is called The Skull
[Calvary], there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right
and one on the left. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they know
not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the
people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He has
saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen
One!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar,
and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" There was
also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews."
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are
you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him,
saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of
condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward
of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus,
remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly
I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the
whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed; and the
curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud
voice, said, "Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit!" And having said
this he breathed his last.
Christianity. Luke 22.39-23.46
The Messenger says, "O my Lord, behold, my people have taken this Qur'an
as a thing to be shunned." Even so We have appointed to every Prophet an
enemy from among the sinners; but your Lord suffices as a guide and as a
Islam. Qur'an 25.30-31
When you recite the Qur'an We place between you and those who believe not
in the hereafter a hidden barrier; and We place upon their hearts veils
lest they should understand it, and in their ears a deafness; and when you
make mention of your Lord alone in the Qur'an, they turn their backs in
Islam. Qur'an 17.45-46
By the Pen and by the record which men write, you are not, by the grace of
your Lord, mad or possessed. Nay, verily for you is a reward unfailing,
and you stand on an exalted standard of character. Soon you will see, and
they will see, which of you is afflicted with madness. Verily it is your
Lord who knows best, who among men has strayed from His path: and He knows
best those who receive guidance.
Islam. Qur'an 68.1-7
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Luke 22-23: This is a narrative of Jesus' passion. Cf. Isaiah 53.1-12,
pp. 639f., which this passion fulfills in many of its details. Qur'an
25.30-31: Cf. Qur'an 6.112, p. 447; 43.22-25, p. 673. Qur'an 17.45-46:
Cf. Qur'an 62.11, p. 937.
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When the Apostle openly displayed Islam as God ordered him his
people did not withdraw or turn against him, so far as I have heard, until
he spoke disparagingly of their gods. When he did that they took great
offense and resolved unanimously to treat him as an enemy, except those
whom God had protected by Islam from such evil, but they were a despised
minority. Abu Talib, his uncle, treated the Apostle kindly and protected
him, the latter continuing to obey God's commands, nothing turning him
back. When the Quraysh saw that he would not yield to them and withdrew
from them and insulted their gods and that his uncle treated him kindly
and stood up in his defense and would not give him up to them, some of
their leading men went to Abu Talib... and said, "O Abu Talib, your nephew
has cursed our gods, insulted our relig- ion, mocked our way of life and
accused our forefathers of error; either you must stop him or you must let
us get at him, for you yourself are in the same position as we are in
opposition to him and we will rid you of him." He gave them a
conciliatory reply and a soft answer and they went away.
The Apostle continued on his way, publishing God's religion and
calling men thereto. In consequence his relations with Quraysh
deteriorated and men withdrew from him in enmity. They were always
talking about him and inciting one another against him. Then they went to
Abu Talib a second time and said, "You have a high and lofty position
among us, and we have asked you to put a stop to your nephew's activities
but you have not done so. By God, we cannot endure that our fathers
should be reviled, our customs mocked and our gods insulted. Until you
rid us of him we will fight the pair of you until one side perishes," or
words to that effect. Thus saying, they went off. Abu Talib was deeply
distressed at the breach with his people and their enmity but he could not
desert the Apostle and give him up to them.
After hearing these words from the Quraysh, Abu Talib sent for his
nephew and told him what his people had said. "Spare me and yourself," he
said. "Do not put on me a burden greater than I can bear." The Apostle
thought that his uncle had the idea of abandoning and betraying him, and
that he was going to lose his help and support. He answered, "O my uncle,
by God, if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left on
condition that I abandoned this course, until God has made it victorious
or I perish therein, I would not abandon it." Then the Apostle broke into
tears, and got up. As he turned away his uncle called him and said, "Come
back, my nephew," and when he came back, he said, "Go and say what you
please, for by God I will never give you up on any account."
Islam. Sirat Rasul Allah
The Thaqif... stirred up their louts and slaves to insult him and
cry after him until a crowd came together, and compelled him to take
refuge in an orchard belonging to `Utba b. Rabi`a and his brother Shayba
who were in it at the time. The louts who had followed him went back, and
he made for the shade of a vine and sat there while the two men watched
him, observing what he had to endure from the local louts....
When the Apostle reached safety he said, so I am told, "O God, to
Thee I complain of my weakness, little resource, and lowliness before men.
O Most Merciful, Thou art the Lord of the weak, and Thou art my Lord. To
whom wilt Thou confide me? To one afar who will misuse me? Or to an
enemy to whom Thou hast given power over me? If Thou art not angry with
me I care not. Thy favor is more wide for me. I take refuge in the light
of Thy countenance by which the darkness is illumined, and the things of
this world and the next are rightly ordered, lest Thy anger descend upon
me or Thy wrath light upon me. It is for Thee to be satisfied until Thou
art well pleased. There is no power and no might save in Thee."
Islam. Sirat Rasul Allah
As an elephant in the battlefield withstands the arrows shot from a bow,
even so will I endure abuse.
Buddhism. Dhammapada 320
Now at that time very distinguished young men belonging to the respectable
families in Magadha were living the holy life under the Lord. People
looked down upon, criticized, spread it about, saying, "The recluse Gotama
gets along by making [us] childless, the recluse Gotama gets along by
making [us] widows, the recluse Gotama gets along by breaking up
families... Who now will be led away by him?"
Buddhism. Vinaya Pitaka i.43
Bhaddiya, it seems that some recluses and brahmins are vain and empty
liars and misrepresent me contrary to facts as being one who holds such a
view, in saying, "The recluse Gotama is a conjurer and he knows a
conjuring technique by means of which he lures away the followers of other
Buddhism. Anguttara Nikaya ii.193
At one time Sakyamuni Buddha was staying in the town of Kausambi.
In this town there was one who resented him and who bribed wicked men to
circulate false stories about him. Under these circumstances it was
difficult for his disciples to get sufficient food from their begging, and
there was much abuse.
Ananda said to Sakyamuni, "We had better not stay in a town like
this. There are other and better towns to go to. We had better leave this
The Blessed One replied, "Suppose the next town is like this, what
shall we do then?"
"Then we move to another."
The Blessed One said, "No, Ananda, there will be no end in that
way. We had better remain here and bear the abuse patiently until it
ceases, and then we move to another place. There are profit and loss,
slander and honor, praise and abuse, suffering and pleasure in this world;
the Enlightened One is not controlled by these external things; they will
cease as quickly as they come."
Buddhism. Dhammapada Commentary
In the province called Laat, local dogs often attacked the Lord. While
some people warded them off or shooed them away, and other monks
traversing that region carried sticks to frighten the dogs... the Lord had
no stick nor any other safety device. He ambulated across the region by
virtue of his rugged will.
In Laat province certain people would injure the Lord with sticks, fists,
lances, blades, stones, and broken utensils. Others would lacerate the
Lord's body. A few would spit on him. Others would throw dust at him.
Some people jeered him and pulled him to the ground.... When the Lord sat
in a meditative posture, it seemed strange to the onlookers and they would
forcibly change his posture. The Lord suffered all this maltreatment as
if he had nothing to do with his body....
The Lord never craved anybody's protection. Frequently, human beings or
the organic world tortured him. Some people volunteered to save him from
such discomforts but the Lord invariably declined such offers. It was his
conviction that one cannot realize oneself while seeking another's refuge.
Jainism. Acarangasutra 9
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Dhammapada Commentary: Once the order was falsly accused by religions
rivals of murdering a female ascetic. The Buddha remarked, "This noise,
monks, will not last long. It will last just seven days. After seven
days it will vanish away." Udana 45.
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To what land shall I flee? Where bend my steps?
I am thrust out from family and tribe;
I have no favor from the village to which I would belong,
Nor from the wicked rulers of the country:
How then, O Lord, shall I obtain Thy favor?
I know, O Wise One, why I am powerless:
My cattle are few, and I have few men.
To Thee I address my lament: attend unto it, O Lord,
And grant me the support which friend would give to friend.
As Righteousness, teach the possession of the Good Mind.
When, O Wise One, shall the wills of the future saviors come forth,
The dawns of the days when, through powerful judgment,
The world shall uphold Righteousness?
To whom will help come through the Good Mind?
To me, for I am chosen for the revelation by Thee, O Lord.
Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 46.1-3
Confucius went on to Cheng, and the Master and disciples lost track of
each other. While Confucius stood alone at the east gate of the outer
city the natives reported to Tsekung, "There is a man at the east gate
whose forehead is like that of Emperor Yao, whose neck resembles that of
an ancient minister, Kaoyao.... He looks crestfallen like a homeless,
wandering dog." Tsekung told Confucius this story, and Confucius smiled
and said, "I don't know about the descriptions of my figure, but as for
resembling a homeless, wandering dog, he is quite right, he is quite
Confucianism. Ssu-ma Ch'ien, Shih Chi 47
In the spring of the fourteenth year of Duke Ai of Lu (481